The Mask We Show to the World – In the Face of Pain

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A favorite Therapeutic Creative Expression exercise is mask painting – whether it is on an actual mask or on a 2-dimensional outline

I have participants paint or collage the inside and the outside of their mask representing in color, symbol, design how they experience

PHYSICAL, MENTAL or EMOTIONAL PAIN:

what they present to the outside world and what they experience on the inside that no one can see.

There is a worksheet on the TUTORIAL PAGE – click on TUTORIALS in the header and scroll down – that helps PROCESS the exercise.  The processing is as important as creating the mask.

The green mask is the only one that is collaged using torn pieces of magazine as “color”.  All the rest are painted with acrylic paint or drawn on with crayon.

I have three masks hanging in my office waiting room.  I find all the masks beautiful, each in their own way.  

Even if you don’t draw/paint or collage your mask imagine it in your mind’s eye and do the worksheet.

I would love to know what your vision is.

Alone or Lonely: Which is Worse?

  • Collage, Mitten-hands stop me from reaching out. Noodle-brain -in my mind, not my heart

    First, I’ve been feeling a bit lonely lately.  Lonely in the sense I’ve not had time, taken time, to be in contact with my good friends, locked in my home office with paperwork.

    Second, I saw an interview on one of the morning shows about how some women were choosing not to marry at all or wait until their late 30’s, 40’s or 50’s — how their lives “alone” were not lonely.

    Third, I was talking to a friend about how difficult, how lonely it must be for someone to lose a spouse through death.
    She looked at me with a slight questioning surprise in her eyes when I said that it can often be more painful to be alone in a relationship than lonely without one.

    The question of which being more painful, alone or lonely, is an interesting one.
    In my practice, I see the anguish of couples who are without connection, without love, without companionship while IN a relationship.  I’m absolutely not diminishing the anguish, the pain of losing a beloved spouse or partner.

    I’m simply saying that loss through death can be mourned and the finality, while always difficult, can be acknowledged and accepted.  
    When the relationship is dead and both partners are still alive the grieving never stops, the pain often keeps increasing rather than diminishing.

    For those of us with chronic medical conditions there is often a pervasive sense of being alone.  A thought that no one can really understand, no one can help even if they want to, that we have been abandoned by God or worse yet, being punished . . .

    I think that loneliness has to do more with our state of mind than state of our body or state of our relationships: How we view the world;  How we define our expectations, fantasies, shoulds, coulds and woulds.
    Upon more reflection the most devastating might be  
    being alone AND lonely,
     also a state of mind.
    Powerful thing that noodle-brain.

Give Wendy Support and Get Yourself Inspired!

http://createtoheal.blogspot.com

Check out Wendy’s new blog!  Here’s what she’s doing in her own words and a few of her scribble pictures. She explains the exercises that YOU can try too!

P.S.  Check out the polka-dotted fingernails that coordinate with the bikini top on her blog.

Why Create To Heal?

“Art can be therapeutic.
I am not an Art Therapist, I am simply someone who uses art to help deal with the day to day trials of living with a chronic illness.
My goal is to create something every day! Draw, Paint, Make a Collage, Take a Picture, Create a Recipe…anything.
I may not be able to post every day. However, I will try to post every thing I’ve created. (so some days you may get one day’s worth of creation, other days you may get many.)
When one lives with a chronic illness some days it can be hard to accomplish anything. Having this goal to create something every day, gives me something to strive for. It also gives me an outlet to share how living with a chronic illness affects me.”
 Subscribe to her brand new blog!

My Early Lesson in Holding on and Letting go

Pastel Chalk on black paper with Alien

My fear of alien creatures began when I was 8 years old.   I woke terrified, from a deep sleep in the shared  bedroom with my 3 year-old brother.  Ricky was sound asleep in his bed  by the door;  my bed on the opposite wall.  If I stretched really far I could almost touch him as he slept.  I preferred sleeping on my right side; more comforting with my back to the wall facing Rick and seeing the door.

I woke up suddenly.  The room was pitch black, the house totally quiet. I was gripped with terror.  My left hand was holding on tight to another hand that belonged to a creature under my bed.  I was desperate  to let go of that hand but afraid if I did the creature would leave and no one would believe that it had been under my bed.  An eternity passed before I could no longer stand the terror and dropped the hand.

The tingling started almost immediately.  Strange electric currents began shooting up my arm.  Too late. The creature had  already left its mark on a young psyche.

I sometimes will click on an unknown link that hit my blog.  Today I clicked on http://cgoverts.blogspot.com/2011/04/to-z-senses.html

Turned out to be Claire’s Writing Log. Her post was interesting and very well written.  This passage brought back a flood of memory:

“Proprioception is our body’s way of determining location of our body parts relative to other parts and objects around us. This is what tells us that our arm is resting against a surface, perhaps the arm rest of an easy chair. This is something that we can notice the absence of. When I was younger I used to toss and turn at night, and there were a few times I had pinched a nerve in my arm. With me having been asleep it was past the point of simple tingling that usually happens. I couldn’t feel my arm at all, and I didn’t know where it was because the nerves in said arm weren’t communicating that information back. I had to find that arm with my other arm, and once I massaged the feeling back in it was fine. But it was the weirdest sensation to not know where a limb was.”

