When I was a classroom teacher, there was one sure-fire way to get my students to push through, pay attention, and get done what they really didn’t want to do:
The promise of an art activity at the end of the week.
Now, nearly 20 years later, creativity is absolutely saving my own a** not to mention my sanity.
Hi! I’m Shannon Medisky.
I’m a former classroom teacher, current mom, and—quite simply—someone looking to cultivate and exploit creativity in every possible way.
Let me start closer to beginning…
When I graduated high school, I had a plan: work hard, earn a college degree, and achieve financial stability. There was only one problem with this plan: I hadn’t prioritized happiness. Oops.
Fortunately, during my first year of college, I met my future husband, Jason. We met while taking a course in world literature. I was in the class to tick a box towards degree requirements. Jason, on the other hand, was taking it for personal and creative enrichment as he pursued his dream of becoming an animator.
As we got to know each other better, I got to know myself better, too. The truth was I envied him. I wanted to be creative. But I didn’t think I could. Ouch. Feeling like you want something so desperately out of reach simply sucks.
I was worried I’d fail. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in. But you know what? I did it anyway.
I traded security for passionate uncertainty. Then, took the leap and enrolled in art school. A few years later, I earned my degree in Production Illustration/Graphic Design. Only a few months after that, I landed a dream job along the Seattle waterfront designing menus for a well-known local restaurant chain. But sadly, it didn’t last long.
I was only a few months into this new job before I slowly lost my ability to climb stairs. At 22 years old, I lost my job and my mobility. It took many, many doctors and about a year to figure it out, but psoriatic arthritis had entered my life with a vengeance.
Fast forward many years later and I’ve had to reinvent myself several times over. Sometimes because of circumstances and other times by choice. I’ve spent years in front of the classroom teaching hundreds of children, both as a traditional classroom teacher as well as an art teacher. I’ve also had the privilege of working as a writer. And now—well—I’m finding myself circling back around to the creative call I heard well over 20 years ago.
The truth is I’ve spent the greater part of the past 10 years struggling. When we opened our home and hearts to adopt our youngest son, we had no idea how it would change our lives. As the years went on, the presence of and true depth of his special needs became apparent. Ultimately, I left the classroom to work from home, where I could better care for his special needs.
But caring for Mark’s special needs over the years has created greater needs for me, too. As the adage goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. I had to find a way to fill mine up fast—and repeatedly so.
That’s when I remembered how I used to swindle my fourth graders into doing all the various assignments they really didn’t want to. And I wondered could the same tactic work for me? It was certainly worth a shot.
That shot worked. And years after finishing art school, I’ve discovered a simple truth about creativity: It’s not the product that matters, it’s the process. It’s not about what we create. It’s about making space and being involved in an activity that’s instinctual to all of us. Creativity both heals and helps us.
We have two sons, one with a high IQ and one with a very low IQ. Creativity has been the tool that’s helped me successfully and simultaneously parent both of them—while managing to stay sane myself!
I still live with the psoriatic arthritis that literally crippled me over twenty years ago. Creativity has helped me not only finds way to work around physical limitations. It’s provided a distraction from the pain, too.
And there are many days when my mind races, leaving me feeling like I can’t quit catch my breath. Creativity provides the respite my mind needs to find and create space for rest.
I won’t say that creativity is the answer to everything. But I can certainly promise that it’s the soft skill that can make everything easier. I can also promise that creativity isn’t just for a select few. It’s a skill that can be cultivated and honed by anyone. And that’s exactly what this site is about.