creative motherhood: jaana nugent peltekian

creative motherhood: jaana nugent peltekian

You know how you follow someone on social media for a while and read their blog, and at a certain point you kindof forget that you don't actually know them know them? That's how I feel about Jaana. I love keeping up with her posts about clothes, sewing, her son Stevie, and her complaints about the heat in SoCal (just kidding, I'm so jealous of the weather she gets!). She has a great sense of style and keeps it totally realistic for a mom/casual lifestyle, which is really relatable to me these days. She's also completely hilarious - just read her recent blog post about going on the Price is Right. She's also a photographer and I wanted to ask her about the juggle. I love how she feels like Instagram is a full time job (me tooooo!), that she's finally found a mom tribe, and that she's allowing herself to feel a little of the extra space she's gotten since her son started school. Enjoy! ---Dacy

creative motherhood

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

A: I'm Jaana (pronounced Yawn-a) and I'm a vacation photographer living in Burbank, CA. I've been married to my Paul for 10 years and together we are raising our challenging, but sweet-as-pie-kiddo, Stevie. My creative work in the past has mostly consisted of photography. It was a hobby of mine for many, many years, but I made my money in non-creative fields until I officially started my photography business in 2009. My work evolved so much when Stevie came around. Before he was born, I took every photo job I could get my hands on to build my client list and get more experience under my belt. But when Stevie was a baby, we found out he had a heart condition and I took a year off to care for him. As he has grown, I've had spurts of insanely busy times, as well as long bouts of down time. I've added more responsibilities to my plate, like virtual assisting, but there are ebbs and flows with that as well. When I'm not using my creativity for work, I channel it into writing for my blog, Instagramming (which weirdly feels like a full time job) and learning to sew.

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

A: Now that Stevie is in school, I obviously have a lot more time on my hands. When I imagined sending him off to 1st Grade, I thought that was my chance to do more creative work. I thought that was what I wanted. I figured I'd start to hustle. Tap into that creativity and build something amazing, whether it be with photography or influencing, I thought I was ready to rock and roll! But... come to find out, I honestly don't mind being less busy. With all the work it took to get Stevie where he is, the quiet time is such a relief. Plus I think I still need to decide which direction to take my creativity, and I have felt very conflicted about that. So I still just dabble in a little bit of everything. I enjoy so many parts of the process, and I'm timid about going all in to one thing.

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

A: Focusing on motherhood has definitely affected my financial and career goals from the get-go. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. That was my life goal. Therefore I never focused on a career. I am lucky that I fell in love with photography and that I had a husband who has supported every venture that's crossed my mind.

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

A: I am happy to report that we have family close by who have been lifesavers when it comes to helping out with Stevie. His grandparents and aunt are totally hands on and love spending time with him. We honestly can't ask for more than that. But then I was also very lucky to find mom friends that I've connected with. It took me a long time to find them. Stevie and I didn't seem to fit in anywhere because our journey has been so different from everyone else's. But over the last 1-2 years, I feel like I've found my people. And to say that it's changed my life would be an understatement. We went from the two of us having long lonely summers to a fantastic group that includes us for pool parties and birthday parties and museum days. I don't know if Stevie has found his tribe, but I have found mine. And when mama's happy, everyone else is too.

mindful closet: creative motherhood

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

A: The lines were definitely blurred in the earlier days. I would try to work from home with Stevie hanging off me and demanding my attention and I used to get so angry. Like why can't he just let me finish this one thing?? It's still hard some days, but I've had to learn boundaries for myself as well as my son. He's just not capable of playing alone and doing things for himself yet, so I really do work around his schedule. There have been times where it overlaps. I think that's unavoidable. So I either hire a sitter, send him to grandma's, or give Stevie coping mechanisms (hello, lollipops!) when I need to wrap up a project.

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

A: On a typical day, we wake up around 7 to drink coffee and get Stevie off to school. After a quick workout with my husband, I do the usual house cleaning, catching up with emails, getting ready for the day, shooting and editing photos, and then once I pick Stevie up from school, we move onto his schedule -- swim class, therapy, play dates, etc. On the few days a month that I get called out for a job, I try to schedule them in the morning so that I can go in early and be home in time to pick Stevie up from school. If I really have so much to do that it can't wait, I'll work after Stevie goes to bed too. But I typically like to reserve that time to hang out with my husband.

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

A: Write them down. That's about all you can do!

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

A: I probably echo a few others when I say DON'T. Don't do all the things. I mean, if you are the type of person who thrives in that environment and can do all the things, I really really respect that. But I'm a much more sane person and a better mom when I prioritize and don't try to do it all. When I try too hard to squeeze everything in, it comes crashing down at some point. These days, I find that self-care and doing things for my mental health often outweigh things that I used to think were really important career-wise. I want to say it's about balance, but I definitely still struggle to find that. I'm just taking it a day -- or hour -- at a time.

Thank you Jaana! Follow Jaana on her blog, This Mom's Gonna Snap and on Instagram. Find the rest of the posts in the creative motherhood series here

make your capsule wardrobe work for you + a giveaway

make your capsule wardrobe work for you + a giveaway

So it’s November 10, and I’m just now getting around to posting my “fall” capsule wardrobe. I really felt bad about that for quite some time, but you know what? Life was busy in October, the weather was 100 degrees, and that’s just not when it worked for me. But that’s the thing - capsule wardrobes only work when they work for you. If the “rules” don’t work for you, make up new ones.

Even a few weeks into this capsule, there are a few other things that are not working for me. If it’s not really warm, I just can’t make myself do the dress or the wide leg crops. I hate being cold! So those won’t get a lot of use. For winter, most of this will stay the same, but I purposely kept a few sweaters out of the fall capsule to save to have something “new” to pull out in January or February. To my surprise, I haven’t actually purchased anything new for fall, except for a $6 secondhand layering tee. There are a few things I purchased at the end of last winter that are just now showing up, but nothing purchased recently. I may find something I need to add midway through the season or I may not.

So here’s my not-perfect fall capsule, with some not-perfect photos to accompany it. Tl;dr: and I'm giving away a remote styling session, scroll to bottom to enter.  Enjoy!

*purchased or made ethically

make your capsule wardrobe work for you

TOPS:

First row: *Elizabeth Suzann Sullivan sweater, purchased secondhand, similar; *Free people long cardigan, purchased secondhand, similar; *Target striped black and white tee, thrifted; *LulaRoe Irma tunic, purchased secondhand; *Elizabeth Suzann artist smock

Second row: MOD black and white patterned blouse; Neiman Marcus cashmere poncho, similar; *Elizabeth Suzann black linen Harper tunic; *Vintage sweater, purchased secondhand; *Vince taupe sweater, purchased secondhand

Third row: *Off white long sleeve tee, Piko 1988, purchased secondhand; *Liz Clairborne cardigan, thrfited; *COS blue and white striped top, thrifted (Madewell Courier shirt is similar, also easy to find used on Poshmark); *Black Michael Stars dress, purchased secondhand, similar; *J. Crew blue and white striped top, purchased secondhand

mindful closet st louis personal stylist

BOTTOMS: *AG light wash jeans; *Madewell high waist dark wash jeans, purchased secondhand; Old Navy rust cropped pants, similar, similar; Madewell slim boyjean; Express black pants; *Everlane high waisted cropped pants; *Pact black leggings; *Black AG high waisted jeans (not pictured, oops!)

SHOES: Danskos; Nine West black chelsea boots, similar; Eileen Fisher mules ; Blondo booties; Vaneli black suede block heel ankle boots

 

So here's the special giveaway - I'm giving away a remote closet cleanse/capsule creation session! We'll get on FaceTime or Skype and do the whole process I do with clients in person: we'll chat about your needs, define your style, clean out your closet, and if you're up for it, we'll even create a capsule wardrobe! All you have to do is sign up for the mindful closet email list - Enter here!


