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, the things that make me angry, the resentment I’m ashamed of, my efforts to control (sometimes in the name of good or love), looking for validation, begging for attention, times when I’ve been guilty, 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? 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, people in my own circle also announce their pregnancies. One 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, 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. 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. It’s 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 feel a lot of emotions bubbling up, or I’m playing the story in my head on repeat and find myself wanting to resist, 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

She Blooms

She blooms.

She lies in the dark,

Small and unseen.

The weight of it all

Changing who she had been.

She feels herself breaking,

And wishes she were strong.

In the depths blind and broken,

Feeling everything is wrong.

All she can do is wait,

Holding on becomes her start.

And she finally falls in love,

with her own stubborn heart.

She advances slowly,

She won’t give up the fight.

Changed but triumphant,

She will find the light.

Risen from darkness,

She knows her power.

Love can transform her,

from a seed to a flower.

J. Thoresen

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Uncategorized

Abracadabra

Abracadabra-

Life is magic.

You say I need only believe it’s so.

But I told life she was cruel,

On the night she let you go.

Life is magic.

Even when I question the belief.

It’s when I hold you close I realize,

what causes all the grief.

Life is magic.

I feel it as I watch our babies grow.

And I pray that I can show them,

What they really need to know.

That, Life is magic!

We create it as we speak.

That it is only through love,

Life reveals the magic that we seek.

J. Thoresen

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-Paint · Gallery-Written · Uncategorized

The Guide (Part 2).

The guide

You can live a life with no worries;

And all you need do,

Is follow these simple tips –

I’ll spell them out for you.

You must share the load as a homemaker,

The old gender roles you needn’t abide.

But the man of the house has obligations,

So be sure you can provide.

Being a soft, nurturing role model,

Must be a part of your mindset.

And you must be the fearless protector,

Alert to every threat.

Be a sensitive man who listens,

To earn your badge of pride.

But don’t you be a sissy,

keep your feelings bottled up inside.

Be a fun, impulsive sports fan,

Your deeds and physique should be heroic,

But always weigh your options;

Be wise, be calm, be stoic.

And if you’re confused by this paradox,

Between being a gentleman and a boor.

All you need do to fight it,

Is to see yourself as more.

Just live your life with pride,

If you want to be set free.

And don’t forget who you were,

Before they told you who you should be.

J. Thoresen

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Uncategorized

Honest Rumours. Words and Art by J.Thoresen

If you were honest,

And your intent was true.

Don’t you be disheartened,

By the opinion of a few.

Some may take it personally,

Some may reject or criticize.

But that’s a reflection of them,

Not a reason to apologize.

You needn’t explain your truth,

So don’t bother to try.

For those committed to

misunderstanding,

Often prefer the comfort of a lie.

J.Thoresen

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

Fear and love for #metoo

My mom was raised by a single mom back in the 50’s, when being a divorced single parent was deeply frowned upon. The woman who raised my mom was beautiful, and resourceful. She made sure my mom always had a roof over her head and food in her belly. But my mom was also raised by a woman with a drinking problem. A woman who could be emotionally abusive, and moved her away from the love of her grandparents and in with whomever she happened to be dating. She was raised by a woman whose boyfriend got drunk one day, and beat her to death.

I had always struggled to understand my Grandma, and moreso everything that had happened to her. I would ask my mom about her sometimes. And my Mom would tell me stories from her childhood, some good, some bad. I asked about the man that had killed her. I couldn’t understand how someone could do that to another human being. I remember at one point, years later, I was thinking about it all and I asked my life guru-Google; “how can people be so shitty?” And Google in its infinite wisdom, told me that every person makes choices in life, and each one is decided by choosing either love or fear.

Fear or love.

I discovered that some people believe all of our choices, emotions and reactions, fall into one of two categories-love or fear. Some even say that fear is simply a call for love. Not good or bad, not right or wrong. As fear isn’t necessary wrong, I’m sure in the past fear helped our cave brothers and sisters survive all of the time. Fear is often our natural reaction, as it’s not always easy to sink below the turbulent thoughts of the mind and into the heart where love resides.

Right now there is a lot of fear, and a lot of people saying we should be afraid. The #metoo movement and everything that was going on with the U.S Supreme Court caused a lot of emotional reactions. It pains me too, picking at old wounds that I thought I had healed. ‘Cause that’s the thing, you can read all of the self help shit you want, but when your past comes knocking anything you haven’t healed is likely going to come spilling out. No matter how many bandaids you used to cover it. Personally I had promised myself that I would no longer just survive I would thrive, but I’m not always sure how to put that into action. And I believe my pain is a sign that I have more healing to do. So I take a little time to reflect, to understand why my friends opinions on the matter are causing me so much distress. I think of all the times I previously ignored my feelings for practical reasons or because I was told that a good girl goes along to get along. I feel angry at all those who ever made me feel powerless, and maybe even angry at myself for the times I chose not to speak up. But I watch all of the arguments, back and forth, and sometimes I think maybe I could explain it in a way to make everyone understand. I wonder though, would anyone listen? People tell their stories but if we don’t understand their perspective we reject it, often trying to dispute their feelings. Or we get angry at them for even sharing, we take it personally, or tell them they simply need to get over it. We are all screaming to be heard and understood, and yet it seems like we are moving farther and farther away from understanding.

Then I remembered something my instructor at a creative arts workshop had said. She told us that the key to creating great art isn’t found in our skill or technique. She said the greatest art makes us feel. She said that art can help us reflect and express ourselves. She believed that we turn to the arts as a way to relate to one another, to understand ourselves and each other when words fail us.

I don’t know if that totally sunk in at the at the time. But her words stuck with me, and lately her words have been coming back to me. An artist tells their story, pouring their feelings into their piece. We may have our own perception or opinion of what we believe the artist is telling us, but we know ultimately the piece is a reflection of the artist- it’s their story, their fears or love. Sure there may be critics, or people that don’t understand the piece, but we quickly realize that their opinion is irrelevant. They perceive the artists work based on their own experiences-their story, their fear or love. The best art makes us feel, it’s not right or wrong. Art is created to help us reflect, not react. To show us an example not an opinion.

And I wondered what would our lives would be like if instead of reacting to everything, we attempted to reflect instead? If instead of jumping to share our opinion, attempting to prove right or wrong, we just let people tell their stories. What would our world be like if we just reflected on one another’s stories, instead of reacting to them? What if we asked ourselves, what example am I setting by sharing this opinion? Why does this persons story make me feel this way? Is my reaction an example of love or fear?

And I thought of my Grandma again. I couldn’t understand what had happened to her or why she would accept abuse in her life. I couldn’t understand her perspective because I would never experience life from her eyes. I would never fully understand what it was like from her side, because it was impossible for me to fully walk in her shoes. But I could understand love and fear. And I could see that although she hoped for love, it was also obvious that shame, depression, and control had been major players in her life. Fear was used as a weapon against her, and fear kept her in her place. And I wondered how different her life may have been, if she had felt able to reach out and tell her story or choose love? Instead the love she deserved was misdirected as she begged and called for it through fear. I think maybe for the first time ever, I truly empathized with her. Her life was her story, anyone’s opinion of her life is irrelevant. Her life is simply an example of love and fear. As is mine, as is yours.

And as I write this it hit me, perhaps my ability to thrive instead of just survive, is bound to my ability to choose love instead of fear. My story is mine. A reflection of me—my fear and love. To hold back would be to succumb to fear, to express myself is to love myself. This doesn’t mean I have to tell every person every sorted detail of any trauma I’ve experienced. But it does mean I have the right to claim my feelings, and speak up if I believe something isn’t right. I won’t fight those who are committed to misunderstanding me because I realize that their opinion is simply a reflection of them-and therefore irrelevant to me. And so I will tell my stories, when and with whom I choose. I will no longer apologize for my honesty, my stories or my art, because it is my truth. Every choice I make adds to the picture that makes up my life. And I just need to decide who the major player will be in this masterpiece, fear or love?

I will examine fear, but I will choose love for #metoo !

What will you choose?

_____________________________________

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 · Kiddos · Life · Marriage · Uncategorized

#1in4 Couples experience pregnancy or infant loss.

I have read so many heartbreaking and touching stories this October, and I felt like I had to commend everyone for their bravery. It is not easy to allow yourself to be so vulnerable about such a personal thing. But I believe in my heart that our stories connect us. In times of hardship our stories ensure that we are not alone. And as thankful as I am that these topics are becoming less taboo, I have noticed a recurring theme in these stories and the comments that follow, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask a teeny favour of everyone. Could we just stop grading how bad each other have it? One person opens up and it creates a dialogue. Which is beautiful. But for some reason when we speak of our loss, especially pregnancy loss, we feel the need to grade each loss. “Oh Becky, I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage last fall, but it wasn’t as bad. I was only a few weeks.”

It wasn’t as bad? Is it really less of a loss? Or just loss? Why do we do that to ourselves?

My husband and I have been trying to grow our family for the past 12 years. In that time we have had one successful pregnancy. I have always said I am very fortunate, because technically I have never had a pregnancy loss. Sometimes I even feel silly for getting upset about our struggles because it seems that some couples have it worse. Which frankly is just nuts. We try to grade how bad we have it in comparison to someone else. And from there we grade to what degree we’re allowed to be sad? It’s ridiculous. I do it too. I say well I have a step child and I birthed one kid, and I didn’t end up needing IVF yet, or I’ve only had a blighted ovum, that’s not a real miscarriage. But the fact is just because someone has it worse doesn’t mean your situation is not hard. Hard is hard. Loss is loss. Whether you have just begun trying to start a family but you’re worrying more and more as each month passes, or you’re a veteran to the infertility game. It’s ok to feel like it’s unfair-because it is. And whether you had a blighted ovum or a miscarriage the truth is you had joy and hope for a new life the second you saw that positive pregnancy test, and to lose that is devastating. So never feel like you don’t have a right to your feelings. As was once said to me; “you were a mom from the first time you cried about getting your period.”

It’s true.

It hurts when your heart is ready, but your arms remain empty. It’s painful, we don’t need to figure out if it’s more or less painful than what someone else is enduring —it’s just painful. That’s all.