A couple of weeks ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to facilitate two experiential workshops at Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s annual metastatic conference. It was a weekend of immersion with a community who profoundly understands and supports one another. This is always incredible to both witness and be included in.
When we find our tribe, it can fill the well of connection that we don’t always have in our day-to-day lives. Going to a weekend conference, you are literally immersed into a deep pool of understanding, which hopefully leaves you feeling re-energized in multiple ways.
Leaving a conference like this is bittersweet, especially when you consider the fact that living with Stage IV cancer means that you and people you’ve met are facing a life threatening illness. While there are no guarantees in life, the general public gets to walk around without being highly attuned to just how precious time and health can be.
It’s also bittersweet because maintaining connection with your tribe is tricky when you live far apart. I always experience a post-conference let down myself. It’s an energetic void that is difficult to replace.
You can focus on keeping the embers of connection glowing even when your tribe is far flung. There are several ways to do this, but since I’m an art therapist, I reach towards forms of expression that help me to embody the experience and people that I am physically far from.
Creativity and art can become the language you use to interpret and express that which you feel inside. By using visual arts to describe your experience, you give yourself permission to lean in and feel the connections you made, which in and of itself begins the process of nurturing the energy that holds the memory.
When you take the time to draw out how you feel (and this is not fancy art making by any means), you’ll find yourself tapping into your unique wisdom that has ideas about how to support and care for yourself.
Often I find that my clients have lost this connection with their deepest, instinctive wisdom. The work we do together often repairs it, allowing for their innate resiliency and confidence to be healed.
Would you like guidance on using art to keep the sparks of connection brewing? Check out my virtual community Art Therapy for Breast Cancer on Mighty Networks.
-Stephanie McLeod-Estevez, LCPC, is an art therapist and breast cancer survivor, and a former oncology counselor at the Dempsey Center. She began Creative Transformations to help others who are healing emotionally from cancer. Through Creative Transformations, she works with people in person and online to offer the self assessment tool, cancer coaching, an Art as Therapy program,virtual workshops, and this weekly blog. Sign up today so you never miss a blog and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.