I have mentioned that I am an art therapist/teacher and that I love all things clay. I teach pottery as often as possible and do my own work when I can get to the studio. Working with your hands can be calming, centering and focusing. We do a lot of tactile play at home too.
Just the other morning my three year old beat me downstairs and had already gotten out the Citrus Fresh scented Aroma Dough we had made! She loves it. I keep the Stress Away scented kind in my purse to hand to her when she needs something to squeeze and be entertained with in different places! (think shopping carts while waiting in checkout lines!) Play dough can also be integrated into learning for preschoolers- make snake letters or shapes out of it, or draw or write in it. Discuss and sculpt body parts and faces too. Working in different modalities solidifies and encourages learning. Tactile play and homemade play dough got kicked up a notch when essential oils found their way into it!
Making homemade playdough is relatively easy and if you do the kind where you cook it on the stove it lasts so long! Here is the recipe that I use and that lots of other sites claim to love too:
Play Dough Recipe:
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a “clump”. Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring if so desired during kneading process. Play dough will keep for a long time stored in a covered plastic container or plastic sandwich bag. I took this write up from another site. You’ll see on her site she suggests adding cinnamon to the dough for a multi-sensory experience.
I couldn’t resist going one step further and I split the dough four ways and added four different colors and four different scents to it. When we had a playdate each of the kids got to each enjoy different scents and trade and share and decide which was their favorite! Some oils that worked well in the Play Dough and can translate to smooth and calm play time:
Citrus Fresh (in the old kit),
R.C. (in the new kit),
You can use different scents at different times depending on the effect you are looking for! Peppermint would be a great one for during homework breaks to boost alertness! And Stress Away is great for mommies and kids during those homework breaks!
For more fun activities like these that are kid friendly follow me on Instagram or Join my Facebook group!
This past year I learned about and read a really neat book called OOLA: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World. The word OOLA comes from saying OOLALA... as in that is awesome! It has inspired me to write this blog. As I was filling out my OOLA wheel I realized I needed more OOLA fun in my life and I needed to solidify my OOLA field direction. Do you stay at home mommies ever feel like that is one of the hardest things to do? Have direction? You're going in five different ones in any given moment and are not sure you're fully successful at any one thing. I miss feeling accomplished and feeling inspired- hence this site! It's exciting to do something that has a start and finish even if I don't know exactly what the big picture finish is. That's okay. Just sitting down, making a goal (write down some thoughts and add pictures) and then accomplishing that goal (posted) and it not being about washing clothes- that's exciting to me.
Making Clay Cups Fills My Cup
It's the same - BUT MORE - when I sit at a ceramics wheel or in front of a sculpture. Writing about creativity in daily life is just a wee bit less messy and a wee bit easier to do in the free minutes I get! But clay- if I had a wheel and a kiln at home, I am pretty sure my family would think it was normal to be covered in mud or dust all the time. And I am pretty sure they'd also be starving and wearing dirty clothes. And I'm even more sure I wouldn't care too much! And so, I usually go to a studio to work with clay. And I loose track of time and never feel like I have enough (And I completely empathize with my passionate-about-fishing-husband who would gladly spend a day on a stream without a glance at his watch but usually can't: family life).
When studio time is up I am so REFRESHED and looking forward to my next opportunity to get messy! Someday I will make clay the fulcrum of my field but for now, it's my fun (even when it does merge into my field) and I am so glad I found that out. Do you have a passion that you want to harness into a career? Or do you have something that fills your cup? Take the OOLA wheel survey and let me know what you learn about you!
We are dog people. We will always be dog people. Though, for a while there, I was worried we would loose our standing after not owning a dog for over a year! How did we survive? Mainly by being in the middle of showing our house, selling it, packing it up and moving and unpacking it all with two small human destruct-o-bots running around. So, there was a nice little fur-free respite in there. BUT there was also a four-legged hole in our family portrait. This winter we took the plunge, worked with an AMAZING rescue organization and found our new furry family member: Ketch (as in Catch the ball but pronounced like you're from the 'burgh and are obsessed with all things Ketch-up!) He is the dog we didn't know we needed and he is, putting it mildly, amazing. We count our blessings as he is the snuggliest, kindest, calmest black lab pup we have ever met.
But in spite of his awesomeness, he has definitely reintroduced (dog) stink to the house. And we had just got new carpets after moving in last summer, so that's not too thrilling! In an effort to retain a clean but not complicated house, I figured out the easiest, cheapest way to make carpet freshener. Baking Soda is easy to find and really affordable. But by itself it is odorless and kinda boring and not super effective! I am no fan of all the chemicals and fake scents in carpet fresheners you buy at the store. I also never felt like they worked all that well. But this recipe, works and makes the carpet smell fresh for a while! AND you save money not buying junk from the grocery store! WIN-WIN-WIN! And I am not talking save a buck. I am talking for 32 ounces of a popular name brand carpet freshener you pay between 2 - 4 dollars to sprinkle icky stuff on your floor and into your air. To make the same amount out of the listed ingredients, you pay approximately 1$ for 32 oz of generic baking soda and approximately .35 to 70 cents for oils, depending on which scent combo and how many drops you like! Lemongrass is my personal favorite and it's also the most frugal. You can make 32 oz of NATURAL carpet fresh for around 1.60. Seriously. (and please forgive my estimations, math is not my skill set. I tried, I really did. It just wasn't happening down to the penny. It's all about creativity around here, remember! Plus, it's even less if you're getting the amazing prices on the oils through the starter kit (more about that here).)
Once I am done sprinkling the mix on the carpet, I put the jar with a piece of cheesecloth over the top into the coat/shoe closet to hang out with stinky people shoes and the carpet freshener becomes air freshener. THEN, after you have let the freshener sit on the carpet for an hour or a day (whatevs), vacuum it up. (I procrastinate on vacuuming) You're also freshening up your vacuum by sucking up all that good smelling baking soda and dispersing the clean smell through the vacuum! See: Creative Cleaning!
Its nice to have a healthy option to make the carpet smell better, 'cause we are trying really hard to keep Ketch off the couch! I don't always stay strong as he does think he's a lap dog and I sometimes think I need a lap dog! Do you have any good "clean up after Fido" tricks or Creative Cleaning?
So, as I said before, I have my master's degree in art therapy. A lot of people I have met in recent "Mom" years don't necessarily know that. Even more people don't know what that is. Art therapy is a specific therapeutic modality in mental health and behavioral health where a trained therapist introduces different art forms and materials as a way to encourage clients to work toward a specific goal. The thing about this field is that it is WAY diverse. Art therapists work with Veterans, children on the Autism Spectrum, people in substance abuse programs, patients in mental hospitals and pretty much any one who could benefit from this technique for growth and therapy. Art therapists also work in a lot of different settings and, as a result of the title not being "mainstream," a lot of different roles. I used to integrate art therapy into my job in behavioral health when I worked in people's homes and I integrated it into my role as a Therapist in a school I used to work at full time. These days I am working part time as an art instructor and utilizing my art therapy training in a small school program that serves kids with behavioral needs or who are on the Autism spectrum. School is not in session right now, but I couldn't resist sharing one of our last projects we did this year. I am in love with them. They inspire me to take risks as an artist and as an art instructor.
I am sure some of the support staff in the class thought I was pushing it when I said our final project was going to be a self-portrait! I kind of thought I was a little nuts to try it! And yet, try it and SUCCEED we did! Whenever I do projects like this when I want to empower kids to make original art, I try to give them a blanace between structured guidelines and individual choices.
The best option is to START with a structured guideline. I had the kids use a pre-cut tracer shape for the outline of their heads (of which they could choose from three sizes and shapes. Then I walked them step by step through drawing each feature on their faces- we used colored pencils so that they didn't have erasers at their disposal. GASP! Drawing without an eraser?!?! Blasphemy! Well, not, actually, really good training to use mistakes and not get bent out of shape over them. Try it. Let your mistakes stick around and turn them into character. That's life isn't it?! Or maybe you have a big ole Life Eraser I am not aware of?
The support staff were great at helping the kids look into the mirror or talk a little about what their features looked like. Some kids wanted to fantasize about being a superhero or having a beard. We went with it! You probably can't tell from these pictures who doesn't have ability to hold a conversation with you or who can barely keep their butt in a seat during class. But look at their art! It amazes me every time.
"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory." -Betty Smith - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
It's easy to look back on life with "wishes" or maybe even regrets- to recognize how good you had it or to long for something different. And yet, it's more productive to learn from how life was or is and then use that as a spring board for the future. "What worked?" "What nourishes you?" "Where can you grow?" "What are you moving toward?"
In an effort to push back from "Midlife Malaise" (a term I recently read about in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Reuben) and with a determination to seek my OOLA, I am starting this endeavor: A Place to Commune in Creativity.
There is something about the word "endeavor" that calls to me: The yearning inherent in it; The strong awareness that work will be involved; The hope and positive connotation that can overcome drudgery and monotony. We endeavor in a direction we want or need to go regardless of the challenges. It's that kind of passion that I want to apply to all the areas of my life. If you sit back and think about what you're endeavors are, you might think of a job, making money, building a family, finding happiness, spiritual growth. All valuable and important life directions. And isn't that something that we are all trying to find and keep: direction?
A primary direction that I am often pulled in is toward creativity. I strive to exercise my creativity in art making(though time does not always a lot for it), but also in less obvious and more day to day ways: In parenting (yes, every minute requires thinking outside of the box), in being healthy, in worshiping my Creator, in being married, in learning new things, in managing our house... in all that makes up life.
In a recent series at church, we were challenged to examine our calling- our vocation. It hit home with me, as I don't have a "vocation" by the world's standards right now. I have a role- a lot of them actually! And I love that I can find fulfillment in them- most of the time. But lately, I have felt called to live life creatively for our Creator. Some vocation that it, huh? It's very easy to get caught in the monotony of daily tasks, to struggle through the drugery of laundry, cooking, cleaning, following everyone's sleep schedules (just making that list makes me a little twitchy). With the past week "off" from that monotony and blessed with the time to spend adventuring and relaxing with my loving husband, I was inspired to create this space. He encouraged me to do something that I have daydreamed about for a while and have let doubt, fear and insecurity stop me more than once (I signed up for this space a few months ago and have been "mentally blogging" for years ever since my sis and I tried our hands at it for two months 4 years ago! I can't believe that was 4 years and two more kids ago! How silly I was to think that one little toddler was a handful.) As this last year has gone by, I have often wished to catalog my creative finds, ideas and actual creations in one spot. These may include, but not be limited to (hey, creativity invites new and unusual options) cooking, making art, teaching art, finding health, using essential oils, tackling DIY projects, parenting, crafting. You know- the fun stuff in life!
And so this forum is intended to serve as an inspiration station for me and hopefully for you! May we keep on finding creativity in life- don't you dare try to tell this art therapist that you aren't creative! May we make the ordinary a whole lot of fun!
What is one thing toward which you have be endeavoring lately? What is your favorite way to be creative?
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - Your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering"
I am an eat, play, work at home Mom- a part time new-mom's support facilitator- full time dreamer of clay- an all the time thinker- a trained art therapist- and a home biz empower-er who never has enough minutes in the day, clay in my hands or ideas in my brain to create all the things! Also: I am mildly invested in our families health using nature's tools! Just kidding. That's my passion and message for others: Your life is essential. Take back your health!
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