I. Napmares (as in the bad dreams you have while napping) are the *devil*. I’m so over them. I had one yesterday that I could not shake all day, and then I ended up having the most wretched night – I think because I was afraid of more of the same. I did finally settle, but damn it, that sucked.
II. I ordered in after the nap mares and got the most disappointing order of fish and chips ever in the history of ordering in fish and chips. I was looking for a cure for all things nap mare related, but nooooooooo. This was not that.
III. THIS BABY HOWEVER IS THE CURE FOR ALL THE THINGS. *Watches on repeat*.
IV. I’m super busy today, so I have to keep this short, but I love checking in with you every day. It gives a really lovely, communal feeling to my day even though…
V. …watching this documentary on Social Media really put me off it a bit. Like, how much damage am I doing to my self given that I like, LIVE on social media?
P.S. This guy, Richard Grannon, has been really helpful to me in my journey to recovery from C-PTSD. Your mileage may vary.
VI. Fest season is nigh, though, so there will be less virtual and more meat, and you all know how much I love meat.
V. I heard you laugh there. You have a really dirty mind.
VI. Or maybe I’m projecting. It wouldn’t be the first time. :D
Okay, that’s enough of me scandalizing the Internets. *Giggles*.
VIII. It’s Beltaine today, but I’m thinking less about May poles and flower crowns and more about how *powerful* and truly *sexual* creativity is, and how tired I am of the heteronormative take on the Wheel of The Year. I am not defined by my ability (or lack thereof) to conceive, birth, or mother, and I’m not heteronormative myself, despite all evidence to the contrary, so why the fuck should my Gods be defined that way?
IX. HINT: They’re not.
X. Ever After 2019 opened for registration today, and true to ‘not your mother’s art journaling teacher’ form, I am going to be tackling The Witches Of Eastwick. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT.
See you there, AND on the blog hop on May 4th, where you can WIN A SEAT YESSAH, and also, tomorrow, because blogging isn’t the same as social media. Right? RIGHT?!! I declare it.
Today is my second to last day in the Artfully Wild Blog Along – I owe myself a day since I skipped one this month. BUT I ONLY SKIPPED ONE, YO!
This has been amazing, and my plan is to continue writing daily. A few of us are planning the same, so if you’d like to build up a little coterie of folks you read, who read you, do consider joining us. The rules are “Comment on three for every one you post”. Easy peasy. Find us here.
II. I spent the evening with loved ones – my youngest son and his girl, my middle son, my grandson. There was food and talking and lots of playing on the floor with various child friendly things like plastic bowls and wooden spoons. Bean’s parents decided to leave him with me overnight, since he was so content here, and they could use a break. James went home after we watched Game of Thrones (which was epic), and I got the Bean up from a nap so we could play for a while before bed time.
III. My sacrum is still healing after the rollerskating debacle, and lifting this gigantic baby caused it to flare up again last night, but it’s better this morning after a restful sleep (Thank you, Bean, for Mimi’s restful sleep!). After he leaves this morning, I’ll ice it and take a Robax and all will be well in my world.
IV. Something about having him here does wonders for my nervous system. It’s like I have nothing else in the world to do but love this chunk of busy baby, and my whole self just comes into alignment with that. He’s a little like I imagine Prozac would be if Prozac actually worked for me. Some people with anxiety can’t do infants/toddlers because they are so full of loud mysteries – the questions “Why are you hollering?” and “What do you need?” can be frustrating to some, and I totally get that. For me, though, it is instant embodiment. The tyranny of choice over what to do with my time is completely eliminated.
This. This is what we’re doing with our time right now. No choice, no anxiety. Boom.
V. One of the things I love about being in the position that I’m in right now is that I can just snap my fingers, and the things he needs appear. Ok, so what I really mean by that is ‘fire up Amazon’, but still. Feels like magic for someone who raised her own babies in abject poverty. I’ve got a portable crib, a high chair, and a bunch of toys on the way so that his parents, who don’t drive, can bus him here without needing to lug a bunch of equipment. I’m going to have to clean out a closet to store it all in, but even that makes me happy, because decluttering is my jam.
VI. I have a super full weekend coming up. I’m helping Stacey with her vending table at a roller derby on Friday (good opportunity for me to seek out the proper protective gear before I hit the roller rink this summer), and another friend with her vending booth at the KW Pet Expo on Saturday. I’m seeing the eye doctor on Sunday afternoon (for the first time in, like, eight years – oops), and then I have a live activation gathering with my art witches Sunday evening. I will be quanked by the end of it all, but next week is a light so I’ll have lots of time to rest and restore.
