The power of creativity.
I recently celebrated a non-milestone birthday, but a birthday nonetheless. I really didn't want or need anything from my husband or kids except a little of their time. Yep, that's the currency we seem to have the least of at my house these days. Time together without distractions, sports, commitments, technology-well, you name it. In this multi-minding, multi-tasking life we lead, there is little time for unstructured time together; peaceful time together. Yet, according to a Lifetime Television study, it's what all of us in every age group from 18 to 70 crave: time for ourselves. Me time. And for my birthday, my dream of me time was to have a little bit of it with my family. So, when my kids asked me what I wanted for my birthday, it was, as it usually is, a gift of their time. Something handmade. An expression of their creativity and caring. When they were younger, these expressions were crayon-colored works of art. Or clay pots doused in finger paint. Sometimes the creativity was done as a group project-all four of them creating a poster or a card. Other years, as was the case this year, it was an individual pursuit. My oldest son who is leaving for college in the fall, wrote me a poem he performed as a rap song. It was amazing. My middle son wrote a poem that had me crying from the second stanza. My youngest performed an original song playing his guitar and singing along. My daughter-who outdid herself on Mother's Day-got a pass for this particular birthday, but I have several of her handmade birthday gifts hanging around my bedroom and home office. These handmade gifts remind me of how far we've come as a family, how I've grown as a mom, how much my husband and I have learned-and continue to learn-about parenting. They also remind me of the particular achievements and distinct intelligences of my four wonderful, creative kids. Every child is a bundle of creative energy waiting to be expressed. When they're little, and they don't worry about what other people think. They sing and paint and play. It's only as we get older, become self-conscious instead of self-confident, that many of us lose that creative spark. But it's never too late to jump back in and get your child-and even yourself-involved in a creative project. The key is to not worry about the outcome. To have fun, for creativity's sake. And if you make the time, working on a project together is a great way to relax and connect. Paint. Tell a story. Build a fort. Plant a garden. Think back to when you were a child, when you created like a child. Find a picture of yourself from back then, frame it. Use that photo of yourself to remember what it was like to be purely creative, when you didn't worry about what other people thought. Share that photo of the precious you with your kids. If you haven't expressed your creativity in awhile, start with yourself and watch how you inspire your kids. I've been speaking to groups around the country about the power of vision boards (here are some examples.) and how they help you see where you are and where you're going. In my book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, I explain how important vision boards are for creating a personal brand that can then be taken into the world as a unique business advantage.Vision boards are great creative exercises. Grab some magazines, a glue stick and a piece of poster board. Cut out words and images that speak to you, your dreams and your passions. Give yourself the gift of me time and creativity. And then, share your board with your kids. If they're old enough, they may want to create one too. Creativity is a life-long process. Unlike a lot of things our children feel pressured to achieve in our over-stressed, over-perfectionist society, creativity-when used as a personal expression-can help kids feel peaceful.And can help moms feel extremely blessed. "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." ~Pablo Picasso Kaira Sturdivant Rouda is a mother of four, author and entrepreneur. She's interested in writing, yoga and energizing women's lives. She's also been known to "honk" when laughing. To learn more, visit www.kairarouda.com , follow her on Twitter , friend her on Facebook and connect on LinkedIn .