Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

I’m not Pro-choice or Pro-life. I’m trying to be Pro-love.

All of my life I have been a fence sitter-an idealist, a peacemaker, maybe a people pleaser at times. When it comes to tough topics and issues I have always found myself conflicted in choosing a side. I feel things deeply. And because I often see things from both sides, I often struggle with the weight of, and divisions caused by tough topics and disagreements.

I’m just like everyone else though too. Sometimes, I find myself swayed more to one side than the other. And when I feel someone is just trying to be mean, I struggle not to react. But ever since I have started looking at everything through the lens of love, I’ve started to notice that the more I sway to one side or the other, the more frustrated I become at the person on the other side of the fence. I get frustrated by their inability to see or hear what I am saying. That frustration usually leads it’s way to anger or some form of self righteous indignation on my part. But I also really dislike confrontation and arguing. So I’ve often shy’d away, unsure how to converse and get through issues without getting upset or feeling pressured to pick a side. And so, of course the abortion debate was always something I avoided.

And yet here I am, ha. I still struggle, but in order to love I think it’s also valuable to have enough integrity to hold hard conversations regardless of our beliefs. And if we can do so with respect and transparency we have the opportunity to understand our own opinions at a deeper level. This is no easy achievement obviously. You know the arguments. Those in the Pro-Choice camp, judge those in the pro-life as being anti-choice and anti-woman. They remind us of the consequences and ramifications of governing controls over bodies. They argue that legislating who can and can’t have access to abortions strips the individual of their right to choose the course of their care in pregnancy, thereby de-valuing the lives of women. They feel and argue that we have a moral obligation to protect these (often marginalized), lives from governing controls over their bodies. They share examples of the thousands of women who die each year. Like the Irish woman who was denied an abortion while miscarrying. As well as the women we may not hear about but are placed in danger when they seek abortions illegally.

The pro-life camp judges those in the pro-choice, as being anti-life and anti-infant. They argue that allowing abortions devalues the life of the child. They feel and argue that we have a moral obligation to protect the innocent lives of these babies. They remind us not only of the sheer number of terminated pregnancies, but also the potential emotional aftermath of those that choose abortions. They share stories of those women, as well as those of the babies who survived abortions.

Ironically both camps point out that the other is advocating death or murder in one way or another, and both point out the hypocrisies of the other camp.

And so we sift through the arguments. And let’s be honest we look for evidence to support our own. To prove that we are right. And being the fence sitter that I am, I feel myself torn. And not more than a week ago I found myself being sucked into debating both sides simultaneously, as old habits die hard. And there are valid points on both sides of the argument, and if I’m being honest, I hold judgements against both. Even on a personal level I feel pulled to both sides. On the one hand, I am a woman and I do not want someone telling me what I must and mustn’t do with my body. But I have also spent the last twelve years trying to get pregnant, (with one successful pregnancy in there). It pains me that while many women are going to painstaking lengths to get pregnant, others are going to painstaking lengths to end their pregnancy. To me the life of the baby and mother are equal. But I also recognize the complexity of the debate. I too believe the baby is a life, not a clump of cells. But I also recognize that the baby cannot survive without the body of the mother, her life matters too. It is not a cut and dry issue to me. Both sides or choices can cause harm. How does one choose, if by choosing one side, we devalue and possibly endanger or end a life? I cannot say without a doubt one side is right, and one is wrong. If you believe you can, that’s great. Perhaps this conversation is not for you. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, I’m hear to encourage the sharing of hearts.

But the argument continues, we throw insults over the fence at one another, each side calls the other a murderer. We speak destructive things about one another as if anyone one of us is perfectly qualified to judge someone else. We say hey let me take that speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in our own. We judge with our human limitations, and become unable to see one another.

So at times when I’m perched on my fence, and in an effort for peace, I’ve tried to do my part. We all tend to think we know better and I’m no different, so I try help the other side to see. I point out to each camp the valid parts of the others argument. But ultimately it doesn’t help either. Usually it just turns their anger and frustration towards me, as if now we are against one another.

