Happy Birthday To Me

I wonder what age 34 is going to hold for this Aries girl.

IMG 4086 Happy Birthday To Me IMG 4532 Happy Birthday To Me IMG 4778 764x1024 Happy Birthday To Me IMG 4796 764x1024 Happy Birthday To Me

IMG 3942 Happy Birthday To Me

I’ll say to myself what I say to others on their birthday. I hope that it is filled with magic and wonder, love and laughter and many wishes to come true.

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Walt Disney’s Silent Film Alice

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If you Google “Walt Disney” and “Alice” you’ll get a lot of results for Alice in Wonderland. However, I learned from my trip to the Disney Museum that there was an earlier Alice in Disney’s work.

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Early in his career (in the 1920s) Disney did silent film work. There was a popular series with a star named Alice (called the Alice Comedies). There were actually four different girls who played the character of Alice over the years, the most well-known of which was Virginia Davis.

Disney made the first Alice film on his own. He’d been doing some other films for Laugh-O-Gram but the company went bankrupt and Disney was trying to make some money. The main thing I learned at Disney Museum was how he was constantly having to reinvent himself and persevere through tough times to become what he was.

IMG 4210 1024x764 Walt Disneys Silent Film Alice IMG 4211 764x1024 Walt Disneys Silent Film AliceAs you can see from the above image, these silent film comedies included the real love girl Alice but also included animation. The main animated character was a cat that resembled Felix the Cat.

IMG 4212 764x1024 Walt Disneys Silent Film AliceMore than fifty Alice movies were made in the four yeras between 1923 and 1927.

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Sha Sha Higby in A Paper Wing

sha sha higby Sha Sha Higby in A Paper Wing

When my mom was here we went to go see a performance at Theatre Yugen. It was a solo performance by Sha Sha Higby called A Paper Wing.

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I was mistakenly expecting a spoken theater performance. It turned out to be more of a dance performance that emphasized the use of tons of creative costuming to tell the story. I have to be honest in saying that it was difficult for me to sit for the full hour for a performance without words. What can I say, I’m a word nerd. But all in all I found a lot to be inspired by.

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I didn’t know anything about Sha Sha Higby before the performance. After the performance, I was inspired to learn more about her. She says in her artist statement, “I approach dance through the medium of sculpture. I interweave painterly manipulation of physical materials and textures I make one by one from wood, paper, silk, ceramic and gold leaf with a labyrinth of delicate props. My work strives to create a path where movement and stillness meet.” I can definitely see the intersection of sculpture, costume art and dance in the work that we saw. There were several cool effects with the lighting on the props as well as with the mingling of many different masks that were visually intriguing.IMG 3224 Sha Sha Higby in A Paper WingI definitely have an appreciation for her creativity and artistry!

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Recent Reads: This Fragile Life

One of the books that I read recently was Charlotte Pierce-Baker’s memoir This Fragile Life: A Mother’s Story of a Bipolar Son Recent Reads: This Fragile Life. It’s a wonderful, touching story of what it’s like to be the parent of a young adult diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It wrenches at the heart without being self-pitying, informs without being focused on an educative aim.

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The story has an interesting perspective because Pierce-Baker and her husband are married, affluent, educated African American parents without a knowledge of mental health issues in their family. It addresses the difficulty of seeing her son arrested for drug issues (due to self-medicating the bipolar), the benefits of having money to help with his mental health problems (and the limitations of that) and the hard experience of learning how to help her adult child and when and how to set boundaries.

Her son’s poetry is woven throughout the book. It’s beautiful to see her use his words to share his story in both his voice and hers.

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Shining Affliction: Quotes and Memorable Things

Yesterday I shared my current love for Annie Rogers’ books The Unsayable and Shining Affliction. Today I thought I’d preserve some of the things I marked as “to remember” from Shining Affliction.

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What you fear most has already happened.”  This is the first line of a poem that Rogers writes and shares in this book. What a powerful statement. And it is so, so true.

“Tea Bags is “magic” and has a relationship with Ben, but Tea Bags also has a relationship with me – I animate the puppet, but Ben treats the puppet as I have treated him. Tea Bags might also be an extension of Ben’s body; Ben wants to bring him boots after all, though Tea Bags has no feet. In short, Ben has found a way to put himself into Tea Bags’s “skin”, to guess what the puppet might want as an extension of what he wants. In this way, he is able to guess what a little lost bear needs and to make a tender response.” Ah, such complexities of people and our play!

“I feel suddenly wary. Everything within me is about to be named, boxed, contained and controlled. My hands rest on the arms of a green chair, but I feel as if they could life up and life me out of here. But they are still, lifeless. The top of my head lifts off (a strange sensation), and with it my answers to his questions life and float out of me into the street where they mingle with the smoky breaths of passerby. There is no need to explain anything, I realize.” As someone who is always reaching for words, written and spoken, I’m intrigued by elective mutism and I feel like this scene (where a doctor is asking her why she’s in the hospital after a breakdown) gives me a glimpse.

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“I know already how to listen to different silences. There is a silence that lies in hiding, waiting for words, but the words of the speaker are carefully censored, for all but the ones the listener waits for go unheeded, denied, into this silence. This silence leaches confidence and vision from the speaker, so that the telling itself becomes unnatural, estranging, annihilating. This silence is a bog, thick. There is no breathing space within it. But there is also a silence that opens out, as a simple wood door opens out on a clean white field, cold, its long slope strewn with stars. This silence breathes and expands. This silence waits for words, too, and it welcomes the unexpected ones, the uncanny, disturbing, and surprising ones.” Another thing that I’m reading for school is Barbara Stevens Sullivan’s book on Bion and Jung, so I’m learning about Bion’s K, the concept of being totally open to what is true in this present moment, and I feel like this latter type of silence expresses that K.

“The philosopher Heidegger writes, “What withdraws from us, draws us along by its very withdrawal, whether or not we become aware of it,” in What is Called Thinking. He goes on to explain how drawing towards withdrawal can shape who we are: “Once we are drawn into the withdrawal, we are drawing towards what attracts us by its withdrawal. And once we, being so attracted, are drawing towards what withdraws, our essential nature alread bears the stamp of ‘drawing toward’.” Another way of saying this is that the gaps in memory draw us into memory, whether we know it or not.”

“In each moment in every life, there is a gesture hovering, to move toward or away from a truth.”

“I see suddenly, very clearly, that her trust in me changed as she acquired more and more clinical training and experience, until I felt, in the last year we met, that what I said to her hardly mattered. She had her interpretations all ready, and my words were fitted to them. Anything that did not fit could be attributed to my ‘denial’ or ‘resistance’.” This is at the heart of Rogers’ troubles with her therapist and it really strikes me to the core. I think it is the risk all therapists run of getting wrapped up in the academic side of things and forgetting to see the person in front of them. It’s a risk I’m afraid of if I move into this work myself. It’s an area I never want to stop being vigilant about.

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Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan

One of the book assigned for my Clinical Relationship class this semester was The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan by Annie Rogers, PhD. I fell in love with the book, reading it in one day and then reading a big chunk of it for a second time. After that I went back and checked out Rogers’ first book A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan.

About Annie Rogers

Annie Rogers is a psychotherapist who shares case studies of some of her work with us in each of these books. She also has her own history of mental illness, including hallucinations and hospitalizations. A major focus area of her work has been studying French psychoanalyst Lacan and applying her interpretations of his theory to her work. She is inspiring in her work and it was fascinating to read each of her books for different reasons.

A Shining Affliction

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This first book is a book of two different stories.

The first is the story of one of her earliest patients, a young boy that she worked with during her practicum year. His is a devastating story of neglect and abuse and the acting out that occurred as he tried to cope with the world around him. It’s also a powerful story of transformative healing through the therapeutic relationship. His story reminded me of so many of the kids I worked with in my group home work and her work with him is inspiring.

But her work is imperfect. And for a time she has to take a break from him. That’s because this book is also her story – her story of her own breakdown, triggered by her work with young clients and complicated by a negative relationship with her own therapist. We see her work with another therapist as well as some psychology mentors and heal.

These are human stories and so they are stories without endings, without perfect resolutions. But they are powerful. And it’s inspiring to have read this book after reading The Unsayable because I was already familiar with how inspiring Rogers’ work went on to become and it was even more inspiring after realizing the difficulties she surmounted to get there.


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