|WARNING, I’m going to be very honest and vulnerable,|
THIS MIGHT GET A LITTLE WOO WOO. (skip ahead if itʼs not for you)
This whole pandemic issue sent me on a bit of a roller coaster ride. I started out the month thinking I was going to host some fun paint classes and ended up with an empty (of clients) studio. When the stay at home order came, I knew I had a ton of projects, new and old that I could work on, I would never be bored. I was thinking how much I enjoyed being at home and this was not really a hardship for me. But then I found I couldnʼt quite focus, so I picked a few small projects. I finished a couple paintings, I did some mending, fixed my purse, went for quite a few walks, cleaned and organized a few things, I journalled a lot and watched art related videos online.
That kept me kind of busy and occupied, but I was a little surprised at all the emotions that flooded in. I was okay one minute, then I would be worried about not having my income, fearful of the virus, and definitely worried about family near and far. I even had days where I was crying for literally no reason that I could put my finger on. Out on a walk and the tears just started coming. I do consider myself quite safe where we live, it”s a very remote area, so social distancing is not a problem (for some). I am good at being home, Iʼm an introvert, so not a problem there, I like spending time at home.
So what was the issue? Well some friends pointed out that we can actually absorb the collective sadness and fears of people everywhere, along with our own. Now whether you believe in empaths or not, I have come to know that I am, and that is really what was happening. Once I realized this, I was more able to work with that and look at what emotions are mine and which are not. Then I started doing more energy work, getting outside to walk in nature, I did grounding exercises, tapping, online workshops (which inspired me to create paintings just to work through these feelings) and energy clearing. (If you want to know more about this, let me know. I am still learning, but I find it helps me). I needed to find ways to be emotionally healthy through this too. I think the best post I saw about how some of us are reacting to this, is that it is a form of grief we are experiencing, which makes sense. Itʼs also about not ignoring or pushing these feelings away, but instead recognize them, allow them, and do a little self reflection that will hopefully allow us to come out the other side of this just a little more awakened.
The paintings were done on the remnants of some paint pours we did, I used the leftover paint to create designs on paper. Then I just painted my feelings on top. The tears falling, expressing my grief, the large tear drop and all the ones that surround it, each dot a prayer for healing. The bubbles are about protecting myself a bit from absorbing outside energy, it’s not too hard to not feel compassion, but I don’t have to take on everyone else’s pain too. The group of bubbles, are an example of those around us, it is a thin veil that can protect us, but also allows us to be connected. I was also struggling with what to do now that I wasn’t able to host classes in my studio. I start watching videos, art and self help and about being an entrepreneur. Great, now Iʼve activated these new feelings, not doing enough in my business, I should be getting out there online, keeping my clients posted, offering free stuff as well as paid classes, I should have an offer. Well, now there is all this advice about how to get yourself out there online and promoting yourself, selling my artwork and offering classes. What comes up with that? Not wanting to put pressure on people to buy from me when they are struggling financially (like me). What am I going to offer? Iʼm not set up to go online, I feel technically challenged, Iʼm unsure of how to do it. Again, so many conflicting emotions. I want to sell my art, offer classes and also be there for my clients, but is this the time to be promoting myself? So for now, I am continuing to post on FaceBook and Instagram to let people know what I am up to. I am getting my newsletter out, I am looking at what I can offer once things calm down.
Then three weeks ago, something happened.
I went into our local Coop store and mentioned I didnʼt have any income from my business right now and that was hard. The manager, Michelle, asked if I wanted to work. I asked if she was serious, she said yes, I said yes. So this might be a far cry from my art work, but not so far from where I have previously worked, like Dutchies, the Bakery and the Gallery. Strangely, I did not hesitate. It wasnʼt just about having an income at this time, it was about helping out. They were struggling with having enough staff to work during this very trying time. I am grateful for the job and that I can help out at this time. For me it was about feeling like I was being useful (just who I am). I can always do my art, start my classes up again once it’s okay to do so.
So, three weeks in, I am quite tired at the end of the day and I am not doing one more thing after I get home. That brings me to a very big hats off to all those who have not had a break, who have been on the front lines of this pandemic from the start. Itʼs exhausting. I encourage you to make sure you tell the people out there in the public that you appreciate what they are doing. My greatest wish is that when this is over, we are willing to give these front line workers a significant break. That they get to recover, that they are allowed work through the trauma they went through. Think about what these workers are sacrificing for us to be safe, healthy and not be without the necessities. They are risking a lot, when this is over they will need to heal physically and emotionally.
