Warner Robins artist Jody Maichele uses scripture as inspiration to create artwork. She delivers her testimony through the canvas.
Using positive thinking and her own life experiences, Maichele, a counselor at River Edge Behavioral Health Center in Macon, also advises and uplifts others. She uses the philosophy of paying it forward as a catalyst for change.
Knowing the Bible is important, Maichele said, because it helps her relate the scripture to her life and vice versa.
Its how it applies to me in the moment. Im not adding my own meaning to it, but its how it presents itself to me in any given situation, she said. The same scripture could mean different things depending on the time of my life. For me its cool because its evidence that its the living word. That its not just a historical something.
Her favorite tool for her art is the pencil.
I like the control of it. Its probably the first utensil I ever used. I can press really hard or be really light. I like the feel of a pencil in my hand. Some women like to buy shoes and all that stuff, but I am, like, a pen and pencil fiend, Maichele said, adding she grew up in a family of artists and was always encouraged to express herself.
Leslie Swan has known Maichele for eight years. On seeing her paintings for the first time, I was really surprised. It was a secret talent; I didnt know she had studied art. I didnt know how talented she was.
Maicheles life hasnt always been easy. As a teen, she slipped into alcoholism and substance abuse, which she said became a 20-year addiction. Facing the fact that she could lose her children, Maichele went into treatment. Swan was one of the people who was there for her. She took in Maicheles children when she started treatment and is now godmother to her daughters.
Maichele said her scars have healed, and her mind is clearer. Shes been sober since 2005. Having people counsel her got her through the hard times.
I think shes grown in many ways. I think she found her path in life, said Swan. We all change over time, but I think shes really matured a lot and come into her own. I think shes found the confidence she didnt have eight years ago. It shows in her work. It shows in her pride for her work.
Now Maichele pays it forward by counseling people who are suffering from the same issues that she overcame.
Im very proud of her, and Im anxious to see what the future has for her, said Swan.
Her experiences help her in her role as a counselor at River Edge, Maichele said.
Identification is really important. I know from my own experiences, especially early on, if you didnt know where Ive been, then you wouldnt understand, and I wasnt going to listen to you. That was how I felt, she said.
The people would share their story with me, and if their story was kind of like mine, I could say, OK, they get it. They could understand it, and they moved on from it, and theyre doing this now. That gave me hope. Now I can do that same thing for the population of people that I work with.
Swan said she thought being a counselor was Maicheles calling.
Her goal is to eventually go to graduate school and then get her doctorate. Shes going to accomplish that in time. I think she has a gift with people. People really open up with her.
Maichele reaches patients using the concept of positive psychology, where the emphasis is on strengths, to cultivate the best in the patient rather than focusing on the problem.
Traditional psychology focuses on the disorder; positive psychology focuses on the good stuff, whats right with people, said Maichele. Thats the real truth. Were supposed to build people up. Its just as easy to build them up as it is to tear them down. Although the disorder is part of the picture, strengths are the other side, and that is what makes the picture full. You can use one to treat the other.
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