The last few days, which equates to the last week, I was challenged with my illness. I used to keep this private, but now, I feel it imperative in what I do with Create for Healing to be transparent with my struggles. No pretending to be fine just to put on a show.
It is rare for me to have sick days like I used to, let alone a sick week since my treatment, but it happens. When it does happen, I accept it the best I can, which I am still learning to do.
When I started to feel unwell, I noticed I had not been creating much art. I was so busy with business projects for my company Light Owl Design and was knee-deep into the deadlines with clients. I did not have time for creativity, which is not only enjoyable but also a form of self-care. My overall self-care took a back seat. Furthermore, I have a complicated relationship with self-care on any given day anyhow.
For example, when I self-care, it makes me feel like I might be a sick person, the sick person I used to be. I know in reality this is not the truth because my health is better than it has been in 20 years. However, it brings back the old feeling of being forced to self-care 24 hours a day for two decades to remain alive. So self-care and I have a touchy relationship that I am actively working on. I do love self-care, and I also know the amazing value it holds for not only myself but others.
So knowing this, I felt it was time to return to self-care. In life as humans, sometimes we need a little nudge of discomfort to get us back on track. This was just that. A wake-up call asking me to return to the things that not only balance my life but ultimately improve it.
Return to Creativity
I pulled out some paper and watercolors. I started with a face since I often gravitate to portraiture since this is a place I am most comfortable with. This, I realized I was missing the mark. I was feeling chaos in my body and the art I was creating was more based on the technique that it was tapping into my feelings so I changed my approach. I let the chaos guide me as I made my marks, created patterns, used my hands, and other tools to bring the chaos I felt inside to the paper. It was messy, raw, real, and felt strange but liberating. When I looked at the final piece, my first response was that I hated it.
After a night of sleep and improvement in how I felt, I looked at it again with fresh eyes that morning and I started to have a bit of an affinity to it. A couple of days later, I felt one of the most strong connections that I have felt to a piece. It hit home and felt soulful beyond anything I could write about in words. It was so personal and real. It just felt right. I learned to love her and the chaos. I made another work of art in a similar vein and then another and then took a break.
Art is not a cure, but it did take off the edge of my challenging week. It softened how I felt about what was going on and put everything I was experiencing into a place on the canvas.
A few days later I decided to return to the canvas, but something had shifted. I felt a lot better, but there was a tiny lingering piece left that I did not know what to do with. I realized the last few pieces of art were created with the question (even if not literal or verbally spoken) “What did I need to release?” Yet, this time the question was:
“What do I need?”
I needed the feeling of peace, serenity, letting go, gratitude, graciousness, and healing to replace the chaos for now. Just for now. I have learned in my life, that no matter if you have a rare disease or your life, is pretty normal and stable, we all have to face chaos, adversity, and challenges. I try to remind myself of that often. The human experience is challenging for every one of us.
As sat at my desk and let the brush guide me, I noticed that what I needed had emerged on the paper. It was obvious to me that the artwork spoke. of my great need for peace, serenity, calmness, safety, healing, etc.
Side Note: If you need something and you try to put it on paper and it does not come out the way you think it should, you are still getting what you need you just don’t know it yet. So try not to judge and be open. Expectations can hurt our creativity and spirit. Try to be in the flow and let what comes out come out.
After creating this piece, I realized that the process was so important to healing and connecting to ourselves. That being open, vulnerable, and allowing our hands to move on a surface to be with who we are, what we are and the experiences in our life are such amazing tools for healing.
Ask yourself: What do you need to process or connect to?
Below is a short creatove exercise to do without yourself to address anything that you wish in your life. It can be a postive thing or a challenging one. Just come back to the surface and put marks on paper with no expectation. Be in the process.
You don’t need to be an artist and you can start anywhere with any medium. Even just a piece of paper and pencil. You don’t have to make a painting or anything even realistic, Doodling, Neurographic art, etc., can be just as therapeutic.
- Get out your tool(s) and look at your paper/surface and just make the first mark. It can be a dot, line, or whatever feels good.
- Make the next mark. Again do it without much thought. Just be with the surface with no expectation of what you are creating or with yourself.
- Keep on making marks. Just flow with your mind, body, and soul. Feel into what you’re doing.