Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Things to remember durning the holiday season...

"You are the gift" morning pages with help from FlyPaper
1.  Remember you are the gift.  (I learned this from 14 Secrets member, Lore Caldwell)
2.  Remember the gift of breath.  (When we focus on breathing deeply for a few minutes it can ground and calm during the most anxious times.)
3.  Remember your freedom, your ability to choose what you do today, what you hold in your mind, and who you surround yourself with.
4.  Remember to use your senses.  Smell the scents in the air; pine, baking food, fresh air.  Listen to the sounds around you.  Fully experience everything that comes to you through your senses.  Be here now.
5.  Remember that humans need community, use this opportunity to build positive relationships.  Be a part of something greater than yourself.
6.  Remember to learn and grow from your experiences.
7.  Remember to give others your attention.
8.  Remember to appreciate those around you.  Let them know.
9.  Remember to treat people how we would want to be treated.
10. Remember you can forgive. 
11.  Remember to look for the light in others and in yourself.

This list of things to remember during the holiday season comes mostly from Lori Deschene's Tiny Buddha blog.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Play your way through the holidays!

‘Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.’ – Mark Twain 

Collage play on iPad by Lani
I suspect during the pressures of the holidays we tend to forget to play, and I also suspect that PLAY is a huge element in this soon to be created "Instruction Manual for a Miraculous Occasion".  I've read that "Google" is as effective and creative as they are because the engineers spend one day of their work week at play, they work on their own inventive ideas during those days and of course that's when the miraculous occurs.  So add 20% (at least) of your own play time in all your preparations and see what happens.  Feel free to post results here.

‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old [or get stressed]; we grow old [and feel completely stressed] because we stop playing.’ – George Bernard Shaw  (stuff in brackets added by me)

Collage play on iPad by Lani

Saturday, December 08, 2012

14 Secrets for Creating a Stress Free Day (a stress free holiday and a stress free life)

14 Secrets Collage by Lani
1. Claim this day for yourself; it's your life, your day.  Claim it, and don't give it over to anyone else!  (One of the worst things we do for a holiday is to make someone else responsible for our having a happy day.  Even if you have Ebenezer Scrooge in your family this is your day, your happiness is yours!)

2. Be generous with LOVE!   If you are in the holiday gift giving cycle and you want to find new, less materialistic gifts for those you love, Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with Me, suggests asking these questions, "what love do I want to give you this year?" and "what form can the love take to help this person feel that love?"  What gift would bring delight and a feeling of being loved to sad, old Ebenezer or who ever is on your list?

3. Create a delightful, fragrant experience.   You can use naturally scented soy candles (love the Aveda candles) or create your own room fresheners.  Mix 30 drops of your favorite essential oil into a half cup of distilled water, place this in a spray bottle, and spritz.  Think balsam fir, spruce, cedar, or myrrh and frankincense, or cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove, or orange, lemon, and grapefruit.  Mmmmm.

Be Original collage by Lani with help from FlyPaper
4. Create new traditions for yourself and your family and make them yours.  Think about your strengths (see previous post), what traditions would speak most to your strengths and the strengths of your loved ones?  Want some ideas?  The folks at Folk have some great ideas!  (They have some nifty DIY gift ideas as well, come to think of it!)

5.  This little secret is from Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.  If you are feeling resistance and stress about anything at all, like the holidays just around the corner,  notice your reluctance and  see where it speaks to you from your body.  Is it a tightness in your shoulders, neck, chest, or mind?  Leo says you have a few choices, you can stop doing what ever it is, call off the holiday, or you can push yourself to go through with things even if you are feeling like you don't want to (usually results in bad moods, no?) or you can chose to let go of the feeling of tightness.  Woo!  Easy, right?  Leo has 5 simple steps right here, go immediately and check them out.  You won't be sorry.

6.  We all know about altered books and mixed media art, taking something that is one thing and using art materials to turn it into something else, right?  Why don't we do that with stuff that makes us feel stressed?  What could you do to alter the things that give you stress? 

Let's Occupy Our Hearts collage by Laniwith help from FlyPaper
7.  Go for a massage or take a long hot bath.

8.  Do a little yoga and/or meditation.

9.  The Universities of Dalhousie and Tufts have both employed therapy dogs to help with end of term stress.  What an awesome idea.  Play with your pet, and if you don't have a pet, visit a friend's pet for a pet therapy break!
"Pleasure in the Pathless Woods" collage by Lani with help from FlyPaper
10.  Go for a "treasure hunt" walk.  Look for evidence of love (got that from my love guru Christine Arylo), kindness, and beauty.  Take notes, take pictures, and share them.

11.  Spend some time in nature.  Dress well, stay warm, be comfortable.  See what you learn, take notes and share.

12.  Make a hot drink and pull out the art supplies.  Do a little journaling.  Awesome stress reducer, plus you will have something lovely to look at.

13.  Curl up with a good book and your favorite music by the fire, if you have a fire place, if not then imagine. Your imagination is a wonderful stress reducing tool!

14.  Make a list of what you would do to create a stress free day and share your list with others (or right here).  Ask them what they would do, start a conversation or a movement!  Take back your life!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Strengths and Occupying the Holiday Season.

"Endure" collage by Lani with help from FlyPaper

Sonja Lyubomirsky (Professor, University of California, Riverside) answered a question put to her by Amanda Horne on the Positive Psychology News Daily website, "How can I use my strengths this holiday season?"  Such a great question.  She said she would:

  • Focus less on materialistic goals (and, yes, I mean the buying and consuming of all those gifts, many of them useless) and more on intrinsic goals involving personal growth, connections with others, and contributing to family, community, and society
  • Live in the here-and-now — that is, focus on, enjoy, and savor the moment instead of dwelling on what work you’re missing or the chores you have to do tomorrow
  • Work on appreciating what you have, even if it’s not very much; this is extremely difficult to do and requires lots of practice
  • Set at least one new, intrinsic, important, and meaningful life goal and begin the first baby step towards it
  • When you find yourself ruminating about problems or comparing yourself to others, shift your mindset, and distract, distract, distract
  • Work out as much as you can, doing whatever physical activity that “fits” you best
Do you need a review of what the positive psychologists focus on as strengths to create your own list?  Here you go:

Under "Wisdom and Knowledge" positive psychologists place Curiosity, Love of Learning, Judgment, Ingenuity, Social Intelligence, and Perspective.  (Gosh, the holidays seem like a really great time to work on these!)

Under "Courage" they place Valor, Perseverance, and Integrity.  (These strength may come into play if you have some family  members who like to stir things up a bit.)

Under "Humanity and Love" they place Kindness and Loving.  (Since this is what the holidays are all about, maybe there would be lots of opportunity to practice these.)

Under "Justice" they place Citizenship, Fairness, and Leadership.

Under "Temperance" they place Self-control, Prudence, and Humility.  (My mother-in-law gave me some great advice about how to practice this particularly with rowdy holiday making family members who "like to stir things up."  She said just blend into the wood work, be a wall flower when it seems wise.  Good advice!)

Under "Transcendence" they place Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Spirituality, Forgiveness,  Humor, and Zest.  (Ah, now these strengths really speak to me about the holidays and end of year exploration.  Lots of  material here!)
So how will you be using your strengths this holiday season? Need more ideas? Check the Positive Psychology News Daily!

Want to learn more about your own strengths?  Then the VIA character strengths website would be for you!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

"Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions"

Collage by Lani, wisdom by Papaya Art
It's that time of year again, when Spirit and Material seem to clash so amazingly.  We have the joy of the season; sharing good food, music, and time with neighbors and family and then there's this strange market driven panic about getting and consuming, and is it conspicuous enough, and will someone think badly of me if I don't go into debt for the holiday.  Every year this aspect of the holiday season seems to get a little more intense.  Now it really feels like everything else is pushed aside and we are supposed to consume in order to support our various nation's economies.  (And that word "economy" needs to be spoken with a certain amount of reverence, in hushed tones.)

So I'm in a bit of a radical mood here, I'm ready to take back my Christmas holiday from the marketers and big box stores.  I'm all for Occupying the Holiday Season.  I'm getting ready to create my own "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions" (the idea is actually borrowed from some holiday junk mail that came from the Zen Mountain Monastery.  There's a DVD on Oryoki, the formal monastery meal, with Master Dogen's instructions for a miraculous occasion.)  Well, the way I figure it, we can all create our own miraculous occasions, and I'm going to start with the holidays.  I want my holiday to be the opposite of mass, conspicuous consumption.  I'd love to create meaning, joy, creativity, and delight.  I'm currently in search of the contents for my "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions" and the search is actually a blast!

