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Crayon-Colored Success


As a child, I loved to create.

I frequently wrote and illustrated my own stories, and if we’re honest, they were mostly about cats, because I was deeply obsessed with the Aristocats (still dreaming of buying a grey kitten and naming him Berlioz). I made vibrant, messily-colored books and little newspapers detailing our family happenings. They were disastrous, adorable creations; altogether unadmirable collections of construction paper and crayon. Regardless, I loved to create.

Adulthood finds us all a bit more complicated, doesn’t it? I’ve thoroughly settled into my passions and strengths, but regardless I am often met with stagnant fingers on keyboards and tired eyes on empty screens, longing for crayons on construction paper.

“Why are you doing this?”

A question I’ve been asked a lot about this blog, and one I cannot always answer well. Its purpose is not lacking ambition, but without immediate direction. It leaves me frequently evaluating my work and my dreams and an angst shifts in my stomach, demanding “what are you doing?”

Dallas Clayton said, “try to divorce being creative from being adored.” My friend Sean beautifully hand-lettered this quote a few months ago, and it stared at me from its Instagram square, challenging a faulty cornerstone of my creativity. I felt my squirming insecurities, whispering I wasn’t doing anything glittering, and my audience was waiting.

“Why are you doing this?”

Also a question I was asked a lot when I decided I wanted to host a letter-writing night. I found the idea and fell in love with it. I loved the idea of gathering community to intentionally encourage; handwritten love spilled on small cards and postcards, stamps and pens and stickers littering outdoor tables and a campfire filling our lungs. A kitchen counter covered in generous offerings of cookies and berries and coffee and wine. The assortment of humans felt perfectly random - enough that everyone would be forced to make a friend (my extraverted dream).

I had no agenda with the evening. No monumental, world-changing plans. But I saw the beauty in the idea, and I wanted to pursue it. It’s something I’m getting in the habit of. The more I watch friends pursue the big and bold things and frustratedly ask, “why not me?”, the more a gentle peace pulls me back to the heart things: to the rootedness in resting, to the simplicity of figuring-it-out, to the heart-overflow posture that dismisses the constant need for success.

The creativity that captures us each as children, oozing life and color, almost inevitably dulls to serve the purposes of efficiency and success. Failures and social media stare us in the face, comparison declaring the expectation of absolute brilliance and admiration. Our dreams are polished; and sparkling, world-changing purpose is the standard we hold ourselves to (a hard ask at 23, y’all). Perfectionistic ambition squashes our our ability to rejoice simply in the act of creating.

But what a freedom there is in creating without agenda or quota or expectation - to do something, anything full-hearted, solely because it brings joy. It is a luxury and a gift. It returns us to what we were made for. It brings us back to crayons.