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Cultivating Creativity as a Mom

July 29–August 2, 2013   |   Vol. 116, Programs 46–50

Everyone needs a creative, expressive outlet—even you, Mom! This week on Home School Heartbeat, two homeschool moms tell Mike Smith how they have made their homeschool routine lively and vibrant by pursuing their individual interests.

“Pursuing something you love can give you the time outside your home that will refresh you.”—Mike Smith

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Has cutting shapes in sandwiches replaced painting as your artistic outlet? Does being a homeschooling mother mean an end to your days of performing or writing? If you want to keep your artistic side alive and vibrant, stay tuned to this week’s Home School Heartbeat , as host Mike Smith encourages you to cultivate your creative gifts and interests.

Mike Smith: Homeschooling offers many creative mothers a great venue for their talents and interests. Perhaps you consider music an integral part of your child’s homeschooling experience. You may love your middle schooler’s creative writing assignments even more than he does! The freedom homeschooling gives you to tailor your program to the talents and interests of both teacher and student is one of the great advantages of education at home.

Channeling your creativity into your child’s homeschool program can make the education experience personally meaningful for both of you. But just because you’re a teacher now doesn’t mean that you have to give up all “extracurricular” expressions of your own!

Art often has a cathartic function—picking up the paint brush, needle, or pen is a great way to de-stress after a long math lesson or a busy day at the co-op. Taking the time to cultivate your creativity can give you energy to stick with the most mundane elements of teaching your children—or even give you a new perspective on the beauty of ordinary life!

Your interests could give you a great opportunity to reach out to others around you. Pursuing something you love can give you the time outside your home that will refresh you and provide opportunities to form relationships with people outside your normal circle.

This week, we’ll visit with several homeschooling moms who cultivate their interests in different ways. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Today, we’re joined by Heidi Berry, a homeschooling mom whose interest in horseback riding opened a world outside of her own home. Heidi, thanks for joining us today!

Heidi Berry: It’s good to be here!

Mike: Heidi, tell our listeners how riding has given you a way to cultivate your interests outside the home.

Heidi: Well, I started riding when I was 11 years old, and it’s really always been my passion. My riding sport is called “dressage,” which is like an old military training system for horses. And you could kind of equate it to figure skating or ballet on horseback. For me, it’s great because dressage is like an art form. And while it’s my hobby, and I actually train my horses five days a week, I’m also a horse show judge, as well as a trainer, and a competitor, and an instructor.

And as much as I love being with my children, and I’m extremely blessed to be able to homeschool them, I have to say I do love having this outside interest. But it’s been great for me because I have been able to pull my children into it. But it’s just one of those things where there’s always more to learn. And it challenges the mind, and the body, and the spirit every day.

Mike: Heidi, that sounds like a lot of fun! Next time, we’ll talk about the practical aspect of juggling that outside interest and family responsibilities. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Heidi, some of the parents listening this week may really crave that outside interaction. But they might feel there’s no way they can make time for something beyond school and housework. How do you balance family priorities with your own hobby?

Heidi Berry: Well, I usually get up around five thirty or six. And so I have my quiet time, and then I get to ride two horses before my boys even get up. I kind of like training alone, where I can just concentrate on just me and my horse, and not always have to have my attention on them when they’re riding. But, I have to say, from an early age, those boys learned the Mom does horses, and that I love it and that I take it very seriously. And they’ve learned to entertain themselves, and they’ve gotten to travel around with me to many lessons and horse shows.

The horse world tends to be kind of un-churched, and they’ve seen and been exposed to lots of problems that come from people who can make horses idols in their lives. And I think they can see that having Christ at the center of our lives just keeps things in balance. They’ve also gotten to see me have opportunities to witness and to minister to people in my work in the horse world, and to see the benefits of being honest in my dealing with my clients. So, all around, it’s just been a wonderful experience for them.

Mike: Well, Heidi, that’s great—and thanks for joining us this week! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: My guest today is Meka Zieger, a homeschooling mom of four. Welcome to the program, Meka!

Meka Zieger: Thank you, Mike. It’s a pleasure to talk with you!

Mike: Meka, you’ve developed a creative way of recording your family and homeschooling experience. Tell our listeners about it, please.

Meka: Sure! I keep what’s called an illustrated journal, where I recount our days in writing and drawing. It gives me time to purposely reflect on who my children are, and drawing is very satisfying to me. At first it was a way to work through my changing ideas about schooling and motherhood, but now it’s my voice. It’s where I share my learning about learning. It answers that homeschooling question, “What’s a day like in your house?”

Mike: Meka, do you find that journaling with art renews your love for your family in any special way?

Meka: Absolutely! Susan Schaeffer Macauley said, “Blessed are those who learn to enjoy what’s good in their everyday.” My journal helps me find someone each day to celebrate—even on the bad days. I’ve drawn tantrums! It helps me keep my sense of humor, and we all look back at the pages and laugh.

You know, when you draw someone, when you trace his contours, you can’t help but begin to really see who he is. And instead of wanting time away, my hobby requires little models around me! It helps me remember that these are real, developing people—not just my little homeschooling projects.

Mike: Meka, I think your idea could encourage a lot of parents to examine their own families through the lens of art. Thank you for joining us! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: My guest today is Meka Zieger, a homeschooling mom who chronicles the unfolding life of her family in pictures. Meka, in our last program, you talked about how art helps you to really see your children. How do you encourage your children to really see life around them? What do you do to cultivate artistic expression in your home?

Meka Zieger: Cultivate is a good word. I think we try to nurture creativity naturally, rather than separating it out of life. We don’t carve out a time called “drawing” or “writing,” as much as we just draw and write! The kids see me, and like everything else growing up, they just want to do it, too. There’s a great quote from Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one when you grow up.” My kids are far more creative than I am—I get my inspiration from their imaginations.

But I do help a bit—we go to performances, we talk with real artists about their work. I point out things for them to ponder and make sure they have unscheduled time to dream and create. I leave out art materials and open library books. And if someone’s in the middle of math and wants to draw or let a story out, I’ll usually give them the go-ahead. If I make them wait, the creativity fizzles. It’s not something you can schedule. And I think, creative beings as we are, we’ve all got a real need to create, ourselves.

Mike: Meka, thanks for sharing your creativity with our listeners this week! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Heidi Berry

Heidi began riding horses when she was 11 years old. She started teaching professionally in her late teens to help pay for her college education. Today, she is an advanced dressage rider, trainer, and horse show judge.

Heidi has been married for 25 years to Russ, who is very supportive of her hobby and business. She is the mother of two boys, 15-year-old Seth and 9-year-old Beto. She has homeschooled both boys from kindergarten. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Towson State University in Maryland. Heidi is active in her local church. She leads Bible studies, mentors other women, and teaches Sunday school classes. For many years, she produced her church’s annual Christmas play.

Heidi, Seth, and Beto are serious and competitive riders, while husband Russ enjoys the maintenance chores around their small farm. Heidi realizes how much God has blessed her life and enjoys being fully engaged in a wide variety of activities. As her husband says, “The grass never grows under her feet!

Meka Zieger

Meka Zieger homeschools and draws her four children with her husband, Jon, learning daily how to really see them. She encourages any homeschoolers—parents and kids—who want to develop the habit of allowing for quiet reflection and appreciation for the simple and fleeting to just draw it!

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