Creative Pay Down

If I’d been paying attention, I would have known long ago that I was destined to live in a house full of creative individuals. These individuals leave their half finished projects strewn on every flat surface in the house; hoard craft supplies and stash them around the periphery of the living room, like giant piles of trash; and, in the case of my youngest, scatter miniscule electronic components resembling nothing more than small, dead beetles across the floor and hope no one steps on them.

My children have been releasing their creative energy since they were very young. When my oldest child was in pre-school, he would happily meander through the aisles of the craft store, picking up all the “treasures” he found on the floor and tucking them into one of the various pockets of his cargo pants. When it came time for laundry, I would methodically check each pocket, removing sequins, buttons, wads of thread, feathers, petals of silk flowers, the list goes on. It wasn’t long before these items, and many more, littered my floors, the kitchen table, the living room couch. My “Come clean up the table for dinner,” would be met with a disappointed, “But we’re not finished with our projects yet!”

I am no stranger to creative energy, having been a crafter, writer, and artist for as long as I can remember. I was the kid who could make something from nothing and find the inherent beauty in items others would toss aside. My mother would dispose of trash on the sly, stuffing promising items deep into the wastebasket under the gross, gooey garbage, in hopes I wouldn’t discover them in the morning and declare them my newest “treasure.” I made holiday ornaments out of walnut shells, paper, egg cartons and cotton balls. Plastic separators in packages of fruits and vegetables were useful for crafts, as were toilet paper tubes, the netting used for onion bags, uncooked pasta, and pretty much any other discarded objects. I was forever finding uses for trash, and I’m famous for saying, “Don’t throw that out! I can make something with it!”

And now, I am reliving the reality my mother lived, and I have dubbed it “pay down”—the things I imposed on my mother which are now being imposed on me by my own children. Together, we figure out how to manage the energy—and the stockpiles of stuff that are necessary for true creativity—as we carve out our own creative space in our small house. But there is a plus side of living with others with so much creative energy. We share our often chaotic life, our ideas, our art supplies, and ultimately, our inspiration.

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