Category Archives: Growth

Communication and Vulnerability

Yesterday I experienced two very different forms of communication:

1. Two people talking to each other, one was angry (but not at the other), and both were speaking at the same time, over each other, each trying to have their stories heard. I felt myself becoming over-stimulated, and backing away. I wanted to leave, because I could see how neither person was hearing the other, and this made me sad and overwhelmed.

2. I delivered a painting to an acquaintance of mine, and we began to talk. The more we talked, the more openly we each shared, and at one point, I realized just how well this man was listening to me. He asked thoughtful questions, and listened with intent. I felt seen, I felt heard, I felt safe. This allowed me to be vulnerable, and to share some things with him that, before yesterday, I didn’t think I would have. He also allowed himself to be vulnerable and share with me.

Vulnerability is one of my core values, and I surround myself with people who have the ability to be vulnerable, to share their deepest truths. This helps me to grow, to be seen, and to connect with others.

Watch Brene Brown’s TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability here.

Sewing on my Shadow

SelfLove365: Day 195

During a healing session with Roxanne, she asked me to go into the well in my heart. This visualization was very clear for me: the well was deep, dark, damp, and scary. I entered it from a vast library, and as I went down into the well, with Roxanne at my side, I was scared, but she encouraged me to go to the bottom (I didn’t think there was a bottom, but she assured me there was one). Once I was there, I found a book on the ground: “Peter Pan”. This seemed odd to me, at first, until I remembered that I used to listen to the soundtrack often, when I was a child. I opened it, and turned to two parts in the story. One was the scene where Wendy and her brothers are first leaping from the window, into the sky. The other was the image of Wendy sewing Peter’s shadow to him. Both of these had meaning for me, which Roxanne explained, but I already knew the meanings intuitively, too. The image of sewing on the shadow was particularly important to me – I can claim my shadow side, and know that it also helps others create a clearer view of themselves, and in this way, it is a gift.

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Gratitude Tuesday :: Tree Hugging

I’ve never hugged a tree in my life. Until yesterday.

As I was leaving the gym, I felt drawn to Griffith Woods, a beautiful forest-y spot with trails located, a short drive from my home. I walked a few minutes into the woods, and discovered this tree.

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You know, thinking about hugging a tree, and actually hugging a tree are completely different things, as I discovered. I felt my heart open – it seemed as though I could feel the life force of the tree, or all that came before it that made up the tree. It felt like a connection to the Source, to the Universe, and my tears flowed in gratitude. I know it sounds hokey in writing, but it was a beautiful experience. I love that tree.

Tree hugger. From my project #selflove365

Tree hugger. #selflove365

The Hole.

There is a hole inside me.
It wanted to be filled, and I have tried to fill it.
I’ve tried filling it with other people’s words, other people’s actions.
I’ve tried filling it with my own affirmations, my own actions.
Nothing worked.
It’s still there.

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Day 98: The hole. #selflove365

I always thought the hole needed filling.

It doesn’t.

Excerpt from “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo, April 8, p. 116, Red Wheel/Weiser, 2000.
“In keeping the center of the I empty,
the miracle of life can enter and heal.

It’s not by chance that the dark center of the human eye, the pupil, is actually an empty hole through which the world becomes known to us. Likewise, in a spiritual sense, the I is the empty center through which we see everything. It’s revealing that such a threshold is called a pupil, for it is only when we are emptied of all noise and dreams of ego that we become truly teachable.”

Even with the hole, I am whole.

Self Love 365

After taking on the 365 Project last year (one self portrait a day for a year), I wanted to continue with some kind of daily project. I really loved the rhythm created by having something to do each day, the creativity involved in making each photograph unique, and the collection amassed (and sense of satisfaction at having completed it) at the end of the project.

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I considered doing some kind of gratitude project, like Lori Portka’s “A Hundred Thank-Yous”, where she created 100 paintings for people she treasured in her life. At some point, I will do a similar project, but what occurred to me is that I need to love myself before I can really love and give to others in such a big way.

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This is a question that has been on my mind for a long time: Do I love myself? Sometimes it feels like the answer is no. The voices in my head are so nasty sometimes, so critical, that it hardly feels like love. On the other hand, I go out to dance once or twice a week, I am doing the thing I love the most (painting), I go to the gym every other day, and I eat relatively well (but lets not get into food now, because food is my go-to source of love when I am down). Those things all sound like I take care of myself, that I am doing things that show love for myself, right?

This is where the critical voices come in, saying, “You aren’t doing it right”, “You still aren’t good enough”, “If you loved yourself, you would just know it”, “If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t need to do this project”.

Bullshit.

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And so, Selflove365 was born. I am drawing something I love (or like) about myself in a 1″ x 1″ square per day, every day of this year. The first 15 days were pretty easy, but then it felt like I could hit a wall soon, and run out of things I like. So far, I haven’t, and if that happens, surely I can still find something, even if it’s my fingernail. I sit at my desk and allow it to come to me, rather than planning ahead, the same way that I paint.

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I’m curious about how or if I will change by the end of the year. Two of my friends have joined me in this project, one of whom is sharing her squares (as I do) on Facebook. Will you join me? I also post my squares everyday on Instagram. Tag your photos with #selflove365 so we can encourage and support each other!

Prints! and parenting… and procrastination.

It’s been over year since I had the idea of making printed reproductions of my paintings. It took me months to research the place to do get it done, another few months to get it done, and another few months to actually tell you about it.

My “To Do” list is so long, that very little actually gets done. After painting (which takes most of my time), there is not much time in my day left for the other things I would like to do. I can accept this. I am a mother of three children, so my time is split between household responsibilities, and my artistic career. I am not willing to put in the night hours, working after my children are in bed – that would make me insane (after making me tired, cranky, and probably sick). My evenings are usually filled with dancing or class meetings, or spending time with my hubby. Sometimes I wonder if I just don’t take myself seriously enough, but mostly, I feel like I have a good balance. So, when I am wondering why I am not in galleries yet, or why I am not selling more paintings yet, or why there isn’t a greater demand for my work yet, I remind myself that I get what I put into this process, and this is as much as I am willing to put in right now.

Rarely do I remember to look back to pre-2009, but I should. I can remind myself of how far I have come. Before 2009, I knew I wanted to be an artist. No wait, I knew I was an artist, but I was so good at procrastinating, and kept putting off creating. There was something really scary about starting on the path of becoming an artist. Scarier than a blank canvas, scarier than the blank page – this was a blank path, and I was so scared to take that first step.

I’m so glad I did.

(just do it)

My prints are available in my Etsy shop. I still have one more to list – it might take me another few weeks to do that (ha!).

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DIG Deep

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I still tend to spend lots of time doing a whole lot of nothing on the computer – checking Facebook, my blog, Twitter, and on and on; it’s unproductive, a waste of time, and obviously, I start to judge myself when I do it! And just to let you know, between this sentence and the last, I wasted another half an hour. It’s true.

I’m not the type to make New Year’s resolutions, since I tend to see them as “things I won’t accomplish, and so will feel like a failure”. However, I do like to set intentions. Intentions are great, because you can always reset them. They aren’t like resolutions since I am not resolving to do something, but setting an intention do it. I hope to do it, and if I do, great. If I don’t, then I will set the intention again. Maybe I’m just playing with words here, but they seem different to me.

I recently read “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown. In the book, Brené talks about falling into the mindless “soul-sucking” trap of piddling around on the internet, and uses a “DIG Deep” method of getting out of it. Here’s what she means by “DIG Deep”:
“Get
Deliberate in … thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, or simply setting intentions;
Inspired to make new and different choices;
Going. …take action.”

So, when it comes to wasting time on the computer, I could choose to keep spending time on the computer if I find it relaxing, and if that is my intention in that moment. Or, I could find some other way to deliberately relax. If my intention is to get work done, and it’s just not happening, then I could either buckle down, or find another work task that is not computer related.

My intention for the New Year is to “DIG Deep”, especially when I feel like I am “wasting time”. What is your intention for the New Year?

I would also like to continue with my gratitude practice, and one amazing way to do that is with a gratitude buddy, as pointed out by Andrea Scher. Go check out her blog for the details; it’s a great idea!

Let’s remember the good stuff.

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work in progress

Have you ever noticed how people tend to focus on the negative. If someone asks you how your day is going, does your mind come up with the good stuff, or all the little crappy things? Isn’t it interesting how one little crappy thing can overshadow all the good?

On the weekend, I watched a review of the book I contributed to, “Journal It!“. The review was positive overall, and the reviewer recommended the book to her viewers. However,there was one part where she’s flipping through the pages, and while showing my page, she says something about it being the same old stuff. I admit, I was hurt.

