Voices from the MotherVerse Q & A Series #5: Charlotte Alling

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“Creativity is as essential as breathing for mothers. Mothering is a creative process that requires all senses, all kindness, all maturity, all perspective. It is ever changing and ever evolving.”


1. Describe your current family situation

I am a grandmother, with one daughter and a three year old grandson. We do not live near each other. However, the reason I am interested in these questions is that I grew up in a time when creativity was the norm – music, play, games, books, art, theater, picnic, dress-up, silliness, practical jokes and so on. It was wild and spontaneous and fun. We made rocks castles, tree forts, read plays, surfed the waves with our bodies or canoes, rafted around the marsh, tipped over sail boats, and spied on the adults.

This was cross-generational and imaginative and play was paramount. To me this is the lost world before technology. This is being imaginative and creative in family. This is what you teach your children.

2. In your eyes, what does ‘creativity’ mean and why is it important to you?

Creativity is the act of imagination, play, sourcing life and engaging, with others and alone. For example, as children we played with nature, stones, costumes, paints, shells, beach games, inside games, picnics, bonfires, sports, reading, laughing, huge inter-generational play, capture the flag. 

When my daughter was young, I never had a TV and few toys, on purpose.  She played endlessly with wooden spoons, boxes of rice, pots and pans. She would make houses for the wounded crickets, jumps for the dog, read books and played with her stuffed animals. We biked, made tents, played on the beach. She was allowed to just be and to use her imagination in quiet alone and with others.

Creativity is end driven or free-form, as in imagination. Creativity can be a puff of air, un-bidden, or production oriented. The creativity that is imaginative alone is the door to myth and seeing the world uniquely. 

Rational creative thinking much of it deductive and analytical, I experienced at work.

Both are as valid. 

Creative expression within parenthood is creative in both ways.

3. How do you carve out time and space within family life for your creative practice?

As a single mother my life was all consuming. I made choices and as a mother had decided my responsibility to be daughter was real. My life revolved around her. I ate every meal she had at home with her. We made conversation and talked. I read to her at nap time and at night. Nap time was imperative as was good food and healthy snacks. Quiet is essential for children as is laughter and fun. I sacrificed my time and my goals for her. This was my choice for it formed her world. As she became older, she chose riding, field hockey and tennis as her sports. I drove her to them or her grandmother did. I chose to live near her grandparents so she could have an extended family. 

My creativity was in activities at work or totally evolving in imagination at home. They wove together. 

4. What kind of creative activities do you feel drawn to again and again?

I am an author and photographer. Beauty and nature are my creed.

I decorated my house endlessly when my daughter was young. 

5. How do you get inspiration flowing when you feel stuck?

Fatigue for a working mother is common. I think expecting too much of yourself and being perfect in everything all at once is severe. It would be hard to be around someone who is always on. Motherhood is a choice and does require sacrifice. It passes but giving of oneself is a passage through which you mature. 

Being creative now, I can pick up a tool and it flows, I can be organized and goal driven or I can stare and nothing comes.

6. In what ways do you sabotage your own creative life?

NA

7. Who or what are your creative allies or mentors?

Imagination, simplicity, nature, quiet, discipline, working at it, beauty…

8. How would you describe the relationship between your creativity and your mothering?

Creativity is as essential as breathing for mothers. Mothering is a creative process that requires all senses, all kindness, all maturity, all perspective. It is ever changing and ever evolving. The creative process becomes different as they grow and you hold a chalice for their future and their life. At this point it is not about oneself but the potential of the child. You become a fluid guide seeing a potential future.

9. To what extent does your creative work generate a financial income for your family? How does this reality compare to your aspirations around this?

I was a project manager in interior decorating.

10. What would you say to a mother who is struggling to express herself in the midst of her family commitments?

Choosing to be a mother is about choosing to be there for another as a mother. You can’t always do what you want. It is that simple. It is a process of love and giving through which we mature as beings.

11. Big yourself up, sister – share your current / most exciting projects, web and social media links:

 

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Charlotte is the author of A Vital World, Women Designing Eden. Saving Life with Feminine Compassion, Beauty and Love

In her professional career, she worked as a project manager for interior decorating firms.
Due to her environmental illness caused by exposure to environmental toxins, her current focus is to discuss the impact of toxins and building a new nourishing life through compassion, beauty and love.

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