Violence can destroy possibilities and cripple the spirit. Yet, somehow, people do survive, finding hope and inspiration in different places, their creativity rekindled. Andrea Taylor has learned many lessons from a childhood that left her too often traumatized. In particular, she has found so many new and positive experiences through an exploration of creative outlets. “I like to remember the line from George Elliot, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ As an injured or neglected person progresses through Maslow’s (1959) hierarchy of human needs, something begins to happen, unexpected things, wonderful things. Von Oech (1986) talks about the four roles involved in the creative process—explorer, artist, judge, and warrior—and it is at the point of Maslow’s highest stage of “self-actualization” that they can spontaneously appear.

“For me, it was the artist. I began to imagine possibilities and to act on them. I had not sensed any creativity in me during my turbulent childhood, into adolescence, or well in to my adult life. Then one day it happened. I began to paint—simple, focused watercolor. This demonstration of deep heart-healing has brought about a wonderful new dimension to my life. I have met new friends. I have ventured out into new territory—hanging my paintings in public places, selling them to people across the country! As a teacher, I believe that what I do must reach further than the thing just done. It is my hope that I can reach those students who need my help to become who ‘they might have been’!”

When has creative exploration helped you move past old hurts and seen new possibilities? When have you helped others take those first steps?

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