Sunday, February 14, 2010

The ADD's of Creativity

How do you use your creative energy?  Are you a poet, painter, potter, or just perplexed by the thought of making something?

Throughout my life, I have dabbled in many different venues of self-expression, seemingly as an act of survival by creativity.  Swinging from vine to vine, I have grasped on to one lifeline after another in the jungle of arts and crafts.  If I try to tell this story in order, it goes something like this:

Music - I started taking guitar classes when I was in the 3rd grade.  (Never did break that resting pinky habit!)

I also played cello in junior high, something that I sometimes think of resuming, but when?

I haven't done much with it lately, but it's nice to know my guitar playing inspired my nephew to pick it up later on when he was old enough to hold a guitar.  He now has a room full of guitars and music equipment--quite the little rocker!

My niece was also curious about the object as a baby, but has since found other creative interests to hold her attention such as beading, handcrafts, etc.

I went so far as to dabble with a 4-track recorder, electric guitar, and midi keyboard after being inspired by Beck and other 90's indie music artists, but it has since fallen by the wayside...

Next up on my creative journey was probably poetry.  I think it all started with the Hallowe'en poetry contest in 6th grade.  After winning that with the likes of this:

How can you blame me, I figured I must have a talent for writing poetry.  Whew, gives me the shivers and not in a good way!

I even went so far as to take a creative writing class when I was on Study Abroad in Stratford-on-Avon.  I mean, what better place to write poetry than the possible birthplace and town of Shakespeare himself!

That creative outlet comes and goes.  Every once in a while, a poem still sneaks up on me...

Drawing was another way to indulge my fantasy world.  I remember taking a class at the Olive Rec Center (when I wasn't in gymnastics or basket weaving) and learning that I could draw things from real life as well as from my imagination.  I still have my drawing notebook from high school art class, and pick up the pencil now and again.

Painting, just an extension of drawing.  Sometimes I get in the mood, and other times blank canvases sit in the back of my closet just dreaming of their day in the sun.

Fashion design was another art-related interest.  I remember designing a horrific dress in collaboration with several friends during Mr. Mathias' math class one day in 7th grade.  He caught me with it and said, "Susan, if only your math was as good as your drawing... oh wait, it is."  I used to play with my Fashions by Me kit for hours and hours, making outfits from all kinds of gaudy material.

Later on, this gaudiness became a reality (for better or worse) in making costumes for my high school dance production shows.  The thought did cross my mind to go to FIDM after high school, but when I saw the price tag, I high-tailed it over to the local community college instead!

Speaking of dance, this one was a real life saver.  I was always so bad at P.E. in elementary school and junior high (awful hand-eye coordination and depth perception due to my bad eyesight and growing up not knowing whether I was really left- or right-handed), that when it came time to choose an athletics class for high school P.E., I saw Dance on the list and thought, "Well, at least it doesn't involve anyone throwing balls at you" and signed up for that.

I was hooked.  Here was the first time I was able to express myself in public (even though the audience probably had no clue what I was trying to communicate) without being shy and reserved.  I could use my budding seamstress skills, hairdressing, acting, and dancing and never once had to say a word to the audience.  My creativity was fully unleashed for the first time.  In fact, it ended up being my (first) college major, which later on shifted to English/Creative Writing, and then finally to Religious Studies (the B.A. I finally finished).

And lest I forget to mention, teaching is probably my most creative endeavor yet.  That one started way back when I was lining up all of our stuffed animals into a semicircle and teaching them things on an imaginary blackboard.


Later, in junior high and high school, I tutored some of my friends in math, but it wasn't until I was in my mid-20's that I finally realized this was my calling in life.  Now I've been in the classroom for 10 years and still feel that every day presents an opportunity (if not dozens) to use my creative and problem-solving abilities to the fullest.

From crafting interesting and provocative lessons to shifting your teaching angle on the spot when you see kids aren't getting it, and now, learning new ways to use technology in education, this is my ultimate love and challenge.

So there you have it!  The story of my creative life in a very large nutshell.  Hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride.  Now it's YOUR turn--what inspires you to create and what venues does your imagination come to life in?


  1. Wow! The work you put into this post was so worth it. I love your take on teaching... I don't 'teach' anymore but I deliver training for client employees. I think teaching is so underrated and your students are lucky to have you. Thanks for sharing and I especially love the photos.

  2. What a wonderful post! Thanks for the introduction!

  3. Thank you, Libby. It's nice to know there is support out there for us teachers. Sometimes I feel like we public school teachers get a bad rap in society and people think it's supposed to be "easy" or something to teach 30+ youngsters to be attentive and learn everything the state says in a limited amount of time, whether they were at grade level to begin with, or not. I also really enjoyed delving into some of my old pictures and updating them here on the computer.

  4. Cheerful year of the tiger!
    I really admire your ability to tell a story with words and pictures. And to be creative and teach you must have tremendous energy! Managing your time to do all the things you love to do is quite an accomplishment.

  5. Oh Paula, if only I were there in the time management department. The only reason I got this post together was because it was a 3-day weekend! Thanks for your kind words.

  6. Wow... Aewsome Post! Great pics and writing! Loved the pics with the time line... Cute little baby.. Great Job!

  7. Thank you Heather and Valerie. I'm glad people are enjoying reading this!

  8. I love how you documented your creative journey. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.