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Think outside the box about creative living

As we march resolutely into 2014, I love the classic exercise of setting goals (they work better for me personally than resolutions) for various aspects of my life.

The more entrenched I’ve become in motherhood, the more I’ve realized the value of setting aside time to think about what my passions are and finding ways to feed those passions however I can (I really believe that makes me a better wife, mom, and well, person).

Last year, I decided to set some creative goals for myself – some are broad, and others more specific. I did okay, and when I consider why I didn’t fare better, the best answer (besides the general craziness of life) was simply that I didn’t keep myself aware of those goals. So, note to self: post goals somewhere visible for constant reminders.

But even with my goals right in sight, sometimes I just can’t seem to find the time for those creative pursuits I love, or at least not as much time as I would like for them.

But does that mean I’m not being creative?  As I reassess my life and the last year, I don’t think it does.

So often in our culture, creativity is synonymous with craftiness. And while it is indeed an element that goes into the art, crafts and handiwork that some of us may create, creativity can both go beyond that and be much more basic than that in its most intrinsic form.

Let’s look at the definition:


• the state or quality of being creative, the process by which one utilizes creative ability {creative= expressive, imaginative}.

• the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.

When I read that definition, it makes me think. I mean, creativity as expressive and imaginative? Yes, that seems obvious to me. But what underlies that, the part that comes before the actual creating part, is a thinking part.

Productivity tends to become my main gauge on whether or not I’m exercising my creativity.

This year, I am determined not to quantify my creativity simply by the number of handmade gifts or DIY projects I accomplish. Instead, I plan to embrace a creative life by being aware of all the ways I use my imagination and transcend the conventional way of thinking, whatever that may be, even if it doesn’t churn out traditional art or crafts (and let’s consider redefining art while we’re at it).

What might this out-of-the-box type of creativity look like?

For starters, simple, intentional living definitely requires thinking outside the mainstream methodology– living holistically with your life’s purpose in mind naturally depends upon original, progressive thought.

We live in a culture of materialism and consumerism,  and wading through that to cultivate the life we feel called to demands creativity.

Finding new solutions for old problems, reading good books, adapting recipes, telling our children stories, planning date nights and road trips, dreaming up big dreams and plans, choosing curriculum, picking out an outfit, figuring out how to make the best of another hard day.  These things all make use of the amazing creativity that our Creator gave us.

don't judge a creative life by its handicrafts |

And of course, so do sewing, scrapbooking, knitting and the like, but let’s move forward in the new year reminding ourselves not to judge a creative life by its handicrafts.

“I’ve come to describe what I do simply as creative living, not defined by any one craft or activity but an overall approach to life.” ~Renee Tougas, Nurturing Creativity

Where do you see creativity play out in your life? Do you have any creative goals for the new year?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Ainsley

    Like your perspective on creativity ….. I’ve always discounted myself as a non creative soul. While my pile of handicrafts is not huge, I now realise that my home, my family, my business, my style, my blog space and my photos are just some of the ways that creativity can be expressed.

    • Nicole

      Oh, those are definitely creative pursuits!!

  2. Gina :: Listening in the Litany

    I just finished A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman and it opened my eyes to my narrow view of living creatively. It breathed new life into my parenting and the way I’m managing our home, to see each role as an opportunity for creativity and as a way to reflect my Creator. I’m launching into 2014 feeling a lot more freedom and joy as a stay-at-home mom and I’ve been reminded that often, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I don’t really need a change in circumstance as much as a change in perspective.

    • Tammy

      I have that book on order, and can’t wait to get it!

    • Darcy Wiley

      Gina, I was thinking the same thing about how this coordinates so well with what I’m reading in Emily’s book. Nicole, I love the idea of shifting our attention away from products that “prove” our creativity, and instead seeing creativity as a lifestyle and attitude that nourishes our inner selves, our homes, and our relationships, whether there is outward evidence or not.

    • Nicole

      I haven’t read her book yet but I think it’s really going to speak to my soul. 🙂

  3. Tina@GottaRunNow

    Reading good books and learning to play something on the piano are two things I’d like to do this year. I’d love to find new solutions for old problems, too!

  4. Abbi

    Edith Schaeffer wrote a wonderful book called The Hidden Art of Homemaking. And while it is a bit dated her ideas on how to use our gifts and talents to make our homes, relationships, and lives more beautiful are much needed in our culture today. It shows that since our lives are about service, we use our creativity not to make a product but to demonstrate love , create an unique family culture and enrich the lives of those around us! A great read!!

  5. Moira

    I love this perspective! Whenever I decide to take more time for creativity I do define it by the output-x hours working on knitting, sewing, etc. But you’re so right-if I broaden my perspective I have so many more moments of creativity in my day. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve loved blogging this last year-the “excuse” to do some creative work several times is feeding my soul in a way I couldn’t imagine when I started! Fabulous post!

  6. Ann

    Good points! It’s funny that you mention this because if I really think about it, some of the most creative people I know don’t actually craft at all. I see creativity as an individual thing and I never actually put that together before.

  7. Kimberly

    As a total crafting failure, I love the “creative living” alternative. I have pursued beauty and creativity in my life, but I hadn’t found the right words to put to it. Thanks so much for broadening my perspective on what creativity looks like in everyday life.

  8. Holly

    Thank you so much for writing this. As a graphic designer, people always expect my home to be full of homemade artistic greatness and the pressure can be tough. I might even be my worst critic about it! I feel my life and mind are the most creative things about me, doing and thinking things that are true to my conscious spirit, vs what everyone else does. I’m not like most people, even though I look about as average as anyone else. My mind and my heart are constant creative expressions.

    If I manage to make a card or gift for someone, or finish a collage I’ve been working on for months, that’s great. But I’m choosing not to measure my success by it 🙂

  9. Alissa

    This resonates so well for me. My nature is not “crafty” in the least, and my career (engineering) is often viewed as the opposite of creative. But I think being INNOVATIVE is wonderfully creative and us “problem solving” types are constantly sorting through new ways of tackling life. That’s creative!

    Several years ago, I was lamenting the fact that I don’t have any sort of creative OUTLET – a hobby that allows me to create something in real space with my own two hands. My SIL quickly pointed out that COOKING is my creative outlet (it was a compliment). Since then, I’ve really come to embrace that part of my daily routine as an opportunity to “create” – I think and problem solve while meal planning and then watch my vision and ideas (usually) come to life throughout the week.

  10. Carly @ Creating Mom

    I too have been trying to expand my mind to what is true creative living. We can be creative in the way we dress, spend money, play with our children, read, write, cook, talk … You nailed it. Not all creativity should end up on Pinterest.

  11. J.P. Choquette

    Love this! As a creative type but also a goal-oriented list maker, I often feel like I’m falling behind or letting myself down because I don’t spend enough time on creative projects. But you’re right–creativity is more a state of mind than a production line. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Michelle

    Love this! Creativity comes in many forms, and is certainly not tied to the number of crafts you produce! I believe everyone has some form of creativity within them 🙂

  13. Traci

    I really, really love the quote that you closed with.

  14. Faigie

    Craftiness by the way is not the same thing as art. I think people who want creative outlets choose crafts because they are scared that they can’t draw a straight line and think that they could never be successful doing real art

  15. Julie

    this resonated with me…a mom of 3 littles with little margin for handicrafts. Today’s lunch was creative thanks to this post. My kids thank you too.

  16. Sarah Hankins

    Thank you for the reminder about what creativity really is. I also want to be more creative in my life, but don’t want to measure that creativity with the outcomes. It is about how I think and solve the inevitable problems that pop up during the day.

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