THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
The thing about creativity is it has to have freedom to be whatever it’s going to be. Someone can’t force you into being creative. They can’t teach you how to be creative. They have to allow creativity to happen.
It’s the inspiration place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast. An Art World, Insider a podcast, for artists by an artist, where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. Now, your host, Miriam Schulman.
Well, hey there, passion maker. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration. You’re listening to episode number 191 of the Inspiration Place Podcast. I am so grateful that you’re here. One of the hallmark holidays is on the horizon, Mother’s Day. I thought it’d be really interesting to reach out to some of my friends, to gather their thoughts on how motherhood has influenced their creativity and their careers.
Now, before we get into that, I just wanted to give a nod that for many people, this holiday may be a painful one. Perhaps, you’ve lost a mother or had a difficult relationship with your own mother or your children, or have struggled with infertility issues. If any of that applies to you, just know that I see you. For me, personally, Father’s Day is a tough one. My own father passed away when I was five years old. Since he was dying of cancer for several years, he really broke off our relationship. I was five, but he really just distanced himself from myself and my sister, because he was dying. It was too painful for him. I have very few memories of my father and Father’s Day is a difficult one for me.
However, one of the motivations I had for this episode is that I hear the myth so many times that you have to choose between being a mother and an artist, or even being a business woman and being a mother. For me, and for many of the contributors for today’s show, this has not been our experience. Sure, you can point to many artists who chose their art or their career over motherhood, such as; Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Elaine De Kooning, who chose not to have children or even Grace Hardigan who abandoned her child. But we can also point to artists and creators such as Kara Walker or Alice Neel, or the writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder, who embraced motherhood along with their creativity.
Now, for me, I actually credit being a mother as being one of the assets that helped built my career, especially since I was a portrait artist. My children provided early subject matter for me and the mommy network provided a steady client base. By the way, after completing dozens of commission portraits that have made my clients ooh and aah, I teach these techniques and I folded these techniques and other shortcuts into my five P portrait painting process. Now, I’ve taught this process to hundreds of my students, so they can also create portraits that they could be proud of. if you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint portraits, but perhaps you’ve been intimidated to start, I’ve got some great news for you. I have a free master class it’s recently been updated. It’s now available to help you learn how to get started. If you want to get to started learning how to paint portraits in watercolor, to learn more, go to schulmanart.com/demo, as in D-E-M-O. That’s schulmanart.com/demo. Totally free.
Now, on with the show.
When I reached out to my friends, I was very Lucy Goosey with the instructions I gave them and the prompts, partly because I wanted to get back a variety of responses. I didn’t want to impose my point of view on what they would bring back to me. In addition to talking about balancing career with motherhood, I told them they could reflect on how they encouraged their children to be creative or even how their mother encouraged them. Those were the different options that I suggested. Now, although many guests spoke about their own experiences as mothers, themselves, I also want to make space for those who may, air quotes, mother, people who are not their biological children or children. There are many times when we are called to nurture those who aren’t our children. Learning how to create life balance is also something all of us can learn no matter our genders or whether we’re mothers.
For my first contributor, Jen Lehner, balancing being a mother with her career actually formed the basis of her most popular program, Front Row CEO, which teaches solopreneurs how to hire and train assistance so they can find more freedom in their business. Now, you may have heard me say this before if you’ve been a fan of the show. If your business only includes you’re probably dreaming too small. Yes, you. Even if you are an artist. Listen to what Jen has to say.
On this Mother’s Day, I am reminded how grateful I am to have a team that allows me to be more present for my kids and to be a better mother. There was a time early in my business when I was working so much that even though early on, I was working from home and I was physically present in the house, I was definitely not present in every other way. I was very consumed with all the things that my business required of me. Thank goodness my kids actually straightened me out. They said, “Hey, mom. You’re not around and we need you. PS: you just aren’t any fun anymore.”
I made a commitment on that day, actually, when my kid told me I wasn’t fun anymore, that I was going to get help in my business so that I could be present for them. Now, I have a team and they support me and I’m able to leave my business to go on vacation or to go to a lacrosse game or to a school performance, or just to sit and hang out on the couch and watch some TV with my kids and know that my business is going to continue without me. Thanks Miriam for letting me share my thoughts on this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to you and all of your listeners.
All right. I’ve been through Jen’s programs myself. It’s been invaluable for moving to a remote team and hiring help. If you want to check out her program or be added to the wait list, go to schulmanart.com/ceo. Now, I also wanted to say that, Jen, if you’re listening, I know this year might be a little bittersweet for you. I’m very grateful to Jen for participating because she recently lost both her mother and her mother-in-law in the last year. Jen, if you’re listening, just know that I’ll be thinking about you this Mother’s Day.