And suddenly it occurred to me, perhaps I couldn’t see things any clearer than they could. Not even from my position up on the fence. We were all using judgement to prove that we know what’s best. And it has been my experience that while judgement can be helpful in terms of sourcing danger, it can also lend itself to control. And when we try to control others, our critical spirit steals our joy and peace, robbing us of hope.

It pollutes our heart and makes us vulnerable to hatred. We plant seeds of unforgiveness and this condemnation takes root in our hearts and minds.

Which is why above all things I am attempting to live my life through love. So you ask, what does that even mean? How does that solve anything?

For me, it means instead of sorting through the arguments to judge who is right and who is wrong, I look for words of life—of truth, and most importantly of love. I find these things on both sides of the debate. The debate is fueled by judgement and morality, but in fact both sides believe they are fighting for lives. And that seems to be about where the love ends. This is where we employ fear, judgement and anger, in our attempt to control or sway one another’s opinions. And this control divides us. And so it’s with this knowledge I attempt to lay down my judgements. And I am weary of those who attempt to control and cause divisions, as I think we need to consider that such persons may have there own appetites.

So am I saying we should do nothing? No. I’m saying, “hey this really complicated. Maybe, instead of furthering the argument and pouring our judgements over who the bigger murderer is, perhaps we could focus on self control, loving and understanding one another, in order to find solutions.“

We can share information. We can ask each other questions to get to the root of our goals. If you say you want to save women’s lives but the focus of your argument is to call someone’s belief system stupid, or you bang on about clumps of cells, when there’s evidence to the contrary, I may question what you think you will achieve by doing so. And I’d hope you ask yourself the same question. I ask myself, where is the love? And alternately if you say you want to save babies by implementing controls, although there is evidence showing that laws banning abortions don’t stop abortions, I may question what you are trying to achieve. And I’d hope you ask yourself the same question. I ask myself, where is the love?

Again, I’m not here to tell anyone they are wrong. I’m not here to change minds. I’m here to love.

I question to understand, in order to employ compassion, not judgement. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, obviously I do. But I also know that my example is more powerful than my opinion. So if I want women to stop seeking abortions (and I do). Maybe it’s more important to try to understand why anyone would choose to obtain one. Perhaps we can focus our energies on understanding and implementing what actually works to stop abortions. And so far I’m discovering it’s not control that stops abortions, it’s education, counselling, love and support that lessens the likelihood a woman will choose to terminate her pregnancy. You can support the organizations that help women recover from addiction, that aid homeless or abused women, that counsel young women and help support single mothers. There are so many loving things we can do to ensure women feel they have other choices than abortion.

Some may say that I am then just allowing abortions, pro choice by default. And others believe that if I’m not fighting against controls, I’m just rolling over to allow them. I fully understand why you may perceive it that way. And I have no intention of correcting your judgements. That’s actually the whole point, I believe control has no place in love. I’m trying not to control anyone, not even their opinion. When it comes to love, and self control; against such things their is no law or judgement that can break my spirit. My spirit is to be joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, love and self control. I’m trying to use love to tear down the fence, the judgements, that stop me from seeing another. I’m shifting my focus from fear, shame and division; to love, life and connection. Because when we put down our judgements, our hearts can soften and fill with love, and it’s then we can work together for good.

Because above all things there is love, and through love all things are possible.

_____________________________________

Hey! Thanks for being here. Before you go though, I just wanted to say that while a big part of me still agrees with what I’ve written above, I know that ultimately I wrote this to try to stop people from debating this topic. Division and debate bothers me a lot. A lot! Ironically while preaching anti-judgement and love, I was in fact judging everyone and was still leaning into fear. But I’m trying to let go of that need to control. This should explain it all.

https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/

I hope you’ll join me!

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage

Happy Mother’s Day to those in the trenches of infertility.

Thank you to How to Buy a Baby, whose words inspired this doodle.

Mother’s Day weekend can be really hard when you’re infertile and in the trenches, trying add to your family. It hurts so badly. While you may not hold a child in your arms yet, you are a mother the moment you open your heart to the idea of your child.

.

