Creative Revolution: Don’t Fence Me In.

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I have been doing a series of posts about my creative journey, and today I have a new offering to share. If you’ve ever taken one of my scrapbook classes than you know how I feel on the subject of being fenced in or limited in what you can do with the material I teach. I say: NO RULES. JUST CREATE. I didn’t quite used to be that way, but three or four years ago I really started to get it, to get to that place. Who am I to say what you can and can’t do on YOUR project? Nobody, that’s who. I’m just a girl that likes to play with paper + scissors, and I like to see other people create from a place of love as well.

With that thought in mind, I was listening to my ipod the other day, and Don’t Fence Me In (sung this time by Harry Connick Jr) really caught my attention. It made me think of that time in my creative revolution when I was in full internal revolt.

Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose
Let me straddle my old saddle underneath the Western skies
On my cayuse
Let me wander over yonder ’til I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
Gaze about the moon until I lose my senses
Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

I didn’t want to have a defined style, didn’t want to be labeled, didn’t want to be fenced in creatively.

Is that such a bad thing? I was really, really sick to death of hearing people go on and on and on about “_x_” style or “-y-” style or wanting to be more graphic or more shabby chic or more… GAH! ENOUGH!! I was equally sick of hearing that I’d need to be more ___ to be accepted to ___ team, or ____ to be published by ____ magazine. Know what? I really doubt that when anyone (now or then) looks at my scrapbook they’re thinking about what my “style” is or if I’m in the right “trends”.

puh-leeeeeze. That’s not why I scrapbook or do creative things and the more I felt pressured to conform to certain standards, the more I felt fenced in and howled in misery. Then slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece I just let go. Of ALL of the insecurities, all the expectation, all that internal pressure. LET IT GO.

Above – a layout I did (on MY terms!) for a Jenni Bowlin design team contest. I lost the contest, but didn’t mind.  My projects? Pure win.

Below – an 8 1/2 x 11 page that (three years later) remains a favorite.

Ultimately, I really had to figure out that I’d been changing and growing my whole life, and if I wanted to be happy I had to understand that the growth and change would keep happening – for the rest of my life. The earth, my life… it’s all in motion all the time. So just go with the flow.

Do I ever fail? Oh HECK YES!! I have had some MASSIVE fails creatively and professionally. Who succeeds in life that doesn’t have a few (or a lot of) fails? NOBODY!

Do I ever wish I was back in the corral all fenced in where it’s safe? YES.

It can be scary to be out in the land of no rules. To choose trail blazing instead of following the set path. I battle insecurity, fear, and that poor inner 13-year old awkward girl in me that is sure nobody is gonna like her too. Want to know how I battle all those baddies?

Sometimes I confide in someone I trust. Other times? I lay it all out there. I confess to being a bookwormy nerd, a romance and happy ending loving freak, a big footed, fat battling, un-hip 31 year old mom who just wants to focus on the happy side of life wherever she can.

I stay true to ME. If what I’m doing in my creative (and ‘real’) life feels right and true, it’s good. If it doesn’t work out? If I fail professionally or I get laughed at? That’s ok too. I can choose not to walk down that path again, but I don’t have to alter who I am, or what I do. I can just find some other direction.

Bottom line for this once upon a time cowgirl? To be true is to be free, and to roam in the wide open (not fenced-in) spaces.

 I’m not just talking craft her either. You see, in this liberation of my creative self I was at the same time liberating all of me. I realized, quite simply, it’s all tied into one simple thing: my life. The only person putting rules, restrictions, and guidelines on it at the end of the day was me. I’d fenced myself in and took quite a bit of joy (and some crazed late nights writing and being creative) in breaking free once again.

I choose to live it happy as I can, and free as possible.

questions? comments? as always I love to hear from you and will respond always. Thanks for reading dear friend.

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16 responses »

  1. thanks for putting into words how I feel about my play with paper and scissors. I have never submitted anything and I may never,because I am doing what I do because I love it. I don’t desire accolades, I just enjoy the process and the feeling I get when I touch my stuff on my desk-even if I don’t get something done, I still feel good when I leave there. Great post, great layouts, great inspiration!!

  2. fantastic post! your words really spoke to me…the real me. thank you!

    cant wait to see you at “camp” 🙂

  3. I’ve been enjoying your posts about your creative journey, nice to see someone else who has meandered down the trail! When I started scrapping I had the magazine subs, I participated in all kinds of challenge blogs, submitted online and never heard much from any it. I got discouraged until I decided this is my hobby and if all I want to use is kraft paper than I will! Last week I took down the big book from 06 that I started when I took a BP class with Beth Proudfoot-a year done. I loosely followed the instructions but had to insert all sorts of random layouts through out. The result? I have the first full year with my twins documented, and looking back it helps me to remember those stories that sleep deprivation may have caused me to forget. It reminded me that it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I am capturing those stories as they happen. While I was looking at this scrapbook my now 4 year olds twins were with me, they loved seeing all the pictures, hearing the stories of when they were little. My husband was even impressed I’d documented so much. And this is why I scrap!

  4. Well said. And most importantly, you’re not just saying it. You are actually living your philosophy and it’s obviously working really well for you and inspiring to countless others.

  5. I’m getting a familiar “Jerry McGuire” vibe here..lol. Do your thing, May, be happy, be free! And see you in camp! (how can I miss out?!)

    Yvonne

  6. I love how you put your heart out there on the line and then go on to be the beautiful person that you are. Be proud of that! I can’t wait to come to camp!!

  7. I can’t tell you how much I love this series! I’ve been wrestling with this issue a lot on my blog. Feeling a little more “lost” creatively, struggling with DT/pub rejection and how it makes me feel about scrapping. I find it hard to find a balance between reminding myself that the DT/pub side of scrapping isn’t why I do it, and feeling discouraged by the amount of effort you can put into things that don’t pan out. Still working on that balance!

  8. May I want to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog and particularly this series on your creative journey to who you are today. It is refreshing to read an honest blog with the encouragement to your readers to just be who you are both in life and creatively. The blogosphere is so full of people who try to paint these pictures of perfect lives and so many are so obviously trying to make sure they are on trend and doing the right things to be published etc…..it is so off putting. It can make others feel less than adequate. I remember the days of thinking I need to scrap this way or use these products or make sure I have the newest this or that in order to “do it right”. Eh thank goodness I gave that gig up and started to do what makes me happy. It is more genuine now…I love the pages more.

  9. Great post! Looking forward to getting more to that type of mind set for myself. i am working on it! By the way, love that owl on your page! Very cool.

  10. Thanks May! You are so awesome and I appreciate what you are saying about the creative process. I know there are some people who only scrapbook for their “job” and that’s fine for them but it’s good to remember why we got into this to begin with, eh?

  11. I think I love you! You have been so open and honest through this whole series which I really appreciate. And after all aren’t they our own albums! Thanks for being a breath of fresh air!

  12. I love this series of posts you’re doing May. It’s so refreshing to read really honest blogging. Warts and all. I hate the perfect lives people paint online. And I can so relate to your scrapping journey. Your style is so unique, I look at your pages and I can see how much fun you had making them! There’s such a spontaneity about them, they’re almost alive. You’re an inspiration girlie 😉 xx

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