A reminder that everyone is doing their best out there, everyone has their own issues, but please be kind and respectful. Those still working are dealing with a lot constantly changing rules in order to stay open for your needs and trying to do the social distancing for both your safety and theirs is challenging at best. There will continue to be more changes to help keep everyone safe, be patient, kind and understanding. Take a moment before you react to anything, is it that important, or are you just taking your fears out on someone.
I really hope at the end, when we start getting back into routines, that we don’t go back to our old ways. that we actually learn something from all of this. Take time to enjoy your family’s, even if it’s just through video chats, we are so fortunate to be able to do that.
Michelle wanted to interview me about my business and about making art a part of our daily lives. How it can help relieve stress, get you to play again and taking time for ourselves as well as ways to play and create with our kids. Click on the link below to see the whole interview.
Michelle and I met online a few years ago and we have been working as accountability partners. Michelle is creating the “Moms Nurturing Moms” FB group . You can check it out below if you would like to join her.
Michelle is creating this group online to provide a safe place for moms to share the challenges as well as the wins of parenthood. Supporting one another can make such a difference. She will share some of the tips and tools she learned mentoring a child therapist as well as bring in guest experts who will teach some valuable skills.Read More
| I am so excited to share this interview that was done by CTV news when I was in Winnipeg for my End of Life Doula Course. |
The link below will get you to the video, I haven’t figured out a better way to share this. Copy and paste it in your browser to view it. Give it a second too, there are usually ads at the beginning.
WINNIPEG — People are waiting in Winnipeg to be apart of the next group of students to be trained in the ways of an end-of-life doula.
“Like a birth doula, you let them know what to expect as they are delivering — we let people know what to expect in their dying,” said instructor Denise Seguin Horth. She recently ran the five-day course in Winnipeg back in January.
The word doula itself originates from the Greek language meaning servant or helper.
The End of Life Doula Association of Canada defines an end-of-life doula as: ‘someone who supports a person faced with an illness or terminal diagnosis or someone who wants to have plans in place for the unexpected.’
Seguin Horth told CTV News that an end-of-life doula isn’t meant to replace the care received from medical teams, psychologists or spiritual leaders, but to be a third-person who meets clients where they are at.
“A lot of people who are dying already feel like they are a burden to their family so they’re not always open about real emotions that they are feeling, they’re like, ‘I don’t want to add one more thing to my family,’” she said.
The end-of-life doula course educates students in the death and dying process so they can work in the community and advocate for clients as well as help them and their families understand what to expect so they can make plans.
“We are so in a society that has death denial,” said Seguin Horth. “We don’t talk about it, sort of like mental health or suicide. But it seems to be that once you open the doors about talking about dying people are just like, ‘ahhhhh,’ it’s like that secret that we didn’t realize we were keeping.”
CTV News attended a morning session of Seguin Horth’s class where a few participants said they already work with people near death or with grieving families and wanted to learn more about helping people prepare for their final transition earlier in the process.
“Often what I see in my work is the deep regret, the things that are left unsaid or undone that could, with just a little bit of open communication, bring so much peace, love, and healing to those prior to that transition,” said student Michelle Stokotelny.
“You don’t have to be at the end of your life or actively dying to prepare the end of life,” added her peer, Susana Harder. “As we get close to the end of life there are not only spiritual things that you need help with, companionship, there’s also so much administrative work that needs to be done. So much, and we as doulas can help guide the families through all the paperwork that needs to be done and at what time it needs to be done.”
Helen Grymaloski is an artist and said her passion is helping people plan legacy projects, which can be events or physical projects to remember someone by.
“It can be any medium, any way that you want memorialize — or leave something for someone,” she said. “So you can be doing these things now before you even are ill or in that position.”
This End-of-Life Care Doula course was offered through Douglas College. The next scheduled class in Manitoba is in Brandon, Man., for June. Seguin Horth told CTV News that plans are in the works to bring the course back to Winnipeg in July.
Students who take the course are given a certificate of completion and can become members of the End of Life Doula Association of Canada.RELATED IMAGES
- Instructor Denise Seguin Horth asking students about their biggest takeaways from the five-day course. (Source: Michelle Gerwing/CTV News)
A little while after I started my business, I was looking for an old book called Blueberries for Sal, when I came across this amazing book by Neil Gaiman called Blueberry Girl. Though it wasn’t Blueberry Broad, I felt this book was truly extraordinary.
It surprised me how much this book spoke to me, sounded like my life but was actually written for a baby who wasn’t even born. Even more surprising I think was realizing it was written by a man and also illustrated by yet another man.
I love listening to Neil read his book as well. https://youtu.be/bKbyFrsQQ9w
I even took two books apart and displayed them around my studio to keep the story fresh in my mind.
I felt it was time to remind people a little bit about me and where my path is leading me.
For those of you who don’t know much about my background, I have been a long time caregiver. Over the years I have supported my husband after his back injury, his recoveries from surgery, medical appointments and long term pain management. My mother had Parkinson’s for over 10 years before she died and I during her illness I advocated for her for years with doctors, medical staff, counselors and the seniors homes. We experienced the loss of all of our parents, a few friends and I also spent time with others at their end of life as. I went back to school to become a Personal Support Worker because I felt drawn to it as a caregiver, but found I couldn’t work within the restrictions that the facilities ran under. Limited time with each client and so many restrictions on how to care for them. This is my experience, I applaud all of those in this job right now, they are my heros, but I knew it was not how I wanted to serve people.
Fast forward and I tried a few other jobs but still felt drawn to being in business for myself. It came to me that I was really providing a form of self care by creating my own business where art and outdoor activities could bring play back into peoples lives. The realization that I was caregiving in a whole new way and that this brings joy and satisfaction to my clients, which in turn makes me feel like I am making a difference. I offer art classes year round, my paint, paddle and picnic daycation and I volunteer at the Seniors home where I am allowed to offer art classes on my terms.
A few years have passed since I started my business and I was listening to a podcast with Jan Arden who mentioned that she had hired an End of Life Doula to help care for her mom during her dying process. I didn’t totally understand what that meant, but it lit a spark in me. I have always felt that people felt safe talking to me about their illnesses and their concerns. I am honored that they felt they could and that by me listening they were able to express themselves freely and possibly relieve some stress (I do not pretend to be a counselor, I’m a listener). I have always felt empathy for those dealing with illness and going through the dying process. What I have often wondered was how can I do more to support people who are dying and may need to just talk, find a way to work through their feelings, make sure their surroundings are tailored for them, help them create legacy projects and make sure no one is alone who doesn’t want to be alone at the end of their lives.
Then a couple months ago, a post on Facebook told about a course for becoming an End of Life Doula that was being held in Kenora, when I looked into it, it was cancelled, but it was still being held in Winnipeg. Still I was not completely clear on what this was all about, only that I felt drawn to explore it further. I wrote back and forth to the Douglas College in BC for more information and decided to sign up. I took the week long course on Jan. 13th – 17th.
Now with this training complete I can tell you a bit more about what an End of Life Doula does. They are there to support people while they are dying, along with their families (just a heads up, we are all dying. We have 100% mortality rate on this planet). So there’s more, even though it says end of life, it doesn’t mean that you have to be necessarily near the end of life to make your wishes known and be somewhat prepared for when that time comes.
This might be unsettling to some, but really, think about it. The only guarantees in this life is that if we are born, we will die. We plan for birth, we plan weddings, we plan retirement, we plan trips, yet we avoid planning for our death. We have really become a death fearing society and we bury our heads in the sand. Sadly that means people feel they can’t talk about it, they feel alone, families are left to guess what their loved ones want, we regret not getting through our bucket list, we forget to live until we die and we forget to share our stories with our loved ones.
