Hi, I’m Laurie. I’m an experiential learner, a lover of fun and meaningful connection. I love to write, laugh, create and move! I’m a risk taker and love adventure. And “I’m a flasher, not a nudist!” meaning that I enjoy going deep and have been known myself to be a bit of a navel gazer, but life is just not that serious! We need to laugh a little in the midst of our tears.
But I haven’t always been this way! Still, on my worst days I can get caught up in my exterior world and it’s sometimes not too subtle messages or, the downright bold ones that aggressively traverse through my head.
Earlier in life, I was immersed in more of a linear progression; first, the medical community where there are clear lines of expectations, dysfunction, goals, etc. And later, motherhood and parenting in suburbia which is a foundation of competition and gossip among morsels of true friendship that has continued into our empty nest.
Creativity was pushed waaay into the background for “more important stuff”. Art was a way to pass the time, hold on to my sanity when the kids were very small, but for any personal value presently? Hell no! I’d say, “I’m not an artist. I don’t make anything worth selling. Why would I spend any of my valuable time doing in frivolous play?”
My turn-around started when I joined a writing group, creatively called “The Wednesday Writers”! We use bi-monthly prompts to dance with what I’d call the “eternal wound”; that human created pit of blackness that often for all of us focuses on a theme. (Others might call it shadow-work.) It’s not a group of critique on our writing skill, but a group of women that listen and reflect…..yet in the process, our writing skills improve. With this regular practice, I noticed that creativity coming more alive.
Later, I wandered upon Expressive Arts. It echoed the parts of Occupational Therapy I loved: group work, arts and crafts, mental health and wellness…..but it left the medical model at the door. It took me out of being diagnostician, goal setter, and plan organizer and put that responsibility on the receiver. It landed me more firmly with my nature of playfulness, imagination and flow. It re-established a notion I’ve always held deep down:
No one can “FIX” us other than ourselves. We have all the answers we need *inside us*. We are perfect and complete deep down~ we just need to wipe the muck of life (and the lies we tell ourselves in our head) away.
This is well displayed with paints. Mix all the wonderful colors of life together and what do you get?BLACK! Yet if you scrape away the black beneath you’ll find the colors in their full vibrancy right below. I see all art as a metaphor to our lives. Over-think an issue, re-work it to death, it just becomes black. Hard to see. Once you wipe away the blackness, clear away the clouds, your truth and answers appear.
I think there’s two main struggles that people come up against in deciding if they’d like to try Whole Arts.
1) “I’m not an artist”, “I’m not creative”– I’d refute that. If you remember as a child in art play, you didn’t spend any time judging the quality of your work. You just had fun. You experimented. You delighted in the process. Wild abandon in the process can offer great insight.
2) “I don’t want to air skeletons in my closet.” – You don’t have to. Though this process might help you see in a way you haven’t before or bring up memories that are difficult, you do not have to share anything to the group that is difficult.
We usually start in some form of movement or physical motion, move intovarious expressions of art–making, then describe the art we see in written word. The imaginal space as we’re creating is playful, exploratory and meaningful as we allow the artwork/dance to speak to us.
“Art, play or dance” tend to hold a lot of baggage for people on myraid levels! We have an image in our minds which is based on our cultural experiences. Ours in the western world is often judged by how “well” it’s done or how “purposeful” it is. It’s both a challenge and a gift to let go of the judgement that keeps us confined, opening ourselves to limitless possibilities.
“As we let go of the labels and judgement, we enter into a process with our sacred inner selves, a process that is always a gift
….and so much more precious than a picture we’d hang on the wall.”
~ Laurie Ritchie