Hello Again Wonder Friends!

Hello Wonder-Friends: Perhaps you’ve been wondering where I’ve been? It’s been a while and it feels so wonderful to be writing you on the weekend Wonder Woman is officially opening. I started this Wonder Blog expressing my love for all things Wonder Woman and the love fest continues, as does my excitement about seeing the movie! Hooray and Huzzah!  We’ve been teaching Healing the Healer a lot over these past months and so Rocky & I thought it would be fun to put together a collage of our teacher paintings as a visual representation. ( My thanks to Rocky for creating this magical collage.)  I –and so many of my friends– often forget to take in and acknowledge what we’ve accomplished. I have a tendency to move from training to training, task to task & owl rock to owl rock…and forget to celebrate when something is completed. That’s one of my self-care strategies that I’m choosing (right now!) to incorporate into my self-care plan.  What about you, what would you like to weave into your self-care regime? The paintings in this collage were created in workshops we taught to amazing people in NYC at the Soul Camp New Years’ Day event and to splendiferous & inspiring human services professionals, fost-adopt caretakers, and foster youth all over California – in Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Orange, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma Counties. I am grateful I was also invited to present a Healing Creative Mindfulness practice for 90 people at UC Berkeley for CalSWEC’s Symposium on Fairness & Equity Issues in Child Welfare Training.  In the presence of these wonder women and men who... read more

Three Magical Things We Learned Teaching Healing The Healer & Self-Care This Year

Over the past year, I’ve have had the honor of meeting and teaching almost 300 incredible human services and healing arts professionals throughout California.  I’ve been awed by their dedication to helping children and families and making a difference in the world.  I’ve also had the pleasure of starting to work with my husband, Rocky, who is a talented artist and began assisting the Healing the Healer workshops in May.  Here are the top three things we’ve learned along the way and wanted to share with you to help support your ongoing self-care! 1.  Self-care love-and humor!– go a long way when working with your husband (or anyone, for that matter).  We are together a lot now and as fabulous as that is, sometimes I get grouchy and need to draw some whimsical owls and laugh about goofy things, like the “disagreements” we have about fonts. Taking a walk on the beach and watching funny shows like 30 Rock and Parks & Rec also helps soothe the inner gremlins.  And starting the day with Seven Second Hug, the song we created for our holiday card, helps us to connect in the morning. Creating goofy, funny holiday cards to spread peace and love to our friends and family (and you!) also helps soothe the soul. 2. Watercolor sets for kids.  They are inexpensive, non-toxic, and easy to carry when traveling and can be used to create cards and notes.  We use Prang Washable Watercolors, which we found on Dick Blick. They even have metallic and glitter sets! 🙂  You can turn 8 colors into 64 by mixing them.  Here is a sample... read more

Fireside Chat! Beverly Kyer

Hello and welcome to Fireside Chats with extraordinary people doing amazing things. At the West Coast Child Welfare Trainers Conference I attended this past week, I had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful trainers, including Beverly Kyer, a dynamic and talented speaker. She just wrote the book Surviving Compassion Fatigue: Help for Those Who Help Others. I immediately scooped up a copy and wanted to interview her to find out more. She also participated in the Intentional Creativity session I taught at the conference and I was curious about her experience with the method as a tool for healing. Beverly has a vast amount of experience in the human services field. She spent over three decades as a clinical social worker working with pediatric oncology patients, Vietnam veterans, psychiatric patients, and foster care. She spent much of her career with the Veteran’s Administration Veteran’s Outreach Center and Medical Center in the Bronx, New York City and the Child Welfare system in California. She has postgraduate certificates and over three decades of experience in integrated approaches to readjustment counseling, post-traumatic stress disorder, and compassion fatigue. She now lectures around the country on compassion fatigue. What is your profession now? I am a speaker, educator, author, and clinical social worker. I specialize in secondary and direct trauma impacts of children, youth and adults. Training has been my calling. I like talking to people. I don’t lecture at people. It’s like a conversation and that’s being me, so it’s never felt like a job. Why did you choose to go into social work? I was a teacher first in the 60’s. I... read more

