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Category Archives: Creative Parenting

Creativity.. here’s a couple sad statements

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A quote from Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, and contributing editor for Scientific American Mind: (Highly recommend reading the current edition focused entirely on creativity)

“When children are very young, they all express creativity, but by the end of first grade, very few do. This is because of socialization. They learn in school to stay on task and to stop daydreaming and asking silly questions. As a result, the expression of new ideas is largely shut down. We end up leaving creative expression to the misfits – the people who can’t be socialized. It’s a tragedy.”

Quote from my six year old granddaughter yesterday upon returning to school after the Christmas Holidays: (She is half way through Grade One)

“Nana, my whole classroom was changed!  It’s because we’re older now, so now we just have to work, write and sit all day. Just work and write all day!”
“You still get to play and make things, don’t you?”
“No, I think we just work all day now. Because we are older and some of the kids already turned 7.”

I don’t know what’s really going on in her class. She is in an arts-based school. But, it frightens me that this is her perspective. I hope today is different for her. I really don’t want either of these quotes to be true anymore.

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Painting Spills and Aha’s – Recipes for Creative Play.

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Spills – A Recipe for Joyful Disaster

Nutritional information:  This project for family and friends is a great way to get past the paralyzing perfectionism that can happen when you show up to ‘creating.’  Enjoying the process and letting go the outcome makes this a freeing and fun event. Be sure to remind yourself and others that the paintings have potential to be really ‘bad’ and that’s not just okay, it’s wonderful.

Ingredients:

  •  One canvas (or more) per person. Canvases are available inexpensively at local dollar stores.
  •  Any and all paint you already have:  House paint, tempera paint, spray paint.
  •  Painting ‘tools’: Brushes, sticks, spray bottles, branches or whatever tickles your imagination.
  •  Paint balloons: Fun, but if the messiness of making them stops you from doing this, then don’t include these.
    To make paint balloons: Using a funnel to fill a pop bottle with paint. Blow up a balloon and quickly place it over the top of the bottle.  Tip bottle to fill balloon, remove balloon and tie it shut.

Directions:

  • Set canvases side by side outside on the ground or against a fence. Use a tarp if you are concerned about paint damaging the area.
  • Everyone starts throwing paint on ALL canvases using balloons, paint dipped branches and brushes, spray bottles, or simply pour and drip from the paint containers.
  • When everyone has laughed enough and tossed enough, have people stand beside their favourite. It’s surprising how this can evolve without a fight.  Each person then plays with their canvas to enhance it. Feel free to paint with leaves, branches, sticks or whatever is nearby.
  • Let paintings dry then 1. store in the shed if really ugly.  2. use them again for the next spills event or 3. sometimes these paintings are amazing. Have each person decide what they would like to do with their creation.

Aha Painting Recipe

Nutritional Information:  A very freeing painting event that encourages imagination, intuition, perceptive skills and storytelling in addition to all the other benefits of creative play.

Ingredients:

  • Yupo paper – available at The Art Store or Opus in pads or sheets.
  • Watercolour paint – any kind works. Higher quality watercolours work best but are not necessary.
  • Brushes
  • Plastic Wrap – Saran Wrap or Costco brands work best.

Directions:

  • Paint or pour watercolour paints onto yupo paper in ‘splotches.’  Deeper, brighter and more opaque colouring works best.  (ie: colours that don’t appear faded or overly translucent)
  • If you are inclined to paint an ‘image,’ do not fuss too much as it will change quite drastically by the time you are done.
  • Before the paint dries, take sheets of plastic wrap and lay over top of the entire painting.  You can use more than one sheet if necessary.
  • You can leave the sheets exactly as they land, or manipulate the plastic a bit to ‘move paint’ underneath.
  • Be careful not to overdo this movement or colours may mix and become muddy.  (This is perfectly fine if you like muddy!)
  • Leave the plastic sheets on the painting for 24 hours or more.  Paint must be dry before removing the plastic wrap. No peeking!  Even after 24 hours, lift a corner to make sure paint has dried.
  • Remove plastic wrap and AHA! You have an intriguing landscape of patterns and colours.  Have everyone look closely from all angles at the paintings. What do you see?  Do you see flowers? dragons? faeries? people?   What does the entire painting look like?  Can you make a story up about the images you see?

To use this technique intuitively: Before beginning your painting, ask a question that you would like an answer to.  When the painting is complete and you’ve removed the plastic wrap, see if there is an answer to that question hidden within the painting.

Article by Janet L. Whitehead

© 2012       Originally published in Kamloops Momma Magazine  June 2012

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For Momma’s.. the pressure nowadays is crazy!

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I came across a popular article on managing overwhelm for Moms and by the time I read through it, I was overwhelmed.

Only a robot could pull it off: Every day (note: EVERY DAY) wash, dry and fold the laundry, open and file the mail, clean the bathroom, keep only one piece of your child’s artwork and toss the rest, make sure every key, shoe, toy and craft item has a place and gets put away every night, etc., etc.

You get the picture; all work, no play, no time to create the life you really want: just another bit of advice in the media to add to the already insane pressures on Moms.

You are supposed to feed your children locally grown organic nutritious meals and never ever pick up fast food.

Your home should be clean, beautifully decorated, the yard immaculate, and your dog shouldn’t bark.

Your children should be involved in dance, soccer, creative play, free play, story time, and have play dates, attend parties, be offered all learning opportunities and toys to develop spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically… and if they act like a brat… well, it’s your fault, you did something wrong.

When you do sit down and finally read a book, you feel guilty because you should be doing something else.

And if you dream of living overseas with your family, or even a Disney vacation before the kids are ‘at a good age’… well, you’re crazy.

You should be involved with the school and the community.

Oh and of course, you should show up to your career refreshed renewed and giving 110%, ditto for your spouse whom we haven’t even begun to mention here, and you really ought to work out daily and host more get togethers with friends and family.

And you wonder why you have Mommy Brain – I think it’s there to make sure you forget half of these pressures! Uh huh.

There is a better way:

Tip # 1: Do not add the ‘reduce overwhelm’ advice mentioned earlier to your repertoire of ‘must do’s’ unless they happen to sing to your soul.

Tip #2: Notice when you say ‘should.’ Often a ‘should’ is society’s or somebody else’s expectations you are trying to live up to and that results in it being demotivating instead of motivating.

Tip #3: You are hereby given permission to lower expectations, be blissfully imperfect and regularly say, “good enough.”

Tip #4: Getting clearer on where you really want to be, personally and as a family, will reduce overwhelm.

Tip #5  Get things done by using laughably do-able steps .. .so small they make you laugh and say “Ya, I can do that!”  Honestly 2 minutes cleaning a counter is likely to happen, where 4 hours getting the entire kitchen, stove, fridge scrubbed isn’t.

Tip #6.  Question anything that has you thinking you are anything less than awesome.

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An excerpt from the full article in Kamloops Momma Magazine Dec 2011.

Click here to read current and past issues!

Janet L. Whitehead is a professional life coach and master creativity coach who introduces Moms to a variety of ceative tools and concepts that lead to less guilt, more fun, and inspired lives lived by design rather than by default.

Guided Imageries – Not the Woo Woo you might think they are.

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Mental imagery, creative visualization, meditation, journeying– there are many names and varying techniques for this powerful tool that can relax, empower, build confidence, heal and create changes that would have once been considered impossible.

In sport, elite athletes have used visualization techniques for decades.  Science has shown that an athlete who knows his sport meticulously well, can visualize being engaged in the sport and will have the same results physically as if he’d been physically active.  Not only will he develop confidence in his ability and visualize his success, but he will also build measurable muscle strength and blood oxygen levels.  An experienced musician who visualizes being engaged in his music will show the same brain wave patterns as when he is actually engaged in the music… thus making practise possible even when there’s no instrument nearby.

Years ago, I decided to practise this technique. On my last waterski runs of the season, I paid close attention to every detail, action, feeling, smell and sound.  During the winter, I regularly visualized skiing. The following Spring, I skied better on my first day out than I had ever skied in my life. What surprised me even more was that I didn’t have sore muscles the next day.  Already a proponent for the power of imagination, that experience helped me understand the limitless possibilities of our mind.

The possibilities go far beyond success in sport or visualizing a new car.  Visualization can reduce stress, break through barriers, provide inspiration, and clarify an individual’s truths, passions and answers.   Visualizations have been used since ancient times by healers, shamans, and Buddhists as a method of healing and of connecting to spirit. This ability is available to everyone.

So, why aren’t we all practising the art of visualization?  I have come to understand it’s not as simple as the movie ‘The Secret’ would have one think. It can be hard for an individual to stay focussed and we all have unconscious limiting beliefs and barriers that can prevent us from fully experiencing the power of visualization.
One of those limiting beliefs has been taught to us since our childhood. You’ve all heard this and have likely said it yourself:  “It’s only your imagination.” We have a history in our culture of discrediting the power of imagination and sadly, in that process, we have disempowered what could well be the most powerful tool we have.
And that is where guided imageries – visualization led by a ‘guide’- come in.

