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

Spirit Speaks.

Sometimes I feel like I’m swinging on a pendulum. Feeling very clear, strong and present, and then swinging into rank lows where I dip right back into painful bits of the past, overthinking all the complicated relationships in my friend and family groups. Then to top it off I hit up my old storylines and generally say mean shit to myself. I scratch my way out of the pit, and fall back in. Up, down, up, down. I’m trying to be gentle with myself, and practice all that I’ve learned the last while but it’s hard to see through the fog sometimes, so I keep asking the universe to guide me. And this morning I had a visitor so I thought I’d share the story with you guys.

My boys had fallen asleep in the basement and I ended up heading upstairs alone, well not alone. Our German Shepard came up with me. We both snuggled into our beds but we were restless. I turned on some guided meditation and at some point, I’m not sure when, I fell asleep. It seemed like only a second had passed when I was awakened the dog, now on the main floor, barking and growling. She was really going nuts. So I grabbed my phone and looked out the windows. By the way our home is situated and nestled into the hill you can see for miles, in fact you can see two nearby towns and the city from my bedroom window. From this vantage point I could see there wasn’t anyone out front. So I walked to the other bedrooms one by one, ending at the back bedroom. At first glance I thought the fields and bushes behind the house were still as well. And then suddenly as if out of nowhere I realized there was a massive bull moose standing in the tree line not twenty feet from me. He looked up at me and we stared at on another for a couple minutes before he turned and ran. I watched him disappear into the night and I looked at my phone, 1:11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month. Now some people might say that is a coincidence, but if this year has taught me anything it’s that there are no coincidences. Only a few months ago I was directed to nearby energy healers following a dream where I was guided by a wolf. Sooo whatever, I’m learning to roll with it haha. So thank you universe. I got the message, loud and clear.

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

Just Visiting.

Sometimes when I’m just hanging out, minding my own business I get these visitors.

Ding dong.

I open the door and surprise! Sometimes it’s Happiness coming to say hello. Sometimes it’s Elation. Sometimes it’s Sadness. Sometimes it’s Anger. Do you know them?

They probably visit you too.

I also get the odd visit from Anxiety and Depression. Maybe you do too?

I like when Happiness, Joy and Wellness come to visit. In fact I usually ask if they can stay longer. Except when Grief shows up at the same time. Cause then Confusion shows up too, usually that’s when I think about asking Happiness to leave. But you’d be surprised how much room you can make for everyone!

Oh ya and some guests are easier than others. Joy loves laughing with me. But anger always makes a mess when he comes around. Brave always convinces me to try new things, but Scared often shows up at that exact same time and he’s not really into new activities.

And oh my when Anxiety and Depression show up-yikes. I used to put up caution tape. I wanted to keep others out while they were visiting. I was so embarrassed by them. They’re always lying, they yammer on and on, and they never have anything nice to say. They always drag out the old photo albums, even the ones I thought I’d gotten rid of. They bully me. And even when I tell them I have other things to do, they disrespect me, follow me on errands. Interrupt activities with my family. And I don’t want to be rude but they kinda stink. Usually at some point Angry and Sad make and appearance too and if I ask them to leave, they all trash the place. Ugh, and now Exhaustion has decided to drop by.

And believe me, I get pretty sick of some of them. I tried hiding inside and not answering the door, but Numb sneaks in the window or something, cause he’s always there when I’ve tried it. And anyway I realized if I don’t answer I’ll never know when Happiness comes around. And I’d hate to miss a visit from her.

So what to do? What to do? I’m kinda realizing it doesn’t matter which one comes to visit they are total attention hogs. And I noticed they all try to say they’re me. It’s kinda weird. I mean I’m cool, but fuck, it’s creepy guys. You’re not me! You’re just visiting!

And then it hit me. They’re just visiting! It’s kinda rude of me to invite Happy in with open arms and then tell Depression to fuck off. I wonder if that’s why he misbehaves? They all have some valuable qualities. So I decided it doesn’t matter who comes to visit, I’d break bread with them. I’d face them head on, visit, and hear them out. It’s a bit uncomfortable, especially when Depression invites his whole gang in. They’re still not my favourite guest, but I started to notice that when I make room at the table for them and give them space to speak they don’t stay nearly as long. Turns out they are usually just looking for someone to fight with. So I’ve started embracing them too. And I can tell it really throws them off their game, they aren’t nearly as noisy. And if I can I make it a point to invite Love in while they’re there, well that makes things a lot easier! In fact the more I invite Love in, the more likely it is the rowdy boys just smile or nod as they pass by.

And now when they go, I can honestly say thanks for the visit. Because although I hope some of them don’t come back right away I am thankful for all of them.

