Calling all moms who are looking for simplicity, clarity, peace of mind and creativity:
My new book is available for preorder on Amazon. I can hardly wait to share it with you!
Slowly but surely, I’ve been writing and illustrating a children’s book over the past year when I find the time. When my kids see me working on it, they gather around and draw alongside me or watch and offer to pose as my references (which melts me)..Back when I decided I wanted children, I knew I still had many artistic adventures ahead of me, but my call toward motherhood was just as strong and certain, so I made it my goal to combine these two parts of myself. My kids are almost 4 now and I’m catching more and more frequent glimpses of the “mommy artist “ life I had envisioned. Each glimpse gets a little bit less tired, less sidetracked, less fleeting, and more hopeful, and that’s how I know I’m on the right track. Aiming to have this project in the hands of an agent in the not so distant future.
P.S. Follow me on instagram @laquibrit
We did not mean to be away so long, but we are glad you are here! This spring we have a new title and a fresh perspective- on creativity, motherhood, and life in general. We’ve got projects in the works too; I have a book coming out this fall titled The Uncluttered Mother (more on this soon!) and Brittni is working on a children’s book (more from her later!)
I’ve got some creative goals and projects in the works, and my 55th birthday is bearing down on me, so I’ve been doing a conscious clean sweep of all the things I no longer want to give time or energy to.
Here is my list of What I No Longer Have Time For:
Procrastination (“Do it, don’t deny it” is a phrase my husband coined many years ago when teaching our youngest daughter to be consistent in brushing and flossing her teeth every night. After that, it became our household catch-all when faced with any less-than-thrilling task.)
Foods (and drinks) that don’t fuel me
Disempowering thoughts (seriously, our thoughts will make or break us)
And here is my list of What I Do Have Time For:
Creative Goals (and the bold action they require, but more often the small, consistent steps)
Believing in & encouraging others
What about you? What are you giving your precious time and energy to this spring? I hope those choices reveal how amazing you really are.
In the midst of a pandemic I get my first book contract and let the cognitive dissonance settle in. I am elated! It is meaningless! By the time the book is published, will the words I’ve written even matter? In a world full of sickness and chaos, is art even relevant?
My husband and I go away to celebrate our 33rd anniversary. He is reluctant in these times, but I’ve found us a private spot on Cape Cod, we pack a bag, some food, and we go. On the drive down I am describing the adorable guest house I have secured for us. I am happy to escape the everydayness of our lives, the news, the impertinence of my writing. It is called the Sweetest Little Suite, I tell him.
It has probably been renamed The Covid Cabin, he quips.
Don’t make me laugh, I say. There is nowhere to pee.
I know the state of the country, the world for God’s sake, is not funny right now. It is dark and uncertain, but we need to laugh when we can because the crying will come too, if not for ourselves, for others.
It is freakishly warm for the middle of November, but we don’t see anyone else at the seashore except for maybe a few people sitting so far down the beach they are like large grains of sand, their movement almost imperceptible.
It starts off as a dare, me tempting my husband to jump into the crashing waves, and it ends with both of us running into the ocean, going under. He disappears first and when he pops up he is shouting for me to hurry before the next wave drags me violently across the sand. Shrieking, I dive in, my timing more a reflex of panic than any kind of strategy.
When you’ve been married this long, there aren’t many firsts you haven’t met; first home, first child, first move, job loss, illness. We’ve had them all. But this- today- swimming in the ocean in the middle of fall- for our November anniversary- this is a new first.
I emerge from the cold, invigorated. The sun warms my skin as it creates glitter across the water. The reflection is spectacular; there is so much light. I am insignificant, but at the same time connected to the brilliance of God’s creativity.
Fully present, mind and body in harmony, I take it all in. I see and feel the ocean, the world, as the most amazing work of art.
In this moment, the art is everything.
Another night like this, suddenly wide awake. I don’t exactly feel panicked, my heart is not racing, but I am on high alert. What I am waiting for, I am not sure.
I’ve done all the things: no coffee after 10am. No wine. No electronics in the bedroom. Exercise. Mediation even. Yet most nights it is the same lately. I can predict before opening my eyes that the clock will read 1:30a.m. Sometimes 1:20.
