Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mom to Mom: Jen Lemen

Did you ever have an encounter that gave you goosebumps and you suddenly realized that you have met one of your tribe, your soul sister? Well, that's what happened when I met Jen. (Now...if I could only meet her in person) 'Nough said!

: Jen Lemen
Of : Madeleine (9)
and Carter (6)
Where: Maryland
Blog: Jen Lemen
and minti (parenting advice)

1. In what ways has becoming a mother changed you?

Becoming a mother helped me become incredibly focused. I had one of these laid back single lives where I worked just enough to pay the bills and spent the rest of the time lying around, analyzing various boyfriends and wondering which book to read next. Having kids brought that kind of quiet and reflection time to a screeching halt--I learned that time was a luxury and that I would need to mine all the meaning and creativity out of each moment if i was going to make it without losing my mind. That kind of mindfulness over time helped me understand how much storytelling and art mean to me and how simple things like the work of mothering can be a portal for a rich, creative life.

2. What is one tip you would like to share about mothering?

I think mothering reveals the places where you could use a little mothering yourself. I try to use those little "I cannot do this" moments as a sign to seek out support and encouragement from someone who's been there and who isn't afraid to tell me I'm still the best mother for these kids even though I don't feel like it at the time. Sometimes I need that push to stick with the challenge and not shy away because some of my soul furniture is getting knocked around. I think, too, that you can't underestimate how much energy it takes to keep little people alive--physically, emotionally, spiritually. To do that well, you really need to be actively engaged in taking care of yourself.

3. What is your creative outlet/medium?

There's no doubt I feel most creative when I'm riding my bike, talking to strangers, driving long distances, sitting by the ocean, wandering around big cities or having heavy/deep/real talks with my kids. Those little adventures usually find their way into the cards, kits and books I create for my Etsy store. I've found the best way for me to tell a soul story is through simple line drawings filled in with ink and watercolor. That is my chief creative outlet.

4. How do you find time for creativity? (tell me how you juggle, mommyhood, art, and guiding new souls into the world as a doula)

Over the years, creativity has taken over a large portion of my waking hours. My kids are growing up in and out of my studio with ten different projects strewn all over every table in the house, so in my case, the more appropriate question might be, "How do you find time for your kids?" :) I rely heavily on the little rituals we've created--a regular pizza outing with Carter and bike riding adventures with Madeleine--in order to keep the space open for honest, soulful conversation. My kids still crawl in bed with me most nights, and I can't emphasize enough how this kind of physical connection keeps us close.

I still have to push constantly for the time I need to finish big projects--especially when my house is the prime time destination for every latchkey kid on the block--but the reality is, once I named my creative life as my "work", I have more time than most women I know.

My doula practice has definitely taken a backseat as I've prioritized my art--I just don't have the time to do art, doula work AND kids well right now. Even so, I'm thankful for those years where birth was the thing for me. I learned so much about what women can do when they own their choices and have the confidence to be honest about what they really want. I didn't know that kind of courage was an option for me in my own births, and I suffered for it. Doula work showed me what kind of creativity is possible, even in the most challenging circumstances.

5. Why do you blog/journal?

I blog as a way to work through my process as an artist, dreamer and mother. I blog as a way to be honest about how much I struggle sometimes and also how happy simple things make me. I blog as a way of finding out again and again that I'm not alone, that something great and loving is holding us all. I blog as a way to offer hope and beauty to strangers. I blog because I believe in the power of the people and that even one tiny voice can make the world a better place.

6. Which blogs do you frequent?

This is definitely an incomplete list, but here are a few I keep coming back to:

Magpie-Girl (Rachelle Mee Chapman)
Notes to Self (Kyran Pittman)
Cool People I Know (Stephanie Roberts)
Superhero Journal (Andrea Scher)
Maypapers (Tracey Clark)
Wish Jar Journal (Keri Smith)
Horse Pig Cow (Tara Hunt)
Chookooloonks (Karen Walrond)
Surfette (Lisa Stone)
Sage Said So (Sage Cohen)

I really love to read the blogs of people I've met or know in real life--that's almost essential for me to stick with a blog longterm.

7. Who are some bloggers that you would like to meet?
I've met lots of my blogging sheroes over the course of the last year (thank you, Blogher!), but I would still love to meet Susannah Conway, Kelly Rae Roberts, Denise of BohoGirl fame, WannabeHippie, sarah jane rhee and La Vie en Rose. I suspect these women are my soulsisters.


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posted by Wendy at 6:13 AM


Blogger bella said...

Thank-you for this, for sharing her with us.
I am inspired and calmed and reminded all over again of what it is to be honest with yourself and know yourself and then let it all go.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

something great and loving indeed, and a pleasure to read.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Sage said...

Oh, that Jen Lemen just makes my soul sing!

2:00 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Jen is one of those souls who thrives on elevating others. It's wonderful to see her centerstage here. Thanks!

11:21 PM  

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