I found a wonderful article recently about the places where writers do their work. The photographs were inspiring – home offices, personal libraries, and other, more make-shift places. These rooms were tidy, cramped, beautiful, cluttered, serene, and chaotic. Above all else, they were where the writing happened.
I knew immediately I wanted to create my version of this vision. Once I began thinking about the spaces I inhabit, I started considering all the gifted people in my life. I wanted their spaces to be part of this vision too. The more I pondered, the more excited I became. Why couldn’t I begin a larger conversation about what we have in common as artists and makers; but also where our paths diverge? Why couldn’t we explore our dreams together? Our creative spaces seemed like a wonderful place to start.
Creativity happens within and without the boundaries.
Linda A. – Image above – a vast collection of fabric ready for the next project. “It’s kind of like an exercise…you work out colors…patterns…get inspired…lots of feedback..when I am making a quilt or whatever…for a particular person…I put a lot of thought about that person into it. Not just the energy that it takes to make the item, but my energy that I am giving to that person…like a gift of energy… For example, when I made that robe for your mom…I told her that it was like wearing a hug, and I called it a “hug”when I was making it, I was consciously thinking of her and wishing her well. I find that when I am tired…I don’t do well…some people feel comforted and relaxed when they work but I need to feel well. But, I can stand for a very long time and just look at my stash of fabric and feel warm and comforted. Love the colors and how they feel…and when I am creating something it needs to FEEL good.”
Gretchen – Image – front-on shot of my workspace. “I’m BIG on cord management, so to have this bundle of white cords above my computer is driving me a little nuts (they were originally configured to be plugged into the LEFT side of my Macbook). To the left, an “inbox” where I place papers that need to be addressed. The cork board is for photos, sentimental items, and items that need immediate attention. It’s my “HEY LADY! DON’T FORGET THIS!” board. On the wall are paintings that mean a lot to me, and photos. I use a magnetic board behind the monitor to house paper clips, thumb tacks, and binder clips, which I’ve put into magnetic spice holders. I cannot work if my desk is a mess. It’s too distracting. So, I need to tidy up before I can even start working. To be honest, when I work from home on the type of work I am doing now, I don’t feel very creative at all. I feel … technical. I’m writing about a bunch of scientific stuff, and I don’t have much leeway to be overtly creative. I don’t have the license to be funny, which is what really makes me happy. So, I think it’s even MORE important for me to have a tidy space, because my mind has the tendency to wander when I’m working on medical/scientific work. Working from home and not having to commute nearly 4 hours a day, 5 days a week has been nothing short of life changing. My ideal work space would be in a cozy cabin or smaller home out in the middle of nowhere, facing a window (as long as my back was not to the door). We are running out of space at work. So, they are talking about having us “SHARE” cubicles. This gives me great anxiety as I need my workspace to be my own. It needs to be tidy, free of clutter, and set up to my specifications.”
Cynthia – “My cocoon with a window facing the bay bridge to my left and a view of my daughter’s bed which I love. A wall behind me and the rest of my apartment to the right. It’s a place to contemplate away from the world. Look far and still look close. I do my administrative work here, like bills, online grocery shopping, as well as writing, thinking. It’s my retreat to think. The only place that’s mine at this point. I write my goals. Think about life changes, deep stuff. It’s where I can feel vulnerable. There’s a bookcase that cuts off everything to my right so the rest of the apartment actually on the other side of it. Hence the cocoon.”
I’m fascinated by the places we carve out for ourselves, and the safety that resides within those nooks. Freedom to become our true selves; and to make something new of ourselves. I believe we make these places happen when we decide we want to save ourselves. They appear when the only thing left for us is to grow and change. They become a place for rest and contemplation as we reconsider the paths we travel. These places exist as ways to expand the possibilities; and where we may do whatever it is that fulfills us.