I see my roll as an End of Life Doulas is to support those who want to make their plans known. To provide information on possibilities for their funeral (the information out there is amazing), inform people of the choices they have and empower them to make informed decisions, have things in order ( know what you want, know what your family needs). Create legacy projects families can work on, whether before you die or after a loved one has died (this aspect is very near and dear to my heart). Be available to sit with those who are ill or in need of support, someone to listen. Maybe create an art project to express their feelings, not being a Pacaso, just releasing any pent up feelings. Maybe it’s me sitting with a person who tells me their feelings and I put it on a canvas. Maybe someone wants help creating a legacy project to leave for their loved ones. Sitting vigil with family in the last days. Offering support in creating a beautiful love filled atmosphere to be surrounded them. There is so much that can assist people and remove some of the fear and distress that we feel when dealing with death. And then there is the grief, sometimes the elephant in the room. We grieve before people die, as they are dying and after they die. Again our society doesn’t want to deal with that and often the person grieving feels alone and even ashamed that they “can’t get over it”. We never get over losing those close to us, we don’t really get back to normal, it just becomes a new normal that can include a healthy acknowledgement of those who have passed and keeping our memories alive. Supporting people with safe places to talk openly.
This course was truly a wonderful experience. I feel it was a perfect fit for me. I learnt so much. I felt so much. I realize I still have so much to learn.
What I am inspired to do now is share what I have learned. Little by little offering support to those who are ready to reach out. Guide people in the process of planning and try to make it a positive experience that empowers us to be in control when possible. Stuff will come up, not everything we plan will work perfectly, but taking some of the pressure off of ourselves and loved ones at some of the most stressful times in our lives is a goal I want to reach for. I feel strongly that people need to be informed. I see ways of lessening the stress for both the dying and their caregivers through art and legacy projects ( these can be done at any time). I see this as a way to fill the cracks of supporting the dying and believe me there are many cracks. This is not me trying to fill any roles already in place, but it is me being open to finding and sharing what is already out there and available so that people are empowered in their own self care and dying process and being there to fill the needs that are not being met.
I have a few more things to put into place but I have already started doing what I can.
I am creating a list of resources and reaching out to the Palliative Care and Hospice Care resources already in place. I have no plans to reinvent the wheel, there has been some extensive work already done by some agencies, I want to make sure people are more aware they exist and that they are available now, not just when you receive a terminal diagnosis or are near dying, we need to know that information exists now so that we have access to it whenever we need it.
I am putting myself out there for more training and being a volunteer for Hospice care.
I want to create some painting workshops where people work through their feelings if they want. Take the fear out of creating. Explore some other legacy projects people might like to create.
I would like to hold some information sessions to share some of what I have learned and offer my services to those who see it as a fit.
I would like to create a support group in our local community to start to bring people together to share and support each other both before and after death. Let us get out of the death closet and talk.
I will be creating a new name and Facebook page for my End of Life Doula role (I’m a little stuck on what the name will be). this will be a place to post any information I think might support my audience in continuing to live until they die and support those left behind.
Stay tuned, there is more to come. If you want to talk to me and learn more now, just send me a message or call. I would love to answer any questions I can. We have finally become willing to talk about mental health, lets remove the stigma and start talking about death and grief too.
Anyone who wants to know more about the course, End of Life Doula, through Douglas College, I would be happy to talk to you.
There are many different and interesting paths out there, I’m walking some and painting a few too. Let me know if I can support you on yours.
There has been one rather big change in my life and I wanted to update everyone on that. After 10 years of being a member of the Naked North Art Gallery & Gifts in Dryden, I have decided to step away. I’ve loved my time there and I’m grateful of all the years I was able to work with the other amazing artists. It’s a pretty impressive accomplishment to have been in business for 10 years. Especially when I look back at how we got started. A group of artists got together, we found out a building was available to rent and we just decided to go for it. I was thrilled to have been one of the founding members and I took great pride in all of our accomplishments. It took a lot of elbow grease and time, but we were up and running in May of 2009.
It’s a great place to work ( as a member we all took turns working in the gallery). I’ve worked with some great artists, I’ve met some amazing people from near and far. We’ve done some incredible transformations to the space over the years. There has been some real blood, sweat and tears poured into this Gallery. We all put our heart and soul into this endeavor and it shows. I appreciate that I was able to display and sell my art in such a great space.
With the demands of my new business and trying to schedule myself, I found it harder and harder to give 100% to the Gallery and be an active participant in the store, in all the meetings and the other activities. For me, if I am a member of a group, I have my own expectations of how I need or want to be involved. I like to think I did a pretty good job for the most part, but in the last couple years I was feeling I was just not giving it my all. I felt if I’m not all in, I need to be all out. It’s partly so I won’t feel guilty for not being there to do my part (or what I perceive as my part).
I sincerely wish the remaining artists and all those who will join in the future, that they prosper and enjoy their time at the Gallery.
So with the tough decision made, I brought my art work home to my Studio. It did take me two days to do some major rearranging, but I’m thrilled with the results. As much as I loved the Gallery, it felt like all my kids (my art work) came home.
With that said though, I also realized how much artwork I actually have and I am quickly running out of room. I have decided to host two Open Studios in April to provide a little more insight on my upcoming classes, plans for the summer and to showcase my art. There will be a SALE to help my art work find new homes.
I do welcome drop ins at any time, if I’m home, I am happy to welcome you in to view my studio and art work. Just follow the signs off Hwy #105.
I have a question, is Perfectionism stopping you from being creative? For me, it’s a YES!!!
We are often told we need to do it perfectly, get it right, don’t make any mistakes and reach for standards that might just be unattainable.
For me Perfectionism has often kept me stuck. I feel like I have to have it all figured out, laid out and make no mistakes. This happens in many areas of my life.
Just the other day I was talking to my sister about what we were taught growing up.
“If you aren’t going to do it right, don’t do it at all” and when we were learning to sew, when you didn’t have it perfect, “rip it out and do it again”. I know that Mom was only trying to teach us to do the best we could, instill high standards and I agree with that. But interestingly enough, what we heard was that everything needs to be perfect. Then what happens is you put off doing things, procrastinate, because you might not get it right. This can be a vicious circle.
As I write this I am thinking of all the ways perfectionism holds me back:
Writing these blog posts, I don’t know exactly what I want to write so I keep putting it off, it needs to be perfect.
Painting pictures, sometimes I have no idea what I want to paint so I paint nothing. Or I doubt myself and say I can’t do that so I don’t even try because it won’t be perfect.
It makes us fear failure, like it’s a bad word. When in reality when you fail at something, or more likely it’s just a mistake, you need to figure out how to fix it. It turns into problem solving and instead of making that a bad thing, why can’t we make it into a fun experiment?
I find it’s not until I stop and pay closer attention to what I am really thinking, what is holding me back from trying things, then I can put it into perspective and decide to change those thoughts.
Example writing this blog. I can worry about getting it perfect. Did I get the grammar right? Am I making sense? Who really cares what I have to say? How’s my punctuation? You write like you talk, it’s not proper English. So many things could hold me back from writing and they often do. But in reality, it really is about the message, if someone wants to take the time to pick it apart, that’s fine. Where I will reach perfection on this Blog is when I finally complete it, say it’s good enough, push the button and send.
With paintings, well that’s more in my wheel house, but it is also where I can get caught up in the perfectionism as well. What if it doesn’t turn out? Did I get all the colours right? Is my perspective right? Does it look realistic? What will people think if I get something wrong? So here’s the thing. All of these thoughts keep me from actually painting and remembering the real reason I want to paint, because it’s FUN! It’s about putting paint down, enjoying the moment, taking in what works and doesn’t work and figuring out what to do about that. “It’s Just Paint”, if you don’t like it paint over it. It shouldn’t be stressful, it’s supposed to bring you Joy, get you out of your head and just do enjoy playing.
When we can finally put our perfectionism on the shelf, ask it to be quiet and just let us try something, that’s when the real creativity emerges. Quieting those thoughts takes practice, I’m still practicing, but I’m learning how to let go and play more.
If you have ever watched a very young child colour or paint, if they have not been told what something should look like, they don’t worry about it being perfect, it’s just beautiful no matter what they do. It’s not until they get older and we start telling them if they don’t do it our way it’s not right, then they start second guessing themselves and the creativity suffers.
My goal is to continue to notice when perfectionism is trying to creep in and hold me back, then do something that isn’t perfect.
One of the things that I love doing right now is the acrylic paint pours for that very reason. It is much harder to try for perfection when you don’t have a preconceived notion of what the outcome will be. You are at the mercy of the flow and it’s a fun, scary and exciting all at the same time.
The painting on this blog is from a video I have had for years, just procrastinated trying it. Sadly the first thought I had was, it’s not perfect, I didn’t do it exactly the way he did. Then it was quieting that little voice and saying, “good effort, it’s pretty dam good and move on”. I posted it online and everyone loved it. Remember to step back and give it time to grow on you too.
