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

I Was So Mad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, “I’m willing to love you.”

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

“I accept you, as you are.”

“I was there, but now I let it go.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I (am willing to) forgive”

“You are free, I am free”

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

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

“I let it all go.”

“I’m thankful for every experience.”

“This life is amazing.”

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

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

“I love you!”

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

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

Shadow Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I do to feel better right now?

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

Gallery-Written · Life

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 · 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

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 · 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/