~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Archive for the ‘ART of Change’ Category

Creating wearable Empowerment Art…

Posted by carolom on February 13, 2017

 Bead Happy Empowerment Art  is an ART of Change  program for Women who have experienced violence.

We hand roll  beads  from air drying clay to create an empowerment necklace. Meeting over 3 sessions at the Shelter,   participants shape their beads based on a Vision they hold for the future or as an expression of  strength and developing a clear, confident  sense of Self and identity etc.

When  the personal vision  beads are dry we paint them and give them life, colour and vibrancy. Das clay is  quick drying and a very hardy medium that is not heavy once it has dried.
The rolling of the clay and shaping the beads is a very relaxing process,a form of open eyed meditation that  is very conducive for learning and relaxation.

The Bead Happy Empowerment Art project engages two significant aspects – process and completion, which are often difficult to attain for people who are living with post traumatic stress and the effects of violence, losing ones home and coping with injuries and grief.

The talking circle format is a very relaxed, creative  environment .

This informal setting  is often more culturally relevant for many of the participants from CALD backgrounds. (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse).

The environment does not have a counsellor – client dynamic. It is an empowering model that facilitates conversation  beyond pain and issues to the place of connecting with personal power, natural talent and new possibilities.

We celebrate personal strength and explore the potential we have to move beyond limitations and the impact of domestic violence.

Thank you to the Women who have shared their work in the images below.

Although they remain anonymous in the photos, the very personal stories and amazing creativity that is expressed through the clay and the beading process  affirms to me how privileged I am to provide art based life coaching at the grass roots, community level where so many amazing women have extraordinary stories to share.

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We roll the beads from air drying clay

 

making-beads

As we roll and then sand them we are holding the vision of our goals and aspirations

 

spraying-beads

Spraying the Bead Happy Empowerent Necklace seals in the vision and stengthens the clay

 

beads

Every bead, every necklace is as unique as the fingerprints of the woman who created them as she  pressed her vision into the clay

Carol Omer is a certified Life Coach and Artist. She specialises in creativity based empowerment and healing programs for women. She is the author of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book, a life coaching colouring book for women.

http://www.CarolOmer.com

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Posted in ART of Change, Domestic Violence, Sisterhood, Transformation, Uncategorized, White Ribbon | Leave a Comment »

How Colouring is making a difference in Domestic Violence Shelters

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

I was recently invited to contribute to the newspaper article How Colouring-in heals the psychological scars of trauma ( <– see link) and as a result of the interview process I have a couple of pages of added information.

I thought it would be a good idea to blog some of  the questions and answers  that formed the basis of the article.

How did Coloring come into your domestic violence service?

Throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s I was publishing an in house newsletter for the staff and women at our shelter. I called it C.H.A.N.G.E. – an acronym for Creating Happiness And New Growth Everyday

The newsletter created an opportunity for residents of the  shelter and outreach programs to share poetry and stories and for staff to promote programs and provide information relevant to the groups they facilitated.

We had already undergone a cultural change in the shelter regarding the physical environment evolving from one of issue based posters and imagery, to a much more positive and uplifting setting.

*See this blog entry for further detail:

Domestic Violence Shelters as a place of possibility not pain

C.H.A.N.G.E. updated

I was aware that the written word as a form of personal expression and communication relies on being able to read and write English.

…and that it isn’t everyone’s preferred form of expression. Delivering information in written form was not always culturally relevant for Aboriginal women or for women from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) backgrounds.

As the daughter of a very creative mother, I recognised that many of the programs and systems in place in shelters are developed within an academic, not a creative framework so with the support of our management team and my colleagues I began to create tools that tapped into women’s creativity and gave the hands something to do that was engaging and fun. “Fun” is not usually associated with domestic violence shelters.

In the late 90’s I read Carl Jung’s memoir, “Memories Dreams and Reflections” and was fascinated by the concept of the Mandala. I had seen how the young women at our shelter would get very involved in some of the playgroup activities that were designed for their children, including colouring in.

I drew a very rudimentary Mandala and put the words “Believe in Yourself” at the centre and from that very first colouring sheet the women let me know that sitting at the table and colouring while the personal development information was being delivered had changed the group from a class room setting where they were often bored to a much more dynamic and engaging setting.

Our group attendance and retention rate increased dramatically as a result of offering creativity and colouring groups to the women.

