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Creativity for Growing Down

Chapter 18 Growing Down  With Creativity

Growing Down - Tools for

Healing the Inner Child

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &

Constance M. Messina, Ph.D.

What are Examples of Growing Down with Creativity Activities?

What is presented here are five examples of Creativity Activities for Growing Down:

1. Writing Poetry

2. Writing Stories

3. Listening to Music

4. Crayon, finger-paint and water color work.

5. Affirmation Collage


1. Writing Poetry

What is it?

Here you are given the opportunity to respond to newfound feelings and experiences by writing poetry. The inspiration can develop from journal writing, personal contacts, personal feeling or reactions to events or the newly emerging you. The possibilities are endless and the standards or criticisms are nonexistent. The freedom to express yourself in the poetic form is freely given.


Materials needed

Paper and writing implements.



To do this is to get in touch with feelings and experiences through written expression in the form of poetry. Write in any form. Put your feelings on paper. The following is an example of poetry generated from personal experiences and expressed by a healing inner child.



How do you thank someone

for sunlight? a rainbow?

I was warm dough and you

kneaded me. I rose

with the yeast of your love

in the warm spot you provided.

When I became inflated,

you punched me down. I

would always slowly rise again.

With the warmth you provided

I cooked.

I am crusty on the outside

for protection,

warm and soft on the inside

like I deserve.

I was served up in the community

of support and did not crumble.

I weep to think

of what I have been able to accomplish

with your molding.

Bebe, Tampa, Florida - Written in a Growing Down Workshop


2. Writing Stories

What is it?

Here individuals are given the opportunity to respond to newfound feelings and experiences by writing stories. The inspirations come from journal writing, personal contacts, personal feeling or reactions to the newly emerging you. The possibilities are endless and the standards or criticisms are nonexistent. The freedom to express yourself in the story form is freely given.


Materials needed

Paper and writing implements.



To do this one gets in touch with feelings and experiences through written expression in the form of stories. Put your feelings, your experiences, your imagination, your fantasies, your fears on paper. The following is an example of a story generated from personal experiences and expressed by a healing inner child.


The Owl and the Flycatcher

Walter, Tampa, FL, Written in a Growing Down Workshop


The great orb of the setting sun had begun its long, slow journey toward the horizon when the wise old owl took off for his first flight of the evening. On his long, swooping flight, he watched as the day-birds began to roost in their trees of choice, readying themselves for a good night's sleep. He watched as the night-birds began to awaken from their day-long slumber.


The wise old owl watched approvingly as, one by one, the night birds stretched their wings and tails and flitted off into the reddening twilight skies. Dipping low over a stand of live oak, the owl saw one bird barely moving within the centermost tree. He carefully maneuvered among the well-leaved branches and settled his bulk next to the still bird. The owl turned his head toward the other and hooted, Who are you?


The still bird slowly pivoted his head toward the owl and replied, “I am Warbling Flycatcher. You may call me Warbling.” Even in the slowly fading light, the owl could see the flycatcher's feathers were timeworn and patchy, duller than the young flycatchers of the forest.


Well, Warbling, why do you sit? The night is young and spring is here.” The owl blinked slowly, awaiting a reply.


Yes, spring is here,” sighed Warbling. “I have seen many springs, and spring is no longer for me. My time for nesting has passed.”


Perhaps, Warbling, you have just forgotten the meaning of spring,” suggested the owl. “The greening of the Earth, birth and rebirth, a chance for renewal? Surely, these are things that stir the soul?”


The flycatcher just looked at the owl. Finally, he replied, “I am sure they stir the souls of others, but they are not for me. I have watched my children leave the nest for countless springs, and their children do the same. My time has passed, and I find no one wants children with one so old and worn. My children and their children do not even wish to play flycatcher games with me, I am so slow on the wing.” The flycatcher paused to catch his breath. “You may leave now and let me be.”


The wise owl shook his head back and forth and let out a sigh. “I cannot feel sorry for you, Warbling. You have made your choices. Still, would you like to fly with me? It approaches dinner time and I am hungry.”


I am not hungry yet. Maybe I will catch up with you later, down by the river.” The flycatcher paused again. “Yes, I would like that.”


“So would I,” agreed the owl as he stretched his great wings and swept himself off the branch. Up he flew, calling back only once, “Later, Warbling Flycatcher.”


The sun continued to fall, and dusk enveloped the land before Warbling Flycatcher left his perch in the centermost tree of the stand of oak. Higher and higher he flew until the trees were tiny puffs of green far below. “I tire so quickly now,” he thought to himself. “I think I will head for the river straightaway.''


