In this encore episode I’m sharing a conversation with Louise Hardy, a counsellor and art therapist. Also my mom!

I wanted to have her on the podcast to discuss creativity and the power of resourcing ourselves in difficult times with the creative, in ways that are totally free as well as ways that may cost some money (for art materials and/or art therapy services.)

Louise used the creative and a connection to beauty as a way of resourcing herself as a child growing up in poverty.

Louise’s work as a therapist evolved over the past three decades through social work after which she earned a Masters Degree in Counselling and an advanced diploma in Art Therapy from the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute.

She’s a Registered Canadian Art Therapist (RCAT) and a Certified Canadian Counsellor (CCC). These designations mean she is held to a high standard of professional and ethical conduct. Beyond the degrees she’s explored body centred healing, Imago processes with couples, Diagnostic Drawing Series and Dissociation, Trauma and the Soul.

In this podcast we talked a lot about being struck by beauty, colour, making your art your own, giving yourself permission to make, create and learn, and mentors that show up in unlikely places like public laundromats.

We talked about learning technique, and being unfulfilled until you put your own vision into it, fiber arts, the time when new clothing was more fashionable than handmade, and making clothing out of curtains for her children (making do with what you have when what you have isn’t money.)

We also talked about my dad’s cancer, and dealing with the raging energy in her hands during that time by creating wet feltings, what it is to be a caregiver to someone with cancer and how the creative can help you care for yourself.

We also talked about the magic art show Louise created on an outdoor walking path, Swedish hardanger embroidery, knitting and reading bell hooks as a young mother in her 20s.

We talked even more about how cooking as a creative practice came from being so hungry as a child, and how learning to cook well was a way of being able to give; to feed herself and others. MFK Fisher’s stories of food in the great depression came up, and memories of being a child, until the age of 9, watching her mother cook for 8 children on a wood stove, doing that herself as a young mother in a cabin in the woods, and learning to be in a relationship with heat – tending the fire in a wood stove.

We talked about studying social work, being elected as an MP (Member of Parliament) in her 30s, pursuing art therapy and counselling after losing the election, and enjoying the non-verbal aspects of art therapy – exploring symbol, metaphor psychotherapy, art and movement.

Plus, Louise shares her best tips for creative resourcing by playing with what you’ve got around you – without spending a cent – you probably won’t guess what these techniques are ,but they’re accessible to anyone, no matter their circumstances, and they’re techniques that have really shaped me, as my mom did them my whole childhood – without me ever realizing what she was up to!

Listen to the episode to get the full delightful scoop!

Louise has continued to advance her experience through work with First Nations communities and working with Seniors and Elders. Much of her focus is on the multi-generational transmission of trauma, complex grief and transitional states of change.

We also talked about the shocks that stop us in our tracks – for Louise it was her son’s diagnosis of kidney disease and wait for a kidney transplant – and then what brings us back to our creative selves.

Louise asks herself often “what is burning brightly for me right now?” and then follows the answer.

Essentially she’s integrated life as a mother, caregiver to her mother and the death of her husband to cancer at 53 into a deeper understanding of the complexity, joy and struggles of all our lives.

Louise is also an artist, and creates wild large-scale wet feltings (among many other mostly fiber arts related art.)

She delights in the exploration of fiber arts and gender, and despite being criticized by male MPs for knitting in parliament, she never stopped, and holds a torch for all fiber arts, it’s mixture of the practical and the feminine, and loves how fiber arts brings warmth and beauty and an engagement of the sense of touch to people.