It’s all in your hands

It’s all in your hands

Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands. -Clint Eastwood
 

 

I know the blogosphere has been flooded with Mother’s day posts and rightly so. Whatever we do or say about our mothers  and our roles as mothers is never enough. I have been a little tied up the last few days and so couldn’t get my post out in time but any day is a good day to honor mothers ! 🙂 So even though the focus of my blog is creativity, today I decided to wrap my post around the spirit of motherhood and the lady who started it all in my life, Yes my very own Mother. No mother has ever gone to a school to learn how to raise her children and every mother has her own creative ways of dealing with her own little angels ( or devils 🙂 ) . My mother is quite exceptionally creative ,be it her hobbies or her persona. A rule breaker and a trend setter.

We all can agree that creativity is stifled in an environment of ‘Right ,Wrong, Yes, No , Should ,Should Not ‘ and numerous other similar rules that aspires to make a clone out of us. Of course ,code of conducts are  important guidance systems to ensure a sense of security and trust but when it comes to creativity, the best gift we can give our children is Freedom. Freedom to make mistakes , freedom to be messy , freedom to be different and freedom to explore the heights of their true self.

Isn’t Creativity essentially more about the process than the end result? The minute  a slight hint of anxiety over the end result creeps in, it instantly destroys the joy of creation. As mothers ,we all tend to expect the best out of our children, and unknowingly we pass on a vibe of expectation that our kids promptly pick up. The pressure of living up to their parents dreams can crush quite a many budding creators. So this Mother’s day , I remind myself of one of the most important lesson my mother modeled during my growing up years, the freedom to be completely me.

I was free to explore ,get hurt and learn my own lessons yet she was always there to guide me when I needed it. As much as I try to give the gift of freedom to my boys, I am yet to match up to the level of total faith and confidence that my mother had in me. All I know is that I am not a perfectionist and I can bear the fact that my house is nowhere close to looking like a museum. I don’t expect my boys to color within the lines or follow the instructions on the manual. I can most certainly live with the mess after my boys help me out with dinner or the mountain of books, after they are suddenly in a mood to explore every book on the book shelf. It’s totally okay to be loud, make unearthly animal sounds and act silly in our house.

Today I would like to touch upon just one binding, that might do us well if given up, to spike up the creativity in our children or even us! And that is to explore the non dominant hand. We all have a dominant hand that we use to write, draw, eat, open doors etc.. And the non dominant hand or opposite hand playing a supporting role. It doesn’t matter if you are right-handed or left-handed, the non dominant hand can get you in touch with your creative side. It has been proven that when you use your dominant hand, one hemisphere of the brain is activated ,whereas the non dominant hand activates both the hemispheres! Leading to surprisingly creative ideas or out of the box thinking. The dominant hand is linked to the logical, analytical part of the brain while the non dominant hand is connected to the creative and intuitive part. So writing or drawing with the non dominant hand will activate and strengthen those parts of the brain that are not used on a daily basis.

 

A man paints with his brains and not with his hands . – Michelangelo

 

Giving kids the freedom to use either or their non dominant hand  while they draw , do a fun art project or write a story  might be a great way to start. Neatness or perfection is not the key.The process is. It sure may take some time getting used to using the opposite hand and the first few attempts might produce totally undecipherable masterpieces!! 🙂 but with patience and practice it will definitely get better. So  just break the rules and try this easy technique to activate a few extra brain neurons when stumped for ideas or to generally boost up  creative thinking skills. Whatever it is, don’t forget to have fun!!

Few ideas to get started .

  1. Start with teaching your opposite hand to write your name.
  2. Draw basic shapes or stick figures.
  3. Have a spontaneous dialog between both hands in writing. Don’t think too much! Go with whatever comes to your mind first.
  4. Try doing other normal routine activities with your opposite hand like pouring water, opening doors etc…
  5. finger paint using your non dominant hand.

