It has been a while. A long while. But I have come back around again. Here are a few of the things I’ve been up to while out of sight…
A hat. Polar bear variety.
One of five flamingo costumes.
A painting of my little brother.
And another necklace.
A baby blanket for a brand new baby.
Check it out! Create! Eugene is a month long event happening this August in Eugene that is all about making art. Art workshops will be happening all month long; some of these workshops happen no matter what and some are being created special for August. Regardless, if you’ve been wanting to learn how to felt or paint or dance, August is the month to flip forward to in your calendar and block out some time for your soon found passion.
Making art, breaking a sweat, cooking food…these are all great ways to move energy out of your body. Energy can very easily build up in our systems, it might look like stress or anxiety or something else. Here’s an example, it’s morning time and your two year old is screaming for reasons you only wish you could fathom and you are hanging on to your sanity by a frayed piece of floss (that your two year old brought to you (where the heck is the rest of the floss?- oh awesome, it’s in the toilet – please stop touching the toilet, it’s gross)). Anyway, if that energy doesn’t get acknowledged and used up in some form of expression (gardening, painting, banging on drums, journaling, kickboxing) it will eventually force it’s way out and often in an undesirable way…you know your way, I don’t think we have to go into it. Which brings us back to Create! Eugene. Put that energy to good, healthy use. Enjoy yourself, enjoy Eugene, enjoy something new.
My kid turned two a couple weeks ago and I made her this cake. I am so proud of it! Not because I made it up all by myself (nope, I found it on Martha’s website), but because I made something colorful and beautiful and fun to honor my kid. What I really want to talk about, though, is how the creation of this cake felt. That, my friends, is what I want to talk about all of the time, as corny or cliche as it might sound coming from a therapist, I want to talk about your feelings. Oh, and you’re safe here. Really, you are.
Let’s talk about my emotions first. In making this cake I felt excited, happy, proud, nervous, frustrated, scared, anxious, and delighted. Being able to track my feelings like this (excited: saw the cake on the internet, wanted to make it, great anticipation; happy: purchased all of the ingredients, loving that it would require eight sticks of butter…) took some practice. Life used to happen at me. Emotions hit me and I accepted them without question and took the ride. Now I can experience an emotion and recognize where it comes from and intentionally experience how it affects me. I’m not trying to say that I have control over my emotions; I simply have a better awareness of what’s going on. Why is that important? Being able to track my emotions helps me to know when I’m getting triggered and allows me to make a decision about how to proceed in life, versus allowing the emotion to take me over and make poor decisions. Ever say or do something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted? That’s what I’m talking about. Staying grounded if and when you want to stay grounded.
Try it out for a bit. Track your emotions while you are going through your morning routine, or at lunch, or whenever. Check out if you can identify your emotions and why you are feeling them. It’s a step in the direction of greater self-awareness which ultimately points toward living a happier life.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were recently in Eugene where they put on, what I am sure was, a show to end all shows. Or something like that. Before they came and left town I had never heard of them. Since then, I have listend to this song, Same Love, what feels like hundreds of times. I get really excited about human rights. By that I mean it hits me in my core. I feel moved when I hear stories about equality; I get teary eyed or I full-on sob. It matters to me and I know that because I feel it deep within my body. That feeling is something I’m always looking for. I appreciate understanding something without having to understand it with words…I simply know. Macklemore passes along a controversial message in an easy and conversational way, “no freedom til we’re equal, damn right I support it,” seems almost impossible to argue. If and when it is possible to get out of our heads and into our hearts there is a clarity that recognizes that love is love. The same love.
Why ground? We make our healthiest decisions when we are grounded. That’s my experience at least. Here is a little grounding exercise that I like to do, especially in a group. It helps me get into my body and exist in the present moment. Try it out. Make it your own. And try not to judge yourself. If you find yourself judging yourself, try not to judge yourself for judging yourself.
A grounding exercise:
Put both feet on the floor and place your hands comfortably in your lap.
Close your eyes or simply look at the floor with a gentle downward gaze.
Feel your feet on the ground. Feel your butt on the seat. Feel your hands on your legs. Feel your clothing on your body.
Begin to pay attention to your breathing. Don’t change anything, just notice how you breathe. As you are breathing take notice of the thoughts going in and out of your head. Give them permission to leave. Try not to judge them, simply allow them to exit. If they come back give them permission to leave again…and again.
Take a deep breath in, deep into the nooks and crannies of your lungs. And breathe out. Push all of the air out of your lungs. Push the old air out; the stuff that has been sitting in there for a couple of days. Do it again. Using your breath move deeper into your body until you are breathing down into your toes. Notice how your body feels. Really try to get in there with your breath and check out what is going on. Get acquainted with your body. Again, give your thoughts permission to leave.
Continue to breathe until you feel comfortable in your body. Start to move your fingers and toes wiggle around a bit in your chair. When you are ready open your eyes and get reacquainted with the room.
I love the Earth. And she’s still on my mind what with Earth Day just over my shoulder. I feel fortunate to have run across this spectacular artist once again.
Wendy Gold is the artist behind ImagineNations, and I think you can probably see what she does…she takes old globes and brings them back to life.
When I first got my eyes on these I felt super inspired; I immediately put it out to the universe that I wanted an old globe to restore in my own way. The universe listened, I believe I came across one that same week, but the globe is still its same old self.
Revisiting Gold’s work has done it again. I’m going to dig that globe out of its hiding place in the garage. It’s my world and I can do anything that I want with it. What a powerful canvas! I appreciate the inspirational reminder that I am in charge of my life and my happiness. I’d love to have a shelf full of old globes to use therapeutically with clients…
Happy Earth Day! A special thanks to our beautiful Mother Earth. Thanks for taking us on this symbiotic ride. When I stop to think about it I am amazed by the perfection that surrounds me. The moth pictured, Eucyclodes semialba, appears to have the world mapped out on his back. Gorgeous. See this guy and more on The Featured Creature…take some time and appreciate your mama.
I recently came across these beautiful illustrations of art therapy directives, assessments, and exercises. Josh Kale, a graphic design and advertising professional, created this series entitled Art Therapy Fundamentals, where he visually describes the process of assessments such as the DAP (draw a person). They are not only lovely to look at, but give a very straight-forward and quick look at what some art therapy might entail. Of course, it all depends on the art therapist, I tend to lean toward directives that allow for a more open interpretation. I think the series might be most enjoyed by art therapists, however. Personally, they took me back to Southwestern College, where I got my masters in Art Therapy and Counseling, right into my art therapy assessment class with Deb John. Take a closer look at Kale’s work here.