Gratitude and Creativity: Low Emotional Valley

I’m just realizing that I spent the better part of the past month in a low emotional valley. The failure of my acupuncture treatment hit me hard. I know this because of the smatterings of energy I managed to invest in anything that resembled something creative, including how little I wrote. The recovery from the pain flare up caused by the acupuncture has been slow – I haven’t been able to reduce the doses of my pain medications. The frustration and disappointment of another treatment that doesn’t work for me is becoming hard to bear. As much as I try being positive, the melancholy found its way in and decided to hang around as I drank copious amounts of tea and binge watched TV while sleep eluded me most nights.

My uninvited guest sapped me of so much energy that I became too tired to sleep. Too tired to feed myself properly, and barely able to meet the few commitments I made to family and friends. The strange thing is while this was happening I didn’t recognize it because I was still moving, still breathing, and still feeling pain. I’m not numb, but I was enveloped by whatever the opposite of being mindful and aware of oneself might be. Then, this morning, as I turned the corner on another sleep-deprived night I flipped through a few pages of my art/gratitude journal and saw how little my brain and hands have produced because of my low energy and sinking emotions.

What was I trying to find in the pages of a sketchbook at 6:45 on a Saturday morning? I was looking for a blank space to teach myself how to draw a new, to me, Zentangle pattern. The space was easy to find because, as I said, I haven’t done a lot of creating lately. I keep saying that I’m teaching myself how to draw. However, at the rate I’m going I may not reach that goal. I have the books and the art supplies I need, but without motivation and a positive mood, that amounts to a lot of blank paper and unused pens, pencils and paint.

I noticed that the time I spend in these emotional valleys seems to be getting longer each time and my awareness of that space is losing its sharpness. This morning, wanting to draw a new combination of lines alerted me to the presence of the current valley. I wanted to connect with one of the things that help to stop me from falling down the steep slopes and that desire, that smallest of desires, pulled me upward.

Last night, while sleep stayed far away from me, I spent time on Adele Bruno’s website Tickled to Tangle. She’s a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) from whose posts I’m learning a lot. She writes a series called “Tips for Tangling” where she shares great step-by-step information about how to draw Zentangle patterns that makes drawing them a lot easier. Because of her posts, I’m becoming more comfortable and confident about drawing in ink and not worrying about making mistakes. After all, in Zentangle there are no mistakes. It was one of her posts that made me reach for my sketchbook: Tangling Radiant Sooflowers. I wanted to try creating my own radiant drawing but I first needed to learn the tangle pattern, Sooflowers created by Livia Chua, which luckily wasn’t at all difficult. After a quick practice, I worked on my tile and made one change to customize it. Instead of stippling the white spaces with dots, I filled them with small Tipple circles.

My tired eyes and shaky hands aside, I’m happy with the result. I’m also happy that although I didn’t sleep at all last night, Adele Bruno’s creativity alerted my awareness to my low emotional valley and inspired me to start climbing out.


Ed Sheeran – I See Fire


4 thoughts on “Gratitude and Creativity: Low Emotional Valley

    • Thanks Lisa 🙂
      I am feeling a bit better emotionally. Trying to “lose” myself in creativity has been helpful in the last few years. Being creative has always been a part of who I am, but I definitely took it for granted when I was healthy. Now when I don’t do anything for a while it’s a signal that I’m having difficulty coping.
      Thanks again for your support and I hope all is well with you.


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