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.



Comments (1):

Joanne Mershon on
We are all prone to error as we bumble through life because we are fallen people in a fallen world. One thing I try to do is talk with a trusted and experienced friend when I go into fear and self-condemnation/ after making a serious mistake. Also, try to learn from the mistake.

People who achieve their dreams did not have an easy path. But they didn’t give up after making a mistake. They tried to learn the valuable lesson life wanted to teach them and they powered through. One of my favorite sayings is "It’s my expectations that get me [fill in the blank, maybe bonkers, afraid, drunk, etc.]. I try not to expect things to go a certain way, and not to expect that I won’t make mistakes.

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How Speaking My Truth Reduced My Anxiety Level by Half

By diving deep, searching for and speaking my truth, I reduced my anxiety baseline and created a strength that I never knew I had.  Why should I think that can't continue to happen?

 

A few days ago, I looked at the calendar and realized that the anxiety attack that led me into the doctor’s office was only a bit more than a month ago.  It feels like soooooooooooooooo much longer than that.  That means that it has only been a few weeks since I’ve been feeling better. 

This realization has bummed me out a little bit and I’m trying to process why, exactly.  I mean, I feel better…that’s a good thing…so why is the amount of time I’ve been feeling better waking me up at night? 

I was talking about this with a dear friend yesterday. I described being woke up in the middle of the night, both of the two nights prior, by travel anxiety dreams (airport…lost luggage…wrong terminal…etc…).  After waking up, my head went to “charting” my brain health.  How long has it been since I’ve been feeling better compared to the amount of time I felt crappy?  What’s that ratio? Does that mean I’ll feel crappy again soon? How long can this “feeling better” possible last. 

Queue the anxious brain loop here.  I finally did manage to go back to sleep both times, but it took a little while and then I was up again at 5:00am both mornings, lying there, waiting for the 6:30 alarm to go off. 

Anyway…I was talking to my friend, and I told her about how feeling better is great and my temptation during these high times is to announce, “ALL FIXED!” to the world and move on with my life in a permanent state of bliss and peace.  But in the back of my head, I know it’s a cycle.  I know there will be another down swing at some point. 

Then I thought…does there have to be? 

When I wrote my essay, I Was a Promiscuous Teen: A Letter to All the Men from My Past, I was telling a truth that I had never told before, I had never connected to my anxiety before, and that I had a level of shame around that I thought was unique to me.  After I wrote and published the letter, which was one of the scariest things I have ever done, an enormous weight was lifted. 

 

It surprised the hell out of me and I realized that I had been anxiously hiding from that particular truth my whole life, and that by outing myself, I was no longer in hiding. 

 

I didn’t expect it.  It surprised the hell out of me and I realized that I had been anxiously hiding from that particular truth my whole life, and that by outing myself, I was no longer in hiding.  From that moment on, when I would feel fear and shame creep in, all I had to do was remind myself that I wasn’t hiding anymore, my truth is out in the open, and it would dissipate at once.

That change happened the minute I heard back from others who resonated with my story and I realized that not only was I not alone, but that my story and my feelings were sadly, not unique.  And that feeling hasn’t gone away.  Speaking my truth created a permanent shift within my thinking patterns.  I became stronger, braver, more self-assured.  Merely being honest with myself and others did that.

Back to me worrying about when the next anxiety shoe is going to drop after these last couple of weeks of feeling pretty darn great…  As I was speaking to my friend about the inevitable down swing that I should expect, it occurred to me that permanent change has been made in my thought cycles due to speaking my truth.  My letter proves that.  Why should I think that more permanent changes can’t happen?

 

Speaking my truth created a permanent shift within my thinking patterns.  I became stronger, braver, more self-assured.  

 

I have been practicing my anxiety management strategies in an effort to change my brain pathways when anxiety hits.  I will say that it took me a little while to remember to do them after being woke up in the middle of the night, but when I remembered, and began to breathe and call myself out on past fixating and future tripping, I fell back asleep.

