Many years ago, when I first began working in Long Term Care, there was a resident at the facility where I worked named Pearl. And she was a pearl, a true gem of a woman. Pearl never graduated from high school, only going through 5th grade because it was necessary for her to go to work in order to help support the family. This was back in the late 1930's when opportunities for a young black woman were truly limited. Pearl cleaned houses, worked in a bakery, and was a nanny to countless children. Pearl raised her family alone after her husband of 3 years left and she simply did what she had to do in order to survive. She once told me that living in the nursing home was the most luxurious life she had ever known.
During Pearl's admission interview, I of course asked her about any creative pursuits she had enjoyed over the years. I knew what was coming. No, she shared, she never had the time, money, or resources for creative activities. And besides, Pearl continued, she just wasn't an artistic person. Yet working without patterns, instructions, or any education other than what her mother had shown her, Pearl made clothes for herself and her kids from free and cast off lengths of fabric. She made quilts out of old clothing, fashioned flowers for her church hats from newspaper. Every spring Pearl would lay out her garden and plant the seeds she had saved from the previous year and she could bake anything you suggested, even if you suggested some crazy surprise ingredient. She just knew these things. But Pearl never thought of any of these activities as hobbies and never considered herself to be creative. It was work. It was what had to be done to get through life.
|Image via Gatsby and Me|
So I asked Pearl if she would like to try some coloring. She had done a little bit of coloring with the kids she had nannied but had never actually completed an entire picture. And she certainly never actually drew anything. But Pearl was a curious soul and so with a bit of trepidation she agreed. Her first picture was an 8 x 10 zerox copy from a coloring book of a bouquet of flowers- three daisies and some leaves. Pearl was stunned. She couldn't believe that she had colored a complete picture. Her second picture was one of those big 11 x 17 pages- a cat sitting in a window with flowered curtains and more fresh daisies. Oh my, you should have heard Pearl protest when I gave her that big blank page and a box of colored pencils. She swore it was too difficult for her and it would never look good and people would make fun because, she was certain, she had no artistic ability. So we struck a deal when I convinced her to color the curtains. That's all, just the curtains. Of course you know that she colored the entire picture.
A pearl begins with a seed, a tiny bit of almost nothing. Pearl thought she had nothing but she had a seed. All she needed was nurturing. I love it when someone is able to unearth their creativity, when they respond to a little warmth and nurturing and build the courage to push up through the soil and bloom.
|By Barnaby S via Flickr|
OK- with my next post in a couple of days we're going to get started! I will begin sharing some benefits of creativity and will introduce you to a very super Grandmother.
Take a look at the links in the side bar and don't hesitate for a second to send me some suggested sites to add via my email. I do have some other side bar categories that will be added over time but at least we're started with something. Also, take a look at the Tabs across the top of the blog- these are the some of the main areas (but not the only areas) that I would like to focus on so again, please let me know if you have post ideas to contribute. I will be soliciting Guest Bloggers down the road so get your ideas brewing.
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Hey- I'm getting pretty excited to start on this growing season with y'all and would love for each of you to become part of this community- a community garden for our residents!
See ya next time.