I am a 2018 graduate of the Color of Woman School of Intentional Creativity, led by Shiloh Sophia and her band of Cosmic Cowgirls. As a newly minted teacher, I am reflecting back on how I was able to FLOW through this program, and I wanted to lend some advice to those who are starting their Vision Quest, particularly with little ones at home.
In July 2017, I remember applying to the Color of Woman School, while having no idea why, or what I wanted to do afterwards. I was a stay-at-home mom of two small children at the time, but like Shiloh says, my heart felt the calling to proceed with my application. My heart also had the gentle nudging of my husband, who made sure I didn’t forget to push the submit button. And I remember during my initial interview, having all the fear in the world about how I would complete this WITH children to tend to on a daily basis. This is how I did it.
For those who don’t know Color of Woman is an Intentional Creativity teacher training certification that takes place over the course of a year. It begins with prerequisite assignments, then students complete 5 major paintings, along with teaching workshops, leading circles, and working on things like a website, promotional materials, and business plan. It is really a comprehensive deep dive into being a creative entrepreneur who is able to then teach others the IC skills to access their own internal information.
As a non-artist myself, it was a huge leap to even apply to COW. When I applied, I had never ever painted on a canvas before. I didn’t have an easel or paints or brushes. I painted with my kids, or in my teeny tiny sketchbook, and called that art. And I should also mention that a month before I was scheduled to begin COW, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my THIRD child. Being pregnant, homeschooling my kids, AND doing COW, I had a few moments of “How in the Heck Will I Do THIS??” But amazingly, I did. And it can happen for you.
My tips are what worked for ME, but I am sharing them in the hopes to calm anyone’s fears about taking on a big art program, or personal project, with children underfoot. This is how I did it.
Surround Yourself with Support
I will start of the bat by saying, my husband is the most supportive person in my life. He is my biggest cheerleader and were it not for him, I would not have been able to manage all of it. He watched the kids, gave me space for painting and brainstorming, and to fully immerse myself in this work. He let me process all the things and it was a huge gift for me.
One of the things Shiloh Sophia asked me during my interview was: How is your support system? And I know not everyone is so lucky to have a supportive spouse or partner, but just surrounding yourself with people who believe in you will make a huge difference. Tell your friends or family members, who you trust, who can lift you up. The ones who truly care, who will ask you how it’s going, and who will be genuinely interested in your progress. Share with THOSE people only, if you feel inclined. The rest are on a need-to-know basis.
This is an extremely personal time for you and your own thoughts and revelations need to be cared for and tended to like little babies of their own. You are growing your own ideas and information and folks aren’t quite ready for what’s happening just yet. Because you barely will understand yourself.
Set Up Your Space for Success
During my prerequisite work, I used the time leading up to COW to set up my studio. This was a work in progress, but my family was very supportive. We moved our bedrooms all around so that instead of a tiny closet, I could use an entire room. Having this sacred space WITH A DOOR was absolutely key for me. I was able to close the door during my art time. I had music or a sound machine playing so I didn’t have to hear the kids screaming or arguing downstairs (while under the gentle supervision of their dad). And my family knew, when I was painting, I was WORKING. The 2-year-old still didn’t care, so she was allowed to visit. But she didn’t derail my process.
Let them Interrupt You
I know this is counterintuitive to what you would think. But letting them interrupt you lets them see you in process. In flow. And my kids really enjoyed seeing what I was up to behind closed doors. My daughter (2 years old at the time) was infamous for coming in and GASPING at whatever I had been working on, like she was seeing each painting for the first time ever. It made me feel like the best artist in the world.
My son (5 years old at the time) would come in and name my paintings. He came up with the most beautiful and original names. They were his interpretations, and his own way of connecting to my process. I welcomed his imagination and thoughts, and his indirect love and support of my work.
Paint with Them
One of the best side effects of letting your kids see you paint is that THEY WANT TO PAINT TOO! My son was never a creative kid in terms of actually creating something. He would use his imagination, but give him paper and paint and he was uninterested. I found that letting them use some of my grown-up supplies made a difference for them. Real canvases, real watercolor paints, real Tombow markers. The creativity most definitely rubbed off on them. Kids mirror what they see and seeing me paint in quiet introspection was one of the biggest gifts I gave them through COW.
Include their Friends!
As part of my Initiate Book, I knew I wanted to do a workshop with my children and their friends. We are part of a very active homeschool group and I was able to offer an IC Workshop to them as part of my training. My son LOVED practicing the workshop ahead of time with me, but his most favorite part was doing a Red Thread Circle with his friends. To this day, he still wears a Red Thread on his wrist to signify his connection to his friends – six months later. He knows it’s a powerful tool for connection and he remembers that day every time he tugs on it.
Block Off The Time
As soon as I received the schedule of calls for the year, I put every single one on my calendar and I did NOT miss them. (Well, I actually missed one, but that was a crazy circumstance!)
I attended these calls NO MATTER WHAT was going on. I was lucky my husband arrived home from work around the time the calls would start in my time zone, so I would literally hand the cherubs off to him and shut the door. If I was feeling really loving, I prepped dinner ahead of time. But sometimes, he was on his own for dinner, during calls that would last around 2 hours. Sometimes it meant having a child in my lap for a few minutes during the calls.
But I knew the connections I was making, though quantum and cosmic, were important. My energy was needed in the circle, and my own self was restored, so the calls were non-negotiable for me. And I did not cut them short.
I also made sure to have a day set aside where everyone knew it was my painting time. Each Sunday morning, my husband would take the kids out for breakfast at 7 am, and when they came home they would play outside, or quietly downstairs, until I emerged. I was guaranteed from 7-11 am every weekend where I could catch up, paint, do whatever I needed to do. Sometimes I would squeeze in a second session after lunch, or during quiet time/movie time. But I USED the time I had and did not try to clean, do laundry, make grocery lists, or get sidetracked, like it would have been easy to do. I SHOWED up and STUCK to it.
Beyond that, I would fit in painting as I could. Sometimes during the week, I would paint if I had time, but mostly my set hours on the weekend were enough for me to stay on track.
Let Go of the Guilt
One of the biggest things I had to do was let go of guilt. There were MANY TIMES it would have been easy for me to cut my painting short on account of something else. I could have easily felt bad that my husband was stuck with two grumpy children who needed dinner, while I was upstairs “finding myself.” But I didn’t. I knew that this process would be beneficial for EVERYONE if I completed it. And my husband saw such a difference in me when I painted.
I would emerge like a butterfly coming out of her cocoon. Some days, after painting, I felt like Mary Poppins! It truly replenished my soul. And it would not be safe for me to trade that for the sake of others. My self-care and painting had become so intertwined that I needed it to be a better mom.
It’s ok to be PROUD of what you are doing! I am SO PROUD I am of what I have accomplished. Completing Color of Woman was NO easy task. It was a lot of work – emotionally and mentally – to walk through this Vision Quest. And to do it WHILE pregnant and raising/homeschooling two kids. I am as proud of this as I am about my college degrees. It’s that big of a deal to me.
I want others to know it’s feasible. It’s possible. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. And once you’re done, it’s ok to take a few moments to bask in the glory of what you accomplished and where you are.
I hope some of these tips resonate or help, or at least reaffirm your own Vision Quest reasons.
I wish you so much joy and happiness. Best of luck.
Discover Amanda Abreu’s art, offerings and writings www.creatingher.com