This I Believe

Jeanne - Columbus, Indiana
Entered on February 13, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: creativity

I believe in the power of creativity.

In the hardest moments of my life it has saved me. From a master gardener course when I was a mom with babies and no personal time to creative writing and jewelry design when I was diagnosed with MS and could no longer do anything strenuous, creativity has kept my soul alive.

My mother can make anything out of nothing. She grew up poor in things, but rich in ideas in the Natchez Trace. Being limited in materials forced her to find alternatives around her. My children delighted in trips to the beach with her; sand, shells, twigs, cardboard and food packaging, became a whole new world of their creation during times when the hot sun kept us inside.

As a child, I took whatever things she would let me use and ran a personal test lab where I would create the newest idea that had popped into my head. Clothespins and fabric scraps became toy soldiers and their wives. Any cosmetic could be created out of food coloring and cold cream. Soap bars became carved works of art. Bird feathers and string became earrings. I still have a set of Christmas ornaments I made one year. I combined plaster of Paris, caulk and food coloring and baked them in the oven so they would harden. The stench was overpowering, but forty years later they still endure.

As I write this I am knee deep in cardboard, latex paint, old clothes and electronic parts.

As a mentor for my daughter’s Destination Imagination team, I provide a safe haven for a pack of kids to explore ideas and create their own answers.

Their ideas astound me. They leap effortlessly out of the box and start flying to the moon with bubble wrap wings. They can solve any problem with twenty minutes and a roll of duct tape.

I confess that I have more in common with them than with my peers. Few adults would embrace months of domestic upheaval for the opportunity to find the perfect gadget.

I’m going to clean it all up, I really am – but the kids want to try this last little project…..OK?