Kimberly Blackstock is a fine artist and a Vancouver mom. As if that weren’t enough, she also teaches painting and karate to children, and teaches self defense to women. So, word to the wise, you might not want to criticize her artwork in her presence. She made a career change last year, leaving her graphic design job of 17 years. While preparing to return to work full time as her youngest daughter was starting kindergarten, she took a good hard look at how she could make a career out of the things she loves to do. Opportunity knocked immediately with gallery representation, two group shows and more teaching opportunities than she could take on. In the process she’s redefining what it means to be a mom.
Taking the Leap, Rising to the Challenge
Making a career change is scary, but if you’re willing to take the leap it can also bring rewards. We asked Kimberly what she loves about what she does, and she said that she gets to paint every day, creating and expressing herself. She also enjoys working with children, saying, “Teaching them painting and karate … gives me a great sense of belonging to my immediate community.” But it’s about more than that for her. “Most of all I love the perfect work/family balance I have, and the flexibility to be with my family more when I am needed more.”
Doing what you love isn’t always easy, though. Redefining motherhood on your terms is not without its challenges. Kimberly says, “Time, in so many ways time is not on my side. There just never is enough time for everything.” No matter how much she’s grooving on what she’s doing at the moment, she needs to move on when something else calls her. “When I am painting I begin to really get lost in it and have a oneness with the paint, and then it is time to pick up the kids from school. It takes awhile to get to that point again the next day, and the paint has lost its fluidity or dried when I go back in.” Every mom can relate to that feeling of being pulled in many different directions.
Finding Help and Making Wardrobe Changes
Kimberly is trying to make things work for her, even when they’re challenging. “I make sure I balance everything and do my best to take on only what I can handle – even though I do push myself to the limit. I usually take a few hours out of one day each week to prepare for the work week ahead, then try to efficiently accomplish all my preparation in that time frame. This helps me not get overwhelmed as I know I am ready. I just have to be at a specific place at a specific time.” She also calls on her community to help. “I have an amazing neighbourhood filled with friends and other moms that are so generous and encouraging with my art. I have on occasion told them I am in the midst of bliss with my painting and they kindly offer to pick up my kids just so I can continue for another hour.” It takes a village.
Sometimes redefining the meaning of mom has funny moments. Kimberly says that one of the things that makes her laugh is her constant wardrobe changes. On a typical Monday, for instance, she starts out in her mom clothes to walk the kids to school. At home she changes into her painting clothes. In the afternoon it’s back into her mom clothes to head back to the school to teach karate. Once she’s there, she changes into her karate uniform (gi). Then it’s back into the mom clothes to take her daughter to soccer. After dinner, if she’s not thoroughly exhausted, she puts on her yoga clothes to walk to yoga. And finally, at the end of the day, it’s time for pajamas.
Redefining Motherhood on Your Terms
Being a mom has its challenges, but those challenges make us better. Kimberly shares, “Motherhood has increased my patience, and keeps me grounded. Having children has taught me to take the time each day to be thankful for the life I am living, my health, my friends and my family.” As we rise to the challenges of redefining motherhood, we’re setting an example for our kids, as well. Kimberly says, “Something I hope they learn from me is to follow their dreams. [I want them to] make sure their choices in life are based mainly on doing the things that will bring them happiness in the long run.”
Kimberly says that her proudest accomplishment is facing her fears, and knowing that she is control of creating the life she wants. We think that’s pretty inspiring. Thank you so much to Kimberly for sharing that inspiration, and telling us how she’s redefining motherhood on her own terms.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.