What if we could all have tantrums?

My daughter threw a 30 minute tantrum today.

What if we could all throw tantrums?

I say tantrum, but I look at it through more of an RIE parenting lense so really she had a 30 minute emotional release. And it all started because she wanted to play with the printer’s tray and I wouldn’t let her. I said, “I won’t let you play with the printer” and physically prevented her from reaching it. She pushed against my legs, crying for the next 30 minutes. And I just let her. I didn’t put her in time out; I didn’t try to bribe her or distract her with something else; I didn’t try to rationalize with her – I just quietly and calmly held the space for her to have her feelings. The most I did was prevent her from hurting me or herself and acknowledge her feelings a few times at the beginning. And I didn’t take it personally – I knew that all this crying and pushing wasn’t about me or about the printer. It was about something else entirely. Perhaps it was about all the changes that have taken place in our lives the past two months or the busy-ness of it all. Or perhaps it was something else entirely. To be honest? It doesn’t matter what it was about. What mattered was that I was able to be her safe harbor as her emotions crashed over her.

When we were about 20 minutes in, I started to wonder what the world might be like if everyone were able to have such emotional releases. If there was a judgment-free, intervention-free place where adults, teens, or children could express their anger or frustration or confusion or sadness or whatever else they might be feeling and have others quietly and courageously bear witness.

I was lucky enough to be a part of such a space for 7 years in my women’s circle and I can attest that it is truly powerful to be allowed to express one’s feelings with total acceptance. These marvelous women would bravely sit in a silent circle and bear witness to my pain. They would not offer me a tissue when my nose began to run or give me advice on how to ‘solve’ the problem. They would simply sit there, listening, watching & waiting, as I moved through my emotions. At times, the sobbing would slow down and it would seem that I was done, but these women were wise and knew to wait. A few minutes would pass and a new wave of grief or pain would wash over me and it would all begin again. They trusted that I was strong enough and capable enough to feel my feelings and to know when I was done. It was a powerful experience that I am incredibly grateful to have had and to have given to others as well, including my daughter today.

And what happened, you might ask, at the end of that thirty minutes? My sweet daughter lay on the floor, stomach down, completely spent and sniffling slightly as her breathing began to return to a normal pace. She lay there quietly breathing for about 5 minutes before she looked up at me slightly and said, “Can I watch Sarah & Duck?” And that was it. It was over and we cuddled on the couch watching our favorite duck waddle about on the TV.

L’Amour Art Car Update

My dear, sweet L’Amour Art Car….is no more! After 7 months of fading by the blistering Texas sun, she started to look pretty shabby – only the  quotes written in black remained in full force while all the rest had faded completely or were looking very weary. I gathered the supplies I would need to get her back to her ‘white canvas‘ and set to work. Lots of people on the internet said acetone was the key to getting sharpie off of a car’s exterior, but I had the best luck with non-acetone nail polish remover. It worked much more quickly and easily than the acetone.

Non-acetone nail polish remover aka the magical Sharpie remover.

So two hours of scrubbing and wiping later, she was gloriously white again!

Now she’s just waiting for me to get to work on L’Amour Art Car 2.0. Stay tuned! 😉

This Tree Is Me

When we moved into our home, 2 of the large trees in our backyard had been significantly trimmed. One of the trees, which I’ve (hopefully correctly) identified as a Linden tree, has been laid bare by the cold of winter. Although I love all the trees in my backyard, this one is currently my favorite (Shhh, don’t tell the others!). It’s got offshoots bursting out of every major branch and it’s trunk. I often think to myself that it looks like a crazy hairstyle on someone’s head.

The leaf-less Linden tree.

