Happy Monday! While you’re reading this, I’m in Disneyworld! Follow me on Instagram if you want to keep up with my much-needed vacation! In the meantime, please enjoy this guest post written by a friend of mine, Kathy, and show her some comment love!

Expressive art is a mindbody technique that helps us experience life and the self on different and deeper dimensions.  Expressive art work is a wonderful component in therapeutic healing of emotional pain and suffering. Writing, meditating and drawing are ideal mindbody healing methods as they pull information from many parts of ourselves – thoughts, imagery and feelings.

I’ve always been a sort of “crafty” person. When I had more time, I loved to work on sewing projects, such as small quilts and colorful wall hangings. I love color and loved to put together outfits based on color.

But there was always something about using art materials that scared me! I don’t have any formal art training, so I kinda thought that using paints and pastels was better left to the trained artists! My sister is a wonderful trained fine artist and an art teacher, and I know what goes into her work!

So I let my self be intimidated by my limiting beliefs and fears! For many years, I had a fascination with art supplies, you know, clay and oil pastels and collaging. I put this interest aside as I studied all sorts of other healing methods: counseling psychology, guided imagery, Reiki, shiatsu, acupressure….then one day I cam across an expressive art training. I read the material and felt I could use it in my counseling practice.

The first weekend of the workshop, I approached with trepidation. We were asked to bring a sketch book to class. So I went out and bought my first sketch book!

The day of the class. the teacher carried in all sorts of art materials: oil pastels, chalk pastels, crayons, markers, buttons, ribbons, pictures from magazines, natural materials, fabric swatches.  I was in heaven! And I was definitely intimidated by the art materials!  My teacher introduced us to oil pastels for the first exercise.

Accompanied by beautiful music,  we were asked to draw expressively, letting our bodies move and express with colors and texture  how the music made us feel. So, using broad strokes and the smooth feel of oil pastels, I let my emotions move wordlessly through me onto the paper.

It was a soothing, stress-reducing experience for me. Using the art materials, the textures and the color, and the attitude of feeling and experiencing freely,  and not analyzing, was so freeing.

The teacher went on to teach us to use color and art materials to express our feelings of emotional and physical pain with a color, a shape, a movement. The right-brain experiential play-work turned out to be a wonderful way to integrate left-brain interpretative understanding of emotional material on a deeper intuitive level.

Expressive art work has no judgment around it; no one was to interpret anyone else’s expressive work.  So, another level of expressive art work is all around understanding and believing in yourself.

So, many years later, expressive art is a permanent part of my life, on both a personal and a professional level. Personally, I have filled several sketch books with wordless emotional material and interpretative writing and I always have a larger project in one stage or another on my work table in my office. In my counseling work with moms, I use the expressive art in sessions whenever I can fit it in, although many people suffer from that limiting fear of using art.

Here is a simple expressive art exercise you can use over and over again for your emotional self-care and healing from within:

Create a little safe healing space in your home, out out a piece of paper and some crayons or markers, whatever you have around the house. If you have time, maybe light a candle and set yourself up with some nice soothing, healing music ( I love Ashkara’s Weave’s Reiki music for healing).

Think about an issue, a thought or emotion, that is troubling you. Relax and sit quietly and meditate on this issue for a few moments. But get a body based feeling about this issue, on an emotional level.  Let yourself access the body feeling underneath the thoughts and emotions. Now invite, or ask quietly, for an image of this issue to emerge from the wordless place around this emotional material. And when you feel ready, come to the paper and draw without thinking, without analysis, how this image and emotional materials feels within you. Breathe deeply and stay relaxed.

Now,  let yourself write a bit about the emotional material. You can write all around the imagery and colors you just produced. Ask yourself what new insight and new self-understanding, new shifts you have experienced throughout this playful exercise. Let yourself sit in these emotional shifts.  Many thanks to Barbara Ganim for this expressive exercise.

I hope you enjoyed exploring expressive art as a healing technique. Please feel free to come over to my website for a friendly visit.

About Kathy
Kathy MorelliKathy Morelli, LPC, has a professional marriage and family counseling practice with a focus on pregnancy, birth, postpartum and trauma in Wayne, NJ. Kathy also offers phone consultations and web-based courses. She has a long-term interest in mindbody therapies and is trained in shiatsu, acupressure and Reiki. She writes and speaks on BirthTouch® for emotional and physical healing during pregnancy and Strengthen Our Mothers®  for emotional health. She has appeared at various universities and conferences across the country and writes for Lamaze’s Science & Sensibility and Giving Birth With Confidence. Kathy is a board member of Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth (PATTCh) and is one of Postpartum Support International’s (PSI) Virtual Volunteers. Visit her at birthtouch.com and kathymorelli.com.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
~ Henry Ford

I issue a challenge to all my readers today: Name 5 things you’d like to learn in the next year.

