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!

(Feeling) Joy – New Work!

(Feeling) Joy – New work completed!

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.)

© 2021, Hilary Clark, “Joy”, Fiber, 34-½” x 24”

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:

1) Contact me directly and let me know you’d like to buy Joy.
2) Visit my Etsy shop and purchase it there.

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!

Joy – A Progress Update

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? 🙂

Joy, a canvas

The canvas…

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.

Joy, with the mono filter

Mono vision…

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.

Progress…

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.

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!