I've caught Maria Ramsey at a reinvention stage, having made the decision to stop teaching music and to explore other avenues that feel more creatively fulfilling.
Maria is a multi-talented artist who has explored various creative outlets including visual art, poetry, and floral design.
Growing up in a family that valued creativity and the arts, Maria was encouraged to pursue music, taking lessons in violin, piano, and singing.
Despite having aspirations to study art, Maria eventually majored in music, and fell into teaching after college. However, she has since realized that teaching classical music does not fulfill her creative desires.
In this episode we delve into Maria's interest in herbalism and Feng Shui, and how these have influenced her art and poetry. Maria talks about her organic approach to various creative pursuits, and how her work carries themes of playfulness, self-trust, and nature.
Facebook: @creativityfoundpodcast and Creativity Found group
Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk
Photo: Ella Pallet
Hi, I'm Claire, founder of creativity found a community for creative learners and educators, connecting adults who wants to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them do so. With workshops, courses, online events and kits. For this podcast, I chat with people who have found or refound their creativity as adults, will explore their childhood experiences of the arts discuss how they came to the artistic practices they now love. And consider the barriers they may have experienced between the two. We'll also explore what it is that people value and gain from their newfound artistic pursuits, and how their creative lives in which they're practical, necessary, everyday lives. For this episode, I'm speaking with Maria Ramsay, who I've caught at a reinvention stage, having made the decision to stop teaching music, and to explore other avenues that feel more creatively fulfilling. Hi, Maria, how are you? I'm doing well. How are you? Claire? I'm very good. Thank you. Now you have a number of creative feathers to your bow, which would you say are your main creative outlets currently? Currently, I would say that my main creative outlets are drawing or visual art and poetry and floral design. Those are the ones I'm focused on. Now. There are many others that are in the background like you. Do ya brilliant work, creative activities, something that was encouraged in you as a child at home and within education. It definitely was. And I'm very lucky to have that my family was very much a creative family or a family that valued creativity, and the arts. So I spent a lot of my childhood making arts and crafts, and playing music. Both my parents are musicians. So I did a lot of music growing up my grandmother's and artists. So it's definitely very much a part of my upbringing. Yeah, and what about within the school environment? In the school environment, it was encouraged as well, I definitely felt a little bit pushed towards music in school and less so towards the visual arts. It was kind of hard to do both just because I think that the arts were not as valued in the school system, even though my teachers individually were supportive. It was hard to actually fit those things into your schedule, if that makes sense. Yeah. So how did it show itself musically Then what were you doing? I so I took lessons outside of school, I studied violin and piano, those were kind of my main instruments and I sang. And then in school, we didn't have an orchestra. So I joined the band because that was kind of the musical option. So I played flute and then french horn, and then a little bit of trumpet in the school band. Wow. So a bit of all sorts. Exactly. Did you get the chance to continue with music then what happened when you finished high school education for example, I went to college afterwards and my family really encouraged me to do liberal arts for college, which I did. And I had no intentions of studying music or majoring in music. But everyone around me was not surprised in the least when I ended up majoring. So that's what I spent a lot of my college years doing as well. And then after college, I ended up teaching music for several years, which was not the plan, right that I hear that a lot wasn't the plan or there wasn't a plan at all. And things fall into shape. You said liberal arts, what does that mean? That means basically, an education that involves a lot of different subjects, as opposed to focusing on one thing. So like, if I had chosen where I wanted to go to school at 18, I think I would have gone to art school. But my parents wanted me to have a broader, well rounded education. I can see that but if you if you wanted to go to art school, why do you think you kept being pulled musically to that side? That's a good question. I think. I'm not exactly sure. But I think part of it is I did take a few art classes growing up. And I did try to take one in college. But none of the art classes that I had really resonated with me, I think I didn't love maybe the style of art that we were being taught to do, or I didn't feel like I was having a good mix of gaining tangible skills and being able to express myself. And the music always just felt really natural and easy to me. So I think I always just kind of ended up being drawn there. And since I had studied it so much, and spent so much time developing those skills, it was just really easy, I guess, because I was already really good at it. Yeah. Was it enjoyable? It was enjoyable. I think what I really enjoy about music is playing music with people. I think that creative collaboration is really satisfying. And now what I do with music is a little bit more informal. It's more just like playing with friends for fun, and I really enjoy that. But I think when I was so focused on classical music, which is what I was doing growing up, that's what all my teachers kind of encouraged me to do. It felt a little bit less creatively satisfying. It was still, I love classical music, it's very meaningful to me, I think it always will be but it wasn't as creatively satisfying, in the sense that all the notes are already written out for you. There's a lot of creativity to the