Whitney Freya on How to Transcend Fear & Create a Life You Love Through Art

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com. That’s wellness with an E on the end. And I’m here with someone named Whitney Freya, and we’re gonna talk all about how to transcend fear and create a life you love through art. And this is largely her life’s work. She is an expert in inspired living and providing practical tools and practices that free your mind from limitations and scarcity to create more in your life that lights you up from the inside out.

 

She’s the author of three books along this topic of personal creativity, and she leads online courses that teach you personal painting practices that will dramatically expand your sense of possibility and overall wellness. And I talk a lot about the more knowledge-based cerebral side of health on this podcast, and I wanted to bring in somebody to talk about creativity and give some tangible tools to actually enhance this. We talk about how she took up paragliding at age 46. Her journey toward creativity that led her to her life work. How she uses art to enhance creativity and to work through fear and scarcity. Some specific tools for opening yourself to more creativity. How we can only operate from a place of fear or a place of love, not both at the same time. How thoughts become things and why what we resist resists. How worry and stress are painting a picture in your mind of what you don’t want to happen. How to learn to observe yourself and witness your emotions instead of staying in a place of reaction, and so much more. So deviation from our normal topic, and I think a really important one, and I hope you will enjoy. Whitney, welcome. Thanks for being here.

 

Whitney: Thank you, Katie.

 

Katie: Well, we’re gonna go in a lot of different directions today, but before we jump into all of those, I have a note in my show notes that you paraglide and that you started when you were 46. And I just have to hear a little bit about this because I’m a big fan of doing something every year that’s out of my comfort zone, which has led me through voice lessons and stand-up comedy and trying to learn how to dance this year, but I would love to hear what the impetus was for paragliding.

 

Whitney: Oh, have fun. Well, it’s funny in hindsight, you know, I’ve always wanted to fly something. I didn’t even know paragliding existed until 2012, I think. And there was just a couple of people paragliding where I live and it took like two or three summers to finally coordinate, and I flew a tandem flight, and that tandem flight led to a relationship and led to an opportunity to learn how to paraglide. And so, it was definitely this feeling, this conjunction of feeling like, “Okay, this was always why I was interested in paragliding because this was in my future.”

 

And like you mentioned from a learning perspective, you know, I figured if I made kind of that logical linear left-brain thinking life or death that maybe I would, you know, expand into that part more. And I definitely have, but it’s funny how even my intuitive side is ready to launch off a mountain and figure it out on the way down kind of thing. But it’s been an amazing journey, so much confidence. And then also, symbolically, I’ve been learning along with my spiritual journey that the paragliding is very symbolic of so many things. And so, when I’m up there, I’m doing all kinds of things, like I’m talking to the earth, I’m communing with the elements, I’m spreading, you know, energy around the town, I’m communicating with my grandmother who apparently is very close when we’re paragliding. So, it’s just been a really rich experience. And now, my middle daughter is paragliding and is really good at it. So, I’m working to keep up with her.

 

Katie: That’s so fun. How old are your kids?

 

Whitney: They are 22, 20, and 18.

 

Katie: Oh, awesome. Mine are on the younger end. My oldest is only 15, so I’m just in the teenage years now. But you mentioned your spiritual journey, and I think that’s a great jumping-in point for anybody who’s not already familiar with you. Maybe just give us some background of how you got into what is now your life work.

 

Whitney: Yeah, absolutely. So, in ’95, I was three years out of college. I was selling books door to door in a job program that I started right after I graduated. And I was very convicted and understood on an intuitive level that I was supposed to sell books until I came up with the idea. And I came up with ideas, I almost felt plagued with ideas. Like, you know, the crone, when I was born, said, “You will be, you know, like distracted by so many ideas.” And I was reading a book called “Zen and the Art of Making a Living” in which he insisted then unless we adopt an artist mentality, we won’t be able to create the life of our dreams. And I had been a total wannabe artist my whole growing up. And so, I was very struck by the fact that school didn’t teach this artist mentality. It felt really difficult to get into art classes.

 

And so, the idea that was given to me that was clearly different from all the others was to open kind of like a gym for the right brain, which so my initial career was talking all about left brain, right brain, and open up a place where people could come to make art in order that they could leave and create the change they wanted and the art that is their life. And, you know, I confused a lot of people because I’d been such a vocal wannabe artist. I had never painted on a canvas when I opened the doors. You know, teachers, I remember I had a precious oil painting teacher, and the first time she taught, I was sitting there in the class and she mentioned opposite colors and I just looked at her like, “What are those?” And she just was like, “Okay, you own this art center.”

 

And so, I kind of learned along with my clients and true to the inspiration, my adult clients, I also had a very strong youth program, but my adult clients would come in and we’d both raise our eyebrows and they’d say, “Guess what happened? Guess what I did?” And we realized that they were making different choices out of love, out of possibility rather than fear and scarcity because of their art classes. So, it was like this collective, “Oh, my gosh, this stuff works.” And so, along the way, the creative journey kind of came alongside a spiritual journey. And, you know, this was the late ’90s. So, in the beginning, I mean, there wasn’t even Facebook or people weren’t using emails, just to put this in context. And no one was talking about energy or vibration or any of that kind of thing. So, I kind of grew alongside, I feel like more of the collective consciousness. And now, you know, my passion is helping people live life as the canvas of your soul. We’re in and meant to be in this co-creative relationship with everything that’s possible.

