Economics of Creativity

“The art and curtains may have been out of necessity, but I remember it being beautiful.”

– Brene’ Brown The Gifts of Imperfection.

Brown writes about art and curtains as a memory retained from childhood, but it makes me question my current decisions – my lifestyle changes within the past few years. – ‘necessity is the mother of invention’; yes – and creativity – and it shows externally the beautiful creativity that each of us carries.

9 years ago, I made curtains – they were roughly sewn by my untrained self from fabric purchased at a flea market with no particular goal in mind.  They were rusty orange and beautiful because they incorporated my favorite color and creativity in which I felt not quite confident.  They  served the duel purpose of defending us from the sunshine while being thick enough to add an extra layer of protection from the cold when the weather swung that way.

Two houses ago (and only 3 years), when our destructive cats decided to shred the screens as a last ditch effort to escape the house, I up-cycled old lace into screen fabric, reused the screen cord and I loved them.  They were beautiful and I was proud of them.  Could I have purchased screen material to replace the broken screens? No, not at that point in my life.  The necessity of window screens and curtains inspired me to be creative and to cover the windows with what I had and what I loved.  The creativity reflected my own personality and style….

At one house, I painted the entire kitchen so that it would feel more like home – and it did.

Now – I find myself buying finished items because I have the resources to do so and lack the time necessary to create the things needed.  I honestly feel guilty creating things because it feels like I’m wasting time that I should be studying/grading papers/planning….

My kids have caught the creative bug this summer and I have had to do some serious self-talk to make myself willing to help them with it – willing to not tell them that it’s not worth it, or to complain that we should be doing something else.  I WANT them to be creative.  I WANT them to learn to make things and enjoy doing so – what is wrong with me?!

Last week, the girls (after watching what feels like hours of DIY videos), decided they wanted to make lip balm and lotion bars.  In the past, this would have thrilled me to no end – I would have researched what were the best oils and ingredients – which herbs could I add to make the lotions and lip balms most effective.  My first reaction, however, was “Ugh, this is something they want to do, that in the end I am just going to end up doing, because they will lose interest or not be able to complete the activity without me….”  Then I had to catch myself and reassess.  Do I like to make things?  Yes.  Do I want my children to be creative?  Yes.  Would it be easier to do this myself? Yes, but then they will never learn and never feel capable.  Man, parenting is tiring.  Parenting my own actions and then parenting my kids.

After a bit of research and some tracking own of ingredients, the girls (yes, mostly them) successfully made lip balm – In the microwave of all things, and they were thrilled.


We followed this recipe, in case you’re interested:

One batch of peppermint, one of vanilla, and one with a piece of lipstick cut up and melted so that it has some tint (remember all of those diy videos I mentioned?)

The lotion ended up more of a mom-made job, but you know what?  I enjoyed it, the girls were still thrilled, and now we have plenty of lotion bars to last the summer at least, and to act as last minute gifts 🙂

lotion bar

For these, we used this recipe:



We made a half batch of the lotion bars because we did not have Vitamin E to act as a natural preservative, and because I didn’t have a mason jar big enough for 3 cups of oily things.

I know this must seem like a giant tangent, and perhaps proof that I’m still creative (which may be more for my benefit than yours), but I needed to write down some thoughts so that I could continue to struggle with them on my own time.  The idea of being creative only when necessary honestly makes me sad, and I am attempting to overcome this part of myself currently that reacts to creativity in a negatively associative way.  I want to enjoy creating for myself again  – for our house and family, for our kiddos needs, wants and benefit – and I want it to be something that doesn’t create guilt for lack of productivity.  So here I am.  I feel like I’ve come a little full circle – from creative necessity for physical needs, to creative necessity for emotional, physical and mental needs – can that be a thing?

Happy Tuesday Friends.