Getting Past Creative Road Blocks

August 17, 2014 in creative tools, creativity, inner critic, inner muse, inner wisdom, self-care, Self-Love



These past weeks my family and I have been doing a lot of cycling together. While not unusual for me to cycle a lot – I began cycling again as an adult in my late twenties I tend to stick to my comfort zone in the way that I ride. For example, my kids and my husband have a knack for cycling hands free. I’d watch enviously and wish that I could, not believing I could. I even told myself that perhaps it was a “guy thing” the way they could balance themselves so well on the bike without holding on to the handlebars (like how there are certain yoga poses I can hold that they struggle with). But I wanted to be able to do be hands free in the same way with the same ease that they had.

So I pretended to try: I took one hand off of the handle, while of course hanging on with the other hand.  What if I lose my balance whispered my scared thoughts.  What if I crash?  What if I fall down? What if…….? And as the “what ifs” piled up, I lost the courage to really try.

Perhaps here is the other problem, the notion of “trying” instead of just doing.  All too often I have noticed myself and others get caught in the “try” trap.  Trying implies that there is a chance it may not happen. Trying means you are thinking about it instead of doing it.  I will try to fit in more time for myself, I will try to work on my painting. I will try to try and do something . . . 

Then on our way back after a long ride my youngest said to me “try riding with in hands mommy” and without thinking I let go of the handle bar and lo and behold I was able to ride steadily without holding on.

Let’s take a look at what had to happen for this to take place:

  • I ignored that voice inside that said I couldn’t do it
  • I acted before I could think too much about it
  • I gave up the notion of “trying” and just did it.
  • I took a chance.
  • I listened to the voice inside that said “you can do it!”

The next day when we were out riding again. I tried and had some difficulty doing it because my mind kept telling me I was going to fall.  So the other thing that holds us back is our patterns.  We often behave in habitual ways.  Daily routines of brushing teeth, showering etc. come easy to most of us because we have established these as daily routines.  Taking care of our physical selves in these ways is somehow a given.  Taking care of our emotional selves sometimes is not something as ingrained in us. It is a habit we must establish first.

Having a sustainable creative practice doesn’t just happen.  We need to do several things to make it happen.  We need to break old patterns or ways of doing things to make room for new ways. Here’s how:

1. Retrain our brain against the “I’can’ts” and “what ifs”.  To do this we must find reasons or ourselves as to why creative practice is important. You may find it helpful to make a list of your important and motivating reasons. For me this includes:

  • for release of stress
  • for inner expression
  • for connection with my creative side (which enhances the other things I do).
  • for peace of mind.

2.  Establish a set routine.

  • Sometimes it helps to schedule this in after or before other parts of your day that are already set routines.
  • Build it in to your day in a predictable way.

3. Make sure it is realistic.

  • There is no sense in scheduling something in that you know you can’t do or sustain.
  • It’s better to have some creative time once a week than not at all.
  • It’s better to create a little bit every day rather than not at all because you schedule too much or too big of a chunk of time in one day.

4.  Stick to the plan (doing not trying).

  • Set reminders on your phone or computer if need be.
  • Let others know of your “appointment” with your creative self so that you wont be interrupted or the time won’t be allotted for something else.

5.  Repeat from number 1 when needed.


So now that you have read this, it’s time to implement it.  Don’t wait, just act now.


If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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Affirmations for Self

June 2, 2014 in art therapy, creative tools, inner critic, inner wisdom, inspiration, self-care, Self-Love





The other day I was talking with a social worker friend and colleague about affirmations and how useful they can be. It may sound kind of hokey or cliche but they actually can work. It’s not just about focusing on the positive but rather it’s about replacing scripts that don’t serve you. When you hear that inner critic berate you for a mistake or question a decision or judge an interaction negatively, affirmations can help you focus on the messages you need to hear to move forward and offer your best to the world.

One of the things that affirmations do well is bring out your best. They do this by counteracting messages that hold you back with messages that encourage you to believe in yourself. Make no mistake, affirmations can be very powerful when used correctly.

How to use affirmations that make a difference:

First and foremost make your own! Affirmations really work best when they are written specifically for you in response to common discouraging messages or scripts you may tell yourself.

They need to speak to you. While standard affirmations that you may find may help, they need to be ones that resonate with you. If you are not writing your own, or simply find one that you like, make sure it is one that really feels good not just “looks” good.

Add a visual element to really personalize them (says the art therapist). Symbols can be powerful reminders that cue us to the feeling we wish to have and thought we want to focus on. By taking your affirmation and adding a visual symbol or even just a design around the word or words, it will register in your brain quicker give many of us are strong visual learners.


