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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged hope

Tonight I made it through my first Art History test of my entire life…ever.  I’m not counting past lives since those details are still emerging.  I sure hope I get far enough in this life to take my last Art History test ever…at the end of all the Art History classes I can possibly take.

Art History : Love as Test Taking : Not Love.  I’m trying to get in my rational mind now. (So I hope I got  that right.  Equations and logic aren’t always my thing.)

I learned tonight I’m a crier.  I used to be so stoic about crisis.  But after I got through a half-day of intense preliminary irritability, crying is all I have wanted to do.  I wanted to cry before, during, and after my test tonight.

 

And I’m glad I doubled up a few days ago on my exercise routine because I celebrated with a trip to Burger King.

That’s right.

 

Maybe I knew this was coming?

 

I have craved a thin (Thin, I like the thin ones) juicy fast-food hamburger all week.  It’s a far cry from my regimented allotment I give myself of rice cakes and protein bars everyday.  Sometimes I do splurge and have almond milk.

So when I drove into the lane-of-no-return and ordered that Whopper I knew I had pulled off something big tonight.  Maybe even life-changing.  Something is growing inside me.

I craved fast food burgers the entire time I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.

Correlation?

**

Deeper into the story you would know the last time I signed up for an Art History I ended up with an extended hospital stay before I made it to my first test.

That was in 2006.

It’s like returning to the scene…

Art History didn’t put me in the hospital, but it was the hardest thing to give up.   Having to let it go killed me.

I’ve come to reclaim my soul.

 

Everything is still there where I left it except I have moved from the third row back and to the right of the room to the front row and to the left.

 

I don’t want to be distracted.  I intend to live.

This time it’s just me and art alone in a dark room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Somewhere along the way I became jaded, even though it’s just a dark synonym for hurt.

I have images to share, but…I’m jaded.  (So my world is blank.)

What is up with that?  I used to not even know what jaded meant.  I remember asking and having to look it up in the dictionary…back before Google.

I looked it up again, though, since it seems so definitive of where I am right now.  I wanted to be sure about it.

It turns out that “hurt” is not actually mentioned within the definition I found.

So maybe I shouldn’t  mention about the hurt aspect of my jadedness.

 

I know this is a phase.

Phases pass.

 

Things will change.  I’m looking forward to when I’m back to being some other color.  Pink maybe.  Not Pepto-pink.  Instead, more like something most people like.  Ice cream or cotton candy…baby blankets.  Strawberry milk?  (Maybe most people don’t like strawberry milk…)

 

I am so tempted to gloss over the green.

It would be so easy to just not put it here.  Nobody really needs to know about it.  I wouldn’t even have to acknowledge it.  It could be like it never happened.

 

Sometimes the light kills gross green stuff…like mold.

 

I will move through this.  I will.

Or I will be moved through it.

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of days ago I made a connection with someone who left me asking, “What if…?” The “…” are representative because there are so many endings to that question.  I guess the “What if’s” are different for everyone.

I feel full of possibilities.  “What if…everything?”

In my life I haven’t always been sure that staying alive was the right thing to do.  And I mean “staying alive” in a more of a way than just the mechanics of breathing. Even breathing in a way that keeps the body going can be a challenge sometimes, but  I’m really talking about keeping my heart alive.  Passion, hope, love.  There is risk in living with light.  The body can die, but the heart can be devastated when something important goes wrong.

Things have gone wrong before.  I’ve had opportunities to give up at times when people might not have even judged it as a weakness, and I would have liked to have taken my break.

Somehow there’s always been something keeping me going.  A resuscitation, I guess.   Maybe that’s when the light has taken the driver’s seat. Admittedly, on the really hard days I haven’t always been grateful for that force so dedicated to my continuation.

But then there are days with connection, mystery and magic…that grow my spirit enough to help me feel I can support the energy of life again on my own.  But never, of course, completely on my own since those are the days I am most lifted up.

