Lucy, tell us a bit about yourself and your creative life.
I have always, since as far back as I can remember, loved being creative – reading, writing, painting, drawing, crafting, singing and dancing. And I have never, ever been able to specialise. Since my early teens I have always been racing full speed ahead at a hundred creative things at once, thinking I wasn’t doing enough, that I wasn’t really any good at them, and just about to keel over from exhaustion and overwhelm. My step-mother early on had me down as a perfectionist – but, ironically, I considered myself not perfect enough to be a perfectionist!
For some reason I believed that I would magically transform when I became a mother into this calm, patient woman who was satisfied with her home and children. Because that’s what mothers do…right? But instead I find myself here, with three children aged 8,5 and 3, and four books that I have written in the last 2 ½ years, a growing career as a visual artist, a very messy house full of half-finished craft projects, and four blogs documenting it all… and I laugh out loud at my pre-mother’s vision of my future calm and ordered life!
This is why I wrote my book, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. Partly as a manual for myself on how to navigate my way through the moments of overwhelm, despair and creative blockages that occur with frequency in my life… but also to support all those mothers who are just starting out, either pregnant, with a new baby, or after years of mothering who suddenly realise that they NEED to create… but then get stuck on how to find the time, stop procrastinating, and stop beating themselves up.
How do you balance your time between your work and family life?
I’m asked that a lot – that’s one of the reasons for writing The Rainbow Way – that book is a long answer to that question!
But in short, it’s partly about priorities, about giving yourself permission, about understanding the creative flow and how and why it often awakens when we become mothers, understanding how it ebbs and flows with our female cycles, finding and creating the right support for yourself, knowing how to chunk your work down into smaller pieces that you can fit into the spare corners of your ordinary day, getting your space and materials organised, and understanding the creative process and yourself so that you can navigate the creative path with greater ease.
Despite my intentions to be the perfect mother, I discovered pretty fast that I was not cut out to be a stay at home mom! I discovered that to stay sane I needed space to create. I needed work that had nothing to do with mothering. And I needed to be a hands on mother to my kids for large chunks of their lives too. And so my husband and I have evolved a life where we share work and child care between us, to give us all what we need, and provide for our family in the way that serves us all best.
I constantly struggle to keep my balance. I am always learning. But it’s worth it. I am doing work that I love, getting to meet so many incredibly interesting and inspiring people, and supporting my family whilst doing it. I am happier and healthier when I create. And my children are growing up seeing that being a hands-on, working creative mother is normal. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
How did you find your way to writing?
I always knew I would be a writer: I just didn’t know what to write about! I have always been passionate about books and a voracious reader. At school any time we had to do a project, mine was always book-length! So after seven earlier attempts on books as diverse as poetry, a Roddy Doyle-esque novel and a cookbook…I started to write my first proper book whilst my three children had chickenpox – yes, that’s the way I do things!!
That book, over a couple of years, became The Rainbow Way. The writing of it was a life-changing journey. When I started it I had never written a book before and hadn’t painted in ten years. Two and a half years later I have a publisher, have written and self-published three other books and have rediscovered a passion for painting. I am also much, much happier in myself, and at ease with mothering. So I know it has a strong transformative power… and I’ve seen it working magic on its early readers too, which delights me beyond measure!
Tell us more about The Rainbow Way.
The Rainbow Way is part guide book, part circle of wise women, part mentor — to support you in uncovering and recovering your creativity. It is a voyage of discovery, within a safe, loving circle of more than fifty other creative mothers who are journeying too: visual artists, writers, potters, dancers, performers, crafters, professionals and hobbyists, mothers of one child and five, mothers with babies and mothers whose children have grown.
I like to think of it as an Artist’s Way for mothers. I loved Julia Cameron’s best-selling book, The Artist’s Way and worked my way through some of it when my first child was just a few weeks old. It was powerful, but it was also not written for me – the me who was bleary eyed through lack of sleep, wondering what was going to happen with my life, me who was trying to find moments in the day when I wasn’t breastfeeding or rocking a baby to create. Its approach was similar to that of a 12 week recovery programme – but I wasn’t a recovering addict – I was a new mother, lost in a strange land, wanting to find my way home to myself. There were few words just for me in it.
