During Dark Times, How Do We Keep Showing Up? The Creative Living with Jamie Podcast eps 280

Creative Living with Jamie Episode 280:
During Dark Times, How Do We Keep Showing Up

When times are tough, personally or around the globe, how do we show up for our lives, our art and one another?

Take It to Your Journal

Here are some journal questions inspired by today’s episode.

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What would be soothing for my body?
  • What can I do?
  • What good is available right now?

Resources & Mentions



Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, will wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.


Last week I started writing a piece for you and it ended up becoming last week’s Letter from the Studio, but then so many people wrote to me saying they found it helpful I thought I had to share it with you here too. 

You know last week we talked about what it means to be a highly sensitive creative. It turns out there are a lot of highly sensitive creatives in the Jamie Ridler Studios community. Even in my Devotion program, I asked the artists, “How many of you consider yourselves in HSC?” And you know how many of them said yes? All of them. 

So, no doubt, that’s part of the reason I have had so many tender conversations ever since the pandemic started, and all throughout about one theme in particular: 

How do we show up not only to our creative work but also to life when there is so much hard in the world? 

Now I want to be clear that I am far from an expert in responding to global crises, but I do think that during difficult times we must all share what we found to be helpful, share with detachment and with hope that something may be useful to someone else as well. It’s in that spirit that I share this with you today. 

So the first thing that I would say is… 

Feel your feelings  

When feelings well up inside of you don’t try to bypass them. Just putting on a happy face or shoving your feelings down or ignoring them simply doesn’t work. In fact, it can be damaging. It’s much better to cry and moan and rage and let that energy go. It’s better to dance it out or draw it out or throw some clay about. And that takes me to suggestion #2. 

Turn to your art. 

As artists we have this incredible gift available to us. We may feel overwhelmed, our friends and family might not want to or be able to hold the massive geyser of emotion that we need to pour out but our art can, and it will every single time. Turn to your art. Let it process that pain into compost and the promise of something new. 

Also, soothe your body. 

What will soothe your physical being back to a state of equilibrium? A timeout in a quiet room with the lights low, a cleansing, calming bath, nourishing comfort food, maybe some breathwork. What about a butterfly hug. Do you know what that is? (I’ll leave a link in the show notes.) Maybe an early night under a warm blanket. Start to build a repertoire of self-soothing strategies. 

Do what you can do. 

Some situations, like global crises, are by very definition overwhelming. The sense that there is nothing we can do feeds a sense of hopelessness and despair. It’s true that you cannot solve the whole problem. No one person can. But what can you do? Can you make a donation or raise funds or awareness? Can you lend an ear? Call your local representative? Vote with your feet? Practice loving kindness? Offer it to others? 

Please don’t diminish any contribution you can make. One of the things I’m coming to understand is that problems that we can’t solve alone ask us to come together and that’s a beautiful thing. Make your contribution. Trust that it matters.  

I’ll tell you that when my mom was sick and unknowing but very considerate man gave up his seat to me on the subway and that was everything to me. It’s years and years ago and I still remember how that felt. Which brings me to my next suggestion. 

Let the good in. 

Sometimes I know it feels like a betrayal of our humanity to experience joy or goodness when others are suffering. If war and injustice and the global pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that life can change in a heartbeat. We will all experience sorrow and joy, loss and life. So let the darkness remind you of what is precious and good. The nights you’ve been safe in your bed. The times you’ve laughed until you cried. The delicious meals you’ve shared with friends. The quiet joy of painting for hours. The wonder of sunflowers that are taller than you. Revel in it for yourself and remember that it matters for everyone. 

And lastly, keep your heart open. 

Don’t abandon yourself or others. Maybe, just maybe, we can use this time to learn how to take care of ourselves and one another. 

Let’s start now. 

Okay. I hope those are helpful and before we go, I want to share with you a bit of Studio News and then a short story from Pema Chodron that I keep tucked into my heart. I keep it there to remind me to stay soft to stay open and to stay present in the world as best I can. 

But first studio news. 

Studio News

I love that song. I know, I’m sorry if it’s a bit brash after such a tender topic. In that spirit of tenderness, I want to share with you that during the pandemic I made five short workshops on simple creative practices that I knew could support people during difficult times. These are available to you now, absolutely free. There’s one on journaling, one on collage, meditation, doodling and even dance. 

Come on by openthedoor.ca right now and sign up. You’ll get these creative practice workshops, one every day for five days. You’ll also get my Sunday morning Letters from the Studio, plus 10% off creative classes and the Studio Yearbook PDF, which is available right now. I hope you’ll come on by and become a part of Jamie Ridler Studios now. 

Last Words

Before I go, I promised I would share with you this wonderful story from Pema Chodron. She shares it in The Places that Scare You: a Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. It’s really good read for right now to be sure so I’ll be sure to leave a link in the show notes. 

As I’ve mentioned, this little story reminds me to keep my heart open. I hope it does the same for you. Pema wrote, 

“When I was about six years old, I received the essential bodhicitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved and mad kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.” 

I know we have some serious things to contend with. I hope that this little story from Pema and the strategies I’ve shared with you today are helpful. 

Here’s just a quick review:  

  • Feel your feelings. 
  • Turn to your art. 
  • Soothe your body. 
  • Do what you can do. 
  • Let the good in and… 
  • Keep your heart open. 

Feel. Art. Soothe. Do. Good. Open. 

Have a great week in your studio and remember your life is your studio. I’ll see you next week. 


  1. Pamela Welter says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Sooo good! I had never heard of a butterfly hug. Very comforting to do. . . Those 6 words at the end are just what I need! Thank you.
    Happy April to you and your family!

    • Jamie says:

      Thanks so much, Pamela!! Isn’t the butterfly hug awesome?! What a gift we can give ourselves. I’m glad you can take those words with you like touchstones!!

Leave a Reply