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 in between them. A city I had only driven through. 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 had always enjoyed the fact that other people inhabited the space I lived in, even if I usually went right into my room to avoid those other people. Someone’s shoes, a loose magazine subscription, 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 there I would get home, 30 mins away from everyone I was close to, open the door, see everything just 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. 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. (p.s. still getting through it). I turned my pain into power. Because not only did I invite my darkness to rise to the surface, I allowed the space for it to be processed. And that invited in more creativity, joy, and connectedness to self. Loneliness is a part of our shared human experience. (2) So is Joy. And belonging to ourselves and each other. My hope is that you lean into that knowing through my work.
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, I opened up a reservoir that I never knew very well in terms of “art”. My creative spirit. I spent the next few months dabbling in different pouring methods, never really 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 suddenly 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 was 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. 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 and signs of Life outside of me 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 be reminded of interconnectedness. I’d still 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.
And as I unlocked my creative self through painting, I realized I was already a creative being. And that’s there’s so many ways to be creative. Being a massage therapist is such a creative practice. A practice that weaves into my painting practice. My painting practice weaving into my writing practice. My writing practice weaving into my dancing practice. My dancing practice weaving into my yoga practice. There’s so much space to try new things in a creative way. Being an artist is to be human. To laugh and to be and to have fun. To be curious and adventurous and full of wonder. And you know, sometimes, that creativity leads you to something that fuels your life and sustains you for a long time. When I started pour painting, I defined myself as an Artist. And an Artist I was, all along.
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. Your Joy is valid. Your life deserves to be surrounded by 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. This 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, I want to touch your life, and show you that creating helps you heal as well. Creativity can help you feel connected to Earth and to others.(1) And that’s what we need more of. So make time for your process and create. Create with yourself, Create with others. The most important thing is that you do it.
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 what you did. How you felt beforehand, and how you felt after. I’d love to hear from you. Our stories and way of unlocking our inner creator may be different, and the result is the same. Connection to self. Connection to our collective oneness. And if having unique paintings on your walls deepen your connection to yourself and our collective oneness, shop my Love Wins. Collection. Get yourself some inspired pieces in your life.
- Creative Healing: How to Heal Yourself by Tapping Your Hidden Creativity
By Michael Samuels, Mary Rockwood Lane
2. “Acceptance and belonging” by Stephany St. Clair Pond