Arts and Health, Sisters is devoted to exploring creative problem solving and coping strategies in our world, especially the links between artistic expression and personal and spiritual growth. It is also dedicated to honoring the value and power of women.

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Monday, November 12, 2012


I drew this about a year ago. I am finding that at times drawing is a wonderful, meditative past-time. Getting to this place with drawing has been interesting, in that somehow I kept hold of that childhood notion that either one can draw or one can't. Finally I have the patience (and the teen-aged children) to allow the slow process of sketching non-judgmentally, starting with a random doodle watching myself make one small decision after another so that the image grows under my hand. If there starts to be a recognizable image then my mind becomes occupied with the subject and the image grows into a totem concerning my feelings, thoughts and reactions to the subject. Usually I draw from my imagination, although I have sometimes looked at dozens of pictures of a similar image (e.g. a type of flower) before I find I can work on "my" daffodil.

Needless to say, since I'm not actually that skilled at swaddling babies, in real life the baby above would soon have gracefully wrapped blanket all over the place, which would be a fun image to draw or write about at some future date.

Perhaps patience with oneself  is one of the (potential) blessings of being a bit older, I suddenly don't seem to have places to go in a big rush. I want to be here, with those I love, with myself and with my life. For me this is a healing place. I try to remember the young tender parts of myself as I go forward and swaddle them a bit so they can rest and grow strong.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Joy of Breathing

This week I have been struggling again with asthma. Somehow a flare up always takes me by surprise, even thought I'm very familiar with the symptoms, fatigue, lethargy, being too tired to eat, muscle aches and a spaced out mental state. Fortunately I'm on my way back to baseline. Once I realize where I am, I am better able to accept it and move on, or in my case, give up on pretending I feel fine, collapse for a few days and begin to regroup.

One creative part of the regrouping process is exploring tools available to help propel me out of the rut of illness, fear and paralysis. I found this very helpful post by Jo Ann La Maistre, which echoed the emotional roller-coaster I've been on since my teens when my problems with allergies really surfaced. As she initially points out there is a tendency to ping-pong between a "Pollyanna" (or new age view "Oh, you're going to grow so much from your suffering!"), and the feeling that somehow I am a failure since I can't seem to get or stay well.

I still struggle with this at public events, most notably when I go contra dancing. I find I have to sit out every other set or I end up in a spasm of coughing endlessly, even when I use my rescue inhaler, even when I'm careful to drink plenty of water, even though the event is perfume and smoke free. So I am still experimenting with what to say when I'm sitting out. I'm striving to just say, "I just like to sit out every other set", but somehow  I seem to feel obligated to explain, perhaps because I don't want  suggest I'm rejecting the prospective partner. I also do like to watch, so I'll try this one out too.

The other part I'm working on today is slowing down, staying in the moment and FOCUSING on one thing at a time. When I'm not feeling well that becomes much more difficult as my mind reels with all the plans I have to let go of to have the time and energy to recover.

Here is a picture of the tool I use to help me with this:

View of Small figurine Through the Scope

Super focus Scope

I learned about this tool, made from readily available household items, in the book Focus Your Writing by Bonnie Hearn. I'm still working my way through the book, but so far can recommend it highly. I especially like that she demystifies the writing process and encourages the writer to go ahead, write and enjoy the writing process.