Proof of Life | Journal Entry No. 02

Proof of Life

Journal Entry No. 02

Welcome to the Proof of Life journal entry series.

Writing more in general, and specifically with you, is something I hope to continue throughout the year. Like many of you, life has become clearer over the past year and there are many things I have dropped along the way that I deeply desire to pick back up. In turn, there are things I never want to pick up again.

From the very beginning, I have always felt like we are on this journey together and I can’t wait to hear what proof of life will come to mean to you.



I guess I knew I was a maker almost before I knew anything else was true. Like breathing, I knew to make.


I was the maker on the sidewalk with chalk covered hands, in the front sunroom of the house on Center Street playing school, under the big pines writing in my journal imagining myself as an author, in the barn loft putting on a sold-out play, sketching in the backseat of the car, making up commercials while I cleaned, singing songs to help me memorize my science facts, writing bad poetry and even worse love stories, dreaming up new fashion designs and spending my extra money on paint.


I had dreams of Chicago and art school and being an artist. The kind I saw in magazines and on television. I didn’t actually know anyone exactly like what I was dreaming up but I had seen proof they existed and I wanted to be one too. I wanted paint-covered clothes, a studio with work all around that showed I was showing up, something that revealed on the outside what I felt stirring and real on the inside.


There was nothing else I knew to be but an artist. I was nominated best dressed of my high school and most likely to own my own clothing line. These silly titles back then were sweet reminders that my peers saw that part of who I was and what I dreamed to be.


I showed my designs to my guidance counselor and he thought I should try something safer and easier like business school. At home, I was encouraged to pursue something that had a greater chance of success like business. I felt lost. They must not think I had it in me. Maybe my designs were horrible! Where they trying to be nice and do me a favor?


So, I put down my sketchbook and art supplies. Completely. It has been one of my biggest areas of forgiveness over the years. Forgiving myself for giving up so easily and believing a few of the adults in my life. And when I say completely I mean completely. I remember so vividly calling my mom my freshmen year in college and sobbing because I didn’t know what to do or what to major in. I was lost. Oh, if I had only remembered that the reason I was crying, wandering, feeling lost was because I was a maker and I was not making.


I went to college and majored in psychology and history. I graduated with degrees that didn’t give me any more direction. Lost again but this time I didn’t cry. I had gotten used to being lost I guess. I spent years doing many things that I was ok in but each Sunday night I would get the blues. Do you know these blues? The weekend is almost over and I will go to a job tomorrow that I don’t love blues.


It was not until I became a mom for the first time and stayed home with Jack that little parts of my creativity started to reveal itself again. It was through homemaking, teaching Jack, scrapbooking, party planning and entertaining.


Scrapbooking turned into journal making, turned into altered frames, turned into crafting, turned into sketching, turned into painting, turned into today.


One thing is very much the same though. When I get busy, when I say yes to all of the things that I can honestly say no to (or at least later to), when I make excuses about why I don’t have time to get into the studio, when I forget that I am a maker…I get lost.


I was recently talking to a friend and it was obvious she was lost too. I asked her when was the last time she created for herself? When was the last time that she got lost in the process? I suggested that she write a message to herself on her mirror so she would see it every day and it would say, “I am a maker, and if I go (fill in the blank) days without creating I am off track”.


Are you off track? Are you a maker and you are not making? I can get off track too. Just like we need good food, fresh air, to move…we need to make.



We know how much we want and need to connect with our creativity and the last thing we want to do is tell people around us not to bother us. So, we made a sweet reminder for us, you, and others in our lives.  When this is on the door of your creative space it reminds everyone that you need to create. You are a maker!

Save the image or click HERE to download. Print it out on card stock, cut it out, hang it on your door and tag us in your photos over on Instagram. Use the hashtag #iamamaker

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    1. Lee Ann Garrett

      Thank Y💓U Jeanne! I so resonate with “I am a Maker”. And not feeling whole when going too long without creating. I just never though of it as you described it here. Yes!!! I Am A Maker 🙌🏼💙

  1. Rebecca

    You’re story mirrors so much of my own, I think we’re even around the same age. But you were much better at “doing something” with that maker drive once you had kids. My oldest is a freshman in college and I am now, finally putting making first. Thanks for this essay and all the great classes you offer?

  2. Jo Dunn

    What beautiful writing, but such a sad story…until you found yourself again. You see, this is my story too. All of my life I’ve been drawn to creating but was conditioned to believe that it could only be a hobby. Like you I put away my creativity…locked in a box and hidden even from myself because I thought it wasn’t “good enough”. It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve found the box, unlocked and opened it wide. I’ve been exploring all sorts of creativity from doodling, to mixed media to art journals and even quilting. I’m more content than I’ve ever been and realize now that I am good enough!! I have slowly started posting a few things on Instagram and am working on some junk journals and when I complete them I will share them on my IG page at jojodunn60. Thank you for sharing your lovely self and offering inspiration to so many. May you be richly blessed for who you are!
    Jo Dunn

  3. Andrea Ricks

    This is amazing, and so like my own story in many ways! Too long to explain here. Side note: my grandparents were both artists, and met at The Chicago Art Institute in the 1920’s. I have so much ephemera from them and my mom. who was also an artist, and am using some of it, and copies of it as I speak, for my Gathered Inspiration Boards! My head is overflowing with ideas… Thank you for being authentic, and sharing your heart!❤️

  4. Barbara Fox

    I really enjoyed reading your post. And mostly because it describes me. I always had creative inspirations like you as I grew up. I was never really encouraged in that direction but I continued with that drive that never left me. I thought college would help that, majoring in textiles. I ended up getting married and having three amazing daughters. Life became complicated and busy.

    And then, after they had grown I went to work–not the satisfying kind, although I made it that way. I used the love graphic design in a needed portion of the job to satisfy my need to create. Since retiring, I have finally taken steps to enrich my creative life. I’ve been studying the fiber arts and taking courses that enrich that dream. Also studying and working with photo manipulation and surface design. Finally, being intentional about being creative. And it feels good. Very good.

    (my blog noted below has not been updated in several **many** years but in reading my posts from the beginning it reveals my continued path of creating…)

  5. Its me Faith

    WOW…. I needed to read this today… to hold it in my heart… again. I heard you speak at a Brave Girl Symposium sometime ago, which connected my heart again… for awhile… So are so right about being lost… I didn’t understand what that feeling I had was, until now. Thank You so much for today’s Journaling.


  6. Karin Robinson

    I think you just described me. Three years ago, my Mom who is 104 and has ever increasing dementia moved in with us. My whole life was tuned upside down and inside out as I now had to stay at home. I had been a very active volunteer at my grandson’s elementary school, I was drawing and painting and enjoying retirement. I still do a little drawing and painting but nothing like I did before. This past year with Covid quartining, I learned that as long as she can see me when she is in the family room, she was ok. (Unfortunately my studio area is behind her line of vision.) I’ve now started doing small drawings with water soluable graphite or watercolor pencils in a small art journal because I can sit on the couch and do that where I am right in front of her but it is not satisfying and some things just can’t be done on my lap. Mostly, I am off track. I’m exhausted mentally and physically. I keep signing up for classes that I can’t give much effort to, searhing for anything that might help. Your words here give me hope!

  7. Julie

    Wow, I almost felt like I was reading my story: Best dressed, guidance counselor, parents (especially my dad), etc. I partially listened to my parents when attending college; major: education and minor: photography. I connected so much with fine art photography as far back as being a little girl. All my life I was told that I was so creative and had an eye for composition and art. The big ‘but’ came with my dad telling me that I was such a sensitive soul, and that I should not pursue photography or art because some people might not like my work and tell me so. With that in mind, I became a teacher. I taught first-grade for 14 years and channeled my creative being into my career. In addition to teaching core-curriculum, I taught fine-art to my students, which led to me teaching it to all the first-graders at our school. I continued teaching at-risk students for the next 7 years, and my main goal with these students was to help them believe in themselves and passionately pursue their dreams. Today, I’m semi-retired and pursuing my dreams: art, being a creative, asking the question ‘what if’, and just doing it. Thanks for this blog, it has really stimulated my soul.

    1. Jeanne Oliver Author

      It sounds like you have enriched so many lives through your journey! Thank you so much for taking the time to give me a glimpse into your creative journey.

      1. Jan Bourdo

        Thank you so much for sharing this! All I knew growing up was art and went off to university to study art/interior design. At the school I attended at the end of sophomore year we had to go through a series of “tests” to see if we could continue as an art major 🤔 I didn’t pass. I floundered my junior year then dropped out. I didn’t do anything creative for years after that. After getting married and having 3 kids, I just couldn’t help it and started making, creating and collecting again. I now teach art ( without that art degree) knowing that God allowed me to go through that time so I could be an encourager to young kids to help them see the unique way that each one of us is made and to go discover and use those talents!
        Thank you for being an encouragement!

  8. Andra

    The whole high school thing reminds me of my 4 years. We took the most ridiculous tests that were suppose to tell us what careers we were suited for not what we were interested in. Then you sat with the guidance counselor who would tell you what you could do not asking what you wanted, based on these tests.
    as girls, it was never anything but teacher, nurse, homemaker etc.
    Such a disservice to kids. No one ever said, Hey, if you want to be an artist or a writer you can try these classes.

  9. Stephanie Schwemm

    Thank you so much for this. I have been feeling so much in a funk and haven’t been able to get to the root of it. I think this sums it up nicely. “Oh, if I had only remembered that the reason I was crying, wandering, feeling lost was because I was a maker and I was not making.” I have been creating some but not long enough or deep enough to truly get into my flow. I went to school for fine arts, then near the end, I started to doubt my future and decided to get a teaching degree so I could “do” something with my art. So here I am with a degree that I feel committed to using, when teaching in the public school system is not my gift, it gives me anxiety. I am thankful for it though and know it has a use. I am currently thinking of going back to homeschooling, for the freedom and creativity it offers for my son and I. I want to get back into that place where I truly felt like an artist, where my creativity flowed and I could get lost in time. Thank you so much for this message. 💗

  10. Sue Young

    Thank you…. I resonate so much with this, I walked almost the very same path that you describe, but have never been able to articulate it so beautifully. I needed this today , thank you so much

  11. Dianne Winters

    This totally resonates in my soul. I have been lost many times…and most of them I didn’t know that I was. That lost was what I was feeling. Thank you for this reminder that making is in my heart, soul, and mind. That’s how I was created and to not make is a life not satisfied!!

  12. Vicki

    My story is very like yours. I gave up art at the tender age of 15 because it wasn’t a “sensible” career and became a biochemist. But I never really settled, I joined the army reserve and served for several years, I studied natural therapies, I became a teacher’s aide and then a primary teacher. My realisation was much later in life, only 12 years ago in my late forties, when my tiny town was devastated by bushfires. I knew I was with the right life partner when we decided that making was more important to us than anything else and our house then became two studios where we work at our creative projects. I have been unable to do much over the holidays and recently due to the death of our beloved dog and then the training involved in a new puppy, and I felt it very deeply that creating was missing. I have begun to take our new furbaby out to my studio and being able to be in my space and create has helped me heal. Thank you for reminding us all that making is central.

  13. Marie Anne

    Finding our way back to our essence 🙂
    Silver lining during these difficult times.

    Reminds me of Jonathan Fields’ Sparketypes.
    Check him out if you haven’t already. I think it will be a good fit 🙂

    I’m so happy for you!!

  14. Shaye

    I cried when I read this … it’s like you gave life, with words … to things I understood.
    Man …..totally speaking #truth Xo

  15. Theresa Boedeker

    I learned to knit and crochet when 5, sew when 6. Taught myself piano until my mom signed me up for piano lessons. I need to do something creative every few days or I feel crabby and out of sorts. I have done many creative things, but writing has been my consistent throughout the years. Loved your post. We need to listen to our self. Printing off the door hanger for my office door.

    1. Jeanne Oliver Author

      Sometimes I don’t realize why I feel off and I have no choice at this point to remember who I am and what I need to be doing. You sound like you were a pretty extraordinary kid!

  16. stacey

    you struck a cord in me this morning. I have followed the same path as you with people telling me the same thing. even getting the same degrees and not wanting to follow that path. I’m glad you found your way in long long before I did. funny how our life’s have run parallel. creative means so much. whether it’s painting or putting my house together in a new way. but being creative is definitely the mainstay and makes me settle when I’m feeling edgy. thanks for showing me I’m not the only one. in this post and in so many of the others over the years.

  17. Dianne

    While I didn’t earn any degrees, I think my life took a similar path. I always did the creative things when I was younger. By the time I was a junior or senior in high school, I was headed towards being successful in business. I don’t even know why. Probably because I didn’t know what else to do. I worked in an office part-time my senior year and continued that path after high school. College part-time was also all about business courses. But none of that made my heart sing. I could do it well, but to what end? Years later, after stepping out of Corporate America and staying home with my boys was when I began to branch out into all the creative things.

    Although when my boys were quite young and I still worked full-time and I had zero spare time, I put away all of my creative endeavors and created nothing. “There just wasn’t time,” I told myself. For three months. And then I found myself meandering the aisles of Hobby Lobby thinking, “Oh! I could do that. Oooh, I could do that.” It wasn’t that I really wanted to do each of those things, it was the fact that I needed to create something. Anything. That was when I learned how integral to my well-being creativity is. I’m just not okay without it.

  18. Soft Imperfection

    Hello Jeanne, reading Proof of Life Entry #2 was so enjoyable packed full of strength, desire, and vulnerability. I loved learning more of your journey. The words of the page touched me deeply capturing so many of my own feelings and choices and desires for my present and future creative paths. Thank you.

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