Foundational Principles of Recovery

This is very clear and articulate

Bipolar Lessons

The Foundational
Principles of Recovery
Adapted from M.E. Copeland
Nanette V. Larson, B.A.

Learning all there is to know about
one’s health, wellness, symptoms
and treatment, in order to be
equipped to make good decisions.
Being open to, and seeking out,
new information.

Finding meaning and purpose in one’s
life. Gaining a sense of identity, based
on one’s own values and beliefs, which
may include one’s relationship with the
divine or a power greater than oneself.

“Going for it” with courage,
persistence and determination.
Expressing oneself clearly and
calmly in order to get
one’s needs met.

Relying on oneself, with help from
others, while working to control
one’s life and one’s symptoms.
Making choices which reflect
one’s life priorities.

Recognizing that recovery
is not a journey that anyone walks
alone. Drawing on support from
friends, family and…

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This Blog’s Title and Focus Has Changed As of Right Now!

My url, internet address for my blog is the same.

However, BIG NEWS! As part of my revamping and rebirthing and rebranding my Public Selves in all Corners of the Internet, I have decided to change the Title of this blog and the sort of subtitle that comes up when you see the blog and indicates the focus.

Musings of an Art Therapist/Artist: This New Name of the Blog has changed to a more personal and inclusive one, that is, a blog that will include my Artist (my Artist Self, my Artist Identity, issues and topics around my career as a Professional Visual Artist and struggles that others can identify with of course) as well as my Art Therapist/Psychotherapist and Reiki Practitioner Self. So I am calling it: Musings of an Art Therapist/Artist. It’s more of an autobiographical kind of title, more personal, still professional as it focuses still on all the topics of these TWO professions, maybe more self-centered, maybe more aproachable than before when it was more generalized. Is this branding? Maybe, but it’s 2014, and I’m changing my marketing style and my, well, I guess, my “brand”. I still have the same kookie stylist that dresses me in neon green plaid pants for work (me), and the same disorganized receptionist and assistant (another part of me), but I’ve fired my Internet Specialist Marketer and replaced her with a more creative one (some part of me I seem to be accessing by spending more time on the internet and thinking and talking about business, self promotion and marketing).

The subtitle or focus underneath the title that I thought about when I began this blog and it made sense to just call it “art therapy and related topics”, as that was my focus and allowed me a broad range of topics to blog about. Scratch that now that the blog is renewing itself and I have: “Balancing the Artist and Art Therapist Identity”.

For now, the visuals will remain the same.

What does this mean for my old art therapy blog? It means I realized my art studio office is a blend of my being an artist and being an art therapist, so it’s high time that be reflected in my blog, so now, when I post photos of my work in progress and announcements about exhibitions I am in, I will not feel like I am promoting myself as an artist on my art therapy blog because it’s all mixed together anyway; I will be posting the same words and photos in service of promoting my art and myself as an artist, without the danger of people thinking that I am self promoting on my blog that is primarily about art therapy, not that my readers seem to mind, but the whole thing is now more “ego-syntonic”, and I feel it is an important step towards the promotion of art therapy as a field that professional artists go into but do not stop being professional artists, and also that at the base of being an art therapist is one’s own personal art making process, product, and promotion!

So, welcome to the new me, and the new other mes, there are a lot of them but they feel more integrated now…

Procrastination… Again!

I just saw an article in the NY Times about a conference on procrastination and was reminded of my recent post about the tyranny of our culture with completing things, basically the same thing as looking upon procrastination as being lazy and unproductive. The article link is:

I have been procrastinating publishing a post here. I wrote a rambling post on social anxiety the other day, but it was in need of too much editing, so I left it unfinished as a draft.

I always have a running list of posts to do, topics to talk about:
I start series of posts about topics and leave them and maybe post a bunch of pieces and then drop off and forget about them:
I still could post more on interesting cultural rituals around the world in service of people being more respectful and interested in how other humans deal with birth, different age markers, coming of age, commitment ceremonies and birthdays, and funerals and burial of the dead. I was doing it regularly and dropped it.

I recently started a series of posts on the “Selfie” and even had a list of topics to cover.

More on Altered Books a big passion of mine, especially as I’m doing a workshop in a few weeks and have not planned it yet…

Social anxiety and common misconceptions about it.

More on gender non connformity, transgender, etc. Started up the topic recently

Been meaning to post about yoga and how it complements therapy and other ways it enhances life.

Connected to yoga, there is the, how do you integrate a daily practice into your life without feeling like you are tyranizing yourself with yet something else you “have” to do a certain amount per week, the danger of any yoga or exercise , physical activity program. No matter how spiritual it may be, it could become the thing you are avoiding and trying to do on a regular basis.

