I am very proud and moved to announce that a dream my former client planted two years ago in our coaching sessions has come to fruition: Her first solo art show! At the time her sons were ages 4 and 6 and Katie was their primary caregiver. She had a dream to pursue her artwork, but little time to dedicate to it in between cleaning runny noses and caring for her little ones. Maybe you can relate to her dream?
I asked Katie some questions about how she got from there to where she is now. I am touched to learn about how she was able to pursue her dream while staying close to her children. I love her story of how her children have grown in confidence and vision from seeing their mom blossom -- and how that cycles back to feed her soul work.
CZARINA: The first time I spoke with you, after my talk on "How to Get Unstuck," you said that it really resonated with you to hear that you can move forward with your creative dream if you dedicate just 15 minutes a day. Can you tell me more about the "Aha!" moment that led you to coaching?
KATIE: I was having dinner with three friends who were all also moms of small children but who were all also living their dreams (working in jobs they loved & felt proud of). I knew that's where I wanted to be. I felt I already had an advantage going into coaching because I knew what I wanted- to get back into art. Many people I know still struggle with what they want to be into middle age. I just didn't know how to take the first step. The coaching really helped me take the first of many steps toward living my dream of daily art making.
CZ: As usually happens with coaching, we talked about a lot of things, from personal to professional life. What difference has it made that you took that time for a whole-life perspective and support?
KC: I may have had some subconscious beliefs that making art was frivolous and selfish. But through coaching I learned that whatever benefits me and "lights me up" benefits not only my family but all who come into contact with me. I became like my girlfriends who were working their dream jobs, inspiring others to find meaningful work instead of settling or staying stuck. And just by shifting how I was spending my days had a ripple effect on so many other aspects of my life. I am now proud, empowered, determined, and passionate. I'm also happier, calmer, and optimistic.
CZ: How did you start to gain momentum as an artist even while caring for young children?
KC: I finished my first painting and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that I was encouraged to keep at it! I made time for my art any chance I got. I realized that not every day would have hours of uninterrupted time to work but that 20 minutes here and there add up. I also started to network with a lot of artists and professionals which was incredibly helpful. Instead of socializing with other moms and talking about parenting, I was meeting with other creatives and business owners. This shift in my focus led to so many beneficial outcomes.
CZ: What advice would you offer to other moms of young children who have a creative dream?
KC: I know it can be nearly impossible when your children are little. But start small and stick with it. Don't give up. Make plans and goals for the next year, two years, etc. Soon enough those babies will be in school and all of the creative seeds you planted when you were in the thick of it will start to bear fruit. It's not selfish to take a workshop or class or to go out with adults from time to time.
CZ: It is amazing that two years after our coaching sessions you are still going strong with your "Going Pro" Schedule Tracker! Why has it been so important to you? What advice would you tell others about sticking with it when the going gets tough?
KC: The "Going Pro" Schedule Tracker was game changing for me because it was proof on paper that I was doing actual work and not a frivolous hobby. It legitimizes how I'm spending my time. And it keeps me honest: if I have several days where I haven't worked creatively then it's all right there on paper. I feel so productive when I get to write in the boxes and when I see those boxes getting consistently filled! It's almost like an adult star chart! It's a visual record of how precious my time is and a reminder not to waste it. It's also helpful in pricing my finished pieces because I can go back and see approximately how many hours were spent on a particular artwork and price accordingly. It also helps me to know when I've spent too long on something then I'm able to more easily declare it done!
CZ: Trying to work while being the primary caregiver of young children is hard. What would you tell other mothers about the value of setting accountability practices and a creative discipline (such as daily painting) for yourself while caring for little ones?
KC: I think for all of us our number one priority in life should be to our own health which can be achieved through self care. You can't be a good mother or spouse or person if you are tired, sick, unhealthy, or burnt out. You have to stand up for yourself and your needs so that you can meet the needs of those you are caring for. It really is the most important thing! But in the early years of motherhood you need realistic expectations about the amount you are going to accomplish daily. Just try to be content with any little gift of time and know that those windows of opportunity will continue to lengthen and become more frequent in just a few years.
CZ: What would you say is the value your young children have received from seeing you work on your creative dream, even when it has meant taking time away from them? What shifted in your relationship with them after "going pro" with your creative projects?
KC: I have an in-home studio so they are used to seeing me working long hours in there. It melts my heart when my children brag about me to their friends: "My mommy is a really good artist!" When I was preparing for an art fair I had a stack of prints that needed to be matted and sleeved. My kids wanted to help so we set up a sort of assembly line workshop. My younger son is very possessive of my artwork and wanted his own prints! I let him choose a few which he secreted up to his room and hid under his bed. I was also finishing up a big personal mosaic project and he made me promise not to sell them. "We are keeping these, OK Mommy?" My older son is an excellent critic. I'll often go to him for an opinion or advice when I have a painting in progress. He really takes his time and studies the piece and offers helpful comments -- and he's only 8!
CZ: What's most exciting to you about where you are today?
KC: I'm excited about so many things that are happening, but getting to show my work in public seems to be at the top of the list right now. I've shown in a few group shows recently but am preparing for my very first solo show in less than a month! It's also nice to be getting paid for my talents. I put a tremendous amount of time, effort, thought, and energy into everything I make so it's nice to be rewarded monetarily.
CZ: Who have you become today that you could not have foreseen two and a half years ago before starting coaching?
KC: When I started on this journey two years ago I was in the thick of motherhood. It was hard for me to visualize a future where my children wouldn't be so needy. I'm surprised at how quickly it has all come together for me! I feel really lucky with how my life is turning out in general and I think I owe a lot of it to being able to spend my days doing what brings me joy.
CZ: What's your new horizon now, from this new place you are at?
KC: I'm currently just having fun riding this exciting wave! I of course continue to look toward the future for my next show, my next commission, and workshops and classes that seem interesting. I'm always networking. I'm a pretty spontaneous person so I enjoy waiting to see what comes to me. I am committed to my daily practice and am hoping for more solo shows in a variety of settings.
Do you have a creative dream?
Did Katie's journey resonate with you? Have you also struggled with finding time to focus on your creative projects?
Drop me a line to let me know how you have been doing and if you have any questions.
And... you may continue the conversation with Katie herself at her solo art show!
Friday, October 20, 2017
Art.Work Austin Art Gallery
411 Brazos St. #101
Austin, Texas 78701
Free entry * One night only * Free nibbles and drinks!
10 original oil paintings by Katie Conley
on display for the first time
Sending caring energies,
Rise To Your Life
Coaching for Creative Change
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