Looking for Healing

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Hi Everyone –

Joanne is busy preparing for a meeting with her publisher to discuss some of the new books she’s been working on. While she does that, I’m borrowing her keyboard.

I’m sure that Joanne will be sharing this with you soon, but she’s almost finished the latest draft of a book she’s been working on, When There Are No Words, which she wrote for people who are going through life-shattering situations. After reading the first draft of the book, Joanne’s publisher asked if she could do a version for those living with PTSD. I was honored and delighted when Joanne called and asked me if I’d be interested in co-authoring. Together we decided that one book should become two; one for those living with PTSD, and one for those who care about them. 

I am a firm believer that art can be healing, and I am certainly not the only one. Several groups supporting veterans and active duty service members incorporate art therapy, and Joanne and I have discussed including, as illustrations, art created by veterans and active duty service members in our books.

PTSD comes from many sources and many different events in our lives. If you are living with PTSD, or care about someone who is, and want to share your story, please let Joanne or me know. We want the books to be about more than compassion; we want the books to help those on this journey, and we would welcome your input.

We would also welcome input from the Zenspirations® community about art and healing.

When facing a situation that required you to take time for yourself and heal physically, emotionally, or spiritually:

  • What is the best piece of advice someone gave you to help you heal?
  • What advice would you give someone who needs to heal
    • physically
    • emotionally
    • spiritually
  • What things do you do to help your own healing?
  • And, of course, how did art—any kind of art—help your healing?

You can leave your comments on the blog, or in the Zenspirations® FB group. With those questions in mind and Joanne busy tonight, I wanted to share with you all my thoughts on art as healing…and hear your thoughts as well.

About a year ago, I had the chance to visit Joanne in Orlando. While I was there, I got to walk through an incredible exhibit of art at the Orlando Public Library. In the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, a local art store, Sam Flax, had donated art supplies to anyone who wanted them and then sponsored an exhibit of the art people made to help themselves begin to heal. Standing at one wall of the exhibit, I found myself sharing a hug with two other visitors. I’d never met them before, and I’ll likely never see them again, but in that moment, just seeing the art, sharing it, healed us each a little bit. 

Some images from the exhibit, Paint Strong Orlando, can be viewed here:


I don’t often have time to make art myself, but I frequent the Zenspirations Facebook group and admire the art. As a writer and a researcher, I’m particularly interested in the whys – Why do you make art? Why do you choose the subjects you do? Why do you love it, which you clearly do? 

I am often moved by what people post, but this week, in the wake of the fires in British Columbia, the mudslides in Sierra Leone, the terrorism in Burkina Fasso, and the violence in Charlottesville, I went looking for beauty. 

I went looking for healing.

And I found both, in the images and words you shared in the Zenspirations Facebook group. Here are just a few:

I wish for everyone
Only around us dear people
A world to love” from Esther Van Der Graaf

Faith, Hope, and Love from Jill Suzanne Hatcher

“Million Hearts” from Shelley Donathan

And the birds and fish and flowers and buildings…and, of course, the butterflies…

And Nancy L Hubbard’s sneakers! (I want to make a pair for myself! Joanne says, “Me too!”)

Joanne and I are embarking on our art journey together, which will hopefully add another one or two books in her already amazing library. I’m so excited to join Joanne’s campaign to bring more L.I.G.H.T. to the world

Thanks, in advance, for taking a few moments and answer the questions I asked… And because I believe if I ask a question, I have to answer it…

The most healing gift I’ve ever gotten was a little purple book.

A little purple book that the normal author of this blog knows quite well.

What she doesn’t know is that now, more than a year after I lost my mom, I still carry that book with me. It’s not one single piece of advice, so much as the knowledge that I am not alone in what I’m feeling. Having the art, the subtle transition from black and white to color, that reminds me of rejoining the world is the best possible healing I could hope for from a piece of art.

My well worn book with two other pieces of beautiful art that Joanne has shared with me:

Thanks for letting me borrow your screens for a while.

May your art always be as beautiful as the souls that create it!

Best wishes and Zenspirations!


11 thoughts on “Looking for Healing”

  1. Where is the book, When you lose someone you love, available? I’d like to get a copy. I lost my mom in June and my brother 39 days later. Maybe my 91 year old father would enjoy it also.

    1. Hi Polly,

      I’m so very sorry for your double loss… I’ll have the new edition of the book up on my website next month, and will be sure to post about it in my blog.

      Sending you a hug,

  2. Good morning Dee and Joanne. This week’s blog was wonderful and heart felt. I have suffered from PTSD and am here to say there is hope and sunshine on the other side. I was fortunate to find the right counselor who walked me through the healing process and knowing how much help I needed it did not charge me for each session.. it took five long years to get thru the pain. Now on the other side, I say prayers of thanks for everything I have each day. Art has become therapeutic and brings joy. I miss it if I have to skip it to get chores done around the house.

  3. I am a survivor of 16 years of physical and emotional abuse.
    I definitely have PTSD but I have been out now over 30 years. Three years after I left I wrote a book called He Hits! That was very healing. It is in poetry form. I also have been blessed to be a working artist for all this things me. I combine calligraphy with watercolor painting. That has also been very healing. I wanted to include a painting here but don’t know how. Blessings on your book. I would love to buy a copy.

  4. Hi Deena:

    The best thing I did after my husband passed away almost five years ago was to attend several sessions with a grief counselor who suggested that I create an art journal around my grief. I completed most of the pages in the first few months. It helped me process my feelings in a creative way. Several years later after my grief was not so intense I created another art journal around my continuing recovery. Both are open-ended books as I continue to process my feeings.

  5. Writing a Gratitude Journal every single day helped me with my loss.
    Art gives me a break from the pain without running away from it.

  6. Things I did and continue to do do to help my own healing

    1) Set goals for recovery
    Background: I completed training as a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) in Providence, RI before the following blog post was published in the Zentangle Newsletter on September, 10, 2015.

    • (Blog, Sept 4, 2015) http://zentangle.blogspot.com/2015_09_01_archive.html

    2. What role did/does art play ?
    Epilogue: The Zentangle Method by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas has became part of my daily habit to deal with chronic pain. Eventually, I walked a super marathon (100 miles) and then some, mostly in the pool and mostly ’round in circles but always just one step at a time. Anything less would be impossible, anything more would be procrastination.

    I’ve also used prayer and a modified version of The Zentangle Method to take my mind off an invasive pre-op procedure that, due to some allergies I have, was completed without anesthesia. Even though I was awake during the pre-op, I am told that my blood pressure never changed. I had to modify the method because I had no art supplies, only my mind’s eye.

    Thanks for allowing me to share the positive effects of prayer and art on my continuing healing. All the best to you on your endeavor to write a book on this important topic.

    Zentangle and CZT are registered trademarks of Zentangle.com.

  7. My youngest son was hit by a car at age 10. It changed who he was. When his counselor told me he may have PTSD, I was unsure. He’s now 17 and he’s my best friend. He’s special and smart and I love him more than life. Anything to help understand it is a blessing for sure!! Thank you!

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