Ayurvedic medicine and how it makes sense to see people as having very different systems…

Ok, back to Procrastination and getting more done, and procrastination and “laziness”. Doing nothing has become of course a huge business, “Meditation”. Books, CDs, podcasts, programs, etc. all on meditation which simply amounts to sitting quietly doing nothing but breathing and noticing your breath.

What is the difference between meditation and laziness? One big difference is posture. Even if you lie on a mat in the “Savasana” corpse pose while meditating, you are still keeping your body in a definite position and have as a constant check in just noticing what is going on in your body. And more commonly people sit up straight while meditating, so for so called new comers to meditation, most of it becomes about how uncomfortable it can be to sit up straight on a mat for even five minutes and just breathe without scratching itches. Definitely when being lazy, it is preferable to have your body in a very bad posture, like that of sitting curled against pillows in bed, half lying and half sitting up, the very opposite of keeping your spine in alighnment. Laziness also can involve doing mindless things like watching TV. Really lying around and doing mostly nothing is actually pretty challenging to most people, and probably easier to do if they have to pay attention to accomplishing something and noticing when they are bad at it, namely, sitting up straight. We are so goal oriented that really doing nothing is pretty impossible. In the article above, the author sites a Russian novel I read long ago about a man who spends most of his life in bed doing nothing. I read it in college so I remember little about it, but I know it was a fun read even though it was 500 pages and not much happened.

Have you heard of the hierarchy of procrastination, not covered in this article? I read a great post on it years ago by a professor who had a whole blog about procrastination. Basically we all have a list whether we write it or not, a kind of pyramid with the thing you are most avoiding at the top, the impossible thing you hardly believe you will be able to do and finish, which you are constantly avoiding and spend a lot of time thinking about and thinking about how you are not doing it, then below that is something else you need to do that you are procrastinating as well. The list continues with the tasks you need to do and use up time getting them done while procrastinating the top challenges, basically increasing your productivity but not in the central focus, in the sidelines. How we tend to proceed is to actually get a lot done through the art of procrastination. Suddenly you have cleaned your room and folded your clothes and organized them by color, while avoiding going to the store to buy ingredients to cook something healthy and also avoiding finishing the article, essay or paper or even thesis or book that you have at the top of your pyramid. Weeks may go by before you buy ingredients to cook something healthy because you are doing the things that seem “easier” to you, the things lower on your personal pyramid. For example, I have started taking iphone photos of an altered book to post on my art website and started posting them but left off the task as it seemed just one small part of a monumental overhaul of website and having to add new work to it; I put away a lot of summer clothes and started putting away winter clothes but theres a mountain of more winter clothes to sort and fold, so that is about three different organized tasks that have an end or completion that are now being procrastinated. I guess my example disproves the idea that you can get a lot done and completed while procrastinating. My art of procrastination involves continually creating more things that get half done or done half assed or not completed but started. It’s the starting something that begins procrastination for me.

One tip this guy had was to try to trick yourself into swapping the top of the pyramid with something else so you would get the thesis done while avoiding quitting smoking. Not sure how effective this tip is for most people.

However, as the Times article suggests, let’s just drop effectiveness and productivity in place of letting ourselves sit in our messes and enjoy all the incomplete half done things, when too pressured to get something done or start again, just take a nap.

I am most amazed at one thing that has happened to me in this arena of procrastinating. I procrastinate things for years, not just months, so I have gotten used to somewhat accepting this. I was doing yoga about twice a week around 7-8 years ago. I spent the last 7-8 years completely avoiding yoga. I barely stretched since 2007. Info, I used to be very into yoga and then toned it down but still liked it regularly, so it was strange to juststop altogther but I had got into that rut where you want to do it less the more time you don’t do it. Anyway I finally got myself going on my summervacation and jumped back into it….

I will finish this later. I had a long rambling thing that makes sense but I am too lazy to finish the train of thought, or to edit this, mispellings and all…

Back to the Concept of the Selfie and What it Means for Art Therapy and Psychology…

In my first post on the selfie, I had grand ambitions to write on a number of different aspects of the selfie. Here was my list of topics, not in any particular order:

1. The selfie and art therapy: is there anything going on in art therapy connected directly to the making of selfies?
2. The how to and what not to do: finding lots of links about making great selfies versus bad boring ones and sites that like to show the different categtories of bad selfies vs good ones.
3. the celebrity selfie and its effects on non celebrity selfies.
4. Selfies and Social Media: what it means to “post” a selfie after taking the photo. new variations include the “belfie” as body parts can depict self portraits.
3. Creative uses of the selfie: what are some selfies that go beyond casual and become “Art”? how do you think outside the box of the selfie!
4. Woman and selfies: the male gaze versus the female gazing at herself. Selfies for self-esteem…
5. The new pathologies associated with taking selfies to an extreme. As with anything, if you become addicted to making selfies, you will of course get sick, just like people addicted to the internet or social media or gambling. Too much of anything and your system is way out of balance.
6. Selfies and psychosis: while we are at it, besides ocd and addiction, are people incorporating selfies into their psychotic episodes?

