Ladies, it is time to get vulnerable...more vulnerable than I would like, however I have learned vulnerability is a MUST in any authentic creative process. First, here is a brief recap for those who are just reading this blog for the first time.
Like you, I am a busy mom trying to navigate the fast-paced swirl of modern day living with grace and ingenuity. This blog is my documentation of that navigation process. I post insights from my own journey in carving out creative time and space to refuel (and avoid burnout) so I can continue to pour into those I love more fully. I also share creative habits I am learning to practice to maintain work/life balance.
Finally, I post resources to help other busy moms discover their creative gifts and develop creative habits to refuel in daily living. Each blog post represents my creative habit of writing because writing refuels me and refueling through creativity is core to the Creative Habitat mission.
Now confession time. Despite my efforts to carve out creative time and space over the past few weeks, I have felt an inner sense of conflict. Current events (both national and international) as well as recent personal events have reminded me of the battle we all wage both internally and externally to claim joy amidst turmoil. With the weight of the world resting on our shoulders and tyranny of the urgent constantly vying for our energy, carving out time to create (just for the joy of it) can feel frivolous. The battle is real, and yet so is the need.
As I've contemplated my own experience with this battle, I've come to the conclusion, it is worth the fight. It is the creative act, after all, that brings light and beauty to a hurting world. Our creative gifts not only bless and refuel us as the creator, but have the potential to bless and refuel many who are on the receiving end.
Dear friends, I know the battle is real because I experience it daily, but please be reminded no matter how many internal or external issues you may be facing, your creative gifts are equally real. The world needs your light, so shine on!
Wishing you creative and refueling days ahead.
Check out the Creative Habitat Facebook Page where I will be posting weekly resources starting Monday, October 24th including:
*Blog photo from wallpapersus.com*
I miss hearing cheers in our living room now that the Rio Olympics have ended. I can only imagine how the athletes must feel after years of training for two weeks of glory that are now history. Fortunatley for athletes like Kerri Walsh, many are returning to spend quality time with their families after intense months away training.
Kerri is not only a decorated Olympian in beach volleyball but also a mother of 3! In fact, she was pregnant with baby #3 during the last summer Olympics in London where she won her third gold medal while starting her first trimester! Having just gone through a first trimester, I am amazed at her stamina and agility amidst so many changes happening in her body. Her example of grit is nothing less than bump, set, striking!
So striking in fact, I had to research Kerri further which lead me to "A Day in the Life" clip where Kerri discusses balancing her career and family goals (check it out in the Mompreneurs in the Media section of this site - under Resources).
What strikes me most about Kerri is her ability to weigh decisions based on what is best for her family including making the committment to pursue her gift in volleyball so she can stay inspired.
"Any time away from my family needs to be something that betters me and betters my life for my family." - Kerri Walsh
This single quote shows she knows her values and refuses to settle for anything less than best for her dreams and her family. She understands the sacrifices and the reward of pursuing her gifts. Fortunatley she has not let the sacrifices hold her back and has reaped both personal and professional rewards as a result of her diligent dedication to her sport.
Like any mom, I'm sure there are days where she wonders how she will juggle her training schedule while keeping up with 3 kids. Yet somehow, like any mom, she makes it happen day after day because she has established a routine and her routine includes carving out time to develop her gift so she can continue to be bump, set, striking!
Ladies, we may not be Olympians like Kerri, but we are all invited to play in the game of life. We have 3 choices. We can continue rushing busily through our days and miss the opportunity completely, sit on the sidelines and wish we were gifted enough to play, or recognize our gifts and carve out time to develop these gifts so when it's time to play, we can bring our "A" game!
Choose option 3 and the next cheers you hear in your living room may just be from your family because let's face it, when you develop your gifts, everybody wins!
If you want help carving out time to discover and develop your gifts, DOWNLOAD a FREE:
"Mom's Guide to Developing Creative Habits"
"Mompreneurs Guide to Uplevel Success"
Blog photo from fiercelyfitenterprises.com
"Diving board", "Vault", and "Medal" are all among a slew of new words I've been teaching my son while streaming the Rio games this week. "Perseverance" and "Grit" are on the list to learn, but those will come with time, sweat, and energy in the future. Life alone will teach him. No Sesame Street episode or "Word of the Day" can convey the courage and endurance needed to persever under pressure, however the Olympics provide many examples of those who embody this spirit of grit!
In fact, every Olympian athlete embodies this tenacious spirit, yet, there is one who stands out to me during these games. Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medalist, Dana Vollmer is a 28 year old swimmer and 6 time world record holder as well as a "Momma on a Mission" as she proudly refers to herself.
So what makes Dana Vollmer stand out? Perhaps it's her humble spirit, down to earth demeanor or the fact she gave birth 17 months ago and is still competing in the Olympics, nevermind winning medals!
This means she started training months after birth, probably while still nursing and I'm assuming on very little sleep. I mean WOW! I'm truly in awe of her capacity and dedication to carve out time to swim! She embodies not only perseverance and grit, but the very mission I have been trying to convey with this blog encouraging busy moms to carve out creative time and space to refuel in daily living by retreating to their Creative Habitat (a protected environment promoting growth and well being)!
Dana's example is proof it is ok and healthy for moms, even brand-spankin new moms to retreat to our Creative Habitats to refuel. She swims laps at the pool and wins medals while I write blog posts and enjoy the simple pleasure of penning a few thoughts. Different outcome, same renewing effect!
Mommas out there, if you are exhausted, stretched to your limit, depleated of energy or perhaps you just feel like you have let an important piece of you go, I implore you...for the sake of your health and your family, please allow yourself creative time and space to refuel on a regular basis (if not daily). If Dana can return to the Olympics as a #Mommaonamission, we certainly can carve out a little mom"me" time to enjoy the creative gifts we embody!
This article describes Dana Vollmer's daily routine and "creative habits" that have allowed her to carve out some mom"me" time to refuel before spending the rest of the day enjoying mommy time with her son, Arlen.
"Time management is key," she told TODAY. "I kind of retired in 2013 and had my son. And my whole goal with this comeback was that I would always feel like my son came first. I have tons of super supportive moms I talk to all the time, and they always said you need some alone time for yourself. And that's what swimming became for me."
Did you like this post and want more encouraging and helpful resources to help you carve out creative time and space to refuel in daily living? If so, please "like" the Creative Habitat Facebook page HERE.
7 years ago today I married my best friend. August 7th will always remind me of the committment I made to love and support him through thick and thin. We started our marriage in the thick of his second year of medical school and have lived on a thin budget of time and money ever since.
Now, as he begins his final year of residency, I can't help but reflect on God's faithfulness in our marriage from our days as newly weds to becoming new parents amidst the many challenges and transitions of medical training.
Serving in marriage has been the single most precious and challenging creative habit I've worked to develop. Many may not see serving a spouse as a creative habit, yet, after 7 years of marriage, I can attest to the many ways creativity has helped our marriage through some challenging times.
Take for example the time both our cars broke down simultaneously in medical school when we were living on my single paycheck and did not have enough saved for one car down payment, nevermind two. We started a side business together using his medical know-how and my background in design. He got us in the market and I did the marketing! We got a working car and a golden doodle puppy named Carley as a result of our collaboration.
Carving out time for dates is another example of creativity in a medical marriage where both time and money are sparse. Given his constant need to study and strenuous schedule over the course of his medical training, we have made an effort to meet up and share a meal at lunch since we have been fortunate enough to work close to eachother in both medical school and residency. These midday breaks make his long nights of focused study/work much more bearable.
Anyway, you get the picture. Marriage, like any committment, takes work but creative habits turn challenges into opportunities to work together!
I was reminded of this truth while visiting the chapel we were married at during my recent visit to Colorado a few weeks ago. I felt lead to go back to the place it all started and reflect on what I've learned over the past 7 years while praying for creativity to help our marriage thrive over the next 7 years and beyond.
If you are married, I strongly encourage taking some time to reflect on the many ways you and your spouse have collaborated in creativity. You may be surprised how many creative habits you have already cultivated as a result.
I dedicate this post to my husband, my lifelong partner in creative problem solving!
In an effort to create space for new creative habits to take root as I embrace this new chapter of full time motherhood and mompreneurship, my son and I escaped to Colorado Springs (where I grew up) for a two week quest in creative problem solving. We are starting Week 2 of this very important time of reprieve and regrouping before returning to San Diego where our "New Chapter" officially begins.
Points of exploration on this quest include:
1) Praying for energy to match a toddler's energy on a daily basis.
2) Planning a new weekly schedule that will meet the development needs of my son and allow me to carve out time to pursue my own creative habits.
3) Strategizing a way to "batch" weekly responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, etc.) so we can make the most of our quality time.
Most importantly, this time is dedicated to embracing courage in the quest for creative time and space, knowing life will always swirl with the to-do's of today and unknown priorities of tomorrow. To live fully, I must learn how to embrace the delicate balance of letting go and holding on...letting go of my desire to control and holding on to my desire to create. Both require intention and courage from which I believe true creative genius stems.
Elizabeth Gilbert, authour of popular novel, Eat, Pray, Love, recently published a book called, Big Magic where she discusses the creative genius hidden within each of us if we have the courage to live beyond fear. Given creativity is the pursuit and exploration of the unknown, one must overcome the implicit fear associated with such a daring act...to create original work with confidence!
Big Magic is the novel I felt lead to read during this two week hiatus in Colorado. Ironically when I found it during a recent Barnes and Noble date with my son, he grabbed my hand and walked me directly to the Dr. Seuss section. There before us were many examples of one man's creative genius on display. Surely it took courage to write each of those colorful, silly books! Surely Dr. Seuss overcame some level of fear to dare to write books with made up words when he originally intended to get his Ph.D in English Literature. Imagine if he had not chosen to live creatively beyond fear?
I have only just begun reading Big Magic, but it's no surprise the first chapter is titled, "Courage" because courage is the first step in any creative endeavor. The author recounts a profound quote by the late poet and English Professor, Jack Gilbert, who once asked one of his students, "Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say "Yes" (Gilbert, Big Magic, pg.7).
This is a question we all must ask ourselves when we are on the brink of uncovering our Creative Genius. Fortunatley, creative geniuses like Dr. Seuss answered, "Yes!"
Wishing you courage in your creative quest as I embrace courage in mine, admitting each Creative Habitat blog post is just that, a courageous step towards creative living without fear!
Check Out Elizabeth Gilbert's "Your Elusive Creative Genius" TED Talk on the Creative Habitat Creative Leaders link found HERE.
Why is it children intuitively understand how to enjoy the moment while adults spend a good portion of their lives chasing moments only to find they were too busy to enjoy. My theory...children know how to pause and release.
Take an empty toilet paper roll for example. If this seemingly trivial item strikes a toddler's fancy, they won't think twice about pausing to investigate. They will freely release their inhibitions to explore the many possibilities for this new found treasure.
On the contrary, most of their adult counterparts won't think twice before tossing this "treasure" in the trash. There are, afterall, people to see and places to be. What adult has time to pause and release for trivial play these days while living in such a ubiquitous digital age where we are so connected? Or are we so disconnected? Either way, many adults have forgotten the art of "pause and release" because they are too busy with the "go and hold."
We go, go, go and hold tightly to our plans wanting to make the most of each day, yet can miss the best of each day if if we don't embrace the "pause and release" like our children.
I took this photo of my husband and son this weekend while functioning in go, go, go mode. We drove to La Jolla Cove for a walk and I wanted to get home in time to give my son a bath so I rushed.
Who rushes in La Jolla Cove? It's only one of the most beautiful and scenic walks in our country! It should be savored! Well, I hate to admit, I was guilty of not savoring until my son reminded me to pause and release.
While trying to get him to cooperate and get in the stroller so we could go home, he kept arching his back in pure defiance. My husband decided to play a game of toss to distract him. As I watched them play, I couldn't help but pause to enjoy and release my plans in exchange for this photo which I will cherish for years to come!
As you move forward in your day, I hope you will embrace a moment to pause and release. I plan to adopt "pause and release" as a new creative habit starting with writing this post which required a "pause" from my normal morning routine and a "release" from my original plan to curl my hair. Someone is definitley wearing a bun to work today...but it was so worth carving out this time to reflect and, I hope, encourage you!
Check out my first Creative Habitat interview with Owner and Artistic Director of Bowen-Hays School of the Arts as she describes her creative habitat and habits that fuel her creativity.
Interview can be seen HERE
WARNING: You may be inspired!!!
Currently, there is a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette and pair of half chewed up shoes accompanying me at my kitchen table. They are part of a smattering of odd end items that have somehow made their way to a space I've made multiple efforts to keep organized.
I'll just move to another room so I can focus, I naively think to myself. Within seconds, it becomes clear I need to learn how to focus amidst clutter. As I survey my options, I realize I'm not the only one who feels out of place. The bathroom trash can is on top of the entertainment center, the blow up pool with rainbow balls is the new centerpiece on the coffee table, and there are Trader Joe's bags strewn across the kitchen floor.
And it hits me...I trail in the wake of a toddler.
While I tried to pick up after each of my son's many "explorations" this morning, motherhood is teaching me the art of losing control.
Take the raspberry vinaigrette for example. After reaching the 20 minute threshold of "toddler grocery shopping patience", I decided to take my chances and keep shopping for a few more items. Somewhere between the frozen peas and peanut butter crackers, I could sense my son's patience beginning to wane
I pushed on...after all, I still needed the raspberry vinaigrette...or so it seemed.
Within seconds of entering the dressing aisle my son had practically maneuvered his way out of his seat and into the back of the cart to get the much anticipated peanut butter crackers.
Long story short, I left the store with an open box of crackers stashed in my purse (paid for) and a kiddo with peanut butter melted across his face. At least we prevented a public melt down for both of us.
As for the chewed up shoes, well, that is the result of having two 90 pound dogs who think every new toy, book, and pair of kid shoes is free game. Fortunately, they only chewed the Velcro and left the rest intact which would explain the yarn and needle also atop my kitchen table.
Full disclosure, I am an organized person learning how to navigate the messes of life with grace. Grace for the process and also grace for myself.
Creative Habitat is one of my saving graces as it provides an outlet to share my creative gift of writing and, hopefully, inspire other busy moms to carve out a little grace space in their own day.
Whatever your creative gift may be, may you learn how to focus amidst clutter and embrace the art of losing control! This post, after all, is a result of carving out creative space, clutter and all.
Life stretches and pulls us in many directions. Whether we are facing struggles or joys, life is always inviting us to enjoy the ride.
Certain moments in life lighten the heart and bring joy to even the weariest of souls. No matter what struggles may be clouding the horizon, one can't help but smile when a blanket turns into the best ride in town and squeals of joy echo throughout the house. These moments stretch the imagination to think about the world from a new perspective.
This weary soul is here to confess the first 17 months of motherhood and 7 years of marriage to a busy medical student/resident has stretched me in ways I didn't realize I could be stretched.
Just when I think I am stretched to the limit and ready to spring back into place, I feel the tug of life pulling in all directions again. A little time passes and I realize there is no "springing back" only growing forward.
So here I find myself, embracing my new form, trying to reconcile what once was and what now is.
I confess I am a woman stretched thin, but that just means I can cover more ground...similiar to this blanket my son is riding with glee.
Sometimes, we all just need a little bit of glee to stretch our creative muscles and develop our creative habits.
My child was napping soundly approximately 30 minutes ago.
He is now in my backseat speaking some dialect of baby gibberish I wish I understood because it sounds VERY dramatic. While I love his baby gibberish, let's rewind to said: nap...
This elusive nap was supposed to bridge us from point A, our home, to point B, a quaint La Jolla beach house my family rented for the weekend. This nap was supposed to allow us some uninteruppted time to reconnect and talk as adults before this nap was over...
As with many well thought out plans, this nap did not comply.
So I find myself waiting in a parking lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean...waiting.
Waiting for that nap to kick in.
Waiting for the frustration to melt away.
Waiting for energy to improvise.
And then I look up to find the vast ocean waiting for me.
Waiting for me to stop and simply observe.
Waiting for me to take in the peaceful serenity it freely offers.
Waiting for me to simply let go and be.
As I prepare to drive back to the beach house (with a, now, sleeping baby in the back) my heart feels fuller than when I left. The weight of frustration has been replaced by this blessed wait for rest...not only for my son, but for my spirit.
Resting in the waiting is a creative habit I hope to cultivate. It has certainly been freeing this afternoon.
Whatever you may be waiting for, may you too find rest as you wait.