Things I learned from my mother

My Mother

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to take time to appreciate some of the things my mother taught me–things that I, no doubt, failed to appreciate in the moment. Now, with kids of my own, I have a much different perspective, and a far greater appreciation of all those little things my mother demonstrated in her daily life. I’d like to think I have carried on the tradition, despite having long way to go.

1. Make people feel welcome.

My mother excelled at this. She might not have been the best at teaching formal manners, but if you stopped by (even if you didn’t call first), you could be sure you would be welcome. She would drop what she was doing and sit down to have a cup of coffee or tea with you, and she would listen. If it were meal time, you’d be invited to stay. Mom would have opened up some applesauce or heated up another can of corn or something to make the meal stretch. All without fuss, without drawing any kind of attention to the fact that it meant extra effort for her.

2. It’s okay to make a mess–as long as you clean up after yourself.

Baking a mess

My brother and sisters and I were allowed to cook/bake by ourselves by the time we were ten or eleven. She even let us to experiment, making up our own (frequently inedible) recipes. The only rule was that we had to clean up afterwards. Painting projects, gardening projects–my brother and I made a fort of scrap lumber in the back yard. It took up most of the yard (including the clothes line). We dug a six foot hole and made a fort out of that too. I remember turning the basement into a roller rink, and inviting the neighbor kids in to play “dark” after blocking off all the windows and doors so that you couldn’t see your hand even one inch from your face.

3. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”


This was one of my mother’s favorite sayings. Whether it was figuring out how to do something for a school project, how to fix something broken, or what to do when we were bored, this phrase meant we had to be creative. The good part was that she usually was willing to help.

4. “Chalk it up to experience.”

Chalk it up to experience

An even more popular phrase of my mother. She used to when my first boyfriend broke up with me, when I caught the gas pump hose under the raw edge of the steel bumper and ripped it, spraying gas everywhere, when I lost everything on the computer because I hadn’t saved it and the power went out, when the cake came out overdone. And she always managed to say this in such a down-to-earth, pragmatic way. Not unkind, but not in a way that allowed you to feel too much self-pity either. I should probably hang this on the refrigerator. Wouldn’t hurt.

5. Beauty is all around–take time to enjoy it.


This enjoyment of nature was evident in my mother’s gardening and in her art. Her gardens were the old “cottage” style with lots of variety and color–and that is the way her paintings showed nature as well. We went camping several times every year, even when we were little kids. Now that I’m a mother, I know it isn’t easy. Yet either my mom really loved it, or she was a very good actress. (I’m not that good)

There are, of course, many other wonderful things my mother taught me–how to laugh at myself, how to make all the parts of a meal ready at the same time (still don’t have that one down), and how to live and die with dignity and faith. One cannot ask for a better mother than that. I love you Mom.

Bleeding Heart

» 15 Tips for Taming Distractions When Trying to Create – World of Psychology

See on Scoop.itFeed the Writer

When it comes to creativity, distractions “are a mixed blessing,” according to Christina Rosalie, a writer, mixed-media artist and author of A Field Guide

Sarah McElrath‘s insight:

I really like the number 3 kitchen timer idea. When difficulties arise, it is so easy to walk away, but if I am forced to keep my butt in the chair, often I can push through the problem.

See on

5 Insights into the Creative Process

I finished an art project recently that made me realize that I have a rather messy creative process. Maybe everyone does, but I doubt everyone ends up with 6 finished pieces where they intended to make one. That would be what happened to me.

First attempt

A friend of mine was going to have open-heart surgery and the surgeons were to put mesh around the values to strengthen them. I had an idea that I wanted to make something she could take with her–that would give hope. I knew I wanted to use the image of a real heart and mesh. It was also important to me to have a Bible verse on it as well. But how it was all going to go together… that part was a mystery.

2nd attempt

After gathering all the components, I put together my first attempt. It wasn’t right. So I started another. Now, that’s not that weird. The strange part is that I didn’t give up on the first attempt either. Nor did I give up on the second attempt when I started a third. And so on and so forth.


6th attempt

In the end, I brought 6 finished pieces over to her house and had her pick which she liked. The whole experience gave me a few insights into my creation process that maybe could be applied to others as well.

1. Creating is non-linear.That doesn’t sound like a huge revelation, but I think often schools teach writing in this manner (and maybe art too, I’m just not in those classes as often). Rough draft, revision, peer-editing, revision, and polished piece. I have found the true

process to be a lot more back and forth and then slant and maybe even slant again. If I graphed the process, it would probably appear much more tangled than linear. My painting instructor once told me the difference between professional painter and beginners is not that they don’t make mistakes — it is that they work through their mistakes. (this was, of course, as she was helping me correct my mistake)

2. Creating is about persistence. I’m not saying one should never quit on a project, but if I quit on a project as soon as it wasn’t exactly what I expected/wanted, then I’d never complete anything–or discover the unexpected. Persistence, willingness to keep trying, changing, adapting, working at it, is (in my experience) much more important than inspiration.

3. Creating is about being willing to re-see and imagine anew. I started with an idea, but when that didn’t work out like I wanted, I had to imagine it a different way. Sometimes (often in my case) that takes time–and a willingness to try, play, fiddle–monkey around as my mother would have said.

4. Creating is about input. At one point I took my pieces (I only had 2 at that point) to work and showed a co-worker. I told her what I didn’t like about the piece–too big, maybe not feminine enough. She asked if I had tried a different kind of mesh. “Maybe tuele or lace or something.” When she brought some back after lunch, I started to see other possibilities. Getting input from writing groups, art groups, classes, books, lessons, videos, YouTube… can feed the creative process. I get why some people say you should never talk about your novel. If all you do is talk and not write, yup, it’s a problem. But I find that sometimes talking can feed the creative energy.

5. Creation is about trial and error. I didn’t get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. But I kept trying. I kept improving even those first, second, third attempts. Eventually, I came out with what I thought were some pretty cool art pieces (pins mostly, although one was a card and one you could hang somewhere.)


As I was thinking about writing this post, I did a little digging online and found this post from NPR on The Creative Process. It begins with a quote from Abigail Washburn (not that I have any idea who she is) that I find rings true.

“Is it an original idea? Or is it something where you’re literally a creative collagist? You’re taking pieces of the world that you see around you and that are inside of you, and put them together in a way that you see fit.”


Maybe it’s true that there is nothing new under the sun. Maybe we are all creative collagists. I like the idea that creating comes from the real world and from what’s inside and you put it together in ways that only you can.

So how about it, are you a creative collagist as well? And what does your creative process look like?