Tag Archives: self esteem

Like sand through the hourglass

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The past couple weeks I’ve had to take a hiatus from working on my house, given that I lifted my mantle off the gas fireplace and wrenched my back.   So I have found myself sorting, tossing, and thus, revisiting my life with notebooks of writing, poems, boxes of pics, and more.  Where the hell did the last 54 years of my life go?

Further depth came after the tragedies in Orlando.   I will not even go here.  I will say that I have been and am praying for all those affected by such monstrosities.   I am saddened beyond words, of what has and is transpiring in this country, in this world.   I pray for ALL of us.

But I will admit, there is something more going on with me.   I don’t fully understand it, nor am I questioning it, but I am at peace with so much, even in spite of all that is going bad in this world.   I FEEL something coming.   I have random thoughts of what it may be, but I’m not going to go here either.  What I want to share is, I’m accepting myself for who I am, where I’ve been, and finding peace with all that I wanted to be, do, but probably never will.

While looking at pictures from my past, I feel the moment, I recall the times, the feelings, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.   I am aligning with who I am.   And while I want to lose 75 lbs, and more, I am finding peace even with that.  What if I don’t?  Do I want to spend another minute of what’s left of my life worrying about or condemning myself for NOT  BEING PERFECT?

It’s interesting, the story of my life told in pictures.   I have known great love.  I have known great pain.  I have accomplished a lot on my own, without formal education, and I have met SOOO many wonderful people in my life.   Many friends have come and gone, and that’s okay, it is just the ebb and flow of life.  Today, tonight, as I write this blog, I am right with all that has transpired in my life.   I have found peace, and for that I AM TRULY THANKFUL.  If my life ends tomorrow, I am okay with it, because this place where I am is amazing.

I am grateful I was there with my sisters through the illnesses that stripped them of life.  I am grateful that I spent almost a decade of my life with a man who shortly thereafter, drank himself to death.  I am grateful for this “fat” that encompasses my body, because it helps me feel protected from an uncertain world.    Feeling safe anywhere today, is a big thing.   But most importantly to me, I am thankful that I am a good, honest, hard working person who finds pleasure in the simplest of things, in nature.   I don’t spend my time wishing I was in a relationship, or with anyone else, I am happy with my life.   I have learned the most through every tragedy and laughed immensely through much.

In many ways, where I am right now reminds me of surviving and completion of treatment for breast cancer.  It was freeing.   I had (and still have) no room in my life for luxury drama, or bull shit.   It’s actually a little frightening how vocal I can be now regarding this.   The tiny filter that I once had is almost entirely invisible now.   The older I get, the freer I feel about speaking my truth.

Long gone are the days when I worried about someone liking me, or what they thought of me.   I’m right with myself, with God.   I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and it feels good.

I hope that you are finding peace in your life.  I hope you are, too, realizing how precious life is.   How every second of every day is not promised to anyone, and in the blink of an eye your life, and those lives around you, can be altered drastically.  Anyone hearing of the massacre in Orlando, can you help but think this?

Sending you love, light, and as I mentioned earlier, prayers for the world we live in.

 

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Sensitivity, mental illness AND being right brained

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I read a LOT of self help books.     My mother said to me one day last year “I think it’s great that you want to improve upon yourself, but Donna, what about fun?    Well, I read art books, that counts for fun.  And I read articles online, a lot about cancer, guess that isn’t too fun…    But this comment of hers “came back” in my head this past week.

Thinking about sensitivity.   I have always been very sensitive.   Cry easily (ask my siblings, growing up with me, my parents didn’t know what to do with me and my emotions, so to eliminate stress for all, they would omit sharing things with me!   Now, this works, to an extent, but not all that great after that.   I found myself in my 30s and 40s before I started to really learn how to sit with stuff, how to deal with things that otherwise “hurt”.    Hey, they did their best, no blame there, just thinking about what it would be like to NOT be so sensitive?

I remember sitting in a 12 step meeting, an addict was struggling.  He shared how his newly found sobriety was good, but it was also overwhelming.  He realized booze helped numb him from his “oversensitivity” (also labeled that as a child).    He was an artist, and part of who he was was this beautiful sensitive soul, and he didn’t want to lose that.  But he was going bat shit trying to figure out how to cope with life on a daily basis without a numbing agent.    I sat there, shaking my head with understanding.  I thought EVERYONE cried at the end of Casper?!?   And a whole lot of other things.

Where is the balance?   I don’t know.   The older I get, the easier it becomes to screen or throw stuff out that I just don’t want to cope with.  I’m not talking about responsibilities, but others drama and things that frankly, bring me discomfort or discontent.   I have heard, numerous times, that most mental illness (including addiction) comes with an undiagnosed dual diagnosis.   I think about this, and I have many many friends who have been treated for one, and who still struggle.   It was like being diagnosed with ADHD just two years ago at 51.  Holy crap!    Medication made my life SO MUCH BETTER.  I was the first to judge another if they put their children on ADD or ADHD meds.  Now?  I encourage.  If this gives their child an opportunity to function better (and it will if they are truly ADD/ADHD), their life will be improved upon so much.  Mine has.

Most people my age are only diagnosed because their children were, first.     The things that I once thought were “normal” and that everyone shared, and now I realize, a big part of my self esteem and confidence being lower than it should.   Because I felt stupid, or lazy, sometimes crazy.   I have always known I’ve been wired different from others, but I always attached a negative connotation (just listed above) to it.   The truth is, I’m not stupid, nor lazy, nor crazy.   I’m not!  I struggle with mental illness and this isn’t fun.   But I’m not insane.

Most important thing for me to do has been and will be to learn how to cope….     I believe I have good self awareness, and I strive, I really do, to be a good person, do the right thing, one day at a time.    I’m not special in my struggles, I’m far from alone.   But you know what is worse?     It HAS to be having an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness.  And the stigma that is attached and has been to mental illness sadly keeps many lives struggling, with little quality.

I recently went off five medications after I was discharged from my outpatient therapy because I had missed too much time.  Another blog.   I weaned myself off, and started to pay attention to my body.   I believe I was overmedicated.   Now, I am starting to “feel” again, and my hands do not shake anywhere near what they did, which is part of why I stopped painting, teaching.   I’m doing well.   I’m focusing on the physical problems that need attention, and keeping a close check on my depression with close friends, through blogging, and a lot of prayer.

I want a quality life.   I want to feel peace, happiness.   I want to feel grief without losing myself to it, or several years of my life.   This means I have to learn to coping skills, and I have and am.     I need to accept that part of being me is being sensitive and to accept myself for who I am, and may very well always be.    I remind myself that God doesn’t make junk, and that I was designed to be perfectly imperfect.   We all were.

Today I’ve had a nice day, a peaceful day, a productive day.    I’m very grateful for this.   I’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here.     Just want to say one more thing.  If you have never been diagnosed or treated for mental illness, educate yourself.  Read articles, peoples blogs, etc.   Only a very small percentage are really insane.  Most of us struggling with learning disabilities and mental illness are just trying to find our way out of the chaos that can ruminate in our heads.    I share on my experiences to help others know, they are far from alone.  I know it helps me to know this, too.

Happy Mental Health!

Secret stashes

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The past year I’ve really been cleaning out my house.   As an artist, I don’t want to throw anything away because I “might need it”.   And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve tossed things I’ve had for a decade, only to find 2 weeks later that I wish I had it!  Yes, I’m a mental case, but that isn’t the point I’m trying to make.  Not even sure what is!  Oh yes, DE cluttering!

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been living in this house since 1988.    So you can imagine the collection I had.  I’ve never been materialistic, except when it comes to art supplies, music.   Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things, and my taste is certainly larger than my pocket book, but I have a knack of finding things inexpensively.  I also do not compromise on some things.   I don’t want to listen to music through tin sounding speakers, or bead with acrylic.  I paint with acrylic, but I bead with gem stones, crystal.  No plastic for me!     Add to this my return to needlecraft design, I rarely buy acrylic yarn.  I want fibers.  Wool, silk, cotton!       Felting has brought new joy into my life.   As the snow accumulated last winter, I made these sweet roses and flowers, felted them, and they sit in a box next to me.  A little box of sunshine just for looking!  I guess what I’m saying is, I’m fussy?

So now you know I’m a craft hoarder.   But I don’t think I am.   Honestly, if you saw what I got rid of?    I am downsizing, however, and numerous surfaces, canvas, tools that I no longer use are going to be going to a good home.    So I have piles started.  Piles that are going to the hospice thrift shop, a pile started for a couple of friends that I know would appreciate this stuff, a pile to go to the Senior Center, and a large pile to try to figure out where the heck to put it!

But something very cool is happening as I go through this process.   For everything I get rid of, I am gaining back freedom.  I don’t know how else to describe it.   I feel lighter, and lighter each box that leaves, or is scheduled to leave.     It’s kind of funny when you think about it.  We spend years accumulating things, and yet it feels so good to get RID of things!  One less project “owning me”.  Every project I had planned to do and didn’t, owns a bit of me.  By getting rid of it, it frees up my head and time, gives me what feels like really good juju!

