Forgiveness, Acceptance, and the Crazy Path to Getting There

It has been two weeks since my essay, I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past, went viral, and I have experienced a serious internal shift.

Two weeks ago, I shared my biggest secret with the world, and a change has occurred within me.  I feel different. I look in the mirror and I look different to myself.  I'm not sure I can give this change a name, but I can give you a few examples of what's happening:

 

I stopped crying.  I cried multiple times a day, everyday, in the month leading up to my essay.  The day I posted it, I was in tears as I hit the publish button, and then again each time someone commented, shared or sent me a message.  As the support came in and women started sharing their own stories, I knew that I had done the right thing.  I cried a little here and there over the days that followed, but then, all of a sudden, I stopped.  Maybe I was just cried out, but I don't think so.  

Something happened within me when the men started sending me messages.  They were saying the most beautiful, supportive things to me, and they were expressing gratitude to have new tools to use while talking to their own children.  All of my hesitation and fear lifted.  The men had my back and the women were holding me in their arms.  I, for the first time in my life, felt like I had a place in the world and that all the fear that I had been holding onto had actually stopped me from truly engaging with life, and that time was over. 

My anxiety is easier to shut down than it used to be. My normal run of the mill anxiety attacks were like slow rolling trains.  They started slow and gained speed over a day or two and then barreled down upon me. It would take everything in my arsenal to get them to go away.  Usually that would mean a few days of practicing extreme, disciplined self care before the train would finally crawl to a stop.  

Now, I'm finding that when the anxiety creeps in, I am quickly reminded that I have already told my deepest darkest secret.  There is nothing left to hide from.  There are no other skeletons remaining for people to find out.  That thing that I was the most afraid of, and felt the most shame around, is out.  Not only am I being supported, but I'm being told that I am not alone and that I don't have to feel shame anymore.  As soon as I remember that, the anxiety lifts and I am left with a clarity that I have never felt prior.

The trolls don't bother me. These fuckers. I am one of the most sensitive people I know, who has historically taken EVERYTHING personally.  One reason I was terrified to share my secret is that I wasn't sure that I would be able to handle any negative feedback that I received.  In the past two weeks I have been called a whore, told that I am the worst kind of person, and that I've most likely already ruined my daughter's life. 

Funny thing is that I DON'T GIVE A SHIT.  The trolls actually make me laugh because they think they're hurting me.  The fact is, what they have been throwing at me is nothing compared to the horrible way that I used to talk to myself.  Sorry trolls...you haven't even scraped the surface of what my self-hate sounded like.  Good luck topping that.  

"The men had my back and the women were holding me in their arms."

As cliche as it sounds, I feel lighter, as if a weight has been lifted.  Fear has been greatly reduced.  Negative self talk has stopped.  Sure, I still feel doubts about my decision, but I realize that is just habitual fear creeping in.  When I think about my new found clarity and the response to my essay from others, that fear dissipates.  

We've all heard before that the truth will set you free, and I think I believed that.  I mean, once I admitted to being an alcoholic, I felt what power the truth can have.  But this feeling...it's as if the root of all my anxiety and self loathing was revealed.  It had been hiding deep inside me, entangled in a jungle of denial, humiliation and complacency.  All I had to do was tell that part of myself that it was ok to come out. Maybe over the past five years since I quit drinking, I have been building up the strength.  I'm not sure.  It was just time.

There have been moments in life when everything shifts, and an internal power is shown.  I have been given permission to reclaim my power and now, that power is creating change. I am finally getting to know my true self, and for the first time, I am able to understand and forgive myself.  I realize the root of my feeling like I could never do enough and that everything was always my fault, was based on me feeling that I was 100% responsible for my promiscuity during my teen years.  Crazy, huh?

I would like to say that I believe I do hold some responsibility for my past behaviors, but I have worked very hard, for quite a while, to understand what exactly that means and how I can make amends.  I now know that the person I needed to make amends with the most, was myself.  My essay was the path for me to do that.

And now, I am feeling verklempt, and so for the first time in a few weeks, I shall excuse myself for a good cry.  This time it's tears of joy, freedom and gratitude. The other kind of tears have had their time and that time is over now.  I will not waste anymore time talking to myself like I'm a horrible person.  I will no longer sit and feel as though I am the most worthless person in the room, all the while hiding behind a smile and feeling afraid that I'm going to be "found out".  No more will I think to myself that I don't deserve anyone or anything good in my life.  That's all bullshit.  I am finally welcoming myself to my life.  It's about time I showed up.  

