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“As I look back on these 10 years, I can’t wish that life would have stayed the course I planned for myself.  I see that every thing that’s happened – every beautiful twist and turn – has made me who I am today.  And I like who I am.”

 

Last year, I had the honor and privilege to meet with some inspiring artists who had also been through trauma, to collaborate on Beechwood Art’s Immersion Salon:  “Resilience”.

I was so touched by how these artists live every day as an affirmation of life and have healed through their art.   You can read more about the Salon Immersions that Beechwood Arts have done in the past here: Arts Immersion Salons with Salons Around the World.

I wrote a series of monologues, “Windows of Resilience” to convey the various peaks and valleys of my beautiful detour over the past decade.

Resilience – what does resilience mean to you?

As all of the “resilient” artists put our heads together and thought about the best way to artistically represent “Resilience” we were asked what visual image comes to mind.

I said, I imagine resilience to be walking very slowly and steadily with this dogged energy through crashing tidal waves, and you can see a fierce light ahead of you, but just a tiny pinprick of light shooting straight towards your gut, your soul.

Weeping Waters Amy Oestreicher no watermark

Here is the specific Resilience Salon Description.

You see it, and just keep walking towards it, and there is some sort of universal spirit above you, holding up the crown of your head, like a bright neon hot electric string, so you stay upright, and you have this intuitive trust in a greater energy pushing you forward, and an energy pulling you upwards, so you are unable to fall back or get tossed by the waves, whatever you do.

My paintings always have hearts and tears – sadness is a relief sometimes, because at least I can feel something.  And feeling anything on this earth fills me with aliveness and gratitude.

 

You may feel empty after a trauma.

But, in reality, it’s less of feeling empty but more of an emptying out that you need to do – you need to forgive, release, surrender, forgive circumstances and yourself, let go, but don’t forget.

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You have to remember things that you might not want to remember – life is the pleasure AND the pain.  By suppressing the wounded areas of your life, those hidden memories just act out in destructive ways, such as negative coping devices, and  then no productive healing can be done.

Trauma Makes Us a Beautiful Mosaic

Healing from trauma always brings that “mosaic” metaphor to mind – something is broken apart and comes back together differently, but beautiful still in its own rite.  When I brought that up, another artist related another image – she views trauma’s effect on the self like geological strata – each layer forming as part of you, just like layers solidify on a mountain.

Art Connects Us to Everyone Else’s Struggles

That’s the wonderful thing about art.  We can all see differently, and we’re all right.  These are images that connect us all, and some we related to more than others.

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For example, I can’t leave a painting alone without finishing it off with a tear – something inside me doesn’t feel right if I don’t.  Yet my paintings still always feel joyous.  I really do think it’s because the most fulfilling life encompasses the grief and sorrows as well as the elation and frolicking happiness of life – that’s what makes it so delicious, rich and beautiful.

Sadness and Joy = connection to the world = makes the hard parts worth the journey

Plus, I always think about how if I hadn’t gone through 27 surgeries and have been so down after the last (and very disastrous) one, I would never have been so courageous to create my first online dating account ever, go on my first date ever, have my first boyfriend ever and…

katz

…be celebrating our ten-month wedding anniversary!

Resilience = Finding a Comforting Resource

I always find comfort in nature in dark times.  Where do you find your greatest comfort?

So know that everything will be okay in the end if you make it so, and in the meantime, enjoy the ride.  Even in the midst of tidal waves and hardship.  It always gets better.  It really does.

 

My original mixed media art, as well as other local artists were displayed for the performance.
Laugh-at-Fear

My artwork Laugh at Fear was boldly displayed behind me as I performed.

Click here for beautiful highlights from the arts immersion salon on Resilience with James Naughton, David Friedman, Anne Runolfsson, and the beautiful, resilient artists of Beechwood Arts!

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It was a tremendous honor to participate in the “Resilience!” Arts Immersion Salon at Beechwood Arts.

In this 4-month, all-arts collaborative event I participated in a film on Resilience, collaborated on writing and performed a dramatic monologue “Five windows on a Resilient Journey”, collaborated on an Art Installation “Touched by Words” and showed a series of paintings that illustrated my journey.

From March to May of 2015 we gathered together a group of artists, musicians, performers, filmmakers, chefs & healers who had faced life-altering events to collaborate and interpret the theme of Resilience. The goal was to create a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of the arts in an intimate, immersive and innovative event.

On May 31, 2015, all the collaborations came together for an Arts Immersion Salon live at Beechwood Arts in Westport, CT, with satellite salons tuning in from New Jersey, Texas and France as part of our Salon Around the World network.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXK4XhPRMfk

What does resilience mean to you?

 

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