Photo: Avery Crews Prado de Lima and Alexa Carr

Turning Pages: Connecting with Creativity throughout Chapters of Life

Posted on December 22, 2023 by Alexa Carr, TPF Fellow 2023/24
"The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

This quote from (fellow Hoosier), Kurt Vonnegut, is one that I've heard many times but was recently reminded of while reading When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Roger's Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious Caring Kids by Gregg Behr and Ryan Rydzewski. Recently, through the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative, I co-led a book circle with TPF Fellow Kellie Alexander about When You Wonder, You're Learning. This book circle was made up of individuals from all four counties of the Suncoast. Honestly, at first, I was a little nervous to lead a book circle–especially one full of people I hadn't met yet. I had never been a part of a book circle, let alone led one. But, this book and the incredible, creative group of people in the circle have made it a joy to be a part of.

I've always considered myself to be a creative person. Growing up, I was almost always working on a craft project with my mamaw or picking up a new hobby–like sewing, painting, or show choir. This has continued into adulthood, as my previous job before my Fellowship at The Patterson Foundation was at an arts & culture nonprofit, PATTERN. At that job, I spent a lot of time being creative and creative-adjacent. I had the opportunity to work as the assistant stylist for photoshoots, write articles for their magazine, and connect with incredible artists across the Midwest. With finishing graduate school, then studying abroad, then moving states to begin a new job, I hadn't made time to be "traditionally creative" as much as I had previously. I'd lamented this fact a bit, but ultimately had done nothing about it (or so I thought).

This book reminded me of a couple facts that I knew to be true; the first is–you don't have to be doing a "traditionally creative" activity to be creative. Creativity and curiosity can be mindsets rather than stagnant definitions. This was such an important reminder to me to always look at situations in creative ways, whether it seems like a "creative situation" or not.

At TPF, I've had the opportunity to be creative in a less traditionally crafty–but more creative innovative way. Also, I've been introduced to some incredible Suncoast art-focused nonprofits like the Visual Arts Center and Art Center Sarasota.

The second fact the book reminded me of was that you don't actually have to be doing the creative activity "well" to be doing it. This relates back to the opening Vonnegut quote. Just because there is not a "purpose" to doing creative activities doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing them. In fact, it means you should. Although this book reminded me that I already am being creative, it also inspired me to take action and restart some of the more "crafty" hobbies.

If you were a part of the book circle, I hope you had some similar positive takeaways from When You Wonder, You're Learning. I also hope you can join us at the When You Wonder You're Learning Book Circle Celebration on January 24th! Register Here!

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