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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Power of Creativity

I deeply appreciate the power of creativity to bring us into the present moment.  Visual art, clay, collage, poetry, fiber, photography can all quiet our minds, settle anxiety, give "voice" to experiences that are beyond everyday words, offer beauty to ourselves and others, and provide an overall sense of well-being even when our circumstances may not be that great.  We also can't forget the creativity expressed through cooking, gardening and interacting with animals.

The Spirituality Network offers an annual event, "Arti Gras", held on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday.  This year's event will take place on March 1 at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley, Ohio.   Over the years, I have been an attendee, a workshop facilitator, and donated items for their auction.    This year I have been invited to offer the morning's keynote address, "We ARE Artists, The Power of Creativity."  I am so excited to be a part of this year's event and to be in a place to send everyone into their day of creativity.  I just received the workshop list for the day.   The Network and its creative partners have outdone themselves again.   Attending this event is a gift you give yourself (or another - bring a friend!).  This is a fun day with a focus on process, not product.  Each of us is an artist.  Sometimes all it takes to open that gift is to be among others who are playing alongside  you in a fun, informal, and nonjudgmental environment.  To learn more visit 14th Annual Arti Gras.   

If I have not met you as part of the AWBA community, please seek me out after I speak and introduce yourself to me.  I would enjoy meeting you!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

AWBA Expands to Australia

"I arise today, through the strength of heaven."
Art by Libby Byrne

"Working as an Artist I have been aware of an experience of mutuality that exists within the relationship I have with art.   Within the context of this relationship, I have learned that art is much more than a resource to be mastered or manipulated in the communication of an idea.  In fact the important thing is not what I can do with art, but what art can do with me.   When I am open and alive to these possibilities, art becomes a path on which I can travel. "  ~ Libby Byrne

We were recently contacted by artist Libby Byrne who lives in Melbourne, Australia.  Libby is interested in AWBA’s ministry and expressed a  desire to connect with AWBA in some manner.  Libby is a lecturer at Melbourne’s LaTrobe University in the Master of Art Therapy program.  In addition to being an art therapist, Libby is in the midst of her PhD, a theological inquiry into the Art of Healing.  Visit her website at Libby Byrne.

We are excited to share with you that Libby will provide some of her images with accompanying reflections for AWBA’s upcoming online retreat, “Beginning Again” offered March 24-May 23.  To learn more about the retreat, visit our website Upcoming Events.

This event is open to those with a diagnosis, family/friends, and volunteers/professionals who support this population.  We have offered this twice in the past and it was very well received.  I facilitate this retreat and deeply appreciate the opportunity to journey with this audience that covers the entire spectrum of living with chronic diagnosis.  I am encouraged by the stories, and touched by the care and nonjudgmental presence offered by participants to one another.  Take a look at the flyer on the link above, check out the book we will use on Amazon, visit Libby's link and discern if you or someone you know could benefit from this depth of community for an extended time.  The online format allows for flexibility across time zones and participants engage the material at their convenience.   

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Choice for Creative Joy

I am not a fan of New Year Resolutions.  In my own experience, and it seems with many others, it sets up a continuum of success or failure.  So much of life seems either/or, right/wrong, success/fail, good/bad.  As I have journeyed through life, the blacks and whites are not as clear anymore.  My husband and I were talking the other night and I blurted out with frustration, "The more I know, the more I don't know."  That is not a new thought but I understood it in a deeper place than ever before in that moment.  I think "at this age" I should know more, and I know less with each passing year???  What????  Frustrating.  I know that some people claim there is nothing left to surprise them.  As much as part of me desires that for myself and envies their seeming certitude, I also find it sad.  I want to believe there are surprises and places of growth that await me.  God is not done teaching me.  I want to remain teachable and receptive through the unknowing and humbling pieces of it all. 

There is a growing movement to let a word choose you for the new year.  Abbey of the Arts introduced that idea to me a few years ago.  For the past four years,  I have embraced a word for the year.    I suppose I don't want to add another black or white to my repertoire - I either succeed or fail with a resolution.  Allowing a word to reveal itself to me at year end, sets me up for all kinds of surprises and growth.  The word works its way through me in a way that I cannot control.  Having that intentionality for 12 months keeps me aware and open to how the Spirit is guiding me to that place.

Last year's word was "horizon."  I stretched, risked and explored to the edges of the places God took me, and my personal life and the life of this AWBA community was served by that journey.  As I explored those new lands, AWBA expanded into new areas.  We will begin to reap that harvest in 2014.  

I explored a few words for 2014 until the word "joy" came at me from about multiple directions in the span of a few hours.  After sitting with it for a few days, it is clear that I am being invited to be a seeker of creative joy in  2014.  I need joy in my life to balance the hard stuff.  How about you?  I am not looking for momentary snippets of happiness, although I will take them as they come.  I am talking about the deeper places that are not dependent on my circumstances.  I did a search of Joy in the Bible and the references are numerous.  Joy is God's idea :)  I focused on those in the book of Psalms and found 53 of them.  Perfect for a weekly joy meditation practice.  Now that I have settled in that place, other quotes and affirmations are coming forth.

"I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots.  Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands." -- Zora Neale Hurston, poet

As we humans sit in Sorrow's kitchen at times, I want to remember the possibility of being "wrapped in rainbows."  AWBA will do its best to help you wrap yourself in rainbows in 2014 in the midst of  your circumstances.  Using the Holy Text for your faith or other words of inspiration, consider "joy" as an invitation for 2014.   Reflect on what you find and, even if it is not your word for the new year, create a space for joy to take up residence within you as you journey with a chronic diagnosis.

AWBA will offer a new online retreat in early spring.  We have two new public blogs to launch this month and late winter.  We will keep you updated on this blog, our Facebook page and our AWBA newsletter. 

Thank you for your place in this AWBA journey.