Thursday, March 29, 2012

Suburban Inspiration

 I took a little break at a local coffee shop and looked out the window and saw this tree. It inspired me in all its winter hibernation.

I didn't have any paper or artistic tools so I pulled out a ball point pen and did a little sketch on the back of my receipt.

It was interesting to really notice how the branches grow. I guess I've never really paid attention to that before but there is some rhyme and reason to it and I know that any time I draw a tree in the future I will be able to draw upon this quick sketch.

Just showing a little inspiration here in the suburbs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Insidious Stress Pt. 2

Doodle created on a Panera Gift card holder
Yesterday we talked a little about the effects of stress and today I want to share some tips for dealing with stress that I've incorporated into my life and have shared with my clients with really good results.

1. Breathe- I know it is simple and seems like a no brainer but I'm telling you it is powerful. Breathing really can change everything. It can affect you on physical, mental and emotional levels. By simply taking a moment to close your eyes and take a deep breath you are consciously making a choice to slow down. If you really want to calm your nervous system try practicing belly breathing for just a few minutes. On the inhale, allow your belly to rise and on the exhale allow it fall. It might help to practice it lying on your back the first few times to get a feel for it.

2. Prepare- Sometimes stressful times can be unpredictable but more often than not I've found that women have predictable cycles in their days or years. I personally am approaching my most stressful season. For other women it is summer or holidays or perhaps it is the morning rush or before dinner that stresses you out. Prepare for these stressful times when things are going smooth. Have meals ready to go in the freezer, take really good care of yourself when things are running at a slow pace so you are better able to handle stress. Schedule down time for yourself, pamper yourself. Begin to think about filling the well so that in times of drought you will have enough to sustain you.

3. Creative Outlet- The act of tapping in to your creativity can really melt away stress. It takes you out of your thinking mind and connects you to the creative flow. Doodle, create a collage, cook a new meal, rearrange your furniture, try a new hairstyle, take up a new hobby, or go on a walk and take a photo safari. Come up with simple creative tasks you can incorporate into your life.

4. Journal- Oftentimes our stress can be compounded by the thoughts in our heads. Let them out and set yourself free. Allow your thoughts to pour themselves out on a page without thinking about them or censoring them. Let the swear words fly! Be bold with your punctuation!!! Set every emotion free. When you're done you can even burn it and watch that negativity go up in smoke. It feels so good.

5. Rewrite Your Story- We all have our stories of lack, frustration, limitations, etc. Try an experiment where you literally rewrite those stories. Pretend you're writing a fairy tale and make it dreamy. Give it a happy ending and you might even try giving yourself the role of Prince Charming. Who needs anyone else to save us right?

6. Consult Your Future Self- Take a moment to connect with the future you who has already experienced what you are going through right now. Be sure you connect with the future you who has conquered the situation, who is thriving, happy, successful and living her dream life. Ask her for advice and support.

7. Use your calendar- This technique has helped so many of the women I 've worked with including myself when it comes to dealing with stressful times. If you have found that you have a recurring stressful time of the year like my stressful baseball season, go forward into your calendar and write yourself a note that will pop up prior to the start of that season. For me it usually pops up in March and baseball goes into full swing in April. I make notes about what made me crazy the year before and what worked. I make notes about ideas that I can try the next year and things to steer clear of. I know you think you will remember from year to year but the truth is we tend to forget but the calendar never forgets.

8. Experiment With Soothing Music- I'm a rocker. I love my rock music. I also love pop music and oldies, and blues, and well, I think you get the idea. I have a eclectic taste in music. I find music can really affect mood and I try experimenting with different styles of music. When you are stressed go for soothing music, classical, spiritual, inspirational. I've been known to put on chanting, meditations, and Gregorian chants to soothe myself. Explore and find some music that soothes your soul.

We can't run away from stress. It's a natural part of our lives. What we can do is to find techniques to reduce it and allow us to function holisticall and at our best. I hope there is a nugget here for you today!

Bring on Baseball Season! :o)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Insidious Stress Pt. 1

Ok, so I've had  bit of stress going on in my life lately. I used to be a complete stress addict and always felt like I was rushing around on high speed. It was so bad that I ended up with adrenal fatigue and had to make some changes in my life.

As a Holistic Health Coach I have worked with many women and mothers who need help dealing with stress and as I sat down at Panera the other day for a little stress break I started thinking about all the great advice I've given out and the advice I follow in my old life and thought I would share it with you.

We've all heard the reports on how stress is bad for our health. It raises cortisol, can contribute to high blood pressure, can lead to adrenal fatigue, etc. But there is another side effect to stress that I want to talk about today and that is how being under stress effects our behavior. When we are stressed out we suddenly begin making choices that we wouldn't normally make.

Food Choices- When we are stressed and under time constraints we typically don't have the time or the desire to prepare healthful meals that feed our bodies. We will just grab whatever is available and that tends to be processed food loaded with sugar, chemicals, and caffeine. These choices only add to the stress on our bodies.

Relationship Choices- Under stress we either don't have the time or energy to spend the quality time with our loved ones. This might mean brushing off our children or collapsing in the bed at the end of the night unable to be intimate with our partners.

Choosing our Words- When stressed out it is so easy to find ourselves snapping at the people we care about or even to the girl checking us out at the grocery store. Our filter can become defective and we could find ourselves saying things we wouldn't normally say.

Not Choosing Self Care- When time is tight and things have to be done yesterday self care can often be the first thing to throw out the window. We don't have time to take a walk. We're just too tired for that bath. Book? Are you kidding? As women we are really good at putting everyone and everything before our needs.

Can you relate to any of this? I know I sure can! I've been there and done that many times. I have to say that I get better and better at dealing with it every day and tomorrow I'm going to share my top tips for dealing with stress.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Looking Back

My son Liam with his new Basketball Coach
 Do you guys remember back in July when I wrote a post about my Soul Art process and how I used it to deal with an issue I was having with my son's sports coach? If you don't remember, you can check it out here.

While the issue I was having really spanned across all my children it was particularly difficult with my son Liam. He had a coach who coached him on baseball and basketball. I watched as my son faltered under this man. Let me tell you, this kid was confident. One of my girlfriends told me he said, "Whoever shows up to practice next is really lucky because he gets to play with me." It was sincere. He believed in himself and he wasn't afraid to show it.

Over the years this coach began to chip away at my son's confidence. It was gradual at first but began to snowball. I tried talking with the coach, talking with my son and encouraging him but nothing seemed to work.

Last year it all came to a head and everything changed. We got a new coach and said goodbye to the old one. We have tried new teams for him and each and every step we've made has been better and better.

We recently put him on a team with a coach that I cannot tell you how much we love. He is so kind and he is taking an interest in Liam. He is teaching him and supporting him. And let me tell you, he knows his stuff. He played basketball and football at Ball State and went on to play in the NFL for 7 years. He can get excited and he can yell but it isn't  done in a way that demeans.

I'm watching my son's confidence slowly begin to come back. He is beginning to take more shots and take more risks because he knows he won't be punished for his mistakes. He is excited to go to practice and thrilled for games. He even sprayed the logo on his head for crazy hair day.

And I'm sure you know that it isn't about the success he has at sports. It's more about the growth he is having in life. Learning to believe in himself and knowing what it is like when he is supported by an adult other than his parents.

So what does this all have to do with art? It occurred to me the other day that over the last year things have changed. I healed and came face to face with issues I was having through my Soul Art process and everything seemed to fall into place without me even realizing it. I am amazed and grateful to be able to look back and see the progress that has been made.

Art Heals!

Monday, March 19, 2012

This is one of my small canvases I started playing with when I was frozen with fear in my Flora Bowley class. I started the same way by spreading paint all over the canvas, scratching into it, dripping, playing and having fun. The very last thing I did was scratch the word home into a bit of paint.

When I came back to it days later I saw the word and knew I had to make a house. I started sketching it out and added a fun little tree. It reminds me of my childhood drawings. I have absolutely no idea where this is headed but I am having fun with it.

It's so funny to me how many different styles have been emerging from this class. I am all over the place. I have struggled with the fact that I am all over the place with my art but I guess I'm just going with the flow and just letting whatever wants to come out emerge. I'm not fighting it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What are You Good At?

When I was a kid I can remember being around people who liked to brag about themselves and I hated it. I would roll my eyes and think they were so ridiculous. I never wanted to be one of those people who had to tell people how great I was or brag on endlessly about myself because I thought it was such a turn off.

What I didn't realize back then is that there is a difference between bragging about yourself and believing in yourself. In the process of not wanting to brag about myself I actually stopped believing in myself.

