The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

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Doing What is Right for You

About three years ago, I looked in the mirror and realized two things. I was consumed with being a mom, losing my “me” time, and I had become grossly out of shape. I needed to recapture myself – the one pre-children. Do you remember pre-children? It was when you could sleep in, roll out of bed, hop in the car and just head to the gym to work out. Oh, don’t want to head to the gym? Would you rather just head to the boardwalk for a 4 mile run? You could do it. Remember those times when you didn’t have to check yourself and make breakfast for three screaming, hungry kids? Remember when you could just get up and go? I couldn’t, and I realized I needed something that I could just call my own… just an hour a day that I could be just me.

Doing What Is Right For You |The Creative Mama | Courtney Keim

I discovered Crossfit. My husband called it a cult. I called it reclaiming my sanity. For an hour a day, I would push myself to the breaking point. I lifted weights which was unheard of for me. Deadlifting was my favorite. My max was 270 lbs for three reps. (You learn to memorize your maxes.) I was proud.  You remember the girl WODs – the workout of the day for those non-crossfitters.My hands would rip when I would attempt pull-ups. My back would ache. But I would be so proud as I wrote those scores on the whiteboard. I wondered – was it all worth it? I was now more worked up coming home then when I left. I wanted “me” time and it became more of a fierceness. I came home less relaxed then when I left. Then it happened. I started seeing the check-ins in my (Facebook) newsfeed. Yoga… I wondered. Maybe yoga would relax me. Once again, Ken (my ever-loving I-only-love-to-swim husband) was skeptical of my new “sport.” It was hot yoga. Power yoga. 1.5 hours in a room with 20+ women sweating in 90 degree heat. I barely made it through that first day. I was dying. My body ached differently than it did throwing 135 pounds over my head in Crossfit. It was a burning. It was oddly relaxing. I had found a happy medium. I go to Crossfit to push my limits. I compete against myself and others. I push the limits of my body. I go to yoga. I don’t compete. I focus on my mind + body, still pushing its limits. I am now strong. I am relaxed. I am happy. I have reclaimed my “me,” and happy mommy has returned. What is your outlet? How do you get away? Do you feel guilty needing “me” time? This article was written by Courtney Keim.

Do Something


do something | the creative mama | clair dickson

I wouldn’t change a thing.  No regrets!  I would do it all again.

These are all romantic declarations to which I cannot relate.  Sure, I understand the value of being grateful for lessons learned through our mistakes and trials.  But if I could give my new-mother-self of 15 years ago some advice to follow, I sure would.  It would go something like this—

Dear younger me,

You are embarking on the journey of a life-time.  With a new baby girl to care for (and more beautiful bundles to follow,) your busy days will be long and your choppy nights will be short. Most of the time your goals will be survival centered… keeping four children clothed, fed, and feeling loved is no small feat.  

You will be tempted to lay aside the things that make your heart swell, things that are vital to your overall well being.  In your mind, it will make perfect sense to tell yourself that this phase of young motherhood deserves all of your time and attention.  Dear, no one can fault you for devotion to a noble cause.  But… and here’s the thing… if you give up the things that make you tick– the things that make you uniquely you, you will not have your whole person to give to your family.  And you will miss yourself.

So before you give in to that all-or-nothing thinking pattern that so often teases you into nothingness, consider your loves and talents (art, swimming, writing, nature) and know that just because this busy season of life may make the all that you gave in a previous season impossible, nothing is not the only alternative. Do something! You know what feeds your soul. While an elaborate feast may not be possible, don’t starve yourself.  Don’t give up on you!  Doing a little something is a choice you won’t regret.

Much love,


I’ve had times during young motherhood where I unexpectedly recognized myself.  After disgruntingly squeezing myself into a swim dress that couldn’t possibly hide all my extra, I surprisingly found a girl I once knew halfway through a lap of breaststrokes.  There I was… strong and graceful and alive!  And sometimes while helping a little one with a school project that required artistic ability, I’d get this “there you are again!” feeling as I reveled in the cutting, the drawing, the creating.

There you have it. My regrets. I wish I would have better integrated the things that make me tick into my last fifteen years.

So, now what?  As a mother, I’m somewhere in between the wiping-noses-and-cleaning-sippy-cups phase and the incessant “no-texting-while-driving-and-study-for-your-algebra-test” reminding phase.  Here I am with a bit of time and space to reflect on me.  The following quote recently appeared like a massive billboard along my meandering path:  She longed to be that girl she once had been, with unlimited possibilities still ahead of her. And then she realized she still was. She could choose to make any one of those possibilities her next destination. ~ Queenisms™

I may not be able to go back in time and hand my younger self that letter of advice, but I have the gift of today. And today I’m going to rejoice in the possibilities- a weekly date to swim laps, penning my imaginations in a journal, taking a watercolor class, visiting art museums with my children,  painting a mural on our worn kitchen table top.

I’m going to make choices and move forward.  I’m going to do something!

What will you do?

How to Easily Calm Your Mind through Doodling

The Creative Mama welcomes Renée Yemma who shares a fun and inspiring idea that could help all mamas get their calm on.