Those days are the ones with rainbows.  That unexpected gift of communication when I’m looking for convincing evidence that it’s safe to come out and interact again even though the clouds are still foreboding.

So…what if I am safe?

What if…my life matters?

What if…I have something worth sharing?

What if…I’m not alone?

What if…everything has a reason?

What if…I can’t find a reason, but it all matters anyway?

What if my story was meant to be heard?

What if the beginning really is a very good place to start?

What if?

What if?

What if?

 

If you’re wondering who this someone is who inspired these questions this time, it is a film maker named Mary Trunk who is now editing her most recent documentary titled Lost In Living…Here is a brief description of this film I’m so grateful for and link to a generous 10 minute Trailer which I found on Kickstarter.  This is a film filled with passion and honesty which I feel privileged to be a backer for (and is still open for funding, so check it out.)

“Behind the domestic curtain of motherhood, where the creative impulse can flourish or languish, are four women determined to make a go of it. Filmed over seven years, Lost In Living, confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. The complex realities of family life unfold in this documentary film about the messy intersection of motherhood and artistic expression.”

 

 

 

***

 

A couple of weeks ago we had a brief storm in my city during the middle of our midwest drought. I was lucky enough to be out in it.  If I hadn’t had to run to the store with my daughter for essentials while my husband was out-of-town I would have only heard the rain.  When we arrived at the store the clouds were beginning to break and the sun was coming through.  I saw a man across the parking lot taking an iPhone pic of the sky.  And, of course, I had my phone too.  I took a picture of the sky and clouds facing the opposite direction.  It was magnificent.

Storm Clouds Breaking

 

When I left the store the sky was still filled with brilliant form and light.  I took out my phone again for more pics, shooting away, when a guy with his daughter walking in motioned to my left and said, “There’s a rainbow over there.”

Light Entering

 

 

A cloud among many

 

Soft Blank Slate

Alive

 

There I was, looking right at the sky and missed the rainbow entirely!  I was a little embarrassed, but grateful for the direction!  It actually turned out to be a double rainbow, so quite a treat!  It was large so I couldn’t get both sides in with one shot, and naturally, the photos don’t  nearly do the experience justice.  It was warm and cool, wet and sunny with the most amazing light.  A wordless beauty, for sure.

Rainbow

 

Don’t forget to look for the rainbows…

 

 

 

 

Over the weekend my Baby became a Toddler.  She’s still not quite “toddling,” but we’ve made the one-year mark.  It’s exciting and humbling.  It makes me nostalgic for my older daughter who will turn 14 this fall.  Though, it is hard to not be washed in fear.  I look at other families, especially younger ones just starting out with their baby or young children and sometimes my heart wants to stop.  I don’t really know why.  I don’t know if it takes me to the hindsight wisdom I have now about a time when I was so young (a teenager)  and unknowing–when I had no idea what was to come for me as a mother– or if I am feeling vulnerable for them…because they look so innocent.  Parents.  Hearts just right out there in front.

I don’t think I look innocent.

But I’m not really sure what I look like anymore.

I have no idea what life will throw my way. I am  doing my best to be the parent my toddler (with her own unique personality and set of traits, much different from her sister’s)  needs me to be.  I don’t think I look-or feel-innocent, but I so often am scared of not knowing enough.

I am constantly searching myself out, asking, “Have I learned what I need to know from my mistakes?”

It’s scarier to be pretty sure I probably don’t even know all the mistakes I have made yet.

Time is a teller.

Is there any parent out there who can’t look back and see even just one mistake they might have made in raising a child?  If there is, I’m sure that person will come find me here to tell me, lol.  Never fails, huh.  (Falls under the class of “Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to.”)

Anyway, we survived the first birthday party.  A party my older daughter never received.  (I was a Jehovah’s Witness then.)

I feel like I am always living in alternate universes.  Especially as a married woman and parent now in this new place.  Memories free-flow around and through me.  I live in an ocean of memories and most of them are not very pleasant.  I work hard to make new ones.  Sometimes I think I actually work too hard at that and stress myself out even more.  And then is the memory I worked so hard to make good any good?

