Mother Shame

Expecting respect from your child shouldn’t be something you have to have anxiety about.

My daughter is mentally unstable- she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, (a condition that is intense and takes too much space to describe here, google it.) and I never know what to expect. Sometimes she is sweet and helpful, optimistic and goal-oriented. Other times she is full of anxiety or rage, frequently leading to violent self-harm, reckless actions, and suicide threats.

I frequently experience a condescending lack of respect when things don’t go her way. If I don’t back down, her rage can be easily triggered. I’ve chosen to “pick my battles” so frequently to “keep the peace” that it has led to a relationship where she simply does not respect me and it looks like I’m “OK” with that.

I’m not ok with that.

Today I demanded respect and was physically attacked. She became violent, so did I, and I had to call the police. This is not the first time they’ve been here.

My neighbors can attest I’m sure.

Living with her like this has been emotional abuse; I rationalize and excuse her behavior and entitlement because she’s unwell, I try to help her, try not to pamper her, try to hold her to expectations of an adult daughter who lives at home, I walk on fucking eggshells.

I haven’t said anything publicly bc it’s a family issue, and that makes it really hard to get unbiased support; everyone has ideas about how it should be handled, what she needs.

I’ve been living with this intensely for 3 years.

For 3 years I have had a continual sense of anxiety between explosions.

3 years of not being able to be really honest and trying to always put on a happy face.

It’s fucking lonely because everyone is impacted in their own way; we can talk to each other but we are all just as stuck and suffering. If this was cancer, we could easily say “We are fighting this together. Prayers please.” But we keep it quiet because mental illness has a shameful stigma. It’s private. Personal. You don’t air your dirty laundry. Being angry at, and afraid for -and of- your own child is shameful.

But it’s reality.

And I’m really tired.

And ashamed that this is how I am living.

How we are living.

That my other daughter suffers from depression that I can’t help but think is increased by the “loss” of a sister who was her closest companion & can’t be anymore because she is all encompassed by her mental illness and lack of contact with real life.

That I don’t enjoy my family even a fraction as much as I wanted to.

That I thought if I was sane, stable, patient and understanding, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen to me.

I wouldn’t be a mother with these problems.

I’m ashamed that I thought I was better than this, and I’m not.

I’m ashamed that I still think I’m better than this and I don’t deserve it.

As if some mothers do.

As if my daughter does.

I’m hurting and what’s worse, because I AM a mother, She’s hurting, and there’s nothing I can do but try to protect myself from her.

Try to have self preservation in every way possible.

While my child feels like a monster. Or a victim. Or both.

But she’s my baby.

But my arms have animalistic bite marks on them.

I planned on having a nice day.

Remote teaching from home, returns to Target, coffee and browsing at Barnes & Noble.

Instead, I’m trying to figure out some very heavy shit.

I am sharing this because it’s fucked up that I haven’t before now. It’s fucked up that I’ve been ashamed and lonely about it, that I’ve been feeling guilty that I don’t make time for my artwork because my minds not in it, that I don’t have energy.

If you think I’ve done a good job hiding the pain, it’s because I am realllly good at making things pretty. And yes, I am incredibly strong mentally, resilient and optimistic as fuck because that’s just how we enlightened people are supposed to be, and the world falls into place because we handle it so well.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes things just don’t make sense and we try so hard to stay strong. But it is very tiring. And even the very strong and optimistic need to feel very sad and lost.

You know I’ll be ok.

If you live like this too, I wish I could hug you, because it’s hard. But it’s really not something to be ashamed of. This is a thing we are going through. It’s not who we are.

Failure

I AM FAILING AT LIFE.

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Correction: at the moment, I feel like I am failing at life.

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I have lots of evidence to back that claim up, in all the most important areas of life. Many things are not good. And not, “I can’t get my husband to put the toilet seat back down” “my kids are driving me crazy” “I’m losing followers” “I’m gaining weight” bad, .

but seriously, scary, “I never imagined my life would enter this realm” bad. .

. . “I’m not that kind of mom/wife/woman” bad. .

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”we shouldn’t be facing these issues” bad.

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“I don’t know how to fix this.” bad.

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And I know I’m not in control of everything. I know now that I can’t plan for the life I wanted for my family and expect it to go that way because I’m a “good mom.” .

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I know there are so many who have it worse. And there are so many who have it better. And I know things can change or evolve in either direction.

.

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I know my kids are people and my husband is a person who are on their own paths. We intersect here & there, but each one wanders on their own way every day. .

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I try to fill my path with hope and art and I try to see beauty on my path; optimism is the trail marker here. But that’s not right for everybody. .

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Some want to be guided by other people or cut their way through unmarked paths or scream for help in the middle of it all and demand to be carried. .

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Or maybe they want to quietly figure it all out on their own. And I have to be ok with the uncertainty that is their path. .

.

I have to be ok not knowing how much of that path we get to share, and for how long. .

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What I do know, is when our paths meet, I just want to hold their hands and enjoy the journey together while we can.

.

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So I feel like I’m failing at life, but I’m still trying. .

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💕

A little bit about myself…

I have always turned to art as a sanctuary. When I was an awkward kid, I created perfect worlds with a fresh stack of paper and a box of crayons, and I relished being one of the kids everyone identified as “a good draw-er.”

When I became a first time mom, my new baby Veronica was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic, life-shortening disease. I was devastated and lived in a state of mourning for the healthy baby I dreamed of. My husband and I were both working retail at the time (translation: long hours and low pay) and I decided to stay home so I could take care of her. With staggering medical expenses, high NJ rent, and a severely reduced income, money was very tight. As a result, I could not afford a baby shower gift to celebrate my best friend’s first born. Instead, I offered to paint a mural in her nursery, and discovered a skill I didn’t know I had. This gave me a boost of self confidence and a way to emerge from depression. Eventually we had a second daughter, who also was diagnosed with CF, and my husband joined the army to better care for us and provide our family with full medical coverage.

Over the years as my family grew and faced life’s inevitable ups and downs, art saved my sanity and helped me earn a little spending money through painting murals and making gifts for friends and family.

It wasn’t until the end of 2011/ beginning of 2012, however, that my self-prescribed “art therapy” would really be put to the test and change my life forever. “Creative Resilience” was born when my only brother died of an accidental prescription drug overdose and my husband deployed to Afghanistan a short four months later. I helped my daughters experience their first taste of heartbreaking grief as conversation flowed and we made paper flowers in honor of Uncle Joey, and I painted mural after mural to ease my own anxiety, keep my attention away from the news, and make myself tired enough to sleep while I mourned my brother and missed my husband. It was a very hard time. But my art helped me make it through.

When my husband nominated me upon his return to become a Master Resilience Trainer, (a program designed to help service members and their families increase their ability to handle life’s ups and downs, bounce back from difficulties, and foster better relationships) I learned the science and practical skill sets used to strengthen human resilience… and realized I’d already been practicing many of the resilience skills for years! I found that a creative practice fits beautifully with the resilience training I was taught, so I combined the two concepts into one hands-on experience that uses mixed media art, journaling, and discussion to help people unwind, learn resilience skills, and create beautiful visual reminders to use the skills they’ve been taught!

I’ve been through many personal devastations in recent years that could have easily resulted in depression, a bitter outlook, or at the very least an excess of alcohol consumption, but my experience with the benefits of creativity reminded me of a better way of coping. I’ve been able to take my life higher through practicing what I preach and know to be true firsthand: Creativity Fosters Resilience.

I get to help women and teen girls develop their own personal resilience by using art and creativity as a method of self reflection, personal expression, and transformation. The best part is the connection I make by reaching out to other women involved in the messy business of living life. Something magical happens when a group of women discard self judgement and embrace creativity. The process of making art together removes the walls that block communication, and we get to understand each other and relate as beautiful, imperfect, fumbling, amazingly strong humans. Masks come off, authenticity enters the creative workspace, efforts are honored, strengths are revealed, and differences are celebrated. We find the beauty from the struggle. Life basically becomes art! 💕

Truth demands confrontation.

Insidious: proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.

