Thank you for visiting. Here you will find posts based on my book The Power of Your Other Hand: Unlocking creativity and inner wisdom through the right side of your brain (new edition, 2019 Conari Press), featuring excerpts from the book, success stories from readers and students, my own experiences, and drawing and writing prompts using this technique. Enjoy!
~Lucia Capacchione, Phd, ATR

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Eating

Marlena Tanner is a Dietitian and certified CJEA Practitioner with a practice on California's Central Coast. She applies my methods in the treatment of eating disorders. Because holidays are a repeated phenomenon with their own rituals and traditions, each one has memories attached to it. These memories go back to early childhood. Our emotional and instinctual Inner Child is easily triggered during the holidays, especially when comparing today's COVID-19 reality with celebrating past holiday seasons. Marlena has some sage advice about "holiday eating," which can become a problem for anyone. 

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Eating
by Marlena Tanner 

‘Tis the season for merriment, joy, and yes, holiday eating. In effect, it is also for many the season of guilt. Even those who do not struggle with eating issues can get entangled in guilt-ridden overeating, a loss of control, and body shame. This is then followed by the well-known New Year’s pattern of dieting. Let’s explore our eating over the holidays a little more and dig deeper into what we are really looking for in the food. Perhaps this will raise your awareness just enough to create a new pattern of behavior this holiday season.

It starts around Halloween with candy, followed by Thanksgiving, holiday cookies and finally more Holiday meals. In today’s health-conscious (health-obsessed) culture, this time can be met with dread. Rather than embracing the traditions with excitement, some of us begin to fear that we are doing something terribly wrong by engaging in this season of eating. It’s not black or white. We do not have to give the proverbial middle finger to the diet industry by gorging ourselves, and we do not need to abstain to take some moral high ground. We can partake with intention and mindfulness. We can listen to our bodies and our hearts. Yet, even with the best intentions, we sometimes find ourselves out of control. We find that we can’t always stop eating when we start. Sometimes, it feels bigger than us. 

It is useful to remember the most common reason for losing control around food is actually deprivation. Whether it be physical deprivation from inadequate intake (such as dieting) or psychological deprivation from the foods you don’t allow yourself (such as dieting), deprivation almost always leads to a loss or perceived loss of control at some point. Holiday food of course also carries meaning and memories and it’s particularly special because you rarely have it. All of these reasons can make it harder to stop when your body is full. 

Emotional eating and overeating isn’t inherently bad and is actually a part of normal eating. We celebrate, we come together, and we share not only food, but feelings. But when our eating hurts us over and over again it’s helpful to get really clear about what the food is providing for us. In these moments, we can utilize Creative Journal Expressive Arts (CJEA) prompts. 

Grab some unlined paper or an 11 x 14 sketchbook, a few thick markers in different colors and come join me! 

Using your non-dominant hand (NDH) draw out the feeling that is overtaking you in a moment of non-physical hunger. Maybe the cookies keep calling your name even though you are beginning to get a stomachache. Maybe you are in the midst of a late-night leftovers plate. Start by drawing the feeling/hunger. It could simply be colors or scribbles. Or it could be a personification of the feelings and thoughts. It could also be a simple outline of your body and where in your body you feel the urge or craving. 

Using the non-dominant hand helps access emotions that are stuffed away in the limbic system. This part of the brain is not directly available to the left, logical side of the brain. Holidays inevitably bring up memories and bodily feelings (the Inner Child) connected to previous holidays, sometimes going all the way back to early childhood. That is why it can be such an emotional time. 

Here are some examples: 

Next, ask the following four healing questions, writing them down with your dominant hand: 

1) What are you? 

2) How do you feel? 

3) What makes you feel that way? 

4) What do you need? 

Use your NDH to answer each question. If you are still unsure what you are truly hungry for, ask “what else do you have to teach me?” Or “how can I help you?” 

You can take this simple activity further depending on what answers you get. Let’s say that like this example, you are called to rest and practice self-love and acceptance. How might that look? Draw another image of you doing exactly that and write a letter with your dominant hand this time, promising yourself that you will do just that. If you are unsure on how to do so, you can switch hands again and ask for more guidance on how this will happen. For example, “how do I practice self-love and acceptance?” “How do I get more rest?” 

This simple activity can be done at any time you feel overwhelmed by an emotion. Scribble it out, turn to the four healing questions and journal with your non-dominant hand. You may be surprised what you find. Our cravings and our hungers have the potential to hold great meaning. Solve the symptoms like a puzzle so that you may be more present with your loved ones, and with yourself. And for goodness sakes, enjoy, really truly enjoy, that wonderful food! Guilt and shame do not deserve a place at the table. 

Happy Holidays! 

Marlena Tanner, RDN, CEDRD-S, CJEA
Morro Bay, CA








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Monday, November 16, 2020

If You Can Hold a Crayon

Never has there been a greater need for this method in working with youth. Life in a country struggling with COVID-19 is proving to be an emotional pressure-cooker for children and teens adapting to new ways of learning in and out of school, and a sea-change in their social lives. Our guest bloggers are Dr. Marsha Nelson, Co-Founder and Field Supervisor of Creative Journal Expressive Arts (CJEA) Certification Training and Sarah Chaya Kost, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and candidate for CJEA certification. Dr. Nelson discusses her extensive research with CJEA methods in schools in south Texas. Sarah Chaya shares what she learned from working with her sister as part of a case study in the CJEA Training.  

If You Can Hold a Crayon
By Marsha Nelson, PhD and Chaya Sarah Kost, LPC

Doodle drawings are the simplest of all the CJEA techniques and are accessible to anyone old enough to hold a writing utensil. It is used in CJEA to help clients become comfortable using their non-dominant hands, and to release pent up emotions. There is little planning that is required for such an activity, and there is no expectation of how a doodle drawing should turn out. In CJEA, art is viewed as being process oriented because we are focusing on emotional release. The doodling prompt is easy, simple and effective in eliciting an emotional release response in adults and children.

In August 2003, the Creative Journal project was implemented into the Mission CISD in Mission, Texas under the direction of Aurora Anaya-Dyer, Twenty First Century Grant Coordinator and her husband, Jackie Dyer, Superintendent of the Mission CISD.

