How Art Helps Me Battle Negativity

I am a master of disguises.  Not just because I grew up in New Orleans and I’m quite the experienced costumed reveler.  No, I am a master because you would never know that I battle anxiety and to a lesser degree, depression every single day.  Outwardly I have spent the majority of my life an extravert, a social director, hostess with the mostess and, up until I quit drinking, the life of the party.  First one out and last one up. 

Alcohol allowed me to hide in plain sight the feelings of inadequacy and fear so I could be alongside my peers in what I perceived to be how one should be in order to be social and popular.  When alcohol stopped working for me and sobriety crept in, I was suddenly an introvert.  The social anxieties that I had hid from for 36 years were suddenly ever present, terrifying, disorienting and at times debilitating. 

Coming to grips with the fact that I have probably always been an introvert wearing an extrovert costume was an insight into myself that wasn’t all that welcome.  The people that I saw as “cool” were most definitely not introverts.  Without drinking, the mask became harder to put on.  I could only be myself and I have never necessarily liked myself very much.  My physical attributes were never “in style”.  The things I was good at have never been the “right” things. I have never felt right in the world. I know exactly what Smokey Robinson was feeling when he wrote Tears of a Clown:

Now if I appear to be carefree
It's only to camouflage my sadness
In order to shield my pride I try
To cover this hurt with a show of gladness

That’s what it was…a show.  Three months after I quit drinking, I started painting.  I have an art background, but I had not stoked that fire in many years, and painting was never my favorite medium.  But so it began.  Not having many painting supplies (I had long since given away most of them from my art school days) I started with simple paintings on paper.  I would sit in the corner of my dining room and paint; sometimes for hours at a time.  I didn’t know what I was trying to paint or if I had any clear intention at all, but I could feel the pull of a far off realm encouraging me to dive into the paper, into the color, to make any stroke with the paint brush that popped into my head. 

 I wasn’t at that point thinking about color wheels or composition.  It was a  call from my Self to myself.  I began painting with fervor, experimenting with  anything and everything that came to my hand.  It was within these arts  induced trances that I was calm, breath and heart beat steady, without  thought of the terrifying thing called sobriety on which I was embarking.  In  fact, I wouldn’t be thinking about anything. 

surfer girl, surf, surfboard, ocean, waves, beachPhoto of me feeling camera shy...and scoping out some waves
(Photo Credit: Chris Goodyear)

 It was and is an active meditation for me and it carries over into my every  day.  The more I practice this, the more influence it has on my confidence.  I  can speak up with a greater ease.  I’m not so worried about what people  are saying about me (because let’s be honest….usually they’re not saying anything at all).   I am sometimes amazed at what I create.  The process is what keeps me active and the end products make me proud.  This is not me pretending to be anything.  This is not a deception because it would be impossible to fake it.  It is as honest as I can live and honesty is the base of my confidence; it is unshakable.  It allows me to live peacefully in the present, leaving resentments and expectations at the door.     

I’m always expecting something to go wrong. I’m constantly taking deep breaths so my heartbeat doesn’t pound in my chest.  I’m scared of saying or doing the wrong things around people that I don’t know very well or who I look up to.  Three years and a body of work later I know now what has happened.  Without getting into a long spiritual conversation, I can say that I was given a gift.  I began painting at the same time I started a seated meditation practice and began taking surfing to another level.  These are all the same practice and when I don’t tend to these activities, my anxiety grows and depression is usually pretty close behind. 

Staying active in mindfulness is about as easy as getting to the gym to exercise.  So hard to begin and yet the feeling of accomplishment and nourishment is unparalleled.  So I keep at it.  I know that my feelings are not always facts but I do know that when I paint, the dire feelings that I have about going to the grocery melt away.  The fear of living up to everyone’s expectations is squashed.  I actually feel more beautiful when I paint and more comfortable in my own skin.  Even when I’m not happy with how a painting is going.  At least I am doing it.  I’m putting myself out there.  I’m taking chances.  I’m excited about what comes next instead of terrified by it.  Those feelings stay with me after I wash my brushes and clean up my studio.  I am less likely to slip into negative thought patterns and I am in general, a happier person. 

