Exquisite Level of Care

How are you

at balancing

other-care with self-care?

Is it a bit of a challenge?

A lot of a challenge?

A Dementia Australia counsellor told me that I offer an ‘exquisite level of care’.

I breathed in the fine compliment. I breathed out a delicately complex response, including a watercolour-plus-collage artwork – a paintage.

I’m showing you the pretty bits and leaving out the grisly ones. Ah yes well. Sometimes it’s a grisly process, this caring palaver.

Exquisite Level of Care
art fragment
Sally Swain

Here’s the question of the day (or year or lifetime):

How might we apply

an Exquisite Level of Care

to ourselves!?

Last weekend I led ‘Nourish and Flourish – the Art of Self-Care’. It was my first Art and Soul playshop in a while. Why? Because I’ve been caught up in eldercare.

Nourish and Flourish was delicious.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
playshop participants
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
playshop participants
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

What sorts of things happened in the playshop?

I invited participants to consider…if their care for OTHERS had a colour, shape, texture, sound, title … for this moment … what might it be?

If their SELF care for this moment had a colour, shape, texture, sound, title, how would that look and feel?

Participants wrote or made art in response to this contemplation.

What else?

They each chose a miniature from the sandplay collection to represent their ally or companion on the journey.

We heard different individual self-care strategies. We pooled them. They range from dancing to reading with a cat on your lap; surfing to spending time with friends; saying No to having a massage.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

We did a walking sensory awareness meditation. We sipped tea. We ate chocolate. Or healthy stuff, as the case may be.

The dear participants

each made art, art and more art.

They found ways to nourish themselves

in the process of making art about self-care. 

It was a treat for me to host these splendid Art and Soulies; exploring, playing, being authentic, expressing joys and difficulties, beautifully showing kindness and insight as they offered positive feedback to one another.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Gratitude. I feel gratitude.


I do believe the next Art and Soul offering

is probably Saturday 13th July.

Most likely it’ll be

the annual ‘Creative Flame’ playshop.

Maybe see you there.

with love, art and soul

from Sally

Exquisite Level of Care
art fragment
Sally Swain

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Easin’ the Season

red gold fabric flower art

Sumptuous             Sally Swain © art

How to name this time of year?

The season is Festive or a Holiday for some, but not for others. Do you say Happy Christmas to those in deep grief? Do you falalala about prickly green and red plants and ruddy-nosed caribou?

(Indeed I do. I find myself hosting Arty Hearty Parties in an aged care facility, singing and strumming ukulele. Anything to bring a smile to a sorrowful face.)

How to communicate swift positive wishes to all, sundry, those who are traumatised; those who give no hoots?

Swain painting

Using up the Leftover Paint
acrylic on calico
Sally Swain

It can be a

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What grows in the garden of you?

What would you like to cultivate?

What would you like to prune or weed?

(Let’s have a jacaranda-coloured post, in keeping with the season)

small art trees Swain

The Seven Trees of Us
Sally Swain © art
very mixed media on a small strip of paper

I ting a Tibetan bowl and lead a guided contemplation for the six women participating in the Art Garden playshop.

We sit with four elements that potentially nourish the self-garden.

Soil

What’s your ground? What helps

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Golden Thread

Grandmother, mother, daughter.

I am invited to run a creative playshop with three generations of women. My heart warms and swells with delight.

Grandmother, mother, daughter.

Not only that, but I’ve met the grandmother and mother before.

Not only that, but the grandmother, Bridget, was in my VERY FIRST EVER ART WORKSHOP in 1993 at the Women’s Academy. There’s a blast from the past.

 

Ohhh the threads run deep and golden.

intergenerational artmaking

Weaving Women’s Creativity
Intergenerational art-making

I will take this opportunity to say

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You are the One

warm wishes for solstice

bird heart solstice art

The Bird in the Heartwood
Sally Swain © original art
Is it finished? Not sure

Night and day

You are the one

Only you beneath the moon

And under the sun

 

gold thread connection

Resurgence
Art and Soulstice
Sally Swain © original art play-in-progress

I begin this blog with an ancient, yet fabulous Cole Porter song. It’s the sort of song I play at work in the nursing home

to get the enlivenment going;

the joyful recognition and creativity flowing.