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram.   Join me on this crazy beautiful artventure to receive early access to my December Pop Up Shop where I'll be offering some paintings from my Reclaimed Hearts series, one of which is seen above (in progress).  

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The Things I Do to Feel Safe within My Surroundings

Native New Orleanians, have a high level of street smarts, an ultra awareness of our surroundings...and also love to adorn ourselves festively.  Thus the Love Club was born.

I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Although I’ve been in Southern Oregon for over a decade, I still consider New Orleans home and myself, a NOLA Girl.  You’ll find me adorned in Saints black and gold on Sundays, I currently have boudin and andouille in my freezer, I know how to fish and how to costume.  I also know how to watch my own back.

New Orleans is not considered a safe city.  The St. Rock in the 8th Ward was my last home in NOLA before coming out West, and it was challenging.  I could not call a taxi to my house. They wouldn’t come.  My daughter didn’t learn to ride a bike before we moved, due to the streets being in complete disrepair. There were no sidewalks and often, there were shootings.

I came home to my block being roped off by police tape more than once.  I became completely desensitized to the sound of gun shots.  Coming home at night, I would drive by my house to make sure no one was lurking, make the block once again, and then park.  

And this was considered completely normal. 

Even when I grew up in my uptown neighborhood, we had a private security watchman who I could call when I was on my way home and he would meet me at the house, and make sure I got in safely.  I am one of only a few of my friends who was never mugged, held up at gun point, or car jacked. 

I had a few close calls.  I pulled over once in the lower garden district to call a friend for directions, looked in my side view mirror, and saw a person crouched down, creeping up the side of my car.  I looked in the other mirror, and there was another guy on the other side as well.  I burned rubber and was thankful that I’m mindful of my environment.

 

I had friends endure violent attacks that were life changing, some of which I still have a hard time talking about, to this day. 

 

Once, walking alone at night, back to my French Quarter apartment, a kid pulled out a gun in front of me with, I believe, an intention to rob me.  He looked more scared than I was and ended up running away. 

Our car windows were broken more times than I can count.  And these were the benign occurrences.  I had friends endure violent attacks that were life changing, some of which I still have a hard time talking about, to this day. 

Before we moved to Oregon, I had no clue how much stress we lived under or how much stress I spent my childhood in.  I still cannot leave my car or my house unlocked, no matter how many people roll their eyes.  I AM ALWAYS looking over my shoulder while walking by myself, and I consistently check out my surroundings before I get in or out of my car.   

You can take the girl out of New Orleans but New Orleans will never be taken out of this girl.

Shortly after we moved to Oregon, and my daughter was quite young, I pulled up to my house, and got out the car to gather her and the groceries.  The landscapers across the street started yelling because one of them had turned the water on before they were ready.  My first instinct was to grab my child, and run into the house.  Yeah…Oregon was an adjustment.

 

“Only a NOLA Girl could come up with this gem.”

 

When I first introduced the Love Club, my peeps from NOLA understood it.  In fact, anyone I knew that lives in a city got it, but I was questioned within my own small community a few times.  “These are so cute, but I can’t imagine why on earth I would need one,” was one such comment.  “What exactly are these for?” was another.  I think people who question them have never had an urban living experience, or have just been in this place, that we refer to as “The Shire”, for a long time.

“Only a NOLA Girl could come up with this gem,” was a comment I saw when the Love Club was shared by someone on social media.  Yup, that may very well be true, for a few reasons. 

One: It makes sense that a woman who grew up in a place where danger could literally be hiding behind her trash cans and slept with a red aluminum baseball bat beside her bed, would come up with something to help women feel safer.

Two: It also makes sense that a woman who costumed on the regular and whose main creative outlet was making costume accessories would also think that if she has to carry around a visual deterrent, it may as well also be fabulous looking. 

But actually, it goes a bite deeper than that.  I don't remember ever in my life feeling 100% safe.  Still to this day, when I get home alone, I search my house before settling in, including checking closets, showers, and under the damn bed (you know, in case a  small murderous child is hiding under there).  Paranoid?  Maybe.  But God help the sucker I find.

 

I, along with most women, get unwanted sexual attention from strange men that comes in the form of whistles, cat calls, ugly looks, and inappropriate comments. 

 

I also, pretty regularly, don’t feel safe walking down the street.  I, along with most women, get unwanted sexual attention from strange men that comes in the form of whistles, cat calls, ugly looks, and inappropriate comments. 