Self Affirmation Project:


  • Write down some of the messages or scripts which you’d like to get rid of.


  • Write a counter message using positive language (not using “nots”, writing what your strengths are not what they are not). For example if your inner critic says “You’re a looser!” rather than write “I am not a looser” you might write “I am perfect in my imperfections” or “I am worthy”.


  • Copy this onto one side of a cue card, use gesso on a playing card or old business card.


  • Sit with this affirmation, closing your eyes and repeating it, allowing whatever affirming visuals come to mind, whether its is colours, shapes or symbols.


  • Draw or paint your symbol or colour that matches your affirmation on the other side.


  • Do one for each negative/inner critic script which you would like to replace.


  • Carry this with you wherever you go so that you can access these messages when you need to. Business card size fits perfectly in your wallet.


  • Make some extras and spread them around your house, hiding them in boxes or drawers or openly on mirrors that you frequent so that you have daily reminders to focus on your strengths and worthiness!


If you need some support getting your creative practice going, join me online or in person for Art Journaling or Intuitive Painting.  Click below to find out more!

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I create therefore I am: The Importance of Creativity

February 8, 2014 in art therapy, creativity, expressive arts, inner muse, inner wisdom




Creativity is at the core of our humanity.

It allows us to express our inner most feelings no mater how scary, seemingly destructive or negative, in safe and satisfying ways. It allows us to celebrate our being both in beauty and so-called “mess”.


When we create, we connect with our inner knowing effortlessly. Our expression of self actively captured in the process and symbolically represented  in the end result.  A testimony to the complexity of who we are.


The beauty of self-expression through art making is that deeper layers can be expressed than we may consciously be able to express otherwise. The image speaking for us in ways that words have escaped us.


The process of expression through art making has a transformative nature. We are not just talking about who we are, what we are experiencing or what we wish to accomplish, but rather through the art we begin the process of change as we reflect simultaneously on our art its meaning, its movement. We see glimpses parts of self both consciously and unconsciously and as a result can begin to assimilate parts that need to be. We can rectify inner conflict through an acceptance of those parts which we may have been struggling with.


As an art therapist I witness this on a regular basis, both with my clients, workshop participants, and within my own creative process.  Shift happens.  Sometimes it helps us articulate those feelings about experiences that we’ve had.  Sometimes it is enough to just express it through the art.


Whether you art journal, paint, dance, or make music, whatever art form is your choice of expression can take you to this place of creative connection that is at the core of our human-ness.


What form of creative expression connects you to Self?


Circle of Art

February 7, 2014 in art journaling, Circle of Art Prompt


Today and every Friday, I invite you to join me in creating a response to the quotes I post, using the arts: visual arts, photography, music or song, dance (video please!) prose or poetry, it’s your choice.

Seed inside

I will be sharing a quote here weekly and inviting a response from others to the quote in the form of visual art, photography, poetry, dance, music, (video)- whatever art form you would like to express through. You will have the opportunity to share directly on or through a link up to your blog or site if you have an online presence.  You are welcome to share your links to your responses below on your blog or if you wish, join us over at the Virtual Art Circle and share them there.  If you are not already a part of the Virtual Art Circle on Facebook and would like to be, just follow the link and request to join and I will add you.

To share a link please put a direct link to the post your prompt response is in, all other links will be removed.

Early Bird Registration for the next round of Painting With Your Muse now OPEN!
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You are allowed to be you

April 6, 2013 in inner child, inner wisdom, Self-Love


Today I’m delighted to be the host for Day Six of the Virtual Blog Tour for Healing the Inner Child organized by Jackie Stewart at

This tour is to celebrate the launch of the Inner Child Meditation Kit  which Jackie has created so you can let go of childhood wounds to experience more joy, empowerment and fulfillment.

Yesterday the tour visited Luitha K Tamaya at  Today I’m sharing a letter I wrote to help heal my inner child. This is what my inner child needed to know.

Inner child letter


Dearest little one,

There are many things I wish I had been able to tell you when you were younger. I know you felt sad and voiceless about your parent’s separation. You loved them both, but by leaving one behind you felt somehow you had betrayed your father. You felt you should feel the same way as your mother though you didn’t deep inside. You knew they were not getting along but you didn’t know that this did not have to do with you.


I’m here to tell you it’s okay that you still loved your daddy though you were angry with him too.   It’s okay for you to love your mommy and feel resentment towards her as well. You are allowed to have many mixed-up feelings.  You are a child, what goes on between the adults is their stuff, not yours. I know you wanted to make things better. You wanted things to be “normal”.  You felt somehow they weren’t anymore. You strived to be the good girl: obedient doing as you were told. Not rocking the boat. You were worried about making things worse.


