Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…
What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question that adults have a near obsessive propensity to asking children. I remember countless strangers asking me this throughout my childhood. While I never answered, “a ballerina, a french teacher, and a midwife,” (as my five-year-old does) there is only one answer I remember giving. What popped into my head (and occasionally out of my mouth) was simply, “I want to save the world.”
I wasn’t sure how I’d go about it, but that was my passion. I needed to make a difference. I never questioned that I would find a way. And as cliche as that dream sounded coming out of the mouth of a fifteen year old wearing tie dye and Birkenstocks, I meant it.
I followed the traditional path of primary and secondary school to university and graduate school, eventually pursuing a degree in environmental education. (That seemed like as good a way as any to save the world.) And I ended up with some amazing jobs, working with school children, university students, and eventually doing endangered species education with adults and children for the North American whooping crane reintroduction. It was fulfilling, exciting work.
But while I loved my career there was something vital missing. Yes, I was making a difference – doing my piece to “save the world”. But I deeply longed to create. I ached for it almost daily. I needed to envision, refine, and then bring into being with my own hands. To transform something simple into something exceptional and uniquely my own. I hungered for it every day. Making became my obsession.
To keep my creativity alive I taught myself to make soap. I carved a studio from a spare bedroom in our house and as I hiked through the woods with rowdy groups of fourth graders during the day or talked of wetland preservation to rooms filled with adults, I was blending sage and cedar essential oils in my head for a batch of soap I would make that night.
I knew then that my years of formal education was for naught. I just wanted to make things.
I ended up working in my career for fewer years than I spent pursuing my degrees. Six years after stepping into environmental education, my husband and I were ready to start a family and I chose to stay home. To mother. And to make things. (More specifically, to make soap.)
As it turned out, motherhood was my greatest passion of all. (That was another plot twist I hadn’t expected.) It is surely a powerful way to change the world, and I can’t imagine a greater difference I could have made than the one I have in the lives of my kids. I threw myself into motherhood like no other role before. At the same time, parenting was the hardest job I could imagine and left me needing a creative outlet even more than at any other time in my life. And soap was there to fill that need.
My passion for mothering spilled into my creative work with a whole new set of products and with a whole new desire – the desire to write. With a baby on my back, I expanded my soap line and created a new collection of products for babies and pregnant women. Within a few years my husband quit his job too and joined me in my business. Together in 2007 we rebranded my company and launched LuSa Organics (named after our children, Lupine and Sage). The products we create are gentle, organic, sustainable, and effective. And from what we hear, using them makes people feel irrationally, inexplicably happy. We love that. (And come to think of it, unexpected happiness is a fabulous way to change the world.)
Since LuSa Organics came into being, my creative energy has blossomed into a new outlet – my love for writing. Writing synthesises my passion for creating, teaching, and mothering. And perhaps through my words I can change the world, too. By inspiring parents to be a bit more present, a bit more peaceful, a bit more joyful I can generate changes that reach far beyond the space around me. I like that idea. Today I spend my time unschooling our two kids (ages 5 and 9), running my business, writing my blog, Clean, and working on my first book. And there is lots, and lots of making. We sew, we knit, we cook and bake and craft. We create – constantly. Every day is built around making in many forms. And I love that.
What my husband and I did was risky. (My sensible mother thought it was downright crazy.) We both quit our jobs for goodness sake. Sure, at times it bordered on terrifying. But we convinced ourselves that “the experiment” would work. And it did. We took a risk and gained the life we’ve always dreamed of. There are times I struggle to keep balance, but I can’t think of a single thing I would change. Everyday I am blessed with the opportunity to mother, teach, and create. And for me it doesn’t get better than that.
As you move towards realizing your own creative dreams, I’ve written a couple of posts about how we personally got from point A to point B. (There was a lot of visioning and believing going on.) Start with my post on manifesting our dreams and then create your own manifestation board.
I wrote an emotional reflection on not-always-graceful journey into motherhood and embracing all we do not know. You can read it here.
If you are interested in learning how to make soap, I recommend The Natural Soap Book and The Soapmaker’s Companion, both by Susan Miller Cavitch. Be sure to run her recipes through an online lye calculator or they’ll take a long time to trace (turn into soap).