The guide is there to:

• lead the person to a relaxed and open minded state,

• ease them into a journey of their imagination, encouraging lightness and fun,

• gently keep the person focussed, and

• provide direction towards a discovery.

The person being guided is the one who will create the experience and make the discoveries. In essence, the guide provides the pallet and brushes and helps them stay seated at the easel, while the person being guided is the one who will create the painting and reveal their unique brilliance and discoveries.

Brilliant for adults, yes. But let’s not forget the children. As a child’s trusted parent or caregiver, you have an extraordinary opportunity to encourage and support what children innately already know; before the world confuses and disempowers their ability to imagine and to believe in extraordinary possibilities, and before the responsibility of daily tasks keeps them from giving any time to that powerful tool. Imagine the possibilities if your child never doubts their ability to visualize their strengths and successes– physical, emotional, mental and spiritual; if they never doubt their ability to find their own answers within; and if they have the tools for inspiration, connection to the soul, and healing.

Makes it worth giving it a shot, doesn’t it?

Learn More:

Tips and Tools to lead guided imageries for childen:  Read online Kamloops Momma Magazine Issue 8 Page 10/11

Musings and Mud’s Fall Workshops :

  • Guided Imageries and Creative Visualizations for adults
  • Learn to Lead Guided Imageries for Children

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Debunking the Perfect Family Myth, aka…

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School Yard Survival Tips for Parents:

Schoolyard Stickmoms

You’ve gotten your children to the schoolyard, more or less fed, dressed with a touch of ketchup, slightly rumpled hair, and one child that you’ve brib… I mean,… encouraged to attend school with a promise of a bowlful of gummy bears for after school snack.

You’d be feeling okay about this but then you spot THE family dancing, laughing, holding hands and hugging their mom cheerfully as they enter the building. The littlest THE child stops for what appears to be consoling.
“Phew,” you think, “all is not perfect.”

But then Ms. THE of THE Family spots you and heads your way.  She glistens – hair done beautifully, make up brilliantly natural, her clothes pressed and coordinated, in contrast to the haphazard pony in your hair and the debate in your head about whether anyone at work will notice you haven’t showered or that your outfit is the same one as two days ago.
Cheerfully Ms. THE says, “Little Billy.. he was so concerned that they hadn’t made a lunch for me today!  My children have such fun making lunches each morning. They take turns cutting fruit, cleaning vegetables, wrapping sandwiches. Usually they make my lunch too.  The older children forgot to tell Billy that I’d be having lunch with the president today, so the poor little guy felt bad. He had a great time last night, though, helping us all to make homemade yogurt and granola from all natural organic products and juicing the wheat grass we grow in our year round garden.  Little Billy.. he even loves to be like the older kids and make his bed and lay out everything he needs for their after school classes of soccer and dance.  Aren’t children wonderful how they can be so joyful and bright all the time?”

(The Scenario for Dads to picture might be this: Mr. THE drives the truck of your dreams, and you notice the very large decal that reads “sponsored by Pilsner Beer.”)

And you?  You just took about 53 hits to your confidence as a parent.  Ms. THE only triggered a few; you added a whole domino of others.

Okay, readers, which parent do you most resemble? It is likely that of all the readers, not one will claim to be like Ms. THE. A rather high percentage, though, will relate very well to the parent with the ketchup covered kids.

You see, THE family does not exist.  In the parenting realm of unrealistic expectations, it’s almost like we fail to notice the other parent’s hair out of place, the ketchup and spilled milk on their kids, or that she didn’t say ‘president’, she said ‘resident.’   Perhaps that’s all she mumbled as she walked by you… the rest of the conversation might be what you imagined her life to be like.
And that parent who does happen to be immaculately dressed?  She, too, may relate to the ketchup covered kids parent.  Perhaps she’s thinking there’s nothing perfect about getting up at 4:30 a.m. to create her image because she’s terrified of leaving home unkempt.  The Ms. THEs of the world may well be looking at you wishing that she had the confidence to be as gorgeously natural and relaxed as you.
As a parent in the school yard, it’s so easy to compare yourself to the beautifully dressed, the always laughing, the social butterfly, the creative artist, the wealthy professional, the skinny and the environmentally perfect.

