I just got back from facilitating my NINTH round of the Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program and it was as powerful and magical as ever.
One thing I love about this program and my expressive arts work in general is that it simply never gets old. I am just as excited about helping women to find their voices and their authentic creative expression today as when I began doing this kind of healing work over 22 years ago.
What keeps it endlessly interesting for me is that even though the intent behind the work is always the same, each group of women that I guide through the process brings something fresh and compelling into the mix. And I never know what that new element will be so I am continuously in a state of surprise and delight.
This most recent group of teacher training students was no exception. It’s almost as if each group has decided on a predetermined unconscious level to explore some particular issue as a collective. Which allows whatever they are exploring to expand and intensify exponentially.
And for this group it was a theme of being too much. Too big. Too intense. Too outrageous. Too wild. Too untamed. Too outside of the box. Too rebellious. Too revolutionary. Too free.
One of the ways that this theme was expressed innocuously enough was in how they ended up putting their names on their paintings.
As part of the intuitive painting process I encourage my students to sign their paintings. On the front. In paint. As a way to fully claim what they have had the courage to express.
Now most adults … when they do sign their paintings… will choose to do so in the bottom right hand corner using small and unobtrusive lettering.
But one time I saw a slide show of children’s art and the thing that struck me was that the kids actually made their signature PART of the painting. Sometimes their name would be boldly written across the center of the painting in a bright fluorescent color. Or in huge black letters down the side of the page. Or playfully but confidently displayed in some other wildly ingenious way.
But what they didn’t do was hide their name. They certainly didn’t make their name something small and hard to find.
When it came time for this group of woman to sign their name on their paintings I mentioned that slideshow. Now, I’ve told that story about the kids art and their naming process a million times before with a bunch of different groups. And hardly ANYONE ever takes me up on that invitation to explore how naming can be done in this more exuberant child-like manner.
This particular group of women however, LEAPT at the opportunity. They signed their names HUGE and in red. They signed their names front and center on the page. They signed their names with flourishes and curlicues. One woman couldn’t decide WHERE to sign her name and when I suggested that she could sign her name more than once, she ended up signing her name at least 10 times with it showing up ALL over her painting.
They merrily challenged the too-much demon by not taking it at ALL seriously, laughing in its face, allowing themselves to be beyond too much and MORE!!!
They claimed themselves. They named themselves. And throughout the week they continued to sign their names with complete exuberance and unabashed joy.
I have no idea what these women are going to do with all of this amazingly liberated energy once they get back to their friends and families and communities. But I DO know that things will never be the same for these women unleashed. And that can only be a GOOD thing.