You can find more information about the non dominant hand here  and  here  .I hope your non dominant hands open up wonderful creative thinking avenues  and ,my love to all the amazing moms out there ,who tirelessly lend a helping hand to put a smile on their little miracle’s face and finally, thank you mom for your wonderful hands that are always a blessing above my head.

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay

 

 

 

 

What if??

What if??

“In school, we’re rewarded for having the answer, not for asking a good question.” – Richard Saul Wurman

 

Now that its sunshine time, Me and my boys are opting to walk more often to school and places nearby. This has opened up a whole new world of conversations adding to the otherwise non-stop chatter! With occasional references to the beauty of nature ,a huge chunk of their conversation are almost always centered around Legos!!and Lego ninja warriors!! A current favorite, that they just can’t seem to get enough of!! Since I  obviously have no idea about these tiny plastic figures and bricks , I can’t seem to be an active participant in their hot discussions . So when I am pulled into one of these exciting conversations, I tend to blurt out insane stuff about the esteemed ninja warriors ,much to the amusement of my boys!!!I have a looming doubt that they are secretly glad that mom is finally stumped at something!

Not wanting to miss out on wonderful conversations with the boys (actually due to my ignorance about the brick world)and to direct their mind to thinking beyond the Lego Ninja, I decided it was time to introduce a little game to spark up their creative minds and have a little fun during our walks. I believe creativity always starts with a question, “WHAT“. What is it, that we wish to create or solve? What, is the destination that ignites our creative journey. I knew a plain What was just not enough. I had to add possibilities to see their eyes light up! and so we started playing the ‘What if’ game.

Its a no brainer. You basically ask each other what if questions and watch your imagination take flight!

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus

 

Me :What if tomorrow all the grass turned purple!!??!!

Big Boy: I need time adjusting to that mom! I’m used to seeing green grass under a blue sky.

Little Boy: Could that really happen?

Me: What if???

Little Boy: All the birds flying in the sky will get confused and come down to explore purple grass.

Big Boy: What if ,upon exploring purple grass birds lose their power to fly??

Me: That’s a whacky possibility!!

Little Boy: Then who will bring down all the baby birds and eggs that are in nests on top of trees?

Big Boy (to little boy) : You are welcome to take up that job!

Little Boy: What if Dragons were real and they spat stars from their mouth?

Me: That would be an amazing sight!

Big Boy: If they agreed, we could use dragons instead of fire works! Less pollution! what do you say?

Me : I like your way of thinking.

By the end of the walk we had enough content to write a fantasy novel!!!

The what if game caught on like wild fire. The boys started playing it often among themselves and having fun thinking up the most bizarre things they possibly could!!!

Big Boy is busy preparing for an upcoming test, when out of the blue Little boy starts the game

Little Boy: What if you get zero on the test!!??!!

Big Boy: What if I shoot you back in time 65 million years ago right in front of an open mouthed T-Rex !!!???!!!

All I can say is , I should have known!!

You can play the What if game to generate ideas or even teach safety and scenarios to kids. For example, What if you got lost in a crowd? Or What if a stranger offers to drop you home? What if a stranger offers your favorite ice-cream? What if our neighborhood catches fire? What if you accidentally get locked inside a public restroom? It’s a more playful approach to teaching life skills and sparking their creativity. I would love to hear your What if stories in the comments below!

 

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay

 

 

 

 

Self talk

Self talk

Of course I talk to myself. Sometimes I need expert advice-Author unknown.

Have you ever seen a young child talking to himself or herself? It is not uncommon to see young children indulge in self talk and sociodramatic play. They could go on and on for hours speaking on behalf of their toys , making up wonderful dialogs and stories. I have often wondered and marveled at this amazing skill which needs no teaching and transports children into a creative world instantly! Self talk is often dismissed as rubbish by adults and its valuable benefits are overlooked.

In reality Self talk or private speech adds much benefits to Children’s development. communication and language is the obvious foremost but it goes way beyond that. It has been proven that self-regulation, emotion-regulation, memory, motivation and of course creativity are all linked to self talk. If we  wait for a few minutes in the shadows and listen to the private speech kids engage in ,we can pick up many clues as to what their little minds are processing. Most of these dialogs are instructions to self or self-regulation in an imaginary situation. “Hey Spiderman! Don’t go near that huge fire, it will burn you!” at times emotional regulation ,”Don’t feel sad Ninja, you can win the battle next time.” It has been proven that self talk also enhances memory and motivation. ” Common Lego batman! You can do it! Just try a little harder.” Essentially children are teaching themselves social skills through indulging in self talk. With every new character, setting and story they make up they are exercising their creative muscles and adding to their creative skills.

If you are interested to read more about Private speech or Self talk, you can find information here .

As a curious mother I have enjoyed watching my boys create their own world and engage themselves in creative self talk but as they grew older and started school ,I noticed unpleasant language and unkind situations creep into their imaginary world. I knew interrupting them and correcting them would not be a proper approach and I had to find ways to introduce positive self talk which could add benefits to their developing social skills. The most simple, direct and outright way I could come up with to introduce this was to just model it.

If I was cooking with my boys hanging out in the background, I would talk aloud ,” Dinner is taking longer than I expected but I am going to PERSEVERE because PERSEVERANCE will help me accomplish any task. I just have to break up the task into tiny chunks so it feels EASY.” Or if I am upset with cars in the traffic I think aloud to myself  ,” Having to  wait in traffic is tiring me but I will divert my mind and listen to MUSIC because MUSIC CALMS MY MIND when I feel upset.” I feel self talk can be used in many more creative ways to decipher information and help with problem solving . Indulging in positive self talk can become a valuable tool for Self-motivation and to achieve goals!

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay

 

The ancient art of story telling

The ancient art of story telling

Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.

— Rachel Naomi Remen
Since the beginning of time humans have indulged in the art of story telling. As a way of understanding the world around them.Wide eyed and huddled close to the storyteller, generations of children and adults have been mesmerized and touched deeply by the stories they hear.More than mere entertainment ,it is the single most powerful tool used for influencing, and instilling deep-rooted values and ideas into young minds ,not to forget stimulating their imagination and creativity.
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Most families have a grandmother or mother who leads little children into the magical world of stories introducing them to ancient legends ,morals and tradition.Some of the first and earliest lessons about life are imparted through stories.I’ve always felt, however different people may look on the outside and whatever country or culture or religion they may belong to,once you peel the layers, humans are all the same on the inside.They are all driven by the same emotions, mainly Fear and Love and stories capture those emotions in the most powerful way.So whichever part of the world you may belong to one thing that binds people together are the stories they share.
Personally I have used story telling in every aspect of raising my boys.The first being,capturing their attention !If I need their attention for anything big or small, a sure way to grab it is by starting a story!” Once upon a time,in a small hamlet far away, there lived two brothers who owned a magical casket that gave them ideas on how to cooperate with each other no matter how impossible it may seem to them….” It has also been a vital part of problem solving and understanding.Sometimes its easier for children to relate to a story and use them as reference points to understand their world.So if something is taking us too long to finish, we pretend to be like the tortoise from the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’ and persevere until we accomplish what we started . Stories are also an important part of our daily bedtime routine,in fact we enjoy a good story anytime of the day!I have realized that the best way to bond and build a relationship with my children is through the stories we share everyday.Sometimes we share the same stories over and over again!
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Some simple ways we turn our joy of story telling into games that spark our creativity and imagination are,
Continue the story : One person starts writing a story and each person continues the story without looking at what the other person has written and in the end the last person to finish the story reads it out and we share a good laugh!
The story box : We write several topics or one liners on strips of paper and put it in a box.Then each of us picks a paper without looking and makes up a story on the topic and shares their story for 2 mins. 
Making books and comics : I fold few leaves of papers into half and staple them to make little booklets which the boys use to draw and write their own stories or comics.
Puppets: We make simple puppets by drawing our favorite characters ,gluing them onto cardboard and cutting them out and gluing a popsicle stick behind!and Lo !we have endless hours of fun!
But by far our favorite is always the bedtime story we share huddled together in each others warmth!
So what is your story? Do share your memorable stories in the comments below!
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Pictures in the head

