How Curiosity Helped This Mother Find Her Creativity AgainNov 23, 2021
Bri Hill is a mother of two children plus artist, teacher, and writer. She wanted to do something with her life that involved art, but had a damaging experience with an unsupportive professor as an art major, and wound up feeling like she had no skills. She ended up minoring in art and majoring in elementary education. She taught special ed for seven years, and during that time, she didn't do anything creative on her own.
Bri shares the unique evolution of her experience as both an artist and a teacher, and how she found her way back to herself in this episode of The Mother Plus Podcast.
Creativity, Confidence, and Community
Listen To Your Mother—a national storytelling show created by Ann Imig—is a thread that connects Stephanie, Stacey, and Bri. Cities across the country produce live stage shows around Mother's Day where local writers share their original compositions about motherhood. Stephanie has been producing LTYM Boulder since 2016, and both Bri and Stacey have been cast members.
Stephanie and Bri first met when Bri auditioned for the LTYM Boulder 2016 show that Stephanie was co-producing. Bri wrote an essay called “The Bitch in My Brain,” sharing how she couldn't decipher her intuition for her anxiety. She shares,
“It was so disorienting and I felt like I couldn't trust anything in my head, or, just couldn't trust myself period.”
(You can watch a video of her reading this piece here.)
The show was a turning point in her creative experience. She tells listeners,
“I didn't know that I needed it, but I had no community of anyone who was doing anything creative and showing it to the world. Like even saying I'm a writer was so huge to me and I was proud to know these women. I feel like that confidence, that experience, 100% allowed me to say yes I'm willing to fail at art too. So it's like (...) this piece might be a huge failure, but I'm going (...) to be okay if that doesn't work.”
Bri emphasized how being willing and vulnerable were key to getting her to where she wanted to be. And how the validation of other people thanking her for sharing, creating, and contributing her story helped her keep going.
“(Listen to Your Mother helped me) look at myself through a different lens, having to take my writing seriously, because I really feel like my writing and my art come from the same part of me. It's like this creative itch that I have.”
While struggling with mental health—postpartum anxiety and depression—she shares that writing and art made her feel like “Bri is still in there.”
She needed to write and create art to prove that she was something outside of being just a mom. She tells listeners,
“It was survival. Like this must come out of me; the Bri inside is drowning.”
Curiosity and Culture Shock
Bri and her husband got married in June of 2011 and moved to Shanghai, China in August and got jobs teaching at an international school; they traveled a lot and visited ten different countries. After becoming pregnant with their second child, they moved back home to Stratton, CO, a town with a population of 650. Bri said,
“The culture shock returning was so much worse than the culture shock of like an entire different culture. And I'm not saying that we were like better people, but we were different versions of ourselves.”
The return culture shock contributed to Bri making a courageous change in her own community. She says,
“I was complaining to my mom constantly about how, there was no artist community and there is no culture and our kids are gonna grow up like this.”
She admits that she was probably judgmental and pretentious about it. Then her mom told her,
“When you travel, you approach people with curiosity, right? Why can't you be curious about your own people?”
This conversation led to Bri and her mom creating their community’s first “First Friday.” Her mom told her,
“If they don’t have it, you’re just going to have to make it.”
The notion of curiosity has been a lighthouse for Bri when it comes to pursuing her own creativity and ambition.
The Evolution of Creativity:
Bri shares how she overcame her need to see her own artistic process through someone else’s journey and how she arrived at the aha moment of her latest creative project.
Bri tried to push herself into different things that she didn't necessarily fit into because as she says,
“I could only understand how I could be profitable by looking at someone else's journey.”
She has struggled with impostor syndrome, aka "Who is going to want this?" (sound familiar, mother plussers?), shame, and creative blocks, but tells listeners that lately she has been trying to talk to herself the way she would speak to a friend.
She also shares how much easier it has been to focus on her art and ambitions now that her kids are older, but that she's so grateful she didn't wait until now to begin.
Do you hear that, moms of littles? Don't wait--start now!
Bri recently had an "aha" moment that led to her latest creative pursuit: online classes to teach people how to create their own art.
"I have this teaching skill and I have this artistic skill, but they've so far have been separate things. And so it was like, why can't they be combined? Like, that's what the world needs."
Bri is going to be unveiling her new courses soon-- details on her website below!
Ultimately, her love of art is what kept her moving forward. Bri told us:
"I love to create. And that makes me a better version of myself."
And then, in true mic drop fashion, she shared this inspiring message:
"I often say the making art is my favorite way to feel alive."
Like all of us, Bri has advice she wishes she could give herself back when she was getting started:
"I wish I would have given myself so much more grace over the last few years, not to worry about being profitable, and just make art."
Does every woman feel like this?
During our interview Bri asked us the million-dollar question:
“Do you think all moms feel this way?”
We responded that no, we don’t think all mothers feel this way, but we do, and that’s what led us to create this podcast. We did a deep dive with Bri on this subject-- why some of us aren't fulfilled by motherhood, and what happens when it's not enough for you. Like so many mother plussers have experienced, Bri acknowledged that she’s surrounded by moms who are martyrs for their families
"I didn't have any personal examples of women who were like, being a mom isn't enough, you know?”
We asked Bri how motherhood impacted her identity, and she told us it changed truly everything about her life:
"It changed how I dress, what I eat, how I view my career, when I sleep, how much I sleep, my marriage, my relationship with my parents, my relationship with my friends, absolutely everything like on a cellular level. And I think when that happens, it's like a snow globe--it gets totally mixed up and it takes a really long time for things to settle again."
We're going to leave you with a profound and powerful piece of advice from Bri, something that has stuck with us both.
"I would say follow your curiosity because that is what will lead you to your favorite way of being alive."
Bri is a truly dynamic woman, a mother + artist, writer, and teacher with so much wisdom and talent to share with the world. Find her on her website: https://brihillcreative.com/ or on Instagram @bri_hill_creative
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