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Shechasesbutterflies

You can chase a butterfly all over the field and never catch it.
But if you sit quietly in the grass it will come and sit on your shoulder.
– Henry Thoreau

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vintagebirdpendant

Outside of my “signature” gold hoops and a small collection of necklaces, I really am not a big jewelry wearer.  The pieces that I do wear either inspire me or hold a special significance.  Keeping simplicity, a boho style, and inspiration in mind, I have so enjoyed designing and putting together these necklaces for you!  With mostly simple beaded-crochet chains, each necklace bears a pendant either made from vintage treasures or chosen for its inspirational message (Be sure to check the back of the pewter pendants!).  The beads crocheted into the chains consist of both czech glass and semi-precious stones.  Once again, I selected the beads according to their aesthetic value or, in some cases, for their healing properties.  It is my hope that these pieces might be worn as gentle reminders that speak to your soul.

Please join me at Dandelion Studio to browse my brand new vintage and inspirational jewelry collection!

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I while back, I left you with the beginning of Ben’s Dream.  A process of expressing my emotions regarding this whole autism journey that Ben and I have been traveling together over the past 10 years.  Following my intuition, I scrawled words across the canvas, brushed sad, angry, hopeful strokes over top of my words, printed, stenciled, and collaged my way through these beginning phases.  Slowly, I started to see all of these marks begin to dance together in a sort of joyful, healing release.

With my ultimate goal being to capture a dream that my boy shared with me one morning several years ago, I knew that while that beginning phase would provide the underlying structure for this piece, Ben’s Dream, I would eventually need to paint over top of it in order to achieve a more unified background.  So, after enjoying the first dance for a few weeks, I decided it was time to move-on to “phase II” of Ben’s Dream.  I did not want to paint over all that richness.  At the same time, I have come to trust the process and believed that the movement and emotion that lie beneath the next layers would emerge again, in its own time.

Ben'sdreambackground1

 It was really hard to sit with a background that seemed “less than” at the time.  I could hardly wait to add more layers  in my next session!

Ben'sdreambackground

Those hills and sky are dancing, once again…Soon, they will be singing with the final layers of Ben’s Dream!  Here is a little peek of what will be going into those layers – Ben’s houses.

Ben'shouses

As I enter these final phases of Ben’s Dream I, too, am starting to dream along with him.  How can I support my boy’s real life dreams?  Perhaps his and mine might dance together…

 

butterflies

For a while now, I have felt restless in my role as “stay-at-home mom.”    Good or bad, having fought the infertility battle years ago in order to create our family, I probably took-on my mom role with more intensity than some .  And, when autism was added to the mix, being a mom became real “serious business.”

Our family took a pretty big hit during those early years of parenthood.  Most of our time and energy was focused on getting our boy the therapies that he needed, fulfilling basic needs and grasping for spaces of time here and there to breathe.  That said, almost 10 years later, I finally feel like all the pieces might be coming together.  With both my girl and boy in school for the past several years, I have spent a good deal of time finding myself again, pursuing my passion for creating art, allowing myself to grieve, and celebrating my boy and girl as they become more independent.

While my soul has emerged in so many ways, I feel like I have remained partially stuck inside the cocoon.  Half of me mired in the serious business of being a good mom and wife and half of me trying to figure-out how to take flight in a new form.  So, when my husband and I sat across from a family counselor a while back, it suddenly became clear to me that I had never fully shared this readiness to take flight.  I mean, I thought I had, but somehow, the message became watered-down in the process.

With this new awareness, my husband and I are discovering the healing power of learning to be assertive with our own needs, not just the kids’, and to take the time to encourage and celebrate each others’ efforts as we grow together.  Instead of simply “surviving,” as a family, we are on our way to thriving.  And it. feels. good.

As we take flight as a family, I also look forward to taking flight in my art business.  Over the summer, I devoured artist Kelly Rae Robert’s e-book:  Flying Lessons.  One piece of advice that spoke to me as I read through Kelly Rae’s book is that I need to commit to my art and my business.  Up until recently, I felt safer staying half-stuck in my cocoon, in my official “stay-at-home-mom” status, while simply treating my art as a hobby. If I really want to take flight, though, I need to allow my wings to fully develop.  I need to shed that last layer holding me back from completely emerging.

So, here I sit.  Warm mug in hand and a year full of possibilities before me.  I can’t wait to see how it feels to fly!

My boy quietly slips into bed next to me one morning and snuggles-up close by my side.  With tears in his eyes, he whispers in my ear, “I need to tell you about a dream that I had, Mommy…”  As this sweet boy describes the scene in his dream, I can’t help but hold back my own tears. It is so beautiful!

That morning, I tucked my boy’s dream inside my heart and have carried it with me ever since, as it so aptly captures the autism journey that we have traveled together.  Having faced the hard work of  healing my own heart over the past year, I decided it is now time to make Ben’s dream come alive on the canvas. So, here begins the journey…

canvas1Facing a white canvas, with Ben’s vision in my head, I so badly want to get straight to the fun part where everything comes together;  BUT, my soul really needs to wander.  As I am learning so well, listening to my soul is always the best place to start.

canvas6I have one precious hour to work before picking-up my boy and girl from summer school.  Just enough time to allow my soul to meander around the canvas with those simple painted words and brush strokes.

canvas4During the next session, I apply the working process learned from Kelly Rae Roberts’ online “Hello Soul!” mixed-media course.  The rhythm of alternating between paint and collage is both relaxing and therapeutic for me.  Just following my urges without worrying about an end product.  Pure bliss!

canvas3When it is time to stop, I feel anxious about having to leave a particularly muddy area in it’s “ugly” state.  Suddenly, I realize that my painting is right where it needs to be.  Healing takes time!  “It is okay to sit with your bruised heart.  Give it time to heal.”  I write those words right on my canvas with a black Sharpie and walk away for the day.

canvas5A few days later, I return to the canvas with more clarity.  All those awkward, ugly marks?  They are a part of my journey.  In order to move forward, I must acknowledge the hard and the messy before I can turn them into something beautiful.  Those colors. That texture.  Those bits and pieces of collage.  They are all learning to dance together now.  In time, they will serve as the background for a lovely vision:  Ben’s Dream.

peace

Peace I leave with you.
-John 14:27

stars

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens;  Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.

-Isaiah 40:  26

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I’ve never felt very comfortable admitting or expressing anger, even with my own family.  I am much more likely to share sadness or sorrow than to allow someone to witness my anger or take part in a confrontation.  It somehow, just seems more acceptable for a “nice” girl like me.  So, when my girl and I continued to struggle with epic power struggles earlier this year and my own anger got the best of me, I decided that it was time to approach a counselor to hone my parenting skills.  “I just need to learn some new tricks,” I told myself.   My counselor asked if I was familiar with the book Parenting With Love and Logic, to which I chuckled, saying that yes, I read it in graduate school, before having kids.  I even wrote a research paper on Love and Logic because I thought it made so much sense!  But after having my own children, I tossed most of what I learned out the window, as it just didn’t seem to work…

Desperate to restore peace in my household, and in my soul,  I humbly purchased another copy of Love and Logic and began reading it again, one chapter at a time.  Once again, the essence of the book made sense.  When our children feel valued and loved, even when given logical consequences, they are more likely to treat us with that same value and love.  I began trying some of the strategies with my girl and experiencing positive results.  I reported improvements to my counselor.  Things were getting better, BUT I still felt this gnawing anxiety squeezing at my heart.  Why?

So, we began focusing on the anxiety itself.  Relaxation.  Breathing exercises.  Meditation.  And then my counselor suggested that we try something called “brainspotting.”  She explained that it is a somewhat new technique that is being used to treat victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.  I wondered how it related to me, as I had not experienced any sort of trauma…at least, nothing that I would have labeled as trauma.  The premise of this technique is that even though we may have intellectually moved through a traumatic event, the energy can sometimes remain trapped in our brains and continue to affect our bodies/behaviors.  In a nutshell, brainspotting involves following a pointer with your eyes until you feel a more intense feeling in your body and then focusing on that point and going with the feeling, recounting whatever comes to mind.  It sounded pretty “woo-woo,” but I figured I would at least give it a try.

During the first few sessions, I half-heartedly followed the pointer, skeptically recounting various memories and wondering how this was going to relieve my anxiety.  And then I noticed that after these sessions, the pressure on my heart would subside for a few days before returning again.  I felt peaceful.  Maybe we were on to something.  But really?  What kind of trauma had I experienced?  “Life itself can be traumatic,” my counselor would say.  And then during one session, as my eyes followed the pointer, they reached a place where I felt like my heart might explode.  And the memories poured-out in tears.  The day the word autism was said in conjunction with my boy’s name. I could barely speak.

Without going into all that had taken place around that time, I will just be honest and say that the first few years with my boy and girl were so very hard.  My husband and I had overcome infertility only to be catapulted into a virtual nightmare which I tried to hide from the outside world because this was supposed to be the most joyous time of our lives.  I  felt guilty for complaining and did not want anyone to see my boy’s unexplainable meltdowns that I felt I should be able to control.  I remember crying-out to God in despair at times, but for the most part, I stuffed my feelings and tried to focus on the positive.  Everything was under control.  I was surviving.

That said, I am now realizing that I never truly grieved that time in my life.  I suppose as therapies were put into place and my boy began making good progress, I didn’t want to look back.  And yet, my role as a mother remains much more involved than the layed-back hippie dreams of motherhood I had imagined.  While I know that I am wiser and more compassionate because of these experiences, I need to acknowledge the hurt and pain of all that we went through.  The struggles that we continue to face head-on alongside our boy each day.

And just because I admit that I feel angry or cry, I can still love my boy with all my heart and believe that God created him for a very special purpose.  As I heal in the days ahead, I look forward to living with my whole heart.  Not one that is squeezed with anxiety, trying to hide pain, but a heart that is free to be honest, vulnerable and joyful, all at the same time.

 

 

Shedances3
You are a beautiful creation, perfectly imperfect!

-Steve Maraboli

practicecourage (2)
Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
-John Wayne

practicecourage3

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