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Powerful Play

Do you believe that sometimes I get a little nervous about inviting people to come and play with clay (and paint if you're Amelia)? Thoughts that run through my head seem to center around if people will enjoy it, or if I will know what to teach. This reminds me of Amelia's first visit to the studio to learn more about painting.


Amelia is a precious 5-Year old who already knows how to read, and her vocabulary and conversation skills are amazing because I know her parents TALK TO HER! Before she arrived, I covered the table with paper for her to paint. The only reason to run out of things to paint would be if time ran out or if her "imagination friend" didn't come with her.

After getting the instructions and permission to paint anything she wanted, and to fill the big paper as much as possible, I was privileged to witness this budding artist let go of her worries and get lost in the process. What transpired was her telling me stories about what her "imagination friend" was telling her to paint, along with a confession or two of being a little scared to come to my house for the first time—without mom (kind of). She reassured me that she wasn't afraid anymore and that she was having a really fun time. Be still my grandma heart. I think my heart grew 10 times bigger every time she opened her mouth.


At one point she was sharing that she had to go to a new doctor at the end of the month, and she was really afraid. I thought about it for a minute and asked her, "So Amelia, when is your "imagination friend," not really a friend?" She looked up at me with a big grin and said, "That's silly, it's always my friend." So I asked her another question. Is your imagination friend being helpful when it tells you to be afraid?" I saw the wheels turning in her head as she painted and a big smile grew—so I think she got it. I think I may have planted a seed that we need to be thinking about how we are thinking. Which leads me back to my original question. I really do get nervous about inviting people to come play with clay.


Now it's my turn to listen to my own thoughts and question if my "imagination friend" is being a good friend or keeping me from trying new things. Recently, I got brave and put it into practice. On an annual trip to Cannon Beach with my closest friends, I decided to surprise them with an evening with playing with clay while we sipped on our favorite beverages. After a busy day of thrift-store shopping and dodging the downpours, it was a perfect way to set up an evening of relaxed conversation. It just came so naturally to guide my friends through an introduction to all the possibilities that are in a lump of clay. It's magical how when our hands are busy, our hearts open wide.


I'm so glad my friend Amelia came to paint. I'm so glad I get to learn how to be brave from a 5-year old. This is powerful play.


Anyone want to come play with clay?

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