Living in Iowa for the last 9 months has made me more curious about the farming industry. Did you know Iowa is the #1 producer of soybeans, corn, pork, and eggs in the United States? There are about 31 million acres dedicated to farming in Iowa and you can read other interesting Iowa farming facts here but for today, I want to focus on the art of tilling.
Tilling is the agricultural preparation of soil to ensure it is enriched with nutrients. My research on the tilling process lead me down a road of how-to's to how-not-to's as well as many articles on the economic and political facets of tilling and the farming industry but by and far, despite many differing viewpoints, most all agree quality soil leads to quality produce.
While "digging" for more information on this topic 😉😉 I was reminded of the biblical parable of the sower in Luke 8 where a farmer sprinkles his seed in 4 different environments only to find one environment - the good soil - surpassed them all yielding a crop 100 times what was sown.
As tilling season begins here in Iowa, I can't help but feel the need to "till my own soil" or should I say "till my own soul." This act of stirring up and enriching what already lies within is key to any growth process be it growing corn or creating a space designed to serve as "good soil" for the creative minds and hearts of moms from all walks of life. A place where seeds of hope and potential can be planted and nurtured.
You see, Creative Habitat, is so much more than the space I hope it will one day become. In fact, for me, it is the very act of becoming - the result of sowing creative habits in my daily life to renew the dreamer's heart and mind God has placed within me. Nurturing this Creative Habitat vision is the constant tilling of inspiration from the conversations I have with other moms, to the books I read, to the music I listen to...it all helps me till the good soil. And I hope...very soon...to harvest the crop. May this vision bless other women the way it has blessed me 100 fold!
Un"till" then, I hope you will be encouraged and blessed as I continue to document this journey from dream to reality!
Sometimes we do something out of character...
...or maybe these perceived out-of-character moments are actually our truest selves throwing all inhibition to the wind.
You'll know these moments when usual reasoning is trumped by intuition and the heart claims it's territory with a defiant, "I'm doing this! Ain't nothing going to stop me!"
Enter the yellow chair.
One evening last week, I got a hankering for a yellow chair. It came out of the blue, but make no mistake, I had yellow on the mind. So, I did what any determined mom on a mission does and started my online search.
Confession - I knew my husband would be less inclined to buy a yellow chair than I and by "less inclined," I mean "opposed to."
As a couple, we tend toward a more conservative style, so one might say a "yellow chair" is not congruent with "our look." But it is 100% congruent with my vision for Creative Habitat because it breaks the mold. It says, "Hey...go for it." It represents a space to sit and dream and write and CREATE!
As I sit in my new yellow chair writing this now, I know I made the right decision. I have decided to name it "The Idea Chair" and I have no doubt it will become part of the fabric of our lives as we reflect on all the ideas thought up in this very chair! So much potential!
Signing off for now, but don't worry, I'll be back writing from my yellow chair soon! More inspiration to come!
My husband actually likes the chair! Proof it's already working it's magic!
Tonight, I write, not because I have the energy to...but because I don't have the energy to do anything else. My 3 year old has officially dropped his blessed nap meaning this mama is getting a taste of what many of you other stalwart mamas have been experiencing for much longer than I...the endurance factor.
The days run into nights run back into days and I find myself somewhere in between practically all the time. I am rarely fully asleep or fully awake. I'm coherent enough to have a conversation and even laugh about the daily struggles while revelling in the daily snuggles - and believe me - those snuggles keep me going, however experience has taught me I MUST conserve my energy and I MUST mind the gap. You know, like the British train system or any train/subway system for that matter where passengers are constantly reminded to "Mind the Gap" before boarding.
The gap I MUST mind is my own. I'm referring to the gap between the energy needed to parent well and the energy this parent has welling up...or should I say not welling up. Left to myself, there are little reserves of energy to well up at the end of the day. Despite the amazing giggles and cuddles, this parenting gig is no cup-a-tea...at least not for me.
Hilarious at times...yes!
but cup-a-tea...not so much.
On days like today, I am reminded there is a very definitive gap between my mother's heart and my Father's heart. One seeks endless, limitless love only to be met with endless limits and irritants throughout the day (not my proudest moment to admit this) while the other is THE SOURCE of endless, limitless love.
I know this to be true, because I feel that love permeating my very being as I write. A love that says, "I see your heart. I know you love your kids. I also know you struggle daily on many fronts...but my dear child, I chose you for this role. You are my Beloved. You are enough! I AM enough. When you are weak, I AM strong. When the days feel long, I AM right by your side...present through every joy and every sigh. I AM your saving grace and I AM for you and for your family. Lean into me. I AM here. I AM."
