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Circle of Stones: Interview with Chelsea of Lady I Swear by all Flowers - Shivaya Naturals

Circle of Stones: Interview with Chelsea of Lady I Swear by all Flowers

January 15, 2010

Update! Chelsea, Sebastian and Pan welcomed Baby Quinn to the world this morning at 6:49 AM! Many blessings being sent to this beautiful new family

I “met” Chelsea, of Lady I Swear by all Flowers in the middle of 2009, and from the moment that I read her first post, I knew that her space would be a place that I visited often. Her blog has a very soft touch, and you can feel the way that Chelsea chooses to purposefully move through her life, in a rhythm that is best for her family. Her photography captures so much beauty, and I am in awe by her ability to take a simple moment in her day, and and find true meaning with it

The circle opens. Welcome Chelsea

Tell us a little bit about your family life

I live in a little apartment in the pacific northwest with my husband, Sebastian, and our 14 month-old son, Pan. We are expecting to welcome another little fella into our family any day now, as well. We are very, very lucky to have built a bit of a family village here, as Sebastian’s father lives in the apartment next door to us and his mother is just a few blocks walk away. This means that when Sebastian heads off to work at 7 AM and Pan is up and bouncing about, Tom (my father-in-law) hangs out with him a bit while I catch a little more sleep – which is invaluable at 40+ weeks pregnant.

You are about to give birth to your second child, what do you see as being the biggest challenges, and joys, to expanding your family

I think my biggest fear at this point – and it is a fear I think many families face each time they add a new member – is how I will be enough for Sebastian, Pan AND the new one. Pan is still a babe, himself, and I get these visions of trying to get down the stairs of our apartment building with both of them in my arms, or I see them both crying and not having enough arms to cuddle them both in. And then I have to remember that this is why my father-in-law lives next door. This is why Sebastian is my husband. I love watching Sebastian with Pan – he has no fear, only love. And a whole lot of energy. The most perfect moments of my day are the ones where we are all on the floor together, playing. Another little one can only add to this joy, I think. It will be very hard, but it will also be very wonderful.

You gave birth to your first child, Pan, at home. How did that experience affect you

Birthing Pan was the most incredible thing I have ever done. I was fortunate to know from the very start of my pregnancy that I wanted a natural and peaceful birth, and that I wanted it to do it at home. Beginning with this desire, I worked my way through a great deal of reading that backed my intuition with confident intellect on the topic. However, the experience itself was so much more emotional than intellectual. It was all sensation and image for me – the row of tall white candles burning on the shelf, the soft heat of the water in the birthing tub, the deep thrusts of pressure in my back, and Sebastian’s constant presence. What I remember is him, and the connection between us that strengthened 10-fold during the 15 hours we spent birthing Pan. The process – not just the birthing day, but the whole pregnancy — was a full-on journey (which is why, I think, it takes a full 40 weeks to really bring a new life into this world), and I don’t think it is possible to emerge from an epic adventure without finding something essential to your being transformed. For me, it was a discovery of what an incredible thing my body is capable of, and learning to open to another person and not only accept but require their support. And knowing a love so sudden and complete as the love that comes in holding your babe for the first time.

If you would like to read more, Chelsea’s birth story can be found here

Life has changed for you a bit in these past few months, with leaving your job behind to stay at home with your children. what was the biggest factor in making that decision

Leaving my job to stay home with Pan was a decision that I came to for many reasons. The biggest one was that I really just wanted to spend more time with him, especially before our home life changed enormously with the arrival of a new babe. I started working when Pan was just 4 months old. I hadn’t had a “real” job since graduating from college and felt like it was something I needed to try. We also were in a financial situation that demanded my contribution, and taking the job I did seemed to be the quickest way out of that stress. While I was very fortunate to work in an environment that allowed for frequent visits from Pan (Sebastian stayed at home with him during the day while I was at work), I found, with increasing sureness, that I was really missing being at home with him. I had an emergency operation in July of last year that required six weeks of rest from work, and it was during that time – the first time I had been able to be at home with Pan, full-time, without the stress of worrying about money – that I really saw how much we both needed that. I returned to work for about a month after my leave, and then gave notice, for a whole mix of reasons. While I was planning on working at least another month to help them transition in my replacement, my resignation ended up being effective immediately and I haven’t looked back once. I was worried that I might feel lost, my days a little meaningless without the tasks of the working world. But Pan and I have found a rhythm to our days that is full of thought and intention – and challenges. I am so, so glad that we have chosen this, and that we are able to make it work.

