That phrase has many connotations, doesn’t it? Over the past few months, it’s cropped up with alarming regularity, usually after a visit to a doctor’s office where one or the other of us has been diagnosed with some new ailment. “What’s next??” I exclaimed in exasperation last week when my bone density scan revealed that my long-stable osteopenia had developed into osteoporosis; and then my dentist found a tooth that needed a crown and possibly a root canal.
But rather than considering myself a close ancestor to Job, thinking that whatever’s next is likely to be catastrophic rather than celebratory, I’ve decided to take control of that little phrase and turn it on its ear. So What’s Next becomes a rallying cry for branching out, ramping up, taking a chance. For looking forward and moving beyond. For deep cleansing breaths and kicking off the traces.
A big part of my positive What’s Next is this: Modern Creative Life, a new online magazine I’m co-creating with my friends (and former All Things Girl associates) Deb Smouse and Melissa Bartell. Dedicated to the premise that we all have creative inclinations and that expressing them will make us happier, healthier people, Modern Creative Life will introduce you to people who are doing just that in every possible way. Writers, painters, photographers, musicians, designers, dancers, quilters and crafters, gardeners and chefs, people who find a way to honor their creative enthusiasm, whether they do it to make a living or do it simply to make a LIFE. It will explore what it means to live creatively, via the words and images of people who put a high premium on the power of creative expression to change individual lives and shape the world.
The magazine launches with it’s first issue on March 8, and the theme is - appropriately - WHAT’S NEXT?? We all go through stages in life when we need to move on, move forward, go on the next thing, big or small. Maybe it comes about because of a certain milestone birthday, a job change, a marriage or divorce, a new baby. Retirement is a huge "what’s next" time of life. But whenever life changes for me, my What’s Next nearly always involves creative expression. It’s the way I cope with life in general and all its ups and downs.
I’m a creativity evangelist. I firmly believe we are all endowed with a need to express ourselves creatively, even if its only to dance around the living room or play air guitar along with Bon Jovi. Author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in her new book, Big Magic. “I believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure,” she writes. “The universe buries strange jewels deep within all of us and then stands back to see if we can find them."
I have friends who make beautiful quilts; who create custom cards that are miniature works of art. Friends who weave intricate patterns in fabric, and paint lovely watercolor portraits. Others create music that soothes the soul or direct theater to entertain the mind and move the heart. If you haven’t found your creative bent yet, keep trying new things until you find something that makes your heart sing. Don’t worry, you’ll know when it happens. Because when you’re doing it, time will stand still, and you’ll want to go back to it again and again.
Creative living happens when you’re willing to go looking. And when you allow your creative impulses to come out and play? According to Gilbert, that’s “Big Magic.”
According to me, that’s What’s Next. I’m up for it. How about you?