I’m here to tell you it’s okay.   Whatever you are feeling is ok. You are entitled to your own feelings they don’t have to be the same as others.   You have permission to be angry, happy, sad, excited, resentful, frustrated, detached, engaged, anything you feel like. You have the right to change your mind about these feelings at anytime. You don’t need to be stuck in any of these feelings; they can come and go as you please like the ebbs and flows of an ocean or a river.


You have permission to be a child, to play even when the adults are serious.  It does not make you a bad person. You do not need to compensate or make up for having these feelings by trying to do the right thing all the time. You do not need to be right or good all the time. Life is meant to be experienced. Children are meant to experiment and learn about the world around them. Mistakes will happen. That’s ok. children learn this way.


What I really want to tell you is that it is okay for you to be your own unique person with your own thoughts, opinions and feelings.


You are allowed to be you.


Lots of love,

Your adult self



innerchild250 I hope you feel inspired to try this letter writing process yourself, as it is a very powerful exercise. Jackie’s soothing meditation is a beautiful accompaniment to to this process as she creates a safe place to begin healing. Click here to discover if your inner child needs healing and purchase the Inner Child Meditation Kit for instant download.








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With Childlike Abandon

March 27, 2013 in art therapy, inner critic




This past weekend I traveled out of province to Quebec to give a talk on Art Therapy to some of the students and faculty at Bishops University. I have to admit I was rather nervous speaking in front of the 50 or so people who came. Despite having practiced art therapy for the past 19 years I still felt uncertain about how I would be received or whether what I shared – a general overview of art therapy. – was enough or would be delivered with enough clarity.



The inner critic gremlins reared their heads.



Lets be clear. I’m not an academic. I’m a clinician, therapist, artist, healer however, academic researcher , no, not my thing.  Presenting to such s large group ( for me) was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least.



Nonetheless, I chose to do the talk. In order to make it easier on myself I relied a bit on my imagination, humor and preparation of course. I began my talk by announcing that for the remainder of the talk they were all children making it clear that this labeling had absolutely nothing to do with Art Therapy but simply was a tactic I was using to set myself at ease; I felt easier to talk with a group of children than adults (which in my perception was deemed more of a threat since there would be expectations to live up to).   At different parts of the talk when I felt my anxiety rise, I made comments about how they were the quietest group of children or the most well-behaved children I’ve met. They laughed and I felt more at ease.  This was my coping strategy.



In the end the talk was well received with  lots of enthusiastic questions.    I heard from students interested in studying art therapy, a student who had experienced art therapy  first hand as a child, art professors and psychologists who were curious and impressed by the diversity of art therapy.



I faced some fears this past weekend and feel better for it. I will do it again.  I probably will be a little nervous again, but  experience tells me that my fears are just thoughts or perceptions that can be  surpassed and ignored.



In the end seeing them as children became a metaphor for facing my fears.  Approaching the talk with child-like abandon allowed me to take a chance, see them as open-minded children listening to something for the first time. Each person who approached me afterwards confirmed that they had learned something new about Art Therapy, and I too learned the importance of trusting myself.  For that I am grateful.



Listening to your Muse

December 20, 2012 in inner muse, inner wisdom, Self-Love


The other day I was thinking about the power of letter writing and how it is becoming somewhat of a lost art due to the convenience of e-mail. I was reading over a wonderful book by Jo MacDonald called Note to Self, The Secret to becoming your own Best Friend (I contributed a letter to this fantastic resource).  Suddenly as I was reading, my muse dictated to me a letter to myself from her:


Dear Petrea, I know that you  have been pretty busy lately.

I have been waiting for things to change waiting for things to be less busy waiting for you to let me out so that I can do what it is I do more regularly.  I know I know, you think that what I do is not a priority right now.  You think that what I do is frivolous, and that you don’t have the time right now.  And to that I say so what? What is life if we do not allow for laughter and play? . . . . .


And so the conversation began: she wrote to me and I wrote her back.  This simple exchange or words, writen words, allowed me to dig deeper and discover what it was that I needed to do to engage my muse more in my life.


When I talk about your muse I am referring to  that part of you who lives, breathes and moves creatively. The muse is the embodiment of your creative desire, your artist within. She inspires yes, but much more than this, she is the personification of all that is creative inside of you. The inspiration from your muse is really about accessing your muse. She is always there just sometimes behind locked doors.


