The Mulberry Panels: art project with older adults

I have the pleasure of working with an extraordinary group of individuals at Mulberry PARC doing art projects that range from drawing, interactive art, sock animals and group painting/quilt!  We have had 5 sessions so far and, at this point, confirmed 10 more that will take us into November!

My goal with the art sessions is to not only teach fun arts and crafts techniques to the students, but to build connections and provide a safe and healing space.  My students are very courageous, daring to dive into challenging work, working through frustrations, laughing at the outcomes, letting go of attachment to personal projects in order to create group pieces, embracing challenges such as hearing and sight issues, arthritic hands, and anxiety- being present and curious in the moment and meeting it all with a sense of humour!  I am very honoured to spend time with each and every one and treasure the experience and grateful to the Mulberry staff for inviting me!

 

 

The evolution of the panels:

unnamed

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 10.12.57 AM

Photo 2017-07-13, 10 16 52 PM

Photo 2017-08-03, 11 21 39 AM


This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Cheryl Bain, who has the greatest gift for working with older adults and who inspires me to no end each and every day.

Related:

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 10.28.56 AM

Can we look at sad rants in our journals in a new way?

No doubt my collection of 300 + journals, sketchbooks and image-idea files are filled with more sad rants than with positive day-to-day activities.

For many of us, our journals are a safe harbour in which to deposit racing thoughts- a place of privacy in which to address the darkness that we all struggle with from time to time.

This blog is often that safe journaling haven for me.

It is a way for me to demystify the darkness for myself- and thereby, perhaps, demystify it for my readers as well.  Maybe, by sharing the good, along with the bad, I bring some lightness in and create connection.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 5.59.57 PM
I am driven to drawn dead birds.  Perhaps this is sad ranting through drawing.

Dead sparrow found outside the LGH cafeteria, 2012:

12805743_10209090306876983_3816824943708821859_n

Recall: my post from Feb 20, 2016:

To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO.  It allows me to make sense.

20140626-090943-32983107
Dead heron, Stanley Park, 2014

Also recall in my post from Feb 20, 2016:

It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.

20140625-100134-36094419

So can we look at these sad rants in a new way?  Read between the lines and yes- accept the words for their face value, but try to find the positive?

For example, on March 2, 2016, I wrote:

What if I stopped caring about ANYTHING?  

This can be read, and indeed it was written during a panic attack, as alarming.  But really- is it not simply about SURRENDER? 

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 6.00.13 PM

Maybe it goes the other way as well.  Maybe by looking past the positive veneer, peeling it back, we can perhaps get some answers as to what is really lurking underneath.

… through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished. – Vladimir Nabokov

Of course, let’s not forget that sometimes positive is actually positive, and negative is just really about a shitty sad day- nothing more, nothing less!

The key, I feel,  is to spew it out, record it, acknowledge it and, if so inclined, take time to look at it in a different way.

Anyway, I am rambling here.  Not sad ranting– rambling.  But today, I want to celebrate my not very anonymous sad rants.  I celebrate that I am driven to put pen to paper!

Related articles:

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 6.42.38 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 6.24.22 PM

The healing power of journaling and “making sense.”

To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO.  It allows me to make sense.  I find that journaling is different from keeping a diary.

The difference between diary keeping and journaling (to me):

A diary is a record of events, happenings, day to days.

Journaling is a place to vent, vomit, express without thought or judgement.

Both techniques tell my story.  Both are healing but to me, the stream-of-consciousness journaling is most therapeutic.

As I look back through my hundreds upon hundreds of messy journals- I find that the themes and struggles are repeated ad nauseum– but yet, though the despair and issues may seem repetitive, I see now that I have been able to WORK THROUGH gigantic life events (divorce, parent’s illnesses and deaths, parenthood, growth, severe anxiety and insomnia etc etc etc. stuff we all struggle with… ) via, what I call, a personal therapy process- and most seriously, through journaling, I have simply been able to walk through dark nights of the soul by simply acknowledging my story.

When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away – they own us, then they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, reckon with our story and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. – Brene Brown

12742440_10208914309877168_1460094004927266737_n

My journals feed my creativity.  They help me keep the creative process alive.