interpretation of it. And I really admire that and people who are really invested in doing that. But that's just not the level at which I was interested. Yeah, I can completely understand that. So you said you kind of fell into it actually, as a means of making money. How did that happen? How did that falling into it to come about? My mom's friend offered me a job. When I graduated from college, and I had no other plans. Like you said, there really was no plan. My plan was that I don't want to do music professionally. But I didn't have an alternative. So since that was a skill that I had really cultivated, I was very easily offered a job. And then that kind of snowballed from there. Once I was teaching in one place, other schools started asking me other people who already knew me who had played music with me started asking me to teach at other places. And it really became much bigger than I intended. And did you find teaching suited your personality because oftentimes people will say, I have a vocation, I want to be a teacher. So I trained to be a teacher, whereas you come from the loving all of the arts that you love. And then teaching does become quite a good way for musical people to make money. Presumably, this is youngsters you're teaching as well as it. It was mostly youngsters, although I did have some adults and high schoolers as well. So and I have always really loved children, especially and I like teaching and I think I am kind of suited to it. But similar to the focus on classical music, it wasn't really fulfilling that creative side of me. It was a different skill set that I think I I do have but it wasn't something that I was really invested in developing those music teaching skills, especially when it came to the technical side. Like I was really interested, I think in the understanding how people's brains worked and how they were seen. Thinking about music and that side of it. But the like, this is the proper way to finger, the C major scale or whatever. And you're not allowed to do it this other way I didn't like. Yeah, I hear that a lot with teachers in all sorts of subjects. It's about ticking some boxes of how a child should have learned to such and such a thing. Right. And it just feels a little bit constrictive. I think. So how long were you doing that before you realise that perhaps it wasn't what you wanted to continue doing forevermore? I ended up doing it for about five years. And I think I knew far before the five years were up that it wasn't really my, my thing that I wanted to do forever. But I, there were other reasons I was having a hard time letting go of it. I think the relationships for one, but about five years in was when I decided to actually make a change and try something different. And do you think was there a catalyst for that? Or was it just a build up of maybe now's the time. I think it was a combination. I did. I did have this interesting experience where I was driving to work one day when I was teaching and feeling like I didn't want to do it anymore. I just wasn't feeling like a great fit. And then I kind of heard this voice that prompted me to start looking for something else, this voice that told me I was gonna get a different job in, it was like, really weird and specific. And like two weeks from now, someone's gonna call you and offer you a job. And it made me feel better. So I was like, Okay, I guess I'll do that. So it was really more of an intuitive catalyst. So there was that. And then I also just had this intuitive feeling that if I didn't intentionally take myself out of this situation, I was going to be removed by force beyond my control. And at the time, that sounded really stressful. I was like, I don't want to be fired. Like, I don't think I would be I'm not doing anything wrong. But that was also right before the pandemic happened. And that was when I stopped teaching. So I would have been removed by something beyond my control if I had continued teaching. So that was kind of a wild experience. Yeah, amazing. Okay, so what did you think you were going to do instead? And how did you go about doing something? Well, I ended up so the car journey, basically, that plus this meditation that I did ended up leading me towards floral design, which is what I one of the things I ended up doing to make money after I was no longer teaching. So that was interesting. I didn't do a lot of reflection at that point. And kind of thinking about what if I'm not going to focus on teaching music? What do I want to focus on kind of what does feel more creatively fulfilling what feels more creatively exciting at this point? So I got a little bit more disciplined at that point about getting back into my drawing and poetry and these other things that I had always loved, but had been kind of neglecting for that time that I was teaching. Okay. You've mentioned writing as well, which is really interesting. It just keeps going. There's just so long story that could go in many directions. No, it's brilliant. So when you talk about drawing and writing, what what are you drawing and writing, I have been drawing a lot of plants and I one of the things that kind of got me back into drawing and a more disciplined way that all discipline sounds sort of boring, but also in a way that I have a project that I'm excited to get back to as opposed to little one off things. I guess that's why the discipline is meaningful to me, one of the reasons I had been studying Fung Shui way, also. And I started drawing these images of plants that I was familiar with, I'd also been studying herbalism. So I was starting to notice these connections between the plants that I was learning about and the functional concepts that I was learning about. And I was drawing these images that kind of represented these functional concepts and plants coming together with the end tension of them being something that I could put in my home or someone could put up in their home with a specific Fung Shui intention like to invite in a particular type of energy. So I got into drawing plants in that way. And then the floral design to kind of reawakened my love of flowers, which has always been something that's important to me too. And I've been drawing a