Friday, July 7, 2017

An Interview with Liz Lamoreux

Today I'm chatting with Liz Lamoreux, a creative soul who wears many hats, but whose business is built upon the calling to help others realize their worthiness. I encountered her blog before I'd embarked on my own creative journey and bought her book when I was taking my first steps. Her thoughtful presence in this world was an inspiration to create the life I wanted to be living and a reminder to explore this world with an adventurous heart.

I'm delighted to have her here sharing her story with us!

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Tara Whitney, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

ab: Liz, there are so many facets to this creative life that you're living. On your website you give yourself these titles: "teacher, author, guide, maker, curator of inspiration and ambassador of worthiness". Is there one, above all others, that is most you? What aspects of your business do you most cherish?

ll: So delighted to be chatting with you today! Such a great question. I’m in the brainstorming mode of updating my “about” page and your question pushes me to honor this truth: I think of myself as a guide and companion inviting you to feel less alone in the world. Sometimes we need a guide to shine a light for us and say, “I’ve been here before. Let me share a bit about what helped me. Then you can think about what might help you.” And other times we need a companion who just sits beside us.

My hope is to do versions of both of these roles through my writings, workshop and retreat offerings, and through Soul Mantras (my online shop).

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Lauren Oliver Photography, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I cherish the connections I make with others as we share our stories and have conversations about the beautiful, messy, joyful, tough stuff that make up our lives. And through the magic of our online worlds, this can happen via emails with customers, as conversation in Facebook groups I host, or in person at retreats. It really does make me so happy.

ab: After you graduated with a psychology degree from the University of Notre Dame, you became a teacher embracing a life of poetry, yoga and mediation. Everything changed when you experienced a traumatic birth experience followed shortly thereafter by the necessity of a life-saving open heart surgery for your four-month-old daughter. Writing, photography and poetry saved you. Can you elaborate on this? Did your salvation come on your own or did you have guides or mentors? Was your recovery gradual or did you have an epiphany? What lessons have you taken with you from that experience?

ll: Throughout my life I’ve had guides and mentors who have supported me. Some have been in person, online, and others have been authors who have felt like dear friends. The creative practices I began using on an almost daily basis - photography and writing and mindfulness - became handholds to me in small, significant ways during the first year of my daughter’s life.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

These practices were in some ways things I had always been drawn to, but I didn’t see them as true practices supporting me until I was in the midst of my two-year yoga teacher training while also starting to attend art retreats. I began to see ways to connect creativity and mindfulness and that became the focus of my blog that I started back in 2005. That same year, I experienced deep loss for the first time, and I guess you could say I started to put myself back together again through writing and photography and yoga and as I began to find my “kindreds” in the blogging world.

Five years later, when my daughter was born, I had been experiencing, writing about, and teaching these practices, so grabbing onto them in small ways when I could was somewhat automatic. I was in the depths of it - the newborn stuff that is often hard but also the fear that my daughter was going to die. Though I did have some support, I felt very alone in it (even though my husband was in it with me of course). I began a self-portrait practice that helped me feel seen by the one person who understood this space I was standing in: me. I called it the What is Real series and you can see it over on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizelayne/albums/72157624409343447).

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

This practice of taking a photo and writing the truth of that moment helped me feel like I was more than just a head making tough decisions but was actually a person with a body and a heart and a soul experiencing everything.

Honestly, I’m still recovering from pieces of that year. My daughter is a healthy, exuberant, happy 7 year old, and my business has grown from the growing hobby it was before she was born to a thriving business that I work at full-time with an assistant. So many good things have happened. And yet, that year cracked me open in new and intense ways, and I’ve learned that it really is okay to still be healing years later. One step. One breath. Repeat.

The lessons I’ve taken have helped me articulate the idea of The And Space, and how we can let ourselves hold multiple feelings and experiences and let the multitudes of who we are be true.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

ab: You talk about navigating The AND Space -- "where we hold beauty in one hand and grit in the other". Can you explain more about this? What sorts of strategies or practices do you have for finding your way back to joy when the grit becomes overwhelming and you're consumed by negativity?

ll: The And Space is the phrase I use to describe this place we are each in, in different ways, where we hold the beauty and the tough stuff, the everyday routines and our longings, daily life and where we want to go next. Instead of insisting you must feel this OR this, I’ve learned that I can feel both.

The reality is that feeling both can be profoundly confusing, especially when you’ve just realized you can hold both. But giving ourselves permission to sift through our feelings and experiences and find the stories, longings and desires, and truths helps us live a richer life. We get to tell the truth to ourselves when we realize we live in The And Space.

I use quite a few self-care practices when I’m trying to come back to center when I get overwhelmed by the chatter or swirling thoughts of negativity, but two that help me that you can do almost anywhere are the Five Deep Breaths practice and finding my senses.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The Five Deep Breaths practice is exactly what it sounds like: Pausing to take five deep breaths with intention. Try it every day this week at least once a day and notice how it supports you.

Finding my senses grounds me in the beauty and realness around me. Noticing them one at a time (sometimes by just breathing and noticing - other times in my journal or through my camera lens) helps me get out of my brain and back into my body.

