Thursday, April 30, 2015

#116 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Boosting Resilience with Compassion and Altruism

"Open the Window"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
I just listened to a great Kelly McGonigal lecture on YouTube!  She was looking at the research behind her new, soon to be released book The Upside of Stress.  She talked about Shelly Tayor's research on the correlation between resilience and the "tend and befriend" mindset that is often observed in very stressful situations. The research shows that stress can help us connect and strengthen relationships if we engage the "tend and befriend" response, rather than the "defeat" or "freeze" response.  (The "defeat" research was horrifying!  Horrible, but gives a clear understanding of learned helplessness and anomic depression)

She cited some interesting and rather wonderful research with inner city youth in Vancouver that were given a task of volunteering with elementary school–aged children (full text available from JAMA when you click on the link).  The researchers were looking for connections between pro-social behavior and the improvement of adolescents' cardiovascular risk profiles.  What they found was those who increased the most in empathy and altruistic behaviors, and who decreased the most in negative mood, also showed the greatest decreases in cardiovascular risk markers ( C-reactive protein level, interleukin 6 level, total cholesterol level, and body mass index) over time.

Looking for the 116th way to have a happy artist's life?  Watch Kelly McGonigal's video and find more ways to boost pro-social behaviors, empathy and altruism! 

"Open the window at the center of your chest and let the spirits fly in and out"  - Rumi

Monday, March 30, 2015

#115 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Learn to be a part of here.

"To be happy, learn to be a part of HERE"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This one is simple but not so easy.  Have you ever noticed that your most difficult times in life occur when you are very much concerned with either past injustices and wrongs or fears and anxieties about the future?  Don't take my word for it, think about it.

AND have you noticed your happiest moments are the moments where you are most HERE?  True, right?

So learn to be a part of here a little more often.  Guaranteed to open the door to a happier life.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

#114 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Boost your nutritional neurochemistry! Awesome!

"Shimmering"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This morning I woke up to yet another huge fresh pile of SNOW, dumped down with no regard to the fact that it's already spring, the end of March.  I could get a little depressed.  But instead I listened to this interview from Rick and Jan Hanson. It's part of the Foundations of Well-Being program, but offered freely here.  She covers diet, vitamins, laboratory testing (and how to think about the results), and practical physiologically-oriented interventions for better sleep and mood that don’t require medications. Of course I was also working on my "morning pages."  So I did my art while enjoying this fun, wonderful, and hope filled interview.

Monday, March 02, 2015

#113 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Daily doses of smallish art

"The Mystery of Creativity"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
 The thing about art is that it really can make all the difference between an existence and a life of wonder and joy.  Part of my daily dose of fun includes creating a collage before breakfast, fiddling with it digitally and then posting on FaceBook and now LinkedIn (because they need more art there!).  I advocate doing this because some days I can sure use a little reminder.  Some days (especially THIS endless winter) are just a little, er, less than marvelous. 

Of course I KNOW life has endless winters and difficult times.  Plastering over the "bad stuff" really doesn't do anything.  I do know this.  So every day a little quiet time with art and building up strengths and resilience, playing with collage, color, layers, textures and text are a way for me to cope with the shadow times and a way to celebrate the joyful times, as well.

For this collage, I was picking out words that resonated and trying different combinations.  This is the sentence that popped up, "The Mystery of Creativity is Wild, Free, and in Us!"  And of course it is!  And because of that our possibilities are pretty wide open and they really are ours.  Just take a little time every day to work on them. 

Wow, this totally makes me happy and it's a nice inner satisfaction kind of happy, an internal reward.  Better than chocolate.  Way better.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

#112 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life, love who you are, it's a great place to start.

"Creating Magic" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Gretchen Miller challenged me to participate in an art chain, to post art every day for five days over on FaceBook.  Well, I've been doing that for a couple of years now, but I thought why not go through my archives and see what resonates the most right now.  So what I discovered is that creating art every day as part of my daily practice, has made me happier, braver, and more resilient.  Each day along with the art there will be a little text of encouragement, a reminder to engage in creative and meditative practices, to remember that we can imagine new, richer possibilities, to bring more color into the world, and to allow the daily practice to be a door that opens on to all sorts of possibilities.

With my fairly comprehensive background in art therapy, masters and doctorate in the discipline, I keep coming back to the simple idea that by making art, and doing our very best, we learn to feel deeply happy, to pay attention to our life and the things that matter, we actually learn to love who we are a little more every day.

