Thursday, December 13, 2018

#'s 193 - 293 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Give your creativity a burst.

"Art Warrior" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
From a March 2002 Issue of The Studio Zine from Teesha Moore.

1. Carve a stamp. Use a white eraser and a linoleum cutter.
2. Make a puppet. Use a paper towel tube, attach an old doll head to the top and drape fabric around neck. Add stuff.
3. Dig out your sewing machine and make something out of your old clothes destined for the thrift store.
4. Take a trip into the big city. Look for ideas.
5. Go cruise the aisles of your craft store. You never know what you might see that you can turn into something cool.
6. Go spend a couple of hours at a bookstore. Look in sections that you have never looked in before.
7. Take another look at your local community college list of evening classes. Sign up for something weird.
8. Cook a gourmet meal for your friends.
9. Go for a walk.
10. Look through your art supplies. Use something that hasn't yet been used.
11. Arm yourself with a canvas, brush and a few acrylics. Paint a face using the whole canvas and lots of colors.
12. Plan an imaginary dream trip to someplace exotic.
13. Make a travel journal about your imaginary trip.
14. Read a fiction book.
15. Go to the museum with your journal and sketch something.
16. Go hang out in a coffee shop with your journal. Meet someone new.
17. Buy a new pen. Doodle with it.
18. Get out your alphabet rubber stamp set and stamp out an entire page of text in your journal.
19. Pick a color and make something using only that color.
21. Make some wings out of wire. Glue a thin paper over the wire frame.
22. Make an artist book about your day, your family, your dog, your dreams, your town, your best friend, etc.
23. Go see a play or opera or a concert.
24. Decoupage a lunch pail. Cover it with a high gloss varnish like Golden's High gloss medium.
25. Find a nice, clean purse at a thrift store. Add collage, beads, trims, etc.
26. Plan a tea party.
27. Make a sheet of artist stamps. Commemorate something common or seemingly insignificant.
28. Look through your collection of books. Pull out ones you haven't looked through for a while. Re-visit your "old friends."
29. Find an object around your house. Embellish it. Use fabric, beads, charms, collage, rubber stamps, found objects.
30. Go outside and find a bag of found objects. You might want to do this in the city. Now make something using your items.
31. Go listen to new music at your music store. Find an exciting new cd and buy it.
32. Design a fantastical costume in your journal with a pencil. Add little scraps of fabric to show what you have in mind.
33. Make color copies of your favorite things. Frame them and fill a wall.
34. Find a cheap, thrift store chandelier, paint it, and add strings of beads and dangles. Hang it even if it doesn't work.
35. Find an old window pane with glass still in it. Collage onto the back side of the glass. Hang it.
36. Make some tiny pillows. Embellish with beads and fringe. Put a bowl of them out. Add lavender to the stuffing.
37. Make a basket out of wire with curlicues. Fill it with rolled-up white washcloths and put next to your sink.
38. Plan out a tiny garden. Get started working the soil. Make little markers to add charm.
39. Start a collaborate project with a groups of friends.
40. Make a list of things that inspire you.
41. Plan a fun party fro your kids just for the fun of it. Go through with it.
42. Get a bulletin board and decorate it with all sorts of fun stuff that makes you happy.
43. Take a roll of pictures of odd things. Print them at a one-hour lab and then use them in your collage.
44. Gold leaf something. It can be as simple as some old dried leaves.
45. Re-arrange your furniture.
46. Make some paper dolls. Make copies and give to your friends.
47. Take a stained glass class to learn how to cut glass and solder pieces together. Put found text between two pieces of glass.
48. Take a dance class. Learn belly dancing.
49. Make a cloth art doll. No rules. Just make something...anything.
50. Melt beeswax. Dip things in it, like fabric or paper. Use your dipped pieces in something.
51. Make a shrine using up a bunch of art stuff you don't want anymore.
52. Take a free form ceramics class. Make a funky teapot.
53. Make giant outdoor figures using pieces of wood from old barns, metal scraps, thrift store finds, and paint.
54. Go for an hour drive out in the country. Driving works the right side of your brain and gets you thinking creatively.
55. Find a piece of unfinished wood furniture. Stamp on it using Colorbox black. Color in with colored pencil. Spray seal it.