Thanks Claire.  It’s nice to have a bedfellow.

P.S.  Claire’s post is very interesting – about senses beyond taste, touch, smell, sight, sound –  pain, proprioception and balance.  

take a look http://cgoverts.blogspot.com/2011/04/to-z-senses.html

My Pain -Therapeutic Creative Expression Journal, in progress

Collage page from Judy's Journal

In preparation for the next Therapeutic Creative Workshop – a 4 week Mask Painting workshop which focuses on The Face of Pain, The Face of Pleasure – I reviewed some of my past journal pages on pain.

This page is still in progress but it is an example of how to start your own non-verbal expression of feelings.

Here’s what I did and you can too.  It’s easy.

How to:

  1. Cover the page by smearing craft paint on the page with an old credit card.  Let dry.
  2. Pick, quickly, spontaneously and intuitively pictures that represents pain.   I used magazines.                          ( The pictures can be a literal, symbolic or metaphorical representation.)
  3. Cut away the entire back ground of each picture so you have just the basic images.

Processing for Understanding:

Even though my page is not finished I am beginning to see some of the unconscious meaning.

  • 3 Hands:  Only one hand is complete and that is the right hand where the arrows are pointing.  My pain is directed at my whole being
  • THe largest hand has no fingers, only a thumb.  Without opposable finger on that hand I cannot grasp what pain has “handed me” in life.
  • The third hand only has fingers.  Again, without a thumb I cannot grasp.
  • There are 3 round circles that reach between the two hands, almost like “thought bubbles” reaching across the page.  Both hands trying communicate with each other?

I’ll do more on the page and let you know how it progresses.

Angry, WHO? ME?

Collage

After I was diagnosed with fibomyalgia in 1996 I “treated” myself with therapeutic creative expression in a form of visual journaling.  Years later  I showed them in a PowerPoint presentation at the National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in 2009. It was the first time I shared these pictures and I felt a bit exposed and vulnerable.

When I  made this collage I was having fun tearing out magazine pictures, concentrating on colors and shapes. The male body underneath the large face was pasted there because I thought it humorous to have a giant female head on a muscular, agile male body.

Until that presentation I had never looked at my pictures from a distance.  When I saw this collage projected larger than life onto a screen I was stunned.  It takes a LOT to anger me.  While anger was outside my conscious awareness my unconscious was furious.

I also realized that the jumping body underneath the female face represents the fibro – strong, active. Above the neck all I can do is be still with fury.

(I’m still not sure what the yellow paper over the nose is about).

The large head sees but doesn’t speak. The small head speaks but doesn’t see.

It still unnerves me a bit.

National Fibromyalgia Day is May 12th and events are going on around the United States.

To find an event near you click on this link

http://www.fmcpaware.org/awareness-day-national-events

Tax Deductible – The Chance to Get a Beautiful Art Piece (check with your accountant!)

Too many women have touched my life that have had breast cancer – relatives, friends and clients.

A few died but many survive to this day.  The survival rate is so much better than years ago and we all owe that to research and organizations like the American Cancer Society that promote education and support the research. I venture to guess that your lives too have all  been touched in someway by breast cancer.

If you’ve not  been following the SketchBook Challenge this was just posted.  This is a great idea and opportunity to get an ORIGINAL collage by donating to the American Cancer Society.  My small contribution is to post this information and ask you to pass it on to anyone you might know who would be interested.

With love, Judy

Information:  http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/NewFiles/ACSFundraiser.html

One Cause, One Wednesday, One Hundred Collages
One Cause – The Fight Against Cancer.
One Wednesday – February 16, 2011.
Sweet Tea House by Jaime Fingal

On Wednesday, February 16, ONE hundred collages will be offered with a minimum donation for each collage of:

$160 for two hours (10 a.m. – Noon CST)
$80 for two hours (Noon – 2:00 p.m. CST)
$40 for two hours (2:00 – 4:00 p.m. CST)

You can preview the collages at least one day prior to Wednesday, February 16 for a preview and all the details about how to acquire your favorite collages. Collages will be featured periodically on  blog prior to February 16.

One Hundred Collages – Created for this event by an all-star team of artists: Natalya Aikens, Pamela Allen, Laura Ann Beehler, Liz Berg, Pokey Bolton, Laura Cater-Woods, Jette Clover, Jane Davila, Jane Dunnewold, Jamie Fingal, Gloria Hansen, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lyric Kinard, Jeanelle McCall, Linda Teddlie Minton, Karen Stiehl Osborn, BJ Parady, Judy Perez, Wen Redmond, Cynthia St. Charles, Virginia A. Spiegel

Hope by Karen Stiel Osborn

The goal – Raise $8,000 for the American Cancer Society in just one day. More details and a preview of artwork: http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/ONEFundraiserPreview.html

FiberArt For A Cause has already donated over $205,000 to the American Cancer Society through the generosity of fiber artists and their patrons.

Information:  http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/NewFiles/ACSFundraiser.html