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a man, who said he was a hungry veteran, a few bucks to get something to eat only to have him thank me by looking me up and down while saying, “Oh you are just. too. fine.”  Dude, I’m trying to be nice here…

My point is that there is a myriad of reasons to carry the Love Club.  Mine is that is simply makes me feel safer.  Not so much because I’m ready to swing it, but because I know from growing up in NOLA that not making myself a target is as important if not more important than being able to defend myself during an attack. 

I would rather just avoid the attack.  I mean, if I were a predator, and I saw two women walking down a dark street, one of whom is carrying a bat…well…I’d probably choose to avoid her and move on to the easier looking target. 

That was my reasoning when that ugly red aluminum bat would go with me when I had to walk from my French Quarter apartment to my car, early in the morning or late at night.  I figure if I wouldn’t mess with me, neither would the scary dude hanging in the alley looking for a target.

I hope if the Love Club didn’t make sense to you before, it does now.  You may not feel you need one, and that’s cool.  You’re lucky to live in a safe place where you don’t feel threatened ever.

The photo at top is of the lovely Sabel and Jackie with the first two Love Clubs ever made.  Sabel, the original inspiration for the Love Club, carries hers while walking her dog in the park, and Jackie brought hers on the road with her during her solo Summer van adventure. 

In the comments below, I love for you to tell me what you do to feel safe in the world. 

If you’d like to get onto my waitlist for the next batch of Love Clubs, and get early access to the next Love Club sale, click HERE.  They will be ready in October, just in time for the sketchiest of all holidays, Halloween. 

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.

How Creativity Empowers Me to Break Through Fear

Art enables me to get past fear, self-judgement, and negative self-talk, and communicate my true self...whether you like it or not.

Well hello!  I’m feeling myself today pretty dang hard.  I woke up this morning and immediately channeled Beyonce.  I looked in the mirror and said, “I woke up like this!  I woke up like this!” 

I had a nasty migraine for the two days prior, so it’s no surprise that when I woke up pain free this morning with energy and spirits high, I felt ready to take on the world!  Or at least, the day. I’m out of the shame hole I put myself in last week and I’m excited because I’m ready to embark on a plan that I have spent the past couple of weeks brainstorming and developing.

For a good while now, I have been investing most of my time at the computer, which can be difficult for me, but it was necessary in order to get to the next creative project that I hope will be ready for you no later than mid-October.

What is the new project, you ask?  MORE LOVE CLUBS!!!!!  Back by popular demand and I’ll have a few new styles to introduce to you including full sized Love Clubs called the Glamazon.  Oh yeah. 

My Love Clubs are the first original art series I have ever created, that has completely sold out.  What I first made as kind of a joke for a friend, has become a project that I think will be around for a while.  I have even had people suggest that I find a way to mass produce them.

The thing is, I am not interested in mass producing, as that takes the creativity completely out of the picture and just means I would be manufacturing goods in mass quantity, which to me, makes them WAY less special and WAY less interesting.

 

The act of creating art, makes me feel powerful and confident.  

 

I like making art with my hands.  I don’t want machines to do it for me and there is a reason for that:  The act of creating art, makes me feel powerful and confident.  

Let me break this down for you: I spend my life battling fear and anxiety.  There was a time, not too long ago that fear was my biggest advisor, and one that I listened to as gospel.  I spent my teen years screaming that I would “never live my life fear driven”, only to wake up in my 30s to realize that is EXACTLY what my entire life had been driven by.

Now that I’m aware of the existence of my CFO (Chief Fear Officer), it’s easier for me to realize when I’m basing my decisions from a place of fear, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t catch myself listening intently to the CFO’s advice and sometimes, even searching it out.  

Back in December, I offered a series of paintings called Reclaimed Hearts to you.  These paintings were created in direct response to my essay, “I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My Past”, going viral, and the response that I received from around the world. 

I wasn’t alone anymore in my fear and shame and it gave me strength to take back my own heart.  That was the first time that my painting and my emotions became aligned, and that alignment has been present ever since. 

The Love Clubs were in response to a friend telling me how she didn’t feel safe walking her dog because of the unwanted attention she received from men in the park across the street from her house.  She also longed to be friendly, smile, and say hello, but it always led to her being sexualized by these men.  She’s also gorgeous and has unique style and so I created the Love Club for her.

It was a statement about women not feeling safe, feeling like they are only seen for their sex, and wanting to be friendly, decent people without attracting unwanted sexual attention (imagine!).  Since the first batch of Love Clubs sold out, I have heard from women who carry the following around with them in their day-to-day lives in order to feel safe:

  • hammers
  • pepper spray
  • a knife or metal spike on their keychains
  • dogs that are unfriendly-to-strangers
  • tasers
  • stun guns
  • baseball bats
  • crowbars
  • car keys between their fingers, and last but not least
  • RBF (resting bitch face) 

 

The Love Club was also a satirical take on women being told to smile, be kind, polite, and presentable.  My friend didn’t want to look unfriendly.  She like smiling and saying hello.  But it never ended well.

While I was a bit saddened that women resonated with the Love Club as much as they did, it also felt like I was taking some of our power back by saying, “Fine!  I’ll smile, be polite, look beautifully accessorized, AND I’ll fucking kick your ass if you get near me.”  It made me feel powerful and less victimized.

 

I realize that my art coming into alignment with my emotional state established a strength in me that I didn’t know I could feel. 

 

I realize that my art coming into alignment with my emotional state established a strength in me that I didn’t know I could feel.  It’s like my true self as an artist finally figured out that I actually have something specific to say.  Sure, I want to make beautiful art, but I also want that art to mean something, to make people feel, and in the case of the Love Club, to be able to defend themselves beautifully.

My art has empowered me to speak my truth more clearly than I ever thought possible.  And if you’ve noticed that I’ve turned into more of a potty-mouth over the past couple of months, well, that is in direct connection with me simply being ready to show you more of the real me. 

My “one bad word per blog post” rule has been thrown out the window.  I simply don’t want to sensor myself in the name of being polite anymore.  In real life, I drop the F-bomb about 20 times per conversation.  It may very well be my favorite word.

So, sorry not sorry to those who may be scratching their heads and wondering when I’ll just do some beautiful ocean art again. I’m just not in that mind set right now.  Stick with me though.  If I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that I operate in cycles and I’m sure, at some point, I’ll yearn for some simple and serene beauty.  But that’s not where I’m at today. 

So be on the lookout for the new batch of Love Clubs that will show up in October (there will be some trick or treat Love Clubs!) followed by a series of “no paint left behind paintings”, in the theme of Inappropriate Mantras and Affirmations.   Yup.  That’s where I’m at right now. You’ll just have to deal with me.  

In the comments below, I would love for you to tell me one thing that fear stops you from doing.  Don’t let fear, insecurities, shame, or guilt get in your damn way.  Fuckin’ own that shit.

 

If you are interested in having early access to the next batch of Love Clubs, I have created a new waitlist just for you.  CLICK HERE to get on that list, get early access to the Love Club sale, and Defend Yourself BeautifullyLOL!  I totally crack myself up!

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.

How Guilt & Shame Block Success and My Way Past the Road Block

We all make mistakes.  Why is it hard for me to bounce back from them, and simply move forward? 

 

I am having a complicated day.  I had a work misunderstanding and it has ended up costing me money, which in turn makes me feel totally guilty, like I messed up big time, and now I’m a failure. 

In an attempt to re-frame, I could also say that I learned an important lesson, I won’t make that mistake again, and I’ve been offered a way to re-coop some of the lost dollars.  That should make me feel better, right?  It doesn’t. 

I feel like I’ve been gut punched. As someone who deals with anxiety, I want to cry and crawl into bed.  The last thing I want to do is put on my productive face and write my weekly blog, but I have to.  The reasons that I have to are trifold:

  1. The show must go on.  This is my business.  I have committed to writing a weekly blog and emailing it to my amazing Artventure community who look forward to my essays each week and I don’t want to let them down.

  1. Writing is good for me. It allows me to process and organize my cray cray brain.  It always makes me feel better, and I know it.


  2. There’s no crying in baseball.

I have an unreasonable amount of shame and guilt around this fuck up.  I’ve been beating myself up about it all day.  It’s making me sick to my stomach.  And right when I think I’ve made it to “ChillOutAlreadyLand”, I’ve realized that I think the fuck up is still actively fucking up and I’m not sure how to make it stop.

Just breathe, Girl, just breathe.

Also, nagging in the back of my mind, is a not so small voice telling me that getting deep into the shame and guilt, and having such a scarcity mindset when it comes to money, is NOT a recipe for success, but a future failure waiting in the wings.  

In a way, I feel like that both the guilt and shame hold me back, like they’re a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The voice tells me that people with money scarcity brain tend not to make money.  It says that in order to succeed, I have to spend some money and if I’m scared to, I won’t make any.

