Tuesday, November 17, 2015

creating in the midst: Gina Kimmel

Welcome back to Creating in the Midst. If you're new to the series, all of the posts are located here. Thanks for joining us!

This weeks guest is Gina Kimmel. Mother, writer, photographer, Gina captures ordinary moments in beautiful, extraordinary ways through her words and pictures. She's someone that I would love to sit and share a pot of tea with, and talk and write alongside each other for hours. She exudes grace and thoughtfulness, and I'm thrilled to share her words here with you all.
Welcome to this space, Gina!




~ What does an average day in your house look like?

 Each day looks a little different for us, depending on the weather and what appointments or errands we have to run, but what do look similar are our mornings. Mornings are sacred to me. It is my absolute favorite time of day. From the soft silence that I have before my son wakes up, to the first light that touches the sky - our mornings take on a slow gentleness as we both allow it to unfold before us. About a year ago, I decided to start waking up around 6 o’clock so that I would have some peace and quiet before my son jolted out of bed. I found that having that time, whether it’s a half hour or two hours (depending on how long he decides to stay in bed) helps me to be a better mom. I use that time to write, to read, to work on a project, and always to sip tea. If it’s nice, you can find me on a rocking chair on the porch with my mug and notebook in hand. Once he wakes up, he’s ready to start the day. We use that time for morning journals, a drawn out breakfast (my favorite meal of the day, of course) and whatever else we want to do together. I try to extend the mornings for as long as I can, often times not getting a shower or getting ready for the day until 11 or 11:30. The flow of the morning is peaceful. Unrushed. Untethered. We flit around the house or stay rooted to the rocking chairs on the porch to observe our own little piece of the world, while discussing what’s in our midst. After lunch is when our days become varied and sometimes harried, depending on what we have to try and get done before dinner.


 ~ What projects are you currently working on?

 Right now, we are getting settled into our new house in the mountains. I’ve been trying to transform our house into a home, while also working on finding a daily rhythm for our homeschooling now that the little one has turned 5. Another project that keeps drawing me back in is a book of poetry about ordinary moments that I’ve experienced as a mother. I love to pair my photographs with words that I’ve written as they come to me. As I look back through my pictures, those words linger on my mind and help transport me right back to the moment I captured each image. I intend to weave letters and recipes alongside of the images and poems to bring the story of our family to life. It’s an offering first and foremost for my son – one that I can hopefully share with others someday, as well. And I’m always, always sharing pieces of my life and writing, and lately my morning views, on Instagram. 


~Can you tell us a little bit about your writing life?

 About four years ago, I found writing again. It began to develop into a daily practice that has sustained me and led me towards discoveries about myself I never dreamed of making. Whenever I’m feeling off, I know that it’s been too long since I picked up my pen to write. Over the past year or two, I’ve been finding my way with poetry and nature. I’ve reconnected with them both on a deeper level. Often times you can find me staring outside my window in search of the moon, lounging on the porch listening to the bird songs as greet the day, or simply walking with my camera – putting miles behind me as I pass rocks and trees and water sources that all open my eyes to the beauty found in this world. I feel that the earth is always communicating with us, if we take the time to pause and listen to her guidance. We can always find messages from the universe scattered among the stars. These messages and the ordinary beauty of the space we inhabit all move me – it moves my pen across the page, it brings words to my lips, and fills me with joy. Each day I try to slow down. To take several pauses amid my day to notice the everyday, ordinary beauty that surrounds me, not only in nature, but in my connections and interactions with the people in my life. It fuels my creativity. It brings me clarity in so many different aspects of living, especially parenting. And if I let it in, I am never at a loss for words. The poetry writes itself, all adding to the pile of notes that I’ve been collecting for a book I hope to share with others, someday.


 ~What measures do you take to protect your creativity?

 I keep a pen and a notebook by my side always {I’m the type of person that favors the written word to typing. It all has to be hand-written first.} If I notice that it’s been a few days since I’ve written, I make sure I either get up a bit earlier or ask my husband to watch the little one so that it gives me some time to write. I’ve encouraged my son to pick up his notebook when I do, if I find myself penning a poem when he’s around. I guess what I’m saying is that I just do it - as often as I can. I make it a priority and it’s become just an everyday ritual in my life, whether it’s filling up two pages at a sitting or jotting down a few short lines of poetry that came to me while we were eating breakfast that morning.



 ~Do you need absolute quiet to write, or do you prefer noise? And how does that impact your day?

 When I’m just scribbling down memories as they happen or when inspiration hits me during a sunrise, as I watch a leaf fall from the sky, or when I truly notice the curve of my son’s smile, I can usually write as the moment is transpiring. Sometimes I ask him to give me a moment of quiet so that I can record the words a bit more quickly, but often times he’ll get out his notebook to “write,” too. Whenever I go deeper, whenever the words pierce my mind and I am able to tap into the flow from someplace outside of my Self, I need silence. I can’t listen to music, I don’t like to be constantly interrupted, I just need myself, the paper, and the pen.

 ~Do you have a set time of day, or of the week, that you set aside for your creative pursuits?

 The only time I truly have set is first thing in the morning. I wake up around 6:00, probably six days a week (sometimes seven), so that I have that time to write. I’ve found that if I don’t set the alarm and pull myself out of bed before my son rises, I feel off all day – moody, tense, and just out of balance. I use that time for whatever I feel called to do, whether it be to read, to write, to art journal or even catch up on my favorite shows on Netflix – whatever it is that will fill me up and allow me to begin my day with grace and allowing. Besides those precious moments in the morning, I also try to fit in time for myself throughout the day. A half hour while my son plays on his own, an hour after my husband comes home while he is deep in some sort of household project that my little one helps out with. I think it’s so important for children to see their parents making time for that which brings them joy. Whether he is asked to find something else to occupy his time for a while or he asks to work alongside of us, he sees creativity in action.



 ~What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer and a homeschooling mother?

 For me the challenge is creating space for everything. For writing, for editing, for actually living the moments that I will someday write about – all this while still keeping the connection to my son and my family that I hope to have. Some days I get so caught up in the words or the projects we are doing together that I realize I haven’t looked, really looked at the people I am interacting with. I haven’t given them my full attention; I haven’t looked deeply into their eyes or absorbed the words that they are sending my way. I find that there is so much that I love experiencing as a writer and a homeschooling mama, that it’s difficult to find the space for it all.

 ~What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer and a homeschooling mother?

 I think that because creativity and exploration are such a huge part of our homeschooling life and our life in general, being at home with my son has afforded me the time and inspiration to dive deeper into my writing. Being at home with him, watching him learn and grow, has been such a rich experience – full of ups and downs, littered with insights into how I hope to support and encourage him as a homeschooler, as well as time to self-correct when we discover what actually works or what we need to rethink in our everyday ritual and routine. I try to capture these moments of joy, as well as the moments of struggle within my writing to share with others. I feel that speaking the truth about what mothers may go through opens the doors for sincere communication between parents around the globe, as well as allowing others to know that they are not alone as they walk through the difficult aspects of creative family living.

 ~How do you feel about the word balance? Is there such a thing?

 Hmmm, I’m not really sure, yet! I do know that if I take some time to reflect over the past couple of days and realize that I haven’t given myself much time to work on my writing, then I don’t feel guilty take an hour or so to myself during the day while my son plays on his own. If I notice that the last few days have been packed with nature hikes, reading, Lego building, and errands, then I don’t feel guilty for giving us both a day to relax with a movie, or just keeping the day entirely open for staying put inside the house to play in our own ways. I try to sprinkle in moments here and there for things that are important to us, activities like baking together or hiking, if I notice that they haven’t fit in naturally with the flow of our week. Perhaps that’s all the balance we need.



 ~What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about their creative pursuits, and just starting out on their homeschooling journey?

 What I try to keep reminding myself is not to lose myself in the process of homeschooling. We are all learning together as a family. Every day, each year, we are all growing and shifting. It’s important for me not only to facilitate learning for my son, but also for my Self…to carve out time, to grasp those moments of unexpected stillness, and utilize them for any creative pursuits that are calling to me at the moment. I recently copied this quote from “Conscious Living” by Gay Hendricks:: “You wonder, am I courageous enough to tap the deep wellspring of my creativity and express it boldly in the world? As you walk along, ask yourself, what would I most like to create, both for my own nourishment and for my singular contribution to the world? Life reaches its full flowering when we bring forth our creative desires and the treasures with which we have been blessed and act on them in the world.” For me, this quote not only encourages me to act on my creative desires, but reminds me that it’s necessary for my own soul’s contentment.

And last... a few quickfire questions:

 ~What was the last book you read? 

I just finished rereading Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert.

 ~The last thing you made? 

I'm in the progress of making a monochromatic mixed-media canvas. My son and I both started one after reading Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

 ~Daily indulgence?

 Lately, my daily indulgence is an episode of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I love relaxing to one of my favorite shows in the evening.

 ~Least favorite daily task? 

I'm on a cooking low. Some weeks I'm at a loss for what to cook for dinner, so lately that's been my least favorite task.

~If you had an entire day that was just yours, how would you spend it? 

 I would spend it on the beach in the sun with a stack of books and magazines (after spending the afternoon before at a bookstore selecting some from my list)

 ~Favorite movie? 

 My all-time favorite movie is Dirty Dancing, my recent favorite movie is About Time.

 ~Coffee or tea? 

Tea!!

Gina ~ thank you so much for sharing your words and thoughts here! I loved getting to know you better through your answers. Reading about how you weave your creative pursuits through your day reminds me that I'm not alone in this daily struggle/joy to create in the midst, it sounds so familiar to what happens in my house as well. And of course, you know About Time is one of my favorite movies, and I love that we have that in common!

Links for Gina:
Instagram

If you or someone you know, are a homeschooling parent who is in the midst of creative pursuits and would like to contribute to this series, please contact me at crnnoel(at)gmail(dot)com.

1 comment:

  1. Gina, I'm inspired so much by your sharing. The way you make time for nature and poetry speaks to my heart. And that you encourage your son to pick up his pen when you do. I must try that one.

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