Every month we have a chat with a Lapidus member, and get them to share their words and wellness journey. First up, it’s Pam Blamey.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m a British Colonial Empire girl by birth but not by political persuasion. My father was a New Zealander, my mother was born in Kenya to British parents. I migrated from Kenya to South Africa as a teen and then to Australia with my husband and children in 1981 to escape apartheid. We settled in Brisbane and when my children went to university I did too. I studied Social Science, where I was introduced to Joseph Campbell and Carl Gustav Jung, and later did a Masters in Art Therapy. Before that I had been a nurse and a teacher of English as a second language. At some point my childhood love of fairy tales was re-ignited into a full-blown passion when I read an anthology of tales with a Jungian commentary and I knew I had found my vocation.
How did you get interested in words and wellbeing?
I came to writing in a roundabout way through my enthusiasm for fairy tales. People sometimes said to me oh do you write stories, and I always said no, I’m interested in the therapeutic use of traditional fairy tales. But the seed was planted and it began to germinate in 2016 when the universe conspired in my meeting three women who were also interested in words and wellbeing; Nicki Cassimatis, a poet; Dr Leanne Dodd, a Life Narrative Coach; and Elena Volkova, a Transmedia Storytelling Facilitator, and in November that year Createplace was born. We have collaborated in various events since then, individually, severally and as a group. For instance, Leanne and I co-presented a workshop at the first Storytelling for Health Conference in Swansea in 2017, and in 2019 Elena and I co-wrote a peer-reviewed article for TEXT Journal. Nicki and I are currently enrolled in the UK based online course Introduction to Therapeutic and Reflective Writing.
Have you got any examples of how words have helped you?
I have kept a journal since 1997 and part of that ritual has been the use of oracle or tarot cards, the words of which have been eerily and delightfully synchronistic. This journaling, and reading of particular books was especially helpful when I was diagnosed with early breast cancer in 2018. Poetry came to me in that time and I wrote an essay of my journey, which was published in the Summer 2018 Issue of Lapidus. My colleague and friend Elena made a digital story of a ritual farewell to my breast in which friends wrote or shared poetry. I am convinced that friends, family and words continue to help in my recovery.
Can you share some written words that you find inspirational?
At the time I was contemplating my treatment options for breast cancer, I came across the quote from the Roman, Seneca, “Fate guides the willing soul, but drags the unwilling one”, which was a turning point in my acceptance of my fate. Recently I started reading Marion Woodman’s autobiography of her journey with cancer called Bone: Dying into Living, and these words inspire me on many levels,
“Bone contains the marrow of my illness. In ancient Chinese painting, rocks represent energy centres that contain the life force, chi, that vital energy that connects everything. Rocks, then, are the very skeleton of the Earth. Bone is my rock through which the Earth’s vital energies flowed into new life. What I learned is the difference between destiny and fate. We are all fated to die. Destiny is recognizing the radiance of soul that, even when faced with human impossibility, loves all of life. Fate is the death we owe to Nature. Destiny is the life we owe to soul.”
How do you keep your words and wellness practice going?
My connection with my Createplace colleagues keeps me going with ideas, support and inspiration. I have been a member of the C G Jung Society for many years. I have joined the Queensland Writers Centre in the last few years, and I belong to a small poetry reading group. Journaling, attending to my dreams, preparing for talks and workshops, writing poetry when the mood arises; these are all nourishing morsels for my wellness practice. And I anticipate great learnings from the writing course I mentioned, which I hope will provide me with further tools for sharing with people the joys of writing.
Where do you see the field going next?
Arts in Health is in its infancy in Australia despite twelve annual international conferences. In Queensland we have a FaceBook page Arts and Health Network, which features many overseas initiatives which only make us drool. Funding and auspicing for individuals are rare as hen’s teeth. The only university course providing writing for health is in Perth. If we can inspire some young and passionate pioneers to break through the silos, there is boundless potential for expansion in the field of writing for wellbeing in Australia.
Where can people find out more about you?