How to tend a hurt heart

Creative Wellbeing in a Time of Trump

I cannot pretend. I cannot send out a glib, pretty message disconnected from deeper realities. I want to speak with you directly, from my heart to yours, and hopefully back again, in a loop of realness.

I wish to inspire the feeding of creativity, the gathering of community, the radiating of authentic connection.

heart art collage Swain

Sally Swain © original art

But here comes the Old Steam Train of Doubt … choo choo … puff puff … TOOOT!


make yourself so vulnerable, Sally.

Who wants to know your innermost workings? What if you bring your readers down? Shouldn’t you share neat news of light creative play, along with ten tips to brighten the arty day? Don’t assume your readers share your politics. And what do you know about the world, anyway? Nothing much.

I let the train chooff on by. I will take the risk and share my story:

On inauguration day, I tried the time-honoured strategy of avoidance; of pretending everything is fine. But fine it ain’t.

The day after, I glimpsed at social media and oh! My heart hurt. Each peek revealed more horribleness perpetrated by the new Celebrity King of the World. I tried dwelling on the hope, beauty and power of the global women’s marches. My heart still hurt.

Bring on the self-care.

I could no longer deny, distract, re-focus. Well, I could, but at what cost? Repressed feelings fester in the inner soil. They are liable to eat away at the guts or burst out as messy mud splatters. That’s how I see it, anyway.

I would feel the feelings. I would make art.

I needed to create a safe haven of tenderness. Pink popped into my mind’s eye.

I found pink fabric fragments. I glued, painted, crayoned.

Swain art heart

Sally Swain play-in-progress

I didn’t know what would appear. I followed my hurting heart and the colour pink.

Swain collage pink art

Sally Swain play-in-progress

Curls and spirals turned up. They began to look like letters. I saw ‘Sous’; the French word for ‘under’. That’d be right. I was allowing through what’s under the surface. I was honouring the real, the vulnerable, in spite of risk.

Swain art heart

Sally Swain play-in-progress

I looked again and I saw ‘SOS’. That too would be right. My hurt heart had been putting out an SOS, if only to myself.

I wondered if SOS stands for Save Our Souls. Then I saw a small stray ‘l’.




heart art collage Swain

Sally Swain © original art

The process of making art worked. I felt eased and soothed. I hope to help you to feel eased and soothed.

To quote my own Tender Agenda piece:

If you are churned up about world politics (or anything, really), I encourage you to

  • Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.
  • Reach out to someone. 
  • Make art.

Please don’t feel you have to be alone in your tumult. I believe that it is from this place of allowing our feelings,  of bringing our true selves to one another, making use of creative expression, that we can turn towards authentic, supported action.

Next Friday – 

an art heart poem, to bring it all together.

How do you tend your heart?


6 thoughts on “How to tend a hurt heart

  1. OMG Sally, you hit the ‘eart in the middle again, tenderly, giving permission to be and do… Thanks for showing us your process, it might help me to approach the empty page, the unopened pencil case. I’ve been carrying them with me but…I’ve been afraid to approach, for similar and different reasons…
    I do love the steam train image though: it makes a lot of noise and offers up a blanket of soot…it may be a place to get started though! What is underneath…?

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  2. I find it’s not only my heart that hurts but my head is raging too. I consider myself a very placid, easy going person. always willing to see all sides of the story. I am surprised by my anger, and my inability to see anything positive in Trump and his gang.

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