Want More Joy & Ease? Go Exercise

If you feel like you’re drowning under the isolation and pressures inherent in this pandemic that keeps. lingering. on, might I suggest you get some exercise? Moving your body is a great way to reconnect to joy and ease.

Detail view of Serene, one of my fiber feelings.

Into the deep end…

I used to be a swimmer, part of my high school team. I wasn’t Olympic caliber by any stretch of the imagination, but I could win sprints in butterfly and freestyle. Which is saying something because I was always the shortest competitor so I had to be extra fast to beat a longer reach. A powerful kick helped.

The feeling when my hand touched the wall at the end of a race and I stood to discover I’d out-swum all the other girls in the pool was AH-MAZING. Pure energy rush.

However, the most impactful thing I carry with me from that time in my life isn’t satisfaction from winning a few races, but rather the feeling of weightlessness that comes from being in the water. To me, that weightlessness feels like ease.

There’s no struggle. There’s only flow.

Into nature…

These days, I rarely swim and it’s not from lack of access to a pool. My exercise interests have changed as I’ve aged. However, on those occasions when I do get in the water, the joy and ease always returns.

Instead, I’ve found more satisfaction from exercising in nature. I’ve discovered long walks or bicycle rides produce that same sense of weightlessness in my heart. It’s not unusual for me to go into a sort of trance during a walk as I connect to the natural world around me. When this happens, I feel I’m floating along the path. I always giggle a little when I “come to” as I realize I’m almost back home. Time disappeared; there was only ease and flow.

The same holds true with my Pilates practice, even though it requires concentration and focus as I flow from position to position. My body feels powerful and that too produces the weightless sensation of ease.

Into your body…

Exercise drops you out of your head and into your body.

When you’re in your head, your thoughts spin and whirl, a speeding carousel of pressure, anxiety, to do lists, and shoulds.

When you drop into your body, thoughts quiet as you intentionally move your limbs to walk, to run, to swim, to flow.

Answers come through as you move. You can hear them, sense them, feel them because you’re not focused on your head. Instead, you’re focused on the beauty of your body in motion which opens you to joy and ease.

If you’re struggling with any sort of overwhelm, go exercise. I’m certain you’ll reconnect to your joy and ease quickly and effortlessly.

I’m certain of something else too. When you’re done moving your body, that overwhelm or struggle will have loosened its grip and I’ll bet you’ll see a solution where before you only saw problem.

With joy and ease…

What are your thoughts on exercising to reconnect to your joy and ease? Please share in the comments.

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

How Social Media Impacts Joy

I have a Meh / Hate relationship with social media. Lately, that relationship has been impacting my joy.

Detail shot of (Feeling) Joy, one of my textured fiber paintings

The Meh side…

At least once a day, I consider deleting my Facebook and my Instagram, often my LinkedIn, and occasionally my Pinterest. This isn’t actually a new thing – I’ve had this debate with myself since the day I first joined Facebook back in late 2008 (my gateway platform).

But I never do.

Part of the reason is the Meh side of the relationship. This side is a stew of Like and Love because social media helps me stay connected and in the know on the lives of extended family and friends. I’m a horrible correspondent so social media is how I stay connected and engaged. If the only resources I had were text, phone calls, or email, odds are high I’d disappear off all radar.

I enjoy seeing what others are up to. I am grateful for the opportunity to express my sympathy when something goes awry. I find humor and inspiration in the memes others share. I learn about new places and have vicarious adventures.

In addition…

As an artist, social media is a handy tool to share my creations. It allows me to broadcast these essays further afield than my subscription list.

When I create a new textured fiber painting, I can share photos in my feed to brighten the feed of my friends.

I can publish tiny excerpts of the novel I’m writing to entertain and build interest in reading the completed book.

I can “advertise” work for sale and reach a broader audience, if the algorithms are in my favor that day.

Through social media, I can participate in groups that educate and support my artistry and my business side. This is useful.

The Hate side…

But then there’s the Hate side. This is where social media impacts my joy, and maybe it impacts yours as well. I frequently feel obligated to scroll Facebook and Instagram, like if I don’t open the app and start swiping up, I’ll miss something.

It feels like something I HAVE to do or SHOULD do, rather than something I WANT to do. I grab my phone and glue my nose to the screen, even when I’m meant to be doing something else.

Having a computer in my hand doesn’t make me more productive. It makes me more distracted. And joy is found in being present.

It’s an addiction…

Social media is an addiction and all addictions prevent us from feeling true joy. In the moment, immersed in the addiction, we believe we’re experiencing joy, but we’re not. What we’re really experiencing is a simulated, flat, false imagining of what joy feels like. What we’re really doing when we scroll and scroll and scroll is escaping from reality, from connection, from ourselves.

And that’s not how I choose to live. I want the reality, connection, myself, which means I need to break the addiction.

I used to smoke, for over 20 years. Breaking that addiction was WORK but it finally happened for good and all when I was ready to quit. The same applies here.

While it may not be practical to completely dump my social media accounts – I do appreciate the Meh side after all – it can be possible to distance myself from my device so I’m no longer reliant on scrolling to escape.

And that’s what I’m choosing to do. I’m going to study when I’m glued to my phone and then take the necessary actions to break the pattern. I’m going to start putting my phone out of reach when I’m working, reading, cooking dinner, making art, watching Netflix. I’m going to take a breath before leaping up to grab the phone to scroll so I can be more intentional about my reasons for doing so.

And through it all, eventually, I’ll reduce the impact social media has on my joy. Through it all, I’ll break the addiction.

With joy and ease…

There are plenty of resources out there that talk about social media as an addiction and how it’s altering our brains (if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch the Social Dilemma on Netflix as a place to start learning).

We’ve become ridiculously dependent on our devices and that dependency is impacting our joy. That breaks my heart. Joy is our birthright, the whole purpose of our human existence. Navigating the social media hurdle is just one of the many lessons to learn as we find our way back to joy.

I’m curious…would you consider yourself addicted to social media? How do your social media habits impact your joy? Let me know in the comments.

xo


Interested specifically in my art? Want a piece in your home? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Trauma vs. Joy & Ease: The Ultimate Cage Match

Ever since we rolled into 2021, my social media feeds have been peppered with graphics regarding trauma and trauma responses. Since I don’t believe in coincidences, the Universe is probably trying to tell me something.

Which means I’ve got to journal it out…in the form of this essay. You’re welcome.

Joy and ease…

I’m really big into joy and ease, which you know if you’ve been following along for even just a little while. I believe living a life of joy and ease is the actual purpose of our human existence. This means it’s our birthright to infuse everything we do with a sense of joy and a feeling of ease – both of which are possible when we lead with compassion and generosity.

But what happens to joy and ease when we experience trauma?

If you’re anything like me, those two get stomped on like the fighter who lets his guard down and ends up curled into the fetal position, pressed tightly against the cage surrounding the octagon. Joy and ease get bloodied, bruised, and often TKO’ed in the face of trauma.

But that doesn’t mean trauma ends joy and ease. Instead, it means we need to look at how we respond to trauma so we can reconnect to our joy and ease.

What is trauma?

First, let’s be clear. I’m no expert. I haven’t studied trauma as a professional. Remember, I’m just musing here.

With that in mind, I can only speak about trauma from my personal experience. For me, it ranges from being the recipient of schoolyard bullying, the death of multiple extended family members all within a short time frame while I was young, two divorces, a bit of work bullying, assorted other incidents that felt like slaps to the face, and a pandemic.

Kind of a lot when you think about it. And yet, joy and ease has become my default.

Trauma experiences lead us to question our worth and abilities. We may shrink in on ourselves, dimming our light because the trauma causes us to believe our light isn’t worth shining. Or we may come charging out of the gate, determined, angry, and overcompensating by doing all the things, believing worth is proven by staying busy.

I’ve done both. I bet you have too.

The thing is, when we respond to trauma in these ways, trauma wins the cage match. And while I can’t speak for you, I can say for myself, I’m always rooting for joy and ease to come out on top.

Here’s how I help joy and ease win:

I start by allowing myself to get quiet. This happens in one of two ways, depending on how I’ve reacted to the trauma.

I slow myself down when I realize I’m racing around, frantic and frazzled. I stop doing all the things and give myself permission to just. sit. still. The antidote to action is stillness. I close my eyes and rest.

If I’ve caved in on myself instead, I give myself the gift of time outdoors. This lets me feel like part of the world again. The antidote to wallowing is action. I let the fresh air cleanse me.

In both instances, thoughts regarding the trauma arise. It doesn’t matter if the trauma was recent or in the distant past. Trauma has a way of re-entering the ring when you least expect it. And each round must be fought.

So I let those thoughts rise. I let tears flow. I let anger course through me. I talk it out in my mind, a mental cage match between pain and self-worth. And here’s what happens every time:

I find myself turning to compassion, generosity, and forgiveness. I face down my trauma experiences, again and again, and each time, I refuse to back down. That mental cage match conversation somehow lets me distance myself enough to see the bigger picture, to see that the one causing the trauma is just as human as I am. And as such, is connected to me. Because we’re all connected. We’re all one. My experience is your experience is her experience is the world’s experience.

I forgive myself. When I do, I automatically forgive everyone else and joy and ease receive a resurgence of energy, enough to knock trauma right out of the ring.


Before I go, I just want to reiterate these are my musings on trauma and how I’ve chosen to respond to it in my life. Your experience may be different. But please, no matter your experience, don’t let trauma win. Do what you need to do to give joy and ease the space to be victorious. You’re worth it. Really.

I’d love to know the ways you’ve chosen joy and ease over trauma. Let’s start a conversation in the comments.

xo

Interested specifically in my art? Want a piece in your home? Then let’s talk!

Contact me about scheduling a virtual coffee, a private (virtual) art show of my existing work, or a commissioning conversation about creation of a textured fiber painting uniquely yours.

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

2020: The Limbo Year

2020 felt like we’d been suspended in limbo, everything on pause, even as we pivoted, shifted, and advanced. Or was that just me?

It’s a year we’ll all look back on as the one where everything changed and that’s good and right. Because 2020 was always meant to be a year in limbo, the transition ahead of the evolution.

Year end review…

I took the last week of the year off to process my thoughts about 2020. I always take the last week of a year to look back at what I did and didn’t do so I can look forward in anticipation of the next year. Even though 2020 was an exercise in suspension, my practice didn’t change.

As I looked back at my year, I discovered I spent a huge portion of 2020 feeling like a ghost, floating in that limbo space. I found myself caught up in the Doing most of the time, consumed with work to keep me busy and my mind occupied.

All this Doing led me to publish a book of my poetry, a renewed focus on my art practice, publication of a free eBook about creating feelings and turning them into art, and the first shitty draft of an intrigue / romance novel. These were bright lights in my year.

The Doing also led to one of the more intense depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced.

From the grey space…

From the grey space of depression, I discovered something important. A year in limbo offers gifts. 2020 opened the door to the transition ahead of the evolution where each and every one of us is offered the opportunity to Be who we’re meant to Be. There needed to be less Doing and more Being and in the latter part of 2020, that’s where I shifted.

And with the shift, everything changed. By focusing on Being over Doing, I discovered conforming to the image I had of myself as an entrepreneur wasn’t aligned. The work I want to do isn’t entrepreneurial; it’s spiritual and personal and can be done anywhere, at any time.

My work is writing and making art. These are things I’ve always done and will always do, whether they support me financially or not.

When I fully focused on Being, it became so much simpler to live from my heart and let my light shine.

Throughout the year, we all experienced major energetic waves – the virus, the civil unrest, the loss of “normal”, the gain of new ways to connect. The change, the growth, the fighting, the creativity – all of these were signposts for personal and spiritual evolution. And I evolved with them.

With joy and ease…

I’m returning to corporate work this year. It is meant. Writing and art making will continue because they feed my soul. In 2020, I learned to find and feel joy and ease in Being me, rather than through the things I Do.

This was my evolution. What was yours?

xo


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Free EBook: How to Create a Feeling

I’ve written an ebook and I’m giving it away for free!

I was inspired to write How to Create a Feeling: A Guide to Face Your Feelings & Turn Them Into Art through the feelings I create out of fiber (my art) and an intuitive need to share what I’ve learned about navigating depression so it doesn’t rule my life. 

