Back in the day when I was just starting out as a mom, the Internet was just getting started– think pre-email days. I was married earlier than I expected, moved to a small town (also unexpected) and we started our family the following year. Somehow in all that unexpectedness, I developed a chronic illness and, as a result, was able to chose a career that was as flexible as my creativity and interests. I became a mom and homemaker. It was the best and most unexpected, decision of my life.
The trouble with this decision was we had very little in the way of resources and support. We were far from our families and had very little money; student loans, poor health and owning the “money pit” sucked us dry. The town we lived in was a mono-culture both ethnically and religiously. My husband and I were not of the same ethnic background as the townsfolk and, to further isolate us, we were from two different religions, neither of which had local communities. Fortunately, we did find a few good friends. In the days before the Internet, Google, and Pinterest we had to rely on books, magazines and people we actually knew for support and advice.
The early years were hard. Very hard. But, in the midst of the chaos, my creative spirit rallied. I scoured thrift shops, bought old Home Economics texts (ironically, my school offered Latin and physics instead of Home Ec.), I re-covered second-hand couches, devoured countless parenting and medical books, sewed curtains and cushions, made diapers and maternity clothes and taught myself to cook. The funny thing was I didn’t feel satisfied. Something was missing. I decided to take a drawing class and three weeks later my husband was transferred.
We made a cross country move from a town of 5,000 to a city of 350,000. What a wonderful and terrifying change. My life improved significantly. The money pit was gone, we had access to better medical care and I met the woman who inspired this blog.
Vicki is the mother of four grown children and she recognized her struggles in me. She created a container for my growth as a creative and artistic person and as a mom. She also helped deepen my spiritual nature. We didn’t talk a lot about the day to day struggles of raising children and she didn’t offer to babysit because, she had retired. Vicki helped me with practical things like the fact that I hated the food my family would eat. She taught me to take exceptionally good care of myself and organize my time in a way that made room for creative, intellectual and spiritual pursuits. She honoured the calling of homemaker and mother and did not see it as separate from pursuing creativity in all forms. Vicki introduced me to the idea that the expression of art, music, dance and writing are our birthright as human beings. Creative expression belongs to everyone. Ultimately, this idea became one of the underlying concepts behind Shine, Just Shine.
My life changed dramatically. I began to read new books. Books about creativity, writing and having a fulfilling life, in particular Julia Cameron’s classic The Artist’s Way and Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. I was still juggling homemaking and mothering with my own health issues, the children’s health issues and their learning challenges but I was more grounded and actively pursuing a healthy, balanced and creative life. I became a researcher of all things interesting (yay Internet!) I started writing again, I joined a dance group, was the poet in residence, and occasional stage manager of a grassroots variety show that showcased both professional and emerging musicians, poets, playwrights, actors and dancers. I started to paint. I helped start Spirituality Cafe, a discussion group that explored questions about life and spirituality using passages from the world’s wisdom traditions to enrich the discussion. My life was rich and full. My family was happy and becoming more and more united. But there was this growing restlessness. My children were growing up. My creative, intellectual and spiritual projects had also grown up, bore their fruit and faded. The funny thing was that once again, I didn’t feel satisfied. Something was missing.
The recession hit, my husband, the sole economic support of our family, was downsized and subsequently returned to university and got a Master’s degree. This “tornado” was a welcome relief from a dying manufacturing industry. Once the dust cleared, we found ourselves moving back across the country, this time closer to home. It took everything we had, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We now live in a tiny city (at least it’s a city), my husband has a good job in a profession that he loves. There is a thriving arts community here, and we are relatively close to post-secondary education for our children. I am a member of the local Artists Guild, which thankfully, is very comfortable with my status as an emerging artist, dabbler, multipotentialite and scanner. I have a daily writing practice, have dabbled in editing (and hated it), and create in as many ways as possible each and every day.
I created this blog as a way to nurture grassroots creativity and art. I hope to inspire you to be your best, most creative selves and to embrace your own nobility. You can join me by paying it forward and encouraging and supporting others on their creative journeys.