I began working on this piece in mid-November. It doesn’t usually take me 2-½ months to create one of my textured fiber paintings; however, in order to really savor Joy, I slowed myself and my process, focused on #15minutesatatime. It worked. Joy is still my primary emotion.
I hope you enjoy my expression of Joy as a tangible piece of art, brightly colored and vibrant with light.
(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 write a lot about joy and ease in my essays. I believe joy is our birthright. I believe living a life filled with joy and ease is the true purpose of our human experience. I believe sharing our joy, through compassion, generosity, gratitude, and love, is a spiritual imperative. This textured fiber painting is my way of showing you how Joy feels to me.
Joy lives in your heart, lit up in technicolor glory, vibrant, radiant, bouncy, like Tigger, already, always present if you only allow yourself to feel it. I hope you choose joy in your life.
Joy is available for purchase for $1800 and would look fantastic on the wall of your home or office (or home office 🙂 ). If you’d like to own this piece, you have two options:
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.
Interested specifically in my art? Want a piece in your home? Then let’s talk!
It occurred to me I haven’t shared a progress update on any of my textured fiber paintings in a while. 2020 was the year of focusing on being an entrepreneur. Now I’ve set that aside, I can get back to sharing more pictures of my art, including the progress! Everyone likes pretty pictures, right? 🙂
Alright, I’ll admit this first photo isn’t the prettiest of the bunch but I’m sharing it anyway. This is the canvas for (Feeling) Joy. When I think of Joy, I think of bright color. When I FEEL Joy, I SEE bright color, specifically fuchsia. Just as I call my depressive episodes my grey space, joyful living is my fuchsia space. The energy within this vibrant pink raises my vibration every time I see it. So of course fuchsia is the color for the canvas.
It’s a little wonky, the layout of those fabric pieces that create the canvas whole, and that’s perfectly imperfect and okay. The canvas is there to provide background for the other colors used in the design. All feelings are a little wonky when you stop to think about it. Since I take the intangible and abstract – feelings – and make them tangible (and still abstract) through fiber, it’s fitting the wonkiness should carry through.
Ordinarily, I consider mono vision to be a detriment. Looking at only one side of an issue never gives you the full picture. We live in a world of duality, created so our human minds can more easily process what we experience and learn. We cannot experience Joy without also experiencing Sorrow. We don’t know one without the other.
But when I’m designing my art, mono vision is actually an important step. Specifically, the mono filter I use on the photo I take of my art once I’ve created the design. In this instance, mono vision allows me to study what I’ve designed for contrast, balance, and use of color value. These elements are critical components to making good art.
And I like to believe I make good art.
The stitching phase always takes the most time for each of my textured fiber paintings. I make my art little by little, #15minutesatatime. No rush, no deadline, just an opportunity to play with color, to observe the feeling I’m creating out of fiber, and to contemplate how that feeling enters into my life through the meditative act of stitching.
The photos above are samples of that stitching meditation, an attempt to capture the deep satisfaction and contentment I feel as I feed my art under the needle of my sewing machine, watching those lines of thread fill the empty fabric to bring texture and life to the feeling.
Because feelings aren’t just wonky like I said earlier. They’re also textural, with warp and weft, smooth moments and rocky cliffhangers.
If you really want to get in touch with your feelings, turn them into art.
With joy and ease…
I hope you enjoyed this little photo gallery of progress for (Feeling) Joy. I’ll be back next week with another essay on anything from living life with joy and ease to creating feelings out of fiber (my textured fiber paintings) to finding the absurd in the ordinary. Until then, may you make your own progress on whatever you’re creating.
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.
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.
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