I had the pleasure of talking with this incredible woman, Lucy H Pearce.

Writer of The Rainbow Way, artist, mother, a creative force!

Here some excerpts from her book.

hi res rainbow way cover

Motherhood multiplies all previous challenges to creativity tenfold, whether you be a stay-at-home, work-at-home or work-out-of-the-home mama. Your life, especially in the “short years” of young children, is almost totally not your own. Trying to discover who you are now and fulfil your creative passions is high on the agenda for most mothers but where is the time and the energy? I longed and searched for something like this over my early mothering years. I needed a mentor, a guide to show me how to be my creative self and a mother without letting either suffer. But there was nothing out there: society it seems either does not see the problem, acknowledge it as important, or think it requires solutions. But I know that there are a lot of us out therewomen like you and me Trying to be stay-at-home mothers, and feeling like were dying inside. Trying to be working women, and feeling like were dying inside. Women who are trying to find their way back into their unique creative groove, after the disorientation of early motherhood. After our lives have been turned upside down and inside out. After we have forgotten who we are and found another self.

1-22_05_2013 PtTimmyItaly124Many women have asked me why I focus on the creative mother, rather than creative women, or even simply creativity? Apart from the fact that I feel that as a group we are extremely under-supported in our development, it is largely because of a little-spoken-about phenomenon: creative renaissance. I have discovered, through talking to scores of creative women, that for many women something miraculous happens when they become pregnant or give birth. The vital forces which have been ignited in their bodies through pregnancy also rekindle their creative passion. Their hearts and wombs are fully engaged with nurturing life, and it seems that a woman’s body does not differentiate between the biological and artistic acts of creation, they are fuelled by the same fire and cultivated under the same conditions. I believe that the word renaissance perfectly describes the experience of many mothers. From “re-” meaning again, and “naissance” meaning birth, it speaks of the fact that through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, women find themselves “born again”. For many this is an instantaneous life-altering shift, and felt as a spiritual experience, for others it is a growing sense of realization that “something profound has changed in my life: I am no longer who I once thought I was.”

The other understanding of “renaissance” is to do with a revival of artistic achievement and vigor, and so many of the women I spoke to in the writing of this book experienced a personal artistic renaissance when they became mothers. For years we may have ignored our creative sides. Busy with our career, love-life, travel and friendships it was left to one side. Now, suddenly it is an all-consuming urge. Some inner compulsion has awakened and will not be quieted down: we must give birth to art, writing, knitting, sewing, songs, plays…and do it now, not in twenty years when the children are grown. It is a secret that we were not told by our mothers or sisters, and certainly not by our careers counsellors or teachers: we can gain access to unknown depths when our mother-self is born and if we have a creative temperament, the birth of a child might also include a massive artistic resurgence. Those who do not understand this renaissance that creative mothers experience try to reassure us and quiet down our fire: you have all the time in the world to paint or write, babies are only young once. Don’t be selfish, you need to focus on your children. They do not understand that this way madness and sadness lie. Many think that this is the only way: have babies and abandon your life and dreams until the children have left home. You are the frame, now, an older woman counselled me, your child is the picture. It is all about him now. And this has been true for generations of creative women once her belly has been filled with the life of another, her own is expected to end. Her hand has been stopped from writing, her heart from painting, her voice from speaking. She has been told that a womans place is in the home, is to be caring for children, her husband or ailing parents. This traditional dialogue has been joined by new expectations: that she has to get a job any job, a respectable job. Never that she should follow her instincts and her heart. To honor her children’s needs for a mother’s care, and her need for a meaningful, creative life and work.

The truth of the matter is that the creative mother who is unable to create, will not be a better mother, instead she is unable to mother properly either. For the creative mother, creativity is her life force that makes her bloom. Take that from her and you take her soul.

Flights into sanity

Donald Winnicott, renowned British psychoanalyst and pediatrician stated that during pregnancy a mother develops “a state of heightened sensitivity” which continues for some weeks after the baby’s birth. However, when this passes, the mother has what he calls a “flight into sanity” and she begins to be aware of the world which exists outside of her state of “primary maternal preoccupation” with her baby. For many of the women I spoke to this period of heightened sensitivity was also accompanied by a rebirth of themselves as women and creatives, and the flight of sanity was expressed in a profound rediscovery of their creative energies and ideas. For me it was writing which called to me, rather than drama which I had trained in and taught for many years before. Laura transitioned from painting to toy-making, specializing in dolls. Hannah found that she was pulled from fiction writing to nonfiction. For many it meant the movement from more abstract forms of expression and “high art” to more practical crafts, or intuitive forms of creativity. The creative renaissance in new mothers is the result of an incredibly complex, once-in-a-lifetime shift of the woman’s hormonal, emotional, physical and psychological states, along with a total shift in her social role, responsibilities and daily routine. She is blasted from her previous existence into an entirely new self, and some of the myriad changes include:

During pregnancy and early motherhood, a womans mind is in a near-constant state of relaxed activity (growing a baby, and later producing milk), whilst her body is engaged in repetitive, habitual activity: breastfeeding, nappy changing, rocking, soothing. This is the optimal state for creative flow, as we will see in Part II.

