If you’ve read my and Emily’s posts so far this month, you might have sensed a bit of a theme developing. This month is the kick-off to a new series we’re developing: Unveiling Your Creative Superpowers. We’re exploring the creative experience using the classic superhero story narrative as our roadmap. This month, it’s all about the backstory.
Last week, I talked about our creative birthrights, the inheritances of creativity and genius that we receive through our natural families and through God, our creator. Each of us has a heritage of creativity waiting to be discovered, but few of us ever know the full story of creativity within our own family lines. The key to unlocking our creative inheritances starts with recognizing that we are not creative orphans - no matter what our circumstances might indicate - and finding the creative lineage hidden within our own families. Think of it as mapping your creative genome, searching your family history for every instance of creative expression that might play into how you utilize and express creativity in your own life.
In some families, the heritage is obvious: the Jackson’s had music, the Barrymores had acting . . .you get the idea. Their shared creative DNA was as easy to spot a freckled nose or bushy eyebrows. For most of us, creativity is more hidden within the genetic code. Often, this is because our family’s heritage doesn’t sport the more obvious modes of creative expression. We like to look for the painters, the writers, or the musicians; it’s easy to miss a creative inheritance if you only look for creativity in one or two forms.
As you examine your creative genome, keep your eyes open for more than just the obvious expressions. Instead of looking just for artists and the like, look for the problem solvers, the innovators, and the relatives who lived non-average lives. Also look for unique skill sets that were passed from one generation to the next (these will very often be practical in nature). Don’t be dismayed if your relatives tell you they’re “not creative types.” Even the families that don’t claim their creativity often have creative gifts hiding in their midst.
My own family falls in the self-labeled “not creative” category. Few souls on either side of the family tree would claim any creative talent, though many operated in creative skills without ever realizing it. For most, the skill came out as practical problem solving, yet bore the unmistakeable excellence of true creativity. The women in my mother’s family have used sewing skills to enhance their lives for generations. Many a wardrobe and home benefitted from their fabric handiwork. On my father’s side I had a grandmother whose cooking skills remain unparalleled years after her death, and a grandfather who grew the loveliest camellias for miles around. They claimed neither artistic genius nor creative skill, yet their creativity flowed like water within the banks of their everyday lives.
Generations later, my life is a testimony to the heritage they started. Equal parts engineer and artist, I spend my days seeking practical, beautiful solutions to the problems of normal living. I build community one meal at a time, and my sewing machine has helped me feather many a rented nest. Not a day goes by that I don’t see their creative traits exhibited in me somehow, and, the more I learn of them, the more I see the “family resemblance” in my creativity.
What about you? What creative traits do you find repeated in your family history? Take some time to examine your family’s creative heritage. You may be surprised by the treasures you find hidden in the people you thought you knew. . .
Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!