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Sunday
Oct252009

Living Life Creatively: Hello Brooklyn



By
Ellen Bari

I can still remember sitting at the window of my 23rd floor Upper West Side apartment, looking out somewhat hopelessly at the midday sky. The urban roofscape filled with water towers of every shape and size looked like an African village gone heavy metal. As the mother of a 14 month old, trying to make sense of my new existence, I remember corresponding with a cousin of mine, who had by default become my email lifeline. When I bemoaned my lack of creativity she said: the most important thing is to live your life creatively. I don’t think I quite realized it at the time, but with that statement she had planted seeds that would take root and bear fruit forever after. Thanks Rita!


Shortly after that interchange I started taking a magical green compound, the kind that’s only available through entrepreneurial friends, which was supposed to restore health and vitality to my bones. I also embarked on a 12 week journey with The Artist’s Way. I have never been one for self-help books, although I once read Smart Women, Foolish Choices. I can’t say that it helped me much, other than that I learned that my girlfriends might in fact seem as dumb and unattractive as some of the men I date, if I had to date them! Despite my previous aversion to self-help books, I took this 12 week course quite seriously. I was on a mission to reconnect with my creative center, and as the weeks passed, I began to look forward to the hour or two that I would spend alone late at night, responding to the book’s prompts by revisiting the past and dreaming up a bright and colorful future.


I’m not sure exactly how the magic worked, but sometime that fall, not long after I had finished the course, I went to visit a friend who had recently moved to a very large apartment in a lovely area of Brooklyn. As I walked with her from room to room I began to realize that this was the answer to the question I didn’t know I had been asking. As a newly single mom, without any adult relatives nearby, how could I maintain a job and social life without 24/7 help? It became clear that a live-in nanny was the answer and that having a room for her was the challenge. I immediately inquired if there were any other apartments available in the building and went back to look at two smaller ones, that were crying out to be rejoined at the hip. Apparently, after the stock market crash in the 1920’s, many spacious apartments in the city were ungracefully cut in two, as was the case with this one. The apartment in the back was so unappealing, that the family of pigeons that had settled in the kitchen had scared off all previous potential buyers. I was sure that pigeons don’t squat, so after getting them out, I immediately closed the window… and put in a bid. I believe it was the power of the book’s process that gave me the courage and creative vision to buy these two dumps (the appraiser thought they were so worthless, his number came in below the asking price!) and tear down their walls to create a new haven in Brooklyn. In my daughter’s younger years…nanny made three.



Many years later I still write ‘morning pages,’ one of the key elements of the Artist’s Way, and believe that they foster growth and inspiration as I continue to find creative solutions to life’s challenges. I have met women all over the country at art exhibits, film openings and book readings, who singularly point to The Artist’s Way as the vehicle that helped them find their creative bliss. I actually turned to a ‘work’ version of the book years later, and again experienced great results, this time from the ‘artist’s date,’ but more on that another time. The most important thing has been to recognize the importance of making space for creativity in my life and enabling my daughter to do the same. And needless to say, in hindsight, the move to Brooklyn before it became a destination worthy of double-decker bus tours, was truly inspired!




Ellen Bari, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and creative consultant, curates and produces award-winning programs and exhibits for children and adults. Her upcoming children’s book Jumping Jenny (Lerner Publishing) is about a passionate little girl whose bouyant bounce, truly knows no bounds. Ellen’s ‘creative compass’ navigates her life as a mom, globe trekker, and designer of one-of-a-kind ceramics and jewelry- her necklaces are on display at Proteus Gowanus Gallery. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Current exhibits in NYC include The Future Beneath Us @ the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL/NYPL), Transit Museum Gallery @ Grand Central; American Express Tower in the World Financial Center lobby.

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Ok, this is the last straw, I really do have to get that book! I've heard it talked about in life-altering terms too many times now to ignore it. Thanks Ellen!

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