The Beauty of Discipline

I am a creative soul. My childhood was colored by flowers, crayons, glitter, spray paint, dancing, singing, and all things fun. But creativity without discipline can lead to calamity. I can vividly recall the day when our next-door neighbor came over to tell my mother I was the Red Geranium Bandit.
“I just couldn’t resist picking those bright-red blooms!”
My mother’s response? “Yes, you can, Mary Morgan Blackburn. And let’s plant window boxes on your playhouse.”
I am so thankful my mom is a whiz with establishing order, goal creation, and setting priorities. Adopting her disciplines helped me balance my creative soul — and avoid the briars of creativity gone amuck.
Mom’s panache for order created a lot of room in our house for creative expression. Our home embodied hospitality, and we were always celebrating something or someone! Early on, she taught me that a fun celebration begins with a well-crafted To-Do List. Her example of thoughtful, orderly, task-oriented planning shaped my work ethic and gave me a framework for expressing my creativity. It made me comfortable with taking on big projects without feeling overwhelmed. I enjoy creating lists of action items, ticking off the boxes as I go, and then taking the time to reflect upon a job well done. Mom’s approach to getting things done also gave me the perspective that no job is too little or unimportant. This mindset has served me well all my life.
Mom also modeled that disciplined creativity takes hard work, but the results are so worth the effort! As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, I absorbed the merits of personal goal setting and self-starting. When I was a seven-year-old Brownie Scout, I ranked among the tops for the highest volume of selling in my first year of cookie sales. My mother the “distributor” had to move the cars out of the garage to make room when the shipping crates arrived. All that success began with setting a personal goal, developing a To-Do List—and, of course, nibbling a box of Thin Mints to get the creative juices flowing. Self-starting does require fuel!
One spring after a visit to a beautiful New Orleans home near the campus of Loyola University, Mom and I decided to recreate the homeowner’s checkerboard porch floor. Together, we thought through the steps to achieve the result we wanted, made our To-Do List, and rolled up our sleeves for hard work. With confident bravado, we taped off the pattern on our back porch and went for it with pastel paints and stains. Mom’s way of tackling such a grand project invigorated me then—and still does.
These days, I continue to watch her use well-honed disciplines to accomplish amazing things. As her daughter, I’m proud to use the gifts she has taught me to make the world a better place—one filled with worthy goals and the beauty of discipline—along with bright blooms picked from my own backyard garden and chocolate and coffee for energy.

Happy birthday, Mama- Your girl loves you:)

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