This is a turning point in the Art Therapy blog posting. I was expecting this to happen. The only unfortunate part is that the objections have come form people who have not read the blog.

The sessions are a safe place where people are encouraged to speak their mind. Someone taking notes might appear intrusive. I take notes to ensure accuracy in my posts and thoughts. The wording of what is said is so important. Did they say angry or upset? I have an excellent memory for these things. Is there a difference between taking notes inside the sessions, or jotting down similar notes after I walk out? There is a difference in how people feel as you are taking notes in front of them. I would have hoped that the openness which I showed would have been reassuring, but it appears not to be so.

No pictures either. I am allowed to take them outside the session but not inside. Not sure how that works. It doesn’t. So no pictures. I made a point of letting everyone know I was taking notes. I gave them the blog address. I asked before being allowed to take pictures. What happened between the second session where people were so open about letting me take pictures of their thoughts, and today?

I have made a major point of being discreet in my postings. This has not been difficult. Not an imposition by any means. A given under the circumstances. I have been very careful with the information I divulge. There has been nothing of a personal nature, for instance. The participants will recognise themselves, but no one outside the group will be able to tell who is who. The nature of the blog has also been positive. At least I hope it has. Am I surprised that people are uncomfortable? No. I was hoping for a bit of largess considering the huge amount of good this is doing to so many people.

The comfort of the group is of paramount importance. The nature of the post will change starting with this one. You will still benefit from the highly polished and amazing art that I paint, but there will no references to others, or a description of what they have painted. There will be comments, or more likely questions opened for discussion based on what was said. These will be of a more general nature. Human beings being what we are, there will also be cross fertilization going on. There is really no way of holding back a thought process that was provoked by what was said in the sessions. These might be used to start a fresh posting based on that thought. No offense intended to anyone. No judgments. No recrimination. No antagonism. The reactions of one and all are fully understandable and do not need either explaining or defending. It is what it is. A bit like having cancer. It is what it is.

The choice of colours in our paintings is interesting. Mine are pretty stark with a dash of colour. Others exhibit much more lively or darker colours. I have mentioned the liberal use of blue and green. The first dealing with water and its attributes, the second with new life, and freshness. Both dealing with coolness and calmness. Using darker or lighter colours reflecting our mood or state of mind. Even within a painting, starting with darker colours and somehow gravitating to lighter ones brings up a host of questions. Is your mood getting better from painting? From attending the sessions? From talking? From being around people you feel safe with? Why did you feel darker at the beginning?

A thought that crossed my mind at one point that had nothing to do with anything in particular has to do with interpretation. I have had a lot of trouble with art in general. How do you know if something is good or not? Does it matter? I often look at art and wonder if this is a piece that will be famous in 10, 15 or more years. And I missed the boat by not buying it now. I was talking with a friend about this, one day, oh so many years ago, and they said that I should stop torturing myself. Art is what I make of it. What I see. Nothing more or less. We bought a piece from a student at an art show a few years ago. It is a narrow piece painted on wood showing a clothesline from which hang a number of t-shirts that are a bit torn, with an inscription in Arabic. Second from the right is a perfect t-shirt with the Roots logo on it. I asked the girl about the political message behind it. Much to my surprise, she said there was none. She just painted it. She designed those t-shirts and like the look of it all strung together. I was shocked to say the least, and based on that premise alone, had to make the purchase.

All this to say, is there a possibility we are over-analyzing or paintings? Seeing convenient truths or perceived truths where there are none? I am not sure, but at some point, felt that sometimes, the message is pretty clear. Or we just painted for the fun of it. Let it be. Not sure.

My Painting

Cancer Thistle

Cancer Thistle

The painting depicts a thistle growing inside the body of a person, well OK, a man. The thistle represents cancer with its amazing roots invading the body.The thistle has some medicinal purpose. I chose it because the thistle is full of thorns that hurt when touched or come into contact with.

I played rugby while in boarding school in England. One of the fields we played in was full of thistles. It was so bad that you were careful to tackle someone only if there was no thistle around. Added a whole new dimension to the game.

The person is balancing Anger and Tranquility on the two scales neither winning the battle but equalising each other. Anger wells up in our bodies and is quelled by tranquility.

The person is standing on a bed that gives him strength. The list includes: Steadfast, Friends, Support, Hospital, Drugs, Food, Alternative, Meditation, Visualization, Safe Place, Prayers, Faith, Strength, Attitude, Perseverance, Humour, Depression, Self Pity, Exercise, Lies, Truths, Family, Insurance, Finances, Travel, Rest, Sleep, Guilt, Participate, Cook, Clean, Shop.

There was little doubt that the moderator was moved by the piece and thought it was very powerful. But again, no discussion. We had run out of time.

The eye is not red, contrary to what it looks like, but brown. No idea why it looks red.

The Real Thistle - with Bee

The Real Thistle - with Bee

I am saddened by the events of the day. Love the people who attend. So it goes.