Dr. Lucia Capacchione and I, Dr. Marsha Nelson, founded the Creative Journal project which brought Creative Journaling, using blank journals with drawing and writing prompts on every other page to the students of this south Texas border town.

Implementing the Creative Journals minimally 3 times per week for 15 minutes a day helped the participants to increase their social and emotional awareness. Test scores rose, fewer absenteeism and tardiness were just some of the Creative Journal program benefits. These blank journals were never corrected or read by anyone other than the participant. Group sharing was optional. Teachers journaled along with the students. The journals were kept in a locked cabinet between use.

In 2014, the Creative Journal project became Creative Journal 4 Schools (CJ4Schools) under Project Insight, a 501 (c ) (3), and moved to Edinburg CISD to work with students and teachers in Jefferson Elementary.

Creative Journaling is a process which can encourage a child to begin talking about their feelings and in turn learn about how others are feeling as well. Especially during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, children are hungry to express themselves.

Fast forward, 2020, a Creative Journal Expressive Arts Candidate for Certification, Chaya Sarah Kost, LPC of Chicago, IL began working with her 7-year-old sister using the Creative Journal method as her CJEA Certification Training program case study. She too found how powerful the simple scribbling on paper activity can be for a child.

Over the course of six months, I (Chaya Sarah Kost) had the opportunity of teaching my seven old sister the CJEA method. The first activity that I taught her was doodling on paper. I came into the session confident that it would be an easy session and that her inner critic would not rear its ugly head. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Not only was the activity not easily understandable for her, but it also sparked her inner critic into action right away.  

My sister had a hard time understanding the doodling activity at first because she was used to doing art in a structured way at school. I think that the simplicity of expressing herself freely with no limitations confused her, because it was so different from anything she had known. In addition, she had an internal conflict with her inner critic who kept telling her that “it had to be perfect” and that she “messed up.” How sad it is that a seven year old child is already viewing her artwork as imperfect because of the subliminal messages she has been taught by her previous art exposure. Thankfully, during that session I kept repeating that it was a judgment free zone and that she could not doodle incorrectly. She ended up loving her doodles and did not want it to end.

Throughout the six months that I worked with my sister, we often returned to the doodling activity when she wanted to relax, or I wanted to refocus her if she got distracted or upset. If she was upset, I would say, "think of your frustration and use the crayons to scribble it out on the paper, then let me know when you are finished." I taught her that as soon as she feels that she got the feeling out, she could stop doodling and we would either close for the session or resume the current activity. Sometimes it took my sister five minutes and other times it was only 30 seconds. Once she channeled the feeling onto the page, I automatically saw a shift in her demeanor. Each time she used the scribbling technique, it amazed me at how quickly she would regain composure. It became a “get happy quick technique” that she thoroughly enjoyed.

Working with my sister made me realize how product oriented the school systems are. In schools, oftentimes the art projects that gain classmates’ and the teacher’s praise are the ones that are the copycat model of the teacher’s, while the child who made his or her own creation is frowned upon. I am not here to blame or point fingers at schools, because I do understand that schools need to rank children and give them grades. On the other hand, we cannot turn a blind eye to the damaging subliminal messaging that a truly creative child receives if he or she does not produce a picture-perfect copy of the teacher's project. Everyone wants to be praised and succeed in school. However, not everyone is born to create copycat art.

As an LPC, I believe that the doodling technique could greatly benefit schools across the globe if implemented into their art curriculum's to help children experience freedom of expression and learn an effective emotional release technique. It seems that most schools view scribbling as childish, and art as needing to be product oriented. I bet that if the schools really knew the power of CJEA and how it can assist in their students’ emotional well-being they would run to get all their students markers, crayons and journals. Until then, we can do our part to make a difference in the lives of their students by sharing the techniques to school children, one precious soul at a time.



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Sunday, November 1, 2020

The power of CJEA to help with stress and anxiety in teenagers

Many parents are looking for ways to guide teenagers through stress in times of COVID-19. Margaret Smith, our guest blogger has been doing just that with her kids. A candidate for certification in the Creative Journal Expressive Arts certification training, Margaret had no idea what was ahead when she entered the program in October 2019. She has risen to the occasion by applying the methods with her own family members. She is helping them adjust to the "new normal" at a stage in life - transitioning to adulthood - when everything is already changing rapidly. Throwing a pandemic into the mix has been a huge curve ball, but one that Margaret is coping with creatively.

The power of CJEA to help with stress and anxiety in teenagers
by Margaret Smith

I have 4 children in their older teenage years and 3 of them are away at college this fall. The pressures of college coursework, making new friends and adjusting to a new and different social scene during the time of Covid-19 has been especially hard. My twins are freshmen at the University of Notre Dame and adjusting to college life was exciting and scary at the same time, as it always is for new college students. However in 2020 new college students across the country are also dealing with strict rules, possible quarantine, masks – which make it hard when meeting and trying to remember new friends – and the worry of getting in trouble or getting sick with Covid-19. 

My 18-year-old daughter has called and texted me a few times with worries and the feeling of anxiety or feelings she describes as “feeling empty.” Talking through her worries has helped and so has encouraging her to scribble her stress away. One of the most popular Creative Journal Expressive Arts activities developed Dr. Lucia Capacchione is scribbling or drawing your stress away. This activity is like yoga for your brain and emotions. Using a colorful marker in each hand, you scribble lines with your dominant hand, then scribble with the other hand (your non-dominant hand). Then using both hands together at the same time, scribble lines and let your hands run free over your paper. In this simple easy-to-do practice, you will be engaging both sides of your brain. Drawing is a form of mindful meditation and this practice will calm you. It has been a wonderful way for my daughter to de-stress and relieve the anxiety she has been feeling. 

Another exercise that has been helpful for all my children is the practice of drawing a mandala – a circle with pie shaped sections. I asked my kids to fill in the pie shaped sections with all the things that support them – people, places, things. This practice is a wonderful reminder for them that in times of stress and anxiety they can look at their mandala and be reminded of the many areas of their life they can turn to for support. Whether it’s a sibling or friend, petting the dog, taking a walk to sit under their favorite tree, or doing the form of exercise that makes them feel better. We all have many support systems in our life and sometimes the act of reminding ourselves with a mandala picture can be incredibly helpful. 

