Moments of grace: Busy mothers focus on finding peace

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

By Susan Shinn
Smart Start Rowan

For mothers of small children, there’s rarely any time during the day to reflect, relax, and renew.

But moms and childcare providers did just that on Wednesday, thanks to a free workshop, “Seeds for a Peaceful Family,” offered at Smart Start Rowan.

Karen Campbell, a creative depth coach and artist and owner of Seeds for Change Creative SoulCraft, led the workshop. Campbell has a long association with Smart Start Rowan. She was an original member of its board of directors, provided planning and evaluation consultation services for a number of years, and served as executive director for one year.

She works with groups and individuals, using art and poetry to “go deep” for creativity and self-discovery.

“Parenting is the most important job you can have, and a very challenging job. You cannot serve from an empty vessel,” she said. “You have to find places of rest, relaxation and renewal.”

The workshop taught participants valuable tools on how to parent without feeling stressed. Campbell reassured those who may be less creative.

“The art experience is about creation, not the end product,” she said. “It’s about the process, and how it touches you. We really go below the surface, to find ourselves deeply. It’s about finding that centering place.”

Deborah Howell and Emilie Scharf attended from Partners in Learning, where Powell is director at Catawba College and Scharf directs the PIL program at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

“We’re trying to find a work-life balance,” Howell said. “We work a lot of hours each week.”

“I like to complete things,” Scharf said, “so when I don’t complete things, it’s not good.”

Bianca Munoz-Norman, Smart Start Rowan’s resource specialist, took part in the retreat and served as a translator for four Hispanic moms who attended.

For their first activity, the women picked out a picture from several spread at each table. Looking at the collage photos, they talked about what the artwork meant to them. Campbell had made each collage photo.

“Wow! I didn’t see that until now,” one participant said.

Linda Wood and her daughter, Latasha Robinson, said they saw one another in the photos.

“Art has that potential to allow us to step out of our normal, mundane worlds to remember things,” Campbell pointed out.

Next, Campbell asked the women to think about their perfect day, and to select from a set of circular photos what that day represented. There were photos of fall leaves, of freshly plowed fields, of beautifully lit cities. Each woman had fun picking out her perfect photo.

Then, Campbell asked the women to tear those photos into pieces, which was followed by a chorus of “No!”

“So you’re saying we shouldn’t plan our day?” Robinson asked.

“It’s fine to plan,” Campbell explained, “but if you hold on too tight to your plans and they change, you’ll experience an extreme amount of stress.”

Handing them paper and glue sticks, Campbell asked the women to reassemble the photos.

“It’s OK,” Munoz-Norman said. “Sometimes, parts of me are everywhere.”

“I really need a vacation,” said Quyona Rawley, one of Smart Start Rowan’s parent educators. “That was my vacation going down the drain.”

“You want something and you want it now,” Campbell said. “And that’s a real thing. Sometimes when your plans change, something spontaneous can happen.”

As they worked, Campbell asked the women, “Who is your glue?”

“My momma!” Robinson said, and she and her mom laughed together.

Howell said she put her picture back the best she could. “It’s not perfect, and that does not make me happy.”

“It’s not the picture you had in mind,” Campbell told the group.

Next, Campbell guided the women through a body meditation exercise, with four poses. As the women breathed deeply and moved through the movements, the tension palpably left the room.

“Mindfulness meditation is about consciously making choices versus letting our adrenaline do it,” Campbell said. “This gives us time to consider the next best step.”

“My take-away from Karen’s training was to find the grace in the moment,” Howell said. “Even negative times and times of conflict can have some moment of grace.”

“I really needed this workshop,” Rawley said.

Families would love to have Campbell offer more self-care workshops, said Mary Burridge, Smart Start Rowan’s program manager.

“It was nice to converse with the other parents, and talk about how we feel, and how stressful it is being a parent,” Munoz-Norman said. “But now I know that there are ways to reflect, relax and renew.”

Smart Start Rowan is a United Way member agency.

To learn more about Seeds for Change Creative SoulCraft, visit

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.