Blog For Mental Health 2015

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

This is the link to the official site for Blog for Mental Health 2015, and I congratulate them on the beautiful image that I was allowed to put in my side bar! I don’t know who drew it but I will try to find out:

I am very excited to join this cause. I think I can say that my blog is dedicated to educating people about mental health and well-being and calling out society on stigma and stereotypes that are untrue and damaging, as well as being committed to sharing the stories of others who suffer from any mental issues, disorders and people’s courageous roads to recovery through linking to other sites, re blogging great blog posts by people suffering and overcoming on the front lines and by telling my stories about my work as an art therapist, and showing the healing power of art through my journey as an artist myself and others’ finding hope and healing in the arts.

In my blog, “Musings of an Art Therapist/Artist”, I have featured stories abut mental health as well as what I said above, and the impact of art therapy and the creative arts on mental health and well being.

Like almost everybody else, I have personal experience with mental health and mental illness, and I am very aware of how dangerous untreated mental illness can be, having gone to a few terrible funerals of loved ones who died in the front lines/trenches. Luckily, I have witnessed a lot of wonderful transformations on the road to recovery, both of family members, friends and my own patients. Every day I witness huge miracles of survival, strength, resilience and recovery. I see people become healed through caring for their creative spirit as well as their mental and physical body. The work I do I conceive of as spiritual experiences. Or perhaps human experiences with spiritual beings. (Deepak Chopra: “We are not humans having spiritual experiences; we are spiritual beings having human experiences”) I am very humbled and honored in my work as an art therapist to be invited to be a witness and sometimes guide on people’s personal journeys of recovery.

As a therapists, I owe a debt of gratitude to the 12 Step Recovery Program, which has been a beacon of hope and support to many of my patients. I am grateful that I have been able to convince some of my patients to try out this program, attend a meeting, find spiritual connection with others going through similar struggles. It is often a struggle to encourage someone to go to a meeting week after week, but when the person does finally go and finds this miracle of community and mental health, it is wonderful to witness. The 12 Step Meetings of any kind, whether OA (Overeaters Anonymous), AA, Alanon, DA (Debtors Anonymous), or any of the other types of meetings, provide so much support and connection for people who feel isolated and alone on their journey towards well being. If mental health can be seen as a flower with many petals, art therapy is one of the petals, 12 Step can be another if useful, medication management coupled with a caring psychiatrist can be another one, yoga is often one of the petals, mindfulness meditation another, exercise another, making art, music, and other creative arts on your own is another, acupuncture, Reiki and/or other alternative therapies another petal, maybe this image helps one to see that it takes a whole flower or a “village” for mental health to continue to improve and be maintained. “Self-care” is so important to mental health and well being. For myself, this means making art daily, no matter whether it be 20 minutes or several hours, including making art with and alongside my patients; it also means doing my own yoga practice 4-5 days a week for at least half an hour a day, and a few other things. I say this to demonstrate that all of us need some kind of self-care. Quality time with loved ones is of course another form of daily self-care for me and many others.

I am happy to participate in this wonderful “Blog for Mental Health” experience!

End of the Month Journal pages Post!

It’s that time of the month, where I post photos of drawings and collages from my current journal that I carry everywhere with me.

This month’s journal is new, so I included the cover and back cover. The back cover is upside down, not sure when I will fix that!

This month’s theme is “the new”. With a new journal and a new year, I’ve made one of my more familiar sketchbook drawings the one with the word “make” in it, and then a lot of new collages connected with the pieces I am currently making where I follow a line usually vertically down a long page. In the journal the lines are horizontal. Also used more magazine images and mixed media, as I was less focused on the drawings than last month.

I’m hoping next month, some of these unfinished ones will look a lot different. There is also one piece that was an example of a kind of “Make it work” moment, when I was at someone’s house playing with kids and doing “crafts”. I used the materials they had, so there’s mostly colored tape and a big square button, but I tried to go with my current basic them I’ve been calling “Lines”, not sure if it’s quite the right title but for now it is… Enjoy!













New 12 Week Wednesday Workshop: “Be With Yourself”

I am starting a new Wednesday Workshop Series, entitled: Wednesday Workshop: “Be With Yourself”, an art therapy and mindfulness focused 12 Week Series. Mindfulness type groups have been proven to help people with healing and with feeling more awakened and in touch with themselves and the world, and more connected to their body.

The workshop will take place weekly at my studio and last about 1.5 hours on , probably from 10:30-12 pm or 11-12:30 pm, depending on members’ availability.

This mindfulness and art therapy “lab” will be structured and focused on being with yourself in the here and now. We will do mindfulness exercises, including body scan meditations and other experiences with silence using art supplies. There will be a longer time for the main art making component, and we will end with members sharing their art and their experiences during the process.

This is not a “group therapy”. It is meant for people interested in being with others while experiencing being with themselves and working on experiencing sensations and feelings during moment to moment awareness. The discussions in the group will focus around sharing what “happened” inside of your body, what it was like to make the art, and being in the here and now.

This workshop would be good for any of your patients who are in recovery from eating disorders and other issues such as depression or anxiety, OCD, etc. as it does not focus on talking about symptoms and conflicts with others, but on being in your body and becoming more awakened and aware of who you really are in a supportive atmosphere. Thus, it will be psycho educational, structured and strengths based, with focus on learning to use mindfulness in every day life. This workshop can benefit anyone 18 or older, with a curiosity and interest in these topics, whether they are recovering from something and in therapy or not.

The workshop will be a 12 week cycle, with option of continuing another cycle when the first one is over. Candidates who contact me will have a free 20 minute interview at my studio to meet me and discuss their interest in it to see if it is appropriate for them.