56. Make something that has the feel of an old circus, or old Paris flea market, or eastern India, or Imperial China.
57. Try something that you have been wanting to try for a long time. Just do it.
58. Make an articulated figure. Use something for the body and limbs and join the parts together somehow. Make large or small.
59. Organize your desk. Clean it off, so you will actually feel like using it.
60. Make a special desk just for journaling at. Put in a corner and have all your supplies on it.
61. Go away for the weekend. Get some fresh air and a change of pace.
62. Go out to dinner with a friend and brainstorm ideas.
63. Go through old artwork, make copies of the stuff you like and play around with it. Adding more to it.
64. Try painting with water colors. Just make sheets of color. Later collage on these.
65. Take an old thrift store chair and paint it with lots of colors. Use paint pens to add words.
66. Find some interesting kids books in yard sales. Cut these up and use in your journal.
67. Play with papier-mâché. Make forms out of chicken wire.
68. Make a bunch of those "handmade" greeting cards that you see in high end gift shops for 10.00 a piece. Create a stash to send out.
69. Collage onto a piece of 1/4" wood. String a ribbon through the top, tie in a bow and hang.
70. Using lacquer thinner (found in auto store), transfer xerox's onto fabric, journal pages, etc. Wet back of copy face down on fabric. Rub with the back of a spoon. Lift paper.
71. Glue a box to the back of an old frame. Fill with a mini theater for a shadow box effect.
72. Make yourself some little calling cards. Put several on a sheet and copy onto card stock.
73. Make a bunch of tiny little books. Use as many different materials as you can think of.
74. Look in the yellow pages under the categories you like. You will be surprised to learn of places you didn't know about.
75. Go through your old photo albums. Use your family photos in fun collages. Make copies first.
76. Spend a day at the library. Bring your journal. Sketch things you find.
77. Plan a weekend of art for 3 of your friends. Create non-stop. Collaborate.
78. Take a piece of art that you are tired of and incorporate it into something new.
79. Go through all your stamp pads, pens, tubes of paint, etc. and throw out anything dried up.
80. Read through a quote book. Stencil a quote on your wall. Write some in your journal.
81. Mount up thos unmounted rubber stamps you bought a long time ago.
82. Buy some crackle glaze. Try it out. Rub brown paint into the cracks.
83. Go on a hunt for old costume jewelry. Make something out of it.
84. Buy a small-drawer organizer from a home improvement store. Organize your beads and small found objects.
85. Make a weather vane using an old bicycle wheel and attach old tea cups around the edge to catch the wind. Install outside.
86. Paint your address in huge numbers on your house. Make it funky. Do not do this if you live in one of those condominiums. (Ha)
87. Make a "bead" curtain using a copy of a face that is perfectly round (about 2"). Print face on front and back, laminate a bunch of them, punch holes in the top and bottom and attach to each other with jump rings.
88. Gather twigs outside and make something with them using twine. A picture frame, basket, sculptural piece, etc.
89. Look back through all your old issues of "The Studio".
90. Make your own zine. Everyone seems to be doing it these days.
91. Make your own game. Fashion it after a commercial one but make your own game board and pieces.
92. Paint faces onto fabric, make into pillows and hang from your ceiling with fishing line. These appear as if they are floating.
93. Explore your dollar store for cheap ceramics to use in your next mosaic.
94. Re-cover your dining room seat cushions with something wild (pink and black zebra stripe). This looks great with stuffy old classic designs.
95. Take a class at a bead store. Learning how to make jewelry provides invaluable techniques for lots of things.
96. Make a mobile using black foam core pieces, collage, paint along the edges, attach to each other using string. Add beads.
97. Go buy some inexpensive colorful goblets and arrange all your brushes, pens, pencils, scissors, and rulers in them.
98. Go into your Chinatown and see what you can find.
99. Cover something with a ton of silk roses and a hot glue gun. A lamp shade, pillow, around the edge of a mirror, etc.
100. Go buy yourself some fine chocolates and champagne. Draw a hot bath, light candles, add bubbles, use homemade soap. Lean head back with mouth full of chocolate and dream. (Oh my. Teesha wrote that she really needed tip #100 after thinking up the previous 99, but I think it sounds kind of good at any time.)

