Today, some thoughts about how building a creative career while rearing a houseful of children is just like gardening.
1) Gardening is messy. I mean, let's get real. We are growing in dirt. Good, rich, amazing, awesome, yummy soil! It's amazing! But it's messy. Let's not deny this, look past it, or pretend we are growing a garden on marble slabs. You just can't. You've got dirt...in your nails, your knees, on your feet, and in your shoes. And it's all part of the job. Our big beautiful job. Show it off, be proud of it...learn how to keep it off your kitchen floor of course, but don't be ashamed if your life is messy. None of us are primped and curled all day. It takes digging in the dirt to produce really great work. Let yourself get messy.
2) You can't go a day without tending your garden. Contrary to popular belief, you can't really take a day off from tending your garden. I mean, if you have things on Auto-pilot with an irrigation system you can. And that's how we can go on vacation. Find ways to get part of your business on auto-pilot. For me, it's shipping and handling, scheduling social media when I can, having a calendar, streamlining business, etc. Kids, however, there really isn't any auto pilot there:) So for me, I'm constantly tending to something. So when the down time does come, in small and infrequent bouts, I relish in it. Maintenance is part of the deal. I'm not a maintenance person, so this one is hard for me. But the more I accept it, the better I get.
3) Plan for the long haul. One thing I've learned from my husband, who LOVES to garden, is that crops do better with time. The longer you garden, the better you get and more you learn. But the interesting thing about gardening, is that unless you live in California, you only get one chance a year at figuring things out. So it takes time. Our first year planting strawberries we learned that the birds would go straight for them, and we needed to protect them better. But it took until the next year to apply what we had learned. And so it is with your business...especially with kids in tow. Things take longer while you are raising children and building a creative career. And that's ok. In the long run, you will be better for it. Let things take their course, and learn from your mistakes, applying them along the way. You aren't in a race. You are building your life. So be patient.
4) There are dormant seasons. Like any normal garden, there are seasons that apply to it. Plants go dormant. You have to prune and cut back, so you can make way for new growth to come. And in a creative business, you will have set backs, creative blocks, seasons where the ideas just aren't coming. Be ok with that. Let the winter come. And know that Spring ALWAYS ALWAYS comes. The first time I experienced "winters" in my career, I panicked. Would I every get back on my feet? Would I ever have my creative flow back? I honestly thought I was done. And when you are in the public view, it's a terrifying feeling. But, let me tell you, it's all just a season. Let the winter come, and take advantage of the empty space. Take a vacation, prepare for when the ideas will come, clean out a closet. Have trust in your creative seasons.
5) Pace yourself. Something about this world of social media had convinced me on some level that unless we are go-go-go and always on, the world will stop. I'm not really sure where I started to believe that nonsense, but as soon as I recognized that I had started to pick up on that belief, I stopped dead in my tracks. Who says we have to be ON 24/7? Who says we have to be bearing "fruit" every season? This goes hand in hand with principal 3 & 4. Learn to pace yourself. My husband had a huge "Ah-ha" that he shared with me last night. It's not about managing your time, it's about managing your energy. We all have the same amount of time. But learning to pace your energy is personal to you, your family and your goals. Take time when you need to take time. Step away when you need to step away. Your garden will always be there. And it's SO important that you pace yourself for your lifestyle, and not for someone else. Your Garden isn't your neighbors garden. Pay attention to what you are growing in your life, and tend to it accordingly. Gardens will tell you what they need, just like children and just like your business. Watch for the signs and symptoms that some with pacing yourself too fast or too slow, and take the time to learn your personal pace.
For me, this is an on going, personal learning process. But when I have been able to step back, and apply these principles, it's more than what I ever expected it to be. I guess that would be principle #6: The end result always ends up being worth it. YOU planted it. YOU did this. And it's the best feeling to see the garden growing. But it's not without hard work, that often becomes overshadowing to the end goal. So glad I get to learn what I'm learning...as messy as it can be sometimes:) This cute picture above is an outtake from my photoshoot with Chant Vaughn, and Anders just wasn't happy at all that day. We had the photoshoot scheduled weeks in advance, and it just so happened that the next morning I discovered he had a double ear infection. Poor Baby! We got at least one good picture, which is all you really need, right? The realities of working with kids. It's messy, but I love it!