Pep Talk: Origami Cranes

Pep Talk: Origami Cranes


My youngest daughter, Harper, has been teaching herself how to make origami cranes. On Friday, she came home from school with a stack of colorful paper squares, looked up “origami crane making” on YouTube, and got to work. 

Harper is a wiry sprite of a nine-year-old, with a temper like a hornet fighting for a firecracker popsicle at a picnic. She has within her soul about two seconds of patience, and then, I’m sorry to swear, all hell breaks loose and she’s not taking any survivors if any of us gets in her way. 

This is the case with the origami cranes. Coincidentally, I believe an origami crane is a symbol of peace, so the irony is not lost on me that my hot-tempered child pursues them like Voldemort pursued Harry Potter. I could hear Harper getting upset. I know the signs - her breathing gets puffy and short, she starts to wine, stomp, sometimes she throws things. I know to stay out of the way, mostly because Harper and I are the same person. My older daughter, Hadley, and my husband, Jesse, on the other hand, have not learned this lesson. They think they can quick fix this problem by doing a couple of things: telling Harper to calm down (a death sentence, for sure), or doing the thing she is trying to get done for her.

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Nobody wants to hear complaining, especially on a Friday afternoon when the sun is out, but this is Harper’s process. And so I held my hands up to my husband and my oldest daughter and whispered, “Just let her be. She’ll figure it out.” The two of them went outside to play catch, and I stayed in the kitchen—the room next to Harper—and unloaded the dishwasher. Under no circumstances would I help her. For one thing, I don’t see any possibilities of paper other than to write on it, or maybe doodle on it with some fun pens. For another thing, this is Harper’s project. She wants to figure this out. I can stand by and cheer for her, I can let her know I’m here, but she is the one who needs to do it. 

It is Sunday afternoon now, and Harper’s folded her 50th origami crane. She hums while she folds and creases, and her feet swing a bit as she looks over her work. I found a pink gift bag for her to collect them in, and she has it hanging on her bedroom door with the birds spilling out, their colorful beaks poking over the top.

It’s ok to be uncomfortable in your writing pursuits. You aren’t always going to feel like you’re doing it right. (I rarely do.) You are going to make mistakes. You are going to get frustrated. You are going to have to try over and over and over again. This will always be the case. 

I know what anger and frustration feel like when I’m writing. I feel them every time I sit down to write, but I also know I can handle those emotions. They can sit right down with me because I’m used to them. I know I can keep trying.

The guy on the YouTube video never told Harper that she could do it. All he did was show her a possibility. She was the one who had to do it herself. She was the one who had to fight to believe she could do it. 

I hope you see some possibilities with the everyday “stuff” of your life, and I hope that these moments inspire you to put yourself into these seemingly everyday, perhaps mundane moments, and make them beautiful. After all, there isn’t much that’s more monotonous and mundane than folding paper over and over again. But we strive for something to take shape. We strive to give our stories wings so they fly.


This is an excerpt from Callie’s 100 Writing Pep Talks: Volume 1, available now in our creative marketplace!

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