Hope is the Thing with Feathers

I am feeling very heavy hearted today. A young woman in my community took her own life a few days ago. While I did not know her, I know many who did and who cherished her as a talented and loving person. So many questions abound and leave the survivors wondering what more they could have done.

In my work as a therapist, I have known many people who have struggled with suicidality. The desire to end one’s own life is a nagging pain that runs terribly deep. It becomes very hard, if not impossible, to imagine a less painful future. Hopelessness becomes the new normal. A suicide attempt can come as a complete shock. Most may not have known how hard someone was struggling to hold it all together until they do something drastic.

A few years ago, a young man I knew took his own life. Our community was stunned. Sure, he had his problems, but things seemed to be improving. We can second guess ourselves all day long about clues to his intentions, but the fact is that he let absolutely no one into his inner turmoil. Survivor guilt is intense and probably never goes away.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, there is help. It may not feel like it right now, but there are people who love you dearly and want to help you. In the depths of despair, it is hard to imagine that things will ever get better. Lean on those around you and borrow some hope for a while if you need to. It is hard to have much perspective when you are feeling so awful, but most things if given time do have a way of working out. Reach out, you will be amazed at how many people care about you and want to help.

Here are some resources for you and your loved ones:





Hang in there please, it gets better. Peace to you.


Tag! I’m It!

  • Gretchen Miller tagged me for some creative blog fun! If you want to play on your own blog, here are the rules:
  • You must post the rules
  • Answer 11 questions the tagger posted for you
  • Create 11 questions to ask the people you tag
  • Tag 11 people
  • Let them know you’ve tagged them
Here are the questions I got from Gretchen with my responses:
  1. What is your most favorite art material or media to use in your personal art-making?    It’s hard to list my most favorite material or media, I have so many! If I am in Big Art mode, I would have to say it is beeswax collage. It’s Big Art because it requires a fair amount of time and setup. For Little Art, I like to noodle around in my altered books, often sewing in them or using stamps and embossing powder.
  2. Favorite source for creative inspiration?  I get a lot of inspiration from walking around antique stores. Seeing all the vintage stuff gives me ideas for new juxtapositions of old and new imagery.
  3. Any tips for making the time to focus on your creative practice?  Don’t wait to have time to be creative.Incorporate it into everything you do. Practice your creativity mindfully and give yourself credit for the small creative acts you do every day. Creativity isn’t something to fit into your schedule, it is something to BE.
  4. What artsy project are you working on right now? I always have several altered books going. My big project now is more crafty. I was asked to finish knitting a sweater that was started by someone for her husband before she passed away. It will be a birthday gift for him from the family.
  5. Is there a particular art material, technique, or process you would like to learn more about or spend more time with?  I would love to learn about glass blowing, metal smithing, and do some more with printmaking. I took a printmaking class last summer and really fell in love with the possibilities.
  6. Biggest creative challenge you’ve experienced?  Making the film for 6 Degrees of Creativity! The sound wasn’t working on my computer, I wasn’t familiar with the camera, the editing software was new to me and I set up and shot the whole thing by myself. I don’t recommend any of these scenarios if you are making a film! 🙂 In the end, it all worked out, I am very happy with the finished product, and it was a very creatively satisfying experience to solve all of those problems on my own.
  7. What does creativity mean to you?  Seeing the world with fresh eyes, being open to all possibilities, a willingness to take risks, having a playful attitude, developing problem-solving skills,working hard and having fun!
  8. Favorite art related book you’ve read or would like to read? Frida Kahlo’s journal
  9. Do you prefer to create alone or with others? I find my working styles are very different depending on whether I am alone or with others. Generally when I am making art with others, I am the group leader-either as professor or therapist. That tends to limit my work because my real focus is on the group members.Otherwise, I generally work alone although it is certainly fun to have a pal to bounce ideas around with!
  10. What role has social media and networking played in your creative practice? I wouldn’t have this blog without it! It has enabled me to spread my thoughts, ideas and work to a larger audience. It has enriched my network of professional contacts and opened up opportunities for me.
  11. Finish this sentence:  ”To create is to exist”.           And now for my 11 questions: (I can’t make the numbering below go away 😦
  12. When did you really start to embrace your creative self?
  13. Who encouraged you on your creative path?
  14. If you were going to change careers, what else would you do?
  15. If you had a patron for a year, what would you do with your time and money?
  16. What piece of art would you most want to have in your home?
  17. Which artist, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with?
  18. If you were going to host a salon and could invite anyone living or dead, who would you invite?
  19. What kills your creative buzz and how do you get it back?
  20. Describe your creative work space.
  21. Do you ever sell your work? Does the prospect of selling it alter it in any way?
  22. What percentage of the creative process is fun for you?
  23. Now I just have to figure out how to tag some people!

Belief in Things Unseen

I just finished making a 16 foot long dragon for story time during tomorrow’s Easter services. What, pray tell, does a dragon have to do with Easter? I was wondering the same thing until it was explained to me during this morning’s rehearsal. The story is about a boy who is the only one who sees the dragon until it so large it is impossible not to see it. How all this ties into Easter is the subject for another blog, this is a Unitarian Universalist church after all.

I think it is an apt metaphor as well for the work we do as therapists.  So much of our work relies on believing in the unseen and unknown. We usually don’t know where our words and actions land within our clients. We spend a lot of time time helping people unravel the mysteries of the heart and the psyche. Sometimes our clients are the only ones who see the dragons. Being the Dragon Seer can be a precarious role to play.

All of this impresses upon me the power and the awesome responsibility of the job of being in the role of therapist. I must act and speak with kindness and care. I must hold onto hope when my clients have abandoned it. I must believe in each person’s  ability to change, heal and grow. Hope, kindness,healing-all of these things are unseen and immeasurable-yet I must maintain absolute faith in them.

It seems to me that anyone working as a therapist must have a bedrock belief in something so ethereal as human potential. How else do we carry on? How do we understand the nebulous nature of our work other than a belief in things unseen?

Altered by Art: The Transformative Medium of Beeswax Collage

Altered by Art: The Transformative Medium of Beeswax Collage


This is the video that I made for the 6 Degrees of Creativity project. In it you will find soup to nuts instructions for doing beeswax collage. In response to a query, no, the collages will not melt unless you leave them in your car on a hot day. I hope you enjoy the video, I certainly had fun making it! And check out 6 Degrees of Creativity 2, happening now at


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