Lessons in chasing creative pursuits

How does it look to chase a creative dream in your 30s? I picture a home amongst trees, a studio with windows as walls, facing spring buds and possibilities. Sunlight warming fingertips that pour ideas swiftly out onto keyboards. An abundance of time to try and re-try and get it exactly right.

But that isn't how it works. I know.

Pick a niche. Muster up the bravery required to take action toward the niche. Decide to tell someone. Tell more people or quietly prepare for hours on end, the perfect font pairing, the SEO optimized website, an effortless headshot of your stained lips and your ideal face angle. A sea of followers, a flood of customers singing your praises. A dream.

Please design my home, they say. Please come and organize my playroom, they plead. Please open an Etsy shop they encourage. Please write a book, they ask. And I listen and I am encouraged and I want to do all of these things. So I try.

When our twin daughters went off to kindergarten, I organized a bunch of homes. I designed a few offices, created some pretty amazing backyard retreats and did some full gut renovations. But none of this felt exactly right. I entered homes full of animal excrement, I allowed people to pick my brain for free, I floundered and questioned and then one spring afternoon, I took a good look in our bathroom mirror, and decided I wasn't finished having babies. So then I put it all on hold. Having a baby over here, takes a special kind of concentration.

Babies have this magical power. It begins in the womb, what a precious thing it is to carry a baby inside of you. You are never alone, you have this growing wonder inside of you to share your thoughts and hopes and worries with. You get tired and you stop writing, you stop instagramming and you almost stop taking pictures (if you're reading this, please don't stop taking pictures, whether you share them or not). Those months were spent literally walking the streets of our small town, doing small room makeovers in our home and soaking up time with our twin daughters with an almost alarming desperation.

Then Ben came and our life became fuller, yet of course busier so I waited. Only I didn't realize I was waiting. Then came the day when he accidentally slipped into a nap in his very own crib. Free time as a new-again mother was wrought with indecision. How best to spend this precious time? Self-care preachers would tell me to nap, to take a bath, to focus on "me-time", but instead I reached for my loom and felt the tidal wave of instant desire. The time had come to start making things again.

So naturally, I returned to Instagram because social media has this inexplicable way of always pulling me back. If I am going to be making something, I might as well be telling people about it - or so my rationale goes. And it's funny how pulling out my DSRL (Yes all of my IG photos are taken on a DSLR because I'm picky like that), became a game that I could do while Ben was awake. Seriously, give this little guy a tripod and he is all set to be a ham.

A few weeks later, I knew I needed more and started googling jobs for stay-at-home moms. None of the options seemed appealing until I landed on audiobook narration. This, I believed, I could do. I pulled out the microphone I bought specifically for my podcast interview on The Birth Hour and designed my audio narration website. Next, I started throwing auditions up on ACX and I landed two books in my first week.

Then I was asked to bid on the design of an Ottawa coffee shop. I took a week to put together the perfect bid. I kept telling myself I might not get it.  But I wanted it more than any other design job to date. And I got it.

I pulled out of narrating those books because it seemed that I went from doing nothing, to everything. (I realize raising children is not nothing but I need to be trying things and writing things and creating).

These days I am writing for myself on here, I am instagramming for the community of it and I am designing both physical spaces and digital ones too. And I know that I felt helpless a few months ago. I believed that I couldn't fit more in.

According to my sister, the universe responds to action. Right now I believe that to be true. Another thing I believe - is that you don't need to pick just one thing to go after. For so long I felt stunted by the idea that I had to decide which one idea to follow and I am now thankful that everything happened at once. It showed me an important truth - that we are not one-hit wonders by nature (or at least I'm not). Choosing to chase several creative pursuits to me, feels less risky. I am spreading around the risks but also the possibilities.