Because regardless who’s visiting I know now that I’m going to learn something new and gain new experiences from each one. But on those days that they are noisy and getting under your skin, take a page from my book. Invite Love in, and if it seems you’re own Love is nowhere to be found, reach out. You are not alone!! Just keep reminding yourself over and over that you are not your emotions. They’re just visiting!

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

I am

I am.

I am the love that I give,

And the fears that I fight.

I am the light that you seek,

And the darkness of night.

I am the healing truth ,

And the lies that make you unwell.

I am heavenly wisdom,

And your own personal hell.

I am all that is right,

And all that is wrong.

I am a happy tune,

And the worlds saddest song.

I am wholeheartedly myself,

And I am the masks that I wear.

I am gracious and forgiving,

And the asshole who’s never fair.

I am a nourishing source,

And I can take your breath.

I am as miraculous as birth,

And as painful as death.

I am the love that I give,

And the fears that I fight.

I am the light that you seek,

And the darkness of night.

J. Thoresen

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

Laugh Lines.

Grief has always been a big part of my work. And while it is true that grief has also been a major player in my life, I must admit that I’m not always sure how to hold space for those that are grieving. So when I was contacted to paint a picture for my sons friend as he struggled with the recent loss of his Grandma, I was honoured to say the least. And as I worked I thought a lot about life and grief, and of course love. As it’s my belief that grief is simply one of the ways that we continue to express our love despite our loss. And while in the earliest days of grief we often feel lost within the weight or sharp pain of it, it does soften and change over time, to something of remembrance. And as I painted this piece, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the number of amazing laugh lines this lovely lady had accumulated. Each one seemed to speak to me. I wondered, how many laughs she had shared with friends over coffee? How many kids and grandkids had she comforted with a smile? Surely the greatest mark of a life well lived is the number of laugh lines we can accumulate. And I can only hope that one day this painting will remind this family, not of their loss, but of a woman who was always smiling and whose love and laughter brought so much joy to their life.

————————————————

Jessie Thoresen

Medium: Coffee and Watercolour pencil.

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

I Was So Mad!

I Was So Mad! Finding peaceful ways to deal with difficult emotions.

One of the things that always surprises me as I share more and more of what has gone on in my head and heart, and life in general, is that most people had no idea. Especially anger, most people never would’ve guessed that I was angry. I guess I’m a better actress than I gave myself credit for. I didn’t let on when I harboured resentment towards my loved ones. I tried to suppress my anger so no one had to be subjected to my wrath. I hid what I thought would be perceived as unacceptable or unladylike. I tried to bend and twist myself to make others comfortable. They didn’t ask me to. I just lacked enough self love to discover and be who I truly was. But this facade often made me nervous and I’m sure at times my behaviour was awkward. I very rarely showed a full rage of emotion to anyone. And if I did it was only to the handful of people who I felt I could actually be vulnerable with, and really bare my soul. I have always been more sensitive then I let on. And I had in fact trained myself to feel less. Because feeling so much can be exhausting, especially when you don’t know how to deal with it. So I developed coping mechanisms, to deflect or insulate myself from heavy emotions. I secluded myself or used humour to get by. But as I delve deeper into this self awareness journey I’m discovering that some of the coping mechanisms we build to help us survive weren’t necessary designed to help us thrive. Or at least not in the way we used them previously. When we are dealing with big emotions like anger, grief, sadness, bitterness, resentment and the like, it’s much more likely that we use our coping mechanism to suppress these overwhelming emotions. But by suppressing them, they have the ability to keep returning. They will eventually take center stage in our life as our thoughts will keep returning to them. Many in my family tree have tried and failed to escape these emotions by numbing them. Which generally just led to another rabbit hole, alcohol and drug addiction. I am thankful every day that I found outlets like the arts to turn to. But I am not perfect by any means, I have swallowed a lot of bitter pills through the years. And regardless of how amazing your boundaries or coping mechanisms are, eventually some of the bile you keep swallowing is bound to spill out. Possibly into the body as disease-or possibly you’ll pour it onto some poor soul, who’s most likely battling their own demons in their own destructive way, and have found them self in your path.

To be honest even though I’m doing the work, there are times that I still employ my acting skills. Because I’m still healing and still facing my demons, so to speak, I still lean into those old habits from time to time. And honestly I think that, that is ok. There are times, like when I’m parenting, that I still put on the mask. I do this to shield my children obviously, but also because my children have been a motivating force. One that not only pushes me to look in the mirror and face my inadequacies, and those darn demons so they don’t have to. But also one that pushes me to reach higher, to strive for my highest self in the hope that I will be the example that they need. A good example that is.

So what does one do when they are faced with these overwhelming or potentially “dark” emotions?

