Fear that the stress of life will consume me is what keeps me painting.

Last year, there was a death in my family. On top of that, my brother took ill. You would have thought this was nothing, but it was enough to knock me sideways. I found myself in my head trying to fix each and everything wrong in my life. I could not bring back my loved one or heal my brother … and that got to me. Nothing I did was working. I tried turning my attention on my loved ones and friends. Have you ever felt stuck? I was stuck, and I felt helpless. If one more negative thing happened or one more call with bad news came, I would run and hide. I was breaking.

I was drowning in everyday life happening around me and I could not, for the love of me, pull myself up to the surface. I was tired of worrying about everything; it was scary for me. Life as I knew it was becoming stressful … something I worked hard to control. No way was having a stressful life going to take a toll on my happiness. But, it did and it was doing more than taking a toll on my happiness; it was flat-out destroying me from within.

I was losing my happiness, even my grip on reality. For me, that is a loss of control … something I refuse to let happen.  I looked for distractions, anything that could keep me out of my head and stop me from stressing out. I turned to food and not just any foods, but the worst and the unhealthiest foods out there as they were filled with sugars, salt, and fat. One day, while spending some alone time with myself, I decided to clean out an old downstairs closet. Nothing too big, just a few old clothes and three big boxes. I pulled out a few old and outdated clothes first, which I just tossed to the side to be donated.  As I began going through the first box, I found a few of my old drawings. The pleasure I experienced while looking at them was amazing. You would have thought I had discovered a treasure, and yet for me, I did.

The second box had even more drawings and paintings in it, things I had done while in college. A smile appeared across my face once again, and it was one of peace and pleasure.  When I was done with the boxes, I cleaned up and placed all of the drawings and paintings in a pile. I realized what it was I needed in my life— paint, paintbrushes, and pencils. I rushed down to the craft and art store as quickly as I could and purchased a few paintbrushes, drawing pads, and pencils. Even while buying them, I felt something amazing taking place within me. I was escaping everything wrong in my life. When I got home, I wasted no time getting to painting and spent the rest of the day creating a new escape—an escape from everything that stressed me out in my life. In no time at all, I was out of my head. And I painted not only to escape but to experience the beautiful feeling of seeing those vibrant colors on the page in front of me. That made me happy. I found myself again, I found my happy again; that’s it.  I found a healthy balance with life issues through my escape from painting and drawing.