That’s how one of my worst bad habits has changed me. I realized it suddenly while reflecting on my goals and questioning why I just can’t seem to get closer to them. Like most habits, it came from convenience, and as a way to stay out of discomfort, and it started waaaaay back in childhood.

I avoid confrontation.

I avoid it like the plague.

My method of arguing is to disengage, unless I am extremely upset, which I tend to avoid because I try to rationalize everyone else’s behavior down to the lowest common denominator of “acceptable, given the circumstance.” Also, I cry really easily when met with confrontations about things that matter to me. And I hate crying.

So I can rationalize away my discomfort to a barely recognizable low simmer, juuuuust under the surface, that will occasionally (like once a month) boil to the point of mass destruction, and I get accused of overreacting. Which makes sense if it was just that one thing, but it’s really the concentrate of anywhere from a dozen to a hundred things.

As a kid, I was frequently put in the middle of adults’ confrontations, often serving as the messenger, or as a sounding board to validate one’s opinion of the other, and naturally it made me very uncomfortable. Especially if the message I had to relay was one that would cause outrage, which wasn’t uncommon. I frequently had nervous stomach aches and enjoyed nothing more than staying in my room, being alone, reading a book, and, naturally, avoiding confrontation in general.

It worked for me, for quite a long time. I am known to be patient and mostly level headed; qualities I’m grateful for. But over the years, living with some strong personalities, I have found myself sliding away from my personal preferences for the sake of convenience. It keeps the drama to a minimum. Makes things easier.

Unfortunately, the kind of person I always wanted to be when I was younger was in charge of her life.

She would assert what she wanted and speak her mind; be able to stand up for what she believed. I didn’t plan to make waves, exactly, because I knew I had simple desires and a mostly kind nature. I just wanted to be on my own and not bother anybody. Kinda like a hermit. But with a dog or something.

Hermits don’t have all that much fun though, and it makes marriage and kids nearly impossible. And even though they weren’t part of the plan, the people who came along with the marriage and kids deal are some of my favorite people in the world. I love them. They just have a tendency to derail my “make no waves” lifestyle goals. In fact, they not only splash and make waves, they have occasionally caused friggin monsoons and record flooding.

And as a person who likes to avoid confrontation, I just try to stay afloat.

I have one person in my life who is a lot like me. She accommodates and compromises, bites her tongue and avoids confrontation. I witness times when I wish she would speak up for herself even though I know it will cause a backlash. Sometimes I’m proud of her restraint because she’s wise to avoid the backlash. But then there are times when she tests the boundaries and gets overpowered by the stronger personalities, and I feel like the stronger personalities are able to be that strong due to a lack of challenge.

I cringe because I know I could’ve modeled better behavior. Even though I rationalize my acceptance of things here & there, it hurts to see her being a shadow herself. I can see my younger self there, and wish I could make her respectfully put her foot down and speak clearly, despite a shaky voice, or fear of disapproval, or the attempted shaming by others.

As an adult, I have no problem doing this in most situations. But with the ones I love the most, I hold off. I give in. I steer clear. And these are the ones who should respect and love me the most.

But I dont let them fully love me, because I’m holding myself back from being 100% me.

Feeling apprehension about possibly not being fully loved due to my own assertions is so uncomfortable, that I know its because the habit of avoiding confrontation is too deeply ingrained in my persona. It’s uncomfortable to break habits. And this one needs to be broken. Badly. Not just for me, and not just to be a good example for others, but also to help my loved ones rise to the challenge of loving someone who will not always accommodate, but who is still worthy of so much love.

I have to have faith in their capacity to love me as much as I love them.

I shook my head for years at loved one who struggled with addiction.

I thought they were selfish, and the ones who loved them were too generous with their affection. If only they just straightened up their lives, they wouldn’t have to do much to deserve all the love and affection they were getting, it would be so easy to make everyone happy.

I was jealous of how they could fuck up so badly and still be loved. I wouldn’t dare fuck up like that, I wouldn’t dare to disappoint everyone to that level or take a risk with my future. Not that its good to go to those extremes -its safe to say that everyone should “just say no”- but to pursue what makes you happy at the risk of inconveniencing someone else or pissing them off or making them question your sanity; wow. What freedom. I mean, look at them; a lifetime of bad decision, addicted, barely getting by, and they are STILL just so loved.

(*before I go an y further, let me make something clear: I know addiction is not fun, I know it is a disease. But before it was a disease, for the majority of addicts, it was a choice. I lost my brother to addiction, and he made the choice to start using and to pick up again after getting clean for an extended period of time. It is a choice.)

Now, I have no interest in using drugs, but I sure would like to use part of my pay to have someone else clean the house once a month, or go away for a long weekend completely alone every year, or occasionally decline to spend time with others when I’d like to stay in and read. Even if it disappointed someone else, made them wonder what’s wrong with me, or temporarily pissed them off. I’d like to feel confident knowing their love for me is stronger than any of that.

And so I’ve decided I will trust that I am loved enough and that I can stop trying to avoid confrontation just to please everyone else. I don’t plan to go all-out aggressive Jersey on everyone I love; I’m not that resentful, but I will be more present about my preferences and opinions.

I will assert myself

I will voice my opinions when i disagree about things that matter to me

I will disagree respectfully in front of others even if it upsets my loved ones

I will not promote the perspective that anyone’s opinion, time, or goals are worth more than my own

I will model behavior i wish I’d had when i was newly shaping my life.

I will stop avoiding confrontation, and if I cry, I cry. It happens.

Angsty Middle Age Ranting, rawr. 

More people my age need to stop giving a crap about trying to fit into a group, impressing people, and having it “all together.” First off, it’s impossible and you’re using up valuable energy in the pursuit of a forever unattainable goal. This is one source of stress & depression. You also may be setting your kids up for therapy because you’re modeling behavior that tells them not to be happy with themselves. And as far as impressing people, Nobody cares and you’re dimming your damn light. People literally give you 20 seconds of attention and judgement (unless you directly influence their lives) and move on to fixating on themselves while you’re fixating on their approval or lack thereof. I have wonderful friends in their 60’s & up who have matured enough to figure this all out & actually enjoy living. I’m so antsy for other people my age to get this. Be ahead of your time in a way that will actually impact YOUR life…live it however the fook you want. 
I don’t know why I felt this was necessary to write today. But there ya go. Do with it what you will. 

The moment you own it…

Here’s the scenario: 
some person with absolute knowledge of the future tells you that you must take action towards that thing you’ve been wanting to do, the dream or plan or goal, and you have to take that action by TOMORROW night, or your window of opportunity shuts FOREVER. 
It doesn’t have to be a big scary step; just something that reflects forward momentum towards your goal. 
What do you do? 
WHAT DO YOU DO?? 

(Please forgive the Keanu Reeves “Speed” reference 😜)

There’s no forgiving this reference so I won’t ask for it 😬

Look

If you had

One shot

Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted

In one moment

Would you capture

Or just let it slip?

So of course this isn’t a likely scenario, but I know I’m personally familiar with dreams that get shifted to a “some day” that never comes, or pushed aside for all the day to day “have to’s” that make up the routine lives we all live. At some point in the lives of the people who go for their goals, however, a decision is made and action is taken. 

To paraphrase Horton: an action’s an action, no matter how small. 

Just how small can it be and still be an action? How about some of these:

  • Make a list of goals & see if one stands out
  • Google people you admire doing things you want to do
  • Outline necessary steps towards your goal
  • Imagine what life would be like once you do whatever it is your reaching towards 
  • Make a vision board about your dream
  • Buy one item that will fit in with your new identity as someone who does what you do (running shoes if you hope to do a marathon someday, even if you’re way out of shape, a frame for your diploma even if you’re just starting school, a special outfit to wear to your gallery opening, etc) 
  • Talk about your dreams/goals with SUPPORTIVE friends &/ family (not with people who tend to be negative or belittling) 
  • Make phone calls, send emails, ask questions to find out how it’s done
  • Even ask yourself “what would I do?”

Let yourself spend a moment pondering the possibilities and don’t dismiss anything that feels like a “hell yes!” 

