THE ART OF HEALING
This marks the first month of a new blog series, The Art of Healing, in which I share my experiences healing my autoimmune disease with the same practices that I use to commit to my artmaking.
For a bit of context, I will share that I developed a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis somewhat “out of the blue” in 2017. Since then I have gone through many stages of healing: from denial, to using potent (yet useless) allopathic medications, to bouncing between every restrictive diet that claimed to reduce inflammation. In tandem with my escalating autoimmune issues, I fell severely out of touch with my art practice and artistic identity. Today I am actively healing through the food that I eat, but I’m learning that there is a second very important component to healing autoimmune: clearing stress out of the body. I believe that I will be able to rid myself of the stress that has built up in my body over the years if I can commit to finding my way back to my art. To me, this wayfinding process is very much an act of stress relief. It incorporates ritual, using plant medicine, being in nature, and the regular and repetitive act of artmaking itself.
On Winter, Incubation, and Resoluteness
I sit here writing this on the fifth day of illness, five days into the new year. Plans have felt hampered. The “new me” I had been crafting on the 31st is certainly not this mouth-breathing, nose-blowing, post-nasal drip of a woman who hasn’t changed her pajamas yet… but as I round the corner of this cold, coming around to the healthy side of it, I’m grateful to have been bed-ridden for the first tiny bit of this new year. 2019 felt muddled and stagnant. I was literally sick of it, and this raging head cold is the proof.
It is a personal truth of mine that the new year doesn’t begin until spring. The winter season is a time for inwardness, reflection, and calling in clarity. To be ill-ridden during these first days of January has been a blessing. I have been granted extra time, space, and quietness to look at the patterns of the last year that haven’t served me – that brought on illness in the first place – and to look at the patterns I wish to more deeply ingrain into my daily life.
Some things I’ve learned for myself:
+A lifestyle that allows enough time for creativity and deep rest is important.
+Drinking more teas and tonics invite more moments of contemplation and nourishment into my life – helpful for art practice and healing.
+Ritual is a helpful track to return to when things feel off-kilter, whether in creative process or on the healing path.
+Nature is a tool for wellness (I have started a monthly Instagram series with this theme in mind) – it conjures new creative ideas, moves lymph/stagnation, and grounds us.
+What matters most is what I do when no one is watching—being an artist is not a performative act; health is supported by the hundreds of tiny private choices we make each day, not the one or two public ones.
These are not “resolutions” but rather things to contemplate for the next three months. The early days of January up to the vernal equinox in March feels to me like an incubation period: a time for developing fresh intentions and energy for the year ahead. Incubation is crucial to my creative process, I’m learning, as well as to my healing process. It involves time, and I believe it’s the key to making lasting commitments to oneself. Already some of my so-called “new year’s resolutions” have fallen away … but that’s the point. I’m making space for committing to things that really matter! By the equinox I will have more energy and clarity to follow through with my own promises. By the equinox I will truly be resolute.
In the meantime: winter. I’m sinking into a slower pace, more rest and sleep, more journaling without attachment, longer evening rituals, more precious interactions with nature, and a detox from social media.
CBD is a powerful tool for slowing down, releasing stress, and resting at a cellular level. I enjoy taking it in the form of the Five Treasures Supportive Tonic, or in more potent form in the Sea of Serenity Adrenal Support. I read and write more from this state of relaxation. Another reminder that art is made in stress’s absence.
I’ve added more products into my evening routine, the Great Black Foot Oil, to extend the time I take on myself and make use of the extra hours of darkness.
With these allies, I commit to a deeper practice of healing and making.
I look forward to sharing my progress.