Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Don’t I look Mahvahlous!?

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I ♥ You, You are just you!

 

Hiya Creative Monkeys!

I LOVE mirrors. I remember when I was a kid I used to play with two mirrors together: Did you ever create that cool effect where you can see yourself looking at yourself, looking at yourself looking at yourself … a reflection within a reflection within a reflection to infinity? (E-mail me if not, and I’ll tell you how it’s done, so cool!) It’s fascinating to consider how EVERYONE in our society looks in the mirror at least once a day.  Mirrors are kindof like altars, where we unconsciously practice the daily ritual of getting our appearance ready for the rest of the world to see, all the while saying affirmations about our look to ourself in our head while we look in the mirror.

I am fascinated by this self talk that happens in front of a mirror. (I talked a little about self talk in the New Year, Renewed Chi entry.) Think about it: Typically, when we look in a mirror we tell ourself things. These messages are influenced by everything; how we were raised, magazines, marketing messages that are … well … EVERYWHERE, the Web, billboards, our friends, TV, and even video games. Our self talk–perhaps most significantly–stems from our self identity and worth. If we stop to think about our thinking, we can reshape our thoughts and be kinder to ourselves and ultimately live with more joy!

Here’s a random sampling of my self chatter–the words that go through MY brain–when I look in the mirror, at different times: (I’m cringing over a few of these….)
Oh, Becky, you look … (each separate comment happened at different times)
Tired.
Happy.
Calm.
Rushed.
Good.
Pretty.
Did this shirt shrink?
I like my natural look.
I look just messy!
Can I steal a shower today?
Natural’s not workin’ for me today. I need some makeup.
My face looks thin.
Tired.
My face looks plump.
I’ve got a pimple.
Hello there Gorgeous!

I need to do something with my hair.
I LOVE my life and everything in it!
How’d THAT get THERE?
I’m glad I don’t dye my hair. I love my natural color.
Gosh, maybe I SHOULD dye my hair?!!!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE my whites, my wisdom is showing. uhhh, but why do they have to stand up like that?!

Ok, that was a truthful, raw, brutally honest (and brave, don’t ya think?) look at my mirror talk. Yes, there’s room for improvement. How about yours?

Ok, what to do about this? To create a new habit we need to break a pattern. Visual interruptions are great way to jar our habits and create a pause in our thinking long enough to let some sunshine in. So it’s time for a little Monkey Chi Monkey Do magic!

This togetherness project was inspired by the thoughts I’ve shared here already and the books we’ve been reading at our house. I’m reading a book called The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, and the girls are reading the Harry Potter series by the magnificent Joanne Rowling.  

The Four Agreements shares ancient Toltec wisdom about the power that words have to shape our personal happiness. Ruiz emphasizes the importance of the “First Agreement,” to Be Impeccable With Your Word. Words manifest our intentions. Words are the beginning of our creative power. Words can create and words can destroy.

This book got me thinking about how I use words with others. At our house, we try to be mindful of the words we choose. We tend to use words to lift people and try not to use words that limit or judge folks. So, it seems our out loud words are mostly good and empowering. Whew! That’s good.

Hmmm. But what about the words that we don’t say out loud?  Those words that cruise on auto-pilot through our brains, our own self talk? Our mirror talk?

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Chapter 12), Dumbledore tells Harry about the Mirror of Erised. He says that the happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised (desire spelled backwards) and see himself exactly as he is. He says that the mirror gives neither knowledge nor truth, and that men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, driven mad, not knowing if what is shown is real or even possible. Whoa … Rowling is such a Writer Goddess! Talk about the power of metaphors!

Think about all the mirrors in your house. Mirrors have this magical power to transform our moods, perhaps more often from good to bad, don’t they?

I wondered what my daughters’ self talk sounds like, so I asked them. At ages 9 and 8 I was quite relieved that they have quite beautiful thoughts when looking at their mirror image selves. (Note to self: Investigate this again in a couple years when media and worldly influences aspire to homogenize them and remove their self esteem and self acceptance.)

What is YOUR self talk like? Have you ever asked your partner or child what they tell themself when they look in the mirror? What kinds of things go through your mind while gazing into the looking glass?

Let’s get our friends and family in on an activity to JOLT our self talk and look at ourselves in a different way–literally– with this fun and quick little disconnect-from-technology-and-create-something-together project!

Supply List

♥ Mirrors (all of them in the house)
♥ Water-based or Washable Markers. Test to make sure they will wipe off. If it doesn’t, try rubbing on some magic baking soda (a.k.a. bicarbonate of soda for our Monkey Chi’ers outside the US. I ♥ ♥ ♥ our readers in England, Aussie Land, and New Zealand! If you’re a subscriber from another country, please e-mail me and introduce yourself!)

To draft an inspirational and beautiful Power Talk Word list, simply ask: What words make you feel good and happy? What words feel like word hugs and snuggles? What makes you smile ? If the mirror was your biggest fan, what would it to say to you?

