15 years ago this actress from Los Angeles met and quickly married a pharmaceutical salesman from Dallas. After just a few short months of our long-distance romance we tied the knot on a beach in Southern California, and my new husband swept me off my feet and carried me to Texas, as The Dixie Chicks' Wide Open Spaces played like a soundtrack over the honeymoon phase of our marriage.
Though I left my career in Hollywood I quickly signed with a theatrical agent in Dallas and booked more commercials in the Lone Star state than I ever had in the saturated, star-studded industry from whence I came. For the first time in my acting life I felt like a big fish in a small pond, rather than a little fish swimming up against sharks. And because I wasn't a "starving actress," picking up waitressing gigs to help cover rent, I entered a season of rest as well as spiritual, emotional, and creative renewal.
Not only did I have a creative outlet as a steadily working commercial actress, I also had a brand new home to decorate. I created a "wedding wall" full of pictures from our beach celebration, I planted an herb garden, and planned multi-course dinners served on our wedding china. I even wrote my first spoken word piece and performed it at our local church, and then I wrote an entire screenplay - hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of an old hard drive. Needless to say, I was flourishing like the herbs in my garden. The only thing missing was a sense of community.
One Tuesday night, my young husband came home from a men's Bible study and told me that he'd met a man named Lee that he really liked. He said that Lee's wife was a writer and a singer and liked to go out for tea... Basically, my husband was hooking me up with a new friend.
The next day I gave Kelli a call. When she answered the phone (she swears) I said, "So, I hear you like to take tea." And thus began our friendship.
photo credit: Bethany Potent
Over the course of the next 12 months we'd meet together at the Starbucks cafe in our local Barnes and Noble. Enveloped in a cloud of steamy chai latte, with a plate of maple scones between us, we shared the stories and dreams of two creative lives. She told me of the novel she was writing, and I explained the screenplay I was working on. We even dreamed up projects to work on together... someday. We threw a tea party or two, a baby shower for a friend, and an Easter feast for a host of other newlyweds. She made cookies that looked like miniature Easter bonnets, and I created a multi-layered cake with marzipan and fondant.
photo credit: Bethany Potent
Kelli and I learned early on in our friendship that we weren't simply writers or singers, actresses or poets... we were creatives. No one label was able to contain the totality of our inspired, "in His image" lives, and the discovery was liberating as we found self-expression in those garden parties and backyard barbecues, and a perfectly made cup of tea.
photo credit: Bethany Potent
Then Lee and Kelli moved away. And we moved too. They had babies in St. Louis, we had ours back in California, and all of those face to face teatime conversations about creativity, turned into phone calls about breast feeding and potty training.
After 6 years and 6 children between our two families, I gave Kelli a call and asked if she wanted to revisit some of those old inspired pieces of our hearts, long buried chasing busy little babies. I suggested a long weekend with a handful of other creative moms, writers and photographers and cooks. She said yes, and so we sent invitations to a select few and our annual creative retreat was born.
[Tweet ""In everyone's life, at sometime, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." -Albert Schweitzer"]
Over the years we've experienced a sort of Renaissance within our little community of creative mom friends - a reawakening , rebirth.
Kindling, fanning, and encouraging one another to use our inspired lives smack-dab in the midst of motherhood - in our home lives, our local communities, and even out into the world in this digital age. A couple of years ago, over another cup of tea, Kelli and I dreamed of a way we might bottle this creative community and share it with other Renaissance Moms...
Kelli Stuart and I write a book! Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom was our way of inviting creative moms around the world to join us in the pursuit of God as creatives, right in the midst of their busy mothering lives!
Here's what we wrote on the back cover: What was God thinking when He created you creative and then gave you children? Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down. But God had something special in mind for the creative woman during this intense season of mothering.
In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children's parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes, and blogs filled with poetry and prose, it is clear that we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance. Not one born in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but rather in kitchens, nurseries, and living rooms around the world. Mothers, working in the cracks and crevices of each hectic day, are adorning the world with their gifts, and they’re showing all of us the beauty of this Life Creative.
In this book, you’ll learn:
- Why the world needs your art
- How this Life Creative begins at home
- When art can turn a profit
- Your part in this modern day Renaissance
Life Creative paints the stories of moms, just like you, who are fitting their inspired lives into the everyday, ordinary places of motherhood. Women like home decorator Melissa Michaels and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard, visual artist Ruth Simons, author Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb, and many more.
Grab your copy today, and let me know your story!
photo credit: The Huffington Post