Tara Buckler from KY!

Co-Creation, my Dramatherapy business, is at the point of Locking-Through. The intention has been building for years and actually is manifesting now- In Nov., my Office/Playspace in Studio 1 of the Art Sanctuary in Louisville, KY will open! In it, I will co-create voyages of Wellness and Expression with individuals and groups. Together we will build connections on land towards sharing Expressive and Healing Arts Cruises on the River. The journey has been like going through the Ohio River’s locks and dams…

On the Rivers there are locks and dams.

This is where the infamous undertows are, and sometimes people are fishing by the doors

To go THROUGH them, sailors refer to the Cruising Guide or chart, call the lockmaster on their radio or cell phone, and say “Lockmaster, this is the -type of vessel/name of vessel- requesting permission to lock through.”

Every dam/lock is different. It seems every lock-master requires accent or regulation adjustments such as ‘All Hands on Deck Wear a Lifejacket,, Wait for other vessels, Switch to port or starboard”…

Crew-member work FAST to get the fenders and lines ready in a classic dance of HURRY UP and WAIT

Gigantic metal doors slowly CREAK open

WAIT for the confirmation sometimes verbal or WATCH for the light to turn green

GO into the dam/lock SLOWLY. Sometimes at the last minute rapidly CHANGE fenders, lines and steerage sides

Continue into the dam/lock slowly

STUDY the tie-up-things…every one seems to be a different shape, height, etc. PRACTICE my lasso moves to the side…alongside the horns…

THROW the line around the horns, HOPE they stick, if not throw again and then HURRy to cleat it/Make it Fast…

WAIT___in Stillness__Wait….BREATHE…TRUST…

Now the Lockmaster IS in control.

FEEL the vessel go up or down as it rides on this massive elevator, listen to the creaks-groans-is this the song of whales?- then HEAR the waterfalls as the doors close

SEE the birds, sky, spiders, fish, mussels, mud, algae

SMELL the waters and Ohio River mud

Going through the dam/locks is a perfect metaphor for my Dramatherapy career as well as life. At some point I decided to build bridges to connect everyone I was connecting with in different geographical locations, then I realized it’s possible to sail under the bridges, and now I know that sometimes the water is just not Navigable. At these points we need structures and community that can HELP us LOCK THROUGH…

It’s difficult to know what’s on the other side until we go through….

In between the dam/lock doors there is a special kind of STILLNESS. All there is to be done is WAIT

It is dangerous to untie too early, WATCH as one door closes, SEE the waters coming through the horizontal cracks, LISTEN to the groans, creaks and squeaks all around…

TRUST that the lines are properly tied. HOPE that the fenders are sturdy, STUDY the placement of the fenders- can they be in a better place next time?

LEARN that it’s all in control

I feel anxious yet peaceful knowing the Lockmaster is in control… Eventually the doors forward of the bow start to open.

At this point, on a week-long cruise, I sat with terror, upon recognizing the possible inadequacy of the flattening plastic and small fraction of fiberglass that was all that was between me and a multiple-story-high wall. To compensate, I demanded better fenders for next cruise. The ones we have now look like huge beach balls. Some vessels use fending boards, recycled tires, and ones made of lines.

The siren has sounded

The doors are OPENING

Quickly UNTIE the lines/Make it LOOSE

PUSH off the walls, with a paper towel or boat hook

Eyes on the Bow WATCH for hazards

GO WATCH in this new journey level – What’s Ahead? What’s Around? How DEEP are we?

Now WE can SEE the way.

Tara Buckler, M.A.



Here’s Talia!

