Journey to Self – Love

9 Mar, 2021

This week we have another guest blogger. We had spoken in our facebook page about imagination and  reigniting our own while supporting the youth in our lives to hang on to theirs.  Reconnecting with my imagination has been an integral part of deconstructing my own colonialism, dismantling my lessons of  patriarchy and  reclaiming myself after trauma.  So of course it made sense to ask Candice Stewart to do a blog post about her lessons reconnecting with her imagination. Candice is an incredible advocate, loving mother and partner and a fierce  artist! We are so glad she agreed to write this blog and hope that you will find it as inspiring as we did!

Each morning I wake up and every night before I go to bed I look at a finger painted canvas that hangs on the shelf in my room, similar to how I have hung my children’s masterpieces around my house for years.  The difference with this canvas is that it’s mine, it’s a canvas that I myself finger painted this year, at 36 years old.  But it’s more than just a finger painted canvas to me, that’s why it hangs in my room in a place where it can be seen and acknowledged.  It is a masterpiece in its own way because it shifted things for me, it is a reminder of the exact moment that I began to understand the importance of imagination,

play and creativity in my day to day life and overall well being, a reminder of the moment when I saw a glimpse of a light that was dimmed inside of me a long time ago, and a daily acknowledgment to that part of me of just how remarkable she is. 

If someone had told me years ago that imagination and creativity were some of the keys to healing, self love, and re-discovering yourself I wouldn’t have believed them.  In fact I probably would have run the other way as fast as I could.  Imagination and creativity, putting yourself out there, that felt absolutely terrifying.  That would come with the risk of judgement or failure, “no thank-you!” With that being said, it’s been quite the ride over the last few months.  I have taken some major first steps for myself, steps that are important in my overall healing and ongoing wellness, and this process has and continues to be one of those steps.  
I was referred to a book, The Artist’s Way” — Julia Cameron early in my (what I thought to be) “finding myself” journey.  This was terrifying, and the early stages of this came with lots of doubt, resistance and fears.  Not to mention, I quickly learned that it wasn’t just a book, but a 12 week commitment to myself… EEK!! What the heck did I sign up for? It took some time and a lot of support from myself and external networks to get into it and fully commit, understanding these pieces.  But when I did, through the readings and tasks within the program it was remarkable the changes that happened, with every day that went by.  You see, that first finger painted masterpiece, that reminder that I talk about above, that was my very first of many “artists dates,” which is part of the process that continues to support my healing journey, and that I will forever be grateful for.  Since that very first masterpiece I have painted more canvases than I can count, been creative in many different ways with each date, but that very first masterpiece will forever hold a special place in my heart and home.  
I have opened up and learned so much about myself over these last few months through my creativity and imagination exploration, and I have done that through the support of this program, support from those around me, and my own dedication and commitment to myself.  I have learned that I actually love to paint and draw – and I am actually pretty amazing at it.  I have learned that nature speaks to me, and have seen and heard things outside like I am seeing and hearing them for the first time, trees/colours/birds/snow, all of it, it’s like it’s brand new to me.  I have realized how much I love to swing at the park, YES, all by myself just to see how high I can go to be able to get that giddy feeling in my belly.  I have stopped walking to lay on the ground to watch stars with my shoes off and bare feet in the grass, jump in the leaves and make snow angels and I have loved and felt every moment of it.  These pieces are not a once in a while practice they have become a daily practice in my life, and within this a reminder of presence and assist in keeping me grounded. I am excited to continue to learn and grow within all of this – actively seeking JOY wherever I can through my own imagination and creativity. 
This journey and commitment to myself has helped me to realize that it was never about “finding myself.” You see, what I’ve realized is that I was never lost.  This journey has been about rediscovering who I am and have always been without the messages and expectations that I have forever taken on from what is outside of me.  I’ve always been me, I’ve just tucked away pieces and parts of me that didn’t match with that messaging.  Someone asked me “when do you think it happens, when do we lose touch with it?” The truth is, I have no idea.  What I’ve realized for me is that it happened sometime in my younger years, and likely over time and accumulation of picking up on the way that I was “supposed to be” from what I was seeing and hearing around me.  When it happens is no longer what’s important to me, what’s important is that I now understand that though I lost connection to myself, who I am, my imagination and creativity, it’s never too late to get it back.  These learnings, commitment to myself and rediscovering my imagination, creativity and play have not only assisted with my day to day life and trauma healing journey, they have also made me a better person and a better mother, they have given me a growing connection to the universe and spirituality that I never thought imaginable and have given me the strength to make necessary but difficult changes in my life.  My goal as I continue on this path is to not only continue to honor these pieces for myself but to also honor it in my children, with the hope that little by little I can assist in deconstructing the messages that are received so that they can always honor who they are and live from a place of imagination. That maybe it will assist in not dimming that light inside of them, even by a little bit.  So when I share with my 18 year old daughter how wonderful it would be to run and jump in the pile of leaves in the front yard, only to have her run outside in her socks and summersault into them laughing and smiling – I can fully take in that moment with her.

​When I listen to my 12 year old daughter imagine what her life will be like and hear her talk about the 5 different careers that she wants to have, 2 of which she calls silly an actress/model and a mob boss” I can work to redirect that conversation to how amazing those careers would be and we can chat about how one day she may find herself working as an actress playing a role as a KICK ASS mob boss in a movie.  That is my goal in this, to honor their imaginations, creativity in a different way – which to me means, honoring who they are in themselves – two remarkable humans that have so much creativity and uniqueness to bring to the world- just by being them.  By starting this process of healing for myself, I am already working towards honoring it in them, my girls get to see their mom engaging in these pieces, and by doing this I am not only modelling this but am also more grounded and present with them, which I believe is more impactful than anything else out there.
I am not an expert in this area by any means, just a traveler on the journey who is still learning and making mistakes along the way.  There are many pictures that I could share here that would speak to my journey, but I have decided to share a picture of that first finger painted masterpiece here with you! From a place of hope, hope that in sharing my journey and my masterpiece that it will inspire anyone who may have had their light dimmed to work to relight it.  Take a moment, find the joy, imagine and create.  It’s scary to think about and to take the first step, but it’s the most remarkable journey we will ever take for ourselves. You are worth it!!

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  — Buddha