Being creative is something that my life has encompassed since I was a child. I started dancing when I was three years old and kept it up for over twenty years. I did drama and singing, drama I didn’t like so much but I loved to sing. During primary school I learnt to play the piano, clarinet and saxophone, and kept the piano up in early high school. I used to do creative writing and art.
I went to a performing arts high school and spent my days amongst a creative bunch of teenagers. I majored in dance (yes it was totally like Fame we used to bust out in the playground) but also continued art. I spent my first year out of high school doing a full time performing arts course before attending university.
Then my sight deteriorated. I stopped everything. Dancing had been my entire life; all my closest friends are from dancing. It wasn’t an immediate reaction, but I slowly gave things up and attributed it to ‘growing up’. Who says you need to stop doing things you love because you are getting older?!
Over the past months I’ve realised how being creative was something I enjoyed and shouldn’t let my lack of vision get in the way. I’ve made a conscious decision to start to ease back into the things I enjoyed and find ways to participate despite my sight. I know that it is going to be different doing these activities but I’m choosing to look at it as a challenge and as a new adventure.
My first focus is on playing the piano again. We have two pianos in my house and it’s time somebody actually played them! About two years ago I started private classes again to get back into it but it was extremely hard explaining my vision to the teacher and finding a way to learn because I couldn’t read the music. I had never learnt from ear and wasn’t sure how to start. I ended up giving up after a few months.
This time I’m determined to get my fingers working again. I have decided to learn braille music. I will admit it looks utterly daunting with all the dots everywhere. I do like to challenge myself so I am going to give it my best shot.
Another thing I’ve started is colouring. Art therapy is all the rage at the moment and I couldn’t miss out! I downloaded a colouring app (Colorfy) on my iPad and Samsung phone and it was great. You can zoom in and tap the spaces to fill in colour. Of course I wanted to do the real thing so I bought myself a mandala colouring book. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get frustrated if I couldn’t do it. I spent three hours calmly colouring in tiny spaces using only my peripheral vision. I don’t think I’ve ever sat still for that long! It was definitely calming but each stroke, as I guessed where some of the lines where or made mistakes, helped me accept a little more that my sight has deteriorated and also reinforced I can still do things if I really try.
If you think you need to give up a hobby or passion because you are losing your sight, don’t. If you think you can’t do something because your sight will prevent you, you can. If you’ve given up something you loved due to your sight, give it another go.
Being creative is part of being human. For you it may be writing, drawing, dancing, crafts, cooking, absolutely anything. Make yourself engage in it again.
Pick up something you did when you were a child and see how carefree you feel again. There’s no harm in trying! Apart from my braille piano project I plan to get back into the dance studio. I know this is going to be a huge challenge but determination will always prevail. Never give up on things that make you happy. There’s always a way to participate and be creative.