I have recently read The Creative Life: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections, by Amanda Blake Soule (aka SouleMama to the blogging community).
I cannot begin to describe just how INSPIRED this book and this woman have made me. For any of you who would have once described yourself as an artist, and then have found yourself with children and 'no time' for your art, you need to read this book. It's a light read, it took me about a day and a half of picking away at it. It includes cute and fun little project how-to's (I instantly made my Claire some pants from one of Troy's old shirts), but it was the words surrounding the projects that hooked me.
Amanda seems to hold many of the same convictions and values as I; an appreciation for the earth and the gifts it offers us, a sense that gratitude, kind thoughts and positive thinking will take us far, a desire to live in the moment, to let her children 'get messy', be creative, and catch these values from us. I love how she describes that the items she creates carry her 'intentions and thoughts of love' for the person to receive the item. I've read a lot of her blog posts out loud to my husband, laughing that she also has a chronic falling down the stairs problem (I thought only I managed to do this so frequently) and an affinity for rearranging furniture. I particularily loved/identified with a line in this post, when she writes "It was just a little rearranging - not one of my "let's put the living room in the dining room and the dining room in the kitchen! Today!" rearranging moments." Ahh, Troy loved it too, I could tell.
But what struck so near and dear, and inspired me SO MUCH? She describes how the act of creating sustains her inner calm, centers her, fulfills her, and in helping her to be this better person, helps her to be a better mother.
The 7 years since the arrival of our first baby boy I have lamented that motherhood has taken away my time to be the artist that I am. My sketchbooks, once drawn in daily, dwindled and finally stopped. When I do create, it's usually in some house form (sewing, gardening, decorating) or for work (I'm a graphic designer). Not that the form art takes is what's important, but more importantly it's the feeling that I've applied to doing any of it. Since having the kids I've designated art/creating as a guilty pleasure, a frivilous activity that when I do, I am neglecting my family. My creativity has been placed well below all of our other family priorities.
I have caught a creative fever since reading this book and beginning to follow SouleMama's blog. It's like I've finally given myself permission to do what I love.
I've starting sewing some clothing for the kids that I've been wanting to try, I went to the library and picked up a How to Upholster book to tackle that chair I've been meaning to, I made myself some knitting needles, picked up some pretty yarn, and have found that knitting away on a little hat for Claire. I've discovered knitting is a great way to sit and be with the boys as they play. I have found the materials to make our own montessori sandpaper letter cards. The kids and I have been infusing more creativity into our days every day. We've searched out and planted more in our gardens, we've made a little veggie garden, and yesterday, Thane asked me to teach him to knit. My mom is currently packaging up some of her unused embroidery materials, because I think the clothes I'm making could use some nicely stitched animals on them. And the best part, I haven't spent evenings exhausted and collapsed on the couch to veg and watch shows in weeks. I am doing more but feel more energetic. It's amazing and I am so greatful for this inspiration I've stumbled on.