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Posts from the ‘Nina’ Category

Nina: Well, now that I’m here . . . .

I guess I should introduce myself a little bit.  As this is a community of creative moms, perhaps my creative work is an important part of who I am in relationship to you all.  And how in the world do any of us manage to juggle all of our responsibilities as moms with our internal, soul-longing to create?   Since I’ve had so many years of practice at this, and made so many mistakes along the way, perhaps my experience can offer some encouragement to younger moms.  Because I know that those of us who have this creative drive, will not be denied . . . . we might find ourselves weary and exhausted, creating in the wee hours of the morning (if we are morning girls!) or in the dark hours of midnight (if we are night owls) – but somehow we will find a way to create.  And if you are at all like me, you probably even create in your sleep!  Do you wake up with a gazillion ideas screaming through your brain, demanding you to pay attention to them, get up and write them down or sketch them out?  Are we a creative sisterhood, or what?

I have always known that this would be part of my life.  As a very young girl, living in a little cottage by a lake in mid-Michigan, I would write tiny books and illustrate them.  I made paper dolls from notebook paper, cardboard, and crayons by the hour.  I dressed them in all of the incredible outfits that I knew I would never have for myself.  Have you ever read the book, “The Hundred Dresses”?  It is a story about a little immigrant girl who wears the same dress to school every day, and when the other girls make fun of her, she tells them that at home she has “a hundred dresses.”  Right!  Of course, they don’t believe her.  Eventually, after many weeks and months of this humiliation, the family finally decides to move away.  And when the girls who were so unkind to her discover that she has gone, they walk up to “Polish Town” to try to find her . . . . but she is no where to be found.  The door to the house is unlocked, and as they enter the shabby little house and walk into her bedroom, they discover, in fact, “one hundred” drawings of beautiful dresses, taped to the walls of her bedroom.  Sorry to spoil the ending for you, but that has always felt like my story. 

As a pre-teen I taught myself to sew.  That was back in the “olden days” as my kids call it, when I could buy a pattern for 50 cents, and enough fabric to make a new dress for $2.00 – $3.00.  And that’s just about what I could make in a night of babysitting!   So, actually I taught myself to sew in self-defense   ;o)  since that was about the only time I ever got a new outfit.  Over the years, I continued to sew and I learned so much from my mistakes.  By the time I got married and had my babies (back in the days when we were all either Earth Mothers or Bra-Burning Feminists!) I decided that my direction in life would be to stay home with my children, even though it meant that we wouldn’t have all of the material possessions that families would have with two incomes.  And one way that I made those few dollars stretch, was to sew for myself and my children.  And that was the beginning of my real love affair with textile design, fabric art, quilting, and any other kind of fabric creations that I could dream up. 

So, here I am many years later, continuing to design and create beautiful children’s clothing, tote bags, and other accessories . . . . and along the way,  I returned to college where I earned three college degrees, and discovered that I also love to write!  I have recently combined these gifts and experience, and now I have been blessed with the opportunity to write eBook patterns for a variety of my designs so that I can now encourage and guide young moms who want to learn to sew for themselves and their children.  I love helping other moms!  That is my passion now, to use my creativity at this stage of my life to bring the joy of the artistic life to others who need a little help along the way.  I’ve also played a bit with altered art and mixed media collage work, and one of my pieces will be included in an upcoming book, “Life is a Verb.”  This is a book by Patti Digh, and it is a collection of essays on the topic of “37 Days” . . . . if you knew you had just 37 days to live, what would you do with your life?  Well . . . . as you can see, I DO like to write!  And, although my creative work is perhaps a bit different from the writers here in this group, I truly want to encourage every woman, mother, sister, girlfriend . . . . . to create!  Express yourself in the areas where you are gifted, and together we can create a community where we can support each other.  Now that I’m here, just wanted to introduce myself!  

Here are a few fun things I’ve been working on recently . . . . .

       

          

Nina: What can I bring to this party?

Well, since I’ve been invited to the party, I am wondering what I have to bring to this gathering. I’m honored to be included in this creative sisterhood, and I’m impressed with what I’ve read and seen since I arrived. But I still am trying to figure out what I have to offer. I’ve been thinking about it all day . . . . . while I was at my daughters’ school listening to first graders read “Never Say Never” over and over and over again. I thought about it after school when we drove down the hill to WalMart to buy the new “Alvin and the Chipmunks” dvd that I promised Gracie if she earned her “Good Worker Awards” at school this week. And I was still thinking about it when we arrived home with way more “stuff” than I intended on buying on this little shopping trip. Oh well, that always happens whenever I go shopping with husband and kids in tow. “We really need these, Honey,” he’ll say as he throws in a pair of slippers and a 10-piece miniataure tool set. “Look at THIS, Mom! We REALLY need a new sleeping bag / tote bag / sun glasses / flip flops / Dora watch,” whatever . . . . I’m tired and I just want to go home!

Having been a mother for almost 35 years (yes, I probably am old enough to be YOUR mother!) I’ve had many experiences and years of joy and heartache . . . . .maybe THAT’s what I can bring to this party. Not that I know so much more than younger mothers, it’s just that I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and most people who know my husband and I wonder if we are totally insane that we decided to adopt our daughters after all our other children were grown up and most of them having families of their own. Could be . . . . but I guess we are happy crazy people! Being a mom can be very exhausting, especially if you have a creative spirit. I am always amazed at the other moms that I meet who seem to have nothing else to do but drop their kids off at school, and then go home and watch Oprah. Now, not that there’s anything wrong with watching Oprah . . . . . I guess, I don’t know because if I had an hour to do whatever I wanted to do, it sure wouldn’t be to watch TV, no matter who’s chatting with whom on a couch in the middle of a studio audience!

So how do we balance the demands and responsibilities of motherhood with our need for time to express our creativity? I’ve tried lots of different things, including the one hour bath time, the dining room table tent, and all kinds of other tricks to appease my sense of . . . . what? . . . . guilt? . . . . . that I need time for ME! We are all such creative moms, whether we write, paint, dance, sing, design, sew, draw – and that is just who we are. And that is OK! And whether or not you believe in a Higher Power, or God, or whatever works for you, I think it is OK with the universe that we, as women, as wives, as mothers, as people, need time to be who we were meant to be. So . . . . my first offering as an invited guest is this: Let yourself be yourself. Simple, right? It really is, because if there is one thing I’ve learned in all the years that I’ve been a mom is this one straightforward truth: if I collapse under the weight of the “expectations” for my life, I am not really very helpful to those who really, truly do need me. Oh, expectations . . . . let’s chat about THAT topic one of these days!

If you can afford a few hours a week for child care, even if you are “just” working at home, do it for YOU. Or trade with another mom who also needs some time to herself. Find a way, without feeling guilty, to allow your creative spirit to soar beyond the everyday demands. Give yourself the gift of YOU, and that gift will overflow to everyone else in your life. Don’t waste the years that I wasted, thinking that if I just worked a little harder, a little longer . . . . just got a little less sleep, or deprived myself so that others could have everything they want and always be happy . . . . . . it simply didn’t work then, and it won’t work for you, either. Lower the bar . . . . isn’t that what one of you suggested? Touche!

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