Margaret Smith
CJEA Candidate for Certification

The scribbling exercises and many more prompts for de-stressing appear in this book.
The mandala activity appears in this book, along with many prompts for body awareness and emotional clearing.



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Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Use of Humor in Confronting One's Inner Critic

Stephanie Houser, a certified CJEA practitioner, shares a delightfully creative journal process she did while confronting her Inner Critic. Using art and writing, she brought humor to the experience, and broke through a block she had. This approach to negative self-talk, using humor, is one I have witnessed over the years as being highly effective. Here is Stephanie's story.

The Use of Humor in Confronting One's Inner Critic
by Stephanie Houser

I wanted to tell you about a recent experience I had with my Inner Critic that really helped me to get past it in order to start writing and drawing again. 

I was drawing a picture of my Inner Critic and my non-dominant hand started drawing funny things over it - a flowered hat with a big bow, purple hair, and as I'm drawing I hear these other voices chiming in, "Give him blue eye-shadow," "Put curlers in his hair," and as I'm adding each thing to the drawing it becomes more and more funny to me. As I put the final touch on the face - a pair of cats-eye glasses - I just started laughing. It was such a wonderful way for me to negate the critic's power. 

Then my non-dominant hand wrote "You're Ridikulus! You have no power over me!" at the bottom of the picture and I made the connection to the boggart banishing in Harry Potter. In the Harry Potter series of books, there is an entity in it called a boggart and that entity is a shape-shifter that takes the form of it's observers worst fear. The way to defend against a boggart is a spell called Riddikulus: you make the creature into a figure of fun with your imagination so that fear can be dispelled with amusement. If the caster is able to laugh at the boggart, it will disappear. I found a picture from the Harry Potter movie that looked so similar to my drawing, too. 

I wanted to share my experience since I have been either writing or drawing ever day since I did this. I thought it might be helpful for others to try it this way.

Stephanie Houser, Certified CJEA Instructor
Groups and Individuals
Central Coast, California



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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Coping Creatively with COVID-19

Our guest blogger is Betty Rosen, from southern California, a gifted artist, teacher and candidate for certification in Creative Journal Expressive Arts. Like all of us, her life has been impacted by COVID-19. In moments of crisis and stress, she has turned to drawing and writing with the non-dominant hand to receive guidance from her own inner wisdom.

Coping Creatively with COVID-19
by Betty Rosen

I’ve kept some kind of a journal since I was in my teens, writing on colored lined paper to match my moods, sitting in my yellow bean bag chair, headphones on, music blaring. I used leather bound books of the 70’s, often gifts from my Dad. Then I found larger black Art Journals where I pasted ticket stubs, and collaged images of beautiful places I’d hoped to visit, and scribbled out heartbreaks. Later IBM Selectric typewriters were also a fave, and then computers entered our lives. I would journal, eyes closed, tears streaming, getting it all out on paper.

In the early 1980’s I was in a Women’s Studies major at San Francisco State University (SFSU). They actually offered a Creative Journaling class. I’d known other women who had kept journals. Our books held not only secrets and frustrations, but also daily appointments & phone numbers, visions for our future, and designs for a more welcoming society. The creativity and beauty I glimpsed in those journals inspired me to curate a Journal Exhibit: “Sharing Intimacy.” Ten of us took the actual pages out of our journals and mounted them in an exhibition case in the cafeteria at SFSU.

Fast forward through two careers in the Entertainment Business and living in Nashville, Tennessee. I knew I felt another calling. Finding Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, my friend Matt Lindsey and I committed to work this method. Those “morning pages,” pouring out 3 pages of blah, blah, blah daily did the trick for a time. Other exercises in Cameron’s book helped me carve out the time to become an artist and change careers.

My third career has been that of a mosaic artist, art advocate, and teaching artist. Yet it wasn’t until I found Lucia and the non-dominant hand journaling that I can say now I am fully satisfied. I was exposed to her work at a professional development conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I heard about her Creative Journal Expressive Arts Certification Training (CJEA) just when I was looking for something to augment my work. I wanted something that could enhance and legitimize what I knew intrinsically, experientially: that art-making heals us all.

The CJEA practice is so immediate, so instant, so accessible. My clients, my friends, my family, and I all richly benefit from these processes and experiences. It’s so simple. And I’ve learned from twenty years as a self-taught artist that simple, well, simple is hard. An art practice, for me, is like making a reduction in cooking: distilling ideas, shapes, images, down to lines and patterns.

In 2016 I moved in with my Mom (who is now 84 years old) in a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. I thought it would be a pause while I righted myself during an amicable divorce. It didn’t take long to realize that it was better for my Mom to have someone living with her at this stage in her life. She’d lived there alone since her divorce 26 years ago. It’s a beautiful courtyard building, in classic 1910’s southern California Spanish architectural style, with a terrace and 360 degree view of the city. A building that old has problems and we’ve been trying to solve a water leak for the past few years. More on that later.

I started my CJEA Program with Lucia and ten other candidates in October 2019 near San Luis Obispo, California on the central coast. We were scheduled to meet there again in October 2020 to take our last in-person intensive, graduate, and become certified. But COVID-19 had other plans for us and for our planet. We will now complete the program online in an extended version, graduating in May 2021.

When COVID-19 hit the USA, I took all the precautions recommended by medical experts. I had to repeatedly tell my Mom, who is now suffering from short-term memory loss, that life had changed. With roles reversed, I did what all of us have tried to do protecting ourselves and our most vulnerable loved ones. And then on April 12th, while I was at my art studio a block away, I was alerted that there were workers in the apartment. Unannounced. Without masks. I panicked.

I sequestered my Mom in the apartment and stayed in my studio for three days. That breach of security, of potential contamination, on top of an already stressful life being a caregiver for my Mom, juggling three part-time jobs from Long Beach to Skid Row, and studying to be certified in CJEA methods, sent me over the edge. Fortunately, because of Lucia’s work, I knew exactly what to do.

I turned to Lucia’s book, Drawing Your Stress Away, her draw-it-yourself coloring book, and scribbled it out. Those pages follow:

Sadness & Confusion & Resolve 

With my dominant hand, I wrote all the negative thoughts about why I shouldn’t or couldn’t take action. Often this is where my past pre-CJEA journaling would end. It’d be a safety valve. A vent. But then I’d invite the world to walk all over me or blame myself for events beyond my control.


I'm too high maintenance
Jews always sue
Jews want good deals
Jews want things for free
I should just trust men to handle things
Virus isn't deadly.
I'm overreacting
$ doesn't fix anything
I expect too much
It's too much effort
Nothing will come of it
I will piss people off.
Someone will get fired.
White privilege wants too much. 

This time, with the non-dominant hand writing in green, I wrote from my inner wisdom, the truth within me. The messages from my inner wisdom/non-dominant hand offered immediate relief. This gave me the courage and guidance to take the necessary next steps. The results amaze me each and every time I do this process, and when I witness others do it.

I want my home to be safe

  • Mom protected
  • Respect in business practices for safety
  • honest communication
  • time back
  • less stress
  • water not coming into apt.
  • Kim respected (Kim is landlady)

I am professional.
I value my & others work
I am a smart capable woman
I am reacting appropriately to this deadly situation.
I am not responsible if someone is fired
I expect what's safe & fair
I'm educated and compassionate
What others think of me is none of my business
Money has value, it would make life easier.

Lucia has said, many times since COVID-19, that her whole life has prepared her for this moment. Now more than ever we all need to boost our immune systems, relieve stress, and nurture ourselves and each other. I'm grateful for access to technology that keeps us connected while we reinvent our lives and shelter in place. I’m exceptionally grateful for the richness of this CJEA work, and look forward to continuing using the method and offering it to others.

Betty Rosen
Practitioner Candidate, graduating CJEA May 2021
Betty is a mosaic artist, community builder, and arts advocate.



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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

What I Learned About Myself During Quarantine

In 1997, Dr. Marsha Nelson and I founded the Creative Journal Expressive Arts Certification Training for professionals wanting to use my methods in education, medical and mental health work, corporate development, and more. We now have a community of 80 active professionals worldwide who are sharing the work in many languages. Our guest blogger is José Garcia, a gifted healer who is currently in training and is a candidate for certification. His training began in October of 2019 and one of our requirements is regular journaling using my books. Most of the journal prompts include drawing and/or writing with the non-dominant hand. As you will see, dealing with life in the time of COIVD-19 has intensified and deepened his experience of the work.

What I Learned About Myself During Quarantine
by José Garcia

I have known about Creative Journal Expressive Arts (CJEA) for a very long time, approximately 20 years plus. About a year ago last spring 2019, I mentioned to my friend, Marsha Nelson, that I was ready to take the Intensive Week of CJEA in October 2019. I felt it was the right time to commit.

As to my recollection of myself as a child, I have always been very intuitive. And I have been aware of self-help. It has been my motto most of my life. I have read and studied psychology books throughout my life. I have read all kinds of self-help books. And I have talked to people from all walks of life. By nature I am a people person.

I had an opportunity to go to a private college, but I never received a degree. I did have the life and work experience to qualify for the program. Doing CJEA gave me the idea to get this certification as an alternative to a degree in psychology. Little did I know what was to come early in the year 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic swept the world. It changed my way of life. The state of California required us to shelter at home with this pandemic. That changed everything for me. I had to reset my life for a big change in my schedule.

As I was doing my journaling, I asked how the coronavirus would affect me. I took this opportunity to evaluate myself. What did I want to accomplish while being in quarantine? I needed to take advantage of knowing myself better with the CJEA program and discover how to achieve my goals for the future.

I have learned so much through all the reading and assignments and exercises after all these months in quarantine. I have noticed my growth in self-discipline and also in my development of good studying habits. Education has always been important to me.

Without all the books from Lucia Capacchione, PhD, ATR, REAT, I would not have been able to accomplish my dreams and goals for my future life. Being familiar with Lucia's work, I came to realize that Lucia and Marsha have created something special with this CJEA program. All the studies and research Lucia has done have been very effective and one-of-a-kind methods. In my own words, journaling with both the dominant and non-dominant hands is a powerful tool for the art of healing.
This is what the coronavirus and the CJEA program have done for me: They have given me the pleasure and opportunity to get what I call my Degree in Education that I never received from college.

José Garcia



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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Awareness through Conversations with a Collage

Jack Jimenez is a candidate for certification in Creative Journal Expressive Arts Method training for professionals. In this post as guest blogger, he shares some powerful journaling he did using collage and Whole-Brain Two-Handed Method dialogues. He gained deep insights into himself, his past, old patterns he has shed and the presence of his Inner Child today. This process of conversing with a collage is a wonderful way to recycle old magazines into vehicles for greater awareness and personal growth.

Awareness through Conversations with a Collage
by Jack Jimenez

I was recently working on an exercise from Lucia Capacchione's book The Art of Emotional Healing regarding expressing your feelings and specifically about Anger - Let It Rip. It's on page 89. I was to do a collage. I found it very interesting that so much in magazines is positive. It is clear that anything perceived as negative and with messy feelings like anger are not covered nearly as much. In addition it seems that male anger/aggression is more socially acceptable than that for females.

I have had a long and painful association with anger. In fact I think the term rage would be more appropriate. I came from a hostile and unsafe alcoholic household. Anger was a common and acceptable form of expression in the home. As I ventured out into the world I learned that I really had to keep it in check to safeguard my people pleasing and caretaking. I tried to contain it as much as possible and would be embarrassed when it exploded out of me.

My work through Creative Journal Expressive Arts surprised me and I came away with a different view of my relationship and how it served me growing up.

I did my collage about anger and then did a dialogue about it. It went as follows:

Dominant hand (DH): How do I feel now?

Non-dominant hand (NDH): Awareness again how much I was impacted by my family of origin issues. It is so driven by fear. I learned survival behavior. I am no longer that child and have so many tools that I don't need anger like I did for so long and how much it saved me when I needed it most!

