Sunday, June 26, 2011

The insanity that is creative thinking

My mother is an amazing person. She taught me, while I was a young child, the insanity that is creative thinking. As a 10 year old, I participated in a school activity that involved 50 mouse traps. Now, imagine giving six kids ages 10-12, fifty mouse traps, several hot glue guns and a lot of green paint. That is just what my mom did. It was part of a creative thinking competition. We had to take those mouse traps and glue them down to a wooden board. Those mouse traps had to perform a chain reaction of events, like ring a bell. In a matter of weeks, I snapped my fingers, my toes, and my rear end more times than I can count. We burned our fingers on hot glue and learned real fast how not to use a hot glue gun. We didn’t do well in the competition, but I’ve never forgotten the tremendous amount of fun that insane little project was.

My mother was a school teacher. Teachers are very creative people. She was also a camp leader for several summers, a principal, a Cub Scout leader, Girl Scout leader, and so many other things. From her, I learned that to solve some problems in life, you must think creatively, and to think creatively, you sometimes have to be a little crazy.

Two weeks ago, after visiting the location for my theater, I realized that I would have no area for “off stage”. The auditorium wasn’t built for theater. What to do? I got creative. I bought some black sheets, got a lot of PVC pipe, and some scrap wood. I built a frame to hold the sheets that would create a curtain for us to hide behind when off stage. My first design didn’t work. I had to make the PVC poles shorter. As I was out in my backyard, struggling to get the pipe frame put together, I thought of my mother. I thought of how completely crazy I was trying to build a portable six foot tall frame to hold a sheet up. Several times the pipes slipped out of their joints, hitting me in the head or the knuckles. I would chuckle to myself about how much my mother would love this. I wished she had been there to help me fight those silly PVC pipes.

My mom and I came up with a great idea for a new TV show: Projects in your Pajamas! We’ve done so many home projects in our pajamas – house painting, replacing toilet seats, cutting drywall, and caulking bathtubs. It would be a great TV show – two crazy ladies in their pajamas, trying to do home improvement projects. You should have seen Mom and I five days after my youngest was born. We were both in our pajamas, standing on the kitchen counters painting the cupboards. “Insane,” you may say! Yes, we were.

I’ve worked my way through problems in life with the crazy art that is creative thinking. I think it could also be described as making-it-up in your way through life when you don’t know what else to do. Be flexible, think outside the box, laugh along the way and the most amazing things can happen.

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