Monday, September 24, 2007

Goddess Wisdom Book Challenge

Lore challenged me to create a couple collages for an altered wee book of Goddess Wisdom. So here we are:
Grief lays the mineral deposits in the Psyche that we later mine- it is part of the foundation of our wisdom. Laura Owens

It is time for the recovery - of the sacred. Buffie Johnson

Thank you Lore for the great challenge and I can't wait to see the final book!

Necklace challenge.

Also as a part of nearly-here Ohio trip I created these necklaces. It was an art challenge to use steel wire, an old key, some Nina Bagley knots, a vintage button and a natural object. OK, Ellen, Kim, and Julie, I'm ready. How are your necklaces coming?

Last Lecture

Here's a mini slide show for the BATA Symposium, all about altered art and creating joy!

What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? There's an article and video clip of Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch giving just that lecture. For him, the question isn't rhetorical because he's actually dying of cancer. (Jeff Zaslow narrates a video about Prof. Pausch's final lecture. You can view it and read the article in the Wall Street Journal.)

I watched the video, read the article and thought to myself what if the BATA Symposium was my last lecture? Why, I'd do my very best. I would give it all I had, right? But why not do that anyway, why not live that way? So that will be my intention for today.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Do you realize?

From KarmaTube:
Take time today to realize exactly what you have, exactly right now.

jaihn discovered that today is "World Gratitude Day"! She has some wonderful delights for you on her blog! Do take a look! You will be grateful!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Playing with Inspiration and Links

Playing with ArtRage

from Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller's newsletter:

"You are told a lot about education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all. If a man carries many such memories into life with him, he is saved for the rest of his days." -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Spirit Whisperer Contemplation

What if perfection is never found in the outside object or event? What if it can only exist in the mind and the attitude of the person who looks?

So I'm starting to play with the ArtRage 2.5 paint program thanks to my good buddy jaihn. Are you looking for a clean, easy to use, reasonably priced paint program for your computer? (free-$25) jaihn pointed this one out previously but they've upgraded themselves and it is FUN. And you can go back and forth between ArtRage and Photoshop so there are no worries there. This paint program lets you "paint" with oils, sketch with pencils, sprinkle glitter, paint with gold leaf, silver foil, and other metallic colors. You can even load jpg photos as Tracing Images to help you recreate them as paintings, or just play with them.

jaihn also sent this link for some not your run of the mill icons.

And Adela has been busy collecting portals of delight. She gets a newsletter from Michael Neill and in the September 10, 2007 issue he has an article on ANGLING FOR HAPPINESS which is adapted from his book "Feel Happy Now!", coming from Hay House in January '08.

"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due
to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you
have the power to revoke at any moment."
-Marcus Aurelius

When I ask people what causes stress in their lives, they are
often quick to come back with a litany of stories about external
events ranging from lack of money to problems at work to
arguments with loved ones at home.

But in fact, all stress is caused internally by only one thing -
resisting reality. Without a story that says things should be
other than the way that they are, we could not experience any
emotional stress.

Think about it - does a stick floating down a river feel stress?
No - it flows wherever the water takes it. No story, no stress.
How does a plane fly faster and faster through the sky? By
adjusting its wing configuration to minimize resistance. Less
resistance, more speed (and less stress on the engines and
Today's Experiment:

1. Think of a situation you have been finding stressful. If you
knew it was completely up to you, how would you choose to be in
relation to that situation today? Happy? Strong? Curious?
Loving? Accepting?

2. On a piece of paper, make a list of all the ways this
situation is "bad for you" Now turn the paper over and make a
list of at least as many ways in which the situation could be
seen as "good for you."

Take a look at each side of the paper in turn and notice how you
feel. Whose side are you going to take? Which way are you
going to choose to see the situation?

3. When you have decided how you want to be in yourself and how
you want to see the situation (i.e. you have chosen your "angle
of approach"), choose whether or not to take action to change
it at this time. If you do decide to take action, do it within
the next 24 hours if at all possible.

Have fun, learn heaps, and stress less!
Adela also sent these links:


Resilience and Art; the big pink bunny suit (explanation attached).

Retreats to renew the spirit, reawaken senses and create space to simply "be".

Visual joy and renewal; Julie's Magic Light Show.

and The Cheerful Eye.

And from the Super Hero Journal:

Inspiring photography:
Phil Borges Photography

Resilience and Cancer:

Thanks all!

The Spirit Whisperer

The Spirit Whisperer, collage by Lani
(article originally appeared in the Artella Daily Muse)

I was looking at a book the other day, Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish A Child’s Spirit by Chick Moorman. Spirit Whisperer! Don't you just love that idea? Can you remember having a teacher like that, one that had a twinkle in the eye and that saw something in you and helped you to recognize it yourself? Thankfully, I can remember having had a few in my life. And I think it's not just teachers that can be spirit whisperers. Sometimes a grandparent, relative, or even a friend can have that twinkle in the eye, and that ability to see your strengths and to nourish them.

