For weaver and artist Maryanne Moodie, returning to Melbourne after living in New York felt like being on the receiving end of a giant hug.
‘My friend says living in New York is like being tickled too much – being tickled a little bit is nice, but then it’s like, stop, stop! The sensory overload is relentless,’ she says. ‘Getting off the plane in Melbourne, my shoulders dropped. There such a softness and sense of being welcomed home I found comforting and surprising.’
Now with a studio and home set up in Brunswick, Melbourne, Maryanne spends her days weaving, preparing for exhibitions, teaching, liaising with her New York studio and parenting two young boys.
Maryanne has learnt to let go of trying to be the perfect mother, the perfect artist, or the perfect business owner. ‘There is no perfect. It’s not just about forgiving yourself as a mother and allowing yourself to do the things that are going to make you happy, but having your eyes open to every situation,’ she says.
After up-rooting from Melbourne to New York and back again, all whilst nurturing a growing business and a young family, Maryanne reminds us it’s okay to change – our location, our approach, our business, our opinions, and our circumstances – in order to find our version of happiness. ‘What matters most, is if all of us are happy, and if someone isn’t, it’s time for us to make a change,’ she says. ‘You have to be flexible and fluid, and have your eyes open to what is currently happening, and future opportunities.’
"You have to be flexible and fluid, and have your eyes open to what is currently happening, and future opportunities."
Our kids wake up at seven, so during the week my partner Aaron gets up with them and makes breakfast, and I’ll stay in bed and get up after their mouths are full and they can’t yell!
I’ll use that time to do business in bed and connect with the New York studio and answer emails that have come in over night. The team in New York will be quiet and all of a sudden it’s ping, ping, ping, Maryanne is awake!
I’ll then get up and have a cup of tea and a play with the boys. It’s more of a get-dressed-and-play – you can either fight to get them to do things, or you can pretend it’s a game, which works a lot better.
When we moved to Brunswick we wanted to live a local life, so we don’t have a car, but we have a bike trailer. On Monday and Tuesday, both boys have childcare at an incredible co-op where all our friends’ kids go, which feels great to know your kids are being cared for and loved.
Monday and Tuesday are my proper studio days, so as soon as everyone is out the door, I have an alarm that goes off to remind me to exercise. I used to be this really fit person and then I had kids and that’s the thing that fell off – there was just no time, I was either with my kids or working, teaching, emailing or weaving. Now that both boys have at least two days child care, I have time for the that real huffy-puffy type of exercise – my sister put me onto a fifteen minute high intensity interval training app called 8fit, which is very achievable!
After exercise, I have a proper breakfast. I’ve been feeling quite luxurious when I have no one in the house, so I’ll make a spinach omelettes and have my third cup of tea for the morning. When the boys are around it’s usually one piece of Vegemite toast shoved in my mouth!
It takes about half an hour to walk up to my studio, it’s along Merri Creek which is delightful. I’ll grab a coffee along the way – I recently bought a Keep Cup because I didn’t realise how terrible coffee cups are, I thought you could recycle them!
Time at the studio is spent weaving. The night before I’ll always try to leave a piece in progress so I can pick it straight up the next day. I listen to podcasts while I weave, but I also love to just listen to nothing. There is a timelessness at the loom where you just get lost in thoughts and feelings that in the rush of our general day to day lives, we tend not to give ourselves time to experience.
I usually have three commissions going on at any time, or roughly six a month. Someone might have an idea about colour or composition, but a lot of the time people will just specify the size of the piece they want and I can have artistic license.
I will usually have a late lunch. I’ll take something to nibble on during the day and then grab something at four or four-thirty when I leave the studio.
Thursday and Friday are Mummy days when I have both the boys – we made cards of different activities so the boys will choose from those and we will do something together. Rudi has a nap from one till four o’clock, and so I have some quiet time to do some emails.
I’ve really pulled back on how often I sit down and respond to emails, it’s usually only three days a week, which might not be so good for people trying to get in contact with me!
We have a rule that if the street lights aren’t on, the boys can go outside and play around the cul-de-sac.
Usually Murray will ‘help’ me cook dinner – I’m teaching the boys how to be helpful for some future point, but at the moment it requires a lot of alertness! I have always hated cooking because I felt like I would go and buy delicious ingredients and spend all this time cooking and it would just be horrible! I put all this pressure on myself with cooking, and I didn’t enjoy myself, but lately I’ve tried to stop doing that and enjoy making something to eat as a family.
The boys are in bed by seven. I will have a glass of wine and Aaron will have a beer and we will talk and check in to make sure everything is okay. It’s sometimes just ten minutes, but it’s so important to find the time to sit and properly look at each other.
Then one of us will cook our dinner – we take it in turns with who cooks and does the dishes. We also have a weekly babysitter booked for midweek date nights. We try to do different things every week although we are loving No Lights No Lycra!
I never work in the evenings. Most of the time we will hang out and watch television. I try not to have my phone in the same room. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I try not to give my phone my attention. Of course, there are some nights when we are both so exhausted and just need to sit on the couch and look at our phones.
I’m usually in bed usually by nine-thirty, and I’ll sit and read until I fall asleep around ten, which is really indulgent after years of not being able to have a full night’s sleep with babies!
"My business and life philosophy is to move slowly, keep listening, looking and being aware of what the feeling is for something – be it where we live, or what we are doing. If something feels stressful rather than a normal part of life or is making anyone in the family unhappy, I always question why I am still doing it." – Maryanne Moodie