creative Therapy

Catalyst Eighty-Nine
November 22, 2009, 10:03 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 eighty-nine:


Tell us about a time when you realized you had the answer to something you were struggling with where you least expected.


We’re thrilled to have Denise Lynnette Andrade as this week’s Guest Artist.


Denise is another photographer whose work speaks to my soul and I am so delighted to have her here. Here’s a short bio for Denise:


Denise is a photographer and writer living in Southern California with her husband, son and two kitties. Her fine art photography style is very vintage and ethereal, capturing artists as their most alluring selves. Her writing is straight from the deepest parts of her soul. She is a bohemian, a tree hugger, an inspirer of authenticity and a gentle warrior in all the spaces she communes with in life.


If you haven’t seen Denise’s photography, make sure to visit her photography site, her website and blog and you too will see that Denise is one of those rare artists whose photos and words speak to your soul.





Here is Denise’s art with this week’s catalyst. You can click on them to see larger versions. Denise’s words this week are about her son and a specific period of time in her life and about looking within. So this week, she has three photographs for you. One of her taken during that time, one of her son’s and one recent photo of Elizabeth MacCrellish (creator of Squam Art Workshops) whom she believes is a wonderful emulation of someone feeling connected to their own voice and hushing out other voices that don’t resonate with them. Photos are presented in that order.




Denise Says:

Perhaps because it is still so fresh in my mind and heart, I would say it was during my fertility journey where I discovered I had the answers within. I think we all have the answers deep within the workings of our hearts if we are able to clear out the clutter, the muck, the gremlins, the voices that are not ours. It is a matter of distinguishing which voices are ours and which are not.


I believe my inner voice became more clear during my fertility journey mainly because of the tremendous amount of advice or opinions that came into my path (or our path…as it was my husband’s too) and I had no choice at one point but to find my center in the midst of chaos. My husband and I had gone through both Western and Eastern treatments and what we learned to do after each appointment (a few years into it) was to check in with our hearts…”does this feel peaceful? do we believe we’re not fertile? why am i feeling anxious about this? what is so unsettling? do i really believe my eggs are not healthy?”


We learned that it was okay to not agree with the “experts” that fell into our path if it didn’t feel right to us. It was okay to say no and move forward with something that resonated with our values and gentle way of walking in our worlds.


We went into this journey with very different expectations and after almost five years, our expectations melted away and we learned to not give away our power so easily and we also learned that our child was so near, as soon as we opened our hearts to the concept that what was most important was parenting a child, not so much getting pregnant and birthing one. This is when adoption came into our path.


The answers were there and once we truly listened without judgment, it all flowed so beautifully.



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



Here are some interpretations of the catalyst from members of our team. This week, we’re delighted to welcome back Alexis to our team!



Journaling Reads:

For each ecstatic instant

We must an anguish pay

In keen and quivering ratio

To the ecstasy.


For each beloved hour

Sharp pittances of years,

Bitter contested farthings

And coffers heaped with tears.

-Emily Dickinson


Alexis Says:

Lately, I’ve been evaluating the choices I’ve made in my life and the reasons guiding those choices. I’ve wondered why certain things have happened the way they have. As I came to grips with the fact that there really are no absolute answers to my questions, I came across this poem by Emily Dickinson. I’ve always loved her poetry, but never had the connection I experienced after reading this particular one again. Although it doesn’t provide a definitive answer to my ponderings, it really helped me to make more sense of the events in my life.




Amy Says:

Our struggles are not always life-sized in scope. Something I have wanted to do for about a year is learn to free-form quilt. When I first tried it, however, I found that it wasn’t something that was instinctive for me. Disheartened by my early attempts and frustrated by what felt like a lack of fluidity to my movements (and to the resulting quilted line), I haven’t practiced much or often. Determined, I started trying again recently. I have heard a friend tell me often that I have to think of the needle as my pen, but my line continued to be more angular and stilted than I wanted. But then it clicked. Suddenly I felt the difference when my arms worked together and took control, when I stopped trying to have the pen do the work… and realized I had to do the work with the paper. It was in explaining the process to my son, a young artist, that I really “understood” the difference… and why the arms mattered. The whole picture came into shape. I’m still practicing, but I’m on the right track now. The answer was there… I just had to look at the problem differently.




Katie Says:

I have always struggled with what I wanted to do for a career. When I was 15 I worked for a lady that had a home crafting business. I worked in her garage and painted, glued, tied bows and packaged. I did that for 2 years. I used to design patterns for my Mom’s wood working business and also did craft shows with her.


I became a parent at age 19 so I didn’t get a lot of “finding me” time. I just had to jump into a job to make ends meet. I worked at a department store in the fashion jewelry department. I loved to do the display cases and used to bring in props from home and I would spend hours making beautiful displays. Then I got hired by one of the manufacturers that made the jewelry. They had seem my cases on a store walk through and were impressed with my work. I did that for 7 years and loved it. I traveled around to all the malls in San Diego and merchandised their product.


Fast forward. I met my husband, got married, had 2 little girls and have became a stay at home Mom for the last 11 years (dabbling in all kinds of arts and crafts that I sold on ebay and at shows). All the while the career question has haunted me. What will I do, who will I become? I try to think of jobs that have flexibility so I can be there for my family, I try to think of jobs that aren’t too physically strenuous as I have some medical conditions and I try to think of jobs that won’t squash my creativity. I’m almost 40 and I cannot figure out what to do. Many sleepless nights, many hours researching potential jobs, many doubts….and then one day as I sat in my studio looking around at all my stuff I realized something.


