That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Easter and New Beginnings: If it’s good enough for Jesus …

We have always had a room upstairs reserved for me. When we moved in over 7 years ago, Mr Karen named it ‘the art room’, hoping I would one day use it for drawing or painting. I’ve always called it ‘the junk room’, because it has become a storage space for a lifetime of creative efforts that I all but abandoned at the end of high school. I’ve always loved (and had some skill at) drawing and writing, but I peaked in primary school. I’ve blogged about my junk room here.

This year, the art/junk room’s been seeing more action as I’ve been writing regularly, both for the blog and for myself. It’s a lovely space, relatively detached from the main house, where I can really crawl into my own head and go nuts.

A few weeks ago, Mr Karen and I went out for my birthday. As he drove home to pick me up and take me to my favourite Japanese restaurant, he suggested I take one day a week “for yourself. To write. To do anything, but not housework”.

It was the best birthday gift I could have imagined, at a time when I needed it most. I had spent the first half of my birthday morning alternating between crying and searching for jobs at my old university. As it seems, looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I remember the exact moment I shelved any idea of writing, or a creative career. It was though as soon as the inspiration hit me, it was neatly folded and put away again, never to be considered again. It was in 1995, just before my first round of work experience in year 10. I told my mum I wanted to do journalism.

“But you’ll never get a job! There’s a recession!” she squawked.

So instead of doing work experience with a newspaper or magazine, I did work experience in an indie record store, where the owner was a 40-year-old man who smelt like baby powder. After a few days, once we were friends, he told me stories of sleeping with year 12 girls from my school, while they were wearing their school uniform. Needless to say, I felt like I earned my $25 for the week.

In year 12, I told mum I wanted to study fine art. As we rolled down our bumpy, dirt road in her four-wheel drive, again she told me I would never get work. I yelled back “But you’ve never even seen my art! I’m actually good at it!”

“You’ve never shown it to me!” she replied. And I hadn’t. My work was too personal, too angry, too harsh for me to show my mum. I didn’t care that other students saw the work, but I was terrified that if mum saw it she would see how sad I was. (Terribly sad, in case you were wondering). I didn’t want to disappoint her, or make her worry.

I cried all the way to school that day. And soon after chose a BA at Monash University as my first preference for university: easy enough to get in, safe enough for mum to approve and open enough to find something I want to do with my life. Not writing or art. As it turns out, perhaps this path was too open-ended because I ended up working in administration and then management at the same University.

So I never pursued writing or art, even though I feel like if I was made to do anything (other than be a mum or a loving partner), it’s these two things.

Fast forward to my birthday. Mr Karen and I talking steps to arrange one day a week for actual bum on seat writing/drawing action. Doing whatever my flaky creative brain wants to do. Exciting! Terrifying! Like staring into an abyss, not having any idea what might be in there, but being drawn in nonetheless.

This past Easter weekend was a new beginning for me. I tidied the junk room/art room/office (COMPLETE MESS!) and made clearly defined workspaces. I cleared out my art folio and kept only the good pieces, the pieces that speak to me, the pieces that I am proud of. I went through boxes and boxes of junk from my teen years and reminisced at the funny and smart people I’ve been lucky enough to know and love. I wondered if I am the only grown woman to have kept every single card (birthday or christmas) they had ever been given: a big hello to Rowan W. from 2B!

Ultimately, I took the confused, naive, and sad girl I was in high school, and focused on  creating a space for the person I could be. I took the first draft, edited out all of the rough bits, hopefully leaving space for a new story to unfold. Because if there’s anything writing or drawing have taught me, it’s not about the marks you make, it’s what you leave on the page that counts.

Exciting! Terrifying!

The best thing of all is that my mum will be taking care of 1 or 2 boys so I can have some time for me. To have her support means the world to me, after so many years of feeling like I would never have it.

So here we go world, if I stuff up now it’s not because I didn’t have the space or the support. Wish me luck.

Tell me about your dreams. What are they? How will you make them happen? 

I’m linking up this post with Diminishing Lucy’s new linky, Drab to Fab. Pop over to share stories of renewal and new beginnings or get some inspiration for your own transformation. 

1997                                                                         2011

51 Responses to “Easter and New Beginnings: If it’s good enough for Jesus …”

  1. Michelle Higgins

    You don’t need luck because you have “it”. You really are a talent and I am so excited for you that you are going to have the space to take it to new places. Expecting to see your name in print, and maybe a canvass on the wall!
    Much love,

  2. Marion

    Oh, yay yay yay!

    I think this gift, the gift of time and exploration are the best gifts anyone can give. As we get older, we trust ourselves and know ourselves in ways that let us express ourselves creatively – if only we can find the time and the outlet for that creativity.

    So looking forward to seeing what gets created in this place and time. It will be perfect!

    • the rhythm method

      This is true. To her credit, my mum did suggest I pursue my creativity when I’m older. And though not for the reasons you suggest, it’s true there is an instinct developed as you mature that isn’t there as an adolescent, a trust that makes the expression much easier, much smoother.

