Posts Tagged ‘trauma stewardship’

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways & Creative Offerings

June 5, 2014
Journey to Resilence: Takeaways & Creative Offerings | creativity in motion

3×5 365 day 154 takeaways : journey to resilience

This week was our annual staff retreat and this year the day was completely dedicated to the impact of trauma exposure, self-care strategies, and resiliency.  The retreat’s main speaker was Cynthia Vrabel, MD, who is the Medical Director of FrontLine Service here in Cleveland. Dr. Vrabel’s work includes an interest in research and program development to address the issue of secondary traumatic stress in clinicians and first responders.

I found the content presented throughout the day really spoke to the realities, challenges, & struggles of trauma work and exposure related to compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout, as well as provided nurturing and encouraging staff self-care strategies and takeaways to implement and build upon as individuals, within programming, and agency wide. It was re-energizing to spend the day receiving Dr. Vrabel’s teachings and reminders rooted in the work of Dr. Bruce Perry, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, Brene Brown, and many others who offer support & inspiration related to trauma focused work.

There were countless takeaways from the day, but my top 3 were these:

  • Create a Transition Zone: A space, ritual or practice that supports us to create a healthier boundary and balance between our personal life and work. In the same spirit, this idea reminded me to re-visit the article, 10 Easy Steps to Creating a Peaceful Home Retreat published by the Joyful Heart Foundation‘s Reunion Magazine (Issue 2).  This resource provides many sensory based suggestions that can help cultivate routines and areas within the space we live to shift into a place of calmness, peace, and relaxation.  Using symbolic objects, scents, music, journaling, creative expression, & more are all offered as options to integrate this into self care practice.
  • Covenant Based Caregiving: A covenant can be defined as “a written agreement or promise…especially for the performance of some action.” What are your covenants, values, or intentions related to bringing your “best self” to your life, work and service….to not only others, but to yourself as well? We were given a worksheet created by Dr. Vrabel to explore discovering our own covenants that I thought could easily be explored in visual form as well (I thought about making a collage or book!).  What are your own values and promises to yourself that you can make about living, working, loving, being, becoming, believing, promoting, striving, and seeking that support covenant caregiving vs. “on demand” caregiving?
  • Compassion Satisfaction: Compassion satisfaction is the enjoyment created from being able to help other people. It is the opposite of Compassion Fatigue (the emotional and physical exhaustion of caring for others) or Vicarious Trauma (becoming traumatized ourselves as a result of being exposed to stories and images of suffering).  I am always interested in learning more about concepts connected to Post Traumatic Growth and how very stressful or traumatic situations can transform into positive and life affirming experiences. Compassion Satisfaction supports this experience for the helper or caregiver, which I love!  Check out this resource: Transforming Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Satisfaction – 12 Top Self Care Tips for more ideas and suggestions.

In addition to the cognitive learning throughout the day, there was also dedicated time to mind/body & sensory based activities to support and explore self-care themes.  Part of the morning included engaging in stretching, movement, & deep breathing and during some of the afternoon I was able to introduce and lead everyone in an art experience focused on art journaling as a tool for nurturing emotional resilience.

Journey to Resilience: Takeways & Creative Offerings | creativity in motion

Nurturing Emotional Resilience through Art Journaling

 Everyone created paper bag art journals (check out this past post on how to make one!) as a tangible reminder of our supports, strengths, positive affirmations, and comfort.  Each person also received an Artist Trading Card as an invitation to create an anchoring image that reflected a sense of peace and relaxation inspiration.  A variety of creative goodness was offered for materials such as acrylic paint, pastels, Sharpies, gel pens, printed paper of various colors and bright designs, tissue paper, as well as journaling cards & Smash pad paper.  I also invited people to bring their own favorite quotes, sayings, images and inspiration related to resiliency, affirmation, and self-care.

Journey to Resilience: Takeways & Creative Offerings | creativity in motion

Journey to Resilience: Takeways & Creative Offerings | creativity in motion

Journey to Resilience: Takeways & Creative Offerings | creativity in motion

It was great to see the room buzz with book making and art journaling energy infused with both written and visual positive messages.  The group was encouraged to continue working on their handmade journal and ATC post retreat and to also incorporate its presence into a work space where it could be of help or support in times of need or support.

Journey to Resilience: Takeways & Creative Offerings | creativity in motion

In relationship to this post’s topic, next month at the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children’s Childhood Trauma Practitioner’s Assembly, I’ll be presenting another workshop about Art Journaling’s Visual Voice in Trauma Intervention.  This hands-on workshop will explore the use of art journaling as a safe, contained space for processing emotional expression, promoting self-care, and sharing one’s personal narrative and intentions. Content will include themes and the benefits of art journaling as a visual voice and means of trauma intervention with youth and women survivors of trauma. Participants will also engage in creating their own mini art journal with mixed media to identify and support their own professional self-care practices and intentions related to working with trauma & loss issues.  Registration for this year’s Assembly is still open if you’re interested in attending!

It was so wonderful to have a day to come together to honor self-care and the impact trauma work can have on our wellbeing, as well as learn and practice ways to manage, balance, and cultivate what supports our best self – at work, home, and in our relationships. Very grateful!

Related Resources:

The Art of Emotional Resilience

Top Ten Takeaways : PEP Symposium Dr. Bruce Perry in Cleveland

Trauma Stewardship, Gratitude, and Wordle Making

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Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention: Gratitude

May 21, 2013

This past week-end I was inspired by Susanna (thank you!) to finally put the brown paper wine size bag she gifted me to good use for a new art journaling project. I wanted to discover how re-purposing this type of bag for creating an art journal would be different from the common paper bag technique I usually use.

Brown Paper Wine Bag Journal

Susanna graciously sent one paper bag already gessoed…which made starting this mini art journal even easier. (step 1 done!) I gathered some handmade paper, a bone folder, some twine, my SMASH cutter & scissors, as well as a paper punch to put it together.

Brown Paper Wine Bag Journal Opened

With the paper bag flat on the table, I folded an insert of the handmade pages to place in the center. Then I folded the sides of the bag towards the middle and over top one another, which created the book’s cover.  The open edges of the bag (on the right side I used my SMASH cutter to open the bottom of the bag) create cool pockets for discreetly stashing stuff in.

Brown Paper Wine Bag Journal Front

I used a paper punch and twine to bind the pages and book together. To start, my paper insert has enough pages for 5 spreads, but lots of room to add more. The concept of this art journal is dedicated to my self-care, especially in relationship to my trauma work as an art therapist.

This miniature book will provide a safe space to explore important considerations to keep myself grounded and refreshed in my work through intention, mindfulness, gratitude, positive affirmation, and of course: creative practice.

Gratitude: Self Care Journal Page

Trauma Stewardship- Page 223: Finding Balance | Gratitude

It was very cool to see this week’s 14 Secrets Challenge focused on gratitude, which was on my brain for a spread in this journal. Check out Lani’s post for lots of “focus-shifting for our peace of mind” encouragement and helpful prompts. Practicing gratitude is definitely part of my self-care to help me keep centered.

After reading Lani’s post I quickly cracked open Laura van Dernoot Lipsky‘s book Trauma Stewardship, headed for the index to look up gratitude and promptly flipped to page 223 to re-read Laura’s reflections about how this practice is an important part of creating balance in our life and work.  I included a copy of page 223’s text in my art journal and then created this image:

Gratitude Journal Page 2

I am grateful for painfully beautiful things (in people, moments, choices, changes) that help us all discover what truly matters

I started with an “I AM” SMASH cookie note to visually inspire me to think about what I am grateful for, especially in context to this quote from page 223 about the pain that exists in this world: “Remind yourself that while the suffering may seem endless, so is what we have to be grateful for…“. Struggles can become reframed with intention to discover moments of thankfulness within the experience and help us grow.

