Negotiating creation with the committee in my head

I am going to be honest. I have just emerged from a really long, and really brutal depression. It started in late Spring, and slowly tapered off over the last month which I find so curious since this time of year usually is when I go down given the colder weather (which really aggravates my chronic health condition) and the darkness/shorter days.

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I’m not really sure what changed and how I climbed out of it. Or even if I am fully out of it but, I do know that I tried to think of the things I really love, and if you have experienced depression you’ll know what I mean when I say, I forced myself to do them.

At first there were days I would wander into my studio, unshowered, and just gaze at the the mess of it all, feeling the overwhelm hit me square in the chest. I’d quickly retreat back to my bed, or my couch, or the floor. There were moments I told myself I should probably give up making art, that voice in my head telling me that I’m not creating anything awesome anyway, and that I should stop trying to be creative.

But I kept trying to walk in there everyday. Slowly I started to tidy things up, put things away. Mind you, these were micro movements made over many weeks.

I began trying to make things. The first several weeks I felt like everything I touched just turned to complete shit…I realised I was rushing myself, taking shortcuts that I should not and making a lot of crap. There was a lot of that. To some extent there is always that.

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Over the summer, I made a new friend. She is also a creative who goes through the ups and downs of mood challenges and happened to be having a similarly bad time at the same time I was struggling. We planned art dates where we created something in a new to us medium, we went to nearby museums, we haunted yard sales and flea markets looking for objects that would shake up our inspiration, and we texted almost everyday. At first I was grumpy about the texts asking “what did you make today?”, but I began to slowly appreciate them for the nudge that they were.

One of the things standing in my way I found was all the projects I had started over the year and abandoned. Pieces and parts were laying all over the place and I felt it was impossible to move forward until I figured out what to do with them. I took things apart, I abandoned ideas, or I decided to complete things. My goal became to finish the things I chose to finish and then move on.

A funny thing happened…once I began to do that… it was like a heavy door slid open in my mind and new ideas, good ideas, ideas that excited me started coming in. This became something that motivated me even more to complete those half finished pieces…so I could get to the new stuff.

I brought candles into my studio, I burned sage, I planted spring bulbs to force, I found and placed many small totems around my space, and the energy began to change, Suddenly, I could not wait to finish work, or responsibilities and get in to my studio. And I worked. And I answered those texts, and I worked some more.

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I feel as if this “fog lifting” is very tentative…Having lived with mental health challenges my entire life, I’ve grown accustomed to false starts and full stops, but I also know that being in my studio, doing what I love in the brightest room in my home with my sweet puppy on his chair, having impromtu dance parties….all of it is healing me. Again.

Be patient with yourself. You don’t have to create masterpieces every time you make a thing. Let yourself be in that quiet space of creation. Let yourself be messy. Cry, laugh, dance if it helps, but don’t give up. Sit on the floor and just be. Write. Sing. Scream. Remind yourself why you create. Look for ways to get out of your own way. Reach out to others. Hug your pet/kids/partner/self.

Just don’t give up.

The worst of you is not the all of you.

Art heals.

When in doubt, make art

Last week, my friend and fellow artist, Beck Lane got in touch with me and asked me if she could do a video on me and my art....since Beck is someone that I have known for a long time, and one of Sacred Relic Studio's early supporters way back in the beginning, of course I said yes!

You can check it out below.

 
 

 

Through this project, Beck became aware of The Resilient Heart Project and opted to participate. I mailed one of the hearts to Beck late last week and she received it yesterday. 

Today, she surprised me with a new video, a sort of update...check it out:

 
 

 

I want to be really clear about this, because I think there are misconceptions surrounding the work Resilience....Resilience for you, and often for me is waking up each morning, knowing that you probably are waking up to the same shit show that you fell asleep to last night...the bills, the illness, a long list of things on the "to-do" list that you are fairly certain you will not be able to accomplish, the dog has to go to the vet, etc...and still putting both of your feet on the ground and moving into your day. Taking steps, even small steps you may perceive to be teeny tiny and insignificant steps are actually what resilience is about. Movement towards something even when things don't look so hopeful. Rising up in the face of sadness, illness, fear, etc...and moving forward through the day anyway because you are made of that kind of stuff. That stuff is resilience. 

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned in my life is about the temporary nature of everything. Nothing stays the same. Knowing that and accepting it and all the good and bad things it brings is difficult for me. So, I pull my resilience around me, grit my teeth and show up again in my studio. Creating has always been the place where I work things out, whether it is actually things encountered during the process of creating, or bigger grief's and hurts, problems, confusion. Art has always been my respite in a world where I am often described as being "overly sensitive' to, (I prefer the term EMPATHETIC BADASS, thank you) and I am grateful for it.

<3

 
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The Resilient Heart Project

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The Resilient Heart Project has come to life. I'd love to be able to say that I have carefully been plotting and planning this for months, but I can't. Like most of my creative visions and ideas, they happen and I usually get stupid excited about them and just jump in before my brain decides to start in with the self doubt.

So I jumped. I am hoping others will jump in with me.

You see, I know that the word SURVIVOR has many different meanings and conjures up many different things in folks minds. I know, because I have survived many things in my life.

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I am an adult child of an alcoholic, I am a psychiatric survivor, I am in recovery fro mental health challenges, and substance use challenges, I am a suicide attempt survivor, a suicide loss survivor, I am currently surviving a chronic illness, I have survived the loss of my father, my best friend, jobs, homes, etc. All things that I was not sure if I would survive or how I would survive. 

It was not a pretty clean and organized survivorship. Lets face it, sometimes we do not face up to these big things in our lives with a lot of grace. Shit happens. But I became resourceful, I became self aware, I learned to identify my needs and articulate them to others, I learned how to stand up for myself and advocate. I learned to listen to my own heart and mind. 

So I learned a lot from each experience. Im not going to tell you it was easy. It was not. I am not here to write platitudes to the tragedies and trauma I have experienced in my life. But I am here to tell you that these experiences helped me to become stronger. 

And it made me realize how we are all surviving in big ways, in small ways, in any way that we can. 

It helped me so much to celebrate my own survival, and to remind myself that no matter what I may face, I absolutely can get through it. It will probably be messy and ugly in parts, but transformation and rebirth are messy. 

Part of what I see and understand to be my work in the world is to hold space for others who want to celebrate their own suvivorship, who want to stand in their power, to decide to radically love themselves.

This project is an extension of that work for me.