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Below I share how art therapy helped me manage my stress levels, thanks to guidance and prompting from my husband, Pierre, who is a visual artist.
As a recovering Type A, I’ve grown to accept and even embrace chaos. As a young child, I would try to organize the chaos around me. For several years (until I was 10 years old!), I shared a room with my younger sibling who was my polar opposite as far as keeping our room tidy. I also spent a summer in my grandmother’s house (may she rest in peace) where walls were ripped out to the studs and unpacked boxes piled from floor to ceiling prevailed.
To escape chaos, at an early age, I became an avid reader and would seek refuge in my bed with a stack of books.
As a working mom, both by choice and necessity, juggling chaos on a daily basis is one of the ‘other duties as assigned’ in this 24/7 sideline gig called parenthood. I’m certainly not the first working mom to step back and decide that a little ‘me’ time was in order.
The burgeoning number of nail salon, massage therapist, Himalayan rock salt sessions, and mindfulness apps, particularly in suburbia, are a testament to the harried worker-bee’s quest for her moment of ‘zen.’
Reining in Chaos: The Zen of Art
In my previous life working in a Fortune 125 publishing company, I battled stress on a daily basis. The details of managing a slice of a high profile project could be the topic of another article, so I won’t dwell on that here.
My venting sessions (um, yeah, that’s a euphemism) in the evenings after work must have taken their toll on my spouse. He patiently listened, offered counsel, and realized that the dysfunctional (and highly toxic) chaos in which I was submerged was taking its toll on my sanity (and on my physical health).
One evening, my husband, who had nurtured my interest in photography, suggested that I try my hand at painting. I was reluctant at first, given that he is a visual artist and we already have a painter in the family.
He handed me a canvas, some acrylic paints, and a few paintbrushes and different materials I could use to change the texture.
In front of the blank canvas, I panicked at first, then decided, what do I have to lose? and went with the flow. I didn’t have any particular results or goals in mind, I just painted. One of my earliest paintings was a small piece I titled ‘Si j’avais des ailes’ (‘If I had Wings’):
From here, I continued my colorful experiments, both on canvas and digitally. However, thanks to my family’s out of state relocation, I didn’t have time to pursue creative outlets and became overwhelmed again with chaos.
Moving out of state is almost as difficult as moving out of country (have done both on multiple occasions, both as a young adult and as a mother of two)!!
I finally had a chance to catch my breath and take some ‘me’ time to take respite from life’s daily stress. In Dancing with Chaos (featured at the top of this post), I embrace my chaotic and ‘never a dull moment’ life!
How do you rein in the chaos in your life? Please share in the comments section below!