Art wall next to Old Colorado City Library in Colorado Springs.

Art wall next to Old Colorado City Library in Colorado Springs.

Web creativity by grass spiders in Abilene, KS.

Web creativity by grass spiders in Abilene, KS.










Dear Mom,

Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”  But I have a lifetime of experiences that confirm that this is also your philosophy.

You don’t remember, but one of the many ways you passed on the joy of creativity was when we decorated our Christmas tree as I was growing up. If we got it from the tree lot, I usually chose a sad tree with uneven branches and bare sections, much like the Charlie Brown tree that came later. I knew we could make it beautiful, and we always did. Year after year we’d string the lights and hang some special ornaments, but your philosophy was that the best art was homemade. You applauded  when we cut snowflakes out of newspaper, created our own decorations from pine cones gathered in the yard, and tied paper dolls and small toys to the branches with ribbon.  Neighborhood kids sometimes joined in because the trees at their houses were fleeced or specially decorated and delivered from the green house.

In honor of all the individual acts of creativity you applauded, I’ve created a little test on who-said-what to share with our friends who visit this blog. After all, schools will soon be letting out for vacation, and nothing says Merry Christmas like a test!

Here are the choices:   A) Carl Sandburg    B) Mary Shepherd    C) Jack London    D) Henry Ward Beecher    E) Sean Connery   F) Pablo Picasso  G) Maya Angelou  H) Winston Churchill    I) Lou Holtz    J) None of the above

Here are the quotes:

1) “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”

2) “You write your first draft with your heart, and you re-write with your head.”

3) “To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”

4) “One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.”

5) “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

6) “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”

7) “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

8) “Why, honey, that’s beautiful. You’re so creative. I love it!”

9) “The stone age didn’t end because it ran out of stones.”

10) “’No comment’ is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.”

The answers are posted in the first comment box.

If you were asked to comment on creativity, what would you say? Do you have a favorite quote from someone else? Share it with us!

Tree sculpture carved from a dead tree. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

Tree sculpture carved from a dead tree. (All photos by Marylin Warner)



Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom", art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren

54 responses to “A GRAND CONTAGION

  1. Here are the answers to the creativity quotes. How did you do?
    Feel free to share your own quote about creativity, or one you really like…
    or dislike.
    Answers: 1) C-Jack London 2) E-Sean Connery 3) F-Pablo Picasso 4) A-Carl Sandburg 5) G-Maya Angelou 6) I-Lou Holtz 7) D-Henry War Beecher 8) B-Mary Shepherd, my mom 9) J-anonymous 10) H-Winston Churchill

  2. juliabarrett

    I’m sort of wondering if your mom said these things. If she didn’t I’m sure she would have. What a pretty pretty post.

    • Thanks, Julia.
      Actually, she only said the one applauding some creation from my childhood, but sometimes when she was painting or writing a poem, she would close her eyes and hum a melody to “think” as she created.
      Do you have any favorite quotes to share?

  3. Great as always. Love it. Hope you have a chance to join in when it is time to decorate the KS tree with the family…or at least make some festive projects with the kiddos if they have the tree trimming done already. Aside from your mom’s great quote, I though # 6 explained the nature of art. Beautiful. Thank you for another excellent post. Cheers!

  4. Loved this one! I’m going to paste some of these quotes around the house to remind me of genius. Thanks, Marylin.

  5. My son made some origami ornaments and then dipped them in sparkly wax at school for art class to harden and preserve them. Then he gave them to me for my birthday a couple weeks ago. Best present ever. 🙂

  6. That’s a lovely post. I know one quote on creativity which stuck to me for the longest time I can remember..
    ” Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

  7. your posts always touch my heart. i lost my mother thirty years ago, and i sometimes weigh the ‘irony’ of losing a parent when one is young vs having a parent then watching them atrophy away like you have endured. you are so kind and doting, and i am always touched by your posts..

    huge halos for you, good woman!


  8. Always a nice place to visit 🙂

  9. I think creativity is like IQ on a scale. Everyone has some but some get more than others, and everyone’s creativity it unique to them. I love your post, and I plan to come back later today and read it again. My own creativity is in a dip right now, there but not forceful enough to make me develop it. Like a light low-back pain, it is there all day nagging at me to do something, not large enough to be real bother but making its presence known in all else I do. I need to sit down and write soon…sort of like releasing the creative pain! Hope this makes sense to you! Have a good Sunday…raining here in Midwest and going to get COLD tonight.

    • You are so right, Claudia. I especially agree with the IQ on a scale. But like you, sometimes I’m dragging and just can’t get it done. Other times, I can hardly make myself stop.
      You’re getting rain that we in Colorado envy. We finally got some snow last night and today, and while it’s gorgeous and very Christmassy, it’s very dry, and we really need the moisture.

  10. We’re just getting our Christmas ornaments out today and we have some very special one’s made by kids who are now 34 and 30! Loved the quotes and quiz.

