the sinking horse

A little while back, I decided to illustrate something for self motivation. Much like how people use inspirational quotes, I rely on imagery and art. I'm inspired by stories and character; and the emotions that surround them. When I first saw this scene, from The NeverEnding Story, I remember feeling -once I got over how sad I was about the beautiful white horse getting dirty- that when it comes to personal struggles, sometimes you have to let the horse sink. It doesn't mean you're selfish, it doesn't mean you've failed, and it never for a second means that you don't care. Just sometimes, you have to realize which position you're in, before it's too late to ask for help.

This image makes me consider my own personal struggles. I've become more honest with myself when it comes to my insecurities, my frustrations with anxiety and depression, and how my self esteem honestly blows. I don't like to put that stuff out there often, because then I feel the need to over explain, so that I don't get emails from people who think I'm in a bad place with myself. I don't need to hear that I "don't need to feel that way", or that it's stupid for me to even be insecure at all. Being told your emotions aren't right is where the struggle begins, and I'd say that for many years, I've been the role of the horse; because I didn't know how to ask for help.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

A few weeks ago, I fell on the ice and broke a rib. When it first happened, I was pissed at myself for being so stupid. Who falls on the ice? Why weren't you paying attention? How do you manage to make things worse for yourself at all times? It became less about the accident itself, and more about my personal downfalls. Pity party central, actually. Where do you expect to take yourself, when you only expect yourself to fail? It's exhausting. Don't be the horse. There really is no need. 

It takes a lot to know when it's time to let go. At least for me. I always try to work things out, to gain understanding, to somehow balance everything in order to say it's just fine. Taking on too much at once, can really result in too much weight to carry, which eventually leads us to the failure we've all been trying desperately to avoid. This whole experience, and this image, have taught me so much about myself, and how unnecessary it is to play both roles, at all times. As a good friend once told me, "just because you can do it yourself, doesn't mean you have to." Know your limits, reach out when it's needed, and you'll never be the sinking horse.

It's okay to ask for help.


anxiety in pictures

I missed over a week of writing, because my anxiety had other ideas. Don't ask me what I'm anxious about. I don't have an answer; and yet I have a million. Anxiety doesn't want me to make up my mind, or form an answer with confidence. Anxiety has its own ideas. Far too many to keep up with, and so many places to put them.

When I get anxious, I make a habit of drawing it out in front of me. It comes out in the form of a monkey. My feelings toward monkeys are similar to how most people react toward spiders. I really don't want one in my house, near, or touching me. (To be honest, I personally don't mind spiders.)

Anxiety likes to create a presence. It wants you to feel like someone is waiting for you. It could be one person, or it could be the entire universe. Likely, it's the universe. Imagine the heartache when you let them all down. It's almost as bad as Alderaan.

Anxiety doesn't make decisions, yet it makes them all at once. Just as it wants to fixate on what is already behind, it wants to anticipate everything that lies ahead. It will pick, poke, and scratch at all of the things it can to distract itself from moving forward. Anxiety doesn't like forward. 

And yet, anxiety is in such a hurry to get there. It will run in every direction, in hopes it will get there safely, and on time. Not knowing where "there" even is, it is on a mission to find it. It anticipates so much at once, it takes effort to slow it down even for a moment. Anxiety doesn't like to rest. 

One thing you should know about anxiety is that it isn't a fan of the moment. There's not so much to see or do, when you look at what is presently in front of you. Nowhere to run. Not back, not forth, not forward, or behind. It's why meditation helps when anxiety is high. Meditation is a practice of being in the moment. You breathe and become present with now. Anxiety doesn't like that, and that's totally fine. No one asked for its opinion.

Even when things are going good, anxiety will want to come in and sort out what doesn't need sorting. Truth is, change of any kind (good or bad) takes time to adjust to, and you just need to be fair. It doesn't have to happen in a certain way, at a certain time, all at once, in the air, in the sky, in a parade, or in the grocery store; no matter how hard you try to chase it, push it, pull it, understand it, accept it, dismiss it, to see it for yourself. STOP. Breathe. Be fair. All that you can control is this very moment. And when you realize that.... 

