The Dirty Kitchen – Imagination and New Perspectives

The Dirty Kitchen – Imagination and New Perspectives

Came across this article I wrote a while back. It’s worthy of sharing again, I think!

I hope my grandchildren will always be able to imagine many perspectives of the same situation, that they learn not to be judgmental, and that they learn to consider many possibilities. Quite simply, I hope they remain the creative thinkers that they are born to be.  And I hope that one day my grandchild tells the story of “The Dirty Kitchen” revealing how her Nana is incredibly amazing and creative. I hope that the idea that her Nana might be a slob doesn’t even cross her mind. Storytelling is the key to this one and it goes a bit like this:

Once upon a time there was a very dirty kitchen. “Oh my!” the kitchen cried out as they watched their homeowner slip out the door balancing a baby shower cake, “she left us! We are the messiest dirtiest stickiest kitchen ever!”  

“We need help,” announced the pots and pans in a very tinny sort of voice.

They opened the window and the faeries flew in exclaiming, “We’ll help!” 

“Is our homeowner a slob?” asked the teeniest tiny of the sticky forks.

“No, no,” answered the faeries, “she’s been very busy with making things and with people and workshops and, topping it off, with making a fancy dancy baby shower cake.. well, she just hasn’t had time to clean you up.”

“I’m happy to be part of her fun and imagination and creative play!” admits the icing coated counter top. The rest of the kitchen, including the dirty dusty dog print covered floor, cheers.

And so the faeries with a wave of their wand fill the sink with soapy warm water. The gluey gooey pot leaps in and does a little jig that sounds like this: kaswish kaswoosh. The faeries rinse him off and magically dry him and plop he finds his place in the cupboard.   

The story does go on and on as each character in the kitchen gets swept, washed, or wiped with the grand finale that the homeowner comes home, with her little granddaughter in tow, to find a lovely clean kitchen.

Easy to guess how this story began.  Even I was a bit shocked when I looked at my kitchen as my granddaughter said, “oh, the kitchen is very dirty.”  Pretty bad when a 3 year old notices. I could have succumbed to feeling like an incompetent housekeeper, but the more valuable and truthful perspective was that I had in fact pulled off some wonderful things in just a couple of days. I admit I was partially inspired by not wanting her to tell everyone “My Nana has a very dirty kitchen” in the same way she told EVERYONE “My Nana smashed into Auntie’s car.”  I thought it would be better for my granddaughter to consider how the kitchen came to be so dirty and our storytelling adventure of “The Dirty Kitchen” evolved.  In creating the story together I’d asked my granddaughter “why was the homeowner soooo busy that she didn’t get to clean the kitchen?’   It was a joy to watch her think that through and name all the things her Nana does. The story inspired both of us to clean the kitchen and it has since become one of her favourite bedtime stories at Nana’s house.

Storytelling is a great way to introduce new perspectives that focus on ‘what’s right’ instead of ‘what’s wrong’, encourage imagination and of course, feel better about a dirty kitchen.  All you have to do is say “Once upon a time there was (include topic)” and whisper to your child, “what happens next?”

by Janet L Whitehead  –  copyright 2012, 2017

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A true story of creative self-discovery in 3 minutes or less…

A true story of creative self-discovery in 3 minutes or less…

 

A three part, minute or less each, activity for your novel mind!

Part 1: Without thinking too hard about it, name a character you love from a book or a movie.  (This was the first post of the day on Novel Minds on Facebook. People responded, then I added the second and third post. If you want to have a similar experience to those I’m sharing here, take a few seconds to answer each part, before going to the next)

Person 1  
One of my favorites…ET!

Person 2   
Atticus Finch

 

Part 2: What are the qualities of that character that makes that character one you love?

Person 1  

Ah, there are so many! His compassion, curiosity and willingness to discover things that are surely very different from his own home and world! Not only a botanist, but an explorer as well! I love everything about him!

 

Person 2  
He has integrity, leads by example, willing to stand alone for the right reasons, sticks up for the disenfranchised. Parents well.
Many reasons. Plus, in the movie he was played by Cary Grant… hello!
Part 3. Characters you love are mirrors of you. Read what you wrote about why you love that character and notice how much YOU are like that character. Any aha moments about this? Thanks for playing!!!
 
Person 1
Aha! We both love the “Super” Moon! This was really fun! And of course the timing was perfect!

 

Person 2

Wow. Wasn’t expecting that. I humbly own it though.
 ~ ~ ~ ~

I know… you likely didn’t get to try this right now as you read this. Even though you know the final part, you could still give it a try? Pretend you don’t know this is all about you!  I’d love to hear about your favourite character! (which, is also you, by the way!)

 

 

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The Christmas Cross-Off List; Finding the Magic

The Christmas Cross-Off List; Finding the Magic

Tis the Season to Audaciously Cross Things OFF the Way Too Long “To Do” List. It’s one sure way to notice the magical spirit of it all.

