A Year of Spring

#12. Do something that revives an old trend

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Last fall I started buying landscape paintings at thrift shops. Something about the cheesy, yet peaceful vibe in this old art trend made me happy.

I was super picky and only bought ones that sparked joy (thanks, Marie Kondo). I also spent anywhere between $2 and $5 on each of them which is a big win. The home trend of landscape paintings may not be for everyone, but these ones make me smile every time I see them: one for spring/summer, one for winter, and one for fall.

Happy times over here with bringing back this old trend in home art decor. Anyone else love this style? Hate it? That’s the best thing about art; it sparks emotion and that’s a beautiful thing.

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A Year of Spring

#11. Create something visually beautiful

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The only unique contribution that we will make in this world will be born of creativity. (Brené Brown)

Making moments to do something creative is the most restorative thing to the soul. Painting, playing music, building, gardening, drawing, dancing, writing, creating something from an idea whether anyone else sees it or not produces such joy and peace in life.

We were born to create. We were born to make and produce and do something to turn something intangible from our heart and soul into something tangible. Doing something creative is terrifying. It’s scary because it makes us feel vulnerable and the idea we had is suddenly out in the world for all to see, and perhaps criticize.

For the longest time, I genuinely believed there were two camps of people: creative and noncreative. I was in the latter group, a noncreative who loved art, music, literature, and all things beautiful. Over the past few years a slow paradigm shift occurred leaving me with the belief that every person has creative potential and expressing it produces peace and rest in our souls.

In This Is Where You Belong, Melody Warnick interviewed Nancy Barton, an artist from Plattsville New York. Barton makes this startling statement, “to categorize people as creative or noncreative is flawed from the beginning, whether it’s repairing a tractor or making it part of a sculpture. It’s the same thing.”

Creative work is so much bigger than the arts. And that shift in thinking is so freeing.

Today, make space for some creative expression. It will be a breath of fresh air that will energize your soul in a new way. Put some music on and lean into the fear that so often stifles our creative expression; you won’t regret it.

Having an imaginative, creative kid forces me to do art and think artistically in ways I never thought I would. Instead of shying away from it due to lack of ability, I decided to dive in fully without the pressure of perfection or talent or validation.

Here’s an hour’s worth of painting. Both kids painted their own visually beautiful creations. And I, being a novice painter, dipped my paintbrush into my coffee once instead of water. Every amateur makes her mistakes. The fear of failure was real for the first 5 minutes, but I just went for it and just painted for fun with colors I love.

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I think the pan holding the paints was the prettiest thing produced at the end of the hour.

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Taking an hour to do something creative with music on in the background was the best use of an hour all week. I didn’t produce a masterpiece. I did drank a sip of coffee with a few drips of watercolor paint in it. Doing this created space for my soul to breathe and it was worth every moment despite all the busyness of doing it with two kids.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give what you’ve got. (Steven Pressfield)

A Year of Spring

#10. Eat something adventurous

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While I’m not usually afraid of trying new foods, there are certain types I generally avoid. Brains, guts, and intestinal parts of animals usually remain on the menu and off my plate. There’s something scary about the culinary unknown.

I still remember the first time I tried liver and onions when I was working as a waitress at a retirement village. It was drenched in gravy and tasted slightly different from other meat. I ate more than a few bites which is a big deal when you’re 17 and tasting new cuisine.

Living in Toronto surrounded by thousands of new foods and styles of cooking was daunting at first to a girl from the midwest who grew up on meat and potatoes and the most ethnic food consumed was spaghetti and pizza. During those five years, I tried new food weekly and ventured out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.

There’s something invigorating about stepping out and eating something you’ve never had before. It’s also an incredibly uncomfortable and nerve wracking thing to do in a restaurant these days because with kids eating out is rare and I want to enjoy the experience fully. So this time around I tried cooking with a new food: anchovies.

These salty fish kept popping up in recipes I was trying and I kept leaving them out of those dishes. This challenge in the Year of Spring came up and it was time to embrace the discomfort of trying something new. One jar of anchovies made it into a veggie lasagna, a few were added to homemade caesar dressing, and a couple more landed into a new pasta recipe.

I haven’t tried one by itself, but I’m no longer fearful of them as an ingredient or the fishy smell, and that’s a win in my books. One thing is certain, I’m in a zone to try new foods again. Maybe next time I’m at a restaurant I’ll just go for it and order something completely unfamiliar to my palate and diet.

Jean Piaget, a famous developmental psychologist, wrote about the necessity of discomfort in the learning process. He describes how new “situations create disequilibrium, a sort of mental discomfort that spurs [learners] to try to make sense of what they observe.” Even something as small as trying new food teaches us something about ourselves and the world around us. The discomfort of new tastes and textures is one simple way to continue learning and growing in a tangible and continuous way.

Eating anchovies was adventurous this time around. Maybe in a few years I’ll be up for trying sweetbreads or something even more out of my comfort zone because discomfort in the moment is worth it for lifelong learning and longterm growth.