(no need to "log in", just enter name and email)

Read all my blog posts about capsule wardrobes here

 

This post contains affiliate links, which may generate a few cents of revenue per click

 

how to define your personal style

how to define your personal style

One of the first steps I always take with clients is to help them define their style. I’ve written about it before, and it’s one of the most important things you can do to create a mindful wardrobe. Why? Well, if you don’t know what you like, you’ll buy things you end up not wearing. If you don’t know what you like, you’ll keep things you don’t need to own. If you don’t know what you like, you’ll put on outfits that make you feel uncomfortable.

(Skip all the talk and head straight to the style quiz I created -  Go here!)

With my clients, I’m able to help them through the process by looking at images with them, seeing what’s in their closets, listening to them talk about clothes, and trying different styles. I want to be very clear, this is not what they should wear based on their body type, or their “colors” or any other relatively arbitrary system. It’s what they just like the look of and what they feel most like themselves in. If you're working through this on your own, it can be hard to figure out what exactly you do like.

 

st louis personal stylist

I get it. I have had a really hard time discovering what I actually like. To read, to buy, to wear, to eat, to do. Not just what someone else thinks is cool or what my parents thought I should do or what fashion magazines say I should wear. Here are some of the random things I’ve discovered about myself - even though pretty much everyone says they love to travel, and I feel like I should love to travel, I don’t. I like being at home in my familiar space. Despite it being the trendy healthy food, I actually really like kale. I like the taste and the texture of it. Even though I was the good girl in school, and often caught up in competition to be the best student, it took me a long time to realize I have no desire to be a high-achiever. I just want my quiet little life with enough money and time to live simply and healthily.

Let’s take it back to style. I talked in my last post about how I’ve tried many different styles and over time come to learn what was “me” and what I felt best in. And now I really love my style. Like, a lot. Most days, it takes me 30 seconds to get dressed.

how to define your personal style

So, how can you figure out what YOU really like and want to wear? How can you define your personal style? Here are a few steps:

Explore and research. When I was talking to mr. mindful closet about this post, he made the good point that many people don’t know what their style is because they’ve only been exposed to a few ideas. Without seeing what’s out there, it’s hard to know what you like. Pick up a few fashion magazines, read a few blogs, and start listening to your gut reactions about things you see.

Collect inspiration. Once you’ve explored a bit, start a collection of images that you know you like. Of course, Pinterest is great for this. After you have 20 or 30 images, look at the collection as a whole. Are there any themes throughout? Do you like bright colors or neutrals? Do you like patterns or prints? Do you like straight lines or flowing edges? Do you like clothes that fit close to the body or flow away? Do you like frills or no frou-frou? For comparison, here’s my Pinterest style inspiration board, and here’s one from one of my favorite St. Louis fashion bloggers, Psyche Southwell. You can see our styles defined pretty clearly from each of our boards.

Experiment. Unfortunately, there’s no prescription for style. Even if you can tell you’re visually drawn to certain looks, you have to try the things that you like the look of and see how they FEEL. Maybe you appreciate bright colors and bold prints on someone else, but feel uncomfortable in them yourself. Conversely, maybe you appreciate clean lines and neutral palettes, but really don’t feel yourself unless you’re wearing a bit of fun color. Think of this like looking at art in a museum - you can see it and appreciate it, but it doesn’t need to hang in your home. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to experiment. You can spend time trying things on at various stores, or thrift secondhand items to give them more of a long-term try.

(images: Celeste Boyer)

(images: Celeste Boyer)

Lastly, there’s always a quiz for everything. I finally put one together myself to help you define your style. Are you Sporty Spice, Romantic Bohemian, Glamour Girl, American Classic, or Modern Minimalist? As with all quizzes, this won’t give you all the answers. If nothing else, use it to practice listening to your gut when you read the answers. Go with the answer you feel, not the one you’ve been told works for you. There’s never going to be one neat category for everyone. Although I’m sure you can guess which quiz category my style falls into, I like to think of my style as “70’s French art teacher” - not a description you’re going to find outlined in any book.

