Art + Yoga

This is my art process following my yoga process. Following all of that stuff that came together over the weekend.

liam yoga

liam yoga

liam yoga

liam yoga

liam yoga

liam yoga

liam

liam yoga

I’m rushing to get this done as I head out the door. What can I tell you. Both yoga and art get you out of your brain and into your body. Get this, I was digging through some of Liam’s things (haven’t done that in a while) and I found his obituary and the picture that was on it (in it?) was the visual I had chosen in yoga on Sunday. And maybe you’re nodding your head and saying that makes sense, but I honestly had no memory of it being that image. And today I was able to go back to that time again through art. I remember that time, those moments, with him on my lap very well.

I’m kind of giggling about whatever is going on in the painting (is that a Cosby sweater?), but I’ll get back into it and report back.

Now I go to yoga.

Awareness: All in a Weekend

Part One: Liam

Liam’s been on my mind a lot. I’m really aware of the ten year reunion of his life and really aware that it only lasts for nine months. And this awareness feels important. I’ve put out an intention to check whatever this is out; to be open to…anything.

Part Two: PTSD

On Friday I went to a training for an intervention (SBIRT) and at the very end we touched on PTSD. I was reminded that sometimes people who have been diagnosed with PTSD do not remember the trauma. Or if they do remember it, they don’t perceive it as such. It’s a coping mechanism, right, and it helps people—us—to get on with our lives. So, not remembering and/or not identifying with a trauma—that’s in my head all weekend.

Part Three: Sadness

I was watching Grey’s Anatomy on Saturday (I am in fact a little embarrassed to admit that) and at some point in the show I was crying. Not just choked up, but real sad, wet tears falling. And it wasn’t the first time for me and Grey’s Anatomy. It got me thinking about what gets me crying.

Dude.

There is this scene in Dumbo where Mrs. Jumbo is all locked up and Dumbo goes to visit her—you know what I’m talking about—with the song and the big tears (?) gets me going every time. Right, so this, coupled with the training, leads me into thinking about my own perception of Liam’s death. And all at once I have this recognition that I am sad.

But wait, that’s not true. I’m really not a sad person. For real.

It’s more like I have been carrying around this deep well of sadness and it’s hidden somewhere within me. And I can tap into it in an instant when I’m watching a tv drama. Or an old cartoon that I not only watched as a kid, but that my own kids have watched what seems like a thousand times. I should be desensitized.

Part Four: Yoga

I went to yoga earlier this evening and I got my butt kicked in the best way possible. Very intense and very challenging. Jill, our instructor, was settling us in to savasana (our last pose for the night) and she took us through a visualization. She asked that we imagine something that we love very much and to focus on it. I was flipping through images in my mind and realized that Liam was the natural something. Through instruction I brought up vivid memory of Liam, focusing in on his face, his expressions, what he was wearing, what I was feeling, the light in the room, etc. I was then instructed to have a dialog with him about what it was I loved about him.

And there I was, in corpse pose, crying silent tears into my ears and hair. I love the joy, laughter, and happiness. The ease, calm, and patience. I love the teacher and the old soul.

She then told me to take all of those qualities and give them back to myself. To fill me up with what I love about him. I am what I love.

I’m a bit at a loss for what else to say. It was powerful and moving. It was effective because I was open and ready and things had lined up in such an interesting way.

I don’t think the sadness went away tonight. Instead it has been brought fully into my awareness and in that sense I won’t be able to ignore or avoid it (or not know that I’m ignoring or avoiding it). In all of this sadness, this is exciting. This is what I love about therapy.

 

Campaign to Change Direction

La Crosse is in a very unique position to be the first community in the nation to officially launch the Campaign to Change Direction. It was officially launched in Washington just over two weeks ago and this past Monday night I was fortunate to be at the La Crosse launch at the Weber Center. Take a listen to Michelle Obama:

How do you Change Direction? Know the five signs: Personality Change, Agitation, Withdrawal, Poor Self Care, Hopelessness. What next? If you notice that someone is showing one or more of these signs all you have to do is reach out. Ask them how they are doing. Let them know you care. The intention is to stop ignoring mental illness and to start acknowledging that most every single person is touched by it in some way.