There is also this fun aspect to cleaning out.   Things I forgot I had, or did.   It is like a treasures box!   Now if only I could find some moola!   But I did find brushes, brushes and more brushes.  A secret little stash I forgot about from days of working with several brush companies and a box of samples a girlfriend sent to me that include some kick butt dry brushes.    It’s funny how a finding like this can be so inspiring.    When cleaning out my Uncle’s apartment last year after his passing, I found some things that he had held onto that made me smile.  imageOne being the book I authored in the early 2000’s.  Going to try to attach a picture of it, but no promises!      I’ve always had an Americana style, and my work typically represents country living.   Yep, the possum is on the stove top boiling!    I was particularly proud of this book, because my sister was able to see that, and the first time my artwork was on the cover of a magazine.     She was one of my two biggest fans, supporters when I started down this path of decorating painting.

In one box I found a toy of my Brody boys.  An Australian shepherd who died a couple of years ago.   That dog was something else.   I miss him everyday, but I know I was truly blessed to have such an intelligent, articulate, bossy dog in my life for almost 13 years, but it’s never long enough, is it?   Finding his toy hurt at first, like I was just sucker punched.  But it quickly turned to smiles as I found pictures of him, and remembered his funny ways.   My bossy aussie.brody 002

This is an adventure!    One with fabulous memories and pride, which I choose to look at versus the mess that my studio has been.   I really have NO business being in business for myself.   Honestly, I am more organized than I have ever been, but that really isn’t saying much!

Today’s song….     U2 “Pride”,  Hope you’ve had a great day!

Today’s bumpy blog!

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First I would like to apologize for the lack of sentence and paragraph structure.  I’m not sure what I am doing wrong.  Haven’t experienced this before and frankly, it’s annoying as hell!

I’m breathing in the signs that Spring is coming. I can see the top of my shed, my roof is actually snow and ice free, and wonderful, joyous mud is starting in my driveway. Give me a month and I’ll crab about mud, but at the moment, it makes me smile, breathe in deep, the warm air that promises new growth…Yes, Yes, Yes. Spring isn’t just a vague memory, it is a real event, and with it comes regrowth.

The past couple of days I have driven down my favorite back road,which I haven’t in months. It’s not a road you take in the Winter, well, that I take in the winter. It was nice to see the brook visible, the snow dissipating and receding. Yes, yes… Spring is coming soon.

I just finished agitating some wool purses and motifs that I made. It’s easy to do it in your washing machine but I prefer to boil water in the tea pots, put them in my sink, and stir and agitate with a wooden spoon. I like to watch the wool change into felt. It makes me smile to do this. Then why oh why, don’t I like doing my dishes in the sink? If truth be told, there are times that I do enjoy doing the dishes. The warm/hot water soothes my fingers and hands. My hands that have brought so much joy to me, have created so much, worked hard, and with whom I believe is one of my biggest assets.

I think sometime, what if… What if I can no longer use my hands? How would I create? Well, then I think it would be time to use new technology and pump out the book that I’ve so leisurely and haphazardly been working on for years. I think I do this, I take my time because then God will grant me more time, I will live longer, because from a young adult I’ve known I was supposed to write. Oh only a fool would think such. The only one that I am fooling is myself, and should I graduate tomorrow, what will my epitat be? “What a beautiful book she was going to write”.
Do you ever think about what your legacy will be? What will you leave behind when you are called home? I sat last night looking through pages of my artwork, smiling. I’m fairly hard on myself, I have had my therapist ban words from my vocabulary…. One being “the f word” and the other begins with an L. I started to panic when she told me I wasn’t allowed to use the f word”….. I can’t do it, NO!   I cannot!   Relief overcame me when she explained she was talking about “failure”. She was talking about “lazy”. Two words that I tag to my toe on dark days. I wonder, does everyone have dark days?
I used to be such a people person. I used to love to go to parties, social events. Now? Not so much. And that is okay. The key here is to find balance. To find enough visibility and purpose to hop over the line of isolation into life.

