Saturday, March 17, 2012

Multicolored paper
acrylic paint
mod podge/glue

Started out by having everyone paint a "canvas" - choosing a piece of cardboard and painting it with acrylics paints.

Then we asked everyone to take a variety of small 3 x 5 (ish) pieces of paper in different colors, and we asked them these questions:

We asked each individually, and asked them to write their answers on a different colored paper for each question.

After that, we asked everyone to tear up those pieces of paper, and glue them onto the piece of cardboard to make a mosaic.

Themes that came up included: processing from whence these "voices" came - who we learned what from, how hard it was to make something beautiful out of negative things, how we pass on or do not pass these things on to our children, and what pieces of mosaic we decided to glue right-side-up or upside down.
This week the theme was on our "journey." We started out by reading the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver to set the mood for our group.

Mary Oliver
The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Then very simply, we asked everyone to use markers and paper to illustrate their journey in some way.

After spending just a few minutes on that, we passed out the sand tray material. We use round planters, sand, and toys that our staff has collected for years. It includes figures of people (of many ethnicities and capabilities, shapes and sizes), disney characters, animals, monsters, structures, fake plants and flowers, cars, toy soldiers, fences, bridges, and more. They are sorted by type into tubs, which are put out on the table for people to get up and move around and take what calls to them.
We asked everyone to use these items to create a picture in their sand tray of a point in their journey. We then spent the majority of the time asking people to tell us their stories and processing them.

Questions we may ask:

If you could title your sand tray, what would it be?
What emotion comes up when you look at your tray?
Who does that (character) represent?
What do you notice when you look at your tray?
If you could press play and have them come to life, what would they be saying to each other?

We also may make observations about the spacial relationship different items have to each other, how full or sparse the tray is, and what obstacles appear to be in the way

Themes that came up this week:
Obstacles, reality testing, waiting, dreams and how to reach them, goal setting, the role children play, relationships, feeling alone.

A big part of this group was inviting other group members to make observations about each other's sand trays. This was a way that we brought an otherwise pretty individual activity to the group.

This week's focus was on the qualities of resilience that each individual has gathered/learned over the course of their life. We talk frequently about getting "gifts wrapped in shit" in the Creative Expressions group - that perhaps the circumstances were not ideal, however many of the characteristics we learned from them are essential to our survival and thriving.

Materials: Standard size deck of playing cards (approximately 3-6 cards per person), mod-podge/glue, acrylic paint, magazines to cut up and collage, tissue paper, scissors, paintbrushes, paper, markers

What we did:
We started out by taking one piece of paper and dividing it into 4 sections: "young child, teenager, young adult, now" Then creating a list of positive qualities that we had gained during those periods in our life.

then each person was asked to create a card for each quality. They could design it however they liked, with whatever materials spoke to them. (THIS is a site with samples of ATC's)

Here are some samples of the Resilience-themed ATCs we created:

We spent the majority of the time creating the ATCs. Then at the end we asked everyone to turn to the two people on either side of them, and give them each the gift of one of their resilient qualities. The end result would be that each person leave with cards they created for themselves, in addition to several created by other people.

Themes that emerged:

First it was difficult for some to come up with positive characteristics, either due to low-self esteem/perspective, or because their past was so traumatic it was difficult to see any positives.

Trying to use art to create something that represented curiosity, open-mindedness, and other resilient qualities was thought-provoking and harder for some as well.

The idea of giving someone else some of your cards was really triggering. A few reasons came up: a)it was something personal, a part of their life/past and it was hard to give up. b)some were afraid it would be insulting to say "here you need this quality" c)it was difficult for some to have people in their group that they perceive as having it "all together" (like the group leaders) and made them feel uncomfortable. We discussed the idea that everyone has gifts they can offer.

If I was going to do it again I would change a few things: It may be interesting to have enough time/limit the time so that everyone made as many cards as there are participants in order for everyone to trade with everyone. Also - I would spend more time processing the triggering idea of giving up parts of your resilience as gifts to someone else.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Self-Research Day Materials Used:

"Reflections" poem by Henry Bobotek

Large paper

Painters tape


First we read the poem "Reflections" which is a poem based on the author's "preferences" (some lines include "I prefer tea I prefer myself when I listen, I prefer paperbacks") During the 2nd reading, we asked the group to write 10 of their own preferences on the paper The point of this was to get everyone to start thinking about what they like, what makes them them - without too much discussion

Then we hung up a large piece of paper for each person on the wall around the room, and did a rough outline of their head and shoulders. Once those were up, we gave everyone some markers and asked them to very quickly go around the room and write something that they value about the person on their paper. For example - on my paper, the rest of the group wrote "Important person" "outspoken" and some other things on the outside of the outline (leaving the inside of the head and shoulders blank for now). We purposely only gave them about 30 seconds per person.

After that, each person faced their own paper and responded to the prompts. Prompts included:

My body helps me be connected to my truest self when it has________________________

What do I do for fun and silliness that makes me laugh outloud?

I share my joy with_________________________

I could live without _______________________ but not for very long

Without ____________________I lose myself

When I feel most connected to something larger than myself I am ____________________________

Right now my body needs ____________________________

My 5 minimum daily requirements are_________________________________________

After that, we asked each person to sit and look at what they had written, and reflect. We sat in silence for a few minutes doing that, and then processed.

Themes that came up:

That it was hard not knowing who wrote what on the outside

Difficulty focusing on self, rather than others - what it is that we really need, separate from others

Friday, February 10, 2012

This week's Creative Expression post - great for Valentine Day: Writing a Love Poem to yourself using Found Words

Materials we used:

typed and printed words - from the love poems you are going to read. Have them cut up and in a tub/hat/bag.




paint brushes (for the glue)



Here's what we did:

1. Read outloud "Love poem for Ernest Mann" by Naomi Shihab Nye

2. Read a few love poems from the Magnetic Poetry book

3. Asked each participant to think of 3 people, animals, or places they love

4. Write down three things that describe each of those 3 people/place/animal (so 9 characteristics in all)

5. Have participants copy those words a few more times, cut them up, add to the bucket of pre-cut words

6. Talk about themes of: Valentines Day, Relationships, Love (does not have to be with a significant other), self-love, self-care

7. Explain the concept of "found poetry" writing poems using words that already present themselves to you

8. Have everyone grab a handful of words, and modpodge them onto the cardboard

9. Share - themes that came up for us were:

loving ourselves/is this selfish?

how much power we give to other people when we are angry

inner critique trying to write poetry

how hard it is to value ourselves

whether self-love happens like turning on a light or if it is a process

Here's what I did so you have a sample:


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