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.


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


Writing Prompt: Photo Challenge & Word of the week.

Packing It In

We’ve lived like this
for far too long.
We no longer kiss.
With you, I’m always wrong.

You have too much anger,
I’m too sad.
We’ve lost our anchor.
Together, we’re bad.

This negativity can’t last.
I want you as friend, not foe.
I think our time is past.
It’s time to let go.

What’s next will be hard.
It will be rough.
We’ve both been scarred,
but, we’re tough.

I know you see what I see.
There’s nothing left to say.
This is what needs to be.
We must go our own way.

Word of the week: packing

Keep Moving: When you’re going through hell

This journey toward health encompasses so many things in my life. Basically, it’s connected to everything – my emotions, relationships, mental health, life circumstances… It’s all tied together. Especially when I’m falling apart.

As some have noted from reading my other posts this month, my plate is full.

There are many moments on many days when I feel the full weight of it all. All I want to do is eat my anger, fear, frustration, resentment, uncertainty, and a myriad of other emotions triggered by the situations and circumstances of my life.

Numbing myself with food has been my pattern since adolescence.

After years of chaotic living and trauma, my mother’s undiagnosed, unacknowledged mental illness took her life via suicide. I was 12 years old and under her brother’s guardianship.

I was dissociated from my emotions by then and didn’t realize or acknowledge the effects it had on me. There was no discussion, no Memorial Service, and no grief counseling.

Just. Move. On.

I disappeared into books…and eating even more than I’d already been overeating.

Fast forward nearly 37 years later and here I am. Working hard to get healthy in the midst of trigger after trigger for eating my feelings.

I have been doing a phenomenal job, if I do say so myself, of staying conscious and present of my eating. Using the app to keep a record of my food and staying with the recommended guidelines has felt good, but also made me make better choices, because I didn’t want to see bad ones.

Last night I lost the battle.

True confession: Two Wendy’s chicken tenders w/honey mustard, small fry, & “small” coke.

Emotions: frustration, anger

Outcome: feeling bloated & sick


The win that I’m taking away from this is that I caught myself almost immediately and didn’t shove the rest of the food into my face. I faced my feelings. Most importantly, I’m being honest with myself…and you.

I’m continuing to advance. I’m going to keep moving.


Compassion for Kitty

After nearly losing my mind and my humanity in the same day when I sat in cat poop, I was on the verge of animal abuse and traumatizing Luna. I’m not proud. Quite ashamed to tell the truth. When LaLa showed up while I was still working to let go of all the negativity and rage and I told her what had happened. She told me, “Violence against animals is still violence.”

I know this. I believe this. I never could have imagined that I would EVER be capable of animal abuse in anyway, shape or form. I’ve had the same harsh and judgmental thoughts toward those who abuse animals that others have. “They deserve their own personal level of hell along with child molesters.” Yeah, THAT.

Thank GOD I didn’t actually abuse him.

However I was overly harsh and nearly out of control and Luna witnessed it. It scared me.

It scared me.

I had a REALLY rough night last night in conflict with Keith via text and private message after a Head Start Parent Policy Council Meeting where I was approached afterward and informed I had communicated in a way that possibly made others feel as though I was correcting them and treating them as inferior. In the middle of the conflict with Keith, the cat pooped on a blanket on the couch. I felt sick . . . for multiple reasons. The cat was not harmed in ANY way shape or form.

Insomnia reigned. I reached out privately to some supportive people.

I don’t have the energy or the will to go into details. We just need prayer, I need a lot of prayer. I feel like the plane is taking a nosedive and the oxygen mask I’m supposed to use for me never dropped but I’m supposed to be administering the ones that dropped for everyone else. Not a pity party and I know God will carry me through, but I’m having a hard time breathing.

After receiving private, one-on-one, compassion, encouragement, and support from one of them, I was breathing easier. I was able to work through the conflict with Keith, somewhat. Definitely feeling the powerlessness and unmanageability of the co-dependency. *sigh* Process. ODAT.

