Processing the overwhelming world

Sometimes ugly thoughts, disappointing feelings, overwhelming emotions get stuck in me. They come in from social media, from conversations with friends and family, from the radio, standing in line at the store, at work, holding space for others, my own mind. I try to let them rollover me, to hold my own space, and to remember who I am. But it doesn’t always happen automatically.

How do I process these feelings? What do I do with them? I felt frozen. I stayed with those feelings for a while and tuned into where they were sitting in my body. My heart felt constricted. My breath was not flowing. My throat was closed. The message I got was. “Express and release”.

I decided to paint but cleaning a space on my studio table would cause more stress which I didn’t need right now. So I went outside and set-up a place to paint on my fence. The action of creating a new painting area felt positive. The sunshine felt good.


I selected large leftover packing paper and red and black colors to work with. As I stood back to look at the painting area before I began, I thought it looked like an archway and seeing that, I felt curious and hopeful.

The paper was hung like on a clothesline and as I painted  them they moved around, floating up with the breeze and moving with each 30043019542_dc6d9d1562_zbrush stroke. I thought about how life is sometimes – how thoughts and information float and move – it is not always easy to be steady and still in the midst of what’s happening in the world. I liked making the large black strokes – moving my body up and down the length of the paper.



Next I added the vibrant red with slashing brushstrokes. The way the color stood out from the black was satisfying. I then splattered a mixture of the black and red and it looked like purple flying color. For me, purple is a sacred color and it came about serendipitously.

I noticed my emotions were shifting as I was creating. My throat was no longer clinched, I breathed as I worked, my heart felt open again. I no longer felt heavy and weighted down – as if I had purged what I had been too full of and what I did not want to hold and carry around anymore. I could see it was outside on me now and in the painting.




I looked at the paper archway and realized I had created a portal to travel through to the other side of where I was and to another place. I took a big breath and felt free.







If you are interested in learning more about creating in this way and would like to work with me one-on-one or in a community class please go to my website for more information:


“Live from your heart…”

Teabags are so informative. Yesterday my lemon ginger teabag tag said “Live from your heart, you will be most effective.”

This teabag fortune was right on, especially after taking a 2 weekend class with Pat Allen, a well known art therapist. Having a clear enough heart to “live from” is important. I spent much of my time in the workshop working with the intention to release things not serving me and to be clear to do my work – my work of being an artist and transformative art facilitator.

Pat’s process of intention and witness is truly powerful and transformative. Intention can be expressed in the forms of inquiry, engagement, or even celebration, and is always stated in the now for best results.

After the intention is set, art making such as drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture “serve as a technology of the sacred, available to anyone at any point in life, with any level of art experience”.

The witness process is about actualizing intention through writing about the art making experience and the learnings received from the art piece. How deep the participant wants to go with the exploration is up to them. It is optional whether one wants to share their witnessing and process with the group. An important aspect is that the workshop circle listens attentively in silence while the artist shares. The group’s presence is an acknowledgement of the work each artist is doing in the moment. Each and everyone’s process can have a message for individuals and the whole group.

I am excited about integrating this process in my transformative art workshops in April.

Here are some of the images I created during Pat’s workshop. I found it interesting that I drew some of the pieces since that is not my usual media. For these particular pieces drawing was what was called for to really get at what was coming up.