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So, I’ve been in a creative funk for a while now, and I’m just starting to come out of it. One of the first things I notice when I start feeling creative again is that I’m hungry for color and starved for texture. I found myself taking pictures of colors and textures, and these are the most interesting in my opinion:

Pastry bag sketch #1 - LBL

Pastry bag sketch #1 - LBL


Every weekend, one of my two little munchkins and I go to Starbuck’s here in Loveland. The kiddos take turns, and each of them gets some time alone with Mama every other week – we start off with a little breakfast and drink (chocolate milk for them, coffee for me), and then decide where we’re going to go or what we’re going to do when we’re done.

Becca generally likes to get the fruit cup or the protein plate (is watching your eating genetically engraved in a girl’s psyche? Holy cow – we eat well, but I never TAUGHT her that she couldn’t have an occasional doughnut!) She also usually chooses to go do some shopping of one sort or another. A week and a half ago, she wanted to go to Barnes and Noble, and we lucked into a painting demo for kids that the local art league was doing. Needless to say, this was heaven for both of us!

Last weekened, Aidan went with me, and didn’t really want to go anywhere. He wanted to draw, though, and since I had no paper, I thought we could draw on the little brown paper bags that Starbuck’s puts their pastries in. As I was drawing – ZOT! A really, really cool idea struck me.

Wouldn’t it be fun and cool if we got a bunch of people together who ALL did a small piece of work on the pastry bags? It would be a cool little exhibit for the local Starbuck’s – and great, free advertising as well, a great way for people to get to know each other and for local artists to show off their talent, and just plain have some fun! I’m envisioning something as simple as having markers or small paints availabe up to as complex as having mixed-media materials available as well.

I also used to do book arts – wouldn’t it be REALLY cool to bind all these mini-artworks into a book? We could scan the bags and/or color copy them and bind them so each artist could get a copy, if we did this in a small group. We could also get to know and inspire each other…

There are many really cool, interesting possible iterations of this idea, and I’d like to try it. I’m not sure how to begin – I guess maybe talking to the managers of our local Starbuck’s would be a good place to start…all it would cost them is a stack of the paper bags. Maybe we could even buy one for 50 cents to a dollar, with a percentage of the purchase going to help a local charity – like a homeless shelter or battered women’s shelter?

I’d be interested to know if you all have any other ideas – let me know!

Pastry bag art #2 - flower drawing

Pastry bag art #2 - flower drawing

This is cross-posted from my professional blog, The Other Side of The Couch”

A lot of these exercises come from my various books on Journaling – if I know the source, I’ll let you know:

From: “How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything” (Cheri Huber)
What book, song, or movie best describes your life?
What would it take for you to be truly happy?
What makes you feel insecure, and what makes you feel secure?
What is the most important thing in your life, and why?

Laura’s Ideas:
-“If you could write a story with yourself as the hero, what would the story be about?” Write that story.
-What mythological stories seem to speak to you? Write a myth incorporating the pieces that speak for you, and make yourself the hero/main character. What happens?
-“If there was one thing in the world that symbolized “you” – who you are, what you want to be, where you’ve come from, etc – what would that symbol be? Draw it.
-Create a mandala using your personal symbol
-Create pictures of the positive and negative sides of yourself. If these were masks, what would they look like? Make the mask, if you feel like it.
-Write a poem about something in nature, or about something in the world that you love
-Write a poem about your pain – loneliness, sadness, trauma – use the poem to transform the pain and yourself.
-Create a collage of things you enjoy doing
-Write yourself (or someone else) a note using only cut out letters from magazines and/or papers.
-Doodle with words, for example, outline your hand with your journal entry
-use stickers, ephemera – all that great stuff scrapbookers use. Try to use it in a different way
-Get a template or draw a blank jigsaw puzzle – make a puzzle of you – what are the pieces that make up who you are?
-Use the puzzle template to create poetry – photocopy several of them and print words in each piece. Put the puzzle together different ways for a found poem.

