Thursday, March 9, 2017

Is Laundry Art?


"Folding laundry is my outlet."

This is a quote from a recent conversation with a family member. This same family member has been known to produce some beautiful woodwork. In the context of this statement, it seemed that this person would rather fold laundry and do dishes than identify as an artist.

This begs the question, can folding laundry and doing dishes be forms of creative (and healing) expression?

I don't have a quick answer. All I know is it made me laugh when this thought was brought forward and I deemed it worthy of writing about.

I self-identify as an artist. I pot, I sculpt, I paint and write. I reflect and intuit what I can from my work. I FEEL as I am creating and I get feedback from the work that creates more feeling. Noticing, being present and aware. This is the work of creation as a part of healing. It is purposeful. It is meditative. It is digging deeply.

When I am working creatively I have a process. Firstly, creating a sacred space for myself. This involves, lighting, music or silence, temperature, time and space. Sometimes, I consciously bring an issue with me because I know what it is I am grappling with. At other times, I only know I am restless, uneasy, anxious, angry, upset, or conversely ecstatic and joyous! But always the intention is to express, listen, honor, and heal or move forward.

As I work, I get into a zone. Thoughts and feelings flow, and if it is a particularly good day I can hold awareness for my emotions and myself. I can honor without judgement. I can observe, hold space for, and release or move forward. It is a circular process. Often the work becomes symbolic, an octopus searching for home and self; a mermaid reaching for the surface; a gnarly tree with roots splitting off in two or three distinct directions. Using colors, shapes and symbols; rolling, bending, and molding clay... this is my healing work.

So can folding laundry be one's creative outlet?

You tell me.
For me, folding laundry is the last thing on my priority list. And I do mean last. It stacks up in baskets and piles. When I finally do get to it, I may put on music, open the curtains, and try to be joyful while doing it. I may consciously cultivate gratitude that we have clean clothes. OR I may just toss each persons stuff into baskets and leave it in their room! It could go either way really!? Perhaps, this is my deeply symbolic expression of disliking chores. OR maybe folding laundry, for me is not an artistic expression. I've practiced mindfulness, and I'm sure there are people out there who would argue that folding laundry is a beautiful and meditative activity. I can hear them now:

BE the laundry.
BE in the moment with the laundry.
BE present with the laundry.
BE present with your feelings while folding the laundry....

... now I'm smiling because my inner voice says "ditch the laundry, go do something fun."
Further evidence to my theory that I am a 36 year old child. I am a giant child. I am not in denial about my feelings about chores, or who I am. When I hear people say things like "I love folding laundry!" my inner child is horrified. It screams "liar!" and my inner voice wants to ask them what their 9 year old self would say to them if they heard them say "I love folding the laundry!".

This is where my work comes in. I am blessed to be working mostly with youths. They don't tend to be full of denial or weighted with a sense of responsibility. They tend to be present and spontaneous. Their creative spirit hopefully has not yet been been squelched (by the demands of laundry); but even if it has or they are self conscious, they tend to get into the swing of things before long. Creating, expressing, honoring, and healing.

At other times, I get to work with adults, or the parents of the kids I'm working with. It is brilliant to see their process.
Sometimes, the adult begins with doodling, other times they just observe their child, not yet ready to participate themselves. Sometimes, I give them a lump of clay and invite them to try the wheel, or to sculpt something. Sometimes, I suggest a topic and other times I just wait to see what unfolds.
Sometimes, the nervousness or anxiety is palpable, after all art is universal.

It requires us to take hold of some part of our inner self and put it "out there." "Out there" where we can be witnessed, honored, or even judged. This can create in us feelings of vulnerability. We can feel exposed, or even triggered. This feels risky, uncomfortable.

I believe is where "folding laundry is my outlet" comes in. It's much safer. Much more acceptable. Practical. Comfortable. Useful. Quite literally, it is the preparation and care for an item that hides our "unmentionables".

If ART is what puts us "out there" for all the world to see; then I would venture to say doing laundry is the opposite. It's literally, processing the items used to hide ourselves or used to present ourselves as we wish the world to see us; and perhaps, as we wish to see ourselves.

On this matter then, of whether laundry can be an artistic and healing outlet, I guess MY answer is no. I would beg to wonder what a person is afraid of if they are relying on a chore to be their outlet. I would invite a person to try even small forms of artistic expression; to take time to remember what activities really fired them up in their youth. Did they play an instrument? enjoy acting? sewing? woodworking? finger painting? collecting items from nature to create with? beading? weaving? collaging? photography? storytelling? I would invite them to do that activity with wonder, openness, curiosity. Observe what happens inside. Ask their 9 year old self how they feel about it, and then really listen to the answer.

But this is my truth, and I am an artist, so what do I know?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Is it REALLY Anxiety?

Anxiety defined:

Feelings of worry, nervousness, unease, agitation, or apprehension; in some cases these feelings are persistent and severe, possibly leading to compulsions, phobias, or panic attacks.


Could you be an Empath?

Empath traits:

-                       ~ You have the gifted ability to intuit the feelings of others; at times this ability goes beyond a mere understanding of another’s emotions, but extends to actually feeling their physical or emotional discomfort.

       ~  People often feel comfortable opening up to you, sharing their stories and struggles.
-          ~ You avoid conflict, possibly due to its intensity for you as you are able to feel the upset feelings of the other person as well as your own emotions.

-          ~ Sensory issues. Sounds, smells, lights, and other sensations can be overwhelming.

-          ~ Being in crowded environments may leave you feeling drained.

-          ~ You cry or feel overwhelmed with emotion from dramatic entertainment.

-          ~ You are spiritual.

-          ~ Others may label you as “too sensitive”, shy, moody, or introverted.

-          ~ You may wonder “What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel so broken?”

Essential Self-care for Empaths:

-          ~ Avoid overly emotional entertainment; this includes the news.

-          ~ Seek out time in nature; water, plants, and wildlife are balancing and good for us.

-          ~ Limit screen usage.

-          ~ Make sure you get enough time alone.

-          ~ Learn to filter people’s energy and protect yourself. Ask “is this mine?” when experiencing overwhelming emotion.

-          ~ Avoid crowded areas when possible, or limit your time there ensuring to protect your own space and energy.

-          ~ Learn about managing boundaries.

-          ~ Have at least one uncluttered area of the house to spend time in.

-          ~ Exercise regularly.

-          ~ Get enough sleep.

-          ~ Eat enough healthy unprocessed food.

-          ~ Learn and practice mindfulness.

-          ~ Find a creative outlet. Journaling, drawing, sculpting, acting, singing…

-          ~ Spend time with family and friends that build you up and appreciate your gifts.

-          ~ Find ways to honor your gift daily!

Identifying as an Empath is identifying a Gift!

-          You can help others heal.

-          You may find you are gifted in art, music, or culinary skills.

-          You may sense danger before others.

-          You will tend to be more understanding and compassionate which may lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

-          You feel comfortable alone.

-          You may be a very creative, out-of-the-box thinker.

-          You can sense when people are lying.


Sometimes the behaviors and experiences of an Empath can look a lot like Anxiety. And sometimes, an Empath can be experiencing the symptoms of Anxiety because they have not learned to manage their gift.

Empaths can exist in this world comfortably and quite successfully once they have learned some skills that honor their unique selves.

Some people seek support from others who identify as Empaths, or from various therapies. It is important to research your options and find out what works for you!