the real deal

When I was younger and people asked me what I wanted to do, someday, when I grew up, I got into the habit of saying, "I dunno, I just want to do things and make things."

Do things.  And make things.  Okay.

I knew exactly what I meant but never knew if other people did.  I was too scared to get more specific than that because if I did? Someone might point at me and ask me to perform. And then I would have a panic attack.

I am a coward. I take creative things stupid-dumb seriously.  I have high expectations for myself.  I don't put my name on something unless I think it is truly me: my brain, my vision, my good and my bad. This is silly for lots of reasons, but nevermind any of them because it is how I am and how I've always been and I don't think I can be talked out of it.

(But it is ruining things for me.)

I dabble all over place, but what is my thing?  Do I have a thing?  Do I have lots of things?  I am half-assing all of them.  Dabble dabble dabble.  I want to get better at everything but I don't even know where to start and in the real world I'm too shy to own up to any of it.  I don't put myself in any position that I can't explain away as, oh that, that's nothing, that's just a dumb thing I do sometimes. Seriously, ask me about my blog in person and I will stammer all over the place. Compliment me on anything I've ever done and I will shake my head no as fast as I can and explain how bad I truly am at most things, how much I have to learn, how it's all just for fun and to pass the time.  How I'm not, you know, the real deal.

I think that despite my fears, it actually doesn't work like that.  The Real Deal thing, I mean.  I think, maybe, that if it is authentic and true and shows the world how the inside of your brain feels?  Then it is the real deal.  No matter the skill level involved.  No matter what other people think.  No matter what it looks like or seems like.  No matter if someone out there rolls their eyes at it.  (And they will.  People love to roll their eyes.) No one is born knowing how to read or write or use Photoshop, but we are all born with a unique perspective.  And that is the fascinating part. So let's exercise our God given desire to put things out there and forget the naysayers and forget the blushing and just do things and make things already.

So, you there, what is your thing?  Where is your creative energy?  What do you create in your mind but never spit out?  Do you dream in movies, like I do?  I want to hear about it.   I want to see it.  Let's tell each other and the world.  If you have ideas, they are valid, no matter no matter.  You are the real deal.


  1. Oh goodness, Erin. I don't know. What I do know is this sounds so so much like me. Thank you for reminding us all to see ourselves as the real deal.

  2. gah... you are so awesome.

    My dreams are like movies too.

    I love this post.

    I love to make things but never have the time to finish most of the things I start... I somehow suspect that being a momma won't make this any easier, ha!

    but oh goodness do I really love making things and doing things too :)

  3. I gulp words like I do coffee after a sleepless night.
    And I think in song constantly. I always ponder why I didn't pursure becoming the person who puts songs in movies.
    Those were both kind of random and not related, but both places are where my creativity and effort typically reside.
    You are the real deal. Your words, your pictures -- they are your art. And they are wonderful.

  4. i love to make and do so many things. much like you i believe.
    but photography has always been my go-to. i love everything about it.

  5. Whoa, I know this. Yikes, I know this too well, I think.

    I'm working on it, but, like you, I'm not sure I'll ever change out of this completely.

    I am hopeful. Hoping. Have hope. Something like that.

    I have to say, you do things and make things that are beautiful, sweet and going to make a difference in the world in their own little, or big, way.

    You're a living and breathing creative force every. single. day.


  6. i could've written this myself! i'm hoping that one day i will be able to tell someone what my real deal is! i'm guessing at this point i would say that dabbling in a lot of dreams is my deal. :(

  7. uh, i kinda want to run away from this post.

    [in the very best way.]

    i feel much the same. about my blog, about many things.

    and i just deleted a few sentences. i just can't say it. i don't know. maybe i'll be back. i really want to say that i have no idea what my thing is. that i don't think i have a thing. but, maybe i deleted because i just don't want to admit it.

    i don't know, but i'm going to be thinking about it.

    you really are the real deal. i know it.

