Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Kids Drawings Would Look Like If Painted Realistically

What a cool article this is. It's an inspiring read for anyone who ever wonders about the limitlessness of children's imaginations found at www.elezea.com. Please Read!!

Kids drawings painted realistically

Why Teens Are Wired for Risk

This is an incredible article from CNN.com that discusses the way teenage brains function in relationship to risk, addiction, and trouble. It's a great read to better understand the teen in your life, or for teens to read to better understand themselves!

Why Teens Are Wired for Risk

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A day to be thankful

As Thanksgiving approaches, I become aware of mixed feelings and anticipations. With the combination of stressful travel plans, family gatherings, an abundant meal, and lines of people standing outside of stores for black Friday deals...this holiday can bring great joy, as well as feelings of anticipation and stress.

Breathe.

As a holiday based on thnkfulness and spending time with loved ones, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for reflection and gratitude. We all have so much to be thankful for...even if it doesn't appear so upon first glance. When I asked a client of mine what they were thankful for, this client had a beautiful answer:
she reported feeling thankful that she can see colors.
That her lungs operate as they are supposed to, bringing in breath without her mind having to focus on it.
That the very ground she walks on is both a blessing and a miracle, as the mystery of life still baffles her.
She reported feeling grateful for the unexpected -- the lessons life teaches, as well as the way things always seem to work out.

This client is an inspiration. What are you thankful for this holiday?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Never Know.

Plato once said "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."

This quote has become an important cornerstone for the way I live my life: always remembering that each person's experience is mostly hidden from the naked eye of the observer.

As J. Shep Jeffreys says in his book Helping Grieving People:
"You never know what is going on inside someone else's mind--the person walking 
by you on the street, standing behind you at the checkout stand, waiting at the stop light 
in the car next to you, smiling hello as you enter the elevator, serving you coffee 
or sitting across the aisle in the commuter train--what he is she is thinking. 
How much pain or rage is tearing at a person's heart 
or how much an individual is struggling just to make it through another day at work."

We often underestimate the power of compassion. Of empathy. Of random acts of kindness, and simple gestures of thoughtfulness. The stories we keep hidden behind a practiced smile and the burdens we shield away from view within contrived personas are each person's quiet journey. 
Many among our society are quick to believe that they understand those they interact with based on a few minute seconds of communication or contact. In most cases this is untrue. The outward-facing person an individual shows to others frequently does not truly reflect their inner state of being. 

I ask you to keep this in mind. Remember this throughout your day today--wherever your day might lead you, and practice the compassion of living with the intention to honor each person you meet for the stories and realities they are truly living (even if they do not appear to be struggling).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ode: A. W. E. O'Shaughnessy

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth

Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A beginning, not an ending.

Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending. --N.D. Walsch

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mirror Mirror On The Wall...

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” 
~Ernest Holmes

Did you know that we see ourselves with a magnifying mirror of 10x compared to how others see us? A blemish seems like a large red lesion drawing as much attention as Rudolph’s nose on Christmas Eve, but to others, the same blemish is hardly visible. Since most of us use one (or many!) mirrors everyday, how can we use them as special forces that reward and fulfill us, rather than solely as a tool for critical examination?

 This little exercise that will help you see yourself in a positive light. The process is simple, and may be the first step toward feeling positively beautiful, empowered and joyful.

Take a small sheet of paper or sticky notes. Take the time to come up with list of short, meaningful mantras, quotes or affirmations to support you each day, and tape them to the mirror you use each morning when getting ready. You can also use dry erase markers on your mirror, but do a test spot first, just to make sure. Choose words that are powerful and positive, such as…
* I am beautiful.
* I am confident in myself.
* I am capable and effective in my job.
* I am my own unique self – special, creative and wonderful.
* I am loved and I give love freely.
* I carry joy in my heart.
* I prosper wherever I turn.
* Every cell in my body vibrates with energy and health.
A mantra is a formula or a word with spiritual significance. When repeated, they can become meaningless syllables which can help us to relax. Just repeating a mantra helps us to focus our attention on a single point and eventually reach a state of very deep rest. The regular practice can reduce our irritability and thus the feeling of being stressed, but more importantly is that continued mantra practice will reduce the time of recovery following all kinds of distressing situations. An affirmation or quote can become a mantra.

