Art-Making Is Medicine For Life ( + my 12 favorite journal pages of 2015!)

2015 art journal page samples from Hali Karla Art was healing me long before I consciously realized it.

When no medicine or poison could offer ease or benefit, and no talking could hold the vastness of my truth, there was the wild and wise stirring of my soul to reach voraciously toward the active cleanse, balm, exploration and growth of creating an expression for my personal sense and vision... while allowing me to not lose myself in the weather of the journey and impressions of those around me.

Music, art, theatre, writing - these were channels of survival for my spirit, joy, motivation and desire. Ways of seeing. Remembering. Releasing. Re-telling and birthing an untouchable essence that... seemed to hold some precious secret (unknown even to me) as to why I am here and what I am here to do be and see and learn for this fast moving blink of a life, gifted with consciousness.

Art is still all of this for me. And, yes, I am more aware of its healing power in my life now, and have learned some about when to choose it, how to integrate it, and a bit about right dosing and timing with its medicine. And yet, still, the healing and insight that happen in the process, paint and page are far beyond even what I am able to see in the moment, let alone explain. Though I try.

It moves forward and backward in time, like threads weaving connections through me - like energy pouring through this filter that is me to bring into the light something about this human experience, some small nugget of a truth meant to be seen - by me, or someone else, or maybe just this great mother of a universe herself.

And I enjoy it. The creating. The healing - the remembering, discovering and transformation. More than that, I enjoy helping others find their own creative relationship and practice - so that they, too, can feel the gifts and meaning that cannot be pinned down by words... the nugget that can only be revealed by their experience and perspective with creative process through time.

The paintings and writings and pages and songs... well, I find it interesting how they can be both moving and/or arbitrary - to artist and perceiver. Evidence of an energy or telling that resonates, or not. Or that does now, but not later, or visa versa. Their significance, in reach and impact, is beyond our knowing in any moment - and yet as natural as the clouds and stones. So much like the moments of life we take for granted... the words we share, the laughter, the summits and silent eye-locking gazes that remind us, however briefly, of a connection that fills and tempts us forward like any great muse or devotion.

Those pages above are my picks from this year. [HERE is a link to my top 9 most liked images on Instagram, too - it's been fun seeing everyone's 'best nines' today!]

I made more art than I thought I had this year, mostly in journals this cycle - and when I flipped through some of the books last week and the files today, these were the ones that made my heart pause or jump again. Not for their aesthetic as much as for the connection they stir in me - to my life, my people, my creative fire and the oceans of my soul's story in its ebb and flow.

2015 has been filled with some seriously soul-rocking substance, hasn't it? I can't think of one person I know that had an easy time of it this year. We all could use a little celebration and recognition, perhaps, for all the creative or knee-buckling, white-knuckled ways we've gotten through.

Much of my personal work this year has been behind the scenes, in my own awakenings to my blind spots and strengths, as well as with changes involving my loved ones and relationships.

Much of the growth in the work I do in the world and through Hali Karla Arts has also been behind the scenes...

... or you might say both have been under the soil, in the dark places where what is no longer helpful gets broken down and transformed to feed the seeds of what will come, and where sprouts are waking up and humble, and essential organisms tend the depths and foundations of abundance.

And that is healing work. It is the work of loving what is, even as it changes according to weather, element and time. The work of regeneration, sifting and filtering, remembering, and making-ready the environment - for what stirs our soul alive with the full-feel gamut of being human in an infinite connection of the creative cycle.

All in all, I mostly feel a gratitude like I've never known, and a calm resolve inside.

I sat down to write this and I thought I would make out some lists, to keep it simple and focused. Lists of ways I learned, grew, fell short, thrived, expanded and connected in 2015. And a list or two of what I am nurturing close to my heart, preparing to share here, and can see in my vision on the horizon of this journey - for my personal life and work. You know, an end-of-the-year kind of thing.

And instead, I began remembering - and I realized [again] how art has been healing me for as long as I can remember. And I noticed how, in this past year, even though everything ambitious I had envisioned for 2015 sort of got rocked, shifted and jilted - I still stayed true to my creative practice - adaptable and resilient in getting to it in a way that got me through some really deep life stuff. Even more so than I consciously realized - and probably even more than I can see clearly now.

Art-making has been a constant healer my whole life. Through abuse, abandonment, loss, caregiving, job-shifting, addiction, illness, heart-healing, poverty, confusion, joy, awakenings, realizations, death, hand-holding, awesome opportunities and all of the learning, soul-work and growth... creative expression has been a bridge between one moment of me to the next, a tether to my untouchable essence, thankfully, in the weather of potential, seeking and risk.

Even when I thought I left art for good - it never left me. And 'for good' ended up only being about 5 years. Again, *gratitude*.

Sometimes these days artists dare to call themselves healers. Some people really don't like this. That's OK. Having walked in both the art and healing worlds professionally and personally, I sort of think it's fantastic to watch unfold, and telling of times past and to come... when people trusted their own inner healer and wisdom in a holistic, creative and curious way.

I suppose calling one's self a healer means something a little different to every artist who does so - much in the same way that claiming to be an artist can mean so many ways of showing up to creating and making.

For all the people I have loved and tended and helped in my life, when I say I am a healer, what I personally mean is that I am a healer, first and foremost, to myself... so that I can be the best me I can be in this world, to the people and spirits my energy touches - which, let us not forget, is really all of this cosmic nature we are a part of (#everythingisconnected). Of all the methods and approaches I've tried over the years, art-making is the constant for me, the portal to this healing and knowing, this realizing and unknowing.

The beauty that I sit with today is how I was intuitively my own healer long before I would have recognized it or claimed it that way.

Being an artist - that is, called to express, honor and explore my creative energy and vision with heart and hand - this is how I make my medicine. Partly because I see art as a way of living wholly engaged - and not just about subjective beauty, compelling statements or making things.

Connecting with others to create, reflect and share what we discover is how I share the overflow of my medicine the best way I know how, just in case my painted worlds or their accompanying reflections might touch another's journey and healing heart through life's transitions. Because I want every one to be true and authentic to all the ways the creative spirit moves them. That is a power of goodness that this world desperately needs.

I am brimming with grateful tears over here for the support, kindness & wisdom of my online family and friends, readers and students... all of you.

May 2016 be rich with the holistic-creative medicine, healing, peace, joy and growth that you and yours most need to live each and every day to the fullest, with gratitude and kindness.


Making Art Medicine

P.S. I would loooooove to have you join me in 2016 for my all new program Making Art Medicine. Registration is open - and the price will go up next week, so reserve your seat today and I'll see you there in 2016!