My essay about my creative experiences with SoulCollage® pre- and post-stroke has been featured in the October issue of SoulCollage® newsletter! Read on:
What is SoulCollage®?
At my first SoulCollage® workshop with Penelope Starr in June 2021 I knew there was an emphasis on using images to express thoughts, feelings, moods. As a memoirist I had honed the skill of using words to do just that.
“Words are powerful” had been my mantra for decades. Clarity in speaking prevented many a conflict escalator ride. I relish using words in presentations and storytelling that pull an expression of joy, understanding, or laughter out of even the most intractable listener. I’ve been incorporating images in almost all of my writing, and happily blogged along for almost a decade. Playing with words.
That 2021 SoulCollage® workshop was both delightful and hard. Hard to NOT use words.
Me: Not even one bold print word?
Penelope: No. No words. Look – here – at all the images I have for you to choose from.
My first SoulCollage® card
Stacks of pictures from magazines, piles of categorized images of people, places, food, things, nature. A visual delight to create my collage … But no words.I looked around. Mental comparing rose up like a spector. Two of the participants were also writers. Were they gnashing their teeth, feeling the resistance of letting go of the ever-ready tool kit of the perfect words? I gave the language side of my brain a rest and went with — what? My intuition? My inner guide? I’ve always said I was willing to try something new. Okay, here was something new. Choosing the images was a portion of the workshop that was quite comforting. Placement of images on the card was unsettling. I wanted to put in a phrase to indicate passage of time or distance. “Just play around with placement.” Well, okay.
The room was quiet except for sounds of images being shifted around. Scissors snipping. An occasional sigh or hum. My first two collage cards looked as hesitant to me as I felt. But the overall sense of accomplishment of having finished it, and then sharing I Am One Who with a partner – now, that was extremely satisfying.
Fast forward five months to November 2021. A SoulCollage® workshop that I can attend is scheduled. The positive feelings from June remind me — sign up for this one too. SoulCollage® for Writers. Penelope knows how to drive the concept home.
The difference for me is I have had a stroke. A blood vessel in the left anterior part of my frontal lobe reached its expiration date and a baker’s dozen of problem areas were affected. I had residual right-sided weakness but no overwhelming physical problems. Language retrieval, memory, and organization were affected. My ever-ready tool kit of words was scrambled.
SoulCollage® is an expressive arts practice done individually or in community. Founded by Seena B. Frost, the method develops creativity and intuition, encourages self-discovery, and provides personal guidance.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.