Inhale deeply for five counts. Exhale out for ten counts, relaxing every part of your body. Repeat these deep breaths three times while consciously relaxing all your muscles from your neck down to your toes. Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing as you continue to take another slow, deep breath.
As you repeat your words, keep your eyes closed and visualize images that represent your mantra. For instance, if your mantra is “I am beautiful,” picture yourself when you feel most beautiful…such as giving a work presentation in your sharpest suit, going out to dinner in your favorite dress, or playing joyfully with your kids. Simply focus on an image that embodies the words in your mantra.

While you are preparing yourself to go out in the world, read these mantras and say them to yourself – out loud or within – with as much conviction as you can muster. Keep in mind that you may not believe your them at first, but just keep saying them. Repeat daily, as often as you can, and soon they will sink deep in to your subconscious mind and become rooted! You can also keep a shorter list in your car, affixed to your sun visor, that you can read aloud to yourself while looking in your car mirror before starting the engine. The more you use them, the sooner you will feel their truths and see dramatic shifts in yourself.
This simple exercise doesn’t need to take more than five or ten minutes in the morning. But it can fill you with inner peace and confidence that can last all day long.

Article written by Dr. Susan Mathison
http://positivelybeautiful.com


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'd Rather Be A Whale

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.
Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! "

(The girl on the picture is French model Tara Lynn)
See More

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Complexity of the Creative Personality

This is an interesting article from psychcentral.com written by Douglas Eby
See web page of article

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high-ee) wrote, “If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude.”


“Like the color white that includes all colors, they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. Creativity allows for paradox, light, shadow, inconsistency, even chaos –and creative people experience both extremes with equal intensity.”



Here are a few qualities he lists:
  • A great deal of physical energy alternating with a great need for quiet and rest.
  • Highly sexual, yet often celibate, especially when working.
  • Smart and na├»ve at the same time. A mix of wisdom and childishness. Emotional immaturity along with the deepest insights.
  • Convergent (rational, left brain, sound judgment) and divergent (intuitive, right brain, visionary) thinking…
  • Both extroverted and introverted, needing people and solitude equally.
  • Humble and proud, both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident.
  • May defy gender stereotypes, and are likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other as well. A kind of psychic androgyny.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Making Art = Happiness

A wonderful article from Psychologytoday.com written by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC
Please read!

"...The creative process is itself a source of joy for most people. And with new creative powers we're also better able to solve the little problems that beset us daily." And the more recent research of Semir Zeki, University of London, connects the mere viewing of art with an increase in dopamine and activity in the brain's frontal cortex, resulting in feelings of pleasure that are similar to being the throws of romantic love. What's more, positive sensations are almost immediate when viewing an enjoyable or stirring work of art.
Repetitive satisfying art making may actually mediate depression and anxiety by stimulating the "accumbens-striatial-cortical" connection in the brain. It is perhaps connected to what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi named "flow," an experience of complete concentration and absorption. Because flow is close to other mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga, it may offer many of the same positive, attention-focused benefits through deep engagement in an art process.

The concept of flow points to two happiness factors that have enhanced human life for thousands of years via the arts. One is the capacity to find joy in creativity through the pleasure of invention and exploration. This capacity is based in evolutionary biology to ensure survival of individuals and communities through innovation. The other is the ability to get pleasure and relaxation from creating useful, yet aesthetic objects; this is a form of rejuvenation that is not only practical, but also health-enhancing.

Even when expressing what are obviously painful experiences and memories through art, people invariably report that art making is a source of joy for them despite what their art communicates. They report that they find comfort in art's ability to take them outside their personal struggles and refocus their attention to positive sensations of exploration, relaxation and stimulating challenges. There also is pride in mastery of new skills and in discovery of previously unrealized abilities. But most of all, there is "client consensus" that art making holds the possibility to transform that which is painful into something eventually positive. To me, that is the ultimate testimony that art and happiness are inevitably intertwined."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stone Soup as Art Therapy

Once upon a time a shrewd villager was standing by the front door, enjoying the last of the day's sun. Along came a tired traveler just as the kettle began to whistle inside.