But my brain is a wreck right now.  Full on negative word vomit circulating up in there.  It’s hard for me to even grasp what a next step might be.  Any next step…I don’t know what to do. It's impossible to hear the correct direction when my brain sounds like this:

“Do I spend the money?  Do I save the money?  I would like to invest in myself, and I believe that the return will follow…but what if it doesn’t?  Do I continue spending the money on credit because, gosh darn it, you’ve got to spend money to make money?  Or do I stay within my budget and means because that’s how I prefer to live my life. 

Is it different with business?  Do I have to live debt free in my business? How do I stop this current hemorrhage?  Why can’t people with money understand that what they consider pocket change is my utility bill? 

And moreover, how do I know that any of this marketing stuff is going to work anyway?  Who do I think I am?  Why should I be successful?  Because I’m a badass!  Am I?  I mean, really?  What if I’m not?  What if I’m subconsciously tricking people into thinking that I’m good at painting and writing?  Like a fake it ‘till I make it type thing? 

What if I never make it?”

Are you tired yet?  I am.  I’m tired of having confidence in myself one minute and feeling like a piece of shit the next.  I’m exhausted by feeling like I’m not enough, and completely embarrassed because I know that’s not true. 

It’s like my mind is one big oxymoron and each side is playing tug-of-war while simultaneously having the world’s most intense pissing contest.  I mean, what the fuck for realz? 

 

The only way out of this is through action.

 

I do, however, feel like I have allowed myself this temper tantrum for quite long enough.  The only way out of this is through action.  I know it...but that hasn’t stopped me from doing a procrastination Facebook check about 20 times today.  I’m just prolonging the inevitable.  

It’s time to get a pair brass ovaries and get to work.  I have work to do and no amount of whining is going to make it go away.  The only thing that will possibly lead to success is keeping forward momentum.  

So, thanks for allowing me to go on a rather childish diatribe.  I feel better, but like a stubborn child, I also feel myself hanging onto the pissy-ness, holding my breath and stomping my feet until someone comes and fixes this for me, or gives me a cookie.

As fate would have it, I do have a one-on-one meeting with someone who will be able to walk me though my current confusion, so there’s that.  I’m hoping that by getting more information, I’ll feel more confident about moving forward. 

It’s not a total “fix it for me” situation, but that’s ok, because that wouldn’t be good for me either.  I’ve got to pull on my big girl panties, put one foot in front of the other, and walk my way through this. 

Are you still with me?  Really?  Wow.  Thanks.  That must mean that you can relate.  In the comments below, tell me one thing you do after you fuck up to make yourself move on.  I could sure use all the strategies I can get. 

 

 

The image at top is from my Lovely Mess series.  Seeing Through #2, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, 8"x10", $360.  Seeing through my own bullshit can be hard. By finding the beauty, I see past the darkness.  CLICK HERE to have this reminder for your own.
 
 
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.



How Compliments Make Me Uber Uncomfortable and What I Do to Keep My Cool Under Praise

Compliments embarrass the hell out of me. The practice of gratitude is a concrete way for me to show thanks to the one giving the compliment, and also a path to accepting and claiming the praise inwardly.

 

I spent this past weekend in a magical place with magical women doing magical work.  I volunteered as a surf coach for the Siltez Tribe Surfer Girl Retreat, organized by inspiring water women from the Oregon Coast and Hawaii. 

Saturday was filled with surf, laughter, and strong, amazing women (and some good dudes who came out to help as well).  I LOVE going to these events.  I love teaching women how to surf, meeting new Sea Sistas, and growing more within this community of Pacific North West women surfers.  They are badasses to the highest degree. 

I found inspiration at every turn.  The rugged beauty of the Oregon coast. The smiles on all of the women from the tribe, of all ages, who came out to learn to surf.  The closeness I feel with these women, who make the ocean their playground, as well as their place of healing and growth, and many of whom have made this surf nurturing their work.  It’s crazy beautiful. 

I also found myself bombarded with compliments regarding my painting and my writing.  Now, I am terrified of sounding like an asshole here.  I am aware that I am totally blessed to have people express to me the joy and strength that my work brings them, and I don’t want to be that guy that finds something negative within praise.  “Oh poor me…I get complimented…people tell me how awesome I am…and it makes me want to hide.” 

 

If I’m being completely honest, compliments in general embarrass the crap out of me, often to the point that I get tongue tied.

 

Not that what I feel is negative per se…if I’m being completely honest, compliments in general embarrass the crap out of me, often to the point that I get tongue tied, I have no idea what to say and forget that the simplest and most polite response is, “thank you”

I burn red and feel like my face has pins and needles.  Sometimes I’m so embarrassed, I want to slide under the nearest rock and hide.

