When you start to indulge your creative tendencies, you become a connoisseur of ideas. Just like food or wine, you notice the variations in intensity. You instinctively understand that some ideas, like an avocado, have to be used immediately upon peak ripeness. But some, like dried mushrooms or good vinegar, can be stashed away to be used in small doses when the time is right. My first children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute (available for preorder now), was like the good vinegar that sat on the shelf of my mind until I had the right ingredients to turn it into something fantastic.
I had thought for a long time about writing a children’s book. I have several lawyer friends who have done so, including Becki Lee and Michelle Browning Coughlin who wrote the foreword for my book. The idea started to coalesce in 2021 when I wrote a post about the struggle of finding a quiet space to meditate in a house full of kids. At the time, I could see that this was fertile ground for a children’s story, but the idea was not quite ready to germinate.
The following year, I was distracted by transition to a new law firm and writing my first book. Clearly, I would not add another project to that situation, right? As it turns out, this is not how my brain saw it. The very week I gave notice at my old firm and as I was about to begin writing my book in earnest, I found myself with a spare 20 minutes before my daughters’ bedtime.
Perhaps it was that the book writing plans had primed the pump of creativity and churned old ideas up first. Perhaps I wanted a fun distraction at a stressful and emotional time. Or perhaps my brain just got on a roll making rhymes and couldn’t stop. Whatever the cause, I found myself opening a Word document and typing out a funny poem about a mom negotiating with her kids for a few quiet minutes so she could meditate.
I read it back to myself and saw instantly that, despite a few problems with meter and awkward rhymes, it wasn’t bad. Before doubt had time to set in, I sent it to a few of my adventurous and creative friends, including two that proved quite fortuitous. The first was my friend, Naomi L. Hudson, whose brain comes up with pictures like mine comes up with words. Naomi’s daughters had attended daycare with mine and we had been friends ever since. She had experience illustrating children’s books, so she gave me a green light and agreed to illustrate.
My other friend was J.W. Judge from Scarlet Oak Press. He had helped Becki Lee publish her books. I met him through LinkedIn and lawyer groups. His brain comes up with even more words than mine but his publishing company helps other lawyers easily self-publish books. He, too, gave me a thumbs up as well as much needed advice on rhyme, meter, length, and much more after Naomi finished the illustrations.
In the months that followed, I let Naomi work her magic. I gave her some general ideas about what I envisioned and suggested a few silly ideas, like adding my dog Lyra into the book because she has a funny habit of sitting on my lap when I meditate. Overall, though, I trusted Naomi to follow her instincts. This decision was a good one because it was fun to see how the pictures helped transform the poem into a story.
I’ve written before about how creativity doesn’t always require lengthy and uninterrupted blocks of time. Sometimes a few minutes here and there, as you juggle other life demands and projects, is all you need. As Naomi and I suggest in Mommy Needs a Minute, this is true of mindfulness and self-care practices but it can also be true of our creative efforts.
Ideas can sometimes take time to germinate in our minds until they are strong enough to take root. This is why making mental space through practices like meditation or exercise or journaling can make such a difference. We need space so we can clearly see when an idea is emerging and trust ourselves enough to let it come out.
And when that happens, it certainly helps to have some creative and adventurous friends around to help you turn your little seed of an idea into something fantastic. I’m lucky that I had both and that Mommy Needs a Minute will be out in the world very soon.
Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.
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