Thursday, February 25, 2016

#129 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artists life - Create Secret Messages

"#secretmessages"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This happy adventure began with an image from Mandy Steward that Gretchen Miller posted on FaceBook.  You know, one of those little creativity sparks that pop up in life from time to time!
So I clicked on the image and I got magically whisked to Mandy Steward's blog and website.  Oh my.  So she has a secret message society with monthly inspirational zines, a wonderful eBook called "What is a Secret Message" and a Magic School.  Whee. 

What is a secret message? A Secret Message is a reminder of sorts for something you innately know at your core. Like a colorful fortune cracked out of a cookie at just the right time. I believe when you find one it can help air out your lungs, melt your heart and bolster your Soul.                                                                                                   - Mandy Steward
What could be better, more fun, more happiness inducing than to think about what secret messages you might be on the look out for and then to create them for yourself? 

"Warning: may cause breathlessness. May cause the first daring trembles of hope. May cause furtive joy.
                                                                                     - Hillary Rain

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Visual Art Journaling for Teens & Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, Contained

  "Let Go of Certainties"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Registration for the Master Class Visual Art Journaling for Teens & Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, Contained at Fourth Annual Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training Institute is now open.  This class will be a day long intensive from 9:30 - 5:00 on Saturday the 11th of June, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.  The course will offer you a way to present art journaling in your therapy groups or in individual work.  We will be using simple office supplies and collage materials to create journals and then using a variety of “directives” we will explore art journaling as a way of building strength, resiliency, and self-care.

Over the past few years, I've been creating and posting morning pages every day on FaceBook and my blog 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life.   Here's what I have learned so far. 

* If you practice something every day, you get better at it.  
* If you practice something which encourages thought and reflection every day, you become more thoughtful. 
* If you practice something which makes you happy every day, you get happier every day.

As a student, I used to wonder why Edith Kramer, art therapy pioneer, repeatedly encouraged us to create art every day.  She also encouraged us to keep a journal for things we were learning, for the ideas and questions that come to us.  She suggested that these activities, if engaged in fully, would help us grow into our best selves, that we would be able to see our strengths and resilience unfold.  There are a lot of intrinsic rewards built into utilizing our inner strengths and nothing that promotes freedom, independence,  and a sense of self worth better than the realization that we have the power to create our own inner satisfaction and intrinsic rewards. Over these past few years of Morning Pages exploration, I have to admit Edith Kramer had a point about all of this.

This Master Class will be about helping ourselves and the people we work with to grow into the best selves possible, about engaging in a daily art practice, the benefits, challenges and joys of such a practice, and even some specifics for collage work.  In the past I have created eCourses, ‘Zines, and FaceBook groups in which participants can continue to play.  This master class will provide you with links, on-line support, and an eZine to download so you can continue with your own practice at your own pace.  If you have thought about art journaling for yourself or your clients, this may be the class for you.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

#128 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artists life - Try a little counter intuitive radical acceptance

 "Gift"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

I was working on my morning pages while listening to a dharma talk from one of my favorite Buddhist monks, Bhante Sujato.  Suddenly my ears perked up and I had to stop and rewind the talk a tiny bit.  He said:
It is painful and difficult  (pause) 

and we shouldn’t try to pretend otherwise  (pause)

It will break your heart (long pause)

And if it hasn’t broken your heart then you haven’t started practicing.  (pause)

I had to rewind it a few times to realize he was speaking of meditation, because what I was hearing was life is painful and difficult, and we shouldn't try to pretend otherwise.  And we know life will break our hearts if we are fully engaged with it, if we are living and loving with our whole hearts.   And I am thinking that is actually the point, to allow the heart to be broken. 

It's counter intuitive to embrace the sorrow you can feel in Bhante Sujato's words.  Everything in us balks.  But if we are willing to make that leap we find we really aren't alone.  And there is a very deep sense of some sort of abiding joy in this. 

Yes, it is painful and difficult but try a little radical acceptance of that fact and see what happens.  We are all here together. 
"We are Heart Artists" collage by Lani.