Pictures in the head

During the early years we know how great kids are with their imagination. A large chunk of their time devoted to pretend play or role play where one minute they are a mighty warrior and the next minute they transform themselves into a prehistoric dinosaur stomping  through wilderness. Their world is filled with wonder, magic and imagination. As they enter school and the big world however, they are encouraged more to think critically and analyze information rather than think creatively. While critical thinking skills are important ,it is equally important to hold on to the creative side too.

One incident that clearly stands out in my memory was when my younger son entered Kindergarten. He is a little shy person by nature and was a boy of none to few words in school. During my first parent teachers meeting his teacher showed me a picture he had made in class which was colored completely in black crayon.” You should encourage him to use colors that resemble real life.” She pointed out and continued while I was trying to comprehend what exactly was the issue. ” like using peach for human skin and blue for sky. Your son uses colors which sometimes don’t pertain to the real world !”.I nodded still a bit confused but requested to have the picture which she gladly handed to me. After going home I called him and asked him what the picture was about and he said,” Oh this is a black panther walking in the forest at night!”. It made perfect sense to me and I never really bothered telling him what colors to use in his pictures.

Now I must point out ,I really valued the constant feedback my son’s teacher gave me about him which was more than usual due to him being tight lipped and shy and I made it a point to be in touch with her regularly through emails so I could help him flourish. “I’m having a hard time assessing him because he wouldn’t answer my questions!” she told me one time and as much as he was loud and vocal at home ,I had to help him come out of his shell while in a social setting. As much as I wanted to preserve the unique personality that my son was,I couldn’t deny the fact that in the real world ,he had to give tests and he had to meet social expectations! I had talked to him about it many times and he really didn’t have an answer for why he would not talk in school. I knew he was nervous and afraid and I had to find a way to help him overcome this mental block. I realized children are mostly fed on a regular diet of math and science which are considered more important that creativity is often pushed to the back burner.

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Creativity doesn’t always mean painting or music. Its more a way of thinking . To find unusual ways to solve problems and look at the world. I knew I had to look at the world through his eyes in order to help him. A wonderful solution came to me as I watched him play his favorite game, role play! If I could get him to see the picture in his head, I knew it would instill belief and confidence in him that he was capable of voicing his opinion and communicating outside home just as he did at home! He already knew how to relax using calm.com so every night as he got ready to sleep, we played a little game. He would close his eyes and take deep breaths and I would name each body part and tell him to relax. Then I would tell him to see whatever I was talking like a movie. I would ask him to see himself walking into his class confidently. I would ask him to see himself starting a conversation and making friends. I would ask him to see himself raise his hand and share his opinion with his teacher and friends confidently. Before dropping him at school I would encourage him to do exactly as the pictures he saw in his head at night. After doing it for many nights , I noticed changes in him. He made two new friends! and his teacher informed me that she was starting to hear his voice! Over time he overcame his fear and was much relaxed in a social setting.

 

Teaching kids the skill of mental imagery became a valuable technique I started using in various scenarios .I read up about the benefits of mental imagery in kids which can be found here,power of a child’s imagination .Every night before my boys went to bed I would ask them how they felt about their day and five things they were thankful for about that day.If they were upset about something, I would make them see themselves holding a bunch of balloons in their hands.I would include the five senses and describe in detail the colors, sights, sounds and even smell they had to imagine.Then I would ask them to put their worries in the balloon and let it go one by one and watch it slowly float up, up and away until it disappeared. I found some wonderful imagery scripts online for kids that we could say to them in a soft calm voice while they relax and imagine.

imagery script

more scripts

 

 

I truly believe that teaching children creative techniques can prove to be a valuable tool for them to use to solve problems in life in unique ways .It can help them maintain an uplifting self image and give them the confidence that they are always in a position to change their life for the better! not to forget the added benefit of helping them keep themselves  happy and always maintain a positive attitude in life.