If you write a nonfiction book, the way I’m doing, you might be surprised to learn that you actually don’t have to write the whole book in order to get a publishing contract, but you do need to write a book proposal. This is a huge document. It can be as long as 70 pages. The book proposal is going to include who you are, why you’re the one who’s the best person to write this book, why this book should exist at all, who needs this book, what it’s about. It also includes chapter summaries. Yes, there should be summaries, even though you haven’t written the book yet. They also want you to include two sample chapters. There’s a bunch of other things. I don’t even remember what was in the proposal.
Now, I’m a big believer in getting help, whether that is in the form of assistance and team, like we talked about with Jen or in the form of coaching, which is why I turned to Allison Lane to help me write the book proposal. That is one of the reasons I invited her to contribute to this episode.
Hey. I’m Allison lane. I help thought leaders write book proposals to get traditional publishing contracts. Once they do, I help build their marketing roadmaps around their brands and their books. How do I encourage my kids’ creativity? My kids are 11 and 13. They would sniff out encouragement as manipulation. I just have to be there when they dive into something, usually, when they have some uninterrupted and unstructured time away from screens. It’s my job to remind them that their first sketch, or my daughter is a very artsy and crafty, her first try at something isn’t the final product. Just like I remind my writing clients that their first draft is not the final chapter. Being creative is about trusting the process and building on the step before.
How do I balance motherhood and having a career? Please, there is no balance. There is only juggling. Miriam, you gave me the best advice.
You said that I have to chunk up my time in one and two hour chunks. That’s what I do. Lucky for me, when I do that, my ADHD brain gives me hyper focus on the things I love, so I just turn on the timer and go. For the things I love to do, I have to stop when the timer goes off. For those things I love to avoid, I have to keep going until the timer goes off. This morning I spent two hours on a client’s book proposal that is so good it was hard to stop. Then I forced myself to spend minutes planning my kids’ sports schedules for the next three months. I have two kids and between them they’re on five sports teams. I need to know where they need to be, what gear they need to have when they are there and that takes planning. After this morning, I feel a little shimmer of pride about the results of my two big chunks.
How did my mom encourage my creativity? My mom was old school. She made sure I had a lot of time on my hands. It was, “Go outside and play. Turn off the TV. If you can’t find something to do, I’ll find something for you.” I always had a stack of books and a notebook and a pencil so I could write stuff down. I was much happier watching the clouds go by than I was vacuuming or dusting or doing anything else, really. That unstructured time was a shove toward my own imagination. That’s what I draw on today. I know how to clear my mind so it has space to capture great ideas.
For nonfiction books, once you get the publishing contract, it’s time to start writing the book. Publishers have different editing processes. In my imagination, from watching TV shows or the authors on the Real Housewives or whatever and movies, I imagined that there was a lot of hand holding from the editor. However, when I signed the contract back in June of 2021, Harper Collins told me to come back when the manuscript was finished in December, six months later. Now, at first I actually relied on my 24 year old daughter to edit my early chapters. She is an excellent writer. She is a stickler for grammar. I think she got like an 800 on her grammar part of the SATs. That was back when they still had a grammar section for the SATs. She started a teaching job in the fall and so I knew I would need outside help. I also wanted to have somebody help me who was an editor who had some experience writing books. Enter Candice L. Davis.
I worked for Candace for about six months. Now, just so you know, I’m recording this in March. Now, I am working with the team over at Harper Collins to edit my book. When I turned in the manuscript in December, I wanted to have professional help to edit that first draft. In many ways, Candice was a book doula, by helping me birth my book, which is why I really wanted to hear what she had to say about motherhood.
Now, before we get into Candice’s clip, I just want to let you know, that even though I worked so much with Candice and did multiple edits of the manuscript, I still got plenty of edits and criticism, constructive feedback from Harper Collins. None of this was to protect me from getting edits or criticism, but I just wanted to make sure that that first thing I handed in wasn’t a total disaster. I was having a little bit of that imposter syndrome and I felt I needed help. Candice was the perfect person to help me. She didn’t impose her voice on my book. I still feel very much like it’s my book, but she did help elevate what I was doing by asking me the right questions and really coaching me through the process.
Candice L. Davis:
Hey, there. I’m Candice L. Davis author, coach and host of Nothing But The Words, the podcast that gives you everything you need to know to write a phenomenal book.
When I think about motherhood and creativity, to me, the two go hand in hand. For one thing, you’ve got to get creative if you’re raising kids today with everything going on. More importantly, I’m incredibly grateful to my mother for the way that she raised us and encouraged creativity in her children. We’ve all three turned out to have artistic pursuits in our adulthood. I think it’s largely due to the way that we were raised. By this, I mean, she allowed us to get bored. This was in the days well before helicopter parenting. We were essentially latchkey kids. Even when my mother was home, her evenings were spent sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and reading a murder mystery. They were not spent entertaining her children. Our days were not as packed with activity as some kids have their days packed right now.