Today is the day I blog. I was asked by Ms. Laura Wood about a month ago to be a guest blogger for the Central Region newsletter and procrastinated until now- a week past the deadline, hoping that all ye central souls can forgive my absolute lethargy when faced with a deadline. I can also blame it on the weather (it’s getting cold- I would say the same if it was getting warm), my busy work schedule, my busy work outside of work schedule, as well as my cocoon schedule. My cocoon schedule is when all I want to do after all the work and outside of work is watch internet television.
Alas, I awoke this crisp bright morning- Sunday- made coffee for my husband and tea for me. Cut up a piece of blueberry coffee cake and took for the netbook, poised to write my blog about … what?
Oh NO! Yes, yes. I have things to blog about other than internet TV and blueberry cake. Laura suggested I blog about my new position at work. I will do this, but I cannot promise to stay on topic…. You just never know.
First some background… I moved back to Minneapolis in 2009 after having lived in NYC for some time. Upon moving back to the Midwest, I found a job coordinating an out-of-school time program in the Northeast community of Minneapolis at a non-profit whose roots stem back to the late 1800’s as one of the city’s first and few settlement houses. Not a job as a Drama Therapist, but close enough. My position gave me the freedom to run groups sometimes during the school year and always during the summer months. Otherwise, I began to gain invaluable experience in managing and supervising staff and interns, coordinating programming, getting to know families, not in a therapeutic sense, but in a community sense. I really loved my job. Actually, it felt easier than being a therapist and I really loved this. We all know how taxing the work of the drama therapist can be and when I was leaving NYC- I was tired. Being a therapist is hard! I felt like I was working to survive and surviving to work. I needed a break.
Although in some ways coordinating an after school program felt like a break, it did come with challenges and stressors- and I found that everywhere I turned I wanted to be a Drama Therapist again. I found that our programs needed support from a skilled creative arts therapist, but we just didn’t have anything like that. Program Coordinators struggle to manage not only programs, but playing all support roles for our families from case manager to therapist, teacher, neighbor, and mentor.
I continued to dream up a scenario where I was the Youth Department’s Creative Arts Therapist. Wouldn’t that be spectacular, I thought. I could have a playroom. I would design it just like Anna Marie’s. I would travel from program to program running groups, while taking referrals for individual and family work when appropriate. This scenario would benefit our department so- relieving some of the stressors of the Program Coordinator- letting them do the COORDINATING! Also, with the addition of a staff creative arts therapist families and youth could be supported in a way that would help them to achieve academically. We would see our outcomes reached sooner and they would stick!
When my supervisor approached me about a federal funding opportunity that asked for proposals to expand programming to middle and high school age youth that would give us a chance to build support systems into our department- I jumped at the opportunity to write in a position for a Creative Arts Therapist. Why not? What did I have to lose? I am a Drama Therapist after all.
For us, the opportunity seemed like a long shot. With funding drying up everywhere, we had almost come to the conclusion that the recession had stunted our programming and we would never see a raise again. After submitting the proposal, I would joke with my boss daily, “So, did we get the million?” The answer always came with a smile, “No, Talia, not yet.”
Until the day she said ‘yes’! And actually, we got something like 1.5 million with a three year contract to expand our programming to three new high schools, to build our fledgling middle school programs with full time staff, and to add a support staff of a credentialed Creative Arts Therapist (me!), Educational Consultant, and an Evaluation Consultant.
We found out about our funding award in July and now we live in transition. In that strange spot of new people, spaces, and ideas. The excitement is present, but the fear is too. We’ve hired over 10 new full and part time staff. Programming will begin later this month and I will once again be a Drama Therapist for real… in practice, everyday. Tomorrow, actually, I give a 3 hour Introduction to Drama Therapy workshop for my new team of over twenty- I even did a PowerPoint. PowerPoint aside, I want to stay true to myself and allow everyone to experience the marvelous wonder that is drama therapy. I want everyone to love it! I have so many ideas for experientials, even now, I feel as though my brain is going to burst.
But bursting brains is topic for another blog entry. This entry was meant to inspire! Drama Therapy dreams do come true. I feel blessed to have found this settlement house, my team of extraordinary women each so unique in their own gifts- and who really listened to me as I talked about drama therapy constantly, enough apparently to convince them that it will make a difference in hundreds of young people’s lives in Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis. And we all know it will!
So signing off…. Wish me luck for tomorrow! I’ll be bringing it for the Central Region. I will make you proud.