Ticia – “Here is a photo of the space I call my office. It’s a work-in-progress, much like me, and it helps me focus on what’s right in front of me. I don’t want it cluttered with distractions, but I want to be surrounded by objects that inspire my creativity and make me happy. I need a place where I can let my guard down and set the words free.”
Christy – “I Love my new work space! It’s everything I could have wished for and much more! Large table space to mix essential oils and create beautiful blends for clients (even big enough for several people to all be working at same time), big windows with a view of lots of greenery and random birds and squirrels to keep me grounded while working on the our website and social media, bookshelves for reference books and some of my faves scattered throughout, empty storage space and so much more. It’s a space that can evolve with me and our business as it continues to grow. Ria (our pup) and I find ourselves in the Yoga Studio even on the weekends as it has grown into such a tranquil uplifting space. In setting this space up I have followed Feng Shui rules for better energy flow. Thank You for allowing me to share this place with you and others!”
Kate – “I’d make changes to enlarge my space if possible and set it in a rural setting with a wooded area if possible to include a pony. For now this works and affords me space to make small paintings and do my art showing and administrative work.”
No matter where and what they are – I see the beauty in these expanses; but I am also interested in exploring these places where commerce and creativity intersect.
Brenda – By day an Accounts Receivable and Credit Manager. After hours, Voice Over Artist. Image Above – Closet sound booth with AKG microphone and carpeted mic stand surrounded by acoustic foam. “Fits me and my many friends in my head.”
Emalie – Image above, work at home space. “I work for a small nonprofit organization, Project Inform, that was one of the first organizations to form in response to the HIV epidemic. About 6 years ago Project Inform added the hepatitis C virus (HCV) to its mission. The organization now works on HIV and HCV consumer education and state and federal policy issues. My role as Director of Federal & State Affairs is largely to advance HCV prevention, screening, diagnosis, linkage to care, and treatment efforts through administrative and legislative policy advocacy. I am generally in my home office 3-4 days per week. The ability to work from home, as well as commute to Sacramento and San Francisco, as needed, helps break up the routine and adds some diversity to the work week. I am grateful I have an employer that affords me such flexibility, especially now while my children are small. I know I am lucky.”
My Creative Spaces – “My art and writing areas help me create the best version of myself. My writing desk is an 18 inch by 10 foot space that sits on the outskirts of my husband’s music room and is also where we watch TV. I have written as the Golden State Warriors played basketball, with headphones on listening to John Coltrane. All available surfaces contain books, stacks of photos, recipes, notes, and family histories used for research and inspiration. So far, it’s all I’ve needed. My painting and sewing area is a totally different animal. I was always told to put these things away and out of anyone’s view – hidden unimportant hobbies I guess I was telling myself. But when I put my things away, I leave them put away and nothing can be accomplished. If I truly was ready to welcome creativity into my life, I realized I needed to set up my work space right out in the middle of home – a six by eight foot island of my sanity. So I did. It’s cluttered and chaotic and I love it.”
Linda W – I become inspired to do lots of things when I relax in my garden. I get a lot of creative ideas there. This is the place where I allow the thoughts to swirl around in my head and where one thing leads to another. It’s starts like this: I listen to the quiet of this green, blossomed world and then I hear the bees buzzing, and birds chirping. I start to think about those bees and how pretty they are with their tiny hairs on their body and their multi-faceted eyes, and wings that beat so fast you can’t see them very well. Maybe they are looking at me. Now that would be a trippy painting wouldn’t it? If I had to do a self-portrait of myself I could do it as a bee would see me. No…too much detail and I would get sick of painting myself thousands of times. Or I could paint a honeycomb design with the flowers that the honey is made of in each chamber. Oh, flowers and weeds. Even weeds are pretty and delicate if you study them and not just have hateful thoughts about them. I get ideas for color combinations from nature. It is pretty amazing to notice how many unusual combinations are out there that you haven’t thought of yourself. Even a rusty watering can. So many colors on that can. All you have to do is to look around. So, you see. I can easily let my mind wander about random things, but it is relaxing and sometimes I even follow through and actually paint or make one of my ideas. Even if I don’t, it is just fun to think about. If you don’t have a garden of your own, go out on your porch, or to a park and just observe everything and let your mind go free. It is hard to explain, but it is fun.