And just like that, at the end of each day (whether it went smoothly or was a total train wreck), I can sense the resolve in my heart to keep on keeping on. A strength that is not my own wells up within in preparation for a new day and a new start. As I put my kids to bed and pray over them with my final ounce of energy, I feel as though, I too, am being covered in prayer and filled back up!
So what does this tired mama do now that her kids are both sleeping and her heart is filled? She fills a cup-a-tea and then pours out the love she has received hoping it may encourage another tired mama to mind the gap and give herself grace knowing our Father's heart is for our mother's heart!
"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” ~ Deuteronomy 33:12 ~
Other related verses:
2 Corinthians 12:9
The Manhattan cityscape is a beautiful creative habitat! I'm looking at it right now as I write this from our hotel room 32 stories up in the heart of NYC - Times Square.
To be honest, I can't believe I am here. I am not a fan of huge crowds and always find myself grateful to be sitting in my cozy home or really anywhere other than Times Square on New Year's Eve. As I watch the ball drop year after year, I think to myself, "Whew, So glad I'm not there!"
Well, I can't say that this year because I am in the center of all the action, thankfully in a hotel room and not braving the frigid cold! They are saying this may be the coldest New Year's Eve in New York to date! Prayers for all those facing the chilly weather now.
Also, prayers for our country. As I face my very real fears of terrorism sitting in the biggest US city in one of the most saturated crowds on the planet and awaiting one of the most watched global televised events of the Times Square Ball Drop, I find myself contemplating the state of our weary world.
Despite my fears, I've been told by multiple people including the police officers I personally spoke with over the past couple hours that Times Square is the safest place to be on New Year's Eve. There are police officers and SWAT teams everywhere! They have closed all of the parking garages, removed all of the trash cans, and welded all of the sewer holes surrounding Times Square. So, with all these protective measures, why was I so fearful to come on this trip?
There is the obvious fear of leaving my kids. They are with their grandmas in Colorado while my husband and I get some alone time here in NYC. Now, don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for their help and know my kids are in good hands and loving arms. I am also grateful for alone time with my husband who planned this trip a year ago using hotel points he has been saving for this VERY experience. I AM grateful for the experience, but ladies...make no mistake...this is a HUGE trip of faith for me!
The fear I felt leading up to this trip ruined several nights of sleep and resulted in me trying to sell our Times Square hotel room on Craigslist and also booking 2 airbnb lofts in Brooklyn - both of which I have since cancelled. Speaking of cancelling, I almost cancelled our flights! Imagine how that would have gone over with my husband who has put as much effort into planning this trip as I have put into unplanning it!
All this to say, this trip is AN ACT OF LOVE! I have had many opportunities along this journey to turn around and say NO...from buckling my kids into Gammy's car and saying goodbye while mommy "goes on an adventure with daddy," to driving to the Denver airport to stepping on each of the 4 planes it took to get from Colorado where I left my kids to this very hotel room.
But instead, I said YES!
YES to adventure with my husband.
YES to what has turned out to be one of the coolest hotel rooms I have ever stayed in.
YES to trusting God with my kids while we are in NYC for a few days.
And YES to trusting God to protect not only my husband and I here in Times Square but the millions
of others waiting for that 2018 ball to drop.
I've decided 2018 will be my "Year of Yes!"
YES to God's best! NO to worry.
One of my most special Christmas gifts this year, other than this NYC trip, is a pendant necklace with my favorite verse - Philippians 4:13 - I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me...including enjoy Times Square on New Year's Eve which I am signing off to do now.
Trusting the best is yet to come in 2018 as I take steps of faith to continue to develop Creative Habitat as a nonprofit coworking space with coop childcare to support moms in my new hometown of Des Moine, IA and beyond! I envision a space where moms can come and tap into their creative gifts and refuel while their kids also have a space to develop their creativity - all for a much lower price than paying for daycare or a babysitter while also being surrounded by a community of support for the whole family! WIN/WIN/WIN!
I'll keep you posted on the progress of this project! In the mean time, wishing you a creative and refueling year ahead!
Everyone in my house is asleep and I should probably use this time to order groceries which I have been meaning to do all day - but all I want to do is sit in front of the Christmas tree and take in this pocket of peace.
As I sit here in the soft glow of Christmas lights I can't help but sense God's goodness and faithfulness over the past year. 2017 has been a year of transition and new beginnings - it's also been a year of personal editing - and making value-based life decisions.
Little did I know this editing and refining process would lead our family to plant roots in Iowa. In fact, a year ago, I had never even been to Iowa! Despite my initial hesitation to accept Des Moines given I LOVED living in San Diego, I knew in my heart it was time for a change.
As with most changes, we have faced ups and downs throughout the transition but overall Iowa has been an awesome fit for our family. For the first time in a long time, we have margin allowing our family to spend more quality time together and allowing me to invest more time in the development of Creative Habitat.
Here are a few highlights from 2017:
- Bringing a baby girl into the world!
- Soaking up our last few months visiting our favorite places in San Diego.
- Potty training my son!!!
- Finding a home!!!
- Making a cross-country drive with 2 kids and 2 dogs!
- Embracing a new state and city with an open heart and open mind - this is a huge blessing.
- Enjoying quiet time with my husband for our weekly "Deck Dates."
- Getting connected with local moms and mompreneurs here in Des Moines.
- Starting to work with my own mom to serve others.
- Attending MOMCON as an exhibitor in Kansas City, MO!
- Developing the Forming Hands Clay workshop with my mom to help women discover and develop their God-given creative gifts. - Scheduling these workshops for MOPS groups across the nation starting Spring 2018!
- Dabbling in Instagram - it took me a while but I finally started using this platform to post updates on my creative process while continuing to develop Creative Habitat. You can follow this creative journey @creativehabitatmoms
- Training a VA to help share Creative Habitat resources on social media starting in the new year so I can focus on my strengths (after trying to manage by myself, I have come to realize posting on social media feels like it takes more effort than I can realistically give) so I've decided to ask for help!
- Pivoting my focus from online coaching to developing a business plan for a nonprofit coworking space with coop childcare - a physical Creative Habitat to serve moms.
- Starting to look into spaces to house this Creative Habitat coworking/coop childcare space here in the Greater Des Moines area.
- Connecting with the local law school to request help in establishing Creative Habitat as an official 501(c)3. I will be working directly with a group of law students and their professor as part of their legal clinic and course project starting in the new year. I am very excited about this opportunity!
- Laying the foundation to launch a Founding Moms Exchange in Des Moines starting early 2018.
- Attending the Legit Local Market as an exhibitor with my mom in November and getting featured on the local news!
- Feeling comfortable in my own skin - letting go of my insecurities about what others may think about my decision to pursue this Creative Habitat vision.
- Finding joy in the simple act of developing creative habits and tapping into my creativity. I truly believe I am a better mom, wife, and friend as a result of carving out creative time and space to refuel regularly!
As I look ahead to 2018, I am filled with hope knowing when God begins a good work in us, He will complete it (Philippians 1:6). Trusting 2018 will be a year of fulfilled promises for this vision I have nurtured with God's help for the past 3 years.
Thank you for sharing this journey of faith with me. As always, wishing you creative and refueling days ahead!
I am launching a guest blog series starting next week. I look forward to sharing other moms creative habits and creative gifts with you! If you are interested in submitting a guest post, please follow this link for more details!
Do you ever have days where even the simplest of undertakings seems like quite the accomplishment? Today has been one of those days for me from throwing the covers off, to cleaning the breakfast crumbs and making it to the gym where I am currently pedaling at a glacial pace on the stationary bike allowing me to capture this thought.
As with most exercise equipment, this bike allows me to adjust the effort level. Should I include the effort level it took to get here or the effort level I actually feel like pedaling? How about the effort level to drown out the noise streaming from the gym speakers with my acoustic Christmas playlist. It sounds like they just turned it up a few notches requiring me to do the same, and yet I feel like I've hit my peak capacity. Nothing more to turn up!
Perhaps it's time to turn it all down. ALL of it. From social media to political news to my overall expectations of what this holiday season may bring. Perhaps it's time to simply BE and enjoy the beauty of the simple. My friend has an amazing saying which I have been repeating continually since hearing it. It goes like this:
No effort level required, just simple observance of where God has you in the moment. As the busy holiday season approaches, will you allow yourself to BE and SEE all that HE has done? This is my hope for my family and anyone seeking to turn down the noise when it seems there are so many temptations to turn it up during this season.
When we intentionally turn down the effort level, we may just find the true joy of Thanksgiving and Christmas becomes effortless!
This holiday season, may WE just BE!
Preschool is a special time.
After putting my son on several waitlists, I was thrilled when I got a call from one of the preschools saying they had a spot!
"Awesome! Sign us up!"
Little did I know as I took the classic "First Day of Preschool" photo what the coming weeks would hold or maybe I should say what the coming weeks wouldn't hold...like my son not being able to hold his cookies multiple times over multiple weeks. Despite my effort to Lysol and Clorox every surface and basically drape our home in antibacterial spray, we all still caught some version of this illness.
Just as I thought things were looking better...BAM another cycle of "Oh Boy, Here We Go Again." Relentless, I tell you!
But, we are stronger still, and I am happy to report we have had almost a full week of health, we'll sort of, if you don't include the current loss of my voice leaving me with a squeaky, raspy sound each time I talk. Sexy, I know!
So where am I going with all this? Basically, I have always been amazed by moms...but now after dealing with illness after illness week after week, I AM SOOO AMAZED with you mamas out there! If you can relate to this scenario of wave after wave of sickness - which I'm guessing most of you can - may you be blessed for your endurance and may God hold you as you hold your little ones!
In an effort to keep my kids and myself hydrated while enduring these germs, I made this cup as a reminder to myself that God's strength is always there to fill us! This simple message not only inspired me to keep drinking but actually helped fill me with confidence that with God's strength, anything is possible!
Needless to say Purell, Emergen-C, garlic supplements, and any other immune booster I can get my well-sanitized hands on have become part of a weekly creative habit to try and create a healthy environment for my family!
In closing, whatever illness this week may or may not hold, hang in there mamas! You are stronger than you think!
Wishing you creative and healthy days ahead!
For all the moms I am meeting at MOMCON and all the moms reading this who I wish I could meet this weekend, this is my letter to you!
Dear Gifted Mama,
If you are reading this, then it means God carved out time for both of us to be here, which is really quite miraculous when you consider all the preparations we both made to come to MOMCON and all the things that could have come up to keep us from standing here. But here we are! Praise the Lord!
As I write this letter to you, MOMCON is 2 days away and if I am really honest, I'm not sure I'll make it! Between a teething baby, sick preschooler, and myriad of other unexpected "life" situations - I'm feeling like anything creative must be put on the back burner.
And yet, this very booth is the result of God carving out creative time to refuel this busy mama. I first established Creative Habitat to help busy moms develop creative habits to refuel in daily living by tapping into their creative gifts. I wholeheartedly believe God uses our creative gifts to draw us near to Him and serve one another which brings me to my "Why."
Why is Creative Habitat here at Booth 715?
Because I want to C.A.R.E. (Create A Rejuvenating Environment) for you! I hope you walk away from this booth feeling affirmed in the creative woman God designed you to be! I want to give you the opportunity to share your creative gifts and inspire other mamas here! Because Mama - YOU are gifted! And when we all share our creative gifts and C.A.R.E. for one another, I believe something amazing happens...tapping into our creative gifts not only refuels us but also refuels those we serve!
It's been said many creative ideas get their start on a napkin! Will you take this opportunity to share one creative activity that refuels you or one creative idea you want to develop? A simple word, phrase, or sketch will do!
I hope you feel rejuvenated after this napkin activity! Carving out protected time and space to create is why Creative Habitat is here to C.A.R.E for you!
I just experienced a rare phenomenon in my creative life - my ever dreaming, full of ideas, always trying to prioritize which idea to focus on life.
This serendipitous clarity approached me at the entrance of the Santa Fe Design Center, a rustic furniture and design store located in - you guessed it -Santa Fe, New Mexico. This classy and eclectic store is housed in the former Santa Fe Motor Company building, a refurbished warehouse characterized by the original criss-crossing steel beams and large central skylight-filled atrium.
I felt a spark of intrigue as I made my way through the design center and into the open central space with a variety of creative studios, stores, offices, and restaurants surrounding the perimeter of both the lower and upper level. As I surveyed this space, I couldn't help but pull out my phone to snap every cool angle I could find. I was, after all, trying to finish a photography challenge with 30 unique prompts during our week-long visit to Santa Fe and I still had a few prompts to complete.
About 5 pictures into my warehouse photoshoot Prompt #19 - Something You Want struck me with conviction! I want to design and repurpose a space like this where creative moms can come to discover and develop their creative gifts and refuel in the process. I want to design a Creative Habitat with separate creative spaces for moms and their kids.
Think collaborative, feminine think tank meets multigenerational play space!
This is something I want for every creative mom - especially the moms who don't think they are creative - because ladies, each and every one of you is creative and gifted! I want to design a space where you can unwrap those creative gifts on a regular basis while knowing your kids also have a safe space to play, imagine, and create!
I want to create a safe space where moms support one another and don't compare themselves to anyone else, but rather, celebrate each other's gifts.
Finally, I want to make this Creative Habitat a 501c3 non-profit so the proceeds are reinvested in moms. Refueling moms. Inspiring moms.
I want to invest in a space where you feel invested in, Creative Mama!
I believe, with all my heart, no investment yields higher returns than an inspired mom because inspired moms lead to inspired families...lead to inspired communities...lead to an inspired world!
Heck, I think it's safe to say, if you have read this far someone in your life has affirmed your creative gifts. I would not be surprised if that someone was an inspired mom, perhaps your inspired mom. I can definitely attest to my inspired mom's influence on my creative pursuits and continued motivation to keep writing, dancing, and dreaming.
Whew! I'm getting PUMPED...and a little off track.
Where was I?
Oh Yes! Back to the photography challenge prompt:
#19 - Something You Want
I want creative time and space for moms and their kids under the same roof but in different spaces so moms can focus on their creativity knowing their kids creativity is also being stimulated.
And just like that...after years of wondering, pondering, and imagining...
I was prompted...and boom...Clarity!
I want to design a Creative Habitat where moms can invest in their creative gifts and workout their creative muscles on a weekly basis - similar to a gym workout but for the right hemisphere! I want to create a space where moms can develop creative habits to refuel in daily living!
Good news is, I'm equipped with an interior design degree and a clear vision - now it's time to find some collaborators...
Now it's time to get to work!
What about you Creative Mama? How would you respond if prompted to answer "Something You Want?" Don't hold back!
You can find the rest of my Santa Fe photos and associated photography prompts (30 in total) on the Creative Habitat Instagram page HERE.
This photography challenge reminded me of the creative insights gained from a simple prompt. Therefore, in an effort to maintain creative habits myself, I will be following weekly creative prompts and I invite you to join me. I will post weekly creative prompts HERE.
P.S.S.S (This is the last one - promise!)
I've had an idea for a collaborative creative space simmering in my mind for years. I've posted a few pictures of one of my undergrad interior design projects HERE. I designed a Cultural Arts Center with shared space for visual arts, culinary arts and performing arts. Imagine a space like this filled with creative moms! Now THAT is something I want!
I'll keep you posted as this dream takes flight - in some ways it already has!
Introducing Stephanie Marsh - Creative Habitat's First Official Guest Post Contributer!
For those of you who watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the joy. Anything you do, you should always find the joy in it. Whether it’s saving someone’s life, or in my case, sketching. Hey, they both have joy!
A few months ago, I scheduled a coaching session with Rebecca to discover my creative habit. It was something I can’t even believe I ever stopped doing. My creative habit was drawing in my sketch pad - just for a few hours a week. Even though I was taking care of myself, she shared carving out creative time and space in daily living was a specific form of self-care - an opportunity to express my creative gifts freely.
Thinking of "creative time" seemed to spark something in me - a memory of when I used to sketch regularly.
Where I lost it...
When I was younger, I used to love drawing. I did it every day. It was my chill out activity. I especially loved sketching cartoons. Disney cartoons are some of my favorite but Looney Toons are fun too, and of course, who can forget the Smurfs. I don’t mean the new Smurfs...I’m talking original 1980’s Smurfs! I don’t know when it happened exactly, but for some reason I went to college and just kind of stopped doing it. My notebooks gathered dust. They were replaced by study sessions and college festivities. Then I joined the work force and that certainly didn’t help things. I was by no means unhappy in life. But somehow this simple activity just seemed to disappear from me. Every now and again I would draw something for the kids to color. But not like before. Besides, I was doing it for them not for myself.
Fast forward to today. Here is what reestablishing my creative habit of sketching has done for me!
Now, at 33 (I’m not old), I have started to feel like a little kid again! After our coaching session, Rebecca recommended I take one morning or evening a week to draw during a meal since this was the time I had more flexibility than other parts of my busy day. Well, once I recommitted to my creative habit of sketching, it basically turned into a nightly practice. And every day I find myself seeing a cartoon or remembering something and going OOOOHHH! I’m gonna draw that tonight!
After a couple weeks, I finally started showing my husband my drawings. At first he didn’t even believe that I had done them. This simple creative habit has not only helped me find a little bit of joy but I’ve even started to remember what it felt like to be 18 and drawing doodles of Marvin the Martian! It reminds me of what it was like back when everything seemed fresh and new.
Committing to my creative habit of sketching also helped shift my mindset...
I work in web design and have an appreciation for art and design, but the idea that my little doodles could put me in the same category as an art form seemed foreign to me - but that even got me thinking. Why am I not an artist? I draw, I write, I design, I make things pretty, I cook. Is that not an artist? Tapping into my creative gift of sketching not only helped me rediscover joy, but also helped me see myself as the creative woman I am!
EG Management Consultant
Here are a few more of Stephanie's sketches. Enjoy!
She certainly did!
Are you interested in contributing a guest post like Stephanie?
Please see Guest Post Contributer - SUBMISSION FORM
Looking forward to hearing from you and
As always, wishing you creative and refueling days ahead!