The Self-Improvement Chronicles: Making a Creative Life

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.-Pablo Picasso.

It’s probably not a surprise that a songwriter and three liberal arts majors would consider creativity a natural part of life. Still, we had to make this a specific assignment so that the daily trials and tribulations don’t get in the way of making something new.

It’s important because creativity is no longer simply viewed as icing on the cake of life for everyone but artists, poets, and musicians. Studies show that creative pursuits can lead to happier, more fulfilled lives and increased productivity in the workplace. And creativity is also just fun for its own sake.

Here are our reports:

Emily: I made a dark cloud for my gloomy self to stand under. (Emily also baked a cake and cookies that she shared with her colleagues.)


Pam: My big creative project this week consisted of….of…..dressing up as Pajama Mama for Halloween!



Colette: I am certain I can’t include, as “creative,” the casserole I slopped together last night, so I have included the poem I worked on over the weekend.  I’m not certain it’s finished, so we’ll just say it’s hanging out for a while and steeping.

 In the Here and After


Statistically, it is nothing

out of the ordinary

for a woman to bury her husband

in his blue black suit,

and return home.


People think she’s returning

to an empty house, but

it is not empty.

A marriage is full of rugs,

and shoes and cereal bowls.

Objects, really.  Bed frames

and lamps, garnered

casually over the years,

with no regard

for how long anyone

would be around to use them.

A kelp green cup,

he used on Sunday mornings

to steep his tea.

A hanger with a shirt he wore,

too often with the same trousers,

to accompany her to dinner parties

and restaurants.


A house is segmented, like a tangerine,

into rooms named for their contents.

The dining room becomes a dining room

when it holds their table and chairs,

when his grandmother’s china plate,

rimmed in delicate blue verbena,

is placed in the hutch

near the front window.


She is expected, in time,

to go through each room.

Sort the things which hold the least of him

into piles meant for charity.

Her children have brought her boxes,

to facilitate this end.

They have volunteered to do this task,

as though they’re willing

to sort the laundry.


There is no way she can let them.

When they see his socks,

they won’t see his big toe

poking sweetly through the hole.

They will only see the hole.

They won’t know that every time

she looks at his reclining chair,

she sees the sky in bloom,

blood orange and poppied,

the morning he described a dream

in which he swam in a river of her hair.


Children do not know such things.

They do not have the necessary exposition

to trace the arc of their parents’ lives,

from beginning to end.

They aren’t meant to see the plans to the house,

when all they need is the roof.


A marriage is full of exquisite secrets.

It breathes its own foggy breath

and moves its body, in private.

He and she lived a life, undetected,

like worms under the soil.

She will not allow death

to be the swift summer rain,

which forces them to surface.

Their denouement is hers to write.


After her children have gone home,

she will sip tea from a kelp green cup,

and dream herself next to him;

she’ll touch his fingers, tip by tip.

Together, they’ll lay stiff as pews,

in the plot of their own choosing,

and they’ll laugh at the Pharaohs

who were buried with their belongings.

Jolly Librarian:  I also worked on a piece of writing this week, but after reading Colette’s, I decided that mine does not need to see the light of day yet. I also made a Halloween costume. See photo above.



Emily:   A

Pam:     A

Colette: A+

Jolly Librarian: A


4 thoughts on “The Self-Improvement Chronicles: Making a Creative Life

  1. If it is possible, I would like to share the poem with a dear friend who just yesterday lost her husband. It fits the two of the soooo well. Thank you for such insight.

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