When you (or your kids) are feeling stuck, try writing it down

I had the wondrous opportunity to spend a writer’s weekend with author and all-around magical soul Elizabeth Gilbert (who is most well-known for her 2006 memoir “Eat, Pray, Love”). The hours spent in her presence were inspirational, not only to me, but to the room of fellow creative minds, who needed an extra dose of “what you do is real and valuable and beautiful.” It’s easy for moms, especially, to lose sight of their creative selves in the midst of chauffeuring kids, pulling toys from the toilet and keeping watch for teenagers come curfew time. Make that all the time.

She asked us to write a letter to something that scared us—or stopped us from taking that step into the realm that we fantasize about, whether it be writing, dancing, soccer, divorce or getting a job. This is a good action to offer your kids (and yourself) when you are feeling stuck.

Below is the letter I wrote, which I got to read aloud to her, and she loved, and I carry that with me everyday.

Dear First Word,

You are so little, so small.
Take up insignificant space. Yet…
You are also huge and defining and intimidating.

Without you there would be no
Poems, songs, novels or love letters.
There would be no war.

All you are is one.

But, First Word, you are buried
Under uncracked concrete
Vaulted in steel
Layers of ice.

I know you are there.
I feel you, sense you
But I also lose my will to dig.

I have written libraries in my head
Easy flowing symphonies of all the words
But never the first.

Why are you such a tease?
I could be so great if
You would let me find you
Use you.

I love writing more than I hate you.
So from now on,
I’ll just start with the second.

Maggie Knowles writes about all things kid. She and her family live in Yarmouth, where she gardens, keeps bees and refuses to get rid of her stilettos.


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