Return of The Gemmuddles & Other Magical Creatures

The Art-A-Day May challenge to support the Mind, Body, Spirit and Heart this past month rekindled my connection to gemmuddles –my imaginary (or not!), magical friends from my childhood.  When I was two, I would climb into my parents’ bed and animatedly talk about our adventures.  I don’t remember details –my mom told me I would do this –but I feel like they are now reappearing in my art and doodles … little wise creatures whispering to me & creating mischief.  They are still speak in a magical language, so I don’t know exactly what they are saying yet; it’s more a feeling at this point … to play, relax and be in wonder & whimsy.  Oh, yeah.  And to be me.       “Be me.”  Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  In practice it’s a wee bit harder.  Those creeping “shoulds” and “but look at him/her” creep in with the critic arising strong and fierce. — A lot of people I work with in the Healing the Healer workshops struggle with this…the critic often comes rearing his or her ugly head when we are painting. (It does with me too!)  I like to ask my critic to go to a beautiful place-like Paris to eat chocolate croissants; or to have margaritas somewhere, chillax in the sun & read a good book.  I want to let my inner guide have some time to play without interference and criticism! — Wise guidance from Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Gilbert & other sages help me through the rough patches.  Gilbert beautifully says:  “Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing... read more

Wonder World

Hello Wonder-Friends:   One of my favorite self-care delights is to soak in a hot tub with bubbles while reading a good book.  And one of my favorite places to soak is in Big Sur — in side-by-side porcelain tubs with my hubby –at one of our favorite hot springs spots.  Recently, a wee bit exhausted and in need of some TLC, I enjoyed a few long hot tub chillaxing sessions while visiting a close friend at our fave place.  We mixed in a few card games, delish food, drinks, and wonderful conversation.   All those things help to relax my whole system, which was a little wound up after a few whirlwind months.  I kept thinking, I’m teaching self-care and healing and I need to –dare I say it?—walk my walk and try to actually embrace self-care myself.  And then Yoda’s voice started ringing in my head, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”  So I did.   “What’s with the whirlwind of activity?“ you may ask (hopefully while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee while nestled in a comfy place).  Well, I shall tell you!   I traveled to the east coast to visit my fabulous family and to attend the UN’s 60th Commission on the Status of Women to support panels embracing the power of Intentional Creativity™ and intuitive painting to transform and heal. At one of the panels, visionary artist Shiloh Sophia debuted the Intentional Creativity™ Foundation’s Hoya-Straus Art Education Library.  The library allows people all over the world to access free teaching videos.   My free “Healing the Healer” video gift... read more

Eccentric Self-Care

Hello wonder-friends!   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... read more

Doodle Extravaganza!

“Why doodling?” you may ask.   I’ll give you four reasons.  After you’ve tried it you’ll likely find there are many, many more.   First, the word doodle. It’s fantabulous and fun.   In this, my Year of Wonder & Whimsy, I wanted to start out with practices I like and lead me into those spaces.  Doodling does that.  Plus, it’s a great rhyming word for both real and made up words.  Canoodle with your poodle, schnoodle.  Love you oodles!  Toodles.     Second, anyone can doodle.  There are no rules and you can let your pen, pencil, marker, crayon, whatever tool you’d like, lead the way.   You can create the atmosphere, doodling at a desk with tea and a candle lit.  Or while at a meeting, a lecture or while watching your favorite t.v. show … whatever strikes your fancy, Nancy.   Third, you don’t need a lot of time to do it.  15, 10, even 5 minutes will do.  A lot of us are so busy, we barely have time to have lunch. Rather than add another burdensome “to do” to the list of “to dos”, I wanted to offer a way into creativity that could be done in any time period.  Which is why I created the Doodle Extravaganza challenge this month.   To start opening the door to creativity with as little stress as possible.   Fourth, with doodling, you can change and expand your state of mind.  I find that when I’m stressed out and anxious, my body and mind relax when I’m doodling and drawing.  The ahhhhhhh happens.  It’s a form of... read more