Jack Jimenez
Life Coach, Grief Recovery Specialist, and Candidate for Certification in Creative Journal Expressive Arts
Southern California



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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Mary Lou’s COVID-19 Story – Part 2

Our last blog featured Mary Lou Gonzalez, a certified practitioner of my Creative Journal Expressive Arts Methods (CJEA), and a Pain Management Specialist at Buentello Wellness in McAllen, Texas, on the border of Mexico. I told the story of how Mary Lou has been using my CJEA methods on herself for healing from COVID-19. 

Since Mary Lou was diagnosed with the virus and hospitalized on June 26th, the area where she lives – the Rio Grande Valley, south Texas, on the border near the Gulf of Mexico – has seen cases of COVID-19 spike. Hospitals are filled to over-flowing and patients have had to be flown out of the area or sent home to die. I had been watching news about “the Valley” closely because I have a deep connection to this region of the country. For 25 years I had led public workshops in the area hosted by Dr. Marsha Nelson, co-founder and training supervisor of CJEA. For ten years, we offered my training program intensives in Mission, Texas, where Mary Lou lives. Like Mary Lou, many professionals from the Rio Grande Valley have become certified CJEA practitioners. Dr. Nelson and her CJEA team brought Creative Journal methods to post 9-11 traumatized families, cancer patients, veterans, active military, medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, under-served children in summer camp, and students K - 12 in schools, including the Mission School District. We’ve done research into the benefits of the Creative Journal in the Edinburg Schools (K-6) in partnership with the University of Texas. 

The Rio Grande Valley, about 98% Latinx, is known for being a deeply family-based culture, often with three or more generations living together or in close proximity. There is also a high level of poverty in the region, which usually comes with less access to medical care, health challenges, more crowded living conditions, and unemployment. COVID-19 was already hitting similar communities across the nation. The pandemic has raged through Mary Lou’s area, attacking all generations, including children of all ages. 

Last week, Mary Lou called me with an update. She was still recovering at home and had seen a new physician (after her former doctor reported his services were no longer covered by her insurance). The new doctor, who was covered under her policy, had administered more tests. Much to everyone’s surprise, her tests showed no COVID-19, and no anti-bodies for the virus. It was as if she’d never had it. What is more, the doctor took her off of glucose balancing medication she had been on before the COVID-19 diagnosis, saying she never had diabetes so didn’t need these drugs. He lowered the dosage of her thyroid, which she’d been on for years. Mary Lou is 61, and the doctor reported that her lab tests indicated a level of health much younger than a person her age. Considering that she was hospitalized as recently as late June for both bacterial Bronchitis and COVID-19, and grieving the death of her 92 year old mother (who died while Mary Lou was in the hospital), the physician’s assessment of her general health is even more impressive and, quite frankly, miraculous.

Her new doctor wanted to know what she was doing. She told him about advice she’d been given at the hospital. She’d followed nutritional guidelines, was taking vitamins, and sleeping on her side or stomach for better breathing. She also told him about the other things she was doing: Creative Journaling, movement, meditation, affirmations, and prayer. The doctor told her: “Keep doing whatever you are doing. It is working!” 

Mary Lou told me that she continues writing journal dialogues with her Inner Child, who speaks through her non-dominant hand. She lives alone and feels free to have spoken conversations out loud with her Inner Child, as well. Some of the messages from her Inner Child have been: Move from fear to love. Be more patient. Put yourself first. Say No to others. 

Mary Lou reiterated that saying “No” to demands from family members has continued to be a big thing for her. She uses my Inner Family method for bringing in her Protective Parent (who sets boundaries on behalf of the Inner Child’s needs). This was especially important when Mary Lou was in the hospital and could not be part of burial arrangements for her mother. She had to say No in a situation where she would normally have jumped in and taken on lots of responsibilities. Instead, other family members had to step up and take over for her. She also had to assert herself when informed she could not rent an oxygen device upon release from the hospital. She needed oxygen when she went home on July 2. The only option was to purchase one. So she insisted on doing so, even though it was expensive. Her Protective Parent took a strong stand and got her what she needed. 

Of course, Mary Lou is sheltering at home. She limits her phone conversation time if she finds it is draining her. She continues to limit exposure to bad news on media in order to preserve a positive outlook. The Protective Parent within also helps Mary Lou set limits on her Critical Parent, who will try to criticize her and blame her for any number of things. Knowing how to put up a protective shield, she tells it to: Be Quiet! 

From Deepak Chopra recorded meditations on her phone, Mary Lou learns positive affirmations that keep her mind healthy. In this way, the Nurturing Parent Within is feeding her Inner Child with good food for thought. We agreed that nourishment and self-care is not limited to the body. It must include the spirit, mind and emotions as well. Keeping a positive mental attitude is critical when dealing with illness. Without healthy mind food, it is easy to slip into depression, stop eating, stop moving, and give up. Along those lines, she told me she had been told to keep eating and keep moving by medical professionals. And she knew from her CJEA training that she needed to attend to her emotional and mental life as well. Through all of this, and in the face of thousands struggling with COVID-19 in her area, Mary Lou told me she never thought she was going to die. Yes, when she returned home from the hospital, she did have anxiety, she cried, she had nightmares (common occurrence with COVID-19), but deep in her heart she knew she would make it.

Some of Mary Lou’s favorite resources have been drawing and moving to Bobby McFerrin’s Medicine Music, and music created by Gabrielle Roth for doing 5rhythms spontaneous movement (Initiation, Endless Wave). She also reads and contemplates a beautifully uplifting book of words and images I recommend to our CJEA community, Living Life in Full Bloom (by Elizabeth Murray). 

Mary Lou uses my “Picture of Health” process (mapping and dialoging with body parts using both hands) and creates health mandala’s (both of which are featured in my book, Hello, This is Your Body Talking). She does Healthy Lifestyle collages (from my book Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams). 

Mary Lou also recites the Rosary, prays for herself, others and the world, and expresses gratitude to God, the angels, and Our Lady of Fatima. 

I reminded Mary Lou that the CJEA methods she is using grew out of my struggle in 1973 with a lupus-like illness that has no cure. We talked about the great gift that this bout with illness has given Mary Lou. A courageous and dedicated woman, Mary Lou has found deeper powers of healing from having to “walk the talk” while recovering from COVID-19. The end result is that she is finding more vibrant health through her daily practices of good nutrition, self-care, movement, art, journaling, meditation, and prayer.

