In November 2004, I read an article in a Sunday supplement about the new world of blogging. Being a keen writer and thinker on life & the universe, I jumped straight onto blogger and wrote my first post – not with any great purpose in mind – but just because I could. For a few months, I posted several ‘missives’ (as my friend Steve put it!) quietly flirting with this online world, but really not knowing very much about its possibilities.
|Love this pic|
In May 2005, I got pregnant. Enough said. The most exhausting early pregnancy (ehm…and middle and end), followed by the arrival of our beautiful baby girl who did not ‘do’ sleeping (gastric reflux for months, poor wee thing). Then, when Isabella was 6 months old, I was pregnant again (yes, by choice!). The arrival of our precious Toby meant I was mum to two under two’s. A challenge like no other, not helped by that fact that I hardly slept a night through for 3 years, so much had my body forgotten its sleep rhythm.
Come Easter 2009, my sleep came back and slowly my energy returned (I still wake up after a good night’s sleep full of gratitude). A few months previous, I had bought a magazine called Craftzine and, rummaging around their web site, I came across a blog by a mum and paper artists, Patricia Zapata. I was enthralled by this new world. Around the same time, motivated by crafting with my children, I ordered Amanda Soule’s “The Creative Family” on Amazon. Wooooo! A book about creativity, community and family life- 3 subjects closest to my heart all in one book. On the back cover was a link to Amanda’s blog. One click later and I was off, into the rabbit warren that is creative blog land. It was a rich and addictive journey, finding one blog after another by women, many mothers with young children like me, who were (re)discovering a more creative, authentic, simple and ‘green’ way of life. The power of connecting with others on a similar path, hearing their stories and seeing how they lived their daily lives, was instantly liberating and empowering.
By this point, I had already made the monumental decision to step out of my career as a social worker & trainer in order to dedicate myself to my family and my mosaic art. It wasn’t long before I dusted the cobwebs off my blog (which bore the same name as my mosaic art web site which has been running for about 7 years). I wrote my first ‘I’m back’ post just over a year ago (here) at the end of June 2009. During the last year of twice / thrice weekly blogging, I have often asked myself ‘why?’. Why do I spend time writing blog posts and reading other people’s blogs? What motivates me to use my precious spare time in this way?
When I restarted my blog last June, it was a simple act of reflection…a desire to record my journey as a mother and artists – and the meeting of these two areas of my life. My profession had trained me in the importance of reflection. I place enormous value on the act of stopping, reflecting and writing. It deepens me. It causes me to savour life rather than rush through it without tasting it. It helps me work through thoughts and feelings that may otherwise bubble under the surface unacknowledged. Since reviving my blog, photos have also been central. I was always keen on taking snaps of ordinary life and capturing memories, but since my new season of blogging, I have fallen in love with my camera (did you know that you can make a blog book of all your posts and photos at blurb.com? How cool is that? Gonna do that one day!)
For many, many months I had no idea if anyone was actually reading my blog or even how to tell the wider world that it existed. It was very much a pure story-telling space for me (and still is). Whilst I am aware of my personal boundaries as this is a public space, I also wanted to be real about my life and not just present the happy side. Here, I had a ‘mama melt down’ and decided to show it like it is. I know how much I have appreciated others who have done the same. Memorable, ‘honest’ posts have been this one by Soule Mama, this one by Amelia and recently this one by Rachel. (Do you have memorable ‘honest’ posts that you have read?)
Why do I blog? It is a daily reminder that I am not alone. Modern parenting is isolating, no longer tribal. Blogging connects us. Being an artists is a lonely business too…making away, alone, in a bubble, away from feedback, team work and daily connection. Blogging inspires, challenges, helps us take risks and put our artistic selves out there…it brings about amazing creative connections and collaborations (UK people, have you seen that Moyra is brewing some plans for a UK art retreat through blogging connections?).
As Kelly Rae puts it, blogging is like inviting people to your kitchen table for a cup of tea. I am very grateful to the countless people who open up windows to their worlds, their kitchen tables and their studios so that I may be encouraged and inspired.
Yes, that’s another reason for the power of the blog. It is pure role-modelling. We don’t seem to talk much about role models these days, yet they are so central to forming us, teaching us, motivating us. I used to bemoan that there were not many around but since discovering blogging, I am awash with connections to the most beautiful, inspiring people. I can read about a great idea in a book, but still lack motivation to turn the idea to action. Yet, when I read a blog post by someone I have followed, whose spirit I have got to ‘know’, I feel inspired to have a go at what they are doing, to put ideas into action. She has become a role model. An example of this for me has been Heather at Beauty That Moves – this particular post has got me making green smoothies several times a week as a way of looking after myself. But more than that, Heather’s whole attitude to food, nutrition and looking after our bodies has got me making big changes in my ways of eating. Heather also started dabbling with making art on her own last winter, and took herself off on a solo art retreat in a quiet corner of her home (how cool is that?!). Reading about her journey with art inspired me to not remain in my comfort zone with mosaics but to pick up pen and pencils again (which ultimately led me to doing Amelia’s Experimental Art e-course - see, its all connected!).
The flip side of the role modelling story are the comments of gratitude left by readers of my blog and the now numerous occasions in which friends, who I didn’t even know read my blog, have told me how this space has inspired them…to live more creatively and more deliberately, to do more art with their kids. Recently, as a result of reading the ‘Celebration’ posts on this blog, a good friend told me that they have now started a new family ritual. At the end of the day, they write on a white board what they did that day that felt good as a way of engendering a spirit of celebration and motivation in their family. How cools is that? This genre of “creativity / simple living” blogs are powerful. They cause mental shifts and they bring about actions that change us and the world around us (mostly unknown to the blog authors, which is kind of beautiful).
A few months into my revived blog, I realised that one of the things that I love about other people’s blogs is when they equip me with resources for daily living (tutorials, links etc..). Being in the midst of experimenting with creativity and parenting, I started recording my exploits in trying to make mosaics toddler friendly. A new series of tutorials was born both mosaics related and general stuff on nurturing creativity in children. Not long after starting this series, I was contacted by Disney in America, asking if they could publish one of my tutorials in their Disney Family Fun magazine. I haven’t mentioned this yet as its been months in process…but can now announce that the October issue of the magazine will have my sun catcher mosaic tutorial in it! Yay!
|Isabella with one of her mosaics|
My blog. My little bubble in cyberland. A space for reflection. A space for journalling my journey into deeper creativity, authenticity & motherhood. A space for sharing connections, celebration, ideas, techniques, inspiration and motivation.
Thank you for visiting my home in cyberland, be that once only or several times a week. I have often wondered whether to continue having the ‘followers’ button on this blog – my hesitation being that I know many people come here regularly who are not ‘followers’, it makes me sound like the leader of a (mosaic?!) cult and I do not want to become focused on “follower / commenter” numbers for fear that it skews my authenticity (if you blog you will understand…). But I know it helps us all stay connected, so it will remain. And if you are one of my ‘followers’ (hidden or otherwise!) thank you, sincerely, for the honour of being listened to by you.
To celebrate, and as a sign of gratitude for all the goodness that running this blog has given to me and others, I want to give a piece of my mosaic art away. This is one of my pebble mosaics – a dragonfly which symbolises enchantment & freedom. It has a hook for hanging and is made with beautiful iridescent glass that changes as you walk past it! Do let others know about the giveaway and if you want to play, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. This time next week (29th) I will do a random draw of names from the commets and will announce the winner and post it to you. Happy days!