Now I’m not a psychologist. But I have developed a certain set of skills through a lifetime of trial and error, mostly error. Along with therapy and mountains of self help books. This is a combination of a few methods that I have found most helpful in dissolving these rather difficult emotions.

So—when you’re struggling, upset or disturbed, simply look at yourself and say:

“I love you (insert name), I’m sorry you’re struggling/hurting, what can I do for you right now to make you feel better?”

Sometimes I need to go for a walk, sometimes I meditate, or cry, or nap, sometimes I realize I need something nutritious to eat or that I simply need to drink some water.

And so, if possible I try to do whatever I think my body is telling me. This is a very important practice. Always, always check yourself before you wreck yourself. Ha!

But seriously, by taking this time to check in with myself, I take some time to pause. It allows me to ask myself why I really feel the way I do. And ultimately by asking myself what I need and how I can love myself more, I find I’m feeling less reactive towards other people, situations and struggles! It’s been life changing for me.

As well if you feel like there are situations or people that really trigger you, possibly they’ve treated you poorly or they are affecting your life in a negative way. I really suggest you take a look at this next step.

Start by looking in the mirror and saying “I love you.”

It’s ok if you feel silly. If it’s hard to say that, try “I’m learning to love you.”

Or, “I’m willing to love you.”

If you find yourself blaming, judging, jealous or just generally angry at someone, look at yourself and say whatever you feel you need to say in that moment, pretend to yell at them, cry, punch some pillows, write it down then shred it or burn it. Do whatever you can to get that emotion out. Once you’re done, go inward, sit quietly with your eyes closed and imagine the emotions flowing out of your body, (I like to imagine all of those dark emotions flowing into a box). Acknowledge that the reason most people act the way they do is usually because they are in pain. You don’t need to excuse their actions, or make what they do/did ok in your mind. I simply say “I accept everything that has happened,”

“I accept you, as you are.”

“I was there, but now I let it go.”

You may not believe it at first. And you may feel yourself resist as you do these things. I promise it gets easier with practice.

As you practice you’ll begin to see that people only do what they can, with their level of understanding. You don’t need to waste your energy trying to make them understand.

Next if you can, imagine sending love to the object of your anger and imagine your love dissolving the disharmony between you. Remember how we filled that box with our dark emotions. Now it’s time to dissolve it. I like to imagine my love as a fog of light, and the moisture dissolves the box like a sugar cube in the rain. I try to imagine good things happening to the people that I’m struggling with. As we do this, we remind ourselves that whatever feelings come up, they’re simply trying to tell us something. By recognizing them we can possibly see where we can do things differently on our end. Maybe we need to find better ways to communicate. Maybe we need to let people know how we expect to be treated. But ultimately we need to try to understand why we allow someone else’s behaviour to affect our own inner piece. Again this isn’t about excusing some one else’s behaviour, it’s about figuring out how to shine a light on your own self worth or lack thereof and filling yourself up with so much love you don’t even notice the things that once bothered you.

Once you think your anger is dissolved, if you still feel you need to talk to them, (and it’s safe to do so) think about questions to ask them. Why did you do that? As opposed to, how dare you do that? We are meant to connect and learn from one another. Our emotions simply guide us to where we need to heal, this is where we need to do more work. As we ask questions though, know they may not have an answer for you. Or, you may not like their answer. Again, remember this is about you. Not about them. You have no control over what they do or feel. They may have never thought, or even care about how their actions have affected you. But you get to control how you react and move forward. If you feel overwhelmed by anger or emotions, it’s ok, but before you lose it or rage on them, step away. Repeat the above steps.

Say “it’s ok to have these feelings. I felt angry/sad/disappointed/ resent etc. But I’m willing to let that go.”

“I (am willing to) forgive”

“You are free, I am free”

A little trick I like to use is to put my emotions on a sticky tab as they come up, especially if I’m busy. Then when I can I do the above schpiel, I do. Plus I really enjoy ripping them to shreds or burning them after. But before I light fire to my troubles I say to that emotion in the mirror, “thank you for this experience.”

“Thank you for helping me to discover what I needed. Now I release all feelings of (insert emotion)in all directions of time. I forgive and accept myself and others in order to heal and for the highest good of all concerned”

“I let it all go.”

“I’m thankful for every experience.”

“This life is amazing.”

“I deserve all the good this life has to offer.”

“As I love myself I can share more love with others.”

“I love you!”

Incorporate your own affirmations. As you move past those dark emotions, think about what you want. Fill yourself up with love. And as you do this, expect to feel about ten billion percent lighter (in your mind, body and spirit). There are new experiences coming your way today. Give thanks and go get them!

