Sunday, February 10, 2013

Career Vision Board

As I said in last week's post, while at Kripalu, I took several workshops; among them, one that was about following your dreams and another that included making a vision board. I have been all over working on the dream journal this week and decided to make a vision board about what I said I would do if I could do anything without the possibility of failure. What I said in that group was an idea that came to me as part of a project in my expressive therapy and social action class. It's funny, because it was my last class of grad school, an elective, so my main goal was getting my three credits and moving on with a shiny new degree. But the organization I made up, has stuck in the back of my brain, just kinda drifting around someplace near the occipital lobe. Just chillin', wandering to the front every now and then, saying hi. You know how it is.

So, what I imagined was a holistic center with office space for therapists, body workers, physical therapists, etc. who share a common goal of using the whole body and mind to create wellness. This place would be open to the community and offer yoga classes and expressive therapy groups of all kinds, depending on need, in addition to having individuals who do their own thing to help others, renting space in the upper floor or floors of the building. I want to create and work in that place someday.

So I made a vision board about it. It looks like this.

Making this has made me really excited about that idea. As I am driving to work, I imagine groups I would want to offer the community, exhibits we could have, benefits I would give people who were a part of the process. And I feel happy. In a way, this is not a plan that I ever considered impossible, because I invested my inheritance with this in mind someday. However, as I cut out words and images and simply collaged about it, it started to feel more real and possible. Although this idea has been with me for almost two years, I have officially transfer it to my seven-year career plan. This is what I am working toward.

For more about vision boards go here.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Yoga Retreat

Last week I went to Kripalu for an R&R Yoga Retreat with Mallory. In addition to delicious organic vegetarian meals and plenty of yoga, we had a choice of several workshops each day and some of them felt like being in the best part of grad school again: drum circles, collage, medicine and movement... Good times.

One of the workshops we went to was called "Realize Your Dreams" (I think). First we were asked if we could do one thing and were guaranteed we would not fail, what would it be and we announced it to the room full of fellow traveler strangers on R&R retreats, which was super uncomfortable for me, but has gotten me thinking more about what I told everyone. Then we were given a handout with a list of categories for a dream journal and asked to think of goals for each area. The list is as follows:













A part of me was really excited about the idea and the other part of me was like, "Stop it! How many goals and projects can you juggle? You got enough going on already," but I just can't say no and couldn't stop thinking what I would do with dreams in a journal. I can even rationalize, because I have goals in most of this areas already. It's just organization and format really. Right? So after a couple of days of thinking about it and telling myself no and trying to thought block ideas for taking on another project, told myself yes and went to Michael's and bought a Smash Book to act as my dream journal/scrap book.

It has always surprised me that I am not a scrapbook person, because I love taking photos and I love working with paper. For the first page, I glued down an envelop and I am making simple cards with collage images and goals. I will work on each of the pages with details regarding each of the goals. This is what I have so far.

I am pretty stoked about it. And... I am still keeping up on my daily calendar modifications, so so far so good. This is a fun idea and it has created a sense of positivity and feeling like all I reach for is possible. Maybe so possible, I might someday tell you what I said I would do if I could not fail.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Being Serious

You have been warned. This will not be the funnest, most art therapy rich post you have ever read, but because I set a goal of writing every week, I will share with you what is up in my professional world.

I have a fantasy and it goes like this... Someday, I would like to have my own practice, my own space and my own approach. I feel like I have mentioned this before, probably within the past few weeks, but in case not, I want to work with people using a whole-body, goal-focused approach to create a greater sense of physical and mental health and general well-being. The three main components will be attention to and pursuance of spiritual self (in terms of being creative and feeling a sense of higher purpose or meaning), physical self (in terms of greater health and recognition of body as our only form of transportation through this life, therefore requiring care and upkeep), and mental/emotional self (in terms of understanding strengths and limitations and comforting one's inner voice).

In the interest of figuring it out, I have an extensive to-do list which includes many levels of my own education. Goals for this year are to get my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) Certification on February 8, LMHC in April and prepare for ATR-BC on a date not yet determined. This requires a great deal of studying. Many of my peers are also in study mode, so I introduce you to a sweet app called gFlashPro which is a flashcard making app that I have been introduced to this week in order to help my studying.

It looks like this when editing and creating cards.

And it looks like this when in use.

The non-AFAA cards came with it as samples. When in use, you tap the cards you know and those you don't, so you can continue working on what you don't know. I think flashcard are helpful and I would recommend them for studying for any exam. This app makes them portable and interactive. You can also add sounds and photos.

