For our family, electronics have taken a backseat.
Do you let your kids use cellphones or tablets in waiting rooms and doctor's offices? I did! While playing the games, my kids were quiet and relatively well-behaved. With the cellphone, we were getting in and out of the doctor's office smoothly. THEN ONE DAY, IT HIT ME!! My daughter just looked at the phone and didn’t communicate how she was feeling to her doctor. Aside from that, as my son grew, he started wanting the phone, too. The cellphone became something to fight over and it was stressful! From that day on, I decided there will not be any electronics in doctor's offices unless there was an emergency.
There was a retraining phase, but I will never go back and my kids are THANKFUL! This was a helpful creative escape that I had with my kids.
My kids are old enough…
My kids are old enough to tell me how they are feeling and if something hurts, so I feel like they can help communicate that to their doctor. After all, they need to learn how to be open and share things with their doctor so they can have the best care possible.
The realization day…
One day, I had my daughter at the doctor and I let her play games on my cellphone. She was polite and said hello to her doctor and then continued playing games. I didn’t think it was a big deal because my son wasn’t there so there wouldn’t be any fighting over the phone. While she played games, I told her doctor what was going on and my daughter didn’t pay attention. She let her doctor examine her without even realizing what was going on. On the way home, it hit me like a pile of bricks. Not only did I realize my daughter was old enough to communicate how she is feeling, but I realized how much harder the doctor’s job is when the patient isn’t communicating. I know pediatricians are used to deciding what is wrong from children that can’t communicate, but there are no reasons my kids can’t help with their care.
My announcement to the kids…
That night, I sat the kids down. I told them we will not be playing the cellphone anymore at the doctor's office. I told them the importance of sharing how they are feeling with their doctor. I also reminded them how they fight over the cellphone. My 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter were really upset about this! They promised me they would talk to the doctor and that they would take turns. They said they would be bored and told me they won’t behave without the cellphone. I reiterated, “We will not be using electronics at the doctor, unless there is an emergency.”
Now what are they going to do?
I decided to go “old school” and start this new phase of life with a creative escape. I found that Michaels store carried canvas tote bags. The kids and I went to the store and picked up two bags, fabric paint, and paint brushes.
When we got home, we got busy making their “to go bags.”
1. The first thing I did was covered the table with paper because we were using fabric paints.
2. I printed off free coloring pages from online.
3. I made the coloring pages into stencils.
4. I held the stencils on the bags while my kids painted (make sure they are wearing old clothes!).
5. We let the bags dry.
6. I put two Command hooks on the wall right by the garage door for the bags.
It is working…
It took a couple of doctor visits for the pull of the cellphone to fade away, but now before we go to the doctor, church, or road trips, etc. my kids excitedly pack their “to go bags.” I don’t even have to remind them anymore. I hear my daughter say, “We need to get our bags ready!”
My only rules for the bags…
"If it fits, it can go and it can’t be too messy or too loud."
My daughter likes to pack coloring books, crayons, and other crafting items (no glue or paints of course). My son has packed some of the funniest things. One day he packed a hard hat! He wore it while I was at my daughter’s parent-teacher conference.
My kids aren’t allowed to get the things out of their bags in the doctor's waiting room, they have to wait patiently until they are back in the exam room. In the waiting room, we play talking games like, “I Spy” and “Would You Rather.”
Have I noticed a change in them?
Yes, 100%, no question about it! My kids happily play with the things they brought. They are well-behaved, most of the time. The best thing is, they are learning to talk to their doctor and share whatever they need to share with her. They are contributing to their care and I sense they are proud of themselves.
We have been using our bags for 3 months. They are holding up well.
This realization has transferred over to our everyday life.
My kids rarely get to play games on a tablet or cellphone. We save these moments for special occasions. My kids were really excited for Christmas because they knew they could play their tablets. Now that Christmas is over, the tablets have been tucked away for a long time. I will let them play their tablets again on someone’s birthday or the next holiday.
The best confirmation about the change happened early last week.
We were at the doctor because my kids were sick and my daughter said that having her bag at the doctor was actually really FUN!
Sometimes changes require a significant adjustment, but the growing pains through it, ends up being totally worth it!
This Creative Escape Card was photographed at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE. Make sure to save this card to your camera roll and share it with a friend if you are needing a creative escape!
My 4-year-old son has been working hard on his early reading skills and things have started to click. As a baby/toddler he didn’t like to be read to and wouldn’t sit long enough to get through one page of a book. He was completely opposite of my daughter who would sit through book after book as a 1-year-old. I had to teach him slightly differently than my daughter, but the foundation was the same. Now that reading is starting to make sense, he is finally interested in hearing complete books. In this post, I’d like to share how I taught my kids their phonics sounds and how I introduced them to reading. This particular Creative Escape was a learning adventure, but my son and I had a relaxing and fun time together.
Simple Tips for Early Reading
I have always thought, if children can learn what animals say at an early age, they can also learn what their letters say.
I decided to introduce my children to their phonics sounds as little babies. I did it in a casual way and always followed their lead.
The most important thing was to listen to how my children were responding. You can’t force early reading! If they aren’t ready, take time off and try again in a few months.
My Son’s Way of Learning to Read
Since my son wasn’t interested in being read to, I had to find a different way to continue teaching him. One activity that we like to do together is reading signs. I point out signs when we are out on walks. When we are out shopping, I point out different signs and words. When we are at the doctor, I show him words on the posters. There are signs everywhere!
Our Sign Reading Creative Escape
My son and I were needing to do something different and fun. Before I went to bed one night, I thought of a way that could help celebrate his new interest in reading. I decided to take him on a “Sign Reading Adventure” while my daughter was still at school. I took him to the HyVee Grocery Store and he was very excited. I thought it would be helpful to see the words on the signs and also see the real items on the shelf. We spent most of our time in the fresh produce section. He walked around pointing to ALL of the signs he could find and he read them aloud. I would say, “What does this say?” Sometimes I would have to ask him what the first letter said, which then prompted him to figure out the rest of the word. We had a great time and even had some of the HyVee workers and customers briefly join in on the fun.
We read cereal boxes, baby items, snack foods, and the fruit and veggie signs.
Sign reading made my little guy hungry so we picked up our afternoon snack right there at HyVee. We didn’t buy any other necessary items. This might seem like a total waste of time to have to go back another day, but that wasn’t the reason why we were at the store. It was our Creative Escape time!
Guess what I was thinking about during our Creative Escape adventure? I was ONLY thinking about what section I wanted to bring him to next in the grocery store and finding good signs to read. I wasn’t thinking about ANYTHING else and it felt really good to put all my other stressors aside for a moment. I felt like we were the only people in the store. I was completely focused on him and I think he felt the close bond as well. It felt really good to be connected in a creative, educational, and fun way.
On the way home, my son was trying to read the signs on the restaurants and stores too. I asked my son if he liked our reading adventure. He said, “I LOVED IT!”
When we have a million things to do, taking an hour to regroup and doing something in a completely different and creative way can give you joyful feelings and the energy to tackle your next task!
Below is your Creative Escape Card to share! I bet there is someone out there that would love to go on a Creative Escape adventure with you! All you have to do is text them this card and say, "I could totally use a Creative Escape." What are you doing in the next few weeks?
This photo was taken in my kitchen! I filled a water balloon with water and blue food coloring. I tied a black string to the top and had my husband hold the string and pop the water balloon with a needle that was attached to a long black stick! It took many tries to capture the water balloon popping and I had a bit of a water mess to clean up. It was worth it!
My Spontaneous Creative Escape:
Has it ever been hard for you to drop your child off at daycare or school? Have you ever come home to a previously loud and lively space, finding the house eerily silent and the toys completely still? Have you ever gone through a life transition that's left you feeling emotional? I’m still adjusting to dropping my kiddos off at school this year, especially since my son just started preschool. I’m enjoying getting more work done in 5 minutes than I did in two hours, but I’m sure missing my two little sidekicks.
On Monday, I needed to do a quick solo emergency Creative Escape before I could come home and be productive. I wasn’t ready to face the quiet and still house, so I decided to turn cellphone photos into art! In this blog post, you will learn how to make easy adjustments to your photos to make print worthy wall art with just your cellphone!
First things first, I needed an iced tea!
This photo was taken on a different day, but it's still the same delicious iced tea!
My favorite drink is iced tea! I made the spontaneous decision to run through the Culver’s drive thru to grab an iced tea. Surprisingly, Culver’s has my favorite unsweetened iced tea! I felt a little silly just ordering a drink at Culver’s, but the person taking my order was really nice. When I said, “Thank you,” she warmly said, “My pleasure.” When I got up to the window, Gaby from the Waukee, IA restaurant, genuinely wanted to know how I was doing. I didn’t want to tell her that I had just dropped my child off at preschool and I was feeling a little emotional, so I politely said, “I’m doing well; thank you.” I really appreciated her kindness. She helped lift my spirits! It was exactly what I needed before I moved on to my creative adventure.
This photo was taken on a different day as well.
This was the day I took my children to Culver's for a frozen custard treat! I had my treat too!
The next thing I decided to do was go on a flower hunt to take some photos. I didn’t have my “good” camera with me, so I decided to use my cellphone. I remembered there were some really pretty flowers by the library. That’s where I headed first.
After a few stops, I was ready to head home to be productive.
Even if you are on your way to work, I bet you pass by some pretty flowers! This Creative Escape can take less than 5 minutes if needed. Seeing flowers/nature can really inspire good feelings.
How to make photo art with your cellphone:
There is a cellphone photo editing app called, Snapseed. Within this app, there is a fun filter that can turn your photos into art. This particular filter works really well on individual flowers or a group of flowers that appear separated. Be creative with how you shoot your photos. Take the photos from above, the side, or even from below! I haven’t tried this filter on everything, so please experiment and let me know what you discover! Maybe try photographing fruits and veggies or pretty leaves this fall!
Snapseed instructions to transform your photo into art:
Now the fun part!
5. Tap the “Tools” button and find the “Grunge” filter.
6. Just tap “Grunge” and poof, your photo is now a work of art!
After with "Grunge" Filter
7. The last thing you need to do is tap “Export” and save the photo to your camera roll.
I love seeing the transformation! It is a very quick and interesting edit that actually prints out nicely!
Where to print?
There is an online place that I recommend printing out photos. This place can handle a more diverse color range.
Bay Photo Lab
HAVE FUN! I would love to see your photos!
My mother-in-law shot a stellar photo and used this “Grunge” filter. Check out her photo below! She has a Facebook page called, Iowa Back Road Images, if you would like to see more of her professional work.
After with "Grunge" Filter
After my little creative escape, I felt great and ready to work! Before I knew it, my son was home from preschool, my daughter was coming through the door after getting off the bus, and my chaotic life got back to normal!
Transition times can be challenging!
I saw a quote by Daniell Koepke on the Becoming UnBusy Facebook page that was really helpful.
She said, “You don’t have to solve your whole life overnight. And you don’t have to feel ashamed for being where you are. All you have to focus on is one small thing you can do today to get closer to where you want to be. Slowly and lightly, one step at a time. You can get there.”
Future Blog Post:
I’m almost finished with my post regarding my Creative Escape with my son. We were working on his early reading skills with this adventure. I wanted to quickly get this post out first. It was an emergency Creative Escape after all. Check back later this week for the next blog post!
Here is a new Creative Escape Card for you! Save this photo to your camera roll and start sharing it with your friends!
My First Official Creative Escape
It has been 8 years since I have sung seriously! Mom life became priority and my passions were put on the back burner. In my 20’s, singing was a huge part of me because music was what I chose to study in college. A few months ago, I decided I needed to bring singing back and to find my voice again. Do you have something that you used to do, that you have put aside for another day? If possible, try squeezing in some time for the things that are a part of you!
How it all started
One morning, while getting ready for the day, I decided to start vocalizing again. I wanted to start my day with something that made me feel good.
My musical influences
(To find out more information about each singer, please click on their names.)
I’ve spent years admiring Mary Creswell, my voice teacher in college, and Kerry Walters, a professor I studied with privately after graduation. I have dreamed about singing with both of them. Maybe one day, that dream will be realized!
I have spent many hours listening to Anne Sofie Von Otter, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, and recently Natalie Weiss. I admire different things about each singer.
I listen to all of these women for their emotional and artistic singing. I have learned that it’s important to find your voice and to take apart the song to express the feeling and lyric.
A work in progress
This Creative Escape was the beginning of getting back into shape, vocally, and embracing my own sound. I want to trust myself in going outside my technical box to make music. Kelly Clarkson, my favorite pop/pop rock singer, said two things that have really stuck in my head. She said to Maelyn Jarmon, the 2019 winner of The Voice, “The lack of control, on purpose, was what I loved about this…I want you to just let go” (in reference to Maelyn previously being in her head about the technical side of singing). I also heard Kelly say on “You Sang My Song” video on YouTube, after explaining she was trained in opera, “I had to really work on finding my voice emotionally rather than technically.” These comments were light bulb moments for me! I’m looking forward to maintaining a technical side to ensure longevity, but finding myself emotionally.
One thing I learned this year, always keep yourself open, because you might see/hear/feel something that inspires you!
How can I use singing creatively?
With this Creative Escape, I wanted to do something I never thought I would have the courage to do. I have always wanted to sing in an empty cathedral. I decided to find an emotional song that would fit nicely being performed in the beautiful space. I asked my daughter’s piano teacher, Jenni, if she wanted to create an arrangement with me. I wanted to try finding my own style on this song, a mix between classical and contemporary. I wanted my accompanist to have the liberty to create her own style and arrangement as well.
I listened to other artist’s arrangements of the song for inspiration:
Jenni and I loved the creative process. Each time we met, we bounced ideas off of each other. It felt wonderful being in that musical world again.
The moment came when I could cross something off my bucket list!
After a couple of months, I nervously emailed St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines, IA to see if I could come in and sing. They were SO kind and allowed me to use their cathedral one Friday afternoon. It was an amazing experience! Hearing the reverb back put me in awe of the architecture and it was magical.
Jenni and I talked a little, but really, we just had fun making music for an entire hour. One thing we both noticed, even though we didn’t talk much, we were instantly connected. I love how this Creative Escape strengthened our new friendship.
For this hour, I only thought about connecting with Jenni and singing what I was feeling. Jenni was so supportive and played beautifully! I was blown away with her arrangement and improvisation. She wasn’t even playing what was on her music! After this little creative outing, I feel recharged, motivated, and excited about singing with Jenni again in the future.
Can you do something like this too?
If you enjoy making music and want to try something new, feel free to contact another friend who also enjoys music. Work on creating your own style and arrangement. Find a fun place to have a musical Creative Escape…maybe a band shelter at your local park, or at a local church/place of worship/theatre/auditorium, or in someone’s home.
Take the time to make music even if you are feeling butterflies! I was definitely feeling some nerves, but I was so happy and excited that we were brave enough to pull it off.
Future Blog Post:
My next blog post will be an adventure I had with my son. He was 3 at the time. It is something we like to do together to help with his early reading skills. I will also list some ideas that we have done to encourage early reading.
See what happens when you reintroduce yourself to something you loved doing way back when!
* If you want to learn more about the Creative Escape Card Campaign, please refer to the 7/14/2019 blog post.
*If you want to learn more about finding and expanding your creative side, please refer to the 9/1/2019 blog post.
Since I have decided to bring singing back into my life, it feels like a new beginning. I thought this flowering tree was a great Creative Escape Card for this week. Spring always feels like a new beginning.
Remember to save this card to your camera roll or computer so you have it when you need it!
Do you consider yourself a creative person? Do you think creativity only relates to having grand artistic abilities that are used in imaginative and innovative ways? Creativity has such a deeper meaning to me, maybe it’s because of what it does for me. Creativity, to me, is the ability to use your originality in an interesting and positive way. I believe that everyone has a creative side because EVERYONE has been given special talents and gifts that are unique to them; everyone has the ability to create inside of them. In this post, I’d like to help you find and expand your creative side so you can start generating ideas for your Creative Escapes!
Why Strive for a Creative Mindset?
Before we get into finding your creative side, I wanted to share what creativity can do for you and why I feel like it would be helpful if it was a part of your life in a significant way. We all crave to have healthy outlets that are calming, empowering, motivating, fulfilling, and exciting! Honestly, we need to have these feelings to ensure a quality life. I’d like to touch on how creativity can help in a big way.
Creativity can help you express your emotions in a healthy way.
Personally, the past five months, I’ve NEEDED to be creative! During this time, all 4 of my creative outlets were fully utilized. They are photography, singing, writing, and creating activities and adventures for my kids. By using my creativity, it gave my brain a chance to breathe when it was full of worry and my world was being challenged. Whatever creative outlet I chose to do, I felt like my activity helped my angst feelings…sometimes a lot and other times a small amount. Regardless, I welcomed whatever feelings the creative outlet helped me express.
Releasing negative emotions frees up room for more joyful feelings!
Creativity used for others is a rewarding cycle.
When lonely and sad feelings creep in, a creative kind gesture to someone else warms your soul. I have definitely sent other people thoughtful and creative pick-me-ups when I’ve, actually, needed one myself. In turn, I felt positive energy flowing and it helped turn my day around.
Creativity can help accentuate your positive personality traits.
I believe that when our positive personality traits are used in a creative way, we can be inspirational to the people around us. For example, let’s say you are good at listening to others. What if you contacted a friend to go with you to a nursing home to listen to a resident’s stories? Can you imagine how much this would make their day? Can you imagine how you would feel doing this heartwarming act of kindness?
Creating something can make you feel proud.
It feels good to see a project come to fruition.
Creativity can make you feel bonded to someone else.
There is something magical that happens when you put something creative between two people.
Below you will see the different photos I used to create this week's Creative Escape Card! This photo took many months to finish because I had to wait for a rainbow. All of these photos were taken off of my deck and then combined into one photo.
How can you find your creative side?
Do you struggle with knowing what your gifts and talents are?
I’d like to try to give you some suggestions on how you can figure them out! Before you dive into a reflective time, please know there are many things that make you special, wanted, and needed. After all, there is only one you and you can do amazing things!
From this list you can start generating a new list of your gifts and talents.
This is how you can start exploring your creative side. Once your lists are in place, start thinking about ways you can use your gifts/talents creatively. The best thing about going on Creative Escapes, you don’t have to come up with creative things on your own. Your friend will be contributing to your outing!
I know it is really easy to get busy with your daily life and push your gifts and talents away, but you deserve to be able to use what you have been given and thought about in a positive way.
One day your creative universe will be glowing with joy.
Future Blog Post:
My next blog post will be sharing my first Creative Escape! It took guts to execute, but I’m so happy Jenni and I made the effort and choice to just go for it!
Embrace your gifts and talents and do something creative with them!
* If you want to learn more about the Creative Escape Card Campaign, please refer to the 7/14/2019 blog post.
Here's this week's Creative Escape Card! Have fun sharing! Remember to save this card to your camera roll or computer so you have it when you need it!