Getting creative also helps - from dancing it out to painting in my journal to free writing for five minutes, and so on.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Lauren Oliver Photography, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

ab: I love the story you tell about being 10 years old and joining 4H. You were so proud of the Laura Ingalls Wilder-esque dress you made when everyone else was sewing 80s-style miniskirts. As you got older did you continue to have the courage to be uniquely you, even when what was most you was not the popular choice? How do you find the courage to face the challenges of following your heart to this day?

ll: One of the things I’m always trying to do is cultivate the inner conversation inside me. In some ways, this is what the practices I do are really all about. That inner self-talk can be so negative at times, for all of us in different ways. Mine can be particularly brutal when it comes to making new business decisions or when we’re in a tough bit of parenting with our daughter.

And it can be hard to see daily decisions as courageous, but they are. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I think about Mister Rogers looking at the three-year-old me through that TV screen in my childhood home on Garland Circle and saying, “I like you just the way you are.” When I’m in that space of knowing it is time to quiet the swirling thoughts, the voices of others, the shoulds and the what ifs, I try to treat myself with the same kind, gentle, honest respect Mister Rogers did all those years ago.

This is where the Soul Mantras I’ve been stamping into jewelry over the years so often come from. Those moments when I fine the quiet and listen to the light within me and greater than me for guidance.

Cultivating practices that support finding the quiet to listen helps me find that courage.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Lauren Oliver Photography, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

ab: Your honesty and openness is one of the things that I find most inspiring about you. On your blog earlier this year you shared a story about how making a point to make the bed (when that hadn't been a priority in the past) was an act of attention (your word of the year). Making the bed was more than just the physical act, but was also a symbol of turning the page on the old stories that you were carrying that weren't truly our own. Can you share more about this? How do you recognize these old stories as not being legitimate and then how do you move on to create and embrace your own, true stories?

ll: One phrase that we’ve been using in our family this year is trying to be kind, brave, and curious. This helps when interacting with others and experiencing new things but also in getting to know yourself. So this is one place to start.

Although I haven’t read a lot of Byron Katie’s work, one thing she shares that comes up again and again with the women I work with is the question she asks, “Is that true?” While I might try to uncover that truth by writing in my journal, talking things out with friends, or getting outside, I think her way of getting right to it with this question is so simple and profound.

Another practice that helps me is trying to name who is actually speaking the old story when it comes up. Meaning, when I’m having a strong emotion about something, often there’s a story attached. When I realize this, I can begin to identify whose story it is. Asking myself questions, sometimes in my journal, helps.

It has taken me years to be able to do this. So I suggest seeing this as a practice too. Keep finding your way by being kind, brave, and curious toward yourself and your stories.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

ab: You are a wife, mother and creative business woman. What would you say is the most challenging part of running your creative business and embracing your roles of wife and mother? What is next on the horizon for you?

ll: One of the most challenging aspects is the internal and external pressure to find balance between work and family and self. I’ve come to believe you don’t find a balance, you just live.

Even though I believe this, the challenge of showing up in all areas of your life as your best self is one that stands before me every day. Even though my work in this world is to remind you that you are enough just as you are, I can struggle to remember this as my daughter comes into my studio and says, “I thought we were going on a walk right now. Why are you still on your laptop, Mama?” and I feel the push and pull of being “all the things” to “all the people.” Add in being an informed citizen, a good friend, and and and...if I keep adding to this list, I’ll have to go back to bed.

So I practice. I practice what I teach to remind myself to keep living and doing the best I can and trying again tomorrow. I remind myself that we are in this together and I look up from the pile of “all that must get done” and realize it will be there tomorrow but getting outside to play with my daughter won’t always be.

I push back on society’s pressure and try to stay close to my own truths.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Lauren Oliver Photography, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

As for what’s next? Well, this year has been about a strong desire to show up as a companion for others in this really intense time in the world. One way I’m doing that is looking for more ways to stand at the intersection of the practices I teach and the Soul Mantra companions I make that you can hold in your hand. The Talisman of the Month Club was born from this idea, and its success has helped me to know I’m on the right track.

I’m also dreaming about writing my next book and feeling that push to take it from ideas in my head and journal into an actual outline and daily writing routine.

Liz Lamoreux, Artist Interview, Lauren Oliver Photography, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Thank you, Liz, for sharing your thoughts with us today.

Dear readers, you can connect with Liz here:



Want to check out my other artist interviews? You can catch up here. And find more inspiration from the Sketchbook Conversations series of mini, sketchbook-related interviews, all of which can be accessed here.






*Photos in this post © 1 -- Tara Whitney, 2, 7, 8, 10, 11 -- Lauren Oliver Photography all others -- Liz Lamoreux. Used with permission.

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful article full of what Liz does best. Being authentic and artful in such a magical way. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Kim. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. You're so right -- Liz is authentic and artful in a magical way, but it's also so accessible and encouraging. We all have art and magic in us and she helps us to see it.

      Wishing you joy!

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  2. Thank you ... I enjoyed this interview. I am following Liz on her social places.

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  3. I really enjoyed this post dear, lots of wonderful pictures and thoroughly enjoyed the content on it. Great work and splendid post. Keep up the good work! :)

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