But then I remembered how cool it is to be in a book, and how proud I am of what I did contribute to it. And I remembered how one of my goals is to inspire people to create, and while my art may not inspire her, it will hopefully inspire someone else. I remembered that her voice is but one voice, and I need not let it ruin all the positive energy I feel around this book and my work. Also, she is encouraging people to buy the book, which is great!

So, I guess this post isn’t just about remembering the good stuff, but also about remembering how good WE are. When things like this happen, it’s a reminder to me about how fragile my self-esteem can seem, and how I still take other people’s comments way too personally. It hurts in the moment, but I have noticed that I bounce back a lot faster than I ever used to. I’m sure that says something about how I’ve grown, and I’m glad for that.

Do you tend to focus on the positive or the negative? Do you let a negative comment ruin your day?

Remember to enter my “Journal It!” free book giveaway

3 years ago…

This is my post from three years ago today, from my old blog. It’s kind of fun to see where I was and how much has changed (or hasn’t!):

“I am enjoying some (very rare) quiet time. DH was supposed to take the girls for an overnight trip, but one is sick so he took the other and our son instead… which means I am getting a lot of stuff done in a QUIET house. I finished sewing my sweater together, read a chapter in “Nurture Shock” (great read, btw), looked up the cost of plane tickets, and painted some wood pieces that I am going to turn into magnets.

I joined the “100 Drawings” group on Flickr, and was doing keeping up with my 3 paintings/drawings a day (it’s a small sketchbook, so they are fairly manageable), but when I hit about 40 drawings, my back started to act up again. I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself. The point was to kick start my creative output, and it worked. I will still get to 100 drawings, but not in a month. That’s ok, because then I won’t need to upgrade my Flickr account (ha!). It’s a real struggle for me to figure out how to balance motherhood with creativity. I don’t want to do just one. But I also want to do both really well. I almost wrote perfectly, but I really don’t want to be perfect. I want to be great. Most creatively inclined moms that I know are creating once the kids go to bed. Seems reasonable, but sometimes I am too tired (or so I tell myself). Actually, that’s just an excuse. It’s quite easy to fit in even just 1/2 an hour of painting time before bed, and usually by then I am involved enough to not realize how much time has passed.

SO… my goal is to get some things created for the November buying rush – preferably smaller, more affordable things like my painted magnets. I have a friend who asked me to have some things ready that he could show in his office space (which is in a gallery environment). I am going to do this! It’s exciting!

In the meantime, since I have been adding things to do to my life… my 101 List hasn’t been looked at for a little while, so I will check and see if it needs updating. There are definitely some things on the list that won’t be going on next time. I am really finding it difficult to do the reading on the list, especially since I keep buying more books I want to read. As soon as I get a new book, the one I was previously reading goes down in the stack. And so on. I would like to work my way back to some of the books I only got half-way through.”

When artists look for validation.

When artists look for validation outside of themselves, things can get yucky.

For the most part, since April, I have been happy with my painting, and really enjoying the process. I almost always enjoy the compliments I get (I say almost because I’m still working on really taking them in, rather than dismissing them).

Participating in the Gorilla House Live Art battles is really giving me something to work on, as my dear friend Tietje pointed out. Last night, after the auction, and after a fun night of painting, instead of being happy that my two paintings were bought by Valda, a lovely woman who was eager to purchase both, I was instantly bummed that my pieces sold for the lowest they ever have (in a total of four auctions) while other works were getting up to five times as much as mine. As Tietje pointed out, I am allowing the purchase price of my paintings determine my self-worth. I don’t care so much about going home with cash in my pocket, but low sale price seems to equal crappy art, which logically means crappy artist, or not an artist. See how my mind works?

Having had a morning to mull it over, I would say that there were a bunch of little things that ended up in me perhaps not turning out my best work: the themes were not ones that I could immediately relate to; I tried something a little different towards the end of one of my paintings; and I had to pack up my stuff about 10 minutes early to get out of the way for the auction. Being the first adult to auction paintings probably didn’t help much, either, but now I’m kind of looking for reasons why my paintings weren’t the problem.

Things to work on:

It’s OK to have bad days.

It’s OK to produce bad art. That doesn’t make me a bad artist.

It’s OK to feel bummed sometimes. I don’t even have to look for reasons why.

It’s OK to want validation, because without it, aren’t we producing art in a vacuum?

Validation, or lack of it, doesn’t define who I am.

“Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.”
Mike Ditka (like my brother says, “Art is just like football. You either win, or you lose.”)