  3. Christina

    Many years ago I discovered a cache of discarded non favorite pieces from your High School art folio stashed under Torre’s bed. ‘Oh, these are so good, goodness, she’s talented isn’t she….’, was more or less my response to the discovery. Your little steps are evolving into bigger ones – so good! And funny…….I love your ‘funny’. Actually, you’re a bit of everything, something for everybody in what you say, how you say it…….and you’re just full of surprises. (in a good way) I know I have a wall in my house just screaming for a Mrs Karen. XXX

    • the rhythm method

      Thank you for babysitting my art folio for so long. I probably owe you a piece for rent-in-lieu. It sat under that bed for 5 years, then in my junk room for another 7 … it’s taken that long to even sort through it. But I’m glad I did, because it showed me how much I’ve grown (yes, I still need reminding).
      Yes, my steps are getting bigger. I’m a late bloomer, what can I say? xxxx

  4. Deer Baby

    What a perfect gift from your husband – time and the space to do it in (with no housework, Yippee) I feel good things will come out of that room – they already are.

    Your mother sounds a lot like mine.

    I keep a lot of birthday cards and mementoes too – maybe not as far back as 2B though.
    What are my dreams? To be a writer. All I’ve ever wanted.

    So pleased for you.

    • the rhythm method

      I love my mum to bits. We’ve both changed since that trip in the car.
      And yes, Deerbaby the writer. I think that dream will come through for you, it’s just a matter of time. Always, always love reading your posts.

  5. jenny

    Absolutely all the very best to YOU. Wonderful post, and I had tears – your story is very similar to mine. I have no spare room at the moment – but one day…

      • jenny

        Thank you for your heart-warming offer! I find creative places where I can. For writing, that can be anywhere (mostly my favorite corners of my favorite cafes). For felting, I use the cramped back room of a toy store – where I can felt and chat. For my drawing, well, that spare room will come one day.

  6. Lucy

    This makes me cry. Our mothers can influence us so much.

    That you now have this opportunity, from your husband, from your home, from your mother, is so exciting. So wonderful.


    • the rhythm method

      Exciting and wonderful. I’m going to enjoy this feeling today – clean office, time to myself – but I know it’s also going to be a hard road and not a day will go by where I wonder what the heck I’m doing. And then I will pop back here to all the encouraging comments and feel the hope all over again. There is a lot of inspiration and support to be found in blogland. Thank you, Lucy. x

  7. Sarah Prout

    I love this post Karen.

    It took me right back to using hairspray as fixative, butcher’s paper, messy fingertips from charcoal and listening to loud (very loud) music.

    It’s so important for mamas like us to make time to be creative.


    • the rhythm method

      So true. And I had a ball reading some old letters from you, looking at your Easter paper (still gorgeous) and laughing. It was a special time.
      And yes, mamas need creative time and space to breath and play. Thanks for your comment, love to know you’re reading.

  8. Ink Paper Pen

    Go Karen! And GO Mr Karen too!

    I love this post – and I think you know my dream. I’ll be keeping tabs on your creative journey – it’s inspiring to me

    Gill xo

  9. Jodie

    Oh Karen. So happy for you that everything is falling into place and you are living part of your life for “you”. Our mums must have had similar attitudes around that high school period. My dreams are a moving target, but having gone down a few dead end streets, I am more clear on where I don’t want to be. Can’t wait to see/read more of what comes out of the Art room. x

    • the rhythm method

      Thank you, and yes, I think our mums would have tried to guide us into the kinds of jobs they had been guided towards as young women. But things have changed, and luckily, so have we. x

  10. Michele

    This is great! I love that you are taking time to focus on what you love, and that Mr. Karen is so supportive. Your drawings are amazing – I cannot even draw stick figures. And no, you are not the only grown woman to have kept every birthday or Christmas card ever received – I have shoe boxes full of them. I have no idea why I keep them!

    • the rhythm method

      Thank you. Yes, Mr Karen is super supportive. I’m very lucky. As you’ve said before on your blog, it’s one thing to have a dream, it’s another thing to actually take steps to make it become a reality. Although I’m worried I will stuff it up, I have a chance and I’m going to take it.

  11. Multiplemum

    My goodness rhythm method! This is the most fantastic new beginning and I just know you will make the most of it. I love your art as much as your writing! You are such a talent x

  12. Kym Piez

    Oh. You ARE good. You DO have it. And when I read your story, I could relate totally. In Year 12 I did well, but was encouraged to be a teacher, nurse or secretary. Good girl roles according to my mother. My dad couldn’t even understand why I needed to go to Year 12 in the first place (“Year 10 was good enough for me”.) Me? I wanted to be a fashion designer, a beautician, a hairdresser, an interior designer, a graphic artist an actress, a singer (I can sing). Anything relatively creative was just not encouraged. I was told basically the same thing as you.

    And years in Administration in finance/manager/directork, I am now work in graphic arts. It’s not too late to realise your dreams and or your incredibly creative side.