I remember when I worked at a nuclear plant in the 80’s. I did very well for myself, two promotions in two years. Funny, as I think about it now, I was often criticized for not being able to stay with one job. I was good for about 3 years and then I was bouncing all over the place. It was when I went into business for myself that I found longevity. But I digress. There was a Meyer-Briggs personality test that many of us took “Myers Briggs Personality Test”. Among-st nuclear operators, geniuses, the majority fell into the category of “ISTJ” (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judgement). It’s an interesting test, and if you want to take it I believe it is available free online. Based on Carl Jung’s work. Anyway, as the instructor shared how many of each of us fell into each category, he saved one for last. “And now we have one ENFP!  Can anyone tell me who that is? With that many eyes glanced over to me, laughter ensued. “What does that mean Irv?”, I asked him. “It means you don’t belong in a nuclear power plant!”  (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Perception)…..http://personalitypage.com/ENFP.html
Have long since taken the test and the “e” has slid into “i”, though I believe that was the only think that changed.
Well, what a bumpy blog, eh? Not feeling like I made much sense, but then, do I ever?
Have yourself a great day! xo

ps…. The inability to stay in a job longer than 3 years has since been diagnosed as ADHD!

pss… I cannot imagine my life without creativity, music.

The banter in my head

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I woke up this morning 45 minutes after my alarm apparently went off.   My first thought and physical manifestation was “OH NO!”  Let’s panic!  I have 15 minutes before I have to leave my house to get to the place where I have committed to be.  The adrenaline rush that takes over, the chaos ensued was halted.     I sat back down on the side of the bed.  No, no, I’m not going to do this anymore.  I’m not going to make myself sick to my stomach or put my body through stresses of things so insignificant.   I shouldn’t be doing it at ANY time.   So I took a couple deep breaths, lowered my head and thanked God for another day with health, with my family, friends.   I asked for help in keeping the promise I made to myself that I am now going to be consistently kinder to myself, to my body.  After all, as days go by I’m very well aware of time.  My God, where did it go?   I’ve identified behavior that is best described as “self sabotage”.    If I’m limiting my horizons mentally, will my dreams ever be fulfilled?  That is, now that I’m daring to dream again.   Now that I’ve opened myself up to accepting who I am, where I am, where I want to go.   At 52 I get it!  I finally get it!  It’s exciting.

So, I made breakfast, lunch and in a steady pace, not hurried, took care of what I needed to take care of.   As I walked out to my jeep I looked down and there was a 4 leaf clover.  I picked it and smiled… yep!   It’s going to be a good day and it is because of all the changes I am making in myself, my life that I am peaceful, serene.   As kids we would search regularly for four leaf clovers.  My kid sister always found the most.  I have often joked that she could find a 4 leaf clover going 50 mph in a car!   As I picked it, I thought of her and smiled, told her I missed her.   I believe in signs.  I believe that life can be fulfilling, rich, that I can have that which I want.  I believe God wants this for me, and I believe that I am the only person that can make this happen, live this way.     Just as I believe this, I also know that the critic that resides in my head for all four seasons which manifests itself as fear, anxiety, harsh judgement of self needs to be silenced.  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!   Of course there is importance (if you are an individual who wants to grow) in listening to constructive criticism.   But negativity can quickly turn from banter between my head and heart to low self esteem, confidence, worth.  It needs to go, but yesterday!  

I am the only one who can make the changes necessary to live a happy, fulling life.  And you know what?  I DESERVE THAT! So do you, we all do.  Well, okay, maybe not the guy who cut me off this morning in traffic 😉 !    

It’s not just about changing the way i talk to myself, but how I treat my body, how I treat myself.   Am I being kind to myself?  Am I putting myself first persistently, and that is not to imply that there is no compromise or putting others needs on back burners.  I am kind, caring.  I am a giver, and I don’t want to, nor do I foresee that ever changing.   But here’s the thing… what if I put myself into a situation where I can help MORE people?  Where I can afford to volunteer time teaching art to cancer patients?  Where I can touch and help MORE people and help make their life, lives more fulfilling?   This is what I want to do, and if I let the itty bitty shitty committee in my head take over, if I listen to that from myself and others, will I be able to achieve that which is important to me? Become the person I am supposed to become?  Participate in the world the way I am supposed to?

I remember a few months ago giving $10 to a homeless person.  A family member who was with me said “How can you afford to do that?”   I looked at her and smiled.  “I can’t afford NOT to do it!”    Whatever we give to others comes back to us ten fold.  It really does.   Well, that is if I am not “giving to get”.  If I am giving to another without agenda, strings attached, then the rewards of such are plentiful.  It took me a while to figure out that “giving to get” is a form of control, manipulation, but also counter productive.

So, my existence today is one from a happy place, serene.   It surely feels great!

Who am I if not a teaching artist?

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Here I sit on a Saturday night with my animals and a dictionary I bought in 1984 as companions. 30 years ago? Where the hell has 30 years gone?

