self expression

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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Blocked

I feel like my brain went on vacation and forgot to take me with it. There’s just a hodgepodge of feelings, thoughts, and experiences from the past several weeks, swirling in my psyche. I didn’t really know what or how to write about it. So, I started where I was and followed where it led.


When my mind is blank
and my vision dim;
my heart is heavy
and my soul is grim.

When my words are lost
and my mouth silent;
my lungs are empty
and feelings are violent.

Avoid and evade
the sorrow and pain.
Numb the body
Disconnect the brain.

This half life
I do not want.
Yet, in this moment
my will is daunt.

The tank is empty.
The drive is gone.
It’s time to rest
and wait the dawn.

Open the heart
and clear the mind;
heal the soul
and mend the blind.

Love lives in me,
a spiritual well
I forget to drink,
my thirst to quell.

Reach deep within
Touch the eternal
Connect with love
Fraternal

Grasp the vine
In him abide
Mind, heart, soul
Full life betide.

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

Becoming Me

I’ve spent so much time being broken
I’ve believed the lies unspoken
My faith barely a token

With pain, my life’s been fraught
Begetting the misery I’ve wrought
Yet, others see what I cannot

Within me they see a light
Which keeps me in the fight
Making hope shine bright

In me is seen an appeal
This I do not see or feel
But, it’s not any less real

To borrow words, not my own
Beauty from ashes is shown
When love is known

Light through the wound
Radiates when I’m attuned
No longer cocooned

Not wrapped in guilt and shame
Letting go of self-blame
I and my life are not the same

My psyche is healing
Fighting the panicked feeling
I’m coping, I’m dealing

There’s more than just surviving
More than frustrated striving
I want to be thriving

Lord, heal my eyes to see
Teach me how to be
Guide me to . . . me

Writing Prompt: lettrs – Dear Self

Dear Self,
Being bipolar, depressed, and anxious, means feeling insane, sometimes acting the same. The thing is, you’re not crazy or lazy, you’re amazing!

You are neurodiverse, your brain is structured differently. You think differently, experience the world differently, and process those experiences differently. Your capacities, abilities, skills, and talents are different than those with neurotypical brains, not affected by chronic trauma.

That doesn’t make you bad or wrong and it doesn’t mean you have to change the things which make you, you, in order to conform.

Yes, medication may be useful, but, it isn’t a cure, because a cure isn’t needed. Think of it as the difference between “breaking” a horse and developing a relationship of trust while training the horse.

Stop fighting to conform and force your brain to be something it’s not, not allowing it to do what it’s built for, and hobbling it’s ability to move and flow.

Think of the medication as the tack – the bridle and reigns to direct, the saddle to stabilize, and the stirrups for holding more balance and control. When you lose your grip, slip, and fall, it may take a little bit of work and time, but keep getting back in the saddle and, each time, you’ll stay on and ride, going further and lasting longer.

The world needs you to be you, not a copy or imitation of anyone else. Otherwise, God would have created you to be them and not you.

Remember, you’re the only one capable of being you and you’re pretty special.

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 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?