If you’ve known me for a while you probably know I’m a pretty straight forward, pragmatic, practical, sort of gal who doesn’t go in for woo-woo things. However, events of 2019 shook me to my core and inspired me to reevaluate my relationship to my art and new roles it could serve in my life going forward.

The Role of Creativity in Healing

What does “healing with creativity” mean to you? Because, I gotta be honest, it meant a whole HELL OF A LOT more to me in 2019 than it has in the past.

For some folks, healing could mean mending a broken heart, a broken friendship, a broken home, a broken bone, or even a broken bank account. I believe that all these and more can be healed, at least to some extent, by the arts and creativity.

Just think to yourself how many times a favorite song gave you the courage to move forward, a beautiful painting brightened your day, a twirl on the dance floor lifted your spirits, or a documentary restored your faith in mankind.

For me, I’ve been seeking healing from several events of the past year, including the deaths of colleagues to cancer and stroke, the passing of beloved animal friends, the loss of my co-working space due to miscommunication, health setbacks, a car accident, and the loss of my life partner.

So, it’s been a year of re-evaluation, re-balancing, and re-finding my ‘mojo’ through a lot of self-reflection and of course, drawing and painting the world around me.

How can creativity ‘heal’? It’s probably different for everyone, but for me, it has served to take my mind off the hamster wheel of thoughts spinning in my head. “why did this happen?”, “was it my fault?”, “what could I have done differently?”

Some creative pursuits serve to focus the mind and push out unwanted thoughts more easily …like throwing pottery or juggling balls; both of which I enjoy doing…others have more subtle effects.

My favorite way to ‘heal’ my heart and soul is to take a hike in nature with my sketchbook and fill its pages with whatever I happen to encounter; wildflowers in a meadow, dragonflies flitting over a stream, squirrels chasing each other up a tree trunk. I find that the act of utilizing my right brain to create a realistic drawing helps to quiet my analytical left brain and its constant chatter.


I explored many other ways to express my creativity this past year in hopes of healing my heart and lifting my spirits including:

  • Drawing and painting a ton, including doing a ‘big day’ in Costa Rica where I spent 12 hours in the field with a birdwatching guide and filled my sketchbook with 79 drawings of the wild birds I observed including hummingbirds, toucans, parrots, and the elusive Sunbittern.
  • Filling my journal with page, after page, after page, of self-reflection.
  • Puttering in my garden, where I love to plant exuberate sunflowers in colorful ceramic pots on my patio.
  • Baking biscotti for Christmas and making homemade suet cakes for my bird feeders.

  • Reconnecting with old friends and lovers, all of whom reflected back to me the beauty of life and the value of healing and re-igniting life-long friendships.
  • Relearning how to juggle (3 bags so far…not up to clubs or partner juggling yet, but I may get there in 2020!)
  • Taking horseback riding lessons, which culminated in a blue ribbon in my first horse show since high school, and my first ever in an English Pleasure class.

  • Redecorating my home with lush plants, fluffy pillows, brightly patterned fabrics, and more of my own artwork for inspiration.
  • Accepted the challenge to try zip-lining and rappelling down waterfalls; which I place in the ‘creativity’ category because it certainly took some creative thinking on my part to be brave enough to ‘man-up’ for it!

  • Exploring new hiking trails and finding the courage to go on solo camping trips.
  • Pushing my art practice to include not only the usual nature subjects but to be brave and explore media and subjects that are out of my comfort zone like collage, self-portraits, abstracts, and surreal pieces.
  • Teaching nature sketching classes. My students are always so enthusiastic and supportive that it nearly always gets me out of a funk when I’m teaching (you know who you are!)

These are just a few examples of how I incorporated creativity into my own life this past year as a form of healing.