Go here to take the quiz and leave a comment below with what your personal style is! 

creative motherhood: neha ruch

creative motherhood: neha ruch

Researching and writing this series on the blog has allowed me to discover so many other women who are in the same boat as I am. One of those is Neha Ruch, who started the website Mother Untitled. I was honored to share my story on Mother Untitled and now, Neha's returning the favor. Neha was living the glamorous life in Manhattan, working in digital media and branding, when she decided to step back from work to focus on family. Unable to let her creative ideas languish, she started Mother Untitled to tell the story of other women traveling on a similar journey. I especially love the part in her interview where she feels conflicted about not knowing where she fits in between SAHM's and "ambitious women". And I'm SUPER jealous that she's raising her kid in the city. You'll love this interview.  ---Dacy

mindful closet: creative motherhood

(photo: Yvonne Tnt)

 

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: I’m grateful to be included in this collective of creative mothers. I’m still somewhat humbled that I’m in this camp. Someone called me a writer the other day and I tried not to giggle that they think I am one. I worked in advertising before - at agencies for the first part of my career and then running brand at start ups before having my son, Bodie on New Years Day of 2016. My husband, Dan, has always been an incredible supporter of “whatever makes me truly happy” but I give him all the credit in the world for not raising an eyebrow when I decided to dial down work to create space for motherhood. Internally, he must have - I definitely did.  

When we met, I worked longer hours, traveled more and was en route to business school. And then truthfully even before we got pregnant, I left the start up I was at, wanting to do meaningful work and be the wife and woman I wanted to be. I started brand consulting for female founded small businesses knowing I’d have the capacity to dial up and down once we did grow our family. A year into consulting, I had Bodie who I still stare at wondering how I could have possibly created a child so perfect (in my opinion). And then I made the call to be home - to join the ranks of stay at home mothers while keeping myself in the game with a bit of consulting work two days a week. That grey area between stay at home mother and ambitious woman felt confusing, stigmatized and simultaneously, super empowering and happy. I met loads of smart mothers in a similar stage - feeling the pull of motherhood and choosing to take pauses or finding flexible work - and that community gave me comfort in my new mother skin. So, I built my website Mother Untitled a year into having Bodie to bring that conversation and community online.

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

A: Oh god, more. Always, more. I know I could be moving so much faster if I had my full brain to give. But I don’t. At this current moment, I’m thinking about preschool applications and why lunch turned into a full on food fight. So, I mop up the mac and cheese and get one of six applications out, and the to-dos for the website inevitably get bumped.

We all know the feeling that is bound to follow - a twinge of regret for non-progress at the end of another day. Someone once told me that a woman’s career is a series of interval sprints and thoughtful pauses. I am consciously moving slower right now - I try and lean into the thoughtfulness knowing there will be another time in my life for deadlines and pressure. Those things conflict with my main priority - being present for Bodie.

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

A: Yes and no. Financially, it’s been a full on shift from being an equal partner and breadwinner to a much smaller financial contributor to our household. It’s something that I still have to reconcile. We are extremely fortunate to be able to still enjoy so much of the life we live but we take a fine tooth comb to our finances month over month and are making cuts in ways we didn’t have to previously. Neither Dan nor I mind the cuts and actually have been glad to grow more conscious of spending and excess. But I do miss my ego in feeling like I earned the life I live and any indulgences along the way. It is one of the complexities that I like to address on the site because it is a heavy reality that is often left unsaid. Open dialog with my husband has helped me recognize that my contribution to our family is a choice we made and our finances are ours to hold together.

I never expected a linear career path and I didn’t have any specific goals within advertising and marketing though I learned a tremendous amount and it somehow led me here. I’ve leaned into the role of Mother Untitled. What this chapter lacks in external validation of a senior title at a prestigious company, it more than makes up for in creativity, connectedness and entrepreneurial energy. I think there is tremendous opportunity in this chapter of life - it unlocks a desire for meaning and impact and a community of energizing women with whom you share a natural bond. I trust that those two things combined will continue to lead me to an even better place.

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

A: When Bodie was five months old, we started working with his regular babysitter, Vicky, two days a week. She is with Bodie on Mondays and Tuesdays which allows me time to dress like a grown up, work on the website, on client work or meet up with women in the city all working or thinking about some very cool things. A year into that set up, we added hours for Thursday evenings to allow a regular date night for Dan and I. She is incredible - calm, gentle, interesting and playful. I also have my in-laws in the city and it’s a constant security blanket knowing any one of them could or would be over if we needed. My parents are simply the most gorgeous people I know. They’re in California but fly in often - especially when Dan is traveling for work so they can keep us company.  My girlfriends - with kids and without - keep me feeling like a full woman and they are over often so my days as a stay at home mother have rarely felt lonely - quite the opposite. The conversations with my female friends are more honest, more creative and more giving than I’ve ever had before. Without feeling that connectedness, I certainly wouldn’t have built the site.

My husband deserves a whole other paragraph. He wakes up every other morning so I can sleep in and answer emails. He cooks the majority of our dinners and doesn’t bat an eye that I somehow have forgotten how to do that in the past 20 months. He comes home early from work on Tuesdays so I can get wine and a bite with friends. And he works harder than anyone I know and still comes home and makes me feel like I did more than him that day. As I write this, I’m reminded to give him a ring and say thank you.

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

A: Yes. But I wouldn’t have it have it any other way. I grew up in a household with my father, an entrepreneur, taking work calls out of our studio apartment and his employees coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. My husband grew up similarly. So for us, our conversation is often about trading ideas, showing each other emails or talking through what’s not working. We’re happy to have working nights on the couch with wine. That said, Bodie is completely uninterested in all those conversations and unimpressed when I am ever in front of my phone or a computer so my days with him don’t allow for much work. Realistically, my days with him - the feelings we have, the mothers I meet and the issues that come up - inspire the site in a big way.

creative motherhood: neha ruch

(photo: Marissa Zackowitz Photography)

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

A: Our house turns on somewhere in the 6am vicinity. My husband or I go in to get Bodie who wakes jumping up and down. If it’s my turn to lie in, I’ll get out e-mails, do a bit of writing or check in with Mother Untitled’s designer in Amsterdam. If it’s a Monday or Tuesday I head to the Soho House where I work after doing the hand off with our babysitter which still takes us way too long because neither Bodie or I are particularly good at saying goodbye. I tried working at home for periods of time but Bodie knows where to find me and I will always take him up on a cuddle which means we just end up saying goodbye over and over again. I love the global and creative community at the Soho House and I’ve actually made some close friends who are in a similar stage so we’ll have check ins through the day and give each other a social break. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I really try and work through the majority of Mother Untitled’s editorial calendar and social media content for the week and find at least one or two hours to do networking meetings as we explore partnerships with other smart voices in the parenting space.

If it’s later in the week, Bodie and I are happy to have simple mornings. He’s at a stage where doing laundry is as fascinating as a carousel so we’ll shift between playing and puttering around the house for the first few hours of the day. We do a mid-morning class - soccer, music, art, etc. - on most days at different spots in the neighborhoods. It gives us a change of scenery but also lets him have time in a larger group which I always worry he missed since he never went to daycare. We live in the Flatiron so much of our remainder of the day we’ll spend at the Madison Square playground or meeting friends for playdates in the park. In between, Bodie clocks in a solid two to three hour nap which I’ve learned to maximize - meaning skipping a shower to work on MU’s Instagram, collaborate with our designer on upcoming visual needs or work through more content items for the week.

I love Bodie's evening routine from dinner through bedtime - it’s built such a positive relationship for him with sleep which I hope continues and it just winds us both down. I’ve trained myself to save clean up for the very end of the day after he goes down at 7 because previously I was constantly tidying in vain. Our nights after Dan gets home aren’t often more elaborate than a glass of wine and Odd Mom Out (a satire on New York city moms) or a working session side by side before bed by 10pm. Hence why date nights feel necessary - our current favorite is Red Rooster in Harlem where you have a bite and listen to the best live blues and jazz.

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

A: If I’m super on it that day I’ll make a note in my iPhone. More likely though I’ll try and recall it later during nap or night time and I’ll get some version of it.

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

A: First, life is a long game. If you’re taking a pause or re-routing for something new or simply moving a little more slowly than you would like in what you love, it will all ebb and flow many times over. Second, it’s ok for something (a few things, in my case) to have to give. Pick the things you really care about, put your energy there and give yourself a break on the other things - I haven’t made homemade food for Bodie for six months but I know he is loved and learning from a happy and fulfilled mother.

