Perseverance

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This morning, I felt like dancing! I made a few moves in front of the mirror, and in my hallway. It just felt good… I felt free!

I also drew for a little while… very little though… I very quickly become discouraged when I can’t make it look that way I want it to. And I am just learning, so you can imagine that my drawings seem childlike.

But unlike a child, I take it way too seriously! It takes me so much time to draw because I don’t want to make any mistake and then I have to start all over again! I watch myself getting frustrated and suddenly I realize how funny it is! It is by practicing, by trying again and again that we learn! How many times does a toddler fall on its bum while learning to walk?

I find it so hard to draw and to add colour once the lines are drawn! So often, I can’t remember how I filled the drawing the last time… but very slowly, I give it a timid try. Not only I am not satisfied, but I just find, again, that what I have done is lost…

But if I let it sit for a while, I realize it’s not so bad, I can erase, and try new lines or add new highlights. And when I dare to try, when I push the fears that paralyze me aside, then, oh! wow! my drawing comes to life! It slowly becomes a pleasure to see it grow, just like a baby.

Last night I was reading about an Indian saint, Mâ Anandamayi, and her writing on the importance of consistently maintaining a practice… whether it be drawing or otherwise; practices bring us to a place of peace.

No matter how hard it often is for me to draw, drawing is becoming more and more an essential part of my life, whether I like it or not. It brings me back to a peaceful state of mind, which is  so precious!

I know, it may seem strange, seeing as I  just described how I would sometimes like to through my drawings out a window… but it really is a wonderful gift!

Perseverance!

– Méli

Drawing movement brings me Light

dessin-moi-5-wuafbaI’ve been hibernating for months now., I haven’t fed my blog,  written, danced, or even moved much (as in exercise)… but I’m still alive and I still need to draw dancing bodies, and also to dance myself. This need started gnawing at me again, waking me up and pulling me out of my lethargy. Unconsciously, I knew needed to dive back into this practice and slowly, I started to draw lines of a picture that I had  set aside of a ballerina in movement.

Every day, for weeks, I drew it, even if only for a few minutes. It brought my energy back, and I started to want to move again, to dance, to draw dancers… to enter into the dance of life! It’s amazing what an impact drawing dance has on my soul!

I feel an urgent need to find images of nude bodies dancing in order to carry on with this art-therapy journey. This powerful pull towards drawing dancing bodies allows me to feel at one with their movements, to release me from my fears that stop me from moving myself.

Because of my Multiple Sclerosis, walking or even moving have become challenging, and just going to a dance class can sometimes feel more like preparing for an expedition, but amazingly, drawing dancing bodies helps make it real… it takes on the colour, the  sound and the smell of a pleasure-filled trip to the beach, the feeling of a passionate desire to live, and to breathe! And it gives me the strength and the desire to move and to dance, as long as I can draw it I feel like I can do it!

I really want to draw dancing bodies with reduced mobility, or anyone else like me who has difficulty with movement, people  in contact with the fragility of their body (poor health, handicaps, etc.).

I keep thinking of Dave St. Pierre, a dancer who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, and who has this amazing energy, and a profound need to constantly defy the limits, to laugh at statistics, and to keep overcoming the barriers in dance, and the limits of the body. He doesn’t care about political correctness… he dares to always go further, to innovate, to shake up public insecurities, to show light where some see only fire. He has my profound admiration for daring, for his constant electrifying energy dedicated to not just face up to fears, but to smash down the walls of our minds. And he does all this with a body weakened by Cystic Fibrosis, always knowing that he will probably die young (35 years is the average). Fortunately, he received a pulmonary transplantation and he continues to pursue his dance projects, often working on several at a time.

I am asking for your help. If you have images of people dancing, ideally nude in order to be able to really feel and experience the movement while drawing, please dare to send them! They will go no further as the goal is only to draw them, not to expose them in any way. It would be a huge support to this art-therapy process, this journey, to help those, like me, whose movements are limited, to nonetheless live with and embrace movement… to join the dance!

– Méli

Photographing my “different” body

Meli_1_wuafba   I have multiple sclerosis (diagnosed over 12 years ago) and my mobility has been reduced over the past few years. I’ve gone from using crutches, to a walker, to a wheelchair to get around. The first few years following the diagnosis were very difficult, but pushed me to begin an inner process during which I was invited to experiment with photography and drawing. I was not someone who had ever even dared to draw before, nor could I imagine myself doing photography, especially not nude! Self-judgment is so strong! I always tried to hide from cameras, even when I was fully dressed. But bit by bit, I tried – I dared – hoping to at least breach a gap in the prison in which I lived; a prison built by years of self-criticism, of feeling lesser than others, of old psychological wounds…

So after hesitating for a long time, I took the plunge and did a first photo session, then another. I came to see that my body had been judged for so long by my own mind that SO wanted my body to be different, more attractive, slimmer…and it was a huge step forward, accepting to reveal it, not only to the camera lens, but also to the person behind the camera! Little by little, the gesture of undressing became less difficult and took on a sense of lightness, like a return to innocence, to the truth, to the very root of being human!

Meli_3_wuafba

My desire to participate in nude photography was based much more on this deep need to open up from within rather than any pleasure derived from posing nude. I felt, and still feel, a very strong need to see myself in a gentler way, and especially the most vulnerable aspects of me. I’m also learning this by photographing others, starting with the friend who photographed me! Being on the other side of the camera brought a whole other dimension.

It helped me to soften my usual perceptions, and to start seeing the body like a small child needing to be treated with care, and also allowed me to get in contact with the more vulnerable parts that are often ignored and hidden, both in myself and in the other. You must admit that vulnerability is not terribly fashionable in a world that worships strength and beauty, youth, performance and efficiency, not to mention our most sacred expectations of complete independence!

Meli_2_wuafbaIt’s amazing to be able to recognize and admire the beauty, the magnanimity, of a nude body, and to finally make peace, at least a little bit, with my own body, just the way it is. It feels good! And so much more so, because I am living in a body that is weakening, that suffers, responds differently to movements once taken for granted, and is becomes, for now and  maybe forever, more limited. It’s a real challenge.

Like others with physical limitations, I find it even more important to do this inner work to liberate the body from everything that keeps it imprisoned, and simply accept to reveal it, to honour it, to recognize its beauty and it’s greatness, which coexist at the very heart of the fragility that is so scary to us and to those around us.

Nude photography definitely contributes to this process of acceptance… and I’ve discovered that drawing is also an incredible practice that has changed my life! It has also become a better window through which to see the body, but also through which to see the whole world, and my life!

– MeliMeli_4_wuafba