Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Discovering My Creative Soul

I'm taking part in Week One of the month-long Carnival of Creative Mothers to celebrate the launch of The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood by Lucy H. Pearce

Today's topic is Nurturing a Culture of Creativity at Home. Be sure to read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

There's still time to Join the Carnival and be in with a chance to win a free e-copy of The Rainbow Way!
November 27th: Creative Heroines.
December 4th: Creative Inheritance.
December 11th: The Creative Process.


It took until I was pregnant aged 35 to discover that there was a creative bone in my body.

I watched it grow, realising it wasn't so much a bone, but rather a muscle that I had to exercise regularly in order for it to grow. The more I flexed it, the more it grew, and the more my capacity to embark on creative projects expanded.

Before this creative epiphany, creativity wasn't something that I had really given much thought to. 

I'd worked as a journalist yes, taken creative writing courses, written poetry and short stories, but I'd never really MADE anything, and for some reason I didn't think that what I was doing was CREATIVE.

So a sudden inner urge when pregnant with my first to take a pottery class and to learn how to make a patchwork quilt left me oozing with creative flowing juices. 

I assimilated it and allowed it to take me to a beginners' art class, where I truly began my journey into my inner 'artist', my inner creative soul. 

Pregnancy unlocked the key to this creative soul, it allowed me the freedom to surrender to what was inside and let it paint. The blank canvases I painted when pregnant were vibrant and flowing and strangely artistic for someone who believed I didn't have an artistic bone in my body.

I enjoyed the flow of instinct and the unusual sense of confidence growing inside me, alongside the inner growing of my babies. 

My art class never ended. I kept going and going for a few years as I learnt to paint using different techniques, different paints. Until my life got so busy that I couldn't find the time anymore, graduating to simply painting at home when the urge takes me. 

Painting is so meditative that it really grounds me in the moment - I get so absorbed that i forget about whatever small thing is bothering me.

It's something that I believe everyone has in them. But many people don't allow their bodies to release that artistic mechanism. It can be very liberating when you do, as you rid yourself of the notion that "I can't paint" or "It will be rubbish". It's enabled me to finally take a compliment, which I always struggled with thanks to hailing from a family of put-downers, perhaps to the detriment of my self-esteem. This year I sold my first painting, for €50, and I was delighted. Someone believed in me enough to buy something that I'd created. 

I cemented my new sense of creative confidence last year when together with five friends we decided to work through The Artist's Way every Wednesday morning. I started it thinking it would help me get back to creative writing, but little did I know the coursebook would enhance a sense of confidence in myself as a person (knocked asunder after 5 years of babyland). It left me feeling "capable". That I could do anything!

I found myself returning to writing, creating a blog and freelance journalism, painting and crafting. It also led to the accidental applying of an editing job, which miraculously I got, ergo the shaking up of my life for the better. It even lead to me training to be a teacher of antenatal classes - an ongoing work in progress that will take me another two years to finish.

Painting aside, I regularly ground myself by making things now for the kids. My specialty at the moment is cosy, warm blankets from their old clothes. These are labours of love take up quite of lot of my rare spare time, but they are worth it as souvenir treasures that we snuggle under ever day as we watch TV. 

The kids love them. And so does everyone else who sees them. Here's how I make these memory quilts:

And here's the latest one I made for Lorcan:

I hope I inspire you to pick up a paintbrush, cut up your kids' old clothes and dust off your sewing machine, or source yourself a copy of the Artists' Way. 

We are all artists and creative beings - but maybe you just haven't unlocked yours yet?


And grab free extras (first 200 orders only!):

- exclusive access to a private Facebook group for creative mothers

- a vibrant greetings card and book-mark of one of the author's paintings.

Kindle and paperback editions from,, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
or order it from your local bookshop!
Carnival host and author of The Rainbow Way, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares an extract from the chapter Nurturing a Family Culture of Creativity.

Lilly Higgins is a passionate food writer. Now a mother of two boys, she's discovered a new calling: to instil in them a love of food and creativity in the kitchen.