'Hello there', the traveler called. 'You've got a nice garden.'
'Hmm yes, the result of hard work.'
'Is that your kettle I hear? I'd love to join you in a cup of tea.'
The villager scowled: 'I'm not sure about that. Tea doesn't grow on trees.'
'Well if not tea, how about a nice bowl of soup?' The cheeky traveler responded, only receiving a deeper scowl in reply.

'Do you have such a thing as a nice smooth stone in your garden? I can tell you how to make soup from a stone.'

The scowl immediately lifted, and a gleam came into the villager's eye. 'Can you indeed. Here is a stone, and now what?'
'Well you need to wash it well, put it in water in a big pan on the stove, and perhaps shake in a little pepper and salt.'


This done, the traveler stood beside the stove gazing around the kitchen, and through the window to the vegetable garden with a speculative eye, while pretending to think hard.

'And now?' Prompted the villager.
'Well. I don't suppose you have such a thing as an onion, do you?'

You can guess the rest. The onion wasn't the last ingredient the villager 'happened' to have, and put in the pot. They sat down later together to a magnificent mixed vegetable and meat soup. Both were very pleased with themselves.

"Healing art is like magic soup. In the beginning there can seem to be nothing but the heaviness and unproductiveness of a stone. Giving ingredients can seem tiresome, ridiculous, dangerous: because a suggestion to make art is outside many people's normal way of being. An art therapist can make it seem straightforward and enjoyable do dip a paint brush in color, feel the clay, make a hand gesture, offer an image. These are the onion, gradually peeling open to revel its layers. No art gives answers. It does however present fascinating questions, the answering of which is an endless quest."

taken from the book: "Dying, Bereavement, and the Healing Arts" by Gillie Bolton

Friday, August 26, 2011

$19 dollar 90-Minute Art Therapy Session with Kate King

If you've been interested in Art Therapy now is a great time to try it out for an incredibly affordable price!

Weekly Plus is hosting a deal for a 90-minute individual art therapy session with Kate King for only $19! You can find this deal under the "current deals" tab at  www.weeklyplus.com
This deal will be available for purchase on the Weekly Plus website until September 1, 2011.

Feel free to contact Kate with any questions about this deal at katekingtherapy@gmail.com or 970.319.9960

Enjoy!




Monday, August 22, 2011

"North Star" by Kate King

She finds herself sailing in the nighttime waters
unsure about the horizon, and without a north star.
She must be the north star—embody it
for it was never promised that the rising sun would shine again
it was only assumed.
A closer look toward the frosted reflection of a face in the current is so still – so certain
until punctured by the motion of another form.
Then, like dancing nymphs of clouded dreams
the solidity of form disperses
to be adopted into the vastness again.

Doors and windows swing open and closed.
Opportunities introduced and retracted as the steady clock ticks
marking the aging moment.
The future becomes the present, and is fleetingly renamed as the past.
Too late.
What once was will never again be
and how to start anew without old names stands as a quest toward danger.
The oldest patterns lie like deep-set wrinkles
posing as reminders and promises, all together yearning to be repeated.

When the horizon is lost the directions become twin-like
removing clarity and flirting
as the ship sways and swings in its search for steadiness.
Amazingly the center shifts
as though taking its pendulum form and grasping
for tethered points that were designed for such a moment.
Realization strikes like fire on skin
while the choice is finally made in all its catastrophe.

Heads turn away as the beauty introduces herself.
They do not wish to see the creature
born from the ashes of old habits.
They cannot navigate what they do not know.
She must source her own wisdom from gifts before learned
and she must be still enough to listen.
A beating source more loud than before beckons.
The code is difficult but not impossible.
She realizes that this life is tiresome and fierce
and lovely.
She knows, but only needs to hear herself
above the screaming chorus that beckons her distance from her truth.
Steadiness appears like an old friend
inviting clouds of uncertainty to pass.
The end looks like the beginning, with its hope-drizzled veil
and she realizes that she knows the only possible answer:
to exhale and confidently step into the beautiful unknown.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In the mood to be inspired?

Amazing book: One; How Many People Does it Take to Make a Difference? Dan Zadra & Kobi Yamada

What Can One Do?


