The Creative Mind

Before a crazy blizzard (Snow in Nebraska in December! Crazy right?) snowburied everything for hundreds of miles around under a mountain of white, my Capstone class, The Creative Mind, was scheduled to end with each student creating and presenting a short version of a TEDtalk to share their take away from the class. When the presentations moved online, less than 24 hours before they were supposed to be given, I was still undecided which way I wanted to go and I had roughly developed two separate talks. (I know, I’m really on top of my homework this semester.) So I decided to sort of combine both things into one super long blog post with less pictures. Here we go:

“Just Do It: Nike was Right about Creativity”
“Are You My Mother? The Enormous Amounts of Creativity Required to do College as an Old Person”
“My Mother Does Not Wear Nikes Because She Has Weird Feet and Creatively Labeled Our Abandonment as Going Back to College”

My daughter has always said I am an ambivalent parent. This says less about my level of caring and more about the fact that I worked while my husband was the “at-home” parent for a lot of years and unlike most of her friends’ moms, I am not a helicopter parent. In fact, I am the exact opposite of a helicopter parent, whatever that would be. A submarine kids at christmasparent perhaps? I sneak along under the surface doing my job, sending a periscope up into the world once in a while. Until I am threatened and then I turn deadly. I have nukes! I think that kids should be explorers, independently figure things out and I will be there when they need me. (This has led to only one severed digit, no broken bones or electrocutions to date, so I label it a success.)

So it wasn’t a huge change in my four kids’ lives when I decided to finish my college degree twenty years after dropping out of UNL. It was big change for my husband. Here are what I think were the biggest adjustments for him:

  1. He had to get a job. (He had been retired for over 12 years.)
  2. He learned to at least pretend to feel guilty about the pile of dishes and dirty house I find each Friday.
  3. His wife didn’t come home in the middle of the night tipsy from her bartending job anymore. (Use your grownup imagination ;0 )

For my kids the adjustments happen when I am home- 2 ½ days each week and on breaks.

  1. I ask where they are going and when they will be home.
  2. I actually heat up the food I make and leave for them each weekend and put it on the table at semi-regular mealtimes.
  3. I control Netflix.

So where is the creativity in all this you ask?

  1. I learned to parent from 100 miles away; via text, Snapchat and phone. I know more about what is going on in my kids’ lives and at school than most parents. I think this is because texting & Snapchat seems like lower stakes than actual talking so my kids reveal more.
  2. I figured out how to get my homework done during the week so I am fully present with my family on weekends. This is accomplished around work, and the extra trips home for school board meetings, band concerts and parent-teacher conferences.
  3. I found ways to not feel too guilty… special things on the weekend, bribes, hanging out with other people’s kids.


Now on to the second half of the combined talk.


deskEverything we read, watched and learned this semester repeated that creativity is based in repetition and habit. Working on my independent study project I found this to be true but in a different way. I worked on a collection of short stories and was happy to have the time that I HAD to devote to my writing. I noticed a couple of things about how my creative habit works.

As much as I hate to admit it, I was at my most productive early in the morning. I hate, Hate, HATE getting up early in the morning but it worked the best for me to write every day, first thing.

I get a lot of work done in the car. This doesn’t mean I spent my hours driving back and forth on highway 20 scribbling in a notebook in my lap, much.
Every weekend in September we went somewhere as a family and my husband drove. I got thousands of words written during these trips, I think partly because I couldn’t self-edit as I went. I just wrote. I get terribly carsick so I couldn’t go back and read what I wrote then fix it. I just had to keep going.
I work stories out in my head before I write. I do not like free writing. I did hours and hours of this while driving, in between, or at the same time as, I was trying to figure out why B94 is so hooked on playing Eminem’s 20 year old song “Lose Yourself” and why Sam Hunt was always playing when I switched to the other station. Because my commute looks like this:



In conclusion, this semester I figured out to be creative I need to spin things to my kids, drive thousands of miles alone and get up early.


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