 

In Liz Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic,” she talks about how ideas are swirling around looking for people through which they can, you know, manifest or come into fruition. And my latest book, “30 Days to Unstoppable,” is all about that, like how to cultivate within and around yourself a high enough vibration that when you receive those ideas, you can receive them as a co-creator rather than, you know, putting the weight of the world on your shoulders and I’ve got to figure out how to do this. It’s like, “No, you can follow the clues and you have support.” And that plays out over and over and over. You know, people talk about synchronicities and coincidences. That is the co-creative relationship that’s wanting to be expressed.

 

So, the art-making became much more of like a personal ritual or a personal practice. And there’s a whole language of symbols and connecting the energy of what you desire to create into your life and what you can paint on the canvas to symbolically create that into your life. So, it becomes meditation, it becomes a path of developing self-awareness, getting to know yourself. You can observe yourself as you paint and practice, you know, being less detail-oriented or more detail-oriented or let your wild woman come out if you’re a perfectionist. You can practice that at the canvas and physiologically, you’re creating those same neural pathways and it goes beyond the canvas into your life. So, my clients, you know, share with me all the time how they’re living life differently and they’re not reacting to things, they’re not stressing as much. They’re more open and receptive. They’re taking bolder action as a result of what they’ve learned at the canvas. So, it is, it’s still, It’s been 26 years and I still get like, “This is the best thing ever.”

 

Katie: I love that. And I think this is the thing that children are more intuitively already in line with. And I remember being a kid and how drawn I was to art, and then now getting to relive that phase with my own kids at their various ages. And there is something so special about that that I feel like often gets lost in adulthood with the busyness of normal life. It’s not a thing we necessarily think to do, especially when we get very, like, focused in a work mode, it’s not a thing you think of that would potentially enhance all these other areas of your life. But to your point, it absolutely can. And I think a couple of things you mentioned kind of that lead to life shifts, and I know you talk a lot about moving beyond fear and moving into this more creative space. So, let’s go a little bit deeper on that because it seems like for a lot of people, the last couple of years have been a crash course in lots and lots of fear. And we’re now societly in a place where, hopefully, we’re moving out of that, but a lot of people are still working through a lot of the things that resulted from the last couple of years.

 

Whitney: Absolutely. So, I fully believe what course and miracles teaches, which is that at any given moment, we are either coming from fear or love and get curious about that, you know, break that down in your life when you’re making decisions. “Am I making this out of fear or am I making this out of love?” The fear can be super sneaky. I remember making a decision right after moving to Oregon when I was still married with the three kids and we just moved here and there was a conference going on in-between Christmas and New Year’s that was like a Ken Wilber that organization. And the whole theme was creativity, like spiritual creativity. And I was just like, “Oh, these are my people. This is gonna be my big breakthrough,” you know.

 

But it was not a time I wanted to travel. It was the first holiday and the new house and all of that. And my friend asked me, you know, “Do you wanna go? Is that motivation to go, fear or love?” Well, at first, I was like, “Love, of course, right? These are my people. I love talking about this,” but I realized it was more fear. I was afraid of, like, missing the golden opportunity, right? And once I realized that that was fear-based, it was very easy to say no and stay home, and I think make the better decision. So, when you attune yourself to that awareness, you can really kind of see more clearly which direction will serve you the best. And we do live in a culture that still really broadcasts fear, and it’s because that’s what makes the networks the most money. I mean, you know, media is very much behind that.

 

And so, you know, that’s why for me personally, in the last, like, six years, I’ve been intending to stay informed while not immersing myself in the news. And understanding that where we are right now is a very pivotal transitional creative moment, and all of the contrast comes to the surface so it can be seen so people can choose, right? So, all of the things that have come up the last couple of years needed to come up because they exist. It’s just like when you get triggered in your life, someone says something or something happens and you get triggered, you get angry, it’s not about that particular situation. It’s evidence of a deeper story that you’re holding onto that’s fear-based that wants to come into alignment with love. So, it’s letting you know that it exists through those emotions so that you can understand it and love it.

 

So, it’s the same thing with what’s going on right now in the modern Western world at least is we’re seeing things like the racism and, you know, the economic and social discrepancies so that we can create the change we want. We can’t create the change if we don’t see it. So, it’s really important to allow, you know, when things get you angry, when that fear comes up, allow it to serve its true purpose, which is to show you where love is needed, right? And that changes the dance that you can have with the current events in a much different way. I mean, we’re here to create change, and where you get the most in fear is where even you can be called to just visualizing what you would want, you know, what would you rather be happening in this arena? And just visualizing it, holding space, which is women, we do that. That’s one of our superpowers is creating and holding space for new life, right?

 

So, this is why as women, you know, we tend to be the ones leaning into the new teachings. And, you know, all my classes, I mean, it’s 99.9% women because the men are afraid to put themselves out there in a new way that isn’t safe and secure. And so, it is literally the feminine energy that is open and receptive to creating new life, new ways of being on this planet, and understanding that dance between fear and love and that the fear is not the boogeyman. It’s not a bad thing. It’s an ally, and it’s providing you with valuable information so when you can approach it, receive it from that space, you know, there’s deep and genuine and powerful self-awareness and creative possibility that results.

