Sand is a safe canvas.

Because it will not last.

Because it blends.

Because I feel its grit

and welcome its willingness

to be shaped

for a while at least.


And sand is a safe canvas

Because others will walk this way and see

just enough to see the sense

but not enough to diagnose —

instead, free

to offer in compassion,

a little of what life has given them

and is giving us


– NB


This collaborative 3D artwork was a new experience for me. I made it at a Melbourne Meetup run by 3 art therapists: grounding in self compassion through art. The invitation was to create a visualisation about something for which we were noticing self-criticism.

We didn’t use words or explain further. For a few minutes,  we silently created a visual expression of an inner experience. Self judgement. Is it not one of the most painful inner states you know?

Then, one by one, we moved around the table, stood quietly to experience the next person’s work, then in a spirit of compassion added something to what we were seeing.

Here’s my before …

And here’s what I returned to after others had added something with compassionate intention.

What feelings and compassionate intentions do you see expressed here?

I was amazed at the inner shift I noticed. I went from feeling resistant to anyone adding to my work … to being willing to receive what they offered as a gesture of compassion … to being delighted and curious about what was alive in each of the people who’d added to my work. Have you ever experimented with collaborative, non-verbal connection with others through art?

I was happy to simply take photos and then walk away. Enjoying that ease and emotional freedom.

I am so tender towards the parts of me that have learned how to survive through guarding against others ‘meddling’ in my mind.

And also so excited by the freedom of thriving in a space where enough emotional safety has been created to experience creative and compassionate witnessing of one another and collaboration.

We didn’t need to know the details of other’s pain. We could respect their dignity and the wordlessness of it. Yet, we could see and be seen … connect, open just a little more to the truth that to be human so often includes the presence of pain … and we are not alone in the challenge of learning kind and openhearted acceptance of what is.

Prompt: survive

MeetUp group info in Melbourne: Self Empowerment through Creative Art —