9 Responses to “Art Therapy: Session 4”

    Brocolli, big time…
    Thinking of you, most of the time
    Hugs from sheepish us

  2. waiting to see what “brain fog” is and how it works as therapy?!!

    • I keep hearing about brain fog. Can’t wait for THAT to happen. It still might since one of the chemo drugs I am taking appears to have a cumulative effect Will keep all posted.

  3. Hi there – interesting reading and artwork! This is a full service blog. The thistle image is great. Wanted to offer another take on the note-taking/photography issue. While I think it is your way of being “in the moment”, for some it could be perceived as shfiting your role in the group from participant to observer, even though you are also a participant. My experience is that when people in a group feel very vulnerable, they want everyone to be in the same space – and of course they may not want to be quoted.

    It is really too bad that those folks have not read the blog, because you have been very sensitive – however, perhaps it is too hard for those people to read it.

    Am holding you in the light today as you go for the next round of chemo. Maybe we’ll see some more poetry?

    love and hugs,

    • I actually participate fully in all the activities. I only write when someone is talking and have no hesitation is making my opinions known. The note taking helps me a lot, not just for the blog, but to write additional thoughts. I have started to do the same thing at home. I carry a little note book with me in which I jot down things all the time. Specially when people say something of particular interest. I am particularly interested in the wording used. Always so important.

  4. Hello Farokh,

    Do not be saddened by yesterday’s events. I have now read some of your blog. I want to read all of it but I am a slow reader as I like to feel and absorb what I am reading. You write so well and I am not offended in any way. I would like you to still carry on as you have been. I was not at the second session that week, so I had no idea you were taking pictures. Except for the particular painting I asked not to be photographed, I do not object to what you are doing. I have not felt so good today at all, the day being long and I am a bit lost. I guess I am still upset about my concerns that I aired yesterday. Reading your blog actually has cheered me up. Well, I hope you are doing alright today (was it a chemo day?) I enjoy our Wednesday group, even if I appear a bit apprehensive at the beginning. It’s just that d*** anxiety taking hold of me. Your sense of humor is greatly appreciated. “Laughter is the best medicine, eh?” See ya next week friend!

  5. Farokh, I love how real you are. how you say what is there for you. God bless authenticity. and humour. and heartfelt intent. and God bless you.

  6. Hi Farokh,

    Your experience with note taking reminded me of a situation that surprised me earlier this week. While meeting with my Personal Advisor Board from the Judy Project (yes, Janet’s Judy), we talked about what we hoped to get out of our meets every 6 weeks. This is a group of 7 successful women, women I spent a week with in April and have met several evenings since then. I was surprised that some declared they were unwilling to talk about personal things in our group, that this was a professional development program. This struck me in a very odd way, I didn’t know there was a difference between the personal me and professional me. Janet and I have a professional relationship and I think our professional relationship works really well because I adore, admire and respect Janet. And yes, Janet is my friend. How do we distinguish between personal and professional?

    I realized that some people just don’t let other people in. Not because they don’t want to but because it is terrifying. Maybe that to be vulnerable would crumble the illusion that they have everything together. But no one really has it all together.

    Reminds me of a great song by Van Morrison, called “Not Supposed to Break Down”

    You’re not supposed to be human
    You’re not supposed to really feel
    Not supposed to get involved
    With anything completely real
    Fifteen families starving
    All around the corner block
    Here we’re standing so alone
    Just like gibraltar rock

    Not supposed to break down
    You’re not supposed to break down
    Swallow the dirt
    Keep listening to the hurt
    You’ll be safe and sound

    Supposed to be super human
    Cover everything
    Just like a bird
    Cover an egg with it’s wing
    And knowing there’s nothing sacred
    And what is the use
    >no point trying to find
    What is worth, what is true

    Not supposed to break down
    You’re not supposed to break down
    Swallow the hurt listen to the dirt
    You’ll be safe and sound
    You’re not supposed to break down

    You’re not supposed to break down
    Swallow the hurt
    Listen to the dirt
    And you’ll be safe and sound

    A fool and his mainline connection
    By-pass going to the well
    But that doesn’t matter anymore
    I’m sure that we can tell
    Who’s a puppet on a string
    An’ who really holds the glove
    But it ain’t up you and me
    It’s up to the lord above

    You’re not supposed to break down
    You’re not supposed to break down
    Swallow the hurt
    Keep on listening to the dirt
    And I’ll bet you’ll be safe and sound

    You’re not supposed to break down
    You’re not supposed to break down
    Swallow the hurt
    Listen to the dirt
    I’ll bet you’ll be safe and sound
    And I’ll bet you’ll be safe and sound
    And I’ll bet you’ll be safe and sound
    I’ll bet you’ll be safe and sound

    I guess some people just aren’t ready to share themselves with the world. I’m glad you are Farokh.

    Lots of Love,

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