Feature Friday – Natalyn Bradshaw
Natalyn has been a source of constant inspiration and motivation for me. She gets creativity. She lives it, breathes it, and does it consistently. She’s found practices that fill her up and keep her going. When life gets rough, she doesn’t run from the page, she runs to it. There’s a lot to learn from someone who has mastered that art. Here is what she has to say…
I believe I am called to inspire many women to step fully into the power of their creativity, gathering them together and encouraging them to remember how wonderful and freeing it feels to create. I am called to do this by stepping into my own creative power, becoming who I was created to be, and bringing them with me on the journey.
Of course, my journey has not been a straight line, as is true of most journeys. I spent a great number of years believing gross falsehoods about myself. Things that I loved doing from a very young age, such as drawing, writing stories and making art, I set aside because I somehow believed that I wasn’t good enough to produce anything beautiful. I don’t know where I got that idea. But it is something that stayed with me. All through upper elementary through high school, I would create things for myself and very rarely share them with anyone, unless it was for a school assignment or something. I was really scared of my work being judged or dismissed, and I had been burned with that a few times. I had also experienced the opposite, like winning a school-wide art contest and a county-wide poetry competition, in addition to excelling in music as a singer and as a flautist and even landing a gig as a dance line teacher before I went to college.
Somehow, every positive reinforcement was forgotten or downplayed in my mind. I never shared any of my beloved photographs (I got my first camera when I was twelve) with anyone. My tiny pocket calendars that I filled with doodles and color alongside assignments and due dates very rarely caught the gaze of anyone but me. As much as I loved doing creative things, there was this idea looming over my head that it wasn’t valuable. My work wasn’t valuable. So I relegated it to its “proper” place high on a shelf of hobbies, resigned to not remove it.
Life’s Way of Re-Directing
Life can sometimes have this way of re-directing, even when you think you’re already going in the right direction. I went to an Ivy League college thinking I would come out well on my way to achieving some lofty law career. Instead, I came out with a degree in music. Long story for another time.
And those hobby-like activities? They never really left, though I wasn’t as staunch in my efforts to keep them hidden. People would catch glimpses of some of my doodle drawings, and next thing I knew I would be making some for them at their behest. My collection of photographs grew massively in size, and looking at the photos made me happy. I was proud of them. My Spanish professors told me that I was a gifted writer. I had been told that in high school as well, even in elementary school. I didn’t believe any of them.
So what happened to make me start to consider the positive reinforcements along the way that I had received my entire life? What happened that gave me the courage to at least begin to take my creativity more seriously and assign value to it?
Finding myself alone, fighting to pull myself out of one of the worst depressions I had experienced in my life (and I have fought depression many times since I was a kid).
I went from being a married mother of an infant son to being a single mom of a toddler. I spent a year kind of reeling and in shock, living on auto-pilot. It was during this time that I pulled off of that high shelf one of my oldest creative habits: journaling. I poured out all of the hurt, anger, helplessness, loneliness, fear, and prayers onto the pages of my journal. Then I got more journals for different things. Slowly, I began to feel like myself again. I began to feel better.
Creative Practices off the Shelf
Through the course of the next ten plus years (in the midst of falling in love and getting remarried, having more children, going through major ups and downs and transitions), I would manage to pull down off of that high shelf every creative practice that I ever loved. And as I would do so, I would receive new revelation on just how valuable each practice was, and is.
Your creativity is never trivial. And it is never fruitless.