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

Shadow Work

My entire life I have been plagued by nightmares. One in particular has stuck with me since childhood. In the dream I’m in an elavator. It’s completely dark and I can’t see anything. Suddenly the doors open and I can see a man in the doorway, none of his features are discernible. Suddenly the elevator drops and as it falls I get a view of each floor. On every single floor the same man is standing there like a menacing shadow, watching the elevator fall with me in it. I fall and fall until I crash, at which point I always wake up.

When I “woke up” so to speak this past June, I thought maybe all of the work was done. But there’s so much to figure out, I’m rebuilding every part of me, mind, body, and spirit. So I’ve also had to clean house and that means shedding some light on the shadows that I’ve been hiding deep down. As I’ve been facing my shadows this summer, this nightmare keeps coming back to me. And although medical science disagrees, these “shadows” or dark emotions seem to directly effect my physical health. As they’re often followed by periods of pain. Sometimes I put my hand on the painful area and just ask myself what I need. I have discovered that many times there is an emotion tied to the pain. And under that emotion is a need, that I need to address. For example; maybe I snap at my son, my stomach hurts, I realize I’m overwhelmed, but in a few deep breaths I can pull myself back to center and communicate my needs clearer and without frustration. And voila stomach ache everted.

There are deeper pains in me however. Some I’m not even sure are mine to carry. Medical science does agree with the fact that trauma in your lifetime, or the lives before you, can effect your DNA. Some studies also agree that things like meditation, exercise, diet and most importantly managing your stress can improve your DNA, so we aren’t without hope. We don’t need a miracle, we are the miracle. We just need to realize our own power. And on three separate occasions this week someone has told me that by healing myself I will heal generations. And I don’t believe in coincidences so I’m excited! I can handle pain, I’ve done it before and I’ve made it through every single time.

The other day after a particularly tough night though, I felt compelled to draw it out. The shadow man of my nightmares needs to be brought up to the light. And already I feel like it has helped “draw” something out, like poison from a wound it has less power in my veins.

And although this image has scared me in the past I feel like I’m looking at things with new eyes these days. It has been my experience that the forces that finally drag you to the bottom are actually of your own creation. These are our shadows. The very barriers we erect to protect ourselves or numb ourselves just become to costly to maintain. Until finally your life lacks meaning. So you fill it with activities or things to hide the disappointment in yourself. And these things become your undoing.

And as you can no longer escape these shadows you have to choose to wake up and face yourself, or die. If you choose to face yourself this epiphany illuminates all that you’ve previously kept hidden. And I’m discovering there is a real beauty in this pain. My body is SCREAMING to let go of it and as I surrender I can better understand the truth of who I really am. I know that I can stand in front of the shadows and hold myself there. They have no power over me and I know this time I will not crash. I will not push my emotions down because they make others uncomfortable. Yes they stink, but I have the courage to show others it’s ok to let go however it comes out. I have the courage to ask for help, to embarrass myself. I have the courage to ask for what I need and face what no longer works. I do so knowing that although I’m flawed I’m worth believing in. This is my truth, and it gives me strength.

Turning to my shadow self helps me to unlock the trapped emotions that plague me. I learned today that if you tell a shadow to go away it comes back but if you bring it to the light it dissolves into nothingness. These shadows aren’t bad. We are meant to feel! And as I feel, I get a better understanding of my purpose on this earth. As I face the darkness I simply ask myself all the things that had been hiding out to come into the light. Basically it means that I ask myself questions inwardly;

Why am I so irritated by this person?Why do avoid this person? Who do they remind me of? Why do I feel fear near this person? Why did I make this choice? Is this choice from fear or love? Why do I react this way?

What can I do to feel better right now?

The answers help me to accept myself and this acceptance helps me to release the past. And the point of power is in the present moment right? I choose my reality. And it is amazing!!

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

She Gathers Rain.

Ya know what? Marriage can be weird. It can really stretch you. Most people would assume (I think) that I have a decent marriage. And I do. We don’t beat on each other, and to my knowledge we don’t cheat on each other. We are good partners. BUT, the last several years we’ve gone through many changes! And with those changes we’ve had growing pains. We have been the best and worst of friends. And although I love him, there have been times that I thought I hate him. Although I had never been a jealous person, following a friends divorce, there were times I absolutely convinced myself he had to be cheating too. And there have been times I absolutely hated myself. Ironically because I myself have (mentally) flirted with a line we swore we would never cross. Through the years, when we have struggled, I wondered if this marriage is right for me. I think we both found it easier at times to tell the other person what they’re doing wrong, rather than look at ourselves. There have been times I wondered if it would be easier to throw in the towel. But somehow we never did. The last couple years we’ve gone through a lot of pain and loss, both together and individually. And it was challenging because we both had to deal with these things in our own way. It’s challenging because we can both be “fixers,” it was hard to allow each other to just go through what we needed to. He immersed himself in work. I expressed it outwardly through the arts. And although I had been feeling great, I’ve been in a lot of pain recently. I’ve also been pretty emotional as sift through a lifetime of buried shit. And as I peel back each layer I’ve been telling him everything that I’ve been holding back in my head and heart. And it’s been overwhelming for him I think, he doesn’t love talking about emotions. Sometimes it even seemed to make him angry. Sometimes I thought he wasn’t listening. Sometimes I thought he didn’t care. He’d ask me why I’m putting myself through this torture. But something inside of me just knows I need to do this, and I couldn’t stop now even if I tried.

Tonight though I was sitting naked, crying in the shower, trying to get some relief from the pain. He tried to comfort me. He didn’t try to fix anything. He didn’t tell me this too shall pass (I know it will). He said he was sorry I’m hurting. He said sometimes I make him think of the song “She gathers rain.” He wondered if it’s what I’ve been going through. And when he played it I just cried even more. Although I think and hope this marriage has what it takes, I know I can’t control anything within it except myself. And I know what I’ve believed about love has evolved. I know most people don’t want to hear it, but I know this will heal me. I know I am whole. And I also know that the more I love myself the better I am getting at loving and allowing others to love me.

I read a quote the other day that said, “sometimes love doesn’t meet us at our best, it meets us at our mess.” And as we shift into yet another chapter I think it may be true. Because as I sat weeping in that shower I thought I don’t need anyone to “get me” anymore but in his own way I think this guy actually does. Maybe he always did? He sees me. And I’ve never loved him more!

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

Lessons in Letting go.

The other day I was playing fetch with our puppy. Despite my inconsistent training she’s proving to be a very clever dog. I throw the ball, she runs to get it and when I yell “come” she brings it back to me. The part we’re still working on though is “give.” Most of the time she grips the ball firmly in her teeth and she holds on. If I try to forcibly pull the ball from her teeth she resists, or she pulls back. She will not share the ball until she is ready. But I’ve found if I gently hold the ball, while reminding her to “give” she seems to come to an understanding that the game can resume if she lets go. As we practice she comes to this realization quicker and quicker.

And as we played it got me thinking about what I let go of, and what I hang onto in my own life. Not unlike the dog I/we want to enjoy the game. And I don’t know about you, but when I started out regardless of what was happening I was all about the game. I would run after lots of things with vigour. But I can be a stubborn bitch too, ha! When it comes to releasing, I often struggle to let go. Somethings I can let go of easily. Usually the lighter things, the joy, the achievements. I can face them easily, I can even share them and talk openly about them, knowing that these things put me in a good light. I accept them and the game resumes. But other things I find difficult to let go. The darker parts of myself, anger, resentment, shame, my efforts to control (sometimes in the name of good or love), looking for validation, begging for attention, feeling embarrassed about all of the above and again the anger that has been an ever present companion in my grief. All of the things I/we might wrestle with. So maybe we hide them. Not just from others, we try to hide them from ourselves. Or we defend or deflect, we right fight, or shove them deep down so we don’t have to face it. We bare our teeth, and if anyone tries to get in there and look at what we are holding onto we resist. It seems no one understands why we must keep holding tightly to it. So we pull back, or we fight, or we twist ourselves up so no one can get it. No one must see it. But before we know it this friendly game of fetch and release, has become a tug-o-war.

Sometimes it’s internal, and it affects our physical and mental health (ahem, me). Sometimes it’s external, maybe we lash out, blame, runaway or hide. most likely it’s a combination. And we think we have no choice.

So we hold on. But I’m discovering if you hold onto it, you never get to escape it. Somehow, someway it’s right there even if we run from it. And you start to think the people around you are to blame. Why do they always have to test you? If not them, is the universe testing you? You find yourself thinking, “Seriously? What the f*ck!” all the damn time.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. My husband and I have been trying for another baby off and on for the last several years. The last couple of years I had been working really hard on myself, and my health issues. We were doing what we could and seeking fertility treatments. I couldn’t let go of this picture in my head of having another. But I started to realized the dream was getting in the way of enjoying what I had right in front of me. I would either feel really good and clear, or really bad and confused about everything (not just fertility). So after a lot of thought I finally decided to call it quits, I called the clinic and canceled the treatments for the cycle. And I thought I was ok with it. But I kid you not, the next several days I could not escape pregnant women. Every woman I see is pregnant. And then the final kick in teeth. Not even a week later, several people I know announce their pregnancies. One of which is a teenager, and the other is a drug addict. And while that news is great for them, I think my head almost exploded. I was home alone so I lost it. I beat up our garbage can while trying to rage clean. I went to town and tried to distract myself, but I couldn’t stop crying. I was bawling in traffic so I turned around and went home. I think I had let go of the dream, but I hadn’t let go of the emotional toll that infertility brings. Those emotions where just waiting to explode.

I had felt so angry and scared, knowing it’s not fair, ashamed of myself for secretly hoping the drug addict would miscarry, feeling that I’m not worthy as a woman if I can’t do this easily, fearing maybe I’m not worthy as a mother. I still hadn’t faced those things because they are so ugly. And what if I find out they are true? So I held them right there in my teeth, and as I resisted letting them go they persisted. And despite the struggle it’s so hard to admit that we are the only one standing in the way of game. By holding onto those emotions we stand in the way of our own peace and happiness.

But here’s the good news. I’m also discovering we always have a choice. And you don’t have to become a hermit or tell off every person you encounter. Because friends it’s never about “them,” or those things that happened to you. This is about you and how you feel about yourself after they happen.

I had previously deemed light as good or beautiful, and dark as bad or ugly. So I hid what I thought may be perceived as dark. Or I focused my energy on trying to figure out who was right and who was wrong, what was good, what was bad. But by doing so I denied the dark, and in turn I denied a part of myself. And the more I hid it (or the more I lashed out), the more I held onto what I believed were dark emotions. And the more I held them close, the more they blinded me. It became harder and harder to see or fully experience the light. And although at times I’ve wished it wasn’t so, I’m coming to accept that I/we are and will always be a combination of light and dark. And as I peel back each layer in this self discovery journey, I find more and more light and dark. Sometimes it’s not easy to let go, and as I learn I often make mistakes. Like I said, I’m stubborn. But now when I’m playing the stories in my head on repeat and I feel a lot of emotions bubbling up, I know there is something I’m holding back. So instead of fighting it, I gently hold myself there. I try to be aware of it, accept it as it is. Just cry, or yell, just feel it. I know I won’t let go until I’m ready. So I lay more love on it. I ask myself why I feel that way, I ask myself what I need, and if there’s anything I can do. And lately I’ve found it really effective just to look at myself in the mirror and say, “I was there and I acknowledge those feelings, thank you for the experience, I’m willing to let that go now.”

And while it’s taking a lot of patience and practice on my part, I keep getting better at it. And each time I let go, I accept myself more, I love myself more, I feel stronger physically and mentally. And the award for all of this hard work; I notice more and more light as I get back in the game. So bring it on self! Let’s play ball!

What are you holding on to? How do you let go? For 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 in whatever way you see fit. When life gets heavy, let love do the lifting.

Love you,

Jessie.

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

Dark Nights

From my “Dark Nights” collection.

Thankfully I’m not in this place anymore. But as I was going through some of my things I found this. There are others, little rhymes that scratch at the surface of how I’ve felt in the past. These are things I didn’t dare to share before. I was too ashamed. I would try to hide these parts of myself from my husband, the guilt, the shame, jealousy, resentment. Feeling like he’d never understand. So I tried to keep a lot of heavy emotions at bay and honestly I didn’t just hide from him, I hid from myself for years. In the light of day I’d try to white knuckle it, and mostly do ok. But I might blow up at the kid or curse out my husband under my breathe. And I’d wonder why they always gotta be testing me? Ha!

And then other days I didn’t do so great. I’d criticize everyone, society, my family, sometimes even my friends choices. There’s always something else you can focus on. Someone else you can criticize. For some reason in the light of day we think we can look outside of ourselves for the problem. But on the dark nights you can’t see anything but what’s inside of yourself.

And sometimes lately I’m still frustrated with myself, as I sift through years of mental build up I just want to get to the finish line. But I’m coming to realize there is no destination to get to in this life. Just more understanding. And as I re-visited this poem I was amazed and really proud of how far I’ve come. I want to share all of it, and I’m caring less and less how it’s judged. I’m getting to a point where I can honestly say I’m grateful, I’m thankful for all of it. The highs, the lows, the light and the dark. I can see how much I’ve risen above this moment, and as I give thanks, I feel a renewed sense of purpose to reach for the next experience. ‘Cause now I know the answer is never out there, it’s always, ALWAYS in me.

Love, Jessie

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

To all of the people I knew before.

To all the people I knew before.

This is goodbye.

Goodbye from the girl you thought you knew that is. You know the girl that was holding back. Welp, I don’t know how to say this, except to just say it.

She’s dead.

Ha! You see, something weird and wonderful has happened. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly how to describe it though. So I’ve just been letting myself live it. And it’s been overwhelming in the best possible way. I find myself just bursting into tears because the sky is so beautiful. Seriously. And I know some of you might be thinking that the cheese has finally slid off the cracker. And to be honest I have felt like I’ve been flirting with the edge of madness for years. But I promise you that the cheese is right up on there, and I am eating that shit up. Because, well, it’s delicious.

But let me back up a bit. I want to tell you a story, to help you understand where I was. It’s a bit of a mouthful but I’m hoping if you stick with me you’ll see it’s all worth it. For those of you that have been following along, you know I started this project as an outlet for the pain and grief I had experienced throughout my life. I had kept it a secret initially, as I’m definitely not a writer. And honestly I was scared to share this side of myself. But sharing my feelings and my story was therapeutic, and art fed my soul. What I haven’t shared though, is that I have been battling big emotions, and either trying to manipulate my environment or make everyone get along for as long as I can remember. I would never peg myself as a victim though, in fact I would tell most people I had a great life. And despite it all I am resilient as fuck, and have managed quite well for myself (and alongside my husband). What I didn’t often share though, was that this life of mine had never felt like a charmed one. I was surrounded by addiction and the disfunction that goes along with it as a kid. While my mom worked evenings and my sisters found reasons to stay out, I would often stay home. I’d put my drunk Dad to bed after school. I’d clean the house or act silly, noticing that if I could make everything nice, and make everyone happy, our home would be peaceful and much more loving. But the murder of my Grandma due to domestic violence shook me up. I had just turned eight. It was confusing and scary. And then, just as my Dad was getting a handle on his addiction, he died. And despite his flaws I had loved him as much as I’d ever loved anyone. I still do. His death broke my heart. After that, despite my efforts to get on with it, life just seemed like an endless series of unfortunate events. I was kind of embarrassed about it, but I had no drive to become anything. I just wanted to work mediocre jobs. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in my early twenties. I was married to my love, but I struggled to navigate my role as a step parent to the son he had been blessed with as a teen. I was always worried our distance would make him believe he was hard to love. Which of course was never the case. He was incredibly easy to love, which just seemed to make everything about the situation seem more difficult. And I made many bad choices in my life, which I’ll get to later. But I tried to do better too, even though my self shame often got in the way. I had dealt with anxiety since I was a kid, and would freeze up in most new situations. I thought I was managing it, but I was so afraid to fail or look stupid, I wouldn’t try anything. If I did go anywhere I would hide these fears with my big personality, or by talking a mile a minute. In the same way I would entertain or manipulate my family to keep the peace, I could fool everyone. Then I suffered through many years of infertility before doctors discovered I had a pituitary tumour (on the underside of my brain). But thankfully this discovery and it’s treatment helped me to enjoy the pregnancy I’d always wanted. Only to have my bliss interrupted by postpartum depression and rank hormone shifts for years following his birth. And so the cracks began to show, I was angry all the time. I felt unworthy as a mom and wife. It took a toll on my mind, my body, and my marriage. Then my sister died. And although I didn’t really let many people get close to me anyway, it seemed like everyone was always leaving me. My brother in-law battled a cancer scare. My father-in law died. A diagnosis of PCOS, during another battle with infertility. My entire family seemed fucked. Everyone of us, was sick or in pain. And despite years of trying to make everyone see eye to eye, it all seemed to be unraveling. And my own mind was split. I loved everyone so much. But I couldn’t be everything, (or anything) to most of them anymore. I was too tired, so I just stopped trying. But I also felt like I might explode. I either wanted to go yell at everyone in the world, or just cry. I usually just cried. I felt completely misunderstood, and utterly alone. Physically, I felt like shit all of the time. I was always swollen. I kept getting rashes all over my face. I was always tired no matter how much sleep I got. Some days I struggled to walk. I tried to get help. And I’m a good patient, I took my medicine faithfully and followed their advice, but I never felt good. I told the doctors I couldn’t live like this anymore. The more empathetic doctors offered anti-depressants and more medication, to deal with the effects of the other medicines. But most of them treated my complaints like an annoyance. I felt that ultimately I was on my own.

So I’d scratch and claw my way to health, to love, to life. Which is how this project was born. Self care became my health care. And although I’d get little glimmers of light, sometimes even believing I might be on the right track, something else would happen and I’d be down again. I kept telling myself to accept it all, “it is what it is,” I’d say to myself.

I’d try to live my life through the lens of love, but it seemed so many things were outside of my control. These things kept affecting my life. So all too often I would fall back into fear. Life seemed so unfair, I was so mad, and so filled with pain. I was so scared of disconnection, and the thought of losing another person I love. But I hid it fairly well, and I would try to have a good time and ignore my anger. But the reality was that I was always prepared to throw down and fight anyone that I deemed as a threat. And it seemed like more and more things were bothering me. I couldn’t get off of the complain train anymore. Being around people took up so much energy, I rarely spoke to anyone. It was too risky. At the same time I thought I had it all figured out, and they were all wrong. Alot of these people said they were “healed,” and “saved,” that they knew the “truth.” And just as could use my intuitive powers to sense emotions, build people up, entertain or help them co-exist, if I was mad or scared enough, I’d employ my skills to knock those threats down. I had read the same books they had, and I knew how to hit where it would hurt the most. I would think“I have to show them!”

I’d think, “How can they be so blind?”

“Why can’t they see how mean, how manipulative, how judgmental and controlling they are?”

I thought my good intentions made it ok. I desperately wanted to lead by example, and I had the right idea. I knew that love was the answer. But for the first time in my life I didn’t care if anyone saw me as the bad guy, because I thought if I felt I was right and they were wrong it was ok. And despite feeling morally superior at times, for some reason I also felt more and more that I was becoming a walking dead girl. A shell of who I was, and wanted to be. I wasn’t suicidal or anything, I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I knew if I didn’t do something soon I would be fucked. So I screamed up into the sky, asking what the fucking point is. I cried, and I begged for help, over and over.

And then in the midst of this embarrassingly lame existential crisis, something weird started happening. It seemed like I started getting answers. I had been seeing repeating numbers for the last several years. And while I hadn’t taken much stock in those things, now I couldn’t escape them. My phone would buzz to life by itself. I started to see little blurbs about local healers and natural healing every time I went online. So I got on the waiting list for a naturopath, and I started acupuncture. I started doing affirmations and working more intensely on self love, self control, emotional intelligence and body love. I started feeling a lot better, but I still felt like my focus was all over the place. Something was holding me back and I just didn’t know how to let it go.

I finally saw the naturopath though, and we made a plan for my health. Which included my emotional health. I had done talk therapies, and felt I’d gone as far as I could with it. So she suggested I check out energy healing. I was open to it, and I left her office with a plan. I was feeling cautiously optimistic.

I started to do the work. And following some energy healing, I was struck with this moment of extreme clarity. My entire life flashed before my eyes. And all of the things I had been struggling with bubbled up and I felt myself let go of them. I could see while I’d been doing a lot of things since I was a little kid to make life seem easier, I had in fact been holding in a lot. And eventually holding back a lot. And I could keep looking for people or things to blame, or I could face the fact that all of the really long term damage I had done to myself. The release was uncomfortable, as big emotions often are. And it was scary letting go, because if I let go of Jessie the sick person, Jessie the comedic relief, or the fixer, then who was I?

But I knew it would set me free.

I suddenly realized all of these things hadn’t happened to me, they had happened for me. And each diagnosis had been a wake up call. And anyone that knows me well, knows I don’t like phone calls. It usually takes at least three calls,(hoping you’ll just text me instead) before I finally pick up and see what you want. And so, true to form, that’s what I did. I had ignored each call, until I couldn’t stand to ignore them anymore. But I finally took the call. I knew I was either going to die, or learn to love myself, learn to accept myself, learn to be myself. I could suddenly see that all of my external struggles where in fact a mirror to my own internal struggle for self love. It’s like everything I had been through, and everything I was doing, was this gift that had been coming together. A lesson that I needed to learn. Feeling unworthy, made me realize my worth. Feeling like I wasn’t accepted, pushed me to accept myself. Feeling lonely, made me realize the joy of my own company. Feeling unloved pushed me to fall in love with myself. And while everyone else was on there own path, I could see how all of our paths were interwoven. I felt so much love for everyone. Any anger or frustration, or push to control seemed to evaporate. I was filled with so much compassion for them, I could clearly see that they were all reacting through their own fear and pain, just as I had been. I knew I could forgive them. And I knew I could forgive myself. I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. ALWAYS! And so were they. I realized the only role I had to play in anyone’s life, was to love them.

This beautiful release and a lot of emotions continued for several days. Every time I’d meditate I’d have very clear memories of love and of friendship. It was overwhelming. I could see even more clearly how those moments of love had saved me. A few days after (what I’m calling my awakening) though, it sort of occurred to me that I’m still human. Ha! I would still have to experience grief, sadness, and frustration, but now I could also experience joy and pleasure. And while I started to worry about falling back on my old methods, I stopped myself. I even considered deleting everything I had previously written or created, because I just didn’t feel any attachment to those feelings anymore. But those things had also gotten me to where I am right now, so I knew I couldn’t regret them. And I realized I’m still going to be learning. But it’s like I’ve been scrubbed clean, and now I just need to see where this new chapter is going to take me. And I’m so glad y’all are hear to join me. I will eventually be sharing more stories and creating more art. And I am certain I will be healing, and not just emotionally. I believe my health will heal as I do. But like I mentioned earlier, I’m also just letting myself live. I’ve decided the best thing I can do with my time right now is to bask in the summer sun, while my son looks for a lucky four leaf clover. And all I can do is to smile as I watch him, knowing we don’t need it.