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.

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

Holding back.

Hey all, Jessie here. Just keeping it sexy in Sask! Ha! 😄 I was out for my walk and I was thinking about what I’m doing with this page. If you’ve been here awhile you’ve heard me say before that I just wanted to make art and feel good. And that’s true, that’s the goal. But lately it feels like I’m all over the place, and so is this blog. The blog is about life though, and trying to figure out how to live my best life, so maybe that’s ok? Maybe this is a part of the process? I keep thinking about why I started this project. There are so many reasons. But a big one was that I just felt so restless. I’m somewhat isolated and often alone and although I would try not to, if I did express loneliness or try to connect through social media on my personal page I just ended up feeling even more lonely, embarrassed and misunderstood. I guess I started wondering if anyone really values my presence or even my voice. Don’t get me wrong I know there are people who care about me, but I’ve never felt like anyone really gets me. It’s not their fault though. I don’t really let anyone see all of me. Too often I hold back, or I bend and mould myself into some preconceived notion of who I think they expect me to be. And though I created this as an outlet, and it’s been surprisingly therapeutic, there’s still a loud voice inside of me screaming ‘who the fuck do you think you are though? What’s the point of this? You’re just some goofy girl with mediocre talents from some small town. Why should anyone care about your voice?

And so I hold back. Back from the fierce as fuck, confident, fun and powerful self that I know is in me too. Back from the stories, thoughts and projects I want to do and share with y’all. Sometimes I get on a roll and come out of the cave, but before long I crawl back in because I fear an eye roll on your end, afraid of some silent vibes that I’m a bit too big for these boots.

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve been told I’m ‘too much’. That I’m too silly, too serious, too chatty, too shy, too childish, that need to stop complaining, be more positive. I’m an all vibes are good vibes kinda girl, in a ‘positive vibes only’ kinda world. And I myself have thought I should be different, hold back. But I’m kinda starting to think——F*ck all that?

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I think we are all meant to shine. Something deep down feels like I’m meant for something bigger, that there’s more to life than ‘this’. Something in me so badly wants and needs to share my message with the world, it’s there just waiting to break free. But there’s also something deep down holding me back.

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Sometimes I feel like I’ll always be an amateur at everything, whether it’s art or adulting, ha. But I’m wondering if maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t know what to do. It’s that I know what to do but I’m still not doing anything about it. I set up bullshit barriers like I’ll do it tomorrow, I have to clean my entire house first, or maybe I just end up watching all the series on Netflix with a bar of chocolate or three (how did that get there). Or I fill up my entire schedule without giving myself a minute to breathe so I can put off doing the shit that is going to bring me closer to my dreams. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Cause the truth is, the only person holding me back from living my dreams is me. I can tell myself all the affirmations, repeat all the mantras and visualise all I want. But if I don’t actually get my subconscious on board and clear these blocks I’ll be f*cked. I’ll continue going round in the same cycle of feeling like I’m being torn in a million directions, feeling stuck and unsatisfied because I’m not living to my full potential and sharing my light with the world.

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And I guess that’s why I’m still here.

Maybe if I’m here I’ll push myself to let it all hang out. Maybe something I share can help you suffer less than I did. Maybe you’ll feel like you’re not alone. Or you’ll be smart enough to learn from my mistakes and be more forgiving of yourself when you make your own. Maybe you’ll see me questioning everything under the sun and you’ll say damn I do that too—we should stop doing that, ha! I dunno, I just know I want to see more stories like mine, someone who is still battling their demons, and trying their damndest to win. And if I want that, maybe someone else out is waiting to hear my story too. Maybe we can cheer each other on and watch each other turn our pain into something beautiful. That’s all I want. And hopefully one day you’ll look at this page and say look at her—just living her best life, spreading love and being so authentically true to herself. And maybe you’ll think you can too!

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Hey all! Thanks for being here! I’m happy to report that some things have changed. So 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 · 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 · Uncategorized

Note to Self.

Note to self.

If you are going to do this,

You will really have to dig.

Cause I’m getting fucking tired,

of being told that I’m too big.

I know when you look at me,

You feel the need to joke.

And I can feel your judgement,

Encompass me like a cloak.

Maybe you should try,

To put your self hatred on the shelf.

You know your biggest challenge,

Has always been yourself.

Maybe all you need is love,

You needn’t be brave or bold.

You just need to realize it’s ok,

Not to fit their mold.

J.Thoresen

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Hey all! Thanks for being here! 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!

Uncategorized

Autumn Gold.

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.Thoresen