Day 2: Write a List

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Ray Bradbury wrote a list of nouns to get inspired. I will try it too.

  1. caviar
  2. heads
  3. sandwiches
  4. The thing on a ceiling fan that turns
  5. lint trap
  6. matches
  7. oven thermometer
  8. cork paper
  9. arteries
  10. surge protector
  11. planets
  12. eyes
  13. fringe
  14. cape
  15. stamp
  16. selfie-stick
  17. fog
  18. indignation
  19. boxing gloves
  20. cable
  21. bridge
  22. castle
  23. cloud
  24. brush pen
  25. dream catcher
  26. mermaid
  27. water

I’m not sure what this list will do for me. I guess while making it, I was judging myself for mostly listing objects I’m seeing in my studio. If I look at it from another person’s point of view, any of these things could be a portal into something else and could spark something creative. I’m too lazy right now to actually try using five of them in a few sentences. It feels forced.

Writing Class, Day 1: I write because

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I’m taking this class to get back into writing. I’m trying to write a graphic novel that I started in 2000 and still haven’t finished. I hope this class will inspire me to get back to doing it.

So I have nothing in particular to write about for this class; I want to return to the joy of writing for the pleasure of writing.

The assignment is simply to explain what makes you write. I am rereading the Miracle Worker (the play), so I looked to Helen Keller for her thoughts on writing and found this gem:

“Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design.”

I found this very fascinating coming from someone who is visually impaired. As a visual person myself, I love this idea about patterns. It is close to the approach to writing of Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite authors.

 

I can’t see writing or art making in this way that Keller does, as I don’t have images or patterns in mind before or during the process of creating. I just start with something and see where it goes. Maybe after something comes out, I see something and try to play with the form in subsequent collages or drawings. Even with my struggle to do my graphic novel, I do it page by page, and have no idea who or what will appear until it’s happening.

This quote from Nabokov seems pretty accurate as a description of what I’m doing in my graphic novel:

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and once they are there, throw rocks at them.”

So, why do I write?

Words. Language. The first thing Annie Sullivan does to engage with Helen Keller is to spell words of things with her, to teach her language, that everything in her world has a name. As humans, even when we cannot see, hear or speak in words, we have some kind of innate hunger for language. We want to make something that symbolizes what is in our mind or environment. Language is an abstraction. Writing with words is a way to move into a world that exists only in our minds.

I like to write because the use of words leads to the imagination, where anything is possible. My favorite book ever written remains Alice in Wonderland. There is no reason for anything in the book. Alice is not on a quest to find herself or get home or anything else. She is curious and wants to explore and see what is down the rabbit hole and in the garden. Something is locked, so she has to find the key and get in to see what is there! It is very evident that Carroll successfully got her up on that tree and he and the others in the book are throwing metaphorical “rocks” at her!

For me this is the purest reason for writing, to see the familiar from a different point of view where everything becomes strange. Alice can’t use the language from her real world in Wonderland. Every time she recites something, it comes out strange and different.

That is my reason to write, to be surprised by what comes out and to see how the most ordinary word is not ordinary at all…

 

I don’t know…

What makes life so intense and such a struggle for some of us? A patient said today getting up in the morning is like a new fight all over again.

Maybe that’s why some of us resist sleep. Late at night it’s comforting to be awake in the dark time when most people are asleep. I feel it now. 

Last night I felt a strange inability to feel anything: I couldn’t even draw anything. I had nothing to say, not just nothing to express but nothing to say to any person asking what was on my mind. I felt  like I’d never have anything to draw again. It wasn’t sadness or depression. It was like being in touch with nothingness. Blank.

This didn’t last. I woke up and at some point in the morning I felt a lot of things. It started out with anger and hopelessness. Bleak images, extreme violent fantasies, not of physical violence, but disturbing. Then I got to work and felt grounded. Later on I felt inspired. The wall of obstacles in my head melted and I looked up the principle of least effort and re acquainted myself with the 7 spiritual laws of success; I needed a structure that made sense. I listened to the loving kindness meditation and did it in my head and repeated it all day. It feels like an anchor for my wayward mind that seeks to get itself in trouble.

Suddenly I felt in touch with understanding that most of my struggles are with myself and pushing things instead of just letting go.

I felt relaxed and free; anxiety is so grasping, your hands hurt from trying to move things, control things, hold things, change things.

I had some moments of peace. I could really believe that I can just accept things as they are and myself too. I had clarity for the rest of the day. I felt connected to my work and my patients and other people.

I know the struggles of the mind; my own mind is a many splendored, crazy dark light place, often overfilled, every once in a while empty like last night, sometimes dark and stormy, torture. Often excited and brimming with enthusiasm about everything. Whatever I’m drawing painting making at the moment is leading me somewhere great. The next day I may throw out most of what I made.

I understand what my patient said about waking up in the morning constructed, anxious, dreading another struggle.

We are unseen warriors in an invisible fight. At least we can know that others experience life this way. I can’t change this; I can’t exchange my mind for a quieter one. 

I can write about it here, and wake up tomorrow for another day of surprises.

End of month Journal Images!

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Today while on a long bus ride, I took photos of recent and older drawings in my current journal which is finished. Time to make a new one!

Most of the images are drawings of things and some are talking. I just visited friend with baby chickens so I tried to draw some of them. 

This is the front cover:


Below is the back:

Some drawings…

From this weekend:

I was visiting friends who just got chickens! Hard to draw!


The one above- there was only one salt shaker, so one must be fake!


I’m rereading a great App about DaVici’s dissecting bodies and figuring out anatomy, so I found a basic drawing of a heart and copied it….

Drawings below: I’ve been inspired by Edward Gorey Fantod cards, and tried ideas for my own..,


This last drawing below is a favorite, not done by me… I love when kids get into my journal and do their thing!

The Big Election Challenge: Is it Opening or Closing Your Mind?

The election is a great way to measure humans’ ability to be tolerant, open minded, calm and to “listen actively” to others. The issue of dealing with others’ opinions, especially those you care about and interact most with, has been a big one I’ve noticed with myself, my patients and supervisees and my friends/family during this intense election process.

So I pose these questions: I actually posed these on Facebook, as I’m curious to see what the answers are.

Has the Election enhanced your relationships with close people in your life or hurt it? Has it increased your anger management skills or worsened them? Has it enhanced your ability to be tolerant and open minded or made you more rigid? Post answers in the comments!

If you want to work on frustration tolerance, anger management skills, negative thinking, negative future prediction, overexposure to media, the best thing about this election in my view is that no matter what , it’s an opportunity for doing so.

Being friends with people who disagree with you on some things, important things, is a sign of the ability to tolerate others and be open minded, to be flexible and to be secure. The more secure you are with yourself, the less you mind what others’ think about anything. Other people’s opinions belong to them.

I would say that being a vegetarian, for example, has exercised this muscle for me for 20 years. I am a vegetarian based on treatment of animals. I eat with people who eat animals; the closest people in my life are often non-vegetarians.

When I became a vegetarian, I had a choice. Do I make big statements or small ones? DO I tolerate or do I have to be rigid for the purpose of my ultimate goal, less harm to other animals on the planet?

In a way, shopping and eating at places, public and private, where you see dead animals is an exercise in supreme tolerance and open mindedness. I care a great deal about animals and agree with Ghandi that:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Nobody says much about the food industry, especially with regard treatment of animals in this campaign. The one reference might be to the right to have rifles and firearms to kill animals that are not human.

So, when I’m around someone arguing about any of the Republican or Democratic candidates, I still get riled up, and I can look at election talk and feel anger coming, but then I remember, nobody effects big change by being a jerk about their opinions. Needing to be right is something that will not serve you in life. I spend a few minutes on the high horse and get into a passionate this vs. that thing, then I come down and realize: I’m just not the debating type. I’d rather shut up and ask questions. Since I am still super confused about most of what is going on, I seek information. I have a terrible memory for details, so I can’t pull good arguments and data out of myself in the midst of a political candidate preference discussion. Just this morning I spent two hours on the internet trying to gather facts to be able to “argue” better my judgments and feelings about the candidate, to no avail. I don’t remember much of what I read and got bogged down to the point where I’m back to being confused

I guess that is what we artist and healers tend to do, or some of us anyway. Get in it for a minute, and then when frustrated/confused/angry take it as a cue to pull to the side of the road and ask open-ended fact seeking questions, find out more about the person through asking about their views. Close observation of others, not just what they say, how they say it and how they dialogue with others. People distract me which is what makes it so hard to remember policies and issues and points of view; even reading an article, I wonder about the writer and the publication… I tend to notice a lot of “irrelevant” things about other people and environments; it can serve to get me more neutral and out of my angry convincing head and back to my curious head, where I operate best from anyway.