Today, I taste the lyrics while musing on the solstice, the moment when day and night are poised in equal balance.

I get all deep and meaningful.

‘You are the one’ could be a cosmic phrase as much as a personal sentiment. Night, day,

moon, sun,

dark, light:

You are One.

Together, you polarities make up the one great gersplunking totality.

And if that’s the case, that it’s all part of one gigantic whole (Gaia, I guess), then on my microscopic insectudinal level, I can feel less timid about posting

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Scraps, Glorious Scraps

My friend entices me into a fabric shop. I am on a different trajectory of busy-focus and lunch-hunger, but I allow myself to be diverted.

red gold fabric flower art

Sumptuous

My friend asks if they have remnants. They do. I proceed to spend half an hour – or is it a week? – rummaging through remnant bags. The bags are organised according to colour.

fabric cloth scraps

textures and edges

I am a kid in a lolly shop. I am an artist in an art shop.

I am caught in a fabric fragment web

of divine daydreaming.

All else fades away.

It is a surprise Artist Date.

I think of the art-making potential. I love incorporating threads and tissues into paintages.

I think of my elderly art therapy client who

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Nestle

Create a gentle resting, holding place for yourself

to digest your experience of the year and sustain yourself through Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year.
For some, this is a blessed time of year. For others it is tough.

fabric collage Art and Soul

An Art and Soulie plays with sumptuous aqua satin and rich crimson fabric fragments

I encourage you to make some space –

even twenty minutes –

to reflect on your experience of 2017.

See if a shape, colour, theme or motif

arises

and allow yourself to write or art it.

 

Perhaps you will discover a guiding image to help you flow

into your strong, beautiful soul’s dance

for 2018.

Nestle was our final Art and Soul playshop of the year.

I asked the question:

Would you like a nourishing, spacious pause
(ahhhh)
in the midst of the seasonal HurlyBurly?

Art and Soul collage writing

An Art and Soulie immerses herself in eloquent collage and writing

I invited participants to

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What’s with all the hearts?

Hearts

are just about the only thing coming out of my brush at the moment.

art heart paint Swain

Musical Swirly Heart
layered, acrylic paintage

Fat,

thin,
pink,

lopsided,

gold,
bosomy,

blue,

pointy,
busy,
small,

large,

soft,

squishy,

protected,

exposed,

alone,

companioned

supported
hearts.

Why the hearts?
Ah, she says mysteriously,

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Words in your Wallpaper Too

Finally. Part Two. Inspired by Maya Angelou.

Do you have an Artist Wound?

(ouch)

As a long time Creativity Coach, I sit with people in the casualty ward of The Creative Hospital of Life. I see the results of Artist Wounds.

Katoomba sign caution

Whoah!
Katoomba sign

Should we peek at places and spaces where the wounding words have seeped? Can you cope?

bricolage tissue watercolour painting

Dabflowers
Sally Swain © original art
picture made from other people’s leftover paint tissues, glue, watercolour, pen.
Quite 3 dimensional

Back in January, with Maya Angelou’s assistance, we uncovered the power of words. It’s now July, but it’s never too late to start afresh with your creativity.
See ‘Words in Your Wallpaper’.

Maya says,

“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.”

Words can seep into the blood vessels of your heart’s health, causing a joyful art-beat, or clogging up your (h)arteries.

collage power words

Power (with a bit of Flower)

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You do not have to be good

I’m not one for quoting poetry. I’d kind of like to be, but I’m not.

Using up the paint on the brush
Sally Swain play-in-progress

My Dad was, but I’m not.

Some people have a perfect, poignant poetic morsel for every occasion, but

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