No monkey. 


this truth of mine

I like to write about my emotions, because it puts things out in front of me to see. I feel I've done a lot of reflecting lately, because it gives me a certain confidence in realizing that change is possible when you firmly believe that what you deserve in life is better than what you're allowing yourself to see. Happiness is a funny thing, and it feels incredibly possessive.. but the truth is that it is entirely yours to make. And you don't have to be scared or defensive about sharing it.

I feel I've become so different in the past year, because I learned how to offer myself exactly what I needed. I write about this so often because it's really a massive discovery that I didn't even know existed until I got up and tried it. It makes me laugh, and sometimes it makes me cry. I mourn often, the sad truth, that I didn't allow myself to see my actual value for a very long time. I didn't believe in it because I chose to let my outside sources dictate it for me. There's this weird blur between confidence and arrogance, and the key is to not care what others think of it. It's all about choices. You can't control the choices others make, but you can control your own. 

I've had my fair share of name calling along the way, and those things hurt the most. Even to see someone label me as "holier than thou" was a super laughable situation, because I realize that people choose to see you the way they want to see you. It has nothing to do with you at all. Especially when the internet is used so loosely as an emotional dumping ground for approval and acceptance. I no longer express my emotions on social media platforms, when it's something that could lead to misunderstanding or question. People are going to read your emotions, and make them their own. It's partially why I struggle with writing this blog. Truth is, this is about me.. and that's why I'm here. It's your own choice to read it, and take what you want from it. Just maybe, for a minute, realize that it's not always about you. I take my own advice with this, as I accept the multiple losses around me. Everyone and everything is susceptible to change. 

I'm still learning how to maintain my confidence without feeling it's something I have to hold back, because someone might have a problem with it or twist it into something ugly. The truth is, someone is always going to have a problem with your successes; especially if you make it look easy. There's something weird about the expression of happiness and how it is received in society.. especially on the internet. The amount of people that I've seen/heard grumbling about someone posting something happy, with an "okay I get it" or "I'm so sick of hearing about it!" It's why trolls exist. Happiness puts us at a distance from those who don't know how to join it. It's why it can often be seen as a threat, because there's a sensation of leaving something behind. The sad reality in that is you're likely leaving behind what you didn't need in the first place 

Part of embracing my own happiness involved letting go of some of my deepest, darkest struggles and my most cynical beliefs; which to be honest, were not very kind at all. I felt guilty for being alive, and for being a woman, because of my examples. Because of those examples, I also believed that it was impossible for any man to love anyone past themselves.. unless of course you have something they want; which likely involves your body and not so much your mind or your own voice. I present to you, my daddy issues! Really, this is the only example I grew into believing, and it was often supported by other people who chose to hurt me along the way. Two father figures that treated me like an absolute waste of breathing space. I was never human to either of them, and they took control by abusing and abandoning me. This is not at all being read in a voice of pity. This actually presented me with the challenge of discovering my own personal strength and beauty. I heavily value my experiences for their lessons. Even if they're not the happiest ones to put out there. 

I chose to keep this pattern of doubting my value (with men) through my own actions, because it was easier to prove myself right than it was to prove myself wrong. I could get super deep into how much this affected my relationships with men, and how I often treated them far better than I treated myself. I gravitated to distance, rejection, arrogance, deceit, and full out neglect. I recall some of the things that were even said to my face, and I laugh out loud at how absurd it was to even allow it... or in most cases, defend it. I was always proving myself right from my experiences; that I was worth nothing. One man told me he didn't love me anymore, on my own birthday. Another said he liked my face better when it had makeup on because my natural face was "weird" to look at. I even had one man flatly say to me, that he was using me for sex, and couldn't put his feelings toward me into words.. because there were no feelings at all. I allowed it. I smiled. It was cute. I took it as the best I could get. The best I could allow myself to receive. It really is absolutely profound to me, to prove to myself that all of the pain I didn't want to keep feeling, was actually in my control. 

Habits and beliefs are tricky to break, but I'm happy to say that I'm seeing love in a very new light. I reach out to the men who offer me the right love and support; and they continuously prove me wrong.. or I should say right.. for knowing that love is something that does exist in this world, and that I'm an important part of it. It's why my journey to the island will always be treasured, because it was a time when I learned how to get out, rid myself of what was only holding me back, break those patterns and beliefs, and to gain closure with myself through love and support toward no one else but me. I let go of so much heartache, and came back with even more to give ...and receive... and believe that I'm absolutely worthy of it. It feels really amazing to see it in such a different shape. It's so honest and simple.. and eeeek, it scares me in the best way. I can only hold it tight and be thankful that I did the work to see things for what they are. Confidence in my own value is a constant effort to maintain; because change takes time. Patience is a virtue, and I'm learning that I can only go at my own pace. Some will follow, others won't. It's okay to push forward and into a happier place, so long as you're not leaving yourself behind.

I smile at my experiences, despite the sadness that sprinkles some of those memories, and I let them go, one by one. I have held on to so much that wasn't mine, and I handed it back to the source by leaving it where it belongs. It isn't always easy to accept it, because it involves severing ties to relationships that I really wish I could maintain and share as I find my happier place. My father, and even some of the people I once loved and shared my life with; I wish each one of them well, and I smile warmly at the sensation of being free from ever losing sight of who I really am. Men are capable of love, and in such a remarkably strong yet gentle fashion. The key to finding this sort of love is to lead by example, by giving exactly what you desire for yourself, to yourself, before anyone else. That's what happiness is. If you don't like it, you can stay where you are. 


promised return

A promise I made to myself, for this month, was that I was going to write (and post!) every week, because I haven't done much at all since August(!) Writing has always been my escape. My personal release. I'll admit that I've been writing a lot outside of technology, because there is no audience. I've become so conscious of the world that exists out there.. and I find a lot of it to be so confusing. From open ended Facebook statuses seeking questions and comfort, and in some cases argument or debate; to passive-aggressive Tweets that maybe say we're not expressing our needs in the proper place or fashion. Sometimes, I don't even know how to express anymore. And so, I do so elsewhere.

I didn't really notice it until I came back to the city, just how disconnected the world is from.. the world, and from ourselves. When I lived on the island, I had to learn how to connect with my new and unfamiliar surroundings by being present; without the internet as a safety net for introductions. I didn't think I was capable of approaching strangers, without feeling somewhat awkward or shy in my usual fashion; because I'd listened to the opinions of others so heavily. "Closed off", reserved, snobbish, aloof, and my favourite "self involved". I believed in these labels so heavily, until I actually got to see myself for who I really am, by being myself, by myself. The more I allowed it, and trusted it, and listened fully to who I am as a person; the more I saw strangers approaching me, sitting with me, talking, sharing, and leaving me with incredible words about how comforting, real, honest, and open I am. This IS me. Real, true, amazing, and profound connections; which taught me to see myself for who I am, and not for how others choose to see me. I didn't realize that when I left the island and returned to my familiar surroundings, that it was going to appear entirely different than when I left it. I'd come back more self aware and confident in my own skin, and yet, so insecure about who was going to accept it. The harsh labels I'd been given as guidance to change, from people who I had once assumed were my friends; were only an expression of their own expectations. I can't be more than anything but myself.

I spent a lot of this summer entirely on my own, because I felt it was necessary to understand how I was going to maintain confidence in myself; by evaluating my choices, and providing my energy to the right things. I noticed a really sad habit in my relationships, including some within my own family, that I was often giving to those who didn't see or value it for what it was. It was like I was working for a certain approval that was never even acknowledged. The instant I shut it off, the more I gained for myself. When you stop offering love to the wrong places, the more you can provide to yourself and to others who will actually return it willingly. It was the first year I picked up the phone to wish my step dad a happy father's day. It felt so much better than sending an empty emailed message to my real father, who hasn't remembered my birthday in over 6 years. It isn't an easy process, to accept that your love isn't valued by everyone you want to present it to. I mourned many losses this summer, when yet, I gained so much from learning how to give and actually receive the treatment I'm so prone to providing. Equality is very new to me. It shouldn't be a trying effort.

I could go on and on about this personal discovery for hours, but the truth is that it took me so much to get to this point in sharing all that I've just written. To sum it up, I'm learning a whole lot about what I'm capable of being, and who I really am, and what I have to give to the world. The internet is a totally different universe that I am learning how to approach just the same as I am coming back to the real world, as myself. Without boundaries, it can be difficult to put it out there without the fears or assumption that someone is going to read things incorrectly or turn my words inside out and into something that they want to argue or feel for themselves. Truth is, I can't control how others choose to see me, but I can control my boundaries and who I know I am. I turn off my phone more often, I look at what is plainly in front of me. Life is precious, and so are you, and your time, and your energy. I have an endless amount of love to give. And here I am, reminding myself what is mine and how to hang onto it.