So if you are struggling with perfectionism, if it’s stopping you from trying something new because you might not get it perfect the first time, please come play with me and let’s kick perfectionism in the butt together.
I had an interesting conversation with a lovely friend who is my accountability partner in business. I was telling her how I struggle to explain what it is I do. That I offer paint classes but it’s so much more than that. It’s about coming out to play and create with paint, but that I find this actually scares people, especially if they have never done anything like it before.
She told me the reason she hasn’t signed up for a paint party in her town is because she doesn’t think she is creative, she’s worried that it won’t be perfect and that her picture will not be worthy to be hung up.
So I asked her, “Did you expect to know how to drive the first time you got behind the wheel? or was it something that you needed to practice and learn?”
Right away she said, “Oh, I never thought of it like that.”
Why do we expect that we should know how to paint? Isn’t that why you go to painting classes?The first painting might not be a masterpiece, but it might a chance to learn, play, relax and really so much more.
Like anything, painting takes practice but it’s meant to be fun and bring joy, not stress the heck out of you. Try and try again. Remember, there is no grading. You automatically get an A+ for doing something just for you, the outcome and product is a bonus.
For some reason we are reluctant to try something new because we don’t believe we are creative, we doubt ourselves and we want it to be perfect. Why don’t we think of it as an adventure, something new to try, explore possibilities and be excitedly optimistic in what we might create.
My favorite part of putting on the “It’s Just Paint” classes is that I get to watch some people who are literally terrified of putting paint on a canvas (or paper) become more relaxed and begin to allow themselves to just play and find out what you can do with the paint. When I hear comments like, “that was so much fun”, “I did way better than I thought I would”, “I can’t believe I did that”. or “Where did the time go?” That is music to my ears and I fell like I did my job.
The whole idea of these classes is to alleviate stress not create it. It’s about letting go of control a bit, practicing, making mistakes and figuring out how they can be happy mistakes, taking some time out for yourself and just losing yourself in the process.
First timers (everyone really), I will walk you through the paintings step by step. You get to choose colours and subjects that suit you. No use making something you will never hang up. If you have a problem, I can help you fix it. If you want me to, I will even tweak it just a bit, if you just can’t live with it. There is always a solution, even if it means painting over it or cutting it up into tiny pieces to be used for something else. Every piece does not have to be a masterpiece but it’s supposed to be FUN!
When you are ready to step out of your comfort zone, take a few hours for yourself and check out how we play at my classes, I would love to have you join me and find something you enjoy doing. I’ll be honest, not everyone loves to paint. I find that hard to believe, but it is true. Thing is, you really don’t know until you try and I have everything you need to give it a try. It’s like when kids saying they don’t like spinach and we say, just try it, you just might find you have a taste for it.
So I will leave you with that thought and if you want to sign up for a class just check out my calendar or call me and we can set up another time that suits you.
I have this idea that I am going to take more time to do my art and get clear on what the rest of the year looks like for me. How many classes, where, when? I am excited to plan what I want for 2019. I am looking forward to getting some unfinished projects completed as well.
Vision/ Dream Boards Workshop – I am going to create a new Vision/Dream Board for 2019. If you would like to join me, just send me a message. It will be a full day, 9 am – 4 pm, $65, all supplies included. All you need is a lunch and your desire to dream about 2019.
The first weekend will see me in Winnipeg, I am taking an art class on the weekend then celebrating my birthday at the spa with another friend (we share a birthday). I can’t even explain how excited I am to do that. I will also be off from Jan. 16 – 21, Miranda is coming and we will be enjoying that time together.
January classes are scheduled in our calendar. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to join me. There are a few specials, so don’t miss out. Plus a couple nights at the Bayview Hotel in Vermilion Bay. I will post the pictures we will be painting soon.
It’s always possible to gather your friends and family together and create a date and time that works for you and pick some paintings you would like to do. As always, you can call or send me a message, I would be happy to plan a Paint date with you.Read More
How time flies. I am so grateful for everyone that came out to celebrate with me. The winners of the draw were Juliette and Joni. Congrats!
You can always drop in and say hi. See what I’m up to and what’s hanging on my walls.
For those who still need a last minute gift, I have Chakra bracelets for sale ($30 + tax) and Gift Certificates for Art Classes ($50), plus a few paintings hanging on the wall to choose from. Just message me, we will figure out how to get them to you.Read More