Today I'm interviewing an artist and superheroic woman, whom I have loved, as we say, Long Time, since our boys were only several months old. Wendy Cook is an amazing and dedicated mother like none I've ever known. She brings her gift of deep nurturing and craft to her family, as well as to groups of a dozen girls several times per year on her property.
In the Mighty Girl Tipi, she reminds them of the most important thing they should ever know: THAT THEY ARE SACRED. It's my belief that Mighty Girl should be available to every 'tween girl in. the. world. What could be more precious than the future generation of women gathering in circle and sharing truth, beauty and sisterhood from the time they were nine?
Wendy is giving away two spots in her currently running Mighty Girl Spring E-Session, which, with access for the full three-month season, gives you plenty of time to create with your daughter(s), family members, neighborhood girls, every girl you can gather 'round! Together, we're also giving each winner one of her beautiful handmade nest necklaces.
What were your motivations for creating MGA?
When I created MGA it was with the intention of serving others in a way that was soulful and personal.
That seems to come so easily to you. I mean that. You give from a place that is holy inside of you! I've seen it at work! Tell us what it was like to create MGA:
The course sat on the back burner for many years until the time was right. The incubation period was very introspective. I excavated memories and referred to old journals then took note of my findings. I examined closely old wounds and figured out how I healed them. I searched for wounds that I unknowingly neglected and addressed them. I explored any obstacles and traumas and examined the way I navigated through them. I mapped out periods of my life when I felt the most vulnerable and then asked myself "what skills, tools, a/o wisdom would have been most helpful at that time". I took special notice of when I felt most confident, inspired, and content. In short, it seemed as though I had two traveling companions on my life's path...intuition which serves as my compass and creativity that serves as my healer . So, I decided to use those tools to serve others. I chose to work with tweens because they are at that vulnerable age between girlhood and womanhood. Was there a catalyst? Yes, but not just one catalyst, but rather a combination of them. Heartaches, joys, disappointments, discoveries, obstacles, and triumphs. They were all teachers. The interplay of everything I have experienced in my life is intrinsic to the whole - and is my life's training. My art schooling and the teachers who guided me there. My work in the medical field, all the modalities, practitioners and patients - they were teachers too. My journey into motherhood, and all that encompasses being a caregiver and learning how to mother - this too was my teacher. And all of these teachers enable me to do this work I call Mighty Girl Art.
How would you describe your relationship to MGA and your work in the world?
Well, Mighty Girl Art is very much a part of me - of the girl I was and the woman I've become - it embodies these facets of myself. It is quite literally what I wished I had when I was a tween - a kind of conscious creativity guided by intuition. We use tools like art journaling for creative visualization, reflection, and self expression. We create crafts that are symbolic. The intention evokes a sense of sacredness and purpose.
How do you love it and how does it love/take care of you?
The love I have for my work is ineffable. In fact, when people ask me if I have any children, I say, "I have one son named Satchel and a daughter named Mighty Girl Art which is actually many daughters". The girls that come to me are kindred spirits and I see parts of myself in each of them. Thus, when nurture them I am also nurturing myself. When they feel seen and heard, a part of me feels seen and heard.
How do you balance being mama with doing your creative work?
Since I chose to become a mama at a late age, that role comes first for me and I juggle my work accordingly. I announce the dates of MGA Summer after my son has chosen a session of his beloved nature camp. My husband takes partial leave that week to cart our son to and fro. My husband brings my son home just as the Mighty Girls are leaving and my then heads to the office to finish his day. The wintry session meets on Saturday mornings and that gives my husband and son an excuse to go out to breakfast and have some time together. We make it work in a way that feels right for our family. MGA is a business, only with more flexibility and a whole bunch of heart. The work I put into MGA, planning, researching concepts and projects, is exorbitant so I don't punch a clock, but I use ical to keep me on task. I try to accomplish as much as possible while my son is at school. I keep my family life uncluttered so as to leave room for spontaneity, because the unexpected is so dang magical.
What does a typical day of creating look like for you?
