. . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k t h r e e . . .

– the art of self-care –

Greetings, y’all!

This week, we are well on our way to finding new uses for our personal Wheels of Wellness. Before I get into my thoughts for this week’s prompt, I must share this week’s creative expression. If you keep up with my blog and have seen my previous weeks of my Wheel of Wellness, you’d see that I had a goal of trying a new form of exercise. Being that I’d taken two Pilates Barre classes before and really hadn’t enjoyed them (although I was sore for days, which means it was very effective, so maybe I was just at a too-advanced-for-me level in my previous experiences.

Moving on to the point: I created a ballet barre for my backyard in an effort to learn Barre Pilates at my own pace while my toddler plays outside. In a previous creative practice blog post, I revealed a table that I built (below). To build the ballet barre, I took the legs off of the table (because currently, I am not able to use the table).



And so, for my efforts to further my self-care and work on my wood-working skills, I present my new free-standing outdoor ballet barre….



Now that I showed the fun part of my week and what I call my weekly creative wellness project, let’s move forward and discuss my current adapted Wheel of Wellness.

Within the focus of this week’s assigned reading, personal researching, and class prompted discussion, we learned about the importance and science behind self-care in the workplace and in the personal lives of those in care providing professions.

Here is my interpretation of the Wheel of Wellness, from my ideas from a care provider’s personal perspective:

What you’ll notice is that exercise or what I like to call “any opportunity to be sweaty and moving,” is evident in all of my Wheels of Wellness. Being that I truly believe in wearing your body out in order to get your mind moving more, exhausting myself is something that I quite enjoy regularly. 


If the photo doesn’t show well, here are the points on my wheel:


.Homework load

.Commute- leaving earlier to avoid the “late” anxiety

.Finding time to breathe at work (quiet time), make time with sharing lunchtime

.eat well at lunch to avoid the 2pm crash

.prep dinner the night before after little one is in bed to make less of a struggle coming home from work, this way, I’m not thinking about what to make for dinner while I should be focusing on work.

.Allow for time to explore avenues of creative expansion at work


An extra area, or extra wheel of wellness, that I like to include in addition to my career wheel, is my wheel of wellness for gratitude. Personally, I feel that reflecting on things I am grateful for, it brings my reality back to a solid foundation for the week by recognizing what the positives are in my current life.


Next up is my career timeline.


This is self explanatory.

Just a simple run-down of my goals in the coming year.

In closing, here’s some simple food for thought…

Take care of yourself first.

We can’t pour from an empty cup.

Thanks for stopping by,


. . . . a r t t r e a t . . . .

w e e k  t w o : art treat

For our art treat this week, we were invited to recognize something we are all faced with…

– the realization of our imperfections.

Here is my interpretation of our focus, admitting the possibilities of error.


To participate in this creative expression, draw a circle with the help of an object such as a plate or in my case, a coffee can.

Then, take a fine tip pen or marker and draw a circle within that perfect first circle.

Continue this until no additional circles can be drawn.

Notice the imperfections of the errors made in the creation.

To me, this adds the interest and beauty to the exercise.

Give it a go and see what beauty lies within admitting your errors.

Thanks for stopping by!


. . . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k t w o . . . .

– the art of self care –

Upon the completion of this week’s journal prompt, I was able to see where a few items spilled over from my previous week’s wheel of wellness.

Also, I decided to do a more subdued color pallet since my brain has been immersed in color this past week. It was a welcomed break to use a more muted color spread for this week’s activity.


Notice that from last week’s post, there was an area where I wrote about singing at the top of my lungs. A favorite that my three year old son and I sing is from the Sound of Music. The lyrics are written (from the last post), and I wanted them to be visible this week because that song is a part of our daily life- we sing it together all the time.


This week was a solid week of being focused in the present as I was able to visit my mom and have some one on one time with her. This wheel of wellness is a clear representation of what my week consisted of.

For an area that I need to work on, I would first pick my time spent exercising. Daily life sometimes gets in the way more than I would like it to. When running or having an intense workout, I am able to think through struggles and to form new ideas about art.