  8. I dream in interiors, reclaimed junk, and really awesome architecture.

    I'm also recently starting to dream in fashion, but not the designer stuff, more like thrifted with a hefty dose of alteration.

    The fashion part, I would never really admit to anyone, because I just feel so average when it comes to that stuff.

  9. Oh woah....scary....this feels like one of those dreams where you're naked in front of the classroom and they're taking a test that you don't even know what it's about?! - yikes :)
    I want to be a writer.
    I want to be a comedian.
    I want to be a public speaker.
    I want to be a singer.
    I want to actually be good an something - anything - and I really really halfass much of what I do and the other is probably only half-finished and in a drawer somewhere.
    Oh and I'd like to be skinny before I'm too old for it to matter (wink) did I just say that out loud?
    I'm sorry....what's the test on and where ARE my clothes?

  10. I don't really know what my thing is either. Your post really struck a chord with me in that sense.

    I do some photography, but I never think it's good enough to show off. I LOVE to paint, but I can't tell you when the last time I picked up a brush was. Overall, I think my main thing is to cook. But, I'm always second guessing myself on that one, too.

    I do have a blog, but do you want to know how many times I have deleted it? Yes, the entire thing. I've deleted it more times than I can remember.

    I think I like my life all jumbled that way, though. That's who I am, clumsy in everything I do.

  11. This sounds like me. I try to create things and I never think they are perfected enough or artistic enough. I too dream in movies and have written a few screenplays but I am scared to do anything with them. Thank you for this post, it makes me feel like I'm not the only one out there.

  12. This is a subject so near & dear to my heart. I grew up in a house full of creative people. My sister is an amazing arts, my brother can play any instrument you set in front of him, and my mom..well she used to sing opera on TV in Germany in her college days.
    Me? I can make a kick ass tray of mac n cheese. Yep.
    I've finally found my creative niche in photography. So for that I'm really grateful. But I still want to do other things.
    I read crafty blogs and obsess over learning to sew, knit and embroider cute little owls on tiny pillow cases. But it turns out that I'm extremely clumsy with my hands and I'm not good at any of those things.
    I think that in the end the main thing is that you try. At least try. I suck at playing the guitar. But I ran totally rock a ukulele. (fewer strings to mess with)
    I, for one, think you're amazing at a lot of things. Your photography just has something special that others don't have. And your kids, Erin. You made three of the most adorable creatures on the planet. And that counts for a lot.

  13. Oh, this is me to a tee. Always, growing up and now, I want to do everything, be everything, especially in the creative sense. I've tried to learn to start picking one or two things and saying that those will be my "things" for that year (or season). And nothing I have to buy lots of "supplies" for. But it is a never-ending dilemma. I guess the beauty is that we will always be adept, always able to help in lots of areas, even if we aren't the expert creative geniuses in any area.

  14. I love the things you create, Erin. Your house, your kids, your blog, your art. I also love your courage, and how it seems to grow all the time.

    I guess I'm not the only one who could completely relate to this post. I've always been big on self-protection. I like to keep the pretty dreams hidden away where no one can see them and laugh.

    But since I think life is pretty much all about denying our fears (and okay, since I have a husband who won't let me get away with it), I've started putting my words out into the world.

    I'm terrified. My fear holds up this image of me as a four-year-old showing off a crappy finger painting while everyone praises it and pats my head and secretly thinks, "When will this poor deluded child figure out that art is not her thing?" I write, and I feel like a little kid playing dress up and wondering when she's going to get caught looking ridiculous in clothes that are way too big for her.

    But I write because it feels. so. good. So good to invent something. And just as good to pretend for a while that I'm not afraid.

  15. Wow. This made me think. Mostly because, I would describe myself as someone who is "ok" at tons of things, but not "exceptional" at anything. I cook, I decorate cakes. I sew. I smock. I sing and dance. I dream about owning a children's boutique, but know I never will. So, I don't know...maybe, I'll just always be mediocre at everything. Or maybe, oneday I'll put the time in that it will take to figure out what I am great at, and where my real passion is.
    LOVE your blog, by the way. Found it through Metropolitan Mama.

  16. I've learned over time to finally throw away the rules that seem to be holding me back. There are no rules. I want to take pictures, I am going to take pictures. I don't have to become a professional and I don't have to make money off of it, but I will do it and it makes me happy. I will knit and love it, and I won't open an etsy shop. I will write for myself and I also will write to make money, it feels right at this time.

    I sing and act, but haven't in years- I feel ridiculously unqualified for it right now BUT someday I will do it again.


  17. Ever since I was 12 years old, I've wanted to be a writer. Write a book and be published.

    I've been too scared ever since then to do anything about it.

    But it's there, in my soul, just waiting...

  18. THANK YOU!!!! This post brought me to tears. You've managed to put into words everything I'm feeling.

    Seriously, thank you.

  19. A) this could have been written about me. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said.
    B) I think you are wonderful at blogging and taking photographs and everything I've seen through this little window into your world.
    C) I used to say "I don't know" when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up because what I wanted to do was be a stay at home mom. You should see the looks people give you when you are 15 and going to a high school where 100% of the kids go to college and half go on to graduate school. not a popular answer. but guess what? Here I am a stay at home mom like I always wanted to be and I LOVE it!! so the joke's on them because they might still be figuring things out but I'm exactly where I always wanted to be.

  20. Things I have always said of myself:

    1) Jack of all trades, master of nothing.

    2) Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. (I taught design for 4 years.)

    I perpetually feel like a dabbler, especially now with kids and who has time to do anything but dabble?

    But I've recently come to terms with my lack of one-track-genius a little more. Not sure why. Maybe I'm old and tired?

    But there's always that part of me that will say, "someday." Even when I'm eighty.

  21. Ha! I just wrote a post on my own blog about feeling like I am constantly following someone else's pattern for life and that I am constantly "seam ripping" up those plans because they just aren't "me." But I am not sure I totally think there IS an "authentic" self. I think that just might be an evil ploy to keep me unsatisfied. I don't buy into the idea that something/someone will make me happy.

    I recognize that I half-ass my "jobby"/blog/craftyness...but I am okay with that. That is the season of my life that I am in {the one where I try to parent 100% and housework/hobbies/etc. are done less enthusiastically.} I feel a season change coming on and I will embrace that when it comes!

    Thanks, Erin, for sharing!

  22. My biggest problem is that in my head I get ahead of myself ,and then doom what ever I'm doing before it even starts.
    I've been sewing and doing embroidery for years, and I've always wanted to do a little line of children's clothing. But, I keep that little voice in my head and I end up doing nothing instead. When my daughters were young, I really wish that Etsy was around, because at that point in time I had the desire and passion to do it.
    My sister and friends are always poking me to make things and sell them. The voice is always there sadly! I'm trying real hard to set some goals though and put myself out there. So, perhaps you will see something from me in the near future.

    My dreams are very movie like, and so vivid that it is scary sometimes!

    Great post Erin!

  23. One of my favorite posts. Ever. I just wrote a followup on my blog.

  24. I have a story inside my head. Every morning as my mind claws it's way back to consciousness I see the familiar faces of the characters. I have known them for five years now. I dream in chapters. But who would want to read the words in my head??

  25. I dream of creating an environment where learning is the process of people following their passions. Where their method is celebrated whether it is "dabbling" or knowing what their "thing" is from Age 5. A space where structure serves individual creativity and collective and individual creativity determines what structure is necessary. A place where kids and adults can follow their passions, watch them morph, and feel them grow.

    I want to live my life in this space, I want to play with others as we create the space, and I want to feel the inspiration and power that comes when people are brave enough to share their passions or confusion over their life. Like you did in this blog post.

    I think many of our fears of being judged originate in our years of being graded in school. Of not being supported in discovering our unique style of working and of forgetting that excitement, dreaming, and doing are at the heart of life. and therefore are the heart of learning.

    Following the Spark of Learning and Doing which makes me feel alive--that is the dream I have for my life.

