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Monday Post ~ January 31, 2011

Dreaming, doing, living

What would you like to accomplish creatively this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

Jenny: Having Kids Early vs Having ‘Em Later

I had a very enlightening conversation last night — one of many, in fact — with my host here in Sydney, Ms. Jodie Ekert.

I first met Jodie many years back when we were both fresh faces on the stand-up comedy scene (not saying anything about the current state of our faces, mind you, I am speaking purely metaphorically…ehem) — we hit it off and when some many months later she came to town to perform and was looking for an MC, she called on yours truly.

Fast forward x years later and we’re now playing mummy club together in her suitably faboosh child-friendly pad — her bub 15 months, my little dude just a little older — and we found ourselves with a whole new level of common ground over which to chin-wag.

And so it was that the topic turned to the effect that having kids has on your life when you have them early in life versus later. And Jodie’s take on it was an interesting one to me, given that my experience of parenting has been quite different, at least in terms of the timing in my life.

You see, I remember very boldly proclaiming to somebody that “I’m not having kids til I’m at LEAST 33!”, not realising of course, that at that very moment, I was indeed, pregnant.

Ha. Ha.

I was 22.

And once I’d overcome the initial shock of this unexpected twist of events, my first thought turned to all the things I’d wanted so badly to do with my life but hadn’t.

Backpack through Europe.

Carve out a career in showbiz.

Go to Nepal and hire a sherpa.

I was kicking myself for not having taken action before now: why hadn’t I just pulled my finger out and made these things happen when I had the chance? Now that I was going to be a mother, I’d have to just resign myself to those dreams going on the backburner for the forseeable future, if not off the stove altogether.

Then something in me snapped. I resolved — in my traditional melodramatic form — to absolutely NOT let this new stage of my life mean the end of the things I really wanted to do. I was so completely resolute in this, so determined to still make serious headway on even the maddest dreams and adventures in my heart that I think, to be honest, I actually became quite selfish.

I still believe I was a good mother in those early years, in that I cared for my kids, loved them to bits and made sure they were well looked after – but I also recognise now that I became so damn hell bent on achieving what I wanted to with my life that at times my mind wasn’t really present just to enjoy my beautiful babies right then and there, which makes me sad now especially as I realise how quickly those first years really do pass.

Would I change anything?

I don’t know.

The flipside of this, of course, is that my kids have always known (and will always know) a mother who is at least trying — with various levels of success and failure — to look after her own needs and pursue her own goals, as crazy as they may be. Whether this turns out to be a positive thing for them, I can only hope. Time will tell.

Anyway, I am in typical Jenny-fashion, getting rather side-tracked here.

My point is that for me personally, motherhood at such an early age hugely impacted on the way I live my life (duh!) in the sense that it made me resolutely determined to carve out the life I’d barely even begun to live.

Jodie, on the other hand told me that she felt — as a first time mother at 32 — that her struggle was more about dealing with the sense of loss of the life she’d already had. i.e. the career she’d had, even friends she’d had – the difference between her and I being that I’d barely even begun to carve out my life when motherhood hit, whereas she had an established life that then had to change.

Let me hereby state for the record that both of us adore our little ones to bits and are so happy that they are in our lives — but it is fascinating to me the effect that becoming a parent has on your whole world.

It was only last night that I really thought about my own experience from a different angle.

That is, up until now I’d kinda thought at some level that maybe if I HAD done all the stuff I’d wanted to do pre-kids, even if I HAD waited til I was “at least 33″ to have babies, maybe even if I HAD backpacked, treaded the boards and found my sherpa before embarking on the adventure that was family life, that the transition to “mother” would have been simple.

It’s now that I realise that’s just not so.

There’s never a “right time” to have a baby. They change your life no matter what.

And carving out a life for yourself is not just something you do in your early twenties — it’s a lifelong undertaking.

What do you reckon?

[Cross posted from Comic Mummy]

Kelly: Perceptions

I got an e-mail from my father recently with the subject line “This is our old house!” I looked at this picture but didn’t recognize the house, so I asked him the address. He couldn’t remember the address but said it was the one by the old Levitz and the arch in North Miami; we lived there through my elementary school years. I immediately e-mailed back with “17045 N.W. 11th Avenue, 305-620-0367. I remember the house being pale yellow with a big tree in the front yard.” Dad said that, yes, it had been yellow with a big tree in the front yard. I remember that Dad’s boat was always parked on the trailer on the side of the house where that car sits now. It was a pale blue boat with a large number 44 painted on the side. Dad was a daredevil, racing both boats and motorcycles when I was a kid, probably why speed is still in my blood today. My friend Timmy lived two doors down, and my best friend Terri lived around the block. My mom and dad were good friends with Carol and Wally across the street; they had children, too, but I can’t remember their names. They were even younger than I. Dad was down in Miami on business, and when he saw that old arch, he became curious about the old neighborhood and found the house. Looks pretty sad now, doesn’t it? That address was the opening line of this emotionally raw essay.

It’s fascinating to me how our perceptions change as we grow up. When I was a child, that house seemed huge! But thinking back now and seeing this picture, obviously it was quite small. Dad said it was about 800-900 square feet, three bedrooms, one bath. I remember there being a Magnolia tree in the corner of the back yard. I think the tree in the front yard was a Magnolia as well. Based on this little house, I guess we didn’t have much money growing up, but I clearly remember that I never lacked for anything I needed in those days. My mom was a nurse and my dad worked more than one job while going to school at night; they were 20 when they were married in May and I was born in December of the same year. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that math didn’t work out quite right.

There was an elementary school at the end of our street, but because of the times and busing in Miami in an effort to better integrate schools, we weren’t districted for that school. I was to ride the bus to a school on the other side of town. Instead, my parents put in me a private Christian school closer to home, where I was sent home more than once, a tomboy rebelling against the “dress” code by wearing pants. My sister was also born in Miami, but then we moved to St. Petersburg before she was a year old. We were in St. Pete for two years before my parents divorced, and Mom, Kim, and I moved here to the Jacksonville area to be near my Nana and Granddaddy.

My girls and I were driving through “the old neighborhood” a while back, and I showed them the house their daddy lived in when we met and where we lived together for six and a half years. “It’s so small!” they both said. It was about 1,000 square feet, three bedrooms, one bath, built in the ‘50s, a cute little concrete rancher in a neighborhood that has now had its share of neglect. Once we were ready to get started building our current home, we put that house up for sale on a Friday, and I went over to Tallahassee for a football game.  When I got back that Sunday, DH had already sold the house. We didn’t expect things to happen quite that quickly! Luckily, DH’s daddy’s house was vacant at the time, so we were able to move in there, the very house DH was born in and grew up in. It was about the size of my childhood house, and we lived there for the nearly year and a half it took us to build our home.

I think of my perception of my house when I was in elementary school and wonder what my girls think now. Our house is not overly large by any means, especially when I think about the houses my mother and her third husband lived in and the homes of many of my friends, but yes, we are blessed to have a river in the back yard. It’s interesting for me to see how my girls react to the houses of their friends. They have commented that their friends’ houses are smaller than ours…but they’ve also commented that their friends have “soooo many toys!!!” Maybe that’s perception, too, a perception on what’s really needed.  In their friends’ houses, yes, there are lots and lots and lots of toys. Here at our house, sure, the girls have some toys, but we try our best not to give in to every new toy on the market and instead encourage playing outside, making art, playing games together, and playing with the toys they already have. They always have their favorites anyways, don’t they (and the piano makes a great fort)? I don’t remember having a lot of toys. But I do remember always being outside playing, whether in the back yard, over with Timmy, around the block with Terri, or a combination of all the above.

I know you’ve probably heard that old saying about wanting more for your kids than you had as a kid. I wonder if in these days of excess and social media overload if that line of thinking can be a slippery slope. Maybe going back to those simpler days of no internet, no video games, fewer toys and more time playing outside is what our kids, and we, really need. That’s where memories are made.

[Cross posted from Artful Happiness]

Monday Post ~ January 24, 2011

Dreaming, doing, living

What would you like to accomplish creatively this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

 

Wendi: A Writer’s Introduction

I am a WAHM, working as a freelance writer and photographer, currently in Act II of a very happy and successful professional life. Prior to taking on these creative challenges I spent nearly 20 years working for two national nonprofit children’s organizations.

Through each of my professions, the one thing I have always been committed to is helping other parents get more joy and be more successful in the hardest and most rewarding job ever. When I’m not wrangling babies I’m a writing articles about nonprofit business management for Stevenson, Inc.

As a freelance writer my works about parenting and child welfare have been published on a regional and local level. I was recently featured as a guest blogger on Fans of Being a Mom and keep my own blog, Warts and All.

On the creative front, I love experimenting with my new digital SLR camera and sharing my love of photography with others. With two young children, I have to say that most of my creativity right now goes into planning what I will enjoy doing when I have more time, including scrapping some of the 10,000+ pictures I have taken since my kids were born. Right now I’ll settle for just getting them organized.

I’m an avid reader and love connecting with other moms over all things parenting.

I live in upstate New York with my husband and our children, ages 7 and 3. I can be reached at www.wendibrandowwrites.com.

Bonnie Rose: Look Closely

I’ll admit it.

I’ve been neglecting my scrapbooks lately. I have.

I’ve been playing so much with color and different mediums, that I’ve neglected adding to my scrapbook albums on a regular basis.

And time is going by.

I used to be such a faithful scrapbooker. So faithful.

Not doing pages in chronological order — because that’s just too impossible for me! — but I used to be a lot more into creating pages than I am now.

Now I’m more into evolving as an artist.

Playing with textures, different mediums, and exploring the color wheel. I am evolving.


So last week, when my girls were here with us, my daughter Bethany made the comment that I haven’t created any pages in a while, and you know, she was right. Dead right. I haven’t.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel guilty about that at all. I am evolving. And there are days when I journal, days when I play with color, days when I write, days when I meditate, days when I learn, days when I read, days when I play with canvas, days when I play in my sketchbooks and art journals, and there are days when I don’t create much. I just get inspired.

I am always filling up
my creative tank somehow.

So this morning, I decided to create a new page for my daughter’s album. Something I hope she will look back on and realize how often her mom thinks of her.

It’s all about
looking closely as you travel life’s journey.

Supplies used:
gingham 12×12 scrapbook page
dictionary paper
acrylic paints
white acrylic gesso
glimmer mist
flourish stencil
Japanese washi tapes
jillibean soup journaling sprouts
Black pitt pen used for journaling
rubber stamp from CatsLife Press
black alphabet stickers


I hope she loves it.

XOXO

[Cross-posted from A Life Unrehearsed]

Monday Post ~ January 17, 2011

Your Creativity in Action

What would you like to accomplish creatively this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

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