Welcome, and enjoy this first foray into the public posting of my creative endeavors… or, hypothetically public, but probably only my sister and mom will read this. My intention for today was to make a collage that represented what have always been – and what I expect to continue to be throughout this journey – my sources of creative inspiration. Un-coincidentally, they also happen to be my primary sources of happiness: love, relationships and friendships, nature, the ocean, mountains, books and poems, and music. I’ll admit, collaging also felt more accessible and less difficult to me than other forms of art at which I have less experience (painting, drawing), and therefore a less intimidating place to start.
More meaningful than the final product of this effort, though, was the time I spent sifting through old papers, magazines, birthday cards, and scrapbooks in order to create it. My intention for this collage helped me return to these sources of creative inspiration and, less intentionally (though perhaps I should have foreseen it), remind me of everything for which I’m grateful in this world.
I make “gratitude lists” in my journal each morning (and have been doing so for awhile), so I’m one of the last people who needs convincing that the simple practice of gratitude journaling can positively impact one’s life. So, as I sat on my bed combing through old photos, plane tickets, postcards, and notes, I felt as though I were “gratitude journaling” on steroids. Needless to say, the process was somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster, but my intention to create a collage of inspiration turned into something better: a visual and enduring representation of my “gratitude list.”
I’ll likely return to my “gratitude list(s)” in future days, so here’s something else I want to note about this evening’s collaging process: if you’ve ever written me a birthday card, or a letter, or even a thoughtful post-it note… I’ve kept it. I’ll admit, it’s not the most practical thing in the world to carry all of these letters and cards around with me (especially when trying to transport folders of cards from my childhood home in Connecticut across the country to California), but I don’t regret for one moment keeping each and every one. Almost all of the time it took to make this collage was actually spent sifting through these wonderful, physical representations of love, friendship, and generosity.
The thick yellow pieces of paper are taken from a card my late grandfather (Duke, we affectionally called him) wrote to me before I went off to college. The rose petals are ones I saved and pressed from the night Thomas proposed to me, and the “20” and “19” are cutouts from two plane tickets, one from a trip to Nicaragua and the other to Colombia (during which I conveniently happened to have been assigned a seat in row 19). You might recognize the magazine cutout of Yosemite, or the stickers of different characters from The Little Prince, both of which have served to inspire me throughout the years. And these items are only a small representation of the souvenirs and photos and notes I read and appreciated this evening.
I spent a long time looking through one particular book I’d added to the pile of memories on my bed: a scrapbook, actually, that my dad had made and given me for my 21st birthday. It’s full of my old writings, drawings, and certificates (some “participation” — namely, the one for completion of “Level 1 ice skating” — some actual achievement) from the first 21 years of my life. One of the pages that stood out to me in the context of beginning this project was of a drawing I’d done when I was much younger:
It’s nothing special from a visual perspective, that’s for sure, but it reminded me of the lack of inhibition that I had as a young child. Somewhere along the way, as I grew from a young child, to a teenager, to an adult, I developed a resistance to, or even fear of, doing things I wasn’t “good” at. When did I stop drawing because I was told, or felt like, I wasn’t “good” at art? When was the enjoyment I got from an activity surpassed by a fear of judgement or failure? Why have I given up so many hobbies or ideas I love and that bring me happiness because I’m “not the best”at them? What a sad way to live, really. I hope this project restores in me some of that childhood inhibition — or that I give myself permission, if you will — to explore what I enjoy, regardless of if I’ll ever be “good” at it.