Monday, March 25, 2013

Art, motherhood and the Big Hearted Business Conference

Pic: Kylie Lewis
On the weekend I was lucky enough to be among the speakers at Clare Bowditch's Big Hearted Business Conference. What a mind-blowing experience!

When I wrote The Divided Heart almost five years ago, I could never have predicted that it would mean something to other people. As I said in my talk, I just wrote the book I needed to read.

I had no idea how to maintain my own creative life amid the competing demands from my children, partner, work, housework, parents, friends...

I still struggle with the feeling that creativity is a complete indulgence, especially when compared to the needs of my children. And I still question whether I am a good enough writer to make it worth all I have to ask of myself and my family in order to keep it up.

But as I tried to express in my talk, the most important reason to make art — the reason that trumps anything you could list in the "cons" column — is because you need to. Because it connects you to the world, because it makes you see things differently, because it makes you feel alive.

It was impossible not to notice how few men were at the conference (though bravo to the blokes, who generously participated in what was a fairly female-centric discussion). The room was packed to the brim with vibrant, animated, remarkable women, and as a result, the question of how to be an artist and a mother was a major theme.

Women are just so hungry for information about how to reconcile these two seemingly incompatible aspects of their life and identity: creativity and motherhood.

But much more than that, women need reassurance that they have a right to keep their own passions at the forefront of their lives.

So many women approached me throughout the day with tears in their eyes, concerned that their desire to be "more then just a mother" was hurting their family. The tie between women and their children is so intense, we seem hardwired for guilt!

Every speaker at the conference reminded us that what our kids need most is a mother who is living a passionate, fulfilled life.

I hope my talk on "Giving Yourself the Permission to be Creative" played some small part in helping women believe that keeping their own interests alive is the best thing they can do not just for themselves and their family, but also for the world at large.

For a lovely sense of the day, check out the extraordinary Lily Mae Martin's sketches on her blog, Berlin Domestic or Pip Lincolne (Meet Me at Mike's) wonderful photos, and join the BHB facebook page to stay in the loop on future events.


Kim said...

Sounds amazing! Wish I could have been there to hear all those words of wisdom. xK

Sally Rippin said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend. x

Lily Mae Martin said...

Hi Rachel
Thanks for sharing my link!

Thank you for the talk, I felt that Sunday really gave me a lot of answers to my questions and I'm still trying to process it all but I feel so inspired and empowered by this event. A feeling I have not felt in such a long time.

Thank you!!!!

Lily Mae

jenny wright said...

rachel i just love your quote about writing the book for yourself. your book had a profound effect on me and my life. at the time my Gordon was a tiny baby and although i have never thought of myself as creative i loved it. i left my mothers group after a few weeks as i was trying to finish my uni degree, in my new life as a mother i had only two outside commitments and they clashed. when i finished my degree and returned to the mothers group i felt like i'd arrived at the party too late so i stopped going. i didn't have many friends with babies so i definitely found a connection to the women that you interviewed in your book.

Rachel Power said...

Thank you (again), Jenny. You're such a gem. As you say, I think art/creativity is just one example of any number of passions women have that they struggle to find space for in their lives. It really heartens me to hear from non-"artists" and also from fathers and even people without kids who related to The Divided Heart. Means a lot.

George Kanellopoulos said...

Rachel, I must say your presentation really resonated with me. im what you'd call a non-artist and always thought that you either have it or you don't. We all have a yearning to create and hear those voices tell us we are not good enough etc.

But I guess what makes a true artist are those that are willing to put it out there and reconcile that with other aspects of our lives. While not being an expert on motherhood (or ever will be) learning from the remarkable women in the room was a real gift.

thank you Rachel

Rachel Power said...

Hey George, my new post is for you!

katiecrackernuts said...

Rachel, Would have loved to have heard you speak. From everything I've seen and read, the day looked fabulous.

katiecrackernuts said...

Rachel, Would have loved to have heard you speak. From everything I've seen and read, the day looked fabulous.

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