Reflections

Vulnerability as a Strength in Working with People.

Lately, I feel I have been dancing with vulnerability and authenticity. A lot. In working as a practitioner with others, and also feeling quite run down/frustrated/blocked/angry. I often feel nervous about not being ‘perfect’, smiley, happy and positive all the time but the truth is that isn’t actually always helpful to. The truth is that I’m not the only one dancing with vulnerability & authenticity. Right?

In my practice, it is essential that I work on issues that arise within myself and I do this through self inquiry, counselling and supervision. It is only through sitting with these difficult, horrible emotions that I can see through to the other side. Its as the late Leonard Cohen beautifully puts it, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in”.

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It is not easy to heed the call to do this self work, to firstly accept that it needs doing, and then to make the time to give it the attention it needs, putting aside all of the tasks that were nicely distracting from actually having to deal with it.

It may seem logical to think that a practitioner working with others who experiences hardships, challenges and is vulnerable may be ill equipped but I’d like to challenge that notion. In a climate whereby more and more people are dealing with pressures on personal, social and global levels, none of us can afford to bury our heads and pretend that it isn’t happening. It is happening. The beautiful thing is you are not alone in this, none of us are.

So what I’m talking about here isn’t burying your heads, no. What I’m talking about is the deep inner work of acknowledging, honouring, and allowing these difficult emotions to be expressed & even witnessed where possible (trusted person/counselling/supervision).

It is through this work that I have found, time and time again, a deepened sense of connection with the people I am working with. It is through healing these parts of myself that I am able to hold/better understand the very same emotions that may arise in them. It has directly increased my capacity for patience, compassion and ability to love more fully.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same if you feel called to, to reach out for support with this and reap the rewards of the practice.

Big Love,

Em Desouza, Creative Arts Practitioner

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Returning to Art Making, Creating Representation & Taking Up Space.

So here’s a thing… Over the past few months I’ve been hibernating, incubating and immersing myself in my own creative processes. Deciding to shift my focus from solely expressive arts workshops/events to dedicating more time to my own art making practice once again.

This is something I haven’t done fully in around a decade, as my focus has primarily been on working with others. Although, I keep an ongoing reflective art making practice, this has been a purely personal process. Both, I have learnt are necessary for my self care & survival.

Born in the UK as a queer woman of Goan heritage and raised Catholic, there are limited sources of positive representation & role models for me. In most spaces, I must hide parts of my identity to fit in. In most spaces I am seen as different, Other. It is often quite challenging to exist fully. However, this lack of visibility has propelled me to stop hiding, to create representation for myself, and to take up space through existing platforms.

The themes of my work, as ever, include Feminine Power, Sexuality, Identity and Inclusion, as these happen to be very close to my heart. There are several pieces that I have been working on which I will look forward to sharing when they are ready!

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In my latest piece and first piece, I had set out to visually portray two differing parts of self: one which I experience to be highly functional, able and very capable, and another in which I experience in my depressive & anxious states which restrict my ability to function ‘normally’.

What began as an image of me dissolving & disappearing became one in which I actually felt more a sense of emergence, showing up and building strength. What resulted for me, was a personal shift in perception, from experiencing difference negatively to being much more empowered to exist more confidently, through creative expression.

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Mental Health & Therapeutic Arts

My journey with mental health has been tightly woven with my identity as a creative person. For me, art is a tool and a survival strategy, which I have utilised since childhood. Diagnosed with depression in my teens, it wasn’t long before I discovered the limits of biomedical interventions and have since used more holistic methods of healing. Inspired by the therapeutic benefits of the arts, I trained in Creative Expressive Therapies, and now facilitate workshops to nurture others in fostering personal transformation & growth.

You can see my work as part of the upcoming Invisible Illness Behind the Smile Exhibition, 26th Feb – 23rd March, 2018. The opening night and a chance to meet the artists will be on 3rd March, 2018 5.30pm – 8.30pm.

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