Your photography is what originally drove me to your site each and every day, tell us what inspires you to get behind the camera

I think a lot of what lies behind my urge to take pictures is the desire to be able to see things the way my mind’s eye can see them, the way an image is framed in my mind, the tone and quality, it isn’t always the way it appears to the naked eye. With my camera, I am able to capture it the way I really see it, to tell a truth truer than the truth itself, in a way.

how would you like to see your photography evolve?
I was very, very fortunate to have an incredible tool land in my lap. I shoot with a Nikon D200 and my goal is to really learn how to use it. Each time I figure out a new setting, my pictures get better. I shoot fairly intuitively, and this tends to work for me, but I’d really love to grow in my technical knowledge of the art.

If you could pick three pictures that represent the nature of your family life, what would they be?

How has life changed for you by becoming a parent
My life has changed enormously in the last two years. In the fall of 2007 I was struggling with the big question most soon-to-be college graduates struggle with; What now? I got my answer a few months later when I found out I was pregnant with Pan. There are still dreams I have plans of carrying out (grad school being one that is hopefully in my not-too-far-away future), but what has become most clear to me as a parent is that these days will not come back. Pan will only be a baby once. I will only have the opportunity to mother him as a baby once. This is what is at hand, and it has grounded me so much more firmly in the present than I have ever been.

You write a lot about the joys of handmade. What are some of your favorite ways to craft, and how have they enhanced your parenting

For the longest time I considered myself primarily a knitter. A knitter who made scarves, and maybe a simple hat. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Pan that I really ventured out in my knitting and started making more complicated pieces. And once I gained a bit of confidence in making my first tiny sweaters and wool soaker pants, I got a little more creative in my project scope. We needed a wool mat for our bed that could stand up to night-time diapering and nursing sessions, so I felted a sweater and quilted it together with a bit of embroidery. We were already planning on cloth diapering, so I thought, why not throw cloth wipes into the wash as well? We didn’t have much of a budget for this sort of thing, so I cut up a bunch of thrifted baby towels and men’s sturdy flannel shirts and made my own stack of wipes (these didn’t quite work for us as effectively as desired, however, so now we use them in the kitchen. I haven’t bought a roll of paper towels in a year). So, much of my crafting comes out of practical necessity. And, as I am exploring the rhythms and festivals of the year, I’ve begun pairing my crafting with occasion, knitting warm woolen hats for my honeys for Martinmas or venturing back into the world of sewing by making a dolly for Pan for his birthday. I love being able to envelop him, quite literally, in the warmth and care that comes with handmade.

You have been so open and honest with your sense of self, and your daily challenges on your blog, how has that helped to foster a sense of community for you

I have been blogging for a little over a year now, and it has definitely been a process, finding my voice and making my little space on the internet. While I definitely want my space to be beautiful and full of light and grace – a “happy place” – I’ve also struggled with that being a constant reality for me. There has been darkness in my past year, and it feels dishonest to ignore that. Though I don’t see my blog as a place for hot-headed venting or moping, I do think that in order to respect myself and to offer the truest representation of where I am at, mentally and emotionally, on any given day, it is important to process and express the hard stuff as well as the more lovely moments. And, you know, the times where I push forward and really embrace the difficult points are the times I have the most cross-community dialogue on my blog. Hearing the voices of those who have been through similar challenges and feeling their warm wishes is incredibly reassuring.

Thank you so much Chelsea for sitting down to talk to us, and sharing a small part of your beautiful world.
So many blessings coming your way as you welcome this new child into your family.

You can find all of Chelsea’s writing on her blog, Lady I Swear By All Flowers. If you would like to see more of her photography work, please visit her on Flickr.

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