 

Katie: I love that you mentioned, of course, the miracles. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. I just recently finished it myself. And I’m also very in alignment with you on avoiding pretty much all sources of just the fear-based media because I think it’s very possible to stay informed without having that, like, fear trigger every day. In fact, that’s the thing I often recommend as a thing you can do for your health is just step away from some of those sources because we’re wired as humans to care about other people. And when we lived in small groups, that was important because if someone in your group was in trouble or hurting or had a problem, you had the ability to fix that or help them or support in some way. And now, we have access to the whole world through the media, but we don’t have the ability in ourselves to go solve every problem, but our nervous systems are still wired to want to help.

 

And so, that’s been a big helpful shift for me is staying in that place of what can I impact in my own life and keeping the focus of my own family, my own community, and the Wellness Mama community and staying in those areas where I can actually have, to your point, that positive change that we’re wired to want. I also love that you mentioned about anger and fear essentially being teachers because they can be great teachers. I think there’s often that instinct to judge emotions when we feel them as good or bad and to resist the bad ones. And I’ve learned slowly and hard-learned lessons in my life that, you know, what we resist resist back, and that if we can learn from and just feel those emotions versus fighting them, we often can get to a much better place and they can become great teachers.

 

And I also love that you mentioned focusing on what we want not what we don’t want. Seems like it’s easy as humans to fall into that space of worrying about what we don’t want to happen, but that’s then where our energy is going. So, do you have any kind of practices or tools that you can point people to to start making those inner shifts? I’m a big believer that our own inner language and the questions we ask ourselves are incredibly important, and I also know firsthand that that can be a learning process to learn how to be aware and how to be very conscious of that. So, I know this is some of the work you do, but are there any stepping stones you give people to start that process?

 

Whitney: Well, absolutely. So, the first thing to understand is literally thoughts become things, right? Where you focus your attention expands, you know, which wolf you feed is the one that is going to dominate, right? Like, we know this teaching. You reap what you sow. We know all this teaching. Understand very clearly that worry and stress are you imagining painting a picture inside of your mind of something happening in the future that you don’t want to happen, right? So, if you don’t want that to happen, why do we focus on it? And like you mentioned, we’ve been conditioned to do this. And right now, the opportunity is to learn a new way. Like, we can still learn new ways of doing this. I refer to the old paradigm creativity and new paradigm creativity. New paradigm creativity recognizes that the creative act like of art-making is symbolic of how we are creating our reality in each and every moment.

 

So, when you get triggered, like there’s the fear and the worry and the stress, just observe yourself. And developing this witness is really, really powerful, and teaching our kids to do the same thing, right? But witness yourself like, “Wow, okay, this got me angry. This has got me really worried or stressed. So, what is it that I desire? What is the flip side? Right? I want abundance, I want health and wellness, I want opportunity for my kids, I want a sustainable world for them to grow up in.” So, imagine that. Spend your time thinking about what it is you want, painting pictures. Imagine, remember in the old cartoons where they just like pull out a paintbrush and go, “Whoosh,” and like a whole scene would appear, on the blank canvas, so to speak, and they’d step into it. That’s like what we’re doing.

 

And so, when you can realize that we are creating our reality and consciously focus your words internally and externally on what you desire, we are adding energy to that possibility, right? And sharing that with our children as well, right? Imagine what do you want? What would be the best-case scenario? And let’s expand upon that rather than expanding upon all the different things that can go wrong. And, you know, it’s a simple shift, but we have very deeply ingrained cultural practices and patterns that reinforce and encourage the kind of negative scarcity-based, fear-based thinking. Just like, you know, you get together with a group of moms, wherever you are hanging out, if you show up and say, “Oh, my gosh, let me tell you the awesome thing that just happened to me and how fabulous I feel and how great life is and how much money I have in the bank account,” you know, people will look at you like, “Bitch, like what? You know, what did she take?” Like, “Oh.”

 

It’s much more comfortable to come up and be like, “Oh, my God, wasn’t the traffic horrible? It was so horrible and my kid has strep and the other one is puking.” It’s like this competition of who’s got, you know, kind of the toughest road right now. So, changing that holding space, you know, what is it you’re excited about right now? You know, tell me something that is new, or, you know, what are you leaning into, or what’s captured your curiosity? What’s going great for you right now? What are we celebrating? Like, if we all did that, it would be a very, very different world, right? So, the first step is developing that witness, just observing your thoughts. Are your thoughts and your words what you would want to expand, what you would want heaped upon you? Well, if not, change, you know, and observe yourself. So, that would be the first step.

 

And then the second step is the painting practice that I teach. Like, the painting practice that I teach is more like a meditation or a yoga practice. It’s not about becoming the next Da’Vinchi, you know. It’s about aligning with you as a powerful creatress. And the canvas simply makes visible how we manifest and how we create our reality. And my process, like the first step, is just painting words, like painting what you want. If you’re worried, like when I…I got divorced in 2012 and my kids were like 8, 10, and 12, I think. And it was my choice. I was very stoked about it. Nobody else was. And so, there was a lot of worry and fear like, “Did I screw up my kids? Did I, you know, do this horrible thing?” And so, I painted. My kids are more emotionally intelligent, more consciously loved as a result of their parents’ divorce. And then I painted symbols of that happiness and union and abundance, and I hung those up around my house literally to, like, remind me to focus on what it is I wanted.