But as I was saying, we’ve made it this far.

This year we celebrated with friends…a pretty rockin’ way to get the ball rollin’.  Right?

But my older daughter was with her dad.  So even this birthday is tinged with sadness.  It’s a long story only a mini-series could tell.

I’m going to trust that if I keep living life with light will take care of this for all of us.

I’ve been savoring  my latest set of Instagrams.  It seems like so much has happened in just a couple of days, even though when I look around not much has changed.

Except for my mantle.  Yes, my mantle is looking different these days!

My mantle now holds a vase with Roses of Different Color!

And, I think you can be assured it’s not because I am wearing rose-colored glasses, either.

Just take a look at these beauts!

Yesterday my husband ran an errand to the store and came back with these!!!

No arguing, no disharmony, not even a “discussion” precluded these babies!  No ladies (and gents) my husband bought me flowers because….because HE DID.  And he gets full credit.

Now, I didn’t used to think I was the type of girl to get all giddy over flowers, but turns out…I kinda am.  Especially when they’re tie dye, and especially when I know it means my husband is listening and paying attention.  And something grabbed his attention at the store when I wasn’t with him and he thought of me!

So I’m a little sweet on these flowers, and sweet on him.

Self-Portrait with Roses  : )

So not too much commentary today, although it feels like there’s a ton to share.  It will have to wait because I am stopping to smell my tie-die roses!  And I invite you to sit-a-spell and smell them with me!

I’m so excited to share someone else’s art that has influenced my life deeply today!

I started listening to Alanis Morissette in my early 20’s. I remember belting out her songs in my make-shift garage studio/office where I painted into the early morning hours when my first daughter was just a toddler, thoroughly enjoying myself even though I couldn’t hold a note.  What mattered was that I had the freedom to sing!  My (now EX) husband worked 3rd shift which meant it was just me and music and art in those solemn hours between 11pm and 7am.   It wasn’t Alanis’ popular “Jagged Little Pill” that did it for me.  I really loved “Under Rug Swept.”    I think I connected with every song on that album in some way, but there were a few that I blasted out on repeat.  One of them was “Utopia” and another was “21 Things I Want in a Lover.”    I divorced my husband in 2002…and I can’t say for sure, but maybe these two songs, in particular, had something to do with me coming to a point where I chose to face the world on my own…without him.

There is a lot of art I could create about my relationship with my ex-husband, but that’s not where my focus is today….

TODAY…it’s about the present.

I have watched and waited for years for Alanis to release a new album.  And I have been hopeful that when she did I would once again be gifted with music that reached into my life and being.  Music that I could belt out at 2am that would help me get to “morning.”

So I’m ecstatic to share that she’s done it again!

She’s one of my “Liked” artists on Facebook, so I’ve known a while that she’s been working on stuff through status updates on her page.  I have been hoping, hoping, HOPING that my voice could return with her in her new release to the place I had been with her in my 20’s, but in relation to the environment I am creating at this point in my life…this present time.

I eagerly listened to the single the moment I saw it was out…titled “Guardian

Right on!

I listened to and read the lyrics…”yes, yes…yes! ” I thought!  I got this!

And then Alanis posted this clip about her inspiration…..!!

And yeah, I’m pretty sure she didn’t write this song just for me, but if I saw her in person I think I’d say to Alanis “Hey sister, thanks for writing this for me!”  : P  Like, somehow our hearts and brains are intergalactically linked and as she was writing she was thinking of me even if she didn’t know it.

Really good musicians can selectively have this connection with their fans, right? : )  So thanks, Alanis, for choosing me to have your connection with this time.

Oh…oh oh oh!  And get this!  You won’t believe what her new album to be released in August is titled….ready for it!?

