Monthly Archives: December 2014

Madonna and child

At this time of year, images of madonna and child are everywhere. (No, not THAT Madonna.) For me, the power of this image is not in its religious context, but rather in the context of the many years I spent working in foster care. Those of us working in foster care are always hoping for a beautiful, loving connection for each and every child.

Here are some madonna and child images from around the world.

Japan: Sadao Watanabe, 1991

France: Pablo Picasso 1921-22

Ethiopia: Artist Unknown, ca1450

England: Henry Moore, 1943-44

India: Artist and date unknown

Italy: Andrea Della Robbia,16th Century

France: Henri Matisse, 1949

For it is in giving that we receive

That’s some wisdom from Saint Francis of Assisi.

Stained glass window in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

If holiday giving is your thing, and you support organizations that benefit kids’ learning, development, expression, and self-worth, you’ve come to the right blog.

We must not stint on our investment in our children. They are our hope and our future, and give us so much joy in the present! Last year I wrote a couple of posts about some organizations that support children and teens in profound ways. They are still my top picks, so I’ll refer you to those posts.

Most people who are acquainted with me personally know that I am a summer volunteer and member of the amazing, transformative Camp AmeriKids community. Camp’s mission is “to enhance the lives of youth living with the challenges of HIV/AIDS and sickle cell disease by providing an enriching summer camp experience, year-round skill building and a supported transition to adulthood.” Here’s what I wrote about camp last year. This year a new year-round mentoring program has been added. I cannot say enough about the wonderful ways this organization changes the lives of everyone it touches! Find out more at

Other orgs I listed last year:, Project Rhythm, 826 Valencia, and Girls Write Now. Please check them out here. They all continue to do fantastic work promoting children’s literacy and artistic expression (which are so intertwined) and changing lives.

May you give, and may you receive. Happy holidays!

Happy Hanukkah

“The original miracle of Hanukkah was that a committed band of people led a successful uprising against a much larger force, paving the way for Jewish independence and perhaps keeping Judaism itself from disappearing. It’s an amazing story, resonant with America’s own founding, that offers powerful lessons about standing up for one’s convictions and challenging those in power.”  From The True Meaning of Hanukkah, Hilary Leila Krieger, 2012

Ben Shahn, Menorah, 1965

Marc Chagall, America Windows, 1977

Hide and seek

kids art040

It’s a joy to be hidden but a disaster not to be found. -D.W. Winnicott

True in any game of hide and seek, and meaningful in deeper ways. Winnicott, the British pediatrician/psychoanalyst, was a wise and playful man, and an important influence for me in work with kids.

A fifteen year-old girl comes into my office and refuses to speak, to draw, to do anything. We have known each other for years, have seen each other every week in art therapy sessions, and have lots of history together. Ours is a strong relationship, but these days she’s pretty unhappy, and having to come to therapy makes her feel even worse. She barely even bothers to roll her eyes at me when I talk to her, just puts her head down on the table. It’s going to be a long 50 minutes. So I start drawing her. There’s really not much else I can do. For a long time, she doesn’t stir. But she has been listening to the scratching sounds of the colored pencils I’m using, and she is curious about what I’m drawing. Eventually it’s too much for her, and she lifts her head.

at015She is visibly pleased by the drawing, or maybe just by the fact that I drew her, and we chat a little bit, nothing heavy, before she leaves. She thinks I ruined the drawing with those spikes coming out of her arms, and I can’t disagree. She laughs when I tell her I was just trying to draw her porcupine quills. Things feel comfortable, things feel safe. We are both relieved.

The following week she’s not talking again.

It’s a joy to be hidden but a disaster not to be found. Sometimes the best gift we can give is to be present, and wait until someone wants to be found. And find a way to remind them that they probably really DO want to be found.