My response to this quote and the image I created above was to be grateful for the painfully beautiful things (in people, moments, choices, changes) that help us all discover what truly matters. I am also grateful for co-workers, friends, significant others, & family in my life that help support me in discovering this, as well as the women and children I work with.

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I enjoyed using this kind of paper bag to begin this new art journal- especially with the inclusion of pages and how the bag serves as a comforting cover wrapping around them. I’ll continue to add to this self care art journal, its pages, and cover with additional content and inspiration to keep sharing with you!

On Practicing and Creating Gratitude

December 14, 2011

As I review my 2011, this summer’s workshop I attended with Trauma Stewardship author and trauma specialist  Laura van Dernoot Lipsky had a major impact in strengthening my practice about the role of gratitude in my personal life and professional practice.   For me, part of this awareness included Lipsky encouraging us to create scheduled time each day to stop and take time out for grateful reflection.

As previously written about here on Creativity in Motion in the above link, this suggestion first inspired me to try Lipsky’s recommendation of setting a series of “gratitude alarms” on my iPhone, which then I developed into creating gratitude wordles from these reflections. I recently upgraded my iPhone and now have Siri also assisting me with my gratitude reminders and finding quotes!

One of my many intentions with these activities was to hopefully incorporate this content into my art-making somehow. I decided to combine my interest in gratitude scrolls and my wordle making into a piece of art that would continue to remind me of the importance of creating and practicing gratitude.

This gratitude scroll was created with a piece of gessoed canvas, then painted with watercolor, distressed with ink, and then collaged with some of my favorite words, reflections, and a quote from my gratitude reminders and wordle making throughout the last 5 months.    To allow the scroll’s contents and good vibes to be available and a visible affirmation, I intend on displaying this as an open wall hanging in my creative work space for continued inspiration.

The quote at the top and “wordle words” underneath are a humble reminder for me with a powerful message of simplicity, enoughness, and that I have the choice to recognize and nurture the uncomplicated abundance that comes into my life, relationships, work, and daily practice.

Gratitude unlocks the abundance of life and turns what we have into more than enough. Gratitude makes sense of our past, delivering tranquility for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Trauma Stewardship, Gratitude, and Wordle Making

June 24, 2011

One of my gratitude wordles

Earlier this month I attended a workshop with trauma worker and author of Trauma Stewardship, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky who spent the day speaking to a group of local agencies and offering important considerations related to self-care and well being when exposed to and involved with trauma work.  This all day training based on Lipsky’s book was excellent and provided a lot of nurturing, mindful, and practical reflections and tools that will be very helpful connected to the trauma work I do with children, women, and families.

I really enjoyed Lipsky’s content that focused on gratitude as a way to create and maintain a sense of balance in our personal lives and work.  She writes, “locating something to be thankful for at all times is an essential part of trauma stewardship” and that this mindfulness practice can help reframe our experience of often overwhelming, challenging, and difficult work.  “Remind yourself that while the offering may seem endless, so is what we have to be grateful for; it just might be less obvious and take a more creative approach to find it” (pp. 223, van DerNoot Lipsky, 2009).

One of the many takeaways from that day that I have started to incorporate into my daily practice included Lipsky’s suggestion to set “gratitude alarms” on our mobile phone to go off three times a day to help provide a sensory reminder and alert to take time throughout our busy daily activities to reflect on thankfulness. I have set my iPhone for morning, afternoon, and evening gratitude alarms, which has been a rewarding experience. When the alarms go off and I am often in the middle of something, I am forced to go to my phone, recognize the alarm’s intention, and in that moment take time to simply reflect on what I am grateful for.  I must say it really has helped make my gratitude awareness stronger and create additional balance in my day to day life.

To support this process, I use the “notes” app on my phone to type in whatever thankfulness comes to mind and then save these reflections as an on-going mobile Gratitude e-List.  Throughout this week I have started to take words from my list to create Gratitude Wordles as a creative and fun way to express and visually focus on my gratitude words.  I have also been experimenting with the app Word Clouder for creating mobile gratitude word clouds on the go!

References:  Trauma stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others.

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