I Zigged When I Should Have Zagged

I mentioned in my previous post that I spend a number of years traveling the country for work.  I drove to each location so I spent a lot of time on our nation’s highways and byways. I always wondered why is it that there’s so much space available in the air and yet the bugs and in my case a bird found my windshield.  I was driving home from Nashville when a partridge flew into my windshield while driving 70mph.  It shouldn’t be surprise that it shattered the windshield.

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Why am I telling you about my windshield mishap?  I’m wonder about the choices we make on a daily basis.  When I was working on this piece of art, I reflected on all the times I went in one direction when my intuition told me I should go in another direction.  I’m beginning to focus on interpreting the ideas, thoughts, and feelings that rise during my meditation.

Creating work is a reflection of our stories.  It allows us to explore what’s important to us.  It gives us the opportunity to play with the creative expression of our emotions promoting self- expression and an outlet for negativity while celebrating what’s positive in our lives.

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I’m currently enrolled in a graduate certificate program in Health Humanities and Bioethics.  I’ve been combining my mental health background, work in health and healing, and art to tell stories that reflect my personal experiences and as a means of social justice.

We all have something that gets our attention, makes us think, and hopefully gets us to act.  As creatives, we don’t have to march or picket.  We have the ability to create poems like those by Nikki Giovanni that get the attention of the nation.  We can create paintings like Keith Haring chronicling the AIDS crisis.  We can watch movies like Hairspray that shines a light on segregation in our country (something very relevant given the energy in the country).

It’s time that we pay attention to our own energy and follow its lead.  We all have those whispers giving us direction and when we don’t follow their lead we veer off in the wrong direction.  What would your creative life look like if you zagged when that’s the direction of your energy?  Don’t you think it would turn up the volume on your voice if you followed your creative intuition and energy?

Give it a try and let me know what shifts you’re making in your personal storytelling.  Don’t forget to zig when you zig and zag when you zag!

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The Unspoken Story

There are stories we hold near and dear to our hearts but are too personal to tell to the general public. What if there was a language where you could tell your story but didn’t have to feel raw, naked, or revealed? You do have that language; that language is art.

Obviously there have been public displays of art that are quite revealing. I started my textile art life as a traditional quilter. Serving as the manager of an HIV/AIDS program I was very aware of the AIDS Quilt. This was a place where families could create a 3’x6’ panel commemorating the life of someone who died of AIDS. The individual panels would be connected to create larger panels and they would be ceremoniously unfolded and displayed to the public.

I volunteered as an emotional support person at a few showings of the AIDS Quilt. It was an amazing experience because the panels were so representative of the lives led by those who died. The panels were timelines about the person who died. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone from a piece of art.

On the other hand, when things in life have been too painful to share; sharing it through art can be a way to purge the experience from the body and lighten the soul. It also allows us to tell secrets about our lives that are encrypted. That’s the beauty of art; we can create it and others can interpret it any way they desire. We, the artist, don’t have to acknowledge or deny the interpretation.

When I was doing my dissertation I was in contact with Lilly pharmaceuticals. They do an art exhibit, Oncology on Canvas, by those diagnosed with cancer. I reached out to them to see about interviewing the artists, but they declined because the pieces in the exhibit were anonymous. Anonymity is another way to tell your unspoken story, but create a work of art that reveals your deepest experiences.

Our stories need to be told, but they don’t have to be told verbally. There are plenty of unspoken ways to tell the story of your life on your path to personal health and healing. It also can be a part of releasing what you feel is holding you back in moving your life forward to personal, emotional, and spiritual freedom!

How have you told your story through art? As a community we need to support each other in the unfolding process. Feel free to email me at greg@survivingstrong.com.