When Was the Last Time You Created Something Beautiful?
"At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity."
Rachel Naomi Remen, MD
I’m an artist. It took me a long time to call myself one, because quite frankly, my whole life I had used art as my main source of joy. It has been my go-to coping mechanism and calling myself an artist felt like I was taking the joy out of my art.
Boy, was I wrong.
Once I started calling myself an artist, the joy just poured out of me! Every piece I create has a small piece of my joy attached to it. Giving that joy to others has become my new favorite coping mechanism.
Who doesn’t like art? Even if you aren’t good at it, you can still find joy in creating it or watching someone else create something. Art is such a wonderful outlet and is a great tool to have in your toolbox of coping skills. Your inner child steps out and shines in that light of creativity. Make a little doodle, build something with your hands. Even cooking a wonderful colorful meal can be art. We weave art into so many aspects of our lives, but we rarely take the time to step back to realize the beauty of it all.
Every time I create something my brain is flooded with all those feel-good chemicals--serotonin, and dopamine--like fireworks going off in my head. Overall, I feel more calm, focused, connected, curious, and playful. I rediscover parts of myself and feelings that I had been subconsciously holding on to. Working with art has helped me address those parts of me that may be hard to talk about and expressing them in a beautiful creative way is such a truly healing experience. There are even studies out there where soldiers who have experienced extreme trauma during combat are using art therapy as an outlet and seeing tremendous results. (Remirez, 2016)
Recently a friend of mine’s little girl has been having terrible nightmares. She doesn’t fully talk yet, so it’s been hard for her to process these dreams. My friend recently started having her daughter draw her monster, and of course it’s very crudely drawn scribbles, but to her, this is her monster, and she can point to it and say, “My monster.” Since doing this exercise my friend has noticed that her daughter can calm herself down and eventually go back to sleep, whereas before she would cry and couldn’t self-soothe.
During this last year I’ve allowed my art to take control of all the stress the year has brought, and I truly believe it has saved me from my own anxious energy. It’s also created such a beautiful community for me. I’ve met some of my closest friends creating things with others who enjoy doing the same things as I do.
When was the last time you created something beautiful? Do you remember how it felt? What emotions poured out of you into your art? I’d like to challenge you to set aside some time for you to create something and really take a step back and assess how you feel, maybe even journal about what came up for you. You’re never too old for a little finger painting.