I've been feeling like I've been in a rut lately. Nothing deep or dark, just kinda stuck. I feel like I'm in survival mode and have been that way for a while. There hasn't been much time for anything beyond getting through the daily grind.

The other day, a fellow teacher came to me with a request. She knows I like to write, perhaps she even reads here, I don't know. But she wanted me to take a look at her niece's application essay. I asked if I was editing for grammar or style and she said both. So without hesitation, I picked up my pen and got to slashing and rewriting. It felt wonderful, like I was stretching muscles long out of use, but delightfully still ready. There wasn't a moment when I felt doubt about the creative decisions I was making.

I miss being creative. I used to work in a fairly creative field. I got to write on a daily basis. I was paid to make pages beautiful and string words together in a way that made you want to keep reading. That's not to say teaching isn't a creative profession. I'm constantly thinking on my feet, creating learning opportunities, directing the day. But it's not the same.

I've been wondering what my Word should be this year. Something to focus on, some lofty Idea to steer towards. And Create has been in my mind for a few days now. Today, driving to church, listening to some NPR (nothing like listening to other brainy, creative people to get the juices flowing) I had this little thought. What if I picked a different creative arena to focus on each month? Create with Food one month, create with Words the next, and so on. It takes the vague "be more creative" goal and gives it something solid to grasp. It gives me a smaller, more achievable timeframe. It keeps things loose, but still within some boundaries.

So, what are some tools to employ? Keep in mind that some skills are just not my jam. I'm not going to be composing any songs, picking up any instruments, or enrolling in any classes, as much as I'd love to become a fancy photographer or speak fluently in another language. Also, baby steps people. I'm still a full-time working mom of two, with a fairly demanding job and a house to run, husband to keep happy and cat to curse. Let's be realistic. Push outside the comfort zone, but not so far off the ledge that I lose it. Here's what I'm thinking...

Create with Food - cook one new recipe a week. And/or, cook something intimidating. Like a butt. Or exotic type of fish. Or something that has to be impaled on a beer can. You know, just to keep it classy. I'm not cooking my way through Julia Child here, I just want to add a few recipes to my repertoire and become a little more adventurous in the kitchen. Considering I am really only comfortable cooking about five things, this is a legitimate resolution. Ooh, I could even learn to grill! Or at least turn on the grill. Also, I want to get more comfortable handling raw meat. I hate raw meat. So, lots of opportunity to get creative with food.

Create with Words - This one is probably what sparked it all. And should be the easiest, the most second-nature. I just need the discipline to do it. Perhaps I'll set a goal to blog every day. Publishing the world wide web would certainly keep me accountable in a way that "keep a daily journal" would not. Plus being forced to find something to write about on a daily basis would get the juices flowing, especially since my life isn't interesting enough on a daily basis to provide the content.

Create with Yarn - So I used to knit. Nothing fancy, just scarves, the odd poncho, once a hat when I wanted to master double-pointed needles. But there is something inherently soothing about the repetitive motion of working yarn. Or maybe I'll pick up a retro cross stitch project. The time factor, and the fact that it takes two hands and makes multitasking infinitely more difficult, will be the biggest hurdles here.

Create with Paint - I could participate in another "paint and partake" event, which I totally would anyway, Word of the Year or not. Or I could interpret this as "go paint the bathroom already". Either way, I would be satisfied. It was quite fulfilling to get the laundry room redone over Thanksgiving, so I'm up for more. Along that vein...

Create with Color - Or more accurately, "I've been wanting a coloring book and this is the perfect excuse". Perhaps I'll get one now and call this my January theme.

Create Something DIY - This one is a little more vague, but basically gets at the idea that I want to make more things out of nothing. It might mean finding a cool craft on Pinterest and bringing it to life. It could be practical, like these, or just something pretty, like this.

Create with Music - This might be a stretch, but since I'm not about to take up a new instrument or join the church band... what if I made it a goal to listen to a different type of music every week for a month. And like, really let it infuse life. Listen in the car, in the classroom after the kids go home, at home while making dinner. I mean, could an intensive week's worth of classical music make me feel smarter, calmer, more inspired? What about some chanting monks? A week's worth of Kidz Bop? Nothing but REM for seven days? Although technically I'm not creating anything, so perhaps this one won't fly...

Create Community - Intentionally invest in new relationships. Maybe go out to eat with a different family every Sunday after church. Maybe invite a different family over for a Saturday night dinner for an entire month. Maybe a combination of the two. I feel like I have a pretty good community here with my neighbors, and my work family is strong too, but it would be nice to widen our social circle to include other families with children the same age as ours, or start building stronger relationships with the people at church, as opposed to just waving at each other on the way to the nursery.

Create Outdoors - This one is easily accomplished via our garden. Or I could suddenly get excited about yardwork, but that's unlikely. Maybe I'll get a themed garden, like everything I need for salsa. Or mojitos. Whatever. Potato potahto.

So that's nine ideas. I can't think of anymore, maybe something to do with the kids? Create some Space and take a vacation by myself? There are possibilities here, but for now, I think I've bitten off plenty. Off to get myself a coloring book and start creating!

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