You’ve had a long and stressful day. All you think about is getting in the bathtub to unwind. Once in, your body feels amazing, but your mind keeps playing the day over and over again in your head.  And not only that, your mind has already jumped to what you need to do tomorrow… and the next day… and the next… 

Sound familiar?

If so, I’m happy to help!

There are SO many ways to relax from the stresses of the day, but there’s one way that’s rarely talked about when it comes to calming our thoughts (and our body). It’s doodling! This mindless-creative activity has a special way of giving us a break from the hectic to-dos of the day.  It requires no thought, no how-to’s, no figuring out, no grades and no rules.

Many of us doodled as a child, and many of us still doodle now (on hold on the phone, waiting for an appointment or while listening to a speaker that isn’t that interesting). 

But, did you know that doodling is the easiest and fastest way to calm your thoughts? 

doodling to calm mind | the creative mama | renee yemma


Because we live our lives in a very left-brain dominated world (worry, doubt, achieve, pay bills, go-go-go) our right-brain, the side that represents the present moment, creativity, calm and all is right in the world, doesn’t get the much needed attention that it deserves.

Neglecting our right brain causes our thoughts to stay in constant “to-do list” chatter mode, leaving us feeling exhausted, depleted and stressed.

In order to reap relaxing mind-body benefits after a long and stressful day, we’ve got to balance out our left-brain thought and activity with right-brain thought and activity.

Had a day filled with lots of errands to run while carting around your kids and a huge diaper bag filled with bottles, snacks, diapers, wipes and toys which left you feeling exhausted and unmotivated to do anything else the rest of the day…like cook dinner?  Doodle!

Had a day filled with screaming kiddos calling for your attention 24/7 that leaves you wanting to scream and run away for days?  Doodle!

Just like we need to work out our bodies so we can stay fit and trim, we also need to work out our right brain so we can stay calm and relaxed no matter what the day brings.

And it doesn’t have to be loaded with craft materials and tons of steps, either. 

It’s actually so, so easy to get your calm on in a fun, creative way. 

Here’s what you’ll need: (you can use all your kids’ materials, too!!)

  • Drawing paper or a sketchpad
  • Crayons, colored pencils or markers

Here’s what you do:

  • Find a nice quiet place where you can be alone (or even sitting with your kiddos will work too!)
  • Look at your crayons and observe the colors.  Pick one color that’s calling out to you in that very moment.

 calming through doodling | the creative mama | renee yemma

  • Take your paper and place your crayon on it. 

 calming through doodling | the creative mama | renee yemma

  • For 5 seconds, move and swirl your coloring tool all over the paper without lifting up (this will create many circles).

 calming through doodling | the creative mama | renee yemma

  • After making your first swirls, trace the same line over and over, if you’d like.  For me, the more I trace, the calmer I feel, but if you don’t want to trace, you don’t have to.  No rules! Just fun!
  • Next, pick more colors that FEEL good to you and start to color in the circles with anything your heart desires.  You can do polka dots, color each circle with your favorite colors, fill it in with hearts, flowers, lines…anything that feels good to you.

 calming through doodling | the creative mama | renee yemma

  • If you’re still craving more after all your circles are colored in, you can trace around the circles and add more fun around the finished doodle as well.

 calming through doodling | the creative mama | renee yemma

  • And then for the grand finale, choose another color that FEELS good to color the white background.  I chose pink.

 calming through doodling | the creative mama | renee yemma

It may seem silly, but it really is that easy!!

Every time you take a mindless-creative activity break, like doodling, your thoughts will calm more easily and you’ll feel more refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.

But you’ve got to do this for longer than 5 minutes, because your left-brain will have a field day at first. 

You might hear:

  • “I’m not creative. I’m not artistic. I can’t do that.” 
  • “How stupid.  I’m not a kid anymore. I’m NOT doing that! I’ll just leave coloring to my kids.”
  • “Coloring? I’d rather knit!” 

It’ll voice itself loud and clear (you might have already heard its voice while reading this).

Once you give it some time, you’ll switch over to right brain land and you’ll start reaping the benefits of calming your thoughts in a very, left-brain dominant world that has us drowning in constant to-do’s every day. 

So take the much needed break and relax your thoughts. 

Your body, mind and soul will thank you (and so will your family!).

And, just remember, this isn’t about doodling something that’ll look professional and artistic.  It’s all about just playing with color to relax your mind. 

No rules! No certain outcome! Just fun!

If you don’t like, just start over and play some more. 

The more you play, the more you’ll connect with doodles make YOU feel calm and have you saying, “this is SO fun!”

Renée  grew up never, ever thinking she was creative.  Once she became a mom, all that changed and she now not only believes that she is creative, but that everyone is creative.  She has a deep, deep love for using her camera to slow down and savor the FEELING of moments that make her stop, smile and fill her with happy tingles. Renée loves using her crayons, markers, colored pencils and paints to calm her mind, soothe her soul and help her connect to her true loves; motherhood, family, photography, doodling, delicious food, music, yoga, mediation and nature.  Keeping creativity alive in kids and reviving creativity in adults is her passion.  Renée is married to her college sweetheart (GO GATORS!), Coast Guard lawyer, husband and currently lives in the New Orleans area soaking up all the music, food, festivals and culture the area offers.   You may find Renée at her blog and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.


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