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.

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

Understanding and Improving my Approach to Conflict.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my approach to conflict. I usually use humour to deflect or diffuse arguments. And it works, so I rarely get into arguments. I rarely debate. And I try to avoid giving my energy to opposing someone’s opinion. As my mother in law once said, “you’re likely just gonna waste your breath trying to change a mind that’s already made up.”

But as you’ll often here me say, I am a fence sitter. I’m a woman of many shades. So, while I have gone out of my way to diffuse situations for others. I also get overwhelmed by conflict, and have isolated myself at times to avoid it all together. A friend recently said that I’m spiritual enough to pray for y’all, but probably still hood enough to swing on you too. Its a bit of a problem. One I’ve been trying to work on, but one that is kinda confusing. It’s not easy to have a good cop/bad cop reaction playing out in your brain, simultaneously, pretty much all the damn time.

Around this time last year I found these two beasts wrestling with one another over the meaning of a quote that my sister had shared on Facebook. Ironically, I thought it was about what comes out of you, and how you react when things go to hell. An old family friend, felt it had another meaning, and went about saying so in a way that I found abrasive and unnecessarily rude. So I questioned him, I could have just scrolled on and let him be wrong but I didn’t. And ultimately we just ended up trading barbs, and by the end we still disagreed. By the next day though, I realized how ridiculous the entire thing was. I tried to make a joke out of it, but that pissed him off more, so I apologized to him. I told him that I wanted to believe because he had said something I thought was rude and mean, I had the right to knock him down in an effort to stand up for my sister.

And from the start I could have just said that. But when I responded to his comments on that quote, I knew that, that wasn’t what I was doing. I knew deep down, that a part of me also really wanted to put him in his place. I went into it telling myself I was just asking questions, hoping to understand his comment better. But that’s not what I did. I was mad, and when I’m angry I rarely take the time to think about anything other than where I’m gonna hit you below the belt. And if I feel I’ve knocked you down a peg, I might start to think I’ve won. It’s like this old arcade game I used to play at the nearby ski hill when I was growing up. I don’t even like video games, but I was a hopeless skier and snowboarder (and I was poor and couldn’t afford that shit anyway). So while friends enjoyed the slopes, I actually got pretty decent at “Mortal Combat.” And sometimes when I argue I think of it. If you can throw your opponent off balance, you’ll hear a voice commanding you to “Finish Him!”

I’m not particularly proud of this method of operating. And I guess that’s why it keeps bubbling up. I’m realizing that if the objective of my discussion is to win, I usually end up being the loser. Even if I sway them to take on my point of view, I will often end up feeling guilty, regretting how I spoke or treated the other person. I’m also realizing that although I want to evolve into a more loving person, it takes emotional maturity, it takes time, it takes knowledge, and it takes practice.

Practice I’m not going to get if I hide out and isolate myself all of the time. So I keep trying and hoping that if I continue, I might become my own version of the examples that I look up to. And maybe if this light of mine can warm even one heart with my silly doodles and rambling stories, it’s a win. Because I think every time we choose love, life and connection we can elevate and work together for good. It lifts my heart, and I feel hopeful about this life and this world, it feels right and damnit it feels good. So friends tell me, how do you face conflict and share your light? I’d love to hear from you.

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Hey all! Thanks for being here. Somethings are really changing on this self awareness journey of mine. 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 · 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.

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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.

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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 · 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!

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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 · Kiddos · Life · Uncategorized

Reasons my parenting is 800% worse around other people.

You may have heard of the *study published in 2015 that found kids are “800 per cent worse” for their mothers. It found that children as young as eight-months-old could be playing happily, but upon seeing their mother they were 99.9% more likely to begin crying, release their bowels, or need her immediate attention.

While this study was obviously a fake, the observations about child behaviour where bang on. Some psychologists have even shared clues as to why this phenomenon seems so relatable for so many families. Upon reading some of these articles I noticed that my parenting style bares a striking resemblance to the toddlers within the fake study. So I took the liberty of noting these similarities.

Please tell me I’m not alone.

•A need for attention!

Just like your unruly toddler, who will suddenly throw down an epic tantrum the second you get on the phone, this mama is thirsting for attention. I haven’t had an adult conversation for days (maybe even weeks) so I’m gonna do whatever it takes. I’m hoping that you might turn your eyes in my direction. Or at least roll them. I don’t even care at this point. There’s a good chance I’m gonna get loud, and if that doesn’t work there’s always the possibility I will stop my feet and start having a little tantrum of my own. Someone please, just put me to bed.

•Testing the limits.