Why should I not believe that in continuing to practice this, I am cutting the anxiety off before it gets out of control, and the longer I practice, the faster that will happen until one day when I don’t have any more anxiety paralyzing down swings that last weeks at best, months at worst?

Also, by believing that the next down swing is inevitable, do I make it so?  Is that a self-fulfilling prophecy?  This is where my “I Will” statements come in handy: “I Will make permanent change within my anxiety cycles…it just might take some time.”

 

I KNOW that by diving deep, finding my truth, and saying it out loud, I have the power to change myself.  I have experienced it.  I am my own proof.

 

So why am I talking about this?  Or maybe the bigger question is, why do I share any of this stuff with you?  Because based on my experiences, I KNOW that by diving deep, finding my truth, and saying it out loud, I have the power to change myself.  I have experienced it.  I am my own proof.

If I think about it, my anxiety over the past year has been half of what it was pre-letter, so who’s to say it won’t continue to lessen?  All I can do is believe that by continuing to pour my heart out to you, I will continue to discover more about myself, and knowledge is power, right? 

My letter was a big doozy of a truth bomb, but there are also less life shattering examples of this. I once told my ex-boss that I had been taking advantage of our herbal supplements drawer at work, and that I wanted to pay for what I had taken.  She looked at me, smiled, got up from her chair and hugged me. 

She said she it was no big deal and was glad the supps made me feel better. Weight gone.  Forgiveness easily given and received, and it changed me in that I stopped taking advantage, and I didn’t feel stress or guilt surrounding it any longer. 

It can be that small but the benefits can be life changing.  The moment stress and guilt were alleviated, I realized how big of a presence it had been.  

Is there something that you hold deep inside yourself because of fear and shame?  Maybe you’re scared you’ll be rejected if it comes out.  Maybe you’re terrified that your loved ones won’t support you.  Whatever it is, I urge you to speak. 

In fact, in the comments below, tell me one thing you have spoken your truth about that made you feel better afterwards.  It can be a big or a small thing.  It can even be something that you haven’t spoken about before that’s been eating away at your insides…

I’m grateful that through writing, I can process these hard emotions and by painting, I can bring visual examples to life.  Through these two creative outlets I make essays, paintings, and personal life changes. 

 

It's never too late to take your power back, grow, and love yourself. 

 

The painting at top is Diving Heart 23, 6”x6”, acrylic & paper on canvas, $120.  Each painting in my Reclaimed Hearts series have torn paper hearts, reassembled back onto the canvas.  Even though my heart has been broken, and lived in a broken state for many years, by speaking my truth, I have the ability to put it back together and claim it for my own.  It may have scars, but it is stronger and more beautiful than ever.   

CLICK HERE to get on the Reclaimed Hearts waiting list and get early access and discount codes for the November original art sale.  It's never too late to take your power back, grow, and love yourself. 

 

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 My Anxiety Strategies Are Saving Me Both Reactively and Proactively

One month into practicing new anxiety management strategies, I realize the timing could not be better.

 

It’s been a full month since I’ve been practicing new methods in dealing with my anxiety. I’m am pleased to report that I have continued to improve and I have new insights into why.

The “I Will” statements are becoming more of a habit, and most mornings, it has been pretty effortless to start my day saying, “I Will…” instead of saying, “Oh Shit…”. However, I also realize that the past couple of weeks have been pretty laid back.  Summer travel ended and I’ve been pretty much solely focused on work and self-care. 

But now I’ve thrown in a surf weekend…  Now surfing, in general, keeps me sane.  It helps me to remember being present in my life and connects me spiritually to something that is bigger than myself. Surfing has been a life changer in the way it has influenced the way I view myself, and the world around me...

...But I realize that it also entails, missing a day of work (usually), shoving that missed day’s work into the days before I leave, a huge grocery shop, food prep, packing, logistical coordinating with my family…insert panic attack here.

Thus, I woke this morning with a seemingly endless to do list attempting to organize itself within my 6:00am, pre-coffee brain (which is now a half decaf brain anyway, due to the Doc’s orders).  I mean, this happened right when the alarm went off and I was still lying in bed.  I admit, I got lost in it for a minute or two.

