I'm back in town after a summer full of traveling, which was nourishing on many levels. But when I first got back from vacation, I just felt…off. Can you relate?
I was thrown off by the fast pace of life in the Bay Area after spending long afternoons meandering around magical small towns and vast wilderness. Throughout my travels people seemed to actually have time for the most important things, like connection with humans and nature. Back at home, though, I felt far away from my purpose, un-grounded, and vaguely dissatisfied with everything.
After moping around for a few days, I finally had the wherewithal to get out my art journal.
I started with writing a free-flowing rant of everything I was feeling. It wasn’t pretty, but it felt true. Then I circled words and phrases in oil pastels, letting my feelings choose the colors and the marks on the page. Red, black, hard slashes across the paper.
Without trying to change anything, all of a sudden a new impulse emerged: A splatter of yellow light coming out from between the dark lines. So I drew that.
And for the zillionth time, I was reminded that things do move when we move—even if it’s just pastels on paper.
Next there was a flower that started growing through a crack. And a feeling of, yep, slight hopefulness along with it.
I want to emphasize that I didn’t try or force myself to put happy rays of sunshine into my picture. It’s just that the process of allowing my truth to emerge onto the page, and following that moment-to-moment, created a shift.
Which is why I am so damn passionate about the power of creative expression.
From personal experience and my work with clients, I know deep in my bones that every one of us is hard-wired toward growth and healing. It’s an innate process that we access when we express and follow our emotions and our intuition. And creative expression is one of the best vehicles I know to get that process going.
When we create, we take what’s inside and give it a form in the world outside. Whether it’s feeling strong emotions and letting them move through our bodies in a wild dance, or making a collage of our dreams, it’s all about connecting with the most authentic parts of ourselves and giving them space in the world to show us who we really are and where we need to go.
There’s an inner wisdom that comes through when we create that space, and the insights and transformation that occur can feel like magic.
We are all born with the capacity to express ourselves freely in this way, and if we’ve lost touch with it, we can reclaim it. Yes, you too.
In the case of my post-vacation art journaling, the funk I was in didn’t automatically dissolve after 20 minutes of art-making. But that little bit of light made a difference. It helped me start taking action around the projects that do bring joy and connection into my life, so I can create the world I want to live in right here where I am.
One of those projects is writing, which is why you’re seeing this blog post! I’m going to be posting more of these notes on the creative process, about twice a month. Stay tuned.
And if you’re not on my list but you’re interested in following me on this journey, subscribe here.
Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash