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CONNECTIONS

Posted May 04 2010 12:00am

                This past weekend was filled with connections.

                I was able to connect with two good friends during two separate trips. And then those trips yielded other connections. And all those connections led to this blog, which is connecting us!

                On Saturday my friend, Donna, and I traveled to Washington, DC to enjoy a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit. I love O’Keeffe’s work! On a writing retreat in New Mexico, I was able to walk through some of the same glorious countryside where O’Keeffe painted. Her talent inspires me. So when I discovered a brochure about an Abstractions exhibit at The Phillips Collection—Donna and I decided—road trip!

                Then on Sunday, my friend, Jeanine, and I went to a writing/creativity workshop in Lancaster. It was run by Melissa Greene, Write From The Heart. At that retreat, we free wrote about a small wooden ladder that Melissa had brought in as a prompt. That ladder led me back to reflections about Georgia. Here they are:

                “Abiqui—ladders leaning on the sides of buildings—and I wanted one to store my scarves and make them a decoration—and I would have needed a tall ladder to climb to the top of Pedernal to where Georgia O’Keeffe was laid to rest and if I could, I would go there to commune and try to discover where her raw talent and bravery came from, her independence and grit—and then I think about her painting being shut down by the critics and her desire for a child stunted by Stieglitz and even when we are strong—we are not all strong—we all have weak spots and chinks in our armor and that is what makes us human—so we need to accept others’ weaknesses and maybe we can share our strength with them and accept help when we find our own weaknesses.”

                Those were some of my connections for the weekend—friends, laughter, creativity, and reflection. Realizing that we all need to accept help at times. We all have strengths that we can share with others. And we give and take that help and strength? Through connections.

So….

  • I often spend weekends at the house, catching up on everything that needs to get done—but we do need to take time to explore our friendships and passions. Journal about what you love and then find a way to include it in your life! Julia Cameron talks about scheduling artist dates. That means scheduling time so that you can restock your creativity. Make a list of museums to see, crafts to try, books to read, friends to meet up with, reading clubs, etc. It is important for your creative self. Isn’t it better to feed your creativity than let ED sap you of nourishment? Schedule an artist date—it can feel hard to take the time, but it is important. Once you do it, it is rewarding.
  • Take time to free write—that’s what we did in Melissa’s workshop. That’s what led to my reflections on strength and help and individuality. By writing that short paragraph—I got back in touch with the fact that we are not and cannot be perfect—but that’s all right. I have certain weaknesses, but can rely on others to provide strength and vice versa. I have certain creative interests and can take my friends along on those adventures and then they’ll do the same for me. Through Jeanine, I have met Susquehanna Service Dogs—an inspiring organization. Through a different art gallery trip with Donna (at the Renwick Gallery), I saw a clock that looked like it was draped with a sheet—but actually the whole thing was carved from a block of wood. What new sights and experiences can you and your friends discover?
  • Free write about a simple object. Find one in your house or find a piece of art that touches a chord in you. Write about it—what memories, thoughts, and emotions does it inspire? Free writing only requires 5 to 10 minutes at a time, but it can take you to new connections.
  • At Melissa’s workshop, she said, “No one can be creative without allowing time for feelings to surface.” That is a challenge. Eating disorders are often used to numb away the feelings. But if you numb yourself—you’re also missing out on the good feelings—laughter, joy, exhilaration. Find a piece of art and journal about what thoughts and feelings come. Maybe explore this exercise with a friend. You can share your writings, but you don’t have to. But you’ll be there for each other to share your strengths as you dip your pens into those emotional pools.
  • Journal about your strengths. You have them. We all do. If you have difficulty writing about yourself, think about if your best friend had to describe you. Often people don’t want to feel like they are bragging—but this is just for you. Acknowledge the strengths that you can use to fuel your recovery. Knowing your strengths but also your weaknesses can help you understand in which areas of your life, you will require more help from others.

Go, on now, Write On!

Martha Peaslee Levine, MD

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