creative motherhood: farai harreld

creative motherhood: farai harreld

Farai Harreld is another minimalist mom I discovered on Instagram and I've loved taking in her approach to slow living. She has an interesting story and I was so grateful when she agreed to participate in the creative motherhood series. I really identified with how Farai says she never would have envisioned this motherhood path for herself and wouldn't have thought it would be fulfilling. I feel the same way. Also, same with the notebooks - must write everything down! Enjoy! ---Dacy

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your child has grown.

A: Hey y'all. Farai here. I was born in Zimbabwe, raised in Botswana and then moved to Kansas when I turned 18. People always ask "How did you end up in Kansas?!?!" Long story short, Kansas boy moves to Zimbabwe, falls in love with Shona girl and a few years later I was born. I am extremely grateful and proud of my African and Kansas heritage and it is what inspired my blog name The Hillbilly African. I am a wife, a dog mom, blogger, freelance PR professional and full time mama to my wildling daughter Thandiwe. After giving birth, I was privileged to return to work for 6 months with my daughter in tow. When the infant at work policy expired and I had to look into daycare, I was unsuccessful at finding a solution that worked for us and I left the traditional workforce to work from home so that I could be with Thandiwe full time. For someone who never saw herself having kids, the fact that I am a stay at home mom now blows my mind because I feel incredibly fulfilled. I never would have imagined this career pathway for myself. 

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Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

A: I am torn. Sometimes I welcome the simplicity that comes with less creative work. You clock in, complete tasks, and clock out. Creative work for me requires some headspace. It feels good to create, but I have to be in the mood to do so. That is when I make my best work. I try to balance it out. In the times when I am not feeling so creative, I try to focus on other things. I do get frustrated and threaten to go work as a cashier at my local grocery store sometimes. That is good work too, but I'd miss creating.

Q: Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?

A: Motherhood opened my imagination up to career pathways that I never even knew I had access to or was passionate about. I feel motivated in a way that I was not while I was working for someone.  In the meantime while I am establishing myself, I have had to adjust to not earning a regular salary but it has been worth it. 

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

A: My mother passed when I was six. Somehow I have always managed to surround myself with an amazing, loving, support system: my brother, my partner, friends, mentors, and some family. There is no way I could have achieved any of this without them. I firmly believe in making your own family and when I find someone I click with I hug them close. 

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

A: My daughter is only 14 months old. The only constant with her is that there is no constant. As soon as I am used to her napping at 10 am and plan accordingly, she switches her naps to noon. I have yet to develop a work and home life separation. I fit in work when I can and try not to get too worked up about it. Partly because I want her to learn and grow with me and partly because I am her primary caregiver and it's just us girls a lot. I am embracing these moments because she will never be this age again. 

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

A: A typical day starts off in the morning with completing a few chores, breakfast, attending any morning meetings or going for a long walk around the block. Sometimes I will get some social media work or calls completed while on my walk or listen to music or a podcast with her. Afternoons are for naps where I will run around and try to complete more chores or get some work done too. Evening usually ends with another walk, cooking, watching television and then if I am not too tired, working after she goes to bed.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

creative motherhood farai harreld

A: NOTEBOOKS! Even though I am a minimalist, I have quite a few notebooks for the different projects I am involved in. They travel around the house with me. I also use google keep to track lists but writing it out on pen and paper resonates much better with me. I have found that if I don't write things down, they are gone. I try to remind myself to write things down often. 

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

A: You can do it. Believe in yourself. Make sure that whatever you are doing feels good to you and makes you feel fulfilled. Don't let anyone make you feel inadequate. Be gentle with yourself, have fun, play with your kids. 

That pretty much sums it up, right? Thanks so much, Farai. Keep up with Farai at The Hillbilly African and on Instagram

creative motherhood: chelsie wood

creative motherhood: chelsie wood

You know how everyone's always telling you to live your dream? I feel like Chelsie Wood is living my dream. She and her family downsized so that they could live by the beach. She's created a work life for herself that completely allows her to be the mother she wants to be and she has two adorable boys. I love how she wants her boys to see her working for what she's creating, what a great perspective. Enjoy! ---Dacy

creative motherhood: chelsie wood

 

 

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have gotten older.

A: Hi! My name is Chelsie and I am a wife to Miles, and mama to two little boys, Luca (4) and Harlow (14 months). I am also many other things! I have been blogging since 2013, and still find so much joy in that entire process. It truly is my favorite work . I love the opportunities it has provided me, especially getting to meet some really wonderful people along the way. I am the author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Before There Was You,” and I am a contributor to a local magazine here in San Diego called Encinitas Magazine. We just moved to Carlsbad, CA and I have found a new city to love. I couldn’t be happier with our new hometown. My idea of work prior to having children was truly traditional, as it was the thought of leaving my place of home, going to an office space of some sort, Monday through Friday, 8 hour days, etc. My vision of work then was really naive and parameterized. Since becoming pregnant with my first son, my work and definition of work has evolved completely and tremendously. I no longer see work as a separate entity to my character, but rather I find it really hard to differentiate the two bleeding lines of work and life, especially because so much of my work is my lifestyle. In the end though, as my children have grown, I have actually started to work harder and definitely add more odd hours to my work day to ensure I can put the time in! I really want my children to see me working hard to make a life for them, but I also want them to grow up and know that they always came first and were the driving muse & purpose for nearly all of my work.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

I wish I could do more, always, no matter how much I’m already doing. Isn’t that all of us?! It really comes down to priortizing what’s most important right now, and filling in the gaps elsewhere when I can.

Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?

Absolutely. In choosing for me to not work full time, we have experienced so many financial hardships, I couldn’t even begin to tell you, but I have gained so much life experience, have truly developed as a human being, and better yet, have made so many crucial emotional discoveries about myself and what’s truly important to me. I don’t ever regret staying home, I don’t look back and think “what if,” because for me, the work I do within the walls of my own home has been the hardest most rewarding work I’ve ever done, and there isn’t a price I can put on that.

mindful closet st louis personal stylist

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

It truly takes a village, doesn’t it?! Right now, I have my grandmother, my father, my sister, and my in-laws to help me with my boys. My sister is the only one who lives local to us, so the rest of my  “village” requires a bit of notice and planning to help us, but it never goes unappreciated. I’ve really had to learn to accept help when offered, and have learned that in allowing others to help me allows for me to be a better mother. Attachment is so important, especially during these younger years in their lives, and I know when the boys are away from me, they are fostering other extremely important relationships, as well as learning how to love and be loved in return.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

Absolutely. I somewhat answered this in the first question, but to add to it, there really isn’t a separate entity of work and life for me, because they are one and the same, and I also don’t believe in any type of work/life balance. I think it’s about giving 100% of yourself to whatever you are doing in that moment. Someone once told me, “It’s extremely hard to sit on the floor and play legos when you are thinking of all the other things you should be/want to be doing.” I think you have to do your best to live in the present moment and give all of yourself to that moment and those surrounding you in that moment, and from my own experience, it’s a practice you will have to choose over and over again. You’ll never be able to even out the playing field 50/50, so just recognizing what efforts you are putting forth and where are really what it comes down to. Everything worth anything is hard work, I’ve learned this lesson time and time again, and that includes all the good things--happiness, career, family, mothering, you name it. All of those wonderful things are beautiful, but they are constantly demanding. I’m not saying it is easy, but it is so, so worth it.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

Everyday is different around here. It depends on so many factors surrounding all the different facets of our lives. Some days are crazy busy with appointments and errands to be run. Grocery shopping is somehow always on my radar, and I have an ever evolving to-do list. Something gets checked off, and two more things are added, and that’s just how it goes! It never ends—and don’t even get me started on email practices! I do try and keep a few constants and routines in my life, mostly just for the purpose of sanity! I almost always wake up and have a slow cup of coffee, take the time to homemake breakfast, and every night we keep the same bedtime routine for the boys. I always take 20 minutes at night for myself and take care of my skin. I find those little consistencies to be therapeutic and calming amidst all the chaos of life and raising two little ones. Most of my work is done “after-hours.” I get a bulk of my work done when the boys have gone to bed. Some nights I’ll stay up until 2 a.m. I’m way more creatively charged at night, thankfully, but regardless, those are the hours I have at this moment in time if I want to get anything done! I do my best to work with what I’m given, and sometimes those nights get cut short, and other nights they are carried out way too long. I have to photograph for the blog during the daytime, so I will try and carve out blocks of time where I can shoot multiple things at once on set days. For everything else, I simply rely on nap time and the fringe hours.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

My mind is always flooding with ideas, and I have to stop and remind myself to refocus on what I currently have going on. I’ll quickly jot down those "pop-in" ideas for another day, and if they are meant to be, they'll get to be seen through during a more convenient time.

chelsie wood

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

Don’t. Seriously though, you will wear yourself down to the point of insanity. No one has it figured out, believe me. Sometimes it might feel like you have to prove something to those around you, or even to yourself, but you don’t. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you any less of a person.

Thanks, Chelsie! Follow Chelsie on Instagram and her blog, This Is Our Forest.

creative motherhood: diana hernandez

creative motherhood: diana hernandez

Originally, Diana Hernandez was on my radar because she's a super-cool mom Instagrammer with thousands of followers who happened to live in the same Midwestern city as me. However, the reason I decided to reach out to her for this series is because of a post she did about pre-natal (or antenatal) depression. Last week I shared about my experience with anxiety and depression and how medication has helped me. However, to get pregnant, I went off of my medication. That combined with pregnancy hormones sent me into a really bad place during my first trimester. It's not something people share much about because it's supposed to be such a joyous time. I felt so relieved when I read Diana's post about dealing with similar feelings during her current pregnancy.  She's since moved away from St. Louis, but I'm so happy she was able to participate in the Creative Motherhood series. I love how she's so accepting of the fact that toddler life is constantly changing and doesn't hold herself to a schedule that might not pan out. Enjoy!      ---Dacy

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have grown.

A: My name’s Diana Hernandez. Our little family is currently expecting baby #2 (yay)! My husband and I have a 2.5 year old boy, Kaden, and we’re thrilled to add Baby Eli to our tribe. I’m a digital influencer (aka blogger) & work straight from home. I feel immensely blessed that I have the opportunity to financially contribute to our household all while staying home with my son. Throughout these couple years I’ve discovered my writing niche and have discovered the real purpose of Mother Soul; which is to create a purpose in others. To inspire women to thrive, flourish, and live happier. As I’m growing continually in motherhood, my blog has transformed along with me.

creative motherhood: diana hernandez

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? 

A: I am actually satisfied with the amount of curated promotions and campaigns for brands I’m working on. Content creating is one of my best talents and I truly love what I’m doing. It’s the perfect balance.  

Q. Did choosing not to work full time affect any financial or career goals for you?

A: Back in St Louis I was working 3 “part time” jobs which felt as if I was working full time. Aside from blogging, I was St Louis Magazine’s weekly style columnist and a breastfeeding counselor at WIC. My schedule was quite hectic. Now that I’m solely focusing on digital marketing it’s nice to catch a break, while still striving to grow my business as an entrepreneur.  

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

My entire family is highly supportive of the work I do, especially my husband. He jokes around and says one day his goal is to quit his job and become my full time photographer. He’s the man behind the camera and helps out by watching over Kaden the days I’m most busy.

mindful closet st louis personal stylist: creative motherhood

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

A: At the moment, I think I’ve managed to set boundaries between work and home life. At first I did struggle finding that balance between the two. I’d take on way too many tasks and end up feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, I felt that I was no longer giving my family the quality time they deserved. It took a good 6 months to a year to reflect on this problem and gradually learn how to manage my time better.  

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

A: To be completely honest, no day is ever the same around here. I do however try to get most of my work done early in the morning (before my son is up), during naptime, or after he falls asleep. Living with a toddler is unpredictable and you never know what the day has in store for you. So most of the time I play it by ear. I keep my agenda and schedule on hand to make sure I get my tasks completed before due dates.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

A: NOTES NOTES NOTES. I’m not always near my planner, but most of the time my phone is right next to me. I jot the idea down in my notes section and when I have some free I make sure to brainstorm a little more and plan out the process to execute the idea.  

mindful closet: creative motherhood

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

A: Take it slow. I’m a firm believer in simplicity and minimizing your daily to do tasks. I wouldn’t try to do everything at once because let’s face it, #MOMLIFE is cray. We’ll only drive ourselves nuts doing it all at once. It’s definitely feasible, but I’d rather be at peace and only take on certain amounts of work per week. If you don’t use a planner/agenda, buy one. It saved my life! When I personally feel more organized I thrive more in my environment. You shouldn’t be afraid to simplify, after all, there is more happiness in doing less. As long as you keep productivity going and don’t become stagnant, you will be just fine!

Thanks so much, Diana! Keep up with Diana on her blog and Instagram

See the other posts in the Creative Motherhood series here

my minimalism story

my minimalism story

It seems like everyone has a different origin story around how they came to minimalism. Courtney Carver was diagnosed with MS and had to change her lifestyle. Joshua Becker realized he was spending more time cleaning out his garage than he was spending with his family. Why am I attracted to minimalism? If I’m being honest, it’s because I’m an introverted, highly-sensitive person who suffers from depression and anxiety.

minimalism depression anxiety

Believe me, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. My heart rate just went way up. In my head, there are voices saying things like: “highly sensitive isn’t real, it’s just a made-up thing”, “what do you have to be anxious about, your life is great”, and “if you acknowledge any of these things, you’re weak”.

I’d always thought I was just a moody person. Starting in puberty, I’d get dark moods that would last for a few days or longer. I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone (tough when you’re part of a family) or do anything. I recently read a book by Daphne Merkin that had some of the best descriptions of depression and I’ll use her words to illustrate what I have a hard time articulating:

“...your mood, which has been sliding perceptibly downward for weeks, even months, has hit rock-bottom. You lie there in the sludge, no longer bothering to flail around, marooned in a misery that is no less easy to bear because there is nothing wildly terrible to point to in the circumstances of your own life—on the surface, at least—to account for it.”

In high school I was busy (part-time job, sports, editor of the newspaper, clubs, youth orchestra) and stressed out. I started college in a place that was cold and dark and hated it. When I neared the end of grad school (grad school is a given if you’re a classical musician), I started to have real existential crises about the state of the world and my part in it.

My thoughts would snowball towards dark places: “if there are people starving, why does what I do on a daily basis even matter if I can’t help them?” I was constantly searching for what I was meant to do and be. Throughout this time, I was having emotional meltdowns left and right.

I was constantly comparing myself to others and failing to measure up. “She practices for 6 hours a day - she's a better person than I am”. “Everyone else my age knows what they’re doing with their life”. “My mom taught public school while raising 3 kids, how pathetic that I can’t do it too”.

Again, from Merkin:

“Still, that lack of expectation of relief—of the coming end of sorrow—has stayed with me, so that I far too easily tend to fall into a mode of hopelessness when something minor goes wrong. Where another person might move to try and fix things, I sway in the wind, ready to be knocked over, prepared to give up. I admire other peoples’ resourcefulness when their plans go awry—the ones who’ve persuaded themselves that ‘every bump is a boost,’ who pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start over again—but I can’t figure out a way to emulate them.”

It took me until I was in my late 20’s to come to the conclusion that I might need to talk to someone about all of this. I worked really hard on changing my thought patterns through cognitive behavioral therapy. It took about 5 more years until my therapist convinced me that I’d done the work and my brain still wasn’t cooperating and that I should see a psychiatrist as well. I very slowly started to accept that my brain has a chemical imbalance and that taking medication was not admitting my failing as a human, but treating a medical condition like diabetes or any other.

Once I began taking medication, I could get enough perspective on my situation to see that maybe I didn’t have to measure up to everyone else. I started to actually begin to understand and accept who I am as a person, what my natural personality is. Maybe I didn’t need to berate myself for not doing more to save the world but that the way that I do my part is by working to be my best self. Maybe it’s not only ok to not want to talk to people sometimes, it’s necessary for me to recharge as an introvert. Maybe it’s ok to need to thoroughly think through every decision. Maybe it’s ok to be overwhelmed by busyness and a fast pace.

Only in the last couple of months have I connected all of this with minimalism.

minimalism depression anxiety

There are three areas of my life where minimalism helps me manage: my surroundings, my clothes, and my schedule.

As Gretchen Rubin says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm”. This is particularly true for me. People who come over to my house often comment on how little clutter there is on surfaces. Clutter on surfaces stresses me out, so I don’t have it. Messes stress me out, and I need to have things somewhat in order before I can move on to other tasks. It’s ok.

I’ve had anxiety around my clothes for a long time. I grew up in the South at a time when you had to have the right Tretorns, the right Guess jeans, and the right madras plaid to fit in. I didn’t have those things. I felt bad. Once, in college, I bought green suede shoes - why? Because they were on sale, of course. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking to class in those shoes. They felt so wrong and I could not wait to get home and take them off. Over time and through trial and error, I eliminated things that didn’t feel good when I wore them. What’s left happens to be pretty minimalist.

The feeling of being rushed triggers anxiety, so I work to reduce the number of things scheduled in a day. This is the area where I have had the hardest time accepting my needs, and I usually feel like I should be accomplishing more. I’m working on it.

Acknowledging and accepting all of these things about myself has made life a lot easier. So has minimalism. 

So, that’s my minimalism origin story. What's yours?

(photos by Celeste Boyer)





 

creative motherhood: jenny gordy

creative motherhood: jenny gordy

If I had to guess, I'd say I've probably followed Jenny Gordy for about 12 years. When I first discovered her, she was designing women's clothes. I loved her style and I also related to her because she seemed to move often, as I did (hello being in your 20's). She always seemed like a real human person, not a "blogger" or "designer" - does that make sense? To be clear, that's meant as a compliment ;) In any case, when I reached out to her about the series, she said it was something she thought about a lot and felt it was "important to connect with other moms in a real way that makes us feel not so alone in our messiness and frustration." I loved how much gratitude she expresses and am impressed by how much she gets done! 

creative motherhood: jenny gordy

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your child has grown.

Hi, I'm Jenny Gordy, and I live with my husband Joe and our 3 1/2 year old daughter Iris in Portland, OR.  My work is designing knitting and sewing patterns for my company Wiksten.  I've worked for myself for the past ten years and love the flexibility of it.  My work ebbs and flows, meaning sometimes I'm really busy with work and sometimes not as much, depending on what I've scheduled for myself or what opportunities are coming in.

During the first couple of years with Iris I was able to slow down and not put out any new work but still get paid for continuing to sell the patterns I'd designed previously.  Iris has been my muse from the beginning, and when she came along I shifted away from women's styles and started focusing more on children's clothing.  There were so many things I wanted to make for Iris that I couldn't find patterns for, so I created my own.  I get so bored if I don't stretch myself and try new things, so that has been a great learning experience and one that's helped keep me interested in my career.  Now that Iris is getting older I've started working on some women's designs again too and taking on more freelance work.  My freelance work involves designing projects for yarn companies, books, magazines, and websites.

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

Right now my company is just me, and unfortunately running things means not having time to do as much design as I'd like.  I experience conflicting feelings of frustration and gratitude at the same time.  There's no such thing as a perfect job where you get to do everything you want 100% of the time, and I remind myself to have some perspective.  Every day I feel so grateful that I get to do the work that I do.  As hard as I work, I still can't believe that I get paid to do this!  Whenever I feel discontent, I try to be proactive and brainstorm ways that I can change things for the better.  For instance, right now seems like a good time to hire an employee to help out so that I can have both more design time and more free time.

Q. Did choosing not to work a traditional full time job affect any financial or career goals for you?

Iris was home with me for the first 4 months after which we started her in part time daycare.  Having a baby forced me to let go of my career a little bit, and my income certainly dropped from not publishing many new patterns during that time.  We got by just fine but didn't have any spending money.  I'm very passionate about work and in fact tend toward workaholism, so taking a step back and letting other things into my life was very healthy and helped me grow as a person.  After about a year and a half of that I started getting excited about work again, and we transitioned Iris to full-time daycare.  

While we pay for the full-time childcare, sometimes we use all of those hours and sometimes we don't.  Most of the time I try to keep Iris home from school at least once a week to do fun stuff, and if I have work to finish I'll just do it after she goes to bed.  At times when I'm doing freelance work in addition to work for Wiksten, I need all of those childcare hours.  Doing freelance can be stressful because I have to work within someone else's timeline, and I find it's never enough time.  Not only do I end up staying up late and exhausting myself, but I feel guilty for not spending as much time with Iris.  My exhaustion and stress seem to cause acting out on both of our parts.  I've recently decided to stop complicating my life and just say no to freelance opportunities.  I'm not sure how that's going to affect my career, but I already know it will be positive for my relationships with my family.

jenny gordy shop wiksten

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

We have Iris in a wonderful preschool that she loves, and her favorite teacher babysits sometimes for date night.  The fact that we live far from our families and have only lived in Portland for a year makes it somewhat difficult.  However I've made some mom friends here, and while the friendships are still new they're very dear.  I have a few friends that swap babysitting with me and a group of moms I can hang with.  Joe works long, unpredictable hours, so spending time with my mom friends and our kids makes me feel less alone in this parenting business.  

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

Totally!  My work space is very close to the house, in our backyard in a converted garage, which is both a convenience and a distraction.  My daughter loves fashion design and always wants to come out to my studio to explore and tinker with my craft supplies.  Since she seems to relish being involved in my work, I've given her a role in it by having her try on garments for fit and model for photos.  I'm not going to lie-- I love it.  I think experiencing me being empowered by my work is a good example for her, and it makes me happy to see her inspired and participating.  However you should know it's not all roses.  One time she actually stomped on a dress I designed because she hated it so much!  At the time it was a little traumatic, but now I think it's hilarious.

I do worry that it would be healthier to have more separation, but I'm not so great keeping things separate. I love both my family and my work, and it's all sort of intertwined.  I think you can see that in my Instagram feed, which is something that bothers me.  I want to protect my family's privacy, and I sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the right thing.  Another thing that bothers me is that sometimes I have a hard time leaving work behind and being present with my family, but I'm working on it.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

6:30-9:30 AM  
Joe brings me coffee in bed (bless him), after which I snooze a bit and then drink my coffee cold while scrolling through Instagram.  Iris wakes up and drags me out of bed so we can get dressed/eat breakfast/play.  I try to use that precious but brief morning time to connect with her and just be silly together.  I drive her to preschool, and when I get home I make the bed and do the morning dishes, unless I'm really inspired by work and put it off.  

9:30-4:30 PM
This is when I work, answering emails, packing/shipping orders, doing social media, writing blog posts, writing instructions, taking photos, drafting patterns, sewing, illustrating patterns, and designing.  Some days I run errands or have meetings as well.  To stay sane I go to yoga and therapy once a week during my work hours, which is such a luxury.  

4:30-8:30 PM
If Joe is picking Iris up I usually try to cook a Blue Apron meal (because I don't have a whole lot of time for grocery shopping or meal planning), but if I'm picking her up I'll order takeout.  When everyone's home, we eat and then goof around-- picking blueberries in the yard or dancing to records.  Joe and I try to divide up nighttime duties and Iris's bedtime routine evenly, and we take turns.  One night he'll do the dishes, while I do Iris's bath, then the next night we'll switch, etc.  

8:30-10:30PM
After Iris is in bed for the night (not that she always stays put, ugh), Joe goes running while I make Iris's lunch and take a shower.  The sad thing is how little adult time we have alone together at the end of all the things that need doing.  I wish we had more!  After 30 minutes to an hour of hanging out we collapse into bed.  Sometimes I work late.  We each make it a priority to get out of the house separately one night a week to hang out with friends.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

That doesn't usually happen because I need quiet to have ideas!  On the rare occasion that I do, I'll talk to Iris about it because she's usually interested and has lots of opinions.

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

I like that the question says "encouragement" and not advice, because I definitely don't have it all figured out.  I'm often a mess.  I think anyone who does ALL of the things WILL be a little bit of a mess.  Balancing a bunch of things is never going to feel peaceful and easy, and I try to remember not to expect it to.  Because we're used to seeing images of beauty and perfection on social media, we're tricked into thinking that everyone else is doing it better than we are.  That's just not true.  We're all in the same boat.  We all have something we don't photograph, whether it be a messy room, ugly carpet, marriage problems, depression, etc.  We're all a little bit of a mess underneath, and to me that's normal and okay.  I would encourage myself and others to strive to keep priorities front and center and say no when needed, but to stop beating ourselves up over not doing everything perfectly.

mindful closet creative motherhood: jenny gordy

Thanks, Jenny! Find Jenny's work at Wiksten and follow her on Instagram. Photos by Shay Carlson.

See the other posts in the Creative Motherhood series here

what to wear when it's 100 degrees outside

what to wear when it's 100 degrees outside

...a.k.a. clothing that barely touches your body. Even though it seems to have passed, we here in St. Louis experienced a couple of weeks of 100+ temperatures. Here are a few of my favorite things to wear when it's blazing hot outside: loose dresses, boxy tops, and breezy culottes.

mindful closet: hackwith design basic dress

(photos by Celeste Boyer) 

Above: Hackwith Design basic dress (ethically made), Need Supply Necklace, Madewell Marie sandal (similar, similar)

mindful closet: hot weather inspiration
mindful closet st louis personal stying

(Tank, dress, top - all ethically made)

mindful closet: ethically made summer wardrobe

(Culottes, wide leg crop pantstencel chambray pants - all ethically made)

Underneath, I like to wear something comfy like this (no underwires and sticky silky fabrics, please!) and this and these are great for a bit of chub rub (you know what I'm talking about). 

What are you wearing during heat waves this summer? 

