In Context—Brush Pen Portrait

January 29, 2021
Brush pen and watercolor sketch in my green lined journal while recovering from cataract surgery. (Lines at the left obscure notes about laser surgery post cataract surgery—it was not successful; the first indication that my vision was going to be uncorrectable.)

I post this today as a reminder that when you’re going through rough times it’s important to keep using your creativity. Something imperfect is better than not having a go. Exercising your creativity generates new energy. 

    • Sandra Markovich
    • January 29, 2021

    I wonder if every widow, older women, wanna be artist , in the world is taking online art workshops? ( sentence structure?) it just seems that I have been home forever. I think you are wise and right about creative energy. I also think i am learning things I don’t even know I’m learning… yet. Thank you for your wisdom.

    1. Reply

      Maybe Sandra, I don’t have a sense of this. They weren’t taking classes with me, I wish!

      I have friends telling me that they have signed up for some online classes but not taken them yet. I think even this far into shut down and social distancing protocols people aren’t adjusted fully to the new things they have to do.There are things we all took for granted that were time savers and gave us time to do things like classes if that’s what we wanted, or people think they’ll have all this time at home and can take classes.

      I’ve closed my business because of my eye situation and I’ve never been busier with non-work things to do because of Covid. I know yesterday I really, really wanted to go out to eat! (Before Covid we went out 1 to 2 times a week, now I’m cooking all the time.) Sometimes you have a day where things don’t work out (computer problems all day yesterday) and you just want to go out and have someone else cook for you. But that’s not going to happen.

      So basically my post was written from that point of view that even when things go awry and aren’t easy or seamless at this current time, it’s important to keep the creativity in our days. (And I wrote that post a couple weeks ago not knowing when I scheduled it that I’d have such a frustrating day yesterday; but I did get my sketching in, out of habit and will.)

      We all need to be careful about the new habits we form during this stressful time so I like to remind people to keep the creativity going. So many people have told me they don’t feel inspired to work, or that they haven’t been sketching, and I think as difficult as it seems, those are exactly the times we need to keep our creative habits going.

      The creative habit can be anything, it doesn’t have to be sketching. And it doesn’t have to be things we take classes for. (Because if someone is going to sign up for a class and not actively participate I think they should save their money, especially in this current moment.) Some people might find that this is the time to learn new recipes and cook, some might take up a new craft, some might start writing a journal, or poems or whatever. Finding ways to do social service from home and not in person is a creative act! There are a billion ways to bring creativity into one’s life. My favorite of course is sketching.

      I understand what you mean about it seeming as if you’ve been home forever. I’ve been in lockdown since December 2018 essentially, staying away from people at that time so I didn’t catch a cold, get bronchitis and have to miss my eye surgeries. I emerged from that and had a fall and tore up my ankle, more alone time. And then of course Covid.

      But I’ve very fortunate because I’m used to being alone a lot (i.e., working from home for 38 or so years). And frankly I like being alone. I don’t have any family in the area any more, except for Dick, so it’s not like we’d have had large celebrations that are being postponed; nothing missed there. My friends tend to be tech savvy so we zoom now and then. But in many ways this is normal, except for the heightened concern for others and trying to think of what I can best do to be helpful within the physical constraints I’m facing until I get a vaccine.

      But I think that we are learning a lot at this time. And even though I’m used to being alone, I’m learning a lot about myself and being alone, because it is an alone this time that can’t be broken by just walking out the door. I even wrote a post for later that touches on this.

      I do think, though, that if every “widow, older women, wanna be artist” in the world is taking online art classes then that’s actually a good thing because it shows they are reaching out to try and have some connection both with others and with their own selves.

      I think both are important and we have to find new ways that do both of those things for us during this time. I’m grateful everyday that I have my life-long sketching and journaling habit because it isn’t something I have to squeeze into the day. It’s simply there. And it’s points me to self-reflection.

      I think it’s good to learn things as you say, “I don’t even know I’m learning…yet.” because it means you are staying open. I think it’s also good to pause and think what pieces of learning are coming at you so you can start to weave them into a whole that’s useful to you going forward.

      Whatever activities you can do to get into that sort of mindset are valuable.

      Sometimes it’s as simple as starting with, “I’m grateful for ___________,” and starting a list of things.

      Suddenly you realize there are all sorts of things you might have taken for granted which you now realize are at the top of the list. And when you realize what those things are you can also take actions around those things to keep the gratitude growing, and sometimes, depending on our circumstances, working to get those things to others. Because it seems to me when we value something, and have an open heart we want everyone to have that same thing. Peace of mind, safety, food, clothing, housing, are the obvious things, but it can go much more deeply than that.

      And then we start thinking about the type of world we want to live in and how we can make that happen, even in a small way.

      I hope you keep finding creative things to do that both take you out of yourself and more deeply into yourself. Thanks for reading.

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