Here’s a sample of what now adorns the mirrors at our house:
Home Sweet Home.
I am HAPPY…I am GOOD!
I LOVE YOU! I LOVE ME!
Parents Rock!
Roses are Red, Violets are blue, I love you, you are just you.

This is COOL!
I love US.
(My Honey made a backwards message that you need another mirror to read, so clever!)
Me Glourius Me (my darling daughter’s spelling … I luv funetic spelling, dowunt yoo?)
A face made out of words that says I’m special. Specialness surrounds me. I love me. Smile. ME rocks! I love me.
Life is life.
I love God. God loves Me.

Oooh, aren’t these words just GORGEOUS and uplifting and happy?!!!!

Come on … I dare you: Break that unwritten rule that says, “Don’t write on your mirrors” and give it a try! Post a comment (use comment linky at the upper left-hand side of this post).

After this rule-breaking self-talk transformer, let’s vow to never nasty negative self-talk ourselves in the mirror, EVER AGAIN! And if we need a reminder, grab the markers and get writing!

Wishing you love love love and the blessings of many wonderful togetherness moments!
Becky and the Monkeys

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Upcycle your old crayons and go treerubbing

Hiya Beautiful Creative Monkeys!

Maybe you’ve hugged a tree, but have you ever rubbed one? This togetherness idea combines Upcycling with an inside favorite –crayons— and an outdoor creation … tree rubbing wrapping paper.

Upcycling is a new term–not yet mainstream–that Webster’s Dictionary should consider as a new word for their next edition. Purposeful alike recycling, upcycling is a way to take something used or broken and transform it into something new and useful. This concept appeals to the creative monkeys at our house as I constantly find cut up tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls and other assorted would-be-recyclables, stashed under my daughters’ beds.

This week’s projects can be done in two parts, or combined for a nice full afternoon of togetherness. Upcycle some old crayons into new colorful ones, and then get out in your garden and rub your trees and you’ll end up with some really pretty wrapping paper. 

Supplies

♥ old crayons

♥ aluminium tinfoil baking cups

♥ Exacto or sharp knife (or you could skip this step and peel the wrappers by hand)

♥ baking tray

♥ preheat oven to 250° F/120° C

♥ paper for tree rubbings

As we constantly make crayons at our house for our craft fairs, we’ve got crayon prep down to an art, so I’ll share some special Monkey Chi Monkey Do secrets that will make your crayons turn out magnificently.

Ready? Ok, Turn off ALL mobile and electronic devices, ignore your home phone, and BE completely present with your loved one(s). Your full presence and undivided attention is a true gift to yourself and your monkeys, a present you all deserve.

Shhhh, here’s Monkey Secret #1: Put your crayons in the refrigerator for a couple hours ahead of project time. This will shrink the crayons a little and simplify wrapper removal.

When you’re ready to peel the crayons, preheat your oven to 250° F/120° C.

Using an Exacto knife, er wait, what’s that noise? EeEeEeEe—(Cue the announcer.)

WE INTERRUPT THIS TUTORIAL TO BRING YOU AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM SAFETY MONKEY.

Safety Monkey says, “EeEeEe … Safety First! Be careful and pLEeEeEeze… ADULTS ONLY should use Exacto knives! Monkey Chi Monkey Do projects should never wind up in the EeEeEemergency Room. EeEeEe, thanks.”

Got that? Ok, back to the fun stuff.

BeEeEe careful!Using an Exacto knife, CAREFULLY cut a straight line along the crayon wrapper seam. Pass crayons to your buddy to remove the wrappers. (Oooh and SAVE THE WRAPPERS! We have a future upcycling project that will transform these colorful little bitsies of paper into something beautiful.)

When the crayons are shivering, arrange several tinfoil cups on a baking sheet. Snap crayons in pieces and cover the entire bottom of cup–at least two crayon widths deep–to make nice chunky-sized crayons.

We sometimes sort by color, all greens in one cup, making one swirlywhirly green crayon. Experiment and have fun. Lay out an entire rainbow in one cup cover with another layer of color on top for a surprise crayon.

Monkey Secret #2: Preheat your oven and then SWITCH IT OFF when your crayons go in. This helps to reduce color and paraffin separation. (Sometimes when crayons melt, the color pigment and wax separate and you end up with a white film across the top of the crayon … a film that will not color. If you let too much heat out, you may need to turn the oven on again, but don’t leave it on above 200 otherwise crayons may smoke. (If you end up with a little film, not to worry, just take a veggie peeler and peel the edges down to the colorful part.)

Old crayon friends ready for melting? Okeydoke, now quickly place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven (250° F/120° C) and TURN OFF THE OVEN. This is more fun than watching grass grown, so stay near your crayons and watch them melt. It will take just a few minutes depending on your oven’s heat intensity, but do not leave them longer than necessary otherwise they may smoke. Once the crayons have melted and you no longer see any of the original shapes, carefully remove from oven and place somewhere away from oven to cool. If the monkeys are getting restless, you can place them in the fridge once they’re not burning hot to cool them faster (Abbey asked me to clarify  after posting this …. put the crayons in the fridge NOT the monkeys). Once cooled completely, they will easily pop out of the cups.

Dump them out and admire the new precious jewels YOU JUST CREATED! Good for you, you Upcyclers!

Here’s part 2. Grab some paper and head outside to start the treerubbing part. Place paper against tree trunk, grab crayon and rub the flat side against the tree. We also recommend hugging the tree too, it adds good Chi (energy) to the whole experience! When we went tree rubbing, we didn’t stop at trees. I think everything except our Jackson, our dog, was rubbed in our back yard, the picnic table, swing set, trees, leaves, toys.

We ended up not only with a gorgeous batch of colorful crayons, but a stack of beautiful paper that can be used as wrapping paper or source material for our next batch of thank you cards.

Next time, we’ll try colored paper, larger sheets, and also paper that’s already been used on one side—oh again with the UPCYCLING. We are so trendy!

What do you think of these ideas? Don’t you have a stash of old crayon friends just begging to be reborn as jewels? Are you going to use the word Upcycling in your everyday conversation? How bout tree rubbing … gonna give it a try? Come back or e-mail let us know how it goes.

Oh, and if you just found our blog, you can receive new ideas in your Inbox by entering your e-mail addy in the box at the top right-hand side of this page, then check your e-mail to confirm. We send one Monkey Musing per week, and –Monkey Promise– we won’t spam and will never give your e-mail to anyone else!

Sending you LOVE and wishes for a wonderful happy CREATIVE togetherness experience!

Becky and the Monks

Piggy Art

Piggy Art

Hiya Creative Monkeys!

Yay! We have another fun make-it-together-idea to share: Piggy Art. Uh-oh…don’t let me lose you if you don’t love FEET.  I promise, the end result is not too feety at all. It’s beautiful and holds quite a few sweet metaphors.

Piggy Art is easy-peezy. In fact, this project is definitely for folks who may feel they are NOT creative. (BTW, this is not true and I’ll prove it in a future post.) No matter what happens, you will end up with something unique and colorful, made together with love.

This weekend the monkeys and I created a work of abstract expressionism. Oooooh, fancy sounding eh? Well—simply put—abstract expressionism is the art of taking paint and using your Chi (energy) to create something that may or may not be recognizable. You can’t go wrong.

This is fun, but a tad messy, so you really need to try to leave anxiety and any perfectionistic tendencies with your mobile devices. Yes, for MonkeyChiMonkeyDo projects NO nadda zip-O NIL cell phones or other gadgets are allowed. It’s time to disconnect from all that stuff and BE completely present with someone you love.

Supplies

20X24* blank canvas panel or X-Large poster board (look for craft store 40% off coupons in Sunday paper)
assorted washable or tempera paints
sponges or brushes for each color
papertowels or rags
hose or large tub of water (to wash those piggies)
your choice of background music
*any size will do

Paints and supplies-yes the paint came off our plates!Remember color blending from elementary school art class? If you’re buying paint, get the primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Have fun mixing them to get the perfect shades! This is magic to kiddos, um, and to grown up thrill seekers like me! Refresher: Red+Yellow=Orange, Yellow + Blue=Green, Blue+Red=Purple. You’ll need WHITE if you want to lighten the colors or make pink.

Everyone at our house was in on this project, including Jackson, our ginormous pooch! We created in the garage atop of a giant tarp, but it would be good to go outside and not worry about painted-paw prints and spills.

Mike's paws

I need a shave (just kidding)

Happy feet, I've got those happy feet!

We sat in a chair and took turns painting our own feet! After our soles were covered with thick paint, we put the canvas directly under our feet and stepped straight down.

Mike and Becky paw printsBe careful NOT to slip. Lean on each other while walking across.

Creating a sweet metaphor, we went in birth order -oldest first, each walking in a different direction. Our children’s footprints ended up atop ours and picked up the previously stamped colors. Yes, walking in our footsteps. Oh so sweet, don’t you think?

Polkadotted piggiesLittle toddler piggies...Mike’s were blue. Mine were rainbow. Abbey’s were polkadots and Emma’s were multicolors. Colin’s were green, but sad to say he did not enjoy paint on his feet! We ended with our dawgy, just one paw, as he felt the same as Colin about the whole thing.

Get along little dawgyI let go and went with the flow when we were doing this, no micromanaging or telling everyone where their feet should go. It was wonderful that the imprints got all warbled and smeared. If I had over-managed this activity, it would’ve turned out completely different. The result is a real showing of abstract expressionist art.

Piggy Art a la Monkey Chi Monkey DoVoila! My family’s beautiful creation! This piece captures an hour of our life together, an hour we can remember for years to come.

Well, what do you think of Piggy Art? Are you going to make some with someone you love? Oooooh, please come back for show and tell!

Sending LOVE and tons of creative Chi your way!!!!
Becky and the Monks

P.S. Oh, how I am thankful for our feet. They carry us everywhere, everyday, all our days. I love the unique prints they carry. Hand, finger and footprints are created by the amniotic waters rushing against the unborn baby’s skin.  That little tidbit makes me feel warm and fuzzy, I had to share.

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