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

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

 

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

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

“No.”  I replied

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste.

 

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

 

 

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

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Joanne Mershon on

There’s a proverb that says the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning. You would have to be callous and extremely insensitive and selfish to be complacently oblivious in this evil world. Your suffering is sacred. You are suffering along with God.

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How the Pandemic is Actually Calming My Anxiety the Fuck Down

When the shit has already hit the fan, there’s not much to worry about anymore.

 

I’d like to do a study.  How many people out there, who consider themselves to be content and calm individuals in their day-to-day life are freaking the fuck out right now?  Now, how many people who are anxious 95% of the regular time, are actually finding that their anxiety/depressive tendencies have lessened now that we are in uncharted waters?

Now, I don’t want to piss you or the internet off by seeming cold and/or insensitive, and that is certainly not my intention, but after these past ten days of isolation, I have actually been finding myself feeling less anxious and (I hate to even say it) but rather liberated.

I feel terrible even admitting this as I know that the coronavirus is causing illness and death all over the world. Please don’t take my words as me saying that I don’t find sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, and helplessness within this situation.  I do.  Believe me. I feel ALL the feelings right now. 

But hear me out…I am one whose brain has a tornado of “what ifs” cycling at turbo speed most of my waking time.  Most of the “what ifs” have to do with myself, my business, my family, my insecurities, my shortcomings, etc.  I’m a worrier.  That’s what I do.  So, you would think that during a pandemic, I would be crazy with worry.  I’m not. 

 

Over the past week, I have been getting calmer and calmer.

 

Over the past week, as I’ve been getting calmer and calmer, and I have been thinking about why this is. Last Fall, I discussed that anxiety can be quite helpful in a crisis.  Part of the reason is because when things are in chaos externally, my brain that normally cannot focus on every option that is spinning inside tends to slow down (or maybe outside has sped up and less contrast makes a clearer vision...I'm not sure).  I can see all of the things that need to get done and act accordingly.

In this particular situation, that meant that I had the bulk of my grocery shopping done and I had weeks of frozen meals prepared about two weeks ago.  In a crisis, I am definitely someone you want on your logistics team.  This did not surprise me. 

What did surprise me is the feeling of freedom that has been creeping in, especially within the past 5 days or so.  It’s totally counter intuitive!!!  During a quarantine, I feel free?  I mean WTF is wrong with me?  I’m coming to the understanding that there is nothing wrong with me.  In fact, moments like these may be exactly what I was born for.

 

In a crisis, I am definitely someone you want on your logistics team.

 

Here is what I’ve discovered:  Prior to this new reality, I worried about everything.  I felt I was a failure in my day-to-day life, with few exceptions.  I was constantly battling a negative internal dialog that told me I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t do enough, and that I would never be “successful”…whatever the hell that means, or meant...

Most of what that horrible voice in my head did was compare me to others, and definitely tied money to success, which I never seemed to have enough of.  In that life, I always felt out of place.  I always felt that what I was doing what just a little bit “off”.  I questioned my ability to contribute to the world and I was filled with fear about EVERYTHING.  

I’m still scared, don’t get me wrong, but here in this new reality, everyone is scared.  No one is sure what this new reality means, how things will change, and what their roll might be within it.  Financial situations that were once solid are now unsure.  Job security is uncertain.  In fact, the only thing that seems certain is that we are in for one hell of a shift.  We just don’t know how big or to what extent that shift will manifest.

 

Here in this new reality, everyone is scared.  Everyone is unsure.  No one knows what will happen next.

 

Now, the rest of the world knows what it is like to live in my head.  I’m comfortable with terror, because I live in it most of the time.  I can relax in the chaos, because I have spent the past seven years learning to find the silver linings within it.  I can find solace in cooking a bunch of food because I am used to finding solace in the small things that I can control.  The rest, I just have to surrender to. 

As you know, I love to surf.  Part of the reason that I connect with surfing is because there is nothing like a wall of water barreling towards you to zap you into the present moment.  In the past, I have referred to surfing as “jet fueled mindfulness”. When I’m in the water, I don’t think about my day-to-day worries that spin in my head all day long.  All I know is that I have to take action in order to deal with the approaching wave.

That is why I feel comfortable in this new reality.  We are all in an ocean of unknowingness.  The one thing we seem to all agree on, is that there are more waves coming.  I have not been thinking about this Summer, or next Fall.  I have been thinking about today, and tomorrow.  Just as when I’m surfing, I am being forced to live in the moment.

 

I can relax in the chaos, because I have spent the past seven years learning to find the silver linings within it.

 

The whole world has slowed down.  We, for once, are all recognizing a global situation that effects all of our communities.  We don’t know what will happen next and in fact, I’m not sure that our monkey brains can even process thinking about it. 

We have reduced our need for control down to toilet paper, canned goods, and cleaning supplies.  I believe that's why there is panic shopping.  It's one thing that we can control.

I don’t feel alone or apart from everyone anymore.  I don’t feel like my actions are at all “off”.  I am certain in my abilities to plan forwardly, while living presently.  For instance, I foresee that having a veggie garden may be very helpful in the future, and I know that to get started, I need only pick where that garden will be placed and bring in some soil and get some seeds.  Step one, step two, step three…

The chronic worry in my brain that never turns off has quieted.  The anticipation feeling of butterflies in my tummy is gone.  It’s as if I was worrying for the entire world, and now the world has taken it over for me so I can be a source of strength and simply continue to DO.   Today on my walk, I actually thought to myself, “This...this right here may be what I have been waiting for.” 

Crazy, huh?  I hope I don’t sound like some ignorant, myopic, insensitive person.  It is definitely not my intention.  I do think that this situation is going to bring up conflicting feelings for everyone.  All I want to do in this moment, is honor them all. 

Does any of this make sense to you?  Has the pandemic created new feelings that maybe you’re unsure of?  In the comments below, tell me one of those feelings. 

I do feel deep in my heart of hearts, that we are going to be ok.  That our community separation and isolation will only serve to, oddly, bring us closer together.  That we will have a greater appreciation for each other and all of our talents, especially the ones that perhaps don’t get honored regularly enough. 

I’ve never in my life been happy about my spinning hamster wheel, endless ticker tape of thought, tornado brain.  Right now, I’m 100% grateful for myself, just as I am…and that may be a first. 

I am also aware that I need to cherish this moment as I'm sure my perspective will be marred eventually.  I'm also aware that I am blessed in this life to be able to have this perspective right now.  I'm going to hold onto as long as I can and accept when it changes into whatever it will be next.  Who knows?  Maybe it will stick around a while.  

 

The image at top is a detail from Derby Day, 12"x12", Mixed Media on Birch Board. 

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

  

Join the Great QuARTantine of 2020!

During these uncertain times, it is important to continue to express ourselves. Music, art, poems, essays, comedy, monologs...I want to see it all.  I've just begun a quARTantine.

 

Isn’t uncertainty fun? I’m sitting here at the computer, and I’m used to words flowing from my brain to my fingers with ease.  Today, I’m having trouble figuring out what to say. 

We are in uncharted territory.  On Saturday, the teenagers were still asking me about future plans and my response was, “We’ll see.  It’s day to day at this point.” Now I feel like it’s minute to minute.  We went from no gatherings of more than 250 people, down to 25 in four days.  

The feelings I’m having now can only be compared to the feelings that I had in the weeks/months after Hurricane Katrina when uncertainty was the biggest obstacle in our path.  Last Friday, when shit started getting real, I felt as though there were jolts of electricity in the sides of my belly.  It occurred to me that the only other time I’ve felt that was after the Big K.

 

We are in uncharted territory.  

 

I feel a bit lost, like I’m roaming in an unknown land.  I kind of wish our local government would just shut everything down.  Being ordered to stay home would make decision making much easier. 

All my zombie apocalypse grocery shopping and food cooking is done.  Today, I thought I would get a good work day in, but instead had to deal with a number of people I know freaking out.  In truth, I was probably combatting their freak outs with my own freak out, but hey, I’m trying. 

The hard truth is that we don’t know much.  We are faced with an unprecedented situation, much like we were when our city was filled with water.  At least then we could flee the city…

I keep thinking about myself, constantly talking about searching for the beauty within the chaos.  It’s so hard to think of a bright side or silver lining right now. People are sick and dying and I have trouble making light and I’ve been slowly but surely getting irritated with memes that are making fun of the situation (although that didn’t stop me from creating a pandemic playlist on Spotify). 