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Notes for Caregivers #7 - Did you know...?

"Not Alone" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
There is an excellent video from the University of California TV, "It Takes a Village: Caring for the Caregiver," in which Dr. Michael Rabow not only explored the burdens experienced by caregivers, but had many resources and suggestions to make navigating this difficult journey a little easier.

Did you know that a 25% of the US population is working as family caregivers? (I had no idea) And the odd thing is almost each one of these 44 million individuals feels quite alone on this care giving journey, usually struggling to re-invent the care giving wheel.  (How is that possible, 44 million people feeling isolated.) Did you know that most of these care givers feel "on duty" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  About half of the caregivers struggle with depression, at much higher levels than the patients. About a third suffer from PTSD after a patient's stay in ICU. Dr. Rabow feels that it is much easier to be the patient with the horrible diagnosis, than it is to be the caregiver.  As an example he pointed out that in the half hour he spends with the patient, the focus is entirely on how the patient is doing and what can be done to make the patient more comfortable. At the very end of the appointment he may turn to the caregiver and ask “why didn't you do such and such?”  (Hardly what you might call caring for the caregiver.)

Did you know that caregivers will put the needs of the patient ahead of their own needs, often ignoring their own deteriorating health, caused by the intense stress of the job. It has been show to lead to declining immune function, increased inflammation, heart issues, stroke, and even cancer (Bengt Zöller, 2012). (Yikes) And of course the patient and the caregiver both depend on the good health and resilience of the caregiver.

Thankfully, Dr. Rabow pointed out that there are proven interventions that are of help for the caregiver, like day care, home care, and palliative care. He suggests caregivers need to build daily respite into their lives, support groups, social workers, psychologists, and caregiver education (so the wheel doesn't have to be continually reinvented).

His resource list is excellent.
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center
AARP's Care Guide to Caring for those with Dementia
Caregiver Action Network
Care Giving Cafe
Family Care Giver Alliance
National Alliance of Caregiving
NIH Caregiving Resources

And here are his 10 Tips for Caregivers:
1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone. (Remember 44 million in the US alone)
2. Take care of your health so you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help.
4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors. (Hmmm, interesting idea)
5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
6. Watch out for signs of depression and don't hesitate to get professional help when you need it.
7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one. (Hmmm, another interesting idea!)
8. Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

Thank you Dr. Michael Rabow.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Notes for Caregivers #6 - Coping With Caregiver Depression and Grief

"Small Joys" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

I was scrolling through YouTube and found this very clear video for caregivers on coping with depression and grief. It's an easy to watch, helpful video of a difficult topic.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Notes for Caregivers #5 - Caregiving Essentials

"A Story Within" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
I've started an educational endeavor with McMaster University. They are offering a free online course in Caregiving Essentials, teaching us to navigate with confidence issues like becoming a caregiver (including legal and financial information), how to deal with the health care system and get the supports we need, how to take care of ourselves so we can care for someone else and finally we will have access to health and medical information.

Our first task is to own the caregiver role in part by identifying our strengths. We can sometimes feel like we have been handed a difficult and thankless job. Does it take a special kind of person to take on this role? I tend to doubt that but clearly if we can harness our strengths we can reap the rewards that come with caregiving. I am learning that successful caregivers display many of these positive traits: patience, resilience, confidence and compassion. We need to keep ourselves from falling into a pit of despair by regularly identifying our strengths and drawing on them as much as we can while we are "giving care."

The course suggests we ask ourselves these questions to help us identify our strengths:

1. What gives you energy? Activities that draw on your strengths typically make you feel more energized (whereas activities that take you out of your comfort zone might make you feel drained).
I think being an art therapist has been great training for this life. Creative work and problem solving along with serious listening are things that make me feel more energized, skills that worked well in art therapy and now as a caregiver.

2. What are your best character traits? Think back to job reviews, compliments and your own self-reflections. What are you most proud of?
Same as above, although additionally I have been told I am patient. Not sure, but I think that one could use a bit of development.

