WALNUT CREEK -- Around Shoshana Kobrin's home lay ceramic figure sculptures she created at a time of self-discovery.
After battling weight issues and eating disorders as a teen growing up in South Africa, Kobrin discovered a way to heal through therapy, journal writing and art.
Kobrin points to a sculpture of a figure hunched over and as well one figure of a woman with four faces.
"I was blocked, really not knowing the person I was," said the Rossmoor resident. "I grew up with a difficult childhood not realizing who I was and whether I was worthwhile."
She's gathered the healing tools she found useful for herself as well as in her work as a licensed marriage and family therapist -- tools she shares in her recently-published book "The Satisfied Soul: Transforming Your Food and Weight Worries." The author has also offered a companion book, "The Satisfied Soul Daily Guide Book," that encourages journal writing as a path to fulfillment.
Kobrin will discuss her books at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the Ygnacio Valley Library.
"It was not until I arrived in California, and was granted the opportunity to work with a therapist specializing with eating disorders, that I discovered the twisted roots of my eating," Kobrin wrote in the preface of her book. "My obsession with food and weight masked painful memories of an abusive childhood and growing up in the oppressive and conflict-ridden society of Apartheid South Africa."
"I faced my hidden soul-hunger and discovered my creativity in journal writing, drawing, sculpture and music," she wrote. "In the process, I recovered my lost and famished soul and learned to love and nurture it."
One of her clay sculptures shows a woman with heavy legs -- not heavy because it's burdened with weight but because it symbolizes a strong foundation, said Kobrin, whose grandfather escaped to South Africa from anti-Semitism in Lithuania.
"I needed to really ground myself as to who I am," she said.
A figure of a woman meditating depicts Kobrin as the woman she is now, she said.
In her book, Kobrin recounts tales of people with eating disorders and the emptiness they felt inside from having a malnourished soul. The author notes that while she doesn't reveal her clients' issues, she illustrates her concepts with characters based on stories of women in her psychotherapy practice.
Now, Kobrin -- who earned a master's degree in psychology at John F. Kennedy University's now-closed Orinda campus -- speaks at workshops and retreats about such topics as body image, self-esteem and addictions. She also continues to maintain her psychotherapy practice in Walnut Creek.
Kobrin, who is a member of the Published Writers of Rossmoor, said journal writing and using the power of words was a powerful healing technique that helped her through her own challenges.
"To write is to express yourself," said Kobrin, who pioneered a multicultural communications program during Apartheid in South Africa. "I did most of my healing through journal writing. This kind of journaling helped me, so I decided to put it in book form."
Kobrin invites readers to explore the internal sources of conflict -- a "nondiet approach" rather than gravitate toward the usual to weight loss methods.
"If you go on a binge, if you purge it out, what are you trying to get rid of?" she said.
She suggests that as people get in touch with themselves, they embrace some type of creative outlet as well as wholeheartedly give to others.
"When the soul is not satisfied, there's a hungry soul," said Kobrin, whose creative outlet has been writing stories, poetry and composing and performing music. "It's all about making connections -- connecting to community, connecting with the body, connecting with community, with spirit and with your authentic self. Once you have that connection, then you'll feel fulfilled inside. I'm like a patchwork quilt -- I have all these different outlets and they're all a way of expressing myself. Once you feel fulfilled, then you're able to give to others in a very authentic way."
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12
WHERE: Ygnacio Valley Library, 2661 Oak Grove Road, Walnut Creek