But in an effort to practice what I preach, here is a list of ten silver linings to quarantining, (yet I admit that this list is more applicable for an introvert than an extrovert). 

  1. No more awkward run ins with people I don’t want to talk to at the grocery.
  2. Much less grocery store errands in general.
  3. No more traffic.
  4. Dolphins have returned to the Venice Canals.
  5. China’s emissions are at zero.
  6. Our global footprint as a whole, will reduce.
  7. More time with the teenagers.
  8. I’ll finally be able to organize the garage.
  9. I won’t get behind in weeding my yard.
  10. Art is not cancelled

 

Being a New Orleans girl, I’m not surprised that my first instinct last week was to find solace in cooking lots of food. But with that done, I’ve decided that art is my answer.  I can’t control much of anything right now, but I did order a ton of canvases last month in preparation to make my “breathe” series. 

“Breath” is taking on a new meaning now, and the idea for these paintings has changed.  For one, I’m going to enlist my hubbie and the two teenagers to help.  I thought that having an ongoing art piece in the studio for anyone to contribute to at any time, would be a great way to pass some time at home.

My first concept, which we are going to start this afternoon, will be a collaboration aiming to give all in my household an outlet to express all the feelings they are having.  It will be an ongoing piece and I'll keep all of the art supplies out and easily available for anyone to jump in at anytime.

Aside from that, I’m going to go for long walks, meditate, practice Yoga, write, paint and I’m thinking that since we’ll all be in isolation, I’ll make some videos to send out to my community.  I can make this quarantine a quARTantine. 

I’d love it if you would join me. For those of you on Facebook, I have started a private group called “QuARTantine”.  This group is a place to share your art, craft, music, essays, poems, monologs, skits, etc. while we're under quarantine. It looks like we're going to be inside for a while. The good news is art is NOT cancelled.

 

Let's inspire each other during this time and stay in touch with our creative nature.  CLICK HERE to join the group.

 

If you’re not on Facebook, please email your art to me at Marigny@MarignyGoodyearArt.com and let me know if I may share it to the QuARTantine page.  

We may be having to isolate, but we are not alone.  Hang in there.  Stay well and be smart. We got this.

 

With love,
Marigny

 

The image at top is from my Control & Chaos series which will be offered for sale next week.  Marine Layer, 48"x48", Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  I know that times are tough, but I've decided to press on with my sale.  After all, this series is all about controlling what we can, and giving the rest to the Universe.

If you still have disposable income, please help me keep my doors open by purchasing some artBecome an Artventure VIP and get early access to the sale by CLICKING 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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Looking Back Can Propel Me Forward

When I’m not sure what to do next, my personal history can act as a guide.

 

Happy Thursday to you!  I hope that you are staying sane, healthy, and happy. Lots of crazy things are happening in our world right now and self-care is paramount.  Since all of our near future travel plans have been derailed, it seems that now is a good time to hunker down at home and make lots of art.

One problem: art has been kind of hard for me to make recently.  In the past couple of months, I have written about having trouble gaining any sort of 2020 momentum.  There is no doubt to me now that I am in the midst of a greater transition than I initially thought.  I am having to remap how I work, my goals, and my need to keep control over the future.

 

I am the type of person who once implements a plan, has a hard time diverting from it.

 

I know that we don’t have much control over what happens to us in the future, however, I am the type of person who once implements a plan, has a hard time diverting from it. It’s like the channel gets burned in my brain and I do whatever I can to make that particular plan happen.

Well…simply put….my plan wasn’t working.  I have to be willing to surrender to the way things are happening, which is what I wrote about last week.  I feel amazing to have made that choice and in fact, a few things are already opening up to me in new ways.  All I had to do was make room for them in my stubborn brain.

One thing in particular that I’ve been struggling with is creating new art work.  I have completed one painting in 2020. Compared to the 92 pieces I made in 2019….well…I have a bit of work to do.  Problem is that I burnt myself out so bad at the end of last year, that I don’t feel particularly inclined to do anything specific artistically.  In fact, the idea of getting back into the studio feels pretty daunting, and that is super unusual for me and my art.

 

Art is a practice in meditation and it is extremely calming to me. 

 

I know that for me, being creative every day is a powerful tool.  It enables me to get into that space where thinking stops, time flies, and my inner most thoughts pour out of my fingers and into whatever creative project I’m working on.  Art is a practice in meditation and it is extremely calming to me. As you know, I tend to run on the anxious side…

When I first found the art program at my high school, I fell in love with drawing.  I used mostly pencil and loved the way the graphite looked on the paper.  Whenever I tried to add color, I was unhappy with how it changed the initial drawing. 

I have always been a collector of children’s books and especially the amazing visions of Chris Van Allsberg, most famously known for The Polar Express and Jumanji.  His illustrations are lush and vibrant and most of them are done in nothing but pencil. 

Seeing his success made me realize that there was nothing wrong with using only pencil.  I was hooked.  I would bring my sketch pad and some photos to my favorite coffee shop and draw for hours.  It was many of those drawings that got me into art school.

 

Marigny Goodyear Art Pencil DrawingMy first pencil drawing in a long while of my happy place, in progress.

 

Fast forward to now.  I’ve been walking in and out of my studio looking at my supplies, trying to find a glimmer of inspiration to no avail.  Then I saw my pencils.  I pulled up some of my favorite beach photos and began drawing one.  I haven’t done this in a long time and it feels like an old friend.

I’m at the point in my personal transition that I see a glimpse of a new routine developing.  Now that there is a work in progress on my art table that requires no preparation beyond picking up a pencil, I’ve been getting back into a creative groove.

 

By looking back to something that I once absolutely loved to do, I’m re-discovering some passion.


Now, I’m aware that my hands cramp up faster, my eye sight is not as good as it was when I was younger, and I may have to invest in one of those magnifying lights, but that’s ok.  I’m willing to adapt.  The important thing for me to remember is that by looking back to something that I once absolutely loved to do, I’m re-discovering some passion, which 2019 nearly took all of. 

We all know how it feels to be “stuck”.  Perhaps there is wisdom in looking backward in order to create new solutions to move us forward.  Does that make sense to you?  I’d love for you to tell me, in the comments below, about a time that you gain new insight from your past.  

I’ll share the finished drawing soon. In the meantime, above is a painting from my Control & Chaos series, which I’ll be offering at the end of the month.  Destroyer, 24"x24", Mixed Media on Panel.  It’s funny, I’ve always thought of the “control” being the centering part of this series, but now that I’ve surrendered, I’m seeing quite an amount of wisdom in the “chaos” part.  That may be where the pearls lie...

 

CLICK HERE to become an Artventure VIP and get early access to the Control & Chaos sale.

 

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 I Find Strength in Surrender

 

Sometimes the strongest decision we can make is to surrender and let the Universe take over.

 

Do you know how it feels to be derailed from your plans because...well...life happens?  For about three years now, I have been on a pretty singular track of painting, writing, and growing my art business.  I have made great strides, figured out lots of strategies that DON’T work, and a handful of things that do.  I have been working towards the goal of being a successful independent business owner, which has been a dream of mine since college.

Here I am, going about my day to day, working my butt off developing and implementing plans to grow my business. You know…just continuing on with the status quo. Then life decided that those plans, the ones that I have put my heart and soul into for years, may not be what I should be doing right now. Currently, it seems life has other plans for me.

Now, I’m not saying I’m giving up on my dreams.  Au contraire! I am still painting, writing my blog, and marketing and selling my art.  However, the pace I was going at is no longer realistic.  I can’t work as I have been with the extra monkey wrenches that have been thrown at me over the past six months.  It just ain’t happening.

What was happening is that I was trying to do it all, and working myself into an anxious, depressed, exhausted state, and that isn’t good for me or anyone around me.  I have been taking great care of myself over the past month or so in order to feel healthier, but also to shift my perspective on what I “should” be doing right now. 

 

Life is a series of chaotic situations stacked on top of each other, periodically broken up by moments of peace

 

Last Fall, as the craziness descended, I would get a twinge of angry butterflies in my stomach when I thought about my work.  The victim in me thought, “Why me?  Why am I the one getting derailed?”  My stubborn side dug its heals in and said, “I won’t let it happen! This is my work and it’s too important for my attention to be elsewhere!!!” Then I got tired.  So. Very. Tired.  And then I saw the truth.

It's simple: I am needed in other areas of my life right now.  Without starting a heated rampage about how this type of stuff always seems to fall on women, I will say that I have made peace with surrendering to the situation at hand.  Before, I considered surrender to be a decision made in weakness.  Now, surrendering feels like the strongest decision I could possibly make. 

The truth is that life is a series of chaotic situations stacked on top of each other, periodically broken up by moments of peace.  The sweet spot, I’m realizing, is to be able to find those moments of peace while the chaos is occurring.  The alternative is to be in the chaos and only see the chaos, but frankly, the idea of that makes my eyes feel tired. 

My ego clings to an idea of what I think I should be doing, should have accomplished, and should be working towards.  When in resistance, my ego is throwing a fit, wondering why the world is working against it all the time. 

My ego is inflexible, wants what it wants when it wants it, and loathes those that get in the way.  “Stay the course, no matter what!” is my ego’s mantra. And guess what? That also happens to be the easiest path to frustration and self-victimizing because life fucking happens to all of us, unscheduled, and at inconvenient times. 

 

Surrender is the path to freedom.

 

In times like these, surrender is the path to freedom.  Surrender will allow inward flexibility to develop. It will show me that all is not lost, no matter how big of a temper tantrum my ego throws. In fact, it allows me to see impossible situations through new eyes. 

If I allow surrender to guide me, I create space for new and endless paths to show themselves. We think of surrender as giving up when really surrender is peace in action. 

Now that I have consciously surrendered to my situation, I feel more at ease.  I feel open to the idea that perhaps this is actually the road I’m supposed to be on, and not so much a diversion.  What if where I was before was the diversion and now, like an omnipotent Siri, the Universe has now kindly rerouted me? 

My Hubbie asked me today what I wanted accomplish in the next ten years.  My response? “Whatever the Universe wants me to.”  I understand that could be a rather infuriating answer to some, but I am having trouble thinking about the next month.  Who knows what will be thrown our way in the next ten years… 

Crisis occurs at some point or another to all of us, and crisis doesn’t care about how full our calendars are, that we have vacations planned (hello Coronovirus travel restrictions), or that we had the next year of our lives mapped out (my 2020 revenue and marketing plans in their original forms have been thrown out the window at this point). I mean, the phrase, "shit happens", didn't come from nowhere.

 

It is what it is.

 

Over the years and multiple times, my oldest and dearest friend has said to me, “It is what it is.” It is up to us to either accept what we are given to work with, or continue to bang our heads against the wall as we sink our claws in to our best laid plans while refusing to adapt to our lives.  In a way, the peace is the chaos. 

A strong current is downright hellish when your swimming against it. But if you stop fighting towards that original destination and let the current carry you, you feel nothing but an effortless motion as you drift towards a mysterious place, possibly not on your original map. 

If it is truly all about the journey, not the destination, then it doesn’t matter where we end up.  It only matters how we feel while getting there.

Think back to a time in your life where you felt derailed.  How did it work out for you?  Were you able to settle into to the change or did you stick your original plan, come hell or high water?  In the comments below tell me the first reaction you have to the idea of letting it all go.

  

At top is from my Control & Chaos series.  The Bus, 48”x48”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  Sometimes the way out is to get on the bus, let someone else drive and stop thinking so much. For more info, and to get on the VIP waitlist for the Control & Chaos 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. 

Calling in Suffering: How We Invite our Pain to the Party

Pain, anxiety, and suffering are the teachers within our lives, but do we actually call them in so that we grow?

 

Anyone else having trouble reading the news, or going on your social media feeds?  Every time I take a look at my newsfeed, I feel a deep sense of despair.  6-year-olds being arrested, Coronavirus, environmental doom, and the circus that is our current election… It’s extremely hard for me to be bombarded with the chaos of the world and not feel effected by it on one level or another. 

I am a highly sensitive person.   You know, the kind that cries during sappy commercials, while listening to music in my car, or sitting on my surfboard in the ocean.  I am exceptionally emotional.  Both the beautiful and the ugly side of life can slay me.  I used to say to myself that I shouldn’t let life affect me so deeply, but it’s simply how I’m wired.  I can’t change my feelings.  I feel what I feel.

