Amanda Blake Soule blogs at SouleMama where she shares stories of family, craft and homemaking. Based in Maine, USA, she is mum to four little ones, with another due very soon. 5 kids! That alone is awe inspiring. She started blogging in Feb 2005 (the complete archives can be found here). She has also written one of my favourite books – The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections. Her second book – Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures – was released August 2009. And a third book, written together with her husband Steve will be released in August 2011. It’s titled The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder Through The Seasons.
I’m a regular visitor at SouleMama.com as her blog is a lovely haven of homemade beauty on the web. I have been inspired by Amanda’s adventures in motherhood and homeschooling, her pleasure in crafting and creating a home, and the way she savours quiet, everyday moments with her family. And I am inspired by her journey from blogging to keep her extended family up to date on her young family to now blogging and writing books for a large, dedicated following and helping support her family through her writing.
Amanda says herself that her blog is not a full representation of her life, but a place to record the beauty in the everyday. In her own words: “Most importantly, please do remember that what you see on a blog is not ‘all’ of a person’s life. For me, my blog is a place of daily peace, a reminder of family joys, and a celebration of creativity. Know that there are as many messes in my house as yours, ‘raised voices’ from time to time, and frustration and sadness and struggle, too. But for me – this blog space has always been about trying to find and focus on the joys – the everyday beauty and moments of bliss that we have together as a family. It’s my hope that it can serve as a reminder and an encouragement to me – and perhaps to you, too – to savor the tiny moments.”
And I think a regular reminder to savour the tiny moments is a very good thing.
I have also really enjoyed her book The Creative Family. It is a lovely conversation on slowing down and focusing on the things we can do everyday with our family to connect more deeply, have more fun, make do with less and express our creativity. My copy of the book has many tagged pages with ideas of activities and traditions that I hope to incorporate into my own family life.
Over the past few years my attitude to so many things has changed. Whether that is a result of motherhood, the shock of losing my Mum to breast cancer 2 years ago, or just a sign that I’m getting older, I don’t know!! I used to be so focused on what new “thing” I was working toward. Now, I am focused on what new “experience” can I and my family have. I feel uncomfortable with mindless consumerism, unknown additives and selfish pursuits. I often struggle with this new approach, because sometimes I just want to have something new and shiny to play with!! I don’t want to have to think about what carcinogenic ingredients are in that yummy smelling moisturiser a friend recommends or whether the food I’m feeding my children is truly nourishing them or just filling them with chemicals.
But SouleMama is a place I can go to and be reminded that my new approach is achievable and can be a truly beautiful way to live. I don’t need to know the messy truth of what life with 4 kids, homeschooling, renovating an old house and being heavily pregnant must be like! I only have to look around my own home to know that the reality of family life it isn’t always pretty. But I do know that mindfully searching out the beauty amongst the mess is a pretty good recipe for happiness.
This podcast of an interview with Amanda by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of CraftSanity gives a really good insight into how SouleMama began. It’s from 2007, so there is much more to the SouleMama story, but I still find it an enjoyable listen.
Amanda also hosts weekly giveaways! Definately worth checking out.
I hope you enjoy this introduction to another artisan using the Internet as a wonderful tool to share and connect.
All images by Amanda Blake Soule