The Compassionate Creative Blog

Updated: Sep 2

The first time I ever meditated I was 16 and curled up in the fetal position on a vinyl couch in an emergency room. My head was throbbing with a pain that hadn’t left me alone in days and I was on the verge of vomiting. And no, I wasn’t pregnant. This isn’t that kind of after school special.


I was a teenager from Missouri so I had never heard of meditation before but somehow, balled up on that couch, something inside me said that following my breath would help me manage the pain. So that’s what I did. I noticed my inhale. Watched my exhale. Rinse and repeat. And hot damn! It worked. Whoever was talking inside of me-let’s call her Kathy, was right.


After a few days in the hospital modern medicine finally cured me of an ailment that I literally cannot even begin to spell. And after a brief 19 year pause, Kathy popped in on August 24, 2017 and told me to pick back up the practice of meditation. Again, she was right. Today marks four years of practice. Every day. Even during the stomach flu of 2018. Even through this entire goddamn Global Palindrome. I sat every day. Some days I laid down. Some days I didn’t want to do shit but my ego and Kathy wouldn’t let me break the streak. So I did as much as I could bear. For 1,461 days I have shown up and taken my seat. To manage the pain. To connect. To celebrate. To bring me to today.


I’ve spoken before on how meditation has led me down paths that would have been absolutely unfathomable to me BM (Before Meditation). Once again, I am surprised at where it has taken me. Through my practice I found an amazing teacher in Zen Buddhist priest, rev angel Kyodo williams. After attending one of her half day online sits I joined her group, The Liberated Life Network. It was there she announced a partnership with MNDFL, a meditation center based out of New York. Together they created an online mindfulness certification program. When rev. mentioned this program was accepting submissions. Kathy piped up and said: "Sweetie, this is for you." Turns out? BIG KATH KNOWS HER SHIT.


We started on February 18th, 2021. I was chest deep in winter Panini isolation and I couldn’t wait to connect to this space and the people in it. And I wasn’t disappointed. The folks I met there were fierce, kind, open hearted, and full of grace. They could hold whatever was brought forth. The light and the dark. Every time we met on zoom I would start out a tired sack of quarantined bones and leave the two hour session a re-inflated human being. Invigorated even. There were hours of video modules and readings each week. Writings that discussed community care, being a trauma informed instructor, how racism affects the body, and much more. I l devoured every sentence. Instead of being shaped into what MNDFL thought was the "right" type of instructor, I was encouraged to lean into my edges and creativity when leading practice. I even learned that I didn't have to be perfect to be a good facilitator, I just had to be me. Holy shit! Kathy Live Laugh Loved that.


A few weeks ago I received my certification. Which I promptly placed in a frame that I bedazzled with gold jewels. And because I am Extra and the last year and a half has given us so little to celebrate, I pulled out the camera and found a couch to document this mindfulness milestone. A couch that is much nicer and softer than the couch I began meditating on 23 years ago. A couch I wasn’t on because of pain but because of pride, joy, reverence for my practice, and love for that absolute smoke show Kathy. Who to this day, has never steered me wrong.




To celebrate four years of listening to Kathy, I’m bringing back the two week free trial of The Compassionate Creative Collective, an online membership where we meditate and create in community until Monday, September 6th. Learn more and sign up for your free two week trial here!


I also offer mindfulness for the workplace. If you think your team could use some connection and maybe even some lovingkindness book a time here to discuss what that could look like for you and your company.


*As always the opinions expressed here are my own also, to be clear I do not believe mediation is a replacement for pain medication. I take plenty of ibuprofen because I am in my late 30s for pete's sake. I encourage you to explore and find what works best for you in all things because you are the expert in you. Thank you for reading!



I just spent my first holiday ever, alone. And? It was fucking terrible. I wish I could say that the solitude led to a deep spiritual experience where I went into an altered state and further deepened my connection to The Universe. I’ve had those experiences before, they’re pretty awesome. But not this time. It just sucked.


There was an hour of zoom dinner prepared and hosted by a dear friend that was beyond lovely. But before and after sucked. I wish I had a better, more refined word, but I'm from Missouri where the only thing associated with refinery is petroleum. So I’ll stick with Suck.


Now, you might think, “Complaining isn’t very compassionate.” (Or maybe that’s my own judgement?) But I think part of compassion is calling something what it really is and identifying how it truly feels. Because you can't mitigate, change, or heal something you don't acknowledge. To glaze over it and pretend I didn’t think it sucked would be to spiritually bypass myself. And bb, it's 2020 AND WE ARE NOT DOING THAT ANYMORE HONEY BUN. So here it is: Thanksgiving Sucked. Going an entire day without talking to someone sucks. Being alone all the time, sucks. There. I said it. I felt it. Now let’s party.


Question: How do we heal the trauma of loneliness while we are still experiencing the isolation that’s creating it? To be honest, I’m not quite sure we can, yet. I saw a tweet that said something like, “You can’t start healing until the hurting stops.” And I think that’s spot on for pandemic loneliness. HOWEVER, I do think we can alleviate the weight of it, even if only for a collection of moments. So here are some hot hot solo tips* I’ve picked up along the way:


1. Stop talking to people who make you feel like shit

If you are living alone there is no one physically there to support you when you feel like shit. This sucks. So avoiding people (you don’t have to cut them out forever, it can be temporary or even reduced) who make you feel like shit is a surefire way of preventing the suffering they inflict. The mute and block buttons exists for a reason. Use them. Now, if you feel "bad" about using them, ask yourself this, "If this was 1995 would this person be in my life AT ALL?" If the answer is no, do what feels best. TBH I have never muted or blocked as many people in my life as I have since March. Yes, it’s very hard but your life will suck less once it’s done.


2. Sing

You wanna feel better? Sing a few bars of WAP. If that’s not your bag, you can also chant Om. Or if you think you have a stinky singing voice (you don’t) simply hum! All of these actions stimulates the vagus nerve which tells your brain that things are okidoke which then tells your parasympathetic nervous system to chill you tf out. I'm literally humming as I write this. 10/10 would hum again.


3. Stop trying to fix things

This one comes from my therapist. When she was like: Maybe just stop trying to fix it for a while? I could feel something in me relax. Like maybe month 9 of isolation isn’t the time to perfect my bedtime routine? Maybe I can give it a LITERAL rest until after round two of my vaccine?


4. Modify Anything and Everything

Yeah you use to be able to run a 10k and keep the dishes out of the sink. But it’s Covid Time. No one knows how to deal with this “correctly” because no one alive has ever dealt with this. So if you need to modify something you use to do to get even a teensy bit of it done, do it. For me this is meditating while lying down. I’m usually a big fan of sitting up. But sometimes it’s really cold and my energy is in the toilet. So I surrender and meditate lying down. Which, BONUS: You’ll have completed a task before you even get out of bed!


A handy dandy journal prompt to help you start modifying is to ask yourself, “What am I judging myself for not being able to do fully? Can I modify it to create more ease?”


5. Meet me online at Together Apart

I know we’re all zoomed out but Together Apart isn’t your regular degular online meeting that you have to plaster a fake smile on to join. It’s an online support group for singles living alone during the pandemic. We’re gonna work with some of the above suggestions and create space to share and come up with new ones. We’re also going to meditate and have fun, because I refuse to do anything without the possibility of a good time. You can come as you are with your suck and your wins. It’s all welcome in this space. Many hands make light work, so let’s come together to alleviate the emotional weight of this pandemic. Our first meeting is Tuesday, December 8th at 7:00 central. You can register here.


If Together Apart isn’t your jam because you’re married or live in a commune, join me online Saturday December 12th at 11:00 am central for Creative Power Hour. 1 meditation. 2 prompts. Endless possibilities. This month’s theme is joy. Which I think we can all use a little bit of ;-)


*These tips are not once size fits all, nothing ever is. You are the resident expert in your life so modify and ignore them as you see fit.

Love,

Shanna

Hi!!!! Just a quick love note from your friendly neighborhood creative coach reminding you that just because you make something, doesn’t mean you have to display or share it with the public right away or hell, ever! Your satisfaction and appreciation are always enough. In fact, if you are new to a medium or recovering from a creative injury I highly recommend you proceed with gentle loving caution when it comes to sharing new work with an audience.


Why would I tell you this? Because your creative work is a sweet tiny newborn baby. You wouldn’t go handing your baby off to a group of chain smoking strangers and hope for the best, would you? No. You would wait for that baby to grow up a little bit. You would wait until you felt fairly comfortable (I say fairly because no one is ever 100% comfortable sharing their work. And if you are, maybe you can become my creative coach?) before letting that little turkey toddle out into the great unknown.


Now you might ask, “What should I do if my baby is a giant toddler and I’m still not comfortable sharing it with the world but I need feedback?!” Find yourself a Creative Midwife. This is someone who loves you and has the ability to see the potential your baby can grow into. This second part is super duper important so I’m going to type it again: Choose someone who has the ability to see the potential your creative work can grow into. If you share your creative baby with your partner who is an optometrist that loves Coldplay and has never made art in their life, well they might love you but they probably won’t be able to see your creativity’s potential. Sharing your newborn freshy fresh work with this person is a form of self-sabotage. Please don’t do it. Your baby deserves better than that.


Now, how do you know if someone can see your baby’s potential? Welp, their feedback will make you go “Ahhhh! Great fucking idea!” Or if you weren’t raised by sailors, you might omit the word fucking. Do you. All I know is a true Creative Midwife’s feedback won’t make you feel like shit. Because as Julia Cameron says, “True criticism liberates.” I don’t know about you, but I sure do love me some freedom.