My husband reaches out and touches my leg. He is letting me know he is awake now too. Was I tossing and turning? A middle of the night rendezvous; I resist the urge to speak. He will fall back asleep and there is nothing specific to say, to be anxious about. Well there is, actually. I mean the whole world is anxious now. Shouldn’t it be? I run through my list. Who shall I focus on this night? Family? The country? Humanity?
I do my yogic breathing. I decide not to waste this time on trying to assign a subject to my insomnia. Instead, I grab a pillow and notebook and go downstairs to settle on the couch. I may as well write something. Nothing will interrupt me at this hour, nothing outside my own head. The world is asleep, even as it is falling apart.
Not even my to-do list is calling me now. Phone calls to make, writing deadlines, laundry to do. Those are the affairs of daylight and I won’t engage such thoughts. I’ve been invited, against my wishes, but I’m here nonetheless, to do whatever I want in this dark hour. I figure something will happen if I put pen to paper, something to loosen this grip around my heart that is alerting me to I’m -not- sure- what. I am ready, so ready for whatever is going to happen, even if it is only on the page.
The windows are shut down here and I’m too tired to get up and open them, too busy writing. I am hot as hell now. My hair is getting long – I am not yet ready to venture into a hair salon, even with all the precautions in place. I’ve been snipping the ends of my unruly hair, one curl at a time, with the professional scissors I bought online. I pull it up on top of my head with the elastic around my wrist.
I’m so hot and so tired, I’m starting to feel nauseous. Tomorrow- which is today, technically- I will see what I’ve written, and if there’s anything worth saving.
I hear my husband upstairs, stirring. He is in the cool air-conditioned room and all of it is suddenly calling me now- the cool room, the soft bed, the husband.
I put down my pen and notebook and leave them on the couch next to the pillow. I will be back tomorrow night, same time, same place.
This essay was originally published on Brevity’s nonfiction blog: via Writing Through Insomnia
There are many things parents can do to nurture and encourage highly sensitive kids, but I think the most important task is to love and accept them as they are. There is unspoken pressure on parents to coax sensitive, quiet or cautious kids into being more assertive, outgoing or bold at a very young age. Sometimes the pressure is put on the parents by themselves. They know how outgoing and funny their child can be at home and they are eager for the wider world to know her as well. Or they fear that if their child isn’t speaking up and joining in now, then they will be left behind in life.
But this hurry-up-and-be-braver-louder-friendlier approach will simply backfire if it feels like criticism to the child. A child who feels comfortable about who she is right now even if that means a little scared, a lot cautious or simply reflective and observant in certain situations, will grow to be confident and kind.
The best essay I’ve ever read on this subject Stop Worrying About Your Sensitive Child was written by Janet Lansbury, author of No Bad Kids. Having been a sensitive child herself, Lansbury remembers what attitudes did her more harm than good. Spoiler: Having parents who saw her sensitivity as a flaw that made her fragile was not helpful.
By not worrying about your sensitive child, Lansbury is not suggesting throwing them to the wolves, so to speak. Sensitive kids often need extra time, encouragement and warmth, and those who receive that can turn into the most amazing adults. What she is suggesting is to remember that your child’s temperament may be his greatest gift; even if the world is yelling too loudly to notice this, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. When your child knows in his heart that you trust that he is exactly who he is meant to be, he will blossom beyond your wildest predictions.
6:45 Everyone gets up. Hubby gets dressed, I do not. I want to fit in my half hour exercise routine at some point this morning before I get dressed..
7:00 The twins watch Magic School Bus while hubby and I hustle around emptying the dishwasher, prepping the kids’ breakfast, prepping our own breakfast, feeding the dog, making tea.
7:30 Hubby eats breakfast and does the dishes. I drink my smoothie while trying to get the twins to stay in their chairs long enough to eat a few bites. If they don’t, they will be HANGRY.
7:45 Hubby goes upstairs to his office to start his work day after wishing me luck, which he knows I’ll need. The requests from the twins start flying my way. “Mommy hide and seek? Mommy read book? Mommy play?” We decide on reading a few books together. Then I tell them to play together while I deal with our laundry situation. And yes it is a situation. I only have to pause 13 times to help someone with potty, booboo, tie this, open that, can’t find this, she took my bear, and OH NO THERE’S A STRAW IN MY WATER CUP!!!”
