Gallery-Written

I Surrender—AGAIN.

I used to think I had to manage my stress. And despite some of the things you read here, for the most part I can be a pretty happy go lucky person, so I thought for a long time it was working. I’d write and paint. I’d go for walks. I’d laugh with friends. I meditate. I journal. Scratch that-I use this page as my journal, ha. I do affirmations. I do all kinds of self development. And earlier this year I started doing acupuncture and energy healing. And now I’m learning to do energy healing on myself and others as well. And while all of those things are good, and these things have pulled me into a huge spiritual, and magically transformative season of growth, I realized the other day that my stress is not something I need to manage. As managing it had just become code for pushing it away.

My emotions aren’t something bad, they are not another annoying mess that I need to clean up. And don’t get me wrong, it feels like a mess when it’s coming out! Shifting and taking another step up isn’t always all zen, sitting in a room with crystals and meditating. I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings coming out of me that I tried to bury. For example I didn’t think it was ok to be angry. Especially because I was the most angry at dead people. And I wanted so badly to be good and nice and to fit in, that I pretended not to be upset even when I was. And it was confusing because I could recognize when I did lose it (or when others were projecting, aka losing it), that it wasn’t helpful. So what do you do with it? I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to manage it.

And that’s ok! I didn’t do anything wrong. And if you’re trying to manage it, you aren’t doing anything wrong either. You are trying to move in a positive direction and that’s great, but maybe you are as ready for this next step as I was. And maybe you can find your way there faster if you’ll think of this example the next time you’re in the thick of it.

Just after Halloween, and perhaps not surprisingly just after obtaining a level two in Reiki, I had all kinds of emotions bubbling up. I was angry, AGAIN, all the time! I felt like I was white knuckling it through EVERYTHING. Everything was getting under my skin. I was getting sick of myself, AGAIN.

I didn’t understand, I thought I was doing all the “right” things, walks and meditation, reiki, etc, but those feelings were still there. And I was starting to get snippy with my family and I don’t like that. I started to wonder if anything I was doing was actually helping. I started to tell myself that this is just another thing I’m going fail at. It was painful and confusing. In hindsight I can see that obviously my mindset had shifted back into some past patterns. But now I realize it’s also because I kept trying to manage it. To make it go away. Then one day my son and I headed outside, I was cleaning up pumpkins and other things from Halloween and he was sliding down the hill on our property. At one point our dog, who was supposed to be inside, got all excited and jumped on him. She knocked him over and scratched his face. He was crying but I was so full of my own emotions I couldn’t take it, with gritted teeth and balled fists, I stormed over there. I tried to hold it in but I starting yelling at both my son and the dog.

“Damnit, I told you not to let the dog out. Now look!”

“Bad dog”

“You wouldn’t be fuckin’ crying right now if you’d have done what you were told”

Not my finest moment. It really didn’t need to be a big deal. Any other day, I could have just comforted my son, he had learned his lesson the hard way. I didn’t need to pound it in with harsh words. Any other day, I could have corrected the dog, she is incredibly smart but still a puppy essentially, and doesn’t really realize how powerful she is when she excitedly jumps up to play with her buddy. Which is why she was supposed to stay in until I could supervise. But it wasn’t any other day. I had years of rage sitting just below the surface. I was ready to tear a strip off of anyone. I grabbed the dog by the collar and smacked her on the nose. I wanted to spank the living fuck out of her. And although we believe in positive reinforcement to train her, she now cowered in fear like a dog that had been beaten her whole life.

I could tell she was terrified, and my son who had every right to cry, now looked at me in horror as he said, “please don’t hit her.”

I started trying to justify my actions, but I paused. I felt so ashamed that I started to cry. I apologized and told him it was wrong for me to react that way. We had a good talk over hot chocolate and rehashed some rules about the dog. And you’d think maybe it was done, but I could still feel that pent up energy in me. Only now I had added shame. I still didn’t know what to do. And I couldn’t go meditate or go for a walk, I had chores to finish. So that’s what I did. And as I was taking the pumpkins out to the compost heap I realized one of the pumpkins still had a candle in it. My husband had put one of my nice candle holders in it and the lid of the pumpkin was frozen shut. I fucked around with it for a little while, muttering about “that fucker.” Until I finally freed it by smashing it open with my foot. It felt so good I kept smashing, then I grabbed another and another, and kept beating, punching, screaming and kicking out all the anger and grief and sadness, until I fell to my knees beside them. And I cried and I cried.

And you might ask yourself why I would be telling you this. I’ve wondered myself why I’m doing this. But I’m figuring it out. I’m doing this because it gives me hope. Even more than that it helps me to surrender, to be vulnerable, to say I’m not perfect but that is the greatest reason to show myself more love, not less. And I hope that one day you’ll read this story and refer back to it when you need it most. And I will too!

Because it’s that kind of self love that keeps you true. It’s that love that pulls you back on the road when you feel yourself heading into the ditch. It’s not about spa days. Its not just for women. It’s what keeps you from crashing. So the more fucked up you fear you are, or your life is, or dare I say you think other people are, the more you need to ask yourself, “what can I do in this moment to love myself better?”

It’s about realizing it’s not about “them.” It’s not about what happened to you. It’s about you. Knowing and loving and seeing that you are the amazing person you are and have always been.

And sometimes that will be achieved through meditation or walks or sports or whatever. But you don’t need to manage your emotions, you need to feel them. They demand to be felt. If you’re stubborn like me, you’ve probably tried everything you can to deal with them. But I ask you friend-have you ever tried surrendering to them? Try it. Be mad, be sad, cry, beat the face off your jack o’ lantern. Do what you can for you, so you can LET IT OUT. That is how you stop hurting yourself, that is how you stop hurting anyone else. That is how you heal and break the patterns that throw you off your path. That is self love.

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?

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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/