The State Of My Union

overshareIt's Friday, and in two sleeps, I will get to hang out with Manfingy, who's been gone since March 25th. I am all kinds of excited and also anxious. There's a smidgeon of 'what if the tenderness and affection we expressed over the wires while he was away evaporates when he's here in the flesh?'.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz.

Those of you who are new to me will need a bit of context: Manfingy and I lived together for ten years. We broke up in February of 2014 (his choice) and I moved out in June of 2014. We spent the first few months afterwards trying to get over one another and move on. We've spent the last half year or so resting in the knowledge that, at the end of the day, we really love one another. Now, we're just trying to work out what the hell we are to one another. Joint therapy, lots of drives and talks and dinners, lots of come here/go away on both our parts.

The past few months have seen us saying 'come here' a lot more often. We say things like "I'm not done with you yet.", and "You're my person." We have dinner together every Wednesday. We snuggle. Once a week or so, he spends the night. We text daily. It's a thing. But what it is is unclear. Where it's going is equally unclear.

The uncertainty of it all is pretty heavy, and if you read yesterday's post, you'll know that I have a very complicated relationship with uncertainty.

***

My knees want to jerk myself out of uncertainty. That would look something like me forcing the issue somehow. Ending it altogether in order to avoid the discomfort uncertainty brings me. Moving to another city, province, or hell even another country.

I've been sitting in it instead. Feeling it. Sometimes numbing out over it, but mostly, I've been feeling it.

It feels like, no matter where this leads, it's leading somewhere...

Much like an art journal spread can start out looking like a hot holy mess until everything comes together and the heavens open and the light shines and the angels sing, this, too might end with a hallelujah chorus.

Who knows.

What I know for certain is the uncertainty, as uncomfortable as it is, will not only NOT kill me, it WILL make me stronger. It is making me the kind of person who can rest in a thing until clarity comes instead of closing a door with no certain outcome that might lead to joy in favour of a really empty, sad door that comes with certainty.

It's crazy to choose certain misery over uncertain but possible joy, but certain misery is the devil I know and I am struggling to resist the lure of certainty.

***

When I first moved into my own place, I spent a good three months having panic attacks pretty much nightly. The voice in my head kept telling me that I would never be loved again and I was going to die alone. For someone like me, someone who experienced early rejection and emotional abandonment by her parental units, 'never being loved and dying alone' is pretty much the worst possible outcome.

Whenever I would start to think along those lines (and I thought along those lines often and with fucking gusto), I would sink into a deep despondency. Hopelessness, despair, and a desperate need for relief from the burden of those feelings were my constant companions.

But it eased.

My therapist kept encouraging me to be with it, to let myself feel it, to acknowledge it instead of denying it and stuffing it, and as much as I hated sitting in it, I sat, and it did, eventually, ease. I spent October, November, and December coming up out of it. January was spent *actually enjoying my solitude* for the first time in my life. The panic attacks eased. The fear that I'd die alone eased. The fear that I'd never love or be loved again eased. I made art. I taught BOD. I engaged with people in person and in my virtual spaces. I got through it.

By February - the anniversary of our breakup - he and I decided to see one another exclusively. It was becoming obvious that we weren't finished and we both had some complicated feelings about how the energy of other relationships might impact the healing we were  doing. On the one hand, he didn't want to hold me back from experiencing love and attention from someone who had it to give. On the other hand, he didn't really want me falling in love with someone else and leaving him behind with all the 'what ifs'. On the one hand, I didn't want to sit in the uncertainty of 'I don't know what we are but we're something, and can we just be something without labeling it for a while', but I also didn't want to succumb to my natural tendency to shut the door on possible, uncertain joy in favour of absolutely certain misery.

So we've been exclusive. Whatever that means. And he's coming home on Sunday, and he's pretty much going to land, deal with dog and kid stuff, and then head on over here for the evening - a fact which thrills me, because I fully expected him to say "I'll see you on Wednesday as usual..."

I feel pretty certain that we are entering a make it or break it phase of this whatever-this-is. I don't know why I feel that way, but working intuitively as I have been for as long as I have been means that when my spidey senses say "stuff is happening here", I have to pay attention.

And I'm a little bit scared.

And also a little bit hopeful.

But no matter what, I am absolutely 100% certain that I will be okay.

And that's me, your purveyor of fine TMI, on this Friday, April 17th, 2015.

xo
Effy

Other People’s Shit, Business Class, Blogging, And That Lipstick I’ll Never Wear

Sometimes you just need to dump your purse out on the table and show your friends all the weird shit you're carrying around in there. This is my version of that. Some of it is pretty negative, so if you'd rather skip it, please do. I'm putting it after some pretty pictures of my art<-----BECAUSE BOUNDARIES.

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1) One of my adult kids told me to never speak to them again a few weeks ago because I did something they consider unforgivable. *EYE ROLL* I saw this kid on the street yesterday, and respecting their boundaries, I just walked on by. They immediately turned it into a victim-hood story in which I WALKED BY THEM WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING. Well, you asked me to, and also, why would I stop to talk to someone who called me ALL THE NAMES and wished ALL THE HORRIBLE THINGS WOULD HAPPEN TO ME. I am incredibly annoyed with this situation and having trouble shaking it. It is totally messing with me. Mama's, feel free to share your horror stories about adult kids who push your buttons in the comments because commiseration is awesome, and I could use a little mama love.

2) I am loving a business class I'm taking, but I also feel defensive about it because people I like and respect have complained about the affiliate marketing that happens around this class every year around this time. I have no desire or intention to cram this class down anyone's throat, and yet, I feel like being in the class means I will be associated with THAT PERSON WHO CRAMS THE CLASS down everyone's throat. It's triggering some uncomfortable questions in me, like, is all the complaining about this really about people not wanting to be sold to? Because I send out sales letters all the time and no one complains that I'm cramming my e-courses down their throats. Is this because people want the OHH SHINY but can't afford it/justify the expense? Is this a sour grapes thing? Is this a case of incredibly powerful, successful woman meets Tall Poppy Syndrome? Or are the graduates of this class really that annoying in their annual affiliate marketing blitz? I've heard people say that this class sells to pain points. My pain points didn't feel pushed when I hit the 'buy now' button. I felt like "I am doing everything by the seat of my pants, and this looks like it might help me get some structure happening!" I felt like "This might help me take this thing I love doing to the next level!" I didn't feel like "I want to be one of the cool kids so I'm going to whip out my credit card and pay to belong to an exclusive club!" <----I really don't see that in any of the marketing for this class, so I'm not sure where the pain point and exclusive club stuff is coming from. And THAT makes me fear that maybe I'm just really duped and gullible and stupid and WORSE, maybe OTHER people think I'm really duped and gullible and stupid. Like, are people looking at me like I've drunk the Kool-Aid and whispering behind my back about how much I'm going to change because I'm taking this class? OMGDOOM.

Anyway, this defensiveness has made me want to be quiet about all the awesomeness I'm learning in this class and that's annoying the shit out of me. It's really ridiculous and I wish I could just stop thinking about what other people think about decisions I feel good about.

3) Someone messaged me out of the blue yesterday to dump all over me about how they feel about something that happened a few years ago between people we know. This is a peripheral person, in the sense that she and I are not close, though we are sort of related via my kids. They were triggered and having feelings and decided that Facebook Messenger was a great place to dive into a conversation about it despite the fact that she and I were never close, and have no real relationship beyond being connected on Facebook. After not hearing from her at all in few years, I was met with HELLO, LONG TIME NO SEE *VOMIT ALL THE TRIGGERY AWFUL THINGS INTO YOUR INBOX* HOW DO YOU THINK I SHOULD DEAL WITH THIS? Well, for starters, maybe HAVE SOME BOUNDARIES. For real! Because I was just sitting here enjoying the sunshine and all this shit that you are dredging up from years ago could not have been further from my mind, but THANKS FOR RUINING MY DAY.

4) I'm having this really weird relationship with blogging that is annoying me to no end. I believe in writing from an authentic and vulnerable place about shit that is actually happening - the good, the bad, and the ugly - but because I'm also in business, I have this stupid insecurity about alienating my 'market'. Like, seriously. I can't believe those words are even a part of my vocabulary. I want to gouge them out of my brain and throw them away forever. Because, this is what my heart of hearts believes: my 'market' are just people like me who have good, bad, and ugly shit and they are not going to feel alienated by my sharing mine. It's one thing if I'm taking up time and space in a classroom setting to dump out my purse and examine the contents, but this is my BLOG. I really should feel free to use it in any way that serves me, and yet, there has been this dance of resistance for about two years now because I have some really ugly ugly and some really bad bad and it feels inauthentic not to talk about it, but scary and vulnerable to talk about it - rock, hard place, etc. ARGH. I'm working on it though, and that is why we are currently examining the contents of my purse together, you and I, and have I mentioned that you are just so lovely for sitting here with me while we sort through the used Kleenex and the expired prescriptions and the lipstick I will never, ever wear because, yes, I paid $28 bucks for it, but coral is just NOT my colour?

5) Aside from other people's shit, I am wonderful. I am loving watching Spring unfold outside my patio windows. I am finding a beautiful balance between being social and being hermity. All my needs are met and I have a little extra so I can help feed a family in the North AND help restock the food bank in Arctic Bay. Food insecurity is a thing in the Canadian North and I'm just so grateful that I can do something about it, however tiny, with the fruits of my labour. I'm developing as an artist. I'm starting to really think of myself as an artist. I feel fully confident in myself as a teacher. My therapist is back after being off for weeks and weeks with a broken leg. My dog, who was dogknapped in front of my house last week, was returned to me within 24 hours. Life is good, other people's shit aside.

If I lived in a cave and didn't have to deal with OPS, I'd be blissed out.

And you? How are you? How are your boundaries? Are they mushy? Are you feeling other people's shit encroaching upon your life? Are you needing to put up your hand and say NOT MY PACK, NOT MY WOLVES to some people who are howling in your ear? It can feel like we're all supposed to let the stuff that's stinking up our otherwise lovely lives impact us because that's what nice, kind, compassionate people do, but I don't buy it. I'm ineffectual when I'm dealing with other people's shit. I need to let them deal with their shit on their own. I have enough of my own shit to deal with, and having dumped my purse out onto the table so we can see just how big the pile of OTHER PEOPLE'S SHIT is I am feeling much more capable of doing that now.

Thanks for listening. And hey! You can totally have that lipstick! It will look FANTASTIC on you!

xo

Effy

 

The One In Which I Talk About All The Things

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. :)

Thing One

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:

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The view out my patio window

 

Deer by the creek

Doe, a Deer!

 

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A winged visitor

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Set up to paint

Thing Two

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:

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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!

Thing Three

When one neglects to take care of one's need for a particular medication, one ends up like this:

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Thankfully, a mass Ventolin treatment (pictured above) and a five day course of prednisone and antibiotics put me back in good health.

Thing Four

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.

Thing Five

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.

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So, that's me this past little while since last we typed.

And you? How are you? I've missed you! Tell me everything.

 

 

 

The One In Which I Work On Not Numbing Out

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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.

***

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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...

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...

*Grins*

And you? How are you? What's happening in your world?

 

The One In Which I Talk To You About Nastygrams

10403520_10152585313982264_3614826849084759116_nI 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.

Because BOUNDARIES.

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!

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"Sin" by Mac. Matte. With a smidge of lip glass in a colour name too small to read because I am old. *Gigglesnort*

 

 

BOD 2015 Winner Announced!

I had a giveaway for a free seat in Book Of Days 2015 - Volume One and today, I drew the winning entry!

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YAY! Congratulations!! I've already emailed you. xo

bod2015We 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