I am amongst change, and for the most part, choosing to make these changes. There is truly much excitement, happiness, a new challenge is exciting and I will grow from this, become a better person. But I have realized that my identity, my self worth is tied up in what I have done for the past 15 years of my life. Who am I if I’m not a teaching artist? A publishing artist? A self employed artist?

I remind myself that no matter where I go or what I do, I will always be an artist. It is up to me to keep my hands engaged with creativity, which I am pretty good at doing so. I design jewelry, I write, I bead, I paint, I draw, yada yada yada. Am I poo pooing my own talents? I know I have in past. In my teens and twenties I thought everyone could do what I do, that there was nothing special about my abilities. In my 30’s I realized, I was different. I realized that the years that I spent feeling “different” than my siblings, than my friends, than school mates, thinking different, coming alive at night and sleepy in the mornings, a lifetime of being called “overly sensitive or emotional”…. well, that is all part of who I am and who I was designed to be. And perhaps my feeling different than others was all a self centered narcissistic thought process?

Here’s the thing. I’m confident that I can be successful at that which I am choosing to participate in, that which I am shifting my focus and committing to. I KNOW I can… I already am! I see the opportunity, I have the vision, I was guided here, I WANT this! So why am I questioning my identity? Why is it (if it really is) wrapped up in what I have done in my past.

I guess it’s normal to feel this way, or to be thinking this way. I guess it’s because in some way I’m walking away from what I once believed was my “purpose”. Why can’t I have more than one purpose in my life? Why do I question that my purpose will not reveal itself to me just as it has done in past? And then again, will my future endeavor be much different than my past? Perhaps not with brush in hand, but with my heart, my outreaching arms?

In past I have habitually given more of myself than I had to give. In relationships, in work, in all. My passion provided me with the endurance to do this. Perhaps it is aging? Perhaps it is being guided (which I do believe is true) that I am shifting away from that which I know to that which I do not know. But then again, as a person with a sixth (and a sick) sense, I truly believe this is the natural evolution for me. This is what I’m supposed to do.

I remember in my 20s I was constantly seeking purpose. It was ridiculous. As I aligned with that which I was being guided to, I didn’t question it. I just “knew” and all that was laid out in front of me provided the path to purpose.

I am grateful I no longer see myself only being worthy in a relationship. I have, and what I hope will be the rest of my life, realized that being in a relationship, a committed relationship is certainly nice, and would fill lonely times, but it does no longer defines me. I am not who I am because of who I am with. My sense of self, my identity is not as someone’s girlfriend, wife, fiancé. I guess that is why I’m feeling tripped up about my identity being tied up in my accomplishments as an artist, as a teaching artist. The truth is, I will hold dear to me all the years, every student (well, minus a couple) that I had the privilege to teach, to introduce them to their creative side that many never knew they had. What a beautiful thing! So many wonderful memories, so many wonderful friends. And I’m not planning on leaving this industry totally, but certainly stepping away from it on a much larger scale than I have in past.

I’ve known for several years that I want to teach art, painting, drawing, whatever it may be, to cancer patients. I want to provide them with something fun, something healing as they go through the many challenges of treatment. This is how I want to teach now. I have not the means to do so yet, but I will. If it’s Gods will, I will. Am I feeling guilty that I’ve chosen to now seek financial stability in my life? I want to live out my days with no worries of disconnects, overdrafts. Do I feel like I am selling myself out? Hell, who knows. I don’t think so. Just as I have always known there was something else out there for me, and I am having a lot of fun in doing so. I have a reunion with old friends, meeting new ones… I AM happy with what I am doing…. so why am I feeling this conflict within myself?

I have been particularly bad at giving due credit to difficult days. When sick, or tired I rarely would attribute these things to my foul mood, or my lack of ambition. It was because I was lazy, or because I was bad, wrong, yada yada yada. You cannot see this, but I am sitting here nodding. Perhaps this is just a difficult day? Perhaps I am tired? Perhaps I am getting ill? It doesn’t have to be something monumental, nor do I need to be critical of myself. It just IS how I am feeling today!

I love it when people who hardly know me will “diagnose” my feelings. Seriously, like really? The thing is, I can be this way with others! I think I know what is best for them and I’m sure in some cases, I do! It’s much easier to see another person’s problems and solutions to those problems than to brave my own.

I have been thinking today that what if my purpose is to just be? What if I take all the pressures of perfection, of production out of my life and just wake up each day, take it as it comes, and do my best and feel that my best IS good enough?

