How Lacey Monroe deals with disappointment

I contacted Lacey Monroe several months ago regarding an interview for the book.  Here is my previous post about her.  Just to refresh your memory, she is a fine art documentary photographer based in Portland, Oregon.  She is also the mother of two young children, ages 5 and 3.

During our interview, I asked Lacey how she deals with disappointment in her creative journey.  This is what she had to say:

I think disappointment is a totally normal and even healthy part of being an artist. You have to show up and do the work, even when it is in a creative field. I may only actually like a few photos of mine each year (if I’m lucky!) but I have to take all the ones I am unhappy with just to be able to achieve those few that I like. Being disappointed in your work, just means that you see how you can grow. If I was always satisfied with my work I would grow complacent and would stop pushing myself to grow and change as an artist. That is not to say that when disappointment hits it is not at time devastating. It absolutely can be. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and when you get passed over for an award or gallery show, it’s hard to not get down on yourself. However, you have to recognize that as trap that will bog you down and do what you can not to let it. When I am feeling discouraged with my art, I will take a bit of break with the creative end of things and work on all the backend boring business stuff that is always on my to-do list, but so often gets pushed down farther and farther on the list because it isn’t as fun for me as creating. So if I just don’t have it in me to create, there is still a long list of things I can work on. I also make time to hang out with other creative in real life, groups online are great for support and community, but there is nothing quite like having actual face to face time with other artists to bond, grow, and, perhaps, commiserate. This can be something as simple as happy hour drinks with a local photographer or it can be more elaborate and attending a retreat or workshop away from home. I also have a running list of photography books on my wish list, so if I am feeling particularly uninspired I will treat myself to a new book so I can get lost in the work of the master photographers that I find endlessly inspiring.

She makes so many great points here.

  1. Disappointment is a necessary evil.  It’s a good way to identify ways you can improve.
  2. You do have to show up and do the work.  Just because it’s creative doesn’t mean it just magically happens.  It’s still work.
  3. It’s easy to compare yourself to others in your field but don’t do it.  Spend that time creating instead of Facebook stalking others and you will come out so much further ahead.
  4. When you aren’t feeling so creative, there’s always other work to be done.  Find something else to do that still relates to your craft, such as the not-so-fun business side of things.
  5. While online groups are great, nothing compares to actual face-to-face time with other artists.  Take the time to meet up with other artists in your area with whom you can share ideas, successes and failures.
  6. Read a book.  Always have a list of books to read.  Books pertaining to your craft can offer great inspiration.

A huge “thank you” to Lacey Monroe.  She had so much to offer.  I look forward to sharing more from her interview in the book.


Choose your sliver wisely

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with Jessica Uhler.  See my previous post about her here.  She was so kind and gracious in answering my questions, and I can’t wait to share her interview with you in the book.  But until then, I want to share with you one thought that jumped out at me.  When asked if she had any advice or words of wisdom for us, she had this to say:

One thing I’ve learned that is so counter-cultural and has given me a lot of peace is the fact that you can’t have it all- at least not at once. You can only have a sliver of it all. So choose your sliver wisely. Figure out what your priorities and purpose are, and don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t line up with that- even if it seems like everyone else is doing it. Along with that, remember that everyone’s idea of success is different. Just because one artist is doing her life one way doesn’t mean it’s the right way for you. I think moms need to be reminded that it’s ok for your art to just be an outlet and beautiful expression of who you are, it doesn’t have to become a business just because it can. 

I agree whole-heartedly with every word.  I could not agree more!  Here are my thoughts:

  1.  If you are doing something “counter-culture,” then you’re probably doing it right.  You have to pick and choose what’s best for you and your family.  Too many people are spinning their wheels trying to keep up with the Joneses, when the Joneses are broke (stolen from Dave Ramsey), living an unhealthy lifestyle, not living right with God, or just not truly who they portray themselves to be.  So, don’t do anything just because our culture dictates that it’s the norm.
  2. I don’t think you can have it all either.  I mean, it just isn’t possible.  Something’s got to give.  And sometimes people don’t have their priorities in check and then can’t figure out why certain areas of their lives are falling apart. Figure out what your priorities are and stick to them.  Don’t let anything else in and don’t let those things steal your time or energy.
  3. Your art doesn’t have to turn into a business.  It can be an outlet just for you.  I know this first hand.  I had a successful photography business several years ago.  Fast forward about 10 years.  I was a stay-at-home mom, and I thought I could revive my old business and make some extra money to add to our family’s income.  My heart wasn’t in it.  I didn’t really WANT to do it, but I thought I should because I was able to.  Long story short, the second go-round of my business never too off, and I’m kind of glad it didn’t.