Thank goodness I made it this far. Writing is so good for my soul.


creative confidence 101

I realize I've been putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to do more than I'm capable of, for no apparent reason. I've been denying myself of my natural process, and have also lost touch with my confidence in execution. I don't know where I fell off so hard with my thoughts, but it has been months since I've written a post without editing things down a million times. Something is off. Something is missing. Something is standing in my way of focus. I figure this is the perfect time to get started on some personal projects, to help pull myself out of it. I'm good at that. I'm encouraging myself to find my strengths. I didn't think I had any until I went looking for them. I feel I have many yet still to discover. That's why I'm here.

When I help people sort out their creative puzzles, whether it be finding the inspiration to be more creative, to nailing down the proper skills, or understanding their creative passions; I always start with the same piece of advice. Well, I have a few pieces, but number one is to do what I call Peter Pan-ing yourself. I've written about it before, so I don't need to go too far into detail. Basically, I'm asking you to get back in touch with your inner child, the person you were from the start, the person you still are; the person you need to nurture and allow to shine through. It's who you are to the core. You are far more valuable than you allow yourself to realize.

I often keep pictures of myself on my desk, as influence to embrace my creative confidence. I could trash myself so easily, and yet, when I put that kid out in front of me, my view changes entirely. I care about that kid, big time. She has a big heart, and a mind so deep you could get lost in it. A busy dreamer; almost as intense as Walter Mitty. Ask that kid to fill a book with stories in a day, and she would. She did. I'm just sorting out where some of those pieces got lost along the way. I'm looking to that kid to help me find the answers. They're there, and she knows how to find them. I just have to stop trying to be a magnificent adult, and listen.

It might sound strange to hear it from me, but creative confidence has always been a struggle. I'm also terribly insecure about being labelled as an artist. Not only does it sound -to me- to be incredibly eccentric (as we can't go without our turtlenecks, judgemental sneers, and tilted berets) I also grew up with a weird societal concept that creative thought lacks real and useful intelligence. I'm not even kidding when I say that I felt like Forrest Gump through most of my school years, because I didn't know how to retain information if it wasn't delivered creatively. I wish I'd known then that it was just how my mind worked. Not a weakness. Not stupid at all. Stupid is as stupid does. 

Confidence, in general, is a tough one to trust and embrace fully, because those who don't have it will attempt to make it difficult for you... including yourself. There's this weird sensation that comes with confidence, because as we gain it, we change. And as we change, so do those around us. It becomes a certain process of dealing with loss at the same time as celebrating the gain. Confidence is tough! As I learn to accept my own; I notice that I care far less about what others think of me, and I spend little to no time trying to earn anyone's acceptance or approval. Like me for who I am, because I'm only trying to do the same. It's a tricky balance that gets easier with time, as you learn to trust it. Just like your creative confidence. Love what you're made of, and don't be scared to let it out.

I like to ask people, what was your favourite project in school(?) because it often stirs up a storm of excitement that is reminiscent to how we express as children. We get jacked up, we jump in, and we deliver with joy. For me, my favourite memory was when one of my teachers brought in a typewriter (the olden days laptop) typed out the classroom's creative stories and coil bound the pages into individual books. Each page had room for illustrations, and inside each construction paper cover/title page, was a -very real- library card to stamp and sign out. For a kid who loved nothing more than reading and writing, this was a dream come true! I will always remember how much I valued that project, and how it made me feel. I don't hang onto much, and yet I still have those books, and the ones I made later on in my own free time. Part of building creative confidence is searching for the root of your interests. If it makes you shine, it's your passion. Grab hold of it, and make something of it. I now know mine. 

In school, I always excelled at anything creative; especially writing. I took to poetry, silly rhymes, and short stories that delivered an emotional or even nonsensical message. I was naturally good at it; so much, that my teachers brought attention to it and made it known to others. I suppose this is why I struggle with positive attention; because it made me a target for ridicule and trolling. It's that threat of confidence that I was talking about earlier. Don't be afraid of it. Let the lumps pout it out on their own, until they learn to do it for themselves. You don't owe anyone explanation for what you believe in. Let it out and be proud of it.

When Creative Writing transformed into English class, I know that is where I lost interest in writing the way I used to. Rather than write what I felt, or what I dreamed of, I was asked to write with reason, for an answer. After endless (boring) group discussions, analyzing the pages of Brave New World, for months on end; someone in my Advanced English group project wrote my review as "I don't think she read the book." This really let me down. It really made me resent my natural abilities, because suddenly I was told I was wrong. I believe this is how most of us lose touch with our passions. It doesn't take much to build a roadblock, but it can take years to knock it down.

I'm still trusting my strengths, and figuring out how to share them with others. Hey, it's why we're here, reading this lengthy blog post that seems to feel all over the map in information. I'm not deleting it. I want it out of my system. It's just like the advice I give to those who want to explore their creative side again. Just try. Try! Don't think too hard, and definitely don't rob the fun out of it. As grownups we know how to make every single thing become so lame through question, complaint, comparison, and reason. Or at least that's how I have often viewed grownups; and why I cried about ever being one when I was little. I was smart enough to know that I was going to lose touch with something I was naturally good at, because growing up involves taking everything so damn seriously. Ask a kid to draw a monster, and I doubt you'll see them asking for reference on how to draw an actual monster. They just do it. They look into their minds and make it happen. This is why I say that reaching back toward your inner child will save you. They just want you to have fun again. Real fun. Not like the fun you have paying your bills on time. Ugh.

And while I'd say that I'm great at being creative most days, not every day is successful. Like today. I spent hours trying to write this post out to sound right, and only now am I writing and telling myself not to delete it. Why? Because that's also the advice I give to people who want to experiment with their creative side. Let it out and let it be. Get a book, some pens (there aren't any secret magic materials that artists use), find what makes you happy, and just fucking do it. Really, sorry to be french about it, but I'm just feeling a bit frustrated with myself.. and it suits this post entirely. Don't stand in your own way of doing what matters to you. If you have expectations to be at a certain skill level, or what your concept of "good" is, or what makes it worth it to you; then that's an entirely different post. If you want more of yourself, practice. If you want to start somewhere, be easy on yourself, or else it's going to end quickly. Stop being a grownup about it, lame-o.

My last bit of advice as you chip away at finding your creative spirit, is to just shut up. I might sound rude here, but really. Shut up with the excuses, shut up about how you don't have time, shut up about how you "suck" at art, shut up about how dumb your drawings might look, shut up about comparison to others, shut up about how you're going to fail, shut up about every little thing that makes YOU stand in your own way. I'm great at this game too, and I've been drawing all of my life. What makes me nuts though is when I encourage people to play, and they flop over with the excuse that I'm somehow going to judge them for trying. Guess what. You're putting words in your own mouth, to stop before you begin. Stop making me out to be the master of judgement. My arms are open to you to get out there and try. Shut up and play. I just want you to express what's hiding in there. The beauty isn't in the skill level, it's in trusting your natural voice. Your creativity is your voice. Please speak up!

For real though, go out and get yourself a book (I'll be getting myself a new one too). Sit down with it for even just a minute a day, and don't pay any attention to how you might want to talk yourself out of it. No one is putting a single bit of pressure on you, but you. There's no invisible audience waiting to laugh at you. There's no one standing behind you waiting to ask for your rationale. No one has to "get" what you're up to. Hell, you don't even have to know what you're up to. Draw something that comes to mind, or just mindlessly doodle. Write down a word, the lyrics to your favourite song, write a poem, a sonnet, a haiku. Research something interesting that you want to learn, jot it down, draw a picture of it. No one is going to see it but you. If you want to share it, share it. Creativity is something all for yourself, and that's the beauty behind it. When you gain confidence, you can share it.. and guess what, others will surely follow. That's the beauty of learning how to play. Just be. Seriously, Peter Pan yourself, hard. Let that kid inside of you do what it has always been good at. I have yet to even address the things I'm looking to explore for myself. Funny, it involves writing... and here we are. I made it. I got this out of my system.

Let's play.