I was watching a video about the healing powers of art and music. Specifically, that art and music are indeed therapeutic for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am a firm believer in the healing powers of music, and I agree that the music must first mean something to the person in order for the therapy to be beneficial. If it is music you enjoy, then it can trigger happy memories, and perhaps open conversation. Sometimes the topic takes me back to a time when lyrics such as, “I believe in music, I believe in love” were very popular.
During the art therapy discussion, they described how patients are encouraged to express themselves using paint and paper. They spoke of making a group project out of creating a mandala.
This idea intrigued me. I’ve had a photograph that I’ve been working with for a few days, of artwork by my five-year-old granddaughter. I wasn’t really getting very far with it until I started thinking about creating a mandala.
The center portion of the design is my granddaughter’s original artwork. I used the cookie cutter tool to create the stars from the same colors as the original. Then I used the ellipse tool to make circles and found a close match for the magenta from the color swatch for their fill. After that, I chose a gradient and texture for the background, and framed it with the magenta and a bevel effect.
All in all, I must agree. This has been very therapeutic. And I am happy to have preserved another piece of artwork from the next generation.
Honestly, I’m still thinking about this one a bit. The only thing “real” here are the flowers. What is special about these flowers is that they were growing, thriving, in the soil in my backyard even while enduring the heat of the desert mountains. As often happens, the photograph did not match my memory of how glorious these flowers looked in the sunlight. So I cut the flowers from the photograph, and with some layering, achieved a potted plant look. I added the butterflies because I thought it needed some contrast and balance.
Perhaps we need these things in our daily lives. A little contrast, to break up the routine. Balance, to be sure all areas of our lives are being nurtured. Color, to keep things bright. And reminders of the importance of growing, and moving forward, such as lovely flowers and butterflies.
This is a photograph of a portion of a hiking trail I used to haunt. You have to leave the main trail to get to this area. There is a narrow trail by the water. The sunlight filtering through the leaves and reflecting on the water that day just seemed magical. The 23rd Psalm came to mind as I enjoyed the reassurance of a higher power that makes all things beautiful.
Verse 6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”
We can all use some goodness and mercy… and peace.
I got to looking through some of my older photographs and noticed this one from a road trip several years ago. I don’t remember exactly but given the route, it was either New Mexico or Arizona. End of a thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms, the dark clouds, the electricity, the bass of the thunder booming. We used to sit on the front porch at my grandmother’s house during the summer and watch the thunderstorms come. And pass. I remember once, a preacher reading scripture paused on the phrase, “And it came to pass,” taking a moment to reflect on the reassurance that most things in life do, in fact, pass. They come to pass, the good times and the bad times, along with the challenge to be thankful for the good times and hold them in our hearts, and to keep moving forward through the bad times, forward to the next thing, whatever that may be.
Hope sustains us through, either way.
Somehow reminds me of this song:
Now to do some changes
Laughter as well as pain
Now I can dance in sunshine or in rain
Come and follow me,
To wherever the light breaks through…
I love that moment, when the light breaks through.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Sometimes we spend a lot of energy avoiding things. Relationships, activities, foods we enjoy. After a while, it seems that life is somehow passing us by. I would like to take a moment to encourage us all to re-channel our energy into building things up in our lives. A random act of kindness goes a long way. A walk offers an opportunity to appreciate the neighbor’s rose garden, or the clouds, or the mountains. A warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, or a cold drink on a hot afternoon can be a simple pleasure.
It’s important, I think, to focus on reasons to be thankful and to indulge in life’s simple gifts. So I offer a couple of well-worn phrases to help us remember to appreciate these reasons and gifts:
Stop and smell the flowers.
Eat the ice cream.
P.S. Artwork in this design is adapted from a picture by my granddaughter. I love working with the grandchildren’s art. I never know how it’s going to turn out.
I was enjoying the colors brought out by the sunlight in a small garden of succulents. One of the photographs became the background for this design. I tried out so many different effects, just to see what they would look like, before I settled on this one, which if I remember right is dry brush. I thought for awhile about what to add, and then remembered this ornament from my mother. I used lighting and color effects and she blended right into the garden.
Just a couple of fairy smiles and color to brighten the day.
One of my passions is theater. I enjoy a good movie, but I adore the intimacy of a good stage production. For awhile, I lived in a place that still had a dinner theater, and one season, Cactus Flower, a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy, was among the offerings. This dinner theater production boasted Ann Miller. I had the privilege of seeing Ann Miller dance, live, on a table.
Growing up on the west coast, I wasn’t familiar with the phenomenon that is a cactus flower. These days, I live in the desert mountains. There are numerous cacti in the garden, and each year, the flowers bloomed with a passion. This variety lasts only 24 hours, but with the wonders of technology, today’s design saves one for posterity, open to the fullest before it faded away.
As I worked with the cactus flower, I was thinking of how beauty can be found everywhere, even in seemingly unlikely places, such as a dry desert. And even though these moments may be fleeting, they become treasures of the heart, to be retrieved when one is in need of encouragement.
I also thought about regeneration. The flowers may fade, but the cactus remains, steadfast, and then next season once again, it presents its gift of flowers bursting forth in their blaze of glory. The gifts we have to offer may not be as obvious. It may seem they go unnoticed. Or like the cactus flower, perhaps they are few and far between. But there’s also a chance that someone does notice, that it makes a difference to someone, and becomes one of their treasures of the heart.
Finally, if you look, you will see two spent flowers in the design. Not just one flower, but many flowers taking turns, if you will, presenting their gift to the world. And so it is with people. It is not up to just one person, all the time. But we take turns presenting our gifts.
Thank you for listening as I share my thoughts. I am delighted to present my cactus flower with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, that the earth laughs in flowers. May this be a reminder to us to laugh when we find beauty in unlikely places every day.