Peeling The Onion

Take the time to gently peel back the layers of the onion and raise self awareness

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Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Chris Dunmire is a creativity enthusiast and developer of the Creativity Portal, an online cache of creativity-related resources. She also knows, first hand that writing is a tool which can be used to write through the pain

1996 was the first year in her life that death touched her on an extremely personal level. In 24 years, she had already experienced the death of three grandparents, an uncle, a cousin, and several acquaintances. But 1996 was the first year that Chris experienced the death of a sibling — ironically, only a week after her aunt passed away.

The Soul Food Cafe grew from seeds that were sown during a period of sustained loss and grief. Originally known as Writing for Well-being, Soul Food became known as Soul Food to acknowledge the power of writing and the arts to feed the Soul. Deep within the Cafe Onion Peelers peel back layers of feelings.

The power of writing to draw out destructive thorns was reinforced recently when a Grade 5 teacher at Epping Primary School in Northern Melbourne described how Grade 5 children cried as they completed their rear vision memories describing profound loss. Such tears are an important part of any healing process.

If you are interested in the therapeutic power of writing and visual arts make sure to visit the links related to Writing as a Creative Medicine.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Narrative and Healing focuses on the therapeutic properties of writing and storytelling, providing examples of how people of all ages face life’s challenges through the art of telling their stories. The section is divided into two parts: Professional Perspectives offers the views of health professionals on theories, techniques, research, and the application of narrative in health care and educational settings. Healing Narratives provides examples that demonstrate the therapeutic properties of writing and telling stories. Article titles of particular interest are:
Using Stories for Growing and Healing
Writing as an Adjunct to Medical Therapy
Sandplay: Stories Told Without Words
You will find more on the connection between healing and narrative here at Soul Food, along with an interesting Sandplay exercise

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Good Grief Rituals
Are you feeling sad and lost? Did you lose someone, something? Good Grief Rituals is about tools and rituals for dealing with change and loss. It is about grieving.
Grieving is about loving. It is about loving yourself enough to go through the “sads, mads, scares and glads” you feel about losing someone or something. It is about caring enough about yourself to deal with those feelings in rituals which will allow you to forgive yourself and others.

Who needs to grieve? The answer is most of us. We are widows, widowers, disaster victims, survivors of dysfunctional families and veterans of wars. We are survivors of accidents, rapes, assaults and diseases. We are the friends and family of those mentioned above. We have all experienced loss, disappointments, setbacks and heartbreaks. We all need to grieve.

We all know that writing is a good grief ritual that enhances well-being. Learn more about Good Grief Rituals and add to a collection of suggestions on the Peeling The Onion forum.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Quote for the day
Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen.
~Pliny the Younger

Friday, August 30, 2002

Disowned, Hidden Parts

I was browsing to see where my hits have been coming from and found Globemix, a blogger written by a Scot from Aberdeen. David Henry has an interesting collection of poems and links - including a link to Soul Food and Peeling the Onion.

He shares a therapeutic-writing exercise he tried.

"The idea is, you write a poem as if it's being written by a hidden or disowned part of yourself. It's literary merit is debatable. It has no neat or coherent form, but that fits the messy and divided place it comes from. I was quite struck when I resurrected it from my notes today. It was like it was indeed 'somebody else' who had written it. I need to do more of this kind of thing.

Poem By Hidden Parts
I am one of his hidden parts.
He hides me because I am 'not nice'.
Not the kind of chap you'd take home
to meet your parents.
I am animal.
I am sexual.
I am raw anger.
Unprocessed, unsanitized by society.
When I see threat
I ready myself
for fight, or flight.
constrained within his frame,
his tightness,
the body systems I influence
fight with those
he needs to control,
so that he's.... well......
under control.
He is frightened of me, and yet
I am at the core of his being.
He sees the downside of me,
never the strength,
the power,
the uncluttered beauty.
When he feels anxious
he cuts himself off.
His mind and his body,
which are really one,
become split.
His readiness to fight become symptoms.
His anger becomes panic.
The more split he is,
the more frightened he becomes.
Descending vortex from a storm-cloud
Never touching ground.

David Henry (2002)"

Why not try this interesting exercise?

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Whenever I am running sessions I always like to use collage. It can be very hard to write 'cold turkey' so to speak.The visual images that we pull out of magazines invariably help the flow of words and provide some self insight. A creative, craft exercise can lead to a fresh flow of ideas and words. At one session I had some bereaved women making comfort envelopes for the recently bereaved. We decorated the envelopes with comforting images and then filled them with small items. Later, I had another group make a creativity package for a friend, to help stimulate the flow of ideas. So when I saw the collaged, vinyl totebag at Aisling D'Art, I figured that it was an activity that I should tell people about. Try making a bag and filling it with all the items that you need to do your visual journal work. Then you are well equipped to work on your Album of Memories at any time.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

12 Edmonston Street

12 Edmonston Street, by Australian author David Malouf takes us on a graphic tour of his childhood home. Spend a moment or two listing some of your former addresses.
For example, key addresses that spring to my mind are 7 Sale Road, 46 Mary Street, 4 Thompson Street. Here at Soul Food you can read about Carnforth, my current home.

In your journal take the time to sketch the floor plan of one of these places. When I began sketching 7 Sale Road, a childhood home, I included the whole yard. As I sketched I popped in interesting details such as the chook pen, the spot where I climbed through the fence to enter my cubby house, the fruit trees that flourished down the side, the garden bed where Mum grew gladioli, the lemon tree where Dad hung the beheaded chooks, the outdoor toilet down behind the garage. Then I sketched the floor plan and even drew in furniture.

Memories came steaming in to my mind and I scanned magazines for images that I could add to the page. As I worked I was reminded of the final scene in Titanic, when Rose dies and is reunited, under the clock, with Jack. It was as if a projector began rolling in my head. I found myself, at ten, in my pyjamas, being drawn by the light under the closed door of the lounge room. As I opened the door I saw my parents, sitting by the fire knitting and listening to the radio. Dad smiled! Mum agreed that I could come and sit up for a little longer. Some tears sprang to my eyes as I wrote about those days in the small Victorian town where I was born.

Try this exercise for yourself! Describe the house and its occupants, making sure to include colour, smell, feelings, noises, associations, events.

Some other well known books based on an address
LIme Street at Two Helen Forrester
84 Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff
Cloud Street Tim Winton