If it’s right for you, and it feels necessary, you better never let it go 😏😉😁

(Ok…time for mom’s spaghetti)

My Cool Podcast Interview 😁

So I was interviewed on the awesome Courage Makers podcast by brilliant badass Meg Kissack. I didn’t share it right away because I was worried about what people would think, my grandmother died so I was distracted, and I had a camp coming up & thought parents wouldn’t want me to teach their kids if they heard me curse a lot. What can I say; shit happens, I’m a human attempting to walk my talk and that’s not always easy, and ultimately “what other people think of me is none of my business.” I try to be bold & keep it real, so here you go. 😘 Courage Makers Podcast episode 62

Making Plans (haha)

So I’m outlining notes in preparation for my first attempt at writing a magazine article. One of a few cool but kinda scary things I have planned for this year. Not sure exactly what will go into the article or where the article will end up, but I know it will deal with creativity and resilience…two of the biggest elements that make up my life now more than ever before.  2016 was tough. I made it through stronger than ever, with more accomplishments than I anticipated. (I’m not normally a big accomplisher.) At the beginning of the year, a life shift put me in “just get through this” mentality, but I did a whole lot more than “just get through.” I became a certified Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach, developed & ran a second season of art camp for our town’s recreation department, I painted A LOT, I made many new friends, I kept my kids alive for another year, (not always easy when they seem determined to trigger homocidal impulses) I helped people, I saved a kitten, got rabies vaccines & sick as hell, said goodbye to a woman who gave me a sense of who I could be, instructed part of a woman’s retreat,  comforted friends & family members through hard times, traveled with my husband as we re-invented our marriage,  and I took on & accomplished a goal I’ve had for YEARS. I made it a priority to re-establish my self worth.  As a result, I’m really proud of my emergence from 2016.

I think I pegged it with the tiny scribble in the middle of this jumble: I triumph over the odds against me. There are many. 

I certainly didn’t choose the easy road paved with good choices or thorough planning, and I’ve pretty much ensured that the odds will almost always be stacked against me, but I do tend to rise above. I wouldn’t recommend my choices to my daughters; its probably a whole lot better to plan & follow a well-worn path of wisdom and informed decision making. (I wouldn’t know for sure; I’ve never tried it. *With the exception of hard drugs. I went with “informed decision making” for that life option. Gotta say that was a good choice. Don’t do drugs, girls.) But it’s good to know that even if things don’t turn out the way you planned, you have the option to fall apart or to get up & move forward. Even if you do fall apart for a while first. That’s normal. 

Two quotes I love: “we make plans and God laughs” (Yiddish proverb) and “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)

I found the John Lennon quote especially helpful when I first stopped working after my daughter Veronica was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. I planned on going back to work. I had my self worth all tied into my ability to make money, and we were kinda on the broke side. But once I learned to accept that life was simply about to change again, and I could choose to fight against it or roll with it, I figured I would see where it took me. * In all honesty, I was way too exhausted physically and emotionally to fight. It wasn’t some noble, peace-filled acceptance. It felt a whole lot more like defeat at the time. But it worked out beautifully anyway. (I became a mural artist, had another kid, trusted my husband to take care of us and he was amazing, etc. Thats a whole other story.)

And if God is laughing at my plans, as the Yiddish say he is, I’ve come to realize its not because he wants to see me suffer and fail. On the contrary; God’s been giggling at me the whole time because he knew I had more in me than what my little plans were going to let me settle for. I do question his sanity quite regularly. I don’t pretend to have it figured out or to even know exactly what I believe for sure. But I can tell you one thing: I trust God. 

Having said all that; my whole “blah blah, plans, whatever” belief system, where I basically threw out any planning whatsoever? Well, that doesn’t work 100% either. Its fine, but kinda boring, and you end up doing a whole bunch of stuff that works for other people -just without any of the passion or drive that gives life the “zing” factor, and you tend to disappear a little. But only the good side of you. The boring, bland, disappointing bits of you are really visible. So that mostly sucks. I learned that the hard way.

How do you proceed when your plans are laughed at, life is tossing you along without a map, and you’re settling for the well-meaning plans of other people? You start by getting curious. I’ve found when you get introspective and really curious about what makes you happy or excited to contribute to life,  the planning is enjoyable and the motivation, at the risk of sounding all new-agey and woo-woo,  is kind of divinely orchestrated. It feels natural, like its supposed to happen. And that’s how I know I need to put plans to action. 

