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Do you love to dance, sing, write, sculpt, paint, or debate? What’s your favorite way to express yourself, creatively?

Writing is very important to me. The reason I began this 365 day challenge was to develop the habit of writing every day. I would love to be a published author one day, writing for children. I haven’t yet found my niche, but I am a member of a picture book writing group, but I’m struggling with genre. Writing a picture book, even though it’s supposed to be less than 500 words, is much harder than I thought!

I have a Bachelor’s degree in history, and as Masters degree in Elementary Education. I am very drawn to historical fiction. To add to that, my daughter moved to Richmond, Virginia, more than three years ago, and I love the city. It’s full to bursting with history, and I enjoy learning more about the Civil War. Richmond is in the midst of a rebirth and expansion, but their own love for history has preserved its important place in the Civil War; pride and tourism have made that worthwhile. There is a lot of material there for a children’s book, but also many people who have already used that theme to publish books. It’s still a fascinating period in our history though.

While I only taught for 18 years, after my kids were all well into elementary school to high school. It is certainly a profession that requires a lot of creativity. Some of the best teachers are willing to go out on a limb and innovative, a bit outlandish, and even theatrical. Fortunately or unfortunately, kids require more “motivation” than just the goal of getting good grades. So the challenge to produce lessons that are ever more challenging and interactive is on!

I’m not an artist, but for a while enjoyed tinting (watercolors) old prints. Many of the ones I own are over 150 years old. It was difficult to learn, and ironically, about 20 years ago, I went to Richmond to learn more about the process from a woman who did it commercially, and very beautifully. (I can tell you, Richmond is a very different place now than it was then!) I basically abandoned that craft after a couple of years when I sold very few, and it seemed like I was “wasting my time.”

I worked from 1973-1978 at a large trade association doing writing and editing jobs, and really enjoyed putting together promotional pieces, brochures, and newsletters from writing to the actual physical layout of the material. In 1978 I left to become a full-time mother — going from on satisfying career to another.

For the last 10 years of my teaching career, I taught computers and learned so much — it was like being paid to gain new skills. I especially enjoyed using the Adobe programs, and became pretty good at Photoshop and Illustrator. Many of the students were better than I! Some of the children created the most incredible images in Illustrator — they were artists at heart, I think, who found Illustrator as a medium to express themselves.

I love to take and edit photos, and am so picky about them, that I edit anything I share. Four years ago I started making a series of family albums (using online photo book products) that each cover two years. Next year will be my fifth, an it’s both fun and creative. I give one to each child and keep one for our growing collection. About a year ago, I visited my sister in Florida, her daughters and 5 boys. One daughter (niece), the 5 boys, and I went to a great attraction called Dinosaur Land. I took lots of photos and when I came home, wrote a story about our adventure with fictional touches, and sent them all a copy (in a commercial photo book) to remember a great outing! They loved it, and I think liked having a story written about them. In incorporated their Tao Kwon Do training into our fight with the dinosaurs that came back to life when struck by lightning.

I enjoy being a creative cook, too. Even though  I’ve prepared thousands of meals in my lifetime, I still go into different cultural directions, and keep trying to add to my repertoire. I also feel more confident in putting together different ingredients, spices, and doing as much as possible with natural and fresh ingredients.

There are many ways to be creative! And it makes life much more fun.