Love to all. Be well and stay safe,


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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Mary Lou's COVID-19 Story

This blog is a letter I wrote the worldwide community of certified graduates of our training program, Creative Journal Expressive Arts. It features the journey of healing by Mary Lou Gonzalez, one of our certified instructors in Mission, Texas, on the border of Mexico. She is the first person in our community to be confronting COVID-19 and is using our CJEA tools, including work with her non-dominant hand, in her healing process.

Mary Lou’s COVID-19 Story

Dear CJEA Community:

I just spoke to Mary Lou Gonzalez, our CJEA practitioner from Mission, TX. Mary Lou is our first CJEA member to be diagnosed with COVID-19. She was first diagnosed with Bacterial Bronchitis and treated with antibiotics and then tested positive for COVID-19 as well. After a stay in the hospital on some oxygen, she is back home.

Mary Lou wants all of you to know that she is recovering by using CJEA tools every day. Her mother passed away at age 93 during all this and she was unable to go to the funeral because of her condition. So this has been a triple whammy. Two medical conditions and her mom's passing.

I was very inspired to hear how Mary Lou is using all the tools in her tool kit for recovering from all of this.

Here is what she has been doing: She journals (more about the specifics later) using both hands, does body parts movement work with Gabrielle Roth's 5rhthyms music, walks, prays, does a 15-minute meditation from Deepak Chopra, has dropped sugar and flour from her diet (as directed by her doctor), drinks chamomile tea to reduce stress and stay calm, eats soups and nourishing foods, stays off of social media and away from bad news in media generally. She also had to bring her Protective Parent out when other family members looked to her for nurturing and to take on responsibilities when her mother passed. She could not be there for them as she always has been in the past. She had to put herself first and her own recovery. This was a big step and we both agreed, was a great blessing for her. She is putting her Inner Child (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs) first. I've known Mary Lou for years. I have never heard such strength from her. I was there when she quit her old job (during an intensive in Texas) and shared how she asserted herself at that time with the boss. This assertion around COVID-19 was on a whole other level of strength and inner power. I could hear it in her voice when she talked about telling the COVID-19 to "GET OUT OF MY BODY."

For those of you who know Mary Lou, she has been a caregiver for years, in her personal life with family, and in her professional work in mental health as a pain management specialist. She is one of the most compassionate and giving women you will ever meet. And now she is giving all that love and care to herself. She told me the Deepak Chopra meditations really have helped her with that, as they focus on knowing we are enough, we are worthwhile and deserving of love and self-care. And of course, journaling with her Inner Child is helping with that.  

Journaling for COVID-19 Recovery 

Mary Lou kept reiterating to me, "I have to keep up all these practices every day, every day." She said that over and over. Here are some highlights of her journaling:

An Inner Wisdom voice, speaking through her non-dominant hand, has guided her about how God loves her and she is being loved and cared for. That she is enough. That she is recovering and healing. Through her non-dominant hand, her Inner Warrior has been telling the COVID-19 to get out of her body, in no uncertain terms. (This is like the Inner Brat telling the Critic off.)

There is nothing polite or "pleaser" about the Inner Warrior. She is standing up to COVID-19 and setting clear boundaries. That is what I consider a call to her physical immune system to do the same.

This Assertive Warrior voice in us is our psychological immune system kicking in and kicking invaders out. Asserting ourselves against toxins of every kind, including mental toxins of negative thoughts, is our best defense against illness. I've seen cancer patients, like Pat Clark, become victorious over their condition with this simple dialogue.

When I called Mary Lou this morning, I'd been feeling grief over the recent death of a good friend who used to be in our local collage groups, as well as the passing of Hal Stone, who trained me in Voice Dialogue work. Talking to Mary Lou really lifted my spirits. Her use of this work to clear COVID-19 out of her system (as well as fighting the Bacterial Bronchitis), is so inspiring for me. It teaches me, and all of us, how powerful these tools are. They are nothing short of life saving.

As is common with COVID-19 (from what I have read and heard), Mary Lou also had nightmares. Some COVID-19 patients talk about this, either as delirium (which can be caused by high fevers) or as very frightening nightmares. Again, Mary Lou brought her Warrior voice in to deal with these nightmares.

I want to thank Mary Lou for leading the way for all of us on how the combination of journaling, movement, prayer, meditation, and good nutrition in a daily practice can bring about healing from COVID-19. As we know, there is no medical cure for this condition. And there is no vaccine. The antibiotics were given for her other (Bronchitis) condition. And Mary Lou has been told to just stay home. So her kit of CJEA and complementary tools are her "medicine" at this time.

Please keep Mary Lou in your prayers and heart. She is our brave pioneer in CJEA for COVID-19.

Love to all. Be well and stay safe,
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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Healing Collage: Two-Handed Dialogues with Images for Healing

Our guest blogger, Kathy Lee Bryant, was a Minister when she trained as a practitioner in my Creative Journal Expressive Arts Method. She was later certified as a Visioning® coach, teaching my Whole-Brain, Two-Handed dialogue Method of creating a collage and interviewing the images. I resonated deeply with Kathy’s journey through knee surgery, because I used these techniques while going through two hip replacements seven years apart. Written conversations with bones, athletic bodies and dancers moving freely helped me to a new reality in my 70s: a state of pain-free, flexible movement I hadn’t enjoyed for a several years. Here is Kathy Lee’s tale of healing.

Healing Collage: Two-Handed Dialogues with Images for Healing 

I created this collage as a journal entry prior to total knee replacement. The desired outcome for the collage was successful surgery and physical therapy. I first interviewed the seven images seeking information and wisdom for the healing needed for this surgery. I am now three weeks out of surgery which went very well and am progressing well in physical therapy.

Interview with the Collage Images

Using the non-dominant hand to answer the dominant hand’s questions.

Strange Face on upper left of collage.

Who or what are you? Do you have a name?

I am Discombobbled.

What are you feeling, Discombobbled?

Frustration and fear. Nothing seems to work out lately-the eyes, the chair, mattress, computer-some costly mistakes and frustration. How am I feeling about the knee? Fear about the knee? Will it work? Will I get an infection, will I be able to move freely and well, will be able to move freely enough to find new adventures with friends.? These fears are welling up and it is not helpful.

What wisdom do you have for me?

Trust that below that fear and frustration is a calm wisdom that will make things happen. Trust your Doc, he is good-one of the best. Trust the therapists, they will get you there. You won’t be in this state forever.

What do you need from me?

Breathe, stand firm. Believe all will be well. Scribble, scream, sing- let it go but not with Don—then breathe in - stop worrying - fret not, I am with you.

Woman in center holding the younger inner child

Who are you?

I am woman - the one who creates. See in my hands I hold a new you—what you are going to become.

How do you feel?

Powerful - the creator. I am the inner wisdom and peace you are hoping to be—all is well when you tap into my inner creative power.

What wisdom do you have for me?

Breathe deeply until you tap into this power that heals, brings peace and confidence. The healing is most important.

What do you need from me?

Seek your greater power - divine healing of body and soul. Sing tomorrow knowing that the Holy One, is within. As you allow this Holy One in healing creative power through you and out of you.

Little Girl with balloon - lower left

Who are you little girl? What is your name?

I am sweetheart—your inner child. I am trying to get you to let me soar – like the balloon – releasing the heart to soar.

Feelings, my sweetheart?

I am happy, light hearted - get in touch with me! Lighten up. Play, laugh, enjoy. Let go.

Your wisdom?

I just gave it - get in touch with me.

What do you need from me?

Let go, trust what brings joy. Lighten up, you will heal.

Flying Person with glasses mask

Who are you?

I am soaring. I am the future you. Moving freely –something you long for.

What are you feeling?

Light, agile, able to go wherever you want.

Do you have any wisdom for me?

Let the little child lead you. Don’t look at what is disaster but remember the work you do will make you a new person-able to go and do.

What do you need from me?

Trust that through the dark will come light. Limp to leap, hopelessness to joy, fogginess to clarity.

Two Skeletons

Who are the both of you?

Left - I am the crocked achy bones.
Right - I am the smooth operator.

How do you feel?

Left—stiff, stuck, creaking, tired
Right—Smooth, straight, leveled -energized

What wisdom do you have?

To move from feeling like the left skeleton to moving like the right bones, it takes time and work to get there. Do your part, Doc will do his.

Is there anything else you need from me?

Think positive, envision new energy and functional movement even through the pain. You will get results. Pay attention when you need different therapies.

Oh, The Places We Will Go book cover top

What are you?

A top made from Dr. Seuss book - Oh, the Places we will go.

How do you feel?

Wee! Moving freely across the floor, joyful, excited.

What wisdom do you have for me?

The top spins by pushing the handle up and down and letting it go, spinning in freedom. Where it goes depends on how you push down the handle. Think about how the handle needs to be pushed down to bring about the movement you desire.

What do you need from me?

Do your pushing. What are the questions you need answered in order for the handle to be pushed down so that the freedom you desire will come true. What info do you need to make good decisions from the docs, the nurses and the physical therapists. Keep pushing and then let go.  

Dancing Lady

Who are you?

I am a floating flexible woman.

How do you feel?

Amazingly free.

Do you have any wisdom for me?

You will be able to move again in a way that looks effortless but there is so much work behind the scenes to make it happen. Do the work and you will get to a place you want to be. Remember it is through the pain of the therapy that got you there.

Anything else you need from me?

Be persistent –you will need it in order to get through the work that is needed. You will move with grace, dancing with joy.  

Image Writing

I made a list of the images and the words used on the collage and put the collage in front of me. The following writing emerged describing the meaning of this collage.

Oh the places we will go, when envisioning a better tomorrow. 
Trusting those with skills, giving allegiance to the tasks ahead- 
Gives way to moving like a little child who follows the wonder and awe of a heart released, 
Moving freely through life--soaring to new heights. 
Like a woman holding the image of a child ready to embrace a new world, 
You are no longer discombobbled by the problems that weigh you down. 
Lighten up, let go, release the tensions and fears--healing emerges. 
No longer a skeleton with creaky joints, but bones connected moving freely, dancing through life.

Seeing clearly with eyes wide open, no longer vailed or masked— 
A winner emerges in hope, birthed from new life envisioned. 
Oh the places we will go.

Kathy Bryant
email pastorklb@gmail.com
phone/text 620-352-0073
Consulting, Visioning Coaching for groups, non-profits, churches and individuals



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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Thank G-D I Trusted My Gut

Most people understand that emotions live in the body (Butterflies in my stomach. Red with rage. That situation is nauseating.) There are many blog posts here that clearly demonstrate the role of emotions and our mental state in physical health. However, we don’t always realize that our body's  physical reactions and its symptoms also contain our intuition and deepest well of knowing. Our guest blogger, Chaya Sarah Kost, a Candidate for Certification in the Creative Journal Expressive Arts Method, listened to intuition as it spoke in bodily pain which was voiced through her non-dominant hand. She came to see that we ignore intuition at our own peril. Fortunately, our non-dominant hand can put the wisdom of our own intuition into writing so there is no mistaking it. When you read her amazing story you will understand, as she did, how important that “still small voice within” really is.  

Thank G-D I Trusted My Gut

Allow me to take you back in time, to a time and place before the pandemonium of COVID-19 hit U.S. soil. Travel with me to a month where no one wore a mask in public, to an hour when going to the grocery store did not kick-start an adrenaline rush. Times were different, people were not prepared for what was about to come. Try as you must, to remember a time when there were only a few cases of COVID-19 in America. That my friends, is where my story begins.

Looking back, I cannot believe that it took a stomach-ache and a few sleepless nights for me to pay attention to my body and heed my stomach’s warning. On the outside, everything seemed great. I was looking forward to making a 10-day trip to Israel, in March, while chaperoning a self-sufficient teenage girl to and from Israel. My responsibilities were to include sitting near her on the airplane, ensuring we made our connecting flight in Switzerland, escorting her to her place of residence upon our arrival, and then complete the process in reverse on the day of our return trip. In addition, half of my ticket would be covered by the father of the teenager I was chaperoning, as compensation for my time. The timing and price were perfect for me. A part of me was elated to enjoy a paid week off from work to tour the land as I wished, as well as pray at the holy sites of my choice and meet up with some dearly missed friends. It was a wonderful opportunity and I felt like the lucky recipient of an unexpected partially paid for trip to Israel. However, my body was reacting in the form of stomach aches in my anticipation of the upcoming trip. The week that my plans were about to be finalized, my stomach started hurting and I began losing sleep. I knew that my body was trying to send me a message, but I could not figure out what my body was trying to convey.

Therefore, on February 23rd, I went to my Journal to find out what was going on inside of me. I used the exercise Body Talks in Lucia’s book The Power of Your Other Hand (p. 103-104) to dialogue with my body. The drawing of my body included my upset stomach and the conversation was between my Vulnerable Child and my Protective Parent. To my surprise this is what my dialogue revealed to me before the American and Israeli pandemonium of COVID-19.

Journal Entry on February 23, 2020

Protective Parent: . . . I hear you; you are safe now so try to relax through this conversation, please tell me more.

Vulnerable Child: I am scared of the Coronavirus that is rampant all over the world and also in Israel. I fear my upset stomach. I do not know what to do, should I take the trip to Israel or not?

Protective Parent: What would put you at ease the most?

Vulnerable Child: Not to go to Israel and stay in Chicago. But I am scared to say no to this trip. Protective Parent, can I ask you a question?

Protective Parent: Sure, what is it?

Vulnerable Child: Are you strong enough to take me to Israel?

Protective Parent: I am not 100 percent sure, that worries me, I wish I could say yes my child.

Vulnerable Childe: K, well thanks for being honest.

Protective Parent: No problem, so what should we do?

Vulnerable Child: Probably not go to Israel alone until you are ready to take care of me and the other “kids” (my internal children).

After this dialogue, it was clear to me that I should not take the trip to Israel. However, on February 23, 2020, America and Israel were not speaking of shutting down cities, so I was still wondering why Coronavirus was the cause of my fear. My denial went so far as to think that people would laugh at me if I claimed that I was fearful of the virus, because most people did not yet realize how dangerous it was. Additionally, I was insulted by my Protective Parent for saying that it was not strong enough to take me to Israel. Five years prior, I had spent nine months in Israel on my own. As far as I was concerned, 10 days in Israel would be a breeze.

Nonetheless, I chose to tell the father of the teenager that I would not be able to make the trip with his daughter. I offered the father my sincerest apologies because I knew that he was about to book the tickets. Surprisingly, the father took my answer well and calmly said “do not worry, it is all meant to be.” To my surprise, the same day that I told the father that I cannot chaperone his daughter, Israel came out with a Statement from the Government claiming that they strongly discourage any non- essential travel to Israel. Yet, I was still not convinced that Coronavirus was a worthwhile fear.

It was not until March 15th that I began to understand the truth and insight that my vulnerable child and protective parent held. March 15th was not only the day that my state of residence, Illinois, was on a strict shelter in place order. It was also the day that I would have been scheduled to leave Chicago and travel to Israel had I decided to make the trip. It was then that I began to digest what my journaling revealed, but even then, I was not prepared for the rapid worldwide changes due to COVID-19. As each day brought new restrictions, and uncertainties I began to understand what would have happened if I had ignored my inner wisdom. If I had taken the trip to Israel, the Israeli government would have put me on a voluntary 14-day quarantine (as was protocol at that time) because I was going to have a stopover in Switzerland, thereby eliminating every reason for which I was taking this trip in the first place. Additionally, after the government put out the travel advisory statement it was getting harder by the day to leave Israel as they were trying to ground all flights. Eventually, all flights to and from Israel were completely grounded. I would have been stuck in Israel for months because all flights were then grounded until July 2020. Had I taken the trip, it is likely that my ability to work my two teaching jobs in America would have been twice as difficult due to the time differences. In addition, I would have been without all of my national counseling examination study materials, and most of my CJEA trainee work. To top it all off, I would have possibly had to celebrate the eight-day holiday of Passover on my own in quarantine, instead of with my family in Chicago.

To my amazement, my body was the voice of my intuition which was uncovered through the non-dominant hand journaling exercise. Throughout the planning of my upcoming trip, a little voice coming from my stomach kept whispering, “It is not the time to make this trip.” However, I kept telling myself that the little voice did not know what it was talking about. I was so convinced that the internal voice was wrong, because intellectually it had no counter argument to the rational part of me. It took each part of the Pandemic’s evolution to convince me that the little voice of intuition was correct. Although I was still skeptical of what my Journal revealed to me at the onset of the pandemic, I am so grateful that I listened to my intuition and did not travel to Israel. This journal entry saved me from unnecessary fear and challenges. Through the journaling process I understood the importance of listening to my intuition, even if it does not make logical sense in the moment, because ultimately it will never lead me astray.

Chaya Sarah Kost
Candidate for CJEA Certification



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Monday, June 15, 2020

Art Using the Non-Dominant Hand

When I met the artist, Tucker, over 27 years ago, he had begun drawing on his own. Tucker came to one of my workshops and discovered his inner child through his non-dominant hand. I moved away and we made contact vial phone and email a couple of time over the years. I knew he had eventually begun making art for a living. We recently reconnected and I was thrilled to find out that he and his inner child had created a large body of work which he has exhibited. The pictures speak for themselves. 

Art Using the Non-Dominant Hand

In the early 1990's I attended a weekend seminar with Lucia Capacchione. I had never heard of Inner Child work or dialoguing with your right and left hand / your right and left brain. It was a wonderful and new experience for me – the writing exercises seemed to open a curious creative door.

At the time I had been drawing for about four years, and when I returned to my workspace I began to explore working with my left hand. Eventually the work I was doing with my non-dominant hand felt more honest, full and alive than the right-handed work. So, I decided to nurture that voice.

I am a visual artist and to a large degree the way I work today began back in that weekend seminar with Lucia.

He stepped into the sunshine knowing truly that love does conquer

The sky was the sky, the ship was the ship, the moment was the moment
The woods
To speak with
Two of the voices come close together
Gray Duck Gallery exhibit
Tiny car
Child's play
Texas State University exhibit
Texas State University exhibit

w. tucker
website: http://wtucker-art.com
tumblr site: https://lightbeforelightbehindme.tumblr.com



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