Archive For: mind your art blog

Recovery Retreat in Antigua, West Indies – a refreshing renewal of the mind, body & spirit

I just returned from yet another Recovery Retreat in Antigua, West Indies. Feeling refreshed, renewed and grateful for this opportunity to enrich my recovery journey that I thankfully gave to myself. I share with you my reflections from the impact of the magic that I received there.

What my Recovery Retreat means to me

Recovery Retreat in AntiguaI continue to be open to new experiences and meeting new people

I continue to learn and strengthen my recovery

I continue to provide self-care by coming to the beautiful island of Antigua

I continue to love myself

I continue to nurture and heal my inner child

I continue to embrace my present moment

I continue to savior my WOW black duck moments and thank the universe for presenting these gifts to me

I continue to breathe

Have you ever given yourself a Recovery Retreat? It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving!

Thank you Crossroads Centre Antigua for providing the space for me to grow and learn….until we meet again.

 

My art flows

It has been one year since I was diagnosed with PTSD and during this time the constant has been the flow of my art. With the careful treatment of the ever unraveling rollercoaster of traumatic events that have happened in my past, I am able to thankfully express myself and my feelings through my collages.

art flows wounded collage by Dena Leibowitz

I call this wounded. It depicts the depths of my childhood trauma. My head literally popping off from the realization of what had happened to me – neglect, abandonment, rejection. I feel as though I was both physically and mentally shot. This collage was a difficult one to make and quite powerful that I find at times uneasy for me to look at. Acceptance will bring me closer to it.

art flows nurture collage by Dena Leibowitz

This collage I call nurture. This is where my hope lies. My story began at birth. I was adopted. At that moment my inner child felt her first taste of abandonment and detachment. With the power of my recovery, I now am capable of my responsibility of giving my inner child the nurturing she needs helping her to heal the wounds that run so deep. Creating new dialogue, easing her pain and sadness, passing no judgment upon her and giving her only unconditional love. With her growth I will become a stronger more resilient woman.

My art flows. My feelings flow. And my days and nights ebb and flow. Living with PTSD has been no picnic. But I show up each day, I do my work and I share my art with gratitude that I am able to do so and thankful to those who find support and inspiration in my creations.

Recovery: here, there and everywhere

I recently gave myself a gift by going on a Recovery Retreat. My heart carried me there and my smile of gratitude carried me back home. I embraced every minute of every day with the willingness to learn how to heal some more of myself. It was an adventure to say the least filled with love and support all around me. Given the opportunity again I would return. I speak of Crossroads Centre Antigua.org 

During one of the lectures regarding mindfulness I was inspired to write a poem.

I share with you ~ The Black Duck Moments

 

Do you know what they are?

No, you don’t?

Let me tell you about mine

They come at the precise time when I need them

And they fill me with joy, calmness and hope

They also fuel my direction with great intention

Still don’t know what they are?

I’ll give you a clue – you won’t be feeling blue when they come

A shift happens within my mind, body and soul

Moments of distraction filled with complete satisfaction

No more pain to be felt

No more tears running down my face

A gift of a happy place that comes just when I need it

Now you may ask yourself – how can I have these black duck moments?

I will share this traveling secret that came to me

All I ask is that you share it with others

Are you ready? Here it goes

I open my heart

I receive the good of the universe around me

I hold on to it tightly – embracing these moments of bliss for as long as I can 

And I smile or sometimes even laugh

You think you can do it?

Believe that you can and you will

I have faith in you

And please remember our secret is meant to be shared with all peoples of the world

You were once a student and now you are a teacher

 

Body image ~ the struggle is real, raw and resonant

For anyone who is struggling with body image or an eating disorder you are not alone. Here is an original poem from me to you.

~ My Body  

Some days you are my friend 

Some days I am your enemy

These shapes and curves of yours change over time 

One year you are bigger and the next year you are thinner

It is a rollercoaster and I am in the driver’s seat

The road we travel on is full of my emotions and I take them out on you

Be kind be gentle doesn’t come easily when I look at you in the mirror 

I’m trying

Becoming loving friends will save us both from this chaos

 

My secrets are no longer just mine to hold

Have you ever held a secret about yourself? Never to tell anyone, so you thought. A secret that is so unimaginable to share. Until finally the energy to keep it inside boils it over and you tell your story. Holding on for dear life as you brace yourself for the listener’s response. Oh shit, how is my secret going to be received? Will I be judged? Will I still be liked or loved? I think I’m going to throw up.

Each day as I live with my PTSD my secrets boil over one by one scalding my emotional state, shaming myself. There is a force very busy at work unraveling my secrets causing them to be so big that if I don’t tell someone and let them out I surely will explode. This force is my undercover cop aka MUC, who works for my PTSD. Using its slick ways, it knows how to find just the right clues to pin me against the wall so I will surrender. My inner child ignites kicking and screaming as we move along the frightening and bumpy road ahead.

Here is my latest rap sheet of secrets:

              I was sexually assaulted in my early twenties

                 I have had an eating disorder for over twenty years

 

I recently confessed these secrets to MUC and am now working through my shame striving for self-forgiveness and acceptance.

Though MUC may seem to be working against me at times because its presence is unpredictable and scary, it is actually working for me too. See being in treatment for my PTSD uncovers the depths of my trauma – the people, the places, the actions and most importantly my emotions then and now. MUC got its job to support me so I bravely am able to ask for help. MUC is a good cop.

Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Is it possible to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Am I actually living? Why did I get it? Why now and not then? I can’t breathe. Hyperventilation has taken over. I can’t see. There’s something in front of me but I don’t know what it is. I can’t hear. There is a voice but I don’t know what it is saying. I can’t move. My body is frozen. Here come the images. Firing off like a movie in fast motion. Each scene I am a different age. Each scene is a memory I don’t want to revisit. Now my body is shaking. This is the worst part. It’s violent and travels repeatedly from my head to my toes. How long will it last? I never know. Is my thinking brain on? It is right now to write this. How long will my clarity prevail? I never know. If there is a hell I am in it.

My PTSD and Me – this is my story

Spirituality

…and finally she heard her voice and could feel the world. Spirituality awakened within her and she embraced its warmth and its beauty with open arms. 

Gratitude is my new attitude

There is so much to express gratitude for in my life now that I see more clearly with gentler glasses in recovery. Here is my short list. 

I am grateful for….
 the invaluable support I receive daily on my recovery journey
who I am and who I continue to become
my sobriety – it has allowed me to fully embrace my life 
woodpeckers – their persistent pecking reminds me that each day I can work on something inside of myself
my ability to set healthy boundaries for myself and with others
my courage in allowing my vulnerability to shine through when sharing ‘my story’
my past art therapy – it helped me to evolve my business creating a purpose in my life and a meaningful direction to give back to society
the freedom of choice 

What are you grateful for in your life?

The Voices: His, Hers or Mine?

Have you ever stopped to think whose voice is dictating your decisions? Your motivation? Your confidence? I do this daily. After gaining the knowledge of how to distinguish my ‘internal family voices’ from my own and learning that my voice needs to be the loudest, I have added one more healthy piece to my recovery journey.

Here is a menu of my ‘voices’. My father’s voice encouraged me to do anything I like in life but gave me very little direction as to how while enforcing an immense amount of expectations creating the self-doubt and perfectionist voices in me. My mother’s voice gave me an endless amount of criticism creating the external validation and fearful voices of showing my authentic self. The addict voice was created in me at a young age by way of my three brothers when I seductively heard their own. 

Each day someone pops up to ‘visit’ and I’ve learned to recognize my body sensations and my behavior to determine if their dictation won that day. When my voice speaks the loudest it’s a victory and I acknowledge my growth. With the inner strength and confidence I have reclaimed on my recovery path, I know for certain that my voice is here to stay!

Three qualities: A play on words for the better

A wise woman told me today that she has found “there are three qualities that you need to be an entrepreneur: Passion, Commitment and Persistence.” Now in recovery, I can look at this acronym PCP and not be reminded of a drug of the past but use it as a motto as I move forward along with my venture.