I’ve always been the biggest advocate for hobbies and creative outlets. All my life they are what kept me alive. Not just living. ALIVE.
When I was younger and felt bad for getting picked last in gym class (yes, I was that kid), I took to my notebooks for refuge. I wrote, doodled around and became one with my inks and paint (yes, that means that I was covered in paint 80% of the time).
When I graduated from college, I spent 6 months volunteering as an English teacher at my family’s non-profit organization. I was teaching under privileged kids a second language and was given a chance to use all of my creativity towards these kids’ education. I had an amazing time! But then, it was time to focus on my career, and I took a 9-5 job that ultimately drained all of my creative energy (and all my regular energy) by the time the workday had finished.
Hey, we only get a limited amount of willpower a day and I was spending it in a windowless place surrounded by fish and eggs (ok, I’ll tell the story of my odd workplace in a later post).
I started seeing the repercussions of not being able to work on my creative hobbies, I was so burnt out that I only always just wanted to get home and sleep. I vowed never to let anything get in the way of my well being and quit (8 months later– hey I had to give it a chance, right?)
This is when Doodle Mara was born. I started lettering and learning the beautiful art of calligraphy. A lot of hard work went into the first 3 years of building the business, skill and administrative-wise. This led me to working on weddings through stationery, dance floor design and beautiful wedding signage, and to getting my first gig as a live event calligrapher for the amazing brand of Dior.
Working exclusively on creative things made sure that I ALWAYS got my daily art dosage. That is, until life took a turn again…
Opportunity came a-knocking (more like WE knocked on opportunities door. HARD.) and my husband got accepted in this amazing Master’s program in Germany. 6 months later, we were packed up and boarded our plane to cross the entire globe and to arrive in Germany for our new life.
I need to point out that we could each only take a 20kg (44lb) suitcase, so we Marie Kondo-ed EVERY single thing in our lives.
Sadly, my art supplies were HEAVY, so they had to find their new home in my grandmother’s closet. I arrived in the country where I would be spending (at least) the next 3 years of my life with 7 blouses, 3 pairs of pants and 3 pairs of shoes.
My art supplies: My journal, my iPad and my laptop. Bye bye millions of watercolors and painting paper. Goodbye all my brushes that I’d been collecting through the years.
Finding a place to live in Europe is HARD. Especially when you’re living in a small student city like the one we moved into. We rented an Airbnb for 3 MONTHS while we found something permanent, and during that time we lived in a shared apartment with 2 other rooms. We only had a small desk in our room, and no art supplies.
Well, the first 2 weeks we were here (and for the past 6 months that we had been moving, interminably), I felt exhausted. So much of my life had been left behind I really had no idea where to begin now that we had arrived. I had nothing to paint on and no inspiration. The third week into our life in Germany, I decided NO MORE. I needed to get back in my creative groove and I reached out to a client that had been trying to get me to design his logo. I needed to draw, anything, ANYWHERE.
It had been a few years since I worked in branding, but I needed to get back out there and do anything to get my creativity juices flowing again. The whole project with this client was amazing. Also, he had such a nature-based focus for his logo that the design process truly hit home.
Side by side, we worked together to create the perfect guide for teens to gain the right money mindset and to learn how to organize and use their money correctly. Working with Dee was the most care-free experience. She knew exactly what she wanted and exactly how to ask for it. This project reconnected me with colors and smiles.
By taking on new client opportunities, I was reconnected with my creativity. I was like a car that needed a jump start. Maybe I wasn’t doing EXACTLY what I was doing when I first started Doodle Mara, but it helped me get out of a slump that I felt was interminable.
I feel like feeling like you have no place to start working on your hobbies is what hurts your motivation the most.
Here is what I have learned from my experience:
- Never feel like you have to stay somewhere just because it’s paying the bills. It’s better to find somewhere that can pay the bills AND take care of your well being (like creativity does for me).
- The ever-changing story of your life is exactly that. It is ALWAYS changing, so you have to learn how to adapt wherever you’re set to bloom.
- The only way to truly feel regret is if you remain stationary. Whoever said that “life is like riding a bicycle because in order to not fall and go forward you need to keep moving” is very wise and we should have this engraved on our mirror so we can see it everyday.
- Taking new, unfamiliar chances open up your vision to a million possibilities. You won’t do that forever, but it sure as heck is going to get your bike up and running again. Never feel like you have to stay somewhere just because it’s paying the bills. It’s better to find somewhere that can pay the bills AND take care of your well being (like creativity does for me).
My conclusion is this:
By learning how to resist the temptation of staying in bed all day is how I managed to slowly regain my creativity.
I’m still afraid of new things, don’t get me wrong (also, I think I always will be), but the times I’ve felt most fearful in my life are also the times when I’ve been most proud of myself for achieving the unthinkable.
Maybe fear is just life’s way of telling you that you’re on to something good, can you relate?
If you want to hear more about my story and you want more tips on how to reconnect with your creativity (no, it’s not lost!) then follow me on Instagram and join the email list! I’m going to be sharing a whole of a lot more and I would love to connect with you.