creativity

Healing Expressions: Restorative Art

Yesterday, I was blessed with the privilege of attending a Therapeutic Collage Workshop, offered by Therapeutic Arts Facilitator, Lani Kent, of Healing Expressions, located in Vancouver, WA. Going into the workshop, I wasn’t sure how doing collage can be therapeutic, but, when Lani shared her story and her process, I saw how it can be another way to express and explore experiences, thoughts, and emotions. It can give the unspoken and unspeakable a voice and be a powerful part of one’s healing process.

Lani’s art both speaks from and to the soul. You can view her gallery here. You can also find her on Facebook.

img_7297When we arrived to the workshop, we were greeted by Lani and chose our seats. Each setting had a folder and a small gift packet with a Blessing Card attached to it. Each table had small displays of Lani’s collage art.

She had a very long table almost overflowing with magazines and had lined the perimeter of the room with more of her collage work.

After she had shared her story and experience with Restorative Art and how it had helped her on her personal journey of healing and recovery, she invited us to wander the room and select any of her pieces that drew our attention, in either and inviting way, or even one that repelled.

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At that point she gave us instruction and time to reflect. Then, she explained how to go about the process of collecting the elements we would use in making our own collages.

I confess that I just started tearing into magazines and collected way more than I could use. I collected so many possibilities, that I probably only had time to cut out elements from 1/3 of the material I had collected. I suspect that I have enough leftover magazine pages to make several more than the two I did make.

We were encouraged to write the date and what we were experiencing during this time period, whether it was about what we were doing with the collages in that moment or in the greater context of our lives. Lani counseled that we may not know or fully understand the meaning of our collages, at first. That we may come back to them multiple times throughout our journey and learn more about ourselves, from ourselves, in this way.

As I said, I did two. I’m only going to show one, here. The other one requires some processing and unpacking with my therapist. Both of them do, actually. However, I think the symbolism of the one I’m posting here is probably a very universal theme. Though, when I researched the symbolism I learned some deeper meaning and insight into what this could be saying.

Please let me know how this speaks to you, if it does

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Day 2 Blah blah blah

Another day of nothing of import to write about. I have a sick kiddo at home. I’m stressed about family issues that aren’t my problem, I have no control over, and can do nothing about. My thoughts are scattered. The fatigue levels are still bad…barely functioned yesterday.

I rescheduled the meeting with the employment specialist…again and missed my mental health socialization’s group potluck.

I did make it to my first acupuncture appointment in probably eight or nine years. Barely. For some reason I hadn’t set my notifications correctly and didn’t get out of bed until 8:25 and the appointment was for 9:00. I made it by 8:43. It turned out that all systems were down and they didn’t get me in until 20 minutes past appointment time.

I’ve canceled one appointment and rescheduled another that were still on today’s calendar. There’s one thing left and I do need to attend that one. So, I’ll figure that out. Probably have her hang out at home and have the neighbor be available to her.

The worry and stress I’m feeling about the family situation has triggered the binge eating…and I haven’t been fighting it. I’m not usually a sweets person, but, glazed old fashioned donuts aren’t safe.

I’m partly future tripping about what choices my family members will take in reaction to dealing with their toxic circumstances. The fear of losing relationship with these very important people because of someone else’s toxicity has me in near tears when I think about it. It also raises some pretty ugly thoughts about this other person. I don’t like being in either a sad/fearful state or in a bitter/angry state. So, I’m defaulting to the numbness of food and fatigue.

It’s hard on the creative process.

It’s frustrating when you’re chugging along, writing effortlessly (mostly) then, suddenly, someone pulls the switch, redirecting your path, and you wind up in the empty container yard.

What to do?

Yesterday was a brain dump that came out relatively acceptable in form and function. Today is a meandering mishmash of whiny angst. Let’s see if I can do something better for tomorrow.

Maybe I can collaborate with someone else and do an interview. I know it’s short notice, but, maybe something will gel.

How are you doing and how do you handle roadblocks in your creative process?

30 Day Writing Challenge – Days 8 & 9: Learning to Soar

Day 8 – What’s next?
Day 9 – How would your life be different if you were intentional about ___________?

I sat and considered, “What next?”
I was baffled and confused,
directionless and faltering.
Then, life happened
and I stopped thinking about it.

“Rolling with the punches;”
Taking life “one day at a time;”
Living “step by step,” and
“Putting one foot in front of the other,”
have been my mantras for survival.

Guess what? I have survived…my past, my life.
I’m good at surviving, but I am beyond just that.
I’m past these mantras. They’ve served me well.
They hinder me, now. They’re holding me back.
It’s time to learn new rhythms, new words.

What if I take a risk and choose to do
something more than get by?
What if I “step up and step out” and
“grab for the brass ring;”
“live each day by choice, not by chance?

How will my life be different if I
go beyond being “comfortably numb,”
adopt new mantras to live by, and
develop a, “new attitude?”
How can I affect a “change for the better?”

I can’t do this alone and, thankfully, I’m not.
The source of all life, light, and love resides in me.
What if I “seek first” to “watch, fight, and pray?”
What if I anchor myself throughout each day to
rest, walk, and hear by faith, mindful in each moment?

I will find new purpose, faith, and courage.
I will move through the self-doubt and fear.
I will head in a new direction, gaining
confidence along the way.
I will learn to “soar above the waves.”

©️2019 lem

30 Day Writing Challenge- Day 1: Thankful

I’ve decided I’m going to attempt a writing challenge, to “prime the pump.” My creativity and inspiration have lain dormant for awhile. They’re sputtering. A poem or three, a bit of journaling here and there, or . . . nada, nothing. One of my consciously unconscious thinking errors is that I need to be inspired in order to write. Another, is my perfectionistic mindset: everything I write must be well thought out, structured, and formed – relatively error free – the first time I share it. Neither of these are true. However, for me, it’s like exercise: If I can’t go all out each and every time I do it and do it almost daily, then what’s the point? (A MAJOR thinking error.) That’s why I keep getting injured and continue to regain lost weight . . . losing all momentum. Time to challenge that thinking. Ergo, writing challenge.

Today’s prompt: What are you most thankful for?

So many things to be thankful for:
People, places, and events galore,
Too much focus on what came before,
Left me discontent and craving more.

Suffering from all the trauma and pain,
Distorted, shaped, and wired my brain
In ways that made me seem insane.
I believed there was naught to gain.

All my life, I fought like hell,
My mythos becoming a spell
Despairing and despondent I fell,
In sorrowful darkness I came to dwell.

Thinking I had nothing left to lose,
Bitter helplessness did suffuse.
Yet, I still sought the good news,
Slowly changing my views.

In me grew a yearning
To believe what I’m learning.
From melancholy I’m turning.
Hope and faith I’m discerning.

The thing I’m most thankful of
Gives peace like a dove;
Falls like a gift from above;
Is the greatest love.

lettrs Writing Prompt: Fairytale Life

Fairytale • Patience • Book

Have patience to see
The shape of the fairytale
Forms our book of life

Villains and heroes
In both our lives and others
We fight and we love

Painful tragedy
Leavened by light comedy
In mundanity

Plotting out our lives
Navigating twists and turns
Writing the chapters

Living a series
Events fortunate and not
Learning the moral

Our book of life formed
The shape of the fairytale
Builds patience to be

©️ 2019 lem

Writing Prompt: lettrs Three in One – Skylark Challenge 152, Word of the Week, Finish the Story

The sky turned darker and darker as she walked toward the beach. “This can’t be a good sign,” she thought to herself as she watched the flotsam and jetsam of the tideline being washed back into the ocean. Crest ravaged crest as the waves rose higher and higher, each one violently crashing into the next.

Conscious of the increasing danger in the charged atmosphere, still she persisted in wading through the lacy, white edges of the ocean’s skirt where it brushed the sandy shore. Inhaling deeply, she felt calmer, even as the storm heightened around her.

Turning to face the vast, explosive power of the swelling tide, with hair blowing in the gusting wind, her eyes closed against the mist, she threw her hands in the air, and let out a howling scream, venting her ire and frustration about the painful events and circumstances she’d been experiencing, which were out of her control. It felt as though the elements were speaking through her, for her.

Finally, as the skies opened and heaven poured out it’s laments, she turned and slowly made her way back to the gray and brown weathered beach house. Step by weary step, she steadily paced herself as she sought refuge from both the actual storm and the storm her life had become.

As she closed the door behind her, she was filled with a calm resolve. She felt centered and at peace with vagaries of her life. With the storm raging around her, she slept soundly, for the first time in what felt like decades.

Upon waking, she saw the morning light coming through the window and meandered outside to the porch. Feeling the warmth of the sun contrasting with the cooling breeze, she finally felt content and knew the course she would take upon returning home.

