Today, existing is painful

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Today, existing is painful
it’s not specific
I can’t explain where it hurts
or why
it’s overwhelming
and confusing
logically I can tell myself I’m ok
I’m safe
people love me
but that doesn’t make it hurt less
then the guilt comes
telling me I shouldn’t feel this way
shaming me for not “appreciating” what I have
don’t you think I know what I have!?
don’t you think I want to feel better!?
of course there are a million reasons to be happy
and people have it worse than I do
and if I could just “feel better” I would

when our heart isn’t working properly
we tell the doctors – they help us
when we break a bone, it’s clear where help is needed
if a loved one dies and we’re grieving,
love and support from friends and family flood us

so, why is it when our brain is lying to us
and confusing us and convincing us that we are not worthy
that few people notice that help is needed?
some even get annoyed
would you get annoyed while your friend is having a heart attack?
would you tell someone to “shake it off” if they broke their arm?
mental health pain is not obvious
some people hide their pain well
and never get help

but maybe if we start talking about it
talking about mental health
our brain
in the same way we talk about brushing our teeth
then those of us in pain won’t feel shame
those of us who need help, will ask for it
and everyone around will flood us with love and support


 

Depression is not always obvious and asking for help can be difficult. Talking about depression can be difficult, but there is hope – you are not alone. I’m including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 – if you have this in your phone or contacts, it could be life saving to your or someone you know.

Depression can be a very painful and scary experience, if you have never felt it then you may not fully understand, but that doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real. Open – show love – and allow healing to begin. Call 734-502-7920 or email Kelly@MindfulArtCenter.com to talk to me about art therapy and how it can begin to help relieve your depression.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

a poem about depression

Mandala for coloring

Mandala for coloring

I’ve been trying to create line drawings of my mandalas in a format that can be printed. I think I’ve finally figured out a method thanks to a few different suggestions online as well as some trial and error on my part.

I know there is a lot of discussion surrounding the use of mandalas for coloring and the idea of coloring at all as a means of personal therapy. I love mandalas. I make my own designs. I use them with clients in art therapy. Coloring does not take the place of therapy but it is incredibly relaxing.

So, here is a mandala for you to print and color – you can also add to it with more lines and shapes. You can resize the image before printing and the lines will be just as clear as they are here. Have fun.

 

Sun Mandala

 

The Evolution of Stitching “Family”

(originally posted on my blog here – re-posting here because I love the story and still use it as an example when teaching Stitch Therapy workshops)

I love the meditative and intuitive process of stitching – at least my approach to stitching is intuitive and meditative. The soothing process and sound of pulling the thread through the fabric again and again and again… I don’t always plan things out – usually I will start with a fabric that was part of an old project, or a scrap from a friend, or even a handful of threads that my daughter gave me from her finished project.

For this particular piece, I started with some bits of fiber left over from some earrings I made and the piece evolved into a symbol of family and mothering.

My intention was to video record my process of creating one of these highly textured abstract embroidery pieces to include in my online workshop. And I did record part of the process, but then I stopped working on the piece for a few days. After a little while I picked up some more scraps and threads around my work table including some small feathers that my daughter had left after a project. I stitched these feathers down to the cotton base fabric and continued with small seed stitches in my favorite dark pink thread, trapping some loose threads as I worked.

Next, I picked up some golden beige yarn that I had used to knit a scarf for my mom. I cut a small length and stitched it down near the feathers. The colors for my daughter and my mom are similar. They are both born in the same star sign and the gold, earthy tones seem to match their personalities. As I continued stitching and thinking about my mom and my daughter, this piece became a meditation on family – on being a mother and a daughter.  These ideas brought to mind my sister and how different our experiences were growing up – the blue is for her stitched down with gray – both are the color of her eyes depending on what she is wearing.

As I stitched around the bottom edge, keeping the feathers securely in place, I realized that I had two feathers – two children – one feather for each – and this piece was telling me that it was about being a mother and a daughter. So, I chose the large pink feather to represent myself and stitched that into place using the pink thread. I added the black yarn for contrast, but then as the black swirled around the pink feather (me) it began to remind me of the difficult times of parenting. Around the time when my daughter was two years old, my husband was working on a new business venture and I started graduate school for art therapy. It was a lot to take on for both of us, and although there were times when I wasn’t sure what to do and felt physically and emotionally drained, my family was always there for support.

When I finished stitching all the threads, feathers, and yarn down to the cotton I took a picture of the finished piece to share on Instagram. Looking at the small image on my phone it reminded me of a face looking down (the way I remember looking at my children the first time I held them).

I am always fascinated when my art shows me more than what I was expecting.

The progression from beginning to end

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Capture your nature walk for a meditation

Walking in nature has many benefits and changes our brain for the better. It reduces our stress and can train our mind to focus on our surroundings instead of mindlessly getting distracted by the chaos that often surrounds us at work, school, or in a busy city.

There is also research showing that recalling a happy memory can help alleviate depression without the side effects of medication.

I decided to combine these two activities for an art therapy experiential that I could use for my own source of meditation at anytime and anywhere.

While out for a walk on a beautiful and windy day, I captured a few seconds of video of the trees blowing in the wind, the ground while walking and snapping twigs, and a brief moment of a cardinal on the top of the fence. I decided to put these short clips together for an audiovisual resource to use for my own meditation when the weather isn’t so great, or the conditions aren’t ideal for going on a walk. I can now pull up this video and recall the beautiful day and the time I had to walk and notice nature – the time I spent with my youngest son looking for squirrels and birds and listening to the wind in the branches of the trees.

 

Creating Your Own Mindfulness Practice with Mandalas

Mandalas for Mindfulness

Creating art is not just for artists – everyone benefits from art making – evidence shows it helps us in so many ways: art improves attention, reduces stress and anxiety, improves problem solving skills, improves fine motor skills, increases confidence and self-esteem. Drawing a mandala is a great way to start a daily art practice because it doesn’t require any formal art training or any special tools, just paper and a pencil. The design of a mandala grows from the center and can include any shapes you choose.

A mandala is a geometric pattern created within a circular area and often represents wholeness or the universe. Jung writes in Man and His Symbols that the mandala is a representation of the self and by creating a mandala we can integrate our conscious and unconscious thoughts and use the process as a tool for self-awareness. The circle is also one of the first symbols we learn to draw as a child, often as a representation of the self. We see mandalas in nature from seeds to planets. Flowers grow and radiate out from the center; the age of a tree is marked by the rings from the center; even everything we look at is through the circular lens of our eye.

 

How to Create a Mandala

– Download and print the Mandala sheet if you would like guidelines to get started. The mandala sheet has circles and lines that divide a square area into equal portions to help you keep your mandala centered. This is helpful when beginning to draw mandalas.

– View the video example of creating a mandala

– Start your mandala by placing a dot in the center – this is you – your birth – your existence in this world.

– Draw lines through your dot in the shape of a + and an x dividing the center into 8 sections

– Next, choose a shape to add to each section of the mandala and create that shape in each of the 8 sections. For example, you may choose to draw a circle at the end of each of your lines that divided your center dot.

– Next, you may want to connect the sections by drawing a half circle, flower petal type shape, from one circle to the next all the way around.

– Continue growing your mandala for the 5 minutes you have set aside

watch a video of making a mandala here

Mandala Mindfulness Mandala Mindfulness

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