This week's Feature Friday is Paige Meredith, a podcaster and artist (among many other creative pursuits). I met Paige through Instagram and have been so inspired by not only her work, but by the raw honesty she shares in almost every caption, on her podcast, and now on her blog. She shares how being a creative, a mom, a volunteer, a woman, and just someone with many different pursuits is hard work; it's so refreshing and motivating.
You'll get a glimpse of Paige's insight and honesty below, her answers will definitely make you stop and think about your own life. I hope you'll take the time to read on and then check out Paige's social media accounts and brand new website (linked at the end).
Let’s start of with some basic, fun facts:
Where are you from: I live in the beautiful hills of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas.
What do you do: I am an artist, a mom, a volunteer, a PR/ social media nerd, a ridiculously delayed email answerer, and occasional podcaster.
What’s one thing you can’t live without: I want to be the person who says “my son’s sloppy kisses” but, I’m afraid my husband would probably say it’s “Instagram”. So I’m going to go with option C and say, “At least 20 minutes of alone time” because I’ve really come to value that space through being a new mom.
What’s the last book you read: I’m currently reading “Girl Waits with Gun” which I learned about through a local literary festival where I met the author Amy Stewart who now is my newest “celebrity” bff, because she’s hilarious.
Why and how did you get started with Hear Motherhood?
I started the podcast because I was in a space that a lot of new moms find themselves in: Busy but bored. I was physically exhausted but mentally and creatively drained. It was during that first few months of my son’s life that I looked around and said, “I need to know how do other moms do it.” I figured if I had all these questions, perhaps others did too and perhaps a podcast would be a good way to share this info.
What does your typical process look like?
I start off by doing the scariest thing first: Emailing a total stranger and asking her to get super personal and chat with me about her daily life. (20 episodes in and I’m still surprised when people say “yes”.) After she agrees we set up a time and I let her know a bit about the technical part (there’s really not much to know other than “download skype” but it always seems to help calm some nerves).
I wish I had my stuff together but, generally, the day of the interview I’m usually halfway through my first glass of wine / eating supper when my husband says, “Don’t you have an interview tonight?” and then I gulp down the rest of my food, plug in my microphone, and start a skype conversation with the latest mom. Maybe that’s why people say it always seems like a conversation between two friends… because generally, it’s as if we are both temporarily escaping our normal nighttime routines to connect with another creative woman.
After that is my least favorite part which is sound editing. I don’t generally edit out content but I always want my guests to enjoy listening to their episode which means I try to take the time and take out the side noises that sometimes come early on in the conversation when nerves are much more present.
After that, it’s publishing, letting the world know via social media, and, hopefully, being part of conversations where other women relate to that episode’s guest.
What’s one thing that you’ve learned from creating your podcast that you wish you knew when you first started?
I wish I would have known that for every one hour of audio it’s not unusual to put in four hours of work. I assumed that because listening to a podcast was so easy, making one would be easy as well. However, this project was one example that I can do hard things. I remind myself of that on hard days.
Your podcast focuses on finding the balance between being a mom and a creative. Do you have any strategies that you find particularly helpful as you maintain this balance?
Above I mentioned that through my (admittedly short) time as a mom, I’ve learned to stake my claim to alone time. Sometimes that looks like scrolling through instagram. Sometimes that looks like painting. Sometimes that looks like taking a walk. Sometimes that means learning how to better “do” social media.
I think a secondary part of this is trying to be a better communicator with my husband. When he asks, “What do you want to do this weekend?” and I say, “Nothing,” I have no reason to be mad at anyone but myself when my creative to-do list doesn’t get done. He’s always willing to help or give me extra time but I have to be willing to ask for it.
What’s been the highlight of your creative career so far?
A few months ago I would have said the podcast. The learning curve on it was so steep that I was, and remain, intensely proud of the work I put in to make it happen.
However, given a bit of time and distance from that particular project, I realize that the thing I am most proud of in my creative career is my ability to connect good people who want to do awesome things. Before my son was born I was a Communications Director at a nonprofit. I had no idea that the people I interacted with there would go on to be some of my biggest supporters of my art and passion projects like the nonprofit I now volunteer with: Art Feeds.
I’m always surprised to see how making a connection with one person always leads to more opportunities and open doors for the next direction, wherever that might lead.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
When I took my very first college level art class this past January the instructor told the class to take our paintbrush in our non-dominant hand, close our eyes, and start painting a squiggly line that covered the entire canvas. I am not exaggerating when I say it totally freaked me out. Like in-my-gut anxiety, freaked me out.
But what he was teaching us, which I now realize is relevant in every single creative venture, is this: In the beginning, you have to think less about all the things that could go wrong and simply start creating. The beauty is never in the first strokes but in the time and effort you are willing to put out there to make your creative goodness come into being outside your mind.
Can you tell us a bit about The Late Bloomer Project, how you got started, and what the whole process of having a successful art show taught you?
The Late Bloomer Project was a self challenge where I created 32 paintings in 32 days to celebrate my 32nd birthday. I then planned/ put together an art show/ sale where I raised over $800 for Art Feeds.
- The thought of being a painter is cool. The reality of painting every day and having to look at it as work is hard and frustrating and mega-fun.
- Having a very public very hard deadline was very good for me.
I was about halfway through my 32 days when I realized I wasn’t far enough along to get everything finished if I kept working at the same pace. It was because of the deadline and the public accountability that I worked through a lot of the doubt and fear that was holding me back.
- Nothing is useless.
After becoming a stay-at-home mom, I had convinced myself that all my contacts in the local communications world were useless. It was only after I realized that I would need publicity to have folks attend my art show that I realized that I could use all my “professional” skills in whatever arena they were needed. This was a huge self confidence boost at a time where I was really starting to doubt myself.
Dream big - in a perfect world, where would you see like to see yourself, your creative pursuits, and your podcast in 5 years.
In January I realized that I didn’t want to simply talk to creative moms who were artists, I wanted to BE a creative mom who primarily identified as a working artist. (Admitting this still gives me a mix of butterflies and dread.) It’s with that in mind that I have my 5 year big dream plan:
- In five years, I want to say I am a fine artist, illustrator and surface designer.
- I want to work with companies large companies like Anthropologie and O Magazine as well as great local community organizations like the Razorback Greenway and Crystal Bridges Museum to bring my unique way of expressing the joy of nature to others.
- I want to continue spotlighting creative moms doing amazing work whether that’s through the podcast or some other medium.
- I want to show my son that a woman can be business minded, take smart risks, and be ridiculously creative… and that it’s okay if that means dishes are occasionally left in the sink.
- I want to love the work that I do and then I want to love the rest of my life via travel, my family, and my wonderful community.
Where can we find you on the Internet?
My new internet home is paigemeredith.com (high fives for Kelli for waiting until I worked out all the bugs on that site before I did this interview). You can listen to Hear Motherhood at hearmoherhood.com or search for it on your favorite podcast player. Instagram is my favorite social media hangout but, when I remember to actually do it, is also fun. Find me at all those places at @_paigemeredith_
Each Friday—hopefully—I'll be sharing with you a quick glimpse into the life of someone living the creative life. Not just focusing on calligraphers, I'll be chatting with people from all different creative spaces about what inspires them, how they got their start, and more. If you're interested in being featured, shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.