DeAnna L'am shares how visioning the New Year with your child is an invitation to be inspired: use creativity and resolutions to create a fun road map for the year ahead.

Molly at Talk Birth on Releasing Our Butterflies - balancing motherhood with creativity.

Laura shares some of the creativity happening at Nestled Under Rainbows and a few thoughts about creativity.

Georgie at Visual Toast celebrates her own unique culture of creativity at home.

Esther at Nurtureworkshop spreads the love of the ordinary, the delights of everyday things that can be an adventure of the imagination.

For Dawn at The Barefoot Home creativity is always a free form expression to be shared by all in a supportive environment where anything can be an art material.

Naomi at Poetic Aperture is a mother, artist and photographer who tries to keep her daughter away from the expensive pens and paints.

Aimee at Creativeflutters writes about keeping your sanity and creativity intact with small kids in the house in her post: Mother + Creativity - They Must Coexist.

Amelia at My Grandest Adventure embarks on a 30 Days of Creativity can too!

Becky at Raising Loveliness explores creating with her smaller family members.

Jennifer at Let Your Soul Shine reveals how children help us connect to our souls, through music and movement.

Mary at The Turquoise Paintbrush shares her experiences of creating with kids.

Brooke at violicious spent too much time worrying and trying to be creative instead of letting it flow.

Joanna at Musings of a Hostage Mother explains why creativity at home is important to her in her post "I nurture a creative culture."

On womansart blog this week - nurturing a creative culture at home.

Creative woman at Creator's Corner loves color and uses it to paint, draw and decorate to inspire herself and her family.

It took until Amy at Mama Dynamite was pregnant aged 35 to discover her dormant creative streak - she has found lovely ways of tuning into it every since.

Anna of ArtBuds is a trained educator and art therapist. She has been creating all her life and nurturing her daughter's creativity at home is a priority.

Deb at Debalicious shares how her family enjoy creativity at home.

Emily at The Nest explores how creativity runs through her family's life together.

Jennifer at OurMuddyBoots sees that encouraging creativity in children is as simple as appreciating them for who they are: it just means overriding everything we know!

Lisa from has discovered that a combination of writing and traditional crafts can provide a creative outlet during those busy early years of new motherhood.

Anna at Biromums shares what nurturing a culture of creativity means to her.

Zoie at TouchstoneZ argues that the less they are interfered with, the more creative children become as they grow up.

Darcel at The Mahogany Way celebrates creating with her kids.

Molly at MollyLollyLoo explores her family's shared creative times.

Liz at Reckless Knitting shares how she celebrates creativity with her family.

Sally (aka The Ginger Ninja) of The Ginger Chronicles is continually inspired by her own mum and grandmother.

Just being creative is enough, says Nicki at Just Like Play, as she ponders her journey of nurturing a creative family.

Allurynn shares her creative family's musings in her post "Creativity... at the Heart of it" on Moonlight Muse.

Laura at Authentic Parenting explores how being creative saves her sanity.

Mama is Inspired talks about how she puts an emphasis on the handmade in her home, especially in the holiday season.

Kirstin at Listen to the Squeak shares with you several easy ways for busy mamas and dads to encourage their children to be creative every day.

Chiswick Mum believes that a healthy dose of chaos is the secret to nurturing creativity at home.

Mila at Art Play Day always lived in her dreams, sleepwalking through life ... now she is finding out what creativity is all about.... her inner child!

Sadhbh at Where Wishes Come From describes how picture books can nurture creativity in young children.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Want to make a patchwork memory quilt?

I get a massive buzz when I force myself to finish a creative project rather than slump in front of the TV after the kids have gone to bed.

My latest labour of love was a keepsake blanket for my youngest, Lorcan the Brave, who is two and a half. 

It's all the nicest clothes he has worn since he was a baby that will forever remind me of him during his early years.

Lorcan's blanket, with hood!

It's a great way of decluttering their wardrobes and freezing the memory of them as a baby/small child, rather than giving away their old clothes to other kids or charity shops. 

