Lauren Andreu

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Lauren Andreu, Somatic Therapist and Community Muralist @laurenandreu

Passion Project “It’s impossible to talk about my journey without mentioning I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012. I was in my own personal hell for about 6 years until I got the type of help I needed to get healthy.About a year ago, I did a leadership training called Gratitude Training. I had been working with a non-profit at the time with survivors of domestic violence and we created a community mural event to celebrate their strength. To date, I’ve completed 6 murals, 4 of which were community style. I design the murals such that ‘everyday’ community members come together and work on them along with me. The themes are all linked to peacemaking and community healing. For artists looking to follow their passion: Just put one foot out in front of the other.. Follow what feels right. When it doesn’t, move on.  Long term, though, every experience was one that shaped the beauty and purpose of my current life. 

Lauren Andreu is a licensed social worker, massage therapist and community artist living in Bluffton, South Carolina. She graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelors of Humanities and from the University of South Carolina (USC) with a Masters of Social Work. She shares her time between offering somatic therapy and designing community murals. 

Q: How did your career evolve into focusing on art and therapy?  “It’s been a wild ride, but there were a few major defining moments. It’s impossible to talk about my journey without mentioning I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012. It was like coming in and out of my own personal hell for about 6 years until I got the type of help I needed to get healthy. It helped me develop empathy for people with similar struggles and gave me special insight into the wellness process. 

During that time, I couldn’t hold down a job, so I ended up volunteering with Americorps with “troubled” youth and going to massage school at the same time. Americorps helped me get my confidence back. When one of the kiddos asked me to be her counselor, I put in my application for the social work program. I had the insight and empathy; it was time to get the competency. While in school, I had incredible mentorship from various professors and got engaged at a university and community level almost immediately. Working on issues related to Latino immigrants became a big focus for me at the time. When I decided to go to graduate school, I put a pause on using my massage license, but it was massage school that first introduced me to the power of touch. Then while in the master’s program, I found out research was backing body-mind modalities. Art has always been a thread woven throughout my life. It’s in me. I’ve got to express it somehow. About a year ago, I did a leadership service project with the Gratitude Training. I had been working with a non-profit at the time with survivors of domestic violence. We ended up creating a community mural event to celebrate their strength. To date, I’ve completed 6 murals, 4 of which were community style. I design the murals such that ‘everyday’ members of the community can come together and work on them along with me. The themes are all linked to peacemaking and community healing.”

Q: What advice do you have for other artists and creatives who are hesitant to cross over or fuse their gifts and passions? “Just put one foot out in front of the other, which could mean traveling to another country or applying for a grant. Follow what feels right. When it doesn’t, move on.  Long term, though, every experience was one that shaped the beauty and purpose of my current life. 

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Q: Best self-care tip for entrepreneurs or people with full lives and schedules? One thing they can do every day? “Protect your circle. Make it a priority to spend quality time with people who get the hustle. They will help keep you grounded, remind you of what’s most important and inspire you to keep it up. You will add fuel to each other’s fires in a good way. I couldn’t survive without my sister and brother and other friends who politely tell me to stop whining or remind me what a magical unicorn I am.” 

Message to your younger self?  “You’re onto something, you beautiful, crazy creature.”

What’s next?  I’m currently working on a very personal series about self-knowing, acceptance and celebration. I’ve used self-portraits and animals to represent the essence of the woman portrayed. In this case the woman is me, but really it’s an invitation to all to embrace the authentic albeit often misunderstood self. I am also working with a designer to develop a clothing line inspired by my original work. Stay tuned! You can email me at Lauren@laurenandreu.com  or go to www.LaurenAndreu.com.”

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