8:45 It’s still a little too cold to go outside. Now would be a good time for me to exercise, but the twins are getting crankier by the minute, so I decide to do a craft with them instead. We make toilet paper roll monsters (I feel like there’s a good metaphor in here somewhere?). It eats up a good chunk of time and they love every second of it until the very end when one twin starts crying because she wants to make grass for her monster and I tell them we’re all done with this craft for now but we can bring the monsters outside later to play in the real grass. Of course the other twin catches on to the grass concern and they follow through with a level 6 out of 10 meltdown for me. As 2 ½ year olds, they are starting to master these morning meltdowns.
9:45 I manage to calm them down and I play with them for a bit before sneaking away to get dinner in the crockpot just in case I don’t get a chance later. I breathe a sigh of relief as I listen to them playing happily together while I cook. Now that their playgroup and library story time are no longer options- now that there is a pandemic – we stay home.
10:15 It’s starting to warm up outside. Maybe instead of my indoor exercise routine, I’ll bring the girls for a walk in the stroller and then we’ll play outside… But all at once, the grocery delivery arrives, both twins are asking for a snack, and my phone is ringing. I give the girls a baggy of nuts even though I know I should have given them this snack earlier because now it’s too close to lunch time. Then I head out to the garage to bring in the groceries. The phone call is forgotten.
10:45 By the time I’m done, they’re getting tired. It’s too late to go outside because it’ll take us at least half an hour just to get dressed and ready to go out and then it’ll be almost nap time. We’ll go outside after nap, at which point some neighborhood kids will be outside too, and I will continue my struggle to explain to my toddlers why they cannot play with their friends. I give them some carrots and toast to top off their snack-lunch and sit with them while we talk about what kinds of bugs we might find outside later. They’re obsessed with bugs at the moment.
11:00 We clean up and head upstairs. They’re cranky and ready for an early nap and so am I.
One twin goes potty, the other refuses via meltdown. This one’s an 8 out of 10 and she wins. I lose. Hubby is in the middle of a meeting; otherwise he would have come in to help me and we may have won. We go to their bedroom and read a few books. One at a time, I pick them up and say goodnight to the pictures on the wall, the windows, the giraffe that stands on their dresser, the fairy ornaments that hang from the ceiling… As I’m about to place the twin who just had the potty meltdown into her crib, she says she has to go potty. We all walk back to the bathroom. Several minutes later, they are both finally in their cribs.
12:00 I walk downstairs and collapse on the couch. I hear chatting coming from their bedroom. It’s fine, I think, they’ll fall asleep. But alas the chatting turns into crying.
12:15 I go back upstairs. Someone now has to poop. We all go back to the bathroom. One poops while the other gallops up and down the hallway. What happened to their tiredness?? Post-poop, we all go back into the bedroom and we repeat the goodnight routine. “Goodnight giraffe, goodnight window, goodnight painting, goodnight, fairy”… and then again with the other twin. My arms, wrists, and upper back have a constant mild ache from all of the daily lifting.
12:45 They are both in their cribs – maybe going to sleep, maybe not. I am on the couch. Recharging for the afternoon is higher on my priority list than the morning exercise routine I never got to. This is not hard, I think to myself. Having a Covid 19 diagnosis is hard. Being a medical professional during this terrifying pandemic is hard. Losing your job and not knowing when your stimulus check is coming is hard. Having to work from home and homeschool teenagers at the same time is hard. This is not hard. But sometimes it kind of is.
#30 days left (minimum) of social distancing here in Massachusetts! How about you? Here are some fun/inspiring/challenging 30-day ideas for #athome:
Delicious: 30 plant based power bowl recipes
Gentle: 30 days of yoga
Challenging: 30 days of daily burn workouts
Inspiring: 30 days to declutter your home
Let us know if you try any of these or other 30-day challenges! We have the power to raise the consciousness of the planet by raising our own, one good choice at a time. #stayhome #stayhealthy
My oldest daughter and coauthor of this blog, Brittni, was recently ruminating over her inability to consume anything but the cleanest substances without suffering some pretty significant consequences. Any caffeine, even if consumed first thing in the morning, will keep her from sleeping that night. A single alcoholic drink in the evening has the same effect. Gluten, sugar, and even dairy and meat have a noticeable effect on her energy levels and mood. She is intolerant to many medications. The list of sensitivities could- and did- go on.
You are the luckiest, I’ve said to her more than once.
Essentially you are forced to have a clean diet and live such a healthy lifestyle. You cannot skimp on your self-care without some real suffering. So you have the opportunity to be the pinnacle of health and well-being!
Of course, I do sympathize too, especially on the caffeine front. She has two toddlers. I cannot imagine having gone through the toddler stage without my morning coffee.
And I also know what it is like to be sensitive to substances. A glass of wine or an extra pour of coffee can send my heart racing these days. Consuming sugar(my nemesis) or white flour products make me want to take a nap. But I am not as sensitive to such substances, or to the loss of sleep they may cause.
Recently, I heard of a new book, a memoir, called We are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life. It is written by Laura McKowen, a woman who struggled with alcohol dependency. I immediately fell in love with her title and delved into the book, interested to learn about all the ways she thrived when she gave up her vice. And she is indeed thriving, but holy high balls, she takes the reader through some devastating sh** before she reaches the lucky part.
Still, in the end, she is lucky and amazing and makes some very valid points about the rest of us, too okay or functional or distracted to even contemplate giving up our diversion, whatever that is for us. Instead of thriving, we may be chugging along in mediocracy.
So for all you sensitive types, who cannot tolerate whatever it is that you cannot tolerate – noise or stress or alcohol or sugar or negativity or whatever your poison is- chances are it’s something that isn’t really great for anyone. But you, my delicate flower, the orchid, the canary in a coal mine, your rock -bottom of tolerance is always right there forcing you to course-correct with your next breath, with the beating of your wild, tender heart.
You are the luckiest.
It is no accident that I am writing about the challenge of carving out a creative life when it’s been about six months since I’ve written anything here.
Why is it so challenging to carve out a creative life that stays consistent?
Allow me to state the obvious: Creative projects are often solo pursuits in which we have to give ourselves permission, accountability, boundaries around our time and the will to keep going when it is just so easy to let it go among everything else competing for our time and attention.
And in addition to a creative life requiring time to create, it also requires time to just be. Writers and other creatives need alone time like they need air and water. So if we need quiet time to prime the pump and quiet time to create, and we live in a time that practically insists – or at least expects – us to be hyper focused on the outside world, much more so than on our inner selves, then of course it takes more than a little effort to protect a creative life.
Essentially though, I know I am capable of doing better, of doing more. Life is full of choices and I think I am running out of excuses.
Recently, I saw the movie Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the bestselling novel. Bernadette, so far removed from her former artistic career, has become anxious, destructive and unhappy.
It’s not so difficult to imagine a bout of writer’s block that goes on far too long resulting in my own demise. Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but the longer I leave a written book gathering dust, an essay unwritten, or new ideas to die on the vine, the more intimidating it feels to crack open the door to the work. It’s as though I cannot bear to face what I have neglected.
Good things, life affirming things, happen during a creative spell that are hard to replicate. When engaged in a creative pursuit, we are in the flow of a higher consciousness. In the act of creation we feel energized, joyful, at peace, and expanded.
“We don’t think and feel in the same way. Those neural networks our survival thinking had wired are turned off …we see new possibilities. We are now quantum observers of a new destiny. And that release heals the body and frees the mind”.
- Dr. Joe Dispenza, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.
In short, we are better when we are creating! We are happier, calmer and freer. Who doesn’t want that, for themselves and every creative person they love?
I could write about how to fight the good fight and maintain consistency in creativity, but clearly after such a dry spell, I am not the one to give such advice. Besides, it’s been spelled out already in some fabulous books such as The War of Art and Big Magic.
But speaking of magic, I occasionally get some good insights in my dreams and recently I awoke with these words in my head: Just do a little bit each day. The message was that simple and that clear.
So there you have it. This was my little bit for today.