Please enjoy these corners, alcoves, and rooms of dreaming. We are sharing what is special about them; and how they have changed us. We are revealing the secrets of our spaces; and how they make us feel.
Nicole – It’s home so it’s a non judgmental zone, my safe place to explore and find inspiration through trying new movement and messing around on instruments. I mostly dance, sew, sing and play music in my space. I always feel free and inspired.
Stacey – “Through the transition of moving from a place of pure, gut-wrenching and exhausting professional burnout to a place of peace, presence and deep breathing in my life; I realized my work space needed to reflect the way I wanted to live and work (both when I am writing and when I am coaching). I instinctively knew that I only wanted things I adore in my whole living space; and I work hard to maintain that. I do a lot of culling in this space to be sure I have pens I love, fun notebooks and calendars and other necessities – and the stuff that makes me feel icky stays away. Mostly I focus on keeping things around me that help to ground me, clear my energy, and help me be present with clients and myself. Keeper is my helper, so he is always near! I have always been a collector of hearts so there are hearts-o-plenty (and always in pairs). I have many crystals that I love along with essential oils, chakra reminders (to keep those babies spinning in harmony), books that inspire and that I quote often, wind up toys I started collecting years ago, and a drawing of my spirit animal I did in class last year (a black bear and her meaning). I work hard to stay hydrated so I always have water at hand to remind myself to drink it often. I also have a note with the word “tree” on it as I am working to not fall down while attempting tree pose (hence my yoga mat) – which is not only a yoga pose but a metaphor for my life. Probably most important to my life is my little altar above my desk. It holds sweet things that I have been gifted and that remind me I am loved. I am always rearranging it and making sure it is alive and well. Right now I have a beautiful painting from a friend based on a poem I wrote and performed, a birth chart from a Nepalese friend, an art piece based on a praying mantis that I wrote about a few years ago, and many other little things from friends. They make me feel warm and hugged. I also have a million found objects. Since I was a little girl I have picked up random things in nature and I still do. Right now there is a pine cone from a trip to Oregon, some eucalyptus leaves from a hike, rocks from the beach in LA and from Texas, and other little odds and ends I find in a day. Ha, re-reading this I realize I would have cringed at this a few years ago…it all sounds so woo-woo. But the truth is my own spiritual works is about coming back to my body and myself and I try to keep the tools that work for me close as a reminder to be still and present. So, I stand by the woo-woo and I raise you an extra woo!
My beautiful friends do wonderful things with their talent. Included are the links that hold special places in their hearts.
Nicole teaches: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ODC-Dance-Commons/474199376087037 This is Nicole’s dance company, Little Egypt https://www.facebook.com/LittleEgyptBellyDance/?fref=ts
Emalie – “If you’d like to know more about our work, check out www.projectinform.org and www.calhep.org. @NASTAD https://t.co/2yOanLjHPt. I am also the Chair of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable’s Steering Committee, so if you are interested in national viral hepatitis issues, check out their website at www.nvhr.org.”
Brenda – http://www.brendavillanueva.com.
Kate – http://kateleffler.com/
Christy – http://www.pillars-of-light.com/
My journey to explore creative spaces has yielded so much more than I ever would have imagined. I believe our spaces are not just creative spaces. They are sacred. When we do what is meaningful and right in our hearts, our endeavors become sacred to ourselves. And then we share…
My friends opened themselves, their homes, their hearts to my questions and participated in my vision. They said “yes”. My lovely friends showed me their light and allowed me to reflect my own.
No matter where life leads, I know I will always find ways to seek the creative places in my soul. I hope these stories and photos have made your heart sing the way they did mine. I hope you feel inspired to create your own spaces.