How I Found Creativity After Being the DIY Queen

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Creativity is a privilege.

I wouldn’t have made such a statement five, ten years ago. I probably would have said that creativity is something we’re born with, that not being able to pass by your local Hobby Lobby without going inside may be a good indication that the Creativity Fairy has taken up residence in your life.

But that was before. For me, there exists a before and an after: before children and after children. I don’t know what “before” is for you, but there was a time in my grown-up life when, but for work commitments and social engagements, my schedule was entirely my own. I’d scour Martha Stewart Living and the Pottery Barn catalogue like it was my job. Ripping pages out of the magazines, I’d plaster the east wall of our garage with pictures of everything I wanted to do and create and make.

And then I’d do it — I’d actually do it. I repurposed signs out of wood I found on the side of the road, adding favorite quotes from Emily Dickinson and Saint Anthony to its tarnished sides. I invested in a staple gun so I could staple the hell out of a piece of plywood wrapped in cotton fluff and cover it in a gray and white striped fabric. Affixing stained wooden legs to the bottom of the plywood with brackets, our dining room table seemed to delight in the addition of a bench.

(Never mind that the legs were always wobbly, and we wouldn’t dare let anyone sit on it for fear of an emergency room visit. Alas, the stapled bench I worked so hard to create eventually made its way to the local Goodwill.)

Every room in our 1200-square foot condo was covered in Cara’s DIY creations. I took pride in my work. I showed it off with humor and with pride.

And then I got pregnant.

All that creativity mojo, which, at the time, had almost entirely been funneled into paint fumes and hammers, went out the window. What little energy I did have went to my job, to keeping a local outreach ministry afloat and out of the proverbial financial black hole. Exhausted at the end of the day, I couldn’t do anything more than lie prostrate on the couch and watch episodes of Law & Order: SUV.

Olivia Benson still holds a special place in my heart, I tell you.

I suppose that’s why I remind you (and me, and all of us), that creativity is not only a privilege, but it is an honor and a choice.

It is an honor to be given the time and space to do what we were made to do, whatever the outlet, whomever the recipient.

But leaning into our creative sides is also a choice we make.

If you’re anything like me, whatever your lot in life, you don’t have all the time in the world. After a long day at work, whether you sit in an office cubicle or wrangle small humans in the confines of your home, you don’t have more than a couple of hours each day to really do what you want to do.

So, we make a choice. We make do with what we do have instead of what we don’t have. We choose to believe that God will use us — even us, especially us — in these few and precious hours we hand over to him.

And then we go for it.

We give it all we got, because we know this little slice of time still matters deeply.

For me, creativity now looks vastly different than it looked when I called myself the DIY Queen. My creative side finds expression almost entirely through my words, when I have and make the time to sit down for an hour in the afternoon or evening. And maybe, because I know these hours are not only a gift, but a choice I’m making to enter in with, I guard them fiercely.

Because I know there are stories upon stories upon stories still waiting to be told. And telling these stories is a privilege. And entering into this privilege, as you can guess, is purely a choice.

Might we choose wisely.

Cara Meredith

Writer at Be Mama Be
Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco area. She is passionate about theology and books, her family, meals around the table, and finding Beauty in the most unlikely of places. A seven on the Enneagram, she also can’t help but try to laugh and smile at the ordinary everyday.

Latest posts by Cara Meredith (see all)

  • My creativity came out After I had kids. That’s when I wanted to make a tree out of fabric to put on our daughter’s room wall and would then choose to make my own stencil (I was nuts!) to paint a border around her oh-so-pink little girl room. I used nap times for sewing and creating and maybe that was a coping mechanism more than I knew. Now, with grown up kiddos, I don’t seem to have the patience for such things so I’ve turned toward photography and writing with painting to keep my interest sparked. It is a choice but a one that has chosen me as it’s my serenity and outlet that I need. We’d have been fun DIY friends Cara. No doubt! 😉

    • carameredith.com

      Oh Debby, I also love that you reminded me of the mutual choosing: one that chooses US. Yes, yes, yes! And since I still have some of my DIY stuff, yes, we can be friends. I might have to hire a full-time nanny first, though. 😉

  • I was a dancer in my former life. A for real, went to college for it and wanted to do it professionally – dancer. That stopped when I had kids, too. The closest I get these days is zumba, yoga, and a dance class I teach once a month to refugee kids. My creativity is in my writing now and even that sometimes feels so selfish with all that is left to do with my time. But I make that choice. I believe that God has called me to it and, like you, I count it something I get to choose again and again. Thank you for choosing it, too. Your words are a gift!

    • carameredith.com

      Oh, thank you, my friend. I share these thoughts alongside you. PS: Can we PLEASE Zumba together someday? It’s like my YMCA heart and soul.

  • Jo-Ann Sassone

    I was one of those DIY wannabes – often starting projects but not finishing them OR not really loving the end result. I love the image of your garage wall plastered with projects and you busy at work making your vision a reality. 🙂 But I do feel a calling to write and have recently rediscovered the joy of writing by starting a blog. I’m a newbie but enjoying the journey. You are right to call it a privilege. It is. And one I am choosing at this point in my life (grown kids!). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

    • carameredith.com

      Sounds like we’re in similar places, Jo-Ann! Glad to be on this creative journey – however it looks – with you!

  • What a blessing that creativity comes in so many forms that we can find in each season of life if we make the choice to!

    • carameredith.com

      Here’s to making that choice, Marvae!

      • Thank you! Creativity is a big to me!

  • “So, we make a choice. We make do with what we do have instead of what we don’t have.” This is really one of the best things we can do, and sometimes we miss it because we are wishing for what we don’t have. Creativity does look different in our seasons of life. When I was raising kids, my creativity had to come in teaching them, in cooking, etc. Sometimes it was of necessity because we didn’t have much money, but it was good because it forced me to be creative. Now I do more writing and also have time to delve a little into painting, art journaling and photography. But you are right, creativity is a gift and a privilege and a choice. Thanks for sharing your creative journey so far. Blessings to you, Cara!

  • Goodness it is so hard to choose it sometimes! I’m learning to be disciplined to choose it though… I’m telling myself to do some kind of writing down of words on the blog every day even if it’s crap.

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