I am delighted to be able to welcome Zion Lights, one of the fantastic contributors of Musings on Mothering, to the Mother’s Milk Books blog. Zion has kindly taken part in my interview about motherhood and creativity, and I think her answers are deeply inspiring and thought-provoking. Many thanks again for taking part Zion!
Zion Lights is a journalist with a passion for life. She has had articles published in The Ecologist, Permaculture Magazine, JUNO Magazine, The Green Parent and more, and is a regular contributor at One Green Planet and The Huffington Post. You can read her articles at zionlights.co.uk or via @ziontree.
1. Have you always considered yourself to be a creative person?
Yes. I grew up in inner-city, heavily industrial Birmingham and creativity was not something that was highly valued by the people I grew up with. Only work ethic was, and any creative occupation was not seen as a viable way to make money. So I knew from an early age that I enjoyed doing things that other people thought were strange, particularly wanting to write about things.
2. Has motherhood enhanced your creativity? If yes, in what way and why do you think it has enhanced your creativity?
Yes and no. I have always been a deeply creative person. But, somewhere along the way, I lost my creative spark. I worked long hours in offices, a school, a variety of places. None of them fostered creativity for me. When I had my daughter and realized I didn’t want to go back to working in an office or a school, I began to draw on my creativity in order to provide for her, and to show her that it is a viable outlet and one worth pursuing, even if there isn’t a lot of money in it. So, it was there all along, but the platform for it didn’t exist until my daughter came into the world, so I came to appreciate its value then.
3. Do you have any tips on how to find time for your creative work amongst the everyday busyness?
My advice echoes the way I tend to do anything – throw yourself head-first into it. I cherish every moment with my daughter and we spend a LOT of time together, but I’m always thinking, planning, dreaming about things to write about. Small practicalities help – I keep a notepad on my bedside table and a mini-torch so that in those hours of unwinding from the day of toddler-play I can jot down ideas I want to pursue or paragraphs I plan to use in articles. I also have a pretty long to-do list at all times, which certainly helps to keep me on track!
4. What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Everything. It means that I can nourish my daughter at any time. That I can comfort her when she needs it. That she never has to want for food or drink like so many children in the world do. That I can provide for her with my body, in a way that no other person can. That I have taken power away from the horrid formula milk industry with my choice.
5. Were there any pieces in Musings on Mothering that spoke to you particularly?
Nadia Raafat’s ‘Diary of a Wimpy Toddler-Feeding Mum’ strongly resonated with me. I love the way it tells her story of breastfeeding a child over the period of a year, people’s reactions to this, and the humour and sensitivity in the poem.
6. Are you working on any particular project right now?
I’m always working on a number of projects! Currently I have a list of articles I need to work on for various editors and books I’ve been sent to review for them. I often wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t found an outlet for my writing… It’s like breathing, to me.
7. Is there any one piece of work that you are particularly proud of?
I wrote an article on home education late last year and I was overwhelmed by the positive comments people left on it, and the fan mail I received from parents who resonated with the piece. I always enjoy interaction with readers of my work but those responses in particular have stuck with me and warmed me to the HE community like nothing else could have.
8. Is there any one person (or persons) that you consider to be a true inspiration to you?
Actually there are a few. Maya Angelou, who taught me from a young age that you can be whoever you want to be, no matter where you come from or what you’ve been through, through her book collection beginning with ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. Jay Griffiths, who showed me not to underestimate how a woman can use her words to protect the Earth. Julia Butterfly Hill, who climbed up a tree to protest a forest being chopped down, and stayed up there for 2 years, because she had to follow her truth. Anyone who pursues his or her passion against the odds, who chooses truth and love above all other things.
9. Is there any one piece of art or music, or writing that has influenced you, or inspired you to continue creating?
All three of the inspirational people I have listed have written books that rocked my world. The Beatles have helped me not to take anything too seriously over the years, and to act from the heart.
10. What would you to say to someone who doesn’t consider themselves a creative person, but would like to try their hand at something new?
Don’t think too much about it. Don’t go on a course to learn it. Don’t buy a plethora of materials to assist you. Just make the mental space you need to do it, and clear the physical space to do it, and dive in. It doesn’t matter how – draw doodles, write openings to novels, sketch, strum your chosen instrument, throw paint around. Creativity is embedded in all of us, we just unlearn it from our childhood days. You can get it back. Trust your instincts, don’t be overly critical of your work, and keep at it. Learn to trust yourself. Over time, it will all come back.