 

And that’s exactly I created…and I have this whole process in my book, “Rise Above,” the clarity session. I created a very clear vision of how I wanted my kids to feel, more emotionally intelligent and more consciously loved. And, you know, however, 10, 12 years later, I would say that’s exactly what’s happened because that’s what I chose to focus on. And that was the guidance I got in that moment was your kids can only pull from what it is you’re thinking about, you know, thoughts, and energy is just matters. It’s physical as the chair I’m sitting in. So, if the whole time my kids are at school, I’m envisioning them being screwed up or not having enough opportunities or da, da, da, da, and they come home, even if I’m like, “Hey, happy, chocolate chip cookies,” you know, whatever, they’re still walking in energetically to a space that’s full of, “I’ve screwed up my kids, I’ve screwed up my kids, I’ve screwed up my kids.”

 

And when I realized how physicalized our thoughts literally become, I became a very good curator of my thoughts. And that’s made all the difference in the world. So, you know, it’s opening up first to, “Heck, yeah, I wanna take back more of my creative power. I wanna understand myself as someone who can absolutely influence my reality and my kids’ reality with my thoughts and ideas.” So, get curious and see if what you’re saying to yourself, you know, quiet that nobody else hears, is that in alignment with what you want? And if not, you know, flip it. What do you want? Just that question, what do I really, really, really want to experience in this situation? And focus on that.

 

Katie: Yeah. It’s surprisingly such a simple question, and I find it’s one that we often have the hardest time answering. We’re great at knowing what we don’t want, but then that’s what we’re focusing on, to your point. And I love your vulnerability in sharing that because certainly parents splitting up is a thing that happens in roughly half of cases and seems to be happening to a higher degree after the last couple of years I think. It was a great teacher for many people, but led to lessons that were maybe unexpected. And I also think it’s so important what you said about our kids feeding off our energy. I think often women are… We kind of set the emotional tone of the home.

 

And I love that you learn to, like, ask your kids better questions or focus on the what are you excited about? What are you grateful for? We have a lot of those conversations at dinner as well like, “What hard thing did you overcome today?” Or, “What was great about today?” Or, “What lessons did you learn?” Or, “What are four things you’re super grateful for?” And that teaches them. I think I’ve heard it said by psychiatrists that, you know, the voice we speak to our children, in part, becomes their inner voice, which is a beautiful opportunity to help them by modeling it, learn to ask good questions and to step into a space of love, hopefully, over fear. I’m curious to hear if there were any particular lessons you learned, if you don’t mind sharing about it, during that process of uncoupling that you found really helpful, or specific ways you were able to support your children and/or by supporting yourself through that.

 

Whitney: Yeah, absolutely. Well, the first thing that comes to mind is…of course, my own work with creativity was obvious. And I remembered in I think it was “The Happiness Project,” that book, she talks about happy people literally usually, or always have projects, like they have something that they’re working on, you know, creating, learning. And so, I would regularly, whenever my kids and I were in a town that had like a Michaels or something, which we live in this rural… Like the closest Michaels is, I don’t know, three and a half hours away. But we would go in there and I’m like, “Everybody, pick a project.” You know, my son was making those survival bracelets, you know, that you kind of macrame the string, and one daughter was painting boxes for organizing in a room and the other one was probably making jewelry. But they all had projects.

 

And I realized, I remember sitting around the kitchen island watching them all working on their projects and gaining a whole new level of respect for this creative process and the importance of nurturing creativity because creativity only knows possibility. Like, you can’t tell the frequency of creativity or when you’re in a creative state. You can’t tell it that it’s done and over and failed in a mistake and you suck. Like, it’s never gonna work because creativity is change. It’s constant.

 

In his book, “Creativity,” Matthew Fox says it is impossible to be creative and depressed at the same time, right? So, I’m watching my kids create and I’m just getting waves of like, “This is all I’ve got to do,” is keep them in a, you know, regularly immersed in this creative frequency. It doesn’t matter what they’re creating, it doesn’t matter if it looks like a tennis shoe or a bear or a…you know. It doesn’t matter if they’re painting emojis or, you know, the anime or whatever. Just give them the blank canvas or the hunk of clay or, you know, the box of crayons and let them create their reality.

 

And it’s not about who has skill or talent, it’s about the fact that they’re going to grow up into a world that is in a constant state of change, that is consistently changing the rules and the structures, that has lots of problems to solve with solutions that have not been experienced up until now and constantly shifting roles. So, if there’s one thing that I would want my kids to have, it’s that creative superpower, that confidence in themselves as creative beings. I honestly think…I just said this to someone recently that they could only teach art at schools and our kids would probably be better prepared for the real world than the way we do it now. And, of course, that’s the first thing taken out of schools.

 

So, you know, it’s a huge opportunity and a really simple one. And most of the parents I talked to, especially when I had the art center and the youth program, you know, like, “So and so, Johnny shows a lot of talent in drawing and I wanna get him into a serious art class.” And I’m like… You know, maybe when they’re 13, 14, 15, and they’re wadding up the paper, I can’t make it look like the way it looks, but what you want more than anything is to celebrate whatever it is they create just like they do and keep them engaged, you know, keep buying them the new sketchbooks and, “Hey, I got you these fun new markers.” Like, literally, you wanna keep that part of their brain that gets excited about the unknown and leans into change, we wanna keep that activated. And like you mentioned, as kids get older, generally, that kind of atrophies because that’s not what is rewarded in school. And that is, like, completely the opposite of what we want our kids stepping into the world with.

