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“Your Darkness Is Shining”

The Journey Out: from Darkness to Light

How does it feel to find freedom?

What does the path through depression into full health look like?

This winter 2012 I was honored to create an image that speaks to that healing work, collaborating with students from three high schools: Lindberg, Maplewood Richmond Heights, and Kirkwood. CHAD’S Coalition—Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide—commissioned a mural to enliven their space that could represent this awakening to hope.  I drew the composition on three large canvases, and the students chose the colors that would create the impact of their message. From left to right, here’s the intention of each panel:

Trapped in a Maze (Lindberg High School) ::::::::::::Desperation. Darkness. Feeling stuck, confused, bored, vacant. Numb. Alone. We began by sharing words that describe depression– like being trapped in a maze without help, energy, or a sense of the way out.  Alongside the maze, the snake eating its tail, or ouroborus, is an ancient symbol representing the perpetual, cyclic renewal of life –or, “primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force or quality it cannot be extinguished. (Wiki)”  We explored how, even in a feeling of absolute emptiness, there can be a quality of surrender that connects us to all humanity throughout history, to the bigness of the cycle of life, death, rebirth that exists in all of Nature.  Then a “happy accident” (an unplanned visual event that steers the plight of creation, in art as in life) brought a new layer of hope – a student discovered a bee-line through the maze, an “escape hatch”.  She chose to highlight this route with bright yellow, mirroring the glint of wisdom in the snake’s eye, as a testimony to the hope that is ever-present, whether or not we can sense it yet.

Finding My Path (Kirkwood High School) ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::You. Are. Here. An orange dot draws your eye to the start of a large labyrinth. Present moment awareness is the gist of the central panel.  Unlike a maze with dead ends and endless twists and turns, the apparent complexity of a labyrinth belies its utter simplicity:  you will reach the center if you take another step.  Like the path out of addiction or depression, mustering the momentum to persist in baby steps will inevitably lead you to your goal.  No traps, just willingness to keep on keeping, keep on opening.   The edge of this panel foreshadows the lightness that will come as we keep turning our attention from the overwhelming chaos and pain to the sweet breath we are taking, in this moment. Just this moment.

Freedom in Expression (Maplewood Richmond Heights High School) :::::&, EUREKA!! With the foundation of committed self-care, with patience and persistence, comes the confidence to create again. To feel again. To sense pleasure and possibility, and to interact with others again. “This too shall pass” – and finally, it has.  With gratitude and exuberance, we can experience the Technicolor fireworks of our pure humanity again – but now with greater depth and compassion, honed and stronger for the darkness we’ve walked through.


Our final creation speaks to the process of transformation, the relationship of dark to light. As one student artist, Ian, remarked: “Your depression doesn’t define you. It’s a representation of your complexity.”   As we nurture ourselves, we are more equipped to see and support others in their full complexity as well.

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The CHAD's Coalition lobby before the mural (comissioned to cover the old bank 'teller windows'.)

Cover of a zine full of quotes and wisdom nuggets i made to thank the students for being awesome. Inspired by the ALEXANDER lyric.

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About me
Educated as a painter, learning as a yogi, and playful as a baby monkey: I am a willing human being __ emphasis on the Be. I am traveling-learning, designing projects to feed my inquiries while attracting adventures and connecting with tribes that grace my journey with experiential wisdom in creative healing and joyful sustainability. My passions are catalyzing radically simple + beautiful + fun intentional community, sparking spontaneous collaborative singing and dancing, acroyoga, permaculture, and loving children.