The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

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dresses to the beat of her own drum

Hello, my name is Carey, and I’m a perfectionist.

More accurately, I’m a recovering first born-type A-controller-authoritarian-perfectionist. I’m learning how my tendency to micro-manage negatively affects all aspects of my life. It affects my homemaking, my photography, and even my parenting. Control always comes at a cost. Is it worth it?

When practically every single component of young children’s lives is controlled externally, it is natural for that tension to result in frustrated, defiant children. When my children were tiny, I sought opportunities to give them age appropriate control. As toddlers, that meant they could choose between two options for a snack, or decide if they wanted to play a game or go outside first. Not necessarily all the time for every thing, but often enough. As they grew, this broadened. But I needed them to obey me on issues of safety and issues of their heart. I discovered that they are far less likely to resist me on the real issues if they feel they have control of some aspects of their life.

Today my daughter is six years old, and she is the most delightful little girl with a beautifully strong spirit. She was much more challenging in her early years than her older brother, however. Her strong willed spirit presented my equally strong willed spirit with a degree of challenge that I had yet to encounter in life. It was over the course of these battles of her youngest years that I came to recognize just how much I was still trying to unnecessarily control. The war for her heart granted me a different perspective and the wisdom to discern which issues were truly battles to fight.

I have become much more selective about which hills are ones I’m willing to die on. Now I consider issues through these three filters:

A: is this an issue of safety?
B: is this a character issue?
C: does this affect others negatively? 

If the answer to those questions is ‘no,’ then the issue is something I don’t need to control. Things may not be done my way, but it is hers to choose. She is her own person and not an extension of me. What really matters are issues of character — issues of her heart. The clothes she chooses to wear are of no consequence in the grand scheme of life and my ultimate goal of parenting her to adulthood with a good character. How she wishes to fix her hair doesn’t matter. How she wants to decorate her own room is her choice – it is her room and she is the one to live in it. If she wants to play with a toy in a strange or unconventional way, who cares?

My daughter was two when she began to show her preferences for clothing choices, and I let her. Was it embarrassing to go out in public with her wearing nine different hair bows, mismatched clothes, and two different shoes? ABSOLUTELY. At first. Because I still had my own pride intertwined a little bit. I felt that her outward appearance somehow reflected on me: as a person, as a woman, as a mother. That is PRIDE, but not the good kind. It isn’t okay for her to suffer for my selfish pride.

Did I want her to look cute and matched because that was important to her, or because it gave others an impression of me that I wished to portray?

Was I communicating to her that she was only beautiful when her outer appearance met certain guidelines, instead of teaching her that her beauty comes from the inside and her unique way of putting things together to reflect herself?

I realize now that her seemingly eclectic appearance actually does reflect on me in a wonderful way. I believe that when others see my six-year-old little princess dressed in her amazingly interesting combinations, she is endeared to them. They see a mom who has embraced the unique gift of a person she’s been given to raise. They see a mom who knows what’s truly important.

My daughter dresses to the beat of her own drum. I absolutely adore it. And I believe that she, and I, are the better for it.

 This article was written by Carey Pace.

An Intro to Macro Photography | Part One

Macro-therapy. I didn’t coin the term, but the second I heard it I knew it had been with me all along. My photographer friends all know I like to participate in an activity I lovingly call “wine and macro.” If I’m having a particularly stressful day, I will go explore my backyard with my camera and glass of wine in tow. If it has been a stressful WEEK, I use that as an excuse to buy myself flowers to photograph while I savor my Riesling.  It’s an incredible outlet for me… one that is stress-free, allows me to be creative, and results in something beautiful.

The Creative Mama Tiffany Kelly macro dahlia
Macro photography is the close-up photography of subjects that are typically very small. The great thing about macro is that it’s just you and your subject. Unless it’s a bug, it’s nice and still. You can take your time, explore the lines, move around it, try various angles. Look through the lens and see what you didn’t notice with your eyes. Take your time and think about what you want to capture and what you want your photo to say.

The Creative Mama Tiffany Kelly daisy macro

Personally, I am partial to macro images of rain droplets. Living in Georgia means that we have pretty frequent rain, so this is a subject that comes around often. Flowers make great subjects because they are insanely beautiful, easily accessible, and offer endless opportunities to create different compositions. You could take a single flower and create a dozen different photographs. You don’t have to beg them to smile or try to make them look at you. They don’t have tantrums and you don’t have to chase them. You can just hang out with them, capture them as they are, and sip your cold beverage.

The Creative Mama Tiffany Kelly dewy grass macro
Macro photography is also great for capturing the little details about your children that you’ll want to remember forever. For example, photograph their favorite small toy, details of their bedroom, their artwork or art supplies, the treasures they collected in your yard, their little hands or chubby feet. If you create family albums or photo books, macro photos are a great way to add variety and help show the details that complete your story.

The Creative Mama Tiffany Kelly daisy macro
Please don’t think that you need an expensive macro lens to explore macro photography. You can reverse mount a regular lens, use macro filters, or try macro extension tubes. If you love taking photos with your cell phone, get yourself an Olloclip! I don’t ever use a tripod or any lighting equipment for my macro photos, just natural light and my Nikon d800 and 105mm macro lens, or my iPhone and Olloclip. The photos below were all captured with my iPhone.

The Creative Mama Tiffany Kelly iphone macro

If you’re feeling like you’re in a photography rut, I suggest trying out some macro photography. Practice makes perfect, and with still subjects you can really work on your composition and let your creativity shine. I hope this inspired you to try something new if you’ve never tried macro photography before! Stay tuned for part two, where I will get into the details of camera settings and give you some tips and tricks! You can view a little more of my macro work here.

This article was written by Tiffany.

When I grow up …

I still can’t believe that, technically, I am grown up.  Imagine that.

A darling friend of mine talked a bit recently about feeling rather unmoored and how unexpected that feeling was to her.  Having always had an expectation that by a certain age she would know how exactly her life should be.  This, I could relate with.  I’d always imagined I would be a mother, and while it was not an easy path, it did happen.  However, when I look at my expectations for my professional life, things aren’t quite what I expected. 

In fairness, I think in this phase of life I do know myself better than ever.  My expectations of myself, and those around me have definitely matured.  I embody much greater empathy and compassion then I ever did in my ambitious youth.  And yet, somehow, I still don’t know what exactly I’d like to be when I grow up.  I’ve tried some things and developed a strong sense of what I don’t want to be.  I’ve discovered things that I find immensely satisfying, and yet I’m not sure they are things I can “be.”

As my children are growing along with my free time, I’ve been asking myself this question often.  I know what sort of person I want to be — yes.  But how I am going to spend the many years ahead (I hope) in endeavors that are fulfilling, and hopefully with some financial rewards, is still a huge unknown.

At times I face these questions with apathy — all will be revealed (please, please, please).  Other times I am profoundly anxious that I should have all the answers at this age.  Today I think I’ll just remember, the butterfly spends a long time is its chrysalis before emerging.  Perhaps it isn’t the right time yet.

 This article was written by Amy Bader.


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