From “One to One” (Christina Baldwin)
-What don’t you give yourself permission to write about? Why? What would it take for you to be able to write about it? Write about it!
-What kind of privacy do you need to write? Is your journal a public work of art? (Some are, some aren’t). How can you/do you keep your private stuff private?
-Write some of the stories of your family and childhood in the third person – as stories. Do you feel any different about them after writing them this way?
-What are you supposed to be like?
-What would your family or friends think if they knew you _______?
-If your life were a fairy tale, what would happen?
-Describe a recent dream and its meaning for you

From “Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest” (Christina Baldwin)
-Write out a prayer to whatever Creator/Supreme Being you believe in
-What were the questions you had about faith when you were a child? What are your questions now? Write them out
-If you didn’t already know who you are, who would you ask? What would you ask them, and what would they say? Write out the conversation
-What is sacred to you?
-How do you let go of control and let in faith/grace/your Higher Power?
-List everything love provides in your life

From “Keeping a Journal You Love” (Sheila Bender)
-Write a letter to someone you love and tell them why you love them. (Laura’s note: Write that letter to yourself and say why you’re worthwhile and deserving of love)
-Tell a story about something that happened during your day- describe the buildings, the environment, the people as well as the event. Use detail, adjectives – bring it to life

From “The Creative Journal” (Lucia Cappachione – this is one of my favorites)
-Draw how you feel
-What do your inner and outer selves look like at this time? How are they different?
-Draw a timeline of your life history
-Draw how you see yourself.
-What do you believe about yourself, about the world, about the people around me?
-What are your beliefs about life in general?
-If some of these are negative, what would it take to change them to a positive view?
-Create a mandala for yourself
-How do you nurture, care for, and/or soother yourself? What keeps you from being able to do that? What would help change it, so that you could take better care of yourself?
-Draw one of your dreams – what symbols seem to come out at you? Draw those and journal about what they mean to you.

These are great ideas – if you have others to share or other resources to share, I’d love to see what you’ve got as well. There are also some great websites out there with journaling prompts – you can google “journaling prompts” to get some of them.

Ok – I worked my tail end off yesterday – syllabus for the class I’ll be teaching this fall (Developmental Psychology), Designing my business cards and brochures, meeting with people about office space…it was a busy, busy day. So, I’m taking a break today.

When I work with clients, I’m always encouraging people to be gentle with themselves. That doesn’t mean not being accountable for your actions, by the way – it does mean if you have to take yourself to task you can do it in a way that’s kind and gentle.

One of my friends recently about how the Golden Rule also means treating yourself the way you’d want to be treated. If you’ll notice, the Golden Rule doesn’t say, “Treat others as you treat yourself,” but rather “as you’d want to be treated.” So, why do we have so much trouble treating OURSELVES the way we’d want to be treated?

How often do we find ourselves chronically putting our needs last? Or ignoring our bodies’ needs for rest and relaxation? How often do we take care of everyone else, leaving no time to do so for ourselves? For women, especially, it’s a chronic issue.

When I work with people who chronically ignore or negate their own needs I used what I call “Healthy Selfishness.” I use this temr for a couple of reasons. One is that “selfishness” has been a label thrown at us likely since we were children, and it has such a negative connotation that reclaiming the word in a different way helps people see that it’s NOT a bad thing to take care of themselves. That’s the “Healthy” piece. It’s healthy to care for ourselves, and to let ourselves enjoy life and things we enjoy.

So, today I’m going to play. I’m getting out my kid’s easel, and we’re going to paint on the porch with bright tempera paint and great, big, chunky kids’ brushes. We’re going to splash in the wading pool, and we may go to the library as well. The point is, I’m going to let me kids teach me to play again.

Somewhere along the way to being a “responsible adult,” I lost that. I was always the “responsible child” so losing play happened pretty early for me. Today, I find myself yearning to let go, to play, to let loose – and I don’t know how. So…I’m going to the best teachers I know – my children.

I do have things I “should” do – I should work more on the development psychology class, I should work more on the paperwork for my private practice…but I also should relax, take care of myself and treat myself the way I’d want to be treated. I should also not judge myself as harshly and punitively as I do. I should treat myself gently, respectfully, and lovingly. And that means paying attention to my need to relax, play, and cut loose a little.

So, this is my attempt to work on those things. I’ll post pictures here next time of our painting adventures – all of us. 🙂

Pine Cone Spiral - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Pine Cone Spiral - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Hearing my kidlets laugh and playing with them
Helping others
The ocean, the shore, and Connecticut
Beachcombing
Listening to the sound of ocean waves
Traveling to new places
Adventures
Bright, sunny days and cool rainy days
Autumn
Spring
Sun sparkling on untouched snow
The smell of fallen leaves and ripe fruits
The smell of bread baking
Soft blankets and warm quilts
Hot cups of tea
A really good, engrossing book
A clean home
Good humor and jokes
Teaching
Learning – always, always learning!
Working for peace, unity and justice
Playing with art and office supplies
Knitting
Making Art
Photography
Writing and Journaling
Watching football all snuggled up
Swimming
Snuggling!
My spirituality
Learning about new religions and faith traditions
Quiet time
Good music
Appreciating art
Singing
Found and spontaneous art – chalk, PostSecret, guerilla art
Being creative in any way

What makes YOU happy?

Roses from Grandma's Garden - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Roses from Grandma's Garden - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

This is cross-posted from my professional blog, The Other Side of the Couch. I’m interested in what you all have to say, too!

I’m thinking of planning a retreat. I know, I’m probably nuts, but I figure if I need it, a lot of other people do as well. With my values being what they are, I’d love to make it free of cost, but reality dictates that I probably should charge to cover rental space, materials, food, speaker/teacher fees, etc. So, I have some questions for you all: If I were going to do this, what are the kinds of things you’d like to see? I have some ideas, too – I’d like to blend creative expression in some form with self-esteem, empowerment, relaxation, and healthy interactions.

I’m envisioning a day to start with people being able to choose/sign up for 4-5 one hour “experiences”. I would probably do a group breakfast, all together with fruit, pastries, tea/coffee, juice, along with a keynote/introductory address. Then, have people split up to do their “classes” with a 1/2 hour break in between for mingling and sharing experiences, and then wrap up with a brief talk about taking it home and living it in your life.

Here are the topics I’d like to see – PLEASE feel free to add your own! If I do this, I’d want it to appeal to as many people as possible, and would consider anything you suggest. Here’s my list:

Welcome, Introductions, and Orientation:

Workshops:
1) Setting Boundaries
2) Affirmations and Individualizing: How to honor and love yourself, and how to move away from letting others define who you are
3) Healing through Spiritual Practices: Meditation, Creative Visualizations, Ritualizing/Making the Sacred
4) Creating Balance in an Unbalanced World: Nurturing and caring for yourself while also meeting work and family obligations, realizing the importance of caring for and nurturing yourself and building it into your daily routine
5) Empowerment – Identifying and using your strengths
6) Writing Your Own Path – identifying archetypes that speak to you, and writing your own myth with you as the hero/ine.

Lunch – boxed lunches, catered; juice, water, iced tea

7) Finding Your Inner Artist – Finger painting and intuitive painting
8 ) Body Work – Intuitive Free Dancing to a variety of music
9) Body and Self-Acceptance – Learning how to “love the skin that you’re in”
10) Barriers to Achieving What You Want to Do With Your Life: Identifying what you want to do, and what the barriers to doing it are, collectively brainstorm steps to take to being overcoming these
11) Becoming the Person You Want to be: Taking stock of where you are in your life, and discovering who you want to be; celebrating the parts of you where you have reached this goal, and creating a plan to help you get to who you want to be – All Together

Wrap-Up, Thank-you’s to speakers/presenters, Evaluations and Suggestions.

I also envision having some vendors there making available relevant and inspiring products – humorous items, journals, inspirational works of art, gift baskets…I’d love to be able to offer a gift basket as a door prize/raffle/auction item. Another idea would be to have participants bring in creative pieces for a silent auction to benefit a local cause. What else can you all think of?

How does this sound to you all? Please let me know your suggestions – I’d love and would really appreciate what you’ve got to say. Thanks, so much! 🙂

1. I have an artist’s book, limited edition, that was bought and exhibited in the University of Washington’s library – special collections. I also know how to set type and run a printing press!

2. I have a 16 year age difference between my oldest and youngest children – and I have the oldest and youngest of the 14 grandkids on my side of the family. And I have only three kids!!

3. I definitely have a wild side – something not many people know about , something I keep mostly hidden.  Ask me and I’ll tell you more – maybe.

4. When I was a kid, I “mummified” one of my Barbie dolls – I wanted to be an archaeologist and decided that Barbie would make a great mummy. I wrapped Barbie in torn up strips of old cotton diapers, and put little “treasures” (Barbie’s jewelry) into the wrappings. I built her a “tomb” out of a shoebox and lined it with aluminum foil. Yes, I WAS a weird kid! (It was a 6th grade research project – I got the highest grade in the class.)

