Testimonials 2016-12-09T14:35:21+00:00

Here’s what our students have to say…

Taruna has been running courses in Organics and Biodynamics for 21 years. The current format, in its 8th year and unique in the world, focuses on individual solutions tailored for those currently working the land (or aspiring to) alongside a wider exploration of organic and biodynamic principles. The Certificate in Applied Organics & Biodynamics at Taruna is for those who do not have time to engage with a full-time programme but still want to integrate these principles into their approach to land management.

lesley_huddleston Having been on their Hawke’s Bay property for seven years, both Les and her husband Cal wanted to find different methods that would benefit the farm and the soil. The property has been ploughed and intensively cropped for the past 40 years and Cal likened the soil to a “drug addict” so dependent on chemical fertilizers that it has lost the ability to produce its own nutrients.

Les had previous knowledge of organics and described herself as a ‘complete novice’ with biodynamics, but knew that they wanted to, and had to incorporate some of those practices into their farm and also their tourism business “A Maze ‘n’ Fun (incorporating the Amazing Maze ‘n’ Maize and Corncob Crazy Golf). The Certificate in Applied Organics and Biodynamics fed this inspiration and helped Les and Cal convert a part of their property to organic and biodynamic methods of farming. The rest of the farm is still in conversion phase which they aim to complete over the next five years.

The course was made up of three week long block courses with assignments in between. The block courses were a time of intensive information gathering after which the students would then go home and put the learning into practice. Husband Cal says there was “always a big debriefing” when Les returned home. Les spent up to 15 hours a week studying and says she never thought of it as a chore because every assignment involved a case study to be done on your own farm, household garden or business – “everything on the course was appropriate to our farm.”

Les found the field trips “very inspirational” and says she was quite unaware as to what other organic/biodynamic methods people were using on their own properties. The organic and biodynamic community is a close knit movement which has a strong philosophy of sharing knowledge and offering support. Taruna College has an established network of people who have been there and done that and Les has been grateful for the ongoing access to such a valuable resource. Both Les and Cal have found that even the biggest commercial growers within the Hawkes Bay are open to genuine outside enquiries and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise regarding organic methods.

Les says for her the farm now “feels different”. “I never actually felt very connected with the farm but now I feel like I am”. She says the course has enabled her to become a lot more aware of the plants, soil and weather. Part of the content involved honing observation skills through drawing. The participants performed weekly plant studies and Les found that by sketching she developed a better understanding of the plant life cycle.

Les feels the Organics and Biodynamics course gave her “a whole different perspective and new skills for looking after herself and her family”. It’s evident to this writer that it also helped her to develop an honest and true love of the land.

The students themselves were from all over New Zealand and there was even a Canadian who had come to New Zealand specifically to do the course. Taruna College has a world-wide reputation and Les feels fortunate to have something this good on her own doorstep.

Paul-Robinson Last year Paul Robinson won the prestigious Markham Young Viticulturist of the Year Award for Hawke’s Bay. This year he’s been studying organics and biodynamics at Taruna, as he sees it: “Options for the future!”

Paul had not had much exposure to organics until he did a stint last winter at Villa Maria’s organic Joseph Soler Vineyard and “was really interested and keen to learn more.” Villa Maria offered him the option of doing the Certificate in Applied Organics and Biodynamics at Taruna, and were very supportive throughout the course, which was “a huge help.”

The course structure gave him the flexibility to continue working, and the time between seminars was like a maturing process, allowing him to digest the material. Compared with his previous educational experiences, the course was “a lot more relaxed…which made it easier to learn, you could absorb things better, and a lot more practical as well.”

Paul found the course “very good, thoroughly enjoyed it!” particularly the broad range of knowledge and practices, and relating these back to what he’s learnt already. A highlight for him was the fieldtrips, “seeing it put into practice, seeing it work for people.” And the crossover with other areas of interest, other skills: “I’d always wanted to know how to prune an apple tree and I finally got to do it about a month ago, so I was really happy with that.”

Asked if there were any challenges, Paul laughs, “Singing! I held back for a start, but by the end I was getting pretty good at it….Things become a lot easier as you do them more.” On the question of where to next, Paul is “keen to see more of the biodynamics in action and to further what I know about it. It’s been a really good starting point, and I just want to keep going, I guess…. Within the next few years I hope to go overseas and do my OE, and at the top of my list is to visit some of the organic and biodynamic vineyards around the world, and to soak it all up as much as I can.” But for now he is adamant that his first priority is to finish his final assignment and to get that certificate!

Burton-Worth Burton Worth, student on the Certificate in Applied Organics and Biodynamics has trodden many trails, but the best one he says he ever took was the one leading home. “When times are tough we return home and home for me was sitting in the garden. There was my place of healing.”

Not so long ago he was immersed in the corporate world – sales and marketing, developing property. “The corporate world is about living in that head space. What I’d neglected was here in my gut and when your mind starts ruling the gut you can make pretty bad fundamental errors. I guess this new stage of growth for me was about marrying the two and that was in my heart.”

So how did he get to Taruna? In order to take a much needed break from the corporate whirl, Burton returned to his family land, at Kumeu north of Auckland. “I got to point where I was literally forced to go back to the garden. I thought: right what am I going to do here? Like the prodigal’s son being forced to go home and seeing that the time has come. I realised it was there that I was always the happiest.”

Faced with the 9 acre family farm (ex-kiwifruit and nashi pears) he wondered how he could work with the land in new ways. “One thing that really showed up was that the chemical way is no way at all. By chance someone mentioned biodynamics and I did a bit of research and thought this sounds like a good model.”

By the time Burton came face to face with biodynamics he was already on the road to developing his own land into a sustainable organic garden. It was while doing a course called Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) at NorthTec last year, that he found “One Man, One Cow”, the DVD about Peter Proctor’s biodynamic work in India. “It grabbed me. I watched it 4 times. Through that DVD Peter Proctor has become one of my heroes and before this all my heroes were in the corporate world. I really admire what he’s done in India and saw that there was a lot more than just gardening in this.” “He talks about the rich experience of working with others in a group and of meeting so many dedicated people. “Respecting how other people see the world and appreciating that sometimes there’s a time to stand up and speak but at other times we just sit back and listen.”

“In all walks of life and all vocations there are people out there who are passionate about what they do and really follow their heart in what they do enjoy everyday for what it is.”

And this has been Burton’s path, the path back to his garden. “It was a bit like the story of The Alchemist – it was always under your nose the whole time – until you realise it you don’t see it.”

Jenny-Speedy What has the hill country of Herbertville got in common with the Wimbledon Commons? (No – not Wombles – but nearly!) Both places have been a source of inspiration for Jenny Speedy, a 2008 graduate from the Certificate in Applied Organics and Biodynamics. Jenny grew up on a conventional sheep and beef hill-country farm in Herbertville, southern Wairarapa, and says she grew up “just loving the land”. Jenny went on to develop a lasting interest in horticulture, and travelled to the UK after completing her Diploma (Horticulture) at Lincoln.

Then in the beautiful, natural forests of England and the wild gardens of Wimbledon Common her love of true nature was rekindled. “That’s perhaps where I kicked off the feel of natural growing rather than controlled growing.”

Back in New Zealand in 1989, Jenny worked in Dene’s Garden Way in Havelock North for 10 years and there her interest of organic gardening grew. “While I was there I became really fed up with people coming in and buying chemically-produced sprays and fertilisers. There was just no care, it was so glaringly obvious. So we tried to bring an organic influence mainly through encouraging greater use of compost and organic based products on the shelves. At that time Peter Bacchus was making his wonderful Eco compost which we would sell.”

During her time at Dene’s Gardenway, Jenny met her partner Remco and together they bought Possum Lodge – a five acre property up the Tukituki River. “We were in heaven,” Jenny recalls, and together they worked and lived organically with Possum Lodge, until some 2 years ago when they decided to sell and move to Hastings.“The reality of school set in,” says Jenny referring to her three children, ages 5, 7 and 9, “and we wanted to pursue other dreams.” One of those dreams was to do the ‘organics and biodynamics course’ at Taruna, which Jenny had been lining up for more than 8 years.

For Jenny the course design very much reflected what they were learning. “The course was structured in a very conscious way. It started with the soil and built it up to the human being and then brought in the spiritual aspects. There’s this beautiful foundation – building to where you are prepared (like the soil) and then you can (finally) relate to the developing plant.”

Jenny tells how the course has enriched her connection with plants. “The plant observation was wonderful. I loved it but I had to work hard at that having come with conventional habits and then it wasn’t until the very end that it made sense.”

For Jenny it was a process of ‘bringing it through myself” and now the Dandelion, Jenny’s chosen plant for the observation exercise, is a dear garden friend. “I love Dandelions they are not a weed at all. They are a true connector of the earth and the heavens, such a healing plant with this concentration of light-forces. Plants are such a symbol of life. I look at the plant now and see a whole different thing – before I looked at the health only, but now it’s more ‘how and where the plant grows’ that can tell us something.”

Further catalysts for studying the Certificate were motherhood and a deep concern for the health of the earth. “This was a huge influence – how to feed my family the best way and nurturing our body, mind and soul – the complete nutritional picture; also, knowing that the past conventional ways just aren’t working and wanting to help nurture the earth back to health.”

And the result? Jenny is now building a beautiful edible garden for her family at her Hastings home, and working biodynamically at thriving Te Koha Orchard. Jenny runs two compost heaps – “one ready and one on the go” and is also passionate about saving seeds, especially of heritage plants.

Colin-Ross Colin Ross discovered the Taruna Certificate in Organics and Biodynamics when the certified organic farm he was managing in Marlborough asked him to find out what was required for Demeter Certification. An assignment in the prospectus required the creation of a Farm Management Plan. Colin realised that this would provide the groundwork towards Demeter Certification. Crucial in Colin’s decision to sign up was the scheduling of the three eight-day live-in seminars at Hohepa in the non-growing season and the opportunity to establish a mentorship and network within BD organizations.

Now at the end of his third eight-day seminar Colin suggested that the locals should also live-in, mainly because in the evenings the group was able to stay holding onto the activity, through late night discussions, taking learning to a deeper level. “The openness of our group meant an openness of discussions, which gave us the opportunity to explore our consciousness and to operate on several planes behind the material world resulting in a discovery of the forces that create our reality.”

“I have learnt to use the whole structure of the earth better, through better observing, and better custodianship. I am developing intuitive pathways by tuning into the seasonal rhythms over a longer period of time and feel more grounded in Steiner principles. This has helped me to become an independent decision maker and a better educator. I am able to communicate the principles of biodynamics with understanding on many levels to my staff and consumers.”

Colin feels that the course is very diverse and is taught by quality lecturers ranging from the very academic to the practical. “I have found the course to be a great medium for self-improvement as well as learning how to use the tools of organic and biodynamic farming.”

When asked about the singing and painting which is integral to all courses at Taruna, Colin replied that the “Philosophy of singing is a marvellous way to harmonise a group and to open each other up. He added that, “If there was a lot more singing in the world we would be better farmers.” “Painting helped me to observe the life behind the matter as well as developing a sense of the rhythms and expressions of the subjects at hand” he explained.

Colin has already encouraged members of his staff to complete the course and believes, that other courses Taruna offers are of relevance for example the cheese making and bread-making course offered in January.

As a wine and olive oil grower, Colin sees his role as providing joy for those who eat and drink his products. He wants to put that joy into what he creates. “There are no sour grapes in the vineyard.” he reminded me and then went to check the roast beef and vegetables.

Holistic health is an approach that takes the broadest possible view of illness and disease, identifying both internal and external causes, and then offering multi-dimensional healing as opposed to specific cures. It is as concerned with one’s propensity towards disease as it is with its transmission. Why does one person get colds or infections more easily than another, or at different times? Can we render ourselves more hardy and disease-resistant before medical intervention is necessary, and more resilient when illness does occur?


Ceridwyn (Wynnie) Freeman is a fourth year nurse in the emergency department at Alfred Hospital, Melbourne’s major trauma centre. Although she now lives in Melbourne Wynnie still calls Hawke’s Bay home and the Certificate in Holistic Health Care that she has been doing this year has provided some good chances to catch up with family and friends when she comes back for the seminars.

Wynnie is doing the certificate out of self-interest and says what she has learned this year not only integrates into any sphere of nursing but on a personal level as well. “Emergency departments are crazy. No-one wants to be there. You can make that smooth or rough so you’re really quite fortunate I think to be able to work in that capacity. It’s a bit of an honour.”

As well as enjoying the pace and variety, Wynnie finds emergency medicine quite problem solving. “I think there’s a real opportunity in emergency medicine to be thinking clinically and not just task orientated. It’s more to do with having that critical analysis thinking involved and building rapport with patients quickly.”

Wynnie feels that nursing has always been in her nature and did her training in Wellington before moving to Perth where she completed a two year graduate programme. Having grown up in the Steiner community she has always been aware of different streams of thought and it was important to her that she came to what she believed from her “own motivations’. She feels anthroposophical fundamentals “make the world make sense”. “I wouldn’t say that I swallow it all hook line and sinker for sure but I think that to follow anthroposophy, you’re supposed to always question and it leaves you free to do that.”

She describes the course content as “life learning”. “It’s life skills to understand the world around you and the people in it more holistically. It gives you a framework to hang the pictures of what you’re seeing onto.”

Wynnie has enjoyed discovering how to better understand people and herself including how to better utilize her skills or whole self as opposed to a physical self. She describes herself as feeling “quite alone” in parts of her journey, “but then it makes you really double check that it is something that you want to be doing because you’re not just doing it because other people are doing it.”

When asked to reflect at the end of the final seminar Wynnie thoughtfully comments “that it’s really effortless and so warm. And kind of a bit of a relief to come into this group of people we now know quite well after three seminars. To come here and have the tutors, all incredible women, carrying this impulse and just to spend a whole week accepting and knowing that spirituality is in fact part of our life and then ‘let’s work with it’. How wonderful and supportive it was to step into this group and go ‘yeah that’s right I’m not alone.”

Wynnie spent around 8-10 hours a week on theory and a couple of hours a week doing treatments on people and describes the work as “self therapy.” “When we were doing the plant study, it was quite grueling and time-consuming but I think you need that to continue to push. When I get into the work I love doing it. The case study was a really cool process to go through. We had to assess a patient from different understandings and propose a plan of care related to that. It was a really integrated way of working with what we’d learned in a practical way. That was really useful.”

Wynnie believes the course is “really cheap for what we get out of it. These beautiful products that we can use and practice on each other, doctors coming and speaking to us, art, speech therapy, clay work, all this is involved – you’d think it would cost more.”

As for the tutors Wynnie describes them as “really genuine and fantastic”. “They’d walk over water to help and the feedback is very useful.”

Recommending the course for “people, that have questions that conventional science can’t answer”, Wynnie adds “the stuff might be pretty out there and some of the concepts really left field for a lot of people but when you learn it how we have, it’s kind of common sense as well.”

Over the past three decades, Taruna has played a significant role in providing courses for would-be teachers and others wishing to work in this emerging new educational environment. Students have the opportunity to acquire in-depth understanding and immersion experience of the special character of Steiner Education as it has been developed by generations of dedicated educators all over the world.

adam_doddAdam says that for him Steiner teaching “is a practice that you carry in your consciousness and your way of being.” Adam has seen it from different angles: he was in the first Class 12 group to graduate from Michael Park and returned there to teach in 2007. As a student and a teacher, he acknowledges some of the special qualities that Steiner education imparts. “What makes Steiner Education special is that the seeds are planted for a true vocational sense. At the end of a Steiner education, whatever pathway someone is going to choose in their life has meaning and integrity for them, rather than walking out into anything because it’s an income – the ‘how’ is everything.” His experience at Taruna has confirmed this and Adam has seen the 2 year-long in-service course as a chance to re-connect with Steiner principles and practices. The course has also provided an excellent forum for discussing his particular teaching concerns, which focus on the middle school years.
susan_muellerSusan graduated as a secondary teacher and began teaching in the state system in 2002, but left about 2 years later to travel. “I came back at the beginning of last year (2008) and went into Steiner” says Susan explaining that she wanted to teach, but not in the state system. Her friend at Michael Park Rudolf Steiner School in Auckland suggested she apply for an English teaching position in the upper school there and she hasn’t looked back. She went straight into the in-service course at Taruna, which she says has ‘re-centred’ her. Susan says that her experience as a student at Taruna was ‘a real exchange’ where she felt acknowledged as a professional and as a human being. “It was a reciprocal interchange of thoughts and ideas,” through which, she says, she has grown and developed as a person as well as, as a teacher. “I think the whole benefit of the Taruna courses is that you become more balanced and in tune with yourself.”
simon_bengeAfter 10 years as a state secondary teacher, Simon says he has loved the process of “training up” as a Steiner teacher. Simon started as Science teacher at Michael Park Rudolf Steiner School in Auckland last year. His coming to Steiner Education has opened up a greater depth in his teaching, he says. “Steiner Education is working towards the development of the whole human being whereas in a state system (the curriculum) follows a more singular direction.” Something that has held true for Simon is the resonance of honesty at the course. The professional networking has been invaluable, he says, and the course has provided a forum for the discussion of real issues and challenges of how best to shape Steiner education for the needs of young people today. Simon enjoyed doing eurythmy and bothmer gym and said the physical hands-on aspects of the course were highlights although he has “loved every minute!”
martin_gastingerMartin came to Steiner secondary teaching 10 years ago and thanks to Taruna’s In Service New Zealand Steiner Teacher’s Certificate (NZSTC), he has been able to take the time to further develop his professional skills and personal passion for Steiner Education. “This is a special place – Taruna has got this knowledge here: in the tutors, the library and the (collegial) community. Meeting the others on the course has been very inspiring, seeing their enthusiasm is contagious. That is something that I always take home when I’m here that this movement is very much alive and I’m part of it.” “The human being has this deep spiritual dimension that is often neglected in other world views. We strive to become more human as long as we go. We try to take all these forces – head, hand and heart – and unite them to a healthy whole.” The course has also reconnected Martin with the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of Steiner teaching in Aotearoa. The principles of truth, beauty and goodness still hold true, he says, “and are relevant to all societies.” “The holistic approach of Steiner Education bridges a gap between the separated modern world and the Maori values. It is a great gift from Steiner that the curriculum isn’t fenced in and we have a great freedom to look at the needs of our young people in our time.”
I’ve spent 10 months at Taruna College, studying Waldorf Steiner Education Program. During that time, I learned more about myself and the world than I hoped for. Was it really easy to be open towards everything that came along, all the problems, questions or moments of truth, bound each to each as day follows night? Honestly speaking, it wasn’t, but if you ask me whether I’d do it again, the answer would be –absolutely yes.

I think, this course is specific in the way that offers to each of us something quite different; we all come here from different parts of the world to learn how to be better teachers, how to help children and be creative in thinking, doing, and feeling, just to realize that each one of us has a different path and different life tasks to fulfill. And, that is worth understanding, or as Wendell Berry says: “The mind that is not baffled is not employed, the impeded stream is the one that sings”.

Furthermore, the rich plethora of tutors I met here is enough for a lifetime; each of them, with their unique characteristics, strength as well as weaknesses, made a great contribution to this great journey which started at Taruna College. It will always be a mystery to me how so many dear, wise teachers were attracted to this place and program in order to make their own humble contribution. Still, one thing I know: they all will have a special place in my heart.

In the end, let me say that I’ll remember this place as a place of creativity, hard work, and brutal self-honesty, which reminds me of John Keats’ wise words “I am certain of nothing, but of the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination”.

lizzie-freeman-smallLizzie is one of 33 students on the New Zealand Steiner Teacher Certificate (Early Childhood) (NZSTC-EC) at Taruna. She is also a full time educator at Seven Dwarfs Community Child Care Centre in Hastings, Hawkes Bay and has recently completed her Bachelor of Education (covering the ages birth-8 years).

Having just finished her second of four block seminars on the 2-year course, Lizzie says through the lectures, the practical sessions and the rich discussions, her understanding of the special character of a Waldorf kindergarten has deepened and has helped to uncover an inner knowing of how to be with young children. “We are really learning why we are doing what we do and carrying that inside. If you know what it is that you’re trying to give to the children then it’s going to help them a lot more.”

When asked what her favourite part of the course is Lizzie hesitates then says “all of it!” “The course has been ideal for me as in my job I have to share the co-ordination of the centre. The lectures have really helped bring things together for me and the crafts are new – all so interesting!”

Through the course and her work as a Waldorf educator, Lizzie has learned the importance of being ‘present’ with what she does. “The children need your full attention. They can actually pick up on what you are thinking and feeling,” and therefore says Lizzie, it’s important to leave your own outside world at the door when you come to be with the children each day. “Once you’re there in the room, you need to hold the thought of the children.”

Lizzie worked on and off as a reliever for Seven Dwarfs until 2005 when she became permanent staff. “I worked there for about 8 months (as a permanent) and then suddenly it clicked and I decided to do my state training.” Now Lizzie says she wouldn’t be anywhere else. “It’s really rewarding work. Every day is different – the children always bring out something different in you.”

This programme is based on Anthroposophical Medical, Therapeutic, and Artistic work, which leads to a reaffirming of our humanity. Its purpose is to provide a foundation that supports soul balance and inner wakefulness in the individual participant’s personal-development, and professional development in their work in the various fields of health, therapy, education or the visual arts.

It was a year of disruption and disaster for Julie, but luckily, for some reason, it was all able to be.

Julie Hackett has successfully completed the 2011 Certificate in Art of Health here at Taruna, travelling for each of the 3 seminars from quake damaged Christchurch. At times, coming to Hawkes Bay was not completely easy for Julie, yet with a strong support network and an obvious desire and ambition, she was able to make this happen. Along with the wonderful programme content that is delivered on the Art of Health (Anthroposophical Studies), Julie was also able to enjoy the almost retreat like atmosphere at Taruna, which has to be experienced. “The care of my son always fell into place. And I am pleased that I still continued with this course. Taruna is such a wonderful supportive and nurturing environment and I enjoyed the atmosphere and peace provided on these seminars. I always found Maria and Julie (Programme director and assistant) supportive. Taruna is a beautiful place, the birdlife is amazing and the structure of the day is supportive.”

Julie first learned about Taruna, through her interest in wanting to become an early childhood teacher, drawing on the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner. As a subscriber to the magazine Organic NZ, each year Julie would receive the flyer for courses at Taruna, and finding herself in a time of transition in her own life, decided to enrol on the Certificate in Art of Health. “I found myself in a place where I wanted to dedicate some time to self-nurturance and also self-development. I wanted a course that fitted in with my life as a Mother. My motivation for this course stemmed from wanting to explore art and self-development.”

The Certificate in Art of Health (Anthroposophical studies) is NZQA approved at Level 4. As well as attending the eight day seminars at Taruna, students then complete the home-based assignment part of the programme, which includes for this programme a scholarly essay, creative response and an art project. Taruna prides itself also on the support network and friendships that are formed each year, when asked on the reality with continuing on this journey of research, Julie replied, “I felt very supported between seminars and always knew Maria was available for further clarification of assignment tasks if need be.”

Julie currently works as a Relief Assistant Teacher based at the Christchurch Rudolf Steiner Nursery and Kindergarten groups. “This course (the Certificate in Art of Health) has definitely deepened my knowledge of Rudolf Steiner Philosophy but it has also provided a deepening well inside myself which I will reap the benefits of throughout my life. Exactly what this course has provided me with I cannot say but I trust the gentle awakening which may reveal itself throughout my life.”

“If anyone is thinking of doing this course I would recommend it. It’s difficult to explain what the course is about, but you will know if you are called to it – And I would say go for it!”

My name is Cheryl Ruby. I am from Santa Cruz, California and was a student in the Art of Health course at Taruna College In 2007. I am a trained Waldorf teacher and taught kindergarten in the Davis Waldorf School in California for five years.

For the past year, I have been working with homeless women in an agricultural community in Central California. The shelter where I worked was full of art and color and each day I was reminded of how these simple gifts bring joy and a sense of well-being to those who have so little.

I have been a student of Anthroposophy for over twenty years and have always had an interest in therapeutic art. I made the decision to take Taruna’s Art of Health course after searching the globe through the internet! It was my objective to find a course that would deepen my understanding of art’s relationship to the health of the human being from an Anthroposophical perspective. I also needed to find a format that would work into my busy life! Over the years, I had heard that there were a number of talented and joyful persons in New Zealand teaching art therapy in New Zealand. I was not disappointed!

I traveled to New Zealand three times over the course of the year and studied with a group of mature, professional men and women. Our studies took us through the course of human life, and we learned how artistic practice helps us develop our human potential. I found the course to be very well planned and executed by a number of exceptional health practitioners and artists. Upon returning home, I was continually nourished (and challenged) by the art assignments and written work we received during our sessions.

My work at Taruna in the Art of Health course enabled me to write a senior thesis for an independent College in San Francisco based on the use of artistic therapeutic practice in addiction recovery. Soon after returning from New Zealand for the last time, I was hired as a full-time counselor for the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center. I work in a 32-bed homeless shelter that serves persons who are dually diagnosed with both mental health issues as well as chemical dependency. I offer the clients opportunity to paint 2-3 times a week. Clients stay with us from 30 to 90 days, and many of them leave the shelter with beautiful portfolios that they are proud of.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Art of Health program. It has enriched my life in many ways and has given me tools to bring the life affirming gifts of the artistic realm to many others on a daily basis, both in my work and in my personal life.