Thursday, January 13, 2011

Musings: Creativity in Word

I suppose I'm a bit defensive about how I am using my artistic gifts these days. After all I spent four years of college earning an art degree and sometimes wonder if I am employing it effectively. While at Brescia I envisioned how I would someday have a creative outlet - not necessarily as a recognized painter but in advertising. You see, way back in 1978, you actually 'drew' the 'clip art' that was found in newspapers. As an inside advertising rep for the Messenger-Inquirer I drew bikinis on scantily-clad 'ladies' in the X-rated movie ads for the drive-in and created little cartoon characters for newspaper ads for the Daviess County Hospital, as it was then called. I even worked for Neel Advertising for a brief while, coming up with ad campaigns for clients.

Of course, since I was blessed with our first son almost a year before I graduated, as soon as I walked across the stage to accept my diploma I entered the world of stay-at-home-moms. Subsequent children saw me as the 'farm wife' who stayed home with kids, cooked, cleaned, delivered meals to my man, and eventually drove tractors to cut, rake and bale hay...no small feat for a 'town/city' gal. I also stripped tobacco with a playpen in the corner by the pot-bellied stove and kept swine records in Minnesota. None of this, of course, even remotely resembled creative work. Back then I would still take up my pencils (my favorite medium) and draw. My kids also had home-sewn clothing and life-sized murals of jungle animals on their walls.

But somehow I lost myself when the kids began to become active in sports, 4-H, and church trips. There were the occasional projects for 4-H that were so very tempting for me to take over - I resisted - but nothing for ME. One summer my sister and I painted a 14' x 25' white horse on our black barn and it felt REALLY good - it even made the paper (twice) - but still there was no 'art' in my life. At this point in time my mother and I decided to dabble in flower gardening and a new creative passion was born! My canvas was the earth and my 'palette' was the flowers I planted but I was once again doing something that made my creative juices flow. When I look back at my modest results I find it somewhat humbling but it was a start and it was something to share with my best friend, Mom.

In 1994 Mom died after a five year struggle with breast cancer and my gardening came to a screeching halt. Flower gardening (daylilies in particular) was something I shared with 'her'. I sunk into a deep chasm of grief and just couldn't bear to do 'our' activity solo. Instead, I threw myself into autopilot and cruised through several years of simply being mother and wife.

As happens in life, the raw edge of grief eventually subsided and I once again took up my spade. By this time we had moved into a newly constructed house - I designed it myself from memories of Chalets in the Alps and in honor of my German heritage and Mom's homeland. The daylilies that had been so rudely transplanted and 'stored' in a holding bed (read horse pasture) found a new home, front and center, in flower beds that Rick and I designed together. He's the muscle and I'm the instigator. I also took up my camera and began to document our efforts.

It's now been 17 years (in May) since Mom has gone to her Eternal Rest and 12 years since we
came to call St. Joseph, KY 'home'. I dabble in taking photos of gardens and kids (our 7 grandchildren). My other passion has become writing. Not the book author kind, not the magazine article kind, but the ramblings and musings of a 50-something Nana who keeps her kiddies on weekdays, is a staunch pro-life advocate, and a saint-in-the-making-work-in-progress who is striving to share and learn with others. In my book, THAT's creative too! God bless!