Now, see, aren’t you glad you stopped by to read this sorted tale of confusion? I was asked the other day how I was….. My reply was “Well, given that my biggest problem today is deciding whether to keep my hair long or cut it short again, I think I’m doing VERY WELL!” Tis true. If that is the only thing on my mind, then I have a pretty good life, don’t I? So am I CREATING this internal conflict to sabotage my happiness? Oh yeah, I’m fairly adept at that. I think we all can be.

Because I am changing directions of my sails doesn’t take from me who I am. My god given talents as an artist will remain and I will still delve into them, perhaps enjoy them more without deadlines! Another thing I have done in my past is taken whatever enjoyable thing I was doing and turned it into a business. Seriously! I loved to crochet, so I took it the next level and published with Leisure Arts, McCall’s… I loved floral arranging so I became a department head and full time designer doing such! I saw decorative painting and said “OMG, I can do this!” So I did! I love beading, designing jewelry, so let’s start selling it! I love to write, so I am working on a book and going to write articles for women’s magazines. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with doing these things. For one, it kept me well stocked in supplies thus assuring my “fix”. Good God, even flea marketing with girlfriends became a business. They will tell you how well I did at turning over furniture and making a profit on it…. even after using it for a couple of years!

But the constant shifting of furniture, my three season porch constantly filled with my next “treasure”… it grew old. I now want to simplify my life, quit the hustle and bustle of producing and accepting each day as a gift, and as a person worthy of that gift without accomplishing, or conquering the world?

Many times I have heard “I wish I were an artist, I wish I were you, I wish I had your life”… Well, you know, I do have a good life. When all is said and done, I do have a good life. But being a creative soul comes with it’s pitfalls too. When I am not able to create, I become restless, irritable. I think of Ernest Hemingway, and how deadly his writer’s block became. Well that and a whole lot of booze. I’m not implying that I would think about slicing my wrist if I had artists block (again), but let’s just say you wouldn’t want to live with me then! OMG…. Oh my God! What if I am feeling this way today because I fear that I will become that bitchy artist who does not produce? And more? What if I am feeling this way today because I have only ever based my self worth on what I accomplish? Well, holy shit Sherlock! Perhaps I’m onto something!

Now, as Scarlet O’Hara said…. “Tomorrow is another day”…. let’s see what it brings! I do know one thing. I am planning to take back my maiden name and ditch the name that came with the ex husband. He’s not around now, so why should his name be? I think I’m coming home. I think the changing sails will bring new adventures, memories, and a return to myself. I only kept his name because it was my “published” name. That sucker is on it’s way out!

Yep, it’s time!

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With my head throbbing from the multitude of tears I have cried today I am hereby declaring the commitment to myself.  I am happy, I am healthy, I am financially secure, and I celebrate this journey to chase and catch my dreams and change my life!!!!!!   Failure is not an option!

 

Exercising the left side of my brain….

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Have been working diligently on organizing the piles of paperwork that make up the last 10 years of my life.    My career, somehow made it through these beehive shaped piles.   I have another 3 or 4 weeks, 40 hours a week, to go to get it in shining mode.   I must admit, it has felt good, actually great, working on it, making progress, using that left side of brain!

Part of my organizing is a portfolio of sort, photos of my work.    I sometimes, particularly in the winter when I am able to double up on isolation, I wonder why I  do this.  Why do I sit in my house and paint, work, paint… I feel discouraged, my confidence level goes down.  Well, in putting together this ‘photo portfolio’ I was in awe of what I have accomplished, created!   Pretty darn cool!   I sat back tonight, looked at the partially completed album and could see my art change.  Organizing by year, and I can pretty much remember what year I designed what in, I could see the difference in my colors, in my work or lack of work during difficult years.  The first year I split with my ex I barely designed at all.  I was busy remodeling my home to accommodate a studio/classroom.   I was also busy travel teaching, conventions, and more.   As I was getting the paperwork in order I couldn’t believe how many years have gone by.   Honestly they were all challenging years, but where did they go?   Also the year I was diagnosed with and started treatment for breast cancer(s) that was a light paper weight year.     It’s been interesting studying the work I did, when I did it, and seeing how it relates to how I was feeling…  well yah… it’s art!

I sell pattern packets which are individual instructional “lessons” for decorative artists.   I also publish in magazines.  Another surprise for me in my hoeing out are the amount of packets I have, and the amount I have online.  I have over 150 packets and only 48 on line in only one place.   I’m working on that.   Perhaps?  Perhaps if I get my shit together I can actually starting making money???

The girls and I are headed to bed early tonight.  It’s been a busy week, but a good tired.    Hope you have a great evening!   Hope someone makes you smile, laugh, and I hope that you feel loved!  We all need to feel that!  ♥

Post gig!

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I had a teaching gig in New Hartford, CT this weekend.  Such a great group of women.  Lots of laughter and smiles.   I drove home after class today and upon my arrival home my body was just spent.  Brought my mother home who fends for my animals when I’m away, and now I am crashing.

I think there is a 20/20 on tonight, cannot remember if it’s tonight or last night.   Will be nice to relax and enjoy some quality television.

I sit in my house, paint, and am isolated particularly in the winter.  I question my existence, I question my talent, I question my career… and then after I teach my self esteem, self confidence is restored and I question how I could ever question my work.    I love seeing the smiles on faces when students are painting.  I love it when they “venture out or go outside the box” and change the design and LIKE what they did!   They have allowed their own creativity to flow.  They have put down the dagger of fear and picked up their paintbrush with confidence, with pleasure, with contentment.  

Women need other women.   No matter how “good” or “supportive” the men in our life are, we need to spend time with other like minds.   The best laughter I have ever had was with my sisters, my brother followed by time with girlfriends.   The majority of us “get” each other.  

I sit tonight, in peace, with satisfaction, with pride that I taught a great class.   After all the years of teaching I still get nervous before the class, I question whether I will succeed or fail…  Truth is, so far I’ve haven’t failed, so why do I fear it?   And if I wasn’t at my best, I should rest assured that decorative artists are so kind, caring, giving.   They would pitch in and help me…because that’s what they do.   I am grateful for my work.  I am grateful for the talent that was given me at birth, and I’m grateful to share this with others, to offer a helping hand, confidence to others.  Joy.

When I think of what I have accomplished on my own I wonder how I could ever doubt my stamina, my motivation.  I wonder how I got through the difficult years after Jim & I split, when I was teaching mere days after breast reconstruction surgery out of need.  I question how I traveled 2-3 weekends of a month, and come home to teach 3-5 classes a week in my studio.    I’m 10-15 years older, I’m tired, but my love for art is still strong.  My need to create, likewise, and the feeling of accomplishment following teaching is, indeed, still present.

Still, with all of this, it feels wonderful to come home, kick off my shoes, change into comfy lounging clothes, sit and take a big sigh of relief.   Home, home…there is no place like home.

No longer is there a sense of hopelessness…..

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As U2’s “With or without you” is playing in the background, I am thinking about a conversation I had with a friend earlier.    It takes incredible courage (in my opinion) to open up your heart to love.   As with anything, there are absolutely no guarantees, and I have learned the hard way that there is no security in a relationship, in a marriage.   I remember when that “trust”, that “innocence” was broken with me.   10+ years into a marriage for him to end it with a woman 16 years his junior.   Today I could not care less, he did me a huge favor, but at the time I dramatically felt like my life was over…. far from it.

Sometimes when I am lonely I think about what it would be like to meet someone, to fall in love, after all, single life has it’s ups and downs.   I remember a line out of “When Harry Met Sally”…..forgive me if I don’t get this correctly, I’m rusty…  Sally and her (old) boyfriend don’t want children or commitment because they could have sex wherever they wanted… in the kitchen…etc., and then one point in the movie she said “But the thing is, we never DID have sex in the kitchen, or any of the places we said we could!”   Ultimately learning that he didn’t want to marry her and her probably not being fully honest with herself.   At any rate, single life, I can do whatever I want, when I want.  I can paint until the wee hours of the morning, I can leave messes and clean them up later, on and on and on.  While these things are true, and I enjoy the freedom of such, it doesn’t make up for someone holding your hand, sharing time together. 

One seminar I taught this year I asked a group of approximately 20-25 women how many were single and lived alone, and was shocked to find 3/4’s of the room raise their hands.  I guess there is nothing special about my singlehood!  

