In my early years as a therapist and movement educator I worked in hospitals, schools and private practice with children, adolescents, and adults. In the classes I developed and taught in colleges, graduate school and the everyday world, I always used a combination of movement, drawing and writing as a means of engaging our whole selves.
I have always believed that to “deeply know something” or to make changes in our selves, we must engage our feelings and thoughts, bringing our unconscious intuitions, sparks and actions into consciousness. We must build bridges between our various parts. I also believe we need to engage people in these same connections in the fields of health and education.
When my own child was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I used writing as a way to understand and express the range of feelings and experiences I was having. I began to translate my fear, anger, grief and hope, this roller coaster ride of emotions, into poetry.
I also looked for ways to engage my daughter in creative expressions through drawing, beading or whatever she was able to do. She was my guide as I watched her endless fascination with beads, and her patient knitting. I saw how she was keeping her own spirit alive.
I talked about these experiences with other parents, and traded ideas for coping with the ups and downs this disease provoked in us. I spoke with, and to, doctors who needed to hear about chronic illness from a parent’s perspective.
Out of this fire has come a new focus, a desire to teach medical professionals about the effects of chronic illness on families, and the desire to reach out to families with chronically ill children. I want to support parents in the ongoing work of caregiving and provide a means for creatively engaging their own changed realities.