When your body won’t let go of the stress.

Our emotions are deeply held and felt in our physical bodies. We cannot escape it. Fear, anxiety, stress, and trauma all manifest in chronic fatigue, pain, stiff muscles, headaches, sleeplessness, and more. Treatment modalities that engage our body as well as our subconscious mind are most effective. Through both the sensory qualities and narrative aspects of the art therapy process, we can begin to speak to this pain and learn to gradually release and find rest. And we can even learn to appreciate our pain for the wisdom it has to reveal.

The following is an excerpt from my witness writing after completing the first stage of this painting (above, left). The completed painting (right) shows my continued elaboration on the face image that had appeared, as I continued reflecting on my painful shoulders and their “wise eyes”.

“I painted the pain in my shoulders, in my neck. First blue, then white. But these colors didn’t speak to the pain. It needed red. The red is a flame of fire in my neck and coming out of my body onto the page. It is inside of me. A part of me, always. It loves me and I hate it. I want it gone. But it needs me, more than I think I need it.

It grows into wisdom, though. Into knowing. Knowing how to get out, how to be free and me and given the chance it will show all of you. Show you what I’m made of. A temper outburst tantrum in the gulf, in the trees inside of me. The trees of knowing. Of shame. Of unashamed. I am me in the middle of this all.

The knots in my shoulders became anchors for my eyes. The truth and wisdom that I need to grow, to find meaning and freedom from this — all this in my body — all the pain and uncertainty and disdain for my own body. The hatred for it all. The fatigue and pain. I want to float above it, to be like the tree and not like me; the me that I know underneath. I want to be the me that I know I can be.”

Femininity – a loaded term.

Image created by Hearts Made Visible workshop participant (used with permission of the artist)

I was so inspired by the women who participated in my Summer 2019 Hearts Made Visible workshops. Their bravery, vulnerability and insight were truly a blessing for me to witness. One of the areas of identity we explored together was “femininity” — a loaded term in our culture today.

Here are some thought-provoking and often polarizing words and phrases that came up during our intro discussions:

Gentle, Subtle, Weight, Depth, Curves, Unique, Difficult, Identifier, Limiting in workplace, Strong, Lots of hats, Not subservient, Deep conversations, Appearance, Vulnerable, Delicate, Empathetic, Power differentials, Expectations, Specific “right” way to be, Norms?, Children (bio, adopt, choose not to, losses), Single vs Married, LGBTQ vs Heterosexual, “Emotional” = bad/wrong, Old vs New, Nurturing, Creative, Freeing, Limiting, Boldness, Less-than, Comforting, Slavery, Ideal vs Reality, Radiance, Softness with firmness/inner strength, Beauty, Leader, Intuitive, Personal, Changing/Transformation, Hidden strength, Endurance, Solid, Always evolving…

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “femininity”? Is it largely positive, negative, or filed with contradictions?

In the coming weeks, I will be announcing new, monthly workshop dates for 2020! Contact me through the Connect page to ask questions or to be added to my email list so you can receive updates.

#femininity #louisville #louisvilleart #feministart #arttherapy #identity #strength #vulnerability #witness #processpainting #trusttheprocess #thestudioprocess #trauma #traumasurvivor #abuse #community

I was in the hallway.

I was in the hallway, 30″x22″, mixed media on paper
I was in the hallway (detail)

“This painting began as a hallway. A door. A traumatic memory. I turned it upside down. Literally on it’s head. That’s what it needed. My ground. My rock. My starting place. Bubbles floating and growing and going. And going. Everything opening. It feels so full. Growing. Blowing – but not away. Up and up. Like fire.” (excerpt from my reflective witness writing, done right after completing the painting)

The art-making process allows us to make new meaning from dark places. Through attaining a sense of control over the materials and images, we gain control over our emotions and responses to traumatic circumstances.

#louisville #louisvilleart #arttherapy #artasprocess #processpainting #trusttheprocess #thestudioprocess #witnesswriting #trauma #traumasurvivor #emotionalabuse #domesticviolence #domesticviolenceawareness #strength #griefandloss

I am commanding calm.

This lady has been through so many transformations — about two-and-a-half years in the making. As I journeyed, so did she. As I felt free and powerful, she expressed it with her wings and color. As I felt overwhelmed, vulnerable, and stripped away, so did she. The finished product is a figure who, while still embodying all those feelings, is in control. In fact, it’s almost as if the bolder the waves and firey sky behind her, the more powerful she becomes.

#commandingcalm #brave #arttherapy #selfcare #allthefeelings #anxiety #depression #processpainting #trusttheprocess #thestudioprocess #domesticviolenceawareness