I Believe n Myself Poster
Over the next few years I developed creative tools to accompany most of our in house information. For skills training in the area of budgeting, I designed a colouring sheet with circles representing their different financial obligations, such as rent, groceries, electricity etc and we coloured the sheet as we explored topics like budgets, direct debits etc.
The completed poster became a visual tool for budgeting rather than a hand written form that is often left in drawers or left behind in the group room after the session.

A very common topic in dv shelters is how do I change negative patterns?

…especially if it is the 2nd or 3rd domestic violence relationship that a woman is experiencing or she has grown up with domestic violence and does not recognise the intergenerational cycle.

For those sessions I designed Mandalas that had affirmations such as “I release the patterns that no longer serve me” and “I love and accept myself”.

Within a couple of years I had created a master copy folder of colouring pages that were designed specifically for issues affecting women in domestic violence settings but also other pages that related to relaxation and goal setting.
Our staff team enjoyed the colouring process also so I occasionally designed Vision statement colouring sheets for our team building days.

Patterns

How does colouring-in help people touched by domestic violence?

Colouring in is a form of open eyed meditation.  The rhythmic movement of the pencil slows the mind, acting like a kind of mantra because of its repetitive nature. Colouring brings the consciousness into the present moment. Rather than worrying about past events and speculating about the uncertain future around court cases and hospital visits, the creative process is relaxing and soothing. It is a form of mindfulness that is very effective for women dealing with trauma, who are in recovery from domestic violence.

Colouring is not competitive and it engages the hands which are often excluded from learning and relaxation processes.

Breathing relaxes, the mind slows down and for many women the internal stress is transformed into creativity and focus while they are colouring in.

Breathe Deeply b:w
When a woman arrives at a domestic violence shelter she is often in a highly traumatised and distressed state. She may have physical pain, post-traumatic stress  issues and is finding  it difficult to concentrate and focus.
Along with dealing with court cases, hospital visits, financial issues and worry for pets who have been left behind, a woman will often be managing distressed children and in some cases extended family conflict relating to her decision to leave.

I created a Colouring Pack for the women who arrived at our shelter.

We added pencils and blank paper to the pack. Many of the residents said that although they hadn’t coloured in since they were young, they felt relaxed and peaceful as they coloured.

I reminded them that we all had colouring pencils for the first few years of our life, at kindergarten and in junior primary but as time went on our creativity was often left behind in preference to the academic processes and outcomes driven education system that places the “arts” on the bottom of academic prestige and sciences on the top. As a result it is often seen to be childish or unprofessional to engage colouring-in as a training tool.
At the shelter new arrivals were often shy or distressed and uncomfortable sitting in a group setting but once they sat at the colouring table and there was no pressure to speak or hold eye contact, they would often relax and begin to share their stories in a much more organic and relaxed manner than if they were sitting with hands on laps and expected to participate in the group dynamics.

Colouring-in creates something beautiful from a black and white page. It is a personal, unique interpretation of the image and that in itself can be very reassuring and nourishing during times of distress and uncertainty.

Labyrinth

Tell me a little about some of the people who have found solace (if that is a fitting word) through your work?

Colouring Mandalas and black and white pictures is a process that is relevant for women of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

When *P was colouring her Mandala she looked up after half an hour of colouring and said I think this Mandala just spoke to me I asked her what it ‘said’ to her and this was her reply:
“When I was young if I ever felt proud about something I had done at school, my step father (who was abusive) used to always say self praise is no recommendation.
I never felt good enough around him and he was always cristicising me, he still does, but this Mandala made me realise I am good enough and I don’t need to listen to what he said all the time.
The next week she arrived at the group glowing, with a piece of paper in her hand. She had created her own Mandala with the words Self praise. The best recommendation.

We made many copies of her Mandala over the ensuing years and long after she left our service and went to University, her colouring page was there in our group room for other women to colour and medARTate on the words she had written and the important message she left us all with.
Colouring has taken her to a deeper, more reflective place within herself and in that place where she had rarely visited, insights and a new level of resolve awaited her.

There was a young woman in the shelter from a refugee background. *L had lived in a camp in one of the African countries for most of her childhood.

She was married at a young age and had courageously left domestic violence with her young baby. *L did not speak English and the staff members did not speak her language. She was shy in the group settings but her colouring style was so bright and skilful that she drew many compliments from the rest of the shelter residents.

Although the colouring circles were not competitive as such and everyone’s unique style was celebrated it was obvious that *L was a gifted artist and the recognition of her art connected her to the women around her. She was proud of her work and generous in showing the other women her unique shading techniques.

