honoring my origins.

how grandma made me who i am.

i am a licensed and board certified art therapist working and living in the finger lakes region of upstate new york (for anyone not from the state: no, it's not new york city... but it's much prettier)

when i was little, my grandmother was one of the biggest supporters of all my endeavors, including my passion for art. (as i got older, i realized how rare that unconditional support was--especially for something "frivolous" like creativity--and i am now indescribably grateful for this... but back to what I was saying...)

my grandmother, being from japan, shared one of her culture's traditional art forms: origami. i remember being in preschool and being awed by the magic of turning paper into birds! i fell in love with the art, and i quickly learned patterns and techniques that exceeded even grandma's knowledge. she especially liked to tell me she never thought i would take origami this far.

years later, in graduate school this passion evolved when i started to use origami as a therapeutic technique with my clients during internship. i quickly learned that this art form was wildly underutilized by art therapists, so i started studying the positive effects it had on my clients. i even wrote my thesis on the subject. its has taken a lot of experimenting and creative thinking, but i found a new appreciation and love for the art of paper folding.

finally, after being in the field for several years, i officially put a name to my merging of origami-making and art therapy-ing: OrigamiTherapy.

i was lucky enough to show my grandmother, before she passed away, how far her inspiration has taken me, by having her join me at workshops and even getting to teach a small class for her assisted living home. 

so, "thank you" to you (yes, you reading this story) for showing your interest in my passion and giving me the opportunity share this with my grandmother! my aibou (japanese for soulmate)

below is a video not only teaching how to make an origami butterfly, but also honoring my obaasan (a total social butterfly), the woman who made me who i am. this video is my own therapy to work through my grief, but i am hoping it can serve a similar purpose for all that knew and loved my grandmother.

as i shared earlier, i wrote my thesis on origami making as a possible tool for reducing anxiety. this is the summary of that research. 

for those of you who don't want to read all the technical stuff, the moral of this story is that folding a paper crane significantly decreased the level of anxiety by participants (even those participants that stated it increased their anxiety... it still decreased it)

the trick is that while folding origami can be frustrating, it's a short-term, manageable stress that you can overcome. and at the very least, that makes it an excellent distraction from the long-term, toxic stress plaguing your everyday life! so take a look at the data below!