After packing the car and leaving the house key in the lockbox, she cast a final glance towards the calm ocean, whispered a prayer of gratitude, and drove away.

Skylark Challenge 152:
Wading, Washed, Tideline, Crest

Word of the week: Packing

Finish the Story: The sky turned darker and darker as she walked toward the beach. “This can’t be a good sign,” she thought to herself…

Writing Prompts: August Scrawls, Days 1 & 2

I was stymied after prepping Thursday’s post on Wednesday. I had run out of the current prompts available on the social writing app I’ve been writing on – intermittently – for well over a year now. I needed more prompts, until either new prompts showed up on lettrs or my own ideas started flowing.

Did you know there’s a whole community of writers using Instagram? #writersofinstagram and #amwriting are a great way to locate fellow word warriors…but, you probably already knew that.

Nowadays, there’s a hashtag for EVERYTHING under the sun, on God’s green earth…(had to do it once “nowadays” showed up). So, I searched #augustwritingprompts. Lots of options popped up. Several set up scenarios and situations to write about. Not for me. I’m more of a minimalist when it comes to prompts. Give me something to interpret and write my own scene about, in my own voice.

I found such a prompt! It’s called August Scrawls and is hosted by @hopelessperriott on Instagram. A word a day! I can work with that. I hope.

Here are my first two days’ efforts:

Hunger

He hungrily watched her lips wrap around the oblong orb. His mouth went dry with thirst as a tiny drop of clear juice slowly meandered down. His pupils dilated as she captured it with her tongue. He longed to wrap his hands around the soft, golden skin. Mouth watering at the thought of tasting the firm flesh, he asked…

“Do you have another apricot?”

Gotcha! At least that was the idea. The word for Day 1 was “apricot.” How’d I do?

Here’s Day 2:

A Spectrum Moment

“Children, it’s time to work on your spelling words. Jennifer, will you please hand out this week’s practice sheets?”

Mrs. Vee, the teacher, surveyed her overly full classroom. Her eyes rested on the student in the far back corner, Shandi. Shandi was seated on a stool at the science workstation. Her head was bent as she intently stared down at the paper in front of her. She reached for a black marker and began drawing.

Mrs. Vee watched as Jennifer cautiously approached Shandi. Jennifer attempted to hand Shandi the paper. She kept looking at her artwork, seemingly oblivious to Jennifer’s presence. Then, Jennifer bravely placed the paper between Shandi’s face and the paper she was drawing on.

She reacted as badly as expected. The crumpled paper plummeted to the floor.

“Shandi! That’s enough. It’s time to work on spelling. You’ve had your art time. Now it’s work time.”

Defying her teacher’s authority, Shandi climbed down from her stool and stormed out of the classroom, disappearing down the hall to the CBC, Contained Behavior Classroom, where her IEP, Individual Education Plan, said she could go in times of distress.

Mrs. Vee sighed, then called the office, alerting them that Shandi had left the room, once again. “We really need more support from the District’s Autism Specialist,” she thought to herself.

Resigned to the status quo, she turned and addressed the classroom, “Who has completed writing five of the words?”

The word was “authority.”

This scenario is taken from the pages of my life as the parent of a child who interfaces with the world through the Autism Spectrum and experiences ADHD. There were a lot of these kinds of incidents over the past two school years. It’s felt good to interact with and try to support and encourage teachers who care. Most General Education teachers don’t receive much training or education in supporting kids with various special needs. I’m grateful my daughter is where she is.

Anyway, days 1 & 2 down. Hopefully, I’ll catch up with 3 & 4 tomorrow.

Writing Prompts to Prime the Pump

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted much of anything. Life and depression have shut down the part of my brain that has writing ideas and the will to write anyway.

I suspect, or believe, that the meds “stabilizing” the bipolar disorder have something to do with dampening the writing spark. The last time I did any “real” writing was when I was in a manic episode, back in March/April. I was in limerence and completely obsessed over an absolutely inappropriate guy…to be honest, he’s still in my brain, just nowhere near as much.

For those of you wondering, limerence looks an awful lot like a crush or infatuation and feels like the initial throes of excitement one feels when first falling in love. It isn’t either of those things. It’s obsession, pure and simple. It’s also not always about love and romance. Fortunately, I was able to recognize it and acknowledge it for what it was, even though I had little to no power to stop it. I even wrote the following:

This Isn’t Love
Longing for your glance, your touch.
I can’t stop thinking about you.
My mind is not my own
Excruciating anticipation.
Resistance is useless.
Excited and breathless
Can you feel it, too?
Eventually, this, too, shall pass.

Limerence
lim·er·ence
ˈlimərəns/
noun PSYCHOLOGY
1. the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship.

It didn’t end well.

My writing was prolific during those few weeks. Since then, the urge/desire/need to write has disappeared. For the most part.

Last month, I planned to get back to blogging. So, I signed up for The Ultimate Blog Challenge…then didn’t write a word for the blog. Actually, that’s not true. I started to write a post about ableism and the use of the word “crazy.” It’s in the Drafts folder.

Finally, on Sunday, I decided I needed to start small and use a social writing app, lettrs, and the prompts the admins and members offer, to get writing again. Here are the results of the past four days of prompts I’ve responded to:

Skylark Challenge 149:
Image + four words: pernicious, illuminating, children, malevolent.

The pernicious presence of the alien craft, illuminated the children, who stood frozen and fearful in the malevolent atmosphere.

Skylark Challenge 150:
Image + four words: flowing, timeless, fierce, enigma.

Writing Prompt: Thankful

To those who have supported me with love and kindness
How can only mere words express
Appreciation for your devotion and acceptance of my mess
Never treating me or my experiences as less
Knowing my heart and not judging what I confess
Friends and family do nothing but bless
Understanding my pressures and stress
Love deep and lasting given without duress

And finally, today’s prompt:

Photo Challenge
Nostalgia for What Never Was

Sitting beside you as you leaned next to me, we gazed over the bridge’s wall to watch the traffic flow below.

We searched for the odd or unusual: out of state license plates, bumper stickers, classic cars, variant paint jobs, and anything that made the vehicle unique.

You would ask me questions: Who is in this car or that one? Are they coming or going? Why are they driving from there to here or here to there? Who are the people inside? Families? Businessmen? Women on errands or on their way to work to support their families?

We would spin tales and weave stories with one another…each one more elaborate and descriptive than the last.

You midwifed my lifelong curiosity about the nature and character of my fellow humans. You taught me how to expand my imagination and to use even the most mundane of things as a source of inspiration. You instilled in me a profound love of words and language. You gave me the foundation for my writing today.

Thank you, daddy. Thank you for being you and helping me to be me.

Signed,
The Lifelong Orphan

What helps you write when you’re experiencing writer’s block?

Mindful Monday: Seek to be inspired

Did you know that each one of us is a creative being? We all have elements of artistry inside of us? Whether it is what is commonly recognized and understood as art: drawing, painting, dancing, acting, writing/performing/composing/arranging music, sculpting, or not: science, mathematics, organization, teaching, administration – whatever we do as part of our self-expression, utilizing the fullness of our gifts and talents, and sharing them with the world is also an act of creation.

Creation is art and art is magical. It is the alchemical transmutation of one thing into another. A canvas and a collection of tinted oil, acrylic, or dried pigment becomes a tangible, visible representation of the painter’s vision and perspective. A jumbled mess of receipts, bills, statements, and payment schedules is gathered, categorized, and the raw data combined with software or ledgers and is transformed into an accounting system enabling the user to achieve the financial component to support dreams and goals.

I believe that we all have the opportunity to express our creative character each day.

If, like me, you experience chronic physical and mental health issues and/or have developed a life full of disruption, instability, and conflict it may often seem like there is no room for creativity. It may seem like there is no creativity inside of your head or your heart. The creative spark that once burned brightly may seem to have gone totally out, taking your joie de vivre with it.

It’s so insanely easy to ignore the inner radar for inspiration. There may have been an encroachment of events and responsibilities which have buried the interest and desire to act on your creative impulses. It has happened to me ~ it still does, on an almost daily basis, in fact.

However, I’m learning that like Love, Hope, Peace, and Forgiveness, Inspiration and Creativity are not merely feelings, preferences, and things that happen to you or are experienced by you. They are decisive actions, active choices, if you will. These are all spiritual connections to our inner beings and what connects us to others and the world around us.

Regardless of what your creative talent or gift is, it needs two things in order to grow and flourish: Practice and Inspiration. Practice requires concentrated effort and focused action. Inspiration can “just happen,” however there are some things which can be done to facilitate and invite Inspiration into your life.

Engage – if you leave the gearshift in Neutral, you might coast a short distance or be easier for external forces to move, but you certainly won’t get to your desired destination by staying in Neutral. You’ve got to get in gear, whether it’s Reverse or Drive, you’ve got to shift and engage the gears in order to get anywhere.

