Category

Learn

Category

Creativity and Motherhood

creativity-and-motherhood

So many things seem in conflict with having children.

Working. Marriages. Sleeping. Eating while sitting down. Going anywhere fast. Leaving the house. Getting in a car. Grocery shopping without a scene.

And, apparently, creative work. Like writing.

I’ve read numerous articles recently about creative work and motherhood and all the challenges that presents. And it does present challenges! For instance, I’m writing this, right now, while my two-year-old rolls a plastic dump truck (that makes noise) around the room, ramming it into the walls and up my desk chair and across my back.

Yep. That’s distracting.

There have been so many times I’ve wanted throw my hands up in defeat and scream. This is all unfair! When is it my turn?! I’ll never be able to write and be a mother! I can’t think! I need peace and quiet to think so I can write!

I felt this way for a long time, and it was reinforced with things I read. Mothers trying to have it all and failing! Mothers as the default parent and also failing! Mothers in charge of all things domestic and failing some more! Failing! Failing! Failing!

Well. That’s not very inspiring. Or helpful.

I can only write about myself and my experience. I don’t live in other people’s homes or know anything about other people’s lives. So I cannot speak for anyone but me.

So, for me, I’m changing that narrative.

Sure, I can do creative work and be a mother. No, it won’t always be in the manner I’d prefer. There’s no cabin in the woods for me. But I can make it work. And maybe I don’t need that cabin.

For starters, I created my own colleagues. Colleagues that can meet me where I am with my weird hours and chat via all sorts of ways (Voxer, text message, email, Skype) so we can get our points across.

Second, I let go of needing conditions to be perfect. I write in all those little pockets of time. It might only be five minutes. In the past, I’d view five minutes as not enough time. Now five minutes is all I need to just get started. Just get something out.

I keep lots of notes. I carry around a notebook filled with thoughts and ideas and lists. Any and everything that comes into my head, I write it down. Sometimes I don’t remember why a particular note interested me and sometimes I do. Sometimes I come back to something weeks later, and it all makes sense. Sometimes not.

I use the voice memo on my phone, quickly word vomiting ideas.

It all counts. And I have faith I’ll get it all together. I’ll get there. Word by word. It’s not going to be fast. But it counts.

I’m working on a book. I’ve written 45,000 words. That’s a lot of words. And I didn’t have hours of child care when I wrote it. I also didn’t burn the midnight oil. I just kept those ideas firing and wrote them down every chance I got. It was slow going and frustrating at the start. Frustrating being an understatement. But once those juices started rolling the words flew faster and faster and faster.

I write this in the spirit of encouragement. If writing is in your heart but you have small people hanging on your legs or throwing Legos at your head while you try to write deeply personal prose, fear not my friend.

True, I doubt Thoreau wrote while small children asked for snacks or a baby puked down his back. But, you know what? Instead of looking at these moments as getting in the way, look at these moments as being the way.

I used to view my life as getting in the way of my art. Now I see I had that all backwards. My life gives life to my art. I can see the things my children do and say as 1) frustrating or 2) very interesting and unique way of looking at things. I can view the time I spend doing household chores as 1) irritating or 2) use those mindless task times to ruminate on blog post ideas. I can see the work Dan and I put into our marriage and our family as 1) too hard and taking up too much time or 2) the important shaping of our family narrative.

All of this contributes to my life creatively, if I let it. When I would get frustrated and angry as a kid, my Dad used to say, “it’s all part of the experience.” And I would get so mad! No! That’s not the experience! I want an idyllic experience! With not conflict! And no failure! And only success!

Well, then. What would there be to write about?

On Owning Your Craft

writing-process-tag

You know what I never say? Never, ever, say?

I’m a writer.

You know what I’ve been doing long before I started this blog in 2009? What I was doing in college? And in high school? And in elementary school?

Writing.

I started writing my stories (fiction back then, but very closely inspired by my real life) in Lisa Frank notebooks with one of those pens with all the ink options. You know what I mean? It was one pen and you could click down different ink colors. I loved those.

When my family got it’s first computer, and I found out I could type my stories, I’d do that//dos command and open up Word Perfect and type out my stories until my mom or dad kicked me off to do their work.

In 5th grade we learned the structure for the Five Paragraph Essay. We used different colored pens (black, red, green, and blue) to denote the various parts. I became obsessed with this concept. When my teacher said to limit each paragraph to five sentences, I was totally baffled. BUT I HAVE MORE TO SAY!

In high school I discovered the school newspaper where us students, under the patient but liberal direction of our sponsor, created and wrote all content. I wrote news and feature and opinion.

And in college I wrote for The Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper (the administration didn’t touch us with a 10-foot pole, a good idea give that we were 18-21 year olds running the show), and I learned the fine art of desperation writing. Your last source finally called you back, and you’ve got to pound out 75 lines in 30 minutes because your editor has everyone else’s story done, and you’re holding up the front page layout. Density over verbosity was our motto. Ruthlessly I sliced and diced and cut out words to make my piece fit my editor’s space.

After college and feeling at loose ends, I started this blog. And took on various freelance writing opportunities. And I’ve been developing a book.

And I still haven’t called myself a writer.

I feel like a fake.

Why?

Because I’m not a published author? Because I’m not writing online content for Babble? Because you won’t find my byline in Real Simple Magazine?

Back at the Cavalier Daily, after I was a staff writer and senior writer, I became a News Editor. In addition to my editor duties, I also sat at the front desk and I answered our phones.

“Cavalier Daily, News!” I’d say cheerily into the receiver.

“Hi, this is So-And-So from the AP,” a brisk sounding man said. “I need to speak to who is in charge.”

Holding the phone to my ear, I looked around the room. Some of our staffers were actually writing. Others were engaging in our 5271th saltine challenge (how no one ended up choking is beyond me). Yet others were playing Mario Cart. And yet others were in the middle of some sort of argument about the new parfait selection in the Pav.

“Well, that would be me,” I said clearly. “I’m in charge. I’m the editor.”

“How old are you?” said the man from the AP.

“20,” I said. “And I’m the most in charge person here.”

You got to own it. Whatever you do, you got to own it.

Do you paint? Then you’re a painter.

Do you design? Then you’re a designer.

Do you bake? Then you’re a baker.

Do you sew? Then you’re a sewer.

Do you write? Then you’re a writer.

DIY Crease-less Hair Ties

creaseless-hair-ties-2

The ponytail crimp.  The hair-style enemy of most women.  You just want to put your hair up for a few minutes.  Or maybe just for a short time while you bake or wash dishes.  Just to keep your hair out of our face.

But now you can’t take it out of the ponytail because of the dreaded ponytail crimp.  It’s stuck like that now.

My thick, humidity-controlled hair loves to crease.  So I know that if I decide to pull my hair back, that’s it!  There’s no going back!  This is annoying because even just a temporary ponytail makes my mane forever crimped.

When I started seeing these elastic hair ties spring up, I was intrigued.  It seemed like they probably wouldn’t crease my hair.  Or snag it.  Or damage it.

But I was often disappointed with the color selection – and the price tag.  Why so much?!

creaseless-hair-ties-3

Then I ran across a couple tutorials for making your own.  And I figured that even I could take on this DIY.

I wrote about how I made these hair ties and hair bands over at Mom It Forward this week.  These could not be easier.  I ordered for Hairbow Supplies Etc. and was super happy with the colors and the quality of the elastics.

creaseless-hair-ties-4

I ordered a slew of colors and patterns.  Just ordering 1 yard of the 5/8th inch elastic was perfect for creating one hair tie and one hair band.

creaseless-hair-ties-5

So cute!  I’m in love with these.  Since I like to wear an elastic on my wrist during the day for hair emergencies, I love how cute these look on my arm.  And when I need to tie by hair up for a quick minute, no creasing!

DIY princess crafts, sugar-free granola bars, out door game // Latest posts for Mom It Forward

Since I was selected to be a contributor for Mom It Forward, I’ve had a blast trying out new projects.  My niche on the site is sort of a hands-on parenting approach to crafts, games, and recipes.  Meaning, getting the kids involved in making stuff!

Kate is at an age where she can wield a paint brush, tape and glue things together, adhere stuff, and mix things together.  We’ve had fun doing these projects together (many of which were her suggestions).

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DIY princess tutu and handmade wand and embellished headband and flip flops

diy-tutu-and-princess-accessories-2 diy-flip-flops-2 diy-headband-2 diy-wand-2

DIY outdoor obstacle course

DIY-mommy-and-me-game-5 DIY-mommy-and-me-game-6 DIY-mommy-and-me-game-9 DIY-mommy-and-me-game-10 DIY-mommy-and-me-game-11 DIY-mommy-and-me-game-12 DIY-mommy-and-me-game-14

Homemade sugar-free granola bars

DIY-Granola-Bars-2 DIY-Granola-Bars-5

DIY princess crown

DIY-princess-crown-supplies-6 DIY-princess-crown-supplies-7

My next post is something I’m really excited about (it’s hair and beauty related, my favorite!) and a couple holiday things in the works.