lot of flowers as well and kind of gotten back into that. That's really interested, you dropped in the Feng Shui and herbalism fair as well. But I do like is the way that you're connecting them all as well. And they're all coming together. How did you get into Feng Shui and herbalism, the herbalism, I had always been interested in when I was younger, I used to look through this reference book on herbs that I had requested as a gift for fun and like plan out things that I wanted to make. And so several years ago, I worked on an herb farm part time over the summer, which was a really lovely experience. And then that kind of encouraged me to study herbs a little bit more deeply, because I was finding a lot of value in that relationship with the earth and with the plants. And so I ended up studying herbalism with a teacher who's local to where I live, and studied with her for a couple years, which was really wonderful, and the Fung Shui way, I was always kind of interested in that as well. I've always been interested in spaces and kind of our environments around us. And I actually ended up connecting with one of my Fung Shui mentors, because we have a friend in common. And she was looking for a virtual assistant at the time. So that's actually one of the things I started doing as I was transitioning out of teaching as well as I started working as a virtual assistant for this Fung Shui practitioner. And then I started working for her and her business partner as well in their fiduciary school. So after I've been working with them for a little while, they offered me a spot in their fiduciary certification, which was really lovely and generous. And I learned so much. So it's all very organic. Yeah, what I love about this is that you are obviously open to things that come your way. And then things do come your way. Like you said, I was a VA for a bit and I did some floristry for a bit and it's like things come about, okay, I'll give them a go. And, and it takes you want to other places as well. I really like that attitude. Yeah, it's been a very rewarding attitude. And I think, more exciting than planning everything out in advance. And I realised actually, that's kind of how I approach the creative process, too. I have this, I made this connection in my head recently that the way I approach my creative work too is I don't plan what a poem is going to look like. At the end, I don't plan what a drawing is going to look like when I'm done with it, it's really just starting with something that is exciting to me, whether it's a phrase or a word, or colour, or an idea, and then it just sort of grows from there. So I thought that was kind of cool that that mirrors how I've explored all these different things in my life to creativity found.co.uk is the place to go to find workshops, courses, supplies, kits, and books to help you get creative. So if you're looking for your own creativity, found experience, go have a browse to see what's on offer so far. And if you can help adults to find their new creative passion, please get in touch on social media, or through the contact details, the website. When we a bit more about the poetry, then you're letting that flow in that come out. And I'm also kind of thinking about, do they relate to each other all of these elements of your creativity? I think they do. The poetry in particular feels very connected to the music for me because it's so the kind of poetry that I like to write is very focused on rhythm and rhyme. And I think that for me, that really is an echo to my musical self. And so I kind of got back into poetry. Again, during this time when I was wanting to get back into the things that I wanted to do creatively, as I was transitioning towards moving out of teaching. And I started writing poems that my intention was to write a children's book of poetry and to illustrate Read it. So that's another way that the poetry and the drawing could go together as I like to illustrate my poetry sometimes. But that was my intention was to write a children's book, a collection of poetry. And I wrote a lot of poems with that intention. And then over time, I started writing some other types of poems that wouldn't necessarily make as much sense in a children's book, I started writing sonnets, which, again, it's like very much about rhythm and rhyme. It's very specific rhyme scheme and rhythmic scheme that you're working with, which has been really satisfying. And then I've written some other poetry as well that it has, I think, still that childlike quality of wonder and playfulness. But it's maybe not meant specifically for children. But in all of the writing that I do, I think a lot of it is very nature focused. So it kind of brings back the herbalism and the Fung Shui these like cycles of nature that we're all part of. I feel like they all also kind of have this theme of playfulness and self trust, which for me, is kind of a thread going through all my creative work. Yeah. What I want to know now is about other people, seeing what you're doing. So I'm hearing a lot about your journey and your experiments and what's coming out of you. Are you showing this to other people? Are you doing this for other people how it's that side of things going? Yeah, I do share my work. I think the most active place that I share it now is my newsletter, I have a website and a newsletter and an Instagram where I'm sharing these things. And I've written some poetry for people, which has been really fun and something that I want to explore more I find that really satisfying to write poetry for people. And yeah, I've done art for people to some commissions, and then also some drawings that I sell online. Would you like to do more of that? And how do you feel you would be led that way? Like, would you be taking Commission's? Or would you feel uncomfortable to take commissions? Because you want to do your thing? Do you know? I mean? I think so. And that's an interesting question. I feel like you have caught me at a an interesting moment. And my path, like you mentioned earlier, where it is kind of, I'm sort of in a reinvention stage, at this moment, I think, or I'm exploring what those next steps might look like. I think it would be the direction I see myself moving in now would be something that's a little bit in between a commission and totally something that I created. So I think it would be like the poems that I've written for people that I really enjoy are poems where I've asked people for a bit of a prompt, so I've asked people, what are your what's your favourite plant? And then I've asked them, what's your, your sun and moon and rising sign and astrology kind of to give myself a little sense of like, what they might be hoping for looking for yearning for. And then I've kind of written a poem inspired by those things that they've given me using this plant and using this knowledge about them. So I kind of see it as maybe it could be an intuitive process where I'm starting with something from the other person, rather than taking a specific order from the other person, if that makes sense. Yeah. What about music in all of this now? Does that play a part? I think so. I think music will always be a part of me, because it's something that I focused on so much for so many years. And it is really, really meaningful to me. I have done some writing, songwriting, which has been really satisfying and I think that that is one way that music can fulfil that creative need and the way that I want to express it. And then I also do really enjoy playing music with people. So I have a friend I like to get together with and we'll sing and play and harmonise. So I think more of that in the future is what I'm moving towards. Yeah. And how do you feel overall now? With an I know, we've said, this is a bit of a transitional stage anyway. But thinking back to where you were when you went to college and you ended up studying music more than you thought and then the life that you had when you were teaching, how do you feel about your lifestyle now, and what there is to look forward to in relation to where you were, when you had got yourself into this teaching situation, which had its kind of parameters around it. I definitely feel like I'm in a much more explorative stage right now, which feels like a contrast to teaching, which it really did have specific parameters around me, like you said, I was kind of boxed in to a certain way of teaching that didn't necessarily feel quite right. So I definitely feel like at this point in my life, I'm allowing myself to explore and play and dive into those interests in a way that I don't think I was giving myself the time and space to do when I felt so busy and overwhelmed with teaching responsibilities. Does that answer your question? Yeah. No, I do understand. Did you ever have because there's a lot of things that you're dipping your toes into? Have you ever had any doubt about trying sing any fears about some of the things that you've tried or even about some things you may not want to try in the future? I think I do sometimes have fears not so much about trying new things. But when it comes to being, like feeling like I'm not good at things, that sort of beginner's mindset that comes up, I think whenever we try a new medium or a new way of doing things, which I think is really valuable. And intellectually, I know that it's good for me to try new things. And I can't be good at everything right from the start. But sometimes, as somebody who has achieved a certain level of proficiency in some of my creative pursuits, it can be hard, I think, to put myself in those positions where I feel unskilled, because it's frustrating. I like want to skip ahead to the point where I'm good at it. But I know that's not the point. And it doesn't work like that. Yeah, well, that's good. But these, yeah, I think sometimes, though, those kinds of things will stop people to try it because they want to be at the good stage without the bit in the middle. But the bit in the middle is obviously a very important part of the process of trying new things. And I think sometimes you can try something and be a bit rubbish at it and then try it. Well, you can't be rubbish at it, you might you might feel you're not as good at it as you think you should be. And you could try again, a few months down the line and find actually, I enjoy this more I feel better about this now. Do you have any plans? or thoughts on any other activities that you might want to try is a great question. I feel like there are always new things that I want to try. And that's I think the biggest challenge for me more than being afraid of trying new things is not being overwhelmed by all the things that I want to try. Because there's so many things that are fun and exciting and interesting. To me. I I've been really interested in interior design lately to which, well, you asked the beginning what creative pursuits are kind of active for me right now that one actually is quite active because we moved a couple of months ago. And I've been having a lot of fun kind of applying my visual art skills and creativity to a 3d space and also applying the Fung Shui skills to this space. So that's been really fun. I would love to get into some other mediums too. When it comes to visual art. I do a lot of coloured pencil and a little bit of pastel but I would love to do more pastel kind of explore that more deeply. I would love to paint. So I think yeah, there are lots of things. Yeah. Thanks so much. How can people connect with you? They can find me on my website, the philosopher stem.com And I have on my website you can enter your email and get access to a free workshop about setting up your creative workspace, which does involve some of those kinds of interior design ideas, plus some Fung Shui tips to kind of set up a creative workspace that feels really aligned and supportive. And that gets you on my newsletter, which like I said, is kind of the most consistent way where I'm sharing my creative thoughts and expressions. And then I'm also on Instagram at the philosopher's Damn, familia. And it's been so interesting to speak with you today. Maria, thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me and going down this path of many creative pursuits. winding path. Yes, it will going. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening to creativity found. 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