3:30 am scooping the box and cleaning up someone’s barely digested, regurgitated cat food. yay.

3:45 Sweatshirt on and out to smoke a forbidden cigarette.

4:30 Oblivion shuts my eyes and switches off the brain for a few hours.

7:30 The slight vibration of the silent phone from a text sent by Keith, “Are you still awake?” Interpreted by my bleary eyes and muddled brain, “Are you awake yet?”

Um, no. Roll over. Close the eyes. Drift in the zone trying to regain oblivion, didn’t happen.

*sigh* Walk out the bedroom door sniffing for the telltale scent of a cleaning task. Nothing new. Gratitude.

Into the living room, switch the lights on and look around. There he is: Big, beautiful, silent, beseeching. Carefully, gently, calmly I pick him up and cradle him in my arms.

I’d forgotten how soft he is. How steady and low the thrum of his purr is. How gently he reaches his paw to rest on the back of my hand. Claws too long to sheath fully, barely pressing against my flesh.

I rub my face against his fur. “I’m sorry buddy. I guess we’re both broken, huh?”

He needs my compassion and empathy as much as I need yours.


Luna comes out of the bedroom. “He’s not a bad cat anymore?”

“He was never a bad cat. Mommy was just wrong.”


If you or someone you know in the Portland, Or area can help Jade, please send an email to We love him but cannot provide for his needs. We don’t want to take him to the shelter where he will likely wind up euthanized and don’t want to turn him loose to fend for himself and we risk eviction by having him in our existing housing situation. He’s been part of our lives for over 12 years and it’s breaking my heart to not be able to give him the care he deserves.20130130-091953.jpg

Experiencing Forgiveness

Yesterday I wrote about entering the kingdom of God in the present by accepting and sharing God’s unconditional love of ourselves and others, regardless of the often damaging and painful actions, words, and inactions perpetrated. This is a very difficult and challenging thing to do, especially if it is something we attempt to accomplish of our own, independent power and will. At least it has been something I have had much difficulty in doing.

Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentmentindignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.[1][2] (Wikipedia)

A pastor friend of mine, Marc Alan Schelske, shared a Facebook photo about forgiveness with the following quote:

Forgiveness is letting go of all hope for a better past.

I had to think about that one for a while. To be perfectly honest, I’m still thinking about that one. I have carried, and if I unmask my inner self, I still carry a lot of resentment, indignation, and anger over real and perceived offenses, disagreements and mistakes that others have made which affected me in my life. The reality is that on an even deeper level I am holding myself on the hook for the things I’ve said and done, accidental and intentional, that affected others in hurtful and negative ways. After all, wisdom teaches:

For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Matthew 7:2 ~ Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

What if this isn’t just about God’s final judgment. What if this is about a basic truth about our internal psyche and thought processes? What if it isn’t a warning that God’s going to punish us for unforgiveness but a statement that our brains are wired in such a way that how we think of others is only ever a true reflection of how we think of ourselves and that as long as we stay focused on others and what they have done or are doing, then we are unable to see how much we are doing to harm ourselves and how much we are holding ourselves hostage to?

When I was 12 years old, I went to live with my uncle, who I now understand and realize was only 15 years older than me. So, he was a 26 or 27 year old, young man who had come from the same nomadic, broken, dysfunctional family background that I had. He had his own issues going on in his relationships with his wife, his best friend, co-workers, friends, and other family members in addition to suddenly becoming the “parent” of a deeply wounded and needy pre-adolescent girl. The deck was stacked against him from the beginning. He didn’t know what hit him. I can see and understand this in retrospect.

However, the me that lived with him for the next four and a half years, could only see and understand that she was hurt, angry, abandoned, neglected, and exposed to even more damaging events than she’d already experienced. I was already overflowing with resentment, anger, bitterness, and hatred. It was all self-directed, but I focused it on him and my aunt. Even though they were my targets, the fall-out hit my fellow classmates. I was an easy target for them, for a lot of reasons, and wasn’t necessarily treated well by a few of them. However, others, who were just trying to find their way through their own lives, would say or do something that the hyper-vigilant me would perceive as deliberately hurtful and overreact. I, who already felt alienated, acted in ways that further cemented my alienation from my peers and my family. Then I succeeded in running away at 16.

I carried all of that inside of me and into all of my future relationships, including the relationships with my son who was born when I was 17 and my daughter who was born when I was 24. They began to suffer for my unresolved feelings of self-hatred, unworthiness, and unforgiveness of self and others. I took parenting classes, engaged in a variety of therapies for myself and my children, I turned back to church and religion. In the midst of it all, as the song states, I looked for love in all the wrong places, bringing more harm to myself, and to them. All the while layering on the guilt and self-blame while masking it underneath and hiding it behind blaming and finding fault with others. Doing my best to love my children through self-hatred and trying to resolve it by learning the correct methods and attitudes to present and mimic to the world in an effort to change who I thought I was.

In the end, I created the very thing I feared, loss of relationship with my children.

In India, we have a saying: Everything will be alright in the end. So if its not alright, it is not yet the end.”The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Thankfully, it is not yet the end.

I had an opportunity to meet with my son a few days ago. He will be 26 this year, about the same age my uncle was when he suddenly became responsible for raising a volatile and deeply damaged 12 year old girl.

He told me that God knew me and all about how damaged I was and what I didn’t have to offer my children when they were born and that God made provision for all of us. It’s true. He did. Throughout my life there have been people who showed me, us, God’s love and concern and exemplified His peace, compassion, and healing.

My son also told me that regardless of anything that has happened or decisions any of us have made, my children love me.

Experiencing and allowing forgiveness of myself and others is what is allowing me to accept and share the love being offered.


Found in July: Freedom

Free from anger

Freedom to receive

Free from resentment

Freedom to give

Free from vengeance

Freedom to comfort

Free from bitterness

Freedom for peace

Free from fear

Freedom to hope

Free from self

Freedom to love






I know the plans I have for you

Like so many, I’ve been having a hard time of it lately.

Frustration, resentment, bitterness, anger, stress, and despair have been my intermittent companions.  I feel like the cartoon woman with the cloud that follows her around in the antidepressant commercial.

The Denver shootings followed by the outpouring of vitriol about guns and gun control along with bloodthirsty cries for vengeance.  The vilification of a fast food CEO for his response to a question setting him up for a flash-fire of opposing viewpoints expressed in ways reminiscent of schoolyard bullying, including juvenile slandering (for the sake of ratings, I’m sure). All exacerbating the standard political posturing and mud-slinging in an election year already rife with shame and blame over war, unemployment, healthcare, and poverty.

Reading the updates and posts of soul-deep beautiful, caring, loving, and already wounded people, expressing how they’ve been harassed and verbally abused by (not so) well-intentioned strangers and “loved ones” trying to save them from hell. Witnessing otherwise intelligent and reasonable people turn into unthinking zombies and attacking anyone whose beliefs and opinions differ from theirs. It’s all very disheartening.

In the midst of these things is my day to day reality of bent, broken, and damaged relationships with just about every one I care about.  Relationships which are a microcosm of the same issues described above. Most of the people I know are hurting and causing others pain.  Often, I’m afraid I’m one of them.  I don’t feel free to voice my thoughts and opinions, my needs and hurts, or my dreams and desires, because it seems there’s no one to hear them.

Then I read The Silence of God – I Am With You Always.  If you have some time, please, go read it. Otherwise, please bookmark it and go back to it when you have a chance.  It will be worth your time, I promise.

While reading it, I had a revelation. I’ve been carrying everything by myself again. Rather, I’ve been thinking, feeling and acting like I’m alone. Forgetting that in my weakness, God is strong.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This means I can love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, and achieving the impossible becomes possible.

Whether or not these are “the end times” I don’t know. Honestly? I don’t care. If it happens, it happens. It is more important what happens in the here and now, today.  Am I living my life to the best of my ability? No, not yet, but I’m working on it.  Am I showing my love to people in constructive and healthy ways? Sometimes. It’s a struggle, but I’m getting there.   Am I open to experiencing love, light, and happiness or have I lived in chaos, darkness, and depression so long my senses are twisted and what feels good, seems so wrong?  Have I made room for what’s good and right or are those filters clogged and all that’s getting through is warped and wrong? (click “open” and “made room for” and you will understand what I mean) Hmmm, time to check and clean those filters, I guess.

While thinking about all of these things, I was reminded of one of God’s promises.

The people of Israel had been exiled from Jerusalem and carted off to Babylon.  Because that’s what mighty conquerors do, they displace the conquered. The religious leaders kept pumping people up and rallying them around by saying God was going to save them and take them home soon. Jeremiah, a true prophet of God, because he listened and was open to hearing God, had a different message.

He told the people to settle in, settle down, make the most of their “bad” situation, and pray for prosperity and good times for their conquerors, because they were going to be there a while, 70 years as a matter of fact.  Work with what you have, find what works and make it work harder. Benefit those around you, even if you don’t like them because it will help you out in the long run. Figure out what’s important: family, community, love.

Then he says something I found very interesting,

” . . . ‘Don’t let your prophets who are living among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t pay attention to the dreams you urge them to dream.” Jeremiah 29:8 CJB  

Hmmm. Is it possible that we have all this dissension, conflict, and confusion over religion, end times, and such, because, we the people, on some level are encouraging it with our attitudes and actions of dissatisfaction and inability to accept that we are where we are?

11 For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai,‘plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. 12 When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13 When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly; 14 and I will let you find me,’ says Adonai. ‘Then I will reverse your exile. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have driven you,’ says Adonai, ‘and bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’

The difference is that He didn’t exile me, I exiled myself and He is waiting for my return.

I have been living in an exile of my own making. Inside of my mind and heart I have been living in areas that seem devoid of God’s presence.  I have been driven by fears and insecurities, false beliefs and misplaced desires, good intentions and bad practices.  God has plans for my well-being. I have a hope and a future.  When I call and pray to God, He listens.  If He is sought, He is found, but only if sought with a whole heart, meaning, I need to clean out the filters that prevent me from seeing and hearing Him.

I want to thank SaraDan, and Marc for their unknowing contributions. The biblical references are from

A letter to my qualifier

Dear one whom I love,

I’m writing this because I have decided it does no good to argue these points with you and escalate both of our emotions, yet I still need to deal with my feelings at this moment.  Perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to revisit this later, and if so, then I will have this as a tool to help me stay focused on the problem and my own side of the issue.  So, here we go.

There is a saying that poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.  This is what took place today.  I’m sorry that you are emotionally distressed – angry that you didn’t get to do what you wanted according to your timing today.  However, despite the things that happened to affect my schedule, which impacted you today, I feel the need to remind you of a few facts.

1) The issue that you planned to do today is one that you have known you needed to take care of for the past four months.  As a matter of fact there have been numerous occasions in those months when you had the time, money, and no conflict of responsibilities preventing you from doing it.

2) The recent changes in circumstances which caused this issue to become more immediate and urgent, took place two or three weeks ago – again, during which time there were many opportunities to take care of it.

3) I made necessary arrangements last night to ensure that you would have the opportunity today to deal with it, and you, my dear, were the one who advised me before leaving this morning that you were changing the logistics of the plan and not to be concerned with the rearranging of plans.

4) The adjustments and arrangements I made last night were done outside of the approved procedures for adjusting work hours within my company.  I have a new boss who was coming to the office and she was not part of the arrangements I made.  Therefore, when her schedule collided with and disrupted my schedule, it was something outside of my control.

When you sent me messages telling me how upset/angry you are because I was in a situation outside of my control, I felt:

  • angry
  • resentful
  • bitter
  • sick to my stomach
  • attacked

Therefore, based on all of these facts and considerations, for you to be angry with me because your plans got disrupted, is not acceptable.  If you should be angry at anyone, it should be yourself for not dealing with the situation sooner.  However, since I realize that you are incapable of thinking rationally while you are in this emotional state of mind, I am going to let it go for now and give it to God because I am powerless to appease, manage, control, or change how you are dealing with this.

**Dear God, I have a resentment towards a person that I want to be free of. So, I am asking you to give this person everything I want for myself. Help me to feel compassionate understanding and love for this person. I pray that they will receive everything they need. Thank you God for your help and strength with this resentment.  (BB, Freedom from Bondage:  552)

Resentment: release and restoration

I had a very good day with my youngest daughter and her father.  We went to church then out shopping and browsing afterwards.  We don’t have a vehicle, so it was all done on public transportation.  We left our home and didn’t return for over 7 hours.  In the past, there would have been more than a couple of times when we would have wound up in some kind of conflict during that period – usually over something inconsequential and forgotten long before the anger, hurt and resentment went away.    I’m so grateful that pattern seems to be changing.  It’s been changing for the past week or so., and I’m starting to trust that it’s going to continue.

Once we got home, we each started on our own self-assigned tasks: I put away the things from shopping and was going to work on cleaning the kitchen that hadn’t been cleaned since yesterday (not the norm anymore, thanks to him) while he got our daughter changed and put away the outdoor gear.  During this busyness, our paths crossed for a moment and he attempted to be physically playful with me.  Something triggered in me and, even though I tried to just go with it, I couldn’t.  I smiled and laughed and tried to explain I wasn’t comfortable.  I think he got his feelings hurt and felt rejected, based on what he said and how he acted after that.  The thing is, he wasn’t able to tell me what he was feeling, he just acted angry and shut me out.  So, I wound up feeling rejected and hurt myself. Then I started going over in my head why he was in the wrong and shouldn’t react that way to me and should be understanding and willing to be patient with me.  Very quickly I thought myself into a place of resentment and bitterness.  Which is not a place I care to live in anymore.  I just recently started stepping out of that neighborhood, again, by working the first three steps.  I KNOW that if I give into the resentment, then I’ll start isolating and stop moving forward in my recovery, and the progress that has been made this past week in our relationship will snap like a rubber band and hurt us both.

“Resentment is a mental process. With resentment, we repeatedly replay a feeling, and the events leading up to that feeling, that angers us…. With resentment, we reexperience and relive events in ways that affect us mentally, emotionally, physiologically and spiritually in destructive ways.

…What causes the unhappiness that underlies resentment?
a) What we feel people did to us that was unnecessarily mean, hurtful, and thoughtless
b) What people in our lives did not do for us that we feel they should have done
c) When we feel the people in our lives have not done enough for us

Holding resentments is choice. A choice to refuse to forgive; and unwillingness to let bygones be bygones…. We cling to a futile need to be right, which overrides the capacity to be at peace….usually because we don’t know any other way to come to grips with the painful feelings of hurt, rejection, and abandonment.” (

Thankfully, I remembered there was a meeting online I could log into.  I got there a little bit early and there were a few people already logged in.  While waiting for the meeting to start, I remembered reading last week about a Resentment Prayer, but couldn’t remember how it went, so I asked the room.  One of the people there shared this with me:

A Fourth Step Resentment Prayer….**Dear God, I have a resentment towards a person that I want to be free of. So, I am asking you to give this person everything I want for myself. Help me to feel compassionate understanding and love for this person. I pray that they will receive everything they need. Thank you God for your help and strength with this resentment.  (BB, Freedom from Bondage:  552) []

I repeated this prayer by typing it out, then stayed for the meeting.  Then I sent him a private message apologizing and explaining what I was going through when our conflict occurred.  I’m sure he hasn’t had a chance to read it or if he has he hasn’t responded yet, but that doesn’t matter.  Amazingly, I am no longer feeling the resentment and bitterness.  I’m feeling a sense of peace that this situation is going to work itself out and that HP has got us both covered.