Welcome to Week 9 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"Playtime shouldn’t end when we grow up; creativity builds our resiliency, our problem-solving skills and our sense of self. Let the dishes wait and do what makes your heart sing."
Liv Lane (and Liv is pronounced "Leave" in case you're wondering!) calls herself a human sparkler and it’s easy to see why. She approaches everything she does with such warmth and a glow about her. She is a gifted artist (though her shop is currently on hold), a teacher, a speaker, as well as an intuitive adviser (think of a life coach with a side of the supernatural). I’ve had the pleasure of taking a course from Liv (her course prompted me to write this post about my marriage) as well as speaking with her on the phone and she’s every bit as sweet and inspiring as this interview leads you to believe.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Liv - can you please describe your family?
I'm married to Brad and we have two busy and beautiful boys, 12-year-old Ryder and six-year-old Truman.
What is your business?
I'm an intuitive adviser and artist.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
I was a very creative and intuitive kid, and very mature. I loved chatting with the neighborhood moms, writing stories, making up songs and performing them for whomever would watch, and climbing our front yard pine tree so I could be near-invisible while watching the world go by.
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Yes! I was very entrepreneurial and found ways to earn money or exposure at a young age using my creative skills. One summer, for instance, I went door-to-door selling customized, hand-painted glass jars to neighbors! I also charged admission for plays my friends and I would stage in the backyard. And my mom has so many media clippings featuring my creative pursuits as a kid, from inventing a women's history board game to drawing the winning newspaper ad for a local car dealership.
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
Honestly, I don't have any memories of looking forward to motherhood. I was more focused on figuring out how I would manage to pursue all of my passions as a grown-up! Instead of playing house with friends, we'd play "office" or pretend we were schoolteachers or running a store. Motherhood didn't really sound appealing until my late 20s. I had a very difficult time adjusting to it, quite frankly, and maybe it's because I spent so little time envisioning and preparing for the biggest job of my life!
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
Ryder's birth was traumatic for both of us; he arrived black and blue and barely breathing, and I took an immediate nosedive into severe postpartum depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I literally forgot what brought me joy, including all of the creative pursuits of my past. Once I got help - more than a year after he was born - I had to experiment with all kinds of pastimes to find what brought me happiness and fulfillment - including art, writing and deepening my intuition.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
Months before Ryder was born (in 2003), I was actually feverishly launching a subsidiary media company for General Mills. All of my creative and entrepreneurial energy went into building that organization. I didn't launch my own business until 2007.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
That healing journey through depression and PTSD reignited my creative passions and intuitive gifts, but I didn't have much space or time to leverage them. I was growing exhausted in a high-pressure role running the subsidiary I'd started, and feeling like I was stretched too thin to be my best there or at home. So I initially decided to do freelance consulting from home while pursuing those more creative gifts. I very much believe that the sparks that lit us up when we were kids can lead us back into joy as adults, and I realize the work I do now is so aligned with what I loved doing in my spare time as a child. It's pretty awesome to see that connection.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
The biggest relief for me has been letting go of a need for balance. There have been years, especially when my kids were little and needed constant attention, when my work took a backseat. Now that both are in school, I have full days - and most days, honestly, there's still work to be done after they get home. So, I may still be working on my computer while they play and unwind - until it's time to make dinner, help with homework, carpool to practices, etc. There are some days when I get more done on the workfront, but others when I'm devoted to being at the school holiday party or taking care of things at home. It doesn't feel very balanced - more like organized chaos - but it works for us!
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
It takes great discipline, I find, to work from home. I went through a big shift last fall when my youngest started all-day kindergarten. I delighted in going grocery shopping alone or putting the dishes away in silence - but soon, I realized my work was suffering. When I was working in corporate America, I never would have left my job to go get ingredients for dinner! And I realized I wasn't giving my own business, the work I created because I love it, the same respect. That's been the biggest shift for me this past year in order to ensure I feel productive work-wise each day. The dishes can always wait. :)
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
My best-selling cards are those created through the lens of motherhood. I notice how I'm feeling or have felt, or what I imagine I will feel as my kids get older, and create from that space. One of them is for a mom on her toddler's first birthday, and it was inspired by a friend attending Ryder's first birthday and telling me how proud she was of me for making it through that first year.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
I want my kids to stay true to themselves and do what they love. They are one of the biggest reasons I do what I do, because I want to live by example and show them it's possible. In addition, if they or their friends look up my work online, I want what they find to reflect integrity, authenticity and compassion, so that's always in the back of mind as I'm posting and sharing online.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
I feel like creativity is not reserved for work, but a constant theme woven through our family's life. We value and model self-expression and innovation, from discussions at the dinner table to sharing the arts with them (attending concerts, plays, etc.). This past weekend, we went to a wedding where there was a stage just above the dance floor. Ryder wound up with headphones on at the DJ table, helping the hired DJ spin tunes, and Tru danced for a solid two hours on that stage, often with grown-ups serving has his back-up dancers. I stood there watching them both, just awe-struck by them, but also quietly honoring that we've helped to nurture their sparks and cultivate their self-confidence in order for them to feel safe and good expressing themselves.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I hope they come to recognize that I chose this road because it allows me to take better care of them, and better care of me. I am happier doing what I love, and hope it inspires them to do the same.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Every mother has her own path to pave, so do not look to others for permission to pursue what lights you up. There is so much pressure to keep up, to follow everybody else's guidelines, that it's easy for your own creative dreams to get buried. Carving out time for yourself, to do what you love or to find what you love, is imperative for your own well-being. Playtime shouldn't end when we grow up; creativity builds our resiliency, our problem-solving skills and our sense of self. Let the dishes wait and do what makes your heart sing.
Thank you so much, Liv, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Liv in the following places: