The feelings I create out of fiber typically take me anywhere from four to six weeks to create, but in recent months, I was pushing myself to make more, sew faster, produce, produce, produce.
That “drive” took all the fun out of it.
I want to be intentional about the time I spend creating my art, including when I share it with you so today I’m sharing update photos from my latest Feeling in Progress: Depression.
Feeling in Progress…
Slow and steady…
I’m a big fan of ease. “Type A” does not describe me. Slow, steady art making soothes me and, with my Feelings work, is a critical part of the process.
When I’m creating feelings out of fiber, I’m exploring how the feeling feels within me. I give myself the opportunity to observe the feeling – where it sits in my body, where it sits in my heart and head, what thoughts it produces, and what lessons it has to offer. Rushing the creative process short circuits the learning and discovery process, which I believe is critical to personal growth and development.
Our feelings offer lessons for us to learn. Only by feeling them, observing them, and opening ourselves to receive the lessons can we transform ourselves into the people we’re meant to be.
Exit through the gift shop…
I hope you’ve enjoyed these few update photos from my latest feeling in progress, Depression. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share my art.
If you’re curious about learning more about the lessons feelings offer you, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.
When your feelings feel out of control, swamping you with emotion, particularly when it’s a feeling that keeps coming back over and over, it’s natural to feel completely overwhelmed with zero motivation. But there’s hope. When you allow yourself to learn what your less positive feelings are trying to teach you, you can get your motivation back.
Here are my three suggested steps to learn from your feelings.
Let go to break free…
When you’re buried under the weight of an overwhelming and recurring feeling like depression*, anger, resentment, or shame, there’s always a part of you that’s worrying about how to break free so you can just stop feeling shitty all the time. You get bogged down in thoughts of what you could do differently, which creates a cycle with the feeling, putting you on a merry-go-round that never stops.
This sensation you’ve got to control how you feel in order to make it stop is why you’re staying stuck.
Let go. Let yourself feel what you feel in all its pain and darkness. Give yourself permission to express your feelings and then express them. As you do, set some parameters so you don’t wallow forever. Give yourself an hour, a day, or a week – you’ll know how much time you need – and when the time is up, move on to the next suggestion.
Step back and observe…
After you’ve given yourself the gift of feeling what you feel, the next step is to step back and observe. This is where you get to pretend to be outside yourself, looking in.
The key here is to question your feelings. You want to inquire why you feel what you feel.
What triggered the emotion? Why was that the feeling that rose up? When have you felt that feeling in the past? What caused those occurrences? Is there a common link between what you feel now and what you’ve felt in the past? What is it?
Continue to question your feelings until there’s a sensation of release, a moment when it becomes clear why you keep feeling this particular feeling.
You can do this in a number of ways. You can journal, take voice notes, film yourself talking it out, spend time in contemplation via meditation, create the feeling as a tangible object (like I do when I create feelings out of fiber), or work with a coach like me who can help you dig deeper than you may be able to go on your own.
Find the lesson…
As you allow yourself the grace of observation, you’ll find yourself writing, speaking, or creating a record of the feeling and its root.
The “why” will appear and it will reveal the reason you default to depression*, anger, resentment, shame, or some other feeling that isn’t serving you. It will point to a moment from your past when an event happened or words were said that attached to your heart.
This moment may be major or it may be something that seemed inconsequential at the time. This moment is the key. Once you understand the moment that serves as the root, you have found the lesson and can begin the work to learn what it has to teach you.
Short is dumpy…
I have a moment that has served to make me feel motivated and encouraged AND defeated and depressed. A single moment can work to make you feel positive emotion at one point and negative at another. Each time a feeling arises, there may be a new lesson to learn. I used the steps I’ve outlined above to learn what this particular moment needed to teach me.
When I was a pre-teen, my grandmother said something that etched itself into my heart. She was short and had grown rounder with age, post-menopause. I too was short and it was clear I wasn’t going to be a tall adult. So she said to me, “Short is dumpy.” I took it as a warning to watch out as I grew older, delivered with love in the hopes she could prevent me from sharing her fate.
For years, that statement, that moment, worked as motivation and encouragement for staying slender, a short person with a slim frame. Whenever I was tempted to overeat or to make crappy food choices, I would say “short is dumpy” to myself and it worked as weight control.
And then I became post menopausal. Suddenly, no matter what I ate, how much, how little, the type of food, didn’t seem to matter. I’d become dumpy. Every time my pants felt a bit too tight, I felt more defeated and depressed. This spilled over into my work and into my art.
