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. 

 Image

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.

Insipid No More

December wraps up the twelfth chapter and 12 months of The Artist’s Way for this creative. I would only recommend completing a chapter a month if you are ready to have your world rocked. I heard other participating artists talking about needing to stop part way through the year due to blocks surfacing that they had never experienced before. This was true for me as well. Every fear, every block, every experience was intensified sometimes to the point of being too difficult to withstand. On the other hand, I have never accomplished so much, had so many breakthroughs, and been so much at home in my creative skin as I have in the last year. I really came into my own. Artist’s Dates evolved from outings into taking advantage of many live stream courses. Artist’s Pages evolved into long meditations clearing the mind’s negative self-talk/sabotage. Mediation lead to a peaceful and a more positive creative!

Chapter 12 is entitled Recovering a Sense of Faith. This chapter reminds us to trust in our Creator–trust that the Devine’s plan for us very well may be in line with our own deepest desires.

I pondered back on a time when I had told myself such a clever lie that I even deceived myself. I believed that my artistic and creative talents were lower than a true life purpose. What I mean is, I believed that I needed to be giving some sort of service (for the greater good) in order to be living my true purpose. I believed that my creative pursuits were self-centered and indulgent. I guess I hadn’t considered I could live a life of giving back while being an artist. I had always had a great eye for home decor and visual art. I felt that I would be swallowed up in materialism and worldliness if I dedicated my life to my creativity. Deep down, I had known that I had so much talent and desire to be an artist, but had talked myself out of it on so many levels. I even told myself that I didn’t want to do it as a living because it was too special to me and it would be ruined as a passion. When we take so much time to talk ourselves out of something so important, we should recognize this as the red flag it is. The further I got away from these gifts, the less I felt like me. The final nail in the coffin for me was when bought into the idea of finding a career based on making money.

This happened to be in healthcare. What was dangerous for me was that it was a hungry monster with a never ending need for service. Luckily, that is when I discovered The Artist’s Way. I was heading for a degree in social work to be a step in my goal to be a medical social worker (the highest paid in the field of social work). The course brought me back to my authentic self, so doing it for an entire year made perfect sense. It had become my self-care. I had found a mode of healing. Art, creativity, the process had become not about creating bodies of work. It had become feeling and being alive.

This year, I learned that God is in the details. He is there wanting you to live your life to the fullest. He wants you to be on fire with purpose and excitement for living. Cameron points out that we have this idea that spirituality is about living a life of scarcity.. never being given permission to be truly aligned with your hopes and dreams. As you learn to have faith that the universe has your back all the while practicing your spirituality and creativity, you find you grow. Your ability to give back increases. Your talent increases. Your reach increases. Learning a craft, an art, or a skill is bonus! There is so much to gain and so little to lose.

If you are ready for the most amazing adventure, make your creativity a priority. Make creativity a regular part of your life. This isn’t about being a professional artist. It is about being fully alive. Finding your soul’s truest expression. Honoring your spirit, your voice. Honoring life.

“Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. The first step is an act of faith.” -Mickey Hart

Image

This painting was created in Shiloh McLoud’s Awakened Woman live stream class. She teaches a visioning/intuitive/imagination process that is beautiful and empowering. “The Muse is the Voice of Your Soul.” -Shiloh McLoud.

Title: “Lady of Fire.” Going deep to talk with my muse.

Being True-The Most Beautiful Journey

November’s focus for The Artist Way was chapter 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy. I found this chapter to be a difficult, yet such important focus for my month.  By the end of the month, I realized that I was angry at myself for what I thought had been a failure to remain true to myself. I felt I had let myself down, slipped from the track. I don’t know about you, but when I feel this way it gives me some type of ticket to get really off course. That didn’t happen, but my attitude was terrible. I started feeling really sorry for myself. Things were slowing down and I was spending less and less time doing what I really loved doing.

When I start feeling this way, I usually go deep within to reflect. In certain ways, I began growing and discovering new insights, but those were difficult to share with others. I feared I was being swallowed up by all the needs around me, so becoming spiritually strong and steadfast became even more imperative. I meditated often. I prayed. I practice my intuitive work as much as possible. All of these practices led me again and again to my creative work. As I worked, I realized, it’s impossible for me to get lost in other people’s agendas. I am too stubborn for that. I just become grumpier the more I get pulled away from my art, and then comes the readjustment! Julia Cameron stated, “Creativity is oxygen for our souls. Cutting off our creativity makes us savage. We react like we are being choked.”

I believe I have appreciated my creativity for most of my life, but only in the last 10 years have I fought to give it center stage. It makes me so happy for painting classes such as Shiloh Sophia’s Awakened Woman. It took place right before Thanksgiving, so I had a lot to think about. You were to write down the 12 big lies you tell yourself. Some of my lies were that I am not the red rose kind of girl, I am not ready for big change, I am just a people pleaser, I lack direction, I am alone, I don’t need intimacy…. AND for me the biggest lie was OTHER people are sabotaging my efforts.

By the end of this class, my heart opened to the truth. I do love red roses, I do need love and intimacy, I am powerful, I am ready for the right amount of change to bring about my next steps toward my purpose, I aim to please God, I have been driven since a young child, AND I am the one sabotaging my efforts. BUT why? I realize that sometimes I get scared. When that happens, I use other people’s actions as an excuse to back down from my goals. It is my own convenient copout! Things flash through my mind like, “They are so controlling. I need some space.” Or, “He is going to stand in my way of this. Instead of speaking up, I’ll let him have this one.” I discovered that my need for control is what sabotages me sometimes when it counts the most.

I remembered the advice I had given all too often about sussing out motives. “What’s in it for you?” So, what is in it for me? Julia Cameron said, “If I allow myself to be bullied and cowed by other people’s urges for me to be more normal or more nice, I sell myself out. They may like me better, feel more comfortable with my more conventional appearance or behavior, but I will hate myself. Hating myself, I may lash out at myself and others.” So deep down I realize that staying true to myself leads to a happier me, so shouldn’t this be an easy choice–a no brainer?”

It is my belief that we get so comfortable with our fears that we would rather stay stuck in that place that we know so well than journey into the unknown. The unknown might just be even scarier than a stuck place which you dislike. At least you know that you have all of your creature comforts. You know that you have your familiar routine. You have your anger. You have your resentments. You have your disappointments. They are YOURS. You own them, but shouldn’t life be the most amazing experience? Shouldn’t we be fully alive to experience the beauty in relationships, the earth around us, the magic present in every waking breath?

Image

“It is safe for me to grow, to create, and to experience life as the most beautiful journey.”

Acrylic on 18 x 24″ canvas. Created in Shiloh Sophia’s Awakened Woman live stream course.

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.

Image

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. 

 Image

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. 

A Collective Inspiration

Do you ever feel like when there is a message that God wants you to get it comes at you from every direction? I have been feeling just this way for the last couple of weeks. Apparently, the Universe feels that it is time and it is important for my heart to heal past hurts and to be open to new experiences.

I really hadn’t considered how important genuine forgiveness is on all levels. Important not just for others who have wronged us, but for us.. for our hearts. I mean, I’ve said it over and over again. Forgiveness feels wonderful. It is a blessing. I prayed for a forgiving heart. And yet, my heart remained broken from past hurts and past pains. Enough so that I had a difficult time trusting again. Allowing people to get too close. I had my besties. My family. Those who I had deemed “safe,” but that list remains small and contained. I am not proud to admit this. In fact, it sounds pretty terrible to say it, but I am not saying it to hurt anyone. The fact is, that I was truly terrified to allow myself to open up to that level of vulnerability ever again. My heart was broken too many times.

But lately something clicked. A new desire awoke within me. I am not sure if it is all the art, writing, exploration, meditation, pondering, or just blessings being poured down upon me. I really don’t know. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but the amazing thing is that one day I decided that I wanted to focus on my heart again. I wanted my heart to open. I wanted to have a deeper level of intimacy in my relationships that I hadn’t felt in years. And within that desire friendships were deepened, information became available.. and are you ready for this? Every lesson that I have been taking on Lifebook has had to do with healing and now the heart for the last couple weeks. I was invited to take a relationship healing course called Open Your Heart a week ago. And even Oprah seemed to jump on the bandwagon to help me out with a 21 Day free Meditation challenge. 🙂 Maybe all of these seem like coincidence, but I think not. Everywhere I turn–hearts everywhere!

So, would the Universe be working so hard just to give little ol’ me this great big lesson? Maybe–but probably not. Don’t get me wrong. I know that I am meant to hear this message at this very time. I also know that I am not alone in having this desire–to love deeply, fully. Many people are being moved right now at this very time in history with a message of enlightenment. A message of love, peace, and abundance in all areas of life. The time is right and the information and help is right at our fingertips. When in history was there a time when you could look up just about anything and find out the information that you seek just about instantly? We are living in a world where old barriers are falling because we are literally connected together through this world wide web. Our messages of not just positivity, but of actual systematic change are sweeping over the earth. People who desire better life, better thinking, better behavior, better dreams.. we are able to connect. To become strong. It is beautiful. It is a miracle.

An open heart IS an open mind. As we open our hearts, we remember it is time to let go of old thought patterns. It is time to forgive–to cleanse our bodies of past hurts. It is time to live again. It is time to love again. There is hope. It lies in you. It lies in me.

Image

Lesson 32, “Heart Sight” with Effy Wild

This journal page was a great exercise in processing a lack of forgiveness for self. You were to write a list of things that you don’t like about yourself–your weaknesses. You then reframed them as strengths. Effy’s technique was unique because she didn’t want you to rewrite in affirmations. She wanted you to reword your weaknesses into hopeful, action type of statements. For example, if you said that you were lazy. You would rephrase it into a statement like. “You’ve made goals to achieve your dream of…. “ The point is to make the statement believable to yourself.

Blessed

July has been a very busy month with the sun out and all. The beautiful weather always gets the best of me and before I know it another day has passed and I have little to show for my time. I love the long, warm days where I can twiddle away my time in my garden and take long drives to farmer’s markets and what not. I do wish these days of summer could last.

So, what happens in my art goals is that I get stuff done, but don’t take the normal amount of care documenting. I also tend to let my Morning Pages slide quite a bit.

This month also seemed to be packed with lots of projects as well including finally launching Michelle Quesada – Mused Art (my artist page). So Saturday morning came and I noticed it was the LAST weekend in July and knew that I was running out of time to get my Artist’s Date in for July. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Shiloh Sophia was offering a same day class called Being Abundance. I have long learned that abundance is a state of being–as well as a fleeting state at times.

I had just enough time to get down to make a few stops to pick up a few essential items to create an abundance alter before her class began (candles, chocolate, peaches, and flowers).

Image

I already had the other listed items for making the painting. I happen to be a huge fan of her style of art which she says she uses a style of Jungian-Shamanism or Visioning-Imagination. This really means that you search for meaningful symbols through guided meditative journeying. It truly leads to beautiful and meaningful art pieces. I had taken a class from her before and found her process fruitful.

Although the six hour class had several breaks (including lunch), she taught it live and walked the students through a painting from start to finish. In this type of process, she is the guide to assist you in connecting with your own answers. I think this is what I really love about the philosophy that she uses. There was journaling, processing, letter writing, medication, prayer, and symbol identification. At the end of the day, you came away uplifted as well as with a beautiful symbolic painting of your own. I received several symbols some of which were included in my painting of my lady of abundance. I realized that the message that I heard was that I am blessed and that I only need to open my awareness to the beauty all around me.

Image

This was by far one of my favorite Artist’s Dates so far this year! What has really struck me is that there are so many opportunities that would have never been possible a few years back due to the world wide web. How lucky are we all to be able to have access to talented artists such as Shiloh Sophia and so many others! What a beautiful day and productive class for only $47! I will be heading back for more of her teaching!