Tag: Self Development

Fierce Catalyst: Artists, the Creative Life & Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness


Post of Feature Catalog Essay for Mindful:  Exploring Mental Health Through Art:


Fierce Catalyst: Artists, the Creative Life & Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness

Wellness is best envisioned along a spectrum, having at one end mental health and the other mental illness. When thinking on the status of the mind, however, most people have a strong connotation only of the latter. How to address mental health? And what is the connection between it, mental illness and creativity? Mental dis-ease remains “hidden behind a wall of secrecy and isolation,” states the exhibition statement for Mindful. Abolishing that stigma should be inspired by the spirit of creative artists, that segment of the population whose way of being in the world brings them variously close to both ends of this spectrum.

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There’s a fixation on health in this country– but the wrong focus. In attempt to fix the body and eradicate illness, ‘wellness’ visits are made up of tests and screens as precedent in a culture of doctoring… to dispel fear of cancer, heart disease, infectious disease. But what is feared the most is avoided. Mental health is utterly terrifying to most folks. Mental illness is vilified and the proper nature of wellness along a mental health spectrum is misunderstood. Yet mental health, which affects the somatic, is the most crucial aspect of individual and societal overall health.

Wellness has to do with the mind, far more than any physical debilitation that’s occurring due to imbalance. Wellness is acceptance, comfort, ease, connectedness to self. It is balance, and an arching toward wholeness defined at the mental health end of that spectrum…where at the other lies illness, lack of ease.

Art allows for ease.   (more…)

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Feature Catalog Essay Published for “Mindful”

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Fierce Catalyst to Fight Stigma


“Someone you know lives with a mental illness.” So starts the bold yet accurate statement for Mindful, Exploring Mental Health Through Art, the upcoming September exhibition at the Society for Contemporary Crafts in Pgh.

I’ve written the feature essay for the exhibition catalog, to be shared in full after publication. I was honored to have at my disposal the participating artists’ statements, in order to weave their voices into my reflections, on a topic I have been writing and speaking on for years.

Creative artists are a segment of the population whose way of being in the world brings them variously close to two poles– extreme wellness and extreme discomfort. Mania, anxiety, depression, mood or personality disorders can inordinately pervade their lives as they attempt to make sense of inner pain and darkness. There’s little doubt an artist’s balance at times goes by the wayside– but namely its in the chase to sustain a living while creating!

But Art allows for ease. For the most part, It keeps its makers well. Artists put their sensitivity, their ill, their abundance of feeling into the transformative fire of creation.  I propose that eradicating the stigma of mental illness can best happen when the same fierce energy that defines the creative life is applied as a catalyst to this battle…

Check out the link, go to the exhibition and see the work, read the artists’ statements and essay, and advocate for acceptance that there is nothing more significant than our mental health.

Image:  Jan Vojta c 15   Charcoal, Pen & Ink


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Invited to write feature essay on Creativity, Artists & Mental Health


Ian Thomas, Compensation, 2013 Slab-built, molded earthenware, slip, electric fired, paint, image transfer, charcoal, 18” x 8” x 8” thread, glue 96” x 84” x 48


Mid-Winter, I was commissioned to write the Feature Catalog Essay for The Society for Contemporary Crafts‘ upcoming exhibition,“Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art.”

This will be a unique exhibition offering powerful artistic responses on the role creativity plays in self-expression and mental health, as well as looking at the links between artistic tendencies, attempts to live creatively, and mental dis-ease. 

Looking forward to reflecting and writing on this in the upcoming months….

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Spiral~ an Ebook anthology

SpiralCover scan



I’m so gratified to announce that I’ve compiled the slew of writings that were my creative output of 2013 into an eBook.  Spiral:  An Anthology of Writings in Self Development, Mental Health & Creativity is essentially the product of six months’ time and gathers together in one place 44 unique articles and essays on Self, Mental Health and Wellness.  

Titles range from “Unspoken Bargains in our Daily Relationships” to “Getting Clean on Addiction Policy in the U.S.” to “Early Wounding & Dysfunctional Family Roles”… and much in between.  There is something for everyone intent on better knowing the course of their life or relationships, navigating tricky waters of dysfunction in family, embracing  creativity in their career, finding balance in their life and perhaps a little peace with uncertainty.