  26. I'm a "dabbler" for sure. As proof, I'm asking for a sewing machine for Christmas! ;P

    I also like to scrapbook, take photos, bake, shop for my kids, decorate my house, read, watch t.v. and play words with friends. Oh and blog and tweet. :) So, what is my thing? Enjoy life, whatever it currently holds...

    Great post.

  27. Wow. Erin, this post is incredible. I don't even think I can adequately describe how it grabbed my heart and pulled the breath right out of me. I have this incessant need to be REALLY GOOD at something, but I am a huge dabbler in all things. Creatively, I write and I like to take pictures, but I'm no expert at either. I love fashion, and I can put together some wicked outfits, but I'm afraid to try and help others lest they think I suck at styling. SO much to think about after reading this post.

    You are seriously one of my favorite. people. EVER. Totally wish I could hug your neck in real life.

  28. I love to create. Taking pictures is my main thing but working with fiber is a close second.

    And yes I dream in movies and think in movies and everyone thinks I am a bit crazy, but I love me and I accept me so others do as well.

    I will stand here and cheer you on!

  29. ENFP! I KNEW IT! I knew there was kindred-ness here. Knew it, knew it, knew it.

    Okay, going to go back and finish reading your post now.

    But I had to say that first, because otherwise . . . you know . . .

  30. Okay, sister dabbler. I am so picking up what you are laying down.

    So yeah. I have as part of my Facebook profile "freelance writer." But then, when people ask me, "so, you do some writing?" I all but crawl under the table. I can't look anyone in the eye and say, "Yes. Yes I do."

    I dabble, dabble, dabble. Micro-focus on one thing and stash it in a pile to collect dust the next. I self-loathe the lack of follow-through but cannot stop creating majesty in my mind.

    (So, wait. Are you saying that not everyone dreams like movies?)

  31. Your second to last paragraph is one of my favorite things I've read in a long time. It's only been in the last year or so that I've taken the attitude of - screw it, I'll paint or write poem or invite people to my art opening even if I'm not a Painter or a Poet or an Ar-teest. And I have thoroughly enjoyed activities and hours and days and projects that I had previously restricted myself from because I thought I didn't qualify, that I was just a 'dabbler' and so I didn't deserve to play along.

    but you're so right. We are the real deal, and we get and give so much through our creative endeavors.

    I love this post.

  32. bonus comment: since I was a little little girl, when I'd hear a song, I'd imagine myself in a movie scene for which that song would be perfect as the soundtrack.

  33. Hi! This is the first time I've ever commented but reading your post it was as though the words were coming out of my brain!!
    I want to be able to do everything, then I get overwhelmed at the thought of that and then I get discouraged and then stubborn - I sound like I am about 4 years old. I'm doing a degree in Applied Art and Design where I work in ceramics and metal and it's really difficult to balance creativity with being graded on doing everything right! But I guess despite all that it really is a great thing to be a creative type even with all the torment we put ourselves through! I think that you're right though, the beauty of something that someone makes isn't how perfect it is but how it reflects so much about the person who made it. :) x

  34. I gave you an award on my blog! :) Hope you're smiling lately, you're in my thoughts <3

  35. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable. It gives courage to others to do the same. I hope I will have that courage soon. Desire for perfection can be a beast.

  36. i needed this months ago, but thankfully i came to the realization on my own. however, this post is perfect.

    i love dabbling in the arts, writing and teaching (hence my three part-time jobs with one more FT job coming up in March...motherhood!). i may not be perfect in any of those areas, but i have a passion for them all and that's what counts.

    and you're darn right...i AM the real deal.

    also, i've learned to deal with the eye-rollers. they don't know what they're missing.

  37. ps. i also wrote about "doing things." i think you'll like the quotes and poem. (http://ourlifeisgolden.sgnfy.com/just-do-things/)

  38. just found your blog and love this post. i too am a dabbler and trying to find my niche / focus / voice. i keep my blog so i can look back and see the progress i make and that, YES! i have done something creative!

    looking forward to reading more of your blog. -femi