Learn more at www.changedirection.org

Spring

Welcome Spring!
Spring mandala. Don’t think, just do. Paper, circle, paint/color/draw:

spring
I like to think of spring as our reward after the long, cold winter. It’s my favorite season. I love the geese, the first cardinal, hanging clothes on the line, hands in the dirt, crocus shoots.

spring2
Speaking of hands in the dirt. Do you garden?

spring3
Check this out:
Researchers from Bristol University and University College London discovered using laboratory mice, that a “friendly” bacteria commonly found in soil activated brain cells to produce the brain chemical serotonin and altered the mice’s behavior in a similar way to antidepressants.
Yes, you heard that right. This bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, gets into our bodies while we dig into the earth and causes our brain to release seratonin. Mother Earth is handing out anti-depressants and all you have to do is go outside. In fact, studies show that cancer patients receiving M. vaccae as part of their treatment reported “increases in things like vitality and cognitive function and decreases in pain.”
Digging in the dirt also counts as exercise. You sweat, you feel good, you smile…Happy Spring!

Sources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452207001510

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/08/01/gardening.aspx

http://permaculture.com.au/why-gardening-makes-you-happy-and-cures-depression/

Birthday

I just had a birthday. It was on the first warm day of March. It was lovely. I made myself a pair of earrings and that wasn’t even the best part. Today, though, I want to talk about Liam’s birthday. Today Liam would have been ten. Ten years old.

I don’t even know.

He’s been on my mind a lot since we moved back to La Crosse. Back to the town in which he was born. Back to the midwife that knew him so well. Back to the people that held my hand through the very hard and very long part. I try to put my finger on what it is I’m feeling about him. It’s as if I keep the feelings underneath a heavy blanket. They are there, I can feel them, but the blanket…it’s too heavy. It’s too heavy to feel anything else but that weight.

I’ve realized I can feel the emotions when I’m with my other kids. Like yesterday I was putting drops into the six-month-old’s eyes (pink eye (!)) and he was crying, because it burns, and then immediately got sleepy, because he was exhausted, and I had a few minutes of panic that maybe I had somehow just caused him to go blind. Like what if I had squeezed more than one drop–because it was hard to tell–and what if more than one drop can cause blindness. Because that’s rational. And I got really scared and helpless feeling. Until he opened his eyes, blinked at me, and smiled. When I have those kinds of emotional reactions, I know that there is a little more going on and a lot to do with Liam.

liam I painted this painting a few years ago around the time of his birthday, I think. It’s meant to be him, sitting at his grave, on dia de los muertos (the day of the dead), making paper flowers and getting help from the crows. It’s unfinished, dirty, and beat up, but I have a lot of love for this dark imagery. And I kind of wonder if he would look anything like this. liam1 Six months ago when I went into labor with the now six-month-old, I dreamt that Liam, as an adult, was walking toward me arm-in-arm with my grandma. It was as if they were coming–from where ever it is they hang out these days–to be with me. My team. It was an effective dream; it gave me a great deal of confidence that day. liam3 I look back on his life and remember the joy I felt in his existence. The love that I could never have imagined. I remember washing dishes in the morning while he sat on the floor in the little bouncy chair, smiling and talking and playing. I remember walking all over town with him, in the stroller or in the carrier, he was always easy, calm, steady. I remember that with him life was better. I remember the day he died—–I feel it in my chest now as I type this. It’s that hollow, scraped out feeling. Fog, pain, emptiness. I remember. liam4 But dude. This kid was awesome! For all of you who didn’t know him, you must know. And for all of you who did know him, wasn’t he awesome? I am honored to have been a part of his life. On days like today, when that heavy blanket gets pulled back and I feel everything, I know that because of you, Liam, I am a better person. Happy Earth Birthday, kid.

Altered Book

altered book The altered book directive. What you need: one (1) book, art supplies, your imagination. altered bookI love altering a book. I find it entirely relaxing to cut out a bunch of pictures in order to make new pictures. altered bookIt can also work as a journal, a sketchbook, an art journal, a cookbook, a pop-up book, a children’s book, an erotic book, a comic book. You get it. Lots of things.altered book I find that I like to doodle in mine when I’m working out my thoughts on something else. It sort of helps me clear out. altered book It could just as easily be made with a specific intention, though. Like what? Like, well, what’s up with you right now? Personally, I could create a book around food and health–healthy food, healthy babies, feeling crazy because I’m trying to be healthy, feeling judgmental about health, feeling exhausted by it…that’s a good start. altered book I might have to create that book. What is on your mind? A lot? Make an altered book about it.