I have thought about writing on this topic before, but I put it off every time.  Why? Because I’m scared of sounding like an ungrateful, arrogant and silly woman.  But it’s not like I started feeling like this as an adult.  I have felt this way about compliments my entire life.

This past weekend, I was totally aware of this feeling much of the time, and it has really made me think about why it is that I have trouble accepting praise.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be appreciated?  Me, apparently. 

The thing is, though, that I’m dying to be appreciated.  I love that people love my work.  I want them to love it and me, AND I also have a hard time accepting it.  I realize that it is because, my whole life, I haven’t liked myself all that much and for as long as I can remember, I thought that there was something wrong with me. 

 

When people pay me compliments, what they say doesn’t equate with how I feel about myself.

 

So, when people pay me compliments, what they say doesn’t equate with how I feel about myself.  Therefore, I feel like an undeserving fraud.  Like I’m about to be found out.  It’s easy to think the positive voices are wrong when I’ve been bombarded by an inner negative one all my life.

Or maybe, I’m just such an anxiety filled perfectionist, that when I’m shown appreciation for my work, I am only able to see the wrinkles.  Like a cook, who everyone is telling that the meal is delicious, but they know that actually the meat is over cooked and the sauce has too much salt.  No matter how good the outcome, I focus on the imperfections.

I know that the simplest response is to smile and say, “Thank you”, but for some reason, that seems such a boastful and arrogant response, it only makes my face burn even more.  (I literally turn beet red.)

So, the progression is: Hearing the compliment is embarrassing. I think to myself, “Oh if you only knew the truth”, and when I remember to say “Thank you”, I feel like an arrogant asshole.  Yeah…I know…I know…

This entire blog post is making me feel like an asshole. I could just end it here so I’ll stop digging myself deeper into this privileged hole I seem to be digging, but I can’t end without at least offering myself a solution.  So here it goes:

 

For now, and moving forward, when someone pays me a compliment, I will just smile, look them in eyes, if I feel moved I’ll take them by the hand, and say THANK YOU.  That is all. 

 

Because the truth is that all of the negative self-talk is an old story that simply isn’t pertinent any longer.  (And it never really was in the first place.)  I believe in the work I’m doing.  I feel that I have grown immensely in inner strength, confidence, and beauty. 

For all the doom and gloom perspectives I have had in my life, I now see the sun lighting up my world and I feel the warm comfort that it brings. In fact, just today, I referred to myself as a reformed pessimist.  Not quit an optimist, but with practice, I think I’ll graduate to that sometime in the near future.

Does this sound familiar? Do you struggle with compliments and then the complexities that come with the rejection of self-positivity?  IN THE COMMENTS BELOW, GIVE YOURSELF ONE COMPLIMENT.  IT CAN BE ABOUT ANYTHING.

Today, my self-compliment is that I finally found courage to write on this topic.  I’ve admitted a feeling that may make me look like an asshole and certainly makes me feel uncomfortable. 

I can’t help it…that’s how I feel…and if I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s that we all have feelings that we’re ashamed of.  Today, I'm adding this one onto the list of things I am no longer hiding from, and ashamed of no more.  

 

 

The image at top is from my Lovely Mess series.  In Reflection, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, 8"x8", $160.  Inner reflection can be difficult.  It can trick you with illusions and old stories.  It can also unearth beauty that you didn't know, or maybe forgot was there. It is always there.  Within the illusions and inside the old stories is a freedom that is waiting to be claimed. CLICK HERE to have this reminder for your own.

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.

How I Found Calm within the Anxiety Tornado by Organizing My Life

I have anxiety, but I'm learning how to successfully move through the tornado with (a bit more) grace, by shifting my thoughts and actions elsewhere.

 

It’s been an internal shit storm kind of week.  Not a catastrophic storm, by any means, but I’d say a category one, debris flinging, inconvenient tornado.  A baby tornado, if you will. 

Seeing as I was flying so high, predicted the down fall, and then…well…fell, I’m a little bummed out about this current tropical depression.  I thought maybe the high would last forever this time...and it didn’t.  That’s ok, because as always, I’m convinced to find a silver lining within the thunder clouds. 

I realize that finding the joy when chaos looms is not an easy thing to do.  When I feel down, everything is down.  It’s like the baseline for joy loses altitude due to the tectonic plate shift within my head.  The amount of altitude that is lost is based on the severity of the anxiety. 

