I rock back and forth to soothe this body, cut and sewn, poisoned and burned. With my heart open to the rain, I ask its pounding rhythm to soothe me. Pour its buckets of water over my fear. Nothing about this is easy.

I sit in back aches, soft cheeks, the sunrise. Searching my soul. My mind steps over cracks. I ache to stitch the years back together. I need to fix things. To do. To burn energy for the world. To laugh like a child. Crumbling bricks lay all around me. Relics of a fragile foundation. I stuff them in my pockets to build again.

Sun, warm me. Shadow, guide me. Street, take me. Bricks and belly, make a new way home.

I wrote this journal entry in 2019 after a full year of cancer treatment, including five surgeries. I discovered it while preparing this week’s blog. During the pandemic and our worldwide loss of life, I still turn to creative expression and nature to heal my pain.

Please enjoy three special events to help heal us through the arts.

Earth Day: April 21, 2020

Today and everyday is Earth Day. If you are wondering how to take action while sheltering in place, check out this list of virtual activities. NASA has also offered many at-home activities. You can also become an Artist for the Earth, by exploring the power of nature and art to help with stress. Submit your work it here.

UCLArts & Healing: Free HOPE Expressive Arts Workshops

UCLArts & Healing’s mission is “to transform lives through creative expression by integrating the innate benefits of the arts with mental health practices for self-discovery, connection and empowerment.”  Through April and May, UCLArts & Healing brings their programming online with the free HOPE workshop series. HOPE (Healing Online for People Everywhere) features drumming, mindful movement, Zumba, meditation, live music, nature-based art, and art games.

Ping Ho, director of UCLArts and Healing and 2019 grantee of the NAAM award, will conduct a FREE virtual drumming workshop this Saturday, 4/25. Play on what you have: your desk, lap, the bed, or drums!

Fred Sugerman, founder of Medicine Dance, will conduct a FREE mindful movement workshop on Thursday, 4/30. Sugerman facilitates movement to “discover what none of us knew is possible, in letting go of what we think we know and discovering joy in small spaces.” Mindful movement encourages us to move any body part in any direction, giving up what it looks like and what others look like. Instead, the process helps us focus on the feeling of movement and being creative in the present.

Virtual: Very Special Arts Festival

Celebrate the artistic accomplishments of individuals with disabilities by attending VSA Orange County’s 44th “Virtual” Very Special Arts Festival. Curated by VSA OC director Marleena Barber, this website is now LIVE and includes:

  • An art gallery with over 250 pieces of artwork by students and adults with disabilities
  • Over 15 Performance videos
  • Over 10 different educational activities to engage students in learning about differently abled people
  • A special video message from professional actor and long-time friend of VSA OC, William Allen Young, who has been the Master of Ceremonies for over 30 years.
  • A special message from long-time ASL Interpreter, Paula Dunn who has accompanied the MC for the Festival for over 30 years.
  • Storytime, with poetry and song, inspired by artwork with Jessica Hayes Improv Artist.
  • A site-wide scavenger hunt to encourage students to look through the art gallery and view performances.
Little Bird, by Elizabeth Mitchell

Many thanks to Ping Ho, Fred Sugarman, and Marleena Barber for giving their time and passion to the interviews for this blog.

More thanks to our Earth Day Artists:

  • Group Leaf Collage, Students with special needs
  • Georgia on My Mind, by Therese Verner
  • A Burst of Colour, by Priye Massey
  • Free-form Crochet for My April Spring Garden by Diana Curbelo

Featured blog post image, Peaceful Painting by Diana Curbelo

Mental health is important. If you need support, contact MentalHealth.gov. You can also visit your local 211 website (in Orange County, CA ours is www.211oc.org). If you are in crisis, please dial 911.

If you have an arts and well-being program or event you would like featured in our blog, please contact us: sharon@wellbeings.studio

Sharon Chappell, PhD, is the Executive and Artistic Director of Well Beings Studio. She is a teacher, breast cancer survivor, parent and artist.