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16 years ago this month, half a world away in central China, the final member of our tightly-knit unit was born to a family who couldn't keep her.
Thirteen months later, in the middle of a rare Seattle blizzard, my parents and younger sister, Alie, boarded the plane to go get her and bring her home. To bring our Mayme home.
Now, today, nearly 15 years later, we're getting set to celebrate her sweet-sixteen and – watch out world! - witness her get her driver's license.
Over the years, as her older siblings, we've cooed over her, obsessing over her chubby baby toes and tiny little fingers. We've dressed her up, held her hand, and watched her grow up into a bossy ('cause she's the boss, y'all) and confident teenager.
At 16, she's creative and passionate and inspired. She writes and reads and produces plays. She believes wholeheartedly in candid conversations and K-Pop.
It's been a wild and love-soaked ride, getting to witness her evolution. Even on the bumpiest of days, when she's so fifteen and in the midst of a pubescent stress-fest, I can confidently say that she has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. Well, she's in the top three.
A few months ago, at the start of her sophomore year, Mayme decided to join the hip-hop dance team at her high school.
It didn't matter that she had never officially danced before – unless you count the hours upon hours that she practiced in front of YouTube videos. The girl is all guts.
And, wouldn't you know it, she's also ridiculously talented.
When you watch her perform, you get lost in how fluid and unabashedly committed she is to the moves. There's not an inch of self-consciousness present. And I can tell you, having been a teenage girl once upon a time, that's no small thing. She performs without shame, fully in tune with each and every limb, totally connected with her body. She takes up space and moves with ease and grace. And she's having fun.
This is the piece of creativity that we all-too-often forget.
To be creative means to get curious. To be creative means to shake off the self-consciousness and commit to the present moment. To be creative means to claim your space and write your own story. To be creative means to have fun.
The process might be hard. It might mean walking through the messy middle – journeying to the shadow-side where your limiting beliefs and stories of shame and sorrow reside. It might mean wrestling with big questions and the painful voice of your inner critic. It might mean sitting your butt in a chair for 30 minutes a day to prove to your muse that you'll show up for them.
But it also means soaking in the sweet sounds of nature. It also means long hikes and hot baths. It also means seeking inspiration in the places and people that bring you joy. It also means dancing to 80's music in your living room or sweating your story out while your favorite workout playlist blasts in your headphones. It also means stepping away from your computer screen and grabbing coffee with a good friend.
This. This is the piece of creativity that we forget.
Maybe it's because the slogging feels like it's worth more, that productivity is more important than the process, or that the dark, shadowy stuff feels like it has more depth.
But don't forget to have fun, dear friend. To lean into abandon and experience adventure. To chase wonder and lose yourself in the music. To delight in whatever form of inspiration and expression brings you unabashed and uncontainable joy.
"Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy."
- Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Photo Credit: Zoe Rain
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