So it occurred to me recently that many folks following my page might not know my story and how I came to discover creativity. I don't like to say I discovered art or painting, because creativity comes in many shapes and forms. And it's not the art or the painting that I want to highlight, it's the ACT of engaging in a creative process that revolutionized my life and can change the way you live, act, think, and show up in this world.
I'll take you back to a few years ago, when I left my job working in higher education. I had previously been a working professional mom. Prior to motherhood, I was in love with my work, was involved in professional organizations, and career motivated. I had received my MEd while working full-time, and had considered pursuing my EDd thereafter. I had no idea that motherhood would make all that feel secondary.
Once I became a mom - you know, the all-consuming job that takes over your heart, so you find you have less control over your life than you ever expected to have - it became really hard for me to put my attention on my work like I wanted. I felt like I couldn't give my 110% self, like I had previously done. Staying late was hard. Working weekends was harder. Professional trips became out of the question. So I began to shift my thinking and eventually considered what it would be like to take some time to stay home.
After my second child was born, it became crystal clear that I couldn't work any longer. I felt called to stay home and not only raise my kids, but to homeschool them as well. I gave my resignation a couple months after she was born, and it was one of the HARDEST things I have ever done in my life.
I cried to my boss when I told her the news. I felt like I had let everyone down. Like I was letting my coworkers, some of my best friends, down. I felt guilty that I couldn't handle the hustle of working motherhood. Occasionally, it felt like I was taking the easy way out. I mean, I had never stayed home with my son for more than a few days at a time - why did I think I could be with him 24/7 AND homeschool him WITH a new baby. I was making more money than my husband was, and carried all our benefits. Why was I doing this? Some days I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life.
I had no clue what I was doing.
So there I was, hormonal, postpartum, transitioning to being a mother of two children (which is a challenge within itself), while also deciding to give up my career identity, put all my faith in my husband to provide for us financially, and immerse myself in the solitude that is stay-at-home motherhood. Can you see where this is heading?
My son was 3.5 at the time, and my daughter was a newborn. Initially, the transition felt like a mini vacation. It was nice to have control over our days, do fun things, meet new friends. It felt great. But as time passed, my son grew more challenging and challenging. My daughter needed to be held all the time. Neither child napped very well, if at all, so I had very little time to use the bathroom, let alone do anything for myself.
Self-care, self-care! It's what everyone tells moms to do. Put your own oxygen mask on first, they say. I remember posting on my Facebook feed that I just wanted one day where someone else could hold my baby while I ate a meal that I didn't cook. Looking back, I see how bottom of the barrel I had been feeling. So incredibly depleted. Without much help from family, I was drowning.
On the outside, my drowning wasn't very obvious. The kids were fed and clean. The house was sort of picked up. We had pictures on Facebook of all the fun things we would do on homeschooling excursions. But I began to really hate my life. I began to hate motherhood.
I cringe when I read that myself. I LOVED my children, but I didn't LOVE being a mom. All the things that go along with it - grocery shopping, scratch cooking, laundry, cloth diapering, holding them, sleeping with them, all of the things that felt suffocating. I had absolutely nothing left for myself, and it began to take its toll on all of us.
I was angry. I was resentful. I was grouchy. I yelled at my son. I was constantly disappointed in my husband. I was jealous of my friends. I felt let down by my family. The list goes on and on. I was really unhappy.
My unhappiness felt like a jail time sentence. I just needed to survive the younger years. This is the hardest time. Everyone says that. It's just temporary. You will miss it. So I threw everything I had left into my mothering - because it was the ONLY thing I had, even if it was making me crazy.
I began to find ways to be the best, most perfect mom I could be. Finding the right boots for the rain took hours to research. New recipes the kids would like. Which lunch box would be best for our field trips. I even spiraled into finding solutions for things that weren't even wrong with my children, for issues they HYPOTHETICALLY might have one day. Sensory issues? Hmm. Could be. Teeth issues? I've gotta do everything to prevent them. Were their toilet habits normal? Maybe not.
It paralyzed me.
I fell to my lowest point when my son was bitten by two deer ticks in a matter of 10 days. We had never encountered a tick bite before, yet he somehow had TWO in such a short time. Mind you, we live in New England where this is NOT uncommon, yet it pushed me off the deep end. I went into a frenzy. My internal thoughts went something like this: "He's going to get Lyme, I need to research treatment protocols. How did I let this happen? I let him down. This can NEVER happen again."
I'm sure you can tell how this went down. Thankfully, we tested the ticks and they were negative for Lyme and co-infections, but I became an overly protective parent who could not bear to drop the ball on ANYTHING. I dodged a bullet this time. So I would need to be MORE vigilant. More present. More prepared. I couldn’t let this happen again. Yeah. It wasn't pretty.
My motherhood and my fears and my worries were literally making me crazy.
Tapping my creative potential.
At this time, I connected with a woman who would give me some of the greatest healing support I ever could have imagined. (There are no accidents. Clearly she was on my Red Thread.) I joined her group of women in an intimate online Facebook group, as we all dove into areas of our lives we were looking to heal. I didn't know WHAT I needed to heal, but damn it, I needed some healing. My anxiety was crippling me. And really debilitating my relationship with my family.
During that time in my healing collective, we learned some valuable tools. The first tool I really clung to was the need for creativity as a mode for healing. I was told we could not truly heal ourselves unless we were using our creative energy. And a light bulb went off for me. I hadn't created in YEARS. For as long as I could remember. And I was never an artist. I was never "good" at art. But I did love to try.
I bought a watercolor set and a journal and started to paint. It was so moving. Fun even. Shortly thereafter, a friend shared a link on Facebook to a free online art summit that I tried out on a whim, and it was led by an Intentional Creativity teacher. It was there that I was introduced to the Intentional Creativity movement, its leaders, and the idea of process art. Creating with inquiry and purpose, not for product. And this changed my life.
Finally. I had a place to put some of the things I was feeling. I could write in my art journal (aka my Cosmic Smash Book) - all the bad things I was feeling. All the hurt and pain. And I could cover it up with paint, so no one would see it, and turn it into something beautiful. It was a process I fell in love with.
I started to find ways to bring creativity into my busy life as a mom. I put together a portable art kit and I would start to create when I could with the kids. At the park. Outside in the yard. While nursing on the couch. I had seen the impact creating had on my emotions, and it was like a prescription - I had to take my medicine every day. If I went too long, then then I felt it. It brought me joy and made me smile. And when I talked about creating, my face lit up.
Creativity became my calling.
I feel VERY luck to have found this modality for myself, and even luckier to have a supportive partner. My husband could see the difference it was making in my life and he encouraged me to apply to the Color of Woman Intentional Creativity Teacher training program that would start the following year. Applications were taken a whole year ahead of time! Talk about commitment. I had never even painted on a canvas before and had no clue how I would use it. But I felt called to do it. And so I did. I was accepted and completed the program in 2018.
Now I am a certified Intentional Creativity teacher & Guild Member, a Cosmic Smash Booking Guide, and am completing my certification as a Creatively Fit Coach. I teach in-person workshops to women and children on accessing their creative potential and am launching my online offerings this year. What a difference a couple of years makes.
Now. I tell you my story because I want you to see...
I was not a trained artist.
I was never "good" at painting.
I used art as SURVIVAL tool.
I used painting as a HEALING tool
Creativity saved my motherhood.
Painting saves me every day.
There is magic in creating.
YOU too can be creative.
You NEED to be creative.
It wants to be released.
If I can do it, anyone can. And if you’ve made it this far, chances are you need it as much as I did.
Thank you for reading my story.