How art healed my mama soul.

by Leonie Dawson on January 13, 2011

Hola dearest heart,

I forgot how healing creating was.
Just how much my soul needs and craves and longs for those moments I have a pen in hand, writing my heart out. Oil pastels smudging my fingertips into rainbows. Colour streaming across the canvas. Paint streaks on my legs.
In these nine months since I became a mama, I forgot.
I forgot to come home.
I forgot that making art wasn’t just that fun little hobby of mine that I could put away when I didn’t have time.
I forgot that making art was the place I healed.
Making art was the thing that let the stars in me glow.
I forgot creating was breathing. It was to embrace fully my life, my self, my soul.
I forgot.
I put it away in a cupboard.
I closed it with keys to make it baby safe.
And I said to myself, over and over:
I don’t have time now.
I was hollow and dream walking.
I wondered where on earth my dreaming juice went.
If my sparkle, my lover, had gone on holidays without me, if it had left me for good, if it ever thought of me, if it would ever come back.
I used to be the girl who turned up to parties late, usually with paint on her chin, and go home early because she had a hot date with a canvas that wasn’t going to paint itself, you know.
I used to be the girl who had a Things To Do This Life list, and she made them happen, thank you very much.
I used to be the girl who would make stuff wildly and easily. Who had creative projects up every single sleeve. Who had a studio, and a house that became a studio that we lived in.


The afternoon before I gave birth, I was finishing painting a rainbow birthing woman, and was writing & blogging away.
And then an owl swooped in, and took my life. That funny, creative, misshapen life of mine. That one that was so filled with making art and making dreams. A life of my own.
And I became an abalone shell, one that existed to hold this exquisite little being.
A breastfeeding pouch. The bigger spoon.
I became arms and boobs. The night sentinel, and the day sentinel too.
I rushed to the toilet until I gave up on a minute of my own, and took her to the toilet with me. I took tiny showers, and ran out, shampoo in hair, everytime I heard her cry.
Life inverted from My Life That Existed To Serve Me, to The Life That Existed To Serve Another.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love her.
Oh how I did – and oh, how I do.
How could I not?
She is the brightest star in the sky.
A brave and joyful and sage soul wrapped in the tiniest of growing bodies.
She is a miracle, and is exactly the daughter I knew I would have.

I absolutely, unequivocally needed to have her. Needed to know this path.
Needed to give it all up.
And oh, how I did.
So I sit here, nine months after the Great Earthquake. Hands trembling over the words, staring out the window to yet another summer rainburst.
I gave it up – those things that made me dance – those things that made me me – until I knew I couldn’t live a life that wasn’t my own.
I did the impossible, and I began carving deep to find and get time – just for me – again.
Time to go home.
And where was home?
It started with a wild and messy imagining, fingerpainted and inked on canvas.
Twenty minutes while babe played at my feet.

And then I grew brave about asking for my sanity,
and I started disappearing across the meadow, into town and a little cafe.
Just for two hours.

I write. I doodle without tiny hands reaching up to help my paper disintegrate.
I fill out my own workbook. I start dreaming again. Writing out who I am, what I am grateful for and what I want in aqua, fuscia, lime green, purple.
I have my Folder of Leonie. I keep adding to it. Rainbow tabs.
I do my soul’s work.
And I find myself again.
I struggled that I was being selfish.
I struggled that I wasn’t a mama who was totally and completely filled just with the purpose of being a mama.
I struggled that that wasn’t my idea of The Perfect Mama.
But what I have learned?
This particular constellation of cells – the one they call Leonie – well, she needs and craves her art and creating.
She gets healed by it.
She finds herself again.
She is better for it.
And most of all – she needs herself and her art. The world needs her art too.
So I found the beat of my own step again.
One tripping tune at a time.
One step here, one fumble, one rearrange.
That sparkle inside me? My long lost lover?
I see it sneaking back in.
Little fireflies in my soul.
I’m rewriting my story.
I’m rewriting what it is to be a mama – THIS mama.
I’m telling it again and again.
I nearly lost myself in that great battle, that initiation of becoming a mother.
But I made my way back.
With a pen in hand, writing my heart out. Oil pastels smudging my fingertips into rainbows. Colour streaming across the canvas. Paint streaks on my legs.
All pointing the way home.
Making stars in my soul.
Here. Here is where I am.
You know, in all these years. Years of teaching other goddesses about the magic of creating.
Well, now… now I REALLY get it.
We women – we need our art. We need to dream.
Something magic happens there, in the space between pen and paper, between paint and canvas…
Souls glow, and come alive.
We awaken.
We remember who we are.
We breathe in magic, we breath out joy.
The world becomes glad again.
Whatever it is, however it works, I do not know.
I only know that it does.
And I am grateful.

It’s time my love.
Time for me to close this lid, finish this writing, send you all the love, grace and kindness you could possibly need, and complete and unconditional permission to give you what you crave and need and sigh for
Time for me to watch the palm trees wave like tall tango dancers with luminous lime afros.
The world is awakening.
And so am I.

love, heart, spirit, space, art,