Hi! Sam here. Just wanted to share a story that is deeply meaningful to me. I met Mary Rockwood Lane, PhD, RN, FAAN when I was about 20, and I was going through a really difficult time in my life dealing with the backlash of psychological and physical trauma that I had experienced in my adolescence, which MANY women do. She was my teacher in school, and her work really put me onto a path of using art as tool to heal my entire life from the inside out. I owe a lot to this woman, her fierce and unapologetic approach to life, her passion, her laughter, intellect and spirit really taught me unbounded lessons about freedom and self-love. Thank you, Mary, I love you! – Sam, EQ
Mary Rockwood Lane, PhD, RN, FAAN, experienced art and healing first hand as she painted herself out of a severe depression during a divorce. She took what she learned from this experience and became the co-founder and co-director of the Arts in Medicine program at University of Florida, Gainesville.
Here she tells her story:
Several years ago, I rediscovered the artist within and used art to heal myself. I was extremely ill at the time and going through a very difficult divorce. I was outraged, depressed and out of control. My support network had collapsed and everything was being taken away from me. Surrounded by my grief, I felt like I was drowning in darkness and despair. Therapy wasn’t helping. Finally my therapist said, “It’s time for you to do something different with your rage and your grief.”
I had always dreamed of being a painter but had never given myself permission to be one. “I’m just not good enough,” I would tell myself. But now my world was collapsing and the fear of inadequacy seemed trivial compared to my painful loss. I walked out of the therapist’s office and into the gray drizzle. Life seemed to be going on without me. Stopping before a large puddle, I stared down at my reflection in the murky water and imagined myself sinking into the mud. Just then a car came to a slow stop nearby. It was my friend Lee Ann, a painter. She rolled down her window and called out, “Why don’t I take you to breakfast and then over to my studio so that you can start painting?”
Sitting in her studio, I remembered how I had always wanted to be an artist. This was a part of me that I had never acknowledged or honored. Right then, in a lucid moment, I decided to abandon all my fears of being a painter. Although I didn’t even know how to hold a paintbrush, I selected a large piece of canvas to work on. Flipping though several magazines for ideas, I came across a picture of a woman who was broken and distorted. What a familiar feeling! And so I started painting.
I became excited with the sheer process of painting: the colors of paint, the textures, and the way different shapes swirled together on canvas. The painting began to transform into an image of my pain and hurt. I forgot about how I felt and instead painted those feelings. I worked feverishly, releasing my energy passionately onto canvas.
Making no attempt to define myself or my process, I began a series of self-portraits. They were all distorted in the beginning, with garish backgrounds. But I was too absorbed in the pure expression and gesture of painting to let that bother me. I called my first self-portrait Cut Out My Heart. It was my pain, a deeply intense and dying pain. The figure was broken, distorted, crumpled, crying, and bleeding. This figure had been my despair, my uncensored and purely emotional energy. When I finished releasing the image onto canvas, I stepped back and gasped! What I saw was an aspect of myself that I couldn’t face; it was so ugly! I had let go on an intense emotional and physical level. I backed away, left the studio and went home.
When I returned, I had an incredible insight. I saw that the painting had captured genuine expression from a moment of time that was now behind me. I had moved past it. I was actually witnessing my own transformation! Throughout the series of self-portraits, I continuously struggled with form and perspective. Metaphorically I was recreating my inner form and inner perspective. The external creative process mirrored my inner world. The manifestation of movement and change was powerful and it was a process of knowing myself.
As I immersed myself in painting, I not only became well, but clearly became the artist I had always wanted to be. I remember the moment that I truly felt empowered as an artist. I experienced a sudden shift and encountered something within that was healing. There was an aspect of me that rejuvenated my spirit and I began to feel stronger and more alive. By seeing my pain on canvas, I could step away from it.
I was the artist; my pain was the art. And I was free.
From her website, Maryrockwoodlane.com
“My vision for the artwork grew when a patient who was ill with cancer asked me to paint a picture for him. Suddenly I realized that I had found a way to heal many more people than the number I could see in my office every day.” -Dr. Wu
I’m a student always. I never stop learning. Lately I have been studying herbal medicine from Traditional Chinese Philosophy. The art of healing through herbs is poetic. Each plant medicine, has a name and a poem that goes along with the type of impact the plant may have on the body. I love earth based medicine. It’s where we all come from and what moves me forward in life. Dr. Wu is a story that I really loved and reminds me of the power that comes from my own lineage. In particular, the story reminds me of my own Mom, who immigrated to San Francisco in the 70’s from the Philippines, to come live her best life and became a highly successful CPA and leader in her field.
Maybe you’ll like the story too, or want to find more out about herbs, TCM and how to heal using non-pharmaceutical methods (when appropriate, people!!!!). Note: I’m not advocating NOT seeing a doctor if you need one, just saying there are many ways to find wellness, and you can explore what resonates best with your body composition, world view and beliefs. Do it for a reason, a purpose. My purpose of being the MOST WELL that I CAN BE, is all about stopping the intergenerational transmission of dis-ease and trauma from my ancestral lineage to the next.
Give thanks for sight and purpose. 1 love family, peace and light to you.
Dr. Wu came to the United States as an immigrant of a laundry man’s son, who then went off to graduate from Harvard and become a highly successful venture capitalist on wall street. He took a turn towards his roots and journeyed to study and eventually practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The holistic system of TCM led him to begin to interpret and express the intricacies and poetry of this philosophy of health through visual arts. His work promotes balance, healing, and relaxation by connecting with deeply embedded aspects of our being. His art speaks to the soul, encourages our systems to heal themselves, and teaches about culture and history all at the same time.
Hear his story and see more of his art here: http://www.wushealingart.com/
She writes on the walls to heal herself, her community, her culture. Listen to her story… Witness her as she pushes the boundaries of her society as a female artist speaking her truth about women’s rights and the role of women in revolutionary movements.
“I was born and raised in Iran and in the last 3 years of school I wanted to chose art as my major subject but I was told that as an Afghan I wasn’t allowed. So I studied accounting which was okay but a million miles away from painting.
When my family came back to Afghanistan I tried again and passed into the Faculty of Fine Arts at Kabul University. Art is such a part of my life that I don’t know what would happen if was not able to continue. It would be like having a piece cut out of me.”
Peace, love and light!