But this is not the only flow added blood flow to the womb and vaginal area have been shown in repeated research to activate the corresponding parts of the brain connected to creativity.

A womans pregnancy and post-partum period is characterized by heightened sensitivity; powerful emotions; an awakening of forgotten memories and dreams and a greater awareness of and reliance on her intuitive faculties.

She has an altered wake-sleep cycle and dreaming cycle: her brain cycles more frequently through brainwave patterns which are associated with creativity.

She experiences a new sense of self and the awakening of a new archetype within her as she perceives herself as mother for the first time.

As a new mother she has increased opportunities for play, being outdoors and in her familiar home environment, and a massive exposure to different people, music, images, stories and educational experiences.

And perhaps most importantly of all, the changes in her hormonal state during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting encounters flood her brain and body with an array of neurochemicals like oxytocin, endorphins, adrenaline and relaxin making her more open and dreamy for months, or even years.

The activated womb Mon, a photographer, writer and mother of one, touches on another key aspect of the maternal creativity puzzle: the activation of the womb, often seen as a woman’s creative center, which we will explore in more depth later in the book:

Having my girl was a catalyst, a whirlwind of self-empowerment, creatively speaking. They say the womb is woman’s center of creativity, and having a child opened up what I allowed to lie dormant within me. It flooded out, I could barely keep up. It was a second birthing. Like bringing a child into the world, there is no turning back now.

For many women this is the first time their womb has been “activated”. Perhaps a lifetime of unfulfilling sexual encounters, or a sense of disconnection from their menstrual cycle, means that their womb has been a part of their body which has been ignored or even despised. Now, called into life through the act of pregnancy, the latent energies within are activated. Hence the sudden “switching on” of creativity. For the first time in their adult lives, women’s eyes are opened to their ability to nurture life, to create, and their hormones are moving them into the perfect level of consciousness to do just this. Whereas before, getting into this creative state would require willpower and dedication, now her hormones and activated womb magically smooth the way.

1-DSCN0493The pregnant woman finds that she is no longer in control of her own body’s processes in a way she previously believed, she is now surrendered to them. Her logical brain, which has been honed by her education, and her body which has previously competed on a male stage, are now flooded with feminine creative powers. To find pleasure and comfort, to make some sort of sense of these new experiences, a woman who has previously been taught to express herself creatively, will often turn to these skills as a way to express these new feelings, powerful dreams, strange longings and disorienting physical changes that she is experiencing. For such a common experience, it is incredible that you will find little said about it. It is not a topic which is well-funded, or of great interest to most (male) research scientists. And so each woman in our culture tends to experience this transformation and renaissance by herself, with little guidance or preparation. Then, having had the experience, thinks that she is alone in it and either ignores or dismisses it as she has no frame of reference for it.

As a culture we do not acknowledge what a massive shift becoming a mother is for any woman, let alone explore this creative renaissance that so many women experience. It is my deepest desire to help to prepare and initiate women, because without guidance and support a woman can feel alone, misunderstood, or just plain “wrong” in her experiences, which her doctor, friends and partner have no understanding of.

The Creative Mama-festo

Being creative and being a mother are both sacred undertakings.

It is important to be creative together.

It is necessary to be creative alone.

Make time, make space, find your center.

Make friends with your cycles and womb.

Find your permission givers and accept invitations

Listen to your body and your intuition. Follow it.

Nurture yourself, not just everyone else.

Recognize your good enough and learn to live it.

Find what makes your heart sing, and do it.

Practice daily.

Relish your sensuality. Honor your experiences.

Remember that the place where magic happens almost always lies outside your comfort zone.

Honor the lessons of the Crazy Woman.

Always be a student to the process…never stop learning or trying new things.

Know that you are never alone find allies, accept support and express gratitude to those who support you.

Share the love mentor, support others and share your gifts.

Keep on creating your story.


* All the paintings are made by artist Lucy H. Pearce and pblished with permission.