You are a mother to hope. You are a mother to strength. You are a mother to perseverance. You birth these emotions and nurture them month after month in the place of a child in your arms, you nurture them FOR the child that will hopefully come. This is not a meaningless task. It has merit. Your hope for a child in your arms makes today particularly painful but you are mothering already on your journey to that reality. And that counts.

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Think Grey in May.

In late 2010 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A benign (non-cancerous) but hormone secreting tumor, on the pituitary gland. Since then I have painted and drawn brains many times, as my brain is often on my mind. Since then I have had to adjust and even give up what I think my life and dreams should look like. I have grieved many times because of it.

I have had struggles to say the least. But as the great Frida Kaloh once said “at the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” And as I was creating this piece for brain tumour awareness month I was struck by this truth. In my lived experience I have discovered that life will always find ways to bring us to our knees. But this is the amazing thing. We all have these choices. In every moment. I have the control to change how I am reacting to any given situation. I don’t fake positivity. But I now try to bring love to the situation. I legit say I’m sorry this is happening, I say this to myself, then I ask myself what I need. How I can love myself through this. When life gets me down, love brings me back up.

So here’s to those of you that are struggling with the chronic condition we call life today. I hope you can find enough self compassion to love yourself today in whatever way you see fit.

_________________________________

Hey all thanks for being here. If you enjoyed this story I hope you’ll also check out https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/

Gallery-Photography · Gallery-Written

The Wisdom of the Wild Prairie Crocus.

Every spring the wild crocus springs forth from the snow. A symbol of renewal and joy. Every year I’m overjoyed to hunt down these pretty and tough little beauty’s. I think we could all learn a lot from these prairie gems. One can really be inspired by the wisdom of these wildflowers.

•First and foremost the crocus shows us that it’s possible to grow even when our circumstances are less than ideal.

•It reminds us that we can be delicate and strong.

•It blooms in adversity, reminding us just how beautiful resilience can be.

•And finally, it reminds me that I’m kinda furry come spring.

But all jokes aside, I know when I’m looking for wisdom I often find what I need when I look to nature. What about you? What has Mother Nature taught you today?

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Getting out of ruts, by crushing comfort zones.

Words and Art by J.Thoresen.

I’ve been giving the idea of comfort a lot of thought lately. Where we go for comfort. The things we do. And while I think we all need a space that provides us with less stress and anxiety. I’ve also been thinking that in many ways when we strive for comfort, we can actually throw ourselves in a rut. Although comfort is a natural program that we create to keep us safe with less energy input, sometimes it can become our prison.

Some people use drugs or alcohol to seek comfort, some people use relationships, food or sex. These are all more obvious examples in which comfort can create a rut. But I think we all pick our own poison. I don’t abuse substances but I get stuck in comfort zones. I hide at home and in my own mind. I avoid discomfort. I give in to my fear and anxiety. We likely all do in our own way. My Dad struggled with alcoholism, and while the ruts I create for myself are less treacherous, I’ve recognized just as he did that I can get stuck in a pattern of avoidance. And that can really be damaging. So just as he did, I’m fighting that urge to run back to my comfort zones. It’s a tough act to break though. And I’ve never felt more empathetic towards those trying to pull themselves out of the deep ruts of addiction. Even without that struggle, my mind keeps thinking and acting in a manner consistent with what I have done and said in the past. I get emotionally and physically uncomfortable when I attempt to try something new and different. And while my subconscious keeps pulling me back toward my comfort zone. Each time I try something new, I have learned that if I can withstand the discomfort for a short time, I open myself up to a life much more glorious than the one I live within a comfort zone. Through this practice I’ve started to recognize when I’m sliding back into my ruts. And I’ve found a few ways to move forward when I start feeling stuck. This is what works for me, so I thought I’d share with you.

1. Try something new.

Personally I’ve found the best way to push myself out of my comfort zone is to try something new. It forces me to meet new people, builds confidence, and has pretty much always been a catalyst for new creative endeavours. You’ll never know what you can do, if you never try.

2. Do something scary.

What is something you have always wanted to do but talked yourself out of? Whatever it is, do it! Sometimes growth is not only uncomfortable, it’s scary. While I’m perfectly ok with being silly and oversharing ridiculous things about myself, I often try to talk myself out of sharing my deeper thoughts and feelings for fear of rejection or conflict. So I decided to start a blog. I share my thoughts, poems, and art, and it’s really been a beautiful thing. I am learning it’s ok to share even the darkest parts of myself and I’m practicing being ok with rejection, and people opposing my opinion. Those things aren’t always easy to face but the more I practice the more I open myself up to deeper, and authentic interactions and relationships.

3. Agree to something you wouldn’t normally consider.

I don’t love group activities, but sometimes I agree and I almost always enjoy myself. It has helped me to discover how adaptable I can be with different types of people.

I get pretty stressed in a leadership role, but I’ve taken them, and have found I can actually be pretty great at pulling people together.

I love making art, but I dislike commissions. While I know part of this is that I prefer the freedom to make what I like, I also know that deep down I struggle to believe I am good enough. But I’m trying to throw that belief away. If someone approaches me to do something, they likely believe I am capable. So I try to believe it too. Because I am.

This is and will always be an evolving list. Because I’m always evolving, and I’m committed to the challenge of figuring out how to be my best self. And I’m discovering that the toughest part of that growth is facing the fact that I am often my own worst enemy.

Doing what you want takes courage. And it seems quite often we stand in our own way. I’m certainly not perfect, I’m always trying to sell myself on some story of doubt. Telling myself I can’t do this, or that. I say, “well maybe it’s just easy for that guy, if I was richer, more privileged, more talented, more personable, maybe I could do it too.” I shouldn’t even try, right? Wrong! It doesn’t matter if I’m taking a big leap or a tiny step, when I step out of my comfort zone I’m setting fire to all of the stories I’ve written to myself that say “I can’t.” You see I finally got sick of my own bullshit. I got sick of trying to adapt for everyone else. I got sick of the limitations I imposed on myself. I got sick of waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel and I lit that bitch myself.

And you can too!

_______________________________

Hey all thanks for being here! My healing path is just getting better and better. I hope you’ll also check out https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/

Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

The way it comes out is right! Learning to walk with what hurts.

The other night my son wanted to break a wishbone with me. Naturally I have a jar of wishbones ready for all of our wishing needs. And every time we compete for one, he yells, “you’re never gonna win!”

It always makes me laugh, but in my head there’s a little voice that says, “story of my life.”

He won, and his happy little bounce as he silently made his wishes made me happy. But it got me thinking. I’ve been making a lot of wishes the last while. Actually I’ve been making a lot of wishes my whole life. Usually I’m wishing that something were different. I have a big list of wishes ready, but I never seem to win.

It’s just so frustrating sometimes. And while I try to make myself think positively, I quite often feel like I come up short. I don’t think I’ve ever had something just come easily to me. It seems like there’s always a catch. Some rocky terrain to cover before I can get where I wanna be. And then I just wish I was stupid, maybe then I could be content. Maybe then I could stop dreaming and just settle. Maybe I could stop comparing myself to every other woman, artist or mother. I wish I didn’t care so much about everyone else’s feelings, and I just wish someone would put mine first. Choose me first. I wish I felt desirable, and I wish I could just fuck cause I want to, instead of on some fucking schedule. I wish I could just enjoy love, without the fear of loss always hanging over me. I just wish I could be like the cool kids and not give a fuck, but the fact is I will always give too many. Sometimes I am crippled by all the fucks.

Sometimes it makes me think I should hide. It makes me want to run away. Pretend to be someone else. Try on another life, see if I fit. But I’m not someone else. I’m me. Even all the fucked up and annoying fucks I shouldn’t give, are me. All of the emotions that keep bubbling up even though I try to ignore them, are me. I don’t wanna ride the complain train. But I’m not sure what to do when everything that’s happened is out of my control. And I don’t know what to do with the angry feelings that keep trying to come out of me.

I recently attended a workshop though, and our instructor said “the way it comes out of you is right.” She said “Work on one area at a time, but remember to take a step back every now and then so you can see the bigger picture.”

Obviously she was meaning the art, but life is art, and I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear those words. So instead of running from this funk I’m in. I’m trying to walk with it, let it come out of me. So I went walking last night. I was thinking and trying to figure out if I’m even on the right path. If I don’t even know what I wanna do or where I wanna go, how can I get where I want to be?

As I walked though, I noticed that my path has gotten smoother just by continuing to walk it. Some parts of the trail have blown in, so I’ve found other routes. Even on the bumpy parts I’ve noticed I’m starting to make my own little groove. And it got me thinking maybe the problem isn’t my path, maybe the problem is that I’m always comparing my path to others. Life, art, love, feelings, fertility—wishes, none of these things are meant to be a competition. Each one is just a path. And we will each have our own experience. For whatever reason, my circumstances have provided me with the odd bumpy and winding path. But I’ve gotten pretty damn far despite all that. I do get tired, but I know now that my strength is in my perseverance.

So maybe if I keep going I can make more wishes come true for myself. I have already made it a point to try to choose myself, and to love myself first. It feels right, it feels good. And come to think of it, I could even go fuck myself. Check another wish off the list. Ha! I’m always giving too many fucks anyway, maybe it’s about time I lay some of those fucks on myself.

And maybe one day, I’ll even be thankful for all of the wishes that didn’t come true. Sometimes it’s been the blocked paths that have pushed me to take another route. Sometimes those roadblocks, led me down paths that turned out to be even better than what I had imagined.

I think I just need to remember that just because one path is messed up, it doesn’t mean the journey is ruined. And maybe I don’t need to know exactly where the path is leading me yet, I just need to walk it. One step at a time. Find my own way. Make my own groove. Just keep working on one area at a time, and try to remember to step back now and then and appreciate how far I’ve come. If I like how it’s coming along, I can keep going. But if I don’t, I can always choose to go in another direction.

I’m just realizing that what really fucks me up most of the time, is that I start to think the picture I’m making is wrong because it doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And it never seems to turn out exactly how I envisioned it in my head. But maybe it’s not supposed to?

I want to end up with a sunny picture as much as the next guy, but maybe I’ve gotta paint with the colours I have right now. And I’ve been handed some dark ones. So why hide it. I can’t seem to get rid of what hurts, so I’ll hold it. Work with it. Walk with it. I need to honour it as it comes out. Sometimes when I’m too close to it, it seems like a mess. But when I take a step back and look at the big picture, it’s kind of a beautiful mess. The picture will never be perfect. But I’m learning however it comes out of me it’s just right!

Thanks for joining me! I hope you’ll also check out https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Uncategorized

Dreams. Prophetic or Phooey?

I shouldn’t be painting, I have a ton of work to do, but I’m haunted. I had the most vivid dream the other night that I’m walking on a path through the bushes, a wolf comes and blocks my path. It’s not threatening, it just stands in my way. I’m tempted to back away but we just kind of stare at each other. It was really intense, and I start getting really scared. And that’s when I woke up. I don’t know if dreams mean something or not, but I can’t stop thinking about this one. So I decided to paint it out. And I looked up the possible meaning or message of the dream. This is what my life guru google had to say about my dream:

Via Dreamwell:

Wolves in dreams can represent all that is wild and “uncivilised” about ourselves. This can be a scary thing to confront. Wild can be untamed and bad mannered, but wild can also be pure and uncorrupted.  Sometimes a wolf in a dream will be guiding us to find our true, authentic nature that we are afraid to reveal as we try to conform. The behaviour of wolves in their native environments can give us clues as to why we might be dreaming about them.  Do you long to feel part of a group, or seek the support and kindred spirit of a pack?  Do you feel a need to protect something that is important to you, and need the fierceness of a wolf mother?  Do you need to approach a situation carefully, using the stealth of a wolf to get close without being discovered?  Do you feel a need to express your true self more freely, let go of inhibitions and howl at the moon?

Kinda eerie. Makes me think anyway. What do you think? Do you think dreams mean anything? Or do you figure they are just some nonsense conjured up by our subconscious while we sleep?

___________________________________

Thanks for joining me! I can still remember this dream so clearly, and now I truly believe it was in fact a message. If this resonates with you also I hope you’ll take the time to read https://smartandsmitten.com/2019/07/21/to-all-of-the-people-i-knew-before/