 

Katie: Yeah. I agree very strongly about that. In fact, this is one of the reasons I decided to homeschool my kids was my oldest was 5 looking at the available school options, including the homeschool curriculum that were already out there and asking the question, what actually best prepares them for the adult life I hope that they have? Which is not just having a lot of money or a successful job, but actually to have these core values and happiness and community and the things we would want for our kids and realizing what do they need to get there? And they need to maintain creativity and the ability to find patterns and connect dots in unique creative ways and to maintain a love for learning. And I realized, at least for my kids, I didn’t feel like any of the existing options did that very well. And, in fact, I would argue some school systems actually work against a lot of those goals.

 

And it’s a controversial opinion that I’ve said on here before that I think in a lot of cases, kids would be better off, especially in young ages, to be at home doing much less structured school type work and having much more space and freedom for creativity and for play, which at our house we say, “Play is the work of children.” They should have as much time for that outdoor, like climbing trees, painting things, digging in the mud, gardening as possible. And I think I would argue not only is that not a bad thing, I would say in some ways, I would argue that actually prepares them better to live a happy adult life. So, I love that you brought that up as well. What about people who maybe are having a mental block around the idea of not being an artist or feeling like they’re not creative? I’ve heard from people who the idea of sitting down and painting feels very stressful to them, maybe because of childhood stuff, or they’re gonna do it wrong, or they don’t know how. Do you feel like this is a thing that is beneficial to everyone? And for people who have that resistance, how do they make that jump and get started?

 

Whitney: Well, so here is the first thing to understand is the stronger your resistance is, the more transformational and liberating putting the brush to canvas is going to be. Okay. So, that’s the first thing. When I opened the art center in ’96, I had no idea. I mean, I had no idea about anything really. I had no idea how much psychology was going to be involved, how afraid people were. And the fear is not proportionate to the activity. And I found that when I help people just observe the fear and ask what am I afraid of? Just that, right? Instead of being like, “Oh, I can’t paint or draw,” “Okay, are you coming from fear or love?” “I’m coming from fear.” “What are you afraid of? What are you afraid might happen if you draw or paint?” And then, you know, they’re like, “Oh.” And I ask this to people all the time and they’re like, “I don’t know. I’m just afraid.” I’m like, “No, no. Go there. What are you afraid of?” “I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong. “Okay. What would happen if you do it wrong?” Right?

 

I used to joke with my Painting Made Easy class that I taught every month in Nashville when I lived there, and I’d say, “This painting is not going to bring you financial independence. It’s not gonna solve world hunger. It’s not gonna end up in a gallery. Like, this painting does not matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s just a canvas, it’s just some paint, you know.” As you’re painting, if you don’t like it, money isn’t gonna automatically start being withdrawn from your bank account. You’re not gonna experience any physical pain, you know, as a result of this. Like, this is pure just play and expression. So, again, that witness, understanding fear or love.

 

So, the first thing is if you feel like, “Oh, I’m not creative. I can’t even draw a stick figure,” which, I mean, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I would be a rich woman. First of all, understand that there is tremendous opportunity for you here. And when we overcome fear, we live less in fear, right? So, you’re living in fear of paint, a paintbrush, and a canvas. So, let’s just call it what it is, right? So, how beneficial might it be to overcome that fear? After 26 years of doing this, extremely beneficial for you to overcome this fear. Besides the fact, just like you said, your kids are looking at you. If you’re saying I’m not creative, chances are they’re gonna grow up saying, “I’m not creative,” and that is not what you want them to be doing. So, that’s the first thing.

 

The next thing, the getting started, like getting started the way I teach is the most fun and the most easy. I used to have my kids do the first layers with me. It’s literally plain. It’s getting back to that childlike, just like looking at the colors, fingerpainting, even stenciling spray bottles, painting words, you know, love, peace, world peace. Like whatever you want to experience in this life, paint those words on the canvas, paint color, doodle, spill, mush the color around. That is the start always. And I loved…I had this canvas, I still have it. It’s hanging in the kitchen. It’s been like 20 different paintings. And I called it the Make Your Mark canvas. And I would have paint leftover from my paintings and part of getting ready for dinner because the kitchen island was also the art studio was also the dining room table, and I’d tell my son, usually, “Mason, take this extra paint and put it on the canvas.” So, he’d just take the paint. He’d just, like, slap it on there literally just to clean up for dinner, right? But I was keeping him in that creative frequency. That still made a difference.

 

So, the getting started part is literally get some paints, get a surface to put them on, and start smushing them around. Realizing that the story you have around creativity, the reason you’re afraid of it and have the resistance is because when we were younger, we were told a story that some people are creative and others aren’t, and pursuing creativity is like for housewives who have nothing else to do, right? Whatever, whoever that is, you know, for the Martha Stewarts. Even if you are talented at art, making a living, getting benefits, having a good career is probably not going to be available for you, so stop making art and pursue more practical things. And so, that story around creativity is based on like a capitalist, you know. Can you get money greenbacks for it? If not, it’s not worth your time, right?

 

The new creativity is understanding that creativity is like breath. Creativity is like having a car and no access to gas. Like, you are the car, creativity is the fuel. And if you aren’t in alignment with your creative self, you’re pushing that vehicle around, literally. So, you want to make friends with this creative frequency, and the ripple effects are tremendous. And the reason I focus on painting is because, at my art center, the first, like, eight years of the art center, I had mosaics, I had paper mache, we had pottery classes, we did the Sculpey clay and the Millefiori clay, bookmaking, paper making, journal making. We did all these things. And those students that did those courses would still express like, “Oh, but the blank canvas, oh, I can’t paint at the canvas.” And then my painting students weren’t afraid of anything.

 

So, when I relocated at one point into a much smaller space in a better location, I couldn’t offer all the projects. And so, I just very objectively was like the painting is where people overcome fear, and that’s what I wanna help people to do. So, I only offered painting workshops for that last four years. And all my online courses, it’s all painting only because that’s where the greatest fear is, which means that’s where the greatest transformation is. And educating people about the fact that that fear is based on an old outdated story and where we’re headed and where we are is a world that is crying for change on every different level, right? There’s no, like, going back to the way things used to be, which clearly an element of our population is trying to do that and it won’t work. Like, we can’t go backwards, right? This change is happening, and so coming at this and coming at everyone from a place of love and possibility is the greatest way we can love and mother the earth right now.

 

Katie: I love that. And I resonate with that idea that some kids are told when they’re young, some people are creative and some aren’t. My version of that was being told as a kid that I wasn’t an athlete because my parents were very academic-focused, and so I kind of just discarded that and just assumed I wasn’t gonna be good at anything athletic. And now, as an adult, I’ve gotten to challenge and question that, and it’s been a really fun progression to, like, find how strong I can be or how fast I can be and to get to model that for my kids.

 

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And I love this idea of this kind of like low-risk, no-stress intro into painting, which I think is a great bonding experience for kids. At times when I’ve sat down at the kitchen table and start drawing, they’ll come draw with me, whereas if I just had told them, “You guys should be more creative. You should draw,” they wouldn’t necessarily be as motivated to do it.

 

And I also love the idea that the happiest people have a project. And I know you have resources on your website. I’ll make sure to link to those for people who don’t have a background in this and don’t even know how to get started so that you can walk them through it. One personal practice I like to do is to build in quarterly or yearly things that are challenges in creativity and also things that get me out of my comfort zone. So, I mentioned in the beginning, that’s led to voice lessons and stand-up comedy and dancing, and also just having some kind of creative focus every few months that especially can be a family activity I think is a really, really fun bonding experience. Talk a little bit about the resources you do have available on your website because I know you have like a meditation kind of focus challenge to get into this creative aspect and you have kind of a lot of different paths people can go down.

 

Whitney: Yes, absolutely. And I do wanna offer you all a free online program just as we’re talking. I’m like, “Oh, this is perfect.” I have an online course called Your Magical Creative Awareness, and Katie will have the link below. And that is a process of identifying where you get blocked or stuck. We all do. And it’s not about getting stuck or blocked at the canvas, it’s about getting stuck or blocked in the art that is our lives. And I compare it to the chakras and I compare it to common, you know, things that we say, you know, “I can’t do it. I’m not good enough,” or, “I need to be perfect,” and then connect that to a symbol. You know, I’ve mentioned that there are images or symbols that you can paint that are symbolic of what it is you want more of. And it’s a very simple, you know, process, but it will absolutely…even if you just watch it, like, you know, if you really think like, “Oh, I’m never gonna paint,” I dare you to watch it and then just see. I guarantee you’re gonna wanna go get some paints. So, that’s one thing.

 

And, yeah, one program that has liberated just thousands of people from their old stories around creativity is the 21-day painting meditation challenge, and that’s all with watercolor, just in a watercolor journal. The course itself is 21 days, 21 videos, like 5 to 8 minutes long, just music and me painting with watercolors, and it’s a process where literally you just kind of spill water on the paper, drip the color in, watch it, you know, explode across the paper like fireworks, and then really just kind of doodle. We go through the earth elements, we go through the chakras, we go through some sacred symbols. But it’s really attuning you simply to being in the creative process and it’s not product-oriented, and that’s challenging and it’s worth observing how anxious we get, like, “This isn’t gonna produce anything I can hang on the wall,” and it’s like, “Oh, how much am I driven by this? Like, got to produce, got to produce, got to produce” because usually, what suffers, as a result, is our personal self-care.

 

And I’ve also been inspired by myself and so many people that are like, “Oh, I can’t meditate, I can’t sit still, I can’t, you know, clear all the thoughts out of my head.” So, what we’re doing with the painting is distracting that monkey mind and the creative process does bring you present. So, for some people, it might take a minute, for some, it might take 5 or 10 minutes, but eventually, you get immersed in, like, the color and you’ll feel that. That energy is like when you were a kid, like, “Mom, that’s what I mean,” right? You get there when you detach from the being good, right? It’s not about being good. This is about wellness. We don’t go to the gym thinking we’re gonna end up on like the cover of sports illustrated bathing suit, you know, we don’t do yoga expecting to be the next Rodney or, you know, some yoga superstar, whoever they are these days. We do it because we understand it’s good for us.

 

And our mental health, like, the brain functions just like a set of muscles. If you don’t use parts of your brain, they…I mean, eventually, the atrophy, right? So, the part of you that thrives and change in the unknown and can expect good things to happen and that everything is there to support you and love you is stimulated by creative activity. So, if you want that in yourself and your children, you wanna do something, anything creative. And the more it contrasts your routine, right? So, like people say all the time, “Well, cooking is creative and gardening is creative,” yeah. And if that’s your comfort zone, you’re not gonna experience any kind of shifts or transformation doing something you’ve always done. It’s valuable to understand how creative those things are. Problem-solving is creative.

