During the late 90’s I went through what I now fervently refer to as my “recreation heyday”. My first means of employment, ever, was that of a recreation play leader at a city-run park. It was a summer of getting my feet wet in the world of paid labour as well as extensive lessons in problem solving and learning to “go with the flow”. (Of which I got a first hand tutorial in during my last day as it involved me keeping the kids out of the playground sand thanks to some stray bullets following a late night drive-by). Needless to say, it was an all around humbling experience.
I loved my job so much that it basically became my “career” for the better part of fifteen years. (I use the term “career” loosely as I was still putting myself through school to find a “better” job the entire time I was being paid to play. I realize the irony of my thinking now). My recreation days were basically fun on steroids. Running children’s activities as a semi-grown up was so much cooler then it was when I was the kid – being forced to participate in said activities. It was a time when Nerf balls to the face was just another day on the job and I should have started my own side business with the amount of Rex lacing key chains I made on a daily basis. Anyone who worked as a camp counsellor knows the joys, pains, and utter chaos that comes with manoeuvring ridiculously large herds of children. I could have easily won an award for multi-tasking; finger paints and glitter now hold a permanent residence on my NOPE list; and my gag reflex is superior thanks to a blue slushies and boiled hot dog vomit incident. Recreation life is basically character building 101. It’s boundaryless and honest, and I loved every minute of it.
Fast forward twenty-plus years and I’m facing the realization that I’ve lost my creative edge. While my beloved recreation days have become a distant memory, my yearning for random fun has never been extinguished. This “ah ha” came to me not long ago when, as a thirty-something, I got WAY too excited over the prospect of playing with Legos. While my co-workers stared at me with more than a small ounce of concern as I sat building the layout of my mini dream house, I had an epiphany moment of “I am lacking some serious fun and creativity in my life”, mixed with “Why the hell are there never enough small green Legos?”
In an effort to reclaim my creative ways, I signed up for an art class. As universal intervention would have it, I ended up finding a class that was privately taught by an old rec buddy of mine. A lifelong artist, she had recently become certified as a Bob Ross instructor. Excited to learn the techniques of “wet” oil painting coupled with “happy accidents”, I enthusiastically signed up for one of her workshops and eagerly arrived with my mini-canvas tucked under my arm.
What transpired over the next three and half hours was a journey into creativity bliss, where nothing entered my brain other then the best brush technique to paint realistic evergreens. The pandemonium of life disappeared and I became one with the canvas. I finally began to appreciate the rudiments of art therapy – and I was at the heart of it.
Here I sit, six paintings later, and I have recruited friends to join me in my blissed out art space. One friend, who is the Public Affairs Manager for a University, has become almost addicted to the time she spends with paintbrush in hand. Every session she remarks, “I haven’t thought about work in almost an hour!” We laugh, make a mess, and slowly let our life stresses melt away as we try to recreate on canvas our ideal happy place. My monthly art attack has become a regular fixture in my already overflowing agenda, but it’s one that I will gladly always make time for.
My days of fun and creativity have finally been welcomed back into my life with out-stretched arms – all thanks to an art-filled “happy accident”.