Dreamers + Doers 05: Creativity is a Gift

Dreamers & Doers is a new series here on Sunday Blossoms & a twice-monthly mailing you can get sent right to yer inbox. This space is for creatives to find inspiration, support and encouragement to make their dreams a reality. Written + curated by Amina Ahmad, a creative dreamer / doer crafting through life in & around Washington, DC.

I have renewed Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert's latest book, from the library three times. That is the maximum amount of times it can be renewed. This guide to creative living is a beacon of light, navigating the waters of summoning courage, letting go of the ego, trusting the magic of the universe and remaining curious throughout the journey.

There are about a million themes we could discuss from this book, and I encourage you to pick up a copy and read it, but what I want to relay + expand on is Gilbert's idea that creativity is a gift - a gift to the creator as much as it is to the audience.

The Romans and Greeks separated the concept of an external creative guide from the notion of the self as an artist. An artist was not a genius, but rather, they had one to guide their hands to bring forth a body of work. The artist is just a conduit for that idea that pulls them further and further through a work until it has been manifested.

Gilbert also postulates that ideas are a force of their own will circumventing the globe looking for a human partner to birth it into this world. If we accept this as true, the ego is therefore set free.

The nature of the ego believes we have ownership of ideas. However, if ideas are a force of their own, then we do not own ideas. They cannot be owned. They are free to float from person to person to person to person as a key looking for the right lock to open the door into being.

Not every idea is one we can use. Sometimes we must pass the key on to another door that it can unlock.

What we own then, is the work we put forth to bringing that idea to life.

So, if you are a painter, then paint. If you are a writer, then write. Hone your craft. Be ready for the day the right key comes to unlock your door. And that, Elizabeth Gilbert would say, is Big Magic.

"If you show up for your work day after day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom."

- Elizabeth Gilbert


CURRENTLY

INSPIRED BY: little free libraries
READING: You are a Message by Prof G
BIZ TRIX: free trial for QuickBooks + chance to win $25k toward a dream studio


Dreamers + Doers 04: Stay Open

Dreamers & Doers is a new series here on Sunday Blossoms & a twice-monthly mailing you can get sent right to yer inbox. This space is for creatives to find inspiration, support and encouragement to make their dreams a reality. Written + curated by Amina Ahmad, a creative dreamer / doer crafting through life in & around Washington, DC.

Change is hard. Most of us don't adapt well to it. Typically, change is met with resistance. It can be uncomfortable, it can bring grief, but when we open our eyes to it, change can also bring new life.

Here on the first day of Spring, I'm reminded that every day is change.

Every day is a new beginning.
Every day is a new challenge,
but every day is also a new opportunity.
A new chance to start fresh.
A new chance to do something different
and to grow.

When we get bogged down in routine / the ordinary / the mundane, we forget how unique every moment / every interaction / every breath truly is.

"The present moment is new even if we have performed the same action with the same person hundreds of times before. Of course, it’s easy to think, 'Well, it’s just like the last time, so I’ll do what I did last time,' and then not have to listen to the new moment. But if we do that, our lives become boring replications of what we have always done before, and we miss the possibilities of surprise, of new and more creative solutions, of mystery." - Mindful.org

My new challenge is to stay open; to approach each moment as it is: new, unique, a chance. Therefore, the big moments of change won't be so shocking. Instead, they will present opportunity like nothing before. 

Opportunity leads to new experiences.
New experiences lead to new thought.
New thought leads to evolution + growth.
In life, in our work, in our selves.
Stay Open.

 

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

-Van Gogh


CURRENTLY

INSPIRED BY: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
READING: You are a Message by Prof G
BIZ TRIX: Building a Brand is like Building a House - free ebook

Dreamers + Doers 03: Unapologetic

Dreamers & Doers is a new series here on Sunday Blossoms & a twice-monthly mailing you can get sent right to yer inbox. This space is for creatives to find inspiration, support and encouragement to make their dreams a reality. Written + curated by Amina Ahmad, a creative dreamer / doer crafting through life in & around Washington, DC.

 Artwork by  Lisa Congdon

Artwork by Lisa Congdon

Activism and Art have always been closely tied together. In the social media age, I think we think of art as being more commercial than we have in the past. Commercial generally leans toward non-offensive. Art, however, does not.

Recently, artist / illustrator / hand letterer / author Lisa Congdon wrote about how her followers sometimes complain that they just want to see the pretty pictures and not be bothered with her political views. Her response: "My views have been shaped by my experience — as a woman and a lesbian, for example — just like your experiences shape your views."

Our experiences affect our views.
Our views + experiences affect our reality.
Our reality affects our work.

Don't worry about making people uncomfortable with your perspective. But at the same time, we must also remember to step outside our own comfort zones and welcome others' views that may make us a little uncomfortable. Because while all art may not resonate with our own realities, all voices need to be heard, particularly for communities with historically less visible experiences.

"While I have lost many, many followers over the past months (especially in the past weeks [post-inauguration]), I am incredibly heartened by the support that the vast majority of my following (and it’s going strong) have expressed for my activism and my activist artwork. I think most of my followers do see me as a whole human being — they want to see me as a whole human being. They like knowing where I stand, and where they stand in relationship to me." - Lisa Congdon

Likewise, but in a completely separate world, artist and founder of Black Girl in OmLauren Ash, created her platform to specifically create space for women of color to explore self-care and wellness. She says "I think that it’s just astonishing that you still look at advertisements and walk into a yoga space and will still be surprised if you see yourself represented. That is really crazy." 

Everything does not have to be for everyone.
Sometimes, creating work tailored to your particular view can be the more important + inspiring path to follow.

“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” – Audre Lorde

Our perspectives need to be shared. As a multicultural millennial woman, I know my pure existence is a full-time representation of my community / my politics / my perspective. But as an artist / a maker / a writer / a doer, I get to share that with the world.
And you do too.

 

Advice from Lisa Congdon


What has become more important to me, and the main point I want to make here, is living my truth, expressing myself as a whole person — not just someone who makes pretty pictures — is more important to me. Here’s how I put it to the woman who publicly proclaimed she was unfollowing me and all artist/activists: “I am not on this planet to please everyone or make everyone feel comfortable. I am here to share my art and my experience and to be a voice for what I believe in.”

Read More


CURRENTLY

INSPIRED BY: Miss Chelove's mural series in Pakistan / #MagnetsofCreativity
READING: In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney
BIZ TRIX: DC area friends, Washingtonian magazine is rounding up women-owned businesses for A Day Without Women. Contact info to list your biz is through the link.


A Field Guide to Early Spring Blooms

Every Spring, year after year, I see too many incorrectly named and tagged Spring blooms on Instagram. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you can't be part of the flower club on Instagram if you aren't part of the flower club in real life! So, to help you correctly tag your blooms this year, I have assembled a quick guide to early Spring blooms that are so early this year, they are already starting to show their colors.

Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees have BIG pink flowers (typically). There are a few different varieties of magnolias, but this is the one you most commonly see in the Spring. They look like little bushes when they're young and grow into big beautiful blooms as they age. They make insane messes as the flowers fall off at the end of their blooming season, but I think they are worth the views. Others may disagree.

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Cherry Blossoms

DC's signature non-native tree, the Cherry Blossom features big poofy clumps of pink flowers. From far away they look like little pom pom trees you might see in a Dr Seuss book. They are a light pink (almost white) and line the National Tidal Basin as well as a bunch of other areas around DC. As their blooming season ends, they turn from pink to green, as most trees do.

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Plum Trees

So so often mistaken for cherry blossoms, these babies are more fragrant and the tree leaves are generally a dark red / burgundy. (This is a key difference in distinguishing them from cherry blossoms!) They are charming AF though and usually a little pinker than cherry blossoms. The flowers are a little larger too, and very lovely.

 

Now go on, be merry spring flower lovers. Tag your Spring blooms on Instagram #SundayBlossoms

Winter Walks

In this crazy world we are currently inhabiting, it's insane to remember that it is still only February. Photos from Rosie and my walks would try to convince us otherwise.

The unseasonal warmth has sent the early spring flowers into bloom already, and I'm hearing rumors that DC's cherry blossoms are already starting to show. 

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As Rosie and I walked through the wooded trails surrounding our neighborhood yesterday, I wondered how I felt about it. I love traditional winter hibernation, and this spring warmth, though more than welcome come March and April, is freaking me out a little here in February. I don't feel that overt joy that comes with the much needed release from Winter's Wrath, because it's so ghastly inappropriate here in February. 

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But then I took a deep breath, put on a smile and thought Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be will be. At least we have this beautiful day.

Dreamers + Doers 02: Do What You Love, Confidently

Dreamers & Doers is a new series here on Sunday Blossoms & a twice-monthly mailing you can get sent right to yer inbox. This space is for creatives to find inspiration, support and encouragement to make their dreams a reality. Written + curated by Amina Ahmad, a creative dreamer / doer crafting through life in & around Washington, DC.

Creativity is the process. Creativity is not the end result. 

Creativity is sweat. Creativity is blood. Creativity is tears. If we didn't love it, we would never play this game in the first place.

If you were blessed on this sweet green Earth with the gift of creativity, use it in your own unique way, with your own unique vision, not in a way you think you should apply it. Because if I've learned anything over these years, there is no right way to do this. What works for another maker won't necessarily work for me. The style of another artist won't flow from my hand. We have to trust the perspective / the vision / the creativity we have within us, and go forth confidently.

Artist, illustrator and ceramist Kenesha Sneed said: “it took a long time for me to feel confident in my style and approach. But the more you make things and keep exploring and resist giving up on what you love doing, you find it’s worth putting the time and effort into doing it. I don’t always love everything I put out there. Simultaneously, you can’t put anything out there without accepting the fact that [the customer] may not love it.” Read more

In this sense, the outcome / the end product is irrelevant. The act of making is what pushes your boundaries / pushes your work. The outcome is always interpretable by the viewer / the consumer, and that right person is out there, waiting to connect with the right product. All you have to do is create something.

 

Advice from Kenesha Sneed

"I don’t really hold anything I design to anyone else’s standards. If I did, I wouldn’t create anything. You have to continuously go to the beat of your own creativity and let that drive you."

Read More


CURRENTLY

INSPIRED BY: Nora Simon's 100 Days of Making Cool Shit project
READING: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
BIZ TRIX: Etsy Studio, a market for making, launches soon