As to the animal rights issue: I go by the ‘set the example and just mind your own business method’, unless in the moment I can actively and non aggressively affect some kind of change, which may just be to make sure someone is feeding their animal enough.

How about you? How is this election affecting your relationships and your general well being?

My New Schedule for Blogging

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I am going to attempt to modify the overly ambitious blogging calendar I made back in February.

Monday: Stays the same: the day to Re Blog at least one other blog post from another blogger

Thursday: Pictures and Words: Post at least one image and/or sentence.

I eliminate the days of reading other blogs and commenting because Monday I can do that while searching for interesting posts to “repost”.

Let’s see how this new experiment works out! I have noticed that I love “reblogging”, which I’m frustrated to see still isn’t considered a real word, at least not by spell check on WordPress. Strange, as WordPress may have invented the word! I just searched on the internet and I’m still not sure if reblog is just a word in the Urban Dictionary or not. Anyway, reblogging has definitely saved my blog from big gaps of nothingness; I also love to showcase great writers who blog about important topics and express things so articulately. Reblogging is one of the best ways to show other bloggers that you are paying attention to them and to other bloggers besides them. It may even help other bloggers to gain more followers…

Anyway here’s to Monday today. I’ve reblogged two posts and written two posts!

Pushing the Blogging Reset Button!

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I started this post thinking I would “push the reset button” on getting organizized, however, I wrote myself into a different place. Re reading this post, I still want to push the reset button and try getting “back on tract”, at least for a little while.

I set some blogging intentions on Feb. 8 of this at the time, quite “new” year, 2016. I posted a “schedule”, which the WordPress Experts call a blogging calendar. It was:

Monday: the day to Re Blog at least one other blog post from another blogger

Tuesday: Post at least one sentence

Wednesday: Nothing Required

Thursday: Post at least one image

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Read at least 5 Blog posts of others!

This calender/schedule did not turn out to be quite right for my blogging “style”. I would divide “individual” (not publications) bloggers up by style only to refer to how often and how regularly they post blogs as well as how they follow or don’t follow a schedule.

“Big Bloggers”: High frequency of posts on a daily basis

“Regular Bloggers”: You know what to expect on a given day, as they are able to follow a daily type of schedule like the one I tried above.

“Distracted Enthusiastic Bloggers”:

Here, I’m referring to myself. I don’t think being “distracted” is bad or good; for me it’s a neutral term. Most bloggers are very enthusiastic; I use the term here because how and when distracted bloggers post is often connected to feeling enthusiastic. So, I have great intentions to become a “regular blogger”. I post often sometimes. I get distracted and “forget” to post. I start series of blogs on a cool topic and forget to keep posting regularly on that topic. For me, even the attempt to post monthly from my art journal is challenging and I often do not follow through.

Another reason “distracted” is the partner of enthusiastic emphasizes how I get excited about any topic and then go full force. Then my excitement drops a bit, and I either get distracted by things that excite me outside of blogging, or I get distracted by my own interests in other topics.

This kind of blogger has some interesting challenges, challenges all bloggers face, but not to the degree and intensity of a distracted blogger.

Yet, am I putting my round peg into a square hole? Are these my challenges as a blogger, or are they other bloggers’ challenges I think I am supposed to have? Obviously I face this question constantly in the non virtual world.

Back on topic, here are the challenges I see:

  1. Post regularly.
  2. Post frequently.
  3. Stay on topic
  4. Follow my own rules and intentions

What makes these challenges so hard for some and much easier for others?

Maybe partly because the act of “Blogging” itself lends itself to doing things that way BUT also lends itself to not posting according to those challenges.

Blogging is the most “accepting” medium of writerly writing I’ve found. By writerly I mean by people who are interested in “Writing”, what to write, how to write it, when to write it, where the writing belongs in genre or medium, etc.

Blogging as I’ve said in other posts I don’t remember posting, is the nicest place to write. You can blog once in a while; you can post anything you want. You can post quickly and skip the step of worrying about your audience because other bloggers are kind people for the most part. You write for anyone to read your blog, and at the same time, you write for other bloggers because blogging involves community. I would even venture to say that because the blogging community is so warm, accepting and welcoming of all kinds of people and writers, it is a therapeutic “place” for “sensitive” writers like me.

