Wednesday, September 12, 2012

serendipity with 12 pens

This summer it was a jigsaw puzzle at Shiney's. That great communal project that unites and frustrates children of all ages. It got me pondering and remembering and reminiscing. And then it was a little book; for the past month, I've been making my way through The Happiness Project, in which the author notes that the things we enjoyed as children we likely still enjoy if we'd just admit it to ourselves. More pondering. 

Then I began The Artists Way. I'm only on week two of 12, but already I've been coming up against some, apparently predictable, roadblocks. How do I take my inner artist child out to play each week when I don't know what my inner artist child wants to do. It's been so long since I cared to listen - maybe I couldn't hear. 

But somehow it all converged, as the important things often do. One of the artist tasks this week, in addition to the date, was to list 20 things I enjoy. I read that one to STG and said "I don't think I can think of 20 things I enjoy lately."  And so I  looked back - back to the days of playing with Shiney. Back to long school bus rides home to a farm that was full of adventure and devoid of tv. Back to days when I was seldom bored. 

What did I love to do? Play the piano - not actually practice and learn, just play with it. Read and read and read and read. Jigsaw puzzles and board games. Random walks that somehow turned into  mysterious adventures. And colouring. Not drawing - somehow even at that young age I knew that 'I couldn't draw.' But I loved colouring long after it ceased to be 'age appropriate.'

So I headed out this afternoon believing that I'd have the house to myself for at least 2 hours tonight to find either a jigsaw puzzle or a colouring book that caught my fancy and that I could play with for 2 hours on a date with myself. 

What I found was so much more wonderful. In the unlikeliest of bookstores, a display rack of DoodleArt. Now, if you weren't a child in the 70's and early 80's. And more particularly, if you weren't a grandchild of Viola Sylvesta in the 70's and early 80's you might not have the heart-rush of happiness at the mention of DoodleArt that me and my sisters and my cousins are likely to have. It's not just the impossible complexity of the doodles. Or the seemingly endless task of filling them in. It's the hours and hours and hours spent waiting for the light blue pen to be free. Or sucking on a dying felt nib to get just that last bit of green on the page. And seeing your collaborative masterpiece hanging at the end of the downstairs hallway for years, and always knowing exactly which flower or fish was yours, and finding exactly the spot where you thought a fin was a wave and coloured blue instead of orange.

And so, at the ripe old age of 44, I bought myself a DoodleArt.

But that wasn't even the best part. I could tell from the miniscule preview on the poster tube, and from the title, that this particular DoodleArt was about Fairy Tales. But I had no idea until I'd shaken out the pens, reverse rolled the poster, and plopped it on my table that this DoodleArt was really about me. Young. In an outfit with too many patterns and too many colours. Hair askew (though I don't think I ever once had pig tails). So deeply engrossed in a book that entire worlds swirled around me. Me. Captured in a DoodleArt.

And, something sort of magical happened while I was colouring my DoodleArt this evening - I sang. For the first time in a year. I sat at the table with my smudgy felt pens and I sang. Just a little. Until the song ended again. And that's okay. Maybe I don't have to find all of my inner artist child at once. Maybe it's okay if she emerges one doodle, one song, and one date at a time. I hope she does. I really miss singing. 


  1. Shann - I love your posts - especially this one as I search to develop my own creativity. For so many years I've focused on my "have to do-list" and haven't enjoyed "being in the moment"or taking joy from the simpler things in life. You truly are amazing and are an inspiration to me. (Deanna S)

    1. Thanks, Dea - and here I've been thinking I should be more like you and actually getting my stuff out in the world they way you've shared your cooking revolution. It's certainly a fine balance - wanting to be women who contribute, who take care of our families, etc and also having a need to take care of and express ourselves. I hope you have more room to do that as your fledglings start to fly further and further afield.


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