May 7, 2019
Meet Severine Stegner.
Severine is a born and raised Montrealer, the daughter of a Parisien mother and a world-traveling Canadian father. A homeschool mother of three, an active community builder, and a budding artist; Severine is a natural story teller, an eager learner, a lover of life.
Severine is also a personal friend of mine and our chatty interview speaks to this familiarity. Which is another way of saying this interview is a little longer than most.
Severine and I dive into several themes in this interview; her upbringing and how she acquired the travel "bug" from her father, how solving a health issue birthed a family business, her family's 9-month worldschooling trip to Europe, and her recent artistic self-discovery.
While traversing these territories we gain insight into Severine's outlook on life in which she has learned to cultivate gratitude, joy, and a sense of possibility. It turns out she hasn't always been the "naturally" cheerful and optimistic person I know her to be. She's exercised that muscle in her life and grown a resiliency because of it.
As Severine tells us the story of their family business in hazel wood and baltic amber we not only learn about the healing properties of these natural materials we face the truth that to be a successful entrepreneur, to be a successful human, we have to practice the principle of failing faster. Which is to say: you're going to experience failure - in life and business. Accept it. Learn from it. Move on to the next thing. Instead of wallowing in shame, recrimination, and regret. This is something I need to remember.
With Severine's recollections from her family's 9 month trip to Europe, a time so rich in experiences it felt like "drinking from a firehose", we are reminded to not be afraid of things going awry on family trips because that's when the best memories are often made.
We talk about the difficulties of extended family travel, the importance of doing and reflecting together (remember when...) in building family culture, and learning to appreciate the unique gifts in all stages of our family lives; learning to find joy, contentment and beauty in the midst of hard things.
A lesson I personally need to lean into as I chafe against the boundaries and restrictions I feel in my own life. How do I find contentment here?
Maybe one way is by making art.
Severine's story of discovering her keen interest and talent for watercolor painting is both comical and encouraging. Given the task to paint a picture that would win the approval of her 4 year old niece, the game's judge, at a recent family gathering, Severine chose an idea she knew would resonate. She painted an image of her niece's favorite toy, a stuffed poop emoji. With no prior artistic history, she won the contest, and discovered a love for watercolor painting. True story. You heard it first on my podcast.
Thankfully for all of us following her IG feed, Severine has not painted a poop emoji since. Her paintings are beautiful and artistic renderings of the things that bring her joy. And her passionate pursuit of this art grants permission to all the other people in her life, including me, to do the same.
If a poop emoji can be the start of something so beautiful, anything is possible.
Exploring the edges of what is possible in our lives with intention and open-mindedness, cultivating gratitude and creativity, re-framing failures and setbacks, building a family culture and living a legacy are just a few of the big and beautiful ideas from this interview with my friend Severine.
Years ago I published a little e-book on being a mom and exploring creativity in our lives. Nurturing Creativity: A Guide for Busy Moms can be downloaded for free. A lot has changed in my life since publishing that e-book seven years ago, but the principles and practical ideas for cultivating creativity in the busy season of raising children still stand.
Talking to Severine reminded me, once again, of the importance of pursuing art and creativity in our lives. Even when we're busy moms. Perhaps most especially when we're busy moms.
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