    Did I mention that you’ve got it? Go nuts. Also, you have an amazingly supportive husband. Keeper! xx

    • the rhythm method

      Our mums must have been working out of the same book. Me? I’m squeamish so even nurse didn’t make it to my list. My choices were teacher or secretary. Funnily enough, one of my favourite jobs was as a secretary, but I never saw myself spending my whole life as one.
      Thank you for your kind words, and for sharing your own story. It inspires me to hear other people living their dreams later in life. x
      PS: Mr Karen = total keeper.

  13. Kirrily

    Hello, this is my first visit to your blog I think… I am so pleased you popped up in my followers list, very glad to have ‘met’ you!

    Go Rowan W. from 2B! That right there was a genius inclusion. Shows the natural creative flair you have within you. I’m so very pleased for the sad, naive, confused girl from high school that you are now giving her room to breathe and be released. Much luck and light to you as you spread those wings in your new space x

  14. tinsenpup

    Our experiences are very similar. It was the careers councillor who told me I couldn’t make a living from writing and arranged a more practical work experience placement in year 10. I applied for nursing after year 12, because there were jobs for nurses. I dropped out; and lost and directionless, ended up doing a BA at Monash University. I’m finding myself in my thirties.

    You don’t need luck, because a. You’re talented as all hell and b. Creativity is it’s own reward. As long as you’re doing it and loving it, you win. (Although making mountains of money off it works too.)

    • the rhythm method

      Thank you, you’re too kind.
      And I completely agree with you: if I’m being creative and loving what I do, then it’s a win. Cheers to finding ourselves in our 30s!

  15. todd

    I enjoyed this Karen–

    i’d keep every christmas/birthday card if I could, my partner keeps me from being an episode of hoarder. I binge, he purges.

    spring is springing, enjoy the weekend!

  16. Catherine

    I LOVE Happy Wild Girl! I loved this post!

    Congratulations on carving out some time and space to explore your talent. And how thoughtful of your husband to give you the nudge.

    It’s scary though, isn’t it? My dream has always been writing but I channeled it into becoming a librarian and voracious reader. I’m starting to feel my way back too.

  17. Megan @ Writing Out Loud

    Oh, Karen. Oh. You are SO talented. Your writing – whenever I visit here and even in your comments on mine and other blogs! – is beautiful. And my gosh – your art is amazing too. Go for it!! Talent + persistence = unstoppable.

  18. Tai Tai

    Wow – those paintings/drawings/sketches are incredible!! That is such a talent and how exciting that you can now have some serious dedicated time to focus on it. Can’t wait to see some more!!! xx

  19. Melanie

    You are going to make it because you are so talented and creative. I’m so glad that you have a place to create so that I can enjoy more of this!

    P.S. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my site. I am honored!

  20. Lauren

    Aw Karen, your work in art class in high school was so amazing! I’m so thrilled that you are picking it up again. Such a natural talent.
    What’s this about crying and searching for a job? No more crying please!

  21. Lucy

    I have already commented, but this really is such an inpsiring and exciting read. THANK YOU for linking up to Drab to Fab. xx

  22. Fussy Eater's Mum

    Hello, I got here from Lucy’s Drab 2 Fab and I’m so glad I came. We all need a room to dream and you are so lucky to have yours and some support to make it happen. I look forward to reading more!

  23. sascedar

    oh wow what a fantastic read. so inspirational to see others reaching in and sharing their creativity. wonderfully brave. i came here from weekend rewind, glad i did!

  24. MultipleMum

    I remember this one Karen. This was when I realised that you weren’t just a great writer but an artist too! Sigh. I am envious. Thanks for Rewinding x

  25. Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses

    I also dreamed at school of becoming a journalist and was scoffed at by my parents who asked me to instead think of a more realistic job choice. I went on and became a journalist anyway! I have so loved the past 16 years and been blessed to meet and interview some incredible people. I just resigned from that job a few months back to pursue my own biz and to spend more time with my girls. For now, that’s my dream!

  26. Erin


    Wishing you all the best in achieving your dream:) Sounds like a wonderful new beginning:)

  27. Jane

    Brilliant, Karen! I have recently started spending some time away from the children and now have my room of my own. I can’t believe the difference it’s caused in my outlook on life. Popping over from Weekend Rewind. J x

  28. Emma

    Your artworks are amazing! So glad you have the space to work on them, and your other creative endeavours. It’s lovely to hear about your dreams getting a second chance.
    Funnily enough, I wanted to be a journalist too. I did my first work experience at the local paper – also in 1995, while in Yr 10! I did become one, but wasn’t much chop at it. I was better behind the scenes, as a sub-editor. Eventually got jack of that too and now I am content in a pretty mindless job, and pursuing my creativity elsewhere.

  29. Katie

    I loved this post 🙂 Something I need to do myself.
    Now I need to figure out how to follow you!

  30. jennifersmart

    Beautiful life drawing & great post about creativity. As Virginia Woolf said, it’s so important to have ‘A Room of One’s Own’. And you’re not the only adult woman to have every card, I have too. And 20 years worth of journals!


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