Liz's colonic journey


” Ultimately, art connects us to ourselves; it shows us that which mirrors are blind to. It speaks to us from a place beyond life or death. It gives us wings, so that even in the smallest of hospital rooms, we can fly free.”

This from Stephanie’s story on the Foundation for Art and Healing website  These are powerful stories of people with chronic diseases flying – well worth a read. Amy’s Story particularly caught me in the way she dealt with her diagnosis and her family history of MS. The building of assemblages from ‘found’ items connected magnificently to the Self-Study workshop we had this week, run by Mieke Lunenberg and Anastasia Samaras.

We started off on Sunday, a group of supervisors working through the challenges and joys of using Self-Study/Practitioner-Research methodologies. It’s risky and emotional for a person to study themselves in order to find out what they know and can do, and where that all came from, and from there how it can be shared for a useful purpose. When I walk into a classroom I often wonder how I come to ‘hold the space’ so confidently, given the fact that as a beginner teacher I didn’t know how to ask questions and worse, was so involved in my own head that I didn’t notice the big kids at the back of the class passing a cigarette between themselves. You’d think that I might have noticed the smoke, wouldn’t you? Actually I think I more easily noticed suspicious parcels arriving in my classroom, since the headmaster was planting things to make us more security aware. Being aware of possible bombs in those days was a Big Thing.  Don’t let anyone tell you that nothing is different since the end of  institutionalised apartheid.

I digress. Sunday was fun. The guidelines that Mieke and Anastasia have worked out over the years of working teaching teachers and academic staff to improve their practice were very useful.

Monday we had our post-grad students, supervisors and interested parties coming to learn some of the ropes of self-study. This is the connection to the Art for Healing stories. We’d all been told to bring an artefact related to our research interest. Wow – what beautiful things and ideas and stories. An artefact hooks you into a powerful narrative once you become conscious of it. Objects have stories – our stories. And it was great to see how the stories revealed the individual’s passion (I’d go so far as to say made visible their purpose or intention for their lives) and out of that popped up the most amazing research questions. In a couple of hours!

I confess that I ducked off in the afternoon session to have a nap (what a joy that Edgewood is just down the road!), because I felt that I needed to twinkle when I hosted our guests for dinner. We went to Spiga D’oro which is usually great and light and has the best pasta in town. For some reason on Mondays you can’t make a reservation and the courtyard with the fountain is locked up, facts not mentioned on the website. They said it’s because Mondays are quiet. Well it wasn’t this Monday. We consumed a bottle of wine before we got to our table. It was already quite late, because directly following on from a day of workshopping Anastasia (supported by Mieke) gave an hour and a half public lecture till 6pm. You’d have thought that they’d be completely shattered after that – I know I’d have been wanting to be fed through a straw.  It was a lovely evening with A and M and Theresa, Bwalya, Lebo, Kathleen and Pat all chatting vivaciously.  I didn’t need to twinkle because everybody else was sparkly.  I think most of us got home round 11, but not to sleep because we were so revved.

Tuesday was just as good. If the workshop had not been on, I’d probably have done a couch day. The chemo side-effects have only kicked in late in the post-chemo weeks on previous rounds but I guess it’s accumulating. It took me till 9 to get through my morning routine – wheatgrass, Ensure, breakfast, wash, dress from the feet up (cream and socks) then the various ointments and medications at each stage. I had to have a nap after that! So I only got to the workshop at 11.  All my fellow partyers were looking disgustingly lively! This picture of the finale at 4pm courtesy Nalini (quality loss because I compressed it, I’m afraid).

All in all it was an energy creating, productive and creative time.


I fell over on Wednesday, but decided to call it Sunday rather than feeling guilty. I was recliner-bound on my Galaxy the whole day. (With the recliner smudged with pink paint from the Shavathon, probably better than Sioux’s ninja turtle kitten, who went green after she sat on her Shavathoned head!)  Pat has a number 4 shave. I think it looks great. She says her head feels like koala fur. I think she’s obsessing about our Australian trip which will be well under way this time next Thursday, weather, solar flares and SAA willing. After hearing about Lee and Mandy’s travelling travails, I’m really glad we’ve got lots of contingency in our connections.

Today’s Pioneers Plus session by Bwalya to the ‘old’ Pioneers upskilling to Blackboard 9 was great fun. Nice to feel capable and comfortable chirping from the back, but even nicer to watch a younger teacher come into her own. She did good.

At some point we need to pack, write the book on how to run the house for the house-sitter and get some forex. There’s time, right? Thank goodness writing this blog gives me wings.

Thanks for reading along. Love, Liz




Comments on: "Wings" (6)

  1. Philippa said:

    What’s a good way to ask questions in a classromm Liz? I suddenly think I don’t know how to ask questions.



    • I think you really do know how to ask questions – classroom or elsewhere. That’s research isn’t it. But what I meant in the blog is all the anxiety of having to consciously try to use techniques and skills one has been taught in theory but are not naturalised yet.
      Have you ever had that feeling when you ask are question in a class and there’s a deafening silence? I always used to ask closed questions like the ridiculous -“Does everybody understand?” Truly very few brave souls will say – “I haven’t a clue what you’ve been on about for the last half hour”!
      I’ve learned to try and ask application questions or more complex questions – which help me assess where people are and then scale down to identify where misunderstandings may lay. O course, this means keeping quiet for longer after the question is asked, to indicate a) I’m serious about wanting an answer b) I’m not really sure of the answer myself (always the best kind of question) c) give them time to think.
      I don’t always get it right, but I think I’ve learned to identify when I get it wrong!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Liz. Loved the info about the art and healing – thanks for posting the website address. Hope all the last minute ‘derangements’ prior to your Oz trip go well! Love to you and Pat xx

    • We are actually starting to believe it will really happen! There were some moments when we doubted or had visions of wheelchairs and such. The visions didn’t last long because Pat and I were disagreeing as to who would push!
      Art and healing make sense to me, as does meditation and connection to The Is as Richard Bach calls it, and music and beauty and celebrating aliveness. Back at work (pretty much) and getting into the nitty gritty, I see how easy it is to lose sight of taking care of ourselves and each other. That’s the balance/flow I need to make a habit.

  3. Dear Liz
    I’m so glad I made it to the workshop, I’m so glad I sat @ your table, cos’ with your help I now have a research question (interim). I guess that’s my wings to fly now. You did say on monday morn that I’ll hav a research question by the end of the day and u were so on the mark. You’re an amazing teacher & your students are lucky to have you as their supervisor. Thank you for your support.
    That’s a great foto, actually coutesy of shubs whose cell does better pics than my nokia, which she had kindly bluetooth (or blueteethed) to me…I’m still not in the BB circle yet, but nokia will do for now.
    Good luck with the packing and all the best in Oz.
    Losta luv,

    • Love the idea of blueteething, Nalini! Such a great mental picture. You know (As Bwalya and Theresa say when they agree with something you say) working with people who are really passionate about what they want to research, makes it so much fun to give advice. (Ok so there’s always self-doubt in whether the advice is the right stuff for that person
      – don’t be fooled by the confidence – test the advice anyway.) I love how you’ve grown as a researcher and you are so ripe for that PhD. Remember that doing the Phd is the learning journey. And it’s like all journeys sometimes the ticket gets lost or the bus breaks down, but always it’s the experience of living it that counts. And it makes for wonderful stories to tell your grandkids!
      The Oz trip will be one of those for me.

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