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Parenting on the DBT path-6 vital skills. 

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Since becoming a parent in early 2015 my DBT skills have been tested- pulled and pushed in every direction- much like my time and myself. 

There are many skills that have been more than valuable in the last 16 months- as my little boy has grown from a dependant baby into a walking toddler, finding his independance, and pushing every boundary. 

I’ve decided to round up what I feel are the most valuable skills to me, and every parent who is also on the DBT path. 

1-Radical acceptance. 

The ability to accept the ups and downs of parenting is of course, vital. Whether that means accepting putting a career on hold, accepting a less than ideal birth or just accepting that right now your kid is whining/hungry/won’t sleep/demanding attention when all you want to do is take a bath. 

I had to pretty radically accept from about 32 weeks into my first pregnancy when my waters broke early and everything I’d planned about my baby’s entry into this world was blown out of the water. From day 1 of his life I have been practicing this skill, and with a wild, demanding toddler I pretty much use it daily. 

2- Mindful participation 

In the early phases of parenting mindful participation was easy- I was so wrapped up in my bundle of newborn joy I could stare at his eyelashes for hours, without a thought about the dishes piling up in the sink, the work I was leaving incomplete or the ever growing list of things to do. Now, it takes a little bit more effort to truly participate, but when I do get down on my sons level and engage from a place of mindfulness, the journey is so much sweeter. To see his face light up as he discovers something new, the joy in him as I sit and play with blocks, pull faces or show him something new, makes me truly joyful too. 

On the other hand, when I try to multi task or brush him off to play while I get on with something “more important” it simply backfires- we all end up more demanding, more stressed and less joyful. 

Learning to participate in whatever delights my son in that moment gives me respite, and stops me worrying about that ever growing to-do list. Even if only for the amount of time it takes to build a block tower and knock it back down! 

3- Effectiveness 

I’m a born procrastinator, yet motherhood has taught me to use pockets of time much more effectively. Baby napping? I Take some time out for me (or work on that to do list!) Family member around to help? I can relax for 5 minutes or send them out for a walk. Child playing independently (for once!)? I can catch up on emails or do a quick sketch to work on later! 

Finding ways to use my time effectively and not sit despairing about my lack of it has changed my outlook. Many of my sons naps have been spent crying over my lack of time- but finding ways to be effective in the moment has become a vital daily-use skill! 

4- Building Mastery

I suffered (and still cope with) some pretty heavy post natal depression after Phoenix’s early arrival. Even without PND most parents can resonate with the feeling on days whizzing by in a blur of nappies, feeds and not enough sleep. In that phase, it’s hard to feel as if you are achieving anything. It was all too easy for me to slip into barely coping and beating myself up for my perceived lack of value. 

Pretty early on I started working on building mastery back up. Some days, my “sense of mastery” came from simply managing to get dressed or feed myself in the post natal blur. As the phases have developed, I’ve gained that feeling of achievement from doing bits of work here and there, completing housework tasks or going out to meet new people at mum & babg groups. Whatever it is, I now make sure to congratulate myself on what I have ‘achieved’ that day and slowly regained my sense of value and self worth. 

This has been a huge healing tool in overcoming my PND and getting back to myself after such a huge life shift. 

5- PLEASE skills

Similarly to above, every parent knows the challenge of looking after another human being. No matter the age we can become so wrapped up in the needs of our dependants we forget or neglect to look after ourselves, slowly degrading us and dragging us down. This obviously affects our ability to live and parent well, and often leads to burnout and/or breakdowns. 

Remembering the PLEASE skills and finding ways to effectively meet my own needs at the same time as my sons has helped to combat that burnout feeling on more than one occasion!

Baby led weaning meant I eat at the same time as my son, walking with him in the sling or the pram several times a week helped meet my need for excercise and fresh air, I napped whenever I could and I pumped bottles of breast milk to allow my partner to help with feeds so, in those early days I could get some much needed sleep! 

6- Self soothe (& ALL the distress tolerance skills!)

Despite all the above, there are days when everything feels like it is falling apart, I feel like the worst mother in history and all I want to do is cry. Those are the days I use distress tolerance. 

Sometimes, if my partner (or another family member) is around I can take a ‘vacation’ in the bath, and forget my responsibilities for an hour. Other times that is not so possible and I rely on self soothing; smelling lavender or bergamot, putting on some happy music and dancing with babe on hip, or taking a walk in the garden to feel the sun on my skin. 

There are countless ways distress tolerance has helped during my worst days and I am thankful I have those skills to employ for future crisis moments. 

——

What about you? What DBT skills do you use to survive the ups and downs of parenting? 

Do you find time to be aware of and enjoy the ‘ups’?

What distress tolerance skills have proved valuable during the ‘downs’? 

I would love to hear your thoughts- leave a comment! 

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Hands Past and Future: Art Therapy Activity.

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I found this cute art therapy activity on Pinterest, from Emerly Arts, and decided to create my own version to share.

The exercise can be used during a time of transformation, or just to help make sense of your past vs present self.

Trace your hands and fill them with images that represent your past (left hand) and what your future hopes are (right hand.)

Here are my hands…

What my hands held past, art therapy activity by michelle morgan, michelle morgan art, mixed media art

Hands Past.

 

 

art therapy activity by michelle morgan art, what my hands hold now and future, healing art, mixed media art

Hands Future/Present.

 

I found the activity very healing given the huge changes going on in my life; motherhood is a huge transformation that redefines who we are, and what we hope for the future. As you can see from above, some drastic changes in my life have/are taking place and I enjoyed expressing them in my journal.

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Spiritual Soup: New art, altars and Equinoxes

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Hello bluebells.

The equinox has marked the coming of spring in the UK and I’ve been busy sowing seeds in the garden instead of writing on my blog, for weeks!

After a period of fast growth and abundant harvest of inspiration, my creativity,too, has undergone a wintertime dip. But now new ideas are springing forth like the seedlings reaching out for new spring light.


Bunny cuddles. New art available as a print in my shop.

Blue girl portrait- mixed media on canvas.

I have really been enjoying working on canvas for the first time since I was 16 and completing my art GCSE! The ability to create a finished piece without the need for framing is driving me to work more and more with canvas

 

A peek inside my creative grimoire- an art journal dedicated to spells, spiritual and ritual work. The above ritual is one i performed to honour my pregnant body and growing baby. Our experience with premature birth the first time around has led me to honour my health and needs much more in this pregnancy and overcome some destructive vices.

Exploring my relationship with the feminine divine through art. Another page in the grimoire. The image pictured is a postcard by Lisa Lister. 

A quick 15 minute pencil sketch- I haven’t worked in just graphite in a long time- as a mixed media artist who typically uses at least 10 different materials in each piece it was incredibly freeing to get back to basics.
  IMG_0436-0Mandala layered art created for my front room; I am working on creating an inviting and inspiring space at home to nurture my needs

  My new essential oil kit, a great eBay find! Lavender, bergamot and Roman chamomile are my go to calm stove oils, and I’ve been researching and preparing blends to use through pregnancy and labour. 

 Above three pictures are my first attempt at a mixed media altar for my own spiritual practice.

It depicts a rare image of the goddess Kali, a goddess revered for her patriarchy smashing rage.

Here, instead of slaying demons, Kali is pictured breastfeeding the god Shiva- after her temper becomes out of control, shiva turns himself into a helpless infant. Hearing the babies cry, Kali calms herself, picks up the infant and begins to breastfeed him.

As Some one with borderline personality disorder, my anger has equally raged out of control on occasion. Learning to control this for my son has been a hard won battle, and the story is one that resonates deeply with me.

My gorgeous hippy child!

New shoes! My old pair of DM’s were over 5 years old, well loved by me and another owner before them. When the leather started to split from the sole we knew it was time to send them to shoe heaven. My new pink pair are very happy to have a forever home.

 

A little felted goddess made for my moon altar. I really enjoyed creating her and hope to make some more art dolls and goddesses soon!


I hope you enjoyed this little photographic foray into the work I’ve been doing in the past few weeks. Slowly, I am building ideas for the next piece of work to be released through the website; a multi media course in art journalling for mental health. I hope this course can provide more in-depth skills for those of you already using the creative DBT workbook, and provide a good introduction to therapeutic art techniques for those of you who have found me through your recovery journey.

If you are in the northern hemisphere, enjoy the new light the equinox brings, and for those of you settling into the restful period of autumn, take care of yourself as the darkness returns.

 

Blessings
Michelle x

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The Death of Shame: Not The Fallen & Cant Hide in the Smoke.

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"You can't hide in the smoke" mixed media art piece by michelle morgan

“You can’t hide in the smoke”
Mixed Media on Paper

This painting was originally posted on Patreon; you can see art and blogs first by signing up here.

It was originally inspired by the song lyrics of Dub FX’s Song, Run and my own battles with addiction.

You can get this as an A4 archival quality Art print on my Etsy store!


“I see you run when I say WHATAGWAN / I see you run like a bullet from a gun / All day and night you run and hide [ repeat ] / I see you run like a bullet from a gun / When me saying WHATAGWAN, where your going Peasant/ You see me when I come with a spirit that weigh a ton / In a fire that just begun and now your feeling out done / So take a deep breath, you got to release stress / Life is not a beep test running is a weakness / And you can’t hide in that smoke that you blaze / It shines a light upon your negative ways / Wake up wake you been missing all the fun / We been dancing and laughing connecting each and everyone / Inspiration from the sun, the bass and the drum / The strings that we strum has only just begun / You need to slow down let me give you this low down / Life is not a show down come back to your hometown / And you can’t hide in that smoke that you blaze / You need to open up your heart and meditate but / I see you run when I say WHATAGWAN / I see you run like a bullet from a gun / All day and night you run and hide [ repeat ] / Calling out, can anybody hear me? / Shine your light if you’re able and you’re willing / I see you run but can you stand strong? / Keep a grip while you weather the storm / You know your own mind / You know what feels right / Leave a marker on this life / Open heart, open mind / Life’s to short don’t waste it (listen) / Don’t run, stand and face it. (Watch out) / Don’t let them trouble you trouble / Cause if they ever bring you down / They will struggle to struggle to / Strip you bare and steal your crown / Lesson one you are nobodies fool / They bring you lies on a plate then refuse / Never let go keep it coming / Live your life it’s really something / Heart of a warrior, keep your head up stand tall / There’s no need run when I say WHA GWAN / There’s no need to run like a bullet from a bullet from a… / I see you run / You run and hide”


 

'Not the fallen' iconography inspired mixed media art on paper by Michelle morgan

“Not the Fallen”
Mixed media on Paper

I have been fascinated by spiritual imagery and iconography for a long time; this piece felt like the correct one to end on. The juxtaposition of sexual themes alongside religious imagery frames it well as a feminist art piece.
It is a theme I may explore again in time.

Again, you can get this as an A4 archival quality art print on my Etsy store!

Here ends the Death of Shame.


I'd love to have you in my tribe!



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The Death Of Shame: Its only cause you dragged me through the mud

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This was originally posted on my Patreon; sign up to see artwork and blog posts first.

"Its only cause you dragged me through the mud" Mixed media art piece by Michelle Morgan

“Its only cause you dragged me through the mud”
Mixed media on paper

 

This if the first of the final 3 paintings, come back tomorrow to see the next.

You can get this piece as an archival quality, unmounted, A4 Print in my Etsy Shop, now.


Like this and want more?

I'd love to have you in my tribe!



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The Death of Shame: Photograph Collab Series

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Photographs by Graham Woolcott

When I first left the sex industry behind, a friend who was also exiting threw away every item of sexy underwear she had ever owned; wanting to separate from the 30+ years she had spent as an escort, a prostitute and a pro-domme.

It is a pervasive attitude in circles of “exited” women, that anything sexual is bad. In some really twisted rad fem circles, women are opting for “political lesbianism”.

In a movement to negate all misogyny from their lives, they are getting their politics too tangled up in their pants.

The personal decision to explore, or shut down parts of your sexuality is one every person has a right to make; but shutting down your sexuality because of shaming or stigma? Wrong.
It has taken me  a long time to separate what was my own regret, and was was accumulated shame from the world, what was sexual exploration and what was for love and approval?

Now, I know to leave behind the sex industry was right for me, but it does not mean accepting shame, or leaving behind my sexuality.


Photographs from a series of over 300 by photographer Graham woolcott.

For more of his work, please visit his site here: http://www.gpwphotography.co.uk

Michelle Morgan Graham Woolcott collaboration, photographs Michelle Morgan Graham Woolcott collaboration, photographs Michelle Morgan Graham Woolcott collaboration, photographs Michelle Morgan Graham Woolcott collaboration, photographs Michelle Morgan Graham Woolcott collaboration, photographs Michelle Morgan Graham Woolcott collaboration, photographs

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The Death of Shame: Mono print series.

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The death of shame mono print by michelle morgan

“The Death of Shame”
Monoprint

“The Death of Shame” is a visual collection of mono prints, photographs and paintings that explore my relationship with shame, sexuality, drugs, etymology and labels.

5 key pieces from The Death of Shame will be released through my Patreon. If you’d like to get prints of this work, insider info, and support me further, please check it out here.

 

The collection begins with a series of Tracey emin inspired mono prints; When displayed together, they create collective fragments of  intense emotional confrontation. The pieces are autobiographical or narrative; featuring image and/or text which explores feelings, labels and experiences that cause me shame.

"Img081" Lino Prints

“Img081”
Lino Prints

 

"Img074" Monoprint.

“Img074”
Monoprint.

 

img072 mono print by michelle morgan

“Img072”
Monoprint.

 

Cunt Bitch Whore mono print by michelle morgan

“Cunt Bitch Whore”
Monoprint.

 

DSC_0164

“Bodyworks” Monoprint

 

Ashamed #1 mono print by michelle morgan

“Ashamed #1”
Monoprint.

 

img064

Ashamed #2 mono print by michelle morgan

“Ashamed #2”
Monoprint.

 

Ashamed 3 mono print by michelle morgan

“Ashamed #3”
Monoprint.

 

Ashamed #4 mono print by michelle morgan

“Ashamed #4”
Monoprint.

 

Ashamed #5 mono print by michelle morgan

“Ashamed #5”
Monoprint

 

Pop back tomorrow to see the photographic element of the series!

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I'd love to have you in my tribe!



 

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Free DBT Themed Colouring Page: SELF RESPECT EFFECTIVENESS

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Hi chickpeas!

 

If you’ve been following me for a while now you know how important DBT is to me: it changed my life for the better by helping me develop some of the habits that keep me afloat today.

I love DBT so much I even created a whole Creative workbook based around the skills! The workbook has been delivered to several groups, and personally downloaded by over 100 people (to date 19th jan 2016)

Where I am, in the south of England, everyone could do with a bit of cheering up, and bit of reminding how important we are as we all try to recover from the onslaught of christmas!

In order to do just that I am releasing a free activity straight from The Creative DBT Workbook!

Please feel free to download the PDF via the link below, and get colouring!

DOWNLOAD NOW: Self respect effectiveness.

The creative DBT workbook, creative DBT art, free colouring page by michelle morgan

 


 

Like this? Want more? 

I'd love to have you in my tribe!



 

 

 

 

 

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Word of the Year 2016: FEARLESS

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I tend not to set New Years Resolutions anymore, but work through Leonie Dawson’s Shining Year Books to plan the steps for the year ahead. This has a much better result for me, as the process of reviewing the workbook monthly helps me keep track of my goals!

 

Unsure where it originated, word of the year practice has been adopted by many people within the self improvement, art and journalling communities, including Leonie’s workbook.

 

This year, my word is FEARLESS.

 

How I plan to feel more FEARLESS in 2016:

 

  • Define and do things that align with my values
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway!/opposite to emotion action
  • Let go of the need to please others
  • Get out and DO STUFF/Effective Mindfulness

 

The featured image was taken on 22nd December, when baby Phoenix, The wildling and I ventured to stonehenge to watch the solstice sunrise.

 

My fearless 2016 has begun: Happy new year!

 


I have just contacted winners from the survey PRIZE DRAW! Good luck and thanks to all who entered!

 

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The one where I talk about simplicity.

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On Sunday I spent a day wrapped in the womb like walls of the red tent. A safe, soft fabric space in the New Forest where four generations of women gathered together to share wisdom, food and laughter.
This was the first time I have entered a red tent since discovering the power locked within the menstrual cycle and it’s archetypes, through the books Code Red (Lisa Lister) and Moon Time (Lucy Pearce).
“Imagine the canvas of an aincent red tent, towering above you, wafts of fragrant smoke dance in the eaves of the tent and up to the sky, feel the wisdom of generations that is held inside…you are safe inside… Come home”
I could spend my days here, locked in kronos time, laughing, cooking, eating, nursing our children, nurturing each other.
In fact. I will spend my days here.

I have conciously tried to re-create this space for myself, and the last few days of simplicity have highlighted to me the real true desires of my heart and the things that make me happiest.
To be in connection

To be creative

To cuddle

To dance

To sing

To paint

To cook

To create

To feed my family

To feed my soul

To be with women

To be with men

To be together

To be in laughter

To be as family

To be in connection, always.


I desire nothing more than to spend my days creating art, singing and dancing, cuddling and playing with my babe.
Who am I kidding, sometimes I desire to be on a beach with a peach daiquiri and nothing but the sun on my skin, but what I am getting at is simplicity.


I want simplicity in motherhood. I want to spend our days foraging, shopping and cooking food, then enjoying that food with the people we love most. I want Dancing, singing and creating to weave through my daily life like the red thread which connects us all.


I can have more of that, simple connected life.
I still need to work. But my work requires taking photos and creating and writing. None of this needs to be done alone, unless I want it to.
And I no longer want to be alone.
This is a call to my tribe, let’s come together.
Let’s cook to nourish our bodies and waiting bellies. Let’s feed our children together. Let’s laugh and talk and cry together. Let’s dance and sing and weave a bright red unique path through the tapestry of life.
Let us come together in authenticity, in connection, in love.

Let us come home.

 

For more information about the New Forest Red Tent please visitBarefoot Heartsong.

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