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!

Monday, December 12, 2011

From fear to pride

I had such a good time with the girls in Juvenile Hall this afternoon.  I came up with a new idea - out of my very own head - and decided today's theme would be about learning something new.  If that sounds ho-hum to you, consider that these girls have mostly failed in school, in citizenship, in social skills, and just about everything else.  Being confronted with something new to learn can fill them from anything from rage to terror.

So we discussed the concept for a while, recalled new things we had learned through the years, and then I announced that I was going to teach them something new today.  I said it was a craft project and would be easy for some and harder for others.  Having said that much I asked them to check in with themselves about how they were feeling now.  The anxiety was mounting although some also admitted to be excited as well so we talked about blended emotions.

The project was iris folding, a craft that originated in Holland.  None of the girls had ever heard of it and when I held up this sample they were even confused about what they were seeing.

I kept the group together and we went through it one step at a time.  Periodically I had them do a personal recheck to see if the anxiety was going down.  It always was.  At the very end, as they looked at their finished pieces, they were feeling pride - not their everyday emotion.

I asked them to try to hang on to this activity so that, when confronted with a new task in the future, they can remind themselves that the scary comes at the beginning and dissipates very soon, leading to a personal sense of pride.


  1. A great life lesson, and a cool craft to use to teach it. Iris folding seems to work best if you're patient and focused, and the result is so much more than the sum of its parts--so those are also lessons packed into the activity.

  2. Hi Rebecca - You are absolutely correct and "focus" is not one of their skills!

  3. I think this was a very successful event. Too often kids who aren't even in trouble still have trouble thinking they can do anything right or worthwhile. That's why the arts are needed in the schools! This lesson may travel with the girls all their lives.


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