Coming up with a few of my own was easy. Limiting them to only 5 was a challenge. In no particular order, here they are:

Elliott Smith1. To play guitar. Especially so I can play Elliott Smith songs. Some consider them depressing, but I say they’re soothing. He’s my favorite musician, and it saddens me that he is dead.

2. To wait patiently. Having a child has helped my patience tremendously, but I have a long way to go before I ever will call myself a “patient” person.

3. To let go of anger before it ruins my mood (and possibly the moods of those around me).

4. To be a better wife. I suspect that I forgot a few of the tips & tricks when I added the role of mother to my resume. I’m a kick-ass momma, but a so-so wife most days.

5. To be a better blogger. One of the things I love most about blogging is that it forces me to keep learning. I swear, every week I’ve learned about something I never even knew existed, thanks to blogging and the fantastic & supportive bloggers I’ve befriended on various social media. But there is so much room for improving both James & Jax and my writing, and I’m excited to grow.

Ok, now it’s your turn to dish. What are your 5?

 

 

 

As I’ve mentioned, we are a Sprout household–when the TV is on, we watch Sprout & sports 24/7 and that’s pretty much it.

Sprout has this cool feature; you can create a really gaudy birthday card for your kid and mail it in to hopefully be featured on The Sunny Side Up Show on your kid’s birthday.

So the hubs and I got our gaudy cardmaking on (there were glitter pens and stickers flying) and whipped this up:

the front of the masterpiece

the guts of the masterpiece

 

 

Two weeks ago, I set 4 goals for myself: attend a pilates class, take a walk, visit the farmers’ market, and write a letter to Jax. I accomplished 3 of the 4. I wasn’t able to attend the pilates class through no fault of my own but due to a scheduling conflict. I rescheduled it for this past week, and I actually went on Wednesday night. Another goal for the past week was to attend a La Leche League meeting, which I also did on Wednesday.

It really helps me to think about the upcoming week and what I wish to accomplish. So, after much introspection, here are this coming week’s goals:

  1. Take a walk. This is a permanent fixture on the weekly goals list, I believe.
  2. Write a letter to Jax. Another permanent fixture on the goals list.
  3. Cook more often. I’ve been relying too much on frozen dinners, like pizza, or takeout, like pizza. Time to take advantage of summer grilling season & eat fresh vegetables, hot off the grill. This coincides nicely with my current squash obsession.
  4. Catch up with friends. I might hit this goal early, as we have tentative plans today and tomorrow with two sets of much adored friends we don’t see often enough.
  5. Explore art. There’s a gallery not too far from home that I’d like to check out, so maybe I can make it happen this week. Art should be more prevalent in my life. I know it would make my husband happy to hear me say that! (This is a test to see if he reads my blog, haha.)
  6. Start a new book. Get out of this book rut I’ve been in for a month or so now! If you have any recommendations, please share!

What are your goals for the week?
Maybe I’ll steal some of yours, too, although my list is already kind of ambitious!

I’m linking up with Rach & Sara for this post. If you wanna play, too, grab the button, write up your week’s lessons on life, and link up!

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  1. Sleep is still an issue in my house. Although I cope with crappy sleep much better now than I ever did before, it still messes with my head (and body) every once in a while.
  2. Working out, even when you REALLY don’t want to, actually feels good when you’re done. Who knew!
  3. Working out after a night of crappy sleep is just not gonna happen.
  4. Caffeine makes me anxious. Which totally sucks for someone who is chronically sleep deprived.
  5. My mother taught Jax his name while I was in New Orleans. I’d been working on it with him for a while before then, but he gets it now. And he pronounces Jackson like this: Yat-yin. It’s mega cute.
  6. It’s a natural high to attend a La Leche League meeting. For real. Meeting other breastfeeding moms was uplifting. It was nice to meet some women who’ve had c-sections & some who have high-needs tots & discuss the things going on in our lives.
  7. Getting out of the house is pretty nice. I think I’ll do it more often.
  8. When I have rare time alone in my house, instead of enjoying the silence and doing something just for myself, I will clean something. Or try to cram in as many other chores as possible. And then I’ll go back to complaining I never have time for myself.
  9. Jax likes art. Our first trip to the art museum with him was a success. I think there will be more museums in our future. Hooray!
  10. Maybe I like Facebook more than I thought I did. I’ve been a Twitter junkie for a while now, bashing the FB from time to time. But maybe I don’t have to choose between them, but rather use each one in a different way depending on their strengths. Maybe FB doesn’t have to be all about long-lost acquaintances whining about their crappy day at work.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Have a great day! Don’t forget to link up so we can share what you’ve learned this week!