During those times with nothing to do, we were allowed to create and to imagine, and to make new connections and to explore and to go on adventures. Now, I will admit that boredom was particularly painful for me when I was home alone and didn’t have anyone to talk to or play with, but it still served me well. Once you get through the painful part and get to the other side, you start to discover what you can do in that time and space where you have no one else contributing and only you are there to create. That, for me, laid the foundation for a creative life. I tried to bring that same sort of foundation to my children as I was raising them.
I homeschooled them for the early part of their education. During that time, I gave them plenty of time to get bored. I think we did well as they’ve gone on to have artistic lives as adults and to pursue careers that they’re really passionate about. For me, it was really about balancing their needs with my needs to be a creative person. While I was allowing them to get bored so that they could develop their own creativity muscle, I also needed that time of not entertaining them, not teaching them, not having to attend to their every need so that I could process my own ideas, so that I could create so that I could study so that I could explore. As difficult as it is for some mothers, setting those kinds of boundaries made my creative life so much easier to live and to develop.
My children understood that my creative time was for me, if there was a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, mommy was writing. Then you were not welcome to come in unless it was an emergency. I believe every mother, who’s also an artist or creative person, deserves that same freedom, those same boundaries, and that you can have them when you’re willing to put those boundaries in place and prioritize your art.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers, all the grandmothers, the godmothers, the aunties, the sister friends, the cousins who are helping raise the next generation of big hearted, loving, compassionate, creative artists.
If you’re even thinking about writing a book, whether that’s a novel, a memoir, a how to book or something else, you want to be sure to check out Candice’s podcast, Nothing But The Words. When my book Artpreneur gets closer to going on sale, we’ll be sure to have both Candice and Allison back on the show.
My next contributor, Patty Lennon, chose to focus on how she nurtures creativity in others, including her clients.
Hey, there. This is Patty Lennon, host of the Space For Magic podcast and author of Make Space For Magic, where I share different strategies, different focuses to help my fellow humans bring in more magic into their life, in the form of manifesting abundance and connecting with their spirit guides, angels and loved ones.
As Mother’s Day approaches and Miriam talked about creating an opportunity for us to share how we balance motherhood and creativity, what really came to mind was how different my children are. One of my children is the type that wants to get into everything. Get her hands in things, if it has sensation. Whether it’s making bread or painting with her fingers or redesign her room, she wants to get into it. Where, my other child creates in his mind. He can create whole universes in his mind and then puts them out into the world with his words.
When I’ve shared with my children, my desire for them to be creative or I’ve done what I can do to help them make space for their own magic, the thing that I’ve focused on is reminding them that we’re all different and that creativity, at its best, is something we feel as much as something we do. That if something calls their attention, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a grand creation or it’s something tiny, like a perfectly cut up vegetable, which thrills my daughter. All creation helps us connect to the soul of the universe. For me, as a mom, making space for my children’s creativity has simply meant making space for my kids’ souls. I think when we give each other a room to be our fullest selves, that is when our creativity grows.
I am wishing all of the mothers out there a beautiful Mother’s Day. To all of you who mother others, whether they are your children or not, thank you. Thank you. I know I have benefited from so many of those moms in my life. I wish you an amazing, amazing day.
Patty was a guest twice on the show. We’ll be sure to link up both of her episodes in the show notes.
Whitney McNeil, our next contributor chose to focus on assuring us to let go of perfectionism and blending the way you show up as a mother in the world with your life purpose. Here’s what she had to say.
My name is Whitney McNeil. I help spiritual, ambitious souls connect to the or intuition and spirit guides to live their life abundantly through their business and when it comes to motherhood, really understanding how that blends in well with our purpose and then also running a business. I think there’s too much expectation of what a perfect mother has to look like. One of the things that I always tell the people that work with me, give yourself grace. Sometimes we might feel like, “Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be a stay at home mom.” Or, “I’m supposed to feel all this joy about motherhood.” When really, looking at your life purpose archetype can tell you if that is true or not. Yes, there are some of us who really feel the staying at home and truly being a mom Is purpose. I normally see that with people who have life purpose archetype of the helper, but that’s not true for all the other archetypes.
There are seven main life purpose archetypes. You might be a teacher. You might be a protector. You might be a healer. You might be a humanitarian. You might be a creator and understanding what your life purpose archetype is, really gives you a sense of relief of, “Oh. That’s okay. It’s not in my natural energy to only want to be a mom.” Giving yourself a lot of grace around that is going to be important. Motherhood can look really different depending on who you are, when you step into truly your energy and you emanate it, you can start to let go of all the preconceptions that we have about what a mother should do. And it may not look the way you think it’s supposed to look, because you’re learning certain lessons, and so are your children. You can also really expand into the mother role in your community for your business as well. You may feel that calling of wanting to create a community who supports one another.
