I was 22 when I first moved into an apartment all by myself. My very own place. Alone. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it was painful as fuck. At the time I was practicing massage therapy and teaching in separate towns, 45 mins apart from each other. So I chose to live in a city between them. A city I had only driven through at the time. I moved into a 415 square foot studio apartment. If you’re not sure how big that is, it’s about enough room for a small kitchen, small bathroom, my bed, some closet space, and about 6 square feet of dancing room. Small. But it was all mine.
I realized I’d enjoyed other people inhabiting the space I lived in, even if I went right into my room and avoided all other forms of life. Except for my cat, of course. Someone’s shoes, a loose magazine prescription, crumbs on the table that I didn’t leave. Signs of life outside of me. It helped keep the loneliness at bay. I had my cat in all my previous places I’d lived too, but she didn’t make the trip with me in the studio. It was too small for her. I went from having “annoying” roommates to complete silence every time I opened the door. In the beginning I would get home, 30 mins away from everyone I knew, open the door, see everything the way I left it. No sign of anyone but me, and fall to the floor and weep. What I learned over time was that this pain of loneliness, of isolation, abandonment, was inside me the whole time. It was always knocking at my door and I would ignore the sometimes pounding very well, by turning to ideations, and other people’s shit. By moving into my own apartment I invited my loneliness to live with me. My isolation, my abandonment, depression, anxiety, fears. We were like the fucking brady bunch up in there. Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m laughing and smiling. Why? Because I got through it. I turned my pain into power. Because not only did I invite all my darkness to rise to the surface, I allowed the space for myself to process it. And that invited in my creativity, my joy, my connectedness to self.
Earlier that year I found pour painting. My good friend Skie asked me if I wanted to make a painting with her. She said, “I want someone to pour with and I thought, hell yeah Stephanie would be down.” And Hell yeah I was. Once I created that first piece, it opened up a reservoir that I never knew I had. A creative spirit. I spent the next few months dabbling in different pouring methods, never having a lot of time for it then because I was prioritizing other people. Fast forward to living 30 minutes away from anyone I knew and being on a tight budget, I now had every night wide open. I remembered being so consumed by loneliness, isolation and anxiety that I would be paralyzed. At this point in my life though, I had tools. I’d been creating a web of self care and self love for that very moment in time; I knew how to support myself. The initial act of courage was always pulling myself out of bed and into something that could help me.
Suddenly, I started buying floetrol in bulk and 10 packs of canvases on sale. I used old bed sheets on the floor and an extra massage table as my creating space. The only route in Battle Creek(the city I was living in) I knew like the back of my hand was the same road that led to Michaels, Menards, and Meijer. I felt like a real artist for the first time because I bought quality acrylics and could lose track of time for hours creating. Now remember, I had like a 6 square foot space for this, and pour paintings take time to dry. So I always had paintings on the floor or cups scattered on my kitchen counter.
Now when I would come home, 30 mins away from anyone I knew, I would see myself in forms of paint on canvases laying all over, on the walls, and on my one small round side table. I would see how diverse and expansive I was ( still am ). I would remind myself of interconnectedness. I’d still let myself be consumed by loneliness, fear, isolation. And I’d feel it, and see that I was surrounded by Love. By Creation. Creation heals. Unlocking this vault led to me singing more, writing more, dancing more, connecting with myself more, connecting with my people more. Feeling more confident in myself, releasing old habits, letting myself be. Yes, creativity is that powerful. That little space held me for a year. A cocoon. Where I left it even more raw than when I had entered, and more whole.
Each piece I’ve created is a piece of my heart. My soul. It’s a reminder of our humanness. And our divinity. And how we all are struggling on some level, and it’s all valid. Your struggle is valid. No matter what it looks like on the outside. You deserve to surround yourself with things that remind you of your humanness and divine power. I create art to inspire you to be your best self. To remind you of why we’re in it, and to keep going. To please, keep going. To transmute your pain into power. To access your joy and open your heart to the oneness we all share. Art is meant to hang on your wall, lean on your table, rest on your desk, be anywhere you want, to help you unlock your own potential. Creating helped me heal so much that I want to touch your life, and whomever I can, and show you that creating helps you heal as well. Creativity can help you feel connected to Earth and to others.(citation) And that’s what we need more of. So make time for yourself and create. Create with yourself, Create with others. The most important thing is that you do it.
Now put it into practice. Because passive reading gets you nowhere. Practice and action do. This week: Make time for yourself to create. You must carve out time for yourself otherwise, you’ll keep putting it off. Schedule 5, 10 mins. Schedule an hour or two. Whatever fits. Practice with your kids, practice with your mom or grandma. Do something creative, whether it’s painting, drawing, doodling, dancing, singing, writing, playing an instrument, or whatever else you find expansive and creative. Do it. And tell me in the comments what you did. How you felt beforehand, and how you felt after. I’d love to hear from you.
Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping Your Hidden Creativity
By Michael Samuels, Mary Rockwood Lane