Nature Is Therapy

I was in the hospital courtyard collecting fallen leaves, and comparing their colors to a blackout poem bit I had just finished, when another patient asked what I was doing.

“Required therapy”, I told her without looking up from my work.

She watched me for a few seconds, then said, “You pick leaves for therapy?”

“Sure,” I mumbled. My needed therapy involves any activity that exercises my fingers, wrists, shoulders, posture, eye-hand coordination… I should’ve said that to her, but I wanted to find the perfect leaves before having to go to my next appointment, and she was distracting me.

I sort of wanted to get rid of her quickly. But she was as persistent as I was exasperated. In the end, showing her what I meant as I did it took less time than giving her the slip. This is how I explained it to her (without the glorious illustrations):

To me, therapy is anything that rehabilitates, heals and entertains mind, body and spirit. The act of coloring a page can be soothing, even mind-healing (depending what one is coloring), but this activity alone doesn’t offer much physical exercise. This is the reason why the presentation of my blackout and handwritten poetry has become more elaborate—I walk the woods (or hospital courtyards *grins*) to collect materials, then use specific movements to complete each piece, while imagining the parts as a whole.

Some might not think of stitching or ripping paper by hand as very complex work, but when the hands doing the ripping and stitching are half-numb, well… complexity joins the party whether one wants it or not. The controlled movements require patience and dedication. And this is just the mechanics, the real mind-healing (for me) is shaping the visual piece in a way that it doesn’t just echo the words, but also amplifies the message.

Take the following piece, as an example (it includes some of the leaves I collected that day… while I spoke to the woman):

I used a quote I shared on Instagram, from “The Pretty Corpses of Flowers”. The words are handwritten on a recycled coffee filter. The brown marker I used to blackout the poem bit made me think of autumn… So, I gathered leaves to match that feeling, nature that says to me that Healing doesn’t always come in bright colors or smooth textures.

Can your eyes feel the roughness of the paper? The wrinkles that seem to chant, “I’ve been around… brewed coffee that made someone happy… and I’m still going strong”?

Can you appreciate the beauty of the blemishes that make these leaves unique?

It’s not just the exercising of hands with coloring and stitching and ripping of paper, or the soothing of mind by finding bits of life within living poetry, prose, leaf… It’s all of it, dancing together. It’s the soul healing flesh and bone with art that feeds hearts through the eyeballs. It’s human daring denying pain the chance to shroud life with ugliness. It’s my Self baring her teeth, naturally… and delighting every time others join in the baring.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs? What’s your therapy? How do you dance with it?

27 thoughts on “Nature Is Therapy”

  1. Letting my unconscience run wild, as I write out words, in free verse poetry, while dark melodic Gothic music is played, from my laptop. As I pet, either Star, Venus, or Squeak, as they walk across my laptop, seeking out my attention and love. Grounding me, in the here and now, when I feel an anxiety attack, or an emotional outburst coming over, from my chronic depression, that marks my life.

  2. It really depends on the mood I’m in. 15 minutes of quiet is usually a good start – it’s like a pop of ibuprofen for a tired soul. From there, it can be anything from a bubble bath, to dancing like a loon to my current favorite music, getting my thoughts down on paper or jumping my husband. 😀

    • Hope they were cleansing tears. I think therapy is anything that is beneficial to the mind and body without hurting the self or others. So yes, many times that involves letting go of the old bits that keep us in gloom…

  3. I listen a ton of music to keep sane, and your line about blemishes made me laugh. So much music seems like the musician and producers have tried to wash all the blemishes away, but that’s the part I’m drawn to in the stuff I like.

    That’s the art, I guess.

    It’s like how some actors look so perfect that you don’t recognize them when you see them again?

  4. Your words are my therapy (and hubby, but don’t tell him, he’ll get too confident lol).
    I love how you talked us through your mental and physical process, enforcing what most of us already knew…you weave magic into your works 😀 XXX

    • I don’t know if I can keep that secret. Heck, I’m not even sure if it’s a secret at all. I mean, the evidence keeps on oozing prettily out of your words.

      Just like you weave magic into your creations. Puppet has been visiting the hospital with me, and there is not a time when I look into its creepy button eyes and not smile. 🙂

  5. It’s important to find a kind of therapy that keeps you going … maybe punching annoying people will become therapy as well? Good for the mind, good as strength training, increases speed and dexterity, …

  6. You know gardening is my therapy.. I rip out the weeds and the stress leaves!. I plant and I feel happy, renewed… Reading, I escape thru the characters and go thru their adventure and emotion.. it helps me forget the times that weren’t so sweet
    I love your art, its very organic and I see and feel your personality come thru..

  7. Magaly, your post touched my heart!! Majorly touched my heart! I can spend days on a painting, putting layer upon layer, or spend hours outside, playing with the wild flowers, or feeding the animals. I know one neighbour stated to me, “you are always outside”. I said yes, and???? LOL!
    I agree with everyone, you are very wise, and wonderful!! I love your creations so much!
    Big Hugs and Much Love!

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