The early part of my life was dominated by darkness… my father’s alcoholism, the patterns we developed as a family, and being told how worthless I was. But in those bleak, early days, I remember some cool moments that stand out, and nearly all of them have to do with creativity.
I was in second grade when I won a district-wide drawing contest in school (where I competed against kids much older than me) and won a book, which I still have today. When I was even younger, I drew a picture of a cardinal with my crayons and sent it in to a local TV show that regularly displayed children’s art, and as the camera panned over the many drawings, the host pointed to mine and said, “My gosh look at that cardinal! Wonderful.” I won a signed joke book from the host, which I also still have today.
From the very beginning, writing and art was a safe haven for me. I look back at these bright moments and realize that being recognized for my creativity became an antidote to the negativity and verbal abuse I received. It allowed me to hold out hope that my life could be different one day.
As I grew up, creativity remained a constant in my life, a way for me to express the hurt I felt and exorcise the bad thoughts that had been drilled into my head since I was a baby. Art and writing allowed me to develop a new reality for myself, one that was filled with possibility and faith. Eventually, my art and writing and poetry turned a corner, where I looked back at the girl I was and didn’t recognize her anymore. I was no longer trying to figure out my past but instead I began encouraging others who were in the same dark place I once existed in.
I published my first poetry book in 2004 and painted the cover for it. This was my coming out party, where I no longer hid my desire to live a creative life. I kept going, publishing articles and painting and, a decade later, I am a full-time creative entrepreneur. I have published several articles, written several books, and sold many pieces of my artwork. I have a licensing agent and I get to share my creativity daily in social media.
My view of the world today often focuses on joy of the most ordinary of moments. I am someone that will pull over just to watch a sunset, I’ll photograph cloud after cloud, and when I see a little bird perch in our yard somewhere, I’ll stop what I’m doing and take a moment to appreciate it. Being an artist means I slow down and pay attention to the specialness, the beauty, of this world.
A part of me wishes I could go back to that little girl I was once was and tell her how important all those crayon drawings and poems really were. But I’d rather share thoughts from a positive, healthy, creative life with the people who are now hiding under a brim of darkness of their own. There is a light that will lead you through all that, so don’t stop playing and drawing and writing and wanting.