The following post was contributed by Lay Peng Tan who is currently in training to become a Certified Creative Journal Expressive Arts instructor and coach. In the process of working with my methods she discovered an Inner Artist who had been buried for some years. Here is a story about her most recent adventures in allowing her artist self to emerge and express fully.
Everything Can Be Fixed
Since completing the Recovery of Your Inner Child series by Lucia Capacchione, I have rediscovered my inner artist. By now, I am a regular at the Paintbar. For someone who had hidden paintbrushes more than thirty years ago, to become an ‘undercover artist’, I consider myself doing quite well if I look at my collection accumulated in less than a year and the progress I have made.
Indeed, there is no need to cry. After learning the Creative Journaling techniques in Lucia’s books, life did become more manageable. There was a time when I thought being able to cry was a luxury: after I lost my dad, was assaulted, lost my opportunity to go to medical school all in a few months, I remembered walking around like there is ‘nobody inside.’ That went on for many years. New age techniques e.g. crystal, shamanic and equestrian therapies enabled me to cope at work and get back to normal life. Deep down, I had a longing to be like ‘normal’ people. I was unable to tap into my feelings or distant memories. I had become a version of the Grinch, who has a heart “two sizes too small.”
Whether my heart was held prisoner, buried or stolen, I had no idea. All I knew was: joy has also fled from my life. I had thought that being ‘emotional’ was the ill. It was when I learnt Lucia’s techniques that I fully appreciated the notion that it is not about hoping for no rain, but to be able to continue and take joy walking in the heavy downpours of life.
Who does not want the life skills?
I had thought that after all those lost years, art and I are not fated to be together. I was pleasantly surprised that far from having the critic voices in most art classes I attended as a child, in Lucia’s sessions and books, there are techniques to deal with these critics dressed up as well-meaning individuals, including myself.
I also really enjoy putting my feelings down on paper. And guess what? I even found my heart in one of the exercises in her book, The Well-Being Journal, page 37, "The Body Parts Speak."
By using my non-dominant hand to dialog with my dominant hand, I was amazed at what I got to uncover within. This helped me make necessary changes:
Dominant Hand: You seem to be very unhappy?
Non-Dominant Hand to represent the Heart: You bet I am. Yes, I am sad and pissed off at the same time. I am sadness. You always let anger steal the show and that makes me upset.
Dominant Hand: What are you sad about?
Non-Dominant Hand: I am sad because you do not always do the things you said you want to do.
Dominant Hand: Like what?
Non-Dominant Hand: Like writing down the proposal for staff training. Like making time to draw. Like taking me out to play more. Like eating healthier. Like drinking more water. Like stop doing so many unimportant things.
The Grinch’s happy ending and parting words, “To kindness and love, the things we need most," sure resonate with me. Having rediscovered my inner artist, “There is no need to cry, everything can be fixed!” has become a favorite affirmation of mine.
Being in the CJEA (Creative Journal Expressive Arts) community amidst many artists, I found my own heart was not much different from theirs: I learned to see the beauty in everything around us, the good, the bad, and with the knowing that spilling paint is just an opportunity to allow another form to emerge from the canvas. Most of all, I like putting my feelings on paper so they haunt me no more.
Lay Peng Tan
Order The Power of Your Other Hand (Conari Press 2019) at Amazon.com