Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our Creative Home: the Fishes

Here at Darlybird, we are all about living creatively and colorfully. In our new series “Our Creative Home,” we talk to some of our favorite creative friends to see how they encourage creativity in their homes and families! Today's guest post comes from Alicia Fish, homemaker extraordinaire and one of my dearest friends. (She writes about motherhood and more on her blog, and offers beautiful glimpses of her daily life on Instagram).

Tell us about your family!

We are not a family of what most would call as creatives. Billy is a manufacturing engineer and I am a homemaker. We have a three year old daughter Millie who talks from the moment she wakes up to the second she falls asleep and a one year old, Lottie, who uses her teeth for everything (to pull herself up, to pick up her toys, to be funny and to show us how annoyed she is). We are not painters or musicians or graphic designers. And frankly, I am not even a crafter. But we try to fill our home and lives with creativity. Sometimes creativity gets put in a little box of what it should look like and who it belongs to but it is so much more than any one group can claim as their own. As an engineer, my husband tries to view situations and challenges in different ways to find solutions that are new and innovative. That is creativity. At home, I have to find new ways to manage our time and productivity, honoring each person’s individuality while making a beautiful whole. That is creativity.

How have you encouraged creativity in your home?

We want our children to be surrounded by stories and imagination so our bookshelves are overflowing with books of every kind, most of which are thrift store purchases. Each room in our home contains art from artists, some from classic artists and some from local artists. When we have time my husband and I enjoy taking classes online or through the local university continuing education program (I just signed up for a calligraphy class online that I am really excited about).
More specifically for our children, we have designated spaces with art supplies like crayons and color pencils and paper that our daughters can access (the paint and play dough are on the fridge because we still don’t trust them that much yet). Millie has loved coloring and drawing and has recently begun creating stories that go along with her pictures. Stories of monsters that eat houses and love flowers. She is so excited to tell us all about her characters and we try to remember to talk to her about what she is drawing, to give her the opportunity to express them more.
We also have noticed that Millie expresses a lot of her creativity through her clothing, so we let her choose her clothes (most of the time). This means for the past two months she has only worn dresses. But that is ok because they are an expression of what is happening in her imagination.

How do you get your kids involved?

Millie wants to be involved in what we do in our home. She wants to cook and bake and work in the garden and be a part of all the creating, even if it is mundane creating to me (like making lunch). Too often I find myself rushing quickly through my to do list and telling her she can help me another time. Recently I have been trying to change this. There will always be times when I need to push through something and just get it done. But if I can look at the activity and the day and realize that we are in a hurry heading nowhere, then I take a deep breath and let Millie measure out the flour for our cookies or stop to collect rocks on our walk home. This requires a lot of patience from me. I have to make a thoughtful choice to slow down and let things be, to stop all the rushing around.

This goes for so many situations in which I find myself. Instead of turning on a movie, to set up the paints and let her entertain herself. Instead of working in the garden when she is taking a nap, to let her help me, which means answering a million questions about the flowers and letting her pick some flowers and eat all the raspberries. But every time I do, I get to see her running around, pretending to be fairy talking to the flowers and bumble bees and fighting the evil lawn mower that threatens her precious garden. We are both more fulfilled when there is imagination and wonder.

Do you have any creative traditions in your home? If so, what are they? How did they begin, and how do you keep the momentum going?

For us the traditions are slowly forming, as our children grow and as we find the things that we love most.

A couple of years ago we started hosting a garden concert at the end of summer. It is not really like the parties you see on Pinterest. We keep it simple, letting the garden take care of the decorations. We hang lights and eat good food and our lovely musician friends come and play the things they have created while we enjoy being outside together.

This is the third year we will be doing it and I think the biggest reason we have been able to keep going is having friends who are willing to help: sharing their own creative talents in music and letting us borrow sound systems and lighting, and just general encouragement. Involving other people makes a world of difference, especially when a year comes up that you just can’t do it all on your own.

I have wanted to have a winter house concert and to host an Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery party and organize a neighborhood art walk but have yet to make them happen. I have to realize that we are still figuring things out, as individuals and a family. Someday I hope to do more but for now, I try to be happy with the little pieces of creativity that we have together.

What advice would you give to families hoping to live a more creative lifestyle?

Live deliberately. Life gets absurdly busy, it seems impossible to slow it down. And there are times when it just has to be that way. Bathrooms need to be cleaned and children need to be rushed. But I don’t think it always has to be that way. There are moments of creativity, big and small, that naturally grow in the cracks of our busy lives. Clearing away some of the rocks and giving it a chance to bloom is sometimes all that is needed to become fulfilling and beautiful. But for me, it has to be a deliberate choice, to remove some of the non-essentials (which are different for everyone) and to let those moments of imagination and creation thrive. 

Any final thoughts?
Honestly, I have no idea what I am doing. I just know that I have to keep trying to figure it out. Sometimes it all works out perfectly and the garden is magical and my children are painting and other times we all go to bed at 7 o’clock because I have nothing more to give. But I keep trying to be better, to create better moments, and to let the naturally magnificent moments happen.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on maintaining creativity in your home, Alicia! Readers, what are some ways you encourage creativity in your everyday home life? Let us know in the comments!

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