Home Dear Linda,

Dear Linda,

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When I read your question last month — “What have you always wanted to do, but have never done?” — I couldn’t think of one thing. It made me realize that I’d lost something about myself. I don’t feel —Danielle M., Kenner

Dear Danielle,
Feelings need to flow as your life moves along, but it sounds like you’ve cut off your emotions. Burying feelings during times of change and stress is normal — our body’s survival instincts kick in — but it’s not physically healthy for you to continue in this way. To find some motivation to embrace life with creativity, honesty, and enthusiasm, take a serious look at your emotions first. Enjoying a wide variety of emotions enables you to experience a vitality that vanishes when your feelings hibernate. This seems to be where you are now. Try art to coax out your feelings. It is astonishing how creating something can soothingly uncover hidden emotions. At one art class I took, I realized that I was conveying my feelings through my clay and a palette of colored glazes. Pounding a mound of clay and painting it bright red was amazingly effective therapy to work out some pent-up post-Katrina anger.

An easy to use do-it-at-home guide for exploring your feelings through art is Lucia Capacchione’s Art of Emotional Healing (Shambhala Publications, 2006). The numerous art exercises are simple and the instructions are easy to follow, even for people like me who’ve never been trained in art. One exercise that is especially good for identifying your feelings is the facilitated guide through an expansive list of emotions. For each of the nine main feeling types, you’ll scribble a picture, using your nondominant hand. You’ll really be amazed by how your feelings will pop up and flow out. The subsequent chapters offer a great start in understanding your feelings from the art you’ve created, as well as a good beginning to accept how you’re feeling and to embrace how fulfilling your future can be when accompanied by emotions that give color and texture to your life journey.