One place I looked was over at American Dream, specifically their "Beyond Consumerism" page.  They have a great little PDF about simplifying the Holidays.  GREAT ideas in this PDF and it's free.  First are some serious questions:
1. Does your usual celebration focus on those aspects of the holiday that you feel are most important?
2. Which parts of your celebration would be the easiest to change so that you could spend more time on the things that are most meaningful for you?
3. Which activities could you scale back to reduce stress?
4. Where can you enlist help to make tasks easier and more fun?  (One of my favorite holiday memories was making Christmas tree ornaments with my sisters; listening to carols, laughing, and enjoying each others' company.  It was a way to share the task of holiday decoration and it was fun!)
5.Which activities do you find particularly enriching, and worthy of more time and effort?
So these are great questions and pretty easy to answer.

Now here comes my favorite activity so far in this search for contents for my "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions" also from this great little PDF.
The idea is to create admiration booklets for family, and since one of my favorite things in the world is creating books, booklets, altered books, and zines, I can totally see the amazing fun this could be.  Here's how they describe it:
One year, my immediate family (parents and siblings) decided
that we really didn’t need to buy each other gifts. So instead,
we all wrote something we love or admire about each other. I
collected these comments and created a little booklet for each
person containing all of the comments. At our get-together,
each person got a booklet of all of the qualities that people
like about them. I love this idea because it really allows you to
express your admiration and support for the people you love.
It’s a great keepsake and it definitely brought us together more
than a new pair of slippers would!
—Kindle Fahlenkamp-Morell  

So that's the beginning of my Occupation of the Holidays and the "Instruction Manual for Miraculous Occasions".  I will continue my research and post hear so stay tuned!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fearless love

"Fearless Love" collage by Lani
"The more you take care of yourself, the more you can take care of the people and things you love."
                      -Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with Me

A very cool part of Christine's book is the "Daring Act of Love".  She's got nearly 30 of these little tasks which are guaranteed to boost mood, encourage creativity, and just plain make you happy.  So one of my favorites is what she calls "Self-trust Tic Tac" in which you counter fear, anxiety, doubt, confusion, etc. with a little (as in a tic tac) self-trust and love.  Here's the secret tic-tac: you put your hand on your heart and say "I choose to have faith in love.  I choose to release my faith in fear."  You say this until the fear releases its grip.  It doesn't take very long.

Then of course I'd make some art to anchor the feeling into all levels of consciousness.   Try it and let me know how it works for you!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Follow your heart

"Follow your heart" collage by Lani with help from FlyPaper and Papaya Art
Here's a "Love Boost" from Christine Arylo's Madly in Love with Me (pg.110-111):
"Whenever you feel down about ... yourself, try boosting yourself in one of these ways:
...Be kind, gentle, and compassionate with yourself by saying nice things out loud to yourself.
...Put your hands on ...your heart and send pink love vibes.
...Ask, 'What can I do to take better care of you?'"

Try this "Love Boost" and make some art and then see how you feel! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Make a Wish

Morning Pages collage by Lani, "Make a wish"

"What would it... feel like to have such unconditional love and respect for yourself that only situations and relationships that reflect that same unconditional love and respect would be acceptable to  you?" - Christine Arylo,  author of Madly in Love with Me

Here's SARK on Succulence and Self Love

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Imagine a world full of love...

Imagine a world full of love...
"Imagine" collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper)
"Imagine generations of girls and women who never suffer from eating disorders, who refuse to tolerate an abusive or toxic relationship in their lives, without guilt or obligation, rendering exhaustion and the sense of being overwhelmed obsolete, ancient diseases only read about in textbooks."  - Christine Arylo,  author of Madly in Love with Me 

(Yes, imagine...)

"Speak up for Love" Collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper)
"Where there is love, there is nothing to fear." - Christine Arylo,  author of Madly in Love with Me
"Dream Medicine" Collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Subversive Book Alert


Collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper)

Watch out, there's a new, highly subversive book out there.  And if you want to be a happy artist this may be your best investment this year!  It's all about creating more joy, freedom, and love, right here, right now!  I just wish this book was around for our ancestors, seriously!

While in college I worked as an au pair/domestic support person at  an orphan's home.  I loved how the kids seemed to feel so proud and happy with themselves when they were working creatively.  Later, while working as an art therapist in NYC, I loved how people were using the creative process to pull themselves out of some rather negative life situations.  One woman I worked with explained it this way, that in the art room she discovered that she could love who she was, that there was something in the creative process that allowed her  to love herself more, love others more, and be less dependent in her relationships.  There was more freedom, confidence, and joy.  Because of that, she was more capable of doing things for herself, which increased her sense of self worth.  What if I'd had a book back then, chock full of ideas, tasks, questions, and art adventures?  This would have been great not just with the folks I worked with, but also with my own adventures in creating a happy artist life.  Okay, you want to know what the book is (and maybe why I call it subversive)?

Christine Arylo's newest book "Madly in love with me; The daring adventure of becoming your own best friend" is truly a great idea, a sort of "Self-Love Handbook" full of wisdom, reassurance, and of course love.  Oh, and there are these amazing interactive links that you can follow to create a richer experience.  (It's in paperback, so the price is fine, and the kindle version has an even nicer price!)

If you want a peek at what it's all about there's lots of ways to peek!  No risk at all!  First of all, there's the You Tube Self Love Station, full of sweet and inspiring videos.  (My favorite so far is Self love book with Kris Carlson, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.)  There's the facebook page  MadlyInLoveWithMe, and a Madly In Love With Me website which has freebies, a chapter, meditations, coaching, retreats and workshops.

"Take a stand and make sure that, from this day forward, your relationship with yourself is as important as every other relationship in your life."  - Christine Arylo

PS - Why did I call it subversive?  Because if you can truly love yourself, you are truly free; free from the marketing messages of the media, free from negative or abusive relationships, free to live your life and be the very best you can be.  Truly free people are brave and willing to speak up about what they feel is important, without being afraid of judgement or criticism.  Isn't that delightfully subversive? 
PPS - You may see some extra subversion in future artwork on this blog, heavily influenced by "Me Art" prompts from Christine's book

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New FlyPaper Love, French Receipts




Collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper Overlays)
Background paper by Lani (with help from FlyPaper Overlays)
Yes, I'm stuck on FlyPaper.  I love the spindly, spidery script on these  FlyPaper French Receipt Overlays.  They really are beautiful.  I've used them as backgrounds on my morning pages.  They suit the seriousness of these old tintype kids.
Collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper Overlays)

Collage by Lani (with help from FlyPaper Overlays)

Monday, November 05, 2012

For anyone attending my workshop at the Summit

I hear there's confusion about the download so I'll post it here:





In addition, here are some awesome links:

Roland L. Freeman, “A Communion of the Spirits; African-American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories”
http://www.amazon.com/Communion-Spirits-African-American-Quilters-Preservers/dp/1558534253

Roland L. Freeman Gallery http://www.tgcd.org/gal.cfm

Quilts of Gee's Bend Catalog
http://www.auburn.edu/academic/other/geesbend/explore/catalog/slideshow/index.htm

Brief history of African American Narrative Quilts on Prof Susurro’s Blog http://likeawhisper.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/bhm-african-american-quilters-as-historians-pt-ii/

Kyra E. Hicks - Black Threads - An African American Quilting Sourcebook (website) http://www.black-threads.com/home.html

The Prayer Flag Project Blog
http://theprayerflagproject.blogspot.ca/

Darn Good Yarn http://www.darngoodyarn.com/

Spirit Cloth (beautiful blog) http://spiritcloth.typepad.com/spirit_cloth/

India Flint http://www.indiaflint.com/



Monday, October 29, 2012

30 Day Positive Challenge

Morning pages fiddled with in the FREE on-line
Pixlr software with very fun instruction from Susan Tuttle!

Over on Facebook I noticed the 30 Day Positive Challenge which is the Community Page for Positive Positive Positive (which is in itself a fascinating story so visit if you get a chance!)  If you want to try these prompts in your journaling practice, I think they are great!  If you are on Facebook and you'd like to participate there simply tag @30 Day Positive Challenge in your post along with that day's "rule" or prompt. Here they are... 

