a few moments to consider

Many years ago, in 1999, I began the ritual of writing morning pages a la Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way. At that time, I felt a surge of energy previously unknown.

Everyday, I’d pursue the adventure of watercolours. I’d sit in the light of a window, pull back my futon and play with water and pigment to see what would happen. Everyday a surprise, an experiment!

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cavern, judih watercolour 2000

Evening walks under the stars, often shooting stars that would reaffirm the magic of living. Bursts of conversations with strangers that fueled creative fireworks.

Then, one day, I stopped. Why, I know now, was based on reaching the chapter in the book where it is required to give up reading for a week. That exercise seemed insurmountable and I just stopped working the course.

Watercolour painting stopped. The surge of energy kept going based on natural centrifugal force. I was no longer a battery.

Batteries have pluses and minuses.

The minuses were of dubious benefit to mankind. I had a long-distance cyber romance that ended a man’s employment as a computer teacher. I met up with a sad individual who expected the moon and received a handshake. While I applauded others becoming couples,  I felt my secret world pull me away from my own relationship. As I became vastly excited about my inner fantasies, I was less eager to blend with another.

Turmoil and re-evaluation. Bad? Good?

I learned that the super energetic revolution that I was experiencing was a phase, vital for me in order to embark on a new path. I went to my chosen therapy: psychodrama to work out the nuances of what I’d been repressing since childhood. I saw and understood what I wanted to do and I admitted that it could be achieved.

Energetic rebalancing. Not a matter of plus or minus but a matter of clarity of recognition.

I write this as I consider that period in my life when a young woman graduated into womanhood and that ‘maybe someday’ became “what the hell am i waiting for?”.

Not that everything immediately fell into place, but my intention became more clearly focused. I chose to reconnect to my dream of higher artistic education. I chose to deal with a morass of bureaucracy in order to fulfill that desire. Once the choice was made, the path followed.

Eventually, I enrolled in the Creative Arts in Education M.Ed offered by Lesley College and there I finally experienced school as it is meant to be. I found a lush ground for exploring my own curiousity, and found professors, authors and other students who were equally ripe for opening their minds and trekking past prior limitations.

I connected with my own love of research and the quest for answers based on real experiences.

My thesis on Using the Arts to Focus Pupils with ADHD was based on real-life interviews and research. I gleaned common ground from so many sources from various disciplines and, on the way, I learned of many therapists who work their method to help people with ADHD rediscover their own focus through art, movement, music.

My battery re-charged through the rhythm of the research and writing. And it still regenerates as I use mindfulness and creativity to help myself and pupils locate that inner pearl that hums within us all.

Morning pages began a process for me. Perhaps it could work for you.

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Puppet Talk: based on other therapies

Puppet Talk

It stems from Expressive Therapy, the notion that through expression, we are well on the way to dealing with our past.

It’s also  based on NLP techniques to help de-traumatize one still trapped in the thralls of major trauma. The technique is to offer a buffer zone, a safe distancing from past events in our lives in order to view them as if we were watching a movie.

This is also psychodrama, a technique that offers us the opportunity to recreate life events as if we were directing theatre. We cast important characters in the scene, including ourselves, and we coach them in saying the sentences as we recall them being said. We position them just as they were at the time. We direct the scene, write the script, and do coaching to make sure that the events are portrayed as they need to be.

Then, if need be, we can zoom into a moment, expand it, slow it down. We can even rearrange characters, re-write the script, so that we can experience the satisfaction of closure. With understanding and often a big smile, we are free to move on.

Each of these techniques offer the storyteller a way to deal with personal history.

Share your story. (What story?)

Everyone has a story. There’s always a history behind the present moment. How you got to where you currently sit, stand, recline. When it began. What happened before that. And then what happened…

We can recall moments filled with details and colours and sounds. Some of them may be haphazard. Some may have been predetermined and cast into our DNA by our grandparents or their grandparents. If we consider all that, that too is our story.

It seems reasonable that when asked to share your story, there must be something you could say.

But, when I was asked, I discovered something else. What story? What have I done that when examined from a bird’s eye view looks or sounds like a story? I had lived through events, but were they interesting? Did they create a story-line? I didn’t see it.

Escape route 101: I asked my partner to tell me his story. I  as interviewer could happily record his beginning, middle and end. “What’s your story?” I asked him. “Tell me what makes you who you are – the events, the encounters that brought you here.”

He answered: “I have no story.”

I tried re-framing the question. His words came out the same. No. No story, here.  Now, I know he has a story. He has lived a life of experiences and relationships that could fill books.

So, what makes it hard to look at our lives and pick out the moments that when lined up would ring authentic and truly represent our path. Moments that when put on a page would offer material for a professional edit and a click of the publish button.

I know that, in the past, if an interested other has asked me what brought me to this moment, I’ve had lots to talk about, things that sounded unique and interesting. Why were those times different from being asked to listen to myself, and write?

The difference was plain. Then I had an audience. I could gear what I said to the look of interest (or lack of) in the gaze of my listener/s.

An audience. I could speak to the audience. Just like on stage or in a classroom.  Instinctively, I’d find the light in their eyes and be encouraged.

So, I came up with an idea. This idea isn’t new to me, in fact it was my original plan when I first came to Israel. The idea is simple: Puppet Talk. Let a puppet tell the story. Let a puppet narrate and if need be, bring on important characters to be arranged onstage. Let the puppet show the small scenes of real life, in shameless accuracy, complete with blunders and embarrassment. Let the puppet express it all to provide clarity to past events that happened in a tumult of emotion or social upheaval, but which stick out in our minds: those events that we remember as pivotal in our route through life.

Let the puppet do the talking so that you can stand back and watch the story of your life from a comfortable distance.

This is the idea.

When I ask myself leading questions like:

What made you come to Israel?

What made you stay?

I think back and offer a phrase or a sentence. ‘It was the smell of orange blossoms.’

“I didn’t feel so short here.”

Yet was it truly so simple? Had I left a life in Canada for a new life in a strange land, just because of the fragrance of orange blossoms? Or that other people were short and I felt physically at home? Or the joy in meeting artists, musicians, philosophers at every corner? In the supermarket, in the office of the real estate agent, or with the vegetable vendor who traded us big green Granny Smith apples for the luscious guava from our tree. Those apples were juiced, warmed and served with cinnamon during a cold winter when we didn’t have money for heat.

There are questions that can be answered with a sniff of cinnamon or orange blossoms. Words hardly do them justice. So, why use puppets? Because the puppet can provide the distance and the voice for an emotion that might be difficult to express. The puppet seldom cries, but often shows empathy. Puppets can deal with life’s absurdities and still radiate patience and understanding.

Puppet talk. An idea that needs pursuing. What is my story?  Let’s see!

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