"The forest was quiet - too quiet. From out of nowhere came the clatter of horses' hooves, and then silence again. A few moments later a flame sprang from the dry leaves. 'Fire?' roared the bear. 'Run for your lives,' cried the crow. The forest animals, great and small, all fled in panic toward the river. But one small bird remained on the far bank watching the forest burn. 'What can we do?' he cried out. There was no answer. 'But this is our home,' he cried again, 'We must do something - it's on fire!' Silence was the only answer.

At last, he swooped down from his perch, scooped up a bill-full of water and flew over to dump it on the fire. Time after time he flew from the river to the fire until his weary wings were singed and covered with ash. High above, the gods looked down at the chaos below, and they laughed.

'What in the world is that little bird doing?' asked one god. 'He is trying to put out the fire with a bill-full of water! But why? I will find out.' And the god went down to Earth to ask the bird.

Later, when the god returned to the skies, he was surrounded by the other gods. 'Well? What is he doing?' they all asked at once. The god replied softly, "He told me, 'I am but one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.''

Tears welled up in the gods' eyes and fell as gentle rain on the flames below, quenching the fire."




"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
--Mary Oliver

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Art Therapy and Eating Disorder Treatment

I just came across this incredible website called Adios Barbie. It is positive body image website, and it holds an abundance of incredible information and support for those struggling with eating disorders and body image challenges.

Check it out at: www.adiosbarbie.com


And see a great article about Eating Disorders and Art Therapy on the site's home page.





The beauty of Art Therapy when working with eating disorders is that it is a powerful expressive medium for spilling emotions into a creative form so that they can be witnessed, shared, and released from the body. Once engaged in a creative expression, emotions and experiences (both conscious and unconscious)can find release and transformation through the art. This helps the client to see their struggles in a type of mirror (the art) that they themselves have created. Not to mention that there are not always words for the happenings of the body and psyche. This is where the art comes in as a vehicle of expression to utilize as a type of language for difficult emotions and experiences that cannot be fully expressed in words. Powerful stuff!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Self-Compassion

How often do you show loving kindness toward yourself? Often the kindness we show to others is not reflected towards ourselves. Often this lack of self-compassion results in treatment toward ourselves that we would never put onto others. Negativity, insecurity, doubt, and meanness are just a few ways in which we show a lack of self-compassion to ourselves.

The practice of loving kindness encourages a supportive, compassionate perspective when thinking, perceiving, and being involved with our inner dialogues. Truthfully, beating ourselves down does nothing for us. Perhaps increased happiness and prosperity will come if we treat ourselves with kindness, love, and compassion. Here are a few loving kindness phrases to help with a kindly inward-facing attitude.

-May I love myself just as I am
-May I be truly happy
-May I find peace in this uncertain world
-May I be free from sorrow
-May I care for myself with ease
-May I love and be loved
-May I pursue a life that holds meaning and purpose

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Book of Qualities - By Ruth Gendler

Ruth Gendler wrote an incredible book called "The Book of Qualities" which holds endearing and touching character sketches of the qualities that make us most human. Whether she describes Wisdom as "Wisdom wears an indigo jacket. She takes long walks in the purple hills at twilight, pausing to meditate at an old temple near the crossroads. She was sick as a young child so she learned to be alone with herself at an early age..." or Imagination as "When Imagination walks, she writes letters to the earth. When she runs, her feet trace postcards to the sun. And when she dances, when she dances, she sends love letters to the stars..." Gendler's descriptions evoke a both a familiarity and a novelty that stir up inspiration.

Have you ever created a character sketch of some of your most familiar qualities?

Here are two that I wrote:

Gratitude

Some say that gratitude cannot be glimpsed for long. He is illusive, seeming to appear and disappear without warning, often leaving those he comes into contact with feeling either deep warmth of an inexplicable icy guilt. Some say that Gratitude lives with the fairies amongst the half-earthen creatures who are able to walk the boundary between reality and the dream world. Gratitude has often been seen holding hands with Bewilderment, but his true mate is Justice. Together they tiptoe atop the atmosphere, arriving unexpectedly beside the unsuspecting in the last moments between chance and loss. It is within Gratitude that appreciation was born; an egg wrapped tightly with many protective folds of purpose.