I've made memory blanket/patchwork quilts, whatever you call them, for all three of mine now, making them up as I go along. If I hit a snag, I watch how it's supposed to be done on Youtube, then I try to work through the solution.

Each time I've thought of more inventive things and been a little bit more ambitious. The blankets have got bigger and bolder every time, with zips and pockets, but the latest one evolved even further, topping them all with a funky hood at the top!

Yes, you can even crop up their favourite hoodie and include that for comedic effect. It took me a little bit of fiddling with the sewing machine to work out how to do the zip/hoodie combo, but I got there in the end. 

Youtube is very handy for patchwork tutorials, but I find they're a little bit too strict and structured, I prefer to do less ironing and less straight edges. The beauty of these old clothes blankets is in their personalities and imperfections. I don't have any of the right cutting or binding gear, just a pair of scissors, some pins and a sewing machine. I don't use wadding, just an old blanket.

It costs nothing. Just blood, sweat and tears! But seriously, it's a lovely gift for kids who like to snuggle under their favourite old clothes. 

Tegan's Blanket

The problem I have now is that my oldest wants a new blanket because his, the first - the most quilted and smallest, has since been overshadowed by the other two's huge, soft blankets. 

Jago's blanket

So for my next creative project I'm saving his old TShirts and I'm going to make one for him as we begin the cycle again! 

Who knows, maybe I'll even make one for myself one day.....

The full instructions to make your own are here:

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I am a relay parent.

I survive the frontline of parenting by taking it in shifts with my husband to put up with look after our kids.

It means my husband and I rarely have quality time together – because there’s always something keeping us apart and, even sometimes when there isn’t, we need a bit of breathing space to stop us cracking up.

It’s a delicate balancing act, involving lots of forward planning and quite a lot of flexibility to sustain these different shift patterns.

Yet this is not usual. This is practiced in most homes across the world. This is modern day parenting. Because how many parents are able to mind their kids as a complete family unit 24/7? Somehow we have to earn some money so we’re we have a house to live in, try to better ourselves so that there are prospects for the future, try to be part of a wider community and enjoy some activities in the evenings.

Sometimes we have to exchange car keys at the door, as one parent comes in the other goes out to a meeting, an exercise class, work or a training course. Sometimes I escape to the quiet room at the top of the house for an hour to lie down, relax, take deep breaths, practice mindfulness, read a book; anything to bring me back from Frazzled mum to Mindful mum. 

Because of our busy lives and the necessary fact that we need to earn money to survive yet can’t afford daily childcare, we have to parent in shifts. This is what I call Relay Parenting, because it’s like we’re in a Relay Race that never ends. We are parents that pass in the hallway as we exhale: “Your turn!”

Now that summer is over, our lives seem to be busy with groups, committees, classes and clients. So when the kids are in bed, we take it in turns to have a bit of a life. But if we don’t get to bed before midnight, we suffer because they are always up at the crack of 7am come rain or shine. If I want a lie-in, I have to book it a week in advance and it has to be on a day where nothing is going on and the other parent is around to take the early shift.

Don’t get me wrong, we do have quality family time altogether. We took a family hotel break to Bantry recently where we all slept in the same room, all weekend. The over-excited kids loved it, but it was a bit intense for us over 40s low-energy adults, more like an endurance test at times, with pockets of beautiful family moments I’m sure the kids will remember forever. Creating happy early memories is really what it’s all about.

But mum and dad get tired. We both seem to be permanently exhausted at the moment. I’m back on the iron tablets trying to rebuild my energy, strength and immune system, plus I take Eltroxin for an underactive thyroid.

Everyone keeps saying that when they’re older we’ll have more energy because they’ll be less draining, but is that that really true? Surely they’ll find ways to drain us in different ways? I think the main thing is to find a way to strengthen myself so that my energy doesn’t drain so quickly and freely…. This is my work in progress at the moment.

Most days I can't believe how much I've acheived. Some days I think my head will explode with the amount of stuff I have to get done. But amazingly, if I write things on a list, then they get done. So long as I've got my other half of the relay race to help with the kids.

Thanks Daddy Evans. 

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