 

Like, everybody is creative, unless you just lie in bed all day and do nothing. Like, if you are problem-solving, making things happen, things normally don’t go as planned, right? You have to adjust. That’s all creativity. So, even if my interaction with you is taking you from, “Oh, I’m not creative. I can’t even draw a straight line,” to like, “Oh, there are so many ways I’m creative, and I’m not afraid to paint. Sure. Give me a canvas. Like, let’s go.” But it doesn’t have to be something you do all the time, but overcome that fear and get to know and observe your creative self, and I promise, like even in the trajectory of your life, it’s like a fork in the road. With the beginning, you know, there’s not that much distance, but down the road, the way your life can shift and change and that of your children is absolutely dramatic.

 

Katie: And like you said, I’ll have links in the show notes for you guys listening wellnessmama.fm to all the different options available there. And I also love that you talk about…I know you have I think a blog post about this, but your life is a vision quest and a new way to look at balance. And I’ve thought of it similarly in like your life is a story and you get to write a beautiful one however you want. But let’s just briefly touch on that because I think often in the busyness of life, we can kind of get in that production go, go, go mode and we lose sight of that. So, just talk about what you mean by that, your life is a vision quest.

 

Whitney: Absolutely. So, the exact figure, I don’t have, but it’s something like of all of our senses and what our brain is processing, about 85% of what our brain is doing is perceived and received through the sense of vision. So, what we see, what we surround ourselves with, what catches our eye, what we’re attracted to visually is very much a huge part of how we live our lives and how we move through situations and challenges. So, living life as a vision quest is, one, inviting you into that awareness of how powerful what we’re looking at and then how to harness that in such a way that you are consciously creating the art that is your life rather than allowing life to, you know, kind of order you around. So, vision quest is bringing in this element of dancing with the unknown, of tuning into what colors, what symbols, what images, what animals are crossing your path or attracting you or resonating with you. A fun example, I realized when I moved into my own house in 2012, you know, there wasn’t a huge conscious like decoration aspect. I was kind of pinching pennies at that point, but my space became like an altar.

 

And I remember looking around at one point as the sun was setting and beaming through these kind of saffron gold-colored curtains that were like the Indian bedspreads, right? And I was so enthralled in the golden color and I was like, “Okay, what color is yellow? What’s that symbolic of?” So, that’s third chakra, which is personal power. And I looked around and there was yellow everywhere on my first floor. It was like a yellow bath. And it was like that’s why I was attracted to yellow because I needed, wanted that strength, that personal strength at this point in my life. And so, when you engage with life as a vision quest, one, you’re tuning into the messages and the guidance that you are receiving visually symbolically. And then the second thing is the vision quest is an earth-based process. So, my online course that is vision quest are creative activities, mostly painting, but also art journaling activities that are each kind of guided and organized by the four earth elements.

 

So, air is the element of thought and ideas and intellect, and fire is that creative spark. Like, each of our kids was born with a certain passion or interest that they’re meant to pursue, so fanning the flame of that spark is encouraging them to live on purpose. And the kids that are here right now, like I know all you moms look at your kids and be like, “When I was that age, I wasn’t doing that. I wasn’t thinking that way.” You know, they are way more advanced. It’s hard to articulate, but it’s like they’re older than we were when we were their age. That’s because, you know, if you choose to believe in kind of the infinite nature of our souls, these are advanced souls coming in right now. They have a very real purpose. They don’t need to be programmed by us. They don’t need to be taught, you know, specific facts and figures. Our job is to create a space that will nurture their natural inclinations and passions and give them an opportunity to exercise and expand upon those. So, fanning the flame, you know, of that passion is a fire element aspect.

 

Water is intuition. It’s the emotional realm. It’s understanding how to allow emotions to guide us. I remember talking to my son one night when he was at his dad’s and he told me he was feeling sad and he goes, “Mom, earlier today. I felt really sad and I missed you,” and I’m like, “That’s okay. It’s okay to feel that way.” And I’m like, “How do you feel now?” He’s like, “Tired.” I’m like, “See, so you felt sad and now you feel tired, so you feel the feelings, and they change, and they move through. So it’s okay.” So, teaching them how not to attach to emotions, how emotions are meant to be in motion, and their feeling and their information.

 

And then the earth element is about manifesting. It’s you reap what you sow. You plant the seeds that you wanna grow. You know, if you wanna grow tomatoes in your garden this summer, you don’t plant cabbage. You plant tomatoes. And likewise, those tomato seeds have everything they need to grow into a tomato, right? They need you to take them out of the bag, put them in the dirt, water them, weed so they have enough light. They don’t need you to go out there at day 10 and be like, “Okay, time to come out of the dirt,” you know.

 

Like, the seeds know what to do. So, the dreams and the visions you receive are like the seeds, our kids are like the seeds. They have everything they need to do and grow into what they’re meant to grow into. Our job is to create the space and nurture and water and give light to what it is that they’re growing into.

