Friday, February 26, 2010

paint your heart out

Do you remember being a child so in love with the experience of painting and art that what it looked like didn't matter, you just loved the colours and the feeling of paint brush to paper? Do you remember having so much fun that as soon as you were finished one piece of paper you were ready for the next?

Most all of us start at this place. The point of pure creative abandonment. And then someone comes along, a parent, a teacher a grandmother maybe even another child who says, "what's that supposed to be?" And as you said, "well, it's a land with fairies and gnomes and a big tree where they all live together" the response is "That doesn't look like a fairy" And then it's over.

This is the moment where almost all of us got the message that we can't paint, we're not artists and we're not good enough. This is the moment for many where we begin to compare ourselves to others, judging our abilities and gifts in relation to those around us.

The other day I gave my children paint and paper with the only instruction, "do whatever you like and have fun" My son at first was frustrated because he couldn't "paint good" and I said, "just pick a colour you like and start putting it on the paper" Before he knew it, he was so immersed in his work that he asked for 3 more sheets of paper. My daughter who is 2, has not yet begun to compare herself to others and just painted her heart out.

I started a class called The Ruby Slipper Project in September. It is amazing to me what a success it has become and how freeing it is for women to come and paint, explore and give into their creative impulse without judgment or restrictions.

Would you like to come and paint your heart out? I'm holding a one day retreat March 21st from 9-4pm, just for you. Think you can't paint? Yes you can. Come, hold a paint brush and see where the paint takes you. You will amaze yourself.

Friday, February 19, 2010

we were not meant to mother this way

Have you read this book? It was recommended to me a couple of years ago and it changed my life. It is a feminist take on an old biblical story of a woman named Dinah and her life's journey traveling the desert with her family and in the end finding her own salvation through midwifery. It is a powerful story for sure.

However, this is not the part that changed my life. What opened my eyes was how she and her 4 mothers lived in a tribe. Now, I'm not a polygamist, nor is that the lifestyle for me. However, although these four women shared a husband, they also shared the role of mothering. They cooked together, ate together, raised children together, breastfed each others children and bled together, once a month in the Red Tent while the men fended for themselves for 3 days.

I could say so much about this book but what really stuck out to me was that we as a human species were not meant to mother alone. This modern idea of us all sequestered into our own little homes, cooking, cleaning, child rearing, partner not how we were meant to mother. That is why it can be so isolating, overwhelming, lonely, frustrating need I go on?

Women all over the world live in community, women in my own community live in community. Taking care of the children is not just one woman's job, but the whole villages job (insert cliche here). The bottom line is that we need each other, we need support, we need encouragement we need someone to come over and fold our laundry or take our kids to the park. The trouble is, now that we are so accustomed to this individualistic way of living, it can feel impossible to ask for help. Sure you might have done it when your baby was a month old, but now that your child is 2 years old, surely you should be able to take care of things on your own. No you shouldn't. We aren't superwomen with the abilities to facilitate a craft project, make a pot roast, clean the bathroom and fold the laundry in one fell swoop. We are still human and we need the support of others.

I greatly encourage you to read this book. And then I greatly encourage you to call a friend and ask for help, with whatever you need. And if you don't need help right now, offer to fold someone else's laundry. You will make their day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

love thyself

Valentine's day is coming up this weekend. I always love this time of year, it is a welcome splash of colour and excitement in an otherwise gray and dull time of year.

This is also a time of year for many that is filled with an uncomfortable expectation to spend exhorbarant amounts of money on flowers, chocolate and fancy dinners. Some people resent this holiday as yet another commercial machine fueled by Hallmark to both make you spend and feel inadequate.

At the beginning of the year a friend of mine sent me an email sharing the view points of 8 year olds on love. The one that stuck out the most to me was a response that said " If you want to really know what love is, start with the person you hate the most." That is powerful stuff.

It would be easy for me to think of a few people that truly challenge my ability to love. However, as I really thought about it, I realized that the person I need to learn to love the most is me. Ok, that is just about as cliche as a Hallmark card saying I love you. But it's true. I wouldn't really say I hate myself, but if I was dating myself, I would have dumped me a long time ago. I know I'm not the only woman, and certainly not the only mother who treats herself like this.

I realized that if I could truly love myself, unconditionally, gently, with all the encouragement and positivity that I give my children, my husband, my friends then I could really change something. So while I'm all for loving your enemies, if we could learn to love ourselves, really love ourselves, we could change the world. Because when that love is there, the ego, self-loathing, self-destructive talk walks right out the door like a bad relationship.

So I wish you a very happy Valentine's day this year. Not in the candy and flowers kind of way, but in the "You are a beautiful gift to the world and I hope you see that" kind of way. Treat yourself to something this year, you are the most important Valentine in your life.



Monday, February 1, 2010

what $5.00 will buy you these days....

Well, maybe you can get a coffee, but it would have to be black. Maybe you can rent a movie, but not at a major movie store, or maybe you could buy a loaf of bread, but not organic because in my town that is at least $6.00 a loaf.

What $5.00 bought me tonight was the first moment of real self-care I have had in a long time. After a visit to the doctor because I think I'm dying of heart disease (which I'm not, but it runs in the family), my doctor says that she thinks my issues are stress related. She asked if I had a supportive husband and I said yes (although the cleaning fairy did come today, thank you Lucy) and did I ever get any time alone? Well, yes I do, but I don't spend it very wisely. Lately my alone time is either dedicated to working on the computer or watching shows on the computer and eating comfort food, not so healthy.

So tonight after dinner, my husband said "get your things, you should go for a swim." So I ignored my aversion to bathing suits and went. The swim felt great, but the steam room, that's where the magic was. It was so hot and steamy that I couldn't keep my eyes open. I also had to take deep, slow breaths to stay in there as long as I did. The result? 10 minutes of pure relaxation where not only was I alone (heaven) but I was able to actually turn off my mind for once and enjoy the moment.

I feel amazing and despite my feelings about my bathing suit, I can't wait to go back again. Turns out $5.00 can buy you a whole lot of magic if you know where to spend it.

What do you need to do to take care of yourself? You are worth every penny.