A huge thank you to Jessica Uhler for her kind words and thoughtful answers!  I look forward to sharing more about her with you in the book.  In the meantime, please check out her work at

I love this advice from Robin Stephenson!

As you recall, Robin is one of the fab 15 contributors from Sham of the Perfect.  You can see my previous post about her here.  I had the pleasure of visiting with her recently.  During the interview, I asked her for any words of wisdom or any advice she had for creative moms.  This is what she had to say:

Find something you enjoy or think you might enjoy and just do it. Even if you can only find a few moments during the day, just do something. I often put off doing anything creative because I’m not good at it or I’m too tired. But if I let those two things stop me, I’d never get anything done.

So cleaver and so true.  How many times have we let those two things stop us?  I know I sure have!  To be more specific (and if we are reading between the lines), my two things would be defeatist attitude and too lazy.

All too often, I find myself giving up before I even start.  I let the enemy win before I even give myself the chance to begin!  OR… I’m just too lazy to do something new/awesome/scary.  I usually think something like… “If that idea were so great, someone else would have already done it.”  Two completely ridiculous reasons not to do something.  Anything!

So, take Robin’s advice.  Don’t let those two things get in your way.  You are good enough, and we are all tired.  Don’t let those two things stop you, or you’ll never get anything done.  Thanks, Robin, for those words of encouragement!

Remember, that was just a tiny tidbit from my interview with her.  See more from the interview in the book when it’s released.

Natasha Kelly says, “Be gentle on yourself.”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Natasha Kelly.  If you’ll remember, Natasha is one of the co-founders of Sham of the Perfect.  She’s also a documentary family photographer from Melbourne, Australia, and a wife and mother of three children.

I wanted to share with you a small part of our recent talk.  When asked if she had any words of wisdom for other creative mothers, she had this to say:

“Let go of expectations. Don’t look at other artists & see what they are doing & how they’re doing it & feel like you must do it that way too. Be flexible, fit in what you can, when you can. It’s ok to put housework last & your creative work first. Be gentle on yourself.”

I think this is so important.  All of it.

  1.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  We are all guilty of it in probably every aspect of our lives.  Unfortunately, even our creative lives.  This should be the one place that we can be ourselves and not worry about that others are thinking or doing.
  2. Housework can wait.  Mine does.  I bet yours will too.
  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself.  I think that’s why I love the Sham of the Perfect project so much.  It gives us a glimpse into someone else’s true life, not someone’s pinteresty, perfect, how she wants to be portrayed on social media life.  Real life.  Milk spilled on the kitchen counter.  Laundry piled up.  Kids unhappy.  Yep, this is how we live sometimes.

Thank you, Natasha, for the great interview and these wonderful words of wisdom.  And don’t forget to be gentle on yourself.


Kym Vitar says it’s okay to be selfish

In my recent interview with lifestyle photographer Kym Vitar, she addressed the issue of taking time for herself.  This is what she had to say:

Moms always feel like they are being selfish even if they lock the door to go to the bathroom! And that is not ok!! We need to nurture ourselves and our souls before we can truly be happy creatives! One thing I do is take at least one workshop a year. I haven’t done any out of state or over night ones yet, as I live near LA, there are quite a few that are always available in this area, but it is my time to put myself first and a way of honing my skills and always learning/ connecting with other creatives.”

She also goes on to say, “Also, it’s OK to be selfish and want to do something on your own. Let Daddy have a date day with the kids, and you can take that time to read or sew or paint or build or learn calligraphy. It’s just as important for YOU to take classes and learn new skills as it is your kids! We spend so much time pushing our kids into sports and school that it’s a neat and important for our kids to see us learn how to something new too! My philosophy is life is you are never too old to learn! And it makes such an impact on your kids to see you making yourself creatively happy!”

