Chronic Illness Creatives
How the course works...
You are invited to spend the month exploring how you are (or can be more) creative in the face of chronic issues. We invite you regardless of the circumstances of your chronic situation, whether physically disabled or facing chronic mental health issues or if you feel the chronic experience comes from multiple losses over time that keep you chronically coming face to face with grief again and again.
Though the course is scheduled for the month of October 2017 with content posted each week for you, we encourage you to take the course at your own pace. Just because the last new content posts at the end of October, that doesn't mean this classroom will go away. You are welcome to work creatively on whatever schedule works for you. We will actively be communicating with you in the classroom during October, but even afterward, we'll see notices of new posts and do our best to respond. So please, make the course your own!
We invite you to explore in whatever ways you wish: literally, metaphorically, in any medium you wish. The creative prompts offered in this session are open for you to interpret and use as you feel fits best for your experience.
In the prompts, you'll be offered things like:
- artmaking prompts
- journaling prompts
- meditation/relaxation MP3s or videos
- along with links to information you can explore at your own pace to learn and play more
An example of how a prompt might work:
- The prompt might be something simple like: The chronic experience is happening to us as individuals, of course, but there are also social/relational aspects in the mix. How have your chronic experiences influenced the social aspects and relationships in your life? How have the social constructs and expectations of those who are not chronic influenced you?
- You can respond in a journaling type, free-writing type of way, where you maybe want to explore how people's insistence that you "get better" has made you see that they do not understand what chronic really means.
- Or you could take a photo of some sort to illustrate how the individual chronic experience intersects with social / relational aspects.
- Or you can write haiku or poetry exploring these dynamics.
- Or you could do a drawing or painting using color, texture, shape to convey your experience.
- You can take the response in any creative direction you like.
- You then have private, comment section space at the bottom of each day's prompt page where you are free to share as much or as little as you like about how you did this creative exploration; what you discovered; what was surprising; or whatever you wish to share about your creative experiments exploring creativity and resiliency in the face of chronic experience or grief that rises or understandings you've come to along the way.
An example: what creative responses might look like
This is a high contrast photo of my hand taken into digital landscape and double exposed with other patterns to try and convey what the pain feels like sparking through my hands at times.
About 10 years ago, I was at a pizzeria w Hawk and Peter. We had our drinks and had just sat down to wait on our dinner. I reached out w my hand, picked up my full cup, and half way between table and mouth, the grip gave out. One second I had grip. The next I did not.
This happened sporadically over the next decade. Sometimes w pain or not. Sometimes w puffiness or not. Sometimes w shake or not.
Over time I gave up doing anything that would commit me to doing anything w my hands at specific days/times. Inevitably, that bodyart appointment would end up being a day I had no grip. Inevitably, that day of volunteer cooking would end up being a day I had no grip. Stopped doing commission artwork that had to be particular format on particular day because my hands wouldn't be able to hold pens or brushes for that medium in time. Social, relational, work related. Yes. All affected.
Of course adaptation happens. Digital art is wonderful in some ways. My non-dominant hand can be handy when pressed into duty. And, frankly, I'm going to die one day, so I don't care anymore about timelines and calendars if I can help it. I'd rather savor a down day slowly w Hawk being gentle as possible to the bod than push myself to someone else's dead-line! Coz think about that word for a moment: dead. line. What kind of stupid social construct of "productive" "work" "life" is that???
With the recent spike in whatever this chronic shit is, I now get pronounced hives subcutaneous on the palm and at base of fingers. The whole hand swells or this finger or just the thumb. But wrapping it properly around anything to get a grip is not possible til the spike subsides. I don't know if it was deep deep hives / swelling causing it all along. Now it is all just closer to surface so we see something?
No clue. About this. Nor about anything really. Except that I've given myself over to it all being a practice, not a perfect. A process, not a product(ion). That's the best I can do.
Now that is just one example. You are welcome to explore in whatever creative way moves you. Play with photography. Or journal a response. Or use the prompt as your meditation object for the day and see what surfaces.
And you are welcome to share your creativity like the photo above with no other write up. Or you could additionally type something up in the comments along with your heARTwork to tell us a bit more about what you've discovered. You are also welcome to specifically say with your posts, things like:
- "I'm sharing just to be witnessed. No feedback, please."
- Or, "I'd love to hear from others what they think about xyz..."
- Or, "I'm open to more creative coaching ideas around this from the facilitators..."
So you can feel safe in how you share and what responses you'd like to see.
You are free to explore creatively in whatever medium and depth you wish!
Features of this course include:
- The same day that you register for this course, you'll get the welcome + logistics information immediately.
- Then each Wednesday during the month of October, you'll get a new creative prompt Lesson that opens up to you: Oct 4, 11, 18, and 25.
- This course offers participants comment space at the bottom of each prompt Lesson page.
- This online, private space is open only to participants and is available 24/7, so you can read prompts and post replies any time of day or night, including weekends, at your own pace and on your own schedule.
- As facilitators for this course, Christine and I (Kara) will get notifications of your shares, questions, reflections and will check in each weekday during the month.
Enrollment is open until October 4, 2017.
Please see the FAQ below for more details to questions others have asked.
Co-creators and heARTists of this session are Christine Grothe of Contemplations from the Cornfields and Kara Jones of GriefAndCreativity.com. We look forward to sharing these creative prompts with each of you throughout the month!
Table of Contents
Frequently Asked Questions
I want to join, but life is busy. Will this course involve a great deal of time and effort?
As with any online offering, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. That said, no, this is not an intensive course necessarily. This is a month-long course where facilitators will be available weekdays of that month, AND you are welcome to be in and out of the classroom at your own self-directed pace. You'll still get the full content of the course even if you don't get into the classroom during the facilitated month. The comment sections do not close, so you can respond even after the session is "finished," and we will still get notifications of your posts and do our best to answer. You are welcome to share as much or as little in this private space as you like. Unlike in-person workshops, you get private classroom space that is open 24/7, so you get creative prompts plus room to share your experiences at any time along the way.
If I decide I will be short on time during the 10 days, can I get a refund on my registration fee?
No, I'm sorry, we are not offering refunds. This session drip feeds content over the course of the month, but you can access it at any time, in your own pace, for as long as you like beyond just the facilitated month. The session space is not going anywhere even after the end of the facilitated month. So once you register, you actually get the entire course, even if your schedule ends up conflicted with the month of the initial content feed. The facilitators (Christine and Kara) will get notices of new posts and will reply each weekday during the month and after the session is "finished," we will, as time is available, generally respond within 48-72 hours. Let us know if you have questions around this before you register! Contact email@example.com.
Is this a therapy group?
No. This is a self-directed session for exploring creative approaches to grief and life experiences; for exploring how you yourself make meaning and expression with whatever is happening for you. While there is a facilitator in our online classroom, we are just two people. We are not available as crisis intervention, and this is not meant to be private session coaching for each and every person. That said, this type of session is a good companion to whatever therapy you are doing already to support yourself. Please practice responsibility (ability to respond) for whatever needs you have medically, mentally, physically.
I still have a question, how can I contact you?
We'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My grief is non-death related. Can I still join this course?
Yes. All are welcome, whatever your grief experience circumstances are! This course is geared toward the chronic illness experience, which for some might include terminal diagnosis; death related grief from passing of friends or others you've known who've had chronic experience; physical or mental chronic experiences. AND we know that many types of grief, non-death related, come up in these chronic experiences, so whatever circumstances you are exploring in this course are welcome.
Often only death related experiences are acknowledged as grief in our culture, whereas non-death related experiences are not. In this course, we are aiming to offer creative grief space to anyone, whatever your circumstances with chronic illness at this time might be.
We will not be playing "grief olympics" nor placing experiences on a "hierarchy of grief." Whatever grief experience you bring to the table, is your grief experience. And we will aim to help you find creative approaches to whatever your experiences are.