Praise for On the Back of the Wildebeest:
"I'll never be afraid of writer's block again after reading this myth-defying book."
—Rona Maynard, author of My Mother's Daughter and former Editor of Chatelaine
"Trauma is now realized as not only a body-mind wound but ultimately a soul wound. Audrey Jolly has walked through her wound and transformed it into wisdom and joy. This book is direct, funny and wise."
—Elinor Dickson, PhD, psychologist, Jungian therapist, author of Dancing at the Still Point
"Infused with wisdom ... A treasure chest of inspiration."
—Paula Thomson, PsyD, Clinical psychologist, Professor at CSUN and co-author of Creativity, Trauma, and Resilience
"Audrey Jolly walks her talk on this bold creative journey with personal experiences and exercises that are engaging and affirming."
—Maureen Jennings, recipient of the Grant Allen award and award-winning author of the Murdoch Mysteries and Heat Wave
On the Back of The Wildebeest
Audrey C. Jolly RP, MA, OSRP
Creativity is a path to the innermost self, where we find a sense of wholeness by embracing emotions that we have shut up and shut away. It lets us reconnect with lost parts of ourselves that carry fear, anger, sadness and loneliness. Yet many people falsely believe creativity is not for them.
This exhilarating and original book gives creativity its rightful place on the journey from trauma to mastery. With more than 30 years' experience as an artist, educator, and psychotherapist Audrey Jolly shows why creativity heals, how readers can tap its power, and how to navigate the discomfort of trying something new. Practical exercises drawn from movement, drama, art and writing encourage readers to map their unique path to self-discovery while finding joy in the adventure.
6" X 9" 257 pages, paperback, perfect bound ISBN: 978-1-7771539-2-2
"As much a work of healing as a guide to the creative spirit, Audrey C. Jolly's On The Back of The Wildebeest draws as deeply on its author's training as a psychotherapist as it does upon her experiences as an artist and performer. Jolly examines people's relationship to the creative impulse with an emphasis on how we sometimes block it or, due to trauma or societal expectations, learn to isolate it and other essential aspects of self. With original examples from the worlds of the arts and the world of psychotherapy, plus a host of inventive and sensitive exercises, Jolly positions herself as readers' coach in kindling the fires of creativity, paying welcome attention to the relationship of creativity to specific emotions (anger, shame, sorrow and more) and even persuasively arguing that creative blocks themselves can "hold an infinite amount of creative potential."
"Jolly's insight and enthusiasm imbue her work with a welcoming, nurturing warmth. That makes On The Back of The Wildebeest a valuable work of inspiration even if her sentences, which tend to be lengthy on occasion take more work than they should to decipher. The emotional thrust of each passage and example is always clear, even in the instances where the prose gets tangled or repetitive. The strongest, clearest passages come when Jolly draws directly on her own experience. The original exercises, in which Jolly guides readers through thoughtful, healing steps crafted to encourage creativity, are excellent."
~ The Booklife Prize Review 2020
Unbeknownst to many of us, parts of ourselves are living small, frightened, embattled lives—cruelly cut off from the self that engages with the day-to-day world.
These are the parts that have been fanned into existence by the fear, hurt and trauma we have encountered in our pasts. They are like trembling children gone underground, throwing up shields as they fiercely guard access to the tender parts of our psyches. Their sole purpose is to protect us from ever being hurt again.
The problem is, they know things, have things, and can do things, that are important to our happiness and fulfilment. They mean well, but their protection cuts us off from the energy we need to transform our lives; an energy Jolly calls “transcendent, otherworldly, spirited, full of creativity and mystery.”
Put your shields down and come out, we want to say. But—small, dark, frightened, and born of hurt as they are—our disenfranchised parts need reassurances and permission from our everyday selves to be set free.
A core self that is split off from its secret, scared, hidden parts, leads to “small, tense, tight living,” Jolly says. How can you live up to your potential, she asks, unless all the parts are united?
The question is, how do we persuade them to come out?
Stop thinking, Jolly says—one of the first tenets in her tour of creative processes to achieve integration. Give your intellect a hall pass. Listen with curiosity and inquiry to what your body and your psyche are trying to tell you: those are your lost parts whispering, sometimes shouting, for your attention.
As a writer, I was especially attracted to her writing exercises. I have had the privilege and advantage of having watched Audrey Jolly walk her talk, when long ago we belonged to the same writing circle. During a free-write, she’d disappear into the zone, scribbling madly. When the bell rang, she’d emerge with full pages and margins full of “rogue” ideas, ideas that “were often more interesting and personally engaging than the writing path [she[ was on at the time.” Bring on the tangents, the cross-pollination, the peripheral thoughts, she says. With spontaneity comes possibility.
When you feel blocked, that’s a voice, too – that’s a disenfranchised part saying, Hold everything, you’ll get hurt if you enter. Get back into your everyday. I’ve put the block up for a reason—so you don’t get hurt. Blocks, Jolly says, are the portal to creative gold – where “the vulnerable, core material resides.”
I love the paradox of this, that the shut-down parts of us have the most exuberant things to say, if only they can be coaxed to do it. It’s a beautiful realization.
“Resistance,” Jolly says, “often rises up just before a breakthrough.”
Our bodies have stories to tell us. After reading this book, I imagine mine as a grand old castle full of secret staircases, locked doors, doors slightly ajar, doors wide open into a yawning darkness or a welcoming light. For every door, I have a key and it is up to me to find the right one. My body will help me. My creativity is the way in.
The chapter on anxiety and fear was particularly instructive, teaching me breathing techniques that hovered over, knowing them to be effective, yet lacking the know-how to practice them effectively.
My copy of this amazing book—itself a portal to golden possibility—is full of underlines. I recommend it to all of our everyday selves, as well as to all of our cowering, hidden selves yearning to be free.
– Heidi Croot, author, business writer, and principal at Croot Communications.
Congratulations to friend and writing client Audrey Jolly on the publication of her book, "On The Back of the Wildebeest: The Healing Power of Creativity." Working with Audrey on this project was a delight and eyeopening. After several decades as an artist, dancer, theatre performer and teacher, and psychotherapist, Audrey has unique insights about how creativity changes us for the better. Her work around Blocks is, I believe, revolutionary. Furthermore, the book is full of exercises to expand our toolbox, to explore our voice and ear and eye. So happy to see this rich work out in the world.
– Sue Reynolds, writer and editor