Illness, death and injury can be seen as HUGE diversions from the things we should be doing and can create resentment. I suggest that perhaps being of service when our family, friends and community needs us does more good than harm. Service feeds the soul.
Happy March everyone! Can you believe that it is already the third month of the year?! It has been a crazy couple of months for me. I’ve implemented Patreon into my art business in order to build a private community around art and personal development (click here for more info) and today marks the opening of my very first 30 Day Pop Up Sale on my website where I’m offering limited edition art prints, tote and beach bags and throw pillows. March’s theme is taken from my Pelicans painting.
I was hoping to have awesome photos to share with you from the last Surfrider Foundation beach cleanup and in reflection, write a blog about being of service. However, life has not cooperated with me and my best laid plans for the beginning of 2018 have not happened quiet the way I thought they would. Normally, that would have pissed me off royally.
In truth, I can’t believe that I have launched both my Patreon community and my first quarterly Pop Up Sale on time. The first week of this year, I worked hard and focused. I made these two new programs my priorty…but then I got sick. I was laid up for a week. Not much I can do about getting sick, so I took the week to focus on my health.
The next week I was ready to dive in again! Full steam ahead! And then I got a call from one of my oldest and dearest friends. Her mom had passed very suddenly and unexpectedly. So, I was on a plane to New Orleans to help in any way I could. I was there for about a week.
When I got home, I was ready to rock and roll! I worked for about 3 weeks, hard and fast to make up for lost time…and then my daughter got the flu. I kid you not, I have never seen her so miserable. She was sick and out of school with fever for a full week.
To those of you who may say “Hey that last one isn’t a problem! You work from home!” you either don’t have children or you’ve never had to take care of a sick one. I was either cooking, cleaning, running a bath, disinfecting, doing laundry, rubbing her head, dishing out medicine and fending off the junk myself (because I’m not going down this time!), and trying to work in between all of these tasks. I became completely behind and missed the beach clean-up because of the flu. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just life.
The day she was well enough to leave the house, I woke with a crick in my neck that hurt so bad, my mobility was effected. My husband had to help me do things like put my hair in a ponytail and trying to get a hoody on made me weep. So, painting was out….and I had a commission due to a client by the end of February.
Interruptions, distractions, emergencies are all things that can divert our routines. Instead of becoming frustrated, perhaps we can look at these things as a way to give back.
In my past life, all of this would have blindsided me and my work flow so badly that I immediately would have gotten frustrated and inevitably, contentious feelings would have grown towards all of these people and problems that were stopping me from doing what I wanted to be doing. Resentments y’all…no fun at all.
That was the old Marigny.
The new Marigny celebrated her 5th alcohol free year on February 28th. Yup, yesterday was my sober "birth" day.
When I first was in recovery for alcoholism, I had to shed my old belief system 100%. And while that topic is large enough to have its very own blog post, one of most important things I had to admit to myself is that my thinking came, in general, from a very selfish place. I did a lot for others, but always with the expectation of getting something in return and when I didn’t get it, I would get really angry. I was, of course, oblivious to this selfishness and when I figured it out, I was shocked and truly disappointed in myself.
I discovered that a solution to this problem is to be of service to others. At first, I tried to cram in ways to volunteer into my already packed and over scheduled life. Recovery takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes it all felt very overwhelming.
But I realized something…being of service doesn’t always have to be applied to the food bank or the SPCA. Although I have tried to involve myself more in my local Surfrider chapter because I’m passionate about surfing and my love for the ocean, I realize that the most important people to be in service to are my family and friends.
These are the people in my life who have stood by me during my volatile times, the aftermath of those times and my journey to sobriety, my depressed states and my daily anti-anxiety rituals. Why shouldn’t these be the people that I willingly and happily give my time and energy to?
Being of service takes me out of myself. By helping those who are in need, I contribute to a larger part of life...the part that doesn't revolve around me.
Spiritually, I believe that there is nothing else that feeds the soul like being of service. It takes me out of myself in a way that nothing else does. As any and all activities that are good for me, service work never really sounds like that much fun. I don’t mean to sound like an asshole or anything, but do you think that cleaning up trash or taking care of a miserable and grumpy teenager sounds enjoyable? What about going to the aid of a mourning family? Good times these are not.
But when I go to the clean ups and see all of the people that care for our beach, the “chore” becomes a bonding experience and ultimately brings me closer to my community and to the Ocean.
After my kiddo’s fifth day of fever and third meltdown over not being able to hang out with friends on the long President’s Day weekend, I thought I would lose it. I was looking at the painting that is due by the end of the month and felt panic rising, but then she looked at me and said, “Thanks for taking care of me, Mom. I love you.”
When I went to see my friend’s father, who had just lost his wife, he just grabbed me and hugged me and thanked me so much for being there for him and especially for his daughter during such a terrible time.
I realized that I sacrificed my work and plans for her, for him, for my people…because I’m a person and people contribute and take care of their villages when it’s their turn to do so. That’s what I choose and I can feel proud that I’m doing what a good person does and I’m doing it without pitching a fit because I know that in the long run, taking care of my people is good for my soul.
I swear to God my art table looked exactly like this for about 2 weeks. It is a dern miracle that the longhorns commission was done on time.
Did my daughter take me for dinner to thank me for my “lost” week or treat me to a spa day because my body hurt after all the care taking? Nope. What I got in return is love from her and the comfort of knowing that she is cared for.
The old me would have been fuming inside from all the inconveniences. The 5-year alcohol free me is just happy to be able to be home with my daughter to be her nurse, rent movies and make food that she may or may not eat. The sober me didn’t even think twice before jumping on a plane to help my friend. And the community minded me didn’t cry about not being there for the cleanup (and, let’s be honest, to surf afterwards).
And guess what…all of my work got done on time anyway. If I would have had a fit, it would have been out of a projection of fear. Fear that the shit wasn’t going to get done and that I was going to be a failure. That was my old mind set. Instead, I just shrugged and said, “Not much can be done about the flu, or death, or a crick in my neck. It is what it is.”
I’m really excited about Patreon and my Pop Up Sale and about the next beach cleanup, but in the end, I am content knowing that I can parent without having severe FOMO (fear of missing out). I can be here for my family because I want to be, not because I feel obligated to.
I must admit that it makes me a little sad to think that’s how my brain use to work. I felt like my family was holding me back from whatever the hell I thought I should be doing. Now I know that it’s my family that lifts me up and it’s my community that holds me and makes me feel part of something.
I don’t normally like to give advice, but here’s 2 cents from a sober drunk. When you feel really bad about yourself, when life just sucks and you want to crawl in a hole, do something for someone else. Spend an entire day dedicated to your child’s interests. Grab a coffee with your Mom. Make a surprise romantic dinner for your spouse. Show love, Y’all. I want my road to be paved with love, not money or number of paintings created. Love. It’s really all that matters and indeed, all we need.
And FYI - a percentage of the profits from my 2018 Pop Up Sales will go to Surfrider Foundation for ocean clean up and coastal health awareness. There are always ways to give. So go do it.
The painting at top is Stampede 36x36 and was commissioned by Taqueria Picaro in Ashland, OR. (And I completed it on time.)