1. You are a wife, mom, writer and illustrator—you wear so many hats in your day-to-day life! What does a typical day look like for you and your family?
The days really vary. I know routines work for some people, but so much of having a young child is being able to roll with the punches. My kid is a great napper most days. She usually gives me 2-2.5 hours in the afternoon to focus on work, but there are days she doesn’t. There are days I don’t get a workout in or days I don’t hit a writing goal. You just have to forgive yourself and do better the next day. I find focusing big picture helps me regulate when I feel like my daily goals are shot.
2. Your children’s books are so fun but also really powerful with regard to the topics you’ve chosen. Did you set out to write about topics that matter with regard to race and gender? How did you choose your medium? Where did your inspiration come from?
I didn’t set out to write socially conscious books, but as a mother with a biracial daughter I have to live that way. They say write what you know and so I do. I chose children’s books as a medium because my daughter is three and these books are for her. I’ve been delighted and surprised by the overwhelming response, but really I wrote them for her.
3. In your most full or challenging seasons, how have you still managed to create? What have those seasons looked like? Do you feel like you’re in one of those seasons now?
I am definitely in one of those seasons. I have a rare ocular cancer. When I was diagnosed two years ago, I sort of went into hyper-drive. It changed my perspective entirely. There are still days when I’m sad or anxious. There are still days when I think that life isn’t fair, but I believe God has a plan for me. I believe I wasn’t chasing my dreams, I wasn’t accomplishing my goals, and cancer made me prioritize. It showed me what was important and lit a fire for me. In your 30s you feel like there’s not a time limit, but there is. Everyone has a finite amount of time here, so what are you going to do with it?
4. How are you seeing the fruit of your creative work blooming now from seeds that you planted long ago?
I am still blown away from some of the emails and messages I receive. Sometimes they are about my blog and sometimes they are about my books, but I am so grateful for the people who go out of their way to let me know how my work has effected them. It’s humbling to know my little books have made their way onto different continents, or that women in South Africa have read an article I wrote for a magazine.
5. What inspires you: as a wife, mom, and artist?
It sounds so simple, but my husband inspires me as a wife. I love him so I want to make him happy and proud. Playing with my daughter, spending time with her, pretending with her, inspires me as a mother. As an artist, I draw the inspiration from what I see and so much of that, right now, is what I’m finding in my own home. Maybe the view will change in a few years, but I’m so grateful for what I see right now.
6. What or who do you read to help inspire your work? What other resources do you recommend to fellow creatives?
I actually go out of my way not to read when I’m working on a project. It forces me to entertain myself with that story. I’m currently working on my first novel and I’ve quarantined myself so that I’ll continue to refine my own story, but normally I read a book every week. I love memoirs and I’ve read Amy Poehler’s, Tina Fey’s, and both of Mindy Kaling’s books. I also love to reread books. The last book I read was A Wrinkle in Time. I think I’ve now read it at least eight times. My advice would be to read what you love. Read what you aspire to. Don’t be afraid to go back and really study it.
7. Do you have a scripture, word, or mantra that guides your work?
“There are two ways to live: as though everything is a miracle or nothing is.” To me that’s about choice. You can choose how to deal with things. I like to give myself some responsibility, so I believe I am the one in charge of if I have a good day or not. It’s my choice to make.
8. How do motherhood and creative work complement one another?
My daughter is a daily source of inspiration. She unlocks feelings and ideas in me. She’s very much my muse.
9. What is something you have learned in the past year that you are taking in to the new year with a new perspective?
Time spent. It took me a long time to recognize my husband and my daughter both enjoy my undivided attention. I love to multitask. I think a lot of moms do. I am not great at being still and this year I took so much more time, not for myself, but for them. I did a better job of paying attention. It made for less time to write, but also for better writing.
10. If you could tell moms who long to create as they raise little ones a word of advice, what would it be?
If you are truly a creative soul, you will reach a point where you no longer just want to do it (write/paint/create), you have to. When you hit that point, you will be able to find the time. You’ll have to.