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My Art Therapy Journey

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I don’t need to read the Bible.

My whole life has led me God.

The Bible interests me for reasons other than knowing God or the idea of God.   Except for the fact that I see God in people…and people are what I find in the Bible.

I am drawn to the Bible for the purpose of study.  Nothing in the Bible has really led me to faith.  So far.

This is not to say that it can’t or won’t strengthen my faith in the future, and not to dismiss the Bible and its importance or significance in people’s lives.  But, given that, in all fairness I’ve barely read it, how can I not make these statements?

What does this have to do with my art therapy journey?  I don’t know.  It might have to do more with my journey, just in general.  But my language, inside, is art…even when what comes out is words in a blog that don’t look or sound the least bit artistic.   At this very moment, there is art forming inside of me.  These are my thoughts…and thoughts lead to actions.   At least, that’s what I’ve been told.  For me, at least some of that action in my life is creating art.

I guess I can’t tell you why I believe in a higher power, especially when an overwhelming majority of events in my life wouldn’t point to the God I believe in, existing.

I say all of this as I begin down a path of embarking on Bible Studies.   Along with my Art Studies.

Maybe I am putting this here as a plot point.  A dot on the map so when I start talking about something I’ve come upon 5 miles down the road it all connects better and makes more sense.

I’m fascinated by people and culture and history.  The only history class I’ve ever taken is Art History and it left me wanting for more.

Less, actually.  Actually, less.

It left me asking more questions and yearning for context.  It left me asking questions about how I came to be and how any of us came to be.

It left me with a plague of questions.  Most people don’t want the plague.

My intro. class answered nothing.

So I don’t know where I’m going with this.  I just know I’m going somewhere because this spot I’m in isn’t very homey.

I yearn for people and connection as long as they don’t get too close and let me come to them a bit on my own terms.  Any sudden moves scare me away.  And it’s like that with God, too.  And that could be why I’m so interested in all of this.  Figuring out what is psychological, sociological, anthropological and theological.

That is a lot of logic, if you ask me.

I never asked for this to be my brain.

And that’s why I have so many questions.

If I could change my passions I most definitely would.

Who in the world would choose this?

I think I would rather suffer in superficiality.  I want to be addicted to “Omg!” (the  yahoo “news” page) instead.

But that’s not the life I was granted.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

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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…

 

 

 

+ high-res version

My question today is this: When do you let a thing go?

I just want to know, is there ever a time to give up?  And is giving up -giving up?… or really just letting go? And if it is then the question is less when than “how?”

I didn’t come to this canvas wanting anything but to paint.  It turned into a flower.  But I didn’t think it was good enough so I kept painting.  I wanted more.  Suddenly I became attached.  I was so happy to see a flower on my canvas when I didn’t even try to get it there.  I was ecstatic because for so long I’ve talked about “people who paint flowers” and how I definitely was not one of those people.

There was a part of mE that has always  wanted to paint a flower.

But no flowers would ever come.

It made me sad.

Flowers weren’t for me.

But I like flowers.   Flowers are special.  They make me happy.

“Flowers come from happy people.” (That’s what I thought.)

But I was not a flower person.

Then this flower came to me.  And I wanted it so much, even if it looked like a 5-year-old drew it.  It was still my flower and I loved it.

But then…the paint-parent came out and said it wasn’t right enough, there wasn’t enough “pop,” it wasn’t bright…it wasn’t right. The background had no foreground and blah blah blah, BLAH!  It didn’t look like other people’s flowers at all.  It didn’t even necessarily look alive!  So hopeless.

So I tried to help it out.  I tried to be better.  I tried to make it work…but then….

It died.

But it hadn’t signed a DNR.

So I kept at it.

The following photos are  the journey my flower has gone through and it’s still not done.  In fact, as soon as I get done writing this post I am getting right back to work on it.  I wanted to come here first though and talk about what’s been happening and mark it as part of my journey.  I don’t know where it’s going to go….

Do I stop?  Do I give up?  Today I’m working out how to let go.

I think.  I mean, I guess.

There’s just so much I don’t know right now.

(I have chosen to not digitally enhance any of these…they just have to sit there and deal with it, boo.)

close-up

 

Where I think I should have stopped and maybe just added some black and translucent layer(s) of color. It was going to be titled…”The First Flower of Recovery”

 

close – up

 

Where it all started to go wrong…

 

and even more wrong, haha

 

“Doing Battle”

 

close-up

 

a part of the paint I liked….that didn’t last, lol

 

trying to get my orange to cooperate…We still aren’t talking

 

The “Fuck It” stage…sorry, but it’s true

 

The “I feel this is an exceptional depiction of BOREDOM” phase

 

Up now…the “Trying too hard” period

 

but at least I felt there were some successful elements…and it was good time to experiement

 

When I thought maybe the carnage was over…It wasn’t! 🙂

 

stuff I liked, but it wasn’t likable enough…and I was irritated I could only get 5″ of things to go my way

 

And this is when I came to you with my questioning….How to give up…I mean, let go…yeah, Let Go…that’s so much more therapeutic, lol

Ok, so I know earlier I said I still wasn’t done, but I lied.  I kept painting before finishing this post because all the pictures were taking too long to upload.

And this is where we (me and this damn flower!) stand now.  I don’t really love it.  I feel like it’s so wrong and not doing anything for me.  But I’m learning…just not at the pace I would like to and I think I still just want my first flower back because it was the truest and I should have just chilled out and sat with it a while before destroying it in my haste to make it something it never could be anyway…perfect.

I love you not, flower!!!!

Sometimes I really hate my issues.  Stupid damn fucking issues, AURURRURURURHHHGGGGG!!!!

There.