by April Sullivan with Guest Monica
We have been hosting art and nature workshops for women veterans across the state this summer. I know it’s hot outside, but with a mix of outdoor walking in nature and indoor reflection activities, these events have been fun and successful. I reached out to one of our participants to get her perspective. Monica attended our Earth Tones event in Smithville last fall. This nature-based event included art, photography, writing. Here is what Monica said:
“I discovered Art Spark Texas for their veteran event at Buescher State Park in 2022. What attracted me to the event was that it was free, I was going to be in nature and write for the day; it sounded wonderful! Nature is extremely therapeutic, grounding yourself in nature, and disconnecting from technology for a day, is such a healthy activity for any person. Research from the VA suggests that nature-focused experiences help veterans manage stress. Additionally, participating in writing activities with other veterans, there is more of [a] willingness to share events and help gain perspective from others. Veterans being able to participate in these activities helps veterans succeed as civilians.
“Personally, I struggle with mental health and have a hard time with relationships. Being able to participate in events, like what Art Spark Texas offers, allows me opportunities to engage with my peers in a safe and comfortable environment. I have had a lot of success at these events, communicating with people, writing short stories, and enjoying myself being present in the moment. I walk away from the event feeling better about myself. It is beyond appreciated.
“One of the workshops for 2023 was going to Green Trees Farm, and I am just so happy to see a lot of places starting to embrace equine activities/therapy for veterans. Horses do not have expectations or motives toward people, and horses have an acute ability to understand the attitudes of the people they interact with for a session. What I love most about horses is that they make me laugh. When we participated in the horse circle, I was uncontrollably laughing as the horse kept smelling my hair. What I enjoyed the most is how the horse was able to pull me into the present and made me feel alive.
“I think one of the best things about veterans is we like to give back to the community, and because I have enjoyed all the events with Art Spark Texas, I wanted to create a workshop for them. When the opportunity presented itself to submit an idea, I was excited to participate because Art Spark Texas truly cares about putting together events that have a positive impact. My event seemed successful, and I truly enjoyed spending the day with other women veterans.”
Monica’s event in June was successful as several women veterans in and around San Antonio gathered for a walk around a lake, then participated in indoor art, writing, and meditation activities.
We are hosting one more of these summer events in Dallas at the Trinity River Audubon Center on Friday, July 28th. Visit our event page for details.