I could not agree with her more.  I whole-hearted believe that moms need to tend to themselves so that they can be the best for their families.  That’s way easier said than done.  It’s so easy to shove our wants, needs and desires to the back burner because someone (everyone) else wants/needs/desires something.  That’s just how it is for moms, but it shouldn’t be that way all the time.  Sure, part of that is just part of being a mom and a grown up.  Everyone has to put aside wants and wishes for the real world, but I encourage you to intentionally take some time just for yourself, hopefully, everyday.  In years past, I would go to pick my oldest up from school about 30 minutes early to just have that little bit of quiet time to read a book or magazine.  I looked forward to that time everyday, and that’s all I needed–just a little break in the middle of the day.

I believe that if you give and give and give and don’t purposefully take some time for yourself you will become resentful toward your family.  That’s obviously not what you want.  I mean this in the nicest way possible… that’s your fault.  Everyone gets 24 hours in the day.  Take control of it and carve out some time for yourself.  I also think that moms who don’t take the time that they need can become short-tempered with their children and/or husband.  Also, not good.  Take some time.  Just a few minutes everyday.

That reminds me of this post from Esther Anderson on “Story of this Life” Facebook page yesterday:

I’m currently upstairs folding a massive pile of laundry and I can hear Ellia downstairs with her daddy talking his ear off, “daddy, hey daddy, daddy look…”

I can honestly say that I’d rather be up here folding this laundry right now than down there 😁 Is that bad? Cause it’s the truth.

I think we’ve all been there.  🙂

Jenny Rusby offers advice to creative mothers

As you will remember, Jenny Rusby is a lifestyle, storytelling and documentary photographer based on the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne, Australia.  She is a wife and the mother of three children, ages 6, 4 and 18 months.

During my recent interview with her, I asked if she had any advice to offer to creative mothers.  This is what she had to say, “…to take 10 min everyday to do something creative for yourself.  Especially on those crazy hard and long days, those are the days that you’ll need it the most. It’s so easy to put ourselves as mothers last, and often it’s our creative passions that get left behind in the daily chaos. For me, photography is my sanity and leaving the dishes to pile up and taking 10 min out to pick up my camera and make an image, even a bad one, makes me feel alive again.”

I whole-heartedly agree with her.  So many times our creativity gets pushed aside while we are busy tending to everyone else’s needs.  We forget to take care of ourselves. I’ve seen that happen with my own creativity.  I kept pushing it aside until the ideas just don’t come anymore.  If I did get a random creative thought, I automatically thought, “Oh, I can’t do that now” or “I can’t take that on right now.  I can’t take time away from my family and kids.”

But, 10 minutes a day… that is doable.  That reminds me of what Austin Kleon says in “Show Your Work!”:  “Forget about decades, forget about years, and forget about months.  Focus on days.  The day is the only unit of time that I can really get my head around. Seasons change, weeks are completely human-made, but the day has a rhythm.  The sun goes up; the sun goes down.  I can handle that.”  We can all handle that.  Just a few minutes everyday will add up to quite a lot over time.

Today, I challenge you to take just 10 minutes to do something creative.  Take a photo with your iPhone, doodle on a scrap piece of paper, jot down a few words.  If nothing else, read for a few minutes or just sit and listen.  Listen to the locust outside your window or your kids arguing/playing downstairs or the television that’s on in the next room.  The ideas will eventually begin to flow.

Michelle McDaid addresses the concept of “balance”

Wise words from my interview with Michelle McDaid:

I 100% agree that there aren’t enough great examples of women pursuing creative work while juggling the roles of wife and mother too. In my own life, I try to avoid the concept of “balance” in general because to me that implies precariously balancing in the middle of a scale with SELF on one side and FAMILY on the other. It’s an impossible middle place of perfection to achieve. Instead I view life as a series of pendulum swings between the two and my job it to keep it swinging back and forth as freely as possible. In the long run, the clock still keeps time, right?

Such a great interview with her; she has such great insight.  Such an inspiration!  Thanks, Michelle!