How to survive two kids under 2
@cfairburn5/Twenty20

It's 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night.

The babies are in their cribs, the dog has been fed, the kitchen's been cleaned, the playroom is neat and my husband is ensconced in some show I'm not that into. I'm exhausted, yet there's still more to do.

I tell the hubs I'll be back in a couple hours and slowly creep out the back door into the evening sky about 200 feet towards my exterior guest house. What once was used as a small gym is now a paint-covered mess.

It's like I'm possessed. Or obsessed. Or both.

I pick up my brushes and get to work, painting til about 10 p.m. on a canvas that's strewn in wild strokes of cobalt blue, portrait pink, raw sienna and yellow-green. The colors don't match, but that's exactly the way I like it. This is my new routine, and I'm happier and freer than I've been in such a long time.


You see, I have two sons 20 months apart. I wanted them so badly it hurt. I was blessed with easy fertility, easy pregnancies (for the most part), and an easy Baby #1 (William). I took maternity leave and went back to my job at a corporate PR firm 15 weeks later. It was hard, but I had the luxury of working from home and a full-time nanny, so it wasn't that hard. But when sweet George came along 20 months after William, it was like we were hit by a bus driving 200 mph.

I'm not sure which was harder—the reflux, incessant crying, unwillingness to take the bottle or the boob (this kid wouldn't eat anything for weeks, it seemed!). The cherry on top was the nights alone while my husband traveled for work. It was all so depressing.

I left my job in PR to "take a break." But who was I kidding? Even with my mom around for the first six weeks, a nanny, and a helpful husband, it wasn't a "break." Not by a long stretch. I couldn't shake the baby weight this time around either, which only added to my discomfort.

I needed to do something to change it up.

I had been searching for artwork for some time to hang in our new house in Austin. I wanted something bright and cheery, abstract and large. I couldn't quite find what I was seeking in our area, so I decided that maybe I'd try to make it myself. I went to my local art supply store and bought things I didn't know existed. I had never painted before (aside from standard elementary school stuff!). I started experimenting. It was so therapeutic; every time I picked up the brush it was like my worries melted away for a couple hours and I was the creative, calm, loving person I used to be.

Six months later some girlfriends encouraged me to try to sell my work. No way, I thought. I am just doing this for fun, for the release it's giving me. But I did it anyway, and less than two years later I have sold over six figures worth of paintings, and have been represented by multiple galleries and art consultants in Texas and across the country. Interior designers call me to buy work for their clients. It's still so shocking to me.

But through this journey, I've learned that sometimes, deep down in the very depths of our souls, there's a hidden talent or burning desire that's not yet been realized. And this very thing; the one you didn't even know was there, can bring you right back to who you are supposed to be.

Are you struggling during this incomprehensible year? Is your heart aching because of the horrific racial injustice in our country? Are you feeling out of touch with yourself post-baby? Are you stuck in a job that doesn't feed your soul? Are you jobless and unsure what your next step should be?

There are so many things to be sad about. I get it.

But if I've learned anything this year, it's to NOT stand still. It's to seize the moment and do something unexpected, something you never thought possible.

We only have today, and I am here to tell you that there's something waiting for you. Something that will help you become whole again. Something that will lift you up and give you a second chance. Go find it.

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