Creative Expression – Running Out

My husband is always after me to exercise. In Southern California it’s difficult to use weather as an excuse so I’ve been using fibromyalgia brain fog rather creatively:
  • “What!? It’s midnight already!? I was just about ready to go for my walk”
  • “Are you sure? I could swear I exercised today”
  • “I couldn’t walk today. I locked myself in.”
  • “What do you mean the doctor stressed exercise?! I swear she said not to stress over exercise.”
I really had a good reason not to exercise when I began to get light-headed on my walks and figured out it wasn’t the heat, lack of food or dehydration. I suspected my heart arrhythmia.  
(It was heart arrhythmia that led to my getting Tullulah, my pacemaker.)
This is a series of pictures I did when I was first diagnosed with atrial tachycardia.  I wasn’t focusing or even thinking about my heart when I was painting.  I painted spontaneously and very quickly.  The only reason I painted 3 was that I didn’t want to waste paint and throw away what I hadn’t used.  About 6 months later as I was putting together a presentation it hit me that these paintings represented my heart.

It’s easy to identify which picture is my heart in normal rhythm and which paintings represent the various stages of arrythmia.
That is the wonder and power of Therapeutic Creative Expression.
Whether it’s painting on canvas, crayons on paper or magazine pictures in a collage we express our unconscious knowing and inner wisdom.

Now that my arrhythmia’s are under control the most exercise I’m getting is running out of excuses.

judy

The HeART of Spirituality & Wisdom Workshop

My computer crashed the day after our last HeART of Spirituality at Tapestry Unitarian Church. I’ve been cyberless for days.  I tried using my husband’s computer but it drrrrrrrrrove me crrrrrrrrrrrazy.  If I didn’t have the correct attitude it did weird and unexpected things.  I never realized how spoiled I was on an Apple MacBook.  

It also was weird . . . I missed YOU –  bloggers, subscribers, cyber friends – more than I missed the computer.

Now that I’m back on-line I can show you the Contemplation Cards everyone made.  Here’s a sample and if you want to see ALL 9 cards click here:

The HeART of Spirituality & Wisdom:

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Sneak a Peek into my Journal

Visual journaling is more fun for me than written –  I rarely reread my written entries but can look at the visual pages and know instantly what was happening, what I wanted to express (and things I wasn’t consciously aware of expressing!).

I also rarely reread what I write on the blog but the last post on gratitude stuck in my mind.  So here’s my gratitude page AND the process I used . . . in REVERSE ORDER!

Step 3

Added squiggly lines and pastels

This is the finished page – I lost interest in the left side!
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Sept 3: Added squiggly lines and pastels

Step 2

Smeared gesso (white paint works too) over the magazine images to blur them

Finished page - I lost interest in the left side! Paint, collage, pastel

Step 2:  Smeared gesso (white) over top of pictures

Step 1

  • I don’t like working on a white page so I spread paint on the blank page. Cut out about 20 pictures
  • Focused on my “gratitude” and picked pictures that caught my attention.
  • Pasted them down.  Didn’t matter they got wrinkled – just adds texture!
pasted magazine pictures

Step 1: pasted magazine pictures onto page that I smeared with paint.

Can you figure out what the focus of my gratitude was?

Three Heads are Better than Two

 I am not a split personality I’m a “thrip”.  There are three me’s.  
Didn’t consciously intend this drawing to be a self-portrait but I believe that any form of creative expression, whether it be visual art, dance, music etc. is reflective of who we are.
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My first thought is the middle head is being squished which is  reflective of  how exhausted I’ve been lately.   
On second thought,  I wonder if the little head is the glue holding together the other two???

 

Reflections on Me – it’s all about me, isn’t it? – and FREE Stuff

First and foremost: Thank you to all of you for reading my posts, taking your time to comment, clicking on the “like”  or offering your love, insights, personal struggles, poems, pictures and humor.

sunnymars100900002Evolution: I walk a fine line between what to disclose and what to keep private, both as a therapist and as a blogger. As a therapist my training was to never self-disclose. Therapists are supposed to be a “blank slate” upon which clients  project their own feelings, fears and hope.

As I’ve “evolved”, modified or down right let go of more and more of my “training” – what remains always surprises me.  This blog continues to evolve with me and probably surprises you too!

Objective Observation: Clients come in looking for a quick fix – understandable and healthy not to want to remain in a state of  pain, confusion or fear.  They  look to me for my point of view (there goes the blank slate!).  Truth be told, they don’t always like my point of view but I give it anyway.

I am not an expert on life – just an observer, a professional lookie-loo. The only difference between my clients and me is that I “usually” can objectively  observe my own  unhealthy (read, “bad”)  behavior – can’t always stop it but I sure do know what my part is.

Behavior: Time for me to begin to act on my observations. 

Observation: My entire life has been about teaching and sharing what I’ve learned. I didn’t deliberately set out to do this, it seemed to just happened.

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Observation: I’ve accumulated a TON of  “stuff”.  I have closets of  craft supplies, audio recordings, power-point P1030969presentations, creative expression tools & techniques on a variety of topics such as health & wellness, spirituality, psychology, creativity etc, etc.

Behavior #1: I’ve begun to make more changes to this blog.  I’m adding FREE STUFF, rearranging and editing.  Can’t afford to pay anyone so I struggle with the technology side – struggle is putting it mildly –  it is slow going and doesn’t work the way I’d like.

  • It isn’t very “user-friendly”
  • I don’t know how to link things for easy retrieval. (I’ll try to put the new “stuff” at the top.)
  • You’ll have to periodically click on the “FREE STUFF” on the header to see what’s new.
  • I can’t figure out how to create MP3 downloads so the audio recordings will have to be listened to on the blog

P1030059Behavior #2:

After a 6 month hiatus I will start facilitating live workshops again.  That will help thin out the supply cabinet!  I’ll post the schedules on the blog.

As many of you know, my attention span does not span a lot of time, my interests pull me in many directions and my physical health sometimes puts a damper on my intentions.  So be patient, be encouraging and please share with your friends what I share with you.

"Happy New Year" from Bob the Blob Fish

Happy New Year from Bob the Blob Fish “Humph”

What You Wear is Who You Are!

Iris Apel

Jan asked me after my last post Green Bananas if I thought the women were making a spectacle of themselves.  Great question.

I hope so!  It’s creative expression at its most courageous – using personality as our muse and our bodies as our canvas.

Anyone who has that kind of courage,  to step out of the box and express themselves,  I may not imitate but I do celebrate.

Personality

Be the hit of your own show

God’s stars all. Shine on!

Color, texture, pattern – it’s all around.  Take a look:

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Yes, YOU are creative.

“I’m not creative.  I can’t paint.  I can’t draw”.  Words I hear all the time.

“Yes, You CAN!  Creative expression is not about making something look like a photograph.  It’s about using color and smushes and dabs and globs to symbolically represent anything you want”.  Words I repeat all the time

Take a look at this portrait and poem by Therese Lydia Josef.

 Therese shares her world with wonderful color both in paint and words.   She teaches children’s classes too.  Take a look at some of the kid’s work here.  It’s inspiring.
I Want What She’s Having by therese-joseph

my vision
gone blurry, my focus gone weak
all I can see:
her savour the flavor – no sharing with me

my mouth
closed barely, no sense in my cheek
all I can fate:
is fiction aroma of what she just ate

http://therese-joseph.blogspot.com/2012/07/i-want-what-shes-having.html#

Try it with crayons!  They’re not intimidating.  They’re cheap.

Life is short. Just have fun.

Take a look at the Tutorial Page for some prompts, ideas, inspirations

Visions of Unconscious Meanings and Messages

Here are 3 vision boards done by an incredibly intelligent, creative, witty and caring woman who has been in MAJOR transition for over 3 years.