VII. I actually sat in silent meditation for ten minutes yesterday as part of my participation in a writing practice class with Natalie Goldberg, and this after wondering on paper if I could actually do it. Silent meditation is a little bit scary for me given the brain gremlins and where they go if I give them too much free reign. I actually found it quite calming, and though the gremlins did try to veer off into shadowy territory a few times in that ten minute span, I was able to return to my breath.
VIII. The writing after was good – revealing. Caught wind of some feels I wasn’t aware of having, and was able to nod in their direction – “Oh, hey…I see you there. Yeah, that’s a thing we can fix. Let’s do it.”
IX. I think I’ll end here, because I’ve written myself out of things to say, and the list to slay is calling my name. It’s saying PSSST. Bean is napping. Let’s do a thing or two and get ahead of the game.
I. I posted this on Facebook on Saturday evening, but I wanted to share it here as well.
One of the hardest times of day for me in terms of the way my brain gremlins work is when I wake in the middle of the night. The voices in my head in the hour of the wolf are not kind.
Lately, though, I’ve been challenging these voices instead of letting them run rough shod all over me when I’m at my most vulnerable.
I’ve been snapping my fingers at them.
“No. That’s enough of that. That’s not true. Quiet down.”
I’m not hateful toward these voice because they are, after all, coming directly from my own shadow, but I am *calmly assertive*. I am *firm*.
Snap snap. “That is not the truth. Settle.”
It’s been working.
Disclaimer: I’ve been in therapy with a really excellent trauma informed therapist since 2013, so that’s six years of work with a pro under my belt + all the years of self-help I did previous to that. Your mileage may vary, but self-talk seems to be a huge part of my healing process.
The inner bully I contend with seems to respond very well to a loving, firm parental voice that is not unlike the voice I use with my dogs when I’m training them.
“That’s enough.” SNAP “Settle.”
And then, I get my body into the most comfortable position I can. I praise myself for it. “Atta girl.” I breathe deeply into my heart centre, and hold my whole self firmly in place like I might a puppy who is balking at my command, and I let myself drift back to sleep.
And, yes, I did just compare my inner bully to a puppy. I really don’t think that’s far off given how much wolf there is in this woman you know as Effy Wild. All of my parts are *part of me* including the ones that give me trouble.
I will love myself in all my parts, no matter how much trouble they give me.
II. Being loved in all your parts is incredibly healing. If you can get some of that, do it. While you’re waiting for that to arrive on scene, though (and I had to wait a very long time), do your level best to do your own work so that you know yourself deeply, and can therefore love yourself deeply.
When you find yourself coming up against a place where all you can access is shame, please find a safe friend, lover, therapist, or pastoral care person who can say to you “Oh, hey. No. That is not the truth. Settle.”
Thank you, my people, especially 42, for the way you do that for me on the regular.
III. I had an emotional flashback on Saturday night. Here’s what happened.
After thinking about it for THREE DAYS, I took a deep breath, and asked my love for something to do with ‘staying on script’ with me. There are little rituals that we keep that keep me grounded, and he seemed to have skipped this one night last week.
First thing he did was tell me that he was pretty sure he hadn’t skipped it, but that if he had, he was *sorry* because he knows how much these touchstones mean to me.
Second thing he did was go looking for whether or not he’d actually skipped it.
While he was off looking, I started to spiral. The brain gremlins went like this: “Fuck. I am extra. I am too much. I am TROUBLE with a capital T. Why can’t I keep my fucking mouth shut? Why do I make a big deal out of everything?”
My ability to rein myself in during an emotional flashback is extremely limited, as is my ability to actually know I’m in an emotional flashback.
And then he proved to me that what we had here was a case of Internet fuckery, because he had, indeed, done the thing. It just never came through. He didn’t throw it in my face. He didn’t say “SEE? You’re fucking WRONG.” He just gently, tenderly offered up the proof that he had not skipped the thing, because he *wouldn’t* skip the thing on purpose. He is *not that guy*.
I started to sob, and here’s where things get really worthy of a pearl clutch and a Kleenex.