3. What strengths do you bring to the table when faced with challenges or adversity? How do you overcome challenges?
As I learned from Kelly McGonigal I can use compassion and altruism to overcome challenges and adversity.

4. Now that you have a list of your strengths, how will you leverage them?
I suspect reminding myself to employ my strengths daily would be a very good start.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Notes for Caregivers #4 - The Long Goodbye: Grief and Caregiver Stress

"Angels 2" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
The path of the caregiver is not an easy one. There's a helpful webinar on the topic of Grief and Caregiver Stress which can help. It explores the topic of sudden death with the emotional turmoil and loss that accompanies it, but the main focus is on the long goodbyes following years of coping with issues like dementia, complex medical illness, and cancer, that carry with them unique forms of grief and caregiver burden.  This webinar is presented by Dr. Carilyn Ellis, a psychology fellow at the Boise VA Medical Center, specializing in oncology, palliative care and primary care mental health integration. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at George Fox University in Newberg, OR. She has much to offer the caregiver in need of understanding, solace, and comfort.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Notes for Caregivers #3 - Create Courage and Resilience with Compassion and Altruism

"Most Magical" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
One of the most interesting and most difficult aspects of being a caregiver is that at some point you realize life has changed your identity whether you are ready for it or not. Stories for Caregivers has a wonderful short video on this particular challenge and why we may be reluctant to let go of our old identity.  If we aren't mindful about this change, we can find ourselves in difficulty, feeling a bit lost.

Kelly McGonigal has a hope filled, wonderful talk given at Stanford University, “How Compassion and Altruism Create Resilience.” She explores new research into how cultivating compassion and practicing altruism can increase our well-being during times of stress, as in suddenly finding ourselves in a new, perhaps uncomfortable identity. She talks about how we were able to survive and thrive as a species because during times of stress our "tend and befriend" response kicks in (Shelly Taylor's concept), that by reaching out to others and forming human connection, brain chemistry (oxytocin) comes to our assistance.

According to Taylor (2000), affiliative behaviors reduce stress responses, thereby reducing stress-related health threats. "Befriending" is shown to lead to mental and physical health benefits in times of stress, whereas social isolation is associated with significantly enhanced risk of mortality.  So social support is tied to positive health outcomes. (This is pretty key for caregivers to understand! And implement.) Kelly believes that we can encourage our positive brain chemistry and health benefits when we choose to have a social response to stress.

This talk may be the perfect answer for caregivers who is feeling overwhelmed, and stressed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Notes For Caregivers #2 - Developing A Habit Of Caring

"Love" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Here is an interesting short video from Stories For Caregivers on the importance of caring and connection. Very sweet.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Notes For Caregivers #1

"Care For Ourselves" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
I'd like to add something new to the blog, posts that are specifically for caregivers.  Whether we are art therapists, caring for our patients/clients/artists, or if we are caring for someone at home, my observation is that self care is extremely important. So I will be posting some really helpful ideas, web sites, or videos that have come my way. There is a Canadian web site, Stories For Caregivers, that feels like a life line. I started with Dr. Yvette Lu who has some great ideas to help caregivers find practical solutions to improve their lives.  Ever wondered about flotation therapy? Dr. Lu has an answer.

The website also has a list of resources for caregivers in Canada which led me to a list of resources for caregivers in Ontario. Very helpful.

For those in the US, AARP has a helpful website.

Friday, July 27, 2018

#192 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Creating Art With Joy

"Joyous" collage with Pandia by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

This one comes from a delightful 13 minute TedTalk by Ingrid Fetell Lee on Where Joy Hides and How to Find It.  She describes an experience from her Design class where she became curious about the connection between joy and tangible objects. She began to ask people what brings them joy, the Nancy Drew of Joy. She discovered bubbles, tree houses, balloons, ice cream cones, and rainbows are pretty universal in their ability to bring us joy. She discovered pops of color and circular shapes are very pleasing.  It's only 13 minutes but a very well spent 13 minutes.

"...if the aesthetics of joy can be used to help us find more joy in the world around us, then couldn't they also be used to create more joy?"

Try this. Listen to this short talk and try incorporating some of her ideas into your creative efforts.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

#191 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Make a Happiness Box (to stash for a bad day)!

