Jennifer Riga Manuel, an artist, avid life learner, and wonderful story teller shares how creativity, art and humor eventually helped her triumph over her “Dark Years” of depression. Jennifer is on a journey of constant reinvention and is an inspiration to anyone seeking to learn and open up their creative side!
Humor in the Dark
Have you, or anyone you know, struggled with depression? It can be a very hard abyss to climb out of, yet many have found that some of the best coping methods are surprisingly simple. Jennifer discovered that through humor and creating an extroverted, funny character she was able to embody a lighter self, even when feeling down, shy, and depressed.
We’ve all heard the common “fake it till you make it” phrase, and while it might seem dishonest or inauthentic to pretend, focusing on how bad we feel rarely if ever makes anyone feel better. If it feels like you’re drowning in depression, or fuming in anger and agitation, and looking for a way out, you might really benefit from hearing what worked for Jennifer.
“Laughing, in our family, was one of the biggest coping skills there was.”
But this interview is about so much more than depression. It’s also about creating, creativity, following your heart, creating art and beauty, and finding someone in your life who believes in you and uplifts you, (and for whom you do the same).
It’s a lot about the journey of perpetual self-reinvention, and in fact perhaps that is really just the thing that saved Jennifer’s life, (besides her husband Van).
Out of the Dark Into Color and Light
We’ve all experienced hurt and pain to varying degrees in our lives. For some, pain can hit in a series of unfortunate events all in a short span of time. Others might experience a roller coaster ride of highs, lows, and everything in between.
Pain, like every emotion, is part of our human experience and not always something we can control. What we are responsible for is how to deal with the events, emotions, or cards we are dealt.
We can’t change what happens to us but we can change our response to what happens.
We meet each challenge and struggle head on, by considering that what’s happening to us is happening for us. When we’re focused on how we can grow through something, and on the solutions and on any positive we can find, we grow.
Learning and growth energizes, elevates and empowers.
This process actually creates better chances and opportunities for ourselves. It would seem the harder way, because it requires effort to shift our obsession with what’s happened over what CAN now happen. But just like how our body and muscles improve with exercise… by pushing through what’s hard, so to do our emotions grow in health and strength.
“We all have things to overcome.”
Jennifer’s way of getting out of her pain and depression was through being creative. She enjoys art of all kinds and she’s always creating something, but if she gets stuck, she gets to cleaning her studio, and that almost always unlocks her creative streak. Next thing you know she’s gone from cleaning to creating something new.
Jennifer’s husband, Van Manuel, who is co-owner of Manuel Sheet Metal Works, Inc. in Kernersville, North Carolina, along with his brother, David Manuel (in a business their father started over 60 years ago!), has been her rock and her anchor. Van encouraged her to follow her heart and pursue her creative inclinations, and that’s exactly what she’s been doing.
From pottery to knitting to painting and more, Jennifer has become a prolific artist, selling her creations around the world, through Southwinds Gallery in Kernersville, North Carolina.
“Artistically, I’ve let go of things, and it’s okay to do that.”
We hope you enjoy meeting Jennifer in this interview as much as we did, and please stop by to visit her website at Jennifer Riga Manuel – Day Dreaming Artist.
Jennifer Riga Manuel, is a Multimedia artist residing in Kernersville and Beaufort, NC.
Social Media: Facebook
Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamotte, who writes of her own triumph over struggles.
The Artist’s Way Starter Kit, by Julia Cameron, a favorite in our household.
Realistic Textures: Discover your “inner artist” as you explore the basic theories and techniques of pencil drawing (Drawing Made Easy), by Diane Cardaci, whom we will feature in the next Boomers Reinvented interview.
Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns, for if you want to get your creative juices flowing but don’t know where to start… or… just love the meditative, creative process of coloring, something that Jennifer said she’s always loved to do.