a blog and resources for trans survivors and loved ones

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Do you ever feel like you just don’t have time to incorporate new things into your life that could help you to heal? Let’s say you want to try and incorporate more art into your life in order to help you be more present, more at ease, and help you heal from sexual violence. How do you rearrange your obligations in life in order to make that happen?

One helpful thing you can do is to take a look at where you’re spending your time on things that distract you from being present, from feeling creative, and/or from healing.

From distraction to creation

Some things that take up time in our lives are obligations, like work, school, or parenting responsibilities. Other things are pure distraction, like watching television or playing video games for hours and hours. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing things that allow you to check out for a while. Taking mental breaks and doing things that help you not obsess or perseverate on obligations or other things is totally fine, particularly in measured doses.

However, if you’re looking to find ways to add more creativity to your life, it can be useful to take a look at your daily life and see where there are blocks of time (no matter how short or long) that you are spending on distractions but that you could be using to do things that are creative, more often.

There’s an activity in FORGE’s “Artist’s Life Adventure Zine” called “Where are you spending time on things that keep you from art or being present?” In FORGE’s workshops with trans and non-binary survivors, participants have shared the following things that keep them from their art:

  • Watching television or Netflix binging
  • Checking social media
  • Spending a lot of time with family or friends
  • Volunteering a ton of time
  • Being an activist or committed community member:  Excessive trans community obligations (being expected to sit on every committee, go to every drag show and trans movie screening, raise funds for community events, represent the “T” in every LGBTQ event, etc.)
  • Checking work email or doing other work-related things after work (when it’s not in one’s job description to do so)

Again, none of these things are “bad” or things that you should necessarily stop doing. But it’s worth considering whether, in your life, some of these things are distractions or over-taxing obligations that could be transformed into creative healing. If so, try out the following activity to identify places in your life where creativity could enter in.

Planning for creativity

You can download the zine activity or simply grab a pen and paper or open a notepad on a computer or device, and try the following:

Think through a typical week in your life. Write down from Monday to Sunday where you spend your time each day. You can be as detailed or general as you want. If you’d like to be creative with this activity, you could make a collage of where you spend your time or sketch and color your daily activities. Make a note of or somehow highlight the blocks of time that you feel you could replace with art and/or creative healing.

For example, perhaps you are spending an hour or more playing a mindless game on your phone after work every day, and you could instead play your favorite game for ten or fifteen minutes and then spend the next half hour doing something creative. Or perhaps you could add creativity to something that’s already in your regular schedule, like listening to music while you do chores, working on a knitting project while you watch television, or art journaling on public transit on your way to work.

Keep in mind that some of the obligations in your life are things that you have little control over, but others are things that you may have a lot of control over. For example, you may really and truly want to see every recital your child or family member performs at, but there may be other family-related things you don’t have to be present at all of the time. Identifying what those are may be important to freeing up some of your time for creative healing.

The key is making changes in small intervals. That way it feels manageable and not such a big life change—unless that’s what you want! Big changes can sometimes be hard to keep up with (like making a goal to run ten miles a day when you’ve only just started to jog). So making a plan to replace just a few things with creative outlets is a good start.

Want more ideas? Check these out!