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Thursday
Feb022012

Amy Jo Johnson on Motherhood and Creativity  

by Ashley Ess

photos by krista fogel

At a young age, Amy Jo Johnson decided she wanted to become an artist. She is a true creative; no facet of her life is left untouched by her art. Whether she is staring in roles in television (Flashpoint, The Division, Felicity) and movies (Without Limits, Interstate 60), performing and recording music (she sings and plays guitar), painting or journaling, Amy Jo appears to weave her instincts for creativity and family with grace.

A very private person, Amy Jo is dedicated to her family and nurturing her inner life. In 2008 she gave birth to her daughter, Francesca. Taking time off of work to birth and bond with her baby, Amy Jo had found that her new family life had taken the place of her art. With less of a struggle and more of an embrace, she is managing to balance her artistic dreams and aspirations with her most important creation, her family.

 

On being pregnant…

I had been waiting my entire life for the day I found out I was pregnant. Truly, a life long dream finally came true at thirty-seven years old! I had only known [the baby’s father] for about four months! So I was a bit nervous of the adventure we were embarking on together as strangers. But my faith in life is as big as the highest mountain and I knew that no matter what, I was in the right place doing the right thing. It’s been a journey to say the least. I think that not only having a baby, but being in a committed relationship with someone, is like holding up a giant mirror for you to see all your beautifuls and uglies, which I am 100% grateful for. Commitment to personal growth is what I am all about and BOY OH BOY, am I growing.

 

On mothering and well-being…

I think the biggest challenge I find as a mother is making sure I’m doing enough, and not too much. It’s a balance, which I handle by constantly checking in with my instincts. Deep down we know what is best for our children. So deep down I try to navigate my way with the choices I need to make as a parent. What surprises me most is Francesca’s ability to help steer me in the right direction. Also, I’m a huge believer in listening to your body. I’ve noticed that if I let Francesca make choices about food and what she’s craving it’s usually exactly what her body needs. I try to keep organic snacks in the house if what she’s craving is cozy fun treats. Also, we live in a wonderful city with lots of parks and boardwalks on the water so we spend a lot of our time outside. Even in the winter.

 

On creativity and work…

One thing for sure I have realized in the past three years of being mom is that you cannot fully create while nurturing. The first two years of Francesca’s life was a real wake up call for me. I had been focused on myself and my creativity for more than half my life -- okay let’s face it, all my life -- and suddenly I had this little person in front of me that needed me as much as I had always needed myself. So I let go. I had been waiting so long to be a mother I just took a deep breath and let go of me. Even while working on a TV show, I was completely focused on being a mom. Needless to say, I got shingles five months into breastfeeding and working twelve hours a day! But sometimes in life we gotta do what we gotta do. NOW! Francesca is three and has started pre-school! And I am also thankfully on hiatus from the TV show. So I’ve spent the past three months writing and singing and creating from 9 am to 11:30 am Monday through Friday. And I must say it is so lovely to say hello again to those things that drive me and make me, me.

 

On family…

When I was a little girl I went through a bit of a depression around the age of twelve. I was overwhelmed by the fear of death. My mother, who has since passed away, cured me of this heavy, scary time. She taught me to be grateful. She taught me to write down all the things I’m grateful for, especially when feeling down. I’ve brought this ritual into our family. Every night before bed my husband, Francesca and I go through all the things we are grateful for, taking turns. She loves it so much she now begins the day by asking me what I’m grateful for. 

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