Tag Archives: awareness

SelfLove365, Year 2, Day 174: Awareness of Addictions (+ being gentle)

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I eat when I’m bored. (It’s ok.)
I eat when I’m sad. (It’s ok.)
I eat when I’m lonely. (It’s ok.)
I eat sugar when it’s available, and then tell myself, “Just this once”. (It’s ok.)
I obsess when I feel inadequate or not enough. (It’s ok).
I check my phone often when I’m lonely. (It’s ok.)
I watch porn when nobody is around, it’s late, and I’m really tired and wishing I had just gone to bed early so I could read a book. (It’s ok.)

To learn more about the SelfLove365 project, click here.
To join the SelfLove365 project, click here.

SelfLove365, Year 2, Day 140: Awareness

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I am becoming more aware of my habitual patterns of behaviour.

I notice how, by trying to help someone feel better, they wind up feeling worse because I am denying their feelings (by essentially saying, “You needn’t feel that way because of …”).

I notice how, when I don’t like something someone else is doing, I will wait to see if it changes, and push away my own feelings, because I have a fear that by speaking up, the other person will become angry, or no longer like me.

I notice how, day after day, I deny myself the things I really want: more sleep, more reading, more pleasure, less procrastination and distraction.

I also notice how my awareness of these things is becoming more and more finely tuned. I am aware of my behaviours closer the the times they actually happen, and sometimes even during. Eventually my awareness (I hope) will be such that I see the behaviours before they happen, and then have the capacity to choose my next move.

To learn more about the SelfLove365 project, click here.
To join the SelfLove365 project, click here.

SelfLove365, Year 2, Day 111: Body Awareness

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Skull skin: taut
Sinuses: painful to press
Neck: tightness with potential for twang
Shoulders: lifted and purposefully lowered
Heart: fearful, loving, open and closed, on and off
Tummy: slightly bloated
Right hip: slight flare
Genitals: awake with attention
Thighs: full
Knees: wary
Ankles: longing
Soles: needing reverse pressure

To learn more about the SelfLove365 Project, click here.

SelfLove365, Year 2, Day 57: Awareness

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I stop and sit, breathe and listen, and I am aware.

How often in my day am I really aware? Even now, I question how much is really reaching my awareness. There is so much more, infinitely more, to be aware of, and I am only recognizing a fraction of it.

A fraction of infinity.

But the quantity doesn’t matter. How deep into my awareness can I go?

Can I crawl under the slight tipping of my heart to see what lies beneath? Am I willing to listen to the sound of tears or laughter or rage that is waiting to be heard? Maybe today, or maybe I’m not ready. But I am aware.

Sacred Space and Trust

Last night, I realized I didn’t trust my friend, B. He told me he would do something, and I questioned him. Then I apologized for being suspicious, but realized it goes deeper than that. I just don’t believe him.

When I started to think about this, I realized that it isn’t just him that I don’t believe, it is everybody. I don’t trust anybody. This becomes readily apparent when I receive compliments or positive feedback. B told me many things last night: He loves being with me, and is so happy he knows me. In the moment of hearing these things, I felt warm and fuzzy, but the insidious voices in my head were already creeping back in to tell me that this is all false. So really, it’s not that I don’t trust him, but rather, I don’t even trust myself. I don’t trust that my being can be good enough, loveable enough, or wanted enough for these messages to be true. I should add here that I do also have a deep (as in buried really, really far down) knowing within myself that I am good enough, loveable enough and wanted enough, and this part is at my core, but very easily covered over by the dark fog of memories and hurts that are easily triggered during my life.

From Project SelfLove365

From Project SelfLove365

Several days ago, B suggested to me that I smudge my mental body. Doing this visualization was wonderful – I was able to really see my mental space, and all its dark and dirty corners. As I cleared it out, I felt lighter and the space became cleaner and brighter. Eventually my mental body became a bright open room, with sun streaming in the windows, and a beautiful crystal hanging from the ceiling, reflecting rainbows on all the walls. Immediately after clearing the space, those insidious voices I spoke of tried to creep back in (they became dustballs with eyes) to dirty my mental space again. I quickly realized how much work it takes to keep this space clean.

I recently separated from my husband, so I decided I would also smudge my house (I am speaking of my actual physical house now, not some imaginary thing). This felt cleansing, especially after opening all the windows to air it out afterwards. It seemed to me that by smudging my mental body and my house, I am treating these spaces as sacred. I have the intention to keep these spaces clean, knowing full well that I may let things slide once in awhile and will then need to do some more heavy work.

From Project SelfLove365

From Project SelfLove365

Thinking about sacred space made me realize that I have not been treating my body as sacred space. Some of my decisions in the past few days have pushed my body to follow its desires rather than its needs. When there is something I want to do, I have a tendency to ignore my body, and to not check in to see what it needs first (especially sleep). By not listening to my body’s physical sensations, I am not allowing any sort of positive feedback loop to occur (only the unwanted one in which I keep ignoring my body and then I get sick). By not allowing this to happen, I am also not giving myself the chance to trust myself. How can I really be a “HELL YES” to something if my body is saying no? If I am not really a “HELL YES”, then how can anyone trust my answer, especially me, if I can’t even trust it? If I can’t trust myself how can I trust anybody?

This is worth repeating.
If I can’t trust myself, how can I trust anybody?

So, how can I trust myself? I am beginning to ask my body the question and listen for the response. It will come. Right now, my body wants to dance.

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!

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.