I was talking with a dear friend the other day about the craziness that is creative business and how it can be a very scary thing to grow. When I first started, it seemed to be simple mathematics that the larger your number of students/clients/lovers of your stuff, the greater the number of difficult/painful/unkind interactions you might have with them. I'd seen it happen for other teachers/content creators, and so I was pretty much terrified that it would happen for me, too. And it did. And it was hard. And I spent a lot of nights curled up sobbing in the corner of the couch thinking maybe I should just quit because it didn't feel worth growing my business if it meant dealing with all the nasty.
And I got a therapist who helped me recognize how NOT ABOUT ME all that shit was. I learned how to deal with the triggery feeling of omgdoom that arose, and came to understand that the omgdoom feeling came, not from the negative interactions themselves, but from the original bullying wound I had carried over from childhood. I came to understand that people who bully people on the Internet, that take the time and energy to write a nastygram or harshly criticize or judge their teachers or content providers, are not well. That trying to work shit out with those people was a lot like throwing myself to the wolves. That some people really do not deserve my time and attention. That my hard work to work things out must be reserved for people who actually care about me. That my caring, trust, and energy investments must be earned.
These realizations were a revolution. They impacted all of my relationships - not just my relationship with on line trolls. I began to assert my boundaries appropriately in all my interactions.
Which brings us to today.
It kind of surprises me that despite a huge leap in the number of people I interacted with last year, I did not have the expected increase in negative interactions. I had a huge decrease. I can only remember two, and they were, like, ten minute blips on my radar.
I think it has to do with the way I now deal with what I have come to call 'the crazy'. If I smell it, even a hint of it, I ask for respect. If it isn't given, boom. Gone. I do not engage any further. I don't try to work it out. I don't wonder how I could do things differently. I don't second guess myself. I remain intact.
If I were a therapist or a pastoral counselor, I think it would behoove me to really dig in with people who are having an issue of some kind with me. I think it would absolutely be my JOB to figure out what's really going on beneath the unexpected hostility and work it out. I'm neither of those things. I demonstrate art journaling. I write vulnerably about my life. "Helping Everyone Deal With How I Might Trigger Them To Behave In A Hostile And Unkind Manner" is not part of my job description. It's absolutely NOT my job to help my tribe figure out how to be polite, respectful, decent, or kind. That's something my tribe should already know how to do (since they are adults, after all, and how to play nicely is something we are all taught in childhood). If someone can't play nicely in my spaces, I eject them from my spaces.
I am one person engaged with a couple of thousand people, the majority of whom are perfectly lovely, respectful, kind, and a joy to work with and for. My people realize that I, also, am a PERSON. They have grace. They have patience. They do not send a nastygram the minute I make a mistake or say something they find offensive. They do not judge me harshly or even AT ALL and they do not wait to pounce with unkindness the moment I do or say something they aren't happy about. They are people who benefit from their interactions with a person. They have not made the mistake of believing that I am a product that they can consume and toss like so much garbage when they are done with me.
Your teachers, bloggers, content providers, etc. are PEOPLE.
I think it's easy to forget, as a consumer of the content released by mixed media art teachers, coaches, bloggers, etc., that the people we are being instructed and entertained by are PEOPLE. They are not television programs. They are not products. They are PEOPLE. When you send a nastygram to someone who is instructing or producing content on the Internet, you are sending a nastygram to a PERSON. Not a corporation or a company or a persona. A PERSON.
I am grateful that I no longer experience these kinds of negative interactions in a way that devastates me. If there's a hint of nasty, I double check if the perceived nasty is real or projected. If it's real, I yell TWATWAFFLE at the top of my lungs, deal with the problem (usually by inviting the person to get the fuck off my internets), and move on. If it is a misunderstanding, I fix it and move on without self-denigration.
But there are some who can't do that (yet). There are some for whom the nastygram is really devastating and harmful and damaging and while, yes, it really is just a thing we have to deal with as teachers and content providers, it is a really shitty thing we have to deal with and it is a thing that we wouldn't have to deal with if people would just remember that they are interacting with a PERSON before they sent that nasty note written to shred that PERSON into little bits of sobbing devastation.
Besides, when someone takes the time and burns the fuel to harshly criticize someone else's way of being in the world, or is just plain getting off on being unkind, as some denizens of the Internets do, I believe it does at least as much harm to the person doing it as it does to the person on the receiving end. And sometimes, more harm, because in my case if you send me that kind of thing, it no longer touches me. I just yell TWATWAFFLE and move on with my life. The purveyours of fine fuckwittery have to live with themselves and the toxic spumes of nastiness they create. They have to smell what they dealt. They have to look themselves in the mirror and deal with the evidence of their own unkindness and lack of empathy or grace.
Kindness is so powerful. I've embraced it. I employ it. I am blessed by those who do the same and want nothing to do with those who don't.
And that's it for me today.
*Steps down off soapbox*
Oh hey! I got a new lipstick!
"Sin" by Mac. Matte. With a smidge of lip glass in a colour name too small to read because I am old. *Gigglesnort*
I just wanted to pop in with this:
The perfect pixie cut + bonus flannel
This cut made me so freaking happy. Also, I got my eyebrows done (waxed) for the first time in - oh - a year. Self-care win!
My beacon of gentle joy, created for Life Book 2015.
And finally THIS!
There's a new Wildly Inspired up in my on line network. It's free and it's for you, so do pop on over and check it out!
I have a lot to cover in this post, so bear with me. It's picture heavy and TL;DR. :)
I did a mini-retreat in December shortly before the holidays. This was the second year I checked into the Frederick Street Inn here in Kitchener for a few days of no work and lots of whirlpool baths. When I arrived, the lovely owner, Amanda, give me a big hug and helped me get settled in. The next four days were pretty much glorious.
This sums it up.
I took nine baths in four days. I am totally serious. :)
I also ate a lot and wandered a fair bit, and dug into one of those yearly planner things. Then I realized that I really don't want to do someone else's planner every year. I'd rather create my own! So that got put on my list of things to do in 2015.
I meditated a fair bit as well, and came to some conclusions. I work too hard. I take on too much. It isn't good for me to be so busy with content creation that I feel overwhelmed all the time. It's a good way to self-medicate, but I don't *want* to self-medicate. I let go of Moonshine for 2015 and decided to focus on Book Of Days & Life Book pretty much exclusively, at least in the early part of this year. As spring arrives, we'll see what happens, but for now, I am working in a pared down way that allows for lots of personal work and healing.
Book Of Days began with Opening Ceremonies on Jan 1. The cover I created for my hand bound journal really reflects my desires for the year - simplicity, ordinary beauty, coffee rings. *lol*
Creating the cover really brought me into a state of readiness for the year ahead. I realized, as I was creating it, that I wanted to coast into 2015 without a whole lot of unnecessary fanfare or hooplah. I recognize the value in marking transitions from one year to the next, but my spirit was wanting to experience the transition in a gentler, less linear way than I might have done in the past few years. I wanted to acknowledge that while, yes, New Year's is a big deal, a new calendar year is a big deal, it is also just another day in a long, long cycle of days...
Something about the cyclical nature of each year felt really soothing and gentle to me.
I also wanted to put 2014 behind me without a whole lot of focus on what had transpired. I'm still so firmly IN what's been going on all year that it seemed disingenuous of me to call it 'over'. It is what is. I want to embrace what is. That seems a gentler path to me than treating it as though it was a closing door.
Doors do close, it's true, but what had been going on in 2014 would only spill through any cracks in doors I'd closed. It felt better to leave a portal open so that whatever needed to follow me into 2015 would have a way to do so. All the finality of releasing and closing ceremonies felt just plain *wrong* for me at this time.
I did, however, choose a word of the year. Joy. I was going to choose audacious, but that felt like way too much pressure. Joy felt somehow more in line with what my soul was craving. And, we're not talking about 'I WON THE LOTTERY' joy, either. We're talking about the perfect cup of coffee joy. The sound of the creek joy. The warm puppy and a good book joy.
Gentle would have made a good word, too, but it was lacking something so I embraced joy.
This is my first spread for Book Of Days this year:
It's a hot mess, but it's MY hot mess and I am in love with all that joyful colour.
Life Book got off to a gorgeous start. I am already behind, but the bonus weeks between 'main' weeks gives one plenty of time to play catch up. I got my warm up done, which was super fun and allowed me to focus yet more attention on my word of the year.
And the girls in my seekrit Life Book club are doing beautiful work as well. (In case you missed this: if you sign up for Life Book using my link (which is how I get paid for teaching), and then you EMAIL me to tell me you signed up, I will let you into our seekrit club house where I teach my Ultimate Notebook class + do Life Book alongside you all year. It's awesome!).
Here's my ultimate notebook.
The thing with keeping a notebook for classes one takes is that not only do you end up getting more out of the class because you are better prepared to integrate what you've learned, but you also end up with a work of art in and of itself. The notebooks end up all fat and juicy with your notes, clippings from the PDFs, screen shots, and ultimately, images of your own work.
It really works for me, though I will admit there are times it feels like a bit of a slog to watch the videos first, take notes, cut and paste (literally as opposed to the kind we do on the web) images and snippets from PDFs, print images of works in progress to glue in, etc. etc....
But when I've done the lesson and I glue in the final image of my work, a sense of accomplishment unlike any other I've ever experienced (except maybe the one experienced after childbirth) takes over and I can't wait to do it all again with the next lesson!
I introduced this concept in Radiant (you can still register!) and it has really changed the way some folks take classes. I heard nothing but positive feedback about how the notebook helps a body really dig into course content. It's also kind of like 'keeping score' in a visual and tangible way. When you're done, you can flip through the notebook and KNOW that you DID IT. Maybe not all of it, but enough that your notebook is a scrumptiously full bank of inspiration, ideas, and examples of your own progression as an artist.
New Year's was really special this year.
My Umfriend (formerly known as Manfingy formerly known as my ex) and I drove to Montreal on December 31st for smoked meat at Dunn's (a restaurant I remember from my childhood), and then to Ottawa to hang out with my daughter, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece.
We are family. Whatever else we might be, we're that, and that's okay with me.
I spent Jan 1 teaching my loves how to layer in the kitchen nook in Vivi's house. It was splendid...
We spent about five hours painting that day. I can't think of a better way to spend the first day of the year! Can you?
This is a not very good photograph of the painting I did while demonstrating layering techniques. It is my very first art of 2015 and I really love it. Vivi wants a print, so I'm going to send her one as soon as I get this one sealed and properly photographed.
I Said Farewell To Moonshine
As a bonus and a thank you to my loves in Moonshine, I created a painting for the first full moon in 2015 on camera:
This is an ode to joy and change and all things feminine. I loved creating it.
So how am I really?
I swing between perfectly okay and miserable, but I think that's okay considering there were a few months there where it was all miserable all the time. I am moving forward, one foot in front of the other, towards gentle joy. I am investing in my own art, spending time playing for the sake of playing, continuing in therapy, and letting myself be desire led wherever possible.
Yesterday, for example, after three days of zero human contact, I bundled up and braved the weather just so I could breathe the same air as other human beings.
I live in Canada, and often, in Canada, the air hurts ones face in the months between December and May, so yeah. Going out isn't often on my list of things to do during those months.
Last night, though? It was imperative. I needed to be out among humans, so I braved it and went. I got a new nude lipstick from Mac (with matching lip liner) a hair cut (just a trim), my eyebrows waxed, and a delicious dinner. A friend (not that kind of friend) met me at the restaurant and we talked for a few hours before I headed back home.
My mood lifted, but then sank again when I got a call from a family member in crisis. I had a lot of triggery feelings around what was going on there, and decided that I really could not be alone with all the feels for the rest of the evening.
Umfriend came over. We talked about what's going and I got to a place of calm and inner peace, and then curled up to watch an episode of Luther on Netflix (it's awesome, by the way). When he arrived, he came bearing gifts (all my packages go to his house since I don't have proof of address for my new place yet) - a box of Dina Wakley mixed media paint that I purchased from Artistcellar.
And that brings us to now.
I'm wearing flannel pajamas and sipping a mocha with whipped cream. I have done all my admin work for the day, so I'm going to paint. Umfriend is picking me up later and we're going to go for Pho.
And that's today.
And you? What's up with you? Tell me everything. xo
I had a giveaway for a free seat in Book Of Days 2015 - Volume One and today, I drew the winning entry!
YAY! Congratulations!! I've already emailed you. xo
We began today with opening ceremonies in which I walked everyone through decorating the cover with intention. Our first lesson will go live on Monday, January 5th, so there is still plenty of time to sign up!
I am totally overwhelmed today AND I'm in Ottawa visiting with family, so that's all I've got for now. I will return on January 3rd and resume my usual schedule. xo
I've been working on the opening ceremonies for Book Of Days today and I wrote up a little introduction PDF about our first theme of 2015.
I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with all of you because of all the things I preach and teach, this long look for ordinary beauty thing is probably the core of the meat of the root of it.
Here you go. On me. Bless you.
right click to 'save as'
I'm also planning to do a lot more 'face time' videos in my teaching schedule this year, so I thought I'd share my first one with y'all so you can get a load of why I'm not a lifestyle/fashion blogger and also who I am and why people find me so easy to relate too. (Messy hair hidden under a knit cap, check! Braless, check! Bare-faced, check! This is about as real as it gets, folks! :))
I will be off-blog until January 2, 2015 but I will still be administrating class access, etc.