Re-visit: Don’t Fence me in

I can’t believe it has been over 3 years since I posted this… I still stand by every word. While I’m here “fenced in” to the couch/bed and resting on doctor’s orders I’m re-visiting a few favorite blog posts. This is one from my creative journey series. If you want to read the whole series you can start (at the bottom of the page) here and work up to more recent entries.

If you’ve ever taken one of my scrapbook classes than you know how I feel on the subject of being fenced in or limited in what you can do with the material I teach. I say: NO RULES. JUST CREATE. I didn’t quite used to be that way, but three or four years ago I really started to get it, to get to that place. Who am I to say what you can and can’t do on YOUR project? Nobody, that’s who. I’m just a girl that likes to play with paper + scissors, and I like to see other people create from a place of love as well.

With that thought in mind, I was listening to my ipod the other day, and Don’t Fence Me In (sung this time by Harry Connick Jr) really caught my attention. It made me think of that time in my creative revolution when I was in full internal revolt.

Let me be by myself in the evening breeze Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees Send me off forever but I ask you please Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose Let me straddle my old saddle underneath the Western skies On my cayuse Let me wander over yonder ’til I see the mountains rise I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences Gaze about the moon until I lose my senses Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences Don’t fence me in

I didn’t want to have a defined style, didn’t want to be labeled, didn’t want to be fenced in creatively.

Is that such a bad thing? I was really, really sick to death of hearing people go on and on and on about “_x_” style or “-y-” style or wanting to be more graphic or more shabby chic or more… GAH! ENOUGH!! I was equally sick of hearing that I’d need to be more ___ to be accepted to ___ team, or ____ to be published by ____ magazine. Know what? I really doubt that when anyone (now or then) looks at my scrapbook they’re thinking about what my “style” is or if I’m in the right “trends”.

puh-leeeeeze. That’s not why I scrapbook or do creative things and the more I felt pressured to conform to certain standards, the more I felt fenced in and howled in misery. Then slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece I just let go. Of ALL of the insecurities, all the expectation, all that internal pressure. LET IT GO.

Above – a layout I did (on MY terms!) for a Jenni Bowlin design team contest. I lost the contest, but didn’t mind. My projects? Pure win.

Below – an 8 1/2 x 11 page that (three years later) remains a favorite.

Ultimately, I really had to figure out that I’d been changing and growing my whole life, and if I wanted to be happy I had to understand that the growth and change would keep happening – for the rest of my life. The earth, my life… it’s all in motion all the time. So just go with the flow.

Do I ever fail? Oh HECK YES!! I have had some MASSIVE fails creatively and professionally. Who succeeds in life that doesn’t have a few (or a lot of) fails? NOBODY!

Do I ever wish I was back in the corral all fenced in where it’s safe? YES.

It can be scary to be out in the land of no rules. To choose trail blazing instead of following the set path. I battle insecurity, fear, and that poor inner 13-year old awkward girl in me that is sure nobody is gonna like her too. Want to know how I battle all those baddies?

Sometimes I confide in someone I trust. Other times? I lay it all out there. I confess to being a bookwormy nerd, a romance and happy ending loving freak, a big footed, fat battling, un-hip 31 year old mom who just wants to focus on the happy side of life wherever she can.

I stay true to ME. If what I’m doing in my creative (and ‘real’) life feels right and true, it’s good. If it doesn’t work out? If I fail professionally or I get laughed at? That’s ok too. I can choose not to walk down that path again, but I don’t have to alter who I am, or what I do. I can just find some other direction.

Bottom line for this once upon a time cowgirl? To be true is to be free, and to roam in the wide open (not fenced-in) spaces.

I’m not just talking craft her either. You see, in this liberation of my creative self I was at the same time liberating all of me. I realized, quite simply, it’s all tied into one simple thing: my life. The only person putting rules, restrictions, and guidelines on it at the end of the day was me. I’d fenced myself in and took quite a bit of joy (and some crazed late nights writing and being creative) in breaking free once again.

I choose to live it happy as I can, and free as possible.

11 thoughts on “Re-visit: Don’t Fence me in”

  1. You keep resting young lady!
    I am really glad that you are not fenced in. One of the reasons that I love your blog so much is that I never know ahead of time exactly what I will see when I get here. I love that you mix things up and not just with projects but with your exciting family adventures and how well you do all styles of crafting. Now get some rest!

  2. WOW! That was GREAT advice May! You have a style that is all your own, and is so amazing and unique. . . everything you do draws me in to how your personality reflects in all of your artwork! This post pointed at me. . . I need to let go. . . I need to be true to myself and not be afraid to fail! Thanks.

  3. This is so great, May, and I thank you for this post! Isn’t our crafting supposed to be fun? Yet, ….these ‘stigmas’ take the fun out of it, at least for me. And that’s how I feel like right now. So, I want to thank you for making me feel that it’s ok to be just be me.

  4. THanks May, that really hit home. I feel myself finding that place as well. I used to hop on every trend and now have a bunch of stuff that doesn’t appeal to me. So, I’m in the process of purging that crafty stuff which doesn’t inspire me & that I don’t love. If you know of a worthy group in Nor Cal to receive these treasures, let me know. I would also like to say thank you for reminding me that you are just a normal person who makes mistakes. A few months ago you had told me about a crop a group of you were going to in Nor Cal & I froze; I can’t go to that, what if May doesn’t like what I create? Is what I thought. So, I have been working on only pleasing me & not worrying what others think (it takes A LOT of work, I’m a people pleaser!). And whatever has you on bed rest, I hope it’s resolved soon.

  5. Amen, Sister.
    This post made me so happy. I wish I could take your words and shout them from the rooftops.
    Many years ago a relatively well-known person in the industry said, “You can’t do it that way.” And I believed her. But I did it anyway, and I discovered that there are no scrapbook police. 🙂
    Your words are empowering. And you are pretty awesome.

    Get well soon!!

  6. It makes me happy to hear this. It’s all about expression and creativity. Whether you are creating just for yourself or for others it’s what pleases you that counts. Thanks for the great advice about crafting and life.

  7. Due to ADHD I usually just look at the wonderful images you have on your blog posts and draw inspiration. I have always loved “May’s Style”. All that being said your post really grabbed at my heart strings today, enough so that I read your entire post twice! I felt my heart resonate with what you said in this blog post because it helps me reaffirm a decision that I made for myself a few months back. After years of trying to create product for consumers and having the sales be meager at best I have completely changed direction and started creating only what I would find pleasing to me. Once I let go of the restrictions I have found that my creativity has soared. Thank you for continuing to provide inspiration and for staying true to yourself!

  8. you have so put into words how I feel. I keep hearing my inner voice say, I need to define my style. Is it grundgy, shabby-chic, romantic, CAS, what? It’s none, I like a little bit of all of them. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts with me.

  9. You have inspired me. As a high school teacher, this is the message I always try to impart to seniors before they leave me at the end of the year: be you and be happy. What hit me as I read this is that I need to hear it too. Thank you for reminder and the honesty.

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