One Creative Thing A Day

Every few years I become aware of how dependent I am on my cell phone. Last week when we were changing cell phone plans I lost access to my phone for three days. I freaked out. My partner and my seventeen-year-old daughter watched with curiosity and disdain as I morphed into a hideous monster trying to convince innocent customer service agents to fix a problem that was clearly out of their reach.

After my six hours of outrage and still no phone, I had a moment of clarity. Maybe there was a reason that this happened to me. Maybe this was a sign that my relationship with my cell phone is out of control. Around the same time that my cell phone stopped working, I went to my first live concert since COVID. We went to see Frazey Ford, a female vocalist about my age. The concert was inspiring and fun and enlivening.

I fell in love with Frazey Ford and her “backup singer” Caroline Ballhorn. Caroline wasn’t really wasn’t back up; her voice really made you want to rise up. Both of them had both voices and energy that lit up the stage, the room, and something inside of me. When I got home I googled them both on my laptop and went down a rabbit hole on each of their Instagrams. Both are wildly creative, not just in music but in other art forms.

“I used to be like that,” I thought to myself. I used to be way more creative than I am now. Maybe that’s why I was given a forced break from my cell phone — to remember my creative self. The next morning I vowed to do one creative thing every day.

I started by going to our piano and trying to play “In the Shallows” by Lady Gaga, a song my daughter taught me to play a few years ago. I am not good at piano and have forgotten how to read music. I can only play by memorizing chords and piecing them together into a song. It was a slow start. I needed to look up A-minor was a few times, but I did it. After a few days of practicing it got better. I’m improving every day.

Later that afternoon I went to a dance practice for a Halloween Thriller flash mob. The goal is to learn the six-plus minute Michael Jackson Thriller dance and flash mob it at a Halloween Parade. The dance crew is me, a few other adult women, and lots of teenage girls. Learning the moves is grueling and confusing. My body is out of practice and my brain moves much more slowly than it used to. In addition to the live practices, I practice at home by watching video tutorials on my laptop. Each practice counts as one creative thing.

The morning after the Frazey Ford concert I got my watercolors out. “I need to leave these out on the dining room table,” I told my partner Nancy. “I’m doing one creative thing a day and I want to be able to just sit down and watercolor.”