Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Importance of the Arts in My Life

I find it sad that the arts have been cut from school curriculum in recent years.  I realize science and math are important.  I'm not saying we should get rid of them.  I'm saying there should be room for all these important subjects in our schools.  Arts are tremendously therapeutic.  They help us express our feelings and emotions more clearly and completely.  Here are the different types of arts that have served me well over the years.

Music:  Ah, music!  I listened to the radio on my parents' bed and thought the artists' were actually playing live at the station.  I sang along and fantasized that I was in concert, on tour around the world. I recently listened to some favorites from my younger years and realized many of them were songs of hope, determination, healing, and motivation.  These songs were a huge comfort to me as I faced surgeries throughout my childhood and teen years.  They helped me through some very tough times. The bands I especially liked in my youth were ABBA and Styx. I love many types of music--'80s rock, Celtic, reggae, country, pop, blues, and classical.  I take each song I hear individually and see if it speaks to me on a deeper level.  Those "deep" songs are the ones I love the most.  No, they don't have to be about serious, heart-wrenching things.  I just have to be able to relate to them, or the tempo is pleasing, or I'm somehow moved by a certain song.  That's deep connection to me.  I love to dance, so I'm excited when I hear a song that makes me want to get up and move.  

Painting with sweet little Zoey by my side
Drawing/Painting:  When I was growing up I spent hours drawing and painting in my bedroom.  I started out with stick figures, then graduated to still life, album covers (copying my favorite ones), house plans, and outdoor scenes.  Acryllic paints, pencils, and pens were my favorite media.  As an adult, I've tried my hand at portrait drawing.  Lee Hammond is a genius!  She makes it so easy to draw people and animals realistically.  If she can make it possible for me to draw realistically, yes, she's a genius.  One thing that always seemed to elude me was an ability to do that very thing, until I happened upon Lee's books one day in a local bookstore.  Holy cow!  I was thrilled to finally realize my dream of putting a figure on paper that actually looked like the real deal!  Later, when I owned a typing and design business, I drew and painted my own designs for the products.  That was a fun job!

Crafting:  As a kid, I loved art projects.  Cards, puppets, paper chains for the Christmas tree, collages, and story books were favorites.  Give me construction paper, felt, scissors, glue, glitter, markers, and crayons, and I was a happy camper.  Quilting, sewing, knitting--no.  My mom was a whiz at sewing and my sister took after her.  I can sew a button on a shirt in a pinch, but that's about it.  Mom tried to teach me how to knit, but I never got the hang of casting off so I just kept knitting and purling until I ran out of yarn or became bored with the activity.

Movies/TV/Theatre:  Watching a theatre production gives me goosebumps.  I love it!  I disappear into the experience.  I am often brought to tears because I love a show so much, or it makes me laugh until I cry.  I love good stories; something with a purpose.  Something I can learn from.  But I also love to laugh.  Some examples of shows that make me laugh until I cry; laugh from way down deep:  Cool Runnings, Sister Act, The Foreigner (performed by a local theatre company--saw it three time!), American Pie (I'm not a high school/college sexy, gross out movie fan, but seriously the second American Pie movie practically had me on the floor, I was laughing so hard.), Big Bang Theory, Frasier, and Friends (I like it better now than I did when it was on the air).  If a show can make me laugh way down deep, I'm sold.  It's an awesome feeling; a cleansing experience.  I only went as far as high school drama club, but have supported community theatre for years.  I enthusiastically suggest that you take in a local production in your area by an amateur theatre group. There is some amazing talent out there in little theatres everywhere.

Reading:  I love to read.  I could read for hours on end.  That wasn't always the case, though.  When I was in school, I couldn't concentrate well on what I read, so I had to read slowly, re-read passages--oh, it was a pain.  Thankfully I've grown out of that for the most part and can read much faster now.  I've gone through phases when I've read fiction, then non-fiction, chick lit, biographies, memoirs, self-help, Irish literature, psychology, and mythology.  I have varied interests.  Like music, I don't necessarily read books by certain authors.  I pick individual books that jump out at me.  I've found some awesome authors that way.  The authors I especially have enjoyed over the years are: Jan Karon, Richard Paul Evans, Elizabeth Berg, Maeve Binchy, Loretta LaRoche, Eckhart Tolle, and Gretchen Rubin--too many to name them all, really.

Writing:  Writing is by far my biggest source of therapy and comfort besides music.  When I write I disappear into "The Zone."  I enter the world I'm writing about, creating.  I can be healthy, free, famous, make anything happen as a fiction writer.  As a non-fiction writer, I can help others solve problems, break down barriers, feel better, and explore possibilities.  I've written since I could hold a writing instrument.  I wrote every chance I got for extra credit in high school English class.  When I discovered the typewriter, then the computer, well, my fingers flew as the words poured out onto the page, then the screen, from my head.  I wrote poems, short stories, plays, articles, even a full length book manuscript.  And I'm happy to say I've worked as a writer for magazines and newspapers.  I loved it!  And now I blog.  Pure joy!

Are the arts important to you?  If so, in what way?  How have they helped you?  What part do they play in your life?  If you cherish the arts, what have you done to keep them alive and well in your community?  Email me at or leave a comment below.  Thanks!

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