Life-giving Waters

Whidbey Island 2013

Research suggests living near the beach can improve our health!   Now I know why I am so drawn to being near the water…

Some of us can go to the beach for this kind of relaxation, but all of us can use “visualization” and our listening skills to make a difference. I have found that as I establish a daily practice of these disciplines, the “concerns” I have are no longer my primary thoughts – they do not take the position from which I see the rest of my life or my world. I am then able to relax, let go of the many “voices” that distract me, and receive the “breath of God”.  I begin to notice the rhythm of my own breath and as I look and listen in that place, I am cleansed and refreshed – my energy is restored.

What is delightful for me in this process is that this opens up much more to me.  It is like rivers of living water (John 7) that flow out from within me.  If I listen and look even further, I may begin to receive an impression, a clarity about a concern, or a word that heals.

The “waters of life” flow in and through me – and refresh.

When I am encouraging others in this practice in my coaching or art therapy ministry, I direct the client to visualize the most pleasant place they can think of and “go there”.  I often ask them to sit or lay in a comfortable position.  Once they can see themselves in that pleasant place, I ask the to look and listen, and see what comes.  Then they just receive and listen, and receive and listen.  The voice of the Living Waters may come.  The voice that is upon the wind of God may come.  Then, they can receive all they need and be at rest in a new way for that day.

I am so grateful for this practice.

Irises & Artists in Bloom

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Irises & Artists are Blooming at Symphony Manor Memory Care in Richmond.  A new opportunity for encouraging creativity and art therapy began in December and will run monthly.  Carol chose Van Gogh’s Irises as the subject for the January session.  The 10 residents that participated learned about Van Gogh’s life, his style of art, and how painting helped his quality of life.  As they painted their watercolor irises they talked about the beauty of colorful flowers, and explored using cake tempera and black oil pastel.  Aren’t their mixed-media paintings beautifully expressive?  IMG_1597 (1)IMG_1599 (1)Here are some photos of our class, too.IMG_1591IMG_1595It brings me JOY to have the privilege of working with them. Carol

Beauty Within

When the ladies arrived for art therapy for their very first session, I had them randomly select an image of a flower from magazine clippings. We would use this image as the center focus and create a mandala.  To get focused, I led a guided visual meditation I call “A Seed in the Desert”.  The idea is that this “seed” sprouts and grows into a beautiful flower representing our lives if we will nourish the seed.  The mandala shown here was done by an offender who was able to “see” beyond her desert environment and imagine the possibilities for her future.  Is there a seed in a desert place of your life that is ready to sprout and bloom? Why not visualize it and explore the possibilities today?

Arts & Hearts


“”Live Life” is the work of an offender at Virginia Correction Center for Women.  This artwork is one of my favorites of the zendoodle art we’ve done together over the past 6 months since beginning the art therapy program.  I must keep the artist’ name confidential, but I can tell you she is very proud of the progress she has made in dealing with stress and anger through the use of art and art therapy.  Her artwork shows her pondering on living her life from a heart of love and life.

There are 26 women in two groups meeting with me every Wednesday.  It’s the highlight of my week and I’ve been told that these ladies don’t want to miss a session!  This past week we began a theme I call “Whole-hearted”, and asked the ladies what that meant to them.  We had lots of great responses… being totally committed, fully present, and able to embrace your whole self.  I like that. I led a visual meditation on being whole-hearted. It was powerful… imagery burst forth from each of the participants with stories that were to unfold.  This week we’ll create the images in their art journal – mixed media collages with watercolor and ink…. and of course, candy hearts!  I’ll be sure to post them for you to see, too!

What’s that sound?


Last week in my art therapy group at the Virginia Correction Center for Women we used the visual image and symbolism of bells –  an appropriate image for the Christmas season, I thought.  We considered the purposes of different kinds of bells, their tones and volume in communicating, and how various groups might recognize the quality of each specific sound.  The bell symbol helped us to focus on the sound of our own voices and what we want to draw attention to by our tone when we are communicating.   It was a good discussion for these ladies who often feel like they have no voice.  This topic was a springboard for working in our art journals – drawing and writing about our voices.

We’ve been able to share like this as we create art at the prison each week.  Art and music therapy are well known agents of healing and stress management.  Studies are showing the benefits help in resolving grief, trauma, loss, and even in the prevention of dementia. In the field of Corrections, it is thought to help reduce recidivism.  I am so thankful to be able to share my art and coaching skills with over 30 ladies at VCCW each week.  They tell me they love being in this program and see how it’s really making a difference for them.  Have you thought about the sound of your voice?