When I called him out for something, I *expected to get gaslighted*, not because he’s ever gaslighted me, but because I spent my whole life in this cycle:
I get (understandably) upset by something someone does (intentionally or not) that makes me have bad feels. I muster up the courage (and it takes a lot) to bring it up. I get raged at, minimized, or lied to about said thing until I feel *completely crazy*. I end up fawning and apologizing for being ‘extra’ in order to avoid being abandoned, further abused, or worse…
So, I’m sitting there not even aware that I am *literally waiting to be gaslit* and when he said “I’m pretty sure I did the thing.” when I had apparent proof that he hadn’t, boom. Emotional flashback.
I didn’t know that was what was happening. I was just kind of confounded. Shitting on myself. What is happening here? Why is this such a big deal. I said “I was honestly fine with all this. Just wanted to make sure it didn’t happen regularly because it makes me wobbly. I don’t know what’s wrong with me…”
But he did.
“You were fine until I said I had done what you thought I hadn’t done.”
I want to know how this man got so intuitive, so empathic that he can know better what is happening inside me than I do.
Cue my thousand apologies for being extra, and this is what he said, y’all.
“I’m all good. I’m not upset. I’m here. Always.”
“I’m not leaving.”
“You have the right to question. The gremlins will run. We just have to learn how to get them to go in the direction we want. You’ve been used and abandoned your whole life. It makes you go there. UNDERSTANDABLE. From now on when the gremlins come, hold yourself real hard. That’s me holding you.”
And then he proceeded to do everything in his power to make me laugh, because that is what works for me after an emotional flashback, and he knows it.
IV. Notice that there wasn’t anything in there about how I’m too much. There was no rage. There was no gaslighting.
There was “Oh, hey. Here’s the truth. And also, I fucking love you. Settle.”
He whispers me.
V. I have emotional flashbacks quite regularly. They suck balls. I do my very best not to shame myself over them, though, because I am learning how these were fostered within me, and I am beginning to understand the way they work. This means I can name them when they’re happening, and it means I can tell the people I love OH HEY…these situations cause emotional flashbacks. You’re not to blame for the fact that I have these, but you can *prevent some of them from happening* if you stay on script with me. Kthnxbai.
VI. It feels a little like a miracle that there are people in my life who I can say “OH HEY” to, who will actually hear me, but, dudes. That is my current reality. Can we please take a moment here to acknowledge how fucking powerfully healing that is? Yes. We can. Let’s.
VII. This song because #autobiography.
VIII. I am the proud adopter of this painting by Eric Cox. I had to buy it on a payment plan because it was way out of my price range, but I had to have this because it will always stand for the moment when the scales fell from my eyes and I truly stopped grieving.
VIII. I have kids + grand kid over tonight for talks and foods and visits, and I declare that it shall be epically good.
IX.I bought the book, but I find audio books especially soothing, so I thought I’d share this with you. Peter Levine understands trauma better than anyone else I’ve ever come across. If you have trauma of any kind, this might be of use to you.
I wrote this in 2015, but Sunday is for silence, AND we were talking about symbols in The Wilderhood this past week, AND Iris and I were talking about imposter syndrome and comparison and feeling like real artists during our interview (upcoming in Book Of Days for May’s content), so this felt relevant.
Most of my peers in the on line journaling/mixed media art world were artists before they started teaching. That is not the case with me. I was a writer before I started art journaling, and art journaling was something I took on so I could unblock myself as a writer. I didn’t ever dream (or even imagine) that I would teach art journaling. I didn’t ever even want to be a visual artist.
I came to art as a rank beginner in 2009 and dove into teaching because, essentially, someone dared me to. It was accidental – or maybe serendipitous – and it was entirely unexpected.
This means that I STILL spend a lot of time feeling like what I want to create and what I’m capable of creating are just not jiving right now. I *do* feel good about how I have progressed over the years. I do see great progress in my skills. I do feel proud of how much I have learned and how I’ve integrated all I’ve learned into my own personal art practice. I feel really good about the content I create in terms of how well it facilitates ART as PRACTICE. I am very proud of the writing I do in the classes I teach. I like my classes and if I weren’t teaching them, I’d want to take them.
But I am also painfully aware of how much better I think everyone else is at the ART part of what I do.
I have a few personal mantras that get me through those periods of time when I feel like I’m utterly deluded and should just pack it all in. One of them is “Enthusiasm counts” by which I mean that my enthusiasm for my chosen art form (art journaling) counts as a valuable contribution to the arena. Another is “Done is better than perfect”. I pull this one out especially in reference to the spreads I create for Book Of Days because sometimes I create a hot mess, and I have to cut myself some slack. Weekly spreads are easy if you’re not ALSO editing, filming, creating screen shots, writing accompanying ‘step-by-step’ instructions, and formulating musings to go with the post. The fact is, sometimes I create something I’m not fond of, but I have to get it up there, so I have learned to live with these problem children that spring from my creative loins.
I think it’s good for me. It’s an antidote to perfectionism to throw up work I’m not crazy about and say WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENED THIS WEEK, I MADE SOMETHING! TA DA!
But the whole “It’s about practice, not product” line is starting to getting old. I’m getting restless. I want to feel as good about the art part as I do about the self-inquiry part, the practice part, the encouraging part.
I want to love my art.
This week, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions about symbols and meaning. I’m building a library of things I find beautiful and meaningful on Pinterest. I think of it as seeding the mud. The mud is my subconscious, from whence all art comes. The seeds are images, symbols, palettes – inspiration.
Right now I’m collecting things and I’m working up the nerve to start doing sketches of things – working out how to get these symbols into my own paintings in a way that pleases me.
This seems a bit counterintuitive to me at the moment because there’s a voice in my head saying JUST PAINT – but I *also* know that a part of my restlessness comes from feeling like I’m in an art rut. I use the same images over and over again – mostly faces. Occasionally a tree. Bird stamps. I need to have a better stocked library of personal imagery to work with before I can “JUST PAINT’ because otherwise, I’m just painting the same old thing over and over and THAT is BORING ME TO DEATH! *lol*
Two days ago, I was all about birds and especially women with birds. Today it was ‘fish’ which led to ‘Koi’. It feels like I’m learning my own internal language, and that’s helping the restlessness a lot. It’s also helping me to feel like I’m *doing* something to close the gap between what I want to create and what I’m capable of creating.
When you want a thing, it is extremely important to begin moving in the direction of that thing. Otherwise, I find myself getting bogged down in impostor syndrome and stinkin’ thinkin’ and other poisons. I can’t really call myself an impostor when I’m actively moving towards having a greater personal library of symbols to work with, can I? I mean, I’m doing the work.
That makes me a real artist.
If you’re doing the work, you’re a real artist, too.
I’m an apprentice artist, for sure. I’m a beginner artist. I’m a baby artist. But that doesn’t mean I’m *not* an artist. It means I *am* an artist.
An artist in progress.
I can live with that. :)
P.S. A note from 2019 – I’m feeling much better about my art these days. My skills have improved over the years, and I am generally able to make things that look like I want them too. Like this painting from A Year Of Rumi. That little figure…thrilling. Those tiny hands. Wow. Practice, my loves, really does make progress.
Speaking of art and practice and progress, this sale is still on till April 29th and there is enough content in here to keep you busy for YEARS. Get it!!
II. Some doors need to be locked. Some keys need to be thrown away, over the shoulder with eyes closed into a fucking swamp so that you can’t go scrambling after them. Some ties need to be cut, as much as I’m loathe to wield the knife, ever. Some things do need to have a full stop added to the end of the sentence. Some situations do not call for grace or doubt or one more fucking tear, or a second thought.
Not everything in our lives deserves that gentle dot dot dot that implies a different ending is possible…
III. He’s right when he says we keep falling into the same hole in the sidewalk, correct in calling it the definition of insanity, but I didn’t dig it. It isn’t my hole.
IV. There are other rooms that need barricades, chains, hell hounds parked in at the threshold, but the names associated with them aren’t worth mentioning. They know who they are.
V. This is the place where I purposefully turn away from *waves at all of that* and segue into the next part, where I purposefully turn toward *all of this…*
VI. My kid was over last night for chicken wings, beers, good talks, and music. We do this thing (all my loves and I, actually) where we take turns choosing a song. Bonus points for introducing one another to new music they’ve never heard before, or bringing a touch of nostalgia to the party by playing a blast from the past. This is one of my favourite ways to spend my time.
We were talking about where he’s at with a specific part of his life, and he was suggesting that there was no way music could express the uniqueness of his situation. I totally proved him wrong. Found two songs that suited his heart frame perfectly.
He said “YOU GOT ME, MOM.”
Well, yes. Because, I made him. I see him. I get him. I’ve *got him*.
He’s got me, too.
Anyway, we somehow journeyed from LP to Mallrats to Paulo Nutini to Green Day to OkGo to Grimes to Annie Lennox to Mozart to Chopin to Debussy to The Art of Noise, and ended the night here.
Yes, we are nerds.
VII. I just wanna get groceries.
VIII. Today is for spending some time getting my ducks in a row for May 1st content so I can feel at ease and ahead of the game. I plan to dig into a class on Procreate, too, so I can start to figure out how to use my shiny new iPad Pro.
I’m not going to do the stairs or any bending or lifting (my lovely kid took care of the garbage and recycling last night so I don’t have to!) so my sacrum can rest and maybe even heal up some. I need a new series to watch while I rest, though.
My nursemaids and constant companions.
IX. Since I suck so hard at writing ‘bios’ and ‘about pages’, I’ve let the lovely Shai Bearden do it for me:
Between her take-no-shit attitude and gentle matriarchal coven-leading soul, we’ve found it impossible to not fall in love with her. She is both a fierce warrior for women and a soft place to land, splattered in acrylics and sarcasm, topped with a hearty home-cooked meal and a glass of whiskey.
I’m dreaming a dream of a home I love, work I love, a true partnership with a man I am fiercely loved by who I fiercely love, friends over for dinner, festivals, walks, camping trips, random little love notes, texts to check in, hot sex on a regular basis, the certainty that comes with mutual respect and desire…
…a life I’ve always longed for that I’m finally beginning to believe I deserve.
I’m dreaming in colour with sound. I’m dreaming with a willing spirit.
I’m ready to be done with this chapter. I want a whole new book.
II. Almost there, because magics, and 42.
III. If I’ve learned anything in therapy (and in general) it’s that your empathy towards someone who has harmed you is impossible until you fully feel and express your grief and rage. If you suppress either of those things, your empathy is probably more likely to bea ‘fawning’ trauma response.
One of the reasons it has taken me so long to heal from the dissolution of my marriage in 2014 is because I had a very powerful fawning trauma response. I could not own my rage. I could grieve, because that was acceptable to the other party. It seemed to prop him up somehow. Rage, though, resulted in further gaslighting and abuse, so I was kept very firmly hooked in to a cycle of push pull.
I own my part in that. Fully. Completely.
In the past week, I’ve fully moved past grief and fawning, and am in full possession of my rage.
It is empowering. It is a holy no. It is getting me where I want to go.
I’ll take it.
IV. What you’ve been witnessing in me lately are the last vestiges of a trauma bond falling away. I’m sure it’s uncomfortable to look at sometimes, but it is proof that you can experience an enormous amount of trauma, layer after layer of trauma, experience re-traumatization for years, and still heal.
My experience of this has been that it feels a little bit like nothing is really happening until one day HOLY HANNAH LOOK AT THAT! It’s startling. It’s disconcerting. And I’ve been warned that there may be a temptation to replace one trauma bond for another because trauma bonds are known and therefore interpreted as safe.
V. I slept well for the first time in a week last night, despite my broken ass. Two Robax knocked me out, thank the gods, because I was starting to look like I was storing my entire fifty year history in the bags beneath my eyes.
Tired, but clear-eyed.
VI. As I let go of the things that do not serve me, space is being made for things that do. My friendships are deepening. My ability to trust my friends is also deepening. I am able to approach the people I want to include in my inner circle and say OH HEY YOU WANNA BE FRIENDS? It’s still terrifying, but it is happening, and it is a beautiful thing.
VII. I’m going to be live in The Wilderhood today at 12 EDT if you wanna come hang out with me. If you miss the live, the replay will be linked in the files section of the group.
VIII. I treated myself to an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil and I’m very excited to begin exploring digital art and surface design. Feels like next level stuff. I love the idea of designing fabric. I love the idea of having a way to create on the couch without any need for anything more than Procreate and my pencil. I’ve played with it a bit since it arrived, and it is *powerful*, y’all. Like, I can literally duplicate what I do in mixed media with this thing.
I will never stop loving the messes I make when I fling paint, but this feels like yet another mode of creative expression that I can pack in my toolbox (and my purse!), and that makes me happy and excited.
IX. I’m on the edge of glory.
X. Everything is *almost ready* for May 1st, which puts me significantly ahead of my own schedule. This pleases me.