Finding My Joanna
I never thought of myself as a creative person. I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life. Whenever I’d take an art class my painting looked like blobs of mixed paint next to my friend’s masterpiece. I thought I’d try to be creative and take up pottery and most of the time, though I really enjoyed it, my cups and teapots would look lopsided and dented. I always thought art and creativity came naturally to people and that they were blessed with some magical super power. I’m coming to realize that these people may be born with the gifts of creativity but they also continually work to better their skills. I’m also coming to realize it’s ok to stumble into art, find joy in the challenge and over time teach yourself to create masterpieces.
If anybody knows me well enough, they know that I am a big time Joanna Gaines fan. When I found “Fixer Upper” I was immediately entranced. I loved her style, the beautiful touches she would make to a room, the poise she had when designing and her overall outlook on life. I watched every season, read her book, bought her home book, subscribed to her magazine and cooked my way through both of her cookbooks.I wanted to be a creative like Joanna Gaines. I wanted to decorate houses and be successful like her. So I began to decorate my own house, used paint finishes to tie it all together and looked for small little embellishments to give my house “character.” As I embarked on my Joanna Gaines journey I started by using everything I learned from her to make changes to my house. I’d look at antique shops, distress wood and spent way too much time at Target in the Magnolia section. I was trying to be a carbon copy of my inspiration thinking that if I did exactly what she did, I would stumble into my unknown creative skill.
I think this time of my creativity adventure was needed. I was seeing what I liked and didn’t. I was trying without fear and I was making mistakes. I can remember when I redid our guest room. I had a grand idea and a picture in my mind. It was going to look beautifully and something artsy would finally turn out the way I envisioned. Fast forward to reality and I was in tears because the furniture we had didn’t match, some of it was too big for the space and it didn’t look like a beautiful guest room that Joanna would create. I had failed and I couldn’t pull the room together. My husband would make a suggestion and I immediately disregarded it because it just wouldn’t work. He sat me down and said, remember, Joanna Gaines has a lot of design helpers, money and time. She has a whole crew that works behind the scenes. You have what you have and that is how she started. With a lot of mismatched furniture and paint. If she started that way, so can you. I did finish the guest room and despite what I hate, I get many compliments on the room. Nobody notices the little paint marks on the ceiling or the bulky furniture. They love the feeling of the room and how it welcomes them in. I continued to create. I made a wood sign above my mantle, I painted more portions of my house, I created a home that I thought Joanna would be proud of. But something was missing. Bits of me and who I am was missing. My husband’s touches and our story was missing. Then I dove head first into calligraphy.
I always lettered as a high schooler. I’d write sappy love notes to my now husband but then high school love in pretty lettering. I’d add embellishments, use color in different ways. I’d create quotes with mixed fonts to make my plain black binders look cute and exciting. I’d even make some for friends who noticed my binders and I’d share my creations with them. In my mind, I was just doodling and passing the time. I never even noticed that I was creating. I was making art. I was creative. As time went on, I stopped lettering. I went to college to chase down my dream of being a teacher. I worked three jobs while going to school, I nurtured wonderful relationships with my roommates and I blinked and it was graduation day. My life from that moment on was like a whirlwind. I moved in with my now husband, started teaching full time in a stressful environment, got our Cheeto and then six months later got our Twixy cat, got married, bought a house, switched jobs a couple times, battled PTSD and anxiety, quit teaching then went back only to quit again… the list goes on and though I exercise avidly you can see I never had an outlet. Something I could do on the couch with a large mug of hot tea and my kittens at my feet and let my brain go. Let the worries of the world just melt away. Thank goodness for a supportive husband because he bought me my Ipad with the pencil- though I was reluctant to have one. I thought it was a waste of money to buy something that expensive for no reason. He picked it up for me, got a nice yellow sticker to put on the back so I could have my bright yellow Ipad. He said, even if you use this to letter again once a week, it will be worth the money.
When I first started lettering, I did what he said. I lettered once a week. I never knew what to draw. I hated everything I created, though he loved it. I’d just doodle and as time went on my doodling session went from one day a week to two. Then two days turned into four. Then four turned into doodling a little bit everyday. Then that turned into a strong need to create something everyday. I had a great urge to look up quotes that spoke directly to my heart. Re writing them in a way that sparked so much happiness inside and weirdly, struck me as truly beautiful brought me peace. I didn’t see blobs of paint, disfigured stick figures or dented tea pots when I saw these lettered quotes. I saw a masterpiece. I made a travel sign for my house with my calligraphy skills and incorporated my Joanna Gaines touch and posted my sign onto wood planks. I had found what I needed to add to my house to make it tell our story. I needed to add my own art. My own piece of me.
Now, I have a small business that allows me to share my piece of my heart with the world. Every time I sell a card or home decor sign I do a happy dance not only because I get to make money doing what I love but mainly because I am sharing myself with other people, and that part of me makes people happy.I get to be a small part of their life. I get to bring a smile to their face through beautiful hand created artwork. Maybe that is how Joanna Gaines feels. When she creates beautiful rooms for people to share their time with people they love, she is sharing a bit of herself and that brings others happiness. I’m ok if my house never makes it into the Home and Garden Magazine. I love my home and I’ve made it welcoming, cozy and wonderful for my family and those we welcome into it. I don’t need to be exactly like Joanna Gaines and decorate homes to feel like I am a creative person. I can strive to be like Joanna Gaines through doing what I love, creating things that spark joy in me and by using my gifts of creativity to bring happiness to others. I found my inner Joanna by finding my inner Kayla and I think that is pretty sweet.