Thoughts on Creativity and Home Improvement Projects During COVID-19

Why is it so difficult for many of us to prioritize creative pursuits? Is it easier to wallow through the unending “must-do” and “should-do” lists of our lives than to carve out a week, a day, even an hour of time to “play” and focus on the creative ideas that fulfill and propel us forward?

Creativity—Sidetracked

After a few travel adventures at the end of 2019, I got sidetracked. I had grand plans for Creative Juice Trip posts in November and December, but I bogged down in the editing process about one trip (so many possibilities!), and then became busy with the holidays, business, and other responsibilities.

I told myself I would re-set in January, then February, even while struggling with a long and seemingly never-ending “to-do” list. I brainstormed some project goals and ideas, but no sooner did I try to hit the re-set button than we were dealing with the specter and ensuing reality of COVID-19. Even with some writing, design, and photography wins, I continue to struggle to get in the flow of Creative Juice Trip during these unprecedented times.

I can continue to beat myself up for not getting back in the flow sooner, or I can accept the creative wins I have had, regroup, and juggle all of my priorities while pushing my creative ones to the front of the line.

Getting Out, Staying In

There has been a constant, stressful tug-of-war between staying close to home to work on projects—business, personal, house, family—and “getting out” to pursue personal, creative play and projects. I realize now, as I look over the last few months, that I never really stopped producing. I just did not achieve what I hoped to, acknowledge what I have done, or allot the time to expand on what I’ve done. Now, that I am largely sequestered at home, the challenge is to do more “creative juicing” at home, or to make more of any short hop outside.

How do you keep creativity alive if you are staying home, for the most part? Is it easier? More difficult? All of us deal with different dynamics—children, seniors, being an essential worker, work from home situations, evaporating work, income disruption. Some may experience the benefit of time, while others are unable to take advantage of time. Creative pursuits can help to keep us sane. What can you do in and around your apartment or house to stay sane, stay occupied, and benefit from creatively?

Home Improvement Projects

January, February, and March were months of “home improvement” type projects for me, but most of what I accomplished was for family. Which meant my own, necessary home projects and planning have been put off and, at times, feel more out of reach than ever.

Projects around the home can be taxing and daunting at times. They probably linger on the “must-do” list rather than the “want-to-do list”. But if there is a project you have been putting off, there may be no time like the present to get it done. Silver lining: projects of this nature can provide great learning opportunities.

So, while my work was more out of necessity, and was often at odds with things I needed or wanted to learn to boost my creativity or benefit my work and personal life, I tried to make the most of the situation. Some projects, like cutting vinyl floor tiles for placement around multiple jogs in a bathroom, proved to be a strain on my time and my arm. Which meant using a pen or a mouse became painful for a couple weeks. However, I tried to look at this task and other stressful ones as learning opportunities and as practice. I learned something new, and if I am not enthused about the experience or the results this time, if I have to do it again, hopefully it will be more rewarding, less stressful, and less painful.

Other projects, like painting walls, trim and floors, always help me to enter a more meditative state, especially when I paint alone. While I’m focused on the act of painting, it gives my brain the space to relax and think about other projects or issues. I had the benefit of experimenting with a new color combination. I reflected on the color palette I chose for my home a few years ago, and how that experience stretched me in a different way and benefitted my work. I also reflected on what colors might work best for a different home.

At times, while I painted, I listened to old playlists. The music made the work fun and made the time pass, and I re-connected with music I had not listened to in awhile. The music brought back some great memories and a desire to listen to both old and new music in a more thoughtful way.

Let’s be clear. I was helping with the aforementioned home improvement project. I have a limited repertoire when it comes to anything construction related. I’m not really a DIY-er when it comes to home improvement. I can patch a little, I can paint and clean, I can fix some things, I have refinished a table and look forward to finishing the accompanying chairs. 

Maybe there is a project you dread or fear to take on. Give it a shot. Try to find the silver lining and make it playful. Maybe there is one you look forward to doing. Dig in. Some projects may be perfect to share with family members who you are sheltering with. Others my be more suitable to pursue on your own. Whatever you decide, try to make it a creative learning experience—and fun. 

JUICE UP

Jot down five things you want to do to improve your living space.

What appeals to you most? What will you need to accomplish the project? If you can’t get what you need, is there something else on hand that might suffice? How long do you think each project will take? What do you hope to get out of the project? How can you make it fun?

Pick one and get started.

DO-IT YOURSELF

The internet offers so many DIY videos and blogs. If you have an idea to tackle a home project, you’ll find plenty of ideas and advice online. Check out a few sources. This might help you get a consensus on what the best approach might be.

If you want to create a decorative piece from scratch, take a look at what you have on hand. You may find you have everything you need to come up with and complete a unique piece. Be sure to stay safe: take proper precautions when using tools or products. This is a good time to avoid the E.R.

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