Please have any referrals call or email me directly.
Natasha Shapiro, ATR-BC, LCAT
917 374-7082

The Patriots should be disqualified from the Super Bowl

Totally agree with the Headline. Why do criminals who committed crimes do time? The Patriots cheated, if that’s true for sure, they should be banned from the Superbowl. I don’t care that the Colts lost by so much. The writer is right about the placebo effect of knowing you are cheating and who cheats for no reason; people who cheat assume they will have a big edge on winning. Nail the whole team and the coaches. The NFL owes it to all the children out there who will know that such actions have consequences and somewhere sometimes humans are fair and justice is real!

For The Win

Cheat on a test in school? You fail, no questions asked.

Cheat on your taxes, the IRS will find you. It won’t be pretty.

Cheat on a World Cup bid and, well, you probably get awarded that World Cup, but that’s neither here nor there.

The New England Patriots cheated in the AFC championship. As such, the team should be disqualified from the Super Bowl.

(AP) (AP)

Deflating 11 of 12 balls in Sunday’s game, as has been reported by ESPN, is a major violation and something that had a great effect on the game. Given the number of deflated balls, it’s almost impossible this was accident, meaning that someone in the New England organization willfully tampered with the rules to give his team an advantage. That’s cheating.

The penalty should be simple: Ban ’em.

(AP) (AP)

Of course, it’s not realistic to disqualify New England from the Super Bowl. What’s…

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Facebook 3 in 5 Day Art Challenge!

(The quality of the photos posted here is terrible, and they are not in the order I tried to upload them, but anyway…)

There’s an Art Challenge going around Facebook, post 3 images a day of your art work; start with older work and move towards current/recent work. Today is day 2 for me. I posted the colorful shapes pieces first from around 2004 and then today 3 images done between 2007 and 2008. You can see that the two are completely different series with very little in common. The first ones are a mural done in colorful acrylic paint and two little oil on canvas pieces from a series I called “Concordia”.

The second three images are from my Inner Landscape Series; I think I called these ones Phase 3; I started using collage and mixed media and piecing together paper to make very long pieces. I was inspired by a Martin Ramirez exhibition at the American Museum of Folk Art. I was excited about how he used pieces of big brown paper and glued them together to create a bigger surface and make very long pieces…







Appearances and Blog Exhaustion!

I think I have tried about 15 different themes in the last week on my blog, trying to find the right one that looks good. Taking the two Blogging classes I took got me thinking about my blog in so many cool ways I had never thought of before. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging a few years and only recently understood what widgets are and what themes even are. I think I just randomly threw up my blog, which was a great way to start, as I am the opposite of perfectionist. I like to just go for it, with art and blogging. Thinking too much and criticizing just isn’t good for creativity, but it is of course a balance, and looking into things more and editing are useful things I am often quite lazy about. I know that I am good at helping people just get going and jump beyond their blocks and critical mind, and those same people help me realize it’s good to reread an email before hitting send and that blogs can be deeper than I thought, and that I have to keep my websites updated, and looking good.

Appearance! Here I am an artist and it took me so long to think, what do I want this blog to look like? I just now learned you can find a great theme and love how it looks, like the “Plane” theme I threw up yesterday, only to be frustrated by being unable to use a featured image. Now I’ve changed themes again and picked one that has featured image as part of it, only to find that the featured image is put inside your “header”. I am very into the header as I have cool images to use and you can change the header a lot. The header is at the top of your blog when people click on it, they see it and the title of your blog is in the header, so then the color of the font etc. becomes important.

Anyway I’m still tinkering with the appearance of this blog, as I am just not into the themes I have tried and I’m in the middle of trying to fix both my art therapy website and my art website, so I’m going to leave this theme up for now even though it’s not ideal.

I get excited by all the possibilities of the internet, but it sure eats up time, the upkeep of everything. It’s like cleaning your studio or apartment; there are other great things to do, so things pile up. It’s very hard to set priorities and get things done and remember to do important things. It’s crazy, this life on and off the internet. We introverts can get really sucked in to the internet and expressing ourselves and checking out what others are doing because it’s what you do late at night after 10:30 when you should be off the computer and getting ready for bed! It doesn’t help that I just picked a featured image and it wouldn’t crop it how I wanted so I had to remove it. Totally frustrating…

Your art makes me feel human

On Monday, one of my patients after our session was looking at this shelf of a lot of my altered book projects and spontaneously said, “I love your art work because it makes me feel human and alive.” Then she made a comment of how looking at it reminds her she doesn’t have to be perfect and that being perfect is not what’s important…

As an artist and a human, I have to say that although I’ve heard people say similar things to what she said, what she said really sunk in and I thanked her for it because it was a very valuable gift. “I could die happy.” as they say. Hearing those words from her reminded me of what makes me want to make stuff all the time in the first place. It helps me stay and be alive and now I know that others feel how she does, and that she feels that way. It was worth a million times more than a big show on 23rd Street in Chelsea, which every artist wants, but really, this is it. To feel that your own idea of what makes your life meaningful and purposeful, not including family and friends, that it is really resonating with others in the best way possible, there is no other feeling like that.

In my recent post, I talked about being authentic, and her comments reminded me that my art is always real and authentic and comes from a very  “unstruck” place inside of me. At a recent chakra, yoga and art workshop the leader reminded us that the word for the heart chakra, “Anahata”, means “unstuck”, that we all have it there and that no matter what you have been through in life, there is a tiny or maybe big place inside you that is Anahata. I think my patient with her words quoted above saw that part in my art reflecting back to her her own humanity and Anahata…