Coping, Not Concentrating

The definition of “cope” is 1) to struggle or deal, especially on fairly even terms or with some degree of success and 2) to face and deal with responsibilities, problems, or difficulties, especially successfully or in a calm or adequate manner.

Facing problems or difficulties successfully means that I have an inner peace and a sense of calm. This can be challenging but I have found one of the best ways to cope is to have healthy distractions so I don’t concentrate on the pain so much.

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Creating my art is such a nice distraction, especially lately as my pain level has been higher than normal. It gets my mind off of the painful moments and onto something else I can focus on. I struggled for years to make any art. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I viewed it as too difficult and I had such a low self esteem that I believed I couldn’t create anything “good”. I would dabble in something but then loose interest quickly. Confidence would quickly fade. And when the anxiety and depression were at a high level I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the worry and pain. I couldn’t even take deep breaths. I still have worry and pain but now it’s at a more manageable level and I’m able to concentrate on something outside of that.

My therapy cat Alice is also a nice distraction. Some days I just stare at her and I notice my breathing is more calm and steady. It’s so nice to have her snuggled at my feet on the days I can’t move too far from the couch.

Having healthy relationships have also been a nice distraction. It’s helpful when you have friends and family you can talk to, someone you can turn to when you’re in distress. Strengthening my relationship with God has been a great distraction too. I can turn to my prayer notebook, journal, or my Bible and feel like there is hope and a path to wellness. I can listen to worship music and let the words sink in.

Nature is a beautiful distraction and I’m constantly gaining inspiration for my artwork. I painted a mallard duck after a few trips to the pond near my home. Being in nature is so good for the soul. And when I can’t make it out, I stare at my goldfinch feeder on the tree just outside. I have a perfect view from the couch and love watching the goldfinches visit.

Gone are the days of unhealthy distractions and the good ones are here to stay. I will keep adding more as time goes on and as I discover new passions and interests. What are some things you do to cope and not concentrate on your pain, problems, or difficulties? Are you successful in keeping your mind off things for awhile?

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Writing an Artist Statement

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I have been painting more and thought I needed to clearly outline what it is I’m doing and why – not just for others, but for me, too. Writing an artist statement was the perfect solution. I needed to ask myself a lot of questions about what I’m expressing and where that motivation comes from. I had to really look at my artwork and the process I go through in creating it. Here is my artist statement in it’s final form – for now.

As an artist, I work hard to create paintings that depict the beauty in this world. I use firm, black line and spontaneous, spilling color to capture the beauty of my subjects and communicate their character and personality. I create art to cope with chronic pain and fight the anxious feelings and dark places that my mind sometimes goes into. I try to convey feelings of happiness, joy, hope, and peace in my paintings – ideas that I strive for in my own life. My art is a tranquil place to me. It is calming and optimistic. I am inspired by the wondrous plants and animals of this planet. I draw inspiration from other artists and old illustrations. I am attracted to images that drive a purpose, a vision. I use pen and colored inks to complete my paintings and experiment with transparency and intensity. I like the unpredictable nature of ink and find it to be a perfect match for the definite and certain beings of this world that I have come to find serenity in. As I devote my own artistic voice to earth’s creatures, I continue to work hard to express my own joy.