Business and Art: Maintain Perspective

The Business of-2

I’ll never forget walking through the mall that day with my friend.

It was a weekday, let’s call it Wednesday, and we’d met up with our new babies for a little afternoon out of the house.

We called it a “play date”, but given the fact that neither of our children could yet hold their heads up on their own, it was clearly a mommy date.

“How it going?” I asked her, and she smiled. Her daughter was two weeks older than my son.

“It’s good,” she said. “I’m tired, but it’s not too bad. You?”

I nodded. “The same.”

We were quiet for a moment as we strolled through the mall, pushing our way past windows with clothes we couldn’t quite dream of wearing, new motherhood still settling in places we weren’t yet proud to show off.

“I miss working,” she said after a few minutes of silence. She said it quietly, like it was a confession of something for which she needed to absolve herself.

Before having a baby, this friend of mine had been in the corporate world, and she was good at it. She was an event planner for a large company, the woman in charge, the one who called the shots.

Now she was at the beck and call of a 12 pound human without any language skills, but with demands greater than any corporate boss.

I nodded my head because I understood, but only to a degree. I had never been in the corporate world, you see. I’d known from the day I graduated college that I wanted to be a writer, and so instead of getting a “real” job, I’d done side jobs that let me fuel my obsession passion for the written word.

But I did notice that things had shifted in the weeks since I’d brought my boy home. Though he slept well and often, I couldn’t seem to find time to write anymore. I felt a little lost, and so we walked along, the pair of us, lost and unsure of what our roles would be moving forward.

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Of course, trying to decipher what your role will look like outside of motherhood is always tricky in those first few months after having a child. Time offers perspective, which allows us to see where we can fit our dreams back into motherhood.

But it’s true that my corporate-loving friend and I shared a common trait – we feared that we’d somehow missed the boat in the pursuit of our careers.

I understand that not all women feel this way.

Some have children, and they’re able to continue moving forward in their careers or passions after the allotted recovery time. But I believe we’d all admit that it’s different after kids come to play.

Two months after that meeting, my friend went back to work. While she was excited to get back to her job, she called me the morning she dropped her daughter off at day care for the first time, her voice quavering with emotion.

“This isn’t what I thought it would be,” she said. “That was really hard.”

I, also, was back working, though my work looked different than hers. During nap times, I was writing, tapping away at a book I hoped to finish. I researched agents and editors and publishers. But when baby cries pierced the silence, my work was done, and the whole process was moving along at a snail’s pace.

But then…

When I pulled that baby boy out of his crib and his smile split wide his face, somehow my longing to keep working melted away. I relished my role as his mom. That baby boy is now thirteen years old. He’s taller than me, and his voice is deeper, but he still has a smile that melts my heart.

He, and the ones that followed him, made the journey worth it. Maybe I haven’t written as quickly or prolifically as I’d dreamed of doing when I accepted my college diploma, but somehow I don’t care anymore.

Perspective is key.

Likewise, my friend now has three children, and she’s worked on and off in the last thirteen years. She still loves working, but she’s learned to love the in-between times when she’s at home. She, like me, has realized that this phase of raising children is shorter than we think. It goes faster than either of us ever could have imagined that Wednesday in the mall.

The Business of Art

Maintaining perspective in this journey is paramount to contentment. Some of you hardly missed a beat after you had children, picking up and continuing in your pursuits with (relative) ease. And for others, this path has felt a bit overwhelming and ambiguous.

But the truth that all of us can agree upon is that motherhood changes things, and that’s okay. What we do with that change will look different, but at the end of the road we all took the journey and survived.

So…yay us!

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LC-BookCoverThis series is inspired by my upcoming book Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom. *

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As a special incentive, if you buy your copy by the end of September you will receive a free pdf downloadable that expands more on how to turn your creative hobby into a thriving business. Offering practical tools that will help you take your art to the next level, this is the encouragement you need to move forward toward your creative pursuits.

Purchase your copy of Life Creative now, then come back and fill out the form to receive your free pdf downloadable.

*affiliate link included

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The Good Truth

Good.

I like that word.

When I think of the word good, I like to think happy thoughts.

Good is smiling. It’s warm and colorful. It’s happy endings and Christmas mornings. Good is the thing that makes you smile. It’s the light that drives out darkness – the opposite of evil. Good is just so…good.

But sometimes good doesn’t really look like good.

I sat against the back of the pew at church last week and let myself sink into the plush material a little more than usual. I wanted to make myself small, to maybe shy away from the honesty of the message. I wanted to shield myself from the hardness of Truth – a Truth that reveals God to be good.

Even if good doesn’t look good.

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1: 46-48; 53

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We’re now engulfed in the post-Christmas fall out, and I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table surrounded by a holy mess. There’s an open can of dog food sitting next to me, a dirty coffee cup, three dirty glasses, several napkins, and a huge stack of yet-to-be-mailed Christmas cards.

The table is scratched and scarred, an homage to this life I live. It’s well-worn, three out of the four chairs just a few sits from falling apart completely. We need a new table. We keep saying this over and over.

But there’s something about the scarred table that I love.

If I look to my right I see a kitchen counter piled high with crusty dishes. Just yesterday, I mentioned to Lee as I cleaned the house for the eleventy-frillionth time that had someone told me early on in marriage I would spend the better part of the rest of my life cleaning, I might have been tempted to run far away.

Because motherhood doesn’t always feel good.

With Christmas behind me, I’m reflecting on where we’ve come in the last year. In a very real sense, there’s been so much good for our family this year. Good that actually looks and feels good.

But there’s been heartache, too.

This time last year, my father-in-law was swinging his final punch at cancer. He fought valiantly through Christmas so that he could meet his newest granddaughter, and then it was time to let go.

It didn’t feel good.

The way it all went down when he passed away still doesn’t feel good. Not to me. I will never get over not being there when he took his final breath. It doesn’t feel good.

Likewise, this week is exactly three years since Putin signed into law the ban on American adoptions, an event that has continued to shape and mark me. Three years ago, every hope and dream I had for my family hung in the balance, and as I wade through the darkness of that time, the benefit of hindsight allows me to now claim God’s goodness.

But at the time, I couldn’t see beyond my devastation, disappointment, and doubt.

And so it is that I must continually embrace the hard truth that God alone is good. He is the giver of good things, though my eyes veiled by this earth tend to miss it.

Last week, Lee asked me what I would say to a younger version of myself. What would I tell the fresh-faced, wide-eyed, newly married, twenty-two year old Kelli to prepare her for the journey to come? I had to pause and think through that question. It’s not that easy to answer.

Of course, the obvious first response was, “Dear child – you will have four children, and they will be awesome. You will love them immensely. But you will also spend the better part of the rest of your life cleaning up after them. Prepare yourself.”

But that was a lame answer.

After some thought, I finally gave my halting reply: “I’d tell her that God’s goodness doesn’t hinge upon answered prayer and fulfilled dreams. I’d tell her that God is good because He is God, and that is enough. The heartache to come isn’t a stain on God’s goodness, but is rather an opportunity for you to lean into it.”

As we head into 2016, I pray that each one of you has the opportunity to lean in to God’s goodness; to fully embrace the beauty of who He is, simply because He is God.

May He fill you with good things, and may you all laugh at the days to come.

Happy New Year.

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