Fireside Chat! Kim Ragen

Hello and welcome to Fireside Chats with extraordinary people doing amazing things with Intentional Creativity!    Among those extraordinary people is child welfare social worker, Kim Ragen, a Program Manager in Emergency Response in Orange County, California.  She has done this work for 21 years because she wanted to make a difference in the world.  An inspiring human being, she overcame her initial nervousness to paint in her ongoing search to find ways to help social workers she works with find tools for rejuvenation and self-care from the difficult work they do.      Tell us, why did you take this workshop?   I originally took the Healing the Healer workshop because Rachel made me.  Just kidding!  We worked together when she was an attorney in Orange County.  She told me about her new work with Intentional Creativity and I was intrigued by it.  I was very curious about the impact the workshop would have on the social workers I work with who are often in stressful and emotionally charged situations.   So have you ever painted before?   No and I hesitated at first, thinking I couldn’t do it. But once we got started and I began to get immersed in the process, my hesitation disappeared.  When I stood in front of the blank canvas, I realized I could paint anything I wanted and that was very freeing.  The fun, structured environment that Rachel created also allowed me to relax into it and become more connected to the painting and to myself.  I felt very peaceful and engaged.  At the end of the day, it was actually hard... read more

Welcome to the Wonder Blog!

I love the name Wonder Blog for several reasons.   First, I love Wonder Woman.  I mean I don’t know her personally but I wish I did.  And I love the idea of her…a strong powerful woman with an invisible plane, kick ass boots, bullet repelling cuffs, a truth telling golden lasso, and a super amazing way to change clothes…just turn around in a circle!  What’s not to love?  Plus, she fights villains and stands for honesty, kindness, and female power! Kapow!     Second, I love the word wonder….the way it rolls around on my tongue.  Just saying it.  Wonder, wonder, wonder.     Third, I love that when I say the word I immediately imagine looking around and seeing the wonder in everything…the vibrant red leaves on a Japanese maple tree, the twinkle in my partner’s eye, the sun glinting off the ocean, the delicious taste of wonder-ful chocolate in my mouth…mmmhmmm…   Those are just three reasons and there are a lot more.  However, as my left brain enjoys lists, numbers, and conciseness…  I want this Wonder Blog to embody those aspects of me…the left brain, child welfare lawyer, linear side and the right, more free-flowing, groovy, artist side as it will help me to write in a way that’s more me.  Hence, three reasons for why I love the word—and concept of—wonder.   AND…more than this being about me…it’s about YOU!   Or else I’d just be writing this and keeping it in my computer.  (Which, frankly, maybe you think I should have done.  But in case you think otherwise, here are some more words... read more

Shoulds v. Woo Hoos!

“Woo hoo!” said my brain recently, when I had the pleasure of teaching my “Healing the Healer” workshop to 2015 Color of Woman graduates.   I was lit up introducing the session to women dedicated to bringing the work of Intentional Creativity– in their own, unique ways –to people all over the world.   It also reminded me that we all –me too!–must implement the self-care tools that work for us individually, which is what the Healing the Healer sessions aim to do.  And I reminded myself—“You can’t just talk about this, Rachel, you also have to do it!”  Easy peasy, yes?   No. Not always.  Life gets busy and crazy, with nary a moment to breathe at times.  So that’s why I wanted to have this blog.  To provide some space to breathe and support for self-care in ways that are rejuvenating, healing, and dare I say, fun?   Yes indeedy…I don’t want to make this all about shoulds, but instead to make it about some woo hoos!  I say this from personal experience because, as I’ve been on this journey & handling emotionally taxing work, I realized I have a lot of “should” self-care to-dos, like green juice and yoga.  Then, when I don’t do them, I get mad at myself!   So I decided to create some woo hoo! self care tools that I look forward to doing for myself as well ….like coffee & doodling, drawing whimsical animals, reading a good book, walking on the beach, or watching a funny movie.  Much easier-peasier to do those things I love.  And they help me to relax... read more
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