On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Illuminated hands

Later this afternoon I will be working with a group of boys at Juvenile Hall. There will be at least 15 kids, teenagers, who have been detained for various reasons. With their own hands they have stolen, hit, murdered and otherwise run afoul of the law. Some are gang members, some are drug addicted. Almost none have been well parented and most are doing poorly in school.

The activity I'm bringing in this afternoon will be to illuminate their own hands. Those of you who are familiar with Judith Cornell's work and books, such as MANDALA: LUMINOUS SYMBOLS FOR HEALING, will understand the concept of seeing our own hands as sources of light and healing. The boys will freak at first (I've brought in this activity before with other groups so I can predict their reactions), but as their images emerge I will start hearing expressions such as "Tight," "Sweet," and whatever else is current lingo for what my generation simply labeled "Cool." I will post their work at the tall staff desk so they can be reminded during their stay in Juvie that some of what they do is good, is aesthetically pleasing and contains hope and possibility. I'll stand aside and let their own illuminated hands work their own magic.


  1. I love these. As someone who does energy work, these images are incredibly powerful and loving.

    I recently read in a book about how art therapy is used for healing of emtions. One of the things the book brought to light, and which is something I had not thought about before, is that part of the process of art therapy is having the person discuss what they created--whether it is a drawing, a dance, an object, etc. Do you do that as well with these kids or not?

    I found you through the EDM Ygroup (where I lurk because I am not currently drawing) and now I'm thinking I should have just emailed you but really that is how exciting I found your illuminated hands.


  2. Your blog is very BEAUTIFUL!!! Your illuminated hands are lovely and the job you're doing with the kids is fascinating.

  3. awesome project - and beautiful example. thanks for sharing - these are amazing.

  4. So not only are you in remission, loving cats and drawings, you are making a difference in these young men's lives. ATTAGIRL.

  5. I have been quietly checking your blog for several months, and am impressed by the energy you devote to your art. These hands are really quite arresting, and I can see why you youth you work with are taken with the project.

  6. This is really cool, Barbara. I have a friend who does Reiki and one time we were at the Maryland Science Center at Baltimore and they had a screen there that measured energy in the body. It was fascinating that when Pati put her hands on there, they lit up like a Christmas tree and you could see the energy surging through them. She really gathered a crowd around her oohing and ahhing. Good work with the boys. I really hope you can make a difference in their lives and how they think of themselves and others.


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