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Posts tagged ‘commitment’

How She Does It: Meet Jane Gilheaney Barry

Jane Gilheaney Barry is a writer, creativist, and curator of the lifestyle and creativity blog That Curious Love of Green. She is seeking representation for her first novel, a modern gothic tale, Cailleach, and editing her creativity book, A Complete Coming Out Guide For Creatives In Hiding, due for publication this year. Jane lives in Co. Leitrim in the North West of Ireland with her husband and children. You’re going to enjoy this bolt of inspiration from Ireland.


At Home with Jane Barry

SM: Please introduce yourself and your family, Jane!
JB: I’m a writer, creativist, and curator of the lifestyle and creativity blog That Curious Love of Green. I live in the North West of Ireland with my husband Adrian, our children Shaylyn, Saoirse, and Sadhbh, and our cat Ernest Hemingway.

SM: Tell us about your artwork/creative endeavors.
JB: I’ve always been what you’d call highly creative but a few years ago I became deliberate with it and that changed everything.

creativity book cover

I started the blog and within a year started writing my first novel, a modern gothic tale Cailleach, meaning witch, hag, or goddess. Since then I’ve taught myself to paint and written the first in a series of e-books on themes of creativity, food, and home. That Curious Love of Green: A Complete Coming Out Guide for Creatives in Hiding will be available for pre-order on Amazon in October.

SM: What goals do you have for your art? How would you define your “life’s work”?
JB: My goal is to be the best writer I can be and right now, to bring my books to publication. I’m trying the traditional route first with my novel and self-publishing my creativity e-book in October. My life’s work is to create, write, challenge, and inspire.

SM: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
JB: I don’t think it has. What I will say is I have an opportunity to impart a certain spirit to my children which might have been lost had I not embraced my own creativity. I’m certainly conscious of and grateful for that.

SM: Where do you do your creative work?
JB: It used to be wherever was cool, or warm, convenient, or quiet. For a short time I had a room of my own; that’s now a child’s bedroom. My current mode is wanderess. I create a space — right now it’s in the eaves of our bedroom — that moves according to the season. I find it helpful to have a dedicated space, but the stimulation of change is also important to me.

SM: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
JB: Yes. I’d never have finished the books otherwise. It’s too hard, even when you love it. You have to create a habit. Since our youngest started school I spend two to six hours a day, five days a week. It was more difficult when they were babies. While writing the first draft of my novel I was getting up daily at 5:00 am to get the hours in before Adrian left for work. But I’m always creating, thinking, or talking projects to myself, the children, and Adrian. All day, every day of my life.

SM: What does creative success mean to you?
JB: For 39 years I dreamed of a writing life, a freer, more creative life. I only had one thing on my bucket list, and that was to write a book. And I knew I wanted to paint. At the point when I started the blog I felt blocked from all these things, from even the most basic of creative writing. I had no background, no training, no frame of reference. I thought this kind of life belonged to other people, “artist types.” I could not have been more wrong. That this is my life now, that I had the power to create it, I believe everyone does, and the democracy of it all. That is creative, is life success, for me. Plus I’ve learned how to slay creative blocks, that’s a success in itself.

Jane_Gilheany_Barry

SM: What makes you feel successful as a mother?
JB:
My eldest girl will be 22 this December. And when I look at her I feel successful, so, fingers crossed for the next two. We had an art day yesterday with everyone sitting around the table writing, painting, and working on various projects. At different times both small girls headed outside, “for inspiration,” they told me. That felt good. I think I will feel successful enough if they can be themselves, think for themselves, and do what they want to do.

SM: What do you struggle with most?
JB: Protecting myself has been a learning curve; my time and energy. And rest. My tendency is to not rest or take care of myself, because I’d rather just work. Which is a way of taking care of myself. But not enough. I’ve improved, but I need to do more for my physical self.

SM: What inspires you?
JB: Everything inspires me, nothing is wasted, nothing is lost. High on my list is colour, nature, beauty, women, houses, weather, wild landscapes, creativity, thinking, and sibling relationships.

SM: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
JB: Not very different to how it looks now. More books I should think. And when my ship comes in to winter abroad; now that would be nice.

SM: What are you reading right now?
JB: My novel writing style has been compared to Daphne du Maurier. In my shock and delight I’m currently reading everything by her. Next on my list is Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner because I love witches, women, rebels, and irreverence.

SM: What are your top 5 favorite blogs/online resources?

SM: What do you wish you’d known a decade ago?
JB: How wonderful life was going to be.

SM: What advice would you offer to other artists/writers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
JB: Look at your day critically and see what, even small changes, you can make to support your creativity. We get so caught up in habits, routine, and with a set script for our days that we don’t make improvements. You have to become really conscious and solutions focused. Also, when planning your day schedule your creativity first. Everything else gets done anyway. Trust the process and put your faith in the work. All the answers are there. The answers to fear, doubt, worry, frustration. Just prioritise and do the work. The tendency is to focus on problems, on outcomes, and what people think, but the joy of your life is the work itself. It’s hard when children are small but every little bit you do adds up. So don’t wait. If it’s important to you you’ll find a way.

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Connect with Jane here:

Kelly: Surrendering My Superpowers

One of the gazillion images I need to edit, this one captured in Virginia last month.

I had to meet with Olivia’s teacher yesterday morning regarding her reading grade. Livvie started out poorly this year, then made the A/B honor roll for the second and third quarters, and now has dropped back down as the school year is winding down. Ever feel completely powerless? Have a conversation with your second-grader’s teacher about her failing reading grade.

We talked through why this might be happening. After all, she did make the A/B honor roll for two quarters! I think with Olivia, it’s all about concentration, or lack thereof (something she, unfortunately, probably gets from me). Ms. G said that lately she’ll race through her reading comprehension quizzes and just circle random answers, seemingly without giving any thought to what the correct answer might be. She’s one of the first to turn in her quizzes. We asked Livvie about this at home, and she said that when she sees other classmates start to turn their quizzes in, she feels like she needs to hurry up and finish and turn hers in, even though these quizzes are not timed. Wow, ever feel like you are trying to keep up with everyone around you when you really don’t need to? I know I could learn from that lesson. Food for thought there… I asked Ms. G to send home several sample quizzes so I could work with Livvie on them over the long holiday weekend and try to get her grade back up. Her reading skills are fine. She’s reading above grade level. It’s just the patience it takes to actually complete the quizzes that she’s struggling with. I also need to help her realize that she is a wonderfully beautiful individual and doesn’t need to compare herself to her twin sister.

I do often feel powerless when it comes to trying to do what’s best for my children. Sounds crazy, maybe, but that’s how it hits me at times. I’m not home for homework time. Most of the academic year, I get home about 6pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and 9pm on Tuesdays. Fridays are my only decent days since I can usually get home by 4pm.  DH picks the girls up from school about 4pm and does homework with them when they get home, so by the time I get home, it’s time for dinner, baths, snuggling, a little reading, and bedtime. DH is great with helping them with their math, but he admits he struggles helping them with their reading and writing. And those are my strong points! That’s where I can and really should be helping them! It all comes down to time.

And that’s also where I’ve been feeling powerless lately and am trying to find ways to make some major changes. Overall I think I’m at a point in my life where, though I’d love to be working on my creative endeavors more, there simply isn’t much spare time most of the year. And I have to tell ya, if I hear one more person tell me “Oh, you make time for what’s important to you,” I think my head will pop off. You can’t create more time, so, no, you often can’t make more time for what’s important to you without something that’s just as important suffering. That’s where reality kicks in. “Find some time after the girls go to bed!” others have told me. My girls go to bed between 8:30pm and 9pm. I can’t give up sleep due to my balance disorder. It’s crucial that I get at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night or my spins pick up. My dizzy meds work to reset my balance while I’m sleeping, so that sleep is ultra-important. I have to get up at 5:30am or 6am, so that means my bedtime is typically about 9pm.

But there are changes I can make, and that’s what I’m working on. Read more

Cathy: Love and writing

I really do often feel stuck between what I “should” be doing instead of writing, and my writing. If I don’t put it first right now, I will only be a resentful pig of a mother and wife. And that’s the truth. Plain and simple.

So yesterday, when I needed a moment in the midst of writing, I doodled this instead.

It’s really almost done. This is the final push. So if my family sees less of me, if you see less of me around the blogosphere, etc., this is why. I am hard at work. I will be back in my family’s life more when I can focus on them better because I will not be dissecting and rearranging a manuscript in my head during our interactions.

And that’s it.

[Cross-posted from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: New favorite thing

Please forgive me if my sentences make no sense today. I had a cahrazy weekend, which included Honey’s birthday, on which I barely saw him. It was a good weekend, a celebratory weekend, but I have been having a cold coming on for a few days, and I think it hit me full force today, when I can finally rest, while catching up and critiquing two manuscripts for tomorrow’s writing group, that is. How’s that for a run-on?

Oh, and for some unknown reason, Captain Comic has decided that somewhere between 3 am and 4:30 am is primo wakeup and run back and forth with lights on and doors slamming time.

Anyway, in time for the December challenge, one of my old writing friends from my Boston days turned me on to a new writing tool. It works like Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way, but it’s online. It’s typed. It’s private, and you can let your mind wander for 750 words, the equivalent of three pages. And you don’t have to find that notebook or pen. I think most of us are sitting in front of a screen these days anyway, right? And it gives me a community of people who are also writing, whether or not I make any more of a connection beyond just knowing they are out there somewhere doing the same thing: http://750words.com.

I am a horrible typist. It takes me about 20 minutes per day to meet the 750, averaging about 35-40 words a minute. all typos are left in place. I try not to go back and correct. I don’t think about what I’m writing, I just let the garbage fall out of my brain through my fingers tips and up onto the screen.

Usually about three quarters of the way in, I hit my stride and there’s at least a phrase if not an idea that I like or that I can work with in something else, later.

Here’s the thing:

When the boys were younger, and I was single and working three part-time jobs to support them, when I woke up in the morning, I put the baby gate across the kitchen doorway of our little condo, got the coffee started, and while it brewed, I started my morning pages with pen and notebook amidst the dulcet tones of Captain Comic hanging on the opposite side of the gate, rattling it and screaming for my attention, Mr. Cynic momming me, and the themes of Blues Clues or Bob the Builder running from the tv in the background. After a few months, they got that I was not going to give them the time of day during “Mommy’s morning pages.”

And that’s when I started writing my almost finished editing this draft manuscript — later in the day, somewhere between job number one and the first school bus arrival, I had 30 minutes in which I wrote the first thirty or so pages of this book. But I was only productive on that if I had been productive earlier by getting through the mess of my daily concerns to hit the subconscious, where the better writing sprung from, like an underground spring of fresh water. First I had to clear away the mud.

So why have I not been writing or editing what I really want to be working on lately?

I think the key is in these morning pages. I think it’s in getting the garbage out of my head. It only takes me 20 minutes, so why not? Here I am, doing it online. And this site has some interesting tools to help you see what mood you’re writing in, for instance. Or what words you repeat, or what senses you are using, and how dominantly you write in one over another. It also has a healthy dose of competition that fuels some of us to write. For me it’s much needed accountability. I highly recommend it: http://750words.com.

C’mon….you know you want to.

 

Kelly: What Shall You Do?

This little scrap of spelling list has been floating around the house for months. I find it here and there, and for some reason, I’ve just never thrown it away. Today I was thinking about everything that I have on my plate on right now, and when I came home, I saw this on the floor in the bedroom. Shall.

Sometimes things get so crazy that we lose track of all the things we said we shall do. The kids get sick (Olivia). You get sick (me). The cat goes on the lam again (Tink). You become over-committed, oftentimes because of things you cannot control (me, work). You stay sick because you’re over-committed (me, still). You follow through on obligations you make because you committed that you shall do them (me, participating in the Halifax Arts Festival even though I was still sick). You work one very demanding full-time job, one part-time job and try to manage a creative business, for a reason (you, um, I, want the part-time job to become the full-time job so you can have more time with your family and more time for creativity). So you keep going.  What shall you do to pull all this together?

Today, I shall try to remember that all things will fall into place where they shall, in their due time, as the Man above plans. And I shall be thankful that I got to get away for a brief 24 hours to reunite with my sorority sisters Saturday (45 of us), antibiotics and cough drops in hand (and a few beers to help battle the germs). And I shall decide that those custom orders can wait just a little while longer, and that will be okay. And I shall decide that I’ll get to my blog when I get to my blog, which obviously hasn’t been very often lately. And I shall sit on the couch and cuddle with my girls while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then lie in the bed and snuggle with DH while watching Antiques Roadshow. And I shall try not to worry about all those things I’ve been losing track of. And I shall decide that everything will be just fine. What shall you do today?

[cross-posted from Artful Happiness…pictures from the reunion there :-)]

Robin: Stepping In

I completed my one week ecourse with Christine Mason Miller this past week.

More than anything, I found that putting the money down for the e-course forced me to DECIDE…Decide whether I am in or out. Am I really moving into this writing life of mine? Or am I just flitting around from here to there talking about it and blogging about it and TWEETING about it.

So step 1: Yesterday, I cancelled with a friend who wanted to shoot the breeze explaining that I KNOW that Josey’s preschool time is supposed to be set aside for writing. And I KID YOU NOT, within the next 24 hours TWO PEOPLE asked me if I would like them to help with Josey, giving me 4 EXTRA HOURS next week to write.

So here I am stepping into my life. I am writing an e-course on the spiritual side of creativity. The anticipated launch date is January 2011. You heard it here first. I am thrilled to say it in this space because this is where I first put my toes in the writing water this year. Thanks to Miranda and all my kindred spirits for the courage to put one foot in front of the other.

[Photo credit]

Kelly: How the Birds and the Bees Made Me Grateful

I came across this picture cleaning up and packing my office before our repaint and recarpet this summer and found it tucked in my calendar last week. It was taken at the beach wedding of a friend. Sarah and I were watching the wedding while DH and Olivia were off shell hunting, and the wedding photographer caught this shot. Such innocence. Where the heck did it go!?!

I was driving the girls to school Friday when Sarah asked, “Mama, how can teenagers have a baby?” Stalling, I asked her what she meant, and she said she saw a teenager on TV that had a baby. Wow! Didn’t expect to have the birds and the bees conversation quite this early. I tried to respond with, “Well, teenagers really shouldn’t be having babies.” And she said, “’cause you aren’t supposed to have a baby until you are at least 30.” See, I’m trying to train them well! I tell them that you can’t get married until you are 30, so therefore, you can’t have a baby until you are at least 30 because you have to get married before you have a baby. (Now, I realize that in this day and age, many women are having children without getting married, and that’s fine, but that’s a discussion for another post…) Anywho, Sarah continued with, “So do we have to start taking no-baby pills now so that we don’t have a baby?”

You see, when the girls have asked me about the little pill I take before I go to bed every night (they are far too observant), I tell them that’s my no-baby pill so that I don’t have any more babies. (Okay, so maybe I need to rethink that conversation.) I tried to explain that while, yes, no-baby pills work to keep you from having a baby, there are things that mamas and daddies do to make babies that you won’t need to worry about for a long, long, long time (like when you are 25, she says, as she sticks her head in the sand). “What’s that, Mama?” And I stupidly responded, “Sex.” “What’s sex, Mama?” I somehow managed to change the subject by responding again that it’s something they wouldn’t have to worry about for a long, long, long time, and then said, “Hey look! They mowed the cow pasture! What are the cows going to eat now!?”

I’m guessing the topic of “What’s sex?” has now probably come up at school amongst their friends. I can hear it now: “Destiny, do you know what sex is? My Mama said it’s what mamas and daddies do to make babies.” I am expecting a call from the school any day now.

This Mama stuff….when you don’t have your own Mama around, it’s very much a make-it-up-as-you-go-along thing. I guess even if you do have your Mama around, you might still be making it up as you go along. There are mornings when it just smacks me out of nowhere. I’ll be standing at the kitchen sink, washing up the breakfast dishes while trying to keep the girls on task to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks and get ready to head out the door, and it smacks me right across the face: I’m a mother. I don’t know why it sometimes hits me that way. From early on, I knew I wanted children. Heck, I wanted four children! Boys! I think maybe that came from seeing my college boyfriend’s family. They are a family of four boys who all absolutely adore their Mama. But still there are days that I find myself amazed that I am a mother…that I am worthy of this task…that I have been given this blessing…that I have the qualifications for this most wonderful of jobs… Maybe it’s because we had to go through so much to get where we are, who knows?

Take a peek over at Brene Brown’s post Monday. She and I corresponded a bit after this post and I’m working on doing a few things on campus related to this project. What does this have to do with being a mother, you ask, other than what should be the obvious that “perfect mother” is an oxymoron? In our e-mails, she directed me to a TED talk she did about vulnerability, and what she speaks of everyday, having ordinary courage, taking the time to realize the small wonderfulness that happens in our lives every day. The little things we overlook. That’s what it has to do with being a mother. I will remember the conversation Sarah and I had Friday morning hopefully for the rest of my days. And standing at the kitchen sink tomorrow morning, I will remember what a blessing it is to stand there and wash the breakfast dishes of two little angels. And I will be amazed and overjoyed that I am their Mama. And I will be incredibly grateful for that gift. How about you? Have you taken the time to think about what you are grateful for today?

[cross-posted from Artful Happiness]

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