A minute or two might not sound bad, but holy crap, let me tell you that it made my tummy feel like there were about a million butterflies crashing into each other in there, and my heart rate started increasing, along with my breathing.  Just thinking about it now causes these feelings, albeit in a minor way comparatively.

 

“I Will get all the things done.  I Will break them down into actions that I can tackle one at a time. I Will have a great weekend. Remember, I always get all the things done.”

 

In those few minutes, I forgot all about my “I Will” statements.  Once I remembered, I said, “I Will get all the things done.  I Will break them down into actions that I can tackle one at a time. I Will have a great weekend.”  And then for good measure, “Remember, I always get all the things done.”

That is true, BTW.  Rarely is there a time when I’m prepping for a surf weekend that I don’t get my list completed and if I don’t, it’s never that big of a fucking deal.  I immediately calmed down.  The butterflies disappeared and my heart rate normalized. I got up, brushed my teeth and sat down for my 20 minutes of meditation, which turned into 30 because I forgot to set the timer.  I guess I just needed that extra ten minutes.

Oh…and importantly…I forgave myself for not remembering my “I Will” statements right away.  After all, it’s progress I’m after, not perfection.

That brings me to the second strategy I’ve been practicing, which is saying, “Hello anxiety. How are you?” to my anxiety, and really to all of my negative emotions, as soon as they bubble up.  Again, I’ve been consistently saying this out loud (if I’m alone) or just in my head, as quickly as possible after I feel the emotion.  I can usually catch it pretty quickly and it’s quite frankly, astounding at how fast the feeling retreats after I do.

I’ve had another realization about why this is effective.  I’ve talked before about how I try to talk to myself as if I’m my own best friend, as opposed to my negative self-bullying that has been the norm for years.  The truth is, I would never say the things I say to myself, to my friends.  The reason why is simple: I don’t want to be an asshole to my friends.  

Apparently, I’ve been fine being an asshole to myself for as long as I can remember, and by saying hello to my negative feelings and asking how they are doing, I am changing that. Before I said that I thought these feeling maybe just needed to be recognized, but it’s more than that.  By saying, “Hello. How are you?” to anxiety, fear, worry, insecurities, anger, self-loathing, frustration, overwhelm, and sadness, I’m also separating myself from them.

In a way, I am talking to them like I’m talking to another person, and because of that, I feel more compassion towards these feelings, just as I do towards my friends.  I find that now, after saying, “Hello. How are you?” I say, “I’m doing just fine over here.  No need to get so overwhelmed right now.  Everything is fine and all the things are getting done.  In fact, there is really nothing to freak out about right now at all.”

 

I know that my feelings are my feelings, and they come from me.  At the same time, I know that not all of my feelings are the truth, and I can call them out as false if I just engage in a little conversation with them.

 

Amazing, yes?  I know that my feelings are my feelings, and they come from me.  At the same time, I know that not all of my feelings are the truth, and I can call them out as false if I just engage in a little conversation with them.  Sometimes, I find things both truth and false in the feeling, but then I can decide what to do based on that distinction, rather than based on an overblown and sometimes imaginary feeling. 

Cool, huh?

I’m so grateful that I have made this connection now.  You see, this month is the year anniversary of being blown apart by the Kavanaugh hearings and writing my essay, I Was a Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men from My PastThat essay went viral, has been clicked on in every country in the world, and continues to be viewed over a thousand times a month on my website.

I continue to hear from women who express comfort in knowing they are not alone because my story is their story.  It is the story of women of all ages, from all countries, and we all walked around with the same shame from our pasts, until my essay gave me and them release from those chains.

One year later, I have changed. My work has changed.  The way I view sex, feminism, and gender roles, expectations and responsibilities has changed.  The way I communicate has shifted and the volume at which I express myself has evolved.  I am no longer in hiding from my past, and I realize that hiding was a prison that I had lived in for most of my life.

Many dots were connected for me last October.  I’m going to be spending this month reflecting on this past year and what I have learned, what I thought I knew that has maybe changed, and how my art and writing have been incredible tools for processing this trauma and everything that has followed. 

 

I continue to hear from women who express comfort in knowing they are not alone because my story is their story.

 

Nearly immediately after writing my letter, I created the first series of paintings that I have ever made in direct connection with what I was emotionally processing.  Sure, I may have done that subconsciously in the past, but with every painting from my Reclaimed Hearts series, and then subsequently with the series, A Lovely Mess, I was able to take back my power, claim it as my own, and then begin to see the beauty in the ruins that I had to accept partial responsible in creating. 

It remains a hard topic for me to share about, although, I do it openly now, knowing that silence is the real enemy to sexual evolution through cultural change.  

I’d love to know if you have been feeling overly sensitive this past month, and maybe questioned why. It took me the first week of this month to connect it with what we women, and some beautiful men out there, went through during and in the aftermath of those hearings. 

In the comments below, tell me one way you plan on taking care of yourself through this month.

In following the signs that were given to me four weeks ago, I feel I am prepared for this month.  I’m so glad I was paying attention because now I know that, “I Will get through this month with grace and I Will come out stronger because of it all.”  

Much love and light to you,

Marigny

 

The painting at top is from my Reclaimed Heart Series.  Diving Heart 6, 8"x8", Acrylic and Paper on Canvas, $160.  The series will be available for sale at the beginning of November. To learn more about the Reclaimed Heart series, and to join the waitlist to receive early access to the collection and a discount code for free shipping, Click Here.  

 

To view the Reclaimed Hearts collection in it's entirety, Click Here.

 

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.

Two Effective Anxiety Strategies That I Found on a Roadmap

All I had to do to get relief from my anxiety, was to stop the dang car and ask for directions.

I just finished 25 pieces of art for my recent Love Club series (see photo above), creating an online shop, and I’m in the middle of launching a sale that I have been marketing for a month.  The Love Clubs took twice as long to finish as I thought they would and so I’ve been working nine to 14 hour days for the past nine days straight to get all of this completed.

And I had to do all of this on the tail end of one of the worst and longest anxiety rages that I have experienced in a long time.  One that ended me up in my Dr’s office. I’m tired…but I have to say, I feel pretty great, and I wanted to report in with you regarding my newly adopted strategies in self-care. 

Over the past three weeks, I’ve been consistent with the following doctor prescribed practices:  I have been getting up early to practice meditation. I’ve cut my coffee with half decaf. I’ve been on a new supplement protocol. I’ve been eating more and exercising regularly. 

 

I am a strong believer in signs.

 

I’ve also put into place two other practices based on the “signs” I observe in my everyday life.  First off, I am a strong believer in signs. I am a spiritual person.  I believe there is something that is part of everything in the universe that is bigger than me.  Do I know what it is?  Nope.  Do I care that I don’t know?  Not in the slightest. 

I gave up trying to name it a long time ago.  I don’t know what it is, how could I possibly?  But I know it’s there.  I guess, if I had to put a label on my spirituality, I’d call myself a spiritual agnostic.  It’s not that I’m ready to believe in just any deity. I actually think that all the deities are one thing, and that it’s people who put labels on them…but I digress.

I believe that I am walking a path that has been laid out before me by something greater than myself, and that if I pay attention, I’m given direction all the time.  I say morning prayers that are mostly made of me expressing gratitude, and asking for guidance.  More specifically, the willingness to be guided. 

My morning prayers usually come right after my meditation practice, so when I had that period of time when I wasn’t meditating, I also wasn’t asking for guidance.  Over the past three weeks, I started asking again to, “please be guided through anxiety and fear and replace it with trust and confidence in the path that has been laid out before me.”

And guess what?  There is was.  Guidance in the form of a blurb on the back of a book, and in a damn Netflix show.  

Two weeks ago, I told you about stumbling upon a surf book called, “The Code”, by Shaun Tomson.  Through 12 short stories, Shaun “offers the simple message – I Will – as a model to face life’s challenges and help you achieve your goals.” 

