Sunday, September 07, 2014

Autumn Workshops

"Discover your gift" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

 The fall workshops include an online Morning Pages Daily Art Practice eCourse, with instruction in collage and  photo manipulation as well as encouragement in keeping a daily art practice to support a happy artist's life.  (You can read more about it here.)

Next scheduled "live" workshops are in Vienna and NYC.

The Edith Kramer Symposium
  Vienna, Austria (PDF here)
October 6, 7, and 8



art • dance • music • drama • story • play

Our Fifth Year • NOVEMBER 6 - 9, 2014




9:30 am  -  4:30 pm

Art As—and Is—Therapy: Hands-On Teachings of Edith Kramer (2 Days)
School of Visual Arts — Thursday
132 West 21st Street (between 6th & 7th Avenues)

Art Therapy Department, Co-sponsor
Day 1 of a 2-Day Training Intensive

Lani Gerity, DA, ATR
Martha Haeseler, MA, ATR-BC
Susan Ainlay Anand, MA, ATR-BC, ATCS, LPAT

This team of art therapists, students of the late art therapy pioneer, Edith Kramer, have spent their working lives using art to build strengths and resilience, much in the way that they were taught by Edith Kramer. The presenters, weaving experiential evidence throughout the didactic segments, will carefully examine the lessons of the mindful, collaborative, strength-based and culturally adaptable form of art therapy practiced by Kramer in her lifetime. With a focus on Kramer's teachings, participants will learn a broad range of interventions that can foster intrinsic rewards and optimize daily function for clients, patients, and therapists alike.
Registration is available separately for each day. Attend either or both.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Another way to have a happy artist's life; take at least one sacred pause every day.

"Always Play" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

 #102 (out of thousand) - Taking a sacred pause.  While I was working on my morning pages, my daily art practice, I could hear a Tara Brach talk on meditation in the background.  She was describing how busy life is today, how we are so drained by the end of the day we can hardly think.  She described the Chinese word for busy (mang) as being a combination of heart and killing.  Sure enough, 忙 (busy) is created with "a variant of heart" and 亡 which means to die or disappear. When we are busy our hearts disappear into who knows what.  In this state we no time to reflect, to consider what might be best for ourselves or others. Our hearts disappear.

But in a sacred pause, in a true refuge, we can recover our hearts, we can come back to ourselves.  We can remember what really matters. As I worked quietly on my morning pages, I realized that was exactly what I was doing.  I was giving myself the time and space to actually hear my heart's sorrows, longings, and joys.  And because my morning pages are a daily art practice there is often a possibility for a deeper understanding, art actually providing many layers of expression of the heart's sorrows, longings, and joys.

On her blog Tara describes some possibilities. "We may take a pause from our ongoing responsibilities by sitting down to meditate. We may pause in the midst of meditation to let go of thoughts and reawaken our attention to the breath. We may pause by stepping out of daily life to go on a retreat or to spend time in nature or to take a sabbatical."

To this I would add that we may take a pause from our ongoing responsibilities to do our morning pages, our daily art practice.  The world will carry on quite easily without our input, without our losing our hearts into who knows what for a little while.  Do you want to be a happier artist?  Do you want to find your heart again?  Then perhaps a morning pages daily art practice, a sacred pause, this quite time with our hearts and art, would be just the thing.

Here's a clip of Tara and the sacred pause.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ninety-nine through one hundred and one (out of thousand) ways to have a happy artist's life

"Be treasured" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
These three ways to have a happy life are borrowed from a Brain Pickings post which turned up on my FaceBook feed.  I'm pretty sure it was Gretchen Miller's instigation, lol.

So here we go, #99. This one is huge and it's from Dan Dennet (in discussing the secret of happiness).  It should really be #1.  “Find something more important than you... and dedicate your life to it.”  This will make you happy, for sure.  You will end up being more in the world and not stuck in your own head. 

#100 is "Do what you love" from Paul Graham’s 2006 article, How to Do What You LoveHe talks about getting stuck doing things you don't really love for the sake of “prestige”.  He says don’t worry about prestige, it's like a nasty magnet that keeps you attracted to it, and distracted from working on what brings you joy, on things you actually love.  Prestige is especially dangerous for ambitious people. He says if you want to make ambitious people waste their time, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. A hook baited with prestige is the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. If you want time to do what you really love and to be happy, it might be a good rule to avoid any prestigious task. 

And #101, "Find out what you really want" is from philosopher Alain de Botton.  It's related to #100.  We need to know what success really means to us.  Often our ideas about what it would mean to live a successful life are not our own ideas at all. We get these ideas from our peers, and of course from television, advertising, and marketing (which is probably where our peers get their ideas about living a successful life). These ideas of success define what we want and how we view ourselves. Alain argues that we should make sure that our ideas are our own.  Make sure we are the authors of our own ambitions. He says that it’s bad enough at the end of our journeys to realize we didn't get what we wanted, but it’s much worse to find out after spending our whole life on something we thought we wanted, that it isn’t, in fact, even remotely close to what we really wanted at all.

Do find out what you really want in life, what you love, and then do a lot of it!  At the end of the journey you will be satisfied, and pretty much all along the way as well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Morning Pages eCourse alert!

"Animate our dreams" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

The doors for the Morning Pages Daily Art Practice eCourse with an attached FaceBook Group classroom are almost ready for members.  (The FaceBook Group would be a place for community; for sharing images, ideas and questions but is totally optional.)

Over the past couple of years, I've been creating and posting morning pages every day on FaceBook.  Here's what I have learned so far.  If you practice something every day, you get better at it.   If you practice something which encourages thought and reflection every day, you become more thoughtful.  If you practice something which makes you happy every day, you get happier every day.

As a student, I used to wonder about why Edith Kramer, art therapy pioneer, told us to create art every day.  She also encouraged us to keep a journal for things we were learning, for the ideas and questions that come to us.  She suggested that these activities, if engaged in fully, would help us grow into our best selves, that we would be able to see our strengths and resilience unfold.  There are a lot of intrinsic rewards built into utilizing our inner strengths and nothing that promotes freedom, independence,  and a sense of self worth better than the realization that we have the power to create our own inner satisfaction and intrinsic rewards. Over this past two year Morning Pages exploration, I have to admit Edith Kramer had a point about all of this.

This eCourse will be about growing into our best selves, engaging in a daily art practice, the benefits and joys of such a practice, the challenges and even the specifics of collage work and some photoshop tutorials and guidance (because you have asked my how I do what I do, so why not share it).  In the past I have created eCourses with blogs, posting bi-weekly (sometimes more) and that the blog would remain up for a few months after I stop posting.  That makes it self paced and with a FaceBook group we can continue to play.  Hope that sounds of interest!

If so, just $15 will get you the course, the group, and a bonus eZine "Art Dreams (Lani's Morning Pages).
 If you just want the zine without the course, it's yours for $10. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The #98th way (out of thousand) to have a happy life; Listen to a mindfulness talk while making art! Yes indeed!

"Hear Love, Speak Love, See Inside Our Hearts" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
While working on my morning pages this morning, I was listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn in a discussion about happiness.  I learned (or re-learned) the following:
Jon Kabot Zinn - “Happiness is a skill.  …Happiness is not a single state… Your happiness may already be here, inside yourself…  those aspects that supply meaning, supply deep connections, supply just that sense of interconnectedness that truly lies at the bottom of well being and happiness.”

Doesn't that seem about right?  That the things that make us truly happy in a deep, contended way are the things that help us live a meaningful life, the things that help us create connections in our lives, and of course things in us that are touched when we sense the interconnectedness of all life?  And all of those mysterious things are within us, right?  Happiness is a skill and it is inside us.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The #97th way (out of thousand) to have a happy life; Learn from each other!

"Let everything teach and/or inspire" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
One of the ways we as humans have a happy life is by realizing we are connected or inter-dependent with our fellow humans and that we actually learn from, grow with, and inspire each other.  Today's happy realization and inspiration comes from Journey to Resilience, Gretchen Miller's thoughts about her annual staff retreat which explored self-care and resilience strategies designed for those who have had some exposure to trauma.  Thankfully, Gretchen has most generously shared what she learned with us.

Although the post is packed full of wonderful resilience and self-care goodies, one of the biggest "take-aways" for me was that in addition to the didactic teaching throughout the day, there was also  time set aside for mind/body & sensory based activities to support and explore self-care themes.  And of course we are starting to understand that we learn best (and perhaps we teach best) when we can address our whole selves, when we can speak about principles of neurodevelopment and neuroscience while actually utilizing what we are speaking about. 

The fun thing about being an artist/art therapist is we get to play with ideas through art making when ever we want.  We may actually learn better by interacting with ideas in this way.  So the above collage is my response to Gretchen's wonderful post.  You just never know what you are going to learn next!
Some excellent resource/links from Gretchen's post:

The University of North Carolina Charlotte website devoted to Post Traumatic Growth, which also has a page of downloadable articles!!!  (Hooray!)  

And these lovely Self Care Tips from Transforming Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Satisfaction – 12 Top Self Care Tips.

Thank you so much, Gretchen Miller!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The power of finding beauty and my new blogger app.

"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes ... life lovely." 
Quote by Loisa May Alcott,Collage by Lani,  & textures by FlyPaper.

Having fun with collage materials from Teesha Moore, Lynne Parrella, and the Artstronauts Club.  Tried to like my new blogger app, but find the computer so much easier.  Well, it may be good for when I'm on the road!

The Possibilities of Play

"To play made her feel wonderful about life itself" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
 (#96 out of thousand ways to have a happy life ) 

A Fred Rogers quote/meme popped up on my FaceBook feed the other day:
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood."
It made me wonder when play stops being the real work of humanity, if ever?  For me play is really the work of adulthood too. I certainly couldn't create or live without it.  In fact, philosopher and Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, Martha Nusbaum, lists play as one of our inalienable human capabilities and rights.  It is our Right to Play, to be able to laugh, play, and enjoy recreational activities.  It is my 96th way out of a thousand ways to have a happy life.

AND speaking of play, here's something I'm looking forward to that is going to encourage me to play just a little more.  My friend, playmate, and fellow 14 Secrets buddy, William Charlebois, has a class coming up, “Help Heal Your Heart With Dollar Store Art,” over on  He has a very reasonable early bird special price ($10) so check it out and try play as a way of creating more possibilities for yourself!