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My Art Therapy Journey

Posts tagged growth

I don’t know how darkness can be so invisible.

But sometimes it is precisely because of its invisibility that darkness becomes itself.

 

When I was a teenager I had a conversation with the darkness once.  I suppose I was a little headstrong, a little unruly.  The invisible darkness was the only real force I could rebel against.  I definitely wasn’t going to try to rebel against my mother or father.  In hindsight, that might have been the better path.  (Not that I hope my teenager ever sees that sentence!) But for me, it might have been quicker path into light.

 

Instead, I stepped, unknowingly, deeper into the pits of emptiness in my effort to be good enough for them…and for me.  Really, to be good at all, but mostly to be good-enough for anyone I though might love me if I performed well.  Perfectly.

 

My hand was asked in marriage at 16.   And I said yes to the man who was 15 years older than me.  And so did my parents.

I bought my own wedding dress with money I earned myself.  $300 at David’s Bridal.

I was a childcare worker.  I made $8 an hour (I later realized taxes weren’t taken out so when I reported my wages I was taxed more than I ever earned, but that’s another story,) which was a huge salary (hourly) increase from my $7.25 I made at the dry cleaners and I loved children.

Except for later I learned I didn’t really love myself…and neither did anyone else.  But not because they didn’t want to.  Because they just couldn’t.  I can’t entirely blame them.  So I can’t entirely blame myself for everything that happened either.

 

But about that conversation with darkness.  I remember it still.  I remember laying on my bed in my bedroom in the apartment I was living in with my mother.  It was after a fight.  I’m not sure if it was abuse.  I thought abuse only happened to children at the time, and I didn’t consider myself a child.  It was just a fight, and probably my fault.  I don’t remember the source of the fight that day.  I only remember the conversation I had after it while I laid in my room where I could never bring myself to sleep.  (I slept in the living room on the 2 cushion sofa every night with my neck propped curiously forward on the armrest.)   I remember my mom telling me I should sleep in my bed because I was breaking down the couch.  But I slept there for almost a year (the amount of time I lived there) anyway.  So maybe I did rebel some.

 

I keep getting away from the darkness.    Or do I?   (Sometimes the question has to be asked.)

The darkness and my conversation.  It was a little one-sided with me doing a lot of the talking, but the darkness doesn’t always talk in words.  The darkness isn’t always nearly as direct.  It likes to be more like a covering over everything so it becomes a mass so encompassing it can be hard to determine where it ends and begins, or to see it at all.

 

In this conversation, in my contempt, in my teenage righteousness and belief that I could surmount anything if given the time, I told the darkness, “You will never win.  You will never get me.  No matter what you do to me, I will never give you my soul.  You can beat me down, but you can’t have ME.  Never.  Never.  NEVER.  Over my dead body will you win.”

 

And so….I hadn’t learned yet….about the light…and about Life With Light.

I didn’t know what it was going to be about.

I didn’t know what was ahead of me.

I didn’t know all the…all the….things.

I didn’t know.

 

But as I look back on that “conversation” today, I sometimes feel like it was the first conversation where I was ever listened to and believed.  And I figured if  I believed the Light could see my heart that maybe the darkness could too, and it would be so clear that I was invincible.   I already could feel so little.

 

But I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.

 

And so this head-strong, heart-strong girl spent a lot of time learning a lot of different things about what can be seen and what can’t.

And about how remarkably presumptuous I was.

 

I worked to make the right decisions.  I always wanted to do the right things.

But what do you do when doing all the “right” things turns out to be wrong?

 

What do you do?

 

Sometimes you lose faith.  But that comes much later, after you realize maybe you made the wrong decisions about which (or whose) faith to follow.

 

Oh so many things.  So many, many, many many many horrendous things.

 

But the horror tonight should be about Halloween parties.  Because that is where horror belongs.

And I am starting to put all the horror and darkness that has existed, that has practically been my life up to this point, where it belongs.

 

Off of me.

 

So tonight there is no covering over who I really am.  This is me.

Sometimes it’s scary.  Especially for me when I look into that magic ball and see where I have been.

I look toward  and forward to the future, but I don’t look to know about it all ahead of time.  After all, time does not like to be raced.

I didn’t know before, and even with all that I didn’t know about and the perilous journey I was on (but didn’t know I was on, at the time) I still work on just being present where I am in this day, in this moment.  It is the only place I can be me.  Right here with myself is the only place I can be good enough.

 

I was thinking about this tonight after me and my husband’s first couples session (for the 2nd time)  (and this is my second marriage) with a new couple’s therapist.  I was, more specifically, thinking about this after we returned home from our session and after the “fight”  we had later.

 

I’m calling this phase of the journey, Operation Light.  I googled it and it doesn’t exist yet 😉  Of course, now it does.  So you can join this Operation of Light with me! 🙂

Life With Light: “Operation Light” ….I can see it in….lights, now. 😉

That proposes that it will work.

Operation Light is about infusing Light where ever darkness is even remotely suspected.  There’s no danger is suspecting darkness to be everywhere.  It is not possible to overdose on Light.

It will work….I’m talking to the Light about it right now.

 

I have had a little shift in my approach toward life.  I am learning to address the Light.  The darkness is not worth my time, and definitely not worth me.  And it’s not worth you either.  I just love people, and I can’t help it.  I was well-meaning when I tried to fight against the darkness rather than focus on fighting FOR the Light….I was young and perhaps a bit ostentatious.

 

But the Light has helped me see that…ever so gently, of course.  That’s the way of the Light.  Because the Light actually did know what was inside me and behind my efforts.

 

So when it seems dark and insurmountable, don’t give up.

Don’t ever, ever give up.  ” Operation Light” Lovers never give up unless they are giving it up to the Light. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have already written this post several times in my head tonight, so forgive me if it doesn’t seem fresh.  If it helps at all I still don’t really know what I’m going to say.  I often feel that way, and not just here or when I’m writing.  It’s just me being typical me.  And being me, typically, gets me in trouble sometimes.

I’m hoping this isn’t one of those times though.  I’m never actually wanting to get myself into trouble.  (Usually.)

I’m surprised I’m seeming so chipper because I’ve actually been feeling more on the blue side.  I apologize if what I’m offering here is all really a defense mechanism against feeling sad.

Despite (or because of) feeling a lot of feelings lately, I have been super busy.

And just the other night realized I’ve completed several projects that I’ve talked about here and haven’t had a chance to share the results.  I guess that might say something about my focus.  My favorite part of any project is the process of it.  I’m always happy to complete something and actually getting something done is one of my strongest motivations, but I’m more of an experiencer.    It’s the “problem solver” part of me.  For instance, if I’m building something and it collapses under the weight of the drill I’m excited for the challenge it presents.  Even if  the “F” bomb does slip out first…we don’t have to actually tell that part, right? ha.

Anyway…Since I’m playing catch-up here I’m going to post a couple of  2 for 1 pics….

1st sewing project EVER!

My first sewing project EVER! (Because the gym bag that mean home ec teacher forced me to make in 7th grade doesn’t count.)

I finally finished my sweet stuffed cat with a likeness to me!  I posted about her several weeks ago when she was still turned every which way and outside-in.

She survived her insides coming out!

My sewing teacher did help me get her where she needed to be though.  She said she was good at getting that done because she had birthed big babies.  By the time I was ready to stuff the poor girl there wasn’t a lot of breathing room at the opening.

You might notice she’s a friendly, sociable cat, and not too afraid to enjoy life too.  She is perpetually waving her hand in the air “like she just don’t care,” because I made her that way. (Which means I had to detach and affix her arm in the finishing stages due to an error and her character comes from overcoming that obstacle.)

So here she is…and she’s sitting on top of the rolling storage cart I completed last week!

What do you think?

2 for 1: cat and storage cart creation

So this brings me to the storage cart creation!

My storage cart also gets its character due to some less-than-perfect conditions in its lifetime!  Imagine that.

Originally, there was no staggering planned.  (That’s what they all say, right.) And I didn’t have a single beer the whole time I was making this thing.

But as the actual building proceeded it was clear that my measurements weren’t exactly exact.  So I improvised!  Hence, the staggered stacking of the layered shelving units.

In the end I think the cart looks reminiscent of a beehive box and that makes me pretty happy.  Although, I think beehive boxes are a little more square….

I thought I’d include a few more views of my storage cart so you can look at it to make one of your own if you want  (and stagger the boxes purposefully.)  Or message me and I’ll make one for you and for the low price of $1,000 shipping and handling I’m make one for you and ship it, imperfectly finished and all, straight to your door.  (This thing is no lightweight and can hold its own…and should last a million years.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In further developments I also finished my “flower painting.” I put it in quotations because it also turned into something a little different from anticipated.

 

I said in my last post that I would post pictures of it and I am all about the follow-thru, so here it is.

Not all it was to become…When the flower painting was still a flower

 

I figured I would start where we left off….

The following photos show the process from this point to its end/beginning…

 

white

 

adding purple

 

etching “love me” (request)

etchings…”dear flower” (sound familiar?) and “VOICE”

 

etching “listen”

 

etching “I

 

white covering the stigma (center) of the flower

 

Painting marks on the canvas as an expression of “listening” …simply looking and responding with attention and care, not knowing the details (the whys, the what fors, or what’s this going to get me?)

 

In hindsight, I think this might have been where I could have stopped…maybe…maybe my next word should be “trust” and “listen even more”

 

adding in (and covering over) black…and pink

 

turning the canvas, adding blue and orange

 

 

 

working on bird

 

final bird close-up

 

 

In the end I am not too sure if I exactly love my “flower painting.”

BUT…what I love about the process of my flower painting is that I didn’t stop.  I didn’t give up on it.  And I learned a lot through working on it.  I do feel that where I chose to stop is a better spot than where I started from and through all the layers and all the restarts and false finishes I stayed with it.

 

I GREW from it….

and my stem is reaching just a tad bit higher toward the light for it.

 

It did wear me out too, though.  And I’m a bit wore out now!  And I’ve told my therapist I’m working on getting to sleep at a half-way decent hour. (and it’s 1:33am now…actually early for me! 😉   Supposedly sleep helps people function better, but whatever.  What do neuroscientist know!? ha 😉

I guess this leaves me little time for reflections and commentary on the flower painting process, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to it.  I’m sure I’ll be talking more about the stuff that comes up for me while I’m painting  as I post more of my paintings though, so why attempt to tire myself of it now, anyway…

I was actually planning on working on a rather large developing painting tonight (with a certain exciting image from last weeks photos in it,) but that’s out too now, I’m realizing…

Doctor’s orders say I must sleep to dream…so this is it for now.

 

 

There is actually even more going on and more updates to fill you in on, so the plan is to be back before another week passes me by!

 

More paintings, more photos, more life and more light to come! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been pretty busy, but not too busy to think about Life With Light.  In fact, I guess I’ve partly been busy because so much of my attention has turned to this “life with light.”    Sometimes the days just seem to slip away…and the day becomes more like an inhabited friendly oasis rather than the harsh desert island I’ve been accustomed to in the past.

My Friendly Oasis on Wednesday

This week me and one of my best friends began a woodworking/building project together!  You can see there are 2 sanding blocks there.  We “turned our doing dials up a notch” ala Home Depot, lol.  My friend gave me that line 🙂  She always makes me laugh.  She’s the kind of friend I can laugh with and cry with in the same day…or even within the same minute.  I count myself pretty lucky, fortunate, blessed… (take your mix n’ match of the assortment,) to have her in my life.  We’ve known each other since we were kids…have been in each other’s weddings…that kind of friends.   We’ve been through a lot together, even during times we were apart, often living sort of seemingly parallel lives.

So I have this to share…a great big burst of light in my my life if you ask me!

This week we bonded over the cut-off saw in my garage…

We got as far as sanding and painting these boards which I was pretty proud of!  I’m hoping to work on the completion sometime this weekend.  The weather outside looks good, so as long as the weather indoors stays as calm then I will hopefully have a storage cart on wheels by the time Monday rolls around…complete with victory pics to share!  (Crossing fingers, toes, and a few hairs.)

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If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll probably remember me talking about my euphoric discovery of Instagram  and my reformation of the repugnance I once had for digital photography.  You won’t believe what I’ve uncovered now!   I am forever humbled.  My former repugnance is regrettable.

Another thing that has had me busy this week is this!

The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity

And!

iPhone Obsessed: Photo Editing Experiments with Apps

And I was even more humbled when I learned there are even people who consider themselves to be  iPhoneography Purists!?  iPhone purists!  I never knew!

I am SO SLOW.

My husband laughed at me because he tried to get me into digital when we were dating, but I would have nothing of it.  I’m too embarrassed to even admit to the things I said about “lowly digital.” LOL.  And now I’m begging him to go to Photoshop World with me!  I have had to swallow some pretty big words and eat a lot of humble pie.

I haven’t actually even had the chance to experiment with any new apps.  I was thinking Instagram was the schizz, but I guess there’s more out there to explore. haha.

It’s a bit hard to not have all the time in the world to traverse all these extraordinary ventures.   These discoveries have  kept my mind going at a good speed, which is necessary because I apparently I have a lot of catching up to do.  But when it comes to all this newfangled stuff  I have to approach my discoveries more as a section-hike and not a thru-hike for now…(hiker lingo)  Oh…and just to think of all the photos that could be unearthed on this hike!

I cannot wait to dig into digital and see how I can pal around with it in the area of art therapy!

Patience will be a personal challenge on this one.

**

And an update on the rest of life…well, what is the rest of life anyway?

What if the rest of life was just like all the above…happy to be alive?

What if…something to think about.

And maybe something to feel.

I would rather my journey be all smiles.  Smiles are prettier.  Most people are attracted to a smiling face.  I know this is true, but the deeper-me wonders if there’s a chance some people could also possibly be drawn to truth…the whole truth.   And the truth is that I definitely am not always all-smiles.

Who is?

Sometimes it seems like people blogging about their supposed journey are all-smiles.  And maybe some of them actually are?  But I’m guessing sometimes they really aren’t smiling…even when you see them smiling in a pic-of-the-day on their blog.

Or maybe I’m just cranky today.

 

Well, anyway, this isn’t about anyone else’s journey and I’m not trying to criticize how anyone else copes with life.  I’m having a hard time surrendering my smile today because that’s what I want to be there…but what if it’s just not?   I’m just saying that I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t wear the smile all the time, the fake ones in-particular.  (And do the people who only ever shine a smiling face realize how depressed that makes the real people out there feel…because they aren’t always “smiling” like them?  Yes, a smile is always appreciated when genuine and I have no intention of being a Debbie-Downer (my name’s not Debbie, and I have no idea where that term came from so if your name is Debbie it’s nothing directed toward you, super-promise…but gah!  365 Days of Smiles? Well…maybe!  Maybe next year’s blog!!  (Seriously) Anyway, I’m getting off track and cheering myself up on accident, lol.)  Some days are really hard and I feel them as hard.  Ironically, I often feel better when I just acknowledge when maybe a day didn’t go as I had planned or hoped for it to go, which is always good.   I  do generally want to smile.

It’s a hard thing to contend with.  Desires and reality.  Hopes and disappointments.  Growing and acknowledging ample room to grow into maturity.

And maturity, wow…I always wanted to be mature when I was a little girl.  I just always wanted to be done with feeling so small…as in stupid…as in what I thought being emotional was.  I wanted to know things!  I wanted to know them and be them…’them’ meaning…wise.  Foresight.

Here I am…32, often feeling (and being) like such a little girl still, and learning by hindsight.  Maybe I’m old now and maybe I’m not old.  Age is so relative because whoever knows when the end of  life is?  Well, at least I think  it’s unknown when not at their own hand, and even in that scenario there can never be certainties…which on some days is the only thing that has kept me around this strange uncertain, yet certain, sphere of living.

I wasn’t really planning on writing any of this, so I have no idea what my unconscious might have blurted out here that I’m not ready to answer to…or that any of it follows a coherent line.   I was just going to post a couple of  self-portrait Instagram’s I took today of how I was feeling.

I wasn’t really in a “talking mood” when I started out.

I’m still not sure if I really am…?

 

Feelings From Today: The Truth

But I do feel better now! (Smile) 

For real.

Mary and Max.  I might be the last person on the face of this planet to watch this film,  seeing as how there are 1,250,000 views on YouTube of  its original trailer (and at least two handfuls of awards!).  But for the chance that I’m not the last one, I’m compelled to share about it here. [And if you haven’t seen it, then I am sure you are not the last one either.  But you might want to look this one up to be sure you don’t become that person!]

Ok, so I really liked it.  I’m not a great reviewer, but I am fantastic at exclaiming, “You must see this!”     I have to admit that I didn’t see a few parts because I had to run out of the room for other things a few times, but the film was so good that I plan on watching the whole thing again just to catch the small bits I missed.  There is also the chance that I’m adoring  Mary and Max so much because they got me/my life so well in certain ways.  So if you watch it and don’t like it, don’t blame me.  You’ve been informed.  And me/my life is not always completely normal. ; )    Make of it what you will!

As a disclaimer I would say this is an animation I would definitely reserve for adult, or at least mature teen viewers. It’s not exactly one to pop in for the kids on Saturday morning cartoon fest. ; )

FYI: I watched Mary and Max on Netflix, so if you have access to their  instant streaming movies you’re in luck!

I’d love to hear if you’ve already seen this, or if you haven’t… what you thought about it after you’ve had the chance!