I was ready to change my feelings around my body. I decided to feel the defeat, observe the feeling, and find the lesson. When I did, I found that moment when my grandma warned me of the changes that occur as we age.
And the lesson I needed to learn was to re-frame the statement.
Now I tell myself “short is beautiful” and I am.
Exit through the gift shop…
When you can follow the steps I’ve shared here, you can learn what your feelings are trying to teach you. Start by letting go to break free. Next, step back and observe by questioning the feeling to understand its purpose in being there. Finally, find the lesson the feeling carries so you can begin to learn from it.
*Depression is tricky. For some of us, we can manage it on our own and it never grows so severe we’re at risk of self-harm. However, for many others, help is needed to manage depression. If this is you, please do get the professional help you need. The world is better with you in it.
We’re living in a time where the whole world feels uncomfortable, like putting on real pants after six months of work at home during a pandemic uncomfortable. However, just as wearing pants is important for preventing a public indecency charge, so is embracing your feeling of discomfort, regardless of what triggered it.
Feelings provide lessons for us to learn. I believe this with my whole heart, which is why I create feelings out of fiber and talk so much about the importance of detaching from the feeling to observe what it has to teach you. Embracing the uncomfortable offers you the opportunity to learn, if you’re willing to face it.
When you feel uncomfortable, maybe trapped in a job you don’t like, lonely after all these months of forced isolation in your home due to COVID, or just from the simple act of wearing a mask, it’s natural to wish someone would come along and, if not straight up rescue you, at least put an end to all the nonsense. Unfortunately, it’s rare for discomfort to magically disappear.
Even if you should be so lucky for it to go *poof*, if you haven’t taken a good, long look at what the uncomfortable feeling is trying to teach you before it goes away, you’re setting yourself up for increased discomfort in the future when something that reminds you of where you are now triggers its return.
Embracing the discomfort…
I spent a good portion of my corporate career feeling uncomfortable because I had a fair amount of imposter syndrome. That discomfort became such a part of me, it began to feel normal. In fact, I got to the point where I thought feeling uncomfortable was a natural by-product of being an adult.
And then, one day, things changed. I don’t recall what did it, but I realized I didn’t have to feel uncomfortable and could instead embrace the discomfort and learn from it. As a result, I returned to making my art after many years away from the sewing machine, eventually finding my voice with my Feelings work. This provided a much needed release from the pressures of corporate work, and I found myself happier for it.
The lesson my uncomfortable feeling was delivering was a push to express my innate creativity, which I couldn’t really do in my day job. Creativity is a huge value for me and the suppression of that value is what had ultimately created such discomfort.
Your discomfort is trying to get your attention too. The lesson it carries is as unique as you are. It may be a push to change, a mirror to reflect, a reminder to return to your values. The longer you continue to ignore how uncomfortable you feel, or conversely, just bitch about it, the more difficult it becomes to discover what feeling uncomfortable is trying to teach you. Failing to embrace the pain hurts more than facing it head on.
So I challenge you to embrace feeling uncomfortable. Sit with the feeling to examine it. Ask the feeling what it wants you to learn. I promise you there will be an answer.
Exit through the gift shop…
Embracing feeling uncomfortable is important, regardless of what triggered the feeling in you. Every feeling has something to teach you and the longer you ignore that lesson, the more difficult it is to learn. So sit with the feeling. Speak to it. And most importantly, listen for the answer.
If you need some support around embracing feeling uncomfortable, drop me a note at email@example.com and we’ll set up time to chat.
New work! I completed (Feeling) Enlightened recently so today’s post will be short and sweet to focus on the photos.
(As I always do, I’ve written a poem that goes with this piece. To read it, please visit my poetry website – www.piningforpoetry.com.)
I promised to keep the words brief but do want to share this. I chose to create Enlightened to help the viewer understand enlightenment isn’t something you need to struggle to achieve.
Moments of enlightenment happen all the time. Every time you have an AHA! moment, you’re enlightened. Every time you look up at the clock to discover hours have passed, you’ve been in a state of enlightenment.
Feeling enlightened is feeling those bright sparks of genius we all experience. It’s a lightness of being that comes from the heart to suspend you outside time and space as you watch the answers appear with ease.
I just want you to know you don’t have to chase enlightenment. It’s already inside you. All you need to do to feel it is pay attention.
Exit through the gift shop…
Enlightened is available for purchase for $2500 and would look fantastic on the wall of your home or office (or home office 🙂 ) or in your meditation space. If you’d like to own this piece, you have two options:
What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe in your own value? Your immediate thoughts may be, “I’m amaze-balls” and “Of course I do,” and if they are, fantastic. But is that really your truth? Or is it a reflex, an automatic answer? Today, I’m asking you to dig a little deeper.
