ANDREA’S STORY

Dear One,

I knew that I wanted to be an Art Therapist and Teacher from a very young age. I would practice with my imaginary students and clients for hours. Hours. And telling stories, mostly to myself at first, about an image or painting was a constant. Reading, journaling, drawing & contemplating life through art brought much-needed meditative and peaceful practices to my life that I couldn’t label until later in adulthood. I wouldn’t have survived or grown without them.

However, when I graduated from high school no one really knew what art therapy was. Heck, I still get asked on a daily basis to explain what it is- which is thrilling to me!  Anything that builds creative joy, dialogue about “real life stuff,” and more peaceful healthy livin’ in general is my jam. But at 17, it meant that the road I was setting out on would be very much a winding one and involve pioneering. Despite my fears, I knew I had to trust myself very well if I was going to follow the messages that my heart was sending me. Cultivating self-trust and self-love and being of service was and is paramount but, whew, it’s always easier said than done!

I am the first woman in my family to earn a college degree and to leave my hometown of New Orleans and my family to follow my path. So very quickly that meant I had to become…no, I had to remember each step of the way – I am my own best teacher. It meant a lot, A LOT, of trial and error – emotional, physical, mental, financial and spiritual trial and error. It meant heartache and joy that I didn’t know was possible. It also often meant taking a longer path to a goal than what was sometimes “necessary” – I say this in hindsight of course. It also, of course, meant that I often had to translate the steps toward my goals into what I could afford instead of what perfectly matched my vision – a most powerful learning tool that is largely shaped by my cultures, family, and other artists.

I was born to teen-aged parents and despite being very young, they had a strong vision for their family and used resources wisely. They valued my education and always voiced strong opinions about EVERYTHING!  My mother nurtured my spirit and valued a good conversation into the wee hours. She also loves celebration and made me birthday cakes with the latest theme, sewed costumes with love, and even once helped me make some really cool puppets for a school assignment. How I wish I still had those! My mother also has always insisted that prayer was the most important loving and natural conversation in Life. My father always demonstrated an unshakable entrepreneurial spirit and appreciates tradition and ritual. My family and I have shared incredibly beautiful moments, abusive experiences and very painful silences too.  All of these experiences and values planted seeds for my journey beyond measure.

Another significant impact on my journey is the city of New Orleans – my birth home, my bittersweet first love, gorgeous teacher of paradox and discernment, my teacher of forgiveness, my tantric lover, my….you get my point!  When your home is intense and contradictory it inspires your journey in ways that you are often surprised by. And sharing about my home never fails to bubble my emotions. But most importantly- New Orleans taught me to always look deeper than the surface or beyond the story at hand. That’s why, ironically, during each step of my formal education I identified more and more as “self-taught.” I was always digging deeper into my own experiences as well as participating in, witnessing, and passionately pursuing often ignored or hidden stories and histories.

These values, experiences and deep questioning paved my heart’s path which led me to work in a variety of institutions including residential treatment, non-profits, federal prison, county jail, alternative & public schools, Epilepsy Foundation, District Attorney’s office, public housing, methadone clinics, community and senior centers – to name a few. I have listened deeply to the hearts of my students, my clients, my coworkers, my family and my communities. I have been educated and humbled by acts, experiences and stories of love, loss, despair, courage, addiction, racism, sexism, community, isolation, resilience and the incredible gifts of each and every person. Each connection is an invaluable gem for which my gratitude and love can never really be adequately expressed.

I would not have been able to follow my heart and gut and most importantly to say, “No!” to projects and jobs that weren’t a good match for my values if I didn’t have the time and financial freedom that working in restaurants provided. While it was very challenging and financially scary to balance at times, the restaurant industry allowed me to understand myself and the people in my communities from many views that I continuously find invaluable. Restaurants also honed my southern hospitality and collaboration skills that I use personally and professionally everywhere I go.

My academic studies have always been largely driven by an endless curiosity about our human-ness and by my underlying value – whatever I learn is another resource to share. I earned undergraduate degrees in art education and psychology in Louisiana and Colorado. I earned my graduate degree in Clinical Art Therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy with Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, CA. My spiritual, emotional and physical pursuits led me to become a registered yoga teacher and practice meditation. And my work as an artist and activist especially in mentoring youth led me to more work in restorative justice with a certification in mediation. Contemporary and ancient restorative justice methods greatly inform my work especially in resolving conflict in relationships, the classroom, and workplace.

Each and every experience and relationship has profoundly shaped my journey and so I arrive today as teacher, art therapist, life enthusiast, and most importantly muse-detetctive. My offerings weave ancient & contemporary healing and creative practices with your unique experiences and expressions to meet you where you are and to support where you’re growing.

My curious heart looks forward to hearing what has shaped your path. I want to honor where you’ve been, where you long to go and support your growth with full access to all your gifts while respectfully acknowledging your shadow’s role in the process of living in our wellness and thriving in sharing our gifts. I want your therapeutic efforts to be sustainable and support a creative journey you feel excited about despite the fear and hardships that inevitably come with it.

I will be your biggest fan and always strive to ask challenging questions and offer creative practices that serve your growth.

How I wish we could next meet on the porch while sipping sweet tea in the late afternoon breeze with the smell of jasmine in the air!  But for now please don’t hesitate to email me to set up an introductory phone call or to ask any questions!