Today people all over the country are celebrating and hopefully giving thanks for the the good things they have no matter how difficult life can seem in the day to day. I still tear up over seeing a news segment several years ago that showed Thanksgiving at a homeless shelter. What struck me is that in all honesty, I thought that if I was standing in line for my meal at a shelter and a news camera was on me I'd being angry, embarrassed and probably pretty depressed. However, what I saw on screen made me feel ashamed.
The families in line were excited and when they interviewed people individually, everyone expressed thanks that a meal like this was possible, the children were over the top excited and (this is the part that still makes me cry) one of the parents said, "I'm so thankful to see my kids smiling and know that today they get to have seconds".
I thought about my mood...crabby, annoyed because I felt that my mother in-law and I were doing more of the "work" than Mark and my father in-law and irritated by the fact that I had to work the next day when most of my co-workers had been given the day off. Stupid things really...not to dismiss my own feelings about things that were happening in my life, but seeing a parent excited because their child was smiling and would get a second serving of food brought me back to earth. I was overstuffed and bloated while I had these thoughts.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love fall, I love the harvest idea and I think that all and all I try to be thankful and appreciative for my life. I have slips like most people, but almost every single day I think about what I appreciate and value. Usually, it's very simple things that make me happy.
One thing that I am thankful for today is for a lesson I learned last year. When you're a creative person, whether that means writer, artist, chef, cake decorator...whatever it is, you tend to hold back some of your best ideas or lines or designs until the time is right or until you no longer work for someone else who will benefit from them.
I can't tell you how many times when I was in a corporate environment someone would have a brilliant idea on how to change a failing procedure and when we (the co-workers) would say, "Oh wow, that's great! Bring it up in the next meeting", he or she would pull back and say, "Are you kidding? Why should I give my good ideas to these people? What do they do for me?"
Um? How about pay you and provide you with health insurance? I guess I can understand, but in a corporate environment I was always pretty willing to share. However, sharing my own ideas in my own work with myself. Forget it. I have an index card file of "ideas" and feel most of them are pretty brilliant (Are you surprised!). I also keep cards with lines that come to me or simply observations that could work their way into a story. Yet, I can't tell you how many times I'd be working on something and decide not to use that great line or in wallet work, that great piece of paper. I'd save my pretty paper or my fantastic words for a story or wallet that was "special". I know jewelry artists who save their most special beads for later. It's the creative persons way of hoarding.
I chanced upon a book last year by Pulitzer prize winning author Annie Dillard. Give it all, Give it Now: One of the few things I know about writing. It's very short, just a few words in each beautifully illustrated page, but the message is meaningful.
She encourages us to pay attention, because the urge to "save" a creative impulse, line, idea etc for later is a sign that we need to act on it now. That if you are writing and a line comes to you, but you want to save it for a different place in the book... don't. Trust that by spending what you've got creatively, you'll always get more. Trust that each idea isn't your last best one.
She feels strongly that keeping to yourself what you've learned is also destructive. That as creative people in the arts (or business) we have to share what we've learned. She writes that anything that you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you and when you try to retrieve it from the "safe" within you will only find ashes.
Can you relate to having a great idea and being really excited, but then deciding to save it? I can and actually, what used to happen to me is that my great idea would seem so right at the time and then a few weeks or days later my enthusiasm dimmed. I don't think it dimmed because the idea wasn't as good as I thought at the time, I think it dimmed because I didn't feed it with my energy.
So, how does this translate? Use your good paints now, use your beads now, use your best paper now. Do you have a great idea that you've been keeping from your boss even though the department struggles to get work done? Share it now. Moms, don't save the best baby clothes for special occasions. It's that simple.
I am not a disciplined writer or artist. My creativity seems to come in waves...it's rather manic, so I've learned that I have to grab the energy when it's there or I'm forever stuck in a cycle of "nothing new gets done".
I'm getting better and have two or three new projects in the works and even though I still have some trouble in the day to day, I am happy that this book made an impact. It's not a "book" in the traditional sense. It's accordion style and in a gift box, but if you are looking for a gift for an artist or writer, Amazon has copies for about $14.00. Some people have been disappointed in it ... I THINK they expected it to be more wordy, but I love it.
As an aside...those of you who hoard pretty scented soaps and lotions could take note...if you save them for later, they lose their scent. I'm all about making sure people stop hoarding soaps and sexy underwear. Who are you saving those panties for? Wear them all, wear them now! :)
p.s. If you read my posts you'll notice my overuse of punctuation, ... !!!!! ,,,,,!!!! " ". When it comes to punctuation...I give it all! :;:,,,""""!!!!!!!....