Oh I have my own sort of rhythm. I wake early, usually an hour or two before dawn. I tiptoe down to my studio and begin my self care, i.e. 30 minutes of cardio on my elliptical machine, followed by Kundalini yoga. I drink some lemon water, then a cup of coffee with almond milk. In the early hours that follow, I try to get some tasks done until it's time to get my son ready for school. I make him breakfast and I make myself a smoothie before driving him to school where I also volunteer in his art class once a week. While he's at school I do my own work - reading, studying and research and other assorted tasks for MGA. I tend to my own creative explorations during that time as well. And yes of course, errands, and daily housework and meals. It's all part of the dance. It's rather ordinary, yet woven into all the minutia are handfuls of beauty that inspire me - like when the fox came and napped at the tree line outside the studio, or when the sun rises and a shaft of light somehow pierces through the tall trees and illuminates the floor of my studio stopping at the foot of my art table, or at night when my son is asleep, and I step onto the deck to look at the sky and I hear an owl or a deer walks across the yard. These little things, so entwine in my natural rhythm, they move me, shape me, inspire me.
Do you have any special rituals that you do before you get to work?
Yes, (giggle) I do actually. I like to walk in the woods, I mist myself with some Lotus Wei or rub essential oils on my feet, and then I turn the music on. It's pretty much a gaussian blur after that.
What inspires you to show up season after season for the girls?
The way the girls light up...create fearlessly, move with confidence. The way they support each other, encourage each other. The way they hug me and thank me. Their joy is palpable and blesses me. Also, my son. I want to inspire him to do what he loves, to be himself, to share his gifts with others.
Share a story about a significant experience you've had related to your process or an interaction with one of the girls. You have some good ones!
Yes, I have many stories. Here's one: When I picked up my son from school recently...one of the Mighty Girls came running up to me and hugged me tightly then she said, "you are the light of my day". So I said, "you are the light of my whole life". And she started crying and told me what a horrible day she had at school and I just stood there in the lobby hugging her tightly while she cried. Then she smiled through her tears and said, "thank you" and ran off. I was so grateful that I was there for her to lean on. BUT here's the best bit...the following morning there was this email from her...
"WENDY TODAY I REALIZED SOMETHING!!!! We were DESTINED to know each other! I decided to go to the Used Book Store. There I found your letterbox book. Only I didn't realize YOU made the book until I opened it THEN a memory strikes: years ago, before I even knew Mighty Girl Art existed, I was at the Used Book Store and I found your book and I LOVED it and REALLY wanted to meet the creator of it but I thought that those chances were pretty slim and forgot all about it.... Until TODAY when I saw it and I suddenly realized - Wendy Cook - I KNOW her - and I realized we were destined to meet from the beginning. And to think, I found out about MGA because you gave away one of your cameras on freecycle and my dad took your camera and you put one of your MGA post cards in the box - Wow."
So I wrote back... "THAT is SO cool! I totally agree - and precisely why I keep journals...because when I go back and read them, I am always shocked by all the synchronicity in my life. The first time I discovered this type of interconnectedness, it just blew my mind because I realized that too many details had to line up for these events to happen - it wasn't random - it was a path. It is sort of like looking at a really large painting and how when you're standing close to it, you see only the seemingly small details, but when you step back - HOLY GUACAMOLE - you see the big picture, the whole enchilada. We are all connected, Mighty M, and this life isn't random...it's a mysterious journey, a path with purpose. If I could give you one more extra pearl of wisdom it would be a quote from Maya Angelou, "Ask for what you want, and be prepared to get it". In other words, you wanted to meet the creator of the "Elephant and Artist" letterbox, and you willed it so. The timing is irrelevant because as the great Albert Einstein once said, ""People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."
It amazes me that this child figured out in 11 years what it takes most people a lifetime to learn. How lucky I am to witness that!
You are lucky and Mighty Girls are very lucky to have you as their guide and mentor. Thank you, sister. I love sharing you with my readers. They would do well to...go wherever you are. Have a great Spring E-Session!
**Enter to win a one of two spots in MGA Online Spring E-Session AND a nest necklace handmade by Wendy, by entering a comment here. Share with us WHAT YOU WISH YOU HAD AVAILABLE TO YOU AS A 'TWEEN. Share on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and be entered an additional time for each share, just let me know in your *one comment* here where you have shared.
Let's let everyone know how sacred a young woman should be held!!
Winners will be drawn on Sunday, April 7.
***CONGRATULATIONS TO EDITH AND MAEGAN!***