Where else could I have a flexible schedule? A job where if the school nurse calls and says my daughter is sick that I can say, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes”. Where else can I have a job that is not too physically hard, I can sit and stand at will and if I need to take a break, I can? Where else can I find a job that will allow me to be as creative as I want to be? Right here, that’s where.


The answer has been in front of me the whole time. All these years. l have it right here. I am sitting in it right now as I type this. This is where I need to work. Right here at home. Luckily, I don’t require a lot of money. I am willing to dye my own hair and trim my own bangs. So, for right now I just need to get it started. Figure it out. Take step one. I am just glad that I have figured out that my career is in my own hands. Pun intended.


My piece of work signifies this realization. It’s “Homemade with Love” which is exactly what everything I make is. I put my whole heart into it. I want to work at home, creating with my heart and my hands. I don’t know where this will take me but I have drive and spirit and Thank God a husband whose job comes along with medical insurance! 🙂




Karen Says:

As I’ve written about several times before, in 2002, I quit my job on Wall St. to become a teacher for Teach for America. Relatively soon after I began teaching, I started having serious doubts about my ability to do this job justice. It was a very turbulent time in my life and I still struggle with it from time to time.


One of the things I did at the time was to take a course in the hopes that it would help me decide whether I was ready to quit the job or not. At the end of this intensive three day course, I had many answers to many other issues in my life but I still didn’t know if I should walk away.


A few weeks later, I was telling someone why I had originally chosen to go into the computer field (so I could work from home one day when I had kids) and then why I had quit the wall street career for a more altruistic one (so that what I did with my time away from my kids would be for a worthwhile cause). In talking to this person, I realized that I had made many significant decisions in my life on behalf of children I didn’t yet have. I also recognized that I had managed to setup my life such that I was working way too many hours to actually make room to have any kids.


As soon as I realized this, I quit my job, encouraged my unhappy husband to do the same (and pursue his dreams) and we moved across the country to setup a new life and within a year of moving we were expecting our first baby. I know that if it weren’t for the course, and for the struggles with my teaching job, I might have never stepped back enough to observe my life and notice how misaligned it was with my priorities.


Sometimes an unfortunate circumstance can be the catalyst to something wonderful and amazing.





Severine Says:

Usually I find the answers to questions I can ask from me in a walk in nature and thinking of nothing. I’ve been thinking about this catalyst for over a week and I did not really have an answer or idea to put it on paper and also ran on Friday and I came upon these mushrooms alone beside the road with beautiful reds and oranges and I thought well here is my idea … I can say that it is in the nature that I find solutions or answers to my questions when I can walk alone in thinking of nothing.


In French:

Généralement je trouve les réponses aux questions que je peux me poser en allant me balader dans la nature et en ne pensant à rien. Ca fait plus d’une semaine que je réfléchis à ce Catalyst auquel je ne trouvais pas vraiment de réponse ni d’idée pour la mettre sur papier d’ailleurs et vendredi en allant courir je tombe sur ces champignons tout seul au bord de la route avec de belles couleurs rouges orangés et là je me suis dit bien là voilà mon idée … Je peux donc dire que c’est dans la nature que me viennent les solutions ou réponses à mes interrogations, quand je peux me balader tranquille en ne pensant à rien.





Rachel Says:

I created this canvas for this prompt because in looking back, the times I had the answers from where I least expected them has been when I was too busy looking outward to everyone and everything else to see that I had them all along, in myself, my heart. I just had to look there to find them. And find the courage and strength to act on the answers that I had all along.





Larissa Says:

I struggle a lot while working with my deadlines to make a scrapbooking task. Sometimes, an artistic work is so hard to be elaborated that I think it would be better to give it up. When that happens I realize there’s always an alternative, something in which I haven’t thought of before. I add an extra layer, leave it for the next day or just relax. When I do so, I find the answer I was looking for. Not so surprisingly, the answer is actually simple and it was already in my arsenal of possibilities.


For this catalyst, I wanted to let my emotions flow, without questioning much. I decided to work the circus theme. My page layout is called “Welcome to my life!” Take a sit, choose a role…


It shows the image of a pierrot. And it is weitten: “Pierrot was supposed to be very intelligent, very emotional and usually a very unhappy clown who hid his true feelings under a comic mask”.





Lori Says:

The most difficult decision I have ever made was whether or not to send my 5 year-old to Kindergarten. We have two amazing schools in my town and are able to chose where we send our children, so I went to both orientations. The first one made me feel more conflicted and I expected the same from the second. Amazingly, it was at the second orientation that the light went on and I realized I needed to wait to send him. I never expected to feel such peace after leaving that orientation, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I’m so grateful I held him back one year. He is flourishing in school and is loving every second of it.


Journaling Reads:

Deciding to get married, buy a house and have a baby were nothing to deciding whether or not to send you to Kindergarten. This was the hardest decision I have ever made. I held you back one year and I am so grateful I did.




Now it’s your turn: show us your therapeutic art around “Tell us about a time when you realized you had the answer to something you were struggling with where you least expected.” 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 so we can share in your creative therapy, too. 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.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I found that at the most turbulent time in my life…surrounded by confusion and with emotions running high, that the answer came suddenly…like a break in the clouds…a flash of insight…like an escape hatch out of what seemed to be a dark nightmare into the blinding light of knowing for certain what to do next.

Great catalyst!!!

Here’s my artistic response:

Comment by ellie

I am sooooo inspired by the artwork for this catylist. Thank you for all your heartfelt work. 🙂

Comment by Trina c

wow! this is an INCREDIBLE array of artistic interpretations ladies. I am in awe – not just of your art, but your heartfelt responses to the catalyst. I am going to take some time and contemplate my own response. You all have been very inspiring. Thank you so much!

Comment by Cris

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