(this post contains affiliate links which generate a few cents of revenue when clicked on)

creative motherhood: brandy wells

creative motherhood: brandy wells

I only recently discovered Brandy and her beautiful family on Instagram while exploring the “consciousparenting” hashtag. I love (and maybe am a little jealous of!) her calm and confident approach to parenting and life. She clearly enjoys her work but is present with her family as well, and shares more about her parenting philosophy on her blog, My Motherhood Magic. I love her security in the fact that we as mothers are enough as we are. -Dacy

creative motherhood: brandy wells

Q: Introduce yourself, your family, the work and creative work (aside from mothering) you currently do, and how that work has evolved as your children have grown.

My name is Brandy Wells. I am an independent licensed social worker and mother to two little Queens Kennedy, 10, and Karter, 3, who I share with my amazing husband Maurice. I work with children ages 4-19 with a diverse selection of mental health diagnoses. I would say my creative work is my mental health/parenting blog where I share information regarding early childhood mental health as well as how it interjects with my own family.

My works has evolved substantially since having children of my own because I truly have first hand experience of the importance of maternal mental health and raising mentally healthy children. Which is why in my platform I use my children to say: no matter how you raise your children, let's raise them strong together!

Q. Do you wish you could do more or less creative work? How do you manage those conflicted feelings?

There are times I struggle with balance. Sometimes I feel I'm giving too much of myself to my children or too much to my creative outlet. What I have told myself recently that whatever it is I'm doing, I am doing enough, and I am enough. So if I’m not doing work but laughing and educating my children, I am enough in that moment and vice versa.

Q. Do you work full time? Does choosing to focus on motherhood affect any financial or career goals for you?

I currently work in a school system which allows for a lot of flexibility. I get summers and all holiday breaks off. I think this was perfect for me because it made it easy to separate time for both. I told myself I could never go back to a 12 month schedule. My kids get to have me be present, as well as career focused. It also allows for a 12 month salary. To say I'm blessed is an understatement.

Q. What kind of a “village” or help do you have around you?

Village is everything to me. Of course I have my immediate family, my mother in particular who has played a vital role in helping and guiding me in raising my children. I have recently taken my girls on small road trips to engage with some of my best friends so they know love exists outside of family. But my village extends to teachers, neighbors, coaches, people who play any role in my or my daughters’ lives.

Q. Do you feel as though your work and home life lines are blurred? How do you handle that challenge?

I don't. I did. When I did, I wouldn't give myself boundaries, breaks, and permission. Now that I have grown as a mother I am purposeful about my time and how I spend it. I can literally feel my body saying: okay this is enough it's time to stop and go to something else. Listen to your mind and body. If that feeling is telling you to go to something else, go. Don't be bogged down by the thought that the hustle has to be all day and night. There is beauty in the art of nothing.

Q. What’s a typical day like and when do you actually get your work done?

At work I am therapist Wells. I am talking to kids individually, helping families with resources, and advocating for mental health rights in the classroom. But as soon as I'm off, I'm off and I am Kennedy and Karter's mom and Maurice's wife. I play a lot, cook, do bedtime, etc., and once the kids go to sleep I write a blog piece or two. The rest is time for my husband. That schedule works for me and I don't like to vary.

Q. What do you do when creative ideas hit you and you’re in the middle of mothering?

I am note writer. All my inspiration comes from my own children or the children I'm working with. So when I get a thought or topic I simply write a few notes to have for later. Again I don't allow it to shift where my heart is. If I'm playing with my children that means it's their time, and that's what's needed for them in that moment. So I stay right there, everything else is secondary. If I'm working and my kids need me or a student is in crisis, I'll always attend to that, it's always a priority.

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for other moms trying to do all the things?

Just a reminder to remember that you are enough. Sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit. We compare and compete and we forget that God purposely gave us our role and was intentional.

I'll leave you with this:

“’Perfect’ is simply not relevant, whatever that would mean in regard to parenting. What is important is that we be authentic, and that we honor our children and ourselves as best we can, and that our intention be to, at the very least, do no harm. To me, it feels like all the work is in the attending, in the quality of the attention I bring to each moment, and in my commitment to live and to parent as consciously as possible.” Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

mindful closet creative motherhood: brandy wells

Don't you all just feel better now?! :) I'll be coming back to this post any time I need a little reassurance that I'm doing what I need to be doing. Follow Brandy on Instagram and check out her blog

See all the creative motherhood posts here