But here’s the catch: I try not to get tied up in a certain outcome. I try to let go of expectations. I attempt to do what I feel its time to do and let whatever happens happen, and trust its gonna be good. It’s a very Kaizen Muse way of going forward. It’s not easy at first, but it gets easier with practice. (With enough practice, it starts to feel like play, and that’s REALLY awesome.)

Of course I have an idea of what I hope will happen. I have a picture in my mind of a desired outcome. But it almost never matches what happens in reality. Reality is usually better or proves to be a stepping stone towards the next thing, whatever that is. It’s always a learning experience if nothing else.

So here we are, 2017. I’m plotting out my notes. I’m excited and curious. I’m throwing ideas out there again. I have semi-plans. God’s laughing. 

I’m psyched for the punch line 😉

If life gives you the perfect situation, don’t do the dishes. 

Yesterday morning was not my best morning ever. I woke up with a headache, we had family car issues that made the day a little complicated, and the resident teenagers hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher the day before so the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes waiting their turn for washing. I know many women would not be able to go to bed knowing what a huge mess would meet them in the morning, but I am dedicated to teaching my girls to take their chores seriously and to be responsible. And I was just really really tired. So I woke up to that horrible sight first thing in the morning, which really didn’t help my headache. Then I realized the creamer I bought for my coffee was just plain and not the French vanilla I thought it was—that was a horrible surprise—and I discovered the dog pooped in the house. I had a meeting scheduled for 12:30, and I overslept (I’m usually up at 5 on an early day and 8 on a late day, but it was closer to 10 by the time I dragged myself out of bed this day.) so I didn’t have my normal work out/quiet journal time either. And I was just remarkably low. Sad, hopeless, defeated, weary. Yesterday morning sucked. 

The first thing I did that helped improve my morning (besides cleaning up the dog poop) was to tell the girls that since they neglected their job the day before, not only would they have to do it now, but they would also be responsible for doing all the dishes in the sink too. That let me walk away feeling like I got off easy  because I didn’t have to do the dishes, AND that it was ok for me to indulge in that avoidance since I was teaching my girls a “Valuable Lesson.” (Oh, how I LOVE Valuable Lessons!)

Then my meeting was cancelled. After a brief moment of disappointment, I realized I had just been gifted with a free hour. I had been admiring the artwork of some Facebook friends lately, and two of them had posted some awesome paintings that morning. I haven’t done any painting with actual shading or detail in a while; nothing that was a very big challenge, and I have a daughter who is really quite talented. Miss Artiste has been doing these amazing drawings lately, and my other daughter Miss Musician, has been making these “Mommy better watch out, she’s got competition” type comments. So I decided to see what I can still do. 

I started with a canvas panel and regular old #2 pencil. I said to myself, “Self, no pressure, let’s just see what happens.” I did a sketch from a selfie…that’s right, a selfie….and called in Miss Artiste to show her what’s up. She started with “constructive criticism” so I banished her. 

Then I started adding paint. I’ve done many paintings in my life, but I usually work in an odd way that combines flat layers of paint and shading done with colored pencil. This was one of the first times I’ve stuck with paint all the way. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little scary to see my nice sketch being gradually covered with blotchy paint. But once I started, I figured I can cover it up with fresh paint if I hate it, and I kept going- painting at a fairly quick pace. I had good music on, a free hour that was rapidly slipping away, and the knowledge that I could salvage the canvas for something else if I screwed up too badly, and somehow my energy level was rising to meet the occasion. 

It’s not often that the right combination of elements allows me to be in a perfect zone for creating, but time, interest, inspiration, and energy all met for a few hours yesterday in my art room. I ended up with a really funky self portrait. It’s not perfect, there’s something weird about it, but I love it! I think I love it because it was so unexpected and unplanned… and because it is a little weird. I think an honest self portrait should be a little weird.  