Last week, I mentioned watching a cool show on Netflix called, The Mind Explained, specifically episode four on Mindfulness.  Turns out that one of the masters of mindfulness meditation suffered from crippling anxiety when he was a child. He learned that he could say hello to his anxiety, and be with it without freaking out.  Not tell it to go away, but to simply be with it, and to actually talk to it: “Hello, Anxiety.  How are you?”

Over the past couple of weeks, I decided to adopt these two strategies, and I have amazing things to report!

The power of saying "I Will".

I used to wake in the middle of the night and my mind would start racing and it was hard to settle it back down so I could fall asleep again.  Also, upon waking in the morning, my mind immediately would start a frantic to do list of all the shit that I had to accomplish that day…or that month…or that year…it was an easy way to start my day in complete overwhelm.

So, what I began doing is turning all of those thoughts into “I Will” statements and they kind of morphed into an optimistic to do list for the day.  “I will accomplish what I need to today.  I will be positive.  I will get exercise. I will meditate.  I will remember to breathe. I will do enough….”

If I woke in the middle of the night, it became simply, “I will fall back asleep now”.  If my brain started racing again, “That’s ok…I will fall asleep now and I will think about that later.”

In the beginning, it was hard to remember to do, but rather quickly became easier and easier.  And guess what happened?  I am waking up in the mornings now with only the “I will” statements in my head.  The middle of the night I’m still working on, but baby steps, right?  I can’t tell how much more positive I feel in the mornings now.  It has actually been fun and exciting to get out of bed!!!

 

Recognizing My Anxiety, Worry About the Past, and Fear of the Future.

What landed me in the Dr’s office were anxiety induced heart palpitations. It is a new anxiety symptom for me and pretty scary feeling, which of course does nothing but produce more anxiety.  After watching episode four of The Mind Explained on Mindfulness, I took in all the meditation master had to say, and I decided to put it into practice.

Even though I had begun feeling better already, the heart palpitations continued.  I know I have a strong mind body connection, and my mind is always looking for places to send my fear and anxiety. Once those pathways are developed, they are hard to redirect.  My heart is simply the latest place anxiety is being sent. 

Each time I feel the anxiety begin in my stomach and race up to my heart, I say, “Hello anxiety, how are you?” Also, “Hello worry, how are you?”, “Hello future tripping, how are you?”, and “Hello fixation on the past, how are you?” In essence, I’m keeping myself in the present moment by practicing mindfulness in my daily thoughts.

I’ve been doing that now for about a week, and the palpitations have reduced in frequency and in intensity.  They’re still happening, but they are much improved.  Also, my stomach issues cleared up and I haven’t gotten a recent migraine.  (Two other common anxiety and stress symptoms for me.)  Maybe my anxiety just wanted to be recognized…

Neither of these exercises were prescribed to me by a professional.  But, I had been asking for guidance in dealing with the fear and anxiety, and these two strategies appeared.  Sure, it could be coincidence, but I’ll say this: whenever I’m tapped into my spirituality, solutions like these tend to present themselves with less worry and struggle.

It’s kind of comforting, you know?  To think that in all of our confusion, overwhelm, and uncertainty, that there could basically be a roadmap showing us the way.  I’d say it sounds too good to be true, but how can I deny these experiences?  I’ve never been one too proud to stop my car and ask for directions, so I’ll choose to think of this in the same way. 

I’d love to hear from you about if you’ve had similar experiences.  In the comments below, can you tell me about a time that you followed your own signs? 

And if you are curious, and maybe looking for a prayer of your own, you’re welcome to use mine, said verbatim each morning after 20 minutes of meditation:

My Morning Prayer

“Good morning.  Thank you for my life, my health, my family and friends, my home, for art and music, the ocean and the mountains, and all of these amazing experiences I get to have.

Please continue to give the guidance, strength and clarity to stay on your path and please continue to give me the willingness to accept and recognize your path. 

Please continue to help me walk through anxiety and fear, and replace it with trust and confidence in the path that has been laid out before me.

Thank you for these gifts.  Thank you for your love.  May I do your will always. Amen.”

