the power of creativity

Humans are deeply creative beings. 

Once upon a time creativity was a normal part of our lives as people sewed their own clothes, made children's toys, knitted winter items, planted gardens, fermented and preserved foods using seasonal recipes, made soap with various scents, built and repaired things out of timber, restored and painted quality furniture passed down through generations. We sang, played music, and told stories. 

I made Bebe the waldorf doll for Elsies birthday last year, this year I made Elsie a jumper and a matching tracksuit for Bebe. I drafted the pattern of another jumper. 

Now don't get me wrong, I have no desire to return to the 'good old days' no matter how wonderful I think it would be to travel by horse and cart from time to time. 

But our world has come in such swings and roundabouts. We have become so task-orientated that creativity seems a luxury we don't have time for. We trade our time for money and buy things we often don't need, only to update them the following season. But it's OK because we can just dump our old stuff at the thrift store, they can sell it and make money! Which of course is a total myth. Sadly charity shops are forced to dump tons of our unwanted stuff into landfills each year. Which costs them a fortune, money that never reaches the very people who need it most. 

Instead of making things, we buy things cheaply from big box stores. These items are often poorly made and created from synthetic materials that will never break down. How many toys does one child actually need? I suspect very few indeed. How many tops do we need? Probably far fewer than is sitting in most of our wardrobes. 

Which is a real shame. 

Making things from scratch doesn't have to be perfect. Here is my latest batch of homemade soap. The kids have nicked off with the usual container I use as a soap mold. But no worries! Any plastic container will do, It's still a better quality product than I could buy at the supermarket, made with a high percent of Australian ingredients. It was just as fun to make, and smells delightfully of lavender. 

Our modern, consumerist world has a strong focus on a 'growth economy' which doesn't inspire creativity. It was never designed to. It is there to tell us that it is too hard to make things. That it is better and easier to buy them, that two are better than one. In some ways, that may be true. But it does not tell us the hours of our lives we have to trade at work in order to buy the thing in the shops. It doesn't tell us that many of the items are cheaply made and will break within a short time frame, making those hours and the purchase totally redundant. Nor does it show us the monumental areas of landfills that are a direct result of such purchases. They don't want us to consider that our shiny new item is going to sit next to older more worn items making them look shabby, deliberately building a sense of discontent so that we will want to buy the update the whole room. Because that wouldn't sit well within the model of a growth economy.    

Many of us have forgotten the sense of joy, pride, and satisfaction that can come from learning how to do for ourselves. We have forgotten that making, creating, or building items can bring a deep sense of satisfaction that can't be bought from the store. Also, it can be a whole lot of fun. 

I love flowers, so having flowers intermingled with veggies gives me great joy, as well as adding to diversity. Cardening is a great form of creativity.

Recently we have had cherry tomatoes coming out of our ears. Not enough to make passata, but more than we could eat. I remembered seeing a fermented salsa recipe online and 30 minutes later I had two jars of homemade, organically grown salsa on the shelf, as well as some fermented cucumbers. Delicious and so good for our families gut health. As I prepared the ingredients, the kitchen filled with the scent of garlic, coriander, cumin, and freshly cut tomatoes. 

Sure I could buy salsa, and of course, I do. But it doesn't have the same nutritional value, and the process of buying it doesn't bring me any sense of enjoyment or pleasure. It's just another jar dumped in the trolly.  Now I know how easy it is to make our own fermented salsa from scratch, I can see it will be a regular kitchen staple. 

Consumerism would have us believe we need a kitchen full of gadgets to cook from scratch. We don't. I feed my family of 6 with very few gadgets which is a necessity living off-grid with our small solar system. I have a set of electric handheld beaters and a stick blender. The rest of my appliances are manual, like my hand-cranked mouli, which I use when making passata. We have a stovetop kettle and we make toast under the grill. Certainly, some appliances might be worth the investment, especially if one has arthritis or problems with strength or pain. The only appliance I really miss is my slow cooker. But generally speaking, kitchen gadgets are not the necessity advertisers would have you believe and often sit languishing in cupboards. 