What this means in terms of Inspiration is you need to be paying attention to your surroundings and the people you encounter along the way. Inspiration can come in a phrase, image, or encounter. If you’re not engaged and paying attention, just coasting in Neutral or rolling along on cruise control, you can easily miss the off ramp labelled “Inspiration.”

Share – “Sharing is caring””,” may sound like a parenting cliché for teaching children to give up selfish behaviors and attitudes, but it is a key principle of growth and development. The inclination may be to avoid sharing about the things which interest and inspire you and the creative expressions you’ve put together, perhaps because of past ridicule or rejection. However, keeping these things to yourself puts a barrier up, hindering growth and limiting opportunities for Inspiration to enter. Think of it like the cross-pollination the birds and the bees do for plants and flowers. Opening your creative expressions, or even just the day-to-day mundanities of life, and allowing others to share in them, brings opportunities for new ideas and ways of seeing the world into your realm. By letting your seeds and pollen to be carried to others, you are allowing your Inspiration to grow, expand, and ignite inspiration in others.

Explore – staring at the same four walls, listening to the same people saying the same things, and walking the same, well-worn paths are the best ways I know to keep the door closed on Inspiration. Exploration and Discovery are often necessary in order for Inspiration to join the party. New people, places, and experiences may not always be fun and pain-free, however, if your mind and spirit are open to receiving and learning instead of closed with an agenda and expected outcome, it’s likely that Inspiration could make an appearance.

The times when I feel least like writing, the days when everything seems to conspire against me, and the moments I just want to hide away are also when Inspiration seems to have escaped or gone into hiding. That’s when it’s critical for me to Engage, Share, and Explore, even if it is just through the screen of my phone.

My how time flies: Princess Tomboy revisited

A little over a year ago was the beginning of a transition in how I see myself as a mom, a writer, and a creative person. Prior to that point I had been seriously struggling with the darker aspects of myself and my life. Starting this blog came out of that place.

I only really believed in the negative things about me and my life up to that point. I didn’t like much about myself, and it showed through in a lot of areas, especially in how desperately detached I was as a mom.

I loved all my kids with all my heart that wasn’t consumed with guilt, shame, and self-blame. I knew how that had impacted my relationships with my two adult children, Marco and LaLa. I was terrified of losing Luna’s childhood the way I’d lost theirs and was determined to do better by her.

As my healing progressed due to the blogging and other things I was doing, I began doing more things with her and taking her out to the local parks. I also began connecting to and reading what other bloggers were doing and writing about. I discovered Six Word Fridays – a weekly, single word prompt where writing is done six words at a time.

I had completed my first blog challenge of 31 posts in 31 days. During that process I encountered a lot of different blogs on a variety of subjects, many of which were folks blogging as part of building online businesses. I saw a lot of styles, formats, and elements and learned how to do more visually creative things and incorporating them here.

Practicing being present, mindfulness, and to treasure moments in time coincided with these new things I was learning in the technical realm.

One beautiful and warm Summer day, I took Luna to the park and took a lot of pictures of her playing to send to her daddy. The Six Word Friday prompt that week was, “fun.” I wrote “Princess Tomboy: Six Word Friday – August Fun” and posted a few pictures.

Princess Tomboy
Climbs up
Slides down

Yesterday was a marathon cleaning day in preparation for Keith coming home last night. He’s only home until about 3am Tuesday morning and I wanted to have things clean for him. However, little Luna got restless and needed a break from the apartment, so, despite the multitude of work needing to be done, we went to the park.

I remembered Princess Tomboy from last year and while I watched her play I took a few shots, opened up my Heyku, Mixel, and Pic Collage apps and revisited Princess Tomboy.

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I was happy that I had remembered how she’d looked last year and that I had given her the aptly descriptive title of Princess Tomboy. I realized that I was now doing something in a brief time which had taken much time and concentrated effort to do a year ago.

It’s sometimes hard for me to look at the circumstances in my life and go through things that are just as difficult and stressful as any I’ve experienced in the past and not think negatively about myself.

However, in this one brief and sunny afternoon, I was able to recognize that I have grown and changes have been made. Just as Luna has grown and changed this year, I have too.

I am a good mom. I am a good writer. I am a creative person. I like who I’m becoming. I realize there are things that may not change or maybe only change just a little bit, but that doesn’t mean I’m not growing.

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