About 8 years ago, I took up journaling as a practice. It was during that time I dropped out of school, too depressed to finish college, and I needed an outlet. It gave me a home to place all of my thoughts, feelings, and reflections about who I was and about my life. It was also during this time that I began to meditate, play with my intuition, and even forayed into the more esoteric realm. It was a journey solidly based around awareness, and self-awareness at that.
Since that time, I have been more or less focused on this journey of awareness. It has been with me, somewhere at play in life, even if it wasn’t quite obvious to myself or the rest of the world. One of the most recent practices I have encountered is called parts work. Parts work is a process based off of a psychological understanding that our psyches hold multiple different aspects or parts. Each part functions as whole individual personality with wants, needs, likes and dislikes of its own. They each have a unique purpose, and express themselves in a myriad of different ways. This way of thinking about the mind can be most directly experienced when you feel torn about a decision where one part of you wants to do one thing and another part wants to do something else; this would be viewed as two of parts being in conflict with one another. The tension you feel in your body and psyche is the tension between those two parts. The practice of parts work is to consciously allow one aspect to speak fully, learning everything about it you can and why it may feel the way it does. You then return to your center consciousness, and next canvas the second aspect just as you did the first. You continue to speak with both parts until you find ease within the each aspect and the tension within your body and mind subsides.
I have learned so much about who I am, what my needs are, and really interesting new ways I can approach any situation in life. The beauty of this work is that though we are aware of some aspects, we are not aware of others. When you encounter one that you didn’t know was there, whole new areas of perspective, learning, and awareness inherently change the way you encounter your life.
A few nights ago, I was doing this process with myself and I encountered quite a beautiful aspect. I was inspired to share a bit of who she is with you because, as I learned, she is an integral part of the art I create. She was not one that I was conscious of, and what she told me has forever changed the way I encounter my art.
When I took on her energy, she was unable to speak. She communicated with her hands and through writing. She first told me that she likes to hide; hiding is where she feels safe. While she is hiding, she likes to make collages. She is the one who is behind this work. After being asked why she likes to collage, she wrote, “They are pretty, and I can express myself without being understood.” I came to learn that what she is expressing are my secrets. Most notably, she expresses them in a way so that they can remain secret, even to me. This was a revelation because most, if not all, of my pieces are abstract; they rarely representational. I often wondered whether it was because I couldn’t make representational art, but it turns out, they are not meant to be understood through that lens at all.
As our conversation continued, she wrote that this art is a way for me to stay emotionally healthy and referred to the process of creating as a spiritual one. Because her presence is so quiet, and due to her inability to speak, she asked me to pay special attention when her presence starts to come forward. She wrote, “in that moment, we must work. It means a secret is ready to come out. A healing is taking place.”
What struck me during this exchange was that my exploration of the paper and book arts began one year after I left school, as I was still on my healing path out of my depression. It was in the moments of my deep quiet, in the secret places tucked within my world where no one could spy, I would go to my paper box and make books and collages. This experience beautifully confirms that art is a deeply healing expression and is wonderfully good for our emotional health. Personally, it allows me to release an emotional load. It gives me a way of sharing the things I cannot say; my own secrets that cannot even be shared with my conscious self. What is so touching about the abstract nature of my art is that it allows my most precious of secrets to be released in a manner that holds gentle space for their reception. I hope for everyone that they find an outlet that gives them the freedom to release their heaviness and their joy, their secrets, in a way that creates a similar reception. It is such a healing, a renewal, a beautiful moment.
After this encounter, I cannot treat my work as something to be produced and hastily shoved out the door. This was my mentality all of last year. I was constantly worried about having enough books and enough cards. I was always pushing, pushing to make new books, pushing to make new work. Now, I know that these pieces are beautiful moments for my spirit; one that holds special meaning to me, for as she wrote, “They are her secrets after all.” My whole process of creating is shifting to one of reverence and care, to providing a space conducive to healing and renewal. And my whole way of sharing with you will also shift, though in what way I do not know. I am quite excited to see where this new approach to creating will take me. In this light, it feels more wholesome, personal, and vulnerable.
For those of you who own a piece of mine, now you know you hold one of my secrets. I would ask you to be gentle with it, but I also know that it is meant to be with you. It has something to share, something very special to convey. What that is, I do not know. But if you find out, I would love to hear about it.
With all the sweetest of love and kindness,