I suspect, if any of us sit quietly and really think about it, we will find, as I did, that all our lives have been significantly touched by war in one way or another.  The theme is a resonant and constant beat – the drums of war – cliché or not, they are there bleeding through in events and activities of popular culture, TV, movies, sporting events, they drum through our personal and collective histories -- a dark music that underlies all others and surfaces formally in national anthems all over the world which most of us accept and love without question.  This project asks us to stop and think about war.  And listen.

Women, War and What they fed the children.

"There is no greater burden that carrying an untold story."      Maya Angelo                             

Eighty percent of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people are women and children. 

To humanize these statistics, we are gathering stories of women and their children from around the world who have experienced or live in war impacted areas – and we include many who are not normally cited – in the United States we will collect stories from Native Americans whose reservations fit the profile of post conflict societies and whose lives are burdened by a legacy of trans-generational trauma. And stories from places like New Orleans which at one point had more killings than the Iraq War at its peak.

There are many places in the developed world that meet the criteria as war zones -- past or present -- that are not well known, do not generate press.  


The Calming Breath

Psycho-neurobiology tells us that traumatic stress from an incident or living in a highly stressful environment or in highly stressful  conditions puts our bodies into survival – fight, flee, run like crazy or hide -- which is the sympathetic nervous system at work.  When Fight or Flee is the constant, the parasympathetic nervous system is weakened and it is this system that stimulates the production of  self soothing hormones. One of the first and best ways to strengthen the self soothing system is by consciously slowing the breath – used in disaster areas and war zones with great success. 

One of the most fun ways to get to the Calming Breath is by blowing bubbles -- children can be directly helped this way.  Keep Bubbles as part of your Emergency Art Kit.  


Spirit Houses

If you want to create a Spirit House or learn about the tradition, see Steve Kinne's article.  

Here's how one of us did this.  We will call her Barbara, who didn't want to build a spirit house from scratch (some people will) so she looked around for an appropriate structure.  Nothing there in her house but while walking in the pasture she found/remembered a birdhouse...perfect, that would do.  Only not that specific bird house. It was occupied and she didn't want to evict the birds that were already living there so she took the idea and went to yard sales and feed and garden stores and looked on line until she found a bird house that fit for her Spirit House.


An Offering of Beauty to Life

Giving gifts to life. 

Consider this -- Balinese make beautiful handmade offerings every single day to entice, appease and appeal to the Spirits -- to keep the world in balance.  To bring good fortune.  To show appreciation and gratitude. 

your favorite blog thus far

After reading through the blogs and looking at the numbers of you who read them, we found that the blog on The Calming Breath has the most "reads."   What we take from this is that you want more practical "what can we do to feel better:" sorts of blogs.  Toward that end, we are beginning a series of "how to" use our arts processes for your own healing beginning with a review of The Calming Breath. Scroll through the blogs until you find it. 

And then what?

After going through Ashlar's educational trauma remediation and Self Care program, we ask our graduates to spend the last two sessions asking these questions: the first series are about personal exploration:  what does it mean to have your life back? How and what have you gained from your experience now you are no longer locked into survival?  How do you want to spend your time now your your mind is no longer a personal and private mine field?  Did your family have a difficult time adjusting to your newly claimed emotional and physical clarity? 


Who We Are

We make art in order not to die from the truth. F. Nietzsche

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit educational organization that uses spoken word, writing, and arts processes for expression and healing.

We call it "serving the Personal Story".

Our goal is to build resilience in our story tellers.

And give these stories much needed public exposure across platforms.

We invite you to invite us.