Posted in Blog Carnival

Spinning in Circles Saved my Sanity and Taught me About Creativity

When my son, Jon was in second grade, I wondered how he’d survive the rest of his school years. Jon is a kinetic learner and being confined to a desk while expected to read or do math didn’t work well for him … or his teachers. And the evenings spent trying to do homework frustrated all of us.

We decided to save our collective sanity and pull him out of school to teach him at home. Which, for a time, caused me to wonder if I had totally lost my mind. The frustrations that used to be confined to evening homework, now stretched from morning until night.

What was I thinking?


The three R’s saved my sanity … reading, researching and realizing that this child’s brain worked best when his body was in motion. I still see him spinning in circles in the kitchen while answering math problems without missing a beat.

Almost before I finished asking what 3 x 4 is … he shouted 12!

After a few spins, he fell down, dizzy and laughing, but still answering problems. He got back up to spin some more and the cycle repeated … with 3 x 5 and 3 x 6 and so on. He was as surprised as I was when we finished a math assignment in less then fifteen minutes which normally took us up to six hours.

Who said answers to math problems have to be written down?


Just because I like to sit in a chair to read, doesn’t mean Jon did. When he moved from the back of the couch to hanging upside down off the couch to crawling under the table, he enjoyed reading more.

Two happy people!

Why do we associate reading with being still?

As I gave him freedom to move while learning … we all breathed easier.

Jon was taught at home for five years, then he and I were both ready for a change. He attended school from grade eight to twelve, graduating last Saturday from high school. (yes!)


Over the years, I’ve realized something … his kinetic personality didn’t fall from a tree, he inherited it.

When I move, I seem to think better and I’m more creative.


Maybe that’s why I felt the call to run about a year after giving birth to three boys in less than five years. My brain needed the physical activity to be fully alive to be able to parent these three boys. And maybe that’s why I felt compelled to run again ten years later … after horrific injuries had my doctors saying that running was a thing of my past.

Now when creativity alludes me as I try to make my way as a writer and speaker … I picture my son spinning in circles in the kitchen. I’m not the spinning type, so instead I slip into my Vibrams or jump on my bike.

Moving doesn’t magically get work done … as Jon had to learn to sit still to do enough work on paper to satisfy school officials, at times, I have to discipline myself to work whether I feel creative or not.

But having an active physical schedule helps keep the creative blocks from ruling my life.


Observation about what works for ourselves is key to having a meaningful life. Mindlessly tripping and falling through life doesn’t get us to where we want to go. Same with copying others … something that works for someone else may or may not work for you. Read, research and realize what makes your creativity flow.

Have you given thought to what helps YOU think clearly, be creative and/or function at your best?

This post is part of a synchroblog hosted by Kyle Reed that explores various types of creative blocks.


  1. Janis
    June 16, 2011 | 04:08 PM| Reply

    Have you seen this TED talk by this dude?  There’s a short outtake from it that your son could really relate to:

    I hope this gets through your spam filters, because it’s exactly the same thing you were talking about.

    • Janet Oberholtzer
      June 16, 2011 | 04:23 PM| Reply

      Thanks for sharing this! It’s perfect illustration of what I wrote about. 

  2. Jeff Goins
    June 16, 2011 | 04:35 PM| Reply

    I’ve experienced the same thing.

  3. Katrina
    June 17, 2011 | 01:58 PM| Reply

    Hi Janet! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I will definitely be by yours! Always nice to meet new people with similar interests! Your story is totally inspiring!!! Keep on keeping on!!!!

    • Janet Oberholtzer
      June 17, 2011 | 05:56 PM| Reply

      Hi Katrina … thanks for stopping by!

  4. Phil Slocum
    June 17, 2011 | 05:37 PM| Reply

    Such a “freeing” post Janet!

    • Janet Oberholtzer
      June 17, 2011 | 05:55 PM| Reply

      Thanks Phil! And thanks for stopping by.

  5. @kylereed
    June 18, 2011 | 06:05 PM| Reply

    I like that connection that you made. 

    I honestly struggled in school and not to blame it on teachers, but I often wondered if my struggles came about because of my learning environment?I made very good grades in college and succeeded there, but if you ask my teachers in high school they never would predict that.

    It took me getting out of the structure to see things differently. 

    What I love about this post is that you are basically saying, “lets challenge the way of the normal” that is at least how I read it.
    And I love that

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