Painting My Way to Peace

Remember my sharing about how Reiki helped Jacob and I heal after our first miscarriage?

No?  Go back and read my last blog, “Miscarriages, Depression & Reiki.”

Well, Reiki wasn’t the only thing that helped me heal…

In my blog, “How I know I’m a Fairy,” I introduced Gayle Meyers.  We met on our trip to Egypt just before trying to get pregnant.  I consider her a “Spiritual Mother” in my life.

A few months after the miscarriage and our Reiki attunement, Jacob and I went to visit Doug and Gayle in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Gayle had just attended a “Shamanic Healing” training and offered to practice on me.

I laid on a massage table in her foyer.  She had a fan of hawk feathers with a rattle attached that she shook and waived over me before starting the session.  I can’t remember many details from that energy-healing, but I remember my vision.

“It’s strange.  I saw myself painting with bright, vibrant colors, but I don’t paint,” I said, sharing my expierence with Gayle.

“Had I met you when you were 14 years old, what would you have said you liked to do?  I mean, besides hanging out with friends and talking on the phone.  Besides that, what did you do?” she asked.

“I sang.  I danced.  I acted.  I loved being in plays!  I loved performing.  But I never did anything like art, art.  I’ve never painted, drawn, or done anything like that before.”

She tilted her head.  “Hmm,” she said as she walked towards her book shelf.  She stood looking at all the books, running her fingers over them slowly as she studied the titles.  Finally, she selected one and handed it to me.  “Here.”

I studied the cover, “The Artists Way,” then looked at Gayle.

“Take it.  It’s yours.  Some how I ended up with an extra copy.  Now I know why.  I guess you needed it.”

“Thank you,” I said as I flipped through the pages.

“It’s not just a book.  It’s a course.  If you take some time and do the exercises, I think it will really help you.”  She paused.  “Well, I really don’t know anything, but it sounds like your higher self wants to paint.  Painting and all forms of art are healing.  It couldn’t hurt you right now.”

********* Fast Forward ***********

Weeks passed.  I didn’t touch the book.

Then one day while driving, I had to pull over suddenly.  I couldn’t breathe.  It felt like someone was standing on my chest.  I think I’m having a panic attack.  I pause and take some deep breaths.  When I felt safe to drive, I headed home.  Maybe Gayle was right. 

I found “The Artists Way” and started reading the preface, which gave the the following instructions: read one chapter per week (there’s 12 chapters); start each day with “morning pages,” stream of consciousness journaling just to get all the shit out of your head; commit two hours per week to take yourself on an “artist date,” doing anything artistic that sounded appealing.

Where will I find the time? 


“Hey Denise, do you have 5 minutes to talk about something?” I ask one of my bosses over the phone.

“Sure, Aubrey.  How are you?”

“I’m ok.”  I pause and take a deep breath as I feel the emotions rising.  “Actually, no I’m not.  I had my first ever panic attack yesterday.”

“Oh no, Aubrey.”

“Denise, I know John [her husband] is wanting all the club managers to work a couple evenings per week, but I’m not sure I can.  I’ll stay every Monday evening, but I’m going to start going to therapy.  Jacob and I have really been struggling since the miscarriage and I need help.”

“Ok.  Don’t worry.  I’ll talk to John.  Take care of you and Jacob.  The club will be fine.”

“Thanks Denise.  I really appreciate it!”


“I’m going to start The Artists Way next week.  I told Denise I would work late on Mondays, but that I’m starting therapy, so I can’t stay on the other nights.”

“Therapy?”  Jacob tilted his head.

“They don’t need to know that I’m not seeing an actual therapist.  I’m going to do my reading, meditation and morning pages before going into work, but I need space to do my ‘artists date’ weekly.  You’re still planning on riding [your mountain bike] with the guys on Tuesday nights, right?”

“Yeah.  As long as the weather lets us.”

“Cool.  Ok.  I’ll do it on Tuesday nights.  You enjoy your time with the guys and I’ll do my own therapy.”


And so I started….

I already had a morning yoga, meditation and reiki practice, so I started getting up an extra thirty minutes early to add “Morning Pages” to my routine.  First, I would move my body, then nestle down into my favorite chair to write.  The intention behind this practice was to get all the shit out of my head.  Instead of writing in a journal where I could go back and ruminate whenever I wanted, I used a spiral notebook and tore my pages out each morning.  I then placed the pages in an envelope labeled with the appropriate week.  When the week ended, I sealed the envelope and I tucked it away.  That way, I knew I could look back if I needed to – but the extra burrier caused me to hesitate each time I considered it.  After tearing out my pages for the day, my mind was clearer.  It was amazing how much more effective my mediation and reiki practices were.  It was if a bit of my swirling mind left through the pen.

At first, I had no clue where to start on my Artist Dates.  I spent that first night just walking the isles of Michael’s.  I bought a few canvases, a small easel, an acrylic paint set, fun colored gel pens for my morning pages and stickers.  It’s amazing how giving myself a glittered “gold star” or rainbow sticker on the top of my morning pages each day made my heart smile.  A small reward.  A small gesture of self approval.

Painting felt foreign at first.  I covered the carpet in my yoga room, set up my easel and played some mediation music.  As I took some deep breaths, I squirted all the chakra colors onto my board.  I found an interesting pleasure swirling the colors onto the canvas.  Without planning what I could create, the energetic system that runs up and down the spine found itself represented in vibrant color.


Before the 12 weeks were over, my yoga room was covered with spiritual symbols and imagery – aspects that poured from my soul.  My panic attacks had stopped and the ach in my heart was only a hum in the background.


What I learned through this process is…

We were made by an Ultimate Creator in its image to be creators ourselves.  We were born to create.  Love, art, structures, people, opportunities, possibilities, networks.  When we aren’t creating something, our Spirit suffers.  When inspiration strikes, we create.  IN-Spirit-ion.  When we are creating, we are in communion with Spirit, with the Divine.  When we are in this space, our bodies relax and we expierence a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We’re in flow.

When we get lost in the doing-ness of life, measuring our success by money in the bank or the amount we can check off our to-do list, it’s easy to lose touch with our creativity – with our divinity.  When we forget who we are and why we’re here, depression, stagnation and dis-ease creep in.

I can’t control what happens in my world, but I can control how I choose to respond.  Life can be fucking painful, but it’s my choice how I deal with it.  Will it break me or break me open?  Will I unpack my bags in grief or will I pick up a paint brush and see what flows onto the canvas?  Will stay in bed with the covers over my head, or will I put on my most heart-wrenching music and dance it out?

And today that is why I dance, sing, write and make jewelry as often as possible.  For if I continue to create, it doesn’t matter what life throws at me – it will inspire something beautiful – and through that process I feel more alive and at peace.

What is your favorite thing to create?  How do you process your grief?  I’d love to hear!

Until next time….


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