Everyday Creativity: My gratitude list of delights

by Janet Grace  Riehl

“My life is more than my resume,” I reminded myself yesterday as I met yet another friend whose international work shapes the world. That’s the Big World. My life and work shapes the Small World I touch around me–an intimate world. It’s up to me to make sense of my life no matter what I’m doing or where I’m doing it. Creativity moves in all channels in our lives. This, I believe; it’s been my theme since my first post December 2nd, 2008, “What is creativity, anyway?”  Here, then, is my gratitude list of creative delights–from my Small World.

God Bless Smart Phones…and Digital Natives.

In the last year an 11-year-old friend has given me a tour through my phone that’s made it into a tool for creativity and connection. Every penny spent on the phone is now worth it in spades. And, I joke, so are the efforts of everyone over the decades who brought us smart phones.

I’d had my phone several months, but had never taken photos with it. At a ball game (sitting in dug-out seats!) she picked up my phone and immediately showed me how to use it–including advanced effects like cartoon, and split screen. Now, I click away with my phone all the time.

On our supper dates we play with my phone: Doodles,videos, sound recordings, passing notes with the memo app (as if we were in class), and much more as we delve into the phone’s possibilities. Rather than becoming a generational divide or a block to connection, it’s our way to collaborate, create stuff, learn, and connect.

She’s also the creative catalyst for the Doodles I’m making on my phone. That’s a story in itself; my Doodles are yet another delight on my list.

Doodle Delight!

I made my first Doodle October 11, 2011, after one of my supper dates with my young friend. She asked, “Can we draw?” I reached for my purse to pull out paper and pen. But, something in her face told me that’s not what she meant. “Oh, you mean on my phone.” That night I found the digital drawing program “Doodler” and downloaded my first app. That opened the door to doodling together…and to a new art media for me.

By December my Doodling really started to take off. I’m constructing a Body of Work as I would in any serious art form.There are hundred’s now. So many I’ve lost track. I use Facebook as my audience and gallery. There is commercial potential here, but right now I’m enjoying having a zone of freedom without expectation or pressure or the “I have to do it” effort. I’m learning and growing in the media. It revives my aesthetic and compositional sense and skills. There are several styles within the Body of Work, and it’s fun to see it grow.

My Cleaning Expert Learns to Read

My Cleaning Expert (what we used to call “cleaning lady”) and I have become friends and work well together. She’s 39 and couldn’t read.I found this out one day when we looked at a label on a cleaning product. I was shocked. I found a free literacy tutoring program at the local community college. That didn’t “take.”

But, at the end of 2011 I made a pact with her that she would learn to read in 2012. Soon after she found a literacy tutor close-by. I’ve taught English as a Second Language and directed a family literacy project for migrant and seasonal farm workers…that sort of thing. So, her cleaning days become English tutoring days as well. “English is a mess,” I say, and then we look at the rules and rule breakers. She’s getting good at sounding out words, and things are sinking in that never did before. It makes both of us so happy.

The world abloom and greening.

We’d go mad without Beauty, wouldn’t we? A neighbor’s dog and I take long walks over field, stream, and ravine on my father’s land. The dog is a beauty; we’ve become buddies. Our walks are heart opening and heart pumping. And, natch, I’m taking pictures of the wild flowers in our woods.

My women friends

I go back and forth between my father’s place in the country and my place in the city. At my place I come home to my life separate from my father and the family. Part of this world are my women friends, and many of them belong to my nearby health club. Slowly we’ve grown from exercise pals into friends and companions.

I’m really blessed in this. People come and go. But, they are here now, and I’m grateful. Last year I held women’s circles in my Goddess Gathering Room (a.k.a. front room). My erratic schedule precludes these now, but I now have a circle of women to be embraced by.

My growing fitness and strength

A few years ago I resolved to “Get my body back.” It’s back now! Since 2007 I’ve dropped 35 pounds, dropped several dress sizes, and become a Babe. Measurements, flexibility, strength, stamina, and balance all improved.  As the French say, I feel “well in my own skin.”

Recently I picked up a friend’s toddler with ease. Without thought I squatted down, picked her up, and swooped her up on my shoulders.

To be open to the world, everyday art, beauty, kindness, and convialité–this is how I wish to compose my life.

Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog. Learn more about our audio book “Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music.” Become a Riehlife villager.

6 responses to “Everyday Creativity: My gratitude list of delights

  1. I love the way you find creativity in so many places that others might overlook.
    And, I can attest to your doodles- I LOVE them!!

  2. Janet,
    Your Doodles are a surprising delight each time you post them. I am impressed by all you’ve learned and applied in the realm of creativity in the digital age and in your personal care-taking.

  3. Khadijah, Thanks for encouraging my Doodling. I think of you and your children and how you structure situations for them to learn and make and do.

    Arletta, thank you. The digital art media is a form I could not have imagined I’d either do or enjoy. I like materials. Touching. Getting my hands in it. I’m trained as a sculptor and Doodling on a small screen is about as far away from that as one can get. But, it’s given me exactly what I need, at the time I need it…after years of my inertia at getting back into the arts.

    Janet Riehl

  4. What a wonderful and inspiring post. It is very cool to see someone getting to places I want to go…be more creative, feel comfy in my skin/body, feel the wind that blows through me, feel energized and alive. Still looking for wholeness and happiness, wonder where it is and how I will get to it? Until then, just keep plugging along…hoping, working, pushing, seeking.

    • Carol, trust me. I am not one of those happy, cheery, “life-is-good” folks. I’m dour and cranky and just like you “plugging along…hoping, working, pushing, seeking.” That’s so well said! To me, that’s what life is about. This Spring, much to my surprise, I found joy and purpose and accomplishment amidst all the things that I’m Not Doing. And all the things that, frankly, are not Big Fun. So, god willing, let this post inspire us both. –Janet

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