All 3 boards were created, one by one,  over a period of a month.  The instructions were simply to cut out pictures that appealed/spoke/grabbed her attention and then paste them on the board.

When she described each element of each board she talked about the literal, conscious meaning it had for her. When we processed each board, separately and as a series, we focused on the unconscious, symbolic and metaphorical messages and meanings.

I’ll show them in the order of creation focusing on just a few elements to take a glimpse at how her unconscious outlook has evolved over that period of time.  Please note these are my observations and not hers.

#1

  • Lots of masculine-feminine energy = black-white on horses, woman & man cuddling etc.  Her masculine energy is holding onto her feminine while her vulnerabilities (midriff & lamb) are exposed to the world
  • Black & white scarf of lamb imposed on Bon Voyage words.  The scarf is “man-made” which is an attempt to take attention away from natural vulnerability.  Bon voyage indicates a letting go/moving on.
  • Feminine hand reaching out for the precious gem. Diamond is a natural element formed over time by compression and “cut” by others.  She is reaching out for the three-diamond ring.  But it is the large square ONE-diamond ring is the one touching the fruit of her labors (tomatoes – With the exception of the animals the tomatoes are the only natural, non man-made thing on her board).  She is reaching out for the less valuable/smaller of her attributes/talents/qualities.

#2

  • Lamb (top) has given birth.= vulnerable feminine is letting go of artifice (scarf) which leads to new creations
  • Masculine and feminine going into the unknown.  Masculine leading.  They carry lanterns to light the way.
  • The feminine hand now is gloved (whimsically – polka dots – covered) and a dove perched on finger.  Hand has moved to opposite side of #1 board and  pointing off #2 board to a next step.
  • The dove is a sign of peace and can also fly.  She is beginning to make peace with herself yet still covers her vulnerability  with her whimsy & humor.
  • Shoes are pointing in many directions – not sure which way to go.  The black boots are the strongest image walking toward the 6 fruits of her labor.  She said one of her favorite numbers is 5 which she pasted several times on the board (conscious mind).  She doesn’t recognize one of her talents/strengths as symbolized by the 6th tomato (attributes/abilities etc. that have had fruition in her life) at the base of the inverted tomato pyramid.  Once again her focus is on her old perceptions and beliefs rather than noticing the new and unexpected.

#3

  • Lamb is now represented by a puppy. White, pure,vulnerable but playful.  Artist needs to incorporate play into her life.
  • There is a diamond ring ON the hand holding the beverage.  She now is beginning to “wear”, show her value. It is not clear if she is going to drink in who she is or she is offering it to another.
  • Diamond is also represented with natural stones under the puppy’s right paw.  The hard edges of a chiseled diamond have soften with playfulness and their naturalness is at the heart of who she is .
  • One shoe is pointed in the same direction as the #2 boots.  Shoe is whimsical (playful) like the gloved hand.  The feminine playfulness is becoming grounded.  The other foot is missing indicating she is still doing a balancing act (perhaps between masculine and feminine?)
  • Women/man on horses (circle on blue chaise) – now separated with the masculine leading in comfort (the chaise).  Comfort with both her masculine and feminine will lead to home, lead to clear vision of her femininity (woman framed on balcony) will lead to her converting the old (vinyl record being converted to digital) and fashioning it into a new modern version of who she is.
  • Feminine is predominant on board #3 indicating her journey of transition has been primarily about  her femininity and vulnerability.

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These boards are incredibly rich in images, meanings and messages.  She has done good work in only one month.  The unconscious knows!

Even though YOU did not make them you still can find  YOUR OWN UNCONSCIOUS meanings and messages through them.  

Images are like a Rorschach!

What are the images that have meaning for you?

It’s Hard being Human.

I snapped at my husband today.  I felt justified to boot.