Description

Day 1 – The most Inspirational Quote you have ever seen
Day 2 – Post a photo that you Love
Day 3 – Make a list of the top 5 things that you appreciate in your life
Day 4 – Find a photo of a Painting/Drawing that makes you happy and post it
Day 5 – Read and post something Positive (Either something from a book, an article, something from Google)
Day 6 – The most Inspirational Book you have read
Day 7 – Spend 30 minutes and relax and listen to some nice music. What did you choose?
Day 8 – Make a list of 5 dreams you’d love to come true in your life
Day 9 – Focus in the Now (For the whole day) Describe the experience
Day 10 – Watch a good funny movie. What did you choose?
Day 11 – Say yes (Like the Yes Man Movie) all day! How did it feel?
Day 12 – Call someone you haven’t called in a while
Day 13 – Be calm all day
Day 14 – Tell a friend how amazing they are
Day 15 – Give a compliment to the first person you see and post what you said
Day 16 – Describe a time that you that you did community service. If you have a picture post that up too
Day 17 – Post a picture of something that reminds you of peace, love, and/or happiness
Day 18 – Post a picture of a time that was really fun and made you happy
Day 19 – Post a music video that makes you happy
Day 20 – Post a picture of someone laughing
Day 21 – Quote the lyrics of a positive / peaceful song
Day 22 – Talk about a Dream that has come true
Day 23 – Find and post a Poem which is Inspiring
Day 24 – Describe something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child
Day 25 – Talk about your BEST memory from Childhood?
Day 26 – What are 5 Positive words that describe you?
Day 27 – Post a photo of the most relaxing place in the World that you have visited
Day 28 – Google the word ‘Inspirational’ and find something special to post
Day 29 – Talk about someone who has influenced you greatly in life
Day 30 – Post anything Positive.. Photos, Art, Drawings, Articles, Websites, anything you like!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Creating Possibility

Morning pages with photoshop layers and fun.
 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 morning pages before breakfast, and now with my iPad I can take a picture of my page and play with it while I have my breakfast, run it through a couple of Apps and post it on Instagram.  It's fun to be surprised later by what I have done.  An art therapist friend, Allison Fox, writes "...thank you for keeping on advocating for quick, easy and often in art making. It is hugely helpful - even when I don't actually do it. It makes the transition back easier."  Well I actually advocate the things I advocate because some days I can use a little reminder about "quick, easy and often" as well.
Morning pages with iPad apps and fun
 The one here, "Create Possibility" is really a neat idea.  It was one of those dreary, foggy, overcaste, cold, gray days, kind of bleck if you can picture it.  And as I was playing with image and words, it suddenly came to me that it's all in constant flux isn't it?  One day is dreary, the next is sunny.  So we don't have to have the perfect day right now, we don't have to have all the ducks in a line, we don't even have to have all our creations be brilliant, we just need to create the possibility for good things to happen.  Which for me means getting up early, doing some yoga and art before breakfast and seeing what the day brings.
Morning pages with iPad Apps and fun.
 And finally one of the best lessons I've learned from positive psychology and art is that life has shadows and difficult times.   It's not about plastering over the bad stuff, more like building up your strengths and resilience to deal with the difficulties.  And heck, if there were no shadows, there'd be no variation of tone, there'd be no contrast, there'd be very little of interest without shadow.  So here's to morning pages, with shadows and all.  And here's to creating possibility!
"Through Shadow" morning pages with iPad Apps and fun.

Making friends with the Inner Critic, or allowing the IC to make friends with you.

"Little me" played with in Pixlr
The easiest way around the dreaded Inner Critic is to help it develop empathy for you.  I'm sure that the rational for inner critics in general is to help us with our best work.  But they do tend to go over board.  So try this.  Find an old photo of your self as a younger individual and play with it a bit in some photomanipulation programs.  As you play with this image, try to imagine the world through this young person's eyes.  You may find yourself empathizing.  You may find that harsh inner voice tone itself down a bit.  Keep the empathy evoking image around where your Inner Critic will see it.

This technique works very well with other relationships as well.  If you have a somewhat difficult person in your life, rather than attempt to remove them, try to find an old photo of them as a very young person, a photo that evokes empathy.  Let me know how this works for you.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Workshop Alert

Workshop in NYC

Expressive Therapies Summit
Art Drama Music Poetry Psychodrama Dance and Sandplay

http://www.cvent.com/events/expressive-therapies-summit-2012-registration-site/event-summary-a631d616cdd6499c92f749761a4d1d3a.aspx

 Lani A. Gerity, DA, ATR
Susan Ainlay Anand, ATR-BC, ATCS

Exploring Cultural Identity & Strengthening Resilience through Story and Cloth

FRIDAY, November 9
10:00 am – 5:15 pm

In this Master Class class, we will weave experiential art-making (simple narrative cloth structures, group mural and individual pieces), with resilience narratives and an examination of cultural strengths.

What to bring for the day-long workshop! Bring your curiosity, dreams, strengths and hopes. We will start the workshop with an exploration variety of cultures’ use of fiber arts to create what is both practical and expressive. We will look at Narrative and Other quilts from the African Diaspora in North America and in India. We will look at the Hmong narrative quilts created by refugees in North America. We will look also look at prayer flags from a variety of cultures as artistic expressions of hope and strength. 