In a conversation with a friend recently I shared about loneliness.   I shared how I have to keep myself busy, or my mind heads to dark places, places in which I shouldn’t nor can allow myself to go.   Just like years, decades ago when I thought my life was over when my marriage ended, today I shake my head and laugh at that.   Of course it didn’t help that he was threatening to sell the house on me…believe it or not, I was a sliver of the person I am today, experience gave me that.   But then I would sit in my spot, like a good wife, waiting for him to decide if he was coming home or not.   My girlfriend, Janice said to me one day “How long are you going to do this, Donna?”   My answer?  “As long as I need to do this”.  It was only a couple months after that when I stood up for myself, realized he couldn’t sell the house out from under me because my name was on it!   Fuck you!   I started to fight back, to fight for my life, I didn’t know which direction I was or wanted to go, but I had valuable knowledge.   I knew where I DIDN’T want to go!   I was done being a door mat.   I remember very well the day I went to my ex-husband’s employment where both he and his girlfriend worked.  I asked to speak to him.  He came out, looked at me with anger, an attitude of “how dare I come to his place of employment?”   The only words I had to say to him were…. “I want a divorce!”   Man did that feel good!    Well, after that for several weeks he started finding excuses to stop by the house, etc., but it was too late.  Go with your little girl, go away, leave me be.   I started to be proactive with my life, I quit my job with reasonably good pay, went to a job at minimum wage which was $6 an hour.  I didn’t care.  I was starting over and I wanted to entertain, to try my hand at living a creative existence, believing in the talents that time allowed me only to do a few hours a week, or month.  After all, married life is different from singles life.   Now I eat when I want, then that wasn’t “allowed”.   Yes, when I think about how controlled I was, allowed myself to be I can no longer identify with that person.   As I started to break outside of his “safe circle” the marriage started to disintegrate.   I started to design in needlecraft for Leisure Arts & McCall’s and because I was working full time, too, and the majority of our marriage carried the insurance, I was tired of being told that I didn’t need television, although when he wanted to watch a football game I can remember how he went out of his way to fix the antenna so it came through for him.   My first royalty check was $2,400.  I took it upon myself to go and order, buy, a large satellite dish.  (Remember them?)   Eight years living without cable surely wasn’t the end of the world, but it was something I wanted….. so I got it!  This, however, was the beginning to the end.

When I think back on that time I cringe.   Poor Jim, the next and last serious relationship I had, paid the piper for the “sins” of his predecessor.    No one, particularly a man, was going to tell me what I could or couldn’t do!   He caught on quickly though and now as I look back on that, with a smile on my face, I realize he used reverse psychology on me.  Too funny.

I used to worry about what would become of me?  Where would I end up as I age?   I am already feeling physical limitations on what I once was able to do in taking care of my house.   I never planned to be single in my 50s, but hey, there are much worse things that could happen.   I think about the Golden Girls, when they first started the series I believe they were in their 50’s.    My best friend and I have a pact that we will live together, perhaps her sister, and whomever else.  The plan is to get a house big enough where each of us have our own bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, and we would share kitchen quarters.    Hey, futures have a way of falling down in midflight, perhaps that will never happen but I do know, wherever I end up, I will be okay.    I have “started over” a couple times in my life, I can take care of myself.  That doesn’t mean I am anti men.  Truly not, but I believe in myself today in ways I never thought I could or would ever. I pursued a career in teaching decorative painting.  While I cannot and will never be able to say I am the most paid, or the most popular, that is okay.  I have accomplished what I had set out to do and that was to be a national teacher.  I knew I could do it, and I did it.   I am not only a strong woman, a survivor, but I am a determined one!    I will be okay!

One positive about having some crappy painful things happen is that you learn what is and isn’t important in life.   I no longer live in the fear that I once did.  I no longer worry about what tomorrow will bring, as I know I will do my best, and what will be, will be….. Okay, sing with me “The futures not ours to see….”     I will be okay.

So, the point of this share today I guess is to start believing in ourselves.   Drop the fear, the nervousness about the unknown, pick one thing you want to do for yourself and do it.    I have chosen my next journey which I will begin in January with a girlfriend and frankly, I’m excited about it.

Hey, I may have a small home, drive an older jeep, but I love my jeep!  And I love my home!   I also love (for the most part) what I do for work, when I am able to work.  I’m a pretty fortunate woman.  God has been good to me, but it didn’t come easily, nor without hard work.   This year I started to look at my accomplishments and realized… Wow!   I did what I wanted to do!  When exactly did that happen?  It just happens with perseverance, baby steps.   Jeff Olson speaks of consistency, this man has made companies trillions and trillions of dollars with that one principal.  Keep showing up!  

I shall now retire to the warmth of my bed, fight with my animals for a comfortable spot to sleep.   I hope I get a good nights sleep, but if I don’t, I will survive.  Tomorrow I will get up and do the best I can of what is in front of me, that is all anyone can ask of me, that is all I can ask of myself.    It will be more than good enough because I will give it my all one more day.   Gratitude, that I can, mentally, physically, gratitude that I am where I am and unlike many New Englander’s tonight, I have power, heat.   Many are without due to an ice storm.  Gratitude, gratitude, it truly is an attitude!

Sweet sheeps!