Good stuff, right?! Love Neha's approach to being conscious and present in this "pause" stage of her work life. Check out more on MotherUntitled.com and on Instagram

See the rest of the posts in the Creative Motherhood series here

what's your style story?

what's your style story?

When I’m working with clients, I like to hear a little bit of their history with style. If they’re frustrated with their clothes now, was there ever a time when they enjoyed fashion? What were their feelings towards clothes in high school? In college? Why is this even important? By seeing where you’ve been, you can see where you need to go next, and it's good to recognize that our style is constantly evolving through different seasons of our life. 

mindful closet st louis personal stylist

As you can probably guess, I’ve always loved fashion, clothes, and getting dressed. Shopping was always my favorite pastime. As I've mentioned, my grandmother was one of my earliest style icons. I find that a lot of women are seriously influenced by how their mothers dressed or how their mothers thought they should dress. Interestingly, the only influence I got from my family (other than my grandmother) was that it wasn’t important to worry about what you wore or how you looked, and in fact, it was a negative thing. 

As an adolescent and young teenager, my style was whatever was “in" at the time. Later in high school, I started feeling the need to assert my individuality and entered a grunge phase. My goal was to look as different as possible from everyone else. When I got to college at the Oberlin Conservatory, everyone there was so “alternative" that they all looked the same and I rebelled again by dressing more conservatively. A friend of a friend described me as “that girl who wears business-y clothes”. I was always aware of trends and attempted to follow them as much as budget would allow.

This is a pretty important point, because usually the budget was only slightly more than zero. After grad school, I moved to Manhattan and did my best to keep up with the fashionistas there while living on $25K and wearing shoes I could walk miles in. I often felt extremely insecure about what I was wearing and more than a couple of times, stopped in a store on the way to work to buy something new because I was so unhappy with what I had. There was a lot of pressure there.

Along the way, I started to notice that certain things make me more self-conscious and uncomfortable and I began to avoid those things. I remember specifically in college buying a red shirt because I thought I "should" wear red (I'm a brunette, after all) and just admitting to myself after wearing it once or twice that I just didn't feel good in it.  

After moving to St. Louis and discovering the wealth of cheap clothing available at thrift stores, I continued to experiment. I thrifted items just to try. This was at the time that fashion blogs were just starting to take off and I tried out many, many different bloggers’ styles. I ended up with two wardrobe racks full of clothes in our basement. 

st louis personal stylist

At a certain point, I started to realize that I the more experimental I was, the more I worried about what other people thought and the more time and effort and energy I had to put into getting dressed. I often changed multiple times before finding something that I was comfortable in. I started to think that maybe I could appreciate all these different looks in a different way and didn't have to copy them on my physical body. I could just read the blogs, appreciate the fashion editorials and then just wear what I actually felt myself in. Like looking at art in a museum, you can appreciate it, but you don’t have to take it home.

I also realized that by focusing on budget, I was wearing things that I didn't necessarily like or feel good in, but bought because they were a bargain. 

There was a relief in realizing I didn't have to always be trying new things. I also realized I didn’t need to stick to traditional rules of what I should wear. I didn’t have to wear red because of my coloring. I didn’t have to wear full skirts because my bottom half is larger than my top half. Just because something was a bargain, didn't mean I should wear it. I can wear what I want to wear, and if that’s mostly black and oversized things, so be it. 

I started thinking about all of this because of a podcast I was listening to, Garance Dore's "Pardon My French". She was speaking with two other French women, Caroline de Maigret and Isabel Marant, about style. They all agreed that the older they got, the more confident they were about knowing what was for them, and about deciding NOT to try things by saying (in a French accent, mais bien sur) "No, that's not for me, thanks”.

How has your style story affected what you wear? Do you have a hard time separating what you’ve been told you should wear from what you actually want to wear? Has your style evolved and changed as you’ve aged? 

Work through all of these questions as you determine your personal style in my new ecourse, Making Space. Sign up below for info when the course is released. 

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.