The past two years have been much more about simple survival than the added bonus of creativity. They've been very, very good years--some of the most joy-filled years of my life, ones that I'll always treasure in memory, but there wasn't a lot of room for luxuries like creative expression.
For the first half of 2014, we were figuring out what country we were moving to, applying to jobs, filing paperwork, systematically giving away and selling all of our possessions and living in a nearly empty home. For the second half of 2014, we were living in a hotel (for nearly a month) and then in a small-yet-efficient dingy apartment in a neighborhood in ShenZhen--speaking Mandarin everyday and falling in love with teaching and the new world around us. Living in China was, to some extent, living in the constant state of feeling, "Well, I literally have no idea what's going to happen next, so I'm just not going to worry about it." Get interviewed for television? Be asked to dance in front of 3,000 people? Go on a 20 km hike without any warning/preparation? Perform a dramatic reading in the school talent competition? Check, check, check, check. 'Twas an amazing adventure.
When we moved again in 2015, that brought another empty house and another round of paperwork to wait on, and a busy life adjusting to Angel's new and much more challenging workload. In China, we saved every bit of our income that we could because we knew we'd soon be facing a pay cut and the necessity of setting up house again--a decision that served us well during our early months in Malaysia, as we were able to buy a vehicle and needed appliances and furniture. 2015 was a year of acting like real adults as we made big purchases and found new habits and new roles in the community that forms our third home.
I've long been the kind of person who has a few artistic endeavors stewing somewhere in the background. My parents are engineers, not artists, so they found me somewhat of an enigma, but still faithfully encouraged me in smaller or larger ways: bought me paints, taught me embroidery stitches, let me join a theater club.
Leaving America, packing up my life into 2 suitcases meant getting rid of all the tools of my trades--the beloved sewing machine I bought myself as a college graduation present, the paints and brushes, the pliers and papers and string and scraps of fabric. Of any 'stuff' we had, that was probably the hardest to say goodbye to. Since moving, I've contented myself with the creative expression that is blogging and digital writing--the creative hobby that is most easily transported. All I need is access to a laptop and the internet, and I can write and create all I want!
But in 2016, I crave a little more than that. It's always hard to predict which way life is going, but it appears to be settling down somewhat once more, and I want to feel free-er to invest in the kinds of supplies that I love being creative with again, and I want to learn new and more versatile creative skills.
I'm excited to spend this year looking for ways to be creative in my everyday life--in ways that end up brightening both my own days and those of others. I think I'm off to a good start. For Christmas, I asked for and received a coloring book and pencils, along with embroidery thread and cross-stitch fabric, so I've started out with coloring and embroidery for two of those 'easy' creative endeavors that can be accomplished while watching an evening movie with Angel. I hope to find myself a sewing machine one of these days.
The Youtube channel is another potential avenue I've opened up for creative expression, and when it comes to work, I'm dedicated to writing my lesson plans and executing preschool in a creative way--one that I actually enjoy and one that will hopefully have great benefits for those learning. I'm adding different vegetables into my usual recipes. I'm wearing mismatching earrings. I'm painting my nails again. I'm no longer letting the need for the housework to be done and the budget to be balanced and the confusing bills to be paid trump my need to be creative. Because even though I occasionally forget it, it's perfectly possible to do both; I can, if I only remember that I have the ability, accomplish the hum-drum tasks of life in a unique and colorful way.
What are some of your favorite ways to express creativity? What tools or resources do you find most helpful in encouraging you to choose to be creative rather than choosing the shortest route from point A to point B?