Belief creates reality…
What you believe to be true about yourself creates your reality. From your beliefs, stories develop that influence how you see yourself and the world around you.
Here’s an example: Put two people in a room to watch a movie on Netflix. When the film ends, ask them separately about what they just saw. Go beyond if they liked it or not. Dig a little. Odds are high you’ll get two different perspectives on the same film. When you ask each person to share their perspective with the other, don’t be surprised to hear one of them say, “I didn’t notice that at all!”
This happens because each of us sees the world through the lens of our own experiences. From experiences, beliefs develop. From beliefs, thoughts emerge. From thoughts come feelings. And from feelings come experiences. This cycle repeats and creates our individual realities.
When reality is upended…
Let’s use your current or most recent job as another example. You might see your job as a means to an end, a paycheck for financial security and a way to pay the bills. You may also believe your job is who you are. When you meet someone new and you’re asked to “tell me a little about yourself”, how often do you start with “I’m a _” and you fill in the blank with your job title? This is a sneaky example because, for most of us, we don’t even realize that’s our default response but that’s also how you know it’s a belief – because you don’t even have to think about it.
To carry this further, if you’ve ever been laid off from work, you probably went into a tailspin for a while. Getting laid off can be a completely shitty experience because not only is your paycheck gone, you’re also left feeling totally lost if you’ve identified yourself as “I am my job title”. Suddenly, your reality is upended because what you believed to be true about yourself – that you were your job – is gone.
Time for a re-write…
When you believe you’re your job, it’s a story you’re telling yourself based on the experience of having the job. But your story’s greater than that. You’re greater than that.
Belief in yourself as a whole being and in your own value is important because it’s this belief that will carry you through any turmoil.
I’ve spent a good chunk of my life feeling overwhelmed and lost, struggling to find my way back to peace and joy. For me, those moments often manifested beyond self-doubt and transformed into depression. When whatever I was doing didn’t go the way I’d hoped, I found myself unsurprised because that was just always the way things worked for me. It didn’t matter what I did, nothing would ever change.
But this was, and is, a lie. The truth was I didn’t believe in myself. And if I wanted that to change, I had to write a new story.
Write a new story…
My new story began when I returned to my fiber art. Through the act of creating artwork out of fabric and thread, I started to see myself differently. I reconnected to my innate creativity – something I’d denied even having prior to that point.
Making art requires us to let go of the reins. The final product may not turn out exactly as we saw in our mind’s eye. It may look better. It may look different. It’s ALWAYS gonna surprise.
Making art means releasing control. Control manipulates and forces outcomes. Since I’d spent a lifetime trying to stay in control, it’s no wonder I didn’t believe in myself.
The more time I spent making art, the more I realized my own value. I discovered I was more than my job, more than a partner to my guy, more than a step-mom to my boys, more than a daughter to my parents, a sister to my brother, and an aunt to my nieces and nephews.
As the intro to my new story expanded, so did my art making. One day, I realized what I was really doing was creating feelings out of fiber. By doing so, I was creating new experiences, which meant my relationship with my feelings also changed. This new “programming” evolved into a new belief about myself, one that serves instead of blocks, one that acknowledges I am limitless and worthy of joy.
Exit through the gift shop…
Creating feelings out of fiber isn’t just my art practice. It’s also a way of living a life filled with greater peace and joy. Living this way, I’m able to observe my feelings, to step back from them, to see what story they’re telling me. And when I can see the story, I can see how it’s influencing my reality. If I don’t like the reality, I can change the story. I can transform depression into joy.
Your beliefs create your reality. This reality can serve you or it can block you. Either way, when it’s upended, you can find yourself spinning out. When that happens, it’s time to re-write the stories you tell yourself that come from your beliefs. It’s time to learn how to believe in yourself and your value.
If your truth is the stories you tell yourself have created a reality where you don’t really believe in yourself or your own value, you may benefit from following my example.
There’s a better way to live, one filled with peace and joy. Let me help you.
I’m a member of the Wellington Art Society, a local group for artists to talk about their work and share it with the wider world. Ordinarily, our member shows are in-person but in-person isn’t an option these days, so we’ve gone virtual! Virtual is so cool because it means you have the opportunity to view all sorts of fun art from the comfort of your home. If you’d like to visit, the show opens Monday, September 14, 2020 and closes Friday, October 16, 2020.
Instructions for navigating through the show are available on the website. I suggest the guided tour option so you don’t miss a single work of art! If you do visit, I’d love to know what you thought of the show.