On the current act of being an art therapist, I am starting a new group intervention this week. I will tell you more as it progresses. The guys are still using their gratitude journals at the beginning of each group and have gone a full two weeks of seeming to like them, which is not bad. Also, I have been able to keep up on my altered calendar. I rushed through it and could be happier with my effort, but a little sloppy art everyday is better than none.

Lastly, shout out to another app called blogsy, which I am using on my iPad for the first time. I love you iPad and if this looks okay, I also love you blogsy.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Altered Calendar and Gratitude

I have a confession. You know how medical students sometimes go through a phase of hypochondria when they are learning about all the things they may die from someday? Okay, I don't know if that is true, but I have heard rumors. I think psychology types go through the same thing. We diagnose our friends and ourselves. Mental illness is everywhere. As for me, I would give myself ADHD and I am kinda in a constant mild state of mania; not like spending all my money or running naked through the streets mania, but trying new things and feeling giddy on the regular mania. It's a gift really. Hallelujah. Blessed be.

The ADHD tendencies on the other hand, can be troublesome. I would like to be more organized and less distracted, so I was excited to start a new project with my calendar this year. I am making an "altered calendar" and I also came up with a plan that I have been using on work and personal goals. First, I underline one thing (maybe more for work depending on deadlines, but I try to keep it as minimal as possible) that I must do. I make one priority in my schedule and do not allow myself to move on to what I would rather be doing. In my personal life, this has made me study everyday this week rather than do a hundred other things to avoid it. At work, it has made me turn in large reports on time or early. It's been a productive week and I feel good about my self-diagnosed ADHD management. I tell you this, in case you also struggle with time management and doing what you are supposed to be doing rather than everything else possible in the whole wide world.

I have two agendas that I use. One at home for my personal beeswax and one at work for my professional self. As for the one at home, I have spent the end of each day drawing over the day with something about the day, so it becomes a visual art journal at the end of the year. This also means I am forced to create everyday.

My Personal Agenda, Week One
I love fresh beginnings, so I spent some time thinking about structure I can add to my group when the kids got back from vacation. I decided that for the month of January, and maybe beyond, we will spend the first five-ish minutes writing or drawing in a gratitude journal. I have a lot of guys who hate everything, so the rule is they must think of one good thing at the beginning of group twice per week and document it in their journals. Afterward, they may voice all of their complaints, if they like. To decorate their journals, I brought stamps. The guys were all over that. They loved stamps so much, I think I will continue bringing them for each day. We don't always have a lot to work with, so these are just a few pieces of legal sized photocopier paper, folded in half with staples. It was so simple and the guys were very pleased to make them. I started one, because I feel with my kids, it's important to set an example, because they often feel they have rules and demands others don't have, so when I make them work, I work. When they have to play and I am around, I play as an equal participant. These are a success so far.

The Journal I Started Working on During A Group
A Photo from Today, Just Because

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meditation and Giving

First, a quote from the book I finished today. I add it because it made me think of art therapy and the psychological need to collect new images sometimes.

“The longer we live, the more images we collect, both positive and negative. These images are not always at the front of our mind; they fall to the background of our mind. But when we have a buildup of images, especially of negative ones, they come to mind more and more as bothersome thoughts, wreaking havoc on our sleep and our relationships. Since the mind is neutral and adapts to its environment, we become accustomed to this experience, like becoming accustomed to dirt and clutter in an unkempt house. A rundown and irritated feeling becomes the norm, and after a while, we can’t imagine feeling a different way”

Excerpt From: Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. “Running with the Mind of Meditation.” Harmony Books, 2012-04-10. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore:

Second, a shout out to my iPad for making that quote happen so easily with automatic credit where credit is due.

Third, back to my blog.

I have been doing a lot of reading, catching up on all the writing and reports I have to do at work, planning and preparing more for my yoga classes and thinking more about meditation practice. I am still struggling with my meditation goal most of all even though it is the simplest of commitments. That is why my own work this week is related. I would like to create a meditation space in our apartment. Today we cleaned out a corner and I am working on finishing a quilted mediation pillow I started a long time ago. It is made out of some of my old clothing.

I hope that the easier I make it to sit down and be with my mind, the more likely I will succeed.

In the interest of being a better, or rather better-liked, yoga teacher, I spent part of today making gifts for my students. I hope to have enough eye bags for my first classes of the year to give to everyone who attends classes the first week in January. Since this is when I am most likely to get the most new students, I want them to have happy yoga feelings and want to come back. These are just filled with a little rice and I got the fabric on clearance. Cheapest gifts ever! These are the bags.

