my big creative year : audacious thinking

note : I first published this post in 2015.  As I’m making plans for the new year audacious thinking and big changes are on my mind, maybe they are on your mind too.

Thinking outrageously, hypothetically removing limitations and entertaining wild possibilities is a good creative exercise, a good thinking tool and I use it often to get unstuck or to work through an idea. But applying that kind of thinking to my life and work in a larger way has been difficult. This weekend I spent time thinking about this question:

What if I could do anything?

If money was no object, if there were no obstacles, no chance of failure or negative consequences – what would I do? I think truthful answers might be enlightening, there might be signposts and arrows among them but I find the question paralyzing.

I’ve never been good at thinking big about my life, my work, thinking audaciously. Big makes me nervous. And it seems to me that I endeavor in the other direction – so much of what I do, what I’m attracted to and what I create for myself is small, the world recreated at a more manageable and comfortable scale.

forest diorama

I find it hard to turn my practical brain off and I think a large part of me never wants to be caught with grand plans – a deeply ingrained belief that modesty is a virtue. I’m fortunate, one thing has led to another and all sorts of wonderful things I could not invent have occurred, it feels somehow ungrateful to reach and it is incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to really get my head around the question. My answers, my list, mostly doesn’t feel very audacious, it feels quite tentative in fact so I’m going to keep working on it – look harder. Getting myself to write anything at all was like pulling teeth, there were a couple surprises though – here’s what I’ve got so far:

I would paint and draw a great deal

I would learn to surf – nothing crazy- little waves

I would plant a garden

I would cook a lot

I would travel a little

I would wander a lot

I would take a hand built pottery class (that seems pretty do-able – I’m looking into it)

Actually – I would take lots of classes – I could fill the rest of my life with that

I would have dogs and cats and goats

I would make a picture book for children or maybe children and grownups

I would make dioramas

I would buy a very old house

I would swim often

I wonder if you ask yourself this sort of question – if you find resistance in your thinking or spectacular visions – I’m curious – if you feel like sharing please do.

15 Comments

  1. I do! I had a “life list” long before I’d heard of a bucket list. It’s funny how making a list can make things truly happen, so I say, continue to think big, Ms. Ann Wood, the sky IS the limit! xo (I have really enjoyed your big, creative year so far!)

    jean

  2. I found this really interesting because I have the opposite problem. I always seem to have my head stuck in the clouds with new ideas, but then I really struggle with the practical side of turning my ideas into actions. I’ve been working on breaking big plans into small steps that are easier to follow. I have found creating things from patterns and kits designed by other creative people to be really helpful because the steps I need to reach the end product are already laid out for me.

    I’ve also enjoyed reading about your big creative year. It’s nice to be reminded that creativity can be an ongoing process.

    • Shell Kennedy

      ~ I agree Amanda. I seem to follow that path too. “I always seem to have my head stuck in the clouds with new ideas, but then I really struggle with the practical side of turning my ideas into actions.”
      I have sooooo many ideas & dream, …

  3. A few things struck me as I read this – about myself and the about you. First, you – you are a gifted writer, and, a natural teacher. Your humility makes you approachable and believable and real. Now, me – I am determined to finally do some of the things that have been on my ‘list’ far too long. Time does not stand still, so I must make haste.

    Thank you for the gentle shove and the inspiration. I believe wholeheartedly with you that modesty IS a virtue. Your list is a testament to that – all humble endeavors that add up to a hugely satisfying life.

  4. I think your list sounds kind of wonderful. Simple, humble things that make for a good life but we often don’t give ourselves the time to do. Perhaps part of making a dream big list is knowing who you really are and what makes you truly happy x

  5. What a great post. I’m new to your blog, and love looking at what your creative mind comes up with. As for your list – I could practically copy and paste it for my own! Especially “I would take lots of classes – I could fill the rest of my life with that.” and “…buy a very old house”! And, I’ve always wanted to learn to surf. Thanks for being an inspirational person!

  6. Earlene Williams

    My list, started about 15 years ago, includes planting ginseng, which I have yet to do..

    Growing exotic mushrooms; am on only my first venture–oyster mushrooms…

    Planting an acorn, which is now a ten foot tree, and wondering how much it will grow in my lifetime…

    And learning to knit.

  7. As a couple of the other ladies have said, your list is similar to things they would choose and maybe that’s why we’re attracted to you and your blog, the similarities?
    and also as Evie said ‘Simple, humble things that make for a good life but we often don’t give ourselves the time to do’ are the things that would fill a life with satisfaction and fulfillment.
    I have no resistance in wondering what I’d do if/when I put your question to myself! But until I read Evie’s comment, I hadn’t realised that they are exactly the sort of things I’d want to fill my life with. I’m not interested in expensive cars and material things that cost a lot etc.
    and though I know ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ it would be nice to think that it might help to make me into the person I always thought I would be but never quite was. 🙂

    Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking post. ♥

  8. Suzanne

    I think one of life’s best blessings is to know your true self and be content with it.

    I, too, have always lgravitated toward small wonders and small adventures — not the grandiose. You’ve heard that question: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Well, I always think I’d be doing pretty much the same thing I’m doing right now. I used to worry that maybe that meant I was boring or too easily satisfied….or even, heaven forbid, unmotivated. All I know is that I’m most comfortable when making things by hand, and I love miniatures and small odd-ball collections. I believe you can have big (even complex!) ideas and still respect humility and modesty. As for bucket lists, I’m skeptical. I think they broadly miss the point. Why not just enjoy what is, right now in this moment, instead of scrambling to get another item checked off a wish list? And if you do accomplish everything on the list, then what? Do you just roll over & die?

    I’m always open to go new places and learn new things, but at my core, I’m an unapologetic homebody. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Love your posts & your process, Ann.

  9. I enjoy reading your posts, you a have a lovely blog. The diorama in the picture is enchanting. Do you have a tutorial for making dioramas like that?

  10. I too enjoy reading your posts and while I don’t comment often I’ve been following you for years. I think that the word BIG means different things to different people. I feel that you Ann, make a big difference in your inspiring blog, honest sharing, your art, kits, classes……and what you have accomplished in your life feels big and inspiring to me. Big to me means living as a light…..with heart…..
    Thank you

  11. I too enjoy reading your posts and while I don’t comment often I’ve been following you for years. I think that the word BIG means different things to different people. I feel that you Ann, make a big difference in your inspiring blog, honest sharing, your art, kits, classes……and what you have accomplished in your life feels big and inspiring to me. Big to me means living as a light…..with heart…..
    Thank you

    • Hi Linda – It’s a diorama, a tiny forest in a box. One of my most favorite things that I’ve made – 15 or so years ago.

  12. Shell Kennedy

    ~ If I could do anything, … oh, joy !! ~ I would move to Maine, near the ocean. I’d open a shop where children & adults could make all kinds of handwork. There would be real woolly creatures, Shetland sheep, alpacas, & herb gardens. And, of course, a library of Handcraft books. A coffee/tea/soup cafe at the ready, with seasonal festive handwork events !!
    I dream, dream, dream about this. Its hard to take the actual steps when on disability b/c of cancer issues, … but I do BELIEVE in it coming true !! ~

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