In this case, last week’s anxiety attack built up slowly until it spilled out all over my dining room table during dinner. Thankfully, I was quick to talk about it (very quick…like a million words per minute quick), and resolve it before the spiral took hold. 

That was a week ago and I have been pretty jumpy ever since.  I’ve also found myself taking things waaaaaaay too personally.  I’ve had my feelings hurt by basically everyone I know over the past seven days. 



This period of time after an anxiety attack, even a little one like this one, is like a hangover.

 

This period of time after an anxiety attack, even a little one like this one, is like a hangover.  I’m exhausted, a bit depressed, shaky, and I want nothing but to lie on the sofa, watch Netflix, and eat copious amounts of crappy food until the wreckage is cleaned up. 

I do not have that luxury right now.  I have a million things to do, both for my work and personal life, including volunteering at two upcoming surfer girl retreats. I have been looking forward to these events for months, and in order to make them happen, I have to get ahead on my to do list. 

So, I’ve decided to concentrate on work and physical activity.  I went to my weekly Yoga class and I’ve been getting up each morning and going for a three mile walk while the air is still brisk out.  I’m also mantra-ing myself to death on these walks: “You are strong!  You are killing it at work! You will succeed!”.   

Normally, my first instinct would be to go surfing, but it wasn’t this time. Instead, my first instinct was to get shit done.  I think that my head felt so cluttered with the wreckage, that I needed to do a bit of cleaning. 

The past two months have been pretty dang surfcentric, anyway, so I decided to stayed home and went from task to task, annihilating the internal trash, and organizing the projectile brain debris back into its filing cabinets. I’m pretty much caught up on all the office work that had fallen behind and, YES LAWD, it feels good!      

I also finished the commission that was sitting on my easel.  I visited my woodworking friend, and got holes drilled for the next batch of Love Clubs, thus lining up my next creative move after the commission is finished and shipped off. (Stay tuned for more on a new Love Club series!) 

Half way through the week, I realized that my mind set was improving.  A week-and-a-half later, I’m nearly all the way healed, but still feeling a bit irritable and I'm still taking things personally.  *deep sigh. I’m getting there. 

In the midst of all of this, I'm proud to say that I’ve stayed pretty dang calm.  When I’ve needed to voice the things that were annoying me to my family, I’ve done so in a reasonable and humbling way.  Also, my emotional state isn't as volatile as it has been in the past, after an attack. 

 

I took action, and stayed active.

I think the reason why is because I didn’t wallow in the anxiety puddle.  I didn’t “woe as me” myself to death, and allow the depression part of the hang over to take hold.  Instead, I took action, and stayed active. 

I made improvements and progress within my work life, beginning with creating a daily to do list each morning, which directs me and helps me keep focus and momentum.  Sometimes I think half the anxiety battle is getting past those moments when I just want to surrender to the void. 

But the thing is, there is nothing in the void…that’s why it’s called the void.  It’s like eating empty calories.  It might taste good while you’re doing it, but if you do it for too long and too often, you’re going to have some health issues and a hell of a tummy ache. 

We all go through these moments of overwhelm.  For me, the key is to not let the overwhelm grow and take over.  I managed to avoid that by keeping momentum. By concentrating on actions that further something I care about, I didn’t head into panic central. 

In fact, the opposite happened.  I actually started feeling accomplished and like I was doing exactly was I was supposed to, instead of running around like a headless chicken. Maybe I’m tired of bumping into walls. Maybe I’m just getting better with practice.

Whatever the case may be, it worked, simply because I GOT TO WORK.  I have a number of completed projects to show for it, and I’m caught up so I can go to my surfer girl retreats without anything hanging over my head.

In the comments below, I’d love you to tell me one action that you could take the next time anxiety attempts to blow your house down, to keep you moving in the right direction instead of letting anxiety derail you. May the force be with you.


The image at top is from my Lovely Mess series.  Fractured Comfort, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, 8"x8", $160.
Comfort can come and go.  It can break and heal.  It's an ebb and flow.  The trick is to not fall into the cracks and to focus on what's positive. The hearts are torn and partially hidden but they are there...  CLICK HERE to have this reminder for your own.

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.

How I Predicted My Last Anxiety Attack and It Made My Brain Go Wonky

If it’s true that we manifest our own destiny, is it also possible that we manifest our own suffering?  Does that mean we can stop it as well?

Last week I talked about how I’ve been feeling so good that it’s hard not to believe a down swing is right around the corner.  I discussed the mind fuck that this creates for me as it causes me to question if I’m creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  That was last Thursday.

On Monday night, I had a panic attack, just as I predicted.  Even though I felt it brewing all day, I remained positive that perhaps it was nothing.  That, of course, could also be called denial. 

By the time my hubbie got home from work, I was completely irritable.  He told me something and asked me to keep it in confidence and my reply was to get totally defensive and ask if he thought I went around gossiping all the time.  (I mean, why else would he say that, right?)

Of course, that wasn’t the case, and that is partially why I asked.  It is important for me to know when I’m being overly sensitive (anxiety), and taking everything completely personally (anxiety), and feeling annoyed/depressed/jumpy at him and everything else around me (anxiety/anxiety/anxiety).

 

The familiar thoughts that everyone would be better off if I wasn’t around, that I’m a nuisance, and that he was completely disgusted with me because I was crumbling right in front of him, all began to dig deep and set roots into my brain.

 

I sat down with him to eat dinner and felt the pressure building up behind my eyes, like my head would explode any second.  The familiar thoughts that everyone would be better off if I wasn’t around, that I’m a nuisance, and that he was completely disgusted with me because I was crumbling right in front of him, all began to dig deep and set roots into my brain.

I talked through it.  Half rambling, half crying, but talking never-the-less.  I interrupted myself to take long, deep breaths.  I shook my hands down at my sides to release some of the vibrations that I felt running through my body.  I described to him the feeling of having 100 ideas circulating in my head all at once and how the words feel like they get tied up in knots around my tongue.

Part of my rambling was that I kind of believe I did it to myself.  I mean, last week I straight up said I was due for a low, and here it was just five days later.  WTF?  Part of me thinks that I am responsible.  Part of me thinks that I’m giving myself WAY too much credit.  I mean, am I really that powerful?

When I was a child, I had a recurring dream that I was in a vast open space, there didn’t even seem to be a ground, and in the middle, was what I can only describe as an enormous, tangled, cluster fuck.  It was an ever moving and shifting mass of wires, cables, and rope of varying sizes and textures, that was knotting in on itself in constant movement.  It was terrifying and as big as a mountain.

In the dream, I would feel an incredible amount of internal space, like the distance between my shoulder and hand was miles long.  You know that hell hallway in dreams that keeps getting longer?  Well imagine that feeling, but inside your body.

Then my gaze would go from the cluster, to a tiny daisy, just below it in its shadow.  That simplicity was comforting.  Then I would wake.

For years, I had this dream.  I still have it occasionally, usually when I have a fever.  It is the only visual I have for a panic attack.  Just thinking about it can bring up a shaky feeling in my belly.  But maybe it has been trying to tell me something, even all those years ago.

I DO believe that I brought on my anxiety attack.  I’m the person that would play hooky and call in sick to work, only to ACTUALLY get sick like 4 days later.  My brain body connection is strong and apparently still listening to old stories.  I made my brain go wonky by telling it that it was due to go wonky. 

But I think there may be something in those dreams that was telling me a secret.  That tiny flower sitting in the shadow of the madness is the key.  It always has been. 

Last week, I told myself that I was going to have a bout of anxiety.  I can’t help thinking those thoughts.  I wish I could but they are decades of habit in the making.  But maybe, with the help of that daisy, I can begin to reframe them, and start developing a new habit of focusing on something small and beautiful within the noise.

In reality, I’ve been processing this all year.  I created an entire series of paintings called, A Lovely Mess, which is all about finding the beauty within the chaos.  That’s what the dream was trying to tell me all along. 

The tornado may be huge, looming, chaotic, and loud.  It may be casting a huge shadow on everything around it, but look closely.  I bet there is a tiny bit of beauty in that shadow whose only existence is to say, “I’m still here!  I have always been here!  My roots are deep! I will never leave!”

So, the next time my brain goes wonky, or I predict that it’s due to go wonky, or when I can’t seem to see anything beautiful amongst the chaos, I’m going to think about that flower.  My hope is that by just changing the thought pattern, the attack won’t happen.  I’ll keep you posted.

Do you feel you manifest your own anxiety?  How do you keep it at bay? In the comments below, I’d love to know if you have a go to mantra, breathing exercise, or any other strategy for stopping anxiety before it grips you.  If not, maybe try my flower?  Let me know how it goes.

 

I have obviously been looking for my flower all along.  The painting at top is from my Lovely Mess series. Tending the Garden, 8"x8", Acrylic and Paper on Canvas.  It is for purchase for $160. CLICK HERE to purchase.    

Search for the beauty in the chaos.  It's still there amongst the noise.

 
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure