If I do not create, I feel like I will melt down.
I am bursting every single day with line, color, shape, and texture. My mind spins with ways to fix broken things, make beautiful the battered and unkempt, to take apart, rearrange, reassemble. I want to fix it – I want to make it live again.
I have been told my entire life to “be quiet,” to “stop being so dramatic,” to stop “being so loud.” The thing is, I feel things dramatically and deeply, and I see things loudly that others cannot see.
I see the broken childhood of the woman that threatens to bash her sons’ heads in if they don’t stop blaming each other in the shopping cart. I feel the neglect she felt, the lack of support. She’s still there, hearing the same threats. I feel the uncertainty the children feel about whether they should trust her or not. Is it another empty threat, or will this one pan out?
I feel the trapped, smothered pain of a combat veteran’s mind in the man walking down the street in too-large, filthy clothes. No one can understand what he’s seen, the ways in which he watched his friends suffer and die, and the ways their families suffered and died. He’s still at war, watching it happen over and over again, even if it’s not a solid memory he sees.
I visited a grotto yesterday, an army of holy statues tucked into towering rhododendrons and the dripping branches of trees. I felt the hope and the sorrow and the prayers there, bearing down upon me like a great, weightless cloud, and I couldn’t stop crying. I kissed St. Francis’ feet and left him 53 cents because that’s all I had. I lit candles for those in Gaza, and for those in the Ukraine and Afghanistan, and had to walk quickly away from those candles so I would not fall apart.
I am dramatic because I *feel* what others feel so intensely that sometimes I can’t find my own feelings. I create or I wither. Creation is all I have. Creation is more than a self-soothing therapy, it is a way to transform these feelings and the things I see and the world around me. It is a way to channel pain into joy, and ugliness into beauty.
It doesn’t matter what our passions are, it’s time for all of us to make the solid, conscious choice to find compassion for others, forgive those who have destroyed some part of us, and come together as a world community to take care of those who have less. I find solace and comfort and joy and beauty in nature; maybe you find it in art, or music, or cars, or in your family. It doesn’t matter any more. We must unbend what we have learned and transform into a better, wiser species. This means healing your own pain, which means you must acknowledge it first – you must seek to find it and draw it out, like an infection hiding in your heart. Only then can you rain compassion upon others as though they exist in a desert. I challenge you to do this.
I challenge you to see the true abundance in your life. Abundance isn’t just money – it’s shelter, it’s a loving parent, it’s education, it’s the materials with which to make art and music, it’s having a job, it’s feeling safe. I have very little to give outside of these words, but I feel called to give something away. I create, and that it what I will give away – a piece that only a handful of other humans on this planet have, the first piece I really carved for print, an exploding heart.
It’s 11×14 and just black ink on bristol board, but it’s what I have to give. So write to me, here in the comments, or via email at roamingnaturalist (at) gmail (dot) com. Give me permission to post a piece of what you say without identifying you in any way, and be sure that I have a way to contact you (either via blog or email link in the comments, or a usable email address via email).
Tell me what breaks your heart, what has broken in your life, what heals you, what reminds you that everything is all right and we’re all connected. What does this piece say to you? How can it help you? What fills you with enough hope to go on in times of darkness?
One of you will be chosen to receive it via US mail, free of charge in any way. And then, I’d like you to try really hard to give something away that you have to offer. Something you love to do or make, even maybe this piece of art.
Thank you for reading and opening your hearts. I know this isn’t my typical kind of writing, and I’m glad you’re here.
The very best,
Nicole the Roaming Naturalist
Welcome, December! Hello, holiday shopping season!
For years I was a habitual procrastinator when it came to holiday shopping, but this year I’ve finally kicked the habit. Kind of. All of my money-spending is finished for the most part, and I plan to spend December hand-making the rest of the gifts I have in mind. Getting creative and gifting the unexpected is a skill that anyone can master, and I’ve put together a little holiday shopping guide to give you wonderful folks some ideas if you’re tapped out.
Because I don’t know if you know this about me, but, well..
I. Love. To. Shop.
Which is typical for someone of my financial standing. Being low on cash doesn’t stop me though – I’m honing and mastering my thrift-store skills and drinking a lot of coffee instead of seeing a therapist for how much suffering the trial-and-error of crafting causes me. I genuinely dislike blatant consumerism and the culture of spending we’ve developed, and how “Christmas” is more about going into debt than celebrating with loved ones. I don’t do Christmas necessarily; I like to welcome in the new season, winter, which is about withdrawing to do some inner work and prepare for the renewal of spring. That being said, I also love giving presents, and have an impossible time waiting to give gifts when I already have them. (I recently had to wait FOUR MONTHS to give one of my bestest friends her birthday present and I almost had a breakdown.)
That’s why I love the holiday season. It’s an excuse to give your loved ones – all of them at once! – a little something to tell them how special you think they are because, to be honest, when the heck else do we think about it? We don’t. Or if we do, not nearly enough. The holidays are an opportunity to stop, consciously focus on someone, and present them with something as a token of our love for them. Giving gifts is as old as our species, and it doesn’t have to bankrupt the whole nation (or cause shoot-outs in parking lots or pepper-spraying in crowded lines).
Anyway, I’m done with the hypocritical ranting; I know I’m telling you not to get caught up in the hype of consumerism WHILST presenting you with a holiday shopping guide. But I hope you take this holiday to enjoy finding or making that special something for that special someone, and manage to avoid the unnecessary stress of it all. Focus on how much you love the person you’re trying to gift something to, and don’t worry about what the gift is. Do it from the heart and the rest is cake. Take the leap to see my recommendations for this year!
“What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge