My He(ART)-Full Life



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

healing and leaning into my creative self

 "Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. the light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires." -Dr. Clarrisa Pinkola Estes
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/4563-Clarissa_Pinkola_Estes
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/4563-Clarissa_Pinkola_Estes
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/author/4563-Clarissa_Pinkola_Estes
  I have so much to share about  my journey of healing and creativity...where do I start? Okay...my work has been stagnant for the past...I don't even know how long! It's been frozen and stuck and stilted. But...so have I! What I'm discovering (and I am going to be writing so much more about this in future blog posts) is that healing and creativity are intrinsically linked. For me...there is no separation. For the past many years I have been so stuck in my healing journey. Yes...I was working on things, going to therapy every single week, owning up to hard truths and processing frozen emotions from my abusive childhood...but recovery is not a linear process. It's just not! And for that matter...neither is life or creativity or relationships etc. So...yes...I continued painting but I was so unhappy with my work. I had so much to share...I had images in my heart and mind of what I wanted my painting to emerge as ...but the same frozen images kept on showing up again...and again...and again. It's almost like I just had to paint the same frozen girl/woman every single time. And so...I did!! That girl was me. I was frozen and locked in pain, suffering, denial, suffering and even apathy. So...this girl just had to be painted over and over and over again.

Fast forward to a few months ago...and I began to feel myself healing, letting go, awakening. Basically...the key was to just be where I am. It's that simple...and that difficult. No matter what came up...I decided to step into it. If I was melancholy or angry or in a funky depression...so be it. If I had to paint the same lady 101 times...well...okay then! And I had to face some terribly difficult truths. Things I had a deep knowing of that the logical mind doesn't particularly want to face...but...there it is! And in this space of true acceptance...I experienced the beginnings of healing, transformation and yes!!! ...creativity. I felt the ice thawing and my emotions spilling out onto the page. I felt free and wild and almost possessed with painting. I felt opened up to dreams, poetry, images, wet paint and wild passions.

So...I signed Tara and I up for Bliss class and it's the absolute perfect opportunity and partner to my healing/creativity right now!! Juliette doesn't teach us how to paint like her...but she teaches us how to paint like ourSELVES. She has given me the gift of opening mySELF up to my own stories, images, truthtelling and artistry. She is generous in sharing all of her tools and techniques and then allows us...gives us the space and courage...to make them our own; to put our own twist on it. And I feel so free...it's not about right or wrong...it's about curiosity, playing, experimenting and showing up to do the work. I can't recommend this class enough!

“creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.” - Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
And so...I'm learning to make friends with my fears, to invite them along for the ride, ask them what they might have to show me...and keep on making my art. I'm learning to trust my art, my vision, my journey, my stories...my SELF. I'm also making friends with my potential...my unique voice, my courage and truth. I feel fierce yet...vulnerable. I can stand in this moment, firmly, set boundaries, ask for what I need, give myself what I need and keep on keeping on. Knowing all the while that it's all about the journey. In art...and in life. xxx

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

sketching on the go


 Friends...the first thing is...I'm not sure if anyone even reads my blog anymore; I haven't been here in forever!!! Despite my best efforts to keep a regular blogging schedule, I've fallen off the wagon due to 101 reasons. It's not that I don't have a ton of stuff to write about (because I absolutely do) but life just kept on cropping up. Also...I think that sometimes we just need a break, a place and space to rest and replenish until we feel ready. And it's not that I haven't been painting, creating and writing (Hop on over to my Instagram feed) ...just not here for some reason!
Anyways...I signed both Tara and me up for Bliss class by Juliette Crane (and I can't recommend it highly enough...a whole separate blog post for that!) and one of the habits I'm developing is sketching on the go. So I wanted to share what I'm learning from this process and also what's in my travel sketch kit.

Travel Sketch Kit
* 2 small sketchbooks (so I can go back and forth while pages dry). One of the sketchbooks is just a regular one for dry media...and even though I used watercolors ...I liked the effects of the buckling. If the page tore, I simply covered it up with a piece of collage...no worries! The other sketchbook is a Bee Super Deluxe for mixed media so the pages are sturdier.
* 2 small watercolor kits (a Sennelier travel one I had and a kit I made with my fave. colors)
* UHU gluestick (I ran out so next time I will definitely take a large!)
* small water cup
* a few markers
* sharpener
* Stabilo all black pencil
* a couple of ziplock bags (so important to keep watercolors in!)
* a few water-soluble oil pastels (2 whites because they can be used with other colors to vary tones and colors etc)
*collage papers
* mop type brush
* fabric throw so I can spread it out anywhere and paint/sketch
*pencil case to keep everything together

Okay...I learned so many things I wanted to share...some practical and some metaphoric.
* I didn't pack a mop brush so I used an ice cube to spread the paints! Whoa!!!!! Totally awesome and cool effects and textures. Try it...I promise you will be surprised!
* less is more. Sure...I love having all my inks and paints and....but when I have less stuff to use...it forces me to think outside the box. I used my fingers way more (which gave me a lot of very raw, emotive marks).  I didn't have a ton of colors with me so I started getting very intentional with my palette, using my white oil pastel to vary colors and tones, Also using the white of the paper a whole lot more.
* I made a ton of marks/scribbles etc that gave so much character and depth to my pages. I became very experimental and free in my mark making...most of it was going to get covered up anyways...but some of it would show through.
* I think the most important thing I learned from the entire process, though, is that it's all about the journey. It's not about the finished painting/drawing/sketch but it's about what I'm learning along the way. There is no right or wrong,...I don't have to know where the page is going...more importantly...the page doesn't have to go anywhere at all!!! I have pages that are simply full of beautiful colors, marks...a patch of graphic collage. All okay!!! 
Happy Creating!!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

around here lately

 My sweet gorgeous girl turned 7...I can hardly even believe it! I remember the very first time I laid eyes on her and it seems like a moment ago. But in between these 7 years, she has grown and blossomed and bloomed and is thriving in every which way...it's kind of incredible. She is sweet and strong and kind and smart and sassy too, thank you very much! She has her own mind, is incredibly curious and creative...and we just love her to pieces. I am so very very incredibly grateful that I get to be her mom...that I get to nurture and love and foster her growth and witness her journey. She is the sun and the moon and the stars to us and I can't even begin to imagine what life was like before her.

 Oh! Also...she's a complete daddy's girl now and loves to go on all sorts of adventures with him.

 We got a new addition to our family...this sweet little mutton pie right here. Tim has been wanting a puppy since Tara was about a year and a half. But...the timing was so not right! Tara was just a toddler and needed my full care and attention plus we were moving across country and Tim was away for work a lot and on and on. And Tara has desperately wanted a puppy for the past couple of years...but once again, the timing just wasn't right...Tim had so many major surgeries last year on and on. But now that we have this sweet little bundle ...we couldn't be happier. He is a Doberman (with uncropped ears), 7 weeks old and a sweet little pudding. We just love him so. Tara dotes on him and he on her; he has been an incredibly warm and loving spirit to our family and we are ever so grateful. Oh...and his name is Maximus Jellybean Biko or Maxi for short!


And I am really excited about my art....the way it is freeing up and getting more looser and more whimsical...more emotional and experimental. I have no idea where it will lead....but I am allowing grace to carry me; I don't need to know!

Monday, January 25, 2016

addicted to creating backgrounds, how my art is changing and the link between healing and creativity

 I have been creating a ton of backgrounds these past few weeks...and having so much fun playing and experimenting...I can barely stand it!!! I have been using mixed media papers, bristol board as well as watercolor papers....they all cause different effects. I began using acrylic inks a few months ago and just can't get enough of them....their colors are so lush, rich and versatile it's amazing. First I make some random marks....using Posca markers or oil pastels...or whatever I have at hand. Then I lay down 2-3 different colors of acrylic inks and lay them out with water. I work very fast and intuitively at this stage....usually I have music playing or listening to audio books by Dr. Estes. I have to make sure I have a clean jar of water...with inks, the water muddies up really fast and I want to maintain the vibrancy of the colors. I also try to maintain some white spaces of the paper. I mean...if I remember. Sometimes it all gets covered up so....just going with the flow.

 Then....after it completely dries...I go over the page with additional layers of ink...maybe some oil pastels....maybe mix my acrylic inks with chalk paints. Basically I just play and experiment!!! Layers and layers later....posca markers, collage, stamps...whatever I feel like.

                                                                (WIP, mixed media)
" Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things." -Colson Whitehead, Zone One
  And here is an image over one of my backgrounds. I feel a new energy and aesthetic emerging!!! I have been creatively stuck for the longest time. I mean....ages and ages. But what I am now realizing and experiencing is that there is a distinct connection between my healing and my creativity. As I become stronger and healthier...as I process more and more of my childhood traumas that have kept me frozen for so long....my creativity flows easier. As I begin to clear away old debris and false belief systems....as I begin to truly and deeply feel my feelings and remember those old buried away traumatic memories of abuse....my creativity flourishes. I am going to continue writing so much more about this as I heal and get healthier because there is still so much for me to learn, experience and discover.

And I am totally loving this new direction of my art that feels more playful, joyful and very strong and energetic. Can't wait to see where it all goes. Happy creating!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grace. My word for the year.

"Let the cracks between things widen until they are no longer cracks but the new places for things." -Colson Whitehead, Zone One
2016 is different for me, somehow. I feel the cracks within me, all of that broken-ness that has inhabited my inside spaces...I feel it all widening up to hold new beliefs and ways of being. I feel an expansion of mySELF that is unshakable yet fluid. So many many times when I was very weak and broken, I allowed other people's stories to nourish and guide me. And I am ever so thankful because I don't know what I would have done without them. Their stories were lifelines that kept me from drowning and I most certainly wouldn't be the person I am today without them. And now that I feel strong enough...I have decided to give myself permission to be inspired by my own journey. I am allowing myself to look within, to recover parts of myself thrown away. To discover parts of myself that were long lost and buried. To create mySELF as I want. I actually get to do that!!! There is such freedom and peace in this knowledge...an absolute trust in the universe and self. Grace.
" there are feelings.
you haven't felt yet.
give them time.
they are almost here.
-fresh" -Nayyirah Waheed, Salt

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

acrylic inks!!


 I've totally been digging acrylic inks lately...I just can't get enough of the gorgeous lush colors!! I've been using Liquitex, Dr. PH Martins and Ranger re-inkers. Here are the reasons I love them:
*they invite me to play...you simply can't NOT experiment and play with them! I mean...it's impossible! Nor can you plan things out...it's very intuitive...the colors I use, where I place them etc.
* totally compatible with all other media from oil pastels to collage to chalk paints etc.
* works with multi tasking...I can apply some inks and let them dry for an hour or two while I attend to something else and when I come back...ready for the next layer.


*the colors are so rich and lush...saturated and dreamy. LOVE!!
*not terribly expensive...and a little goes a long way.
*I can layer white tissue paper over the inks to mute the colors and designs but they still show through...creating really interesting textures and color variations.

Love adding my Posca markers and Derwent Inktense blocks over top of they inks...I can mix it in when still wet or layer over top after the inks have dried. So versatile!

Happy creating, friends!!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 year in review

 Dear 2015...you were a roller coaster of a year for me!!!! Looking back on this year, I can't help but gasp and marvel at the ups and downs, the twists and turns and all the unexpected joys and sorrows that you contained. Through it all, though, I received so many gifts of growth, transformations, letting go, discoveries and so much more! Boy...but were you ever difficult!! The entire year, I only wrote 4-5 blog posts...I simply had to extend myself some grace and let some things go. *Note to self* It's totally okay to do that sometimes!
The year began with Tim having not one, but 2 major surgeries. It was an extremely difficult time for our little family. We tried to keep things as normal and routine for Tara as we could but she simply couldn't understand why daddy was sick. Lots of talks with her, answering her questions, listening, listening, listening...hugs and comforting and validating and loving. And Tim, while he has the fortitude of a warrior...struggled through his surgeries as well. There were ups and down and all the usual emotions that accompany loss of health. As for me...my mantra became self care, self care, self care. And that was the only way I was able to hold everything together.
 Tara turned 6 in January and wow!!! did she ever grow up!! Almost overnight...it seemed that she became a big girl. She wanted to pick out her own clothes, redecorate her room and make more decisions. And she grew like a weed to boot! She bloomed and blossomed and changed daily...I had trouble keeping up. So very proud of my girl...and just when I think I can't possibly love her one ounce more...I surprise myself!

As for me...2015 brought me my own healing.I began therapy last year to finally confront and deal with my abusive and dysfunctional childhood...the layers and layers of denial, lies, abuse...on and on and on; it never seemed to end.The more I uncovered...the more there was to uncover and just when I thought...there can't possibly be any more crap for me unearth....there was!!!
Earlier this year, I wrote this on my FB page: 
"Been writing pages and pages and pages lately...working through huge webs and layers of lies + deceit that I had been taught to believe in my childhood. Not only generational and cultural lies/false beliefs...but also "Family of Origin" lies. Examining my many survival programs I had to adopt...that have served me well as a child but are counter-productive now. It has been staggering + cathartic + draining...and I have only just begun! But learning to validate mySELF, my experiences and my truth...taking responsibility + ownership for my healing process. And every tiny little step leads me to another...slightly larger expansion + letting go." 
And what it's really about is this right here...Dismantling False Belief Systems. When you grow up in a very toxic, abusive and dysfunctional "family" of origin (as I did) then you learn to accept the unacceptable. As a child, you have no frame of reference, defense or perspective; you simply accept the situations because, quite frankly, you have no other choice. Well...tied in to all the dysfunction are false beliefs that all build up on one another...a huge web of lies that form our belief systems. At first...it was overwhelming to untangle all these false beliefs...like a million balls of yarn that were all knotted up into one big mess that I had to sort through. But I kept at it and kept at it slowly and steadily and this is what I discovered: all these lies were built into one another...like a house of cards and once I began to dismantle a few of the huge ones...the rest fell away.I also learned that recovery is not an event, it's a (lifelong) process. I learned to trust mySELF, stand firm in truth, stop seeking external approval and most of all...I began a journey of self care.

 Self care: what exactly is that?? I think we each have to define what caring for the self means in a very personal and fluid way. For me...it was really and truly listening to mySELF. Paying attention to my needs...believing I even had the right to have needs to begin with!! And then...asking for what I needed, trusting that I would receive it, and knowing that I could meet my own needs. It included keeping up with medical appointments, exercising and healthy eating, resting, relaxing, playing, reading poetry out loud, investing in myself and people who love me, starting a meditation practice, mindfulness, setting boundaries. It meant letting go of false hopes, removing toxic people from my life and allowing people (myself included) to be who they are. Wow!!! It goes on and on and on in the most transformative and surprising ways! 

And once Tara turned 6, she became more and more of a daddy's girl each day. Their relationship started changing and growing in entirely new directions that was so heartwarming for me to see. 2015 definitely brought these two closer in ways I never could have imagined. Imagine Tim playing dollhouse with Tara...making "tea" in her kitchen and ...dress-up!! All of a sudden they were two peas in a pod! Makes me happy to no end.



You are a sea of light. Open your eyes. See yourself. ~ Nayyirah Waheed

"in our own ways
we all break.
it is okay
to hold your heart outside your body
for days,
months,
years,
at a time.
-heal." - Nayyirah Waheed 
And 2015...you brought me to this moment right here where I truly feel that the Universe rose up to meet me exactly where I was in time and space. A large part of recovery work is grueling. Mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally draining; it's difficult! But I kept at it....even when I didn't want to, even when I felt I couldn't take one more step, even when it seemed impossible. I had made a commitment and promise to myself and I was going to keep it...through all the tears, frustrations, sufferings and acceptance of hard truths. For most of the year...it seemed that I was slogging away at healing and there was no progress, no change, no steps in any particular direction; it appeared thankless and futile. But then....all of a sudden...in November when we were in Mexico...I feel as I was given grace. I feel as if huge weights of toxic shame that was placed on me when I was a child....lifted. For the very first time in my life...I felt myself opening up to life in ways I never thought possible! I felt gifted, transformed and set free. Layers began peeling off and I deeply feel as if I turned a corner somehow. I felt more at peace than I ever have in my entire life...grateful.

And in December...Tim had another major surgery! Things went well but we still went through all the highs and lows of surgery and stress. Tim has the most optimistic attitude of anyone I know...seriously...he even surprised the doctors and nurses! And while we had our rough spots for sure...we grew closer together as friends and as a couple. We began depending on each other in different ways and 2015 brought us the unexpected gift of our love and intimacy deepening in entirely new ways. And I couldn't be more proud of him for the way he's come out on the other end this year. Step by step...we leaned on each other and made it to the other side of through. Thankful for it all.


And 2015...you brought changes to my art...more playing, more experimenting, more trusting, letting go and whimsy. More stories and truthtelling and intuition...more layers and colors...more mystery. Less perfectionism, less in my mind and more in my heart. I can't wait to see what unfolds!
So...goodbye 2015...you were wildly life changing for me. You broke me down and put me back together again in new configurations I have yet to discover. You gave me answers to deeply held questions I have had my entire life and opened me up to new ways of being. I am thankful and grateful beyond belief. You showed me that gifts don't always come to us in neat little packages...sometimes they come storming in and tear our lives apart and grind us down to dust and then wow!!!! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
xxx

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

published!

I'm over the moon to be published in the current Artists' Cafe magazine!

Friends...I wrote an article about the power of art journaling, sharing our stories and standing in our truths. I have long believed in the power of storytelling as medicine. When I was still in my teens, I began art journaling before I even knew it was a thing. I simply began combining my  writing and drawing by accident and then discovered that it helped me. It was one of the tools I unknowingly used to survive my dysfunctional and abusive "family" of origin. There is an alchemy to combining our stories with art...it is storytelling from the soul. For me, it was a way to give voice to my experiences...my journals were bearing witness to what I experienced. It was a safe refuge for me to process some of the pain and to empower and validate my experiences.My earliest art journals literally became my lifeline to truth and sanity.

 This past year, as I have been entering a deeper phase of recovery, I once again find myself deeply drawn to the magic of art journaling. I hope you all have a chance to check out the article, friends...it's a 6 page spread where I completely pour out my heart and soul.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

some of my fave. art supplies!


I've been meaning to write this blog post for such a long time but never got around to it! Here goes.
* Derwent Inktense Blocks. I tried these out for the first time about 6 months ago and instantly fell in love!!! What's not to like? The colors are rich and lush...you can use them wet or dry. I can mix them with water or with my oil pastels. I use them to draw or sketch and also to paint with. Totally versatile and portable. I mean...serious magic
  * Gelli printing plate ...I tried this out for the first time a few months ago....and it opened up an entire world of possibilities!! Totally invited creativity in! Bonus....Tara loves it too!

* Waverly chalk paint. I actually saw these in the craft aisle in Walmart and decided to try out a bottle. Whoa!!! Instant love! These chalk paints come in about 7-8 different colors, have serious covering power, is opaque and provides an excellent ground for paint markers. They also mix well with other paints to create rich and varied tones. 
* Dick Blick Matte acrylics ....super economical and comes in 101 different colors. They are opaque and rich. 

 * acrylic inks. Liquitex, FW or Dr PH Martin...I love all of them! They give such intense colors and you can mix them with water or other acrylics. I started off with a few bottles and now I can't get enough.
* Posca Acrylic Paint Markers. These markers are amazing!!!! I wish I had known about them sooner but ever so glad I have them now. Really pop when I use them over the chalk paint!
* lokta paper. I just discovered these handmade Nepalese papers a few months ago and bought a few variety packs from Dick Blick. Love love love!!
One of the things about trying out new art supplies is how it really allows me to let go, experiment and play. All so good for the creative process.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

road to recovery, gifts of grace and owning my stories

 "getting yourself together.
what about undoing yourself.
-the fix) -Nayyirah Waheed , Salt
Friends...I haven't written in my blog for some time (about 3 months) because I simply had to gather myself. Undo myself...and then gather myself back up again. That's how the road to recovery continues to be for me...not a linear path but more so circular. A back and forth, sometimes stalling and dead ends...lots of trial and errors and every now and then...acceleration, respite, expansion. I have made it absolutely no secret that I had a horribly abusive childhood...that I come from an extremely toxic and dysfunctional FOO (made even more damaging by the fact that it was portrayed as a loving family). One of the things about abuse (especially childhood abuse) is that there are two main tools of control; one is shame and the other is fear. But (in my own experience) shame is the one that stays the longest, that is the most powerful because long after the fear is gone....shame still persists. Toxic shame to be exact. As a child....when you are constantly abused in every way...devalued and negated....when your experiences are distorted and denied...you tend to internalize the shame and accept that you were abused because you did something to deserve it. Of course....our adult minds know this to be a false narrative but our child selves...in trying to make sense of the abuse, accepts and internalizes the blame as our own. And so we go forward in our lives carrying shame that is not ours to carry. This toxic shame prevented me from speaking up for much of my life because even after I became an adult...there was still a sense of shame regarding my abuse.And it was this all pervasive shame that kept me locked in disconnection, pain and self negation. And of course, abusers want it this way! Fear and shame once internalized prevents people from talking about their abuses, from standing in their truth and owning their stories.

"in our own ways
we all break.
It is okay
to hold your heart outside your body
for days
months
years at a time.
-heal." -Nayyirah Waheed, Salt
But I feel that all the work I have done in recovery this past year has led me to this place right here when I can really look at the toxic shame that was instilled in me and  let it go. It's not mine to carry. I can simply...let it go. This realization has freed me, it has brought me to tears and a place of peace and understanding that has evaded me my entire life. I feel as if the Universe has risen up to meet me where I am...and I feel so much gratitude for this gift of grace. So much more to come, friends. So much more to come. xxx