good life by awbree caton
Part of cultivating a good life is being open to creativity.
For as long as I can remember, creativity has been a part of my life.
Growing up I was surrounded by aspects of artful living. My maternal grandmother taught me how to sew and would spend hours making matching dresses for my Cabbage Patch Dolls and me. Later, it was dresses for my American Girl dolls. My grandfather was often found repairing oriental rugs or hand painting metal-cast soldiers. There was always a project in the making, a new idea to try. They taught me how to hunt for treasures, how to turn something old and forgotten into something beautiful.
My fraternal grandmother spent her days going back and forth from the garden to the kitchen. She taught me about flowers and gardening and how everything tastes better homemade. In the summer we would walk down to the peach orchard, fill baskets to overflowing with the sweet fruit and then make homemade peach ice cream. If I close my eyes, I can still taste it. It’s surely one of my favorite memories of her.
There are art supplies scattered around our home, ready for use all the time. Supplies get cleaned up but not put away. I believe that if children can’t see it, they won’t use it. I often leave out creative invitations for my kids — little projects waiting for them when they get home from school. My kids create ALL DAY LONG. It might be simply drawing or coloring (which they do for hours each day), or it might be building, making, inventing, or just making a big mess. As a mom of two curious little ones, I have had to teach myself to just say yes to mess. Now, I embrace it.
Luckily we have a studio that welcomes big creative messes, but our dining room table is covered in markers, stencils, and glittery play dough as I sit and write this. Art is everywhere. Having art in our lives has taught my kids cooperation, imagination, perseverance, and problem-solving skills. They eagerly try new things, diving right into whatever new project I lay out.
As a mom with a child with behavior issues, I have found that art has helped him focus his energy. It quiets him down and allows him to settle his mind and his body. I encourage both of my kids to be artistic, to try new things, and to explore their creativity. I encourage you to inspire your children. Teach them to use their hands and their hearts to create art that is meaningful to them.
Yesterday I asked my son why he loves art so much and he replied, “I don’t know, Mom. Art just makes me happy.” I smiled and told him art makes me happy, too.
Awbree is a member of our 2015 Creative Team. She lives with her family in a small town in Massachusetts, outside of Boston.