For the hands on work you might like to bring a variety of pieces of cloth that have personal meaning for you (lace, bits of clothing, ribbons, buttons, embellishments, all are welcome). If you have particular scissors, embroidery floss, needles, thimbles, etc. please bring. We’d like to do some very simple image transfer so if you have some ancestor photos that you would like to play with in this way, please bring LAZER copies.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Art journaling, the doorway...

Found: Doorway by Lani (with help from FlyPaper Textures )
 Every morning I sit down with my paper, images, glue sticks, pens and see what emerges.  Usually the image is a total surprise.  The morning I did this one, the idea of "What gets us up in the morning" was still at play.  An important piece of "what gets me up in the morning" is gratitude.  I am very grateful to have had all the teachers that I had in my life.   Their generosity and kindness helped me uncover the doorway to my own art making, my own joy, and happiness.  Thank you all so much!   If I can pass on a tiny bit of what I have learned, how lovely that would be!  (And thank you FlyPaper Textures  for the finishing touches, you guys are awesome.)

So if I could only teach one thing it would be to be as generous with others as you can be.  The world is often a sad place and we all need more good things, more kindness in our lives.   The best way to find good things and kindness is to create them!  
A perfect whole by Lani (with  help from FlyPaper Textures )

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ikigai - What gets us up in the morning

My Ikigai - What gets me up in the morning
Actually what gets me up in the morning is finding great posts like this one on Positive Art Therapy, via an email from Gretchen Miller.   In the post, Janet writes about the Japanese concept of Ikigai which is used to describe what gets us up in the morning.  It could be a lengthy, soul-searching process but Janet was challenged to create an art piece with 6 words in 5 minutes.  I thought why not give it a shot myself.

So I created the collage first.  I wanted an image of "getting up" in spite of it all.   A background which conveys urban decay was perfect.  Then I used a Photoshop brush adapted from an AdBusters image which shows kids leaping.  This speaks to me of hope and energy.  Then to find my six words which came very quickly; Joy, Art, Magic, Love, Generosity, and Happiness.  For me joy, magic, love and generosity go into my art making which of course makes me happy, fills me with inner satisfaction and lights up my brain chemistry, my internal reward system.

So thank you Janet and Gretchen for passing this concept along.  I would challenge all of us to see what comes when we try to put "what gets us up in the morning" into six words.  Very fun!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Letters of Courtesy, Friendship, and Affection

"Letters of Courtesy, Friendship, and Affection" Collage by Lani with old tintype and digital ephemera
I am working on a couple of illustrations for essays having to do with facing loss, accepting grief, and learning to love our ephemeral and changing natures a little more every day.  When I read the prompts (very moving essays) and as I began to work with these ideas with images, I discovered once again that grief and loss, when faced and even honored, have many gifts to give us. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New Textures Alert!

Dreaming Collage with  help from FlyPaper Textures  and card from  Anahata Katkin
Oh my word, I think I will be busy with my new August Painterly Pack from FlyPaper Textures for a very long time!  And what you can do with their "taster packs" is a whole amazing added layer (see the gear shape above).  If I were you, I would rush right over to Paul and Jill's website and see what can be done with these beauties!

And of course while you are rushing, do check Anahata's shop. She always sends lovely extras in the package, so nice, and great for my current gluebooking craze (see 14 Secrets blog).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Laugh more often...

From my Laugh More Often board on Pinterest
I've been reading the "Psychology of Wellbeing" blog lately, which gathers quite a lot of useful research all in one handy spot.  Of particular interest was a recent post on the affect of laughter and humor on our well-being.  Of particular interest was Fabian Gander, Rene Proyer and Tobias Wyss creation of a "three funny things" test design.  They wanted to create something similar to Seligman's "three good things" research, which has show the positive correlation between finding 3 good things in your daily life and the overall positive effect that has on mood.  Gander, Pryer, and Wyss wanted to know what the overall effect would be of looking for 3 funny things on a daily bases.  Their research showed that participants who wrote down three funny things daily showed significantly higher happiness three months after the exercise and significantly lower depressive symptoms at 1 month, 3 months and 6 months afterward.  Seems like looking for funny things might be a good idea!

So in the interest of science or my own good humor, I decided I needed a new board on Pinterest, one devoted to laughter or to things that make me laugh.  Then I can review it at any point during the day and see what the overall effect is on my sense of well being.

Want more humor and well being research?  Here you go:  

Laughter in a Time of Turmoil: Humor as Spiritual Practice by Richard P. Olson

Laughter: A Scientific Investigation by Robert Provine

Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott examines laughter and social bonding.

Robin Dunbar, psychologist from Oxford, says that the physical contractions of laughter trigger the release of endorphins in the brain (and of course that's never a bad thing).

The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor is an organization dedicated to providing evidence based information on practical applications of humor.

Try this: find three funny things a day and see what happens, or just look at my pinterest board once a day and let me know how you feel!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"...Jump over that great divide..."

Collage by Lani with help from AdBusters.
Working on a couple of new eCourses, one on Art and Flourishing and one on Art and Inner Ecology.  What is your inner environment like?   Is it populated by the popular culture or is it truly your own?  How can we make our lives more wonder-filled and thoroughly ours?  How can we learn to occupy us?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nurturing our sense of wonder and awe...

In order to nurture my sense of wonder and awe, I've posted a  quilting mystery posted on 14 Secrets

Collage by Lani with element from Teesha Moore.
"The creative source is a room hidden inside you. Wonder is a door that - for an instant - opens to give you a glimpse inside. Wonder entertains mystery, builds a nest for the unknown and unknowable, and it lures you down the path less traveled." -Mari Messer from Pencil Dancing

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Home from Savannah!

Collage by Lani with inspiration from Kim Griggs & help from FlyPaper Textures 
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. -Helen Keller
Back from the American Art Therapy Association annual conference in Savannah where the heat is certainly cranked up!  Had a wonderful time and now Savannah is a part of me!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Happy Canada Day!


Prospero the faithful Bergamasco playing hide and seek in Cape Breton.


Happy Canada Day!  


Here's a great Squidoo Lens on places to see in Canada.  I'm just back from the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton (on the list of what to see) where we saw moose, whale bone as big a a tree, Gampo Abbey, and plenty of other fun stuff.  Do take a look at this Squidoo Lens and see what you think
about Cape Breton.

Here's a whale bone we found washed up on a rocky beach in Cape Breton.  Too big for fetch.


Friday, June 15, 2012

"Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?"

Working on a presentation for the American Art Therapy Association Annual Conference in Savannah, Georgia, on the topic of "Curiosity in the Art Room."  I've been looking for passionate quotes on curiosity, wonder and awe, when suddenly the viral PBS mashup of Mr. Rogers popped up in my inbox.  Let me please add to the viral effect by posting it here.  If you haven't seen it, it is a delight!  Utterly!

 

Here are the lyrics:
Do you ever imagine things?

Are they scary things?

Do you ever imagine things?

Things you’d like to have? 

Did you ever see a cats eyes in the dark and wonder what they were? 

Did you ever pretend about things like that before? (Do you ever pretend about things like that?)
Did you ever grow anything in your garden of your mind? (In your garden of your mind?)

You can grow ideas in your garden of your mind!
 (In your garden of your mind!)
It’s good to be curious about many things. 

You can think about things and make believe
.
All you have to do is think and they’ll grow.

Imagine every person that you see is somewhat different from every other person in the world.

Some can do something (Some can do something)

Some can do others (Some can do others)

Did you ever think about the many things you learned to do?
Did you ever grow anything in your garden of your mind? (In your garden of your mind?) 

You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.
 (In your garden of your mind.)

It’s good to be curious about many things.

You can think about things and make believe 

All you have to do is think and they’ll grow.
Did you feel like going like that (finger snap) 

Lets give the fish some food.


Mr. McFeely, 
I didn’t order any whistles.
That’s what they call baseline.

Did you feel like going like that (finger snap)
There are so many things to learn about in this world.

And there are so many people who can help us learn.
Did you ever grow anything in your garden of your mind? (In your garden of your mind?)

You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind. (In your garden of your mind?)
It’s good to be curious about many things.

You can think about things and make believe.

All you have to do is think
.
You can think about things and make believe.

All you have to do is think and they’ll grow.

Mister Rogers remixed by Symphony of Science's John D. Boswell for PBS Digital Studios. **If you like this video, please support your local PBS station.** http://www.pbs.org/donate

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ghosts in the Graveyard

"Ghosts in the Graveyard" collage by Lani, with help from FlyPaper Textures 
Had an adventure yesterday, hunting for Lady Slipper Orchids.  Found plenty but also found this awesome graveyard and couldn't help myself.  My collage loving soul had to play!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Someone I admire...

ओं मणिपद्मे हूं

Om mani padme hum 

Collage of Dalai Lama as a child


Maureen Harvey, art therapist from Oklahoma, gave out 10 directives or prompts in her "break out session" for the Art Therapy conference in Oklahoma City.  I thought I would play with these here.  The first one is "Someone I Admire" and I chose the Dalai Lama, but I wasn't happy with all the photos we normally see.  I wanted to work with an image that would make me look twice.  I found this one of him as a child.  I wanted to put Om Mani Padme Hum on the wall next to him and also put him in unfamiliar surroundings.

Maureen suggests that we try to list all the strengths that the person we admire owns.  So of the 24 strengths I think the Dalai Lama must have all of them, as he is so very strong.  But for sure I know he's passionately curious, open-minded, loves learning new things, has a wonderful perspective, is extremely brave, persistent, unquestionable integrity, extreme vitality, very loving, kind, good with people, absolutely awesome citizen of the world, fair, excellent leader, forgiving, humble, prudent, shows amazing self-control, appreciation of beauty, grateful, hopeful, filled with humor and very spiritually focused.  The only one I didn't associate with the Dalai Lama was creativity, but if I think about it, I reckon he's got his fair share of this as well.


Maureen then suggests we look at which of these strengths we have ourselves, and we should find that what we admire most in others is a reflection of what we have within us.  Well, if not actually flowering to the degree of the one we admire, at least we can take comfort that we have the seeds within us.

Anyone want to try this prompt or challenge?  More to come!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Secrets for Flourishing Right Now!

Collage by Lani, Where Do Our Strengths Come From?
Here are a few Positive Psychology resources from Oklahoma Art Therapist, Maureen Harvey and myself:

Read Seligman (2011 & 2002) He discusses the elements of Well-Being which of course if encouraged, will help you flourish, be happy and resilient! Elements: (In case you like acronyms, here's Seligman's for the elements of well being, PERMA)Positive Emotion (includes happiness and life satisfaction)
Engagement
Relationships
Meaning
Achievement

Seligman believes we go into a flow state when our highest strengths are being used to meet the highest challenges that come our way. In well-being theory, these twenty-four strengths underpin all five elements.  Seligman believes using your highest strengths leads to more positive emotion, to more meaning, to more accomplishment, and to better relationships.  Personal experience will prove this to be true.  (just try it for a whiile)

Seligman's goal of positive psychology in his well being theory is to increase the amount of flourishing in our lives and on the entire planet.

Another good resource is Martin Bolt's book, Pursuing Human Strengths.  He believes our values are at the core of personal development. He believes we have responsibility to ourselves, to others, to our environment, and to future generations. He says a productive, meaningful life requires the development of our unique talents and strengths, as well as a commitment to something greater than ourselves.

Bibliography:
1.    Flourish, Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D, Simon and Schuster Publishers, Inc, 2011
2.   Authentic Happiness, Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D, Simon and Schuster Publishers, Inc, 2002
3.    Pursuing Human Strengths, A Positive Psychology Guide, Martin Bolt, Worth Publishers, 2004
4.    Appreciative Inquiry, A Positive Revolution in Change, David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2005

Websites and articles:
www.authentichappiness.org   University of Pennsylvania, lots of information, tests and opportunity to be part of their studies.

The Happiness Institute, an Australian Positive Psychology website, is a great resource, full of articles, blog, research and ideas.

Want some Positive Psychology Art Cards?  Strengths in a Box is a beautiful set of 50 strengths with all sorts of possible applications, created by Australian Art Therapist, Megan Booth.

Gretchen Miller sent me this lovely Huffington Post article on how Art Can Be Good For Mental Health.  It has a lot of nice flourishing links and ideas.

Psychology Today has a good article on the positive effects of mindfulness on the brain, Changing Your Brain By Changing Your Mind

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Back from Flourishing in Oklahoma, Oh My!!!

Dusk at the Paseo Art Walk in Oklahoma City.
Art Doll created participant in my workshop on display at the Paseo Art Walk.
In front of the JRB Art Gallery (what a lovely spot and what a joy the owner was, Joy)
Inside Joy's office in the JRB Art Gallery.
Alice and friends out for a walk on the Paseo district of Oklahoma City.
Breathtaking glass from Dale Chihuly at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Boat loads of glass from Dale Chihuly.  Such fun!
More Chihuly glass.
Sigh!  I'd love to move in to this exhibit for a while!
So beautiful!  If you get a chance, do visit this collection!
A huge thank you to all the art therapists of Oklahoma for inviting me to come talk about flourishing.  From what I can see, they've got everything they need to flourish in a very big, colorful way, right now!