The Art and Act of Listening (to your body!)

The Art and Act of Listening (to your body!)

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.” Carrie Fisher said that. And my friend Leah Piken Kolidas painted that gorgeous image of woman cradling the world in her arms.

And I just love it!

By Leah Piken Kolidas in response to Carrie Fisher’s words “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

The act of making art or in some way giving expression to heartbreak means that the whole thing about that ache won’t have to come out sideways.

Come out sideways?

Yes. “Coming out sideways” is the expression I use to describe what happens when things that want and need expression don’t get acknowledgment or direct expression. And then because they still are needing acknowledgment and expression they end up coming out indirectly, often in unpleasant and painful ways. Or in reactive ways that we later regret. Either way —bottled up or hidden away inside, or reactive outwardly— painful.

Like when you’re angry but you have a thing about anger (like, for example, you don’t think it’s kind to express anger) so then instead of having a conversation in which you acknowledge your anger and talk about the situation that brought it about you end up just sucking it up and smiling but inside yourself, or with other people, you’re all ohmygod…grrrrrrr! And then one day, or maybe even just 5 minutes later, you snap or say something snarky, which then you might quickly follow it up with a “just kidding!” That’s an example of anger coming out sideways.

Like knots and tension in your body. Oftentimes that kink in your neck has little, maybe even nothing, to do with your pillow. And all to do with some heartache, grief or some hard or confusing thing that doesn’t otherwise have expression or resolution. Knots and patterns of tension in your body can be examples of something coming out sideways.

Like reactivity. Like when you bite your sweetie’s head off, or yell at your kid, or flip the guy in traffic the finger… Reactivity and irritability, be it toward people dear to you or strangers in traffic, are examples of things coming out sideways.

So, what about you? Is there something eating at you, something waking you up in the middle of the night, some disappointment that feels too hard to carry, or some something that seems too complicated, or maybe even impossible, to put into words?

Making your broken heart into art

“But I’m not an artist like Leah!” you might be saying.

To which I say, “No matter!”And also, “Says who?” And also, “Can you really know that?!”

Making art out of heartbreak or grief or sadness or anger, can happen in so many ways! (And if the word “artist” throws you or makes you want to argue about whether or not you are, then think of it as in some way giving outward expression to what’s inside.)

Paints, pencils, crayons… Yes.

Poetry, prose, or just a free-write in your journal… Yes.

A song in the shower? Yes.

Moving to the sound of a song that says it so well for you? Yes.

Telling the thing to a friend or therapist? Yes.

Asking your dreams to help you before you fall asleep and then writing them down first thing in the morning? Yes.

The possibilities for expression are endless. And they can be private (you don’t have to show the world, unless you want to, of course!). The important part, the part that will offer you and your body all the benefit, lies in the act of expression.

All for today. Onward, dear reader. Best wishes to you in making your art and expressing things so they don’t have to come out sideways.



P.S. More of Leah’s art can be found at

[Post edited on 13 Feb. 2017]

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