In this scenario colouring raised her confidence and self esteem and enabled her to be the “expert” in the room rather than experience isolation because she did not speak the language and we did not have interpreters on site.

Big Girls Picnic copy

 Would you like to see Coloring used across the country to help victims and survivors?

As a life coach and an advocate for equitable learning and embracing diversity I would like to see colouring circles in women’s prisons, homeless and domestic violence shelters and Community health and healing environments.
I would also like to see social workers trained in the process of engaging with creativity as a tool for case management as many of the students who come to our shelters are often very uncomfortable with their own creativity or using it as a tool for developing trusting relationships.
In settings where there are Aboriginal clients the colouring process draws on the cultural practices of art and creativity as central to community and learning through story and sharing creative practices.

Victims of domestic violence are entitled to heal and recover in their own time and colouring is a gentle, easy meditation and in that moment of colouring they can have respite from dealing with the vast array of pressing matters that fill every waking moment.

I would like to see front line staff and management and board members trained in the simple process of establishing colouring and conversation circles, this includes access to the colouring process as part of an organizations work-life balance policies.

As a community education and relationship building tool, colouring and the self reflection and creativity that it unleashes is  a fabulous, inexpensive way to build relationships and encourage creativity amongst women who are looking for new answers to old problems

Colouring circles are creative way for women who have escaped domestic violence  to offer her knowledge and experience, to “give back” as one woman put it in the Talking Circle aspect of the colouring circle.

Healing Power of Nature b-w

Carol Omer is a Certified Life Coach and Artist, specialising in Women’s Personal Development and Empowerment programs.
The Big Girls Little Colouring Book is available on her website: CarolOmer.com

The Big Girls Little Coloring Book is also available on Amazon

Posted in ART of Change, Carol Omer, Community, Creativity, Domestic Violence, feminism, Healing, Patterns | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mandalas as tools for Staff Training and Development.

Posted by carolom on June 21, 2016

*Updated:

The Mandala ( the Circular form) which I have shared in other sections of my blog,  is a great tool for inspiring right brain thinking and reflection during our  creativity based staff training sessions.

As people engage with the rhythmic movement of adding colour and meaning to the individual black and white templates, the process is akin to a mind-massage that facilitates  access to parts of the brain we may have lost touch with in education settings and workplaces that don’t engage the hands equally as the eyes and ears for training purposes.

This is especially so in the western system whereas other cultures, i.e. Aboriginal culture, engage hands and creativity as part of the process of telling stories, generating ideas  and transmitting knowledge. This multi-sensory engagement is core to every day life.

In some cultures creative expression and development is not reduced  after early childhood as happens in some aspects of the western school system where the arts are often not considered as important as the sciences and therefore colour movement, dance, story telling, art and the application of the imagination are diminished over time. Creativity does not conform to a pre-existing template and systems that are outcome oriented are often not able accommodate creative expression and exploration.

 The system we are brought up in has enormous influence on how we think and create.

Sadly many people are living their life with the belief (belief )  I am not Creative, in spite of shared experience we all had as creative, imaginative, ‘magical’ children who were not bound by pre-existing templates during times of play and invention.
You can read a little story about what happens to the ‘magical child in exile’ by clicking here..

Feedback after the creativity based training  includes statements like this:

  • I was amazed at how much more information I absorbed even though I was not always looking up
  • thank you for giving us permission to go in to our own creative space and contribute without having to sit still all day in the one position, i am always the biro flicker in workshops because my hands get bored sitting still all day
  • Wow! That was fabulous! I am going to share these tools with my daughter and grandchildren

The following are samples of some of the work that was created during a series of Cultural Inclusivity Action Plan workshops.

The four themes that were central to the day were

  • Team
  • Community
  • Our Place
  • Workplace Balance

You can see the theme is written on the Mandala and the individual creative input is an unique and diverse as the participants and the Community they serve.

We honour the traditional owners of this great land when we implement processes that Aborginalise the western mindset by engaging with traditional cultural practices of art, creativity, story sharing, talking circles and FUN! (Thankyou Dana Shen for introducing me to  the term Aboriginalising ways of learning and information sharing).

This kind of training setting is a along way vastly different from sitting in a row of chairs or around tables and watching but not actively engaging with information. Slide shows, pie graphs and classroom style information sharing  lacks the creative engagement that occurs when hands are given access to creative processes and the information is presented in a way that evokes the imagination and new ideas.

Creativity based learning is a very different setting than the more common workshop environment where people sit still, watch and listen rather than create and interact with the material.

Our Place

Team

Balance in the Workplace

Each Mandala has a developmental theme and is used as both a creative and discussion tool as

  • an individual process,
  • in the small group talking /action plan group and
  • as a larger group we have poster size replicas which, by the end of the day become the centre of an action-plan installation art.

You can see how wonderful it is to create the ART of Vision / Action over the tired old butchers paper sheets that tend to be rolled away and disappeared forever once the workshop is over….

Posted in Aboriginal, ART of Change, Community, Creativity, Imagination, Patterns, Power of Focus, Reconciliation, Social Artistry, Staff Training, Stories, The Art of Change, Transformation, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

Mandalas, Zendalas and Low-Cost fun!

Posted by carolom on October 23, 2010

I went to Ingalalla Falls recently with Gemma and we sat in the sunny spring afternoon in nature, creating Zendalas…

This is one I brought along to begin colouring in:

I didn’t get too far with the coloring as you can see…..

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Unlike Mum who has recently created quite a few and coloured them….like this one:

Here is a sample of a Mandorla-Zendala I created a couple of weeks ago as a template for participants of my ART of Change workshops…

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The theme for this one is Visioning the Future~ Creating New Dreams….

 

 

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You only need a blank piece of paper, pen and plate to create a Circle for this wonderfully relaxing art form of “Zendala” making.

As a Mandala artist I was delighted to come across Milliande’s youtube clip on how to make Zendalas…you can view it here:

Posted in ART of Change, Beauty, Change, Creativity, Dreaming, Ingalalla Falls, Magic, Mandalas, Nature, Wisdom, Women, Zendalas | 3 Comments »

~ World Peace Day – September 21st ~

Posted by carolom on September 21, 2010

World Peace Begins at Home!

Peace, harmony, balance, generating feelings of relaxation and well being.

Being centered and relaxed  with the Mind at rest. These are the Gifts of Mandala, a Sanskrit word meaning Circle.

I created the following Mandala poster for Women living in the domestic violence shelters where I was working, after a newly arrived resident pointed out that the shelter walls were covered in anti-violence posters but all she saw was the word violence all around her and negative imagery and  it didn’t feel like a safe place to be on account of that. Shelters often have posters that are considered ‘educational’ but her observations brought into question their true value and worth.

It was a very important message she gave to the staff and I thank her for her invaluable feedback. We invited feedback from other residents and they too  made comments such as “that one that says ‘domestic violence hurts kids’ made my little boy  frightened especially   that one of the woman cowering with her kids in the background”.

We listened to what we were being told through the eyes of women  who had come to live at the shelter at a point of chaos and danger in their life and systematically removed all of the words and images that were not aligned with Peace and positivity.

We refocused on Peace to create Peace no longer using the word violence  in order to reach its opposite and the other posters and pamphlets that dealt with issues of violence and poverty were in the filing cabinet and only brought our if necessary during group conversations.

The World Peace Begins at Home poster continues to be one of the most popular of what became my  ART of Change tools and now lives in many houses on fridges and bathroom doors, each one coloured differently from the next.

It is not only Women living in domestic violence who are leading busy, chaotic lives though It is important for all of us to take some time to breathe, relax, play and create! That’s why Mandalas for colouring in are received so well by women who are living in shelters and women who are looking for some balance in their busy busy lives.

If you would like a copy of the black and white World Peace Begins at Home template, leave me a message with your email address and I will happily and freely share it with you.

*Please see note below for the Dedication of this poster.

This Mandala is freely shared in dedication  to the special memory of my friend Janet who lost her life in domestic violence in 2001.

We used to sing “Give Peace a Chance” when we were young and loving life back in the 70’s and neither of us could have known where Janets path would take her.

Travel in Peace my beloved friend….

Posted in ART of Change, Australia, Change, Community, Creativity, Healing, Imagination, Oneness, Peace, Personal Development, Relationships, Transformation, World Peace Day | 4 Comments »

Reflecting on Oprah’s visit to Australia and When Women Dream and Create Together…

Posted by carolom on September 17, 2010

Over the years I played  a selection of Oprahs programs in-house as they were a rich, rare source of discussion and reflection and glimpses into new possibilities and self reflection during the years I ran a personal development group at a shelter for homeless young mothers.  Oprah’s personal story is one of over coming enormous obstacles and  the impact of abuse, liberation from racism and the power of aligning with the Divinity of life,  putting practical action to make the Dream come true. Many homeless Women I met over the years recognised their own potential through the Stories that Oprah brought onto the world stage…

For young Aboriginal Women at the shelter who grew up seeing only white faces on Australian television (sadly not much has changed), Oprah’s presence on national television was hugely significant.

Oprah Winfrey is surrounded by a co-creative team and it has taken many years of creativity and co-operation for her to have reached the stand alone level of influence and impact she has achieved.  I saw how impactful and life changing her motivational shows were for homeless Women throughout the 90’s – especially the Remembering Your Spirit series .  I admire her achievements enormously,  though I am not so much interested in her  programs around celebrity and make overs as I am about what people can do to create change and activate their fullest potential.

Women’s Well~Being has been the focus of my work from many years & most of the  ProsperArty Mandalas and the personal development art that I create for workshops express the Goddess aspect of being a Woman. We would sit and colour the Mandalas whilst watching the Oprah Show ~ a very relaxed way to sit and absorb information.

For me, one of the most powerful off all internal keys to creating change is Creativity…returning to the free flowing, creative state we came into this world with & have  often lost along the way….

In the Spirit of recognising a Woman of great influence, who manifests the very best of the Goddesses, Athena the Warrior who invokes change, Hestia who presides over home and heart’h, Persephone who transcended the subjugation of the underworld and Artemis who cares for young girls and sacred animals, I acknowledge Oprah Winfrey’s role that she has played in showing women that you can create and grow and bring about change in this world, irrespective of which of the skins you are in, where you have come from or what others will say can or can’t be done….

The Mandala below – which I have called “When Women Dream and Create Together” is created in the form of a Mandorla, the name of the shape created where two circles meet.  See my “About me ” page for further explanation of the Mandorla.

I was inspired to create “When Women Dream and Create Together” when it was announced that Oprah Winfrey would be coming to Australia, in a jumbo jet with John Travolta in the pilot seat and dozens of over joyed audience members! How fitting that Oprah completes her 25 years of public television with a trip to the Dreamtime Country.

Australia is Aboriginal country with a history of profound culture and wisdom that goes back thousands of years prior to European’s arriving here just a very short time ago. It is a living culture with so much to teach the world about how to live in harmony with Nature and within our Self. It is still the very early days of recovery from the devastating impact of white-settlement and I sincerely hope this important  Australian story to the world during her visit.

I chose the words at the centre of the Mandorla to reflect three things that are core to creating together : Love, Passion & Service.

Service is rent paid for room on Earth”….

In my workshops we add colour to the black and white template to create our own ProsperArty posters for relaxation and reflection.  For those who have not experienced working with the Mandala (circular) art form, I encourage you to give it a try!  Place your Vision, / thoughts / feelings into the Circle and see what Magic will unfold….

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When Women Dream and Create Together

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Together the Women are united in their Vision.

They hold up the Pyramid, symbolising the  Feminine Trinity:

~ Mother, Daughter, Divine  Spirit  ~

The Women  rise from the Heart together.

Love is the powerful, unifying force that generates their Creations.

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Posted in ART of Change, Australia, Beauty, Change, Creativity, Dreaming, Energy, Fun, Gratitude, Imagination, Journeys, Joy, Lifes Stories, Love, Magic, Mandalas, Oneness, Oprah Australia, Oprah Winfrey, ProsperArty, Relationships, SiStars, Spirituality, Stories, The Art of Change, Transformation, Unity, Warrior Women, Wisdom, Women | 3 Comments »

The Beam of a Lighthouse…

Posted by carolom on June 22, 2010

In our ART of Change group we colour posters that give visual form, shape and colour to the topic we are discussing. This week  it was Moving on From the Past and Living Freely in the Present.

“The Beam of A Lighthouse is not Affected by the Howling Wind and Rain” is a quote I came across many years ago.

I made this poster after a member of an earlier group told us:

I was doing really well giving up smoking, didn’t have a single puff for a week..but then family turned up on my door and I was back chain smoking again.They always do this t me”….

It is easy to blame others for our inner stress and turmoil especially when we are immersed in a family web of destructive behaviour and toxic patterns but  blaming  him/ her/ them /the organistation etc etc whilst pointing the finger outwardly &  focusing on where they are at fault and flawed –  and how they are responsible for ‘making me feel bad /uptight etc  – takes up time and energy that could be spent cultivating our Inner Lighthouse and learning how to step out of the predictable Pattern and into a new, positive inner world…of our own making…

Posted in ART of Change, Creativity, Imagination, Personal Development, Wisdom, Women | Tagged: | 2 Comments »