It's Monday, and a lot has gone on since last we typed, so I'm going to take it thing by thing.
The TL;DR version:
1) It's been very fricken cold here. So cold that my social life took a nose dive.
2) I took myself to the salon to get my hair did.
3) I ended up in ER last week with an asthma exacerbation and had to do a five day course of prednisone (also known as Vitamin Psychotic).
4) I changed my relationship status from 'single' to 'it's complicated'.
5) I vlogged for a few days and then completely fell off the vlogging radar BUT I got what I needed to get out of it, so I'm content.
I'm going to fill you in on each thing just in case you're interested. :)
It's been fricken cold here. February has always been my least favourite month of the year because it is the dead of winter and spring, though close in terms of the calendar, feels like an eternity away. I can succumb rather easily to depression in February - at least, that's been my experience - but the view outside my window (and a whole lot of lovely wild animal sightings - voles, minks, deer, and woodpeckers) have kept me sane. I stopped doing anything outside the house for the most part. Thankfully, my house is cosy and warm and full of art supplies and affords me moments like these:
The view out my patio window
Doe, a Deer!
A winged visitor
Set up to paint
I have never had my hair professionally coloured, and February felt like the perfect time to do that because everything looks like a black and white picture out there most days, and I needed RED. So I did this:
Which is awesome and though I won't get it done professionally very often (holy $$$!), I did enjoy the self-care and I am loving being fiery red in the middle of winter. Yeah!
When one neglects to take care of one's need for a particular medication, one ends up like this:
Thankfully, a mass Ventolin treatment (pictured above) and a five day course of prednisone and antibiotics put me back in good health.
On the anniversary of our break up, the Manfingy and I mutually agreed to not see anyone else for a while since we don't appear to be any closer to being 'broken up' than we were last year. We are, in fact, closer and whatever we're doing is working for us both. Therapy is helping us both become the people we want to be in relationship to one another, and that is goodscaryweird and also WHAT IS and if I've learned anything over the last year it is the importance of sitting in and even loving what is.
We spent Valentine's together. Dinner, snuggles, movie watching, roses, chocolate, and candlelight. It was absolutely lovely in every way, and I am extremely grateful to us both for allowing this transition to be an organic, mindful, conscious process that may just lead us to the relationship we were meant to have instead of the one we unintentionally, unconsciously dove into ten years ago.
Uncertainty is hard for me, but I am very content right now and the uncertainty feels like percolation where once it felt like stagnation.
Tam started a vlog every day in February thing and I jumped in with both feet, gave myself a wicked case of vulnerability hangover, jumped back out, then back in, and then fell out of it altogether. I got what I wanted from it, though. I needed to reconnect with my purpose with regards to the art stuff. What am I doing all this for? The classes? The teaching? What is the point?
For a while there I got super caught up in comparey monsters (love that terminology from Jani) and I was all "I SUCK WHY AM I EVEN TRYING I'M NOT A REAL ARTIST WHO DO I THINK I AM WHAT THE FUCK OMG DOOM!"
I had to talk myself down off that ledge with some gentle reminders:
I make art because it allows me to remain centered and grounded in what is.
I teach art journaling because learning how to remain centered and grounded in what is is something I'm passionate about.
Good art is not required. In fact, sometimes, focusing on 'good art' rather than 'honest art' can really get in the way of what I'm doing here.
All the same, sometimes I make really beautiful art.
So, that's me this past little while since last we typed.
And you? How are you? I've missed you! Tell me everything.
Created for Book Of Days 2015.
So, balancing my meat space life and virtual life is my intention for February, and I am feeling a lot more balanced about things. Something about just saying 'this is what I'm working on' is extremely effective for me. I think it's because I'm a journaler. It's really difficult to ignore the promptings of one's heart and soul when one is continuously engaging one's heart and soul. Know what I mean?
As I've begun attaining this balance, I've been noticing some real out of whackness in regards to the way I consume media. I plunge into a new series as though it is a needle full of
heroine heroin (that was an interesting typo!). I get jacked up on the series. I ignore my reality altogether. I numb out. And then I return to the world after a Netflix (or iTunes) binge feeling foggy and 'hungover' and wondering where the hell the last five hours went.
Of course, I do my work first. I do my dishes. I do my laundry. I leave the house. I make art.
So I guess what I'm saying is: I'm a functional addict. *LOL*
Still. Functional isn't good enough for me, so I'm working on being a little less numbed out and a little more engaged with my reality. There are, of course, reasons why I might not necessarily *want* to be engaged with my reality. I have a lot of issues around how much uncertainty I'm currently experiencing in my life. I am not thrilled to be living alone (and spending most of my time alone). I know that the numbing out is about not wanting to feel the gaping voids that exist within my psyche.
Awareness, however, is the key to change, so I expect this to shift organically as my awareness of how destructive the numbing out is grows.
Work In Progress for Bloom True
I've been arting a lot, working a lot, and living the best life I can over here in my little hobbit hole. I've been dying a thousand little deaths over the issue of food insecurity in the north. I've been doing what I can, when I can, with what I have. I've been fostering friendships with varying degrees of success.
