Guess what I did today?
I learned how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on my flute.
The flute I bought a couple years ago.
Shortly after searching, finding and buying a nice used flute at a very reasonable price, my mom got sick and the flute was put away for awhile.
But, now it's time to give it a try.
If the rest of my lessons are as fun as today's was, it might be one of the things I'll stick with.
At least for awhile.
Several years ago I remember being behind a woman in the grocery store and I was eavesdropping. It was either that or read the tabloids - which would you choose?
I overheard her say she wished she'd had a mother who had made her take piano lessons when she was little like some of her friends' mothers had. As it was, she said, she had nothing. No talents, no hobbies, nothing.
The woman was about my age. Certainly old enough to stop blaming her mama for things she's certainly able to do on her own by now.
Never mind. Not my problem.
But, for some reason, I have not been able to get that woman out of my mind. There are, I suppose, a lot of people who won't try new things. They're too busy, they say they're too old, whatever.
My feeling about this is if there's something a person wants to do badly enough, they'll find a way to do it. If not, they'll find excuses not to.
I thought of her today while learning about my flute, and learning to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
The poor woman has no idea the walls she's built around herself. Around her life.
I have a whole host of things I’ve tried. A few I have loved, a few I haven’t.
Not many have captured my heart completely for the long haul, and some get tucked away for periods of time only to ease themselves back into my mind sometimes many years later needing to come out and play again.
But I always have to try and at least get it out of my system.
That need to create is always in me.
Or, at the very least, to learn. I love learning new things - new artists, new authors, a new way to cook chicken - whatever. A new word sometimes calls for celebration.
While the outlets for creativity are endless, sorting through all the choices appealing to our own creative interests may take a lifetime. But, so what - it’s a journey and its fun.
How glorious to put our hands and our hearts to work on creating a piece that is all ours, and says exactly what we want to say; that contains a piece of our heart and soul. Something we’re so proud of that we can’t wait to share it, especially with loved ones. The sharing and giving of that piece is the giving of a piece of ourselves; and there’s not a truer, more trusting gift to be given.
And it can be anything. A piece of writing, a piece of music, a quilt or other fiber art, jewelry, pottery, painting, photography, or a beezillion other lovely artistic, creative things.
There’s no rule saying you have to find one area in which to be artistically creative and stick with that one and only thing. There’s nothing stopping us from dipping into several different venues, only to walk away from some knowing that that particular art or craft is just not quite what we’re looking for. That it is just not making our soul sing. Its gotta make our soul sing. When it does, we know we have happened onto magic. It’s a pure gentleness that settles inside us. A whispered “yes.”
Some folks may become quite well known for their endeavors, and they deserve our applause and our continued support. What could be lovelier and more agreeable, and more empowering, than to be able to live your life and make your livelihood from doing what you love?
Most of us won’t ever reach that particular dream of making a living doing what we love. That doesn't mean we won't continue creating and learning and blooming by trying new outlets. Its just something inside wanting, and needing, to find a way out while proving to us over and over again that our need to express will not be denied.
Cooking. My very first "for fun" class ever as an adult was a cooking class. Ursula's Cooking School in Atlanta. I'm still, however, one of the most boring cooks on God's green earth. That's not to say I don't, on occasion, feel the urge to spend time in my kitchen working at something that's particularly labor intensive, like Country Pâté. And love doing it. And I do love to bake. But the kitchen is not my most happy place to stoke my creativity.
Singing. Now there’s something I’ve always wished I could do. I can’t. Surely and simply, I just can’t. But it doesn’t stop me from doing it. Sometimes I just let it rip. And I know my voice is as sweetly clear as Alison Krauss’.
Not even in my own mind.
But, that’s O.K. It just feels terrific. Throwing your head back and making some joyful noise just feels good. And when I see Donald squinch his eyes up ‘cause I’ve hit a note that’s made his head hurt, I have to laugh out loud. Which makes him laugh out loud. And you know - that feels pretty terrific too. Honestly - what’s better than a belly laugh? And what's more freeing than being able to laugh at yourself?
Basket making. I took a class and made the ugliest basket known to man. But because I just knew I was going to love it (I did not), I bought tons of basket making supplies which I promptly gave away.
Knitting. I took a knitting class about a million years ago. I knitted a sweater for practice husband #2. I knitted a sweater for my dad, which I now have. I love looking at that sweater and remembering how often I saw my dad wear it. I knitted a popcorn pattern hat and mittens (which I still have). And that was the end of my knitting until a few years ago when knitting made a big comeback. I love hand knitted pieces. Anything and everything hand knitted is beautiful to me. But I didn’t want to do sweaters or hats or mittens. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I just wanted to knit! Just endlessly knit. No patterns, nothing in particular as an end result. So I went to the local knitting shop (which is filled with such gorgeous threads and fibers I could move right in), and asked the young woman working there how much yarn I would need to knit (no purling) an afghan of a particular size. I just walked around the shop picking up skeins of yarn in shades of reds and pinks in different weights and textures. Needless to say, to a true knitter this was not the way things were done. The young woman was curious and a bit skeptical about what I wanted to do and asked me to let her know how it turned out. It turned out exactly as my heart’s eye had envisioned it. I love it. It makes me smile whenever I look at it draped over my favorite red chair. And my “need” to knit was sated for the time being.
And while I absolutely do know this would not appeal to everyone?
I don't care.
I did it for me.
And I love it.
Needlepoint. I love to needlepoint. Somehow though, I’ve ended up with very little of it. The many, many pieces I did back when I was very much into needlepoint were all given as gifts, so I don’t have much of it around my own house.
I do have a canvas that I’m working on.
When I say “working on,” I mean I pull it out every so often and do a little, then it gets put away for awhile. This particular piece I'm working on has been in the works now for a few years. It’s a hoot and fun and colorful and whimsical. A group of women sitting around a pizza having a chat.
This canvas is from Maggie & Co., and the artist is Jerry Fenter.
Counted Cross Stitch. I love doing reproduction samplers. Or modern samplers that integrate old stitches that were in danger of disappearing. Doing just little crosses doesn’t appeal to me, but the more intricate stitches appeals to me greatly.
And I love how plain old floss has evolved into the gorgeous hand dyed works of art that it has. Just being surrounded by the gorgeous dyed linens and silks of today’s counted cross stitching is an aesthetic high.
Weaving. Took a class - several, actually. One from Betty Smith in Atlanta. Betty teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School, or used to - I’ve lost track of her, but she is a weaver extraordinaire, and a great teacher. Took another class at the Chastain Arts Center in Atlanta, and at the Dream Weavers Studio in Atlanta. I love weaving. But I just don’t seem to “get” it. First of all, dressing the loom is not a fun thing to me. The fun part is throwing that shuttle and watching my work actually come alive. Dressing the loom involves some mathematics (eek!), and it takes a lot of time. I dressed a loom one time thinking I was going to have a beautiful, long shawl. I was surprised when I started throwing the shuttle and my shawl was done so quickly. What I ended up with was a belt. A short belt. Pitiful. The one piece I did make that I’m quite proud of is a gorgeous ivory silk boucle shawl. ‘Course, I could have bought one for less than 1/3 of what it cost me considering the cost of the silk and the class, but it is a beauty.
We have a gorgeous loom.
Guess who uses it?
Pottery. Man oh man - did I ever want to be a potter. Mm mm. Let’s just say, I have a huge respect for potters. I no longer think pottery prices are too high. If you have zero strength in your hands, and if you don’t much care for mud dripping off your glasses, or stuck in your hair, being a potter may not be in your future either.
Jewelry making. This I love. I have only taken one class from local jewelry artisan Jim Rice which was a full semester long, and have some wonderful pieces that I’m very proud of.
But do I love it enough to want to take more classes and continue learning? Undecided.
A few years back I took a mixed media collage class, and yes, I loved it too. Some of you may have heard of Cathy Taylor who is a watercolor and collage artist.
She did a one week class here in Boone at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. I’ve always had a fascination with collage art, and this was a class I really enjoyed.
After doing my first one (above), I find myself digging around for bits and pieces of ephemera now to make another one from time to time.
Cheap Joe aka Joe Miller is quite the artist himself, and has built an unbelievable studio for guest artists to come and give classes. I cannot recommend these classes, or Cheap Joe’s Art Supplies highly enough. Take a look on-line at his store, his set-up and the line-up of artists and classes and think about attending one. They are simply fantastic.
A few weeks ago, I did a fun little thing with my friend Virginia.
The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum had a Cork 'N Canvas Day.
We sipped wine and painted and it was just a whole bunch of fun.
(I didn't say I was good at this --- I said I had fun doing it!)
And in between all these things, I write a little.
And, I do some photography. Donald and I both are interested in photography and we have taken some fun classes. It's the one thing I've been doing religiously and relentlessly since I was a kid.
The expense of a digital camera more than offsets what I used to spend on film and developing.
'Course, when the B and H Photo Catalog arrives in the mail, we're like two kids with our Christmas wish book.
Did I mention I learned how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" today?
Life is good.
I'd like to thank my friend Shirley McElhaney for always inspiring me to keep trying new things and to believe in art.