Out of the Mouths of Babes

Annabelle Coote

Annabelle Coote art

On my post-it note, a grocery list:

marshmallows, hamburger, buns, salad greens, mustard, coconut water, pineapple juice. Then, scrawled at the bottom: daring greatly, moving out of shame, dare gently – inspiration I wanted to capture while listening to a TED talk.  On that little post-it note, so much of my life.   Practical realities, errands, tasks, plan for family and friend time, feeding myself with inspiration and generating ideas for my own work.  I’m thinking I could choreograph a dance titled “post-it”.

So many talented and brilliant people talk about limitations as necessity for creativity.  This is so true, and yet I have such a habit of lamenting the restrictions.  Time, for example is a big one for me. It flairs up in many different kinds of moments, but here’s a typical one: one child is demanding attention for an answer right now!, the other one is successfully ignoring a request I have made, I am trying to organize something on the calendar realizing I have forgotten something and find myself longing for a beach somewhere far far away, all to the discordant tune of nagging to do items in the back of my mind.

Or, perhaps I find myself with a chunk of unclaimed time – the coveted quiet of being home alone. And what happens?  I – don’t – know – what – to – do – with – myself.  Should I get the to do’s done, should I try to work on some of those thousands of ideas that present themselves to me in the shower or on the way out the door, or take some “me” time?!?!?!?  All of those things that I keep wishing to have time for – suddenly I can’t remember what they are. And there I am, flushing this time down the sink with the dishwater instead of wrapping myself in the glory of this precious gift.

So, what happens instead, if I say – ah ha!  What shall I do with this wonderful time?  What is really important? What would I really like to do?  If there is only time for one thing, how can I lay claim to this small fortune and be happy to tell the tale?  If I shift into this way of relating to time, then a portal is opened to creativity.  When this happens, I may peek in and wonder and, then…run for the hills.  The to do’s come crashing in to help save me from myself, from having to trust too much in possibility, from having to be vulnerable to my own creative process. When it’s the noise my kids make, it’s easy to blame my feelings on external demands, but when I’m alone, I know – it’s my own noise.   I’m looking at the post-it note that inspired this piece and I can tell you right now – I could fit a lot more stuff on it – I usually do.

So, what if I don’t?  What if I find a way to leave the open space?  What if I orient my eyes and ears and heart to the space that is present all the time, whether I’m home alone, in the midst of active family life or anywhere else?  What if I allow myself to listen with my whole self, with my senses, with my body to what is really present and find my creativity there?  What if I live in my creativity? What if I AM my creativity? The TED talk was by Brené Brown on Listening to Shame.  She talks about vulnerability as the gateway to creativity, innovation and change and about reclaiming vulnerability as courage, not as weakness.  Wow.  And so, perhaps I can peek into that vast deep space with wide open eyes – move out of shame, gently dare greatly, and see – stars, grace, ideas, pathways, patience, myself.  And, then, realize I am living a dance called, “post-it”.



Annabelle Coote headshot
Annabelle F. Coote, MA, LMHC, BC-DMT, CADC is a dance/movement therapist and creative psychotherapist with 20 years experience as a clinician and educator. She has studied, performed, created and taught dance and movement throughout her life, and brings this background into clinical practice as well as community-building, social action and educational forums. She is passionate about the connections between the brain and body and the power of the creative process and the arts to deepen and enrich life experiences. Her experience includes work with adults, adolescents and children in a wide variety of therapeutic and educational settings.  Currently, she offers dance/movement therapy, creative psychotherapy, workshops, movement coaching, and dance instruction in her private practice, Movement Matters.

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