Tag 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.

Remembering my Path

SelfLove365: Day 193

I want to remember to remember this, because it seems like I forget a LOT. When I ask myself, “How am I going to deal with this?”, the answer invariably lies in my body. Today I was thinking about rejection, and how I can confront rejection when it comes up for me again. I got really caught up in my head, thinking, thinking, thinking, until I remembered… ah yes! The body. What does rejection feel like in my body, and can I feel it?

During meditation, I noticed the in-breath felt like acceptance and validation, while the out-breath was like rejection. But really, the both felt similar, and equally pleasant. Can I do this in reality? Accept validation and rejection as pleasant? Also, the breath was coming and going, but I wasn’t attached to any one of the breaths that entered or exited my body. Letting go of situations and attachments this easily will come…

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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.

Nude Modelling (!)

Figure drawing has always been one of my favorite artistic activities. There is nothing I find more interesting to draw than the human form. While taking many figure drawing courses and classes over the last 25 years, I often wondered what it would be like to model. Many years ago, I put nude modelling on my list of “1001 Things in 101 Days” (a sort of bucket list), thinking that it would never actually happen. More recently, the wondering became a wanting.

In the last few months, my friend Deseré Pressey (an amazing artist – check out her work) began the Off-Beat Figure Drawing sessions in Calgary. There are several models at these events (read about one male model’s experience here), and the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. When Deseré decided to host a special woman-focused session for International Women’s Day, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to make my first attempt at modelling.

There were two reasons I had for wanting to try nude modelling. First: my meditation practice has been more regular in the last few months, and I look for opportunities to try longer practices. This seemed like the ultimate meditation practice (nude, in front of strangers, with long poses). Second: my journey to fully and completely accepting my body is far from over, and it seemed to me that exposing myself in front of strangers would either push me further into acceptance, or at least, allow me to learn more about my process of acceptance.

The session was held at the beautiful Wolf Willow Studios, and was an intimate gathering of women, with accompanying harp music by the amazing Eily Aurora. I had been excited all day, which flipped into nervousness in the hour before dropping my robe. Luckily, a more seasoned model was willing to give me tips and she helped me feel more comfortable before we began.

Turned out that there were women attending that I knew, but I didn’t allow that to freak me out. I noticed that I thought I “should” freak out about it, but I wasn’t really feeling it. The hardest part was dropping the robe, but that was easier once I saw that the other two models had done so already.

During the first few poses, I noticed that I felt a bit closed off from the group, and I think my poses expressed that somewhat. By dropping my physical protection, my mind gave me a mental protection, a kind of barrier. Eventually, as the night went on, I relaxed and was able to drop that feeling.

photo by Michelina Bamford

photo by Michelina Bamford

The modelling portion of the evening went well – I didn’t choose any poses that I wasn’t able to hold, and none of my body parts fell asleep – YAY! I did notice, though, that because I have been an artist at figure drawing sessions, I have preferences about what I enjoy drawing (women more than men, and women with more folds and curves more than angular, thin women). These preferences influenced the way I thought about my body during and after the session. My usual feelings of not measuring up because of the way society tells me I should be (flat stomach, clear skin, thin, etc), completely flipped around to feeling like I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t large enough, wasn’t curvy enough, didn’t have enough folds – basically, not interesting enough to draw.

Fascinating how the mind works, yes?

Instead of feeling not good enough, I would love to come to the place of fully accepting that all bodies are beautiful. I understand it, I just don’t completely feel it yet within myself. Getting there, though. And I’m a lot closer than I have ever been to really knowing this.

So many people commented to me that I was brave for doing this. This hasn’t completely sunk in, or I maybe because I have done it, I no longer think of it as that big a deal. Or maybe, I didn’t quite understand the sentiment. I don’t think it’s necessarily brave to stand naked in front of strangers, but I do think it’s brave to try something that is completely new and a little scary, whatever that may be for you.

Drawing and photo by Deseré Pressey. The two central figures are me!

Drawing and photo by Deseré Pressey. The two central figures are me!

Allow

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I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. But I have plans for posts that I still haven’t written yet. Now that the children are in school, I am committing to you to be a better blogger! I have been painting, though!

I finished this one today. It went through several stages in a few hours.

Hm, this needs something.
Black, that’s it. Lot’s of black.
Crap, now what?
I think I have forgotten how to paint.
Forget the final outcome, just work in the moment.
OK, that’s coming, but still missing something.
Add red – oh, yeah, that’s it!
Doubt.
Allow.

I’m calling this one “Allow”. That’s what the painting process is all about, for me. Allowing myself to express whatever is coming up in the moment.

This painting is now available in my etsy shop.

Rejected.

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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.

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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.

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!