Celebrating Your Life: Expressing What you Feel, Do and Desire
by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., A.T.R.
I think of my life as a celebration. That means celebrating who I am and what I am passionate about. When I don't celebrate everything I feel, do or desire, I am not fullly alive. My energy wanes, I feel out of sorts, I may catch a cold or feel aches and pain. I definitely feel less creative.
Life as a celebration was taught to me by two Catholic nuns when I was an undergraduate in the art department at Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood, California. Sister Magdalen Mary and the world-renowned graphic artist, Sister Mary Corita (later known as Corita Kent) were masters at celebrating. The art department was known internationally for its colorful art and fanciful environments filled with folk art. The pipes in one of the boiler-room-turned-classrooms had been decorated with mosaics. The attitude was "if God gives you a century old convent with leaky pipes, repair them by making art out of it." Kind of like the famous lemons to lemonade dictum.
The other thing the nuns and the art department were famous for was staging wildly eclectic religious celebrations, turning the tradition of Cathlic processions into a riot of color, sound and "making a joyful sound unto the Lord." It was the era of "happenings". In fact, we partied a lot in the art department and attracted famous visitors, like designers Charles and Ray Eames, who I later worked for.
As my life unfolded, I learned the lesson that "life is to be celebrated" over and over. Child-rearing became such a focus for me in my mid to late twenties that I follow my bloss and motherhood morphed into a career as a Montessori-trained Head Start director. My intense study of the designs of Maria Montessori's self-teaching materials led me into a side-career as a pre-school toy designer at Mattel, blending my earlier art career with my experience in early childhood education.
I have always been a voracious reader. Words that inspired me during my twenties became brightly colored poetry poster serigraphs with quotes from Teilhard de Chardin, Maria Montessori, Rilke, Lord Buckly, and our personal friend R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller. I used art to celebrate and share thoughts and ideas that moved me deeply. My prints were later mass-produced, sold in bookstores and hung in shops and restaurants all over the place. One appeared in the movie, "Love Story", hanging on the wall of the couple¹s apartment. Posters from that period (under my married name in those days, Lucia Pearce) have recently surfaced in the collector's market for 70s graphics. (I joke that I am now the "Artist formerly known as Pearce". Nothing says "Celebrate your life!" to me more than my 60s and 70s posters.
Later on I learned that celebrating life also means celebrating how I feel, whatever the feeling. I survived the tumultous life changes of divorce, break-up of business with my husband, and serious illness, through the discovery of keeping a personal journal. Celebrating my emotions, by expressing them on paper, healed me. This creative celebration of ALL my feelings (fear, sadness, grief, anger, confusion, playfulness, happiness, love, peace and more) led me unwittingly into yet another career. This time it was art therapy, where emotions are given a voice through spontaneous drawing, painting, collage and other media. I also taught jounaling and got paid to do what I loved most, since I journaled along with my students.
Through journaling, I also developed the habit of recording what I was doing. Before long I was writing books about my journaling and have published thirteen of them, all of which feature work by clients and students celebrating and transforming their lives. The art aspect of my approach sets it apart from other journal methods. Drawing and magazine photo collage gives it an inherently celebratory flavor. The Inner Child comes out to play, especially through my technique of non-dominant hand writing and drawing. Kids love to celebrate, so finding that Child hidden away inside is the key to celebration. My teachers at Immaculate Heart knew that and they exemplified it. They were two little kids in grown-up bodies and nun's habits.
I also learned to celebrate my desires through the Visioning® process I created using magazine photo collages and journaling. By illustating one's heart's desire and repeatedly looking at the collage, magic happens. Celebrating one's wishes and dreams on paper is how to make it happen in the real 3-D world. It's such fun! And the last of my 10 steps as defined in my book of the same names, is none other than (you guessed it): Celebrate!