I am not ok – and creativity helps me go through it

I am not ok – and creativity helps me go through it

Thank you all for the positive feedback after the first issue of FEELING PIECES. I was very pleased that you even sent me texts from yourselves. I was particularly touched by the following passage about the power of writing, which I am happy to share with you here (with the author’s permission):

But then the rays of light came to me, the moment my pen started ‚balling out‘ on the paper, I knew that it was going to lead to a big journey, a good one; a very challenging one, but a good one, a constructive one, one that will eventually get me ‚clean‘.

Feel free to share your writing testimonies with me. The new issue of FEELING PIECES is all about creativity and at what times the ideas flow the most.

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In this issue of FEELING PIECES you will find:

Writing helps me rein my sirens

Feel it, write it: What are your challenges?

Writing helps me rein my sirens

The other day Elle Bradley Cox, whose newsletter Don’t delete the kisses I really love, invited me for an interview. We talked about the meaning and moments of creativity. Because I usually get creative when I experience something negative. The last year in particular has been very challenging for me – I’ve had all kinds of moments of insecurity, countless panic attacks and persistent depressive episodes.

It became even worse when my partner went away for an extended period of time to visit his family; I stayed home alone. I haven’t been alone for a longer time for for almost ten years. During that time I became more and more withdrawn, I kept social contacts at distance, my job at the time was toxic and draining; plus the hard lockdown with a curfew had just begun. At that time I didn’t have a therapist either, I didn’t know anything about my mental state (only later my therapist diagnosed a moderate depression and adjustment disorder). My only companion during that time was my dog, who, like me, didn’t understand what was going on with me.

Every morning I stood in the shower for hours crying – that’s where I was hiding because I was embarrassed to cry in front of my dog. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I lost control of myself and my thoughts, and also lost contact with my usual world around me. One night when my thoughts were circling loudly again, out of sheer desperation I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen to write down all my thoughts – I wrote and wrote until my hand hurt and my head was eventually empty. Everything that had previously been raging loudly in it appeared before me on the page. And then it was silent – for the first time in several days I no longer heard those voices and I fell asleep.

The next day I looked at what I had written. I began to understand what all those voices in my head were howling before. And I began to organize them – since then I call them “my sirens” and eventually they turned into several poems about their luring chants.

„Isn’t it weird how mostly the dark moments in our lives spark creativity.“

That’s what Elle said at the end of our conversation. Yes, creatively grappling with my thoughts, with my crisis, helped me calm down and also showed me new ways to deal with my thoughts, especially in darker times. Writing became my coping mechanism.

By the way, it’s not just me: during the pandemic, a team of researchers confirmed that „engaging in creative activities in times of crisis (e.g., COVID-19) can help people, particularly those in a less individualistic culture, to cope with difficult events through increased feeling of being socially connected.“ Because „as human beings, everybody has the need to reach optimal functioning as such flourishing – the feelings of meaning, engagement, purpose of life, and optimism. This need is even more pressing in the face of crisis, as the occurrence of crisis threatens individual’s subjective sense of self and its existential core.“

That is why, no matter where I go, I always take my little black notebook and fountain pen (for a more intense writing experience) with me – so I can scribble down any ideas on the go and calm myself down with writing in moments of anxiety or panic.

Feel it, write it.

Writing is therapeutic. Because when you write, you can reflect on stressful situations, challenges, but also wishes or hopes in writing. Writing helps you to perceive and understand moods, feelings, thoughts, experiences, behaviors and their connections. And it also helps you to discover new perspectives and new paths for yourself.

It’s your turn to write

On my website you can find the FEELING PIECES Manifesto for therapeutic writing with some guidance for your writing process. I advise you to proceed step by step. Read one question and answer it – until you feel you have answered the question fully. Then move on to the next question. Enjoy your process!

What’s on your mind right now? What worries you the most?

Now go through your writing: which of these worries challenges you the most? Describe this worry in detail: what exactly worries you, how, when, where, maybe also why?