Love
Love's favorite pastime is to wander through the Daffodil field behind her grandparents' ranch home. She collects flowers each day to share with the couple who live next door and fight with each other. Sometimes Love can hear their voices through the windows, and on these days she wraps the Daffodils with a purple ribbon to evoke serenity. Love has many friends, but mostly enjoys being alone with herself in the moments when she can become quiet enough to hear the secrets the clouds carry. Although Love has been accused of being naive and idealistic, many do not understand that the visions she is occupied with are real. Her cousins Faith, Despair, and Passion understand why Love is skeptical of the passerby who brings gifts. She was once tricked by a traveler with promises, and has never since paid much attention to Trickery. Love did, however, glance upon a stranger once who changed her reason for existing. Since this day she has been different; preferring to dance with the fire of her heart while also swimming in the depths of sapphire waters.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poem: "Jigsaw" by Lawrence Kushner

I adore this poem and wanted to share it with you. I love to think about the impact we all have one one another, and how our very presence in each others lives offers so much. I invite you to consider this poem the next time you question your impact on the world around you. There may be golden ripples from your actions that you could have no way of knowing. Enjoy:

Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
For some there are more pieces.
For others the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.

Some seem to be born with a nearly completed puzzle.
And so it goes.
Souls go this way and that.
Trying to assemble the myriad parts.

But know this. No one has within themselves
All the pieces to their puzzle.
Everyone carries with them at least one and probably
many pieces to someone else's puzzle.
Sometimes they know it.
Sometimes they don't.

And when you present your piece
to another, whether you know it or not,
whether they know it or not,
you are a messenger from the Most High

Friday, June 24, 2011

"How to Talk to Little Girls" - Interesting Article by Lisa Bloom

I went to a dinner party at a friend's home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.

I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

It's our culture's standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn't it? And why not give them a sincere complement to boost their self-esteem?

This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they'd rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What's missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

That's why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.

"Maya," I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, "very nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too," she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.

"Hey, what are you reading?" I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I'm nuts for them. I let that show.

Her eyes got bigger, and the practiced, polite facial expression gave way to genuine excitement over this topic. She paused, though, a little shy of me, a stranger.

"I LOVE books," I said. "Do you?"

Most kids do.

"YES," she said. "And I can read them all by myself now!"

"Wow, amazing!" I said. And it is, for a five-year-old.

"What's your favorite book?" I asked.

"I'll go get it! Can I read it to you?"

Purplicious was Maya's pick and a new one to me, as Maya snuggled next to me on the sofa and proudly read aloud every word, about our heroine who loves pink but is tormented by a group of girls at school who only wear black. Alas, it was about girls and what they wore, and how their wardrobe choices defined their identities. But after Maya closed the final page, I steered the conversation to the deeper issues in the book: mean girls and peer pressure and not going along with the group. I told her my favorite color in the world is green, because I love nature, and she was down with that.

Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It's surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls.

I told her that I'd just written a book, and that I hoped she'd write one too one day. She was fairly psyched about that idea. We were both sad when Maya had to go to bed, but I told her next time to choose another book and we'd read it and talk about it. Oops. That got her too amped up to sleep, and she came down from her bedroom a few times, all jazzed up.

Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. You may get some intriguing answers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Happiness Experiment

This morning I was sent this article from a good friend and I wanted to share it with you. Please check it out if you've ever been a skeptic about all of that mindfulness mumbo-jumbo.

The Happiness Experiment
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the March 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

At Attention
By Michelle Burford

I have tried to meditate. It didn't work. So when I took the assignment to test a form of meditation called mindfulness—and let the record reflect that I only agreed because there's now proof the practice can send one's happiness quotient screaming toward Pluto—I'd already resolved that I would once again walk away markedly unchanged. I was wrong.

The science is the study by Richard Davidson, PhD, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, in which mindfulness meditation caused the brains of biotech workers to light up where the happiness regions are. Kabat-Zinn led me to Polly Wheat, MD, an internist who founded the mindfulness program at Barnard College in New York.

Minute one: My abdomen aches. I bet these people are faking it. Why am I doing this? Minute 15: Did I TiVo Survivor? Why is my jaw tight? Thank God, she's finally ringing the bell! Zilch happened to me during our time of silence. I got nowhere. It was like browsing through Bloomingdale's with no ka-ching.