Why would a therapist, who KNOWS relationship dynamics, why would a therapist who counsels others on how to conduct themselves to make their life better, why would a therapist respond in such an unhealthy way?

Why would a woman with a husband and friends who love her and dog who gives her licks upon request, why would a woman who believes that we are all connected and God is in all  feel alone?

Hate to admit it, but I keep getting reminded that I’m human.

After the stress, excitement, tension of  being “up & on” all day yesterday I’ve crashed.
My body’s aching, my face, feet, legs and arms are burning, I’m exhausted and yes, I feel alone with it all.
Humbling experience.

Ironically, one of the pictures I talked about yesterday was the collage I did depicting my exhaustion and the part of me who yells to pull myself together, get up and get going, the part of me that just sits, frozen in place, and the exhausted part that just lays there listening.

I also talked about the Buddhist saying –
Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Today I told that yelling me to shut up and leave us alone.
I choose suffering.

Happiness Research & Wendy

Happy Thoughts by Wendy Holcomb

For a young woman with a myriad of health issues Wendy Holcomb is one of the most spunky, positive people I’ve encountered on the blog-o-sphere. In her own words:

I have a few chronic illnesses that are a part of my life: Meniere’s Disease (this has caused severe hearing loss), Gluten Intolerance, Fructose Malabsorption, chronic migraines, Hypothyroidism, Hypoglycemia, chronic pelvic pain, Bi-Polar II Disorder and chronic hip trouble. However, I’m determined to
find a way to live an active, useful, and happy life!

How does Wendy remain so positive?  What makes us happy?  What makes us unhappy?  All the psychology research FINALLY being done on happiness (instead of despair, decay and decadence) appears to have common threads.

University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky finds that  “. . .practicing acts of kindness both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbor) triggers a cascade of positive [neurochemical] effects—it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness—all happiness boosters.”

Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology’s correlational findings: Humans seem happiest when they have

  1. Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.)
  2. Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity)
  3. Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness)
  4. Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger)
  5. Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).

There is also a growing body of evidence that correlates “contentment” with just three things:

  • A sense of belonging (a community, faith group, family)
  • The ability to contribute artistically (self-expression in any form)
  • Service (to others).
Personally I will take the 3.  For me it seems that the 3 encompass just about everything else. 

What do you think?

Check out Wendy’s blogs:

CreatetoHeal    PicnicWithAnts   WendyCooks (gluten free recipes)

Therapeutic Creative Expression – Jumbo Journals, Week 6

The journal process is a metaphor for layers and layers of experiences, feelings and thoughts of our lives; Some things covered up;  Bits and pieces of others showing through;  Each layer enriching the next; Forever creating who we are.

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The pages are layered more and more with stacked writing, collage, spontaneous poetry, faux sketching, paint, stencils, torn paper, tissue paper, magazine images, words, tissue paper, stenciling, markers, foil, torn paper, cut paper, scribbles, scratches, doodles and all things creative.

(The colors in the slides are not as rich and deep as the originals — I’m having trouble with iphoto)

What Do Your Tears Represent?

Here’s a wonderful expression of feelings. The drawing was done several years ago  but it can be looked at again and again.  Each time it will “speak”, deepening the understanding of both the past, present and the connection between the two.

AND even though it is someone else’s drawing YOU will be able to find meaning for YOURSELF.

  See what it says to you about your life, your circumstances.  What do the 4 tears on the cheeks represent to you.  Where is she looking – outward?  inward?  past?  future? What is she looking AT.  And how does that pertain to your life?

Here’s what Maureen said about her picture:

“This drawing was actually done a few months before I got on disability (3 years ago) and shows all the various things I was sad and worried about at the time.

Doing a bit of drawing was one of the different ways I used to help deal with the unknown. The teardrop at the bottom left has an hourglass in it. I’m looking at it and it seems like and old, eaten apple.”
Maureen Ryan

http://sunshineandchaos.wordpress.com

Thank you Maureen for sharing

this wonderful example of creative expression.

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