31 Days of Giving Permission to . . . CREATE

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In January of this year, our family gathered to celebrate birthdays. Fully 25% of our current family group was born in that month, and we decided to do something a little bit different to mark this year’s rite of passage.

Did I mention that I have a lot of creative relatives? Well, I do. And the fact that they’re so talented doesn’t intimidate me (most of the time!) — in fact, it encourages and emboldens me. It gives me permission to try a little bit of creativity myself. My daughter, her husband and all three of her sons love to dabble in painting – and their breakfast room looks glorious, decorated with their own work.

So for this birthday gathering, we all came to their house. Taking our inspiration from the art work surrounding us (while the men and children played and watched games), the women gathered around the sewing machine.

I had almost forgotten there is such a thing as a sewing machine. When we moved to Santa Barbara, I packed mine away and haven’t threaded a needle in almost 17 years! But my daughter has one, another daughter and I bought fabric. I found some feed corn, my daughter-in-law helped us measure, and we set to work. 

Our project? Making corn bags! Do you know what those are? Soft flannel pockets that contain kernels of feed corn, which you pop in the microwave for two minutes and then apply to any body part that needs a little soothing heat. Perfect for fall and winter days and nights!

We had so much fun! Why? Because it is fun to make something together – something that is pretty to look at, easy to handle and has such a wonderfully restorative and practical function. We made enough for every family unit to take home two or three bags each. 

And mine have gotten a real work-out ever since! 

And when it came time to celebrate those birthdays? We ALL enjoyed the creativity of our daughter’s youngest son. Joel, age 14 at the time, made this scrumptious and beautiful cake from a recipe in a baking book I’d given him for Christmas. And friends, it tasted even better than it looked. 

In the home in which I grew up, my dad was the admired creative genius — he played the piano exquisitely well. My mom was a talented decorator, seamstress and floral arranger. I, however, did not quite fit into that circle of creativity and felt inadequate and unsuccessful at every creative endeavor I tried.

Until I left home.

In college, I tried my hand at some homemade Mother’s Day cards and began to play the piano for my own enjoyment. I gave myself permission to try things and ‘fail.’ But here’s what I learned — if you try it at all, you automatically WIN. I discovered that the joy is in the process even if the finished product doesn’t quite measure up to expectations. I also learned that the more I did it, the better I got. No, I never reached the status of ‘artist.’ I found something even better — the fun of creating.

And I am delighted to observe that my kids and grandkids do this naturally and well, in all kinds of ways. From photography to baking, from piano playing to imaginative play — they all create. For the joy of it, just that. For the joy of it.

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  1. We’re wrong if we think God missed us when he was distributing true talent. That idea is born of a misconception that talent produces only exquisite art… our perception of art. Talent is using our abilities to create beauty, and beauty comes in many forms. We should always feel free to create. I love how joy blossomed amidst the creation of something practical during your happy family time, and I’ll bet you’ll recall that joy every time you experience the warm comfort of one of those corn bags!

    (My DIL has fibromyalgia and owns a number of those bags, but hers are filled with cherry pits. I have two that seem to be filled with rice or something similar. We have no endearing memories attached to them — mine came from the drugstore — but my arthritis always appreciate their soothing heat.)

    • Now cherry pits, that’s a new one on me. Maybe I’ll start saving ours!! We’ve found that feed corn works the best. It gives off a moist heat, which feels good in dry southern CA. I’m sorry your DIL struggles with Fibro – nasty stuff. We loved making them to the size we wanted – and got the idea from a stitchery blogger I follow and LOVE. Here’s the link to this particular post, but ALL of her posts are wonderful. She does exquisite work. http://plays-with-needles.blogspot.com/2013/01/one-cozy-night.html?

  2. I’m so glad you discovered the freedom to just try things, for the fun of it! I’m working on that…
    What a fun project to try together! We have a bag that is filled with a mix of wheat and lavender. It was given to us as a gift when our first baby was born, so has lots of special memories attached to it 🙂

  3. We have cherry pit bags, too. Good for dry heat, moist heat–and even coldness if you keep a couple in the freezer. I washed one the other day in the washing machine, and it made it through fine.

  4. this post made me smile. as a young mom I read Edith Schaffers’ book on Creativity – and it really encouraged me to keep “creating” whatever it was i was creating those days. too bad not everyone gives creativity it’s due. at a church women’s retreat i went to a few years ago we had a dreadful speaker who told us that we didn’t need to be creative, because “ladies, GOD is the creative one.” Yikes. a bunch of us endeed up sitting out by the fireplace in the lounge once we escaped! I just dried some lavendar to add to my heating bag…smells heavenly.

    • Lavender is a great addition, but it’s the corn that holds that heat. Maybe next time, we’ll add fragrance. And that speaker??? I hope she was NEVER asked back.