Positive, please

Remember this phrase? “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” I think it is time for all of us to try following this advice.

Remember the phrase? “Misery loves company.” Bad news grows, like a cancer.

We have to stop giving attention to the wrong things. Try this – post only positive, uplifting posts on your social media pages for a week. Don’t give energy to evil – it grows from it.

Don’t share something that is hateful or harmful because your friends “need to know about it.” You aren’t the news. They can read terrible things anywhere. Just don’t let it come from you.

I have a friend who usually shares innocuous things, but then she felt it was necessary to post a news report about a clergy member doing something extremely inappropriate. I challenged her – why did you feel the need to share this? She didn’t answer, but a friend of hers did, saying “Because we need to know!”

No. We don’t. We don’t need to know about things we have no control over. We don’t need to know about tragedy and tabloid news. We don’t need to know what celebrity or politician said or did something stupid. We don’t need our friends to tell us that the bees are dying or about the dangers of genetically modified food.

We don’t need to know about news that has nothing to do with you. We can read that for ourselves. Tell us about you – what are you doing? What are you making? How are you living your life? We can’t find that out from reading Google news or the newspaper. Share that. That is why we are friends with you. We want to read about you – not negative posts about things that have nothing to do with you.

Sharing negative posts with your friends isn’t friendly. It isn’t kind at all. It is infecting them with your own personal brand of paranoia. It is the equivalent of showing up at their house and dumping a load of trash in their living room.

All the “what were they thinking” posts are the same – they spread negativity. Just say no to bad news. Don’t be bad news by sharing it.

Use your words (a meditation on making art)

Parents tell children to “use your words” when they are feeling frustrated. But what if they don’t have words? What if the problem is that the things that they are experiencing are too large for words? It is important to give children as many different ways of expressing themselves as possible. Consider this – studies have proven that babies who are taught sign language before they are able to communicate verbally show a greatly reduced level of frustration.

I think that learning many ways for self expression is the cure for everything. Everyone needs to learn different ways to communicate. Sometimes words fail us.

The arts provide us with many other ways to communicate. Dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, drawing, painting, knitting, beading – the list is endless. It is only limited by your imagination. Whatever you try is good.

Plenty of people are upset that the public schools are cutting their budgets and eliminating the arts. You don’t need to go to school to make art. In fact, school can’t teach you how to make art. You already know how to do that. Children do it without thinking, and this is the best way. Just have fun playing and you are on your way.

Not having a lot of money is also not an excuse. Crayons and paper are cheap. You can find used musical instruments at a thrift store. You can even create your own tools to create with.

I used to write a lot before my parents died. After they passed, writing was too much for me. Every time I tried, too much would come out and it would get tangled up. My feelings were too big to be expressed with words. Thankfully, I had beads as a form of self-expression at the time. I would string together beads like I had strung together words. They had rhythm and feeling. There was an internal logic to them. Did others know what I was saying? Not always. But that isn’t always necessary. In that instance, it wasn’t important that I communicate an idea to others. It was essential that I got those feelings through and then out of me.

These days I work on visual arts such as painting and collage as well. I find I can process deep emotions this way, handling them in a safe and healing way. Some things that come up while I’m making art were so buried that I didn’t even know they were there. I’m grateful for my practice of making art as a form of self-healing.

Art doesn’t have to be “good” to be useful. It can be more abstract than representational and still do the job. Nobody else has to even see it. In fact, not thinking about an audience usually means that you’ll do more and better work because you aren’t trying to edit it to make it “safe”.

If you want to use images and you aren’t good at drawing (yet), you can cut out pictures from magazines. Don’t have any? Ask your friends – someone has a few that they would normally throw away. Not good at mixing paint? Buy art paper with pretty designs and cut it up and glue it on. Consider having an art-supply swap meet, where everybody brings materials that they are tired of and switches out. You’ll find new ways to express yourself with new supplies.

Remember that anything you want to do well takes time and practice. Nobody is a Rembrandt overnight. Have patience with yourself, but most of all – play.