Defining the Spirit of a Word

I come from a very creative family. My dad is an illustrator and my brother is a storyboard artist. My mom has an amazing eye for color and design and is able to make a small shift that turns an awkward space into an inviting one.

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My mom made that dress!

When I hear the word create, I often think, Not me!

I laughingly tell people the reason I studied art history is that I love art but am not creative. For my birthday, I asked for a calligraphy set and signed up for Skillshare to work on my penmanship. I struggle to find time for myself and am drawn more toward the couch and a book than the practice of lettering.

I’m learning that when I take words – like create – literally, I am never good enough. I’m never going to live up to the image of a creative person that I’ve constructed in my mind.

But, like so many words, when I take the spirit of them and find their abstract nature, I find myself as well.

When I think about creating space for community or creating a safe place to talk and listen, I connect with the word. When I think of creating an environment for my girls to grow up questioning and grappling and thriving, I can see myself in that word.

I wonder how many words I discard as not applying to me because I take them in such a literal sense. I’m not an activist; not a writer; not an artist. But when I remove the literal meaning and focus on the spirit of these words, I find myself and grow into that descriptor.

How would you describe yourself? Are there any labels you’ve wanted and learned to grow into?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “create.”

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16 thoughts on “Defining the Spirit of a Word

  1. Me too! This is perfect Annie. Even from afar I’ve benefitted from the gracious space you create to exchange ideas and moments. I get caught up in the literal meaning too often too. I need to think about the spirit more often. Thank you!

  2. I love this! I am so quick to jump to the literal sense of a word rather than look at the abstract sense. When I truly look at life, I am much more creative than I think. I refuse to live a mundane life where my life is tidy and pretty but where it doesn’t touch others. My life may be messy and a bit unconventional, but isn’t that what creativity is all about?

    1. Ha! Tell me about not living in a tidy, pretty space!! Definitely not here! 😉 Love that you are finding creativity in the everyday. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. This may sound bad, but I’m glad I’m not the only person who has to disentangle herself from the literal meanings of words. I don’t always think of myself as “creative” but when I look at it more broadly, I can see areas in my life where I create.

    You are a creater of safe spaces for others. What a beautiful thing to be known for. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! I totally view you as a creator – the way you weave stories and lessons is beautiful. Isn’t it funny how others can quickly give us a label we ourselves have trouble doing?

  4. I would definitely affirm that you are creative…with your words, time, space, hospitality, art! Boldly and with confidence embrace the word creative in your description of yourself!

  5. This is such a good word for myself and many others who don’t think they are creative because they can’t draw, paint, sing well, etc. I think we are all creative because we were created in the image of God who is extremely creative!

    1. Um, don’t sing?! Please. I don’t know anyone who does a better rendition of Muskrat Love. 😉 But, yes – if we are created in the image of a creator (and a scientist and a philosopher and….) aren’t we, too, creators?

  6. Annie, this is so true: “I wonder how many words I discard as not applying to me because I take them in such a literal sense. I’m not an activist; not a writer; not an artist. But when I remove the literal meaning and focus on the spirit of these words, I find myself and grow into that descriptor.” I’m in the 51 spot this week.

  7. Love where you’ve taken this word. I too am not very creative in the literal sense of the word, so loved your encouragement to take it further and look at these other possibilities of creating space and a safe place and opportunities for others to thrive. Thanks for your encouragement.

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