Moondance; Celebrating Creative Women
 
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Tasty, sanitary, and a big value for the money. You will allow your children to eat all they want of them.

So promised the marketing brochure for the ice cream sandwich machine, a labor-saving device invented and patented by my erratically brilliant great-grandfather, a man who luxuriated in Florida whenever his fortunes were high and who hightailed it back to Ohio as soon as his cash depleted and he needed to brainstorm a new idea.

Great-Grandpa MacDonald owned--and lost--much of Daytona Beach during the Great Depression. He also created one of the earliest carbonated fruit drinks, a brand long buried beneath the cash-weighty fizz of Coca-Cola(R) and Pepsi(R), but refreshing and delicious, nevertheless. My father especially recalls and appreciates his brand of root beer. As a memento, one of Great-Grandpa MacDonald's M & B Beverage bottles graces my shelf, a piece of clear glass resurrected when an antique bottle collector dug it out of landfill, washed off accumulated waste, and offered it to me for sale. I accepted his terms.

"Duality 01" by John Vega

"Duality 01"

by John Vega

The flavor of invention. Master originator, Ohioan Thomas Edison, once claimed that, "if you never grow up, you'll never grow old," and this spirit of inventiveness and creativity permeated whatever my ancestor did. One of my favorite stories centers on his wedding, when his young and beautiful bride decided to have the tops of her glamorously long gloves stitched to the bottoms of her puffy prenuptial sleeves. In her excitement, she didn't realize how effectively the gloves were attached; but when she decided to shed them on that all-encompassing night, she discovered that the needle had actually pierced her skin and the gloves were sewn to her body. If she ever resented that invasion, or their irregular Ohio-to-Florida and Florida-to-Ohio again jaunts, those complaints don't survive in the annals of family history. My guess is that she became, and remained, lovingly exasperated.

My great-grandfather died before I was born, a fact that I regret. While his inventions didn't change the world in the extraordinary fashion that fellow Ohioan--and his contemporary--Thomas Edison's, did, my great-grandfather could have taught me much about inventiveness, creativity, and the ability to never grow old.

Although I cannot share his verbal wisdom, I would like to offer the following twelve suggestions, culled through my own plodding attempts:

* First, realize that no inventor knows, ahead of time, the extent of his or her own success or impact. I once visited the site of the Wright Brothers' bike shop, the home base of a duo that eventually transformed our world. During my tour of that humble shop, the guide gleefully shouted, "Imagine this! Imagine that they worked here *before* they knew that they were about to become the Inventors of Flight!"

* If possible, visit the Inventure Hall of Fame, located in Akron, Ohio, a place that honors the amazing inventors of our country. If you can't visit in person, then check out their web site. Soak yourself in the bubbles of their accomplishments and become inspired. After your relaxing bath, dry off and remember: pluck, mettle, and backbone!

* Live in a funky environment. I've combined quirky and elaborate Victorian decorations with contemporary and sleek boomerang art, and the way that they clash with and complement each other on my walls fascinates and energizes me.

* Drive a new and winding way to work (leave early!), wear red if you've always chosen black (and, visa versa!), and read penetrating science fiction if you've always grabbed the latest mystery novels. Visit that intriguing place that you've driven by for years, without gifting it with more than a glance, and volunteer where you can give your all.

* Create glorious phrases for yourself. If you're blocked, remember that it's rumination, not ruination; that you're not constipating; rather, you're incubating. You do have talent!

* Use your five senses--or, even all six or seven. Feel the smooth polish of wood beneath your fingertips and rub your tongue along that tang of salt. Smell soap, rot, and fire, and if you have an intuition, don't be ruled by it--but don't ignore it, either.

* Spatter your guts, in writing, to a beloved friend. Use flowery phrases that you'd normally be embarrassed to use, knowing that you're expanding your wings in the palms of a trusted comrade, someone who will cherish what matters and then drop the rest down the drain.

* Read Moondance's "10 Commandments for Creative Women." Trust in them and in yourself.

* Discover how you can invigorate the most mundane aspects of your own life. Refuse to believe that the swirls of your mop cannot become floor art.

* Surround yourself with ingenious people, both those of your ilk and those of another.

* Celebrate both the traditional and the nontraditional. The new isn't always best.

* Don't connect creativity with just work-related projects. Great-Grandpa and Grandma MacDonald gave birth to only one child--my grandmother, Beatrice--an astonishing, encouraging and literary woman. I'll never forget when, at a family get-together, she suddenly burst into joyous laughter. Her husband looked startled and asked her what was so funny. "Just look," she said, waving her arms over the heads of her children and grandchildren. "Just look," she repeated, "at all that we've created!"

 

Bio: Kelly Boyer Sagert has sold over 1,000 pieces of writing to magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias (Macmillan and Scribner), literary journals, and online venues. Her first book, >Bout Boomerangs: America's Silent Sport, was dubbed "nearly perfect" by the Australian National Boomerang Coach; her newest book, Birth of Illumination, details the rise of the public library system where Toni Morrison once worked. Sagert teaches three online courses for Writer's Digest, is the Song & Story editor for Moondance.org, and works fulltime as the marketing director for the YMCAs in Lorain County



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