What would your life look like if these worries did not exist? What would be different?

I hope you like this issue of my newsletter FEELING PIECES. Feel free to contact me and send me your feedback and ideas. And I’d be very happy if you spread the word and share this newsletter with your community.

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Feel it, write it.

Feel it, write it.

This is the very beginning of my newsletter FEELING PIECES. I hope you still remember me. We met in one of my virtual FieldTrips for Creative Mornings when I introduced to you the therapeutical effect of writing. It took me a little while to start with this newsletter, so now I am happy to share my FEELING PIECES with you.

What are FEELING PIECES?

FEELING PIECES are those connections we make with ourself and with other people when we listen to their stories, when we reflect them. When their stories resonate with us and they stimulate emotions and thoughts – we get inspired. Here I share those stories of meaningful conversations that I had, conversations that changed my perspective. And I would also love to hear your stories, please write me!

Each issue of this newsletter is dedicated to a specific topic and I will provide you both one of my stories and some writing exercises to invite you to reflect, to discover your feelings, to heal or to just spend some time with yourself.

This month FEELING PIECES deals with pride and in this newsletter you will find:

No regrets: A chance encounter with my pride

Feel it, write it: What is pride?

No regrets

A chance encounter with my pride

His son had once moved to Berlin for some time, he told me, when he heard that I lived there and was just visiting here in London. His son once worked there as an art director in an advertising agency. But now he lives in London again, because of the pandemic he couldn’t keep his job and went back.

Without worry or regret, but full of pride and respect, he told me about his son’s career. For he supported his son in all his plans, regardless of what he himself thought of them, because he should eventually have it good in life and be happy as a proud gay man. That’s what really matters to him.

Actually, that evening, after a long day at work, I was too lazy to walk back to the hotel. So I ended up in the back seat of Andrew’s Uber and found myself in this conversation about family, home and being different. Andrew told me about his childhood in South Africa, his parents‘ supermarket back then, his wife, who is a fashion designer, and his children, whom he always supported in taking advantage of all the opportunities in life and trying things out:

„I don’t like people regretting what they could have done in their lives.“

I listened spellbound and rejoiced at every red light, every detour, and even when Andrew got lost, because it extended that moment with him, too. A tear rolled down my face when I finally got out of his car. For I felt how different, how much more serene my life could have been with a father like Andrew. But instead of envy, I was overcome by a feeling of security, of warmth, of confidence with myself, of gratitude for this encounter in this car late that evening.

That night I fell asleep with pride – for my love that matters, for living a life without shame for who I am, for the family and home my husband and me created and for the community we formed around us.

Feel it, write it.

One again, we see so many logos draped in rainbow flags, the pictures of happy people with put-on smiles in colorful campaigns – yes, it’s Pride Month. We’re celebrating the colorful life, the otherness. But if you believe the campaign motifs, pride is all about parties and happiness. Please, don’t fall for this commercial rainbow washing.

What is your pride?

To feel pride, we need the ability of self-awareness. Pride as a feeling is tied to the fact that we evaluate. We measure ourselves by whether we achieve a certain goal or can do something that others can or cannot do. As “misfits” for a long time we tried to conform with societal standards. So, for me pride – not only in June – is all about building community, about raising awareness for otherness and diversity, about respecting each other, about fighting for equal rights and about creating safe and inclusive spaces.

Now it’s your turn to write

The writing prompts are all about your understanding of pride. I advise you to proceed step by step. Read one question and answer it. Then move on to the next question. Enjoy your process!

On my website you can find the FEELING PIECES Manifesto for therapeutic writing with some guidance for your writing process.

Who is proud of you and why?

What are you proud of about yourself?

What does pride mean for you?

I hope you like the first issue of my newsletter. Feel free to contact me and send me your feedback and ideas. And I’d be very happy if you spread the word and share this newsletter with your friens and surroundings.

Yours,

Ralf

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