I just read through my March-June 2001 journal where I was in the depths of some of the hardest heartache I have ever experienced.   FUCKING AWFUL TIMES.  I read through my predictable grief of anger-denial-bargaining-depression-acceptance-repeat spiral… Ramblings of pleading, notes to self, articles of interest, and yet- somehow by the end- a giant paradigm shift.

It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.

Journal writing can help you improve your thinking and decision-making skills, release and review emotions, and refocus your choices and direction in life. Journaling can help you create an action plan to improve the quality of your life; tap into your goals, dreams and strengths; and address the obstacles—perceived and real—that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It can also help you relieve stress, since you can describe a problem and gain insights on how to resolve it. – SOURCE

I began journaling at age 6 (48 years ago) at the first house we rented in Canada after we moved here from Sweden. And though those pages are simply child drawings and lists, they were just as much a container for my anxiety as my journals (and indeed this blog) are now.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.39.26 PM

So, yes- looking back on all my journals- the struggle seems always to be the same, and indeed the boxes piled up behind me as I write this, do seem to be the maniacal ramblings of Dr. Mabuse– yet, they contain evidence that I am able to make it through what life throws at me- by being fully honest, at least with MYSELF.

I continue to carry a journal and pen with me everywhere I go.  The greatest tool when anxiety hits.  I still vomit out the seemingly same old stuff.  But I AM HERE and I AM MOVING FORWARD!  I love growing old, I love surviving, I love today, and I love that in my darkest of dark moments, I can still find a journal and a pen- and chicken scratch my way back to the light.


Please note, my endless ramblings and pages and this blog ARE NOT A PLEA FOR HELP nor INTENDED FOR ANYONE TO WORRY ABOUT ME.  Worry instead if I stop writing, stop vomiting, stop exploring the darkness.  Worry when I have a pasted on smile and hum under my breath, through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished, as Nabokov wrote in Lolita.

I am simply sharing what works for me.  Sharing the process.  When darkness hits and I write, I am simply working it out- like today, I feel light- BECAUSE I WROTE IT OUT!

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.23.11 PM

Is this the purpose of journaling?  As the life raft?  My maintenance of my mental health?  The recording of dark lovely struggles, white knuckling, holding on to the ledge trying not to fall any further.  And so I keep asking, keep scribbling:

What am I fighting?

What can I surrender to?  How do you surrender?

Am I meant to be here exactly as I am now?

Are things really exactly as they should be?

12479380_964615443585533_1020999890_n

I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 

 

72-hour pledge drive to revive the 119 East Cordova Street Art Wall!

I need to raise some funds quickly and what better way than to dive right into my 2016 commitment to reviving the joy of street art in my personal community of students, colleagues and friends!

Announcing:

My 72-hour pledge drive to revive the 119 East Cordova Street Art Wall!

2 PM December 30, 2015- 2 PM January 2, 2016

van201304242359780-jpg

12317916_927594534003807_1869921117_n

Bird drawing marathon!

For each $10 raised I will be drawing a bird in my signature style:

unnamed

img_2751

unnamed-3

20140722-222530-80730489.jpg

These original bird drawings will be wheatpasted on the 119 East Cordova Street Art Wall with a few of my students/artist friends in the new year!

This wall was an important part of my work a few years back and well-loved by the community.  It even appeared in the Hope in the Shadows 2015 Calendar!

buy-calendar

It is time to revive the wall for the local residents and get back to vibrancy, healing power and joy that is street art!

My goal is to draw 120 birds (dead and alive depending on my whim) over the next 72 hours!

10336766_10154171173735094_4875300455360602856_n

10372536_10154171173745094_6602326641102766794_n

 Support the pledge:

Donation via email transfer to britakatarina@gmail.com

or PayPal 

btn_donateCC_LG

On your mark, get set…

image

Go!

Update December 30, 2015 3:38 PM

First 4 birds of 120 complete (sponsored by @underables)

Blue Jay, Chickadee, American Robin, Vermillion Flycatcher

image

Update December 30, 2015 7:30 PM

Birds 5-9 (sponsored by Anna L., Laura M., Anna T.)