Step 1:  Take out the To Do List  (Open if the list is on your phone.)

Step 2:  Take a big breath and start crossing things off.

“I can’t do that!!” you might be thinking. Let me convince you: Your TO DO List is likely a key factor in you’re not getting to enjoy the season nearly as much as you could be.  The list is long. It’s overwhelming. It’s full of unrealistic expectations.  It’s in your thoughts so much that when you are doing something you enjoy, you’re thinking of the TO DO List.
So let’s turn that TO DO list into an “I GET TO DO” list.

Step 3: Across the top of the TO DO List, write: How can I make this simpler?  Heck, how can I make this fun?

Step 4:  Cross things off the list – pretend you are an editor who must trim a 500 word article to 50 words. Your house cleaning list will start to look like this:

TIPS for CROSS OFFS:

The Baking List:  Cross off all but 3 or 4 favourites.  Cross off everything that’s complicated to cook.  If tradition has you building a gingerbread house that gets thrown away at the end of the season, cross it off.  Will it still be Christmas without Russian Teacakes or fudge that you burn three times before it turns out right? Yes.

Kids’ Gift List:  Still trying to balance the number and value of gifts for your kids?  Stop. You know you love them equally. “Balancing” just costs you more and more money.  If the list is already way out of balance – so much so that one child will be sure you don’t love them at all – cross the extra gifts off the list. Put them away for a birthday or return them after Christmas.  A tip to simplify gift giving for kids: Give them one thing they think they want, one thing they need or that you know they would like, a book, and if you love board games or movies, add that.  This could be the year that you’ve decided to reduce ‘stuff’ to help the environment.  Your kids might.. maybe.. buy into that, especially if ‘experiences’ like movies or skiing become a part of the gift giving tradition.

Gift list that has you going to 12 different stores:  Pick a theme like ‘books’ and spend a relaxing afternoon in the book store choosing a special book, magazine or journal for in-laws, parents, siblings and friends.  Or pick a craft or baking project and spend creative time at home with a hot chocolate, fancy coffee, or mulled wine making gifts. Or buy them experiences like movie passes, gifted with some nice organic popcorn, perhaps.

Christmas Dinner:  Can you break tradition and make it simpler?  Premake side dishes?  Have others bring a side dish?

One year, most of my family was out of town, and just my two daughters and I were going to be having Christmas together. They told me not to plan dinner. They had a surprise, they said. Do you know how hard that was? What? No Turkey? No preplanning all that goes into Turkey dinner? The surprise was that they had planned to cook us a Persian dinner! I hadn’t had persian food since I’d lived in Iran when I was in my 20’s… it was such a thoughtful and delicious present.  And look, here I am talking about the Persian Christmas dinner and not about all the other 50+ turkey dinners. We survived (thrived) doing Christmas dinner differently. So can you.

Events:  What events on the list make you smile and what ones feel like pressure?  Try really really hard to cross off the pressure events.  They might be events you ‘should’ attend, but remember you are trying to reduce the overwhelm.  Once you are done with all of the cross off’s, you might actually have time to do the things you’d adore doing.  Your list might start to look like this:

  • More story times with the kids.
  • Read a book.
  • Write a story. Play with paints.
  • Sit by the fire and do nothing.
  • Go Tobogganing, snowshoeing, skiing.
  • Breath. Be present. Notice that there is actually magic at Christmas.

Notice how your TO DO list is turning into an I GET TO DO list? Feeling some relief? Now, in this more peaceful state;  watch for it, listen for it, feel it…there is magic….

 

 

 

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I wrote a book! Celebrating one year of it being published!

I wrote a book! Celebrating one year of it being published!

I wrote a book. The one that haunted me to be written for a long time. Celebrating it being out there for a year.  Phew. Yay. Oh, what a feeling!

And this is it:

An extraordinary story of grief, loss, creativity, imagination and, ultimately, magic. Janet’s memoir tells a strange tale. No wonder she passionately supports the creative thinker.

…but the idea for a novel didn’t happen until she realized the most bizarre story she could share was her own. A life full of tragedy, sprinkled with profound discoveries, and even more full of magic, led her to finally write her first novel, Beyond All Imaginings.  It is the story of altering time and people who died and beings who introduced themselves as faeries… and this is a story of pottery…”

Beyond All Imaginings

Janet L Whitehead

Published 2016.

“… It’s about smashed fingers, smashed dreams, smashed faeries and the value of throwing up your arms and saying “whatever.” It’s about impossible things being possible and Rolling Stones playing on unplugged radios. It’s about walking through walls and it’s about faerie sex; a chapter that nearly stopped me in my writing tracks. This is the true story of my life: The tragic loss of loved ones and the heart-wrenching grief; the magic of faerie-like beings showing up in my clay, on my pages, and in my home – which they did very much to my dismay, at least at first. And now, the faeries insist on blowing themselves up. This is the story that blurs your boundaries between reality and fantasy and leaves you wishing you could find your way into my world, albeit without the tragedies. As you can imagine, this has not been a simple story to write. Hell, if it were fantasy it would have been easy… but this is my life.”

