Creation has turned into being one of the most important aspects of my life. Which, frankly, is interesting as it took quite a detour.

I have always loved color, line, form. From the time I was young, I had painted and decorated my room multiple times. I LOVED creating space. When I was about ten, I designed my bedroom in a southwest style (and blocked it off from my younger sister’s rainbow side of the room). When I was twelve, I joined her in the love of color and we had a combined room with 1980s abstract blobs.

Then, when I was in sixth grade a student teacher working in our classroom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, I have no idea how I already had this in my head, but I confidently said, “I want to be a designer.” She almost choked— “What? With your brain?!?” She quickly rallied, remembered some lesson she must have received somewhere on “never mock a child’s aspirations,” and backpedaled from her first reaction. But, the impact was done. It was clear to me that I should NOT be a designer.

I went to college. I considered studying law— everyone said I would be good at it. I was a law professor’s TA; I didn’t enjoy the law more than a few hours a week of theoretical discussion. I got a master’s degree. I was planning on being a college professor but got a job at an NGO working in communications. That led to working and eventually owning a start-up business— a design and communications firm. But, I was on the BUSINESS side. We worked on social issues. (See, aren’t I serious? Aren’t I using my brain?)

I remember one client meeting with a social justice law firm. The lawyers wanted a discount on our services as they had already “designed” their website— and they scooted a piece of paper across the table to me. I looked at it— it was a good start but lacked some basics that a good web designer would know. So I calmly told them that while I could write adjectives and nouns and verbs and put them in a sentence— that was not the same thing as a law brief. The designer in the room with me about fell off her chair.

Another client told us they were going to have a high school art student do all the “designing” of the site since that was easy.

I think I just kind of got used to that role— the “not quite serious” person in the room. On the upside, I could wear bold shirts and crazy colored suits because I was the “creative” in the meeting. But, thoughts on policy and business strategy and how design matters for communicating effectively— naw. I could have “serious” thoughts—but then I just put them in children’s books…clearly, not a serious medium. It is a funny role to be in when you are accustomed to other roles.

Fast forward ten years. I got a phone call from my husband that he was on his way home. I quickly scrambled to stuff all the fabric I had laid out in front of me back in their tidy drawers so he wouldn’t know what I had been working on.


Why was I doing that? Why was I ashamed?

Design is the intentional creation to make the world a better place through efficacious beauty. Design can mean the difference between people being friendly with their neighbors, or not. Design can be mean the difference of a message being internalized, or not. Design can mean the difference between beauty, or not. Design can be the difference between a medical study being effective, or not. Design — or intentional construction— is everywhere, or not. Architecture, engineering, medical studies, food, exercise, a novel— all can be well designed…or not.

Then I had a life-changing experience…with youtube, no less.

If you go to youtube, there is a video on Cecile, an LDS woman who was a fashion designer in Paris. She says in that video that some people create masterpieces with musical instruments or paint— she creates with fabric.

When I saw this video, a few things hit me. HARD.

1- I am a creator, as are we all.
2- The medium doesn’t matter.
3- Do what brings you joy and forget the “legitimacy” of it.
4- The legitimacy is that creation = divinity.

So I STOPPED. I was no longer going to be embarrassed of my love affair with color, line, form, creation in whatever medium. In fact, I stepped dramatically into that space. I called the art gallery that had hosted one of my book events and asked if they would host an art show of my work…and they agreed. That thrill (and pressure) made me step boldly into a space that I had pitter-patted around for decades.

I was going to own that I am a creator.

I spent eight months planning, drawing, gathering materials, working with a team (no easy feat considering my complete lack of language prowess in Hindi), designing, finalizing, fixing . . . CREATING. It was joyous, demanding, reinvigorating. I could literally spend hours in the flow of working with beads and fabric and color. It was bliss.

And, while I absolutely enjoyed the night of the art show opening…and did a second show the next year…and have a show planned for next year…honestly, the shows are not the thing. The THING is the time spent creating.

Creation= bringing something to life. And creation gives a deep sense of SATISFACTION (not just the social media meme kind) that comes with few other things.


Because creation is practicing our divinity.

J. Kirk Richards, artist. Image from The Girl’s Guide to Heavenly Mother

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before…That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come.”[1]

So why don’t we all intentionally create? What are the roadblocks?

1- Limited understanding of what creation means

So, when I first think of creation, my reaction is “I am not an artist. I can’t draw worth a hoot.” But, I like this quote from Elder Uchtdorf:

“Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before— colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.”[2]

What I realized is that while it might be more obvious now on Instagram (books and visual arts lend themselves to that)— I have ALWAYS been a creator…not just in color and form. (And the “just” is not derogatory but rather just a statement of non-exclusivity.)

I have created business cultures through policies and practices. I have created marketing strategies I have created friendships. I have created communities. I have created mischief. I have created loving relationships. I have never created a garden or a good meal or a medical device. I know others who have.

2- Believe creation — whatever medium— has worth

“In the ongoing process of creation—our creation and the creation of all that surrounds us—our heavenly parents are preparing a lovely tapestry with exquisite colors and patterns and hues. They are doing so lovingly and carefully and masterfully. And each of us is playing a part—our part—in the creation of that magnificent, eternal piece of art.”[3]

You know what’s awesome? Our Heavenly Parents decided to create an earth for us and assigned our older brother, Jesus, to lead that creation team. We know it included “noble and great ones” and that it might have been “Christ and Mary, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and a host of mighty men and equally glorious women comprised that group of ‘the noble and great ones,’ to whom the Lord Jesus said: ‘We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.’”[4,5]

I imagine that the creation team required a wide range of necessary talents. I, for one, have spatial thinking limitations and so would not be assigned to the engineering team. But, put me in charge of coming up with the precise shade of tangerine that the Sahara desert is or the sinuous curve that each of the dunes makes— I am ON IT.

The point is, whatever way we choose to create has inherent value. I think it is the actual act of creation that matters, not the medium.

3- Fear of failure or ridiculousness or just being plain out bad

“What you create doesn’t have to be perfect . . . Don’t let fear of failure discourage you.”[6]

This is a tough one. I read a great quote about a person who decides to get into the visual arts does so because it has a certain appeal to their senses. But their ability to perceive beauty is higher than their ability to create beauty— and so they stall out.

I think this is true for many of us in many ways. I can SEE what it means to be a perfectly patient parent…to create harmony in my home…but when my kid does that thing ONE MORE TIME that I have said a gazillion times to not do, well, my ability to perform is not as high as my ability to understand.

It’s a problem…maybe. Because, really, the only other alternative is to not try at all. To do nothing. And how many of us actually think that sounds like a good idea? It doesn’t even sound fun.

One thing I have loved about India is that everyone thinks they are an artist. (This has also sometimes painted my soul.) It seems everyone sings and/or dances. Almost everyone has access to a tailor…so they can create their own clothes. So many things are handmade that there is a wide scope…which, to me, is ultimately very freeing. And meant there was no bar of “good”—just the enjoyment of creating.

4- Lack of time

Yes, we all have limited time. We have to choose to invest what we have well. But choosing to see our efforts as small acts of creations— whether that effort is to create “harmonious homes” with practicing more patience or painting a masterpiece— every day can be an act of creation. We are, literally, creating our lives and ourselves. Everyday.

5- What else?

What are the other things that get in the way of us owning our divine identity as creators? We are born as children of God, born to grow up to be like Them…and that means, ultimately, CREATORS.

Our Heavenly Parents are Creators on the grandest scale, with our world, with the Plan of Happiness, with Their children’s lives. Now, I have found that when I take the time to create—ideally every day in some way—that I feel peace in my life from exercising my divinity. I am practicing being like Them. And THAT matters— in whatever medium we each choose.

[1] Dieter F. Uchtdorf “Happiness, Your Heritage” October 2008 General Conference
[2] Dieter F. Uchtdorf “Happiness, Your Heritage” October 2008 General Conference
[3] Sister Patricia T. Holland and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 4
[4] Abraham 3:22-24
[5] McConkie, Bruce R. “Eve and the Fall,” in Spencer W. Kimball et al, Woman (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979), p. 59.
[6] Dieter F. Uchtdorf “Happiness, Your Heritage” October 2008 General Conference