I want you to know something. In this new and profound journey of healing we’re exploring, I’m writing to you for a very specific reason, and that is: when we connect here, on the social media merry-go-round, or at a workshop – that you find your own unique place of respite, fun, healing, curiosity and inquiry through our conversation.
I’m not here to give you to do lists! I’m hoping to bring new ways to wonder with me about how we can each live best with those to do lists, and to embark on a path together where we find new ways to support the important work YOU are doing in the world!
I want to spark ideas for you. Eccentric ones, even.
Like a few weekends ago, my partner Rocky and I co-hosted an Eccentric Salon & Supper with my art teacher and her chef husband with the theme “When Pigs Fly”. The food & beverage menus were inspired by our somewhat outlandish holiday hipster cards. People read poetry and sang, mingled with cocktails and enjoyed each others eccentric alter egos amidst the delectable courses created by a very talented chef. Honestly, our menu was so crazy we never thought it would happen!
Our dreams came true because of good friends and a little prodding from our eccentric and whimsical muses within.
My whimsical muse has gotten me through some very dark and heavy places and into lighter, more playful spaces. She led me to wonder, whimsy, doodling and woo hoos as they are a counterbalance to the work I do in the child abuse and neglect field. After reading pages of transcripts filled with descriptions of abuse, domestic violence, and drug abuse, I often feel heavy and sad. And it sticks to me. Like glue. My whimsical owls, aardvarks, pigs, and meerkats help to shift that heaviness.
Indeed, when I was immersed in my artist archetype painting for my Intentional Creativity course in the summer of 2014 (a very intense and amazing process!), I was in the middle of handling three legal briefs in a row involving serious domestic violence and drug abuse. The cases were three distinct matters, but the facts were so similar; the children were removed, returned to their mothers and then removed again because the same cycle of violence and drug use had returned.
I felt sick to my stomach, feeling great empathy and compassion for the children. And I would go into my visualizations and work with the archetype painting with this heaviness and what kept coming to me? Whimsical animals! A dragon, aardvark, owl and frog, there to provide protection, playfulness, and a message: to bring this work back to the child welfare professionals, children and youth they serve…and not in a heavy, serious woo woo way, but a whimsical, light-hearted, wonder way.
And it’s not that I’m pretending the abuse didn’t happen. I know it did. It’s awful and I’m doing what I can to help support a system that protects children and nurtures families. That doesn’t mean it needs to stay in my body, though. I can do the things to help move it through…kinesthetically and cognitively.
This combination of painting, writing and mindfulness worked so well for me that I got super excited about bringing this into the child welfare realm; back to the people I used to work with every day. (When I wore suits and went to the office!) I know it’s a new —-and to some people at first—weird concept to have a painting based workshop in the workplace. But I wanted to try it. And I did. And it works beautifully.
And each person who experiences this process and accesses their inner healer or guide will then find out what works for them…in personal and individualized ways. Maybe it will be daily meditation and tea. Or running a marathon. Or yoga and walks on the beach. Or a combination of all those things. That’s the beauty of this method, you get to decide–with help from that inner, knowing guide–what will really work for your mind, body, heart and spirit, in your own way. I feel the conversation about secondary traumatic stress and healing in a tangible way in the workplace is incredibly important.
So I want us to start a conversation here. To provide a space to share our self-care stories in case any ideas resonate with each other. So I ask this: What do you want to move through you – or “unstick”– and what do you feel called to try that’s new for you?
We’d all love to hear from you! Please share in the comments below!