Saturday, June 05, 2010

Creative Challenges: Women who are both mothers *and* artists/writers

“Everyone expects women to choose, but what if you didn’t?
**From Who Does She Think She Is?

Last December, I contacted Tatyana Mishel for some creative coaching.

Since I am a creative person by nature, it might seem odd that I would "sign up" for creativity coaching because, um, shouldn't I just be creative.

What was going on in my life is that I was having some trouble balancing my creative life along with my everyday life of raising a daughter, being a wife, wearing the tiara as a domestic goddess, along with being a friend, daughter, volunteer, etc. etc.

I had just returned from Hedgebrook and was still filled with that retreat feeling that I didn't want to lose.  For seven days it was just about my writing and caring for myself.  It was probably one of the most nurturing experiences of my life.  But I could feel myself struggling with the "real world" when I got home and maybe even feeling a little vulnerable so I worked with Tatyana to help me stay in this creative and inspired place.

First, I must say Tatyana was wonderful.  I have known her as a poet in the community and knew that was doing some creative coaching, but had never worked with her.

She was so easy to talk with.  I told her honestly that when my family interrupts me when I am writing, I get an incredible knot in my stomach.  I told her I felt bad that my response to their attention was "a knot."

I think many times as women we believe our first priority is to care for others.

And if we have a child, or two, or three, that feeling can be elevated.  Tatyana was very kind, she told me that the knot I was feeling was reminding me that what I was doing was important.  Just as it's important to be mother, it's also important to be a writer.  I told her  I was having trouble sliding back into my life already in progress.

How do I balance these roles?

This is a question I have been considering for almost ten years now.  Tatyana suggested, "What if you told yourself you have plenty of time?"  She gave me suggestions how to recapture that "retreat feeling."  We talked about taking a breath and not feeling as if I needed to answer people immediately, "Let me get back to you" --those 6 beautiful words.

 Little by little the knot start to go away.

I wrote a note to put on my bulletin board, "Time is on my side - interruptions included.  She told me to tell myself, "I have plenty of time..."  I worked on not judging, but writing.  Writing!

She taught me that I don't need to get overwhelmed by my ongoing to-do list, but every day just choose 2 or 3 things I will accomplish and create a smaller list to place on my giant To-Do and focus on what I could accomplish.  I did not need to do everything.  She helped me find my way back into the real world of to-do lists and domestic life.  She helped me find my way back and not lose those good habits I had gained on my trip.

I mention this for experience for a reason.

Tonight we're watching the movie Who Does She Think She Is? (and yes, I got the house party kit, so I'll have some favorite women to watch this with me).  And I am so interested in finding out how other women do it-- how to be both a mother and an artist?  How to balance creativity with regular day-to-day?

I'm going to take notes.

There are many ways to be woman writer or women artist.  Some days I think I have it down, other days I'm looking for my way.

But there are many of us out there muddling through this.  I'm hoping the movie gives me some ideas, some insight.  I'll let you know.

(P.S.  If you're interested in working with Tatyana, check out
her website here...:  Creativity Coaching: Tatyana Mishel 
- you don't have to be local, she can meet with you by phone call, which is what we did).

And all of you, no matter what your personal challenges may be-- hang in there!



  1. Some time ago I came across "Who Does She Think She Is" and recommended it. I hope you write about it after seeing it.

    I think all of us see something of ourselves in your post today. I know I do. I know other creative women, both writers and visual artists, who do. Artist Anne Truitt in her "Day Book" speaks of what you write. The issue is as old as time for us.

    I think your coach gave you some excellent advice, btw.

  2. I'm really glad you wrote this. I saw the trailer for that movie a few months ago, and am both compelled and scared to see it (worried it will make me cry and feel angry). I'm just at the beginning of struggling with these questions, but it is such a struggle. It's good to know I'm not alone.

  3. I have plenty of time--my new mantra!

  4. "I will get back to you" does have a lovely ring to it, indeed!

  5. Ali, I think it will make you feel empowered. There was one scene were a few of got a little teary, but in a good way and in an inspiring way.


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