What does your Muse want to tell you?  Are you listening to her advice, her pleas for you to create?


Try this: 

Write a letter to yourself from your muse.   Have her outline with a gentle voice what it is you need to do to engage your muse more in your life.  Use this link FutureMe to send it to yourself at the end of January as a reminder of what she needs.


If you were to write back to her what would you say?  Take some time now to write a response.  What are you willing to commit to in order for your muse to be heard?  Avoid justifications or explanations of why you haven’t so far. It’s not about making excuses. It’s about taking action. Really take a look at what shifts you are willing to make to allow your muse the space she needs.

Let me know how it goes!




Week-end Reflection

November 2, 2012 in art therapy, inner wisdom, inspiration, Week-End Reflection

Join Week-End Reflection every Friday, where I invite you to express and reflect about your week using poetry, prose, imagery or art in response to “This week I discovered . . .” I encourage you to come back and visit the other posts linked here to help amplify the gratitude. Taking the time to reflect on your week, acknowledging your Self and giving gratitude for what you have encountered, to set a positive tone for upcoming weeks.

It’s easy to forget that I don’t always have to be doing but just can be being

Every Friday stop by blog to add your link. Reflecting on what nuggets you have discovered each week is a wonderful way to set intentions. Sharing our feats with others helps us clarify what we have learned. It’s also a nice way to build community and to let others discover what beauty you are sharing with the world. Feel free to add the Week-End Reflection button to your post with a link to . Add your link below, and please stop by the other links over the weekend to see what others are discovering!

Grab a badge! Copy and paste:



Find Your Inner Guru

September 26, 2012 in inner wisdom, inspiration



I admit that I have spent endless hours in the past searching. Over the years I have fallen prey to the searching bug; looking outside of myself, and looking for more instead of seeing and embracing what is in front of me. Many nights I have been kept awake with feeling anxious, thinking thoughts that there is something more that I must find, must search for.


Have you ever felt this way? Does this endless searching sound familiar? I’m not surprised if it does. There are plenty of messages out there that encourage this way of thinking. We are bombarded daily with images of a big beautiful life that we must strive for.


More. Find more. Do more. Feel more. Implying, that we don’t have enough, enough things and enough self.

We are taught to be more, as if who we are is not enough. We are shown how it is done, as if our way is the wrong way.

What if what is, is enough? Is that so scary?

What if we realized that we have exactly what we need right inside of us?

What if we not only believed it, we began to live it?


What if we wrote down our answers to these questions and realized that we had been buying into so many lies? Lies that keep us from taking responsibility for our own life and how it feels to us. Lies that keep us “safely” disconnected from our own power? Lies that keep us disconnected.


What if we discover that we make our own truth?


How does your truth change the way you engage in the creative dance of life?


The Myth of Balance

September 5, 2012 in art therapy, creativity, inner muse, inner wisdom, self-care, Self-Love

hanging fountain

One of the things that gets me in trouble with my creative Self is the concept of balance. Having a well-balanced life is sometimes misconstrued as all things even. But like I tell my kids, being fair doesn’t mean that everyone gets the same thing, being fair means everyone gets what they need at that time.

So it is with creativity. Being balanced creatively doesn’t mean that I create the same amount of time, all the time. or even that I visibly create consistently. Being creative doesn’t mean I have to live up to the prolific standards of someone else.

Accepting these differences, accepting my unique creative path, that’s balance for me.

There have been many times where I experience dry spells. I have come to realize though that often the creating that is going on is internal. I can’t see it until it is manifested in reality but that doesn’t mean it wasnt being created under the surface.

For the month of August I created 4 short videos on creativity. This week I felt stumped (partly because I have been getting ready for my Ways to Connect With Your Muse free video Conference).  I realize now that I was putting pressure on myself to “produce” more, as if constant production is what being creative is all about.

Then I was reminded, that darn creative block thingy that we all want to be rid of is not really a block at all its just part of the process. The more pressure I put on myself to perform and produce, the more my creative juices seem to dissipate.

All it really takes is giving permission to Self. Permission to be wherever I am right now in my creative journey, knowing that wherever that is, is exactly where I need to be. Knowing that wherever that is, is neither better nor worse than where I have been before. It just is. It is just that simple.

Are you ready to give yourself that permission? Permission to create with, lulls, with breaks, with a “slow” pace. Permission to create without judgment, without expectation, without pressure.

Permission to open yourself to the creative possibilities within no matter what that may look like.


Tommorrow September 6th, at 11am EST, I will be giving a FREE Video Conference on Ways to Connect With Your Muse.  You are welcome to join me!