Going Out On a Limb

"Never say 'no' to adventures. Always say 'yes,' otherwise you'll lead a very dull life." Commander Caractacus Pott in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

Invariably, when I conduct a parenting seminar, a rocket mom in the audience raises her hand and asks me to define what my instruction on risk taking has to do with nurturing creative genius in children. "Can you give me a specific example of what you mean by that?" is a question I can count on.First you must know that all creative people, throughout history, have been risk-takers to one degree or another. They began journeys and projects with no control of the outcomes.

They put themselves in uncontrolled settings. They allowed themselves to be open to new experiences. One of the defining characteristics of creative geniuses is that they take risks.

Period.Because I put myself in a high-risk situation this past week, I thought I'd share my experience to see how you might translate it into higher levels of creativity in your own family.Book Expo America, the largest nationwide event for the publishing industry, took place over the weekend in Chicago. A friend of mine was planning on going, and so during the course of the last four or five months, I had toyed with the idea of going myself. But about three weeks ago, I told my husband and agent that I had ruled it out; it was just too complicated.

I thought it best to wait until next year when it was scheduled for New York City. As I live about 60 miles from Manhattan, it seemed like a more reasonable option for both me and my family. (That translates: less risk).

About the same time that I ruled it out, my seventeen-year-old son asked if one of his friends could spend the night with us, as his mom, a cookbook author and single parent, was doing a cooking demo and book signing out-of-town and had no one home that weekend to watch him. I told my son that would be fine, on the condition that she told me her secret for getting featured on the Today show. (All authors recognize that as a dream setting for sharing their message.

) My son never followed up with that, so when he called me from her home to finalize the weekend's plans, I said: "Put her on the phone. I need to talk to her about my one condition!" Silvia got on, and we shared a good laugh. (And I learned her secret, too!) We met for coffee that next week, meeting each other for the first time and discussing both the book business and our passions, delighted to have each made a new friend.Five days later, I invited her to go with me to a writer's class in the city. While there, the instructor invited us to a pre-Book Expo seminar he was conducting.

Silvia and I dissed the idea immediately, but thanked him anyway. I had, after all, a lot of bases to cover before I could even give it a second thought. End-of-school activities, an orchestra concert by my daughter (who is concertmistress), baseball and lacrosse practices, and a tennis lesson?not to mention figuring out what to do with the dog. And my husband was also traveling on business that week. My budget offered yet another constraint, as I had already committed some pretty serious funds to an upcoming project.

And Silvia had a cooking demo out-of-town that would keep her out-of-the-picture until midnight of the first night of the three-day Chicago seminar. (That translates: too much risk).As you probably guessed, Silvia and I went to Chicago for Book Expo.

Working out a last-minute deal with the hotel; last-minute air fare; last-minute tickets to the expo, and last-minute admission to the seminar, we also covered all of our bases at home by covering them with prayer. I arrived in Chicago with no earthly idea of what I was going to learn, who I was going to meet, and where it would all lead. I just had the sense that I was supposed to be there; Silvia had it, too, and we flew together, roomed together, ate together, and expo-ed together.That I wound up meeting editors interested in translating my book for both the Spanish and Asian markets is exciting, and I remain expectantly optimistic; that I formed new relationships is downright thrilling and I stand in amazement at the people who have just entered my world. A father, who witnessed firsthand the devastating yet triumphant battle with his young son's acute leukemia, is my new friend.

So are four writers passionate about parenting who have asked me to join them in their work. Consultants came alongside me to fill the gaps in my knowledge base. A recording studio owner shared his fascinating story. And I met my first film critic. Yet I never did catch up with my friend who went and who got me interested in the first place.

I would have never crossed these people's paths otherwise. But my intuition told me to go, and I remain invigorated with the knowledge that I was supposed to be there.Taking risks requires that you reach beyond your comfort zone and into the arena of the wildly uncomfortable. It expects that you will lose sleep by dreaming of possibilities, and that you will become energized in the process.

Taking risks forces you to expand your circle of concern. It demands that you keep your eyes wide open for new faces, new voices, and new ideas.As summer quickly approaches and you start thinking of ways in which your family might move out of your rut and into the sublime, think of reaching out in new directions. Consider traveling to a spot in the world where your feet have never trod.

Consider moving through a country where the people don't speak your language, serve your food, or dress like you do. Consider visiting a place that does not command a comfortable climate. Enjoy walking its streets?as I did in Chicago?where fresh sights, fresh smells, and fresh wind will smack your soul into a fully awakened state.Travel has always offered one of the foolproof ways to nurture creative genius. Whether your trip is planned to the nth degree or designed for infinite opportunities for serendipity, go out on a limb and watch your creative spirits sour!.

.Carolina Fernandez earned an M.B.A. and worked at IBM and as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four.

She totally re-invented herself along the way. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; ten years of homeschooling and raising four kids provide fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance. It is widely available online, in bookstores or through 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via seminars, workshops, keynotes and monthly meetings of the ROCKET MOM SOCIETY, a sisterhood group she launched to "encourage, equip and empower moms for excellence." Please visit http://www.

By: Carolina Fernandez

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