Healing Through Art

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The arts have been a major part of my life ever since my earliest memories of drawing, creating handmade cards, writing poetry, and illustrating storybooks.  Creativity has also been an outlet for me to express my emotions, from drawing to daily fashion.

“Keeping it simple” is something I try to embody on a daily basis- life is such a complicated journey that it is imperative to stay grounded in order to stay sane.  While I used to love more of everything and a variety of anything, today I adore simple beauty and minimalism.  I decided not to complicate things and stick with white and gold- less is more.

With every brush stroke, I gained a little bit of strength and began to let go of insecurity, fear, and doubt.  A coach of mine once suggested the “post-it practice”- sticking affirmations on your walls or mirror- and ever since I have been mindful of writing down positive thoughts to remind myself every day that I am, indeed, enough.

This coach even put me in a hula-hoop and told me that the only thing I could control what was inside that hula-hoop: me.

Since I began painting I have also been inspired by so many amazing women in my life.  Their love has helped me gain confidence and heal, so I have started to make art for them, too.

Together, no matter what our struggles, we can help one another by sharing our own inspiration and journey.

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More here and on Instagram.

Choosing Grace, Not Aggression

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“I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left in life of charm and grace.” -Margaret Mitchell

Life sure is funny.  Just when I was beginning to feel strong standing on my own two feet, the universe threw me a curve ball to test (and strengthen) my skills and strength.

This past weekend was challenging.  Despite the joy I was experiencing, the wonderful community I have found and my own practice of self care, outside forces triggered past pain and emotions- and this scared me.  Instead of self destructing as I have in the past, I took a deep breath, sat on a bench and called a friend.

Setting healthy boundaries has been a huge part of my own happiness and recovery, as I have experienced insecurities, pain and fear due to the messages I have received throughout my life.  This includes family members, teachers, peers, boyfriends and even public figures.  I have consistently questioned my worth, second guessed myself and backed down when I began to achieve some form of success.  I had no confidence- if what I was doing wasn’t “perfect” it wasn’t worth doing.  My self esteem and foundation were always a bit rocky, but old feelings of fear crept up on me when someone’s criticism and judgment set me off out of nowhere.

The defensive Kristin came back- and it was extremely uncomfortable.

I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder toward people who try to dominate me, thus acting out and being overly defensive and aggressive.  I have held on tightly to this defense mechanism through the years, only to realize how awful it made me feel.  I remembered traumatic experiences- bullying, sexist messages, abandonment and physical abuse.  I have kept all of this inside for years.  Had I been acting out for decades without realizing it?  Yes, I had.  It just took me thirty-some years to learn it.

After speaking with friends about traumas I suppressed (and failed to recognize as abuse- I thought it was all my fault), I am grateful for these triggers.  Old feelings of shame came to the forefront, and I was able to meditate on these uneasy feelings.  So, as always, I walked to the water for solace.

Water brings me such peace.  It is the closest way for me to connect with my higher power, so on Sunday I meditated on a rock and prayed for the courage and grace to get through the day.

I received just that- strength and hope.  I faced the day with grace, not aggression, and everything worked out just fine.  I tried not to let the negative messages affect my mood, so after leaving the pond I turned my negative energy into productivity.  Since art and writing has always brought me peace, I decided to stock up on art supplies to paint inspirational messages for my friends.  I’ve received endless love, compassion and hope from the friends I have made in Boston, so instead of living in my one-woman pity party, I decided to give the love back to those who have helped me.

As I go about my Monday, I will remember the feeling of peace and serenity I experienced by Spy Pond.  When I walk with grace, the world is a little lighter, a little freer.  If you’re also experiencing some aggravation, try a meditation to bring you back to center.  Remember, your true home is within you- everything outside of yourself is not in your control- but you can control how you react.  Once you’re able to manage outside factors with grace, not aggression, you will feel better- I promise.

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Refuel the Soul: Weekend Self-Care

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Happy Friday! Another week has come to an end, so it’s time to rejuvenate and relax. Self-care is crucial to our everyday health and happiness, but many of us push it to the side as we maneuver through our busy schedules.

It’s important to spend time to reflect on how your week was, consciously recognize how you’re feeling and what you need to do to have a productive week ahead.

Alone Time

Each weekend I put aside time to myself to do the things I enjoy and make me feel good about me. Whether it’s yoga, writing, going for a long walk, enjoying a homemade breakfast or sipping coffee with a good book, my alone time is imperative to my self-care and overall mood.

Instead of feeling like I have to be “on the go” all of the time, I balance my time between self-care and social interactions. It makes me appreciate my friends and family much more when I have a balance; I can easily get burned out if I don’t take some time to myself (typical introvert, of course).

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Gratitude Journal

You can’t be unhappy and grateful at the same time! Documenting my daily gratitudes have helped me immensely when I’m stuck in my own head or feeling down. Start a special journal and write down a few things each day that you’re grateful for. It’s wonderful to look back on them when you’re in a funk, too! It’s also a great way to get into journaling (which has been proven to increase happiness and improve health).

Exercise

Whether it’s the gym, a sport or taking a class, get out there and exercise! The weekend is a perfect time to burn off energy from your busy schedule and prepare for the week ahead. Although I’m not a fan of the gym, I walk at least five miles a day, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, attend yoga class and love outdoor activities. Find what works for you!

Art Therapy

Drawing, painting, crafts and coloring can be very therapeutic and are wonderful activities for mindfulness. I like to keep a coloring book and pencils with me for when I’m stressed, killing time or commuting. It’s amazing how a little creativity can elevate your mood! Inspirational coloring pages are my favorite- here are a few of my favorites for you to print.

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Eat Well

Thinking about picking up a pizza and living off leftovers for the next day? That’s fun every now and then, but try to be more conscious of what you put in your body when you have that extra time to prepare your meals and think about what you’re consuming. Saturday morning is my favorite time to grocery shop- I used to buy my produce that day and prepare juices for the weekend and pack lunch for the days ahead. Take this time to learn a new recipe, too! I am a big fan of Jessica Seinfeld’s recipes (yes, she is married to Jerry); they’re perfect for the person who claims they can’t cook or are nervous to try.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No.” 

Feeling burned out? Listen to your body! Just because you have the spare time doesn’t mean you need to fill every second. Don’t fall victim to FOMO! Enjoy the peace and quiet, take care of the things you need to do and remember to take care of you!

Check out these other self-care practices thanks to Tiny Buddah.