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.
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.
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”.
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.
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!
Two of my paintings (above and below) were not accepted into a juried art show at a local art gallery today. Just like last year. Last year, I told myself it was only because of the canvases (the edges were too thin, I was told). This year, I have all sorts of reasons:
I’m not a real artist (whatever that means).
There are words on the paintings and the jury didn’t like words.
My work is too “pretty” (I have heard this statement before), too colourful, trying too hard, too much like somebody else’s work, too this, too that.
OK, I get it, I get it: I suck.
Before you go commenting to tell me this all isn’t true, I want to assure you that I know this. I know the voices in my head are lying to me. I know they are trying to keep me safe (in a weird way), that they aren’t working for me, etc. I get this. And the whole time I think these thoughts, I also have a witness inside of me, that is completely non-judgemental, and knows that none of it matters, none of it is true, none of it is real. I know.
I’m still crying my guts out.
Rejection is giving me ample opportunity to feel my emotions, to be in touch with what is going on for me, to see what is real, and what I am feeding with my energy. As much as I would rather be jumping for joy that I got into an art show, I am also grateful for the chance to feel so deeply. This rejection is stacking onto another rejection from over a week ago – a more personal one, but one that gave me a huge jab in my core; I hadn’t realized just how low my self-esteem was until that day. I’m still not over that one, and now this double dose of rejection has been difficult, to say the least.
You know how lots of self-help books and websites say, “You can’t love others until you love yourself”? I’ve been thinking about this, with reference to rejection. Is it true that I am actually rejecting myself, and that maybe I don’t love myself enough? At first I thought so, but then I realized I was just trapping myself in my old perfectionist ways again. What I was really saying was,
“I’m not loving myself enough. I am not good enough at loving myself”.
I have realized that in reality, I am very good at loving myself. I cry when I need to cry. I call my husband when I need to hear a loving voice during my shitty day. I ask for hugs. I take myself out dancing. I blog (sometimes.. haha!). I ask for what I want.
I also listen to music when I need to listen to music. During my rejection experience last week, I noticed I wasn’t really in touch with “sadness”, even though I felt sad-ish, and knew I would be sad later. I knew I needed a cry, it just wasn’t happening yet. Music to the rescue: I instinctively played Sigur Ros in the car, without really knowing why, and BOOM! A flood of tears, all day long. A few days later, that sadness turned into anger, and Nine Inch Nails has been helping me feel that and move through it.
You know what? I like my paintings, I really do. I have fun making them, I even like looking at them afterwards (except after a few months – I start to cringe if they hang around too long). I am grateful for all the people who like to look at my art online, whether on my blog or my Facebook page. I am especially grateful for those who send me supporting comments and feedback, and the people who purchase my paintings. As much as I do paint for myself, I don’t want to work in a vacuum, keeping it all locked away for nobody to see. I want people to see my work and to enjoy it.
But not everybody will, and that’s alright, too.
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”:
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!
Today I am grateful for:
1. My friend Eden asked me out for coffee (I’m meeting him after this). It is so rare these days that I am asked out by friends (I usually do the asking), that I am truly honoured, and looking forward to getting to know him better!
2. This comment by Connie on yesterday’s blog post:
“Just so you know, I had never heard of you or seen your art until I saw a preview of the “Journal It” book on another artist’s website I follow. I bought the whole book just so I would have your pages. And I have been following your blog ever since with great interest. Congratulations on publication in the book. It’s a huge accomplishment, and you should take great pride in it.”
I am so touched. Thank you, Connie.
Lori-Ann also posted a wonderful comment:
“Bel, your work is so lively and vibrant and filled with glorious cheer! It has evolved with a calm maturity and brings me joy when I see it. (Even when I don’t comment.) I’m sorry for your moment of not-so-good. I find it hard to move past negative too. I think it’s important to acknowledge it, and let it be a jumping point back to all that is good and right (on a good day. . . ). AND you are in a book!!”
Really, I loved all the comments yesterday, so thank you, everybody.
3. My family is safe and well.
What are you grateful for today?
Today I am grateful for:
- the support I get from my back, my legs, my feet
- being in good enough shape (I’m referring mainly to my back here) to dance for 7 days straight
- having the opportunity to dance for 7 days straight (I am grateful to my mother-in-law for picking up the kids and making dinner, and for having the financial means to make this happen)
- allowing myself to become fully present during dance
- from yesterday, the qualities I discovered I have within myself: stillness, fun, groundedness, rest, growth, connectedness, playfulness, flexibility, and curiosity.
- intimate connections on the dance floor