It's Wise Women Wednesday, each week I interview a woman that I believe is inspiring, living abundantly and following her passions. These are all women who live a life of abundance and bring creativity into the world.
Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. I am a thirty something woman. A daughter. A wife. A mother. A painter. Writer. Creator. Sometimes Yogi. Collector of tattoos. Unsolicited advice giver. I am a reader. A book fiend. (“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” Annie Dillard). I listen to music at every opportunity. I’m figuring out what it means to be a woman, a feminist, and a stronger person.
Q. What is your work?
A. I stay home with my kids full time. It’s not something I expected to be doing long term – as in over 13 years, haha - but homeschooling works for us. That’s the bulk of my work.
Somewhere along the way I started drawing. I was very secretive about it, hiding away my sketchbooks and limiting myself in so many ways. It was only after an old family friend, who was an influential artist in my childhood, passed away that I started painting. I pulled cheap art off my walls – generic flowers on canvas that I’d bought from Target – and painted over them in a fit of grief and remembrance. After that I found inspiration in other people from my past, and then from my present. Once I was doing large projects and hanging them on my walls, the secret was out, and I began sharing my work. From there I had the confidence to try other mediums, and currently watercolors are my favorite. I’ve done a few art shows at local places (thank you Green Bean for being supportive on more than one occasion). I’ve had zero luck selling the art, and have transitioned to giving it away. I am also a writer. Mostly fiction. Mostly women’s lit and romance. This is another thing I used to squirrel away. In fact the first thing I wrote - an entire novel - I deleted it as soon as I finished it. (For the record, I still can’t believe I did such a thing). Now I have no less than seventy documents on my computer - mostly brain dumps of ideas and starts of projects I’ll likely not complete – but I don’t delete anything! I even wrote some poetry one night, went crazy and submitted it to an online publication, and it’s going to be in their July issue. (Thank you Kitty Litter Press for liking my innermost thoughts).
Basically I try to do things I have no real clue how to do. Embroidery? No clue how it’s actually done, but I did my made-up version on a pair of Tom’s, and they turned out seriously cute. Painting? Sure, I can pull out craft paints and cover an existing painting with something of my own. Writing? I have ideas, too many ideas, and I love dumping all those thoughts out of my head and into stories. I’ve learned that I like the free and loose nature of just trying something and figuring it out, of surprising myself along the way, and then sitting back and being shocked at what I’ve made. It’s like knitting (which I was taught to do and did not learn on my own, haha), where the joy for me is in seeing a ball of yarn turn into something. I get to look at it and go, “I made that!”
Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. I’m working on a children/middle grade book about playing bluegrass music. This is a very new project in the beginning stages of planning. I’ve drawn out page ideas and have a general idea of what I want to do. I’m fumbling with execution because I’ve never done anything where I incorporate drawings and pictures into the text (is there a
program for that? Probably, haha). Bluegrass is something that has become near and dear to me in the last few years as my kids have learned to play. We are a few years in and it’s the most supportive environment for learning and playing. But it’s not well known – even here in the heart of bluegrass country – and we get asked a lot of questions about the instruments and the style of playing. I want to put something out there to answer those questions, but also to show kids how fun it is, and to encourage the next generation to get involved.
Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. I shared my writing. With friends. With strangers. Like taking pieces of myself and handing ‘em out – not just to be seen, but to be judged. As much as I appreciate the feedback, it always hurts my heart just a bit when someone doesn’t like my story. But in the end, it’s a good thing to take that leap and put it out there. Otherwise it alls seems stagnant; the work isn’t moving forward.
Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it? If not why not what's stopping you?
A. Oh that I had more time. I have a dozen dreams, none that will come to fruition anytime soon. For the next few years – longer, really – my focus is on my kids and trying to raise them into thoughtful creative beings. After that? Maybe I’ll have a cabin slash RV park in the mountains, and I’ll host workshops and retreats. Music. Writing. Art. Yoga. Hiking. Any and all of my passions thrown together.
Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. You are worthy. You can take up space. You can demand to be heard. You can say no. Let go of the guilt. Don’t look back. Pain isn’t forever. You, my dear girl, are made of star stuff.
Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. I keep circling back to these four quotes, finding them tucked into my notebooks, always popping up as reminders: “I decided that the single most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.” Anne Lamott “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman “I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me.” Elizabeth Wurtzel
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Kurt Vonnegut
Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Books. Reading. Music. Lyrics. Passionate voices.
Fresh air. Walking.
Taking a break. Sometimes I have to step back – way back – until I miss it and want to return.
Occasionally I have a stubborn streak that carries me through. I push even when it all feels like crap because I said I would.
Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?
A. Down dog. Because at the beginning of my practice, it’s the first pose that wakes me up. I don’t mean wakes literally, but it’s the bridge between warming up and moving into the vinyasas. It’s when my body feels most alive. Also because it’s a break. During the hard parts – for me – of the series, the down dog is when I take a few breaths, and I remember where I am and what I’m doing. I can tend to get lost in trying to keep up – out of breath, my movements becoming sloppy rather than intentional - and it’s down dog that pulls me back in and grounds me.
Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. By reminding myself every day to slow down. Practicing self care. Looking at myself, my life, my family, and feeling full. By finding ways to give back. Creating. Practicing. Learning. Finding my tribe and allowing myself to trust.