It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post...not for lack of inspiration! Perhaps more for lack of words - and time - if I’m really honest. There are seasons of rest and seasons of building. This summer has been a season of building including these 5 developments.
1) Building our Team
We’ve built our team with the addition of our Co-Founder, Heather Nerem. Meeting Heather a year ago was a divine appointment on many levels. She is a strong woman of God with a passion for soul care and a vision to help women find rest in their Creator. In the three years of developing the initial Creative Habitat blog, coaching resources, and workshops, I have interviewed and talked to hundreds of women who are becoming moms or starting businesses or both for the first time. In my initial conversations with Heather, it became abundantly clear, we share the same vision.
We each bring a different perspective and skill set, but the heart is the same - to serve women in their creative giftings by providing quality childcare and coworking resources to bless busy moms with time and space to focus on their unique talents and gifts and a tangible community of support. We aim to use our “Triple T’s” (time, talent, and treasure) to create space for women to tap into theirs.
2) Building our Summer Co-Op Program
In June, we launched our Summer Childcare Co-Op Pilot Program in West Des Moines serving 9 moms and 13 kids! Our innovative approach to childcare and coworking has allowed us to partner with the DSM Children’s Museum, Valley Community Center, and the West Des Moines Library. It has been a joy to see this vision come to fruition and get to know the amazing moms and kids who “took a chance” on a new concept. This is one of the reasons we love working with and serving entrepreneurial moms, because they are willing to “try something new” and grow with us. If you are a current co-op member, thank you for believing in us the way we believe in you!
3) Building our Coaching Capacity
After 3 years of contemplating becoming a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, I finally took the leap and attended an intensive week long training to ensure we are applying industry best practices to our coaching resources for mompreneurs. Gallup is a global leader in talent development, workplace engagement, and strengths-based coaching and we now offer Gallup’s proven strengths coaching resources in our leadership development curriculum, childcare curriculum, and individual and team coaching.
4) Building our Outreach
This past year felt akin to jumping into the deep end and floundering a bit before learning the key strokes. Fortunately, we had a few lessons on how to stay afloat while we navigated our new environment. We have learned how to “tread water and hold our breath” for each new lap in this 800 meter race - AKA the business development process. Good news is, we are officially recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 which was a big milestone in legitimizing our mission and starting to build more awareness in our community.
5) Building in Margin
By joining forces, Heather, my mom and I have multiplied our ability to serve more with less. Like many of you, we are all in busy life seasons as well (Heather and I both have 2 young kids) and my mom just got married, moved, and is embarking on a whole new chapter! We all value work/life balance and try to live our mission and values by carving our consistent time to rest amidst the busyness of doing life. We have experienced God’s extension of time, grace and provision by prioritizing margin, even in a busy building season.
Speaking of margin, I am writing this blog after 2 weeks of soul care and “rest”oration. With God’s blessing, I purposely stepped away from my normal routine to prepare my heart for the next round of building! As summer fades to fall, we rejoice because fall means harvest and we are ready to harvest all that has been sown for His glory (John 4:35)!
As always, wishing you creative and refueling days ahead.
Ehem...I must compose myself. I’m still trying to process a discussion I had with a small group of moms this evening. These kind women were gracious enough to sit through my word vomit on how I end each day in motherhood with a sigh of relief. I was actually able to verbalize that mothering is my greatest source of need - EVER.
Basically, I confessed in more ways than one, that I DO NOT have the slightest clue what I am doing most of the time. This is not an easy confession for someone who tries to keep 10 balls in the air at the same time...”try” being the key word.
My friends, I am here to let you know you are not alone if you struggle as a mom. The struggle is real, but so is the joy. I just heard a song for the first time called “Drowning in Love” by The Tenors. As I listened to the lyrics, I realized this song is expressing the same message I struggled to articulate with these ladies tonight. To think I could have summed up my motherhood struggles in these three words...would have saved us all what, now, feels like an awkward 10 minutes of oversharing.
Thank goodness for grace!
I’m deeper than I have ever been, drowning in love - loving with everything that I have until I end each day exhausted. My sighs of relief as I put my kids to bed are a daily testament that where I end God begins. This has been my motherhood journey for the last 3.5 years...a lot of me ending and even more of God beginning. Amen!
A few weeks ago, my son and I participated in a Kids in Biz event in our neighborhood. We sold spring seeds in pots and called our booth “The Potter’s Hands” because we had paint for the kids to make fingerprints on their pot of choice. This was my son’s first official venture...here are the lessons learned:
1) Pots are breakable...transport with care!
2) It’s ok to evolve the “business plan” - originally we planned on painting full hand prints on the pots...but after a very messy first go around - we decided a fingerprint does the trick!
3) Don’t be intimidated when you arrive and someone else has a similar booth with similar looking pots - especially when the little girl selling them stops by your booth and says “looks like you shopped at the same store as us”😆
4) The display is key - especially on a windy day! Make sure to secure all corners of table cloth with the heaviest pots and then work your way in with smaller pots.
5) Do not attempt to go-to-market without a PB&J and fruit snacks to feed the mini vendor.
6) Always have a pack of wet wipes ready to go - to wipe the PB&J fingers and the customers painted fingers.
7) Always be prepared when someone asks for the whole tray of small pots - bring more small pots next time😉
8) Make friends with the booth vendors next to yours so you can take your mini vendor to the bathroom at a moments notice while your booth is being supervised☺️
9) When it’s time to clean up, put mini vendor in car first and let him hold the fruits of his labor (a plastic baggy with a few dollar bills) - this way you can clean up faster and also let mini vendor have some time to decide where he wants to go to pick out a toy.
10) Get in the car, give mini vendor a high five for the $18 he made! Tell him you are going to toy store and take him to the Dollar Store to choose one toy.
11) Walk out with one toy and $17 to put in the piggy bank.
12) Remind him how proud you are of him and how much you enjoyed spending the day with him!
13) Next time you are out and mini vendor asks for something - ask him if he has money for it - and when he says “No,” remind him he has $ in his piggy bank for something really special when the time is right.
14) Give the remainder of the inventory to special neighbors, friends, and grandmas!
15) Cherish these teaching moments and know the seeds sown will last for years to come.
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!