There seem to be a lot of parenting rules these days. The way we feed, raise, carry, dress and let our children play or sleep are now major points of judgement in the parenting world. I can’t keep it all straight. But I find myself overwhelmed, and anxious by all of the things each sect says I’m not aloud to do. Although privately, I know I’m just doing my best to raise a well balanced human, I’m always pushing the playground boundaries. I’m not terribly rebellious, but these rules seem so inconsistent. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to get it right anyway. So if anyone needs me, I’ll be sitting looking somewhat sullen on my phone, and sharing some kind of processed snack with the kid.

•Lacking skills

From the moment that baby was placed in my arms I knew I was in big trouble. I am not one of those people that ran around tooting their own horn and saying what a great parent they were going to be. I’ve always been afraid of newborns, they can smell my fear. And that fear is tripled when I have an audience. I’m afraid my social skills are questionable at the best of times. And awkward is kinda my specialty. I’m nervous and embarrassed parenting in public because you’ll probably realize I suck. So if I muster up the courage to parade this train wreck, just show me a bit of understanding.

•Seeking Independence

I love my kids. I’m actually really sad when I feel like we aren’t getting enough quality time. BUT, I’m also an introvert. I like having the space to think, I value periods of silence. I long for deeper conversations than our normal, albeit hilarious poop and fart talks.

And yet on the rare occasion I can steal myself away, all I can do is ramble on awkwardly about how irritating the kid can be. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but he’s obsessed with me.

•Can’t seem to control emotions

Okay surely others can relate to this. I’ve had to hold it together for a long time. I’ve likely had a host of positive emotions but I’ve also been lonely, bored or frustrated. I seem able to hold it together when I’m by myself, because after all, I realize there will be no search and rescue teams coming to help me. If we’re going to survive it’s all up to me.

So chances are if I’m even remotely comfortable with you, you may find me overreacting to everything. This is a cry for help. I need a time out.

•Underlying mental health issues.

Obviously this is a much more sensitive issue. Underlying mental health issues can definitely affect our moods. I’ve had anxiety all of my life. I’m generally scared to do most things, and I spend a lot of time fighting my brain. I don’t know why but my brain just loves to replay conversations or crazy scenarios over and over in my mind. Thankfully over the years I’ve managed to find ways to cope, and I rarely let it stop me from doing what I want to do. I have a ridiculous sense of humour and thankfully I can usually turn it on to get through most situations. I really push myself not to let fear stop me. However, a lot of that gets thrown out the window when it comes to my dear boys. I’ve often said that becoming a parent was like that scene in “The Grinch,” where his heart suddenly grows three sizes too big. This big love has my brain working overtime, imagining all of the ways I could possibly lose it.

If we’re on some fun little outing with our kids, while you are enjoying seeing them play wild and free in nature, I am imagining all of the ways a person can fall and die. It doesn’t help that I’ve been blessed with boys whom rarely show concern for their own personal safety. So if my mood starts to shift into the controlling, and cranky helicopter parent zone, know it’s not because I hate seeing kids enjoying themselves. I’m still learning my triggers and how to cope with these over-reactive responses to horseplay. The point is, the emotions I show are just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what is going on in my mind. Like a small child you might be able to distract me, but it’s something I that probably requires extra help at times. If I find it’s affecting my decisions I know it’s time to reach out. For me that means talking therapies, but I have taken anxiety medications in the past and certainly wouldn’t rule it out. Maybe just ask if I’m ok? I may not be.

Ultimately though the real reason my parenting becomes 800% worse around you, is probably because you make me feel safe in someway. Maybe something in you tells me I can put my guard down. I know that with you I can let it all go, my tears, emotions,————bowels, whatever. And if you’re brave enough to stick around I’ll know you’re someone that I don’t have to hide all of my idiosyncrasies from. I’m not trying to use you as a garbage disposal for my feelings, I just need someone to lean on through this season of life. I’m overwhelmed and feeling the pressure of wanting to raise a good human being, but terrified that I’m going to fuck it all up. Just like the little people, when I start to display these behaviour issues, I hope you realize I don’t need you to scold me. I am probably already ashamed of my behaviour, and considering never leaving the house again. What I do need though is a soft place to land, some encouragement, maybe a hug, but mostly a friend.

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

Oh hey, you’re out of Milk- Notes from a stalker.

It’s been said by those that know me, that I come off as a bit of a creep. I can be a kind of intense. And if you give me a cocktail, you can bet I’m turning into a total close talker. If I’m at all interested in you I’m probably going to stalk you a wee bit. You know the usual stuff, gather intel, do a background check, light surveillance, nothing too crazy. I promise its totally innocent, sort of a detached appreciation. I’m actually quite introverted and definitely have no interest in a possessive way. But, I’ll most likely come on too strong, or over share, and send you running for the hills. And even if I’m not at the wheel of my creep-mobile, if you are remotely in my orbit, at some point I’m going to say or do something weird. I’m generally always doing something to embarrass myself.

For the most part I’ve embraced it, I’ve even worn my stalker badge proudly. I love making my friends these creepy music videos, kind of a birthday-gram. They all share the same theme—obsessed fan. It’s all in good fun and thankfully they still accept me despite my special brand of weird.

But in this life long pursuit to connect with those I’m drawn to, I’ve made things weird on a few occasions. Recently I was reminded of one of the more notorious events in my stalking escapades.

I can remember when I first met him. He was quiet and handsome and had dimples for days. I barely knew him, but I knew I desperately needed to know him better. I can remember one time I saw his car pull into the only gas station we had in our small town. It was blocks away, but I ran there as fast as I could. When I arrived he was just leaving. I was completely out of breathe, but I tried to act aloof, managing to squeak out one word. One breathe-less “hey.” He said hi back, hopped in his car and left, and I collapsed to the ground gasping for air. You probably think I’m exaggerating, but nope, that’s me. This is just one example of the many embarrassing things I’ve done when I find myself attracted to another soul. He should have been afraid but for whatever reason he tolerated my intensity and we became friends.

A couple years later we were hanging out just doing the normal teenager thing, cruising around and hanging out with friends. My girlfriends and I were scrutinizing and exchanging the only selfies we had back then, our annual school photos. I was picking my photo apart, but he thought it was cute and said he wanted one. I was embarrassed because I had to give them to my mom first, but I told him I’d give him one later. A normal human being would have just set aside one of the leftover photos. But instead, I spent the evening constructing a giant poster board, using all of them. Twenty or so of the same photo and pose, in every size. The idea was that he would hang it on his wall, and if anyone saw it they would assume he was obsessed with me. A real stalker of my own, swoon! My girlfriend and I laughed the night away at the thought of it. We added blinking lights, shiny paper and tinfoil. The next day I went to present him with my masterpiece. But suddenly I felt a bit ridiculous and started second guessing myself. I was a bit worried he wouldn’t get the joke, and would likely think I was a total lunatic. But I threw caution to the wind, and decided to go for it. I put it in his truck and when we got a chance to be alone I told him to go have a peek. I was laughing, because no matter what I kinda think I’m hilarious. To my surprise he seemed totally unfazed by this monstrosity, he smiled and told me it was awesome!

Awesome? Perhaps this quiet, smiley boy is a bigger weirdo than he lets on. “Let’s go plug it in” I exclaimed. And the rest is history.

The point is, sometimes you are better off just letting it all hang out. I want to be liked and cared for just as much as the next guy, but getting close to people can be scary. I can be insecure, and I make mistakes attempting to do so. Some people get turned off by me, but I’m slowly learning those aren’t my people. Rejection is hard, but I’m a woman of many shades and I’m the only one who gets to define exactly who that is. Anyone else’s opinion is none of my business. Sometimes I’m intense, maybe a bit overwhelming, sometimes I’m introverted, probably kinda underwhelming. But I’m also a loving human being that desires intimacy with others, not in a sexual way, but a spiritual one. I need people I can be totally unfiltered with, laugh with. People who care about my story and remind me that although I feel like a misfit, I’m not alone in this journey. Apparently this is going to be misinterpreted at times, and may scare the odd person off. But there’s something special about it too. So I vow to be myself and see who stays. I’ve had success and found kindred spirits by doing so in the past. And I think those who are brave enough, might end up with a great friend. Someone who will always be looking out for them——albeit through a long range spying scope. Ha! But seriously I can’t help but be me, flaws and all. So I’ve decided to let my freak flag fly! Cause you never know who might be happy to see it.

Words and Art by Jessie Thoresen.

Gallery-Photography · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

Seasons- Words and Photography by J.Thoresen

You may be like the summer.

Like a beach sparkling in the heat.

People flock to your beauty,

And I know I can’t compete.

For I have an autumn soul,

I’m dying piece by piece.

I know the seasons change,

And the summer heat will cease.

So I may not be as sunny,

Some may even think I’m cold.

But as your summer sparkle fades,

I will still be autumn gold.

J.Thor

Kiddos · Life · Uncategorized

Some love haunted houses or Goblins Green, but I just love my little Mr. Bean

So we have a bit of fun with Hallowe’en!! Homemade costumes just get my creativity flowing I guess. We went for a little Bean-tastic fun this year. Be sure to check out our video! Do you dress up for Hallowe’en with your kiddos? Share your favourite costumes in the comments, we would love to see them!

https://youtu.be/dwBVsqPzMHM