Learning to Trust in Creative Living



Origami bird / you have great long wings to fly / why do you sit still?

I was expecting to be unemployed for the summer, had planned on it in fact. I had signed up for a TEFL/TESOL certification course in the Twin Cities and would be staying with my Wales crew in Saint Paul until the course concluded. But I also knew I couldn’t just wait around for a job to fall into my lap. Five months later, I’m still not expecting that, however nice it would be.

76 job applications from January to now, and I’m still looking. I am hoping to break into international education, helping students study abroad and experience other cultures. I would still be involved with education, and I would still be involved with travel and foreign cultures. But at this point, as long as a job pays me a living wage, I’ll be satisfied.

The funny thing is, even though teachers can do “all the things”, we get pigeon-holed. Don’t ask me why. We can manage a classroom of 30 pubescent kids, create, maintain, and organize schedules, lessons, assessments, and student documentation, and we have excellent bladder control, but all of that seems to get lost under our title. The point is, I know what I’m capable of. If nothing else, I am adaptable and dedicated to the work I do.

While I am still regularly filing job applications and sending out resumés, I’ve been trying to come to terms with the idea that I am where I need to be for however long I need to be here. When I need to be somewhere else, an opportunity will present itself so that I might go elsewhere. I am learning to be patient with myself, which is far more difficult than it sounds. It is so much easier to worry about job prospects, future plans, and finances, but it is not productive. I address the concern as best I am able without being overwhelmed, and then I take the time I’m being given to live more creatively.

I allowed myself to spend a weekend in California to be with my family and not think too much about the job hunt. I had a heart to heart with my mother about everything over some wine, and she brought up some fair points (Let’s be honest, all a mother’s points are fair). I spent some time with my dad and he did what he always does, made me believe and feel like everything would be alright. It was exactly what I needed.

And as luck would have it, I had finished reading my chosen book well before I boarded my flight to CA from CO. I spent the next 2.5 hours writing. With nothing to read on the return flight, I ventured into one of the airport bookstores, and didn’t exactly jump with excitement at the selection. Then my eyes fell on the bold cover of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I absolutely do judge books by their covers, and I definitely wanted this one in my hands.

img_9313Sometimes the Universe speaks softly, and it has been a long time since I’ve heard it. Sometimes you run into a book you didn’t know you needed until you read it and everything changes. It wasn’t simply that I was agreeing with what Gilbert was expressing, but that I began to have a multitude of perspectives and considerations rush through my mind that all supported my need to live creatively.

Before I had even heard of the book, I started practicing traditional art. Every day I would work on a new assignment, and now that Inktober has arrived, I visit my sketchbook far more regularly.  And in line with that new creative outlet, I dove back into writing. It didn’t matter what it was: journaling, fan fiction, assignments from my Masterclass, my novel. Writing was happening. Reading Big Magic was just an affirmation, a permission slip, as Gilbert so aptly put it, for creating work that is fulfilling and meaningful even if I’m not getting paid for it yet.

And now, every other day, I make a list. At the top, I have my creative living section, where I think of every creative thing I could possibly accomplish in a two-day span that would benefit my spirit. Below that, I have my practical list of responsibilities, usually including job applications. I have found that I am more likely to accomplish those practical activities when I have a stock of creative options to fall back on. And I have also come to realize that if I don’t get around to every single thing on either list, that’s okay.

So here I find myself, back in the blogosphere, venturing into more possibilities even though they aren’t all places. Because it all comes back to the same thing, everything is a journey worth writing about.

Don’t call it an aspiration, call it a goal. Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan. And above all, always remember why you started.