I am seeing how art is helping Seniors in the Assisted Living and in Memory Care Facility here at Alma Via in Camarillo. I have also learned it is not the product that is important but the process of enjoying creations and expressing yourself. Many of the residents have limited dexterity, but enjoy creating pieces that are broken down simply. This helps them engage their minds and stay focused. They also enjoy the fellowship creating within a group and the dialogue and exchange of ideas, but don't we all learn and are inspired by others in a community. Some projects are just for the fun, and other times I like to work with my art therapy training to focus on a theme to help them process emotions. Especially as we are approach Thanksgiving, it is nice to have something that reminds us of the positive things in life. It is easy to slip into negativity when your mind is slipping, and the body isn't moving like it did at 40, but to focus on thankfulness brings health to our minds and bodies. We really have a lot to be Thankful for our friends, family, community, and needs met at a great facility like Alma Via Senior Living Home.
I wanted to highlight my 101 year-old student: Jeanne Clark. She was such a joy to teach! She was joyful, open to new ideas, and had such a willing heart to try things. She looked forward to our weekly art lessons, as much as I did. She has helped me to see things that will last long in life: joy, counting your blessings, being close to family, having a happy heart, and doing things that you enjoy! I also enjoyed hearing her sing "Blue Skies" whenever I asked her, "what color do you want the sky?" I downloaded it on my song list for her art lessons!
Now that I go to several different senior homes, someone will say, "I am too old, I can't do that", I share pictures that Jeanne has created. Those 80 year-olds don't have her beat! If she can, you can too! We are never too old to learn art and have fun expressing our creativity inside!
"An artist brings joy into our lives by teaching our eyes to see. How deeply I recommend Michelle Honles as a person as an artist, and as a teacher. My mother at 101 years is taking art lessons from Michelle. How gently, patiently and sweetly she engages my mother in art . There are few things my mother can do any more. Her art lesson with Michelle is the highlight of each week and the best expenditure of money, for her well being that I can make. Beauty satisfies the soul."
Christie Johnson, (Jeanne Clark's daughter)
I was quite happy to see that my art skills have been useful in editing and creating these two videos of two recent dive trips I took to Belize, Central America and here at the Channel Islands. I needed to work with the music, learning how to film with a GoPro, edit, and then compose a video. I selected a piece of music but then I realized that the original pictures did not coincide with the lyrics, so those photos got scrapped and I worked with the song and edited accordingly. My first trip was to The Great Blue Hole in Belize where I enjoyed warm-water diving with wonderful, colorful fish and sea turtles! My second video consists of what is local to me in Ventura County of the California coast. Enjoy without the weights, wetsuit, or water!
After taking the "Art as a Healing Tool" training through A Window Between Worlds (AWBW.org) in Santa Monica, I gained the necessary training to help others process difficult emotions and trauma from domestic violence. I wish I had this training earlier, as I have encountered children who were experiencing triggers while doing a self-portrait. At that time, anger and resentment had surfaced from a student's abandonment as a child and adoption into a new home. I did not know how to allow this frustrated individual to express their deep pain through art.
Now, as participants go through the lessons created by AWBW, they tap into subconscious feelings and art allows those emotions to come to the surface in a non-threatening way. In the above workshop, we set goals for 2015, and took time to journal our thoughts bidding a farewell to 2014's destructive habits and past lies. We also let go of someone or something that holds us back in our lives, a toxic relationship, an abusive parent, etc.
After the art project is completed, the healing comes when we choose to open up. In the circle, women will open up even if they don't know each other, because talking about your art detaches you from the issues inside. As affirmation is shared about the creative pieces we make, we grow closer and feel safe and nurtured.
Every time, I am amazed how much we need to clean our hearts from the stuff of this world that wears it down or causes pain. If you would like to know more about these classes go to: ArtesiaHealingArts.org