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 over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Laura Bray is a designer, writer and lifestyle expert. She inspires creative women to live a life of balance & simplicity by sharing her modern twist on traditional home arts on her blog at katydiddys. Laura lives in southern California with her physicist husband and young daughter.

It’s amazing how two pink lines can change a person’s life.

When I was a young girl, I loved art. I dreamt of becoming a fashion designer. I sketched and drew. Then one day I signed up for art class at my high school. A tough semester ended in my art teacher telling me I had no talent. Young, impressionable, and embarrassed, I abandoned my dream.

I went to college, started a successful career in finance, and earned an MBA. I married a wonderful man and we were deeply involved in our careers and loved to travel. In 2001, we decided we did not want to have children and my husband had a vasectomy. It was not a decision we took lightly. We spent many hours discussing it and in the end thought it was the best decision for us. Our lives continued to move forward to our dream of retiring at 50 and traveling the world.

In October 2004, my period was late. We were afraid that I was ill or going into early menopause. When I called the doctor to make an appointment, I was told to take a pregnancy test. The two pink lines appeared, indicating I was pregnant. As I sunk to the ground in disbelief, I saw our future plans crumble before me. Over the next nine months we realized how little control we really have over our destiny and prepared to welcome our unplanned, but already loved, new family member.

In June 2005 our daughter was born. I tried to continue my business career through the first two years of her life. We had a part-time nanny but as a small business owner I struggled to make enough to pay for childcare, let alone contribute financially. I was also incredibly smitten with my daughter and hated the hours that I spent away from her. A small voice, hidden away since high school, began to whisper ideas about my creativity. I picked-up the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and slowly began to heal the wounds my high school art teacher inflicted upon my creativity.

My daughter and my creativity have grown-up together. They feed and support one another and give me endless joy. My daughter’s unbridled belief that she can create anything she puts her mind to bolsters my confidence. She is my muse. At the same time, my creativity helps me be a better mother. Math homework is more fun when it’s turned into an art project and teaching my daughter to explore her emotions through her art are lessons that will serve her well later in life. Many of my project designs are created as toys or accessories for my daughter. As for my daughter, she’s a successful design professional at age six! She and I have had projects published in Create With Me magazine and she’s appeared on the online craft show, When Creativity Knocks.

Who would have ever guessed that those two pink lines held so much potential for two lives?  They announced the beginning of my beautiful baby girl and the rebirth of my creativity.


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 over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Marcie has lived as an organic lettuce farmer, a tropical rainforest field technician, an Alaskan tent-dwelling field biologist, and a Manhattan biology teacher. She now has two young girls. After a few years of babywearing, Lego-playing, Play-doh-making, puppet-showing, costume-making, fort-making, worm-digging, goop-making, tadpole rearing, mudpie-making, tomato-growing, and forgetting herself and forgetting just about everything she knew while kid-less, she developed Mossy. A blog about child-rearing and family life, with a focus on simple natural growing and making projects.

I grew up spending a lot of time outside—with parents who took us camping, hiking and sailing. Before kids, I worked as an wildlife field assistant, went to graduate school in Alaska and then later taught biology and ecology in Manhattan. My creative projects were mostly geared toward rugged outdoor endeavors—functional ski gaiters, messenger bags, backpacks and snow pants.
When our two girls arrived amidst a house renovation and cloud of plaster dust, crafty projects were neglected for several years. As the girls grew, it became a matter of both necessity and pleasure to get them plugged into nature and to get their creative juices flowing through hands-on projects—felting wool, making superhero costumes, making tents and playhouses, building a vegetable garden, making a bee coop, designing field guides, making finger puppets and stuffed animals. It was really an organic evolution that we not only find ways to work together at home, but that we understand the nature behind each activity—Why does bread rise? What causes a seed to germinate? —I deemed it my “job” to nurture the creative part of our kids and offer small simple real-world experiences that matter.
I love unraveling life’s mysteries with my girls—the messy, the comical, the unexpected. Before they were here, my projects were more intricate and utilitarian in nature.  Now with them my projects are smaller, slower, more whimsical and slightly messier.  Always, their ideas propel things in an unexpected direction, and, in the process, we build upon an old skill, or learn a completely new one.  More importantly, we’ve spent time slowing down and connecting with each other.
I think, to build lasting connections with our families and our environment, we need to understand where things come from—how they are made, how they are used, how they impact the surrounding environment throughout a life cycle.  I think sustainability should be securely sewn into the fabric of every day, as an awareness that touches all that we do. Sometimes it takes substantial patience and effort to slow down and merge family and creativity. But sometimes it’s the things you do while standing still that make up who you are.
On my own, I like to think carefully about the process and combine like-minded colors and textures in my projects. I like to use high-quality cast-off fabric—wool remnants, curtains—and notions and materials like Bakelite buttons and hand-me-down silver. I like to reconstruct unwanted clothing and upholstery into vintage and modern designs.  I like to make things out of things. I like to make things that will last.
A woman I used to know told me once that she was inspired by orange and sometimes red. The following people and places inspire me daily:


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 over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Leisl, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, can be found blogging at jorth. Check out her stories on sewing, cooking, green living and knitting — go for the craft, and stay for the laughs!

I have always been a crafter. Ever since I was a little girl I was always happiest with busy hands, creating away. You name it I tried it – sewing, knitting, embroidery, paper making, jewellery making – life was good when I was creating! I used to spend many happy hours dreaming of an adult life filled with the joy of making things, and there were always the bright smiling faces of my children in these day dreams.

You can imagine my delight, therefore, when I found out that I was pregnant in the spring of 2003. And with a little girl, to boot! I couldn’t wait to meet my new buddy, and spent many happy hours making things to welcome our daughter into the world, from her cot sheets to soft knitted toys.

So the plan was to go into labour, head to the hospital, push for a bit and then bring home our lovely daughter, and then after a suitable amount of time start planning for the next one. Oh, and live happily ever after. That’s everybody’s plan, right? Unfortunately for us, though, the script was altered at the last minute. Unbeknownst to myself, my husband or the hospital staff, I was suffering from a condition called placenta accreta. Wikipedia defines it as a severe obstetric complication, and they sure didn’t get that wrong. Basically, it means that the placenta becomes embedded in the uterine wall. Nobody realised that this was the case for me, and when the placenta was removed after birthing my daughter, a huge piece of the uterine wall came with it. Uh oh.

I’ll spare you all the gory details (and trust me, there are plenty) but the short story is that I nearly bled to death, and the only thing that saved me was emergency surgery for 5 hours, culminating in a post-partum hysterectomy. Oh, and 19 blood transfusions. So much for my visions of a nice relaxed birth, with the pop of a champagne bottle afterwards. Physically and emotionally I was a mess, and had a very long road of recovery ahead, plus a new born baby to contend with.

My body slowly mended, but my mind took a bit longer. There was so much to process – the trauma of what I had been through, the constant thought that only by the grace of God I was there to watch my daughter grow up, the grieving for the family of 5 children that we had hoped for but would now never have, and the vulnerability that comes with the knowledge that your safe little world can crumble in an instant.

That, for me, was the hardest thing to deal with – knowing that I had so little control over what might happen. Life could change in an instant, and that first-hand experience left me feeling like I had no control over anything. I put on a brave face, and slapped on a smile and said I was fine whenever anybody asked, but it was a pretty rough time – one that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody.

So there I was – wombless, mentally scarred and scared to death by the fragility of life. This was probably the point where most people would have called in an army of psychologists, but I instead turned to craft. Life, I knew, I had very little control over, but a crafting project I did. Every day when my daughter went down for a sleep, I turned to whatever project I had on the go, and worked at it until she woke. And even if I only got to sew a couple of seams, or knit a few rows, the very act of creating on my own terms began to heal me.

The sense of accomplishment I felt whenever I actually finished a project was dizzying. It was almost like a belligerent cry out to the universe: “I am still here! Look at what I made! You can’t take this away from me!”

So stitch by stitch, I got better. Less scared, more confident. I was still alive, and was still capable. The feeling of living in a body that could let me down at any moment began to fade away, and my mind turned instead to looking after my girl the best I could. Soon my favourite things to make were clothes for her. Somehow, just knowing that I could keep her warm in things made by my own two hands made me feel better.

They say that time heals all wounds. It does, in a fashion. Part of me will always be quietly grieving for the children we can no longer have, but it is a small part now – one that fits into the jigsaw of the person I am, rather than overwhelming me as it did in the beginning. And crafting helped me come to that place. It gave me a sense of confidence in myself, and sometimes just the feel of the fabric or yarn was enough to convince me that all was ok in my world, as long as I could sit quietly to make something.

Before I knew it, my daughter – who is the light of my life – was part of my crafting process, whether it was making something for her or just sitting down and making a good old crafty mess together. Soon I started a blog to document these precious memories, and before I knew it I had internet friends, some of which have become wonderful friends in real life. My blog has lead to jobs, to writing, to the finessing of my skills and I have crafting to thank for all of it.

By the way – I did get my happily ever after. It was a different sort from the one I was expecting, but the hard won version is always so much better.



Annie Burnside discusses her book Soul to Soul Parenting: A Guide to Raising a Spiritually Conscious Family (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing 2010), and is offering a copy to a lucky reader.

1) Tell us a little bit about why you decided to write Soul to Soul Parenting. Why “Soul to Soul”?

Soul to Soul Parenting seeks to move beyond the physical realm to understand the child from an energetic perspective, too. The human body is seen as only one aspect of the child’s totality as an eternal, infinite spiritual being on one leg of his/her journey. From this widened vantage point, everything is different—there is a core belief that there is so much more to the child and all of life than what meets the eye, and the parent becomes willing to allow that larger perspective in regards to life choices, priorities, thoughts, words and deeds. In other words, in Soul to Soul relationships, one feels for the underlying texture of all that occurs rather than simply the rational, socially acceptable aspect of life. We all simply desire to be fully seen, heard and acknowledged. The Soul to Soul Perspective invites parents and children to shift their focus on the external world almost exclusively to a deeper intimacy with their own soul. Greater intimacy with our own soul creates a conscious perception of who we really are as spirit-embodied. Ultimately, this shift in core belief will internally ignite true self-esteem and simultaneously change our world.

2) In your book you write about a “universal soul language. Can you tell us more about what this is?

There is a growing belief in the world today that enlightenment is very possible for all who deeply desire it. Publicly discussing spiritual development and matters of the soul continues to accelerate at tremendous speed and conscious parenting is on the rise because more and more parents themselves are becoming self-aware and honoring their authenticity. Due to the joy, freedom and empowerment derived from such interior knowing, they desire, above all else, for their childrens self-realization and comfortability within their own skin. Many parents are seeing that the family unit offers a magnificent opportunity for personal growth in both the parent and the child simultaneously. We are mirrors for one another, and parents are beginning to utilize family relationships as the gift that they truly are as we move into wholeness. Parents desire a safe place for children to work through challenges and release negative emotions as they occur rather than stuff down, deny or save for later creating a tremendous amount of unnecessary baggage and psychic debris. Instead there is a growing shift to live true as soon as possible so that children can get on with what they came here to offer the world in their own special way. Essentially, as parents become more conscious, they cannot help but desire that for their children. The grandest hope for their children is not that they fill their lives with endless accomplishments that require a total focus on doing, but rather that they come to know themselves experientially as a unique part of the divine whole through an increasing number of moments of pure being—illumination.

3) Why is parenting our kids to live consciously important? How do your own children feel about your parenting as they get older? Has there ever been any resistance? 

We officially began Soul to Soul Parenting in our home when our children were ages 8, 7 and 4, extremely receptive ages to begin. That having been said, it is never too late to lead the family into deeper contemplation of life in your own way. Our children understand that this is simply part of what we share together as a family, but as with anything worth doing, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Yes, there is some eye-rolling every now and then now that they are teens, but it is our deep understanding that once they move through the necessary move towards independence, by the time they are adults, a model of conscious spirit-embodiment will be the best of what we offered our children. Gone are the days for most where spiritual contemplation takes place in solitude on a mountaintop. We are a modern family leading a very busy life. As you understand the importance of allowing each individual family member to live authentically and follow their passions, a great deal of balance is needed within the family requiring daily reminders and discussions. Also, the more transparent you become, the more you bump up against one another because emotions are no longer stuffed down or denied or saved for later. So a conscious family is definitely not about peace at all costs, but rather utilizes the safety of the family to process all kinds of emotions as they come up so that individuals do not acquire “psychic debris” that will eventually have to be dealt with…

4) What are your guiding principles for Soul to Soul parenting? Are there particular elements that you recommend?

The following ten tips may be useful for parents to post somewhere as a reminder of the guiding principles of Soul to Soul Parenting:

  1. Utilize everyday life—such as friendships, nature, mealtimes, music, movies, and much more—as the perfect curriculum and forum to teach your children powerful, universal principles such as connectedness, self-love, presence, and forgiveness.
  2. Teach your children to allow multiple perspectives in all life situations and relationships by “flipping” challenges into positive, learning opportunities.
  3. Train your children to be more conscious of thoughts, words, and deeds so that they can assume greater responsibility for the shaping of their own reality.
  4. Encourage compassion, empathy and gratitude in your children on a daily basis by making them the most-used words in your home.
  5. Turn the JOY in family life way up by singing, dancing, smiling, humming, laughing, and relaxing rigid perspectives as often as possible through openness and gratitude.
  6. Model authenticity through speaking and living your truth , giving your children permission to do the same.
  7. Show your spirit daily so that your children can witness multiple aspects of you, and in turn, see multiple aspects in themselves.
  8. Teach your children that they are intuitive, creative, eternal spiritual beings—much larger than simply their physical form—and filled with infinite possibility and the capacity for direct divine connection.
  9. Assist your children in understanding that an appreciation for life in the present moment, coupled with enthusiasm for their future, plants the necessary seeds for manifesting their true heart’s desires.
  10. Provide the space and opportunity for your children to focus on their interior world as much as the exterior world, allowing greater intimacy with the voice of their own soul to feel what resonates as truth for them.

5) For readers whose children haven’t been exposed, in the soul to soul sense, to spiritual beliefs or thinking, and their kids are no longer little ones, is it ever too late to begin the process? 

It is NEVER too late to begin a process of personal growth! The book is entirely based on what we have put in place in our own life to offer personal development and expanded spiritual awareness to our children so that they can utilize right now their capacity to lead a conscious and fulfilling life. We did not want them to have to wait for a tragedy or a disappointment to awaken them. Inner work must become a top-priority. Our children are slowly coming to understand that they are responsible for their own reality. They must on the front-end be accountable for thoughts, words, deeds, priorities, choices, beliefs, health, etc. by perceiving themselves as captains of their own ship. Along with that, they can be taught ways to navigate challenges as they occur. This work is ongoing and simultaneous for both the parent and the child—a continual balance of inner and outer pursuits. If there is healing that needs to be done within a child, do not wait! Help them to become clear NOW through any means that feel like a fit—animal therapy, art therapy, water therapy, yoga, meditation, journaling, counseling, channeling, intuitive reading—there is much insight available if one is willing to look both within themselves and outside-of-the-box externally, as well. Once life-affirming themes such as self-love, authenticity, and oneness have been introduced then they can be woven into all aspects of life—friendships, disappointments and choices—to offer an expanded perspective in everyday life.We must help our children to heal so that they can offer their highest potential to the world.

A modern bridge between the mainstream and the mystical, Annie Burnside, M.Ed. is a soul nurturer specializing in conscious relationships and spiritual development. Her first book, Soul to Soul Parenting, won the 2011 Nautilus Silver Book Award and the 2011 Independent Book Award.

If you have enjoyed reading about Soul to soul parenting and are interesting in learning more – grab your copy of Soul to Soul Parenting here, and Annie is also offering a copy to a reader, so please leave a comment here to be in the running. You have 48 hours to enter. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email and announced here on the blog. Thanks so much for reading. 

This competition is now closed – the winner was #9 Sharon. I have emailed you with the details, if you don’t received the email please get in touch with me.

Thanks everyone and thank you Annie!


Amanda at Soulemama discusses some of her family drawing time secrets.