He spread his wings as far as possible, catching the warm evening updrafts and drifting slowly away from the sunset toward the river. Only a short flight away, a strange sight caught his eye. A large round object, bobbing and weaving, riding the same updrafts he rode, rose steadily upward into the evening air.


A ballool” he exclaimed out loud. “Why I haven't played with a balloon in years!” With a burst of speed, he closed on the balloon in seconds, circling it, flying at it, almost touching it, and matching its every move. He cried loudly at the sheer joy of the dance.


“If there is one balloon, there must be more,” he thought, nearly out of breath. “And children, playing children!” He anxiously looked down and flying up to greet him were over a dozen more balloons - a veritable covey of balloons. There were more red balloons, blue ones, green, yellow and even purple ones.


He circled lower and lower, dropping into the middle of the balloons, shadowing the red ones, shadowboxing the blues ones, and mimicking the erratic flight of the others. He thought his heart would burst with the effort of play and rush of joy.


“I must find the children and rest near them,” he mused. “Perhaps they will let go more balloons a little later.” He split away from the red, green, blue, yellow and purple formation in the sky and headed down. Standing outside a low building, in a parking lot full of cars, he saw not a group of children, but a group of adults!


There were young adults, middle age adults, and adults older than he. The flycatcher could not understand why these adults were playing with balloons - how childlike! They were laughing, and jumping, and hugging, and all pointing at one adult who had not yet let go of her big purple balloon.


Suddenly, her purple balloon shot straight up into the air, paused once, and began to chase its friends far away. All the adults cheered loudly as one and hugged each other once more. The thoroughly confused flycatcher landed on the building and watched and listened. “Letting go of the old is not so bad,” one of them said. “Sometimes that is the only way to find that which is new,” said another. One by one they slowly looked away from the sky, the balloons lost from sight, too tiny to be seen, and they went back into the building.


“I cannot imagine what possessed them to do that!”  Warbling Flycatcher said to himself. “Imagine, acting like children!”


After resting a bit, he flew on toward the river and met up with the owl. He told the owl the story of the strange adults and the balloons, how they behaved, and how they laughed and hugged and jumped around. The owl had said nothing during the telling of the tale, but when Warbling was finished, the owl regarded him and asked, “And how did you feel when you flew with the balloons?”


Warbling hesitated before he replied, “As if it were many springs ago.” He suddenly looked at the owl with surprise and said, “I must go find those balloons again. I have not felt that good in many, many years.”


The owl raised his wings and halted the flycatcher. “Those balloons are but a memory now, burst and fallen to earth. The balloons are not what made you feel young. You did that yourself.”


“I suppose I did. But still, I will find those balloons again someday, and I will cherish them close to me.” With that, they both flew off into the night skies.


As the sun began to peek above the earth and the eastern skies grew orange, announcing a new spring day, Warbling Flycatcher left the owl and flew low toward his stand of trees. A small patch of red dangled from the outermost branch of the outermost tree and he slowed, curiosity piqued, for an inspection.


The flycatcher knew instantly it was a balloon, deflated, and forgotten, fallen from its joyous ride of the night before. “It is springtime,” thought Warbling, “a time for renewal and nesting. I will build a nest the likes of which no one has ever seen.” He smiled as well as a bird could smile, plucked the lost balloon from the branch and flew to his tree.


Over the next several nights, he flew throughout the forest, finding as many of the old balloons as he could, until finally, he was done. He had built a nest no one would soon forget. He sought out the owl and all the other flycatchers he could find to show them all his handiwork.


Soon, dozens of birds sat in the branches around his nest, clucking and cooing in approval at the balloons intertwined within the nest of Warbling Flycatcher. “Never as pretty a nest has ever been made,” commented one. “As spectacular as ever imagined,” cooed another. And so on it went during the night.


You have made quite an impression in this forest, Warbling,” said the owl to his friend. “Even the squirrels and chipmunks have come to see your nest.”


“I just love the balloons,” said Warbling. “They remind me of all that was good in my youth and all that can still be.”


Though the hubbub over the spectacular nest died down quickly, as spring passed a change slowly came over the forest. In and among the trees, there were little sparkles of color, little glints of light, as new nests went up day after day. Balloons were rare in the forest, but bright bits of foil, glass, and colored paper were common (they always are wherever there are people), so they became common in the nests of the forest.


A change slowly came over Warbling Flycatcher, too, as that spring passed. Six little hatchlings filled the balloon nest, and by summer, Warbling could be seen in the skies, bobbing and weaving, floating on the summer updrafts. Following him were six little flycatchers, and together they searched the evening skies for their own bobbing, weaving balloons.

3. Listening to Music

What is it?

The realm of music can provide a source of creative explorations. New insights can be made in the auditory channel through the use of selected musical pieces. Music can arouse your curiosity and affect your sense of wonder.


Materials needed

CD, MP3 player, or other recording devices of various musical selections, such as the ones listed below.



You listen to the tapes or records with a child's ear to experience the message through the auditory channel. You let yourself seep into the auditory situation and experience the sound sensations.


Suggested Music

The Colors of My Life, Barnum, Cy Coleman, CBS Records, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY.


The Color Purple, Quincy Jones, Warner Brothers Records, Inc., Q West Records, 7250 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036.


Dancing Is Everything, Tap Dance Kid, Charles Blackwell, Polygram Records, Inc., 810 Seventh Street, New York, NY 10019.


Daydreams 1: Get-Always, Steven Halpern, Halpern Sounds 1986, 1186 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.


Discovering Your Inner Child, Shakti Gawain, New World Library, PO Box 13257, Northgate Station, San Rafael, CA 94913.

This tape guides you in creating an inner sanctuary where you can meet the child that forever lives within you.


Fairy Ring, Mike Rowland (Music Design, Inc.), 207 E. Buffalo, Milwaukee, WI 53202.

There is a message from nature within the Fairy Ring expressing new hope for a closer cooperation between men and the nature kingdoms. By the use of the gentle piano and synthesized strings the music slowly unfolds a world of peace and tranquility. The effect is almost magical.


Family, Dreamgirls, Tom Eyen, Geffen Records, 9126 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069.


The Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston, Arista Records, 6 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, 1985.


Heartsong, Steven Bergman, 220#4 Dela Vina, Monterey, CA 93940, 1986.


Create a serene and loving atmosphere of wellbeing with these heartwarming, angelic melodies.


I Like Your Style, Barnum, Cy Coleman, CBS Records, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY.


An Island Called Paradise, David Sun, E.L.S., Inc., 5221 Industrial Blvd., Edina, MN 55435, 1984. The gentlest of flutes and the soft touch of an acoustic guitar are woven together with the restful sounds of an Island Paradise. The lapping of ocean waves, the beautiful songs of the tropical birds, including the legendary Bird of Paradise, soak into the calm, unhurried music, creating a soundscape with uniquely magical quality.


Like Him, Tap Dance Kid, Charles Blackwell, Polygram Records, Inc., 810 Seventh Street, New York, NY 10019.


The Living Earth, Anne Locke, 1985, Tim Moeller/Search For Serenity, 180 West 25th Street, Upland, CA 91786-1113.Crystal clear music for the spirit.


Look Over There, La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry Herman, RCA Records.


Lovesong, Steven Bergman, 220 #4 Dela Vina, Monterey, CA 93940, 1986.Enjoy quality time together experiencing calming music blended with a comforting heartbeat.


Lullabies from Around the World, Steven Bergman, PO Box 4577, Carmel, CA 93921, 1983.

Orchestral interpretations of the tender lullaby melodies mothers have universally sung to their children, incorporating a pregnant mother's heartbeat and nature sounds.


One Moment In Time, Whitney Houston, 1988 Summer Olympics, Arista Records, 6 West 57th Street, new York, NY 10019


Peace, David Sun, E.L.S., Inc., 5221 Industrial Blvd., Edina, MN 55435, 1984, 1986.Music of unsurpassed beauty and stillness that gently lifts the listener into a state of relaxation and inner calm.


The Secret Garden, David Sun, E.L.S., Inc., 5221 Industrial Blvd., Edina, MN 55435, 1984.An imaginative and sensitive recording of freefloating acoustic guitar music that is enveloped in an ambiance of nature sounds ranging from distant bird songs to the soft patter of rain. Enter a wondrous and relaxing world of enchantment.


Sing, Sing A Song, Karen Carpenter, Carpenters Close to You, A & M Records, 1416 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, C 90028.


Sleeptime, Steven Bergman, 220 #4 Dela Vina, Monterey, CA 93940, 1986.Quieting and gentle tunes are especially helpful before naps and bedtime.


Slumberland, Steven Bergman, 220 #4 Dela Vina, Monterey, CA 93940, 1981.Music created to naturally unwind and uplift adults from the busy stressful times of day and to calm children of all ages in preparation for quiet time.


Sweet Baby Dreams, Steven Bergman, 220 #4 Dela Vina Avenue, Monterey, CA 93940, 1981. Orchestrated lullaby music incorporating the nurturing sound of a pregnant mother's heartbeat.


That's What Friends Are For, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick Greatest Hits 19791990, Arista Records, 6 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, 1987.


They Never Hear What I Say, Tap Dance Kid, Charles Blackwell, Polygram Records, Inc., 810 Seventh Street, New York, NY 10019.


Tranquility, David Sun, E.L.S., Inc., 5221 Industrial Blvd., Edina, MN 55435, 1984. A gentle stream of music that floats through one's consciousness with the lightest possible touch, effectively calming and balancing the mind, body, and spirit. It creates a transparent and deeply peaceful atmosphere.


What I Did For Love, Chorus Line, Michael Bennet, Columbia Records, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY.


William's Song, Tap Dance Kid, Charles Blackwell, Polygram Records, Inc., 810 Seventh Street, New York, NY 10019.


Wind Beneath My Wings, Beaches, Arig Mardin, Atlantic Recording, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.


You Are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder. The Original Musiquarium I, Motown Records, 70 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608, 1972.


4. Crayon, finger-paint and water color work.

What is it?

Crayon, finger-paint and water color work are activities designed to tap the creative element that exists in all of us. It is a way to re-vitalize those open, trusting, unselfconscious, playful, innocent feelings generated in childhood. Creative art work re-surfaces our instinctual curiosity and sense of wonder. We take things and ideas and combine them in new ways. We creatively explore concepts through the visual and kinesthetic channels. Creative art work is voluntary regression - returning to childlike stages. We’re able then to experience the imagination and sensitivity that exists, naturally, in children. Art work provides a way to identify with an experience in a different way through different means and can therefore offer added insight. Creative art work presents us with the opportunity to free ourselves from external and internal criticism. Our most critical audience is ourselves. With encouragement and motivation, both self and external, we can develop our individual expression and keep our childlike side throughout adulthood.


Materials needed

Crayola crayons in various boxes, papers - different sizes, different textures, different colors.

Finger-paints, water colors and brushes.



A stimulus is presented and reactions and/or interpretations are experienced using crayons, finger-paints or water colors and paper. Art work is used to develop reactions to stories, music, feelings, episodes, concepts, and ideas. Once the stimulus is offered, participants utilize the art materials to visualize and then generate their response to the particular stimulus. Sharing the results of art work can be done with a support group. All work can be saved in a specified binder to reflect on later or to see stages of growth.


5. Affirmation Collage

What is it?

Affirmations are positive statements about you. They affect the way that you feel about yourself and your attributes. A positive affirmation can influence how you follow through with your daily activities and the manner in which you do this. Affirmations in and of themselves help to generate the positive power that is in each of us to change and to live out our days with reasonable happiness.


An affirmation collage is a tool we use to visualize how we see ourselves and the manner in which we experience our lives. The right side of the brain is the source of images, feelings, and creativity. The affirmation collage is directed to that part of the brain and since that part of the brain accepts imagined experiences as real, nothing that is presented can be conceived as wrong, incorrect, or invalid. Your affirmation collage is a picture of the real you. It contains pictures, words, or symbols that are a reflection of those qualities that express you, the qualities you want to attain, and that which you want to achieve in your life. As you produce and then use your affirmation collage, you will direct your energies to that which you want, your goals, your achievements, and combined with the creative visualization powers of your right brain, you will believe and then perceive the affirmation collage as part of your real life.


Materials needed

Pictures, word symbols cut from magazines, catalogs, newspapers, old books.

Hard poster board, size 8 x 10.

Some form of binder to keep the pages together.

Glue, scissors.



Select one page to represent each aspect of your life that you want to focus on. Choose appropriate pictures to express the particular feeling, quality, goal, or material item you want to visualize and eventually achieve. Let your imagination soar. Glue the pictures to the pages. Combine these in an appropriate binder to withstand daily usage.


Daily activities with Affirmation Collage

Each day you take time to page through your affirmation collage. Schedule a time to coincide with an existing habit - over breakfast coffee, as you ride to work on the bus, as you shave, as you apply make-up, just before you go to bed. When you look at these pages, begin to believe to see that what is on each and every one of the pages is real. Use your collage pages to trigger the thoughts necessary to generate positive feelings and beliefs. These visual form affirmations will stimulate the right brain to begin to experience these visual stimuli as real. Keep affirmation collage reading as a daily part of your schedule, and you will begin to see yourself reflected in the affirmation collage and you will begin to believe that what you see is possible and, conceivably, real!