Creativity as a Coping Skill

In many ways, creativity has saved my life... at the least it has vastly improved it. I didn't really start expressing myself creatively until my early 30's and it was quite a painful beginning. I had already started writing and even written some garden columns and articles for magazines.

But I really wanted to paint... I wanted to try painting. At the time, I would spend way too much for sandals. But I couldn't allow myself to buy a set of watercolors. It felt scandalous and a waste.

I've written about this before - how hard it was to invest in myself, to give myself permission to do something so seemingly frivolous. I read many books about how to write, and I probably already owned a copy of "The Artist's Way." But taking the step to purchase paint seemed TOO BIG a step to take.

As a therapist, I have worked for years with many people who struggle with creating. Maybe the reasons vary, but the result is the same. They just cannot begin. Maybe there have even been supplies purchased, but the paints and brushes sit - sometimes for years unused.

This, in a way, reminds me how powerful creating is. It can open up so much in us. It can provide a path through life, supporting and encouraging and enlightening us. If we let it.

In all fairness, that can seem like a lot to take on. And, it may take a good deal of courage to let ourselves create and face what we have been burying, hiding and ignoring. But all we need to face will stay there waiting for us... waiting for us to say "Yes, I'll try." The pain is there waiting for it's healing.

At an exceptionally painful time in my life, creativity directly made itself known to me. This is when the name "Wanda Petunia" dropped in my head. Then a story arrived. It's like the Universe/God/Divine wasn't going to give me a chance to say "No!" And so, I was delivered something that was 'ready made' to help me.

I've always felt Wanda has been a gift to me, a way to help me learn lessons - like what self-care and self-love mean! Wanda has been a way for me to learn healing lessons and the power of creativity. Her stories turned into zines and books. Her image turned into plush toys. Wanda has been a creative blessing to me and opened up so much healing and learning!

Wanda has been a big part of how I could come to create and offer a class called "Healing through Creativity." The class includes so much of what I have learned and shared as a therapy client, therapist and creative. After 20 years of practice, I distilled a process that could be supportive and encouraging and offer self-healing.

I still hear people say, "But I can't draw!" "I can't paint!" Well, everyone can draw and everyone can paint. It's just the voice in our head that creates judgement that shuts us down, often even before we begin.