Purchase this eBook  directly from this site and send it along directly to a friend’s desktop, tablet or reader in PDF form as a unique lovely present for anyone who needs some end-of-year stimulation and renewal!

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“Innovatively pushing boundaries & merging disciplines”

“Lisa is a presenter whose staggering scope of work defies categorization and stereotyping, and who teaches – through the example of her career – the notion of innovatively pushing boundaries and merging disciplines.”

~Michael Kumer, Nonprofit Boards Management

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Kids, Emotional Intelligence & Psychosocial Ed.


Lisa A. Miles  c 2013   Published on www.lisamilesviolin.com
All Rights Reserved

Anyone read Jennifer Kahn’s article in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday?  (Reading, Writing and Emotional Intelligence, 9/15/13).  An overview of an excellent topic–the awareness and utilization of Emotional Intelligence where it has its most profound effect, within childhood.
“Emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn,” says Yale senior psychological research scientist Marc Brackett, as quoted in Kahn’s well-researched piece.  That statement of course could end, as well, with the words and expressions “lead,” “be effective”…”function.”  The origins of each of these  have their start in childhood, and it is in childhood that essentially this component of the self be best understood and nurtured.
I’m taken with Emotional Intelligence (EI) theory– ever have been since first reading not the works of Daniel Goleman, who has well made it a household workforce name, but his wife Tara Bennett Goleman.  Her Emotional Alchemy, with elegant intro. by the Dalai Lama, captivated my senses, as I saw within its pages wisdom similar to the work of my fellow artist friends.  Mindfulness, creativity, and emotional response to life and challenges was something that resonated with me.  
Brackett continued on emotions: “They affect our attention and our memory.  If you’re very anxious about something, or agitated, how well can you focus…?”  This is but one aspect of EI, which addresses everything from being able to read the emotional dynamic of a situation to being able to more responsibly capitalize on and transform our own emotional assets and liabilities. (more…)

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For Your Pain & Suffering

Lisa A. Miles  c 2013   www.lisamilesviolin.com
All Rights Reserved



Marsha Linehan, founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, has pointed out a belief that has resounded with many, judging by support groups for families of the mentally ill and subsequent literature.  Essentially– Pain, with acceptance, is just pain.  But pain without acceptance is suffering.

Its useful, inspirational application spans everything from natural disaster trauma to tremendous burdens at work.  

Note the word “just.”  Loaded, you say?  Sure.  But nothing like what comes with the alternative.  Pain still, but not that which will drive one to misery.  Pain still present and identifiable, but not allowed to overwhelm, which is a far deeper level.


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Two pieces on Dysfunctional Families and the work of Dr. Charles Whitfield

“Helpful, good books have been written over the last few decades about dysfunctional families and the wounding that is often carried from childhood into adulthood. Many have incorporated the belief that children in such families adopt particular roles which help them to manage and ease the pain.

Dysfunctional families are affected by mental illness, trauma from tragedy, or simply by being headed by individuals with very poor parenting skills. There is no pretty way around that statement and plenty of authors have courageously and professionally touched the subject, as a simple Internet or library search will show….”


View this article where it was originally published on PsychCentral

Lisa A. Miles c 2013



“Charles L. Whitfield’s 1987 book Healing the Child Within is aimed at adult children of dysfunctional families. The ideas he presented synced up with the 12-step recovery movements for families afflicted by alcohol and addiction (Al-Anon, Nar-Anon). It made perfect sense that the pain of those with alcoholic parents was similar to that of individuals in families whose parents were dysfunctional even if not abusing substances….”


View this article where it was originally published on PsychCentral


Lisa A. Miles c 2013

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Teaching Mental Health in Junior High

View this article where it was originally published on PsychCentral


“Some children might start identifying what they are going through at home with an ill parent; others could begin to formulate an entirely new way of being when it comes to the stress and tension they’ll meet with throughout life. Many lives could be potentially changed if young people from junior high on began to learn signs and symptoms….”


Lisa A. Miles c 2013

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