Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Parenting, the Self-Compassion Way


Wednesday, September 4th • 6:00 p.m.

Location: Institute for Educational Advancement
540 South Marengo Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101

As parents of gifted and exceptional children, we are often focused on the pursuit of finding the individuals, services, experiences, etc. that will adequately meet our children’s ever-changing needs. But what about us? What about our experiences and inner worlds? In this presentation, therapist and parent of gifted and 2e children, Michelle Bodwell, will discuss the importance of tuning into ourselves, recognizing our inner dialogue, and cultivating a practice of empathy and self-compassion for the parenting journey.

Living an Inspired Life

In my earlier post, I wrote about how the word inspiration means the “drawing in of breath, inhalation”. In our society today, we are often struggling to catch our breath amidst the swirling details of our lives, that we don’t have the energy to think about what thoughtful inspiration may look like for us. 

Next, I highlighted how silence, solitude, and stillness can be the pathways to becoming more attuned and aware of our own life and inner voice, in turn allowing ourselves to nurture inspiration. In bringing this inspiration series to a close, I want to turn to the idea of cultivating a rhythm of “drawing in” and “breathing out” inspiration. It’s what I call the Inspiration Cycle.

One of the highlights of my week, is walking into the ceramics studio where I take a weekly class. About a year ago, I decided to put into practice this idea of drawing in inspiration; to feed my creative side with a steady flow of nourishment, just like I do for the other parts of myself. Now each week, with my tools in hand, I put on my denim apron, and get hands and self lost in the clay. It’s time well spent. I learn more each time about myself through the process of being creative: I don’t like slow processes, I struggle with perfectionism, and I don’t like surprises.  I like predictable outcomes!

However, these are also the reasons why I stick with it, week after week; because I know that these areas are being expanded within me, through each part of the ceramics process. I am witness to my own growth. By taking in the inspiration of practicing a creative process, I am inspired to live more fully, and to grow and change.

For me, creating art is just one of the ways that I pursue drawing in inspiration. Other ways include spending time in nature, having conversations with others, watching films, reading books, listening to music or podcasts, trying a new recipe, riding my bike, or traveling to new places, and the list goes on. I’ve learned the critical importance of always fueling my life with meaningful inspiration, that not only energizes, but fulfills and sustains me.

Often times, we think of these things as the “nice extras” to life, and often they are the first thing to go when our time or resources are low. However, I’ve seen how I live, feel, and act when these are left out and I don’t like the person I am at those times. Since I desire for my behavior and choices to align with my values and beliefs, these aren’t luxuries but rather essentials.

Since our breathing has a cycle of taking in and sending forth, so must our inspired living. The inspiration cycle, is a multi-transformational process. The inspiration we draw in, not only transforms us, but then is also transformed into something new, unique, and valuable. It becomes a precious contribution that we make to our immediate circle and the greater world beyond us. We may be inspired to make something that adds beauty to the environment, to write words or music that speaks deeply to another’s soul, or design a program which lifts another life out of poverty or despair. This is the cycle of inspired living. Drawing in fuel, which transforms us, and sending forth our inspired contribution into our spheres of influence.   

The fullness of taking my ceramics class isn’t just for myself, when I learn about myself, or create a satisfying piece. Rather, it’s in the collaborative energy between classmates, when we share ideas, offer admiration of a finished work, or encourage each other through a challenging process. Also, the fullness is reached when I gift a handmade bowl to a friend, and share a part of my inspiration with them.

Inspiration is meant to be drawn in, to not only act as fuel for our lives, but to also be shared with others. The cycle is a reminder of how we’re all connected with each other, and builds integration within ourselves and others. Perhaps in living our fullest, most inspired life we can bring more kindness, love, or inspiration to others. Imagine the possibilities of what we have to give, when we live from our place of fullness and inspiration. 

Contemplative Inspiration Exercises to go Deeper

1. Make a list of all the things that inspire you. Try to be specific about activities, places, people, etc. that are life and joy giving (you can also think in terms of your 5 senses).

Next go back over the list and code them in terms of how often these are in your life- never, sometimes, always.

Finally, go through the list one more time, and circle a few which you’d like to have more of in your life, and then make a commitment to yourself to intentionally pursue them.

2. Reflect on the presence of the inspiration cycle in your life. In what ways are you taking in inspiration, and in what ways are you sending it forth? How is inspiration transforming you? Take it one step further, by drawing or journaling what your cycle looks like in this season of your life.

Being an Inspiration

Over the last few posts, I’ve been writing about and unpacking the idea of inspiration…what it is, how we can cultivate it, etc. This week, I wanted to share an article about how we can live lives that are an inspiration to others. We’ve all had someone who has been an inspiration to us. Someone who has spurred us to grow, create, take a risk, or just to keep going in life. Later on, in my last post of this series, I’ll be writing about how we can be inspired and then be an inspiration to and for others. Enjoy your week!

