A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama
A new thing has happened in my professional life/self--I've become interested and engaged in learning more lately. I know I'm always learning things from my clients and life in general which I synthesize and integrate into my work. But, I realized that since our finances have become a lot tighter and since I've been on this mama ride, I've done little continuing education.
For whatever reason, the other day, I got a bee in my bonnet about this and had a little bit of free time at work. So, through a little looking, I found that I could hear Dr. Bessel van der Kolk for free through the Psychotherapy Networker web offerings. This was the right thing at the right time. Van der Kolk has proved to be inspiring each time I've encountered him--through a wonderful, live lecture a few years ago, through articles he's quoted in, or this recent web talk.
He is so clearly compassionate about his work and his clients (yes, clients--he's a researcher, psychiatrist, professor, and lecturer who still does actual therapy with real people). When I've heard him, I've felt that perfect balance of support and inspiration. He backs up a lot of what I know and do with clients, but then he brings the breadth of his knowledge and curiosity and pushes my limits and sparks my interest. (Note to self: how can you try to find this balance in interactions with the girls?)
So, that was a nice beginning. Since then, I've been taking free time at work, when a client cancels or no shows, to find more trainings. I sit at my desk, maybe knit a bit so my focus is in that sweet spot where I'm not too fidgety to listen well, and take in 40 minutes or an hour of new material. It's so simple, really, but it has felt rather revolutionary.
About a year ago, I needed a change. I was not feeling like I had any space or direction of my own. I was feeling bogged down in my work and in my home life. At work, the listening to trauma was zapping my energy and at home, there was this issue of a two-year-old's tantrums...
So, I was looking for some help lifting the mood and finding a new perspective. A friend suggested a book, I Love You Rituals, to help bring some lightness into the parenting. Another friend loaned me the book, and J. and I had some fun with it, but I didn't end up buying it. However, I looked at its listing on Amazon, and in so doing found another book that I did buy, The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections, by Amanda Blake Soule.
Finding this book lead me back to an article in Mothering Magazine about momma blogs I had not really noticed the month it came out. From there, I found SouleMama, angry chicken, This Vintage Chica, and The Artful Parent (see side bar for links). These blogs and the many links they lead me to opened up so much creativity and curiosity for me! I started making and plotting to make and making some more.
It was at this time (May of last year), that I started this blog. I wanted to explore my own ideas and my own creative adventures. One such adventure was the making of a hat for C. (although I didn't end up blogging about it then). It was kind-of a revelation to me that I could make, from my own mind and fabric stash, a sweet hat for my sweet girl that actually fit her apparently-tiny-for-her-age, lovely, little head! That was just the beginning of my crafting and concocting for my girls.
Now, almost a year later, I find myself in the mood for both again--a hat and a change. Last weekend, I made C. her 2010 sun hat (or at least the first one; I might need to make another before too long). And this weekend, my sewing room/treadmill room/guest room got a makeover. I haven't been getting enough making done lately, and it's been feeling discouraging. Sleep has been tough, we've been sick constantly, and work is, well, work. So I really need my creative outlet to be working for me. So, some organization and new energy into the place seemed to be the ticket. I still have to hang some art and organize my notions, but the space is so much better and fresher. I'm feeling a lift and some excitement about the creative adventures ahead!
Amanda Soule has been posting a "this moment" photo each Friday for the past few weeks, which she describes as "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember." I've been wanting to take her up on her invitation to join in, but Fridays (Thursday nights) are the toughest day here, as I work Thursdays and Fridays, and we'll all generally dragging by this time in the week. However, this week I couldn't resist capturing the new wheels...
This year's bounty of dyed eggs were a bit more subdued, but as an earth-tone lover, they struck me as perfect. We tried natural dyes and a traditional technique I'd found written about a while ago in a Vegetarian Times magazine (here's another, similar article by the same author). We also used onion skins, turmeric, red cabbage, and beets, as detailed here to make the solid eggs (although we had limited success with cabbage and beets). I'm looking forward to next year already, as I want to give it another go.
But, now I'm on to the next thing. There are sun hats to be made and Mayday celebrations to be planned...
These impatiens keep blooming every few months. It seems miraculous, really. They're planted in a shallow pot in mediocre soil, they get only moderate light, and I water them quite haphazardly. But, yet, almost five years after they were potted for my stepfather's memorial, they keep flowering.
I'm remembering him today on what would be his 69th birthday. Wish he'd been able to be here to see all the blooming in this house.
Little by little it's becoming more natural. My creative making is starting to push into my work days. It started out slowly and the effort was mostly personal. I'd take a little time to blog surf and dream of projects for days off while downing my sandwich during the day. Or I'd take a brief moment during the day to knit a few rows to ground me and take a breath between intense sessions.
But now, little bits more have been creeping in more organically and enhancing my practice. This past month felt really good this way. I handed out a playdoh recipe to one client who wants to do some sculpting without the mess of clay. I also made a little boat from this tutorial, which I used in a new group I'm cofacilitating to hold little slips of paper from each member naming something that's holding her down and then, in the little pocket I sewed on the sail, something that is keeping her afloat. A few weeks ago, I talked knitting with another client and was able to explore some family relationships through the conversation.
(Now, as I'm writing this, I'm getting thinking about exploring family relationships through handcrafts or maybe cooking. I wonder what a genogram focused on making would look like?)
I'm really interested in where this is going to lead. I've never been particularly drawn to typical art therapy (I wrote some about my approach to therapy a while ago here) and a lot of the projects I naturally gravitate towards are not office-space or hour-session friendly. How will my form of creativity further make its way into my practice? My gut tells me not to force this. I've got decades left in my career and maybe this slow overlap can't be forced. I guess I just have to keep myself open to it and invite it when it comes knocking.