creative Therapy

Catalyst Seventy-Five
August 16, 2009, 6:11 am
Filed under: catalyst


As always, thank you to all of our visitors and all the encouraging comments you left for us. For those of you who did, thank you for playing along with us.


Ok! Here’s catalyst number seventy-five:


What’s the hardest decision you ever made?


We’re so excited to have AnnDenise Anderson as this week’s Guest Artist.


If you’ve never seen AnnDenise’s creations with crepe paper, you’re truly missing out. She is absolutely amazing and her colorful creations are each more stunning than the previous.


AnnDenise has been published in more publications than I can list, including multipl Somerset publications. She also relgularly teaches at art events including Art Opera and Convenzione.


Make sure to visit her inspiring blog and you can buy some of her fantastic creations and embellishments at her etsy shop.





Here is AnnDenise’s art with this week’s catalyst. You can click on it to see a larger version and more detail.




AnnDenise Says:

I sat down to write about the hardest decision I ever made….funny thing, reflecting on all my difficult decisions in life, good and bad, I realized how ironic this question truly was. This was a pretty hard decision in itself!


My work reflects a big part of my childhood and the feelings that emerge when I first look at or touch the pieces that I have created. The first thing that happens is a “Smile”! Yes, it’s true. I feel this sense of commonality and reminiscence of the past. The crepe paper invokes a feeling of celebration and good times. As I began to make my way through life and decide what I wanted to be when I grew up I was faced with all of the responsible options. You know…a doctor, a nurse, a policeman, maybe something in the corporate world. Not that these aren’t professions to be admired but I could not escape the fact that I wanted to be an “ARTIST”! Ahhh, it was pure enlightenment from the get go! I knew this from the ripe old age of 7. I remember when my mom brought streamers out for one of my birthday parties….I knew from that point on that crepe paper would be my life!


However as we began our path through life and this complicated world we live in, we are faced with many choices and sometimes the options are so complex that the choices made are not particularly always the first on our lists.


I did join the corporate world and put my creative gift up in the closet, tucked ever so nicely among the linen and old shoe boxes. Don’t fret, as fate would have it once I married and I had all my five children dancing merrily around me, I found something! I was deep in my closet and was looking for “Something”. What could it have been…in the dark I saw a light and in that light I saw colors, so many bright bold colors! Crepe Paper! I FOUND IT ONCE AGAIN!


Sometimes the choices we make to put something of such importance aside, to travel on, is necessary and out of need to progress. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t important or that we didn’t care but at that point in our lives it was poignant. I can’t be sure that if I hadn’t tucked my gift of creping and making people smile with my art deep away that it would be as meaningful as it is today.


Technique Highlight:

As I continue to work with crepe paper, I realize just how forgiving the medium is and the wonderment that appears from a few twists and pulls of the paper. The memory that the paper possess gives the artist the ability to work freely and creatively being able to always rework the paper if it is not what was intended. Using long sheets of crepe paper for many of my projects is very economical and very easy to sew with by machine or by hand. The glue gun is also on the top of my list. I incorporate crepe into all sorts of mediums~fabrics, ephemera, paint, clay, paper mache, canvas. I personally favor the physical change of a crepe paper roll. Distressing crepe paper always seem to be a crowd pleaser!



Thank you so much AnnDenise; we’re so very very honored.



Here are some interpretations of the catalyst from members of our team. This week, we’re also honored to have two ladies from Scrapbooking Calls and Contests site, Suzann and Anam, please welcome them!



Anam Says:

To keep being me no matter what the odds and objection – that for me is the hardest thing. All those years ago when I decided that to be alive was worth the effort sometimes feels like a cop out but I know in my heart that to keep living was my hardest choice. Title: Be alive.


Technique Highlight:

I used a lot of crumbling and tearing to create texture. Products are all from Prima’s Rebellious line. You can find Anam




Suzann Says:

DNR is the abbreviation for Do Not Resuscitate. The decision to put this directive in place was the hardest, most gut wrenching decision I’ve ever had to make. Mom was in failing health, suffering from Alzheimer’s, Heart Failure and a suspicious mass on her kidney. I dearly loved my Mother and wanted her to be here forever. But, God had a better plan.


Technique Highlight:

I did a lot of stitching – hand and machine – and distressed a bunch of the edges. You can find Suzann here:




Iris Says:

I have always been an independent person who valued her identity. This is one of my struggles as a married woman. I have always been comfortable in the place where I grew and felt that it was the best place for my children too. My husband has a business which has been doing fairly well but it requires him to travel for several hours a day to get from our home to his place of business. We had tried to delay moving our family nearer to his business but it was just not working. One of the hardest decisions in my married life was whether to stay at our home town which was safe and comfortable but would take away some precious time from my children and their Dad – or to move to the busy, chaotic, city but allow them to be with their Dad longer during the day. We decided to make the move. We still miss being in our place of comfort, but having more family time makes it worth it.





Larissa Says:

Choosing my degree was the hardest decision for me. I was just a teenager and was asked to choose what I was gonna be for the next 30 years or more. I wasn´t mature enough to take this decision. I just think choosing a profession is one of the most important decisions you can ever make because it influences your future in such a way that you could be really frustrated about your whole life. So, at that time I struggled with the idea of being a journalist or maybe a film director and also, of course, with my parents` expectations about having a daughter at Law School. Although I remember I was totally torn up, I decided to go to Journalism School. After a year and a half at Journalism School I just realized I didn´t have enough talent to write and then I went to Law School. Four years later, I thought about quitting but then my father convinced me to just finish it. Shortly afterwards I started working at the D.A. office and everything got in the right track, even though I´m still not sure if I chose the right profession for me. I have doubts; daily. My layout plays with this idea of indecision, of being torn into pieces…. “





Dedra Says:

Sometimes….The hardest decisions that we make are for good reasons….

These decisions change our life, they can break cycles…..

Some people are just not meant to be together….

the relationship is toxic and affects everyone….

the hardest decision I have made so far in my life was leaving your dad Shelby….

I wanted you to grow up in a positive, loving environment….

your dad and I are great parents seperately….

We love you and you are the best part of your dad and I….

At the time your dad and I were in different places and wanted very different things in life….

getting out on our own just you and me, I know now that was best, even as scary as it was….

You were meant to be!

love you.


I love that the Creative Therapy catalysts can inspire me to create in a lot of different directions, even altered books. This is the cover for the altered book I will be filling up.




Karen says:

I’ve written about Teach For America before and I will be writing about it again. This is one of the few things in my life where I still need a lot of personal therapy. It’s unfinished for me. I haven’t made my peace with it yet. I am closer than I’ve been but not there yet.


I used a digital page for this because I don’t have any good photos from that time in my life. I used this photo of me and my students but blurred out their faces. Thank you for your patience with me as I work my way through this.


Journaling Reads:

i wish i could say that i feel 100% confident it was the right thing to do. that i don’t regret a moment of it. yet, here we are, six years later, and i am still unsure. i am still sad and it is still by far the hardest decision i ever made.


i have never ever quit anything in my life.




i try hard to think things thoroughly before i commit to them, and once i do, i don’t walk away. i see it through. all the way. it’s not a competition. it’s not about looking good. it’s just about integrity. i believe in seeing things through.


so, while i know deep down that i had no other choice, i still regret quitting teach for america. in my thirty-four years, i have never made a decision that was harder.





Kimmi Says:

The hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make was the one that I made when my son was just four months old. I decided to leave the home that my husband and I had shared and move back in with my parents. It was the scariest thing to think about whether or not I would be able to do things on my own, financially and emotionally. After a few months of enduring through it, I met Travis, and life seemed to fall back in its place. And while I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the fear that I had throughout those few months and the criticism that I got from all of the people around me for making that decision, I believe that it was the best thing that I could have ever possibly done.





Rachel Says:

This week’s catalyst was truly therapy for me, and it honestly threw me for a loop in the creative process. The hardest decision that I have ever made was last summer when I had to take out a restraining order against my own brother. This year has been full of ups and downs, fear and anger, sadness and defeat but through it all I know that I did the right thing. Creating this layout helped me to continue to heal and remember that I made the right decision no matter how difficult it was.


Journaling on layout reads:

Not a day goes by where I don’t think of you and love you and pray for you and your health and safety. But there is also not a day that I am not scared of you, hurt by you, traumatized by you and angry at you. Will I ever find peace?


Journaling in the pocket reads:



al·co·hol·ism (āl’kə-hô-lĭz’əm, -hŏ-)


n. A disorder characterized by the excessive consumption of and dependence on alcoholic beverages, leading to physical and psychological harm and impaired social and vocational functioning. Also called alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence.


The chances are good that any person who reads this knows, or has known someone who suffers from it or at least knows someone who knows someone. According to statistics, nearly 14 million Americans meet diagnostic criteria to be classified with this disease.


My brother is an alcoholic. He has been for over the last twelve plus years of my life. The last twelve years of my life I have spent wondering if every time that I saw my brother if it would be the last before his funeral. I have spent nights as a teenager huddled in bed with my mother with a weapon beside the bed, terrified of what might happen should he show up drunk. I have watched helplessly as my brother literally knocked down doors to get what he wanted and slam my mother against walls, breaking them. I have watched him choke on his own vomit, knowing that if we weren’t there to turn him, he would die. I have watched him get in a car time and time again and drive away drunk, knowing that anything I did to stop him could possibly kill me.


One would think that all that would have been enough. Enough for me to cut him out of my life and never speak to him again. But it wasn’t. It never was.


Until last summer… it got worse when no one thought it could. *rest of journaling removed for privacy/security reasons*


I finally made the choice to protect myself and my family. I took out a restraining order against my own brother. It was something that I never would have dreamed that I would have to do. I never dreamed that I would be sitting in a court room, pleading to a judge to help protect me and my family because my own brother was a danger to us and had threatened me, my mother and my family.


To this day, I am terrified of my own brother. But I am heartsick for him too. Worried every day that he will kill himself or someone else. I have nightmares where he shows up at my door to hurt us or to try to get back at us somehow for doing this. I keep a knife in my desk drawer of my scrap room because I am in there oftentimes late at night by myself. It has changed every aspect of my life, this fear. And honestly if I could pack up and move to start my life over somewhere else today, I would.


His alcoholism has invaded my life and while I know that I am legally protected from him, I don’t think I will ever feel completely safe from him, and that to me, is the tragedy of it all. Because he is my brother and despite everything, I love him. I always will.


Technique Highlight:

I knew that this layout would be journaling intensive, but that I would not want it all readily readable to viewers so I created the page to be one large pocket by cutting a paper bag to size and stitching the sides to create my pocket. This was a decorative striped bag so I used chalkboard spray paint to paint it black and maintain a matte finish.


I also created the tears directly on the photo by using glossy accents applied in a tear shape, and allowed them to dry.


To create a custom paper for my page I photocopied the first page of the order of protection onto patterned paper. I did this because with a topic such as this, I didn’t feel that anything else would convey the feeling of the layout.




Now it’s your turn: show us your therapeutic art around “What’s the hardest decision you ever made?” I urge you to give it a try. It can be any form of art as long as it speaks to you.


Leave us comments with your work and you will qualify for the RAK we offer to a random participant. If you don’t have a community or blog where you upload photos, you can upload them on our flickr group.



Remember, this is not a competition. If your art makes you feel even a bit better at the end, you’ve won.


Until next week, enjoy each and every moment.



10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

thank you for letting us join in. such awesome work from everyone.

*hugs to all*

Rachel – I have a RO against my mother so i totally know the feelings you have and it sucks even on a good day.

Comment by anam

Wow…so many moving stories!!! And such beautiful work! Very touching!!

Comment by Peggy

What intense and amazing journaling– and gorgeous artwork. TY for letting us into your lives. ((HUGZ))-Ali

Comment by Ali

I am always moved when I visit this site. Big Hugs Rachel. I just had to take one out against an alcoholic neighbor who had already sent two neighbor women moving, and set a shed on fire doing fireworks while drunk.

Comment by Kas Mello

believe thats all I can say, I too have a brother who has the same affliction and has caused such heartbreak, but I still love him so much and wish I could take his pain whatever it is away. Stay strong

Comment by bea

These were incredibly powerful. Thank you. I am inspired. I am away on vacation but when I get home I want to use this inspiration to go deeper in my own art work and journaling.

Comment by Erika Cleveland

Very deep thinking catalyst this time. I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s interpretation of it.

Here’s mine:

Comment by Christine

Wow! I really felt the therapy in those layouts its really healthy for the soul , thank you for making me realize that it is ok to put it all on paper, even if its not pretty thoughts , but just thoughts that have to cleanse your pshychy.

Thankk you I will work on mine.

Mary ann k.

Comment by mary ann k.

Lots of touching stories there & beautiful creations. My LO is here:

Comment by creativestarr

Nice blog having informative and useful information for users, very nice, keep the chin up.

Comment by Custom Paper

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