Upside Down

My daughter loves being upside down.

Part of our morning ritual involves her facing me while sitting on my lap and then diving backwards, head first, while I hold her hands to keep her from hitting the floor. This brings her utmost delight. She giggles with her entire body as she performs this backwards dive over and over and over again. She never wants to stop. In fact, she seems content to hang upside down indefinitely and even resists my tugs to bring her upright.

I’ve done this kind of dipping activity with lots of children over the years. There seems to be something deeply appealing about being upside down when we are very young.

As an adult, I tend to want things to be in their proper place. I feel most content with a clean kitchen, with chairs tucked in at the table, with clothes in the dressers instead of piled on the bed or floor. I like routine. I like knowing when my appointments are, when I’ll run errands, what time my daughter will (hopefully) nap and eat meals. I like knowing what to expect.

But life–and having kids–has a way of turning things upside down. Sometimes literally.

A chair topples over after being used as a make shift walker for a newly mobile toddler. Cups spill. Book pages are lovingly–okay sometimes violently–flipped from back to front and facing the wrong way. But then again, who am I to say that any of this is the “wrong” way?

Sure, I ultimately want to teach my daughter to treat objects gently, but she’s in this incredible process of discovery and taking me along for the ride. I never thought of my dining room chairs as walkers. She opened my eyes to that possibility by zooming around our hard wood floors. When she tips a cup over, sometimes it spills and she learns about cause and effect. And sometimes other cups fill me with awe and gratitude for the people who have developed lids that actually don’t leak. Talk about creative parent geniuses. And as for upside down books–I’ve sometimes peered over her shoulder as she “reads” to herself and found a detail in the illustrations that I had never noticed before when reading the book the “right” way.

We don’t always get a choice about what will turn our lives topsy turvy. Feeling helpless about changes can paralyze us, but actively choosing change can empower us to shake out of the mundane and discover new possibilities. How might we conscientiously turn even little parts of our lives upside down to get some new perspective and maybe even find some creative inspiration? A few ideas come to mind:

*Dangle upside down from the edge of your couch or your bed. Look around the rooms that you might take for granted and see them in a new way.

*Take a few everyday objects in the house, flip them over, and go about the rest of your day, just to shake up your surroundings.

*Do you always shower or put dishes away in the same order? Try reversing it. You might like it. You might hate it. It won’t hurt.

*Write a poem starting with the last line and working backwards.

*Too rainy or cold to go outside? Do it anyway. Embrace the cold, wet, muddy mess that will result.

The possibilities are endless. Why not take some time to shake things up a bit today? After all, we often flip over the ketchup bottle to so that it’s easier to get the good stuff out when we need it next. Sounds like something all artists could use. Feel like you’re scraping the bottom of your creativity barrel? Flip the barrel over. There’s probably more in there than you think.



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