I see!

Greetings on this Tuesday!

I thought I’d change it up this week, skip Monday, and say hello today. Here’s the quote I’ve had in mind:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

We experienced new eyes this past week on our trip to northern Michigan. Thanks to the lovely hospitality of our friends, Bev and Niel, we explored the Leelenau Peninsula off of Lake Michigan, glimpsed its famous Sleeping Bear cascading sand dunes, enjoyed gloriously clear blue-sky days and fresh cool breezes in the evenings. The daylight lingered well into our normal bed time hours, making us laugh at how the sun insisted on careening brightly off the shattered glass surface of the lake despite the clock. “New eyes” because while we’ve witnessed St. Louis friends faithfully parade north to Michigan each summer we finally got our own first-hand experience of its heaven.

This description of our experience — seeking new landscapes — is, of course, exactly what Proust said not to do. Rather, to have new eyes is not to necessarily travel anywhere, but perhaps instead to take another look at the familiar.

There's an example of this from the writing I did this past week. This next blog is coming along slowly (the trip to Michigan was also a business trip that stole away my usual writing hours) and the following may or may not make it into the next one.

Weekly Snippet
I’ve written about my first job back into the workforce after years of being a stay-at-home mom. Well, I loved my job as an editor of a stock newsletter and other reports. Since I worked with lots of amazing and smart analysts I had the fun of adding a creative flavor to the publications that their previous investment jargon-laden style. For example, I’d take an article about the current state of the markets and use a fairytale as an analogy to illustrate the situation for readers (“a “Goldilocks economy” could have industry sectors that were too cold, too hot or just right). 

Over time, I happily took on the compliments of being creative as a part of my “brand” - and went from "this is a creative idea", to "I am a creative person." Nothing wrong with that, right? Here’s where it got interesting.

The more I thought of myself as creative, the more permission I gave myself to act creatively. And while a lot of that was great, some of it also meant that I found myself on an emotional teeter-totter. On one hand, being exuberant and then on another, swinging to despair. There was a track record there of being creative but now I found myself acting more and more like a stereotypical erratic “creative.”

One morning, stopped at a traffic light and ready to take the left-handed swing into my employer’s campus, a small thought rippled through my head. I’d been stewing over a current issue at work, though I don’t remember the specifics now, and thinking “here I am upset again,” The thought came,” Well, I am creative.”

Whoa! In a flash I saw that somewhere I’d believed that creative people are expected to be more unstable emotionally and that when taking on the proud identity of being an artist, I’d also inadvertently accepted an idea of a less desirable side of the artistic stereotype. In that moment, I mentally decided, that wasn’t me. The erratic reactions stopped. 

More to come...

For now, warm wishes for a cool week!