My children love being artistic and creative. They love to learn about the world, to experiment, and to enjoy a sense of wonder. Today, I watched them make their creations. Really watched them in their element and experienced a moment of clarity. One I needed to be reminded of.
My oldest drew a fairy, except to her it came out looking more like a butterfly with a happy face. She scowled and began erasing her project. Normally, I’d jump in and tell her not to erase it—that it’s really good, but today I sat and waited. She stopped and examined her picture again. For a moment, a smile crept across her face and instead of fixing the erased part, she added to what she already had. Now a lively butterfly and fairy sit side by side in her portrait.
My middle child loves to paint and brought out all the colors, placing them nicely in their own section. She rolled up her sleeves and led her fingers to the paint. Gliding them through the red, she then blended her fingers into the blue, moving to the yellow and ending in the green. Her hand is a rainbow of colors as she sweeps her painted fingers onto the piece of blank paper and grins. Her eyes light up. She’s not trying to be perfect or exact, she’s appreciating the moment of what her hands and mind are creating on this canvas that’s all her own.
Peter, my little guy, loves building giant towers of blocks. The taller, the better it is. I watch as he claps with each piece he adds to the tower, getting it closer to the ceiling. Then, he stops and peers at it. His mischievous smirk shows on the other side of the tower and with a giggle, he smashes his tower to the ground and rebuilds it again with excitement.
I love watching them play and have fun, to embrace the moment of what they’re creating and making. I admire seeing how resilient they are and how they try again with thrill and delight. It’s times like these where I’m reminded about my own inner child and how I also wants to play and create. When I’m too hard on myself the spark of what my work could’ve been is gone. If I worry too much about not blending my colors and not being willing to try something outside of the box because it may not be received well, I don’t allow myself to explore and experiment with my own individuality. I’m not giving myself permission to be expressive in the way that I need. No one likes to be told how they must create because we all experience our craft very differently.
All too often when we tear our tower, or it’s torn down by someone else, rebuilding seems like an impossible task that can’t be done. It’s easy to stay in that pile of blocks scattered all over the ground. It’s much more difficult to take those pieces, and one by one try again to make something that will reach to our expectations. But, what if we let our expectations go, just a little. I don’t mean to not have a goal or to not work— quiet opposite. I mean to sit down at those scattered pieces and instead of seeing them as a disaster, we view them as opportunity to try something new. But, to get to that opportunity or to master that new piece of art, we must be persistent. To be gentle with our progress, and be proud of our efforts and willingness to keep inventing. We must enjoy the process which means recognizing each step that we’ve taken to get to where we are now and stop disciplining ourselves for making a mess. When there’s something to clean up, that means we’re allowing our artist to enjoy life to the fullest.
When I start feeling like I’m drowning in my work or I can’t breathe, that’s a good sign that I need to take a break and establish my sense of wonder and excitement. Going for a walk, playing with children or an animal, volunteering, listening to music, meditating or exercising are all ways that I can be grounded and remind myself to relax and treasure life. Or go to an arcade, have a snowball fight, build a blanket fort, or dance like no one’s watching. Remember what it feels like to have no care and to just be in the moment. Experiencing life is what feeds the artist within us and gives us the juice to create. Take your fingers to the page and see what uniqueness stirs in your imagination.
Creativity is courage.
Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs. In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story. Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well. Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence. She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years. She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.