5. I still dance in my living room to music when no one is looking or can see, except my little kids. I sing to the radio too, when my Aidan lets me (“Don’t sing, Mommy! My ears hurt!” <sigh> ). Someday, I want to dance and sing with them on the beach! I also like the very sappy, slow love songs and am a total mush and romantic.

6. Although I am pretty shy and quiet in real life, online I’m a chatterbox and am very outgoing. This is sometimes weird for me, because I still see myself as being the wallflower that no one wants to talk to, and I’m always surprised when someone tells me how outgoing I am.

Letters from the “Desperate Tubbywives”…

Does anyone know how little kids seem to KNOW when their parents are the most exhausted? They pick THAT time to stay up late, get hyperactive and into everything… What I would give for a good, long, restful night’s sleep. And a day without those frakkin’ Teletubbies! I think I need a vacation; I’m imagining all sorts of weird/naughty Teletubby movies/shows: Teletubbies do Dallas, or Nightmare on Tubby Street, or even Law & Order: Tubbyland. How about Tubbystar Galactica? Or Cops: Live in Tubbyland? I wish…And honestly…how may times can one person watch “Tinkerbell” and NOT explode??? At least with the Baby Einstein DVDs the music is good.

Early summer has come to Colorado. We are officially out of the drought now, and we’ve had temperatures in the 60’s for the last week, and the air smells fresh, new, and full of sunshine. (At least when it’s not raining and thundering and smelling of the dairy farm down the road!) It’s so nice to see grass, new green leaves, and even some brave lilies birthing their way through the heavy, wet soil and blossoming in the sun. The sun is hot already, foreshadowing a broiling summer, but for now, it feels wonderful. The little people have been itching to get outside and play, and I think they feel the change in their blood and bones. Aidan in particular seems to know that spring is here. “Mama, I want to go outside NOW!” He lives for being in the sunshine, and loves the world outside our walls. Becca sees how excited her brother gets – and, in her mind, if he wants it or has it, she should too. And she wants to be out in the sunshine playing too.

I was looking back over old pictures and found some from when Becca took her first steps; it’s funny how quickly you forget how tenuous and shaky those first steps into the unknown are. May your steps always be sure, and the ground firm under your feet, little princess. She runs and climbs now, and has such a look of triumph and pride on her little face, as well as sheer joy every time she tries and does something new. I feel so privileged to share in these moments.

Matthew (Capt. Obvious) is done with school for the summer…boy, is he in for a shock coming up. He thinks that he and his girlfriend and another couple they know are all going to move out to Greeley and live together. Problem is, he has no job, no car, no driver’s license, no money, etc. He says he going to transfer from CSU to UNC, but has not done anything to start that process. He sits and watches TV shows and movies on his computer all day…I think he’s in for a pretty big surprise when his friends expect him to pay rent, contribute to the housekeeping, and pay his way in other areas. As much as I hate to say this, I think (given his attitude and level of stubborness on this) that this is a time when I have to exercise “tough love” and let him sink or swim. And, of course, be able to come back to dry land (home) if it doesn’t work.

I’m itching to be outside and moving, too…I want to take my sketchbook and watercolors and try to catch a little of the world as it explodes into and Becca, and I love to see them express themselves creatively. They both are such incredible inspirations – full of life and love, likes and dislikes, piss and vinegar, too…I want to go play with them! I want to swing and slide and run and jump like I used to when I was a little girl. I want that little girl inside to finally feel safe and protected enough to let loose and just…well, play.

On that note, is there anything more fun that brand-new art supplies? I’m sure there are lots of things that are, but opening and using new watercolors, brushes, pastels, etc. is one of the most enjoyable things I can do. A while ago, while Aidan and Becca played in our small courtyard, I sat on the porch and drew/painted one of my neighbor’s townhouses. I’m still figuring out the color mixes in this new set of watercolors, but that was one of the most satisfying afternoons I’ve spent in a while. My drawing isn’t wonderful, but I was happy. If I can get my scanner working with the new computer, I may upload it to my page…we’ll see if my ego can take it.

Last spring and summer, I spent some time going around our neighborhood photographing the flowers and parks. I’m hoping to draw and paint from my photos and get some time in the sun, sketching and painting from life as well. At some time, I’d like to take some art classes too…just for the fun of it. It’s kinda like being a kid again, with a little more freedom. I’d love to take Aidan and Becca out with their crayons and paper too, and see if they’d spend some time drawing with me. (Matthew’s “too cool” to do this kind of stuff anymore with his mom…)

Another thing I’d to get into is digital art, especially combined with collage and book art. I spent a year and a half in book arts class while at my undergrad college, and I really miss it. Space is a consideration, as are materials, though these are obstacles that can be overcome. I dream of having real studio space…

My big dream would be to open a wellness center that includes massage therapy, traditional psychotherapy, art classes (especially but not necessarily tied in with art therapy), dance and music. I’d love to have an emphasis on growth and enjoying life and relationships. I’d love to have meditation groups, women’s groups, spirituality groups, as well as more traditional therapy groups such as DBT skills training, process groups, and stress management/coping. In this era of managed care, though, it’s hard to get funding for these type of endeavors, and there aren’t too many people willing to pay out of pocket for services like these. Still, it’s fun to dream…

I honestly don’t remember being able to simply play freely all that often when I was kid. The best times I remember were when I could escape my family and go off on my own…I would sit under this huge old oak tree in our back yard, and pretend that there were elves that lived in the tree…there was a door in the trunk with a spiral staircase that led up to the top and down to the underground home below, and if I looked hard enough, I would find it. I never did, but I also never stopped trying. There was also a willow tree further back, that had a perfect spread of branches for sitting, hiding, and reading. It was one of my favorite, most peaceful spots in the world.

When my sisters and I went back to Ohio when my father was dying, we went by our old house, and asked the current owners if we could look around. They had cut down the oak, saying that it was waving in the heavy winds (which it did) and they were afraid it would fall on the house. I think I grieved the loss of that tree almost as much as the loss of my father…it was 200 years old, and at least 150 feet high. I remember listening to the branches creaking and swaying in the wind, and though it was a comforting sound. I guess we each interpret our worlds in different ways, based on our experiences and lives to that point. I wish I could find a spot/tree/place like that out here. Colorado is beautiful, but has never felt like home. Walla Walla, WA did, but I doubt I’ll ever get back there.

It’s funny…of all the places I’ve lived, very few have felt like “home,” and none of them were places where I could stay permanently. The places where I’ve ended up settling (Boise, ID and Loveland, CO) don’t feel like home to me. I think that probably says more about me, than it does about the places I’ve lived. If I could live anywhere, it would be near the ocean. Barring that, someplace with history, and trees. Places where you can lose yourself in the beauty, wildness, and growth. Maybe someday…

I hope y’all are thinking about what inspires you…I’ve been doing some searching on the web, and I’ve found a WONDERFUL site that’s inspiring and on the same wavelength as what I was thinking. It’s called “HelpOthers.org” (three guesses what the URL is? http://www.helpothers.org/index.php ). They have some fantastic essays, the “SMILE” cards you may have seen floating around for a while, and some great ideas. Check it out!

What is “The Power of Each Other”? The power of each other is supporting one another, in tragedy and joy. The power of each other is spreading kindness, especially in a world torn by strife, polarizations, and war. It’s sharing and caring with and for each other. It’s the creative urge we all have, and the urge to reach our highest goals and be the best we can be – individually AND together. The power of each other is not letting issues, politics, religions, social status, or anything else that points out differences divide us from our common goal: creating peace and unity. The power of each other is within us, around us, and flows through us – we ARE the power of each other.

We are all in this together, and I’d like to invite you to share the poems, quotes, stories, songs, photos/pictures and humor that inspire you. Life is hard enough, especially in these tough economic times – let’s share with each otherwhat helps us. What’s going on in YOUR community? What groups exist to help each other, lift spirits, and inspire hope? What are you doing, or what do you know others are doing?

For me, I’ve posted the “Healing Prayer” from the Terma Collective: https://lauraburlingame.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/a-healing-prayer-from-the-terma-collective/ and I can post some other resources as well (for example, Google Steve Goodier and LifeSupport – a great inspirational resource).

Let’s hear from and support each other – I’ll post the resources you send me, along with your contact information if you want. Tell me what inspires you, what lifts you up, what helps YOU cope and feel better.

Let’s spread the word – get everyone you can to participate! Let’s start a “feel better” revolution and see where it takes us. I believe in the power of each other – let’s believe in each other and lift our spirits by combining our gifts and knowledge.

Take care and believe – We can do it!

Peace and Unity - Design and Image copyright 2009, Laura Burlingame-Lee

Peace and Unity - Design and Image copyright 2009, Laura Burlingame-Lee

Reflections of Reflections…

Other Facets of the Mirror