The first portion of the book shares information about our feelings and why we often suppress or deny what we feel.  The latter portion includes several exercises to help you navigate those feelings, particularly what I call your dominant negative feeling, and turn it into art.

This book was written for every woman who’s tired of being at the mercy of her feelings and would rather create feelings of joy and ease in every situation.

If you’d like a copy of my 42-page ebook, How to Create a Feeling: A Guide to Face Your Feelings & Turn Them Into Art, enter your email in the box below to receive your FREE copy! You’ll receive the ebook within 24 hours and be added to my email list. Don’t worry – you’ll be asked to confirm joining the list and you can always unsubscribe at any time.

Please keep reading for an excerpt!


As women, many of us were programmed from birth to be and behave a certain way.  To follow the rules, not raise our voices, and let someone else lead (even while we’re being told we can be leaders).  We don’t own our own goddessness because that would be ballsy and women aren’t supposed to be ballsy.  We’re trained to not express our feelings so as not to be seen as “hysterical” or a “drama queen” or weak.

If you’re here, it’s because some part of you sees this societal programming as the bullshit it is.

You’re waking up to stand in your power.

You’re waking up to own and express your feelings.

You’re waking up to the realization that life isn’t meant to be hard; it’s meant to be lived with joy and ease.


Programming begins prior to birth, regardless of whether our parents knew our gender. Our pregnant mothers and expectant fathers painted pictures in their respective heads of the child that was coming. Their own programming dictated the visions they saw of the little girl or boy who was on her or his way. They contemplated pink or blue walls, even as they may have chosen a gender neutral color for baby’s room. Their hearts were drawn to adorable little dresses, tiny little sneakers, and twee little ball caps. Secretly, even unconsciously, they dreamed of having one or the other.

Then you arrived. Out of the womb, you slid into the doctor’s hands and the words “it’s a girl” were spoken. And your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, doctors, and nurses responded to their individual programming triggers to wrap you in a pink blanket, put a bow on your head, declare you beautiful and swoon over the precious clothing that declared you female.

All babies appear gender neutral when the diaper is on. So our families use clothing and accessories to identify us as girls or boys. It’s what they know how to do. It’s how they believe they’re fulfilling their role as parent, by helping you identify as female or male.

As you grew, and before you could dress yourself, this gender identification continued with the clothing you wore. It was always out of your control. And with the clothing choices also came the instructions:

Girls are sweet and kind. Sugar and spice and everything nice. Girls are docile, quiet, and friendly. Girls are eager to help around the house and in the kitchen. Girls don’t raise their voices. They don’t hit. They don’t yell. They don’t scream.

From an early age, we females are trained to follow these rules. The result? Grown women who are unable to express themselves.

So we find ourselves turning to alcohol or drugs or food, to relationships that don’t suit, to men who don’t cherish, to friendships that never go deep because the inability to express what we really feel, in whatever manner feels most aligned, causes us to live surface lives.


No matter how enlightened society appears to be, with all the shifts that have occurred to date and continue to occur, there’s still an expectation women are delicate creatures, emotional and prone to melodramatics.  And maybe we are. I know I’ve had my moments.  And when I’ve had those moments, others get uncomfortable.  I’ve been told to calm down.  I’ve been told “it’s okay.”  I’ve been told lie after lie as the others attempt to calm me down so they don’t have to feel whatever it is they feel when I’m expressing my feelings.  And that’s where society has it wrong.  That’s where we have it wrong within ourselves.

It’s time to FEEL your feelings.  All of them.  Open, happy, alive, peace, love, fascination, hope, free.  Sad, rejection, fear, boredom, helpless, confused, depressed, angry, defeat.  And all derivatives that fall under them.  

Feelings are experiences.  They’re states of being.  But we suppress these aspects of our being.  We shove our anger down because we don’t want to create conflict.  We put a muzzle on our elation because we don’t want to be seen as bragging.  We create a soup with hope, seasoned with doubt.  We experience freedom, those moments when everything just falls beautifully together, and then we tell ourselves it was a fluke and won’t ever happen again.  We don’t own these feelings as natural and normal and absolutely part of who we are in our humanness.  

And this gets us stuck.

It’s time to get unstuck.


If you liked what you read in the excerpt above, enter your email in the box below to receive your FREE copy!

xoxo


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!