  11. Every letter to your mom touches my heart. Thank you so much for sharing your mother (and you) with us.

  12. I think everyone can dream. It’s expressing the dream through another form–on the page or canvas or our children’s hearts–that takes creativity. 🙂 -Kara

  13. You’re mom was so creative. The memories you shared about your Charlie Brown Christmas tree sounds like what happened in my childhood home.
    We also added popcorn strings and candy canes. The candy canes didn’t take long to disappear with five kids in the house. Okay, six kids if you count my dad. Glad you included the answers to the quiz. Such awesome quotes.
    Merry Christmas, Marylin! 😀

  14. Nancy Parker Brummett

    “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”–Mother Teresa

  15. OK, how weird is this??? I just created a post on grass spiderwebs today!

    And one of my favorite quotes on creativity, although it’s not on creativity per se is this one, because it reminds us all to keep an open mind and see beyond appearances:
    ”It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

    • I taught Emerson and Thoreau in my American Literature classes, and I’m a big fan of Henry David Thoreau. I don’t know how I missed that quote, but I’m so glad you shared it. As far as spiderwebs go, great minds often run on the same track!

  16. Bless your Mom, Mary Shepherd, for encouraging your creativity. That’s the part I most enjoyed with our daughters. I still have some of their art work and treasure those memories of making things for the holidays.
    Merry Christmas, Marilyn.

    • That’s also how I feel, Judy. Our children’s early art work inspires our own creativity to continue. It’s a wonderful cycle between mothers and children, don’t you think?
      Merry Christmas to you, too.

  17. petit4chocolatier

    Love the quotes; so beautiful.

  18. Molly

    Ok….so I totally picked Grandma’s quote out, but the rest I wasn’t sure on! There are a couple quotes I would like to add….

    “Pretty is as pretty does!” (My grandpa, Ray Shepherd) and could have to do with creativity – although that was not how he intended it!

    “More room out than in!” (My dad, Jim Warner) which had to do with getting sick in his brand new car….but again could have to do with creativity!

    “That is just how I wanted it to look!” (My daughter, Grace Mosher) in reference to her art project from school, that didn’t look like the sample….definitely has to do with creativity.

  19. Oh, Molly, you always amaze me with your responses. You’re so right about your Grandpa Shepherd’s “pretty is as pretty does” being about more than creativity!
    And when your dad said “More room out than in,” I think he’d first heard that from his own dad…but it was such a sweet, patient and good-natured response when you threw up in his new car.
    But Grace’s comment really shows the confident, independent creative girl she is–and it makes me so happy. Mor-Mor is beaming!
    Thanks, sweetie.

  20. Hallo

    I’ve a christmas card for you! : ) You can pick it up here http://summer4soul.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/1022/
    Have a nice day

    Sweet greetings, Summer

  21. Beautiful reminder about how much we learn from our moms about being creative. Those were the days that we could make something out of nothing and feel peaceful and proud of our efforts. I didn’t do so well on your test, but I love the quotes. You have just inspired me to ask mom who is still in rehab/nursing home to put her art talent to use. She has her sketch book and colored pencils and now I will ask her to draw anything she wishes. We will cut them out and hang them on our tree this year. Blessings to you and to Mary Shepherd (your mom).

    • Molly


      Thank you for your nice comment on my mom’s blog story…..I can just envision you and your mom creating masterpieces for the Christmas tree. Enjoy!!

      Merry Christmas!


    • Those days of feeling peaceful and proud of our efforts were deliciously happy, weren’t they, Lynne? Please let us know how your mother responds with her colored pencils and sketch book…and if you get to hang them on your tree.
      What a beautiful idea that is. Years ago I could have tried it with my mom –she loved creating with colored pencils, and her drawings were delightful–but those days are long gone now. Yet she did enjoy the hugs and happy tree decorating by her great-grandchildren this year–though she wasn’t quite sure who those darling children in her apartment were.

  22. Hi Marylin

    I thought you might like to read this – http://wp.me/p2zGQ7-Kx.

    Thank you!

    • I just read this, and it’s wonderful! Thank you so much for listing my blog as part of your inspiration–the results are lovely.
      To readers, click on the web address above to be taken to an amazing, inspiring post about families and love!

      • Marylin

        Your blog is beautiful and I want other people to realize how important it is to share their lives so that others can get to know them, even if they are not “present”.

        Thank you

  23. Marylin, This is a beautiful tribute to your mom… I can just see her spirit shining through… awesome! 🙂

  24. Marilyn, once again a beautiful reminder. Thank you.

    “Nicht alle Wege führen zum Ziel. Manchmal müssen wir neu anfangen, aber niemals von vorne”
    Dina and Selma, Buchfee

    “Not every road takes you where you want to go. Sometimes you have to start again, but never from the beginning.”

    A poor translation, I’m sorry.
    Have a great time, take care.

    Greetings from the Far North

  25. Hi Marilyn. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and clicking on the Like button to my most recent post. My blog is full of quotes, so I won’t bother posting any creative ones here. Your blog is inspiring and interesting; keep up the good work you’re doing here. I hope to hear from you again soon. Cheers!

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