My last three posts have focused on my experience in the online art course, Bloom True, and how it has incorporated with and inspired learning in our unschooling lives. On week four, I didn't make a lot of time for painting, but found that the ideas presented in the course still made their way into my life. When taking a nature walk down hill from our property, I let Ayla and Sylvia take the lead and kept being drawn to interesting shapes and textures in the autumn woods. I love how creating art on a regular basis, inspires a different view of the ordinary beauty around us. I can already see some of these shapes sneaking into my painting.
"Not all those that wander are lost." J.R.R Tolkien
being brave, with a big sister's help
guessing what each other were drawing in the sand with a stone
skunk cabbage shoot
decaying birch branch
back at the house, every day is dress-up day for Ayla
After last week, when one of my paintings started to come together (canvas three - the huntress) I found that I was too scared to paint on it anymore because I didn't want to mess it up. Until I could move forward without that sense of fear, I added a layer here and there to the canvases that I was less attached to.
aaah, scary canvas three
mmmm, that's a little better
As I saw canvas three start to transform out of its ugly duckling stage, I started a new canvas. In part to use up extra paint that I had already mixed, and also to remind myself to paint loose and free without trying to make something 'pretty' out of each layer.
Otherwise, our lives continued on in all of their usual (and unusual) ways.
"I don't really fit on this like I used to."
Ayla tracing letters while her sisters finish their last day of gymnastics for the season
Camille and her friend at the easel during a weekend-long sleepover
What are you two doing in the bathroom?
leading cooperative games at Girl Scouts
The theme of the fourth week of the Bloom True course was Being Brave.
Within the course, it felt brave to share my work online with artists from all over the world, both what was working for me and what I was struggling with. I found that the more we all shared our experiences openly, the more we could relate to each other, and the more true encouragement and inspiration we could find in each others' work and comments.
Honestly, one of the bravest things that I did during the week was co-leading the Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts. As a mostly introverted, more-comfortable-helping-behind-the-scenes-than-leading kind of person, this one is big for me. However, the more often I show up and do it, the less daunting (and more fun) it gets. I know for many people it wouldn't be an issue of bravery at all, but for me, it is.
The older Camille gets, the more that I see social anxiety and sensory-overload processing becoming issues for her (in certain situations), and I don't doubt where she gets it from. What I also see is her being able to cope with those feelings in a more assertive and confident way. They don't pull her under as deeply as they used to, even as they seem to come up more often. I hope that in some part she is learning that from me (and me from her), as we lean into our fears and come out the other side stronger (and, um, avoid the triggers that aren't worth the effort).
I don't share a lot about my parenting challenges anymore because they are not just my story to tell, but also my children's, and I want to be mindful. I will say that it is so affirming to see that loving and supporting and radically-accepting my daughter right where she's at, without trying to push or change her, has not only not spoiled her, but it has increased her ability to relate to others with respect and generosity, as well as to feel comfortable in her own skin. I think that's what we all want for our children, and ourselves; kindness, confidence, and joy. In my experience, children treated with respect and kindness, even in the face of their own flailing moods, will learn to treat others accordingly.
Children who see us being afraid but stepping up anyway, even in small ways, will learn their own strengths in the face of fear and uncertainty.
That's where the idea of Being Brave is finding me. Speaking up and stepping up and showing up, even when it's not easy to do so.