"Happiness Box" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This exercise came out of the Stampington magazine Bella Grace article "45 Happiness Boxes to Stash for a Bad Day." They asked their readers "What five physical items would they pack up in their Happiness Boxes." A Happiness Box is a box filled with items that make us happy. The box is then stashed away and reserved for those hard-to-get through days, when we can pull it out and find instant comfort. The article is full to the brim with endorphins and other good brain chemistry!

Just the thought of what I would put in such a box is delightful.

My contents:
1. Art Journaling materials
2. Favorite morning pages image with at least one favorite Bergamasco featured prominantly
3. Dark chocolate and dried cherries
4. Candles
5. Incense

What would you put in your Happiness Box?

Friday, March 30, 2018

#190 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Mistakes are GOOD!

"I Love You" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

This one was SUPER fun. I was listening to a YouTube video lecture by Professor Ellen Langer, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, on Mindfulness. She's considered the "mother of mindfulness" and has been studying mindfulness as well as mindlessness since the '70's. In this particular talk she described the benefits to creative efforts of making mistakes. Yes, making mistakes are GOOD! Wow, how freeing is that thought!

Her premise is that we mindlessly follow rules and routines because we are afraid of making mistakes. She set up a research design with three groups of creative people working on essays or art. One group was just working away on their essays or art. The other two groups were deliberately misled about a directive so that they all created mistakes. One of these groups were told that's alright, we all make mistakes, just move on. The other group was told to find a way to incorporate their mistake in their final work.

As you might imagine, when all the creative efforts were finished, the drawings and essays with the mistake incorporated into them were much better actually, than even those that had no "mistake" AND the group had a lot more fun. They were kind of forced to be mindful. A mistake is a cue to wake up and be present, to take advantage of opportunities which you might not notice if you were mindlessly following rules and routines. Also, mistakes can make your final product more interesting.

So yes, mistakes are GOOD! They wake us up and when we are awake we can be happy!

Friday, March 02, 2018

#183 - 189 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Creating Connections

"Your Gift to the World" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Do you ever find a book that grabs your attention, opens your mind, and shows you a larger perspective?

I am enjoying just these qualities in Johann Hari's "Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - And the Unexpected Solutions. I'm pretty sure Edith Kramer would have enjoyed his thinking, as well. He takes into account our biology, our environment, and our evolution. He teases out the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic values, motivations, and rewards. These topics were all part of the discussion at Edith's table if you were lucky to be there when she was taking a tea break from her art making.  As an artist she always enjoyed the bigger picture. Johann Hari's book definitely steps back to take in the bigger picture at modern western culture, looking at much of what makes us uncomfortable, depressed and anxious, today.

As you can gather from the title, the book is about connections, not just our connections with each other but connections to groups, to meaningful work, meaningful values, sympathetic joy, our past, and our sense of a possible future.

So how this might work for the Happy Artist's Life? Here are my versions of Hari's connection building ideas.

1. Develop connections with other artists, more creative fun with others. Create art making workshops in your community, opportunities to be with your "tribe."

2. Look for places where art can useful in the service of the greater good, where it can be a part of social justice or community building.

3. Find ways to bring art and creativity into your work life. This will ensure that you are attending to your intrinsic rewards while earning a living.

4. Do some art journaling around the topic of values. What does our culture teach us is most valuable? Spend some time on exploration of intrinsic values, what do we really hold dear? Can it be expressed in art?

5. Learn to take more and more pleasure in the pleasure people get from their own creative efforts. This is huge. A constant source of joy is all around us when we feel the joy of others.

6. Use your art journal to explore and resolve old stories from the past. Often we hang on to these stories as a way to keep ourselves safe, but in actuality we are hurting ourselves by hanging on to resentments. It is possible to release old stories, especially if you use metaphor and art.

7. Create art about a possible future. Step back from your current view of life and look at the bigger picture. Again, this is something that artists can play with fairly easily in their art journals.

Who knows, as we play in our art journals we may find new ways to build connections.

Monday, February 12, 2018

#182 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Allow the good things to soak in.

"Art Can Heal" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Most of our positive strengths (like resilience, feeling appreciative, relaxed, emotional balance and compassion) have grown in us from positive experiences. Dr. Rick Hanson has observed, however, that our brains have a negativity bias, which is actually there to help us stay alert to danger, to survive. Our brains are "Teflon for the good" experiences but "Velcro for the bad." To counteract this negativity bias, he suggests we really take a little bit of extra time to let the "good" soak in. Dr. Hanson describes his Heal steps for "taking in the good," or turning a passing positive experience into a lasting neural structure in this brief but clear Ted Talk.

So I tried his steps with my daily art practice.
Have - Notice a positive experience, or remember a positive experience. (I thought about a positive experience while working on this collage.)
Enrich - Notice your body sensation when you think about this experience. Help the experience last. Open to it, let it sink in for 20 or 30 seconds. Appreciate it, enjoy it. (I tried to allow the character in this collage express this positive experience and then imagine the character's feeling.)
Absorb - This can overlap the Enrich step, but really visualize "putting a jewel into the treasure chest of the heart."  Allow for and observe a positive shift as it occurs. (This one can happen if we look at our art work and truly feel and appreciate what is expressed.)
Link - This is an optional step where you can keep the strong sense of the positive experience, while being aware of some smaller negative material, so that the positive can be bigger and stronger than the negative. Let the positive outweigh the negative, causing the negative memory to weaken and to be affected by the positive feeling tone now attached to it.  (We can print out art work that reminds us to allow the good to soak in, and look at it, feel the good, especially when there is negative material to deal with.)

Try using your daily art practice to grow greater well-being, relaxation, mindfulness, emotional balance, and feeling appreciated in your brain and in your life.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

#181 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Allow your inner 5 year old to play.

"Creativity Is SO Valuable" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
There was a fun post on FaceBook the other day, describing how we are born creative geniuses based on the research of George Land.  He had begun investigations into stimulating and directing creativity in the late 1950's. He developed a creativity test which was used to select the most innovative engineers and scientists ("creative geniuses") to work for NASA. The instrument and assessments were successful, and he decided to adjust it to test children. “What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.” His conclusion is based on testing the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old. He later re-tested the same children at 10 years, and again at 15 years of age. The test results:
  • 98% of 5 years old tested at the genius level.
  • 30%  of10 years old tested at the genius level.
  • 12% of 15 years old tested at the genius level.
  • 2% of 280,000 adults tested at the genius level.
He gives an inspiring Ted Talk on his research, explaining why we tend to lose our creativity so quickly.  He concludes that for the human to continue to evolve or even survive, we need to allow our inner 5 year old's out to play, a lot more often.  Which is really easy if we are doing a daily art practice. We can help our species survive and have a great time as well.

More on George Land.
You can test your creativity here. (It's very fun!)
Lots more on boosting your creativity here.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

#178 - 180 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; "Three Good Things" Revisited

"You Are Loved" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

 This directive is similar to "The three good things challenge"While working on my Morning Pages, I was listening to a Commonweal podcast of Rachel Naomi Remen describing the "discovery model" curriculum for medical students. The whole podcast is a goldmine of lovely suggestions which would benefit every art room and every human interaction, but Remen's emphasis is on how to encourage medical students to be present with their patients. 

The directive that caught my ear was one Remen got from Angeles Arrien, about how to take time in our day to ask ourselves three questions. (A written description can be found here.) I've adapted these three questions for the art room. Sitting quietly with our art materials, we can think back over our day until we find something that surprised us. Find a way to include this in the work. Then we can review our day again, looking for an event or person that touched us. We can include this in our work as well. Finally look for something that inspired us, and include that.

We may find after practicing these three questions (What surprised me? What touched my heart? What inspired me?) in our daily art practice, we start to look about our environment for surprises, things that are touching, and things that inspire. And of course looking for these things will actually help us attend to our lives more carefully and actually find more things to be a happy artist about.

For more wonderful ideas from Rachel Naomi Remen, please see On Being with Krista Tippett, also Remen's own blog and website, and Commonweal's audio/video library.

Happy Exploration!

“The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other's memories. This is how people care for themselves.”
- Barry López, Crow and Weasel