Blogging also lends itself to multiple identities types of writers. I am a “multiple identity” writer/blogger. I post poems, opinions, ideas, images, non-fiction meanderings, journal style posts, reblogs with introductions. Many bloggers write and post in this manner; some are distracted, and some are regular, frequent, organized.

To post the way I think is best or to post my “default” distracted enthusiastic way – that is the question.

From this struggle as a blogger, I emerge with the dialectical answer, keep doing both! Of course by getting organized and frequent/regular at random times and other times posting with no set plan seems to indicate that I will remain a distracted enthusiastic blogger.

While life outside blogging remains hugely challenging due to this pattern I have, I know that with blogging, I can just be myself. The “blogosphere” answers with a “yes” of course. Be yourself, whatever that means, including: be the blogger who tries to blog in all ways possible, even the blogger who forgets for big chunks of time to post, but no matter what, your enthusiasm is rewarded by the blogging community!

Recovery – the battle inside my head

This post is a great source of learning what battles people struggle with inside their own mind on a daily, sometimes every waking second, basis.

Life in a Bind - BPD and me

One of the hardest parts of my recovery from BPD is enduring the battleground in my head. The constant, ceaseless, unremitting war of words, its assault deafening my thinking space, and its fallout poisoning the air around my heart. I suspect this is true of many with a mental health condition, irrespective of their diagnosis.

It is exhausting to be fighting with myself; or, as sometimes happens, to feel like an observer of a fight between parts of myself. To be under attack and have to constantly try and defend, push back, stave off, but also rationalise, encourage, remember. To try to summon up words both to retaliate against the offensive and to build up and strengthen the defense.

Sometimes I tell myself – at least there is a battleground. At least it is a fight rather than a walkover. Because it wouldn’t be recovery without the battle

View original post 1,520 more words

A matter of choice – BPD and self-worth

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I am posting another “Reblog” from the same blog, “Life in a Bind – BPD and Me”, as this post really gets at one of the fundamental aspects of therapy: self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is not simple, as it involves accepting the part or parts of yourself that refuse to accept you. In other words, in order to learn to love yourself, you may need to love the parts of you that hate you and berate you, that try to convince you that you are worthless…

Life in a Bind - BPD and me

People come to therapy with a variety of issues, and with their own individual goals. But whatever the particular difficulty, at the heart of therapy there are often twin tasks: to reveal the ways in which we really think about ourselves; and to ‘make up for’ what has been missing. Or, to put it in even more general terms, the twin tasks of therapy are concerned with content (or process) and with relationship – and both are important.

But even when it comes to content, and uncovering the nature of our thoughts and assumptions about the person we thought we knew best – that too, at heart, is about relationship. But in this case, it is the relationship we have with ourselves, that is being explored.

In my experience, and on the basis of reading numerous blogs by others with BPD, there is nothing more likely to elicit feelings of…

View original post 1,265 more words

Mission Accomplished: Art Therapists Are the Experts!

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An Art Therapist Explains Why Justin Bieber Needs Coloring Books

Yes! Mission accomplished!!!

My biggest complaint about the media and art therapy is that they need to interview art therapists as experts when art making is involved. Too often I see an article where a psychologist is looked upon as the expert to explain people’s pictures. They ain’t the experts. We are, and we need to be the first ones out there. We need to be on more talk shows and all the stuff the psychologists do, and we’re on the way to getting in people’s living rooms and in their Twitter and other feeds.

For me, that’s the goal; get the general population to know about the existence of art therapy, by all means necessary. That means television, magazines, newspapers, articles, Youtube, all social media.

Now that we have the best adult coloring book out there: The Real Art Therapists of NY Coloring Book (https://nycreativetherapists.com/real-art-therapists), we need it to be sold in airports and supermarkets, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Duane Reade!

So check out this article in Vice and read Nadia Jenefsky’s take on Justin Bieber coloring as well as what he colored and how.

As art therapists, we are trained to look at images and pictures, and we know how to translate and explain them. We are trained in understanding what makes people drawn to certain materials and images, verbal and non-verbal communication. We make our own images, and we get other people not just to make images but we invite people who haven’t touched paint or other materials since they were 5, to get back the joy of art making and get in touch with their creativity, whether it’s cooking, gardening, sports, writing, coloring, sky diving, etc. Art therapy is not just about making stuff in therapy. Art therapy is about creative environments, connecting with others…

That is what it is really about, connecting on small and large scale, so this article is at the forefront of raising awareness of Art Therapy and who the expert art therapists are!

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