So I think I’ll stick with it. Plus, I see how far I have come over the past 3 years and instead of being terrified that I’m going to lose it or that people won’t like it, I am excited to see where it will go next.  I look forward to surprising myself over and over again. 

Painting at top is Storm 28"x22" Mixed Media on Canvas

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Comments (2):

Louis Sahuc on

Marigny,
Good for you and good for us – we need you too. Have always thought you were cool.
Louis

Gillian on

I love your writing. Thanks so much for sharing! Also I feel very drawn to the art that you have been sharing on Facebook,
It’s really impressive. I come to Ashland now and then, and would love to catch up w you at some point. Perhaps for a nice cup of tea? I would seriously love to see you.
Much love!
Gillian

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Four Reasons to Speak Your Truth, No Matter What Others Think

We fear speaking our truths because of rejection, judgement, and being misunderstood, but in fact, hiding our truths is far more damaging than speaking them.

 

Last week I sent out a questionnaire to you, My Fellow Artventurer.  I asked about fears and/or challenges that you have surrounding speaking your truth, finding peace within your life, and living with an anxious mind. 

I received many different answers to the “finding peace” and “living with an anxious mind questions”, but the question, “when it comes to speaking your truth, what is your greatest fear or challenge,” resulted in one common answer: you’re afraid to speak your truth because of the reaction you’ll receive from others.

This answer came in a few different forms:

“I worry what people will think of me.”

“The truth can hurt others.”

“Being misunderstood by the listener.”

“Judgement and rejection.”

“No one listens.”

“That the other person will get mad/yell at me.”

“Being rejected or not understood." 

“The truth—and I—will be received poorly.”

“Being rejected or told I’m not worth it.” 

“Rejection and misunderstanding.”

Holy Moly.  Quite the common thread.  I TOTALLY 100% resonate with these answers as I lived the majority of my life scared to death of what others thought of me.  So much so, that I didn’t show my true self, I didn’t state my true needs, and I made decisions based on what I thought “you” wanted me to do (without asking you, of course). 

Never-the-less, once again this questionnaire has shown me how alike we are, and that my fears are not unique.  It has really made me ponder why is it, exactly, that we fear the reaction of others as much as we do. 

I remember when I was a teenager, I was at a restaurant and really wanted to order meatloaf and mashed potatoes, but ordered a burger instead because I was scared of what the other kids at the table would think of my comfort food craving.  If I didn’t even order the food I wanted based on fear of judgement, you can imagine what the other decisions in my life were like.

When I was in my late 30s, I decided to start writing this blog about being an artist.  If you go back to the beginning, my blogs were about my process in the studio and the projects I was currently working on.  Then I began to speak freely about the challenges of living with anxiety, loneliness, insecurities, all of the emotions that I had felt all through my life and squirreled away into a great big hole within, too afraid of what it would mean if I expressed how I really felt inside.

Then I dropped my truth bomb about being an alcoholic and promiscuous teen and what that had done to my emotional and mental health as I grew into a woman.  It was that essay that unlocked the power of speaking my truth. 

First off, I found out I was not alone.  Talk about a shocker.  Women from all over the world reached out to me, not only to say that they too felt what I felt, but also to thank me for having the courage to speak up about an uncomfortable topic.  They called me strong.  They thanked me for offering a way to talk to our children and stop the cycle of girls growing into women who feel that they have nothing to offer men beyond their sex.  I now realize that none of us are alone.

Number two, I discovered that speaking my truth gives me confidence, and that makes me want to do it more.  My life changed that day I began hearing from my readers.  I felt seen, maybe for the first time.  And that was not the fault of my loved ones who support me no matter what.  They were always there.  But I learned that my silence was me hiding, and that’s why I had not been seen before.

Thirdly, I discovered that I had been living dishonestly.  You know what the opposite of truth is, right?  Yup…a lie.  I had to admit that me not speaking my truths was just as damaging as me telling lies.  I was scared of the outcome of telling others how I felt, and so I created my truth based on what I thought “you” wanted me to say.  The damage that was created within my life by not speaking my truths was hard for me to look at, but existed none-the-less.

Fourth, I realized that what others think and say about me is NONE OF MY DAMN BUSINESS.  I mean that.  You might be saying, “Of course it’s my business!  It’s about me!” and I suppose if others are slandering me to a point that it’s effecting my home life or career, then yes, that is my business.  But otherwise, everyone has an opinion and the opinions of others are not here to serve me.  My mental health is too important to be stifled by worry about what others think about me.

 

The fact is the damage that I inflicted upon myself by not speaking my truths, was FAR WORSE than the damage that anyone else’s opinion ever inflicted upon me.

 

Damn…I wish I had learned that lesson when I was in my teens, or twenties, or earlier in my thirties for that matter.  The fact is the damage that I inflicted upon myself by not speaking my truths, was FAR WORSE than the damage that anyone else’s opinion ever inflicted upon me.  I was my own bully.  I allowed the infinite “what if” scenarios to be the decision makers. 

And far worse, I made my decisions based on what I thought you wanted me to do without even asking you, therefore, I decided that I knew what you were thinking! If I think about it, that’s pretty fucking arrogant. I mean, who am I to know what anyone is thinking.  What…I’m some omnipotent being who can read minds?  No...I thought everyone thought like I did, and I was extremely judgmental. 

Funny, huh?  I was terrified of the judgements of others, but really it was me that thought I knew everything.  And worse, when it blew back in my face, I blamed you for not acting how I thought you would.

*Deep sigh.  I’m still learning.  Apparently, a lot of us are.  I would like to continue talking about the importance of speaking our truths as I can see that many of us live in self-imposed prisons that we have judged and sentenced ourselves to. 

I’d like to investigate what allowed me to change this behavior.  What was it that made me feel safe to do so?  Is there a way for us to learn how before we create damage within our lives that can’t be undone (AKA hitting rock bottom…)?

Let’s try this…for one week, so until my next blog post, let’s all commit to speaking at least one small truth a day.  This could be when your partner says, “what do you want to watch tonight?” and you say, “I don’t care,” when in reality you want to watch Legally Blond for the one hundredth time. It could be asking for someone else to make dinner on Wednesday, instead of slogging into the kitchen to make dinner, all the while hiding resentment towards the bottomless mouth holes that are your family.  (Come on…we’ve all felt it…)

In the comments below, I want to hear one baby truth bomb that you’ll drop this week. 

These examples may seem small, but in my past, I would harbor an incredible amount of anger around these types of daily scenarios.  If we can’t learn to communicate our truths in these simple ways, what’s the likelihood we’ll do it when big stuff comes up? 

We must start by starting, and so, let’s begin.

  

My Reclaimed Hearts series is now available on my website.  These paintings are all about the healing and strength that I gained by speaking my truth.  I have learned that my feelings count, and that I owe it to myself and my loved ones to express it, even when it seems hard.  Learn more about these paintings and give yourself a reminder of the importance of speaking our truths by Clicking Here. 

 

The painting at top is from the Reclaimed Hearts series. Diving Heart 8, 6”x6”, acrylic & paper on canvas with a 1.5” gallery wrap profile.  $120

 

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.

Thank God for This Particular Anxiety Symptom

In times of crisis, I have discovered that my anxiety can actually be quite helpful.

 

Today my heart is bursting at the seams with love.  In a time of crisis, I have witnessed my community come together in an incredible way.  As one who has always been a bit wary of “the kindness of strangers”, I have met people as recently as this morning who have shown me such an amazing outpouring of generosity and kindness, that I was holding back tears while walking to my car.

Ok, maybe I'm not holding them back anymore.  It’s been a week of keeping it all together, and yesterday, I finally broke down, releasing all of my emotions surrounding a very sensitive situation.  Now, the flood gates are opening and the smallest kindness is enough to make me straight up ugly cry. 

I usually like to talk about my anxiety and the situations that exacerbate it as specifically as possible.  I don’t have that luxury in this particular situation, due to other people being involved, but I will say that I have learned some important things about my community and about my anxiety, especially when applied to times of crisis.  

 

In a time where “community” has become difficult to cultivate, this past week I learned that I have one that will stand up and be there for each other, no matter how difficult the situation. 

 

Community wise, the short of it is that in a time where “community” has become difficult to cultivate, this past week I learned that I have one that will stand up and be there for each other, no matter how difficult the situation.   We have all come together in a rare and powerful way and I am grateful beyond words to know that exists.  It has been witnessed and commented on by many and I am blown away by the help that we have given to each other.  OMG what a blessing.

Anxiety wise, I have a few observations.  One is that my anxiety can help me be a strong mother fucker when I need to be.  I spend much of my time thinking about how to deal with what I assume to be weakness when it comes to living with anxiety. 

 

Anxiety often tells me that I don’t do enough and I don’t do good enough. 

 

Anxiety often tells me that I don’t do enough and I don’t do good enough. In turn, I am extremely detail oriented and so paranoid about doing right by myself and others, that I will work myself to the bone to make sure that I am giving one million percent of myself, at all times. It’s an excellent way to burn out, and something that I have become aware of overtime, and that I am careful to check myself on when practicing self-care.

This month, I’ve been discussing how my series of paintings, Reclaimed Hearts, and sub series, A Lovely Mess, address finding the light in the darkest of situations.  This mindset is allowing me to find a benefit within this particular anxiety symptom:  I am a rock star in a crisis.

Over the past week, I have held myself, and others, together.  I have organized a tremendous amount of information, moved my office, and re-organized my home.  I have implemented a way of streamlining all of the new moving parts within my household.  I have still managed to grocery shop, cook for my family, keep up with my business, and most importantly, I have made time to practice self-care during it all. 

I have stayed calm and collected during all of this.  Yesterday, I finally cried, but it was a good cry.  It was a “oh everything is going to be ok” cry. 

I recalled when my best friend had her first baby, extremely prematurely.  She had to go to the NICU every day for weeks to care for her little one.  She put one foot in front of the other and got what needed to get done, done.  When she finally got her daughter home, she called me and said, “Well…that was REALLY hard,” and finally was able to exhale.

That’s where I feel I am today.  Exhaling.  Hard. 

 

Today, I am thankful for my anxiety. 

 

Today, I am thankful for my anxiety.  I am thankful that the sometimes-manic perfectionism helped me stay organized so I could walk clearly through the unbelievable chaos.  I am grateful that, for every negative thought I have about myself and my anxiety, that I am able to see how those same characteristics make me solid in times of crisis, when others are having trouble seeing the road ahead.

And I am crying right at this very moment thinking about my community.  I know now that I am not and will never be 100% alone.  There will always be others looking out for me and my family.  That we are a village who will sacrifice and make what needs to happen, happen, despite inconveniences and situations that are beyond our control.  We came together.  We are creating order within the chaos. And we are doing that because we have love in our hearts for each other.

My to do list over the past week has not yet stopped growing, unfortunately, and I still have art to make for the holidays.  Life doesn’t stop for crisis, but I am part of a team of people who are all propping each other up until the storm passes, and the seas are calm again.  We have each other’s backs, and that is a light brightly outshining the darkness.  The darkness is no match for the outpouring of love that I have witnessed, and for that, oh man, I am thankful.  Onward.

In the comments below, I’d love to know one thing that is helpful for you, in the midst of a crisis.  Much love and peace to you.

 

The painting at top is from my Reclaimed Hearts, series and is titled, Night Rainbow, (24x24, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, $1200). This is a nod to one of my favorite children's books by Cooper Edens called, If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow. Edens also suggests, "If there is no happy ending, make one out of cookie dough." This week, I am grateful for the Night Rainbow that is my community. 

 

To learn more about Reclaimed Hearts, and to get on the waitlist and receive a discount code for the November original art sale, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Steps to Move Through Overwhelm and Gain Clarity and Strength

When anxiety and overwhelm create confusion, these three steps help me gain clarity, and the strength to move forward.

 

This past week, life did that thing where it decided to take a sharp right turn while I was contently going straight down my every day routine.  I’ve taken the attitude that sometimes life does that and I can only control what I can control.  A portion of this unplanned right turn is definitely out of my control, and yet, a portion of it I can handle. So, I’m choosing to focus on that. 

Am I overwhelmed?  Yes.  Am I losing my fucking mind?  No.  The reason I am not losing my mind right now is because A. I know I’m on the path that I should be on and I’m right where I need to be, and B. I really don’t feel like losing my fucking mind and frankly, I don’t have the time.

 

There is only one way forward, and that is to keep moving, one foot in front of the other, baby steps if necessary, but forward never-the-less.

 

For me, there is only one way forward, and that is to keep moving, one foot in front of the other, baby steps if necessary, but forward never-the-less.  I realize that stopping for too long gives my brain a chance to run wild, and that cannot happen right now.  So, lots of list making and mucho organizing.  I realize that productivity is a sure way to calm down my brain. If I am “doing”, I cannot be overwhelmed with the thoughts of everything that “should be done”. 

Simple, right?  Well, it occurred to me that it has taken me a very long time to get to this point, and I have actually figured out three steps that I take when anxiety and overwhelm strike, that help me break everything down into manageable actions. 

Oddly, these steps have nothing to do with organizing or making lists.  Those are procedures that come out of clarity and the three steps that I am referring to help me gain that clarity and in turn, strength and confidence to deal with the various shit shows that arrive unexpectedly.

 

Three Steps to Gaining Clarity and Strength in Any Situation:

 

  1. Dive Deep and Ask for the Truth

When I find myself confused and unsure as to how to proceed, I stop, sit, close my eyes, breathe, and search for the pure truth of the situation.  Most of the time, it’s simple.  It’s my brain that makes it complicated.  That doesn’t mean that the situation isn’t important.  It just means that it’s my emotional state that creates over thinking and impedes progress.

It can be scary at first to ask.  I’m never sure what the truth will be and one thing that panics me is a state of “not knowing”. However, when I search for the truth and ask for guidance, I receive it.  Yup…it’s that simple.  This has never failed me.  It may take a few times of asking and listening, but the answer ALWAYS comes.

 

  1. Accept the Truth When It Comes

Finding it is one thing.  Accepting it is quite another. This has taken some practice, but has gotten significantly easier for me, over time.  I have also accepted that sometimes what I want, is not necessarily what I need.  When I see the truth, I cannot convolute it or try to change it to adapt to what I want.  The truth is the truth just as two plus two equals four.  I didn’t ever argue with my math teachers and in fact, I was a straight A math student, because math is straight forward.  There is no wiggle room.  It is concrete.  This is how I choose to look at the truth.

Actually, accepting the truth in this way has uncomplicated my life.  If truth plus truth equals solutions, in the same way that two plus two equals four, then who am I to argue with it.  Just accept it and move forward.

 

  1. Speak the Truth Out Loud

And I don’t mean start a blog and shout it to the world as I have…unless you want to, then that’s totally cool.  Say it, to your partner, to your best friend, or to a mirror.  I believe that when I speak my truths out loud, that I release them into their own beings; that when my truths exit my head, they are born, in a sense.

They become their own entities and I am able to see them from outside myself, separate my emotional reactions, and find compassion for them.  I have trouble finding compassion for myself, but never for the beings that are around me. So separating them from myself, creates a strength that I feel deep down in my bones. By speaking my truths, they are released from my body, and room is created for strength to move in and occupy that space.

 

We must first put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we can help those around us. 

 

Once I have that new-found courage, I am able to break down overwhelming situations into manageable lists. Then I start easily checking off the to dos as I get them done, also accepting that it might take time to get through them all, and that’s ok. 

From here, the most important thing is to keep moving, following that deep gut direction that I’ve found by searching, accepting, and speaking my truth.  If I stop for too long, my head will try to hijack the process.  Gut direction is solid.  Head direction messes my shit all up.

And to be clear, I stop for healthy breaks; to eat, drink, meditate, go for walks, do a bit of Yoga, and sleep for 7-8 hours.  It is important that I take care of myself, especially in times of crisis and overwhelm.  It is the days that I say, “I don’t have time to meditate today,” that I need to make time to meditate.  What they say about the oxygen mask is true.  We must first put it on ourselves before we can help those around us. 

 

Does this sound familiar to you?  In the comments, I’d love for you to share which one of these steps you can commit to practicing in the coming week. It can be for the simplest of situations, or huge life changes.  This process applies to it all.

  

My Reclaimed Hearts series is a visual representation of these 3 steps.  Once we release the confusion and allow strength to fill the empty space, we heal ourselves and gain clarity.  

The painting at top is Soaring Heart 8, 8”x8”, acrylic & paper on canvas, $160.  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 is never too late to take your power back, grow, and love yourself. In fact, it’s as easy as two plus two equals four.

 

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 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.