So I wrote The Rainbow Way with The Artist’s Way in my consciousness, but I was careful not to pick it up at all whilst I was writing, to be sure I wrote my own book, which I most certainly have! But The Artist’s Way was always there as not a blue print, but a soul print.
What is the significance of the title of The Rainbow Way?
“The Rainbow Way” refers to the archetype of the Creative Rainbow Mother, a lost archetype of motherhood whom we meet in the book. The working title was The Creative Rainbow Mama – but I was aware that a title like that would send a lot of readers, especially those not familiar with my work, running for the hills – it was too “out there”! Whilst this archetype is a central concept for me in the book, you could quiet happily skim over that part of the book, and still get a huge amount from it. I have found that a lot of women when they first hear the term Creative Rainbow Mother are a bit bewildered to say the least. But having read the chapter on her they find lightbulbs going off all over the place for themselves. They find a whole new positive self image of themselves which incorporates their mother selves AND their creative selves and doesn’t make them wrong.
The idea of the Creative Rainbow Mother originally comes from the writing of author Lynn V. Andrews, and I was really excited to be able to interview her for the book, and expand on her ideas. This has been one of the biggest excitements of this book, it has put me in contact with so many of my creative heroines – including Pam England, Jennifer Louden, Lynn V. Andrews, Pat Allen, Mara Friedman, Ariel Gore and Leonie Dawson – they have collaborated through interviews, social media support and endorsements. It has been breathtaking to find myself held lovingly by so many incredible women who I have loved through their words and art for so many years.
The Rainbow Way is a tapestry of women’s voices, which is why the launch for it (November 20th-December 11th) will be a blogging carnival of creative mothers, which I’d love your readers to get involved with! I am so passionate about supporting creative mothers in every way I can – and how better than to help to promote them and their work, whilst promoting my own! They can find out more here.
It is also the rainbow way, because there is no one path – rather a myriad of paths, depending on your own creative passions, family situation and ambitions, and every creative mother is having to weave the rainbow strands of her life into one path.
And yet as I was writing I began to see so clearly that beyond these superficial differences, there was a clear path, a recurrent spiralling path which led us not only through the creative process, but was applicable to many other areas of our lives.
And on a personal note, it is the rainbow way, because it was written by me – anyone who has seen my art work, or my wardrobe, knows my passion for rainbow colours. How could it be called anything else?!
What is next for you?
Although I swore blind I would not work on another book this year — my friends and partner chuckled knowingly when I declared this — I have made a start… on two!! My next books are brewing, and in draft form already: there’s a practical one on mother blessing ceremonies for expectant mothers, and another on the journey of healing and creativity. I am also compiling an e-course to go alongside The Rainbow Way, to support women on their journey of creative unfoldment in a more direct way. And I’m still painting when the muse takes me – I have just started to receive painting commissions – two for family portraits, and one for a book cover, all using my vibrant energy art approach – that makes me so happy!
The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood will be available as paperback and e-book in late November. Signed copies with limited edition greetings cards and access to a private Facebook Group for creative mothers are available to the first 200 customers who buy direct from Lucy at her website, The Happy Womb.
Lucy H. Pearce is the mother of three home-birthed children, now aged 8, 5 and 3, and lives on the south coast of Ireland. She is the author of four books; The Rainbow Way is published November 2013. Read an extract, listen to an audio, and find out what others are saying about it at The Rainbow Way website. Her other books are Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle; Reaching for the Moon: a girl’s guide to her cycles; and Moods of Motherhood. She is contributing editor at JUNO magazine, and creator of The Happy Womb.com, for empowering women’s resources. She blogs on creativity, mindfulness and motherhood at Dreaming Aloud and is a vibrant painter of lost archetypes of the feminine.