Orange Bordered Art Workstation Photo Collage

Art TherapyArt therapy, sometimes called expressive art or art psychology, encourages self-discovery and emotional growth. It is a two-part process, involving both the creation of art and the discovery of its meaning.

Looking back on my childhood, I realize art has always played a big part of my life. When I was in middle-school I took a weekly ceramics course and my mom was the leather craft teacher for our 4-H club. Every year I would create pieces and show them at the county fair to be judged. I also had a love of photography and painting growing up. I credit my Aunt Jean for passing down the creative gene to me. She is an incredible artist and at age 82 she continues to create beautiful oil paintings. Here is her latest called “Going Home for Supper”.

Jean's painting

In college I got away from creating art but as I got older, I have been drawn to taking different classes such as watercolor painting, making home-made greeting cards, drawing, jewelry making, vision boards, and photography.

Creating art is a way to show expression, it calms me, and I like to share my art with others in hopes to brighten their day and bring a smile to their face.

I have discovered some great places in Madison to help foster my creative gene and even with the stay-at-home order, these places are taking their classes to a virtual space to share and help others express how they might be feeling through art.

Love Sum:

20171105_122119Taryn’s site is a mix of self-care and hands on activities. I have taken her classes in person and online and what I like about her classes, is she gives you permission to be messy and what ever you are creating doesn’t have to be perfect.

During this time, we need to be gentle on ourselves, and practice forgiveness. This is a crazy time that none of us have experienced before and we should not be hard on ourselves for any of the emotions we are feeling right now. Instead we should acknowledge the feelings and then move forward.


30 day 2The American Family Insurance Dreambank has been one of my go to places for enrichment – body, mind and soul. I have taken so many classes at the dream bank from professional development to watercolor painting. The Dream Curators at Dreambank, have really done an excellent job of shifting their classes to a virtual platform. I miss being in their beautiful new space, but I am grateful to them for offering incredible, free content to help ground and provide guidance during this time.

Wheelhouse Studios:

Wheelhouse Studios is an open art studio located in the lower level of Memorial Union. You do not have to be a student at the University of Wisconsin Madison to take classes. I have taken many classes here since I moved to Madison five years ago. Some of the courses I have taken include making chainmaille bracelets, blown glass ornaments, and watercolor painting. They too have embraced the virtual world and are continuing to offer classes online.

When I am feeling stressed, or need to escape, I go downstairs to my craft room and I create. I have been making a lot of home-made cards during this time. When I have a calendar full of activities, this is something that in the past has been put on the back burner. While we are on this “pause” I am discovering the joy it brings me, and the joy it brings to others on the receiving end of my cards.


I feel grateful to this time for rejuvenating my creative gene and when my calendar starts filling up again, I need to remind myself, take time to create and keep feeding this passion for a better balanced me.


95521308_10219588833844791_3710056259966205952_nMarch 25 the stay-at-home order took effect by Gov. Tony Evers and was extend through May 26. Stay-at-home does not mean quarantine. Thank goodness, nature is not closed!

Nature has been my salvation for my body, mind and soul. I have discovered incredible parks, hiking trails, lakes and wildlife all within 30 minutes of my home.

Most weekends, I would Google, “Dane County Parks” and then randomly pick a new place to explore. Being in the parks also gives me a sense of closeness to our participants at Operation Fresh Start.

To know the trail I am on, the boardwalk I am walking over, the beautiful flowers in bloom were created by the hands of our young people.

I have a new appreciation of our parks and all the staff, volunteers and our crews, who keep them looking beautiful for the public to enjoy!

Here is a list of parks I have visited so far:

  • Viking County Park
  • Lake Kegonsa State Park
  • Indian Lake County Park
  • Halfway Prairie Wildlife Area.
  • Prairie Moraine Park
  • Donald Park
  • Dane County Park Tenney Locks

It is hard to pick a favorite because they all have their unique charm.  So far, I would have to say Indian Lake County Park is my favorite. The blue loop is a good physical hike to get the blood flowing. There is the cutest little chapel at the top of an overlook of Indian Lake that makes all the stairs you have to climb worth it. Across the road from the main entrance, is another park – Halfway Prairie Wildlife Area.  Really cool old barn and home that is still standing.

On my hikes, I pack my camel back with water, snacks and a good book. I like to hike awhile and then find a scenic spot to stop, eat my snacks and read my book. There have been times the sun would feel so good on my face and I would close my eyes and fall asleep on the bench I was sitting on.

Being in nature has helped me appreciate this slower pace we are in. As most of you know, I don’t let any grass grow under these feet, but since my social butterfly wings have been clipped, I am finding comfort in the quiet.


How Quickly Life Can Change!

55869470_10216187047602261_5972124683326193664_oIt has been over a year since my last blog post! A lot has changed in that time frame. In April of 2019, I left the American Red Cross after 18 years and began my “fresh start” as the Development Director for Operation Fresh Start.

It has been a whirl wind of a year! Leaving a job after 18 years is very emotional. Especially one that has been the fabric of my life for almost two decades, but I knew it was time.  I can say, I am were I am supposed to be – helping opportunity youth in Dane County, on their path to self-sufficiency.

That brings us to our current state – COVID-19! Where do I even begin?

If someone would have told me mid-March, stores would be shut down, only those essential business are to be open, we would be sheltering in place in our homes, thousands of people are dying around the world and all in person socialization with my friends and family would come to a halt I would think I was watching some crazy sci-fi movie! Sad to say this has been the reality for almost two months.

For the most part, I have been ok. Like everyone, there are good days and bad days. I am a glass half-full type of person, so I trying to focus on the positives – connecting more with friends (virtually) than I have in the past, realizing I have to much “stuff” and have done a deep purge of my household, finding the time to lose myself in art, crafts, a good book and movies. Trying out new recipes, baking and oh so many dishes (this part I can do without). My most favorite thing that I have been doing is getting out in nature! Picking up trash or hiking in our county and state parks! The outdoors has been my salvation!

When I am outdoors in our parks, I also feel a closeness to our young people at Operation Fresh Start. Our supervisors and crews are out year-round beautifying our parks so people like me, can enjoy time on the trails. I have a much greater appreciation for the work they do! Picking-up trash in my neighborhood has been my other activity that brings me a sense of calm. I take pride in all the bags I have filled in trying to clean up Mother Earth!


I am going to use the rest of this “Stay at Home” order to focus on what I have been doing, not what I have not been able to do.

I can’t wait for the day I can see my family and friends in person, see live music surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people, eat in a restaurant, travel, get my hair cut…… but until then, I will do what I am asked – stay home, wear a mask and continue to try and help my community get through this…. And together we can!