If you read this blog regularly: you know that I was very shy, growing up, because of my condition. When my heart and mind were heavy mama, granny, and my aunts did something remarkable: they allowed me outlets to express myself when I didn’t feel like talking about what was on my mind. The outlets were as follows:
- Music: my family (on mama’s side) is extremely musically inclined. Many play instruments and most sing. I’ve been singing since I can remember. I learned that I could sing in granny’s kitchen. When she cooked, she sang. One day after I learned to talk: I started singing with her. Singing was the first place I felt a connection to God. After that first time singing with granny: she encouraged me to sing whatever I was feeling every time she saw me. She told mama to encourage my gift. She did and still does. Mama didn’t limit my exposure to music to any one genre. She let me listen to anything without cuss words or suggestive lyrics. She introduced me to her favorite artists. My first memory is exploring her vinyl record collection. These artists became my soundtrack, coping mechanism, and medicine. They still are. As I got older: I was able to incorporate more modern artists into my life. Just in case anybody is wondering: Billy Joel is my favorite artist and his Storm Front album is my favorite album…ever. I’ll explain why in a future post.
- Instruments: Granny had an organ at her house. I used to love to “play” it every chance I got. Play is in quotes because I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t very good, either. I had fun, however. Granny encouraged my parents to nurture the talent she insisted I had. I didn’t, but they got me a keyboard nonetheless. I LOVED my keyboard. I spent countless hours playing with it. I have a guitar, now, and I’m not very good at that, either. It is a creative outlet and a way to process hard days.
- Art supplies and paper: Like every other child, I loved to draw, color, create, and use my imagination. My artist gifts did not extend here, though; because the only things I can draw are: stick people, flowers, hearts, and stars.
- Play-Doh: I loved play doh, and spent many hours making a mess with my next door neighbors.
- Movies and movie musicals: I love movies and musicals because I can go anywhere and never leave home.
- Books: Mama is rabid reader, and I inherited her love of books. A story in a book could take me anywhere and I loved using my imagination to picture everything, on the pages, in my mind.
- Writing: mama encouraged me to write down my feelings in a journal. I eventually started writing my own stories just like the authors I loved so much. I guess in a way, I still am…I’m just writing my life story now.
Having all these creative outlets had a profound impact on every part of my life. They gave me places to process hard days and emotions I didn’t know how to deal with. As an adult: I realize what gifts being allowed these outlets, for self expression, were. They still are. If and when, my Father blesses me with a child, or children of my own: I will raise my children with lots of access to the outlets that helped make me who I am.