Here’s tips to get over it:

1.  Let go the fantasy that has you thinking other parents are perfect with perfect families.  They don’t exist.

2.  Imagination is a powerful tool. You know you have one because you’ve used it to imagine the perfect family. Instead imagine you have a ‘thought guard.‘  This is like a bodyguard but one that fends off energy draining thoughts.  Your imagined ‘thoughtguard’ could be a magnificent genie, a powerful lion or even Arnold Schwarzenegger – just imagine anything you consider to be a strong being.  Start to notice when you have ‘hard on self’ thoughts and playfully imagine your thoughtguard fending off the comparisons and unkind thoughts with their magic wand, loud roar, or overpowering stance.

3. Leave the schoolyard uplifted instead of defeated:  Give a smile and a compliment.  Acknowledge the artist by asking about their artwork. Tell Ms. Always Laughing that her laughter brightens the school yard. And Ms. THE in the immaculate outfit? Tell her how nice she looks.  (Dads, acknowledge the guy with the nice truck.  You know where that could lead.)

Now go confidently, young parent, into that schoolyard armed with a thoughtguard and a repertoire of kind words for others.  You will survive!

Article originally published by Janet L. Whitehead in Kamloops Momma Magazine August 2010

In my “shouldness,” did I hurt my daughter’s feet?

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In the days when my daughters were little, the right thing to do was buy your children ‘proper’ walking shoes. They were expensive.. amazingly so, really… and they were considered an absolute necessity for your child’s developing feet.

So when my first daughter turned out to be surely one of the tiniest ‘walkers’ of all times and they didn’t make walking shoes to fit her, I felt bad. I felt guilty. I searched the world over, as much as one could without the internet, to find her ‘proper’ walking shoes. I even inquired about having them made, but that wasn’t an option.

I found her these little black shoes… amazed to find anything in her size that had a sole. I didn’t admit it openly, because after all I was always ‘apologizing’ when people wondered where her proper shoes were, but I thought the shoes rocked. In my gut I knew they made sense. Those little flexible soles moved with her feet, and the cotton tops seemed very comfortable. And this petite little child, who awed people by the fact that she was walking ‘so young,’ (really, not so young, just sooo tiny) walked, ran and jumped wildly in her little shoes.

When my second daughter, who was more usual in size, started walking.. hallelujah! There were proper shoes to fit her! Deep down as I looked at the shoes I thought, ‘seriously?”, but I celebrated that at least for her I could pay the big bucks and give her proper walking shoes.

Okay, who concocted the theory that flat bottom, inflexible soled, hard leather shoes were good for a baby’s feet? No cushioning for the bottom of the feet, no soft leather, just hard little shoes that made them walk like they were walking with boards on their feet. Imagine that. How was that good for the jumping, balancing, climbing, or even simply walking?

I was conflicted.. as many parents are on many things they think they ‘should’ do: Delighted to do the right thing, concerned that the right thing wasn’t actually right. I think she ended up wearing the ‘proper’ shoes out… they were cute! And I think she ran barefoot the rest of the time.

But guess which child has had problems with her feet ever since? Yes, of course, the one with the expensive ‘proper’ walking shoes.

I share this story so you can reconsider the ‘shoulds’ in your life. Anything happening that you can say, “Hey, I don’t need that ‘should’.. I’m going with my gut instinct instead.” Remember to jump for joy as you add, “And I’m not going to feel guilty about it either!”

And darling second daughter? I’m really sorry about your feet.

By Janet L.Whitehead

Guilt: sure cure way not to get what your soul calls for.

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One of the most disempowering yet most common beliefs that people live by: “I shouldn’t want more out of life. I should be happy with what I’ve got.”  And then the guilt sets in for wanting something more, or for wanting to feel happier, or for yearning to ‘get to’ something that keeps calling them.. and they stop even dreaming, because of the guilt.

Often these underlying thoughts are so ingrained, a person doesn’t even consciously acknowledge what’s stopping them. Nor do they take time to explore the  possibilities of what it is they are yearning for.  Whatever it is, it’s all possible. This I do know… sometimes it’s different perspective that sets things rolling; or a way that they had not thought of before; or a way that is less grandiose than they thought it had to be but does in fact address the yearning; …. yes,  it is all possible.  I know, I know.. this is a short little blog post that says ‘it’s all possible and  ya ya, sure it is’.

But  here’s  little step..

Just for a moment. Notice the yearnings.  Notice  if guilt stops you. Give yourself permission to listen to the whispers of your soul.   They are there for a reason…

That alone could be enough for things to start to shift….

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