“HAVOC AND BRIGHT LIGHTS”

 

I believe I need not say more 😉

 

Nobody chooses a mental disorder.  If I could pick mine, I probably wouldn’t have the one I have.  And, I really don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and says, “Hey!  I know what I want for today!  I want to special  order a nightmare of after-effects that are a result of abuse I’ve experienced in my life!”

No, I really don’t think that’s the way it goes.

Because I’ve been thinking lately, “Can we just be done now?”

I have to ride the wave, and sometimes it’s true…the wave is a great adventure.  “Great” is a very subjective term.

And some things about living with the brain altered experience of a formerly abused mind, body and spirit can be subjective too.  Such as, “How will I live this day of madness?”

There is some choice in how I live my days.  Sometimes there is even a lot of choice.  Sometimes making that choice comes with an enormous amount of pain and struggle…but, I don’t think the trouble with making  choices is reserved solely for people with a brain condition or someone living the effects of abuse.  (Although, it can certainly add an extra ounce of oomph to the process!…and at times call for extra support through a qualified and emotionally mature and plain ol’ good-hearted and kind therapist.)

That’s part of why I believe art therapy is such a universal part of living.  Art is so central to the human condition, not just conditions that provoke a person to cut off their ear.

I guess I’m trying to say a lot of things here.  I’m saying sometimes in life there are choices even within the place of no choice…for everyone.

Some days I choose to feel.  Some days I choose to not feel.  But the feelings are always there….I don’t think there’s a lot of choice about that.  Being human is like that.

For a long time I have chosen to not feel.  And for a while I made that choice, even if subconsciously, so I could survive all the feelings swarming around and through me.

I’m entering a new place.  I’d say it’s an in-between place.

There’s not a lot of words to this place yet.  I just hang on to the light and what it reveals…It seems like I am in the process of seeing a lot along my personal journey lately, although I can’t always quite make out what an image is.  Engaging in life through art has been a safe place for me to explore this unknown.

Today…I choose feeling.  I choose life.  I choose hope.  I choose light.

Thankfully, these things are making a home in my chest and not so much my brain.

Today I am brave, which is not always my natural condition, but is just as much part of the human condition as all the rest, none-the-less.

These photos are from a family walk at the park yesterday….

(Click on the image to view in a larger format on your screen.)

Me and my daughter went on another photo-taking extravaganza today, and it’s final…I’m thinking of moving to Instagram.  Because everything is cool in Instagram.  I think my eyes have acquired Instagram lenses.  I think in Instagram.

Now, I know I am a little behind the times.  I know Instagram is probably old news to some people, but I, for one, sometimes find myself in losing battles, lol.  Like…digital photography, for instance.  I took a photography class in 2002 and learned how to do the “real deal” and vowed it was far too amazing of a world to cheapen it with instantcy. (Which I think might only be a word because I just made it be one.)

But now, well…look at me now.

Now, I am not only in favor of digital…but iPhone digital?  And Instagram?  Like a cheap, uneducated version of Photoshop!?  Oh my goodness, I’m sure I’m offending someone right now.  Am I?  Omg. I’d like to make friends here!

Well, anyway, imagine I never offended you (if I’ve offended you) and imagine I just said…”I’m old school.”  Because that’s what I really mean.  I like to get my hands dirty, or in the case of photography…clean.  I like to dip my hands in chemical and feel the rush of it right up into the cells of my brain and then wash it all away with water and watch things transform in my hands.  I probably have some kind of God complex.  Is there such a thing known to exist?  I mean, there is something SO powerfully wonderful about creation.

I’m not saying digital isn’t creation and isn’t wonderful.  It is!  I even want to  live in Instagram, for goodness sake.

I think I’ve said  enough.

Yes, enough.

On with the show!

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(Note: Many of these photos tell a story or have a string of words behind them, so they may reappear at a later date with more to say here.  For now, we’re doing good (and I’m so grateful)  to have the time to get this far!   : )   …But, until I’m back with my stories, feel free to use these photos as prompts for your own! 🙂  (After all, I don’t want to keep my God complex all for myself.)