When I was a little girl I was always doing something creative. I remember being holed up in my room for hours, drawing horses, trying to get the angle of the ears just right, or making candy wrapper collages for my notebooks. I wrote all the time - stories, poems, songs, essays. Inspired by Gordon Korman, I wrote my first novel in seventh grade - a mystery starring Ryder Strong and Ben Savage from Boy Meets World. I had all the time in the world to devote to my creative endeavours, as long as my homework was done in time!
I miss those days.
Now creativity seems like a luxury. I find myself encouraging my kids in their creativity, praising their choice of colours and solutions to problems when their artwork doesn't turn out quite like they expected. I refer to the Beautiful Oops book often, reminding them that their projects don't have to be perfect - sometimes it's more about the process!
I need to tell myself the same thing.
I know that I'm the most myself when I'm being creative. I've noticed a change in my attitude, my mood, my productivity - when I push my creativity to the side. It's a part of me that I need to pay attention to. It's who God - the ultimate creator! - made me to be.
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This is a poem I wrote for Ellie as part of the Coffee + Crumbs Year of Creativity course. We were encouraged to pick a childhood activity that we don't do often (or in my case, ever!) and spend some time doing it. Really doing it.
I used to love writing poetry.
These days it feels like everything I write has a purpose and a deadline - so I sat in the viewing room at Ellie's gymnastics class and watched her with my notebook open on my lap.
This is what I wrote:
My Little Gymnast
The gate opens and she dances into the gym,
Giggling, her hair a caterpillar bouncing down her back.
She sits on the red warm-up mat, eyes raised expectantly,
Awaiting her coach’s instructions.
She knows Mama’s rules:
If you don’t listen, you don’t do gymnastics.
So she waits.
The first circuit is trampoline – her favourite!
Star jump, bum drop, tuck jump.
“Land on your feet!” her coach tells her.
Then onto the foam pit.
She cannonballs from the edge, then decides to try the vault.
She climbs up – one crash mat high, two, then three.
“Oh, that’s high!” she exclaims –
And scrambles down to slide in from the edge.
Airplane arms on the beam, a stork stand in the middle.
Jump off –
But land on your feet!
Bear walks on the p-bars, a tuck solo hang.
Wait your turn for the rings!
It’s time for floor.
Backward rolls, dog tails, jumps and twists.
“Land on your feet! LAND ON YOUR FEET!”
Under the rainbow tunnel, cartwheeling over the French fry mat.
She avoids the rope as long as she can after a fall last week.
Then Coach Mariam helps her wrap her legs around the rope,
And gives her a push.
Her eyes are as big as saucers,
Then become slits atop a wide grin.
She swings back and forth, back and forth –
Then drops neatly to the floor.
On her feet.
“I did it!” she cries.
My little gymnast.
* * *
Creativity is never a waste of time.
I feel like I'm slowly making my way back.