 

I am exceptionally emotional. 

 

In the past, that used to frustrate the hell out of me.  As I’ve gotten older, I realize that there are some benefits from being so emotional.  In parenting, I can sense my daughter’s moods easily.  In friendships, I’m hyper aware of when my friends need help.  My anxiety actually makes me great in a crisis.  I can take a look at the chaos in a situation and break it down into achievable parts. 

I am able to feel myself so genuinely, that I can channel those feelings into writing, or painting.  I also understand and appreciate art and music to a point of feeling absolute bliss or sorrow, merely by taking a look or a listen. Sometimes a deep blue sky will shake my heart with gratitude.  I can’t help it.

I was having tea with a friend today who believes that we call in every experience in our lives.  Every single one.  Even the traumatic and horrible ones that may involve other people’s hurtful actions.  I was skeptical and wanted to know more. 

 

The more we want to learn, the more challenges that we will inevitably face. 

 

In a nut shell (because this was not a short conversation) she said that in our lifetimes, we have a need and desire to attain a certain amount of growth and that it is the hard stuff in life that are the catalysts for that growth.  The more we want to learn, the more challenges that we will inevitably face. 

I find this view interesting. It would mean that I called in all of the chaos in my life.  That is a rather hard pill for me to swallow, but the more she explained, the more it made sense.  I do consider myself a seeker... 

She went so far as to say that we have, collectively, called in the world as it is today for our own evolution.  That there is purpose behind it all.  Even though I feel conflicted by the theory, I must admit that I found some comfort in it.  It gave meaning to pain and suffering. 

My sensitive nature makes it so I am not usually able to sit idly by without questioning or considering “why”.  I can’t usually feel pain and sweep it under the rug.  I want to know where it comes from.  I am constantly looking for what I can learn from it.  If I am not searching for answers, I am sitting in pain.  Knowledge is my way out. 

I have always been of the mindset that I must let go of the things that I can’t control.  What if the things I have perceived as not being within my control, I have actually called in? What if my sensitive nature is like a super power that grabs onto certain types of pain that, in the end, will lead me to my own development.  

I agree that I learn the most from the painful situations in my life (as opposed to when everything is peachy).  But can I possibly reframe my perspective on pain to this extent? Did I call in the asshole driving next to me yesterday that flipped me off twice?  Did I call in my past drinking problem?  How about my issues with anxiety?  Today, I have so many questions.

Does this make any sense to you?  In the comments, I’d love to know the first reaction you have to the idea that we could actually invite all the pain in our lives. 

There is no question in my mind that the pain in our lives creates growth.  But until today, I looked at it as random occurrences that I happen to run into.  Instead, perhaps it is our sensitive natures hard at work, ready to embrace our next teacher.  Can I embrace pain and welcome it into my life, having faith that I called it here? 

I have a feeling I’m going to be thinking about this for a while.  I’m also oddly looking forward to the next painful experience I have, simply to see if I can separate myself from it long enough to wonder what I needed so bad that I summoned it in the first place.  Shit…maybe by typing the last sentence, I have invited it.  Oh Lawd.  I’ll report back on that one soon.  

 

 

The photo above is Beautiful Entropy, 36”x36”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  It is from my Control & Chaos series which I will be offering for sale at the end of March.  To get first dibs to the sale, sign up for the VIP Waitlist by CLICKING 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.



Shockabuku: How Sometimes I Need a Swift Spiritual Kick to the Head

Anxiety can cause a terror that is hard to shake.  We need a Shockabuku!

 

Do you ever get so bogged down in anxiety and negative thoughts that everyday tasks scare the poop out of you?  Then, do you feel guilt from feeling scared or stressed? Then, when you finally decide to surrender and slow down, you feel even more guilt for having to surrender and slow down? Welcome to my past six weeks.

Ever since the holidays, I have not been able to gain any traction in my work.  Like one of those dreams when I’m trying to running but I can’t seem to build up any speed at all.  At least I can say that it’s not for no reason.  The past five months have been intense, and until about two weeks ago, I had not been feeling so great. 

Then I received a Shockabuku.  My Hubbie and I were supposed to go off for a few days of surfing when both kiddos got sick.  Seemed about right to me.  There have been more monkey wrenches than I can count thrown into the mix over the past five months or so.  Life has been, well, challenging. 

With both kids sick, I knew I wasn’t going surfing, but then, my amazing and kind Hubbie offered to stay with the sickos, and told me to head to the beach.  Truth be told, I may have run out the house faster than I intended to, without looking back, but damn, I couldn’t wait for the break.  

 

I had been feeling so frayed, like an electrical wire that sparks from the wind blowing.

 

I had been feeling so frayed, like an electrical wire that sparks from the wind blowing. I was jumpy, sensitive, sad, and as I said to my Hubbie, it seemed to me like I was being tested.  I mean, the shit just kept coming.  I felt pretty defeated. 

When I showed up to the beach, my favorite place in the world, the place where I find joy, solace, confidence, and peace, I was fucking terrified.  I took one look at the waves and nearly peed my pants. I literally began to tremble.  This is my happy place!  What the hell is happening?!

I thought about fleeing into the redwoods for a hike.  Seemed a safer bet.  But then, I unstrapped my board, waxed her up, and began the arduous process of getting a 5mm wet suit on.  When I walked in the water, I really did pee my pants. 

 

I realized that my anxiety had gotten to the point where everything in life was scary.

 

When the waves began to lap at my legs, I felt a wave of anger come over me.  Why was I so scared?  It wasn’t a big day out there.  The weather was friendly.  The wind had not kicked up yet.  I saw some friends in the lineup.  What the actual fuck?

I realized that my anxiety had gotten to the point where everything in life was scary. Not just scary, terrifying.  Where everything I did and every choice I made seemed to be like the most important decisions known to mankind.  Do or die.  Make or break.  There was no in between.

I paddled out.  I was extremely tenuous for the first hour or so.  Then I began to catch waves. Oh yeah…I know how to do this…and I actually LOVE doing this…this is awesome! 

I ended up staying for four days.  I surfed in the cold water. I went for beach walks and redwood hikes. I went to bed early and got up with the sun. My best girlfriend came and met me for 24 hours and we surfed, and talked, and enjoyed each other’s company. 

Life wasn’t terrible.  Sure, I may be going through some challenges right now, but it’s not all dread, doom, and gloom, and it CAN improve, actually.  How?  By taking care of myself. 

I received a Shockabuku.

So, if you’re a movie lover, you may recall in Grosse Pointe Blank, when Minnie Driver tells John Cusak that he may be in need of a Shockabuku.  She then defines that as, “A swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.”  I have always loved this term.  It is not real. It was a line written for the movie.  However, I was totally pleased when I found it in the Urban Dictionary, which is where the above definition was taken from.  (The background is my happy spot.)

Getting into the ocean that day, terror running through my veins, walking deeper and deeper into 48-degree water, having to duck waves, wipe out a few times, and also find some liberating rides in it all…  I feel like the ocean was delivering me its own Shockabuku. 

Mother Ocean done did slap me around for a few hours and showed me, once again, that the world is much bigger than me and my problems, and that I am a strong, capable being that can find those amazing rides within the chaos.  My perspective shifted.  I felt lighter. I felt the cloak of darkness lift from my shoulders.  For the first time in weeks, I felt like a badass (or at least a semi-badass) again. 

 

Anxiety seems to come with a side of blindness.

 

It’s been a week and a half since I was out there.  I can’t say that some of the terror hasn’t returned (I’m prone to anxiety…that’s what it does), but I am not ok sitting in it anymore.  My Skockabuku was telling me that I can’t.  That when I focus too much on taking care of everyone around me, I get lost in the mix.  That when I plow through work like normal, in the midst of deep, and lasting changes occurring within my family, I will suffer.

Why do I forget?  I’m not sure.  Anxiety seems to come with a side of blindness.  It’s hard to focus on anything besides the terror.  It’s like a broken fight or flight instinct. I’m extremely grateful for the clarity that this Shockabuku has delivered.  I hope it lasts. 

Can you recall your last Shockabuku?  In the comments below, please share with me your most recent swift, spiritual kick to head, that altered your reality forever...or at least for a good while. 

 

 

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.