When I showed Miss Artiste, I said, “You know, I don’t usually get time to really experiment like this. I usually just stick with my normal style. But because I had some free time and I saw paintings that I liked online, I got to play around a bit, and I really surprised myself!”To which she replied “yeah, because we did all those dishes.” I chuckled, and said “You’re right actually; I probably would not have gotten into painting if I knew I still had dishes waiting for me to do.”

Turning to leave the art room, she casually replied, “You’re welcome. And you might want to try spacing your eyes with one eye measured in the middle next time.” 

Life is too crazy to focus on my creativity. …Insert Kaizen Muse here.

Hello reader, and welcome to my first blog post. Let me start by saying I’m not a fan of structure. For some reason it doesn’t mesh well with my brain, which likes to be all over the place and nowhere simultaneously. My lack of structure tends to bite me in my rather ample bottom when I “let shit go” till the last minute (again) or am faced with an “I have no idea what to do right now” moment. Luckily for me, when I hit those two examples simultaneously during this past week, I was scheduled to show up for a group creativity coaching circle. As you most likely know, I am a Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach, trained by none other than creativity expert Jill Badonsky herself, writer of many books about creativity and woman with letters following her name. I forget the letters right now but will add them at the end when I’m not on a writing roll. Suffice it to say, by now I know how creativity works.

Anyway. So here I am, smack in the middle of a crazy week where I, woman who generally dislikes children other than my own, am running my annual kid’s week-long art camp, when I realize that the plans I made aren’t going to jive well with this particular group of kids. I had some planning done, but not enough to just pick up a “plan B” and roll with it. So every day after a fun but exhausting day at camp, I was getting my own daughters lunch, taking them to the pool, making dinner, and trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with these kids the next day. I was totally exhausted. And on this particular day, I also had my coaching “mastermind circle.” Now, I love everything creativity coaching, but with my stress level and obligations, I was not in the right frame of mind for this one. Especially because I know all this creativity stuff already; what I needed was more time to work, nothing else.

I showed upanyway, and got into it, telling everyone my woes and current challenge. The direction of the session was a little predictable at first, because yes, I knew I wasn’t rested enough to function optimally. But then -I have to say it- the magic of being in the presence of like-minded creative people came into play. First they gave me kudos for realizing my plans needed adjusting and not forcing the kids into a plan they wouldn’t enjoy. Then we talked about my waning energy levels. Clearly I couldn’t take time off right in the middle of camp week to refocus, but I could steal 10-15 minutes for some in-depth recharging, maybe via guided meditation videos on YouTube. Then one member of the group mentioned how fun and lively my art seems and couldn’t I just have fun with the kids, since it would lessen the stress and energize me naturally? That got me thinking about my art, and the techniques and supplies I had available for the kids. I knew we hadn’t touched on printmaking yet, and I had examples of my own work to show. Suddenly it was all clear. I thanked the group, and during “Parallel Universe Time” (email me if you’re curious) I googled some known artists who worked in woodblock prints, and had a new plan in place for an excellent day at art camp!

I literally showed up to that circle with an “ok, let me get through this so I can go back to hustling for ideas and make dinner” mindset, but left it completely altered. I was energized, enthused, amazed by the alchemy I’d just witnessed, and proud of myself- for what I had done for the kids, my own artwork, and especially because I get to be part of this kind of magical work! Sure, there’s a science involved in how the brain works and what tricks turn on our creativity, but it feels like friggin pixie dust. I just love it.

So there you go, first-hand experience of creativity unblocked by Kaizen Muse technology.  If you think it could help you or anyone you know, get in touch! Email me at: serendipitycoaching@mail.com

*The letters that follow Jill Badonsky’s name are M.Ed. …you can read all about her big bad brilliance at http://www.themuseisin.com

*The Mastermind Circle I took part in was The Purple Ink Cafe, http://www.thepurpleinkcafe.com and its run by Kaizen Muse Creativity Coaches Mary McDowall and Kathy Kane. Special thanks also to Eileen Caroscio and Tracy Wallace for adding fuel to the creative fires!

Small steps, big results. Awwwww yeah. (Cue Isaac Hayes “theme from Shaft,” picture me riding my awesome bike off into the sunset, wearing my handmade tiara  & fairy wings, carrying art supplies in my bike basket, and fade out.)

That was an epic first blog post.