This showed up for me big time the other day when I was talking to my friend about something or other. She asked me point blank, "Well Michelle, What are you good at?" Holy cow. I stuttered and I stammered and I couldn't get a word out. I started laughing to deflect the nervous tension and I was shocked at how difficult it was.

I was able to stutter out a few things I was good at only when I put the word "sometimes" in front of it. Ha ha, how funny. Sometimes I'm good at this and other times I'm not. Well, I'm a realist I guess and it had to feel right for me but hey, it's a bridge right?

My frend and I already send each other a daily email filled with all kinds of positive affirmations and gratitude so we decided to add something we are good at each day. Of course I started out writing my "sometimes" in there but more and more I've found myself just writing "I'm good at..." It's getting easier and easier. Yay!

I recently went to get my hair cut with a new girl who was recommended by a friend. She has an in home salon as well as her own location. I didn't really know a lot about her when I went to see her. I simply trusted my friend and love her hair so I knew it would be good.

As I spoke to her I found out that she had been with a high end salon in a very posh town. She was the top earner in the salon and when someone called and asked for the best, they booked them with her. She was telling me all these stories about her past and at one point she said, "I not tying to brag but I worked hard to get that reputation and I'm proud of it."

Do you know that there was not one moment in that conversation where I thought she was bragging or talking herself up. It felt genuine and she exuded a confidence that was well earned. So that is what I am striving for. Believing in myself and my talents and earning the right to share them with others without the need to inflate myself. Woo! That feels good!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Personalized Journal

My friend Carrie is is always telling me that she wants to be more creative. She wants to paint and she wants to create. Her word of the year is "fun" and while we were talking on the phone the other day I was telling her how much FUN I have taking notes and doodling with my gel pens. I could tell she was intrigued.

She just had herbirthday and I decided that I would help her along with her creative pursuits. I bought a journal for her and decorated the cover. I sent it along with a set of gel pens.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Update From the Studio

I've been spending a lot of time in the studio painting away. I am enjoying Flora Bowley's class. I have to admit, it can be scary to paint like this. I know it sounds ridiculous but I completely shut down for about a week and couldn't muster up the courage to continue. I mean, if you look at the painting above you might be able to understand...what a mess! It makes me cringe just looking at it.

There is something about this process that makes my head swim. It is so chaotic and can be hard for my brain to handle. In my mind I know that every painting I've ever done has gone through an ugly stage but there is something about the chaotic nature of this style that throws me for a loop.

After  week of avoiding them like the plague I decided to suck it up and just get in there and do something. The good thing is they couldn't get any worse! :o)

This is how the painting has evolved. There was actually a step in between here where I just decided to pick my favorite color and splash it all over the canvas. I ended up with a beautiful wash of luscious reds. I felt so much better.

Then I went in and started adding some greens and yellows. While its not quite there yet, It makes me happy to look at it instead of crazy.

Here is a close up of one of my favorite little spots in the upper left hand corner.

My second painting is a little farther along. I liked the colors and the circles. It feels good. You might notice in the upper middle there are some words sprawled across the canvas. The day I splashed red all over the first canvas I decided to write myself some encouraging words and I just did it...all over the canvas. There was a moment when I thought, "Oh crap, what the hell am I doing? I'm going to ruin this!" Ha ha, I laughed. That's impossible and I let it go and kept writing.

It got me started and got me starting to flow. I had to do something to move on and it worked perfectly.

When I stepped back I saw a bird. My conscious mind thought, "Oh no, it's right in the middle of the canvas. That's not good composition." "Um, shut up and do it!" I said back to myself. And I did.

So that is where I am right now. There is still a lot of work to do but I'm happy.

In the week I was shut down with fear I decided to start a few other smaller canvases that I had lying around. This one started by simply dripping paint down the canvas. After it dried I was going to add some more to it and I put it up on the wall and knew there was a face there so I started painting it.

As I was fleshing it out I had this feeling of strength from her so I added it to the bottom of the canvas. I kept looking at her, talking to her, asking her what kind of hair she wants. Nothing was coming.

She finally told me she wants a big flower in her hair which I find interesting. That represents a softness and female energy that balances the hard strength I've been feeling from her. Of course I am going to give her a flower.

I have no idea how this is going to progress but I'm excited to watch it emerge.