As I was meditating in the backyard the other day, I was staring at this lovely naked tree and its many small branches shooting out and that’s when it hit me: this tree is me. That’s Me. That’s what I look like. This tree is a perfect representation of me and my creative expression. I’ve got all these different creative pursuits and expressions bursting out of me everyday. Some of them big, some of them small but all of them take time and effort – they haven’t shown up overnight. I’ve built them up slowly, taking small steps to create this beautiful thing. This sometimes chaotic, sometimes cohesive thing. And some of these pursuits I’ll try for a while and they won’t be a good fit for me for whatever reason and they will fall away. Just like a small branch that a tree tries to grow and then, because of shade or competition, it starts to fall off. That tree has to decide where it is going to put its energy and resources; which branches are the most important. That’s where I’ve currently been in my creative journey: whittling down, prioritizing, and taking small steps in the hopes that I’ll end up with something beautiful and worthwhile.

Experimenting with Watercolor

In today’s art adventure: experimenting with watercolor! I didn’t get ‘grown-up’ watercolors until I was in my late 20s so this is still a very new medium for me. I set up my daughter with her Crayola watercolors and I set up my ‘grown-up’ watercolors and we set to work. This is the result:

Watercolor. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

The lion was the kiddo’s idea: “Mommy, do a lion.” The jellyfish were my idea – they are my current obsession. I just find them so graceful, beautiful and peaceful.

Sadly, I can’t show you a picture of my daughter’s creation because it was a wet pile of paper and brightly colored water on the floor. Good thing I recently reminded myself that it is okay to get messy! 😉

What about you? Do you enjoy watercolor? Have any tips or tricks for a beginner? Let me know in the comments! And if you’d like to stay up-to-date on all my artistic happenings, please subscribe!

Refrigerator Reminders

It’s my first post of 2018! Woohoo! How’s your 2018 going? Mine has gotten off to a rocky start. Things always seem to fall apart for us after the holiday rush of Christmas and New Year’s is over. So I decided to revive and revamp some old reminders on my refrigerator. I had put them up sometime last year and then taken them down months later as they seemed like they were no longer needed. Ha! I was incorrect. For me, personally, these reminders are helpful with my daughter who is in the throws of the terrible (or terrific as my mother-in-law likes to say) twos. The first two are to help keep me grounded:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

So often problems with my daughter arise when I haven’t been taking my time to meditate and breathe or because I’m trying to move at my adult pace. Granted, sometimes moving at an adult pace is necessary, but often times it is not and it’s important for me to remember to s l o w   d o w n. For me, I find that something magical happens when I slow down and move at my daughter’s pace. I’m able to see the world from her eyes and be fully present and connected. And really, what’s the rush?

The second two reminders are mostly in regards to my daughter but are also applicable to me:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

I have a strong aversion to mess but life and toddlerhood and art and a myriad of other things can be quite messy! So this is a reminder to myself to allow messes to happen. Throw a tarp down and let the kiddo paint a cardboard box and get covered in paint from head to toe. Let her dig in the mud and pour water in her sandbox. Let her play and be messy. And also, don’t be afraid to get messy yourself – with the kiddo, in your art, in your writing, in your music, in the kitchen, anywhere!

The other reminder is a crucial one. Get outside. Last year, when I had this reminder on fridge and I was having a bad day, it helped me to remember to take the kiddo outside. To a park or just in the backyard. On days when I have very little to give her, going outside always seems to help both of us. I get to recharge (being outside does that to me) and she gets to play happily as she tends to entertain herself very easily outside.

I’m happy and grateful to have these reminders back up on my refrigerator and I can see that they are already helping. What reminders do you have (or want to have) on your fridge? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

How to Kill and Revive Your Creativity

10 EASY STEPS TO KILL YOUR CREATIVITY
1.Be so afraid to make a mistake that you never begin.
2.Compare your work to the works of others, especially the most successful ones.
3.Hold yourself and your work to impossible standards of perfection.
4.Try to please and not offend anyone with your work.
5.Doubt yourself at every step and at every choice.
6.Quit because it’s crap anyway.
7.Don’t listen to yourself; listen to everyone else, especially those that discourage you.
8.Be motivated by money, fame, and fear.
9.Neglect your life, relationships, other interests and overall well-being to focus on this one thing.
10.Ignore your heart.

10 EASY STEPS TO REVIVE YOUR CREATIVITY
1.Just begin.
2.Stop comparing yourself and your work to others. You and your creations are original and, therefore, beyond comparison.
3.Embrace your mistakes. Embrace imperfection.
4.Not everyone will like your work and that’s okay. Trust that it will reach those that need it.
5.Trust yourself. Listen to that wise little voice inside of you. The more you listen, the louder it gets.
6.Keep going. You’re in the muck of it now. It might not be pretty but don’t give up. Keep going.
7.Surround yourself with a support system of believers and cheerleaders. But, more importantly, listen to and believe in yourself.
8.Be motivated by love and hope and joy and fun.
9.Take care of your life, your relationships and yourself. Explore other interests as well.
10.Above all, listen to your heart.

Listen to your heart. © 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved

© 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

In Honor of My Grandmother

This past spring, my grandmother passed away. It was her heart – she’d been sick for a couple of years, in out of doctor’s offices and hospitals, but there wasn’t much that they could do beyond what they’d already done. I remember visiting with her one day after a particularly long hospital stint and she said, “I always knew it would be my heart.” In those few words, I heard all the things that couldn’t be said: how she’d given so much of her heart to others and, in many ways, neglected her responsibilities to her own heart.

When we drove in for her funeral, I knew that I wanted to speak and I knew what I would say. When she first got sick, I had a feeling it was the beginning of the end and I felt like I need to tell her all the reasons why I loved and admired her. So I wrote her a letter and was able to share it with her. In honor of that amazing and beautiful woman, I’d like to share that letter with you today:

My Meme and my baby.

Dear Meme, you deserve to know that I think you are an amazing, incredible, beautiful, inspiring woman and I am so honored to be your granddaughter.

You are so brave, adventurous and strong while still being nurturing, elegant and unbelievably kind. I admire very much who you are and try to emulate these qualities in my own life.

You deserve to know that you have inspired me to travel and see the world and expand my horizons. I love listening to your stories about your travels and adventures.

You deserve to know that I love getting hugs from you and cuddling with you – you are a great cuddler. And some of my best childhood memories are on your lap and in your arms – I remember thinking that the world was perfect in those moments and I felt deeply loved and nurtured.

You deserve to know that your willingness to grow and change leaves me in awe of you. I hope I, too, continue to grow and change for as long as I live.

You deserve to know that your ability to go to the opera in impeccable dress while laughing at a dirty joke in the car on the way there is one of the things I love about you. You are elegant and wonderfully silly all at the same time and I admire that about you so much.

You deserve to know that I admire your deep commitment to family. You want so much for all of us to succeed and be happy and you have definitely had an integral part in making that happen in all of our lives.

You deserve to know that I am so grateful to have inherited your love of music and so grateful that you shared with me what you know.

You deserve to know that I admire your ability to maintain life long friendships as well as forge new ones along the way, no matter where your life has taken you.

You deserve to know that I admire your bravery in meeting every challenge life has thrown you and I think we both know you’ve had a few. And yet you handle every challenge with determination and grace and it is an awesome sight to see.

You deserve to know that I am deeply moved by your long and beautiful marriage to a wonderful and goofy man and the loving family that you two created.

And you deserve to know that when I have grandchildren, I will make them eggs in a frame and drink coffee milk in bed with them in the mornings and tell them stories about my Meme & Paw.

But most importantly, you deserve to know that you have lived a wonderful and inspiring life and made a world of difference in mine.

I love you.

Thank you.

 

THE LOVE SERIES #12: Earth Love

Well, I missed Earth Day in April and I’m a little early for next year, but as my favorite baseball cap says “Every day is Earth Day.” This is the 12th installment of my Love Series and how the woman in the picture looks is how I’m feeling today – full of love for our Earth.

I’ve recently been watching the new Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson and reading the original Cosmos by Carl Sagan. And I must admit, it fills me with awe for this Earth, humanity, and the entire Cosmos. Those great works have also reminded me of how precious and unique (as far as we know) our Earth is and how we must care for it because, right now and for the foreseeable future, it’s the only one we’ve got.

So maybe go and do a small thing for the Earth today. Plant a tree. Pick up that piece of trash (yes, I know you didn’t leave it there, but someone has got to do it – why not you?). Volunteer for a beach clean-up. Give a little extra effort to recycle that (fill in the blank here). Start composting. Hug a tree (it’s not just for hippies). Or go do a naked gratitude dance in the woods (this one might be just for hippies). I don’t care what you do as long as you do something. One small step. One small act for this pale blue dot we call home.

Marker and colored pencil. © 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved

 

THE LOVE SERIES #11: Booby Love

This 10th installment of The Love Series is dedicated to breastfeeding aka Booby Love. 😉 I drew this picture only a couple weeks after my daughter finished weaning so it’s a bit bittersweet. My goal was to make it to at least 2 years old and we made it to 2 years and 3 months. Did you know that there is a such as thing as post-weaning depression? I had no clue (despite many La Leche League meetings and breastfeeding blogs) and was a little blind-sided when I decided to reduce my daughter’s free-for-all nursing schedule to only one nursing session in the morning. I wasn’t even ‘weaning’ in my mind, just putting down some boundaries. But not long after we made the change, I felt awful. I was moody, crying all the time, anxious and depressed. I had no idea what was going on and was obsessing about why I was feeling this way and how I might ‘fix’ it when I stumbled upon post-weaning depression online.

After knowing why this was happening to me, I was able to relax and just accept that this was a temporary hormonal shift and to give myself a little break. A few months later, when I decided to wean fully, I was prepared. Thankfully, going from a 5-minute nursing session per day to no nursing wasn’t as large of a hormonal shift (I’m assuming) as I didn’t have such severe symptoms – only mild depression and anxiety that lasted a couple of weeks.

While I was pregnant, I’d heard many women recount their experiences of postpartum depression and anxiety, but I’d never heard a woman discuss post-weaning depression. So this is my little PSA. Post-weaning depression is a thing. Maybe if you know it’s a possibility and that it could be coming, you’ll have a better system in place to cope until it passes.

These 2 years of breastfeeding have been quite a journey. Those first couple of months of figuring breastfeeding out were complete hell (the postpartum depression and anxiety didn’t help either!) but I’m glad we persisted.* There have been some truly wonderful moments – one of which is captured in the drawing below. It was in those first two months of hell that my daughter was nursing and laid her hand upon my chest with her pointer finger, pinky and thumb extended forming ‘I Love You’ in sign language. The significance of this is that my husband and I had made that sign to each other since first saying “I Love You” to one another. We still make that sign to one another and now my 2 year old daughter does too.

Marker and colored pencil.
© 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

*This statement is not meant to judge, criticize or shame any mother who could not or didn’t want to breastfeed. Every person fights their own battles and must do what is best for them and their baby and I 100% recognize that was is ‘best’ for me may not be ‘best’ for you. You do you. I’ve got your back.

THE LOVE SERIES #10: Mama Love

This is the 9th installment of The Love Series and it’s a celebration of the love a mother feels for her child. I did this painting when I was pregnant with my daughter and in complete awe of how much love I felt for someone I hadn’t even seen with my own two eyes.

My love for her now is the same as it was then: powerful, fierce, and deep. Any person is capable of feeling this kind of love whether they are a biological parent, adoptive parent, step-parent, animal parent, grandparent, auntie, uncle, or friend. May we all know the joy of giving and receiving such a love.

Acrylic Paint on a tiny canvas. © 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

P.S. This post happens to coincide with the e-book release of my new book of poetry – Hummingbird Heartbeat: Poems of Pregnancy and Beyond. You can find it on amazon.com for $3.99. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library. I hope you enjoy it. <3

 

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