 

 

 

Finding silence

Finding silence

One of the most significant aspect I have noticed in Today’s lives, be it adults or kids is ,’The need to rush’. The need to hurry and accomplish only a million things a day! Because hey! Life doesn’t wait for anyone !does it? And so we rush off our little champions with a hurried breakfast to school where they need to cram up facts and figures . Then since they have to be the next sports star, we head them straight to soccer or basketball coaching and since the music industry can’t afford to miss a prodigy ,we drag them straight to voice or instrument lessons. wait! what about art? And all the new hobbies like roller skating ,dramatics and robotics? After rushing to all the classes and living up to their parents, relatives ,society and just about everyone’s expectations, our little champions are drained to say the least. Even if they have a moment here or there, the laptop or cell phone steps in very graciously and speeds up their tiny brains ,tossing out their only chance to slow down.

 

The question I find myself pondering over quite often is ,”How can creativity ever be nurtured in this mad rush?”” What is the point of turning our kids into little super intelligent robots?”” Has rushing ever done anyone any good?” This led me to think of ways to slow down my kids lives and to find silence. Silence to nurture their individuality. Silence to think about their dreams. Silence to listen to their inner most selves and Silence to allow their creativity to blossom. I always thought life skills like meditation and personal development skills to increase productivity and reduce stress were missed in main stream education and was looking for ways to introduce the same into my kids lives when one fine day my younger son ,who was then in Kindergarten brought home a note sent by his teacher. It had a link to a meditation site they were using in class everyday and the teacher thought it might be a good idea to extend the practice of meditation at home too! Boy was I excited? I immediately looked it up and have both my sons practice it whenever possible. It has a timer and few sound options as well as a guided meditation option which is good so it doesn’t get monotonous. I started with only 2 mins! And try not to push it beyond 10-15 mins. It gives them a quick mental refresher ,slows their speeding mind and I’m crossing my fingers that it will also ultimately help  calm themselves during their tantrum outbursts!( too ambitious!?). Anyways here is the link to the website.

https://www.calm.com/

If kids are taught to manage their minds through meditation from a young age, we could hopefully erase the most fashionable word of modern times,” Stress” from their vocabulary and inculcate much more tolerance and positivity in their lives not to forget their creativity that will have more of a chance to blossom in the few minutes they spend to listen to their breath and relax.

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Digital Monster

Digital Monster

 

With the dawn of the digital age, life has sure become easier, convenient and packed with information.

Communication has taken an entirely new Avatar and information is sneaked into unsuspecting minds day and night through various means.

Information, that is sometimes not necessary and more times not needed by our children. A lot of studies and research have been done and lots of papers published about the harms that The digital age can have on young minds but unfortunately it has become a necessary evil that we just have to learn to live with. With laptops and computers occupying a significant place in school classrooms and other places of education, it is impossible to entirely shield children from The digital wave and so the least we can do is strike a healthy balance. As a mother of two boisterous boys,I am constantly in search of means and methods to bring back the childhood we enjoyed not so long ago. The slow ,dreamy, creative kind. This blog is an attempt to share my journey of finding creativity amidst the digital chaos that surrounds our kids today .A daily attempt to pull them into a lazy summer afternoon, where all they need to do is dream, blow bubbles and wonder at nature’s beauty before the digital monster creeps up from behind and swallows them!

Stay tuned for creative ideas, tips ,tricks and all kinds of hacks to bring back a little bit of creativity into our kids lives so life can be a celebration and not a video game.