This week Sarah and I welcomed Leanne Sowul to the podcast (that link on her name takes you to her home page; please sign up for her newsletter while you’re there!). Sowul is a music teacher who lives in the Hudson Valley. She also runs a part-time flute studio, and writes novels, in addition to raising two young children with her husband (who is also a music teacher!)
(In case all those links were confusing, here is the Libsyn podcast site again — where you can listen.)
As we talked about how Sowul uses her time, we found that she has consciously done a few things to make her life easier. For instance, her youngest child goes to daycare (and her older child does before-school care) at a daycare right up the street from her. They can walk there! They also live near extended family, which makes finding childcare when she’s doing her side hustles easier.
But what I loved most about this interview was Sowul’s amazingly positive outlook on so many things. As she notes later in the podcast, some of this stems from her own health issues as a young person. She did not know if she would ever grow up to be a musician, and a writer, and a mother, and she has gotten to do all of that. But that this happy result inspires gratitude rather than “why the hell did this happen to me?” speaks to her mental fortitude.
Another bit of evidence: I would find teaching fourth grade band or orchestra hell on earth. Sowul focuses on the quick progress her students make from sounding like screeching cats to sounding slightly less like screeching cats. She wakes up at 5 a.m. to write, but if it gets interrupted by the baby, she focuses on what she can do, rather than what she can’t. As for having the energy to deal with her own small children after dealing with other people’s small children all day: “Parenting is a creative act.” And creativity can be energizing.
Obviously conceiving children is itself a creative act, in the sense of creating something that was not there before. But it is interesting to think in what other ways parenting can be a creative act. At its best, you can help other people become better versions of themselves, just as a marriage or a friendship can help people become better versions of themselves. It’s like tending an existing garden. Not, I might note, like painting (or even designing a garden). I fundamentally believe that children are their own people, just as friends or spouses are. The road to unhappiness is paved with expectations that just because you were a star swimmer (musician, poet, physicist) your child should be too. But helping a child discover her interests, and how to set goals and work hard toward them can definitely be creative.
Do you think of parenting as a creative act?
In other news: Please visit Leanne’s Facebook page here. And on Twitter and Instagram her handle is @sowulwords
In other other news: Best of Both Worlds has CROSSED 100K DOWNLOADS! Thank you so much to everyone who has listened to it! The trend is up too. Each episode is getting a bigger spike on the day it is released than the previous week. We are very excited and thankful. If you haven’t listened yet, will you please do so? Just try a few minutes on your commute or while doing errands. If you’re listening and you like it, would you please rate and/or review us on iTunes? And subscribe so you don’t miss an episode? And — our favorite — tell a friend?
In other other other news: Speaking of parenting (as we were in this post), the Vogue cover with Serena Williams and little Olympia Ohanian was definitely the cutest Vogue cover ever. I will admit that I am following baby Olympia on Instagram. And her Instagram is awesome.