Beyond All Imaginings is available in print or kindle version here

Personally signed copies also available by contacting Janet    This is currently my favourite thing to do – signing and sending copies seems to be full of more inexplicable synchronicities than I could have even imagined!

Author’s Bio
As a child, Janet Whitehead knew that she would be a writer. Following that path, she has written and illustrated children’s books and short stories, published playful and empowering self- discovery workbooks, been a regular contributor to a parenting magazine, and specializes in the power of creativity and the written word in her coaching practise. But the idea for a novel didn’t happen until she realized the most bizarre story she could share was her own. A life full of tragedy, and even more full of magic, led her to finally write her first novel, ‘Beyond All Imaginings.’ Janet is currently working on her next creative memoir, ‘Clewless with a Touch of Salty’; the recent story of how Tall Ships – both real and imagined – saved her butt during another strange time in her life.

Beyond All Imaginings is available in print or kindle version here

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The Tall Ship Metaphor

The Tall Ship Metaphor

A Tall Ship, well captained and crewed is an extraordinary metaphor for how to live life well.

I know this because I’ve trained as a sailor on a Tall Ship. It was a dream come true. You can have some of those too. I teach creativity, and it’s not just about paint. It can get you on your tall ships.

Oh, and my lifelong fascination with doodling and painting Tall Ships, led to a pretty extraordinary scenario of creative events that likely saved my life. Literally.  You can have more of that creative magic, too.

Besides all that, phrases like ‘the wind in your sails,’ ‘uncharted waters’, ‘your ship has come in,’… they are nice visuals for those of us wanting to take our lives, and our projects up a notch or several, don’t you think?

Artwork: Stained glass by the stunning artist, Cindy Hayden

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There’s Nothing Wrong with You. Nothing. Isn’t that a Relief?

I hear ya. Don’t think that those thoughts  the title triggered are going unnoticed:

“She doesn’t know me very well, does she?”
“I can’t complete a single thing I set out to, that’s what’s wrong with me.”
“I need to lose weight/ gain weight, get fit, get a haircut, and my shoes are ugly.”
“I hate my job.”
“I ‘m terrible at finances. I never shop around for best prices.”
“I’m faking my way through life. I’m not nearly as good at my job/parenting/relationship as I pretend to be. I can’t believe I’ve gotten away with it this long.”
“I can’t read well/ write well/ dance well/ cook well… that’s what’s wrong with me.”
“I’ m stuck. I’m in a rut.”
“No matter what I do I cannot meet the expectations of others.”
“I can’t meet my own expectations, let alone others.”

Will this one article convince you that there’s nothing wrong with you?  Perhaps not… A  lifetime of beating ourselves up isn’t shifted instantly.  But we can get you started….

What stops you is not what’s ‘wrong’ with you.  The ‘what’s wrong with you’ thoughts are keeping you so busy you’ve hardly ever given a moment’s thought or an ounce of credit to ‘what’s right’.  That, my friends, is what stops you: Not giving credit to what’s right.

Mary comes for coaching and announces that she’s terrible at finances.
“How so?” coach asks.
“Others I know shop around, finding the best prices on groceries, and I only shop at my favourite store. I could save us money if I collected coupons.”
“Would you enjoy doing that?” asks coach.
“I’d hate it!  It would take so much time!”
“And what do you do with your time currently?”
This question leads Mary to an “aha”.  Mary works in a demanding career that she loves.  She also loves her family and is conscientious about creating quality time for them.  She ensures the family eats well.  And within this series of acknowledging what is right, Mary also notes that her time is worth money, and in fact, she is far more financially ahead by not spending her time collecting coupons and shopping around.

That’s what’s right about Mary.

What’s right about you?
Hey, you know.. you could explore that a little….Title a page “What’s right about me” and make a list of 50 things right about you.  Do not stop when it gets hard.  Be silly, get mad at me for asking as one item (or more!) on the list,   but keeping going and going and going.  A minimum of 50.  Okay, give it a good shot.. you do want to get past the part where it’s easy.  Your logical left brain will give up, and your intuitive right might start sharing. Be playful. Be silly.  When you are finished, notice especially what emerges in the last 10 or so items.  Any surprising messages there from the right side of the brain?

By the way, I hear the other thoughts: “I don’t have time to do this!!!”  “I can never find 50 things!”

All you need is a lunch break and a pen and paper; or replace 20 minutes of facebook time with quickly typing up this list; or scratch out the list on napkins you find in the car while you are waiting to pick up your kids.

One list and you will feel at the very least, much better about you.  And then, give yourself permission to notice what’s right about you on a daily basis. Or at least twice a week for starters.

Anyone willing to share their discoveries?

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