"There's nowhere to get!" she says with a smile. "The paradox of living mindfully is that the best way to get there is to fully be here."
I finally translated her meditation-speak. Mindfulness is basically this: Open your eyeballs to life. Clear your eardrums of interference. Give every single joy and annoyance in your day—be it a scrumptious Belgian waffle sliding down your esophagus or spam spilling over the sides of your e-mail in-box—your maximum attention. Stay out of the bike lanes marked "yesterday" and "tomorrow" and pop your wheelies in the present. Then hang this sign on the front porch of your brain: "No blaming, judging, and belittling allowed here." Life is happening in every breath. Wake up and notice it.

A day later, I tried one of her homework assignments. Sitting on my couch, I uttered a litany of thank-yous for the gazillion people in my world who lend me light and even for a few who don't. This is supposed to take 15 minutes, but I finished in only one minute and 17 seconds. Instead of galloping back to work, though, I sat it out to see what other thoughts showed up. After six minutes, a familiar tide of anxiety rolled in: What if I'm more terrified of what I can accomplish during my lifetime than of what I can't? What if my big plans fizzle into big flops?

The next time I saw Wheat, I pressed for answers: What does all this sitting have to do with mindful living? And will my brain light up if I don't meditate formally? "Everything can be a meditation when it's done with our full attention," she says. "In our society, we're constantly being pulled into the next moment. Sitting helps you practice mindfulness in a protected area. When I mentioned my episode of meditation angst, she explained that mindfulness isn't about zapping unpleasant thoughts. It's about getting still long enough to notice that you're having them. And in that space between pain and acknowledgment lives a choice. To let the anxiety grip you or to consciously dismiss it. To pout about where you could be or to accept where you are. To live in a state of constant cardiac arrest or simply to breathe your way through every second.

You don't have to Windex your big mess the moment that you splatter it. Just get up and step to the right. Stand there. Notice how your feet feel on the ground. Notice that you're still above ground. Take that news in. Or resist it and settle into your misery, then notice that's what you're doing. Decide you won't judge yourself for judging yourself. Judge yourself some more, then cut it out again. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Hold on to your bra straps for this: I've actually been meditating every morning for 20 minutes.

I don't need a brain scan to know that the feel of my favorite silk-mohair sweater now counts as a big enough reason to celebrate. When stressful thoughts flood my head these days, I stop, thank them for passing through, then keep stepping. And in the front right bedroom of my brain where constant judgment once resided, the newly freed space is a welcome spot for joy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What are you grateful for

In a world filled with the natural ebb and flow of life, it is easy to lose the moment and become sidetracked from the small details. It is also possible to find oneself experiencing the stir-crazy feeling of monotony during the morning commute to work, the daily dog-walking obligation, or sifting through numerous bills and requests from the mailbox.


One of the most humbling, gratifying rituals I have found to be helpful during moments of negativity or monotony is the creation of a gratitude list. Meant to highlight life’s blessings and gifts, a gratitude list can bring light into a cloudy day. It can help a person to re-focus their intention for the day and provide a nice re-framing of the beauty in their world. Counting life’s blessings is a practice with surprising effects, and its simplicity allows for a gratitude list to be created anywhere at any time. Here is my gratitude list for today:


I am grateful for:


-Fresh air and sunny days
-My loving family, and the stories we share
-Adventure, excitement, and the courage to pursue these things
-Thought provoking books, conversations, and journals that spark interest in my soul
-My wonderful husband, and the light he brings into my life
-My healthy body which allows me to do so much
-My private practice, and each and every one of my clients
-Great friends who inspire me and bring laughter into my life
-Chocolate.
-The right to freedom, as well as the pursuit of my dreams
-Inspirational creations of artwork, writing, and music


Just to name a few…

Now it's your turn. Feel free to share your gratitude list if you so choose.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Invitation

An inspirational poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
 
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

 It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
 
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
 
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Other Side of Apparent


A marble-white sculptural form lies perched atop a grassy knoll, resting heavily on the ground beneath. At first glance the image appears to be all stone, stoic and unmoving in its cold curvature. A glance through another lens, however, will attest to the life around the sculpture, buzzing in the air molecules and breeze surrounding it. This concept of the space surrounding an object is called negative space. Not only does the space surround the object, it often contributes to its artistic form by providing dimensionality and hollowness to a robustly tangible image. Considering negative space in the visual plane is a viewpoint a person can enhance with practice. This becomes possible by noticing how the space around an object actually brings the image into being by simply defining the boundaries within which it exists perceptibly. Art and physical imagery, however, are not the only areas that show negative space.

Artist: Henry Moore

Consider the way an individual presents who they are to the world. Imagine a complex personality, visual appearance, emotional expression and moral code mingling together to project the image of who a person is. Often not all of these components are proudly presented by an individual; some aspects of a person’s character or internal experience of their life are kept hidden out of the perceptive experience of themselves or others. This represents the negative space within human behavior; the components of our selves that are not readily present, measurable, or evident through our embodiment. Additionally the negative space in human behavior can also account for the aspects of ourselves that we cannot fully grasp in consciousness, or things we cannot accept about ourselves. The realm of the unconscious and the human experience of denial can push memories, thoughts, emotions, and perceptions into a negative space where they do not exist tangibly, but remain active participants in creating the backdrop of the human psyche.

A therapeutic approach based on wholeness might encourage an individual to provide witness to the negative space within their own experience. Providing witness allows a person to notice the aspects of their self that are lingering in the background of their psyche without feeling the need to modify, change, or disrupt these parts of the self. Carl Jung may have called these areas of negative space the shadow of the individual’s psyche. The shadow has been known to be the aspects of a person’s self or experience that are not consciously acknowledged, or are being hidden from perception due to the believed unacceptable or unpleasant nature of these areas of the psyche. While various psychological theories might identify the background space which is often unacknowledged in a person’s experience in a variety of ways, the bottom line remains the same: whether accepted or not, the visible qualities of a person’s behavior can only represent part of who they truly are.
 
In many ways the perspective a person takes in seeing another individual can be experienced similarly to the way a person notices a sculptural artwork. Certain individuals may glance quickly at the image, noticing the general shape, form, and color of the piece before moving onward to the next tangible form. Others might take more time to thoughtfully consider the lines and shapes evident in the sculpture without noticing that the form is created by the formlessness surrounding it. Yet another genre of people might see the form through the spaces of negativity apparent in its composition, noticing how the contributing factors of the absence of form serve to enhance the tangibility of the artwork itself. Individuals can be perceived through any of these lenses as well.

Depending on how the observer prioritizes their conceptualization of perception, they will likely interpret those around them accordingly. Noticing the inherent projection of an individual’s identity through the way they show themselves to the world allows the witness only a slice of knowledge into the person they are observing. In order to grasp a full picture of any thing--human or otherwise--we must take into account those parts of each individual that are not readily apparent. Noticing the absence of a trait can be equally intriguing as noticing its obviously portrayed counterpart. It is the combination of readily apparent qualities mixed with the often formless nonattendance of other traits that creates the window into true perception. After all, how could a sculpture have been created in the first place without bringing hollowness, dynamic curvature, and empty space into its form to support the solidity of the material itself?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hello!

Hello everyone! This is the beginning of my new blog about Art Therapy, Psychotherapy, and life in general. The most exciting thing happening this week is that I am moving into my lovely new office at 825 E. Speer Boulevard in Denver. Here is a picture of my building:

For those of you who may not be sure what Art Therapy is...here is a short explanation. Art Therapy is the practice of utilizing creative media to support health, wellness, and healing. In this form of counseling, we incorporate artistic materials of all kinds to engage emotional, psychological, and behavioral difficulties within a person. Both the physical creation of art as well as the image itself can reveal insightful patterns, beliefs, and emotional challenges that the individual may be struggling with both consciously and unconsciously. A creative image can serve as a tangible metaphor for an individual who may not be willing or able to speak verbally about their difficulties. In this way the art can speak for the person, honoring their experience and reflecting back to them the powerful internal feelings and challenges they may be encountering. 

I adore Art Therapy. I believe in its healing potential. I feel strongly that there is nothing quite like creative expression. After all, human beings have been creating artistic imagery since the very beginning. I am grateful for this gift our ancestors passed down through the generations, and feel inspired by its limitless potential.