As long as there is light, the shadow will follow me around. The shadow contains my stories, my baggage, my traumas, my hurts, my failures, my reactions, my grievances, my denials, my shame, and all of my dark stuff. The brighter I allow my world to be (and I have been allowing more light in these days), the more defined my shadow becomes. It is becoming easier and easier to spot, and sometimes I can see it before others do. This gives me freedom, and choice, and the ability to create my life consciously.
Yesterday I facilitated a wonderful 3-hour private painting session with Cindy. We both had a great time, and were pleased with the two paintings we each created. Cindy gave me a wonderful testimonial on Facebook, even.
So why am I judging myself today?
It’s the same old story and voices: “You don’t know what you’re doing”, “You didn’t do enough for her”, “You charge too much”, “You’ll never make a living this way”. For some reason, (likely due to perfectionism!) I have a belief that I can banish these stories forever. That if I can do the “right” work, they will disappear. It’s becoming more apparent to me (I get many opportunities to face my stories) that the voices and stories may never disappear; they are a part of me. What I can see, though, is that my reaction to them is changing. I am less likely to get attached to the story, which means the emotion doesn’t really have a chance to get a hold of me. I notice that the voices are there, and now I see the choice: I can choose to dive in, and really feel shitty, or I can choose to access my strengths and take note of what IS working in my life.
In short, I can allow the voices to be there, and I can choose how to react.
This painting, “Allow”, is now up for auction!
16″ x 20″
Starting bid: $100
Shipping not included. ($30 Canada, $40 US)
Please enter your bid in the comment section of this post. Bidding ends today at 11:59 pm M.S.T., Wednesday, December 3, 2014.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”)