 

BTW - My most recent art series, The Love Club (pictured above) is open to the public starting today, Thursday, October 3rd and will close at the end of the day on Monday, October 7th.  Click here to learn about the Love Club and to shop the latest collection.   

 

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.

Saying “Hello,” to My Anxiety Instead of Wishing It Away

After years of wishing my intense feelings away, I realize that I do not have that power.  I do, however, have power over how I react to them.

 

I was 30 years old and living in New Orleans the first time I quit drinking.  I decided to quit for a year, mostly to prove to myself that I didn’t have a drinking problem.  I didn’t get help as I was sure I was strong enough to do it myself. I took up baking and opted to stay home most nights while my friends and my husband were out and about.

A few months into being alcohol free, I reemerged to have dinner with friends. After a few bottles of wine had been consumed, (me sipping on soda water), one of them, we’ll call him Jackass, turned to me and said, “Still not drinking, huh?’ 

“No.”  I replied

“That’s cool...but you know, the real way to prove that you can control yourself is to be able to go out and have a drink or two and then stop.” (What a Jackass.)

I walked away but thought to myself, "maybe he's right."

I ended up not drinking for 18 months when suddenly, at a new neighbor’s BBQ in Southern Oregon, I decided that Jackass was right, and I cracked open a beer. 

I was 36 years old the second time I quit drinking.  I did it differently and got help.  I was having tea with a new friend, sober seven years to my seven months, and I was bitching about one thing or another.  In short, someone had pissed me off…which was not hard to do at that point in my life. 

Sober Friend turned to me and said, “Well what could you have done differently in that situation?”

Puzzled, I replied, “I guess I shouldn’t have let so-and-so make me angry.  And then I shouldn’t have let her make me sad and unsure about myself.”

Sober Friend glared at me.  “Let me ask you something…Who in the fuck do you think you are?” 

Shocked, I fell silent, cheeks burning red, and started searching my brain for exactly what response I was supposed to give her. 

“Are you God?” The stare she was giving was one of the most intense looks I have ever seen on a person.  “You think you can control how you feel?  You think you can just make yourself not angry, sad, or unsure?” 

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but it ended with her sending me home and telling me I had a lot of work to do. I do know, that with those four questions, she blew me open, and I had an entirely different view of how I perceived myself.  

 

I could no more help the feelings I had any more than I could help having a drinking problem.

 

I could no more help the feelings I had any more than I could help having a drinking problem.  (Which at that point I knew I had when Sober Friend also told me that if I was unsure I had a drinking problem, to go out drinking.  Recalling Jackass’ advice, and my neighbor’s BBQ, I knew I had already tried that experiment, and five years later was suicidal.) 

What I had to learn was how to change my perspective on having those feelings.  I could yell and stomp my feet like a child, or I could question why I was getting so fucking upset and simply talk about how I was feeling. 

At the root of it, I think I had always been a little embarrassed about how much I FEEL, so to admit that in a rational way just sounded kind of humiliating.  It was way easier to get pissed, act the victim, blame others and throw myself a pity party. (I was a ton of fun to be around during those days, let me tell you.) 

About four years later, I had pretty much gotten a grip on how to handle my anger. It didn’t send me into a downward spiral, as it did when I was drinking and in the early years of quitting.  But other feelings bubbled up…you know, the ones that I had tried to repress with alcohol from the time I was 13. I learned that I had chronic anxiety, an unhealthy fear of failure, and depression was common for me to slip into. 

A friend of mine, we’ll call her Chill Jill, had come to visit and we were sitting in the back yard talking on a cool autumn night.  I was complaining about feeling the way I did.  Why did I have to be so sensitive?  Why was I so scared all the time?  Chill Jill said, “I don’t know…I feel like you should just give less fucks.”

At first, I was pissed.  This seemed like completely dismissive advice.  My feelings we actually a little hurt. But as time went on, I decide CJ was right.  I should give less fucks!  Why worry all the time?  I actually did a good bit of writing on the topic and until this past week, I was even going to do a series of paintings about “Giving Less Fucks,” called Inappropriate Mantras and Affirmations

Two months ago, or so, I began to fall apart again.  I felt I had no control.   Two weeks ago, I was anxious such that I had to go to my doctor to be reassured that I wasn’t having a heart attack. (I wasn’t.) I started meditating again, exercising daily, cut my coffee half with decaf, and started a new supplement protocol. 

 

I realized that no matter how much progress I make, no matter how much I think I learn, there will be a next time when I fall to pieces once again.

 

This past Friday, I felt something lift, and I knew that the cycle had completed, but this time around, I realized that no matter how much progress I make, no matter how much I think I learn, there will be a next time when I fall to pieces once again.  And I have to be ok with that.

Because the thing is, I do give a fuck.  I give lots of fucks.  I have so much care and empathy within my heart that sometimes I can’t separate myself from it.  For myself.  For others.  It’s exhausting feeling quite this much, but I can’t help it.  I’m sensitive and emotional, and like Sober Friend said, who do I think I am to not feel my feelings?

I think Chill Jill is lucky.  It must be nice to give less fucks, and I would like to know how that feels, but burying them definitely doesn't work, and I’ve decided that I can’t disregard the fucks I give.  If I gave less fucks, I wouldn’t make the art I make, feel music the way I do, or be able to share this writing with you.  I realize that what I need to do is exactly what I did before when Sober Friend ripped me a new asshole, and change my perspective on the feelings that I have. 

 

I can’t impress on you enough how much meditation helps me. 

 

This past week, I watched a cool show on Netflix called, The Mind Explained. I skipped to episodes three, Anxiety, and four, Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the type of meditation that I practice and it interested me that they had put those two topics side by side.  Turns out that one of the masters of mindfulness meditation suffered from crippling anxiety when he was a child. 

He said something along the lines of, when he started meditating as a kid, he learned that he could just say hello to his anxiety, and be with it without freaking out.  Not tell it to go away but to simply be with it, and to actually talk to it. “Hello, Anxiety.  How are you?” he says with a grin. 

I’m going to try this.  I can’t impress on you enough how much meditation helps me.  I’m not sure I would have felt the relief I did this past Friday if I hadn’t been doing it most mornings for about ten days, so I think the Master is onto something.

Maybe now instead of making a painting ordering me to “Give less fucks”, I’ll make a few that say, “Hello Fucks.  How are you?” The thought of that actually makes me feel even better.

Can you think of a time that you felt crippled by your own feelings?  In the comments, I’d love to hear one thing you do to bring you back to harmony.

Namaste.

 

By the way, my new series of Love Clubs (some of them, including the full size ones pictured above in progress) is almost done and I’m on target to open my sale online to the public next week on October 3rd.  However, I do have a waitlist for those who want first dibs to the sale on October 1st.  If you would like to be on that waitlist, CLICK HERE.

 

 

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.

Allowing the Ebb and Flow of Anxiety and Growth

Sometimes, as frustrating as it may be, you need to ebb in order to flow.

This past week, I slipped into old patterns, and ended up in my doctor’s office due to out of control anxiety.  I was pretty sure that what I was experiencing was anxiety, but when you feel like you’re having a heart attack, it helps to have a professional tell you that you aren’t actually dying. 

I am aware that these times are all part of a greater growth cycle.  My logical mind knows that in the bigger picture, I have come a far way in knowing myself better and being able to manage this monster called anxiety.  Does that make it any easier when the monster rears up its ugly head.  Not in the least.

Every single time, I feel defeated, out of control and straight up scared.  I think that my husband and daughter are mad at me for no reason at all.  I interpret their body language as irritated and stand offish. I can’t accomplish what I want to at work and thus feel like I’m failing at all I’m trying to do.

 

Every single time, I feel defeated, out of control and straight up scared.

 

I cried every damn day for about 8 days straight.  The anxiety manifested physically within my body causing a hell of a migraine, what I thought were heart palpitations, loss of appetite, upset tummy, and for the first time in many years, unexplained knee pain. 

I also realized that this has been building up for months with minor instances of anxiety that I wrote off as “smaller anxiety attacks than I used to have”.  Nope…they were just indicator waves warning me of the larger storm out on the horizon.

When I went to the doctor and they weighed me, I’d lost 8 pounds.  If you know me, you know I don’t have much weight to spare.  I’m a string bean.  Always have been.  My doctor explained the weight loss to me by saying, “It makes sense that you don’t want to eat.  When you’re being chased by a tiger, your brain isn’t going to say, ok you should stop and eat now.  It’s going to say RUN LIKE HELL!” 

I had to take notice of the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time I practiced my daily meditation, that my exercise regime had become sporadic, that I was watching way too much TV and spending far too much time on social media.  Also, I felt tired 100% of the time and so my caffeine intake had about doubled. 

After an ECG, my doctor confirmed that my heart was healthy, I was not going to drop dead, and she and I came up with a protocol of a few different Chinese herbal formulas, neuro bathing magnesium before bed, cutting my coffee with half decaf, and bringing my meditation practice back into full swing.

A friend of mine said she had solved a slew of health issues, including a thyroid problem she was developing, by setting a timer for every two hours to remind herself to eat.  I’ve adopted that as well and now have “Fuel Up!” reminders that pop up on my phone.

 

The ocean helps to wipe my slate clean

 

I went to the ocean and surfed.  The conditions were difficult but it felt good to be out.  The ocean helps to wipe my slate clean.  Am I back to 100%?  No.  I still feel highly sensitive.  There are tears in my eyes as I’m writing this.  I still feel a bit defeated and like I’m sleep walking.  But I also feel I’m at the end of the cycle and on the road to getting back to health…for this time.

I know I have to give myself a break, and I am.  My doctor reminded me that this is partially a chemical issue that I do not have control over, and that is equal parts reassuring and frustrating at the same time.  I’m filled with conflict.  A walking oxymoron. 

The other part of this struggle is habitual.  I was looking at a surf book over the weekend called, “The Code”, by Shaun Tomson.  Through 12 short stories, Shaun “offers the simple message – I Will – as a model to face life’s challenges and help you achieve your goals”.  I only read the back of the book, but that line stood out to me. 

Yesterday, someone made a very thoughtful comment on one of my social media posts about how when we wake up in the morning, and our head is immediately spinning with the things that we are worried about, most of those worries are based on past failures and/or old stories. Therefore, when we wake up and choose to focus on that, we are basing our future decision making on past failures and worries, which is just setting us up to experience the same patterns.  That has stayed me as well.

I have decided to combine those two insights into developing a new morning ritual.  When I wake up, and my head starts spinning, I have begun to immediately reframe all of the worries within my head into “I Will” statements. 

I will get work done. I will accomplish enough.  I will meditate and exercise. I will feel more at ease.  I will be successful today.” It’s simple, but it actually does make me feel better and helps me to set a healthy intention for my day.

 

Sometimes we have to go through internal conflict in order to get to that next higher place within ourselves.

 

By just having that insight, I feel like I’ve grown a bit through this rough patch.  My therapist calls me a seeker, and it’s true. I can’t help but be grateful for these times when I’m struggling.  I used to think that made me some sort of sadist, but it’s not so.   It’s because I recognize the truth within all of this shit.  That sometimes we have to go through internal conflict in order to get to that next higher place within ourselves.

I have never been one to stay in one situation for very long.  Even my new Love Club art project, which has been extremely popular and is in demand, will bore me at some point and I won’t want to do it anymore.  Sometimes I wish I could be one who was happy within a never-changing routine, but I know myself better than that. 

That may mean that I have to ebb in order to flow, and that’s ok.  It’s fucking hard, but it’s ok. 

Can you think of a time that you have had to allow yourself a few steps back in order to move forward?  In the comments, I’d love for you to share one of these experiences. 

  

I am on target to offering a new series of Love Clubs in early October.  If you’d like to get first dibs, sign up for the wait list by clicking here.  

 

*The painting at top is from my Reclaimed Heart series. Diving Heart 8, 6”x6”, Paper and Acrylic on Canvas, $120.  We must dive deep to see growth.  To make this reminder your own, click here.

 

 

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.

 

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.