Healing In Love

Narcissism vs. Self-Love

We live in a culture steeped in selfishness. Narcissism is really about getting your needs met off of the backs and energy of other people. It is an issue starting when someone does not learn to get their needs met in healthy ways. It gets tough to discern due to seeing so many examples of people being self-serving or harming others to get their way. 

For me LOVE is the difference. As many of us found out early on, you can get in great shape, have designer jeans, and frequent the salon and be completely miserable within.  It is not about what others think of us or how we compare to them either because these feelings are rooted in inadequacy. We take care of ourselves or really “control” our outward appearances due to deep insecurities and fear that we will not fit in. What is at the deep heart of the issue is really a longing for feeling loved. 

Many of us go in search of relationships believing that we will find love. Often we become disillusioned and confused when what we actually get is a struggle and added feelings of inadequacy and/or insecurity. I like to think of this position as being in a pool of water that feels a bit tainted. We struggle with changing our relationship patterns and even go from one disappointing relationship to the next. 

If someone promised you there was a way out that involved healing and refuge would you take it? Imagine a bridge between the that tainted water into a clear, clean, crisp water that you desire. You just need to intentionally step out of the water and up onto the bridge. The place of safety and healing. This bridge symbolizes self-love–self-nurture. True feelings of love for yourself. We are talking deep love. There is no cheating, abusing, and hating allowed. You can’t tell yourself that you hate a part of your body and be living in this state. You can’t put yourself in compromising or unhealthy situations over and over again and be living in love for yourself. 

The bridge is a place where you provide yourself mind, heart, body, and soul with your deepest needs of nurturing, kindness, compassion, empathy, etc. When you have a need of romance, you bring yourself flowers or draw yourself a bubble bath. You don’t get angry that someone else is failing to do this for you. You provide for your needs. You are responsible for your state. You know deep down when you are living in full love of yourself. These feelings of respect and nurture for yourself sets the stage for others to treat you similarly. It also fosters feelings of nurturing, compassion, empathy, and kindness for others. You feel more loving and more lovable. You ARE more loving and you ARE more lovable. 

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CREATIVITY and Self-Love 

The practice of creativity is also found on the bridge. It is where many artists find themselves with a mirror looking at their truth. Unable to hide behind denial. Self-expression assists us with our authenticity. We learn things about ourselves. We dredge up our skeletons not always meaning to. Some of us through them back in the tainted pool, but as Clarissa Estés taught us, Skeleton Woman comes up to teach us a beautiful lesson and truth about our vulnerability and fear of being cast away. We learn about  our depths and our shadows. Art can show us our shadows. We need not be afraid of the shadows if we are willing to embrace them as the fisherman embraced Skeleton Woman. We must learn to acknowledge the shadows and only then do we learn the true power of using light. As the painter uses the contrasts of shadows and lights depths emerge in their work. Those parts of ourselves that we use terms such as that we would like to erase, cut off, forget are exactly what makes us interesting and beautiful. Those shadow parts are the parts of us that need the most love. Just as Skeleton woman drank the tear of compassion of the fisherman which began her renewal, we too can provide that love to our most tender and hurt areas of our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls.

Love Letter Manifesto

My Artistic & Personal Promise

I promise that I will always be truthful with kindness. Believe it or not, I can sense when people truthfully want to know what I think, and at that moment I will share my thoughts and feelings (as long as I am not bound to confidentiality). Otherwise, words are waisted on those without sincere intentions anyways, so I don’t see the point.

I promise that no matter how much I am pushed to do what others expect from me, that I will always follow my true north. I’m not asking for a challenge, but no matter how angry, pushy, or bossy people may become with me (though I may be so sad inside), I will follow my gut to do what I believe is right. Though I may be afraid and dislike negativity, please do not imagine me a coward. I almost always fiercely protect the underdog. If you perceive that I am not protecting you, you most likely are much more powerful than you are taking credit for and in that case, are able to take care of yourself (however, please never believe that I don’t love you).

I promise to love humanity no matter how I am treated. I will always do my best to believe in the best of others and I hope that goodwill will be returned to me as well. I know that we are all doing the best with what we have. All of us are striving to get our needs met one way or another.

I promise to spend my life exposing evil and darkness by drawing myself and others to the light. I will also do my best to be a beacon of light in all that I do. I will strive toward love even in all my brokenness and in all of my wholeness.

I hope that my art, my writing and my life reflect this endeavor.

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Seek… Explore… Uncover

Imagination…. The first word I remember making an impact on my soul. I was in first grade when Mrs. Joslin discussed its meaning. I knew at that moment that concept was magical, but soon found out that having an imagination may also be fleeting.

Imagination and originality are tied together. You hear brilliant scientists discuss the need for creativity. This may seem like a paradox because one seems to be rooted in reality while the other in fantasy, but to be creative, one must be open to new possibilities–uncharted waters. As I’ve studied fictional literature, I’ve learned that many stories are based off of actual experiences, dreams, and twists of the strange happenings in an author’s life. Characters based off of actual people with exaggerated qualities. The author makes a statement by focusing on aspects chosen to tell the story.

A couple years ago I took an oil painting class with a very talented painter who had concise precision executing minute details taking a photograph and painting that image onto a large canvas beautifully. She discouraged the abstract, stating that abstract art is much more difficult. I pondered that concept. Why would it be? My conclusion is because it was a skill that  many are not taught. We hear about using imagination, but how do we do that when we are many times trapped in a hard reality?

I’ve found that an excellent way of exercising visual imagination is through meditation as well as using your mind’s eye on a regular basis. We all have that visual projector within our mind, but many of us ignore it and dissociate. This leads to cutting a part of ourselves off that is vital to interesting art and interesting experiences in life. Using our visualization skills helps put our creative voice into our work.

SeekExploreUncover

“Fearless”

Delve. 

Trust.

Seek. Explore. Uncover. 

Watch

Once again I am coming home too late to work on any art. I always feel a little sad when I have more than two days between writing, drawing, or painting. It has become a line of sanity for me (maybe I’m being a little dramatic. It is my favorite form of self-care. It is like extreme self-care.)

I had the most remarkable experience the other day that I put on the back burner (so to speak) to write about once I formed a complete thought about it. Tonight I believe the thought came together. It happened as I was telling my own daughter not to listen to her parents about everything. That each person must find their own path in this world, and that YES her mom and dad are flawed and working with the set of circumstances that we came into. She looks up to us both because she feels we have good, practical jobs. She overheard her dad telling her big brother that his college choice was not realistic and that he wouldn’t be able to support a family. My heart broke a little as I heard this. I told her emphatically that just because your parents are stuck in survival mode, you don’t have to be and won’t be happy (because yes, this young lady is a dreamer in the biggest way) unless developing her talents and discovering her passions. It really hit me that these kids can do things differently. I shared with her that she doesn’t need to wait to be almost 40 to pursue her art.

So, back to the remarkable experience. I had taken my daughters to the doctor and while one was waiting on labs etc, A young man in his early 20s complimented my Papaya tote from a beautiful Flora Bowley painting. This is pretty common because the bag is unique (I found it at my favorite home decor store and couldn’t pass it up). Once in a while when someone presses I will tell them more about her and how she is a Portland artist who teaches her intuitive painting process online. This man asked more questions and wanted to know more about her as an artist as well. He said that he is also an artist and shared his work that he shares on his personal Facebook profile. I let him know that I was also an artist and shared my artist page with him as well.

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We turned out to have quite a bit in common. For example, he was going to the same university that I graduated from my social work program from. He also had the “helpers” heart. He also deeply cared about the youth and felt that so many of his generation were lost and “robotic” as he put it. He said that art had literally saved his life. He had not had an easy high school experience due to losing friends to suicide. He had not even had a smooth childhood. Things had been pretty rough for him and he had struggled with his own depression. Which after telling me these very personal things, said again that he is resilient because of his love of art. He said that he works on it in every bit of free time he gets. He gives it to those he feels need a lift or to feel a part of things. I got the impression that he cares and he is sharing with an open heart. Our conversation went on for so long that my daughters started feeling restless and I could tell that they were ready to go.

It really isn’t every day that I get to talk with the up-and-coming generation outside of my own children, so after meeting this remarkable young man, my heart was lighter and my hope levels raised. People can say what they will about artists all day with their perceptions of us being to airy-fairy or whatever. Creativity is hope. It is what connects the artist to their higher source. It is what becomes a symbol of a lesson or a concept understood that the artist then shares with whoever sees that art. Take Flora’s painting. It being on a bag sparks curiosity in those who see it. They must stare at it. Even comment on it. Question it. This level of mystery is a teacher. Creativity is what makes the practical possible, but that is the subject of another day.

I’m also learning that those opportunities to touch peoples’ lives will present themselves even if I am not able to do as much art and writing as I’d like to right now. The universe has its own agenda. I will watch for that.

Mindfulness and Creativity

It is hard for me to believe that I am coming up 2 years as being page owner to Mused. There have been many ups and downs and I asked myself what kept me going when the going got tough. There were so many days that I did not feel adequate for the job. Days when typos and mistakes were the rule, days when I lacked energy and inspiration, and days when I wondered if anyone was following or would even notice if the page disappeared. 

What I have learned is that the page is like any other living work. It seems to have a personality and a will of its own. On the days that I felt like disappearing other page owners shared and kept it in the news-feed. On the days I lacked inspiration, I shared old posts. Most of the time, I just kept showing up and doing the work with a love for the audience and subject and things worked themselves out.

As I created my latest art journal page, I contemplated how hard we as creatives psych ourselves out. Considering the mind and how powerful negative and destructive thoughts have in our lives, it is also important to see the flip side of that. When we become aware of this, we can choose for ourselves which thoughts we will allow to shape our destiny. A simple way to clear the negativity out is through mindfulness and meditation–it is now a favorite practice in my life. The more things that I have going, the more I feel I have riding on keeping things organic, simply, and pure. This is in part due to all of the issues that rear their ugly heads when failure/success looms. 

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I need to be making my art.. running my pages… writing for the sake of the creativity/art itself. It is all too easy to get caught up in whether people “like” it or love it. Each post, each chunk of writing, each painting and journal page is a little piece of me–a documentation of an experience and/or thought in that moment of time. It may not have touched millions of people, but it expressed something that needed expressing at that very moment and acted as a catalyst to move me forward. Perhaps a painting wasn’t brilliant, but so what! It was the learning experience that was needed at that very point of time. 

As much as we love the practice of art/writing/creativity… we need to show ourselves that very love. Can we truly practice self-compassion? Why or why not? It is time to do the work on ourselves and develop insight and practices that treat our bodies/hearts/minds/spirits with gentility. It is survival. It is fuel to carry on. 

Forgiveness, Relationships, & Love

Lifebook – Week 34; Radical Forgiveness by Willowing’s Tamara Laporte

This week’s mixed media journaling exercise had several parts. The first part was to watch Byron Katie on Racism & Prejudice video clip, next to explore and process an instance where you haven’t completely forgiven someone in your own life, and then to make peace with the incident by given the other person radical compassion through empathy of the need that the person had which caused them to engage in the behavior they did which caused you pain. Tamara recommended not to use an incident with deep pain, instead use one that could be easily identified and explored.

As I mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have been working on forgiveness and have had quite a bit of help from the Universe in bringing past hurts forward into my present consciousness. Last week, I took a live streamed painting class by Artist Shiloh Sophia titled The Honey Jar: Wet, Wild and Wise. This course was to explore your experience with your own sexuality and romantic relationships. I did not quite catch the theme of the class before taking it or I probably would have steered clear just because I don’t always agree with all of the “freedom” that people place on sexuality these days. I must say that I did enjoy the class overall and love the painting and conclusions that I came to throughout the process. I am bringing up this class because I believe that both of my latest pieces of art tie together.

The symbolism in the painting has to do with my personal connection with my femininity and my expression of being a creative being on this planet. The orange colors in the painting have to do with the sacral chakra and wholeness and healthy energy that region of the body. Sexuality is something that I consider sacred and only shared within confines of safety & love. I used white roses in this painting because they symbolize sexual purity and it has been my experience that sexuality is a beautiful thing when explored at the right time as part of mature love. It saddens me to see children being directed to explore sexuality by their peers or adults too early when they should still be children an caught up in the world of magic and imagination. The sunshine symbolizes wisdom in sexuality–sharing that part of yourself in ways that lead to health and wholeness in life. The blessings of the class that I received were love, safety, sweetness, passion, and adventure. These words were varnished in.

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Now, to skip back to the Radical Forgiveness exercise. These days, it seems I only have but little incidents which arise in my romantic relationship. I am blessed. With that said, right before I was getting ready to do this journaling exercise, my husband coincidentally slightly hurt my feelings, and I used this process to understand where he was coming from in order to release my sadness completely. The little hurts are kind of like bee stings, but as I am the powerful bear, those stings are only minor irritations and I must remember that I am holding the honey. The love and life sustaining substance for the bees. It is what they spend their time, effort, and passion making. The barren tree symbolizes the old way of viewing the hurt. The words describe the blessing or positive energy you are sending to the person who has caused you the pain. Hopefully, these blessings are in the form of the filling the exact need that other person has (especially the energy behind their motivation in getting their need met). In this exercise, I blessed my husband with his need for strength, compassion, understanding, empathy and love.

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Honey Bear Forgiveness

 

Layers of Wholeness

This week has been an emotional roller coaster for me to say the least. As I prepare to write my experiences, I hesitate because when discussing matters of the heart they are so personal, and I have a personal rule for disclosing anything that I may regret at some point down the road. The more I ponder this subject, the less I feel concerned because my experience is very similar to so many others and what I am facing is a crossroads. Either I can stay stuck in my safe little space where I have everything “under control,” or I can actually head down the path where things don’t feel as certain, but have potential to bring so much more joy and so much more pain. 

I am one of those people with an extremely tender heart. As I grew, I learned that not everyone would respect or give that the reverence and tenderness it deserves. I built up a fort around my heart to keep it safe, but while doing that I also found that my heart still broke inside because with that fort protecting it, it didn’t let anyone in close enough to experience the deep intimacy that I desired. 

When the Universe moves upon you–when God moves upon you and tells you in your heart that it is time to break down that fort–that it is time to gently dismantle that structure piece-by-piece, a scary, wonderful thing begins to happen. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I am in the process of opening my heart. I am working on this on several different levels and as I do gentle hints and some not so gentle hints have arrived to aid my process. 

What I mean by not so gentle hints are unresolved pains from the past–things not thought of for many years. As I began my work a childhood best friend that I hadn’t spoken to in decades got back in touch with me. Along with her friendship request, a feeling of uncertainty and fear swept over me and I realized after pondering that those were long buried feelings, not at all my point of view today. The friendship did not end well and, in fact, had caused me deep pain and depression as a child. Enough so that I moved schools for a new start by 6th grade. All those buried feelings of not being able to trust my inner most secrets or feelings with others came bubbling up again and I realized that this is a paradigm I have been living in ever since. I do still feel that I will be careful with my most intimate experiences and feelings, but not so much that I keep everyone out. 

I am so grateful that she showed up this week! I was able to forgive her completely and more importantly myself. Along with that, I also gained insight into a personal behavior/belief that no longer serves me. I am able to become responsible for my part in the past. The behaviors that I had that were not loyal, that were not respectful, that were not in compassion for the tender hearts of others. I am able to release it all–to be brave once again.

As I peel away these layers of the past, I am able to live a fuller, more abundant life feeling love in my present relationships and releasing others from their actions, but more importantly, releasing myself from things about myself which I felt were unforgivable. 

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