We are all very different. For many years I tried to be like my clever creative friends, and undertook a variety of craft activities.
I started a patchwork quilt when I was 16, cutting out little octagonal shapes of material, backing them with paper, then hand stitching them methodically together one by one. The idea was that I would use scraps of material from different eras of my life, and the quilt would be a lovely reminder of times gone past – sound familiar? Well, by the time I was in my early 60’s it had grown to about a small cot quilt size – so I figured it wasn’t ever going to fit my queen size bed as I had planned, and took it to the Op Shop. Perhaps some other creative person would pick it up and run with it.
In my early 20’s I tried my hand at making hats, when hats were in vogue, but I don’t remember ever being brave enough to wear one of my creations. I even tried singing in a trio for a few months. Definitely not a good idea! I can hold a tune, but harmony was definitely not one of my talents!
I did have a little more success with china painting. After all, with each firing of the plate you get a chance to improve the design, and with 7 firings for each plate the results weren’t too bad at all. But really, how many decorative plates does one need in the china cabinet?
Another project I took up with great enthusiasm was candlewicking, which involves sewing designs on calico with tiny knots and stitches. I was inspired by a neighbor who had made a beautiful candlewick quilt for her daughter. My daughter became pregnant so I told her I would make a cot quilt for the new baby, bought all the materials, the cute teddy bear patterns, and began earnestly knotting away – until she told me she was having twins, which meant I would need to make two! That finished that. One was a challenge. Two would have been climbing Mt Everest. I gave it away to my sister-in-law to finish. She’s very clever with craft projects.
Of course, through the years I have found other things I love to do which bring me great pleasure, such as growing beautiful roses in my garden, and public speaking, using humour to help people relax and see the lighter side of life. But by my mid 60’s I had finally figured out that a lot of craft was actually more stressful for me than it was relaxing.
The words of a preacher who came to our church many years ago, come to mind – “What is it that makes your heart sing? That song has been put in your heart by God. Find it, and do it well.”
In my early 60’s, with a little more time at my disposal, I discovered, or perhaps I should say re-discovered, that I love to write. For me writing is relaxing. It is sheer pleasure. I have to drag myself away from the computer because I get so involved in the writing process.
I decided to try to record the life stories of some inspirational women who had touched my heart and life over the years. I had endeavoured to prod and provoke them into writing their own life stories, but nothing seemed to be happening.
I had no idea how to go about it, but as I began to interview, question, and record, I discovered my fascination with the creative power of the written word. In my various roles in the church I had written numerous studies, children’s programs, articles for magazines and such like. But this was more intensive stuff. As I applied myself to bringing these stories to life, I began to appreciate the creative power of writing. Words were magic. Words could paint pictures. I was fascinated, and compelled to find new and better ways of saying things. I was glued to the computer for hours on end – playing with words. I discovered that perhaps I did have a creative bone or two in my body. It is the craft of writing that makes my heart sing! I was hungry to improve my writing skills to do justice to the stories entrusted to my care.
In 2006 and then in 2009 I published two books, firstly Australian Women of Grace and then Australian Women of Courage, each recording the inspirational life stories of five women. In my third book, Inspiring Stories of Life and Faith, released in 2012, I recorded more remarkable stories – this time of both men and women. I was encouraged by the feedback I received from readers, one lady writing … “Thank you for your book! All the stories were fascinating and inspiring. What an incredible bunch of women you all are and how brave to share your life with all of us. Each story was so well written and precise, that I found it impossible to stop reading once I had started.” Details of these books can be found (and books ordered) on my website: www.inspiringstories.net.au
Rather than comparing ourselves and our gifting with others, and beating ourselves up because we can’t be like them, let’s celebrate our differences and enjoy doing the things that make our hearts sing. They’ll be the things that bring us the most pleasure and fulfillment.