Maya Angelou's Thoughts

Maya Angelou’s Thoughts on Creativity

I have to agree with Ms.  Angelou. You can’t use up your creativity.

It seems the more I imagine, the more I scoop from the creativity pool. It is never ending.

Are you a person who has to make yourself sit down to create?  Sometimes I am the way.  In fact, I can easily distract myself.  Of course, I can always blame it on the ease of using the internet and “researching” for my next book. Usually, I end up on social media sites reading about kittens being saved from flood waters or something like that….

Honestly, I think my procrastination has to do with fear or failure.

I can’t really measure the value of something I’ve created.  I’m too close to it, or from my standpoint my work isn’t as good as someone else’s.

Nothing will stifle your creativity faster than comparing yourself to someone else.

I’ve been reading “The Big Magic” and let me tell you, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book is helping me in ways I didn’t expect.  It is very comforting to read a popular author admitting they don’t think they have much talent and are in a quandary why someone would want to read her books.

These are things I know about myself if I want to create:

  1. I have to have brain space.  If there are too many variables in my day (being grandma to our darling granddaughter, teaching and lesson plans, creating Teacherpayteachers products, daily goings on like the laundry needs to be done or we need to run errands,) I simply can’t create.
  2. I have to be rested.  If I’m tired or stressed, forget it. I simply             can’t imagine.
  3. I need classical music or sound tracks playing in the              background.
  4. My ideas arrive most fluidly between 9:00 and 11:30 a.m. and           4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  5. I do my best creating on a rainy day.
  6. I have to have some plan before I begin whether it’s synopsis or an outline.
  7. I like my life to be balanced.  If I spend too much time creating lesson plan products or grading papers, then I need to do something such as cook a new recipe, or color in a coloring book or maybe write.

I used to think I was an “emotional perfectionist”.  That’s a person who needs to feel emotionally balanced in order to function well in life.  In some respects, I am one.  It is difficult for me to create anything of quality if I am stressed or worried.  (I can write really good poetry then, though. Ha!)

I think I will always have problems with self confidence and I have to be on guard to the little voices in my brain which like to distract me.  Those little boogers never seem to go away.

What do you do when you want to create?  Do you have certain steps you take to nurture your creativity?  I’d love to hear from you.

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If you’d like to read more about my journey as an author, read here:

A Writer’s Journey: A Really, Really Long One But Worth It

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Two actors in The Fanstaicks

How Theatre Saved My Life

This is how theatre saved my life.  My imagination (and later, theatre specifically) saved my life. When I was a child, my mother was quite ill and consequently to show respect to her, I controlled my emotions. so I didn’t want compound her stress.

I was the youngest in my family. With ten years between me and my next closest sibling, I rarely had anyone to play with or talk to. I depended upon my imagination to comfort me and take me away from loneliness I felt but wouldn’t admit to anyone. I learned how to slap on a smile and pretend everything was good with me.  I was quite a little actress.

When I saw movies, I would act them out and sing very dramatically while sequestering myself upstairs on the east porch of our house. It had no heat and I remember freezing to death for my “art”.

I thought I was crazy, though. I never told my friends about my make believe playing and when I would visit their houses, they never played make believe. So I decided I wasn’t like everyone else. I played make believe until I was twelve.

My father was a physician and my mother was raised in Japan when she was a child. Consequently, her wander lust was difficult to satiate and we traveled to many countries when I was quite young.

If it wasn’t hard enough being the youngest, my world view was very different from my fellow classmates. Just another thing to make me an oddity, at least in my mind.

My mother wasn’t at all supportive of my interest in theatre. She intimated I could end up like Elizabeth Taylor, “She’s been married seven times. Look at her…”Something was mentioned about me ending up on a “casting couch.” I didn’t know what that was, but by my mother’s attitude I knew it must be bad.

Trying to be the good daughter,  I left behind my imagination and became a cheerleader in junior high school. It makes sense if you think about it. That worked for two years and I loved the performing aspect of it.  I was a rotten jumper.  No one taught me how to do a round off or cartwheel, so I taught myself.  But I could yell loudly and lead the crowd in cheers.  At least I could do that!

When I was in high school, I found exactly what I was seeking –the stage! I was cast in my first play as Madame Arcati in “Blithe Spirit”.  Since I had no previous acting experience, but lots experience playing the piano, I notated my script as if I was playing the piano. I used fermatas for pauses and crescendo and decrescendo signs when I wanted to speak louder or softer.

To this day, I grow nostalgic whenever I step backstage. The scent of sawdust, newly painted flats and the warmth of the stage lights are a magical elixir to me. I brush the back of my hand across a velvet grand curtain and immediately I feel I’m home.

This is how theatre saved my life
In college, I experienced an epiphany. It was the early 1970’s, and society impressed upon me to hide my negative feelings or only express those feelings most accepted by others. I realized by sharing myself hiding behind a character, I could express  all my feelings and thoughts. I felt accepted universally.

That’s a heady experience which made me come back for more. Nearly forty years later, I’m happily stuck here.

this is how theatre saved my life

I became a director for a community theatre production of The Miracle Worker because there was no one else willing to do the job. Ha! I have a leader type personality and directing fit into my life.
I was quite young to take on such a challenging production but I took to it right away. I saw the potential of affecting people through stories that I created in my own manner.

Now, I adore making a statement through words and actions.

As of this writing, I have directed over 250 plays and musicals with adults and children alike.  I chose to direct and act at the community level for most of my career.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy professional theatre.  On the contrary. I’ve appreciated the professional positions in which I have been employed.

It’s just not where my life’s journey has taken me.  I’m always open to work in whatever venue needs me.

I’ve portrayed many beloved roles–Maria in “The Sound of Music”, Marion Paroo in “Music Man”,  Dot in “Cricket on the Hearth”, Penny in “You Can’t Take it With You” and many others. Above all, more than any particular role or any special production, I have learned about myself.

Theatre saved my life.  It has given me great joy, creative challenges and great friendships (I even met my husband while acting in a show).

I don’t know where I would be without it.  image

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I’d love to hear from you!