At this point over 80 amazing women have gone through my Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program. I love them ALL so dearly and, like the proud creative mama that I am, want to show off their incredible wisdom, power and creative genius to the world. So I’ve created this series where once a month I will be showcasing them so that you can see what they’re up to and be inspired by their unique creative journeys.
My creative journey: About five years ago, I was balking at a life in academia, searching for something to feed my soul, when I was dragged (and I mean DRAGGED) to Chris’ studio. A wonderful friend got me there by making up some contrived reason (“You have to come, I’ve already paid for the session.”), and my friend didn’t bat an eye when I turned to her in the car, terrified: I grabbed her arm and said, “This is the only time I’m coming here.”
I’ll forever be grateful to my friend for getting me through that door.
I didn’t know it then, but that first night I was so damned ready to play with color, shape, and image, so ready to be held in the loving non-judgmental container Chris creates for exploration and feelings. My soul knew without a doubt that this process would help me to accept my own power, to fulfill my own potential.
Fast-forward five years: I’ve just held my first daylong workshop in the same studio, leading women in connecting with ancestor wisdom through dance, drumming, art, and tarot. I could not have gotten to that place without Chris’ help.
What drew me to the intuitive painting process and its transformative influence: I was not drawn to it consciously; more like dragged kicking and screaming. Of course I was hooked that first night and became a Monday night regular at the studio. The piece that attracted me, besides Chris’s patient and loving support, is the feeling of total freedom I experience with the paint and paper. When Chris explained that the aim was to feel like a four-year-old again, I exhaled a huge sigh of relief. And the four-year-old inside of me jumped for joy.
When I was four, I was free. I went to the best hippy-dippy preschool in San Francisco where we got to follow our own creative urges ALL THE TIME! My happiest school memories are of that place: my teachers and friends there, playing and creating to my heart’s content. This was followed by 12 years of Catholic school and the devolution of my family—oppressive and repressive in the extreme.
Somewhere along the line, in a chaotic childhood household beset by alcoholism, I learned to distrust creativity. Creativity was uncontrollable—it required you to feel, it was wild when I desperately needed to tame my life. I threw myself into academics. Test taking was my favorite—just answer the question; just the facts, ma’am.
So by the time I became a regular at Chris’ studio, my soul, my heart, my inner child all rejoiced at the freedom to create messy scribbles, hearts, and rainbows all over my paper. When I wrote “fuck” all over one of my paintings, or painted a huge vagina, or had flowers blooming from mounds of shit, Chris just smiled and patted my shoulder and asked me how I was doing. Really, NOTHING was out of bounds—I could paint ANYTHING. And painting anything, any way I was moved to paint it, was healing me profoundly. Chris kept me going down the path to healing with her unwavering support and belief in me.
This creative freedom began to imbue all areas of my life. I went from a person terrified to paint to someone with a dedicated studio space in my home. The process has helped me to be more present with myself, to feel what I need to feel, and to be free to cast off who I thought I should be to become who I truly am. This influence has informed my parenting, my relationships, my business—truly every part of my life.
What inspired me to take the Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program: Even though the beauty of creative freedom was growing in my life, I still felt there was something holding me back from truly shining my light. I knew I needed to give myself the dedicated time to let go of a lot of old baggage that was stopping me from moving forward in my business, I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to teach the intuitive painting process. The wonderful thing I discovered about this program is that Chris and Tim encourage us to step into our best selves and not some version of who they think we should be. My best self is in deep direct contact with my intuition and Spirit, and throughout the teacher training I was able to open up to that side of myself in ways I hadn’t before. I created and ran workshops that were wholly guided by Spirit, and that were fun and deep and totally soul-satisfying. My teacher training cohort was so loving and supportive that we each went deeper and took bigger risks than any of us imagined we could.
My experience as an expressive arts facilitator: It’s been a really interesting process to be out in the world creating workshops since teacher training. At first I was too scared to charge out there with a workshop that I felt might be too “woo woo.” So I offered altered book/art journaling workshops at the local community center where I snuck in the connection to intuition. They were fun, full of creative freedom, but missing my sweet spot of deep connection with Spirit. I started changing up the workshops, adding oracle cards and intuition into the title. These were much more satisfying but poorly attended—the community center folks weren’t sure what to do with my hybrid intuitive art journaling class. I learned such great lessons from these experiences—mostly how important it is to show up fully as myself, in all of my “woo woo” glory! I also learned that I am a work in progress, and that it’s okay to try new things and readjust as I go along.
The last workshop I held, co-led by another graduate of the teacher training program, was by far the most in line with my calling. It was a daylong connection with ancestor wisdom on the Day of the Dead. It was deep, it was meaningful, and it made my heart sing. I’m still learning, taking risks, and willing to be the Fool (the very awesome beginning card in the Tarot) to bring what I have to offer to others.
What happens in my workshops/retreats: If you come to one of my workshops or retreats, you will be heard, you will laugh, you will have the opportunity to connect deeply with others, and you will connect with your own intuition. I love using many tools to do these things: sitting in circle with each other, dancing and noisemaking, encouraging creativity through the making of art, and consulting tarot and oracle cards.
Lots of people have said to me that they don’t think they are very intuitive. I believe that we all have the capacity to be deeply intuitive, it’s simply a muscle that needs to be exercised. When we gather with the intention to connect with ancestor wisdom, or our own deep inner wisdom, or messages from Spirit, or all of these together I believe that this intention allows the messages to come through so we can hear it. I am constantly amazed by what comes through for people—I both know that it will happen and am delightedly surprised when it does!
I believe that we are constantly surrounded by guides and messages. Spirit wants us to thrive and shine, it’s just that in our busy and crazy world we can’t always hear the guidance we need to hear. Those are the spaces I am creating, places where we can hear what our guides are trying to tell us so that we can live our best lives and truly be who we are meant to be.
I am in the early planning stages for more in-person workshops and online circles for 2019 that will help participants to connect with Ancestor Wisdom and animal guides. Subscribe to my newsletter to get details on those upcoming events.
Recently I’ve also been called to working one-on-one with people again. (I’ve previously been a therapist and a life coach.) I’m calling these individual consultations Spiritual Mentoring, and I am loving them. These sessions are for people called to the path of connecting with Spirit and their guides and wanting help to go deeper. My clients and I have a lot of fun, and we co-create the experience the client wants. The emphasis here is on listening to our own deep wisdom, using the tools we have (like tarot and oracle cards), and being creative to unlock even more wisdom. One current client is creating her own oracle deck in tandem with our work!
What I would tell someone who is thinking about the Expressive arts/Intuitive Painting path: Do it!! Honestly, this is not a head thing, it’s a heart thing—thinking about it more will not help. If you feel called to this path, then follow it. We can always think of reasons not to do something. (My inner critic likes the “how much does it cost?” reason a lot.) That is fear talking. When I think about my own fear almost denying me the opportunity to work with Chris and Tim, I shudder.
Ask yourself: are you called to do this work? See if you can have a conversation with your soul; it will never lie to you. Connect with me via my newsletter and Instagram to find out how tarot and oracle cards can help you with this, and get yourself to Chris’ studio to discover the healing power of Expressive arts and Intuitive painting!
Monica Garcia is an intuitive guide who offers workshops in the East Bay Area and individual consultations to clients around the world. In addition to her Wild Heart Teacher Training with Chris, Monica has trained as a life coach with Invite Change, and has a PhD in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She draws on this diverse training and experience and her own spiritual guides to lead clients on their respective heart-centered, spiritual, and creative journeys.