Welcome to AWBA

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Morning With SoulCollage - A Fund Raiser

Nineteen women gathered on Saturday, March 9 to learn about SoulCollage and to create cards that captured a piece of each woman's story.  Trained SoulCollageFacilitator MJ Abell provided a safe and creative space with plenty of materials for everyone,  the Worthington Hills Country Club provided wonderful hospitality and a delicious lunch, and God provided outstanding weather.  

All expenses associated with this event were donated and we are so grateful.  This generosity enabled all participant fees to go directly to the programs provided to clients served through Always We Begin Again to maintain our virtual home on the Web and reduced rates for AWBA programs.  Enjoy our photo album of the day. 

Some of the images ready for picking.

Some of us created together and 

took the space we needed.

Some found their own corner tucked away
and began cutting and pasting.

Here are just a few of the SoulCollage cards we created,  


It was a great day and we hope you are inspired to create your own Soul Story in response to one of these cards.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creativity as a Spiritual Practice

In her book Visual Journaling, Barbara Ganim shares about the healing aspect of creative expression.  She uses the acronym ART to make her point,


Imagine taking 15 minutes to sit with a blank piece of paper and a box of new crayons (has anyone ever actually finished a box of crayons before buying a new box??)  and identifying shapes, colors, lines, and/or images that depict the impact of chronic disease on your life in that very moment.  Accessing an emotion and releasing it to paper through image rather than a stream of words carries the power to transform the emotion in that moment.  

For anyone who longs to engage in creativity, but simply doesn't know how to begin, I will be facilitating a nine-week series, "Creativity as a Spiritual Practice" offered through The Spirituality Network.  Although this event is not targeted solely toward those impacted by chronic disease, it will certainly serve AWBA's audience.  Sometimes it is helpful to take our focus off of the intensity of living in this hard place and divert our attention to a creative venue.  Allowing ourselves to wonder and play can  transform a hardship we have been carrying - to see it in a new and creative way.  The retreat takes places on-line (similar to AWBA's on-line retreat experiences) in addition to a closing retreat for those in the Hocking Hills area of Ohio or willing to travel to the area.  Visit Creativity Retreat for more information.   Space is limited to 10 and the deadline to register is April 1.  Expressing one's creativity is a powerful force for healing.  Those impacted by chronic disease may find this experience very helpful.  Registration takes place through the Network.  (NOTE - This workshop filled very quickly and registration is now closed.  If you are interested in something like this in the future, please email me at director.)

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Horse Tale

Soon after graduating from the spiritual direction program, Wellstreams, in January 2007, I came across the opportunity to participate in a three-day equine retreat for spiritual directors.  Before I go on to tell you how important this experience was and before I lose readers who do not consider themselves a "horse person," let me quickly tell you with 100% certainty, "I am not a horse person" by any stretch of the imagination.  My paternal grandfather lived in the country and was a veterinarian.  I would visit the dogs and cats in his vet office, but the farm visits with the large animals I left to my younger brother. Other than riding in a small cart pulled by a horse my grandparents owned for a short time, my horse experience was limited to carousel rides, and a memorable trek on horseback through Grand Teton National Park as a child that left me unable to walk or sit the following day.  

I am not sure what led me to register for this particular retreat decades later other than a temporary sense of being someone who wanted to explore uncharted territory and face her discomfort, if not fear of the unknown.  The smiling face you see below with "Lily" is authentic and the picture of a newly-minted, happy horse person from June 2007.  I share this with you because the woman who facilitated this event, Dottie Kluesener, has been so gracious to AWBA by offering equine-learning events for those impacted by chronic disease.   AWBA sponsored a group at her farm in Johnstown, Ohio last year.  This year we move to Gilgal Farm in Lancaster, Ohio on Saturday, May 18 where Dottie will serve us alongside Chris Harnden and Beckie Boger in facilitating a three-hour equine learning event for AWBA.

Judy and Lily, Sugar Lump Farm 2007

For myself, Dottie's skillful and gentle presence, the supportive community of other participants and horse handlers, and the wisdom of the three horses the group bonded with provided insight that continues to serve me today.  All of the exercises were done on the ground.  No riding was involved.   I experienced working in partnership with things that seem bigger than I, a willingness to try a different approach when the first attempt did not work, believing in my innate abilities, knowing what is mine to tend to and what is not, and sharing my burdens with another.  For those impacted by chronic disease, the diagnosis and all that goes with it can often feel like a large, lumbering animal that has more control over us than we do over it which is why we have partnered to bring this event to AWBA's clients.

I invite anyone with a chronic diagnosis, personal caregivers and professional caregivers to consider this unique experience.  The generosity of financial donors and our facilitators has allowed us to offer this event at a reduced rate of $35/person.  Space is limited to six people with limited additional space for a companion to accompany you at no charge as an observer and/or support person.  Those who utilize a wheelchair or other mobility aid are encouraged to participate as well.  Just let us know when you register.  Visit information to learn more about this event and feedback to read what some of last year's participants experienced that day.

I don't anticipate riding horseback anytime in the foreseeable future, but hugging a horse and gazing into those wise eyes is top on my list of life-giving opportunities.