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  • Writer's pictureAni McManus

The Kiddie Table

Being a late bloomer Boomer when it comes to music-making means I’ll probably be playing musical chairs at the kiddie table for the rest of this lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, my seat there can be uplifting, joyful, playful, and as fun as finger-painting, but it can also be discouraging.

I put my most current project, Lemonade In The Shade, on the back burner for a while before uploading it to YouTube because I wanted to buffer myself. I felt vulnerable to further discouragement. It can be really hard when hard work doesn’t work. I’d give myself an A for effort, but not for the final project. The song is too specific to be universally relatable. It breaks with song-writing structure 101, and my singing is so-so.

I also had a ridiculously hard time making decisions for the video—there were too many possibilities flowing through my head, which blew my fuses, and confused the cheese-wiz out of me. Did I make the best choices? If “less is more,” are my mixed-media videos more or less a mess?

At the encouragement of my inner cheerleader, who helped me find courage in discouragement, I eventually uploaded my “flop.” Beginners need to cut themselves some slack, rah, rah. Don’t be afraid to fail. Comparing oneself to the big kids on the block, is something inner bullies do. Don’t be one. Remember, even though gazillions of humans have learned to walk, run, dance, and do round-off back handsprings, it doesn’t diminish the miraculous delight of a toddler’s first steps. What parent ever thinks their kid is not worthy of the ground they walk on because they wobble, fall down, and go boom?

How about acknowledging, Beginner, the stepping stones along the way, instead of hiding under a rock? Take your seat at the creativity table. Display your artsy learning-experiments on the refrigerator of social media, and give yourself little gold star. You know what you went through to get this far. If you fall down and go boom, get up and wobble some more!

Decades ago, I was an art teacher for preschoolers. These natural, uninhibited little artists put together colors and shapes that I wouldn’t put together in a million years, yet the results were astonishing little gems. So what if I’m back at that kiddie table, sitting in a miniature chair, re-learning the lesson of joyful mess-making. Here’s to imaginative Jennifer, who refused to color in the lines; to brilliant Fareeda whose smile was an ocean, and to Elliot, who was an eager bundle of butter and love.

Always, always, always encourage yourself to find the courage in discouragement.

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