Am I creative? Why art therapy?

Am I creative?

Do you have a pulse, and are you breathing?  Yes?  Good, you are creative.

The way you think, move, feel, act, share: it’s all your creative expression.  It’s beautiful to watch people move; life is art.  You are part of it, you are art, and you are creating the work of art that is your life.

I know it can be intimidating to sit down with your own thoughts and a blank piece of paper if art is not your thing.  I very limited on my artistic drawing abilities.  It’s not that we are not capable, it’s that we just haven’t practiced.

I see a therapist who is very pro art therapy.  It’s come up in conversation at 3 different sessions.  So, I think she really wants me to benefit from its goodness.

I’m going to commit to a page a day and see what happens.  Care to join?

What is art therapy you ask?

Exactly what it sounds like–  creating art as to feel “better” about life, the situation, yourself, etc……

There are plenty of credible articles online if you’re wanting a fancy explanation.  That’s not what I’m here to chat about, so, google you must if you need a more proper description.

Why would this help me?  Why would I make art therapy a regular priority?

We all live with emotions that are craving to be unleashed and let go of.  They want out, and you’re keeping them in.   Having the jitters, cringing, white knuckling, biting your tongue, clinching your teeth, holding your breath, getting butterflies, etc…..  These are feelings that simply want out.

I do yoga, journal, and see a therapist to get out many of my emotions, but there are always other ways as well.  Some garden, dance, sing, workout, read, the list goes on.  Art therapy just seems like the next thing I want to add to my self help repertoire.  I’ve always wanted to be a better artist.  Of course, practice makes perfect.

I feel like releasing my emotions more consciously and creatively seems to make the process smoother, more enjoyable and more continuous.  I notice when I am being more creative in my releases that I feel more at peace with letting go of whatever belief or emotion I was trying to part ways with.

We can sit down, open a book, and use our pens to let go of that which does not serve us.  Layer by layer, inch by inch, day by day, we can take the time to notice what is going on inside, and let it out; good or bad, happy or sad, let go and create room to grow.

By connecting and paying attention to our creative selves, we have created the opportunity to grab thoughts that feel good,  fuel purpose, and the thoughts that can solve problems.  We can write them down, and remember them more clearly when we need them.  We can let emotions guide the pen or marker and bring us some clarity and peace of mind.  We can pin point what it is that is holding us back or making us feel stuck when we give ourselves space to listen and learn.

You are choosing and deciding what you want to see, heal, help and do,  either consciously or by default.  When we do things more purposefully and fully we add more value to the moment, yes?  Art therapy is  me committing to 15 minutes to allow my inner-self to speak creatively.  It’s me saying I’ve always wanted to be a better artist and so I’m going to invest a small amount of myself everyday in order to do so.  It’s one more way for me to safely express myself.

You’re feelings are valid, you matter, what you want matters, who you are, and where you are going is going to change the world.  Period.  Remind yourself where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going everyday.  I think art therapy can help me get clearer on my path, and become more appreciative of my past and present if I’ll let it..

We might create a more peaceful place in ourselves and in this world by picking up our pens and setting down the remotes or iPhones.  Or, at least this is the theory.

But, I’m not creative….

If you want to know how to be creative in terms of writing and art, first of all, you must sit still long enough to let the feelings arise that help you create.  Emotions charge the particles on your paper, and make the words, and strokes come to life.  Give yourself space to feel.  Stillness is your friend.  Being alone with paper and pen a few minutes a day can help you discover who you were, are, and wish to be.

If it’s scary to be alone with your thoughts, write that down, get it out, don’t own it anymore; give it away, and then write down how you want to feel-I am safe, I love and appreciate myself, and time.  Then just take a few deep breaths as you scribble and doodle your way to creating healthier thought patterns.

Do not underestimate the power behind getting to know yourself through creative expression.  You must feel more deeply if you want to create more passionately.  Silence, space, feel, accept, release, create, breathe, moving on.

Open your chest and you will find magic pouring out, begging to come to life, asking your permission to come into existence.  You have emotions that want to be known, they want to come out and play, and if you don’t let them, they bounce around in your body creating their own kind of fun, which  may not be your kind of fun.

What are you suppose to do or say with this blank canvas?

Whatever feels fitting that day.  Today, I was struggling with not taking a friends comments personal.  Instead of continuing to be angry, I drew statements that reinforced who I want to be, not who she thinks I am or should be.  I paid no more attention to her ill words, and instead created words that felt good when I said them, read them, wrote them.  I also drew owls which always make me feel connected to my beloved grandma (read more on her here), and just let myself breathe deeper as I colored away.  That’s it.  Piece of cake.  And, my first page took 15 minutes of my time, and I do feel way better about the situation at hand.  Mission accomplished.

I know, I know, don’t quit my day job.  I’m not here to sell you art, I’m here to help you understand that a little goes a long way.  I know journaling and art has saved my life a time or two, and I think if I put in a little more effort it can help me create momentum and healing to move more easily through the coming days of my life.

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Commit to 5 minutes a day and let it grow if the time, and you say so.  Maybe you’ll notice yourself feeling more focused on what is helpful, so you may choose wiser next time.  Maybe you’ll discover that doodling, coloring and drawing are soothing for the soul, even if all you did was scribble a few words and lines down.

You didn’t create the Mona Lisa or write Harry Potter, but you did create a moment that aloud you to feel, express and move.  Art brings people to life.  Art allows blood to flow, circuits to open and puzzle pieces fit.  Create your own everyday.

Create your mood, find solutions, vent, laugh at yourself, build yourself up, say nice things to yourself and be responsible for your own sh*t, but do it with crayons, and make it pretty and fun, so you like life and yourself.

Each day, the theory is that you’ll speak more thoroughly, clearly, calmly, effectively, and lovingly to yourself, and of course, that can only help you communicate more beautifully into the world around you.  Yes?

Which can only create more enjoyable moments, correct?

Get creative, get clear, get excited about who you are, where you’ve been and where you are going.  Color your way to more enjoyable days.

In love,

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge

 

Piece of You

You catch someone mimicking you, a child, an adult, a friend, an enemy.  Are they a copy cat?  Or are they in love with a piece of you that they need to take with them?

Unfortunately, in some cases there are genuine copy cats out there looking to lie, cheat and steal.  Those people are not whom I’m talking about here.

I’m speaking of a child who draws the same sketch as his sister, the dancer that incorporates her classmates gesture, a writer who takes the same concept, but turns it into something of their own, and the yoga teacher that loves how you flow, so she takes your tips with her.  These are the types of instances I’m referring to.

I’m referring to harmless humans that are just moving through life collecting the things, feelings and moments that make them who they are.  You need not be jealous of their desire to interpret you, maybe instead notice how flattering it is for them to love that part of you so much that they feel good re-enacting it.

To be original is an amazing thing, but to notice beauty in another and then recreate it, and pass it on is special as well, yes?

These friends, family members, and acquaintances are not stealing, but rather borrowing your beauty to enhance their own. They’re multiplying all the goodness around them, and bringing more love to life.

Maybe they don’t want to be like you, but they want to use this piece of you to make a better version of their own self.  They’re sharing what they love about you in their own way, passing on the pleasing parts, and sharing it with those around them.  Before you know it, there will be pieces of you sprinkled all over the world.

Take what you love and what helps you be better and maybe ask yourself:

What are you passing on?  What parts of you do you want to multiply and show to the world?  How will you enhance these qualities and give them away?  What do you want people to love about you so much that they feel the need to copy and paste it everywhere they go?

And,…

What pieces of those you love, know, and follow are you carrying with you into the day?

Are you going to carry the burden of their drama, their faults, and their downfalls with you today?  Or, are you going to pick them apart until you find what you love, and then go talk about, recreate, and mimic that?

Life is all about perception.  See the good, notice it, enhance it, multiply it, even when you don’t want to, keep choosing to see the awesome until it becomes your natural reaction.  I’m right here trying my best with you.

In Love,

Danielle

 

 

Piece of You

I saw the way you sparkled

I see the way you shine

I used your light

To brighten mine

 

The way you do that

Makes me smile

Adds a little more style

And, makes life a little more worth the while

 

I noticed it was amazing

I noticed it helped

I noticed how much better I felt

After you gave me this piece of you

So, I’ll share it times two

Thank you for helping me be me

Because you were you.

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Girl….Gratitude and Forgiveness

Domestic violence lives in your neighborhood.  Do you see it?  Do you see the little girl with matted hair, stained clothes that don’t fit, painfully shy and scared of everything?  Do you think she can take you or your child’s glares, criticism, or judgements?  Do you think to yourself,” she’ll be o.k.”?  Or do you pull her hair back into a braid and remind her she’s safe?

Do you see the young bully feeling left out and angry?  Does his trouble start at home?  Do you know who taught him how to hurt?  Will you be adding to his pain?  Or, will you invite him over for dinner and ask him about his day?

How will you know if children were taught to fear, hurt, and harm?  How will you know if they need your kind words and helping hands?  Or, are we to assume they were just born this way?

I was raised in a domestic violence home.  I was painfully shy, terrified to speak, and scared of life.  Deathly afraid of the dark, of the light, of going to sleep, of losing my mom, of him stealing us from her, and definitely too terrified to tell anyone. I thought if I just showed up cleaned, helped, did good things and stayed quiet, then bad things would stop happening.  So I stayed very quiet most of my childhood.  I grew into an angry, snotty, and hateful teenager ready to bite back at life.  I was bullied at school, “you look like the neighborhood dog, go back to the river whole you climbed out of,” and many more mean words were spewed at me before I finally decided no more miss nice girl.  Then I found alcohol at 15 and could loosen my tight grip for a few hours, then I found heavier drugs that numbed me out so I could sleep and cope.  I stopped caring about anything besides my next drunken and drugged extravaganza.  Then I started having kids and feeling like a crappy human for my habits and started to put my life back together piece by piece by removing the pieces of the puzzle that simply just did not fit in.

My anxiety and depression had taken its toll on my body and mind and so I had to rewind and figure out what and how I went wrong, so I could start to go right.  It was time to give a voice to my little girl that I shut up so long ago.  The past was my present because I never healed my old wounds.  I had to go back and feel what I tried to bury and numb so that I could let it go for good, and experience what now feels like without the burden of the past.

Remembering back to my childhood there were teachers, parents, family, and children that made my already deep wounds deeper and more painful, and there are some that gave me so much love and hope in humanity that I’m able to sit here today.  I want to encourage you to be the latter in a child’s life no matter how difficult they may seem.

I have too many moments to count where my spirit was broken at home and at school.  I gathered a lot of painful memories and moments that have and still need to be forgiven.  I start with gratitude, move to forgiveness and end in gratitude:  I sit here safe and loved now, even though he was a psycho and “stole” parts of my childhood, BUT….. I did climb trees, ride bikes, splash in the pool, cuddle with my mommy every chance I got, and enjoyed the horse that lived in our neighbors back yard.  I did play in the woods until dark, eat fresh apples and pears off my dads trees, raise baby ducks and geese, and always had a dog.

I don’t have to carry around the sadness of what was not when I forgive.  When I let go of the pain, I leave room for love to surface.  I don’t have to be a victim anymore when I forgive.

I’ve always identified with the victim:  first as a child watching my mom be strangled, choked, spit on, beaten and berated, then I was bullied, spit on, name called, left out, and shamed, then I became the abuser of drugs, alcohol and numbing myself and the pain.  Not being the victim is hard when you’ve always identified yourself as one because of unfortunate circumstances.

Forgiveness lets me identify with who I want to be and who I am becoming, rather than owning what was and identifying with the pain of the past.

Forgiveness feels good.  Really good.  I have been able to heal a petrified little girl, quiet a mouthy adolescent, and calm my inner drunken and drugged self using forgiveness and gratitude.  I am able to look in the mirror and see a kind, compassionate, helpful, loving, loyal and creative young mother, woman and wife with plenty of room to grow.

I didn’t and don’t do it on my own.  My families support, therapists, life coaches, hundreds of self help books and blogs, church sermons, journaling, meditation, yoga, and more have helped pull me out of my darkness and instead helped me shed light on what helps me move in the direction of my heart.

I know that life and people can be difficult and challenging, I know that the weight of the world and your burdens can be too, and I know you want to be happy and free.  Let gratitude and forgiveness show you what freedom feels like.  Let your little boy/girl speak and feel.  Let him/her turn their pain into passion, anger into action, bitterness into forgiveness, and grumbles into gratitude.

I can tell you from experience that a smile can save a life, a thank you can transform a mind, an I’m sorry can close and open new doors, and forgiveness tastes like freedom.

I hope we all have more moments where we are able to bite our tongues and  swallow our pride, so we may savor the simple and satisfying flavors of life.

Hateful, rude, inconsiderate, angry, aggressive, and evil people exist and some of us are affected by them more then others.  Running and hiding from what happened won’t fix it, pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t work, being ashamed and embarrassed is useless, repeating the pattern is dangerous and damages your soul, and staying the victim will minimize your spirit.  But, if you can find time in your schedule to sit with your pain and space in your heart to forgive, then you are able to do what you came here to do:  turn pain, evil, and darkness into love.

 

In Love, Danielle

(Please know if you are reading this poem, that the man I am referring to is not my real father, but an old boyfriend of my mothers)

********************************************************************** Little Girl

I’m sorry you were scared and alone.

I’m sorry that no one picked you up and carried you away to the safe place you craved.

I’m sorry you cried.

I’m sorry for all of the times you had to run and hide.

I’m sorry that everywhere you went, your time was spent, trying to protect yourself from fear and pain.

So little and fragile, just trying to grow every time it rains.

Instead always feeling emotionally drained, never knowing what the next breath would bring.

More screaming, yelling, throwing, strangling, hitting, sobbing, my heart throbbing, and my hopes and dreams for a life of love slowly dying. You were prying the innocence from my mind as you filled it with thoughts that would scare me to death and keep me up at night.

“Hide, run, go!” She screamed at us with a knife at her throat. The hate in his eyes, would he take my mom’s life? I closed my eyes, paralyzed in fear once more, as this has happened before.

He finally loosened his grip, and let her slip to the floor, where she begged and pleaded, “please, God, no more!”

I was a helpless witness and an innocent victim at the mercy of him, and his anger.

I could let my urge to play those rolls linger.

I could cry, scream, and yell about all of the injustice, and all of the wrongs; or I can choose to sing a different song. Because many times I was loved, hugged, cuddled, kissed, and given reasons to smile.

And, sometimes I was allowed to be an innocent child.

Some days others took my hand, held my heart, and made feel safe.

And, those are the memories I will choose to cherish and recreate.

I will allow all the love I did feel, and learn, to outshine all of the fear, pain, anger and hate that you placed within me. I’ll be the voice that sets me free. 

I can’t wait for your apology, or permission to let go of being the helpless victim.

Many years I have wished I could hear an, ‘I’m sorry, I love you, and please forgive me from everyone that did, and didn’t notice my pain. But, that won’t restore the love in my heart, again.

Some said sorry, some have not, most still don’t realize there was a reason to say I’m sorry at all. 

But, I no longer need to hear the words I once sought.

Because, you taught me what it looks like to hold on to resentment, anger and a victim mentality. You showed me your pain, I saw it, felt it, and lived it. 

And, so I say for you, “I’m sorry, I love you, please forgive me.”

 

I know you wish you had the voice to say it, and mean it. 

I know you wish you didn’t know the pain well enough to share it.

I knew you wanted to be stronger, you wanted to do better, and you wished you could. And, in those moments when I was brave enough to look into your eyes, I understood that you were scared and alone, too.

In those moments, I wished I could help you forgive yourself, and move on to new. I’ll let go, for me and for you.  God bless you.

 

In Love,

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge