Mindful Artscapes: Can You Live On the Edge?

My partner and I both lived on-the-edge as teens and young adults and experimented with risk in different ways. When I was a university student in my twenties it was the 1970s and I tried everything and almost anything that was happening at the time. It was a confusing, wild, adventurous and dangerous time. But I survived.

In the early1980s we bought a VW van and travelled through Europe and North Africa fueled by our naïve, positive, and alternative thinking. Our best stories of those times are the dangerous ones and lucky for us, we lived through them. When we returned to Canada in the mid 1980s I was pregnant. We decided to have a home birth even though they were illegal at that time. We were determined to raise our child in the most natural, holistic way possible. We moved to the Gulf Islands and decided we would homestead, and find good jobs (my partner was a school teacher and I was an artist). People at the time told us we were crazy, but we just decided that it would work out. And it did. When we felt finished with that experience, we sold our idyllic island farm and spent a year backpacking and traveling through the South Pacific home schooling our two children on the road. My parents were mortified that we did not invest the money from the sale of our farm into another house to raise our two small children. Instead we opted to spend it on exposing them to life on the road.

In my 40s I went back to school and studied Art Therapy. After being an artist, running a gallery, being a market gardener and working in fashion, it was the perfect career choice where I could combine my artistic skills, creative thinking abilities, and love of helping people explore change and growth as much as I did.

I don’t regret my past and I know that I can do the therapy work that I do because I have been there and done that. My daughter lived her teen years unafraid to risk and explore. As parents we had a hard time watching and believing that any good could come of her behavior. But now I see her as a wise, emotionally mature and present individual who can converse with people from any social economic group or background.

So, I believe living on the edge and taking risks in life makes us better artists and people. But how do you know which edge is yours to stand on and how far to lean over?

Try the following Art Therapy Exercise to see if you could benefit from risking a bit more in your life right now.


Art Therapy Exercise to Explore Risk

  1. First get comfortable and centered in your chair. Gather some art supplies such as pens, paper, colored pencils, etc. Take a few minutes to do some deep breathing and bring yourself into presence and then answer the following questions using words and/or images.
  2. Turn inward and ask yourself where you feel any physical, emotional or intellectual reactions in your body in response to taking a risk or making a change in your life right now. What are you noticing as you sit quietly with this question?
  3. Is there some opportunity that is presenting itself to you that you are wanting to take advantage of? Is it the right time to quit a job, break out of an old habit, or move to a new city?
  4. As you stay with your felt sense, notice what happens inwardly when you ask yourself what in your life feels done, or completed.
  5. End this exercise by taking a few minutes to create a drawing showing your response to the words safety and security and then flip over the paper and do a response to the words risk and change.

Life is a bridge; do not build a house on it.  —Zen saying


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