I have been thinking about new e-courses I want to develop. I've been eyeing my savings account with a steely glare as it begins to dip below a level that feels safe. I've been thinking about writing a book. I've been spending a lot of time with my ex (who, like me, does not feel single and has trouble putting a label on what we actually are to one another beyond 'here, now').
Blogging feels trudgey and difficult. Vulnerable. Scary. Art doesn't, though, so that's where my energy has been lately.
The trick with consuming media right now is to make a deal with myself that I can watch Netflix all day if I want to as long as I am CREATING while I'm doing so. Whether I'm doodling, working in my art journal, or knitting (I'm working on a simple knitted wrap in a light green that's making me pretty happy), it doesn't matter. As long as I have SOMETHING to show for those hours spent watching Homeland or The Bachelor (don't laugh at me!), I'm golden.
This isn't ideal, but self-love requires gentleness when one is facing down one's gaping voids. It's important to go slow, not to throw oneself into a tizzy.
Flirting with you...
I have actual plans for Valentine's Day for the first time in - oh - six or seven years. With my ex.
Meanwhile, in bizzaro world...
And you? How are you? What's happening in your world?
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 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
If you're looking for the Bloom True giveaway info, you can find it here.
Hello, my loves! I am here to ramble, so please pardon the inevitable derailed trains of thought all over the place. I have a few things I want to share, and none of them are connected, so here we go:
I decided on my word of the year yesterday while sitting in my backyard.
No snow, though we do have some mild flurries today.
Anyway, as I was sitting there, a few crows came to play in the trees above my head, as they do, and I laughed because the evening before, I'd done some private art journaling around the old crow oracle - one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, etc. etc.
The spread I'd been working on was a 'one for sorrow' type spread, which I was playing with while watching a horribly depressing but compelling series on Netflix. (The Killing - really good crime drama, if you're into that sort of thing). There is so much sorrow in this series, and so much gloomy weather, too, that the single crow as harbinger of sorrow just popped into my head as I was watching.
While I was sitting in my backyard the next day, looking out over the creek, sipping a hot cup of coffee, watching the dog romp in the leaves, enjoying the unseasonable temperatures and the December air that, blessedly, did not hurt my face (!!), these crows came and gave me my word for the year.
Sorrow's other side of the coin.
Two crows for joy.
My word of the year for 2015 is joy.
I will not merely sit back and expect it to show up, though. I will foster it. I will invite it. I will seek it out.
Newly inspired as I was, I came in to film the opening ceremonies (aka journal decorating lesson) for Book Of Days 2015, and my hand bound art journal went from this:
(Learn to make one like it in Book Of Days Boot Camp - It's FREE!)
Check out the feather! Gilded! Pretty!
I was made entirely joyful by the process.
My ex and I are going to see family in Ottawa. We're leaving tomorrow and returning on Jan 2.
I know this is weird, but a) I don't drive and he does and b) he loves and misses my daughter, and c) we're grown ups and d) despite everything, we are still completely in one another's lives.
Don't yell at me.
My therapist knows what's going on and she keeps saying things like 'there's so much growth here' and 'there's been some real shifts in this' and 'You'll know it's time when you let go.'
Since I pay her for her advice and I don't pay you for yours, guess whose advice I'm going to listen to?
That was snarky. But also serious.
No one really knows what's going on but us, and even we're confused most of the time. I've begun to focus on letting go of letting go. As in letting this happen (whatever this is) organically. We'll know when we're done, I think, and if we're never done, well, we're never done. *Shrugging* My new lovers will have to deal with my unnatural attachment to my ex and we'll all have dinner together on a regular basis. There are worse things.
We were out on the patio having a smoke the other day and we caught ourselves planning to go camping next year.
Laugh. Shrug. Look sheepish at one another because aren't we supposed to be moving on with our lives?
I said "It is what it is.", and he nodded and we went back inside to finish watching American Horror before he wandered off home.
It is what it is.
I can live with that for now. <----what matters. Period. End of.
So we're taking a family road trip to see my daughter, her aunt (and my friend) and uncle, their daughter, and my daughter's awesome fiancée (who I adore). We will probably take a side trip to Montreal on Jan 2 to grab a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's before heading home.
It will be a joyful visit, and I'm really looking forward to it. Also because SMOKED MEAT. OM NOM NOM.
And that's me for now. And you? How are you? What is happening in your world?
I'm really curious if you've ever 'consciously uncoupled' as Manfing and I are doing, what with the joint therapy and the continued friendship. Did it work for you? Could you have done it any other way?
This is also me for now:
Morning face. Knitted cap because BED HEAD. Happy to see you. xo
Today only, by which I mean until I remember to shut it down, you can get Radiant:Faces for %50 off. Just apply coupon code boxingday to your purchase and you can have the class for $44.50!
The live portion of the class is now finished, which means that all the lessons are just sitting there waiting for you to enjoy them! The classroom will remain open until October 31, 2015 and there will be a challenge to complete 18 lessons before that time period in order to win $100 delivered to your PayPal account PLUS a seat in Book Of Days 2016. (I'm looking way ahead this year!).
Click here for details on the class.