A daily art practice can create a restorative, kind, and creative environment for ourselves and we can then create a restorative environment for those around us.

Ysaye Barnwell tells two related stories about her song, “No mirrors in my Nana’s house.” She had a friend who lived with her grandmother. There were no mirrors in her grandmother’s house. "How did you know how you looked in the morning," Ysaye asked. Her friend told her, "I looked into my Nana's eyes and I knew I look just fine, the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes. I never knew from her that my skin was too black, or my nose was too flat, or that my clothes didn't fit." The second story was about a distraught child who went to her grandmother after being teased in the school yard. “Someone called me such and such” the little girl said. The grandmother responded, “If you want to know who you are you look into my eyes.” Ysaye suggests we should get our perceptions of ourselves from people who love us, by looking into their eyes, by listening to them describe us.

I would take that a step further and suggest that we get our perceptions from our internalized Nana's, from that kindly part of the self that can comfort and reflect back to us that we are really alright just the way we are.  In her song "Wanting Memories" the voice is of a young adult reflecting on her childhood and the values learned from her Nana.  After her Nana's passing she wants to be able to see the world with the same love that she saw in her Nana's eyes.  She wants to access that love and wisdom that she has learned from her Nana. 

I think all of us want to access that love and wisdom that we learned from those who loved us unconditionally.  It's what helps us grow more resilient every day.  Love who you are, it's a great place to start.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

#111 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life, share the inspiration.


"Art is a Staple" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

The Guardian had a nice feature, photos of their readers favorite literary quotes in their own handwriting.  That got me thinking that text in the form of quotes in Morning Pages would be such a friendly thing to share on FaceBook, instead of funny/snarky memes.  What if we created our own memes, with our art & favorite inspiring quotes, things that possibly others might enjoy as well? I thought I'd try it with today's morning pages and guess what?  It makes me pretty happy!  Just like a warm coat in winter!

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Edith Kramer workshops at the 2015 Spring Institute


Photo from Herschel Stroyman
Our workshops from the Summit got great reviews and are back on the road. We will be appearing at the Spring Institute, April 10 - 12, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Alexandria, VA.

Saturday April 11, 2015
9:30 am  -  5:15 pm
Art as Therapy, Art as Life: Hands-on Lessons from Edith Kramer


Lani Gerity, DA, ATR
Martha Haeseler, MA, ATR-BC
Susan Ainlay Anand, MA, ATR-BC, ATCS, LPAT

Pioneer art therapist Edith Kramer worked with various materials and art techniques to help people deepen their experiences with themselves, the art materials, others, and nature, all while making art. Some of these techniques originated with Florence Cane or Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, others with her teacher Johannes Itten. Some were Kramer’s own. This team of longtime art therapists, students of Edith Kramer, have spent their working lives using art to build strengths and resilience, much in the way that they were taught by Kramer in her workshops and her course “Art for Art Therapists.” Registrants will participate in Kramer’s collaborative and strength-based techniques for promoting well-being, strengths, and inner resources. Learn how art therapy can support emotional, psychological, and social well-being, as well as how it can optimize daily functioning in the lives of clients, patients, therapists, and communities.

Registration is available separately for both Saturday and Sunday Kramer-oriented sessions. Attend either or both.

Eligible for Credits: NBCC, ASWB, ATCB


Sunday, April 12, 2015
1:00 pm  -  4:00 pm
Living Lessons from Edith Kramer: Sculpting Possibility with Clay


Lani Gerity, DA, ATR
Martha Haeseler, MA, ATR-BC
Susan Ainlay Anand, MA, ATR-BC, ATCS, LPAT



This team of art therapists, students of art therapy pioneer Edith Kramer, have spent their working lives using art to build strengths and resilience, much in the way that they were taught by Kramer in her workshops and her course “Art for Art Therapists.” Kramer worked with various materials and art techniques to help people deepen their experiences with themselves, the art materials, others, and nature, all while making art. She developed a rich repertoire of ideas about working with clay while working with blind children in New York City. In this half-day workshop, participants will have the opportunity to explore these collaborative and strength-based techniques that will help them integrate Kramer’s core concepts through working with clay, including: how clay work can support emotional, psychological, and social well-being; how clay work can optimize daily functioning in the lives of clients, patients, therapists, and communities. Through these experiences, which focus on clay in the art room, participants will learn a broad range of clay-based interventions that enhance strengths and independence.


Eligible for Credits: NBCC, ASWB, ATCB

 
Edith Kramer Self Portrait