We all bear difficult times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed. My guest, Kristin Blankenship, shares her experience and 4 tips we can employ to heal our anxious hearts.
Using Art to Free an Anxious Heart
It is important to do the work that leads to our renewal, clarity and inspiration and then remember to taste it, experience it and let it flow. –Linda Saccoccio
No one could have prepared me for the journey my heart would travel upon becoming a mom over 9 years ago. A journey bursting with love for my long-awaited child, a little boy entering the world in hushed awe with wide-open eyes – windows to an old soul. And, at the same time, a journey fraught with the uneasiness over the feeling that my beautiful boy did not seem comfortable outside the womb. With the arrival of a little sister less than two years later, came frequent and lengthy meltdowns, nightly sleep difficulties, and the onset of rigid, repetitive behaviors. My husband and I operated in survival mode for days on end.
Writer, Elizabeth Stone, once described having children as “forever having your heart go walking around outside your body.” My boy and I shared the same anxious heart as I began searching for answers from pediatricians, child psychologists, behavior and occupational therapists. At the age of 2 ½, my sweet boy was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. And while this journey has been difficult at times, especially in those early years, it has also served as a training ground for strength, perseverance, joy and celebration as we experience God’s love through the hands and hearts of those who travel along beside us.
Being the parent of a special needs child often means chronic sleep deprivation and countless hours researching in the desperate effort to understand and make the best decisions for early intervention. It is easy to become so focused on these aspects, that we lose our true selves somewhere in the mad dash to special schools and multiple therapies all over (and out of) town. Even play with a special needs child requires work! It is no wonder that when we do finagle some quiet-time for ourselves, we sit with grieving hearts, trying to remember who we are beyond the Special Needs Mom title.
For me, art has played an integral role in healing my own worn-out, anxious heart. Integrating art and creativity into our daily lives fosters the opportunity to reconnect with our own inner child, that child of God who runs and laughs and feels joy spontaneously. When we get out of our own heads and back in touch with our true essence, we are better able to connect with God, the Source for inspiration and energy that we so desperately need. Yes, our children need our intellect. They need us to be their advocates. Even more, they need our hearts and the joy that God has placed inside them. Joy that offers healing for ourselves and our children.
So, how can you infuse art into your daily life? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Grab the crayons and draw or write with your non-dominant hand. Studies indicate that this practice promotes access to the right-side of the brain which houses functions such as feeling, intuition, creativity, and inner wisdom and spirituality.
- Engage your body in joyful movement. Try dancing to upbeat music while doing chores, such as cleaning the bathroom.
- Create a sculpture with air-dry clay or play-dough. The act of sculpting and kneading releases stress and reminds us of how God created and molded us in his very own image.
- Cut-out magazine pictures that “speak” to you and make a collage. Figure-out ways to incorporate one or more of these ideas into the weeks ahead.
Allow the creativity to flow and you just might discover a deep well of abundance. Abundance that offers sustenance for a tired heart.
Kristin Blankenship is the wife to her husband of 19 years and the mother of two school-age children, ages 7 and 9. Before having children, she spent the majority of her adult career working in the public schools as an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor. More recently, Kristin ran with the desire to “unleash her inner artist,” and began working with creative coach, Amy Barr. Through this process, she discovered healing and a renewed joy for life. Currently, Kristin resides in Midlothian, Virginia where she writes of her faith and motherhood at her blog, The Blue Mug, and creates mixed-media art, celebrating the simple beauty of life.
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