The Healing Power of Art

March 20, 2013

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There are times in one’s life where the path we have chosen gets derailed unexpectedly and in that moment, after the reality of it has seeped into our being, that we have a choice about where we head further. For me, 10 years ago I had to face retiring from teaching little ones, the career that I held dear, the gift I knew that was my passion, I had to let go of. The next years were a challenge, medically, but slowly and surely, my body began to heal and that excitement of finding my gifts again returned. I wish I could tell you it was an easy path, but it wasn’t. There were days I felt that I would never be able to give back, never be able to share anything worthwhile with the world, and never be able to experience the joy of teaching again. 

Thanks to some incredible doctors, incredible therapy, amazing family support, and a total miracle from the big guy upstairs, my body has begun to heal this year so that I am able to once again begin to step back into that world of teaching….and teaching art which is my love. There are days I dream about being able to teach full time, days I miss the kids, their bright minds, but when I am surrounded by adults who are on their own creative path and thrilled to be there, I know that I am right where I am meant to be….and I am beyond blessed. 

Life will not always be fair. For me, 26 surgeries later, I live a miracle life. At one point I was on 14 medications a day and riddled with horrific pain. Today, I am on two, and my spirit is clear. What I have come to understand about physical pain is that I will always live with it, it will always be part of the path I am given, but I am no longer held captive by it. I have found a way with my faith, with loving myself, with being nurturing and knowing my limits, that I am managing my pain well enough. I do have days, days where I can barely crawl out of the bed, but those days, as well, are manageable for now, and I am blessed. 

Being alive in this moment, being able to function in the capacity that I can is a complete miracle and part of that healing process for me has been the gift of art. The act of creativity, the expression of emotion through line, form, shape, pattern, and texture, and the connection I have built with other creatives has been a gigantic healing force in my life. For today, I am full of gratitude to be surrounded by beautiful people and beautiful artworks that calm my spirit, lift me up, and push me toward serenity. 

Each Tuesday I am blessed to work with a gifted group of artists at The Lavretta Art Center. From beginner to advanced, they come eager to learn, eager to step out of their comfort zone, and eager to connect with that part of their spirit that we were created to share….the gift of beauty. I can’t say enough how grateful I am to simply be back in an environment where I can share the gift I know is God given with others, and be uplifted by it. Though I mourn, at times, the loss of being able to do this full time, I remain ever faithful that life is not contained by chunks of time but of moments. The smaller moments are what really make an impact on each of us, because as we string them together, we create beautiful change within our hearts, and that is plenty for me. With the nature of my spine, at any moment my discs could shatter, could be displaced, could alter my path once again. But for today, I let go of that fear and embrace my place in this one life. I embrace with zeal, with excitement, with the anticipation that all will be well. 

These pics show the artists in my Tuesday groups. I am so proud of what they bring to the table, what they learn, what they apply, and how joyful they are to share their lives with me. Being able to ‘teach’ once again means more than anyone will know. For every roadblock or tragedy in life, there will be a path to create hope, joy, purpose, and fulfillment in some capacity if we are willing to seek it out. Depression will not hold me back, chronic pain will not defeat me, and the slow apathy that is their shadow will be surrounded by the light of creativity. I can only wish this for each of you. 

We have a great group of art teachers at Lavretta and the City of Mobile offers the most affordable classes you can find in the city. Consider joining us and don’t forget, Open Studio with Ginger Woechan is Tuesday nights from 6-8pm where you can come and pay $5 and paint for 2 hours with instruction! Can’t beat that deal ever! Peace friends, seek out the light in your world…

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  1. Suzanne says:

    Hi Ardith, I just saw your message in the Magically Mixed Art Community. You are such an inspiration. Your personal story is certainly one that proves that art does heal and that miracles do exist. Through your gift of teaching I see how you are helping others heal. What a beautiful gift. Wishing you continued miracles on your healing journey.

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