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I was out to lunch with one of my freelancer friends the other day (the wise & witty Kathleen) and we were talking about design projects that we have on our respective plates. It’s fantastic to talk about creative ideas with someone who is also running a business. When we do get together, I always get a new perspective to chew on afterward and this day was no different. After my expressing frustration about my own creative journey, Kathleen commented that she’d always had a “permission giver” in her life. In her case, it was her mother. Her mother encouraged and enabled Kathleen to express herself creatively in all realms of her life, without judgment. This idea really stuck with me. {Kathleen noted that she first heard this concept from Kate Bingaman Burt, a talented writer & illustrator who touts the importance of finding people in your life who inspire you and give you permission to be creative.}

First of all, maybe everyone doesn’t place the value on creativity that I do, but I happen to think it’s important to create. I meet people sometimes who tell me, “I’m not creative”. Every day people make millions of decisions about how to cook a meal, how to dress themselves, and maybe we all have guidelines, but everyone does it in their own unique way. So, EVERYONE is creative, in some way, big or small. Secondly, I think that it requires bravery to say that you are a creative person. Unfortunately, maybe some people haven’t been encouraged creatively. Maybe they tried drawing in school and were told they didn’t have talent, or maybe they tried writing a poem or song and were criticized by people they trusted. Or worse, maybe they just experienced ambivalence from their chosen audience, and that devalued their idea.

As an artist, I put my feelings, thoughts and ideas out for people to criticize all the time. It never gets any easier to hear someone tear them down, or say they aren’t good enough. However, I have to give myself permission to be creative, and to be brave about those ideas, because the journey is so vital to my growth as a person. I have to give myself permission to be creative, and to keep trying new ideas, in spite of my own concerns that I might fall short of someone’s expectations. Over time I’ve gotten more confident about my ideas and I’ve been fortunate to meet people who inspire me and give me the encouragement I need to continue being an artist. So, for the people who don’t have a “permission giver” yet, here is a permission slip, just to get you started.