 

So, going through and understanding the earth elements and how Mother Earth is mirroring for us in every moment, truths and guidance, and that’s how the indigenous peoples have lived, right? Is intimately connected with the elements and the cycles and the seasons and understanding that we were in this intimate relationship, you know, where the same amount of water is the earth. We have all the same elements. We have air, fire, water, earth. We have metal, we have wood, you know, all of those things are weaving us into the fabric of this planet, and the opposite is feeling alone, feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, stressing, feeling like you have to control everything. And the antidote is to balance that with this feeling of connection and attaching kind of coming at life from these back doors, right? Like understanding like, “Oh, my kids have this sacred spark in them and I wanna fan that flame.” That can help clarify things rather than like a more logical question as far as how can I, you know, help my children be the most successful?

 

So, it’s different ways of looking at things, which always leads to newness and innovation and create space for more of your kind of natural wisdom and intuition to come through, rather than logically trying to remember the best way that someone else says you should do something or you should live or parent or mother. So, living life as a vision quest is really I think stepping more into an alignment of who we really are and what’s available to us rather than limiting it.

 

Katie: I love that. And as we get close to the end of our time, a couple of last questions I’d love to ask, the first being if there is a book or a number of books that have profoundly impacted your life, and if so, what they are and why.

 

Whitney: There’s so many. I’m a total book hog. So, I knew this question, and I was warned about this question. And the book that came to mind, honestly, is a book by Michael Newton. It’s called “Journey of Souls.” And, geez, as a mother and as a person on this planet right now, the reality that’s shared in that book, Michael Newton, the author was a psychologist, psychiatrist who ended up specializing in hypnotherapy in order to help people relieve chronic pain, you know, kind of towards the end of his career. And what he found, you know, he had patients coming to him saying, “You know, I have this pain in my knee. I’ve been to every specialist on the planet. Nobody understands. There’s no physical reason why my knee is hurting. And Michael Newton would hypnotize them, take them back to a past life where inevitably they were shot in the knee kind of thing. And they would clean that up and the knee pain would go away.

 

So, what happened one time is that in that hypnosis, instead of coming through in a past life, the patient or the client came through in the life between lives. And so, Michael Newton started asking questions, what’s going on there? What are you doing? What’s the process? And he ended up interviewing over 1,000 people and writing about it in “Journey of Souls.” And it is mind-blowing, and yet it will feel familiar to you. But what this does is it helps us to understand that the external circumstances in our lives are really there to help us learn and grow and expand into our fullest expression, like our life purpose is there from the very, very beginning, like it is deeply woven into the fabric of who you are and who your children are. And understanding that life is much more symbolic actually than it is, like this reality, this version of reality that we’ve created in kind of the modern Western world, and it gives you great hope and encouragement. So, that is absolutely a huge book.

 

And then I have to shamelessly self-promote because all my books have been…Like, I read my books and I’m like, “Dang, like, I need to…I wrote that? I need to remember those words.” They’re very much coming through to help all of us thrive and adapt into this new paradigm. So, I would highly recommend…it was my third book, “Rise Above: Free Your Mind One Brushstroke at a Time.” It is full color, full of paintings, and symbols. Your kids will love it. And what it’s talking about is how ultimately in every single moment what we’re always, always, always creating is energy, right? Just like you know in the morning when a kid walks into the kitchen grumpy, it’s like that is completely different than a happy kid walking into the kitchen, right?

 

So, understanding that, and then it has symbols and examples and step by step of how to paint the symbols. You could take your kids…I mean, if you’re homeschooling, you could take your kids through “Rise Above,” and, like, the emotional intelligence and the creative intelligence that they would have at the end of that book would be astounding. So, like when I was writing, “Rise Above,” part of my inspiration was like, “What would I want my kids to know? What are the lessons? What’s the wisdom I would want my kids to have no matter what?” And that’s what went into “Rise Above.”

 

Katie: I love it. Well, those will be linked in the show notes as well for all of you guys listening while you’re on the go. And any parting words of advice for the listeners today that could be related to something we’ve already talked about or something entirely different?

 

Whitney: Yeah. I mean, it’s really just asking you who are listening to really just objectively, without any judgment, get super curious about your relationship to creativity and know that if what comes to mind is, “Oh, sister, you don’t want me creating anything. Like, I am so not artistic,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I really want to invite you however you do it, like, it’s what I do, I’d be happy to help you, but however you do it, rewrite that story because what is absolutely truth…and test this, like experiment with it, see what comes up the next 48 hours around creativity, art painting, creating your reality. This is quantum physics. Dr. Joe Dispenza speaks the science side of what I’m saying. Get super curious about how you could resolve that, how you could allow yourself the experience of being a human on this planet. That’s like, “Yeah, I’m creative. Sure. I could paint on a canvas.”

 

This is the most important thing that we could do for our planet right now. I mean, just imagine being a mother from Ukraine who’s now like, hopefully, safe, living in another country, separated from your family, and having to create a life out of nothing right now. You know, what they learned in school, facts and figures is not going to help. It’s what do we have? What’s available, and how are we gonna make the best of it? That is creativity in action. And the more we can tune that up in our own lives, the more we can embrace it and understand that any fear of resistance is outdated old programming the more we’re helping ourselves and everybody on this planet. Like, it will raise the creative frequency, and that’s the best thing you could do for the planet right now is engage in your own creative spirit.

 

Katie: Perfect place to wrap up. Everybody, go experiment and play with painting and learn something about yourself in the process. Thank you so much, Whitney, for your time today. This was a really fun conversation and has definitely inspired me to get back to painting a lot more.

 

Whitney: Thank you, Katie. Thank you for creating this space for all of us.

 

Katie: And thanks, as always, to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama” podcast.

 

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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