Positive psychologist Martin Seligman describes these strengths as "signature strengths," the character traits that humans across cultures value; like creativity, curiosity, love of learning, wisdom, courage, and 19 more; the things that your spirit whisperer would encourage. Seligman suggests that we all have a few of these 24 strengths as our very own signature strengths, and that by using and nourishing these strengths we can become resilient in the face of adversity. He tells a story of a university colleague who has a new pet, an Amazonian lizard, that he kept in a biology lab. The poor creature was wasting away, refusing to eat. Finally Seligman's friend gave the lizard a ham sandwich (which the lizard ignored) while he read the newspaper. Once he finished a section of the paper, he dropped it on the desk partly covering the ignored sandwich. Immediately the lizard became very interested. He rustled around in the paper, stalking the sandwich, shredding the paper, and finally pouncing and devouring the sandwich completely. This Amazonian lizard has his own signature strengths, which he needed to use in order to thrive; rustling, stalking, shredding, and pouncing. He was wasting away when he wasn't using his strengths, but once he could practice these strengths, he began to flourish.

What I have begun to notice, is that when we actually take the time for ourselves, to practice the things that give us delight and satisfaction, our signature strengths, we are a lot more resilient and a lot happier. We can actually thrive.

But sometimes we can get the feeling that that life seems to be moving so quickly, that we are working so hard just to stay in one place, that we hardly have any time to breathe. We long for a spirit whisperer to come along and give us a "time out" to create some art and nurture ourselves. My thinking here is that we can all be our own spirit whisperers. We can call our own "time out," step off the tread mill for 20 minutes a day (minimum daily requirement according to psycoimmunologists' research) and turn to our art journals for nourishment. For 20 minutes we can do the things that give us a deep and abiding pleasure. Laundry, dinner, the kids' homework, what ever it is, 20 minutes later doesn't make a difference. But our spirits will notice! And life tasks are easier if we are feeling more resilient, happier, and stronger. 20 minutes can make all the difference to our spirit.

We don't need to wait until the last item on our "to do" list is checked off. We can take 20 minutes for ourselves right now or at any time. We have the possibility for a virtual art room right here at our fingertips. The internet is the perfect vehicle for creating a virtual art studio filled with the inspiration of artists working happily on various projects. We can fill our virtual art room shelves with 'zines, fine art, crafts, mail art, vernacular art, collaborative art, wearable art, altered books, artists trading cards, art dolls, paper puppets and best of all an endless supply of generosity and creative ideas from the folks in this virtual art room. One of my favorite things to do here in my virtual art room is teach the "Artist's Happiness Challenge," a three month course that gives participants art challenges based on the research of positive psychologists, things to help a person become their own spirit whisperer, encouraging the possibilities for empowerment, resilience, happiness, and community building. And the challenges can be completed in 20 minutes or less.

The "Artist's Happiness Challenge" is starting this week!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Resilience, restoration, and renewal.

Are you happy?
Do you find your life satisfying?
Do you find your beliefs or personal philosophy sustains you?
Do you find that you are always learning new things from the people you work with?
Do you feel connected to others at your work? (Is it a collaborative or competitive place to work?)
Do you feel calm most of the time?
Do you have a good balance between your work and your free time?
Do you feel that you have friends you can talk with about highly stressful experiences?
Does working with those you help bring you a great deal of satisfaction?
Do you feel invigorated after work, at the end of the day?
Have you become the person you always wanted to be?

If you answer "maybe not" to any of these questions, you might like to consider the idea of building resilience. Doesn't building resilience sound like an interesting or encouraging idea? If you are in Ohio at the end of the month, I'll be doing the keynote address for the Buckeye Art Therapy Association's 2007 symposium; Altered Art: Art as Therapy for Restoration & Renewal in Dublin, Ohio on September 28 and 29.

This keynote,14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life: Creating a Mail Art Community to Build Resilience and Happiness, will be examining the increasing need for resilience strategies in our work as art therapists, both for our selves and for the people we work with. With ever increasing work loads and ever dwindling budgets in social services, and with the growing divide between folks who have "enough" and folks who don't, symptoms like "compassion fatigue" and "anomic depression" are on the rise. But fortunately the answers to these problems are within our reach! In fact the answers are probably much closer than you would imagine.

My little talk and slide show will explain the "14 secrets" in terms of resilience strategies which psychologists and trauma recovery specialists have been writing about, how Susan Anand and I incorporated these ideas in workshops after Katrina on the Mississippi gulf coast, and how they are used now in the virtual art room of "14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life," how within this virtual art room we are actually practicing resilience, restoration, and renewal every day, through art making.

An all new Artist's Happiness Challenge

The next session of this three month e-course begins September 17th. It includes 2 weekly art "challenges", a support group to discuss results, a blog spot to share images and catalogue the challenges, and a reading room full of down-loadable articles. These free articles are from a variety of sources including positive psychologists, social workers, counselors, spiritual guides and meditation teachers, and they are just waiting for you to download. Join us if you can, or if you dare to be challenged to create a happy artist's life!

But for those of you willing to read the fine print and look for secrets of happiness and joy in unusual places, off the beaten path, like a treasure hunter, feel free to email me for details on how to get a 20% discount on the cost of this e-course.