A long time ago, I actually did find an article about a man who got so addicted and obsessed with taking selfies that he decompensated (became very unstable). I am interested to see if I can find this article and whether there were further reports on him or anyone else having brought the selfie to the level of pathology…

I finally found the article, which I remembered was about a British man, a selfie addict with body dysmorphic disorder which definitely got triggered or worsened by his taking selfies all day long. He stopped functioning and tried to kill himself. Here is the link to the article:

The Fifth Chakra and its Connectionto Art Therapy

The Chakras are areas in the body, types of energy which can be in or out of balance. The word chakra means wheel and the chakras (fields of energy) can be visualized as wheels of energy within the different locations on the body. This is a photo of the fifth chakra card.image

I have some great circle chakra cards (even shape of card can remind you of a wheel or mandala), which I got a long time ago with a great book and CD: it also includes guided meditations.

At times, when patients notice there is stuck energy located in specific area or areas of the body, I utilize the chakra cards as further information on what is not in balance.

This is the Chakra for this week:
It’s the fifth of the seven chakras, located in the throat. It’s called Vissudha in Sanscrit. That word means purification. These chakra cards have categoriesin this order printed on the back of each card: name, location, purpose, issues, element, endocrine gland, color, sense, seed sound, vowel sound, identity, orientation, demon, rights, developmental stage and cosmic principle.

Endocrine glands are part of the endocrine system located throughout the body and secrete hormones into the blood stream. You can certainly find a lot more about them in the Internet. The thyroid gland located in the throat. It’s actually shaped like a butterfly. Webmd says it secretes several kinds of hormones and
“Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature.”

This fifth chakra is concerned with the right to self-expression and all that’s connected with it and one’s “creative identity”. So it encompasses the most important aspects of art therapy and to some extent, Amy kind of therapy: being heard, right to speak, speaking your truth, listening. So the sense is hearing.

The developmental stage, 7-12 years old is an interesting connection and a pointer for exploration with yourself and patients. Do you remember these years on your life? Were you validated and acknowledged especially for what you said or expressed through your creativity or was that ignored? At this time were you in a validating environment or an invalidating environment? We’re there secrets and lies you were aware of or found out about that were part of the family system at this time period?

Have you in your life experienced any physical imbalances or health challenges in your throat area and when was this?

At present do you feel heard and safe to express your truth in therapy and your life outside therapy? Are you afraid of speaking up in any arenas of your life? What does this fear remind you of or feel like in your body?

As you can see, the chakra system is useful in many ways for healing process.

Where did it originate?
This website
“Chakras are first mentioned in the Vedas, ancient Hindu texts of knowledge. Early text that provide the location of the chakras include: the Shri Jabala Darshana Upanishad, the Cudamini Upanishad, the Yoga-Shikka Upanishad and the Shandilya Upanishad. Hiroshi Motoyama in “Theories of the Chakras: Bridge to Higher Consciousness” discusses these text and that of 10th Century mystic Guru Goraknath who wrote in the Gorakshashatakam about awakening these energy centers through meditation.

According to Anodea Judith in her book “Wheels of Life”, these early Hindu writings come from an even older oral tradition of the Aryan culture. This Aryan culture was believed to have invaded India during the second century B.C.E. bringing with it its culture and beliefs.”

So the Chakra System has been around for centuries but continues to be a useful tool in the healing arts!

Exciting new project!

This is a great way to educate the public about lymphodema!

The Lymphie Life


I have some very cool news to share with you all:

Over the next couple of months I will be working on a manuscript for a children’s book about lymphedema. I’m hoping to have it available for distribution by the end of this year / beginning of next to be used as a resource for lymphie kids, their families, and friends.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I think the time has finally come to make it happen! I’m in the very early stages of research and planning right now, and I would love any suggestions or comments from you all on what you think a book like this needs in order to be the most effective and accessible for children.

I am very invested in and passionate about this project, and am incredibly excited to work on it. My hope is to create a finished product that…

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Great article on why to not fear death

It’s a long article, and I mostly read the last part but very worth reading. I especially enjoyed those moments when she thought she was dying and did not do the cliche (there are no atheists in the trenches idea that facing sudden death caused atheists to start praying)… Lots of food for thought; many of these concepts are fleshed out in the book “Staring at the Sun” by Yalom all about death and death anxiety which I also highly recommend!