This has been a productive week at work because the guys I work with are not at the school where my office is and do not have any groups. It has allowed me to reorganize myself, catch up on writing and plan for new groups and work I want to do with them. I am actually starting to get excited to get back to business as usual. I plan to incorporate some of the work I am dong for myself through trying to take time being with my thoughts for things to do with them and helping them feel calmer in their own bodies. More on that as it happens.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Forgetting What I Do

I spent 14 hours working yesterday, most of them sitting in a van or on a ferry, traveling to represent a kid. I got home in time to go to bed and get a full night of sleep before waking up to rush to an early morning meeting back at the annex and then haul ass back to my office and the school to plan a group in five minutes or less. Cranky and dreading doing group, I grabbed a book from my shelf of directives and randomly opened to find something meaningful to do with my guys. Instead I found an old directive and had this thought, "Remember when you were an art therapist? What happened?" In spite of my annoyance at feeling rushed quite literally all over the place, this was surprisingly a happy thought like an old friend who could come visit and make me better at my job.

Sometimes I struggle to feel like an art therapist where I work, because nobody is an art therapist and everybody is an art therapist. I imagine that is not a rare phenomenon when one works with kids: not many people are trained to do art with kids, but everyone does it anyway. If I were to grab that fact and run with it, I could do some great work, take some initiative and shake things up in the best of ways, but other than entertaining thoughts of something better, I have followed along with the flow. That works too, but I am not putting my full self and knowledge to use. Pretty sad.

But the realization of this brought me some comfort. Like things aren't that bad. My kiddos still make progress. We still have some good groups and interventions. I imagined what would happen if I put what I have learned to use with attention and intention. It could be really great. So in that split second I vowed to work with more materials, put more thought into my guys' abilities and figure out how to make interventions make more sense, so the guys get maximum benefit.

I need to bring more of myself to work everyday.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Week in Failure and Successes

My guys are split into two different groups. The first is my talkers. They like to work on problems, have discussions and set goals. At times, they are regular teen boys: disruptive, inappropriate, intensely silly or angry at the world, but overall they get stuff done to the best of their abilities. My second group struggles with most everything: sitting down, holding still, listening, following a single step direction and sometimes not punching people. I have tried mixing them, so my strugglers can see how a group runs and maybe manage to participate, but that mix tends to make my talkers into strugglers or cause them to gang up on the poor strugglers, who often just feel worse about themselves. Ideally, I would like my strugglers to be seen individually until they are able to manage behavior better, but that's the downside to not being in charge. I have to follow rules sometimes, even if it seems contraindicated. My strugglers are tough and often all I want is safety and for them to leave a little calmer than when they came in. We are working from the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs most of the time.

Snowflakes = Bad Idea of the Day
Both of my groups get some self-regulation with each group. Sometimes with my strugglers, it is an hour of self-regulation and attempts at group cohesion. I often use a book called Ready, Set, Relax. I highly recommend it. It has guided relaxation scripts for kids with discussion points and activities. I think the scripts could work for anyone and the activities could be modified. Anyway, for my failure of the week I read one of these scripts about changing weather and being unique. Then I asked the guys what makes them unique, which they were unwilling to discuss. Then I asked them to talk about what made each other unique, which resulted in insulting each other. We also attempted to cut out snowflakes, which somehow resulted in them wanting to murder me and not a single snowflake. I think the problem was in the mood of the day. Sometimes they enter the room in 5 different places, all of them mad and hating each other. It was that kind of day. These days overwhelm me and I feel hopeless as a therapist and they feel hopeless as little people in the world. It sucks for all of us. On the positive side, I saw one of them the following night for an individual session and he was making snowflakes and wanted to continue with what we started in group.

Bumparena = Success!
The success for this group was a game called Bumparena. We made teams of two and the guys took turns making decisions, asking for feedback from each other and planning how to get balls to fall into their goal. They loved it! They were focused, understood the rules, were respectful to each other and able to slow down and think things through -- all unusual skills for them to exhibit. I couldn't have been prouder. It wasn't a deep insightful group, but a great game to get them thinking about some basic cause and effect, get along and actually love being in group. We all left happy and they have been asking for me to bring the game back... although next time I may find a way to incorporate some new therapy goals (insert evil laugh).

And because one of my goals for the year is to create regularly and add to my posts...

I am still taking photos during my training runs and saving for art journal inspiration.

 And I completed a couple of monkeys. I am waiting for some natural lighting so I can take some decent photos and put them on etsy.
Next week, I hope to do more drawing.