Motherhood and creativity go hand in hand. Even a mathematically/scientifically minded mother will find herself tapping into an inner creativity when her children are born.
You have to be creative to survive those small people, amen?
As we see the boom in blogging, (particularly in niche blogging), it’s a good idea to observe those mothers who have a specific bent toward creativity, and who are boldly living out their art and life in this online explosion of creativity.
The 5 Habits of Successfully Creative Mothers
1.) Joyful Dedication: Creative mothers are dedicated to their creative pursuits. They not only set time aside to accomplish their creative goals, but they actually find joy in this time spent on their crafts. Whether it be sewing, baking, decorating, writing, speaking, acting, photography, or any other creative endeavor, the creative mother finds great joy in the dedicated time spent on her art.
2.) Love of Craft: Creative mothers love what they do as much as they love their children. They live out their art boldly, and confidently share it with the world, not as a means to brag, but because what’s the point in creating something beautiful if you’re not willing to share it?
3.) Embracing a Life of Imbalance: There’s a lot of talk about a little word called “balance.” This word is often directed at mothers as a means to encourage them to remember their number one priorities (the children), and to find a proper amount of time “balance” life and art.
Successful creatives realize that there is no such thing as balance.
You cannot effectively pour yourself into your art and keep the house clean, the laundry done, dinner on the table, and everyone happy. Worthy goals will always require sacrifice, and creative mothers know this too well.
Sometimes, time spent on the art will need to be sacrificed in order to focus on your family.
Other times, you may need to make a different kind of sacrifice (either through hiring child care, ordering take out, ignoring dirty floors and clothes, staying up late or waking up early, etc…) so that you can focus on your art.
The balance is in knowing that your days will not be fully balanced. It’s give and take – ebb and flow. The mothers who are successfully pursuing their creative endeavors understand and embrace this imbalance.
4.) Refusing to Take On Guilt: Motherhood comes with a side of guilt included. Whether or not we choose to ingest this guilt, or push it away, is entirely up to us. The creative mother who decides to spend a little more time one weekend devoting herself to her craft can quickly get derailed and sidetracked if she bows down to guilt.
Guilt tells us we should be more focused on our family than our art.
Guilt tells us our family is suffering because we are being selfish.
Guilt is wrong.
Creative mothers living in successful pursuit of their craft know that it’s just as important for them to focus on their art as it is to focus on their families. Your creativity is a gift, and it’s part of who you are. To deny it would leave you lost and frustrated. This is a building block to embracing the imbalance.
5.) Confidence: Successful, creative mothers are confident in their abilities. This is not a haughty, proud confidence, but a belief that their skills are necessary and worthy to be pursued. They don’t cower in the shadow of comparison, or bow to the altar of sacrificing dreams. They believe in themselves, embrace how they were made, and share their gifts always to the benefit of others (including their families).
Creative friend, you are worthy and you’re good at what you do. As you can see, each of these habits builds on the other, and stacked together, they form a pyramid on which to steady yourself. Above all else, however, it is imperative that you remember that you are a good mother, and you have a creative bent. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can live life creatively with your little ones at your feet, and you can still prioritize your title as mother above your title of creative.
Once upon a time, early mornings were the fuel to my creative soul. In college, you would rarely find me pulling all-nighters. The only time I did that was if there was a certain amount of fun to be had that made sleep seem an unnecessary task.
And by fun, I mean stupidity, because freedom combined with zero parental supervision made things like visiting the David Koresh compound at 1:00 am and allowing myself to be escorted around by a man claiming to be a journalist who knew where underground passages were still hidden, and showed us bullet holes in the sides of vans SEEMED LIKE AN EXCELLENT IDEA!
Only a handful of times did I pull an all-nighter to accomplish school work. Even then, I knew that when the sun went down at night, so did my brain. (Again, see the aforementioned stupidity that ruled many of my college late nights).
I was the girl who got up in the early hours of the morning, before the sun rose, and tiptoed into the library to study, or write a paper, or to simply read a book. The stillness of the mornings stimulated my mind, and gave me the fuel I needed to get through my daily classes. By my senior year of college, I was well into my English Professional Writing degree, which meant that I had at least one or two papers due every single day.
Most of those words were typed before the sun peeked above the horizon.
Even then, I knew how I worked best. It’s not much different for me today, though I admit that dragging myself from bed in the early mornings is harder than it once was. In college, I had the benefit of knowing I could lay around in the afternoons. Now I know that from 2:00-9:00, I will need to be on my game. I can’t afford to be exhausted.
But I do know when I am my creative best, and when the situation dictates that I tap into that inner creativity, I push myself out of the warm cocoon of my bed while the rest of the world sleeps.
There are so many different ways in which we creatives can tap into the best parts of ourselves. That’s the beauty of living life as a creative:
We don’t have to fit a mold.
As creatives we have an immense amount of freedom to live life as we were designed, each with a unique set of gifts that cannot be molded into a boxed set of rules. Some work better at night, whittling away the slumbering hours behind desks, easels, and sewing machine. Some, like me, feel the ideas most vivid in the mornings, after just enough sleep has given the brain a chance to rejuvenate.
Some creatives work best to music, while others need absolute silence. Some need a structured environment, others need the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop or book store.
The life of a creative cannot be dictated by too much structure, because once life feels predictable, the creative juices quit flowing.
There is one thing, however, that will stifle and kill any creative spirit. This one thing is insidious in nature, often creeping in when we don’t even expect it.
The death of creativity lies firmly in comparison.
When you begin to compare your gift to her gift, your structured way of working to hers, you will very slowly choke out your own creativity. You are unique.Your method of working is unique. Your talent is unique. Don’t give in to the beast of comparison that whispers softly, “You’re not good enough. Her talent is bigger. Her platform is better. Her skill is more beautiful. Her method of working is more productive.”
As soon as you start ingesting these lies, your creativity will fade.
The creative life cannot be cut into cookie-cutter shapes. It is beautiful because it is unique. Embrace your creativity, and your method for working. Don’t fall prey to the cruelty of comparison. If it means you have to stay away from Pinterest, from blogs, from certain groups or activities, do so. You are uniquely creative, and your gifts are yours alone.
Guard them and share them in the way that lets you uniquely shine.
There’s this weird, twilight experience that happens to women when they become mothers. Suddenly a distinct line is drawn between who we were, and who we are now. We feel simultaneously lost, and in the same breath found as we embrace this thing called motherhood.
Photo by Lulu Photography
It can cause a bit of vertigo if we’re not careful.
It seems that this feeling of embracing motherhood, dying to self, rediscovering passions, balancing life, and finding ourselves again ebbs and flows throughout the years in an endless cycle. Sometimes I feel like I’m coursing with purpose in my every day. I feel fulfilled in my role as mother. I feel energized in my work. I feel like…well, I feel like I’m enough.
But there are other seasons – the dryer times when I am utterly spent, weighted down with the responsibility that each day throws my way. I feel incapable of loving my children well, overrun by laundry that never ends, frayed by the bickering and arguing, and completely dry in my work.
In those times I feel like nothing I do is enough.
If I’m being honest, I will tell you that I’m fighting my way out of a very long dry spell right now.
I’m discouraged in my work, feeling like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere fast. I am constantly overwhelmed by laundry, by bathrooms that just. won’t. stay. clean. I can’t seem to pull dinner together before 5:30 every night, I dread the grocery store, and some days I just sort of wander through the house like a vagabond.
I’m even feeling inadequate as I type this blog post, positive that these words have been written before by someone who probably articulated the message much more eloquently.
It’s in these times that I constantly remind myself that motherhood is a journey. I haven’t arrived, and not every day is going to be the best day of my life. Last week, as my six year old showered, he lamented the low water pressure and cooler water. Everyone was showering at the same time, and the washing machine was running.
“Why is the water so soft?” he wailed. When I explained, he hung his head in utter disgust.
“This is da worst day of my whole life,” he mumbled.
I had to laugh, because what I wouldn’t give to have the problems of a six year old. It was a reminder to me, though, that bad days come no matter our age. Sometimes the days feel like they’re trickling out, weak and tepid. I stomp my foot and wonder why on EARTH my circumstances aren’t more comfortable.
Such is the journey of life. It moves in patches of comfort and frustration. Productivity and fatigue. Obedient children and defiant children. Some days are so good. Other days are really bad. Most days are a combination of both.
And thank goodness for the ebb and flow, because can you imagine how boring life would be if everything were sunny and easy? Without the rain, there is no color in this world, but thankfully, motherhood is full of color.
Sometimes I just have to look a little harder to find it.
Blessings to all you Mama’s out there who are working your way through the trenches of motherhood. Hold your head high and watch for rainbows, my friends! They always come after the rain.
Wendy and I have been batting around this idea of inspiration, of motherhood, and of creativity for several years now, and as we continue to flesh it out, a message is taking shape, and together we are diving in so that we can share this message with all of you.
This process is requiring more of my time, but that’s okay. I don’t mind sleeping a little less. I consider it training for bringing home a new baby in a couple of months.
I also find myself researching constantly this idea of creativity, and how it fits into life, into motherhood, and into ministry. Everywhere I turn these days, it seems I run into examples of creative people making big impacts. I can hardly have a conversation anymore without some sort of bell sounding in my head:
This person is a creative. Observe! Observe! Observe!
Historical works and figures are not left out of my observations, either. Yesterday at church we discussed Psalm 22. At one point, one of the women in our group made the observation that David seemed a bit “eccentric.” His writings were revelations, they were songs, they were musings – for heaven’s sake, the man danced in nothing but a linen ephod, despite being king!
As she spoke, I had to bite my tongue to keep from blurting out, “David was a creative!”
Indeed, many creatives can be easily labeled as eccentric. Some may even dance their praise.
Creatives view the world differently, looking at life through a different lens. Writers don’t see words, they see stories that move and come to life. Artists don’t see colors, they see vivid shapes that form on canvas, in marble, and in blocks of wood. Bakers don’t see ingredients, they see bold cakes, artistic cookies, and people gathered to enjoy one another over a scone and some tea. Jewelry makers don’t see a hunk of metal – they see a necklace, a message adorning hope and beauty to the world.
I could go on and on, but the point is this: creative people are everywhere. They are all around us, and the more I observe them, the more I am in awe of this process of creating as an act of praise.
I hear music differently these days, because I imagine the process the songwriter went through to pen those words. (And it’s to be generally understood that I’m talking about good music here – not the teeny bopper pop fluff that my kids force me to listen to on a day to day basis). I feel the rhythms deeper as I imagine the pianist at the helm of her craft, or the drummer pounding in time with his heart.
As I research what it means to live this life with a creative bent, I grow more in awe of my Creator as well. Last night, I had the privilege of enjoying a sunset cruise in the Gulf of Mexico with some friends. As the sun dipped behind the clouds, and the sky around us lit up in red, orange, and yellow, I couldn’t help but smile at the master strokes of the One who Created it all.
It’s a privilege to live this life creatively, and if you are doing so, I urge you to keep doing it. Photographers, keep on capturing God’s creation, and revealing the world through your lens as He sees it through His.
Writers, pen your words as an act of worship.
Singers, do not hold back in fear or shame, but let loose a new song as an offering of praise.
To all my creative friends and readers, I offer you this – your gift is worth sharing with the world, and your eccentricities make your gift that much more beautiful to watch.
As this message and this book continue to come together, I will continue to share encouragement. We get one life – one chance to fully live out that to which we have been called. Creative friends – live your art out loud.
I had this imaginary friend growing up. Actually, she was more than just my imaginary friend, she was my imaginary twin sister. Her name was Janine, and we had a grand old time together until about the 4th grade when it began to dawn on me that playing with an imaginary sister was probably not the most socially acceptable form of free play.
Still, there were occasions for another year or so when I’d revisit my memories of time spent with Janine. I vividly remember that letting her go was a difficult thing for me to do, but the maturing part of my brain new it was a necessary task.
The funny thing about imagination is that it feels so very real, yet we know without a doubt that the created world inside our heads is false. For children, imaginative play is key to development, with some children exhibiting much better ability at tapping into their inner creativity than others.
For adults, imagination can often lend itself to fear. We know too much about the heartaches of this world, and that knowledge works against us.
There is something quite magical that happens, however, when an adult is able to tap into the healthy places of her imagination. This is where art is created – where stories take shape, paintings bloom on blank canvas, culinary masterpieces are placed on the table, and empty walls are filled with design.
Creativity is birthed in imagination, if we allow ourselves the space to let our minds soar.
Here are three easy steps to tapping into your imagination:
1.) Sit and think.
How often do we sit still as adults? Do we ever allow our minds the space to breathe and expand? For the busy mother, caught in the throes of parenting, sitting in silence is likely an unknown luxury. We hit the ground running from sun up to sun down, and at the end of the day, when given a few precious evening moments, often the television draws us in as the perfect zone out.
But what would happen if you gave yourself five or ten, or even more, minutes a day to just sit in the quiet? To think? To day dream? To imagine?What could you create in that quiet space? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps it would do no more than simply leave you refreshed, allowing you to create at a later time.
But maybe you would find that a whole wealth of ideas lay dormant in your muddled brain. If you’re a creative at heart, I guarantee those ideas are there. They’re just waiting to be discovered.
2.) Get your hands dirty.
There’s something about digging in and working that tends to wake up a dormant brain. While most mothers work themselves to the bone every day preparing meals, washing clothes, cleaning the house, and tending to the 642 needs that seem to arise every hour, we don’t often get away and work on something for the sheer pleasure of working on it.
We don’t let work be a time to engage our brains. Instead, we shut our minds down , laying all thought on the altar of the next necessary task.
Creatively freeing work will look different for everyone. For some, it’s the act of exercising. For others, it’s getting out in the yard and pulling weeds. Some simply need to do the creative work they love to do, while others find that their souls breathe when they’re scrubbing a bathtub.
Figure out what type of work engages the creative side of your brain and make a plan to do it as frequently as you possibly can.
3.) Laugh more.
According to WebMD, some researchers believe that laughter is one of the best, natural medicines.
“We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.
People who believe in the benefits of laughter say it can be like a mild workout — and may offer some of the same advantages as a workout.
One pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.” From Give Your Body a Boost – WebMD
While laughter is not guaranteed to make you more creative, it is almost certain to lift your spirit, giving you energy, excitement, and the added benefit of joy that often births a creative splurge.
Look for the humor in every day life, and when you see it go ahead and laugh out loud. Just driving down the road gives plenty of laughable material, from the irony in roadside signs (“Huge Garage Sale” planted firmly in front of 4 worn items) to the goofy things your children say on a day to day basis.
“Hey Mom. When you get married, how long can you kiss your husband? And what do you do if you are kissing and you want to stop. Do you just yell, ‘Stop!’ with your lips pressed on his?”
You don’t have to invent an imaginary twin sister to tap into your imagination. With a little bit of effort, and the willingness to carve out a few moments of your day, you could find that a creative muse lay dormant just below the surface.
I’m back. It’s been a lovely two weeks in which I’ve simply let my soul breathe. I’ve spent little time online, and much time in the very present moment with my family. I feel refreshed, excited, and inspired.
I didn’t know how much I needed the time away.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the creative process in our two weeks on the road. Instead of creating, I’ve thought about the simple art of creating – the act of writing, of photographing, of painting and singing. I’ve watched it and seen it and felt the power of the creative arts.
I stood at the top of the Smoky Mountains, and I marveled at the Creator’s brush strokes – the Hand that carved each path, shaped each height.
I’ve watched my children laugh and play. I’ve listened to their delight as they discovered the thrill of shooting a sling shot, exploring a creek bed, walking beneath a waterfall. I’ve gasped in motherly fear when one got too close to the edge, and tried to be cool though images of them plummeting over the side gave me more than a few heart attacks.
We spent a week in Nashville catching up with friends, both new and old. The laughter and shared life gave way to gratefulness. And not once or twice, but more times than I can count, the conversation of creativity came up. It’s not hard to find yourself amidst a group of creatives in a place like Nashville.
The town is teeming with creativity.
For those of us with a bent toward the creative arts, every day has new potential. We wake up with the longing to build, to shape and mold something out of nothing.
It’s very real, this life of the creative. We don’t always know how to describe it, but we feel it deeply. We know that we were made to create. Some days that creative power flows freely, while other days it tends to bottle up. Life responsibilities sometimes hinder the creative process, but still it sits, waiting for us to tap in and unleash.
I used to think I was alone in this creative life. It made me feel strange, this need to sit down and write, to pen stories for no reason at all. I wondered if my passion for the written word was frivolous. It doesn’t make me much money, so what’s the point?
The point, I’m realizing more and more, is that this art of creating is my act of worship. When I write, I am in communion with my God. The rhythm of the keyboard is my praise offering to Him.
And for you, my fellow creatives, it is very much the same.
That thing you do? It’s an act of worship. You were created with a love for your art, and it is legitimate and real. What you do is a valid form of worship, so give it back freely and joyfully. Don’t be ashamed of your art, and don’t fight the urge to create. Your creative brain holds purpose in this world.
You are a mirror of the Creator Himself. So create.