Cardinal, Sparrows, Pygmy Owl, Pigeon

image

Update December 30, 2015 10:30 PM

Birds 10-12 (sponsored by Patti H.)

Herons, Nuthatch

10365834_10208541638160608_8276163915317893532_n

Update December 31, 2015 12:01 AM

Birds 13-16 (sponsored by Anne B. and Erin R. with Mindy)

Magpies, Ravens

10609597_10208542028210359_678485158166188424_n

December 31, 2015 10:20 AM

Birds 17-19 (sponsored by Lynn G.)

Eaglet, Eagle, European Robin

941020_10208545152488464_107309142759234303_n

.

December 31, 2015 10:45 PM

Birds No. 20-22

Tesla’s White Pigeon (sponsored by Jasmine S.), Flamingo (sponsored by Emily C.,). Asterix, the African Grey Parrot (sponsored by Julian B.)

1937015_10208549293391984_7596655722633746408_n

994754_10208550001409684_8695817812015406501_n

1935778_10208550258616114_5654059970280919931_n

January 1, 2016 2:00 AM

Birds No. 23-27 Dead Birds (sponsored by Matt T.)

1606952_10208551041715691_8578068621186723601_n

January 1, 2016 10: 40 AM

Birds 28-30 Hummingbirds (sponsored by Hecates Daughter)

1474_10208553730702914_7906570721391246311_n

January 1, 2015 12:15 PM

Birds 31-32 Love Birds (sponsored by Parmida and Hailey)

Birds 33-35 Red-breasted Sapsucker, Chickadee, Zebra Finch (sponsored by Lenore Kane, inspired by her beautiful bird photos)

10556371_10208554068231352_32692554394725766_n

1935486_10208554329397881_580850725937533315_n

January 1, 2016 9:00 PM

Birds 36-39: Falcon, Owl, Frog-bird, Pug-bird (sponsored by Merv Glip)

995327_10208557414034995_5203766769249261888_n

1554375_10208557466996319_3692367404038037353_n

January 2, 2016 1:45 PM

Birds No. 40-43 in progress

1901769_10208562642205696_8896767613508649431_n

Birds No. 44-45 Penguins (sponsored by Robyn W.)

1472754_10208562019830137_8546192012987472663_n

Birds No. 46-47 Mourning Doves (sponsored by Carter and Shan, in honour of Suka and Tobey)

11227507_10208562162513704_6875310691882179778_n

Birds No. 48 Raven with skull (sponsored by Evan C.)

10418493_10208562501482178_132737445642133040_n

January 2, 2016 11:15 PM

Pledge No. 49 The chickadee and the chipmunk at Beaver Lake, Stanley Park (Sponsored by Jessica S.)

  

THANK YOU!

Art saves lives. My dad at work on his second book. #strokerecovery #arttherapy

My father is busy at work on his second volume of illustrations.  His first book The Old Apple Tree is ready for editing and self-publishing.  I can’t wait for the day I surprise him with the first copy.  I am truly blessed to witness the healing power of art as my Dad thrives at his extended care facility, carving out a life for himself.  He has purpose, routine, passion.  He has reclaimed his emotional life.  What can be greater than that?  We have such a good time together talking about LIFE, sharing this project, discussing the FUTURE.  Wow.  Deep breath of gratitude.

Rather than separate intellect from affect, [art], like life, weaves the two together. – L. S. Vygotsky

6 panels of my Frida series (my most personal pieces) will be on display/sale March 10!

Recall my post about my Frida Series and that the pieces were born out of the need to process divorce and depression.  Now its time for celebration and renewals!  I LOVED making these pieces (China Marker on Masonite Board) even though they were done at 3 AM with my heart pounding and anxiety choking me.  They illustrate the power of art to process life changes.  Now it’s time to let them go and see WHERE they go, and where I go!

“Instead of protesting change, adjust your own career.”

My painting carries with it the message of pain. – Frida Kahlo

March 10th art event: