"This is your song, we are just facilitating the conversation," I encouraged the women at the start of our songwriting workshop with Hands Healing HeArts (HHH Arts) in 2016. At this time, HHH Arts was an arts-based project for women moving forward in their lives while struggling with the ongoing effects of drug addiction. Nat Colten and I were guest artists, tasked with facilitating a songwriting workshop with the women. After a five-minute free-write, the women shared their thoughts about what they hoped their song would communicate. Collectively, the group wanted a song that painted the ups and downs of addiction and recovery for an audience that may not have any idea what it's like, and communicate that addiction can affect anyone at any time. Each participant wrote 5 words or phrases that they thought of when they meditated on "recovery," and several phrases repeated: "road to recovery," "God," "hope,"lies,"addiction," "honest," "family," and "bent but not broken," which became the title of their song. Nat and I pieced together "Bent But Not Broken" using the women's draft verses, poetry and journal entries they had written earlier in the year, and our collaborative conversations from that day. As a songwriter, this was the most collaborative and meaningful workshop that I had facilitated. I also believe it's one of the most important songs that Nat and I will ever write.
Joanna Hay Productions' film "Art of Recovery" documents this first year of Hands Healing HeArts' programming, and a year in the lives of several women on their road to recovery in Franklin County. Their song, "Bent But Not Broken," weaves its way throughout the film. You can see this important, timely, compassionate and engaging film on Kentucky Educational Television (KET) this month and next (KET May 20th 3:30 PM, KET2 May 20th 10:30 PM, KETKY June 3rd 7:00 PM, KETKY June 16th 12:00 PM, KETKY June 17th 7:00 PM, and KETKY June 27th 6:00 PM). There will also be a special showing at the Speed Art Museum Cinema in Louisville, KY on June 10th. View the trailer below:
This year, Hands Healing HeArts has expanded to include programming for women and men in drug court and their children. I am currently working as their Youth and Family Program Coordinator, conducting arts workshops with local artists in public schools and with family service organizations, as well as establishing sustainable creative youth development programs for children and teens in Frankfort. Learn more, support and follow our journey a hhharts.org.
Love to each one of you, wherever you may be on your journey of healing.