My Everyday Featuring ... Tara Gray

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[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.

Hi there, I'm Tara and live in the beautiful state of Colorado with my husband Luc and 2 1/2 year old daughter, Channing. I am a native to Colorado and we currently live in Colorado Springs. I love spending as much time as possible outdoors, drink a lot of tea (always hot, even when the weather is warm), love watching movies, am an Interior Designer by both degree and profession, enjoy dabbling in all sorts of crafts and creative endeavors, LOVE color (as you can see through my Instagram feed) and am in the process of restoring a 26 foot 1966 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht, which we’ve named Sweet Coco. We are busy, always busy. Just when I think things might slow down a little and I am able to just do nothing for a bit of time, I always get myself going on another project. It just seems to be engrained in both my husband and I.  But more and more lately, I have really been yearning to slow down and take a bit of a break. 

Along with being a wife and mama, I am also the Department Chair of the Interior Design Program at our local college where I run and develop the program as well as teach the college students. Although I really would love to be at home full time with my little one, it just isn’t in the cards for us right now. However, I feel very fortunate with this job to have long breaks at Christmas time and during the summer to spend at home.  

On top of the above, I also teach spinning classes at the YMCA (I’ve been teaching fitness classes since I was 15!). And I have an Etsy shop (

MavenMercantile

) where I sell handmade items. 

Yep...I absolutely need to figure out how to take a break :). 

A Felt Flora piece, which I sell in my etsy shop. 

A Dream Catcher, also from my Etsy shop.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?

We have beautiful weather here in Colorado and are fortunate to spend a lot of time outdoors during the day. I love working in our little garden of succulents and local plants and having Channing work along with me. My favorite is watching her explore and pretend and truly appreciate the natural surroundings we get to enjoy. She's just as happy as can be playing with rocks and sticks and leaves and mud.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.

This is soooo difficult for me. I have so many favorites. But, narrowing it down...can I do 4? 

Lysey (

@five_chicks_and_farmer

). If you follow her feed, you know exactly why she is on my list. I love her honesty and her heart. They are a family of truly hard workers and her amazing spirit just shines through her photographs. I learn new things from them and am inspired by Lynsey every day. 

Casey (

@

caseyleighwiegand

) Always an amazing source of positively, honesty and inspiration...through both her blog and her Instagram feed. She is absolutely lovely. 

Sarah (

@casadecupcake

). You know when you just meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I feel about my friend Sarah. We met through Instagram and then in person and now have chats through texts and FaceTime. She is an amazing mother, supportive, kind, caring, creative and the loveliest friend one could ask for. I am so thankful IG brought her into my life! 

Katy (

@katyannev

). Another soul I swear I’ve known forever or knew in another lifetime. And I can’t wait to someday meet her in person!! Katy and her girls bring a smile to my face everyday and I feel honored to call her my friend.

[#4] 

What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?

I feel very fortunate to have met and married my husband and spent several years enjoying our marriage before deciding to have Channing. We really enjoyed having those years to build a foundation and truly enjoy one another as husband and wife. My first year with Channing was really challenging and pretty overwhelming, as I know it is for most new mamas...and I was pretty hard on myself. We were fortunate to have Channing at home, with a midwife. Labor was rough, really rough, and right from the get-go, I was hard on myself for not "doing better" during my labor (even though we had no complications and a beautiful healthy baby girl came out of it.) I’ve always been really hard on myself when it comes to meeting my own expectations and good grief...labor and parenthood have not been an exception. At first, I really had a difficult time figuring out who I was (because everything felt so different) and how I was going to be able to balance being a mom, a wife, staying true to myself and also work outside of the home. I was also challenged with having to sacrifice my creativity and just having time to myself... and then feeling enormous amounts of guilt for feeling that way. I was way more overwhelmed with having a baby than I ever anticipated on being. I could never have imagined, before having her, how I could love such a little being so very much while also having so many internal struggles with myself.  

When Channing was about 18 months old, we found out that my hormones never recovered after her birth. I was basically running on empty. Even today, things still aren't back to "normal" for me, as far as hormones go. We are still trying to figure that piece of the puzzle out. That has created a few frustrating challenges for me, including self acceptance and confidence. And just plain old feeling good. When you don't have the right amount of hormones coursing through your system, EVERYTHING is out of whack. Working out is tough as well as finding creativity...two things that have always come to my rescue in the past! It has definitely been discouraging.

At about the same time we found out about my hormone issues, I discovered Instagram and, as silly as it sounds, I feel like it truly helped me to tap back into myself and my creativity again.  I have a lot of ups and downs in feeling good from day to day, but having this outlet has been so therapeutic. When I post photos and have conversations with people (through IG) I try to be really honest about what kind of day I am having and especially when it’s really rough...this community continues to lift me up and helps me feel stronger.  I've met the most amazing people and am inspired everyday by the positivity, humor and creativity out there. I've connected with other women, going through similar challenges after having their kiddos, which has truly helped me to see that I am not alone. I've felt so much love and support, from people I've never met in real life but can honestly call my friends. It has been such a blessing to me.  

Slowing down and focusing on Channing also helps me put things into perspective. The days where I stop what I am doing and sit down to paint with her (instead of folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher) are the most rewarding. The dishes and laundry can wait...and sometimes it's really hard for me to remember that. I love the time I get to spend with her.  I love watching her be creative and tell me crazy stories from her imagination (and let me tell you, there are some doozies that come out of her sweet little mouth!) I NEVER regret taking those moments. I do regret it when I don't. So, I am trying to be better at it. It's better for all of us when I do! 

I LOVE this Instagram community! 

Slowing down with this girl is always helps me to breath and reconnect.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?

Sometimes, I get caught up in the specialness of creating just the right traditions to enjoy together...when in reality I need to remember that the simple things we do from day to day also create amazing memories for all of us. We try to always eat dinner together at the table, unless either Luc or I aren’t home on a given evening. Luc takes Channing to either Home Depot or Lowe’s twice a month for their build it sessions with kiddos. We've gone swimming every Tuesday night since C was 5 months old. We always have music playing in the house. We read a book and sing a song every night before Channing goes to bed. As for holidays, now that Channing is getting a little older, we are figuring out what kinds of traditions we want to carry on with her. I adore advent calendars at Christmas time, a big balloon garland on her door to wake up to the morning of her birthday and I always make apple cider brined turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?

This is the view I see most of the day when we are inside. Our kitchen/dining room/living room is all one big space. This is where we play, watch cartoons, read, paint and have our meals together. 

Our garden is truly one of my favorite spots of our home.  We spend as much of the day out here as possible...including breakfast and dinner when we can! 

[#7]

Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts 

real life

 happenings.

Helping daddy...always wanting to help daddy. It's not that I wouldn't post this one on IG...it's just kind of hard to see what they are doing and it's kind of dark and blurry. Channing is "helping" to install the new power jack on the Airstream. She's also a dirty, wet mess after jumping in puddles...her favorite way to be! 

Be sure and follow

@modernmaven

on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following 

@kelliandvanessa

 or #myeverydaymoms