Truly, motherhood and being a mom is different for everyone. And you’re going to have your own unique definition of what that is. Your children chose you on a soul level. Too many times, the spiritual and ambitious souls I work with tend to be perfectionist. I’m raising my hand on that one too. Feeling like I have to be the perfect mom or what the world expects of me. When, on a spiritual level, we are expressing who we are authentically. When we’re truly stepping into purpose, and we’re doing things from our heart centered selves, we’re doing nothing wrong. It’s okay if things fall to the wayside and that if you don’t respond the way that society expects you to respond to your children, or you miss a meeting or something slips through the cracks.
Knowing that your children chose you on a spiritual level to learn. The choices that you are making as your authentic, heart centered self is what they want to learn. Sure, your children might complain in the moment, but knowing that you’re here for a higher reason, and that you chose these relationships for a more spiritual reason than you can ever imagine. Your children are teachers for you and you are a teacher for your children.
I’m going to encourage you to not listen to what everyone’s telling you, you should do. As long as you’re making decisions from your heart and your intention is good, you’ve got this.
Finally, I asked Shaun Roney to contribute her thoughts. She’s the resident life coach inside the artist incubator and nurtures my clients to help them slay their mindset monsters. She chose to focus on how her own mother helped nurture her creative side.
Hi. My name’s Shaun Roney of Revealed Path Life Coaching. I’m an ADHD coach. I help people embrace their brilliant, creative brains rather than working against them. I’m passionate about bridging the gap between neurotypical and neurodiverse systems and conditioning.
One of the ways that my mom encouraged me to be creative was to model it for me. She was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood. She ran a number of creative businesses out of our home before that was ever really even a thing. She had a dried flower arrangement business with her friend and our next door neighbor. She was a seamstress. At one point, she even created outfits for Annie Potts of Designing Women. She owned a business creating themed, time period, wedding attire.I want you to picture brides dresses and bridal from different eras, like the roaring twenties, the fab forties. Talk about nicheing down. It was a very specific business. She ran a tape duplicating business for multi-level marketers at one point. She had a nail business, [inaudible], where she traveled to trade shows and taught women about how to care for their nails. She finished her career as an interior designer.
Throughout it all, she would see a need and fill it always moving towards what interested her. I saw her connection to people and her dedication to service and her creative problem solving along the way. She believed that she could create anything and modeled that I could do anything that I set my mind too. I feel as though I picked up that baton from my mom and have tried to model it for my children. I’ve owned a dance studio, a baby sign language company, a furniture repurposing business, and now a coaching business. My children, who are now grown adults, were super involved in the dance studio, they would help out at performances work the snack bar, take classes. They would greet people at the studio. Now, they’re both super creative as well.
I wish I could take all the credit for that. I actually think that creativity is also seated in us and inherent in us, though it’s something that we learn to express. My son’s a real estate agent and a rapper. My daughter, in addition to her full-time job has a few side hustles, DJ-ing on the weekends and she’s also certified in crystal energy healing. Super fun to watch as a mom and super creative, both of them. Creativity, to me, is bringing forth something that’s tucked within someone. The thing about creativity is it has to have freedom to be whatever it’s going to be.
Someone can’t force you into being creative. They can’t teach you how to be creative. They have to allow creativity to happen. I think exposure to varied experiences, access to different supplies and mediums and space to play around with it all is how creativity can be fostered and supported. There also has to be openness, downtime to dream and imagine. Boredom is sometimes a necessary component. Discomfort can bring about creativity. As a mom, I realizing all of that and also that honoring the process of creativity is more than the outcome it’s the process that it takes to get there. That is one of the best gifts a mother can share with her children.
By the way, if you want to get monthly coaching on your mindset from Shaun, you can get that inside the Artist Incubator program. To learn more about the track offerings, go to schulmanart.com/biz as in the letter B-I-Z.
All righty. Let’s wrap this all up. We’ve included links to all the things I mentioned in the show notes. You’ll find that at schulmanart.com/191. Don’t forget, if you want to learn how to paint portraits, whether that’s of your children or your mother or other people’s children, you can do it too. You can watch me paint. I’ve got a free masterclass just for you. In it you’ll get to watch me lay down the initial washes for a portrait of my daughter Talia. To sign up, go to schulmanart.com/demo. You can choose the best time and date that works for you. We’re always adding new times to the schedule. Again, go to schulmanart.com/demo.
All right, my friend, thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.
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