I’m a great believer in the energy of rip and stick. Just on the edge of the subconscious, there’s something powerful that we can draw upon to give counsel about our preferences, choices, and direction, whether for employment, recreation, or lifestyle decisions.

The following exercise is one that I have used with people approaching change in their life (and that is all of us), and especially as they approach retirement from work, or release from demanding family responsibilities.

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I’ve used a version of it also in a museum garden setting, as part of a community programme to promote wellbeing in the over-50s. The participants found it relaxing, playful, and of surprisingly deep impact. In a workshopping group, it can promote a celebration of diversity and individuality, while helping to reinforce the commonality of “being human”.

A friend reports having done a similar exercise on a novel-writing workshop. Initially she was very resistant to doing “cut and glue with pictures”, when she had expected serious wordcraft and editing tuition. She was amazed just how effective it was to juxtapose moods, lay down textures, and select themes – graphically. Wordiness can impose obstacles to flow. Once these dissolve, plot, settings and dialogue are released.

The rest of my life

You are invited to spend the next hour or so discovering and recovering your sense of wellbeing.

This is not a competition! Please do not criticise, analyse or pass comment on other people’s work without their express permission.

If you want to share your ideas with others, there can be the opportunity later. If you want to stay private, we’ll respect this.

  • Take fifteen minutes to get yourself comfortable with a random pile of magazines and leaflets – but not to read! Give yourself permission to let rip!

  • Literally race through, tearing out any images that particularly attract you and that resonate with the theme “the rest of my life” in whatever way you choose to interpret it. (If you are stuck, you may like to focus on the theme of “what makes me want to dance’”, or “how I like to rest” or “embracing the whole of me” – or whatever.)

  • Now take a board and a glue stick/ brush and arrange any (or all) of the rip-outs in a way that appeals to you, and reflects how you feel just now…

  • Add bits and bobs, text, colours, threads in a way that pleases. Wander round the rooms and/or garden for inspiration, and/or add items from any of the “treasure chests”.

  • Look at your collage board, consider what it tells you, and as much as you can bring a sense of allowing, acceptance and joy to the experience.

  • In what ways does your board reflect the “five ways to wellbeing” described on the separate sheet?

  • Remember to take the memory board home, refer to it, add to it, and change things. You could do one for each season, or on significant anniversaries.

Would you like to share a similar activity, perhaps with friends?

email kathy@mcvittie.me.uk to arrange a session

Sources and resources

The Artist’s Way’, Cameron, Julia (1995) Pan Books p 127

Five ways to wellbeing’, New Economics Foundation, 2008

https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/

© Kathy McVittie March 2016, 2018

If you want to share this worksheet with others (I can email you an A4 copy from  poet@mcvittie.me.uk ), I ask that you acknowledge my work, and

consider making a donation of £5 to £20 to my chosen charity Toilet Twinning, via this safe and easy link to GoldenGiving.

I invite feedback on how this writing process is for you,. Please share that with me by email:  poet@mcvittie.me.uk   or by leaving a comment on this page.

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