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At some point, we all go through storms in search of a rainbow and we all deal with worrisome and stressful things. I have an idea that can help with life challenges, encourages us to exercise our creative minds, and gives us a way to comfortably ask friends to be there for us when we need them.
For the longest time, I have been trying to figure out a way to tell people that creativity has power and when it is used it has great benefits. I want people to feel comfortable asking for help when things get rough and to use creativity to strengthen coping skills. I want us to become connected again, not just through social media, but face-to-face. When you are physically with another person that cares about you, there is automatic support. There is someone else to talk to instead of just being stuck in your own head.
I often feel uncomfortable asking friends to get together because everyone is incredibly busy. I don’t want to interfere with anyone’s free/family time. I also feel strange asking friends to talk or letting them know I could really use some of their time when life events are upsetting. I want something that will make me more comfortable reaching out to others when needed.
My way of coping is shifting my mind into my creative world. It has been very helpful for me! When I’m needing to do my creative outlets during distressing times, other things just have to wait…like picking up the toys on the floor, or doing the dishes right after a meal, or picking up the random piece of clothing my kids took off. After I’ve spent some time being creative, it feels really good to get things tidied up again! This break makes me a better person/mom/me.
There Must Be a Way:
I have wanted something to help me take action in asking a friend if I could share some of their time. I’ve also wanted to find a way to help others form a creative mindset.
A couple months ago, I thought of a method!
The Creative Escape Card Campaign:
I’m starting the Creative Escape Card Campaign. The cards are resources that can be shared with friends when life gets overwhelming, when you need a friend to talk to, or when you want to do something for fun. Whatever the reason, the cards are here for you! These cards allow us a way to contact friends comfortably. Every Creative Escape Card is made with one of my personal photos that I’ve taken and will be shared on my blog. I hope you enjoy them!
How to use the Creative Escape Cards:
Anytime you want to try something new or life’s challenges make it hard to take a deep breath, save a Creative Escape Card to your cellphone to text or email friends. Feel free to print out a card to hand deliver! Your message can say something like this, “Hi friend, I could totally use a Creative Escape. What are you doing in the next few weeks? Let’s come up with something creative to do.” There are some friends that just don’t have the time at that moment, but if you send a card to multiple people, your chances of finding someone to get together with goes up! You may find your friend needed this Creative Escape just as much as you did. The cards will be on the bottom of each blog post. Your Creative Escapes can be very simple, like taking photos of flowers with your cellphones, or finding a unique place to go for a walk with a friend, or they can be more complex. The beauty of doing something creative with someone else, instead of just going out for coffee to talk, means you can talk some, but you can also have a break from what is troubling you.
Disclaimer: The Creative Escape Cards are like over-the-counter medications. If the cards don’t help enough, please go see a mental health professional just like you would go see your doctor if Tylenol or Ibuprofen didn’t help enough. Everyone goes through tough times and it’s okay to ask for help!
I hope the Creative Escape Card Campaign will help energize us, bond us, and increase happy endorphins. I’m hoping these cards might give someone the courage to ask for help, without it feeling too personal. I want the Creative Escapes to be outings people look forward to with hope. My goal is for this blog to be a supportive environment that can inspire, heal, and show love!
Future Blog Posts:
I will be sharing my Creative Escapes to hopefully inspire you to come up with your own ideas. I will also be sharing what creativity can do for you, so everyone can see how powerful of a tool it really is. I would love to hear from you! After you’ve shared a Creative Escape Card with a friend and you’ve gone on your adventure, please send an email to email@example.com and tell me all about your Creative Escape. Make sure to take pictures to share! I may feature you in a blog post! Let’s help each other out with creative ideas! Each post will add a new Creative Escape Card to share, so make sure to check back often!
I truly feel that creativity needs every life experience and every life experience needs creativity!
Can you think of friends you would like to share a Creative Escape Card with? You have my permission to save and share this card! Go ahead now and let your creative journey begin!
Stewart Gibbs Photography video (YouTube) on soap bubble photography was my inspiration.