Friday, October 24, 2014

My Art Therapy: Halloween DIY Decorations



Teaching junior high was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Convincing eighth graders the importance of subject verb agreement, especially when a prepositional phrase came between the two, was excruciatingly difficult.  

I remember the day this mom came in to dispute her daughter's homework grade.  She demanded that the verb should agree with object of the preposition.  When it agreed with the subject, it sounded "ghetto."  (Her words, not mine).

I tried not to be spin into a downward spiral of rage as she questioned not only me, but the grammar book’s instructions that were clearly printed *on the same page;* however, I was completely distracted that she looked and sounded just like Joey's agent on Friends.  The only thing missing was a cigarette, but judging by the smokey smell emanating from her poufy hairdo, I’m guessing she had one in the parking lot before she arrived at my classroom.

On soul crushing days like that, I would need to do something to alleviate the anger and frustration. And since I wasn't the kind of teacher to keep a flask filled with alcohol in my desk, I kept a box of Crayola crayons (the 24-count box to be exact; 8 and 16 never seemed like enough, and I didn't have space in my desk for the best box of 64) and my Celestial Seasonings Tea Coloring Book.  No matter how much I wanted to tell someone to go to hell, my anger always dissipated when I had completed coloring and created something pretty.

Earlier this week, I needed some art therapy. For the past few days, I had let the fear and frustration of others bring me down.  So I took out some cards stock, Modge Podge, and some Halloween cutouts that I bought for a rainy day. 



mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I had some calming chamomile lavender tea and played my Andrew Sisters Pandora station.
I may be 94 years old.




Here is what I created.

mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I took a Halloween cutout and used some glossy Modge Podge to glue it on some brown card stock.




mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I let it dry overnight before I cut it.


mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I then used these double-sided foam stickers and stuck it on orange card stock.


mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
Then I stuck it to the paper. . . 



mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
and cut out the outline . . . 


mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
then used a hole punch.  




mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I took some jute and tied a knot.  I hung it up with some other decorations.



mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I always wanted to use these chipboards, but I never knew what to do with them.
I traced the shape with orange construction paper.




mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I used some Matte Modge Podge to glue it to the chipboard.
.  Here's a tip: less is more. I had to work out all of the air bubbles before it dried.




mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I took another cutout and traced it on brown card stock.  I glued it with a regular glue stick.



mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I glued it to the chip board with Matte Modge Podge.


mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I used some scissors to push through the holes that were already there
and tied the jute in a knot.


mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
I then hung it from our cabinet.  I am not going to quit my day job(s),
but I am pretty proud of how it turned out.


mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
This was a final product that didn't turn out quite like I had hoped.
I used the Matte Modge Podge, but it kind of curled up more than I wanted to.
I still used it and punched a whole to hang it up.



mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
For this one, I just used those double-sided foam stickers and cut around it.



mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
Same for this one.




mommy on the spot erin janda rawlings halloween diy craft decorations
Here is what they all look like hanging above my kitchen sink.
I almost used orange curling ribbon, but I am glad I used the jute.
It goes nicely with the brown card stock.



When I was done, I felt that same sense of accomplishment and peace when I was done coloring.  Plus I had some cute decorations to hang up in the home.

Do you have a favorite activity that saves you from stress?




Thursday, October 16, 2014

On my Thirty-Seventh Birthday

Today I turn thirty-seven years old.  Thirty-seven is not a milestone birthday.  It’s not like 25 or 30 or 40.  But something about thirty-seven feels like a milestone for me.

Maybe it’s because I have turned a corner with both kids in school, and I’m working from home.  Maybe it’s because I can practice yoga twice a week.  I don’t know.  But I do know that I feel more contentment and peace than I have in a long, long time. 

I mean not perfect contentment that I imagine I would feel if I were chanting ohm on a secluded mountaintop.  More like less angst-y and restless.

I remember when I started my third decade, I spend quite a few nights waking up and running to the bathroom to dry heave and cry.  At first I thought I had the flu or maybe pregnant. 


When neither turned out to be true, I decided maybe I was unhappy.  But how could I be unhappy?  I was happily married and had a beautiful daughter who was deliciously adorable at two years old.

When I quieted my mind and clocked some serious time at my therapist’s office, I came to the conclusion that I was just letting in too much – too many opinions of others, too many judgments, too many self-harming comments.  I couldn’t honor these outside forces and still have enough energy to raise Marie.

So I started to say no to things that made me feel bad. I said no to thing that made my gut red hot with dread.  I said no to things that made me feel drained and sad.  This was not easy at all.  I mean, saying no kind of goes again first-born daughter code.  There were times when I think it would have been easier to join the witness protection program than face my fears of letting anyone down as I decided to live life on my terms.

Which is what was the stem of all my itchy, uncomfortable feelings of going with a flow that was not meant for me.  So little by little, I created something I had never before experienced: personal boundaries.

I didn’t have the language to explain this transformation until I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speakat Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend.  She called her journey a Quest and talked about how it started with crying on the bathroom floor, knowing that she was not on her right path.  Which led her on journey to answer the question: What have I come here to do with my life? 


what have you come here to do with your life? Elizabeth Gilbert Mommy on the Spot Erin Janda Rawlings


Wait - there was a name for this?  A Quest?!  I thought I was just going about my business trying to find some way to make sure I didn’t implode while raising my daughter.  But yes, when she explained exactly what a Quest is, I was indeed on one of my own.

She talked about how The Quest is filled with self-doubt and uncertainty that there will be trials, but ultimately when finished, fear is shed.

In fact, all the difficulties were inevitable.  Elizabeth shared that she used to pray for changes in her life, but without all the mess and upheaval.

And with that, the past seven years of my life were validated.  I guess I had the preconceived notion that personal transformation would be a blissful journey. Yes, I was making changes that felt like were aligned with who I really was meant to be, but shit, it was hard.  And messy.   And uncomfortable.

But it would have been more uncomfortable to stay and cry and dry heave and live a life on a path that was not for me than to figure out how I fit in this world.

So I am going to celebrate this non-milestone milestone birthday.  With cake.  Champagne.  Family.  Food.


I did it.  I am on My Quest.  And even thought it’s not easy, it feels pretty damn good.