Creative Expression

Like nature, creative expression is one of the main pillars of Total Life Fitness (movement and building community are the remaining pillars). The focus on the arts as a primary leg of TLF echoes the growing awareness of the therapeutic value of art-making to managing the consequences of trauma in active military and Veterans. Considering this growing realization has motivated and guided our efforts to develop a robust approach to harnessing the intrinsic nature of healing in art-making, including our artist-in-residence program (see here and here for an exploration of healing properties in art). More generally, and to bring a collective TLF philosophies to fruition, we have also started offering different opportunities that will promote wellness to include yoga, woodworking, and gardening. But we aren’t stopping there, plans are in the works to add a pottery and sculpture program, and even other expressive art classes. 


The Artist-in-Residence is a 6-month program for aspiring artists who are women Veterans, active military or current/former health care workers who work/ed primarily with Veterans. The artist-in-residency program is part of the Pamlico Rose Institute’s mission to advance wellness and resiliency-building programs. The residency program, like much of the wellness efforts offered by Pamlico Rose sits at the intersection of nature, creative expression, and transcendence. See more on the Artist-in-Residence program

The 2021 winter spring Artist-in-Residence was Sue Kammers

The 2021 Fall and Spring 2022  Artist-in-Residence was Donna Helterbridle-Baker

Grit Restoration

“The function of art is to satisfy the artist… The function of craft is to give meaning to the viewer and enhance the richness of their life.” – David Moser

Woodworking, like other nature/creative expression therapeutic activities featured at Rose Haven, can play a role in managing the effects of trauma such as anxiety and stress, provide new skills to be mastered, and the opportunity to create pieces of self-expression that are/can be simultaneously aesthetic and functional. Woodworking is not for everyone. Trauma survivors and those experiencing anxiety and stress from their military experiences or challenges in transition from military to civilian and/or reintegration into their families and communities can find solace and peace of mind in the visceral qualities of shaping nature’s bounty.

The GRIT Restoration (GR) effort involves restoring something old and discarded and breathing new life into it. Our Haven House restoration is a good example of this. We are also utilizing recycled/reclaimed wood taken from the renovation to create furniture and other wood products for the Haven House while offering ways to conceptualize function and aesthetics in the upcycling process of upcycle old wood, more generally.  Furniture pieces, including end and coffee tables, or serving trays, coasters, and clocks join more traditional art works such as wood prints, frames, message boxes, and wall hangings as the universe of the possible.  The message of rebirth is implicit in GRIT Restoration, describing both the piece of furniture and the craftsperson.

See link to video on GRIT Restoration 

Check out the Grit Restoration Selection 

Women Veterans have standing invite to join our efforts and become part of GR.

Working with C. L. A. Y 

Our upcoming C.L.A.Y program, (Creating.Living.Achieving.You), will also highlight our pillars of Total Life Fitness. What better way to be in tune with nature than by working with clay?! We are already plotting a clay production component that would allow us to supply our own clay and even give the local community the opportunity to be a supplier to our local community instead of purchasing and shipping from afar.The possibilities of creation with clay are endless. From the simple and basic, to the most intricate, delicate, and bigger than life pieces, pottery allows the artist to dive into their imagination and literally use their hands to bring their piece to life.

The relaxing and therapeutic elements of working with clay, like our other activities, is second to none. The hypnotic effect of the spinning wheel to the focus and micro movements that can turn a bowl into a plate, the utilization of tools to carve stunning features into an already beautiful piece brings such a sense of awe and satisfaction. Even if you don’t have a piece in mind, or if your piece transformed into something that was beyond your initial intent, your final product will be something to be proud of. Of course, not everything will be a success, but each attempt will bring a better understanding and allow for greater competence the next time around!

Working with and being part of natural web of life is a critical element of TLF.

Like the clay from the ground, or the wood from trees, we are all part of this earth. Ready to be prepared, formed, shaped, and decorated with different elements from this web. life. As with pottery, a pot is made stronger by firing it, or woodworking, reclaimed wood has to survive the elements and/or abandonment, we too have to endure the hardships that life may bring in hopes that we too will be made stronger.

Scroll to Top