Now presenting...Creāre Workshops

After many months, and frankly even a few years of incubation, I am thrilled to be finally launching my Creāre Workshops. We live in an information driven culture, and most of us have reached our saturation point. The Creāre experiences are geared for everyone and anyone who desire to move away from the onslaught of information, and into a more embodied life experience, that flows from their authentic core self. They are designed to allow for play, intention, reflection, and ultimately growth. Click on the Creāre Workshops tab above to learn more and to sign up!

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Collecting Quotes...

For years now, I’ve “collected” quotes, along with pebbles from the beach, and shades of yellow vintage bowls. I like to surround myself with things that have stories, symbolism, and history. There are several things that I love about quotes. First, is how they inspire me in the here and now: how to love, stand strong, or live creatively. Quotes also connect me with those who walked through life before me; those who have said or written the words, which now inspire or speak to me. It’s a reminder that as humans we are all inextricably connected with one another. Lastly, quotes serve as a visual reminder for me to stay the course in my journey, and stay focused on what’s most important to me.

One of my favorite things that I have in my office, is a vintage magnetic photo frame, which now serves as a scrabble-tile quote board. It’s there to remind and inspire me and those who enter my space of how we live creatively unique, yet interconnected similar lives, and how we all need the support of another to make our way through this life.

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Something's on the horizon!

A few years back, I took a great class with another Art Therapist which focused on developing our identity as artists. During that time, I learned about the stages of the creative process, and fell in love with the concept of incubation. I think what drew me to it so much, was the fact that I spend a lot of time, thinking, musing, wondering, writing or drawing about ideas that I have, but maybe haven't fully formulated yet. So for the last 2 years, I've been incubating the idea of launching some art based workshops that focus on developing creative identity, utilizing inspiration to fuel life, and living our most authentic and wholehearted lives.

My vision for these workshops will be to delve into art making as a way to seek answers to the questions. As author and artist Austin Kleon puts it, "Take time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where it's going to lead you." It's freeing to give ourselves permission to stop thinking everything through, and allow another part of our brain and body to lead for a change. As an artist myself, I've been able to learn so much about myself and my interaction with the world through observing my own engagement with art. It's my hope that these workshops will give others an opportunity to explore and expand new or forgotten areas of themselves, and even leave with some clarity, direction or answers! 

I'm working on the details now, and am really excited to see where this wandering leads. Keep posted for more details. First workshop is aimed to take place in the beginning of 2019. If you are interested in learning more, stop over on the contact page and send me a message. 

Healing with Art

Earlier this year I was interviewed for an article regarding the coloring book craze, and those claiming to be "Art Therapy." I am absolutely an advocate for people to explore and engage in their own creativity and artistic endeavors. Not only does it give us more ways to express ourselves and our feelings, but studies have shown that it reduces stress and helps with problem solving and flexible thinking! Both of which we can never have enough of! However, making art in isolation does not substitute for Art Therapy with a trained clinical Art Therapist. If you are dealing with intense emotions, relationship crisis, or pain from life's battle scars, then seeking the help of a therapist is recommended. I am always amazed by how powerful the art can be in helping clients express themselves and their inner worlds. Contact me if you'd like to know more about working together, with or without art!

Book Review

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents    by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD


I can’t say enough good things about this book. First of all, it’s important to remember that most parents do the best job that they can when raising their children. One thing that I valued about this book, was that it never takes the tone of bashing or blaming parents for all a child’s difficulties. However, it does not shy away from addressing what results from core emotional needs being unmet during childhood. Secondly, I appreciated the author’s empowering approach; aiming to help the reader take responsibility for their own needs and teaching strategies for learning to negotiate relationships with people who lack emotional maturity. I found the book to be extremely helpful in breaking down these into manageable steps: learning to stay observational not emotional, practicing emotional maturity awareness, and stepping out of old roles. Lastly, the book ends with a chapter on how to recognize emotional maturity in others. Often, when children grow up in homes with emotionally immature parents, they continue to seek out other people who have similar or familiar emotional patterns. This can lead to a lifetime of hardship and broken relationships unless they can learn to recognize and pursue healthy and mature people. I believe that learning to identify the characteristics and behavior patterns of mature individuals is beneficial to everyone, regardless of childhood experiences. 

For many years now, I have journeyed with women who have found themselves in a pattern of frustrating, chaotic, or imbalanced relationships often as a result of an emotionally unfulfilled childhood. Many of them have found freedom by growing in their own awareness, acceptance and emotional maturity. If this resonates with you, please contact me so that we can talk further about working towards your own healing.health.wholeness.