Elsie's turned two last week. I could have bought her a stack of things from the toy isle, instead, we finished her cubby. I made Elsie and her much loved Waldorf doll Bebe a matching jumper and tracksuit out of some cute cotton May Gibbs fabric I bought on a big sale for $8/half meter. I picked up some secondhand blocks I found on market place, I purchased a couple of books she enjoyed which she had previously borrowed from the library, and some fair trade wooden dolls bowls/plates/spoons as well as a little wooden mortar and pestle for her to do pretend cooking when outside in the garden. My parents sent money which went on a beautiful wool vest made from an upcycled blanket and lined with cotton by a small Australian home-based maker, and some sweet clothes. It's wonderful to be able to support small, ethical makers, even if we cant afford to do it all the time. There will be a homemade cake and possibly a trip to the beach depending on the weather, as she adores being outside in nature. She had a similar vest last autumn/winter/spring though in a smaller size and she literally wore it day/night, often refusing to take it off. An item doesn't have to be a toy to be special or sentimental to a child.

Her birthday cost us very little, and I feel relieved we are not adding to unnecessary consumerism, and damage to the plant. Seeing our children play or use things we have made from our own hands is incredibly satisfying. Our kids love making things for us, so it is only natural they would feel the same sense of excitement and joy when receiving handmade items themselves. We need to get past the fact that through in our adult, consumerist trained eyes the item may not seem perfect. Because to our children, they are receiving something made by someone they love dearly, just for them. Our children still know the joy of creating, as it has not yet been advertised out of them.  

This cubby was a freebie. It had been used as a chook shed by the last people once their children had outgrown it. But we gave it a scrub, added a porch, paint, curtains and bunting and now it's a beautiful play space for Elsie. With a bed for her side kick Aggie. 

When we actually live what we value, it can bring a deep sense of peace. 

Creativity doesn't have to be painting a masterpiece. It can be as simple and practical as experimenting in the kitchen, growing some herbs, painting some furniture, or sewing some cushion covers. In our own family, it looks different for all of us. Grant is building his shed out of hardwood logs and has notched them all out so they rest neatly on each other. When he managed to get the logs all level and clad the rood with iron, he sttod back in satisfaction and we all admired his handiwork. He uses his creativity to problem solve on the farm constantly. We plant trees and build garden beds in a way we imagine will create a productive and attractive garden over time, he takes pride in building fences that are strong and also look good. I use creativity as I write, sew, cook, garden and dabble in photography from time to time. The boys draw, paint, make, play with lego, and build all kinds of interesting things outside, be it whittling or cubbies in the bush.  

Grants been building this machinery shed out of hardwood logs. Notching out the frame and getting it all just right. 

Creativity can be so many things, the options are endless and there are no rules about how 'good' or 'useful' the creative process should be. But at the heart of creativity is that it forces us to produce SOMETHING, anything. Rather than merely being passive consumers. Especially when the things we are consuming are not inspiring us to live good, productive, healthy lives but instead encouraging us to consume more and continue to feed into the model of an infinite growth economy. Which let's face it, is never going to end well for the planet, or the future of humanity. 

Somedays cooking is simply a task that needs to get done. But sometimes its good to set aside time and try something new. Try to infuse love into meals, and enjoy the smells and textures along the way.

Perhaps you are new here, or have gotten busy with life and have forgotten what it feels like to create something for the pure sense of enjoyment. If so, I encourage you to sit with a cuppa and think of something you buy which you would like to make yourself. Start small, maybe there is a favorite dish from childhood you would like to re-create for your family. Perhaps you could plant some herbs or flowers in pots near your door to bring in new colours and smells. Maybe you could dust off the sewing machine languishing in your spare room. Whatever you do, and however you do it don't rush. Take the time to enjoy the smells and taste as you're cooking. Notice the different colours and textures of the fabric you are sewing or the feel of the cool, damp earth in your hands as you plant the flowers. Try to notice and enjoy the process. Don't forget to take time to admire the end result even if it isn't perfect, before rushing onto the next task. Be proud of the dinner you serve up! Take photos of the flowers you plant and send them to a friend who loves gardening. It's good to feel proud of yourself! In return you will be able to encourage their creativity, which is a beautiful thing. 

Creativity is often best when shared with others.

Much love, 


Powered by Blogger.