Marney Schorr
Teaching Artist & Art Therapist

Art House Blog

Feeling Slapped in the Face

Posted by Marney Schorr on May 24, 2016 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

There are going to be times when people hurt us. There are going to be times when we feel slapped in the face, even by those closest to us. And we will have to contend with our emotional responses.

Yesterday was one of those days.

The slap felt so hard, it sent me into an emotional spiral. That place where the emotion gets so intense it spins the whole world. It's easy to forget what is real. Doors flood open - the ones we call triggers. There is great pain in those rooms from long ago. We don't always know where it comes from, but it waits for these moments. It invites old behaviors, often ones that are self-destructive, the ones we have overcome in our journey to wellness. Like a bunch of ghosts sitting around laughing, we feel defeated, rejected, alone.

There may be time - even hours ahead - of sobbing under the covers. There comes emotional shock to contend with, that frenzy where you can't remember how you got from 0 to 100, but you are there NOW.  You feel like a child who cannot control herself no matter how hard you try. It gets very scary. And you can't think straight because your emotional centers have taken over any reasoned cognition.

What is the way out? Where are the Exit signs in this perverse theatre of the emotions?


First, I remember I have been through this before. The outcome can be different if I apply the tools I have gained over the years. I don't have to resort to behaviors that don't work. The old stuff will only serve to escalate the situation.

Reaching Out

Calling a friend helps. Not to fix the problem, but to remember who I am and how I am valued in this world. I matter. I can take care of myself today. This will pass.

The Five Senses

Grounding with the five senses is necessary. Where am I in this moment? My kitchen? My bed? What do I see around me? What is available to me to soothe my senses? A candle? A pet? A blanket? A hot shower? Chamomile tea? A meal? Activiating my senses can shift my brain center into getting grounded again. At the very least, I am parenting my emotions with good self-care.

Grounding Mats

In Art Therapy, we make 'grounding mats', outlines of footprints with soothing images around them. Collage, paint, markers, whatever is handy. Stop and trace your feet. This is where you stand in the here and now. A place to center and take hold. A place to say 'I'm okay." Even a place to begin to pray.



What if I were to welcome my feelings and create a safe space for them? Where can I put them? In words? In a picture? In a scribble drawing at the kitchen table? Can I find a way to discharge the emotion and create a container for it?


In Art Therapy, we build containers for our emotions. It can be a jar, a box, a tupperware that we can paint positive images on. Or try a simple mandala - trace a circle on a piece of paper. Color your feelings inside the circle. They will be contained there. We acknowledge and witness them, but we can also step away and get unstuck.

Radical Acceptance

What if I were to just accept that these are my emotions? What if I am capable of experiencing them? What if I allowed my emotions to have a seat beside me? Or maybe fluff a pillow for my sadness to lie down beside me for just a little while. I can say to myself, I accept my emotions. There is room for all of me. I need not panic. They are afterall, just feelings. I can welcome emotions and be safe. It is the actions I take that matter.

Mindfulness and Compassion


Breathing helps tremendously and takes some effort. But it works. Counting breaths. Awareness of space and time. Coming back to the senses again and again. Naming the feeling you are experiencing, and imagining this feeling is a small child under your care. A chance for you to have self-compassion.


If some of this sounds just right to you, you may want to learn more in my class Self-Soothing with Art & DBT. (See my workshops on the menu).

And know I am on the journey with you.



Posted by Marney Schorr on July 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (1)

This morning I am getting ready to eat french toast. The cinnamon and butter waft from my friend's stove in the next room over. I am in my pajamas on the couch beside a 90 lb pitbull giving me his cutest puppy dog eyes and pushing his way heavier against my legs. After a few restless nights, I am at peace. I am feeling abundance. I have called in a lifeline.

While I am generally an independent problem solver, when I need - I tend to need deeply. I fear those closest to me will get tired and be overburdened by my darker depressive side. When I express these concerns, they feel better because it shows consideration and they know I appreciate them.

It reminds me that it is okay to share more than just my toys in the sandbox.

We all have support and we are afraid to use it. People need each other but to what extent do we give ourselves and each other permission to need? The cause of our suffering is secondary to the affirmation that it is our nature, an ingredient of the human condition. The other ingredient is love. And there are so many forms love takes.

Gratitude is a form of love, appreciating the universe in beautiful or even sad moments. This has been happening for me lately on long drives, many of them this week.

What I experience are storm clouds and melon pink sunsets; white morning fog, summer haze, followed by late day clarity. Deep azure blue followed by moody grey purples as the night rolls in and the highways before me look wet.

Day before last, Mom asked if I'd been turning to God. How do you answer that? Not really I said. I had forgotten the Source. Within a few hours, there it was - streams of sunlight like lasers beaming through gaps in the mountainous countryside. It blocked the road ahead. And that was exactly what I needed. To stop looking ahead and be grateful in the moment.

I just felt the light, the life, another kind of life line.

Today I want to thank my lifelines. My family and friends, the sweet clients I am getting to know, the cool creatives of NU Arts and the artists of the Berkshires I meet everywhere. My new studio and the hot pink rose plant that awaits me in the 10 foot window. And the city I left behind in search of a more rural life knowing like Dorothy in Oz, I can always return.

If there is a ripple effect, those lines are being drawn over and over, outwardly to's one...right...there.