A good friend (and amazing art therapist) came over last night for dinner and was tooling around in my workspace. She illuminated the fatal flaw from the pie charts. Several of you also pointed it out. (Leslie, Victoria, I’m looking at you.)
Integration is the key. Combining. Overlapping. Interlocking. I am better focused now after speaking with her. I have clarity again. I remember my bigger-picture goals and I feel like i’m back on track.
- Taking a walk with a friend and bringing the dogs along, rather than always just going out to dinner = fun + chores + health.
- Photographing a project I do for work, or bleeding the project out into one of my own journal quilts or blog entries = work + creativity + fun.
- Taking the stairs, avoiding the cookie counter at work, and planning ahead for snacks = work + health.
At least I made sure not to overlap the dating stripe into the work wedge. Some things just aren’t made for integrating.
Against all odds, I passed my exam yesterday. Thank you for all the well-wishes, public and private.
I’ve got one more exam to take for my license, and will likely attempt that one in a few weeks.
Hopefully I can get back to normal for 10 days or so before the freakout starts again and release some of those ideas that are bursting at the seams.
PS: I passed.
It’s been a bit of a rough patch at work. I know that this kind of thing is to be expected when you work at a hospital or hospice. (PS: “This kind of thing” is death and, whether we like to talk about it or not, death is to be expected for all of us.)
One of the things I like best about my job is that it keeps me constantly aware of the brevity of life, the preciousness of every day, and the power of human connection. I process these big emotions in my art journal, as always. The image above was done in the subway on my way home from work one evening last week.
Bodies and health have been much on my mind recently, and not just because of work. I’m trying to return to better eating habits and nutrition (you may recall), so naturally these themes are showing up in my journals, too.
It is my life’s struggle to explore my relationship to food and its effects (positive and negative) on my body. This image was made as I contemplated last year’s dramatic and successful loss of 80 pounds, and post-medical-crisis plateau in weight. There I stand, a little figure on the precipice of the plateau, wondering how to jump off into the next phase of health.
Thankfully, my journal often reveals answers when I ask it questions.
What about you? Do you journal?
One of the benefits of my job as an art therapist is that even when my personal life is crazy and I don’t carve out time for creativity in my off-hours, I’m required to be creative from day-to-day in my professional life.
When I found a “Fashion Origami” kit on sale for $1.50 at Urban Outfitters, I snapped it up. Origami is a project which, although there may be low potential for emotional expression, is a good rapport-builder and ice-breaker. Particularly in the hospital, where patients don’t have a lot of energy, they can do a little folding project on their lap and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Naturally, the first project I folded from the book was a paper bra. I had to learn this one first. Do you have any idea how many teen boys are on my caseload?
After I folded the grey suit, I couldn’t help but fold a red tie to go with it. “Mr. Herman. Paging Mr. Herman! Mr. Herman, you have a telephone call at the front desk.“ It should be a bow tie, but still.
I (and all my staff) have had a hard time deciphering the instructions for the stiletto shoe, but here we have found a reasonable alternative. It still stands on its own and opens up where the foot should go. That’s good enough for me! Creative problem solving at its finest.
I have been following a lovely little website called Creative Therapy which celebrates the art of visual journals. The site serves as a community for creative/visual journalers, and its administrator, Karen Grunberg, puts forth “catalysts” (journaling prompts, basically, but with an awesomer name) to which the CT team responds. She then invites readers to respond as well, and to post links to their creations.
There are lots of things that I like about this website, including:
- Each contributor is invited to write about their project and their process, which can be really illuminating. This is something I often do with my art therapy clients, as it can sometimes facilitate a better connection between our rational and emotional selves. On the practical side, you can learn new techniques from these artists’ blurbs. On the emotional side, you can really get a feel for the way that creating these responses has touched people. As you know, the emotional side of art-making is something that interests me very, very much.
- Karen tries to eliminate the all-too-common air of competition which can seep into these kinds of community ventures. She seems to truly celebrate creativity and personal expression and to genuinely encourage it in others.
- There is a spotlighted artist for each catalyst, and it’s often someone I’ve never heard of (though some famous faces have made appearances).
- The site has sponsors who sometimes do giveaways. Not that any of us need extra stash, but… I do think it speaks to how involved and proactive Karen (and maybe her team?) has been.
The responses seem to be largely grounded in the world of scrapbooking, altered books, and other popular paper-based arts, but are not exclusively so. For instance, a recent response to Catalyst 50: What is something that you turn to, to lift you up out of a bad mood? was a crochet project made by Debee Campos. Debee graciously gave me permission to post her artwork and words here, because I feel they really speak to some of my own explorations about the emotional impact of various art media. In this instance, Debee writes about the experience of learning and practicing crochet.
I’ve recently taken up the art of crochet. And just in the nick of time. Wedding planning. House hunting. Future dreaming. All have left me a little chaotic. You would think it’s crazy of me to take up crocheting during this crazy phase of my life. But in fact it has helped silence my thoughts. During these times of learning and practicing the rhythm of the process, I have found my thoughts are all hushed. My time has been well spent. Thinking pondering and praying. There are times when I just listen. And most of the time I’m not such a great listener. It has also helped my patience level But the combination of the two has helped my outlook on all the things I’m juggling. I find this time to be the best at bringing peace to my heart. All the while I am bursting with pride taking up a lost art in my family and creatively expressing myself in another form. This is for sure something I hope to continue throughout my life.
I laid a drawing I drew years ago of one of my hands over the top of my blanket that is still a work in progress. I felt like it fit the picture perfectly. As drawing was once my quiet time long before scrapbooking and crochet came into my life.
How about you? Have you ever used journal prompts or participated in some kind of creative community? Do you keep a visual journal? Why or why not?
What is this girl thinking? Is she sleeping? Is she scowling? She emerged from a collage activity during one of my groups this week, and I’ve enjoyed postulating about what part of me she might represent.
Today is Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras. There’s a new girl at work from Louisiana, and her mother shipped a traditional King Cake overnight express. Well, no one explained to me about the little plastic baby baked into the cake, so when I bit into something hard that was all arms and legs, I honestly thought a beetle had traveled to California from Louisiana.
But, no. That painful little crunch apparently signified the onset of a year of good luck!
Normally, I wouldn’t put too much stock into such a thing, but last night when my back tire popped and deflated not ten feet away from a tire store, when the guys who work there were still cleaning up even though the shop had been closed for over 30 minutes, and when they quickly changed my tire for a reasonable price, I thought: THANK YOU BABY JESUS! I hope I didn’t spend all my good luck in one night.
Please share! Have you had good luck recently? Do you celebrate Fat Tuesday or Lent? How do you make traditional celebrations meaningful for you?