Later in the week, I thought more about what I wanted to focus on. By the end of the week, I was able to invite more color back into my work and I chose to add purple. Additionally, I added in more detail what my focus was for this week.


Thanks for stopping by!

– Mandy

. . . . a r t t i m e l i n e . . . .

– the art of self care –

A couple weeks ago, we were to start constructing an art timeline of our own.

After being inspired from my trip a few weeks ago to Arizona where I had a chance to spend a sunset with my mom at the Grand Canyon, I was able to construct an appropriate timeline that adequately represented my own growth in art.

First, here is my focus of inspiration:

I snapped this shot as the sun was setting.

God’s work on ultimate display and complete perfection. . .


Here is my interpretation of my art in the form of a timeline. . .


By sectioning off pages for my past, present, and future, I was able to construct my timeline accordingly.

  IMG_8022 IMG_8023 IMG_8024 IMG_8025 IMG_8026 IMG_8027

In the middle of the pages, is my current life and art. I choose to remain in the present, which is why I don’t have anything planned for the future, except for the idea that “the grass is green, always.” Keeping my complete trust in God and allowing Him to guide me is what fuels my daily life. Resting in my faith is the only way I am able to grow through my creative expression and learning through the life lessons that were meant for me to experience.

Thanks for stopping by!


. . . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k o n e . . . .

– the art of self care –

. . . this week in our course, the art of self care, the focus was on principle models of wellness and their origins.

After taking the well being self-assessment, I am seeing that I am not low at all on the scale, but rather on the higher end with a score of 61.


. . . this week, I focused on highlighting goals for my week ahead, my wellness attempts for the ending of the current week, and a reflection space for gratitude. This is my interpretation of a wheel of wellness.




The journal I chose for this course is filled with completely blank white pages, as I believe lines are too bossy and a bit confined.

Thanks for stopping by,


. . . . . . . Pop Art . . . . . . .

IMG_4375    This week in our Creative Practice, we were encouraged to adapt our various forms of art for patients with mobility differences. After a little thinking about what art medium I wanted to focus on, my complete concept came to me- I titled it Pop Art (pun intended). 

One of my favorite parts of being a child was playing with bubbles. I then thought, “Why not paint with them?” My idea for this came to me after envisioning myself not being able to use my legs or arms and wondering what kind of art I could do with my limited mobility. The key word here is limited. Phil Hansen spoke about something in a Ted Talk titled Embrace the Shake that immediately struck me to the core. Hansen’s statement,“Embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity” (Hansen, 2013), is one line I have invited to stay in my thoughts as I move through my work as an Arts in Medicine graduate student.

Regardless of possible mobility differences, I believe most patients can take part in this art practice. “When accommodating or modifying an art activity, there are three areas to consider. They are the tools, the media used, and the techniques needed to complete the activity” (Loesl, 2012). When thinking of who could possibly enjoy this form of artistic expression, many audiences come to mind- those with quadriplegia, paraplegia, anyone with any sort of limited mobility of any limbs, or simply anyone without mobility differences who is interested in painting by blowing bubbles.

When originally thinking of this creative practice, I wanted to make it so mostly every patient with mobility issues could engage in this form of painting. What target group I focused my thinking to accommodate first were patients with limitations involving both arm and leg mobility. With patients who use mobility assistance such as wheelchairs, art can certainly be adapted to allow for an experience in creating art. “Technology has improved with the creation of power wheelchairs operated with a joystick, a head stick or sip and puff devices” (Slack, 2015). What this art focus and a sip and puff device have in common is the simple use of a breath of air. If a patient can puff, they can paint.


To begin, I gathered the following supplies:IMG_4372

 -Jars or lids (to easily contain the paint         mixture)

-Paper or Canvas (can use an easel made to accommodate a hospital bed)

-Straws (I used a metal straw for each color because they are able to be sanitized or sterilized and can be reused to cut the overall cost of this art practice for long-term use,but a paper straw or plastic straw would work just as well for short-term use).

For the paint bubble mixture:

-Dish soap (I used Dawn original blue dish soap)

-Craft Paint (I used Martha Stewart’s multi-surface craft paint)

-Water (for amount necessary, read below)

Directions on paint bubble mixture:

Simply add equal parts paint and dish soap. Then add just enough water for the desired thickness of bubbles, combine together, and there is your simple paint bubble mixture. For example: 1 teaspoon of paint, 1 teaspoon of dish soap, 1/4 teaspoon water.

For a tip: Thicker bubbles seemed to hold their shape better once on the paper and were even able to be blown around to create shapes other than perfect circles.

Let’s get started!

First, add paint bubble mixture in jars and place straws in the jars.

Then use the straws to slowly blow a bubble toward the paper or canvas. Some patients may need assistance by placing the straw (with the color they selected) in their mouth as well as for every other color the patient chooses.


If thicker paint bubble mixture was used, the bubble may not pop immediately when in contact with the paper or canvas. This offers another area for creativity, as the patient can blow the bubble around on the surface.

The photos show a three-year old boy using his hands while sitting to perform his creative expression. IMG_4386

Warning: This art practice should be used only with patients who clearly understand to only blow through the straws as the paint can be easily ingested. For young pediatric patients or for any patients with differences in understanding and following instructions, colored gelatin can be used in the place of the paint bubbles. Simply a small amount of a mixture of gelatin (dissolved with warm water) and food coloring is all that is required, instead of the paint bubbles as long as there aren’t dietary restrictions that may not allow this as an option. 

Hope you enjoyed this adapted art practice. Thanks for stopping by,




Hansen, P. (2013) Embrace the Shake. TEDtalks. Retrieved from

         http://www.ted.com/talks/phil_hansen_embrace_the_shake#t-134488 on April 4,


Loesl, S.D; The Adaptive Art Specialist. The International Organization on Arts and              

          Disability. The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.

Slack, M. (2015). History of Wheelchairs. Retrieved from http://www.wheelchair-

          information.com/history-of-wheelchairs.html on April 4, 2016.

. . . this is thirty. . .

Think of a day that was one of your favorites- everything was just right. For my birthday this year, I left my twenties behind and entered into a new chapter. This year, my birthday was perfect- my kind of perfect. What I mean is, that my birthday was not even close to flawless, but perfectly imperfect. I enjoyed every second with one of my most favorite people on Earth, my three year old little boy (B).

Earlier this week, we went and selected cupcakes from a local gourmet cupcakery, PURE cupcakes in Pacific Beach. Although I would eat every single cupcake they have to offer, they rotate their flavors daily (and have a standard selection that is always available) and change them monthly, so we chose from what would be made on Saturday.

After our picnic breakfast in the morning, we went to the cupcake shop to pick up our order.

Below are the descriptions of the cupcakes that I indulged in. Yes, I ate all of them minus one (B’s cupcake that is now his “new favorite”). All descriptions were directly taken from www.purecupcakes.com/menu. If you’re ever in the area, totally stop in for any of these delicious beauties. I will say that my son’s favorite could easily be my favorite treat they offer that is available every single day of the week.

IMG_4315 (1)

The Borracho (top left): vanilla bean cake soaked with Clase Azul Reposado tequila, filled with our delicious lime curd, topped with key lime buttercream and finished with lime zest sugar and sea salt.

The Bacon Baby (top right): vanilla bean cake packed full of delicious bacon, topped with maple & vanilla bean cream cheese with a crown of candied bacon on top.

The Vietnamese Coffee (middle left): sweet vanilla bean cake soaked with espresso, topped with a Vietnamese coffee buttercream then finished with chocolate twists.

The Irishman (middle right): rich dark chocolate cake soaked with stout beer then  filled with Jameson whiskey ganache and topped with Bailey’s buttercream.IMG_4312

The PURE’fetti (bottom left): vanilla bean cake filled with confetti candy, topped with a vanilla bean buttercream frosting and multi colored sugar crystals.

The Chocolate (bottom right): rich dark chocolate cake topped with whipped chocolate ganache.

While we were in the area, we walked around for a bit. I ordered a sandwich at a local deli and grabbed my son’s favorite treat sandwich (a rendition of bacon, egg, and cheese) from a popular coffee shop. I promise, the two of us could eat “breakfast” for every single meal, everyday. I was hoping to make all of our meals at home that day, which we both prefer, but being that it was Easter weekend- no thank you on grocery shopping with an energy-loaded toddler for special birthday meal ingredients. Making our meals also meant less time outside, which is where I wanted to be all day- eat all of our meals as picnics outside on our cozy picnic blanket and spend the day in the fresh air.

We went and had our lunch picnic (interrupted by a slug, squirming across our blanket that B just had to pick up), ate a cupcake, visited with our family’s pet tortoise, and then headed to the local specialty pet shop to pick up meal worms (a recommendation from one of my favorite people, my aunt) to feed the lizards in our yard. After spending way more time than I originally planned in the pet shop, we went home and fed the lizards (but not without playing with the worms and naming them first). B chose five worms (of the twenty-five we took home), named three of them Margaret, one Peg, and one Lucy. All of the worms named Margaret were extra squirmy and B repeatedly said they were being “sassy” which made me laugh so hard every time.

Here is our lunch interruption, the slug.


Here is B and the tortoise….


(It is true love here, folks.)


B picked these flowers from the grass for me. They were sprinkled throughout, and I’m sure they aren’t ‘supposed’ to be there. True wild flowers are my favorite. What I love about them is that they grow wherever they want and are picked with a recipient usually in-mind. Don’t get me wrong, store bought flowers are just as beautiful, but I like the idea of making a thought count without spending loads of cash (flowers can be super pricey). Wildflowers (to me) are similar to a “farm to table” concept. Bring the goods straight from the source and simply enjoy.

Version 2

And there went my flowers… B gave them to the tortoise as a treat.


This worm’s name is clearly not Margaret (it was not squirming everywhere).


Here are Peg and Lucy.

All of the worms named Margaret squirmed away and lizards quickly gobbled them up.

Good thing we have twenty more where those ladies (worms) came from.

After lunch, was our quiet time. Next was prep for our dinner picnic. B played under my feet in the kitchen as I gathered our food for our evening sunset picnic. Originally, I wanted to work a run in and end it at an overlook location (with our picnic gear and food loaded in the jogging stroller). Plans change. Plans change constantly. Which is exactly why my life is not really “planned,” and I make sure my desires stay desires and don’t make their way into expectations (another post on that topic sometime much later).

Our dinner sunset picnic was perfect- with my burnt topped half of sandwich (because I had to go wipe a toddler butt and assist in hand-washing, which again took longer than expected) that I saved from lunch and B had a mini cheese pizza. He also requested a bite of my “black sandwich,” as he called it, and stated that it was delicious.

Cupcakes again. Many of them, and this time with a candle.

Made a wish, blew it out.

My thirtieth birthday in a nutshell (more like a short novel), and it was perfection.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by,


Arts in Medicine in Practice: Creative Practice week 3

….. Brain Box …..

Think of the times we’ve all heard, “think outside of the box”… I will simply ask, “what is wrong with what is in the box? Why think outside of the box when what you’ve got in your box (brain) is beyond incredible and is capable of artistic creativity farther than most of us could ever imagine? We simply only limit ourselves and artistic growth with our beliefs of our abilities.”

What happens when a brain is functioning with a disorder or specific limitations?

We adapt the art.

Being that I believe that art is for everyone with a pulse, lets get to the good stuff.

Let’s first define our focus for this Creative Practice- children with Sensory Processing Disorder and art that can be adapted if the opportunity presents itself. In the words of an Autism Advocate, Chantal Sicile-Kira, “Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties with processing information from the five senses: vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste, as well as from the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception)” (Sicile-Kira, 2010).

Sicile-Kira goes on to explain that, “sensory processing – making sense of the world – is what most adults on the autism spectrum conveyed to me as the most frustrating area they struggled with as children, and this impacted every aspect of their lives – relationships, communication, self-awareness, safety and so on” (Sicile-Kira, 2010).

The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation’s website suggests that in grade-schoolers, some red flags of Sensory Processing Disorders are as follows: “Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, other people; easily distracted, fidgety, craves movement; aggressive; easily overwhelmed; difficulty with handwriting or motor activities; difficulty making friends; unaware of pain and/or other people” (Miller, 2016).

A woman by the name of Madeline Wright posted in the comments section of the article titled, “How to Work with Students with Autism in the Art Room.” She shared with the author a photo of one of her student’s art. Knowing the vast differences between her students while teaching, she allowed them to recreate their own modern version of American Gothic in an art/history exercise. Since the autistic student had a fascination with Spongebob, he adapted the scene to fit his area of expertise. I think it is absolutely imaginative, creative, and perfect.

sponge bob

Below, I touch on what Jennifer Carlisle, a middle school art teacher, shares in her seven imperative points in her article titled, “How to Work with Students with Autism in the Art Room.

  1. Be willing to change your lesson.
  2. Set aside a special work space.
  3. Use simple, specific directions and limit choices.
  4. Understand your students’ skill level.
  5. Allow time to adjust to new things.
  6. Use peer modeling
  7. Accept stimming.

What art did I design for this focus?

The Brain Box:


A wooden box with pre-drilled holes, in which a patient can lead string through with the help of a large plastic needle.

First, I gathered small wooden boxes (which I can make myself, but chose to purchase them already constructed in an effort to save time).

After pre-drilling holes, paint was added. I chose muted colors f

or two of the boxes, leaving one unfinished to appear in its simplest form for patients that have over-stimulation from color.

The great thing about this project, is that various sized drill bits can be chosen based upon the target group of children.


Depending on level of motor skill, the holes can be pre-drilled larger or smaller to accommodate an individual patient.

For string, I chose a variety of colors to show how simple or complex this art can be.

In the unfinished box, I chose two colors that were relatively muted and any color can be chosen by the patient or their care giver (that can help with communicating which colors work for them and which do not) in advance.


In the light grey painted box, I chose a few more colors.

And the light yellow painted box, I chose even more colors.


“If all we do is try to shape the child’s behavior “from the outside”, utilizing techniques such as verbal commands, token reinforcements, intellectual validations and extinctions (“do you “understand me”) and fail to “see” how and where in the psyche and physical body they experience stimuli and express their responses to a world that cannot receive and “e” their message, we will be involved in a long term dance and struggle for power and control” (Regensburg, 2010).

The Brain Box art allows the patient to select to paint a box themselves, have a box already painted, selection of string color and amount of various colors. Then, choose their path of the string as it is guided through the box. There is no wrong or right way to engage in this art.

For added flair, add cut shapes through the needle and string, beads, make a pattern with the string… the possibilities exist as far as the patient will allow.

Thanks for stopping by,



Carlisle, J. (2016). How to Work with Students with Autism in the Art Room. The art of education magazine. Retrieved from: https://www.theartofed.com/2016/01/11/how-to-work-with-students-with-autism-in-the-art-room/ on March 18, 2016.

Miller, L.J; (2016). Red Flags of Sensory Processing Disorder. SPD Foundation. Retrieved from: http://spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder/redsflags/ on March 18, 2016.

Regensburg, E. (2010). Autism, Asperger’s and Art Therapy- Children on the Spectrum. Art Therapy. Retrived from: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/autism/aspergers-art-psychotherapy-children-spectrum/#.VuzizxgxEfE on March 18, 2016.

Sicile-Kira. (2010). What is Sensory Processing Disorder and How Is It Related to Autism? Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-autism-advocate/201003/what-is-sensory-processing-disorder-and-how-is-it-related-autism on March 18, 2016

Spongebob photo: Wright, Madeline. Photo and comment credit. Retrieved from: https://www.theartofed.com/2016/01/11/how-to-work-with-students-with-autism-in-the-art-room/ on March 18, 2016.