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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Be a Lighthouse: How I Protest Every Day

Want to make a difference in this crazy ass world?  Stand your ground.  Speak your truth. Shine a light of strength & hope for those who haven't found theirs yet.

Since my rant last week, I’ve been thinking… I was at my wits end, throwing my hands up in the air and waving them like…well…like I care.  I have a ton of care in my heart, as I think many of us do.  We are not ok with watching our country’s shit show from the side lines but maybe we’re not quite sure what we can do, what difference we can actually make, and exactly how to go about making it. 

I’ve been working overtime this past week, getting ready for my art show in Bend (which is this Friday!), and also getting a June pop up shop opened on my website.  It’s been a lot but I have some vacation time planned for the next few weeks and I wanted to get all the things done so relaxation can commence!

My pop up shop was a bit different this month.  What started as a joke, ended up being a product that I actually created.  A satirical product of sorts.  It’s called the Love Club, and no, it’s not a group of loving folks that meet regularly for orgies.  It’s an actually club.  A little wooden bat made as a visual deterrent for women to carry when they find themselves in situations when they don’t feel safe, or are getting unwanted attention from men.  So…it’s appropriate for 90% of a woman’s waking life.

It all started when a girlfriend of mine was lamenting on Facebook about how she feels threatened by toxic men when she walks her dog around the park that is next to her house.  She has a Pitbull, y’all, and she still doesn’t feel safe.  She was asking for advice from her Facebook community as to how to combat these men.

She got many suggestions such as, don’t make eye contact, steel yourself, carry pepper spray or a taser, and while the advice was well intended, she got a bit frustrated.  She likes being friendly.  She enjoys talking to people.  She wants to smile and say hello.  She named her Pitbull “Flower” for Pete’s sake.

I told her that when I lived in the French Quarter, I had a bright red aluminum bat that I slept with by my bed.  If I had to walk to my car by myself late at night or early in the morning, I took the bat with me.  “So, you just walk around wielding a bat?” she asked.  I explained that I didn’t carry it like I was about to swing it at everyone I passed.  It was more of a statement: “Hey.  I have a bat.  Maybe don’t fuck with me.”

About a week later, I went to visit a friend over at his wood shop gallery, and he had these little bats, about a foot long, made from solid maple.  I told him that would be perfect for an idea I had and he gave me the bat, which I brought home, and covered in hearts and bright, pretty colors.  On the top of it, I wrote “Back Off” within one of the hearts and named it the Love Club. “Bludgeon them with kindness,” I said followed by, “When Owning a Pitbull Isn’t Enough, THE LOVE CLUB”.

I received a text from her: “I love this so much.  I want to use it SO bad.” Then she commissioned another one for a girlfriend of hers who is about to embark on a solo van journey this Summer.  That got me thinking…  I would have totally bought one of these when I lived in the French Quarter.  I mean, if you’ve got to walk with a weapon, it might as well look good. 

Apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks so.  I have sold 12 of the 17 that I made for the pop up shop.  One person bought four of them.  Another snagged two.  Another woman who bought one lives just around the corner from the last New Orleans home I lived in.  8TH Ward represent!

What does this have to do with our country’s shit show?  Well, this is how I am protesting.  I am an artist.  I make things.  I create from my heart and soul.  What is stirring in my soul right now are thoughts of the hate that seems to be growing towards minorities and members of the LBGTQ community, the control that predominantly white men seem to think they should have over women, and the intolerance towards people who just want to give a better life to their children. 

I’m not ok.  It’s not ok.  This is not the world I thought I lived in.  And that’s a big part of my soul stirring…that I thought the world was a different place.  Yes, I was naïve and living my life within my own bubble that is safe, warm, and clean.  I’m rolling my own eyes at myself while I’m typing this.  I was in Never Never Land.  I think many of us were.  Some still are.

I cannot ditch my life and hit the streets.  Well not yet anyway. But I realized that what I have been doing, ever since the Kavanaugh hearings spun me into an emotionally charged break down, is protesting.  I protested by outing myself as a promiscuous teen and discussing the complex grey area of consent within our culture.  I have talked openly about how my troubled teen years created a decades long struggle with alcoholism, anxiety, and depression.  I created a series of paintings that represents the healing of my heart, and another about the beauty that I try with all my might to see when everything around me seems to be heading into the dark.  

And I created a love weapon; to be carried by women who are sick of being fucked with but also enjoy being friendly.  I mean, many of us ladies have been told all our lives that because we are girls, we have to be “ladylike”.  Well here you go.  I offer you my ladylike accessory that could also give you a concussion. 

Today, I ran across a quote from Anne Lamott that says, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save.  They just stand there shining.”  She’s absolutely right.  So, when you’re trying to think about how you can make a difference, how you can aid in the shit show disaster relief, know that you can do so by simply standing your ground and shining a light on what is wrong and what is right. 

Use the talents that you already have.  If you have kids in your life, explain to them what is going on and how they can do better than we have.  In daily life, when you hear sexist, racist, xenophobic or anti-gay comments and slurs (OMG they happen all the time…people don’t even realize what they’re saying) let them know what it means to you.  Bring awareness to yourself and all those around you.  

We’re in a little bit of trouble right now and I see people who think that because they can’t quit they’re job, and go protest in D.C., that they can’t do anything.  I’m here to tell you that you can, and most likely, you already have been.  You can be the reason that others stop to think about what they are saying.  You can influence those who also feel they want to make a change but don’t think that they can. 

Just like Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I am the change. You are the change.  We are the lighthouses. Shine strong.  The world needs our light.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do We Transition Along with this Crazy Ass World?

What do we do in a world where logical reason and human decency don't seem to be the norm anymore?  

Was it ever the norm to begin with, or have we just been living in denial?

 

On Monday, we returned from the beach.  Rolling up to the house after a weekend of surfing is always a bittersweet moment. I’m happy to be home, but usually the Zen bliss I receive from surfing wears off pretty quickly after getting back to the valley.  Especially when I’m running down the street fussing at a very pissy young man for not cleaning up after his dogs, who habitually crap right in the middle of the sidewalk in front of my house.   Welcome home. 

My tolerance level has bottomed out.  It might be that I’m at my busiest time at work, it’s the end of the school year, and I have a show next week.  Whatever the case may be, I’m already feeling frazzled and I haven’t even gotten to the show yet.  I’m doomed!  It’s all terrible!  How ever will I pull through? 

Yeah yeah yeah.  Blah blah blah.  Bitch bitch bitch.  I know myself well enough to realize that I’m in a negative mind set and it’s going to take some work to get out.  Combine all of the small things with what is going on in our political environment right now and it’s a surprise that we’re not all bat shit crazy. 

I’m finding myself in a place of extreme frustration and agitation.  I feel that my rights as a woman are threatened, the world is literally dying, that life is hard and that’s just the way it is.  It made me feel worse after I tried to cheer up my daughter by telling her that life being hard is not abnormal.  That life’s a bitch and it’s how you handle it that matters.  Well that is definitely NOT what she wanted to hear.  I might as well have killed her puppy.

I told her that she has to take the beauty as it come and accept the chaos along the way. I told her that it won’t get easier, she is not unique in the struggle and that she has to choose how she handles it.  Yeah…she didn’t like any of that. 

But here’s the deal: We have to accept what life throws at us and simply deal with the onslaught.  We have to face the fact that the world is in a moment of transition, we are not in control, that we as a people have weaknesses and it is not ok to sweep those weaknesses under the carpet just because we don’t want to look at them. 

We can pretend to have it all together.  We can pretend to be strong.  We can pretend to be macho.  It’s all bullshit.  I mean, how many people do you know who really, honestly, have it all together?  I’m going to go ahead and say I know two people in my life who have mastered Zen and the Art of Living.  That would be my Father and my Husband.  (Yes, I’m aware that I married my Father.)

The rest of us?  We’re hot mess sundaes with moments of clarity sprinkled on top.  Half the time, I have no idea what the hell is happening.  The other half, I seem to have an ok grip.  But life sure makes it hard to remain in a state of sanity. Why?  Life!  That’s why!

Here is a taste of what I’m talking about: 

  • Friend #1 just wants to take her dog for a damn walk.  She has a big ole Pitbull, but that doesn’t stop the skeezy men who hang out in the park across from her house from ogling and making unwelcome comments.  She doesn’t feel safe walking her fucking Pitbull.

    • Friend #2 needed a roommate, found one, allowed him to move in and he immediately went fucking crazy, refuses to pay rent, or leave, and makes her feel so threatened that she is now living at a neighbor’s house as she awaits a court date.

      • Friend #3 had to go to court to figure out a co-parenting schedule with the Dad, who has not paid a penny in child support, but still felt the need to drag her to court.

        • Not to mention the five different long-term couples we are friends with who have all had total relationship breakdowns within the past year.  Couples dropping like flies around here! 

          • Oh…and the small thing that’s happening to women’s rights presently…I mean how are we all not 100% cray cray at this point?  

           

          Need further evidence?  Here’s a sampling of the first three posts on my Facebook timeline right now:

          • From simple anger: “Growling. Vague book style. Growl with me please. Life is not fair & mean people suck. That is all. Grrrrrrrrr.”

            • To trying to make light: “What the hell is going on?? If my mind wasn’t so blown I’d be able to think of the punch line but there are so many jokes I can barely separate them all.” 

              • To resigning oneself to a global realization: “Worldwide embarrassment.”


              What the hell IS going on?  Is the wisdom I’m trying to give to my daughter doing more damage than good?  Is it just me, or does the shit storm just keep getting more extreme?  I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my cool.  Maybe I shouldn’t.  Perhaps the time has come to ditch all of my pre-conceived notions of how “normal life” works.  To be honest, normalcy got thrown out the window when I realized how naïve I’ve been my whole life in thinking that men and women are equals. (The fact that we don’t receive equal pay blew my mind. Insert eye roll here.) 

              So, what do we do?  Ditch our lives, head to D.C. and protest?  Drag out crazy roommates by the hair?  Shame dead beat dads on social media?  I’ve always been one to take the peaceful route, but frankly, I’m feeling pretty done being polite.  You can ask the guy who I chased down the street demanding that he clean up his dog crap.  He looked at me like I was the asshole. 

              I’m done being quiet.  IT’S NOT OK.  None of it.  I’m not sure what to do but protest in my own way, which today means breaking my own rule of using only one bad word per blog post.  I can talk about meditation and exercise, getting outside and practicing acceptance.  That doesn’t seem to be scratching my itch lately.  Everything feels broken.

              I apologize for being such a downer today but that’s where I’m at.  I don’t know what the answer is.  I think I’ll go do some Yoga.  Om fucking Shanti.

               

               

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

              How Going with the Flow Tames the Chaos

              Choosing to follow the flow may not make the chaos disappear, but it certainly turns the volume down.

               

              I have been living in a state of “WTF” for a while now, not really knowing what to do next and picking random tasks from my to do list that seem like they should be prioritized.  There has not been much of a cohesive plan for 2019.  Well…that’s not true.  If you recall, the official plan was to have no plan and to just do what feels right and makes me happy.

              Yesterday, something extraordinary happened: it all started to come together.  It’s as if four projects and all of the related tasks regarding those projects have been swirling above my head for five months.  They were flying around so fast, it was hard to even see them clearly. It made me completely uncomfortable and feel as though the strategy of not being a slave to my calendar was perhaps ill conceived. 

              However, yesterday, as I was finishing framing nine paintings for my June 7th show, I looked at the collection and realized that indeed, I have a cohesive series to present.  Not only is it done, but I LOVE it.  The Lovely Mess series is complete (minus one last painting I’m working on now), and each painting is dreamy, emotional and optimistic all at the same time.  I am extremely proud of this series and for me it is the marker of an important milestone: the moment my writing and my painting crossed paths and became one expression in two formats. 

              Creatively, that is a huge accomplishment.  Until now, the writing and the painting have been separate entities.  Painting was an expression of my subconscious, and writing was the organization of my chaotic hamster wheel brain, in an effort to figure out what’s behind the madness.  Now, those two things are actually one.  My subconscious no longer feels like some mysterious no mans’ land that I’m just now discovering, and my brain feels more tapped into the subconscious and able to draw out what is actually happening under all the noise.  That’s amazing. 

              Emotionally, an additional shift has occurred.  I have written before about how expectations used to drive me crazy and ultimately drove a good friend away.  I used to say that I was fine, “as long as I knew what to expect next”. Nothing made me more uncomfortable than to be in a state of unknowing…except maybe the uncontrollable-ness of other people changing plans that affected me.  That shit used to drive me absolutely crazy.  

              However, two things have happened that have fundamentally changed the way I think.  This first is surfing.  One thing I learned is that being a control freak and being a surfer do not mix.  I am constantly at the mercy of the surf report.  Waves, tides and weather…three things that I have absolutely no control over.  Over the past couple of years, I have changed from one who would get seriously irritated if someone cancelled or changed plans on me, to being that completely annoying surfer who is regularly making last minute changes in plans due to the surf report.

              I’ve also become a person who giggles when people want a straight answer out of me regarding future plans.  My favorite giggle inducing question is, “so when are you going surfing next?”  Dude, I have no idea. Whenever NOAA tells me it’s time.  Thankfully, my close friends are understanding if I move our breakfast dates.  They don’t hold it against me and man, does that make me feel like a fool for my past pissed off-ness.

              The second thing that impacted my need for knowing what comes next was to throw it all up to the Universe this year, and simply do what hundreds of eye-roll inducing motivational posters tell us to do: Follow My Bliss.  This was not comfortable for me, but when I surrendered, I mean FOR REALS surrendered to that which makes me happy, pretty amazing things started to happen. 

              I got into two new galleries. I was featured on HGTV and interviewed on a nationally recognized podcast.  I received great press in Bend regarding my show.  My creative expression deepened and I took my first cross steps on my surf board.  BAM.

              What made me choose to shift gears?  It’s pretty simple, the other way wasn’t making me feel good.  I felt a lot of pressure from my calendar and marketing plan and I realized that all of those deadlines were causing me to burn out.  I think that’s why this year felt like such a difficult motivation.  I was tired.  

              Did I accomplish a lot with my calendar as acting CEO?  Yes, I did.  Was it an important thing to do my first two years in business?  Yes, I think so. It helped me build my CV quickly which has enabled me to leverage myself in broader ways.  Was it making me happy?  In short term bursts, yes.  But in the long term, I was feeling boxed in, anxious, and exhausted. 

              I’m not necessarily saying that I should ditch all my time management tools, but the time had definitely come for me to chill the fuck out.  One thing is for sure.  The change isn’t effecting my business all that much.  In fact, in a way, I think I’m getting further in my reach.   I mean HGTV!!!!!   

              Actually, I have swung in the opposite direction to the point that I now look around and see a society of sick people who are working themselves to death.  I could write a whole essay on this topic.  It’s like if we’re not constantly working, we’re failures.  I believe in hard work.  I’ve always been a “worker”.  But I feel that in our culture, there are two lines of thought: you either work tremendously hard and be a success, or choose not to and be a lazy failure. 

              What about those who want to enjoy life NOW?  What about not working our assess off for decades, at jobs that are not spiritually or emotionally fulfilling, while putting all of our money in investment accounts for retirement at 65.  I mean, what if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow? Seems like a pretty big gamble. 

              I’m choosing now.  I’m choosing happy.  I’m choosing the path of least resistance.  And want to know a secret?  We can all make this choice.  It may seem scary and it may not look how we think we want it to look, but then that’s the point, isn’t it?  To see things as they are and not how we imagine them to be in Future Land. Can you imagine what would happen if every person on the planet stopped worrying about the future and the expectations surrounding it?  OMG.  That may be the liberation that world needs.

               

               

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

              How Getting Lost in Gratitude Shows Me the Way

              Gratitude is the best road map.

              It is lunch time and I’m finally sitting down to write my weekly blog post. Usually, I at least get started on my essay first thing Thursday mornings, before I take off for Yoga or a walk/hike.  If I’m not finished before I go, I’m pretty close, and when I get back from exercise, it’s editing and emailing time.  But here I am on this Thursday early afternoon, late to the party, and I have a very simple reason why…I got lost. 

              For those of you who know me well, you know that I am directionally challenged.  Seriously.  I have the world’s worst sense of direction.  If I’m ever navigator in your car and I tell you to turn right, you can do us both a favor by taking a left.  I get turned around even given clear and simple directives, and for the love of Pete, don’t tell me to go “three blocks North” …I have no idea what you’re talking about. (When Siri tells me this, I just turn whichever way is easiest and wait for redirection.) 

              I was hiking on the trails this morning, lost in my own thoughts and before I knew it, I had no idea where I was.  The trails that I hike on are pretty easy to figure out and most loop back to each other so no big deal, right? Worst scenario I could think of is that I would end up popping out on the North side of town and have to grab the bus back. 

              Then my internal dialog kicked in: Why didn’t I pay better attention? Why did I pick a trail that I didn’t know well? Why didn’t I just go to Yoga?  I have too much work to do right now!  I’m wasting time!  Before I knew it, my brain was in full blown negative self-talk mode, and I started getting frustrated and beating myself up. 

              I got lost in that crap for a minute and started feeling quite anxious, but then, I found my palms were together at my heart, and I started my morning gratitude prayer. 

               

              Thank you for my life, health, family and friends.  For art, music, the ocean and mountains.  Thank you for all the amazing experiences I get to have.  I offer myself to you. Please give me guidance, strength and clarity to stay on the path you’ve laid out before me.  Please give me the willingness to see your path and stay open to wherever it takes me.  Please continue to help me walk through anxiety and fear and replace it with trust and confidence.  Please continue to help all those who suffer and help them to see their own path.  Thank you for these gifts.  Thank you for your love. Amen.

               

              For many, prayer is awkward.  I know that because it used to be awkward for me.  I had to let go of who, exactly, I was praying to.  I was never sure, but eventually I came to realize that it doesn’t really matter.  It is the act of expressing gratitude and asking for guidance. It is the reminder of things that are bigger than myself and that there is a pretty significant amount of suffering in the world today. I am blessed.  My life is good.  Whether I’m late to work or not. 

              Can you guess what happened next?  Yup…I took a turn and immediately recognized where I was.  I could have turned left and gotten back to the house quickly, but instead I went right, because that led to my favorite part of my hike.  The part where I get to jump creek crossings and feel like a kid. The joyful part.

              My hour-long hike turned into a two-hour lesson of patience, gratitude, and letting go.  It’s been a little while since my last full-fledged chaos induced meltdown, so I think I’m getting better at this. Maybe, I have to occasionally get lost to broaden my view.

              Whatever the case may be, I’m incredibly grateful that I’m seeing a shift in my habits. I reached for one of my “tools” (in this case prayer) to calm me before I got myself all in a tizzy.  (Usually, I have to reach tizzy before I remember to even look for a tool.) 

              I’m not going to get too excited.  In my experience, moments of clarity come either right after or right before a total freak out.  However, it behooves me to remember what I said to a friend who recently had a slip in her Zen.  “It’s ok,” I said, “We’re not perfect.  It’s a practice.” I’m grateful for the practice, the work, the seeking and the finding.  It’s all part of a process called growth.  After all, it is Spring and I am a wild flower.

               

               

              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.

              5 Pieces of Advice for My Daughter That Are Also Pertinent to Adulting

              With Mother’s Day around the corner, I am thinking of the motherly advice that I dish out, and how it behooves me to follow my own words. 

              This is your reminder that Mother’s Day is a week from Sunday.  I am busy in the studio making Heart Flower paintings for a Mother’s Day Market in Ashland (Saturday, May 11th, 11:00am-6:00pm at Bestow & Bloom 149 N. Pioneer Street), and so I’ve been thinking about my job as a Mom.  My daughter is fed, clothed, warm and dry, so basic needs are a success! 

              She’s also a teenager which means that swirling emotions abound!  My Momdar is on overdrive right now picking up on all sorts of sensations that may, or may not, welcome Mom’s attention.  I won’t go into detail about her as that would create a whole other set of emotional outrages, but I have been thinking about the advice that I give her that is also pertinent within my own adult life.

              So here, in no specific order, are five things that I tell my kiddo that us adults may need reminders about every now and then.

              #1 Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

              She is a junior in high school and that means that college prep and choices are a big theme right now.  She feels an awful amount of pressure surrounding this decision and I have been witness to how this process has changed since I was a teen.  Chiefly, it has become highly competitive and exorbitantly expensive. 

              I won’t go into a big tirade about this (although I could write an entire blog post about how ridiculous I think it all is) but the other day, I found myself saying, “this decision is only one of many that you will make and it does not determine the rest of your life,” which, by the way, is exactly the opposite of how these kids feel. 

              The point is that the more pressure we put on ourselves, the more stress is created.  The pressure and stress are not necessary.  In the end, everything will work itself out in one way or another.  Which brings me to point… 

              ...#2 Keep an open mind and don’t have specific expectations of how situations will work out.

              My daughter has the expectation that she will go to college.  I like that expectation. That is a manageable expectation to work within.  The best thing that the college counselor said to us is that, “there is a road to college for every student at this school”.  The implication that the road will look different for every kid is important as it teaches them to keep their minds open to how their college experience will look.

              That is such an important gift of a lesson.  As an adult who, in the past, had such an issue with expectations that I felt constantly disappointed and pissed off at the people who couldn’t meet them, I am thankful that she is learning this early.  My new mantra is that things will work out how they work out.  It may not be how you expected it, but it will be perfect for you.

              #3 Speak up.  Ask for what you want.  No one can read your mind.

              When my daughter was little, she would grunt, whine, and get completely frustrated when I could not interpret her groans.  My reply was always the same: "I don't understand that language.  Please use your words." Now, as an adult, I know how to use language, but sometimes I forget to.  You want a raise? Ask.  You want to stay home instead of going out? Say so.  You need some downtime to take care of yourself? Communicate your needs.  

              I used to be scared to do this and now that I do, I feel silly that it took me until I was in my mid-thirties to figure this out.  I have heard people in relationships say that they don’t feel they should have to ask.  For instance, they “want their partner to want to help with the yard work”.  Well…that sounds like a fantastic way to never get your needs met.   

              We all need to speak up!  Forget about wanting people to read our minds.  Forget about what other people should be doing.  And by the way…

              #4 Stop should-ing all over yourself.

              We all have that list of things we should be doing. You remember how Yoda said, “Do or do not.  There is no try.” For me, a more helpful direction is: Do or do not.  There is no should.  “Should” is a reminder of the things that we’re not doing and most likely won’t do.  “Should” is an easy way to beat ourselves up.  “Should” implies failure of situations that don’t even exist yet. 

              I suggest to her that she replace the word “should” with the word “will”.  This simple change in words used makes a huge difference.  Here’s an example: “I should get exercise 4 days a week.” vs. “I will get exercise 4 days a week.”  Simple, yes?  My theory is that if I can’t say, “I will get exercise 4 days a week”, I’m not ready to commit to that.  Maybe I can only realistically say that I will get exercise 2 days a week.  When I’m ready, I’ll bump it up to 3.  Then 4. 

              My belief is that it is easier to set ourselves up for success with small, actually attainable goals than to create a goal based on what we think should happen. “Shoulds” are based on what we see other people succeeding at that we aren’t.  Here’s a secret: I don’t need to accomplish the successes of others. I am not them.  I am me.  There is no comparison and there are no rules about mandatory achievements that every person on the earth has to do.  

              #5 Accept and Enjoy Life

              For me, I try (hard) not to sweat the things that aren’t within my control.  This includes, other people (and their children), the weather, taxes, the surf report, fire/smoke season (our new 5th season here out West), delayed flights, lines at the bank, traffic and gas prices.  I mean, just not worrying about this list alone will save me years of my life.

              I don’t think my daughter liked this piece of advice very much but it is a cold hard truth.  Decisions, challenges and obstacles never end.  I wish I could tell her differently.  There will always be some shit hanging over our heads.  The good news is that all of us go through this. We aren't alone. The bad news is that it never ends.  So, we may as well enjoy ourselves, right? 

              It’s simple.  Eat the ice cream. Learn to play the drums. Choose a college in Hawaii for no other reason than it’s in Hawaii. Don’t worry about what you look like when you dance.  Smile and laugh whenever possible.  When someone accuses you of not taking life seriously enough, reply, “Thank goodness.”

               

               

               

               

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

               

              How Productive Procrastination Clears My Brain of Clutter

              When I say “procrastinate”, what I mean is, “accomplishing lots of shit that is totally unnecessary”. 

              I have been doing uber amounts of work over here at MKPG Studios, none of which is on my to do list.  Normally when I do something that isn’t on my list, I add it to the list and immediately cross it off to make me feel more accomplished. However, unclogging drains and putting up shelves is not in my current business plan and so adding it to my list only makes me feel like exactly what’s happening…I’m procrastinating.

              To be honest, I didn’t even unclog the sink.  I started to but then quickly realized that unless you already have a base knowledge of plumbing, YouTube University is probably not the best strategy.  (Thanks for saving me, Dad.)

              But the sink was the icing on the cake after I had gone through all my art supplies, including testing all the markers, pens and paint tubes, and tossing anything that was dried or drying. I dusted the studio and reorganized every pad, paint tube, ruler (I have five in various shapes and sizes…who knew?), tool, container, stencil, cutting utensil and paint brush.

               

              Marigny Goodyear Art Acrylic paint organizedNo more paint tubes in boxes! Now I can see exactly what I have and what needs to be used first.

               

              When that was done, I employed the help of my Hubbie and put up new shelves in the office (YAY!) which means that I can now move around my desk without stubbing my toes.  I then organized boxes of notecards, hats, packaging materials, show supplies and paintings in inventory. They all live on shelves now!  I can see the floor!  

              Marigny Goodyear Art shelving organizedShelves in the office!  What a concept!!!


              I am so happy.  All of that crap work that needed to be done for YEARS is now completed.  Now there is nothing left to do but paint...

              I have to admit that I have taken procrastination to a whole new level.  It was hard for me to ignore the pile of leaves that was kicked up by pulling the hose inside to blow out the sink.  I swear to God, if my daughter walked in right now and said, “I want to change the color of my room”, it would be difficult to not immediately jump into the car and head over to Miller Paint, (which would be her second trip there for the day as she took 3 boxes of paint cans there this morning to be recycled).

              While in the midst of taking on non-urgent tasks, I did realize something: clearing physical clutter also clears mind clutter.  Instead of looking around the room and getting that anxiety indicating tummy flutter, I am filled with a sense of ahhhhhhhhhh.  (Not to be confused with the normal everyday AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!) 

              I now know that I don’t have to buy anymore sapphire blue, rose pink, or cadmium yellow paint (I think 9 tubes of each is plenty), that paint dated from 1996 is most likely dry, and that I own a compass ruler.  I don’t remember buying that but it is in its original packaging so I must have.  I also know that when paint goes bad, it smells worse than fish caught on Monday and served on Sunday.  Poooweeeee! 

              I now have a full box of paint tubs and tubes that have been uncapped and are finishing drying out completely in the backyard which, I learned, is the proper way to dispose of it.  Learning new things all the time. 

              So, all of my ducks are in a row, my t’s are crossed, my I’s are dotted. I just read a saying that “clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions”.  Take that postponed decisions!  I have procrastinated you into OBLIVION!!!! 

              Now back to painting.  The above photo is a sneak peek of what I accomplished before the organization fairy visited.  I’m excited to get back to these ten small pieces that I started in Los Angeles and are almost done. Next to start the last three larger canvases for my June 7th show in Bend, OR.  I’m pretty darn on track to having this series completed by then as long as I don’t get distracted by the other things in disarray.  Please Lord, don’t let me open that junk drawer…

               

               

              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.