see for companionship

Just moments ago, I had to break up -another- dog fight. For some time now, I've noticed major differences in my boy; and it has to do with his eyes. He's losing his vision, and pretty quick.

This year has been an absolute mess of change, especially when it comes to health. I don't really need to recap what's up with my own health (see previous posts) but I can say it has been pretty rocky. While Breakfast is the -healthy- Michael Phelps of playtime, his vision was brought to my attention about a year ago. I was told it was cataracts, and that they could eventually leave him blind over the span of a few years. I'd say that in this year alone, I've noticed a drastic difference in his behaviour, already.

I've been told by so many people, that dogs just naturally go blind, and they live their lives happy as can be. Sure, he never complains. Dogs are amazing that way. The trouble is that this completely alters our lifestyle, because it is becoming dangerous to be around other dogs (because he can't see and becomes defensive.) While this is a super sad reality to face, and a little embarrassing, I hate to admit that the idea of keeping him secluded, for safety, makes my own anxiety run around in all directions. I didn't get a dog to stay indoors, to walk him in a baby stroller (what is that?) or to avoid the outside world for his own safety. Introvert or not, you might be surprised to know that I got a dog for the opposite reasons.

Breakfast is the reason why I go outside every single day. When we first moved to this city, I had no idea where I was. To get to know our surroundings, I was able to get out, go for long walks with the comfort of his company; and figure out where we were. It helped me find my way back home (intentionally getting lost is fun) and it also helped me meet the people I know today. We have a number of really cool acquaintances who I never would have met, if it wasn't for him. I rely on him for a social connection, just as he relies on me for a bit of the same thing. Sadly, his intros to new dogs has been a bit of a hit and miss, lately, because he can't trust without seeing clearly. With this major shift in our groove, I can't say I'm welcoming to the idea of just letting nature take its course, and accept the sad reality that my best friend is going blind.

If we're going to get into the "just a dog" talk, you can leave now. If you want to talk about the money involved, and how it could be spent on other things, we may have differences in our perception of value. Everyone has an opinion. Take away the dog and the reality is a massive loss in connection. I got a dog to make sure to go outside (every day, multiple times), to push my comforts, to be around strangers, to mingle with crowds, to meet new faces, to converse on days I'd likely go about it alone; to share stories with others about the big time love that these little lives provide. It's amazing to connect with perfect strangers, and relate to that common bond, based on love. Dogs are magical little beings, and I think the world could use more of them. MORE love, please!

Breakfast is an incredible soul. He's contagiously happy, and often encourages others to play without even directly inviting them in. He is my inner child on 4 legs. Everything is a game, and there's always a reason to play. Even on my toughest of days, he has been there, to make me smile, and to make sure I get back on my feet again. He even got me running after him, this summer, to exercise and enjoy the freeness of racing through the grass. He is a fountain of youth who needs to play. It's weird to see that shift when he suddenly gets lost, loses sight of the game, or even in some cases... runs into me when he's running toward the glare of the sun. Those things are certainly safe (and comical, yes) when it's just the two of us. But, the rest of the world, sadly.. they don't know. It's where someone can get hurt, and I really can't stand that added tension. Isolation isn't helpful to anyone who enjoys giving so much as we do. Ask either one of us to just stop, it's not going to happen. I got a dog to live in and enjoy this world, not to hide from it.

So, once my own mess of health tests and pokes and whatnot are sorted, it looks like B is next in line for a push in the right direction. I feel this is such a massive year for major alterations toward the better, the more positive, the more honest, and the literal seeing more clearly. I have no idea how this is going to go down, but it can only go up from here. Fingers crossed, and deep breaths. I want my boy back, to see the world as it is, to be safe from the unknown (as other dogs will approach), and live his happiest days the way he has always seen them. I feel it's not only best for him, but for both of us. There's still so much of this world to see, together!

I will be keeping up with this and problem solving for possible crowd funding and art tradesies. There is always a way to share the love from all sides.


Twisted Cyster

Just writing a little something about the status of my health situation. If you can believe it, I'm still waiting for tests to confirm what's going on inside my body (since June). With my CT scan approaching at the end of this month, I'd like to think that surgery won't be too far around the corner. Get this jerk out!

Overall, I'm feeling okay. I'm a little sore at times, often tired, and occasionally uneasy. Doctors are still running tests on my kidneys, my chest, my stomach, my hormones, my adrenals, blood.. you name it. It's exhausting, but I'm happy (and nervous) for getting the answers I need, in order to get better. The hope is that the removal of this (4") beast will help the rest of my body shift back to normal again. I'm keeping my thoughts in a positive place, eating healthy meals to boost my heart and mind, exercising, meditating, resting when needed. It's all I can do for now, while the waiting game continues. 2 more weeks and we'll be closer to the answers we need. In the meantime, take care of yourself, and go get the answers; if you feel you have questions about your health. It might be scary to ask, and get tests done, but you don't want to wait for it to become an answer you don't want to hear. Fingers crossed about the upcoming tests, and surgery to follow.

Will share more of this process as I go. Thank you all for your support through this sh*t!


summer 17

It has been a while since I've taken the time to write about anything at all. Lately, I do so much of it on paper, keeping it to myself in the old fashioned way. The trouble with blogging, is I have adopted a bit of an attitude of "who cares anyway?" because really, I know there are more important things going on in this world than how I spent my summer. Still, this digital journal was something I started for myself years ago, back when people didn't really do much blogging. I'm just here to feel good about what there is to feel good about. You (possible reader) don't have to care, though it would be weird of you to be here reading this if you didn't. I think this is where the internet and social media have been crumbling the expression of happiness. It's all our own, and no one else's. That's why people tend to speak out against it. Whatever. This world is messed. This is my life stuff... you don't have to like it at all.

This summer has been incredibly life altering. After 6 years of looking for a place to stop, we finally did. It's sort of disorienting but in the best way. For a long while, I didn't know if I'd ever find a home here, in Edmonton. 6 years is a long time of packing up and moving, and starting over every other year. You lose sight of yourself in the mix of so much shifting. It's like living your very own Groundhog Day, trying to start over with the next place, and live. It breaks you. It makes you lose sight of so much, and yet it brings a lot into your view when it comes to appreciating what's there over what isn't. Still, it's tough. I eventually thought maybe it was a sign I wasn't wanted in this world at all. That might sound incredibly dark or morbid, but I have the tendency to feel that way about life at times. Once I finally found a place that welcomed me, and allowed me to trust and balance and BE.. it changed. It was like landing in the middle of a magical world that finally stands still. Yet, it has always been there. And, so have I. I belong here.

In all honesty, I spent so much of my summer mending a broken heart. Love is a really tough thing for me to release; when I hang onto so many things so deeply, tightly, and gratefully as I do for those I hold in my arms. I was very much in love. Deep, hard, heavy; but the sad reality was that the world had other plans. Life and timing most certainly got in the way. With so much instability swirling around both of our separate worlds, it was just so difficult to provide much at all with focus. It's incredibly sad when you finally stop spinning, and it has all ended in front of you. Like a magnificent blur. A sort of dream. It was a love that took me 36 years to find, and it has felt like an incredible sacrifice to have lost it as I have gained so much of what I need from my surroundings. They suck me in. I do love it, but damn, it's an empty feeling to find the world you were looking for, with an evident missing piece from your side. At least memory is a wonderful gift. I smile warmly at what was, and also more certainly at what is. Despite the emptiness that comes with such heartache, I know I'm in a much better place with myself.

I have also faced a lot of my own personal shadows. From my struggles with anxiety, depression, insecurity, and self worth; it has really become so clear where I needed to clean up some clutter. I'd carried a lot with me through the years, simply because I didn't have time to stop and think about it. In other cases, I was actually running from it too. You can't run from what you need to face. And so, I've come to accept these as pieces of my life that will remain as a chapter in my life story. It doesn't own or define me, it's just what was. Accepting self, life, family, circumstance.. it's like learning to take yourself in for all that you are. Resent, remorse, regret; they don't exist. With these open fields, and endless skies, I speak freely, I breathe deeply, and feel myself return. It's weird what your surroundings can do to your mind. It's just like suddenly the world presented itself to me and said,  "hey... we can really ease the load and just BE. You're the best at being you. So be it. You are worthy of love, WITH all of your imperfections. Just take care of you, and the rest will follow." 
If you say so, world.

I'm proud of all of the hard work that I've done... including the -real- actual work. It's my third year running a business, and while I'm probably the busiest I've been in my experience as an entrepreneur, I'm actually working less, and in more control. I don't put work at the top of my list of priorities, because health/mental health, well being, quality of life, family, loved ones, come way above the work itself in terms of value and importance. While I'm grateful to do what I love, and be supported for it; work, emails, messages, social media, followers, stats; it isn't my every waking moment. I have to take time, in order to gain strength to keep myself going. I'm the engine of my business.. and that engine needs to be taken care of in order to keep running. I rarely do late nights unless the creativity strikes. I see my strengths at the right times, and for that, I'm able to provide the best service I can. It all has its own payback, because I'm happiest when I can provide the quality I wish to represent. The money itself is not even nearly as important as the value of life and my purpose. I feel my health situation really put this into perspective to keep that in mind. Work will never take me away from what matters in this world. Life, you are number one. 

I no longer put the pressure on myself to do so much at once. I make a habit to reach out and tell someone when I'm in need of help, or  in need of someone to talk to. Needing isn't needy. By habit, I tend to do so much on my own so willingly, because I like to learn by getting my hands on things. I live to learn, but sometimes that can keep so much at a distance from entering my life. Letting it in by reaching out is an incredible lesson in also understanding my own self worth. Just because I can get annoyed at my own incessant need to understand it all, doesn't mean it's an inconvenience to others if I have questions. "Just because you can do it alone, doesn't mean you have to." I feel my health has taught me to exercise this message. I'm learning about how to stop trying to be my all. I'm glad I enjoy my own company and how curious I am to expand and understand things, but it really does shut out a lot of what wants to come in. I open my arms far more willingly these days than I have in most of my lifetime. I have to remind myself that this isn't a weakness. Help is aways there. You just have to ask.

In regards to my health, the waiting game to get tests done has not been easy on my mind. I'm stressed. I'm afraid. I'm nervous. I'm anxious to get my body back. It's not the same. While I'm often physically exhausted from it, I'm also looking at this as a chance to practice proper health, diet, exercise, nourishment, and most importantly hydration. You don't want kidney stones! Not that I have them (I might) but the thought makes me cringe. My kidneys are probably my greater concern in all of this, as I've had some problems with them in the past. Either way, drink more water and less coffee. Reviewing my diet has really pushed my view into the efforts involved with self care. It's not an easy thing for most people. Including myself. I remember, there were times in my career where I was treating my body similarly to how a college kids ploughs through a semester. Late nights, lunch? dinner? convenient snacks, whatever amount of caffeine to fuel the fire. Awful. I remember I would sometimes go over half of my day without eating or drinking anything at all(!) This is how some business runners actually roll, just to keep up with the demands. It doesn't pay off. Health is hands down what you want to keep track of. Holy crap, it's scary what people do to keep up with work. Nope. Not me.

My balcony became my sanctuary. It's where I go to take mind breaks, breathe, people watch, enjoy some sun, shut out the technological world, and just enjoy the day. I planted some vegetables and herbs, to treat myself like my own special chef on sunny nights for barbecuing and creating hearty dishes to fill the soul. It has helped me get through a lot of the tough stuff, and it gives me so much to look forward to. These are the things that matter to me so much, and I love that I'm able to provide in a way that treats me so kindly. It's like night and day, how I feel about life in general. I realize that what you surround yourself with really is what you become. I feel grounded, healthy, strong, and just really happy with watching things grow. This is when I realized how much I love life itself. I grew it myself, and now I'm gobbling it up. Did I mention peas? *squee*

In all of this, I'm just glad to know that I always see the blue skies behind each grey cloud. Sometimes my optimism really delights me, while other times I feel it can blur my focus from the problem that needs to be faced. Still, despite the struggles I'm currently sifting through, I know I've experienced worse days that these ones. I acknowledge the struggles, and on occasion I appreciate the pain. It makes me remember that great strength comes from these moments, and I'm learning every day to shine on no matter what. In all that I've lost, I know I have gained. Loss is never an easy process, and so, I just allow the grief and acceptance as they come. Some days I'm fine, other days I cry just out of the blue in the process of a thought or a memory. I'm grateful for it all, as weird as that may sound. All of what I was, all I've been, all I've seen and done, has brought me to who I am now. Life is such a marvellous mess of inconsistent weather forecasts. PS. Watching thunderstorms from the balcony is amazing.

Overall, the biggest struggle is sometimes in my energy. From the emotions of releasing what is no longer, keeping up with the world and life itself, to embracing what is here and to come; it can really overwhelm me on the days when I'd like to know the answers. I have no idea where we are going from here, but it's nice to say we'll figure it out from the place we now call home. No more running, at least, not from ourselves. It's so good to be home. Without it, I don't know where I'd be.


what the health

A few weeks ago, I was given the news that I'm lugging around a cyst larger than my own fist. Despite the cuteness in rhyming, this was a bit of a surprise, even if I have to admit that I knew something was very wrong with my body for a long time. Since sharing this news openly on social media, I thought I'd take some time to write more about it; as I've been asked a lot of questions in regards to the signs, the process, and what happens next. In short, it's a long road ahead... as it also took a long one to get here. All I have to say, to shorten the detailed story ahead, is to get a second opinion if and when you ever think your body is trying to tell you something. Tests are scary, but the answers could save you a lot of trouble in the future. Don't hesitate.

I've always been very body aware, and I like to keep in check by going for annual physicals, including therapy, to ensure that everything is functioning properly and in good condition. I mean really, if we provide maintenance to our cars when the parts are in need of care; we should also do the same for our bodies. It's that simple, in my mind. From physical health, to mental health, it's all the same to me. I keep up with all that I can, to make sure I'm healthy and on top of my game. The more you learn about your body and how it functions, the sooner you'll know when something is in need of attention.

The struggle for answers started last summer, as I was getting sick every few weeks (possibly to do with my monthly cycle) where I experienced massive headaches, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and body fluids that were not of my usual norm. I was incredibly frustrated by it, and also tried to solve the issue on my own, because my doctor wasn't helping. Fortunately, the vomiting stopped when I switched to purified water (scary, living in a building with old plumbing), but I really do wonder if my fluctuating illness had more to do with my body adjusting to this foreign beast in my reproductive organs. Hormones work in incredible ways. Anything that goes out of whack, you don't have to wait long for your body to show you the signs.

To be honest, the struggle really took a toll on my self esteem, because I was dealing with stuff I didn't understand. It got so bad that it eventually stood in the way of anything intimately related; because of the discomfort and even the embarrassment of unexpected reactions. I knew that something was wrong, but because my doctor insisted (without running physical tests) that it was "just an infection" or that there was "nothing to worry about" I'd carry on and hope for the best. This sort of disappointment really adds up over time. I felt like I was out-of-order, and started to drift from even knowing myself anymore. Talking about symptoms without tests to confirm is about as handy as finding your own diagnosis, online. (Believe me, I went there, and it didn't help at all.) After months of running in circles with the same doctor, I decided it was time for a second opinion. I wanted real answers, and most of all, I wanted my body/life/health back.

This time around, I specifically chose a female doctor. I figured if my issues were hormonally related, or an actual infection (like the last guy kept saying, and prescribing) someone with the same parts as me would probably know better. I mean really, ladies, we know when sh*t ain't right downstairs! Once I got in for my meet-and-greet with my new doctor, discussed family history, and my issue of concern, she set up an appointment for a physical to get things rolling. Poke, poke, pee in a cup, it's that simple. And just like that, within the week, I was called back for discussion. Nerve wracking to get that callback, but I figured at this point in time, I'd rather be told there is something wrong than another round of no answers and a slap of an unnecessary drug to make me feel like something is being resolved.

The first sign of concern was my urine test. It came back with signs of red blood cells. This can be an indicator to things like kidney stones, tumours, infection, blood in the urine. Red flag. So, the next step was to explore those areas for more answers. Guys, this is what doctors do! Fast forward through 3 hours of ultrasounds and scans, and mammograms (apparently this cyst has affected a lot of my body) we found a variety of small cysts in my breasts, and one 4 inch culprit clinging to my left ovary. The ones in my breasts aren't of major concern (benign) and will be monitored in months to come. They could even go away once the big one is removed from my ovary, because of the hormones involved. Amazing how bodies work, hey?

So, what now? Well, more tests, to determine if there are any major concerns; like my kidneys being at risk of interference or infection. Incredibly, my CT scan for those answers has to wait until the end of September, and the remaining tests will run again in 6 months (following surgery) to make sure that the other cysts don't increase in size. I think the bigger concern has to do with my kidneys. Either there's a blockage (like a stone or another cyst) in the way, or the 4 inch bastard is just taking up space and interfering with proper function. Of course, the best situation would be the latter. That way, surgery can be kept simple by evicting the unwanted tenant, and I can just let my body return back to itself. Ugh. What a mess!

In the meantime, I have friends on call in case of any emergencies. I am at risk of my cyst getting tangled up, or even bursting, so if I experience any pain... it's time to go to the hospital. That part is a bit scary, but it's out of my control. I'm just happy to know there is help if and when and if I need it. The universe presents these sorts of gifts as a reminder, it's all going to be just fine. I am loved.

And so, that's what's up. The waiting game kind of stinks, but I will say that I'm grateful for my friends and family, and this beautiful summer we are having. I see summer as a time of personal growth and expansion, so I'm taking it all in while I can. Really, if I'm going to heal from surgery, I'd rather it be at a time where I can comfortably curl up with blankets... instead of during a time when I'd rather be outside, or sprawled in front of an oscillating fan. With my new surroundings, in my new home, it has brought me an incredible amount of inner peace and balance that couldn't have come at a better time. In comparison to the mess of 2016, I feel so grounded and optimistic. Despite what is to come, the occasional worry, exhaustion, frustration, sadness, and fear (yes, it is scary) I feel lucky to have been provided with answers that lead me forward and to a better place. One day at a time, we'll get there!

As a side note, I decided to set up a GoFundMe so that I can clear out some of the external clutter around me (prints!) so that I can give back to those who have so willingly offered to help in any way possible. Nothing heals me more than sharing the love. Already, prints are clearing out, for as little as $10, which is going into savings for the approaching downtime I'll need to recover. You can read all about it, by following the link.

Thank you all for being there for me. It means more than you know.


true colours

A couple of years ago, I decided to start an art project that changed my life entirely. I feel that all struggles can be conquered if we put them out in front of us. For me, I use art. It's how I've come to heal and understand myself. This project is incredibly special to me, and it makes me feel beyond vulnerable to share it, because I chose to use my body as a medium. The great thing about vulnerability is that when you face it, it transforms into strength. I would like to think this could somehow help others understand their personal struggles with their bodies, like I learned about my own. Regardless of the outcome, I really want to share this experience. So here I am, coming out from hiding.

For years, I'd struggled with confidence and body image. From how I valued my body, to how I reacted to the world around me. I could tell that I was hiding from something. It was difficult to face at first, but that's the reason why I set up personal challenges to begin with. To change. I wanted to see my body as something more than I allowed myself to see. A piece of art, maybe even something engaging, something beautiful. It's amazing, that due to our experiences, we can really struggle to see our beauty at all.

I feel so many women could take something from this project, because we rarely see ourselves as anything remotely positive. We can point out our flaws and imperfections, and yet, so many of us have so much to be proud of. I find this lacking gratitude toward ourselves to be sad and unnecessary, and yet I did the same. I still struggle. To get to the bottom of it, I decided to take my feelings and flip them on me, by showing myself what was hiding on the inside. Going back to the very beginning, I see how far I've come since then.
(Deep breaths.) Here we go.

I threw on a layer of paint as a sort of barrier of protection. I find it funny that I actually felt terribly uncomfortable to be completely naked, even in the privacy of my own home. As my first photo illustrates (above), I was super nervous... maybe even a bit terrified. Still, I knew what my intentions were, and chose to continue to explore the light, and what angles I needed, in order to create the image I was looking for. I didn't go in with a specific plan, but I was hoping to make something visually inspiring that could alter my view of myself. Finding that took some time. 

I enjoy that the first colour I started with, was white. White is a colour of innocence, purity, new beginnings. As I look back at the first image, it really does touch a soft spot in my heart. This was a time when I had no idea how to view myself as anything more than what I was allowing myself to see. The more I ventured into the light (literally), the more I started to see how easy it was to alter my perspective. No one was telling me I wasn't enough, no one had said I was unworthy, ugly, or whatever I was trying to carry on my shoulders for no reason. It's when I realized that my own negative views were my own choice. The only one standing in my way,
was myself. 

And then, I finally stepped into the light. Eventually, I found an image where I caught myself by surprise, thinking, "oh wow, that's me?!" It felt a little wrong to feel so positively at first, but yet, being proud of ourselves is something we all need to practice. Think of how lucky we are to be alive, never mind what we have in front of us at this very moment. I started to think of the fact that my body isn't going to look the way it does forever. I suddenly imagined my older self, looking back at this image and thinking, "yeah, girl!" Meanwhile, we so often have the tendency to avoid the moment, dodge the compliments, and compare what we don't have, over what we do. It's amazing how many women I've met, who have looked at old photos of themselves and said things like, "if only I looked like that again," or "I used to be so thin." Think they felt that way about themselves when they were in the moment? Highly unlikely. Let your older self look in on you, and suddenly, you become much more than you allow your current self to see and believe in.

There seems to be a really big issue with confidence, and how it is so often mislabelled as selfishness or arrogance. Discovering my own confidence, during the process of this project, was both surprising and yet so necessary for me to see for myself. It made me realize that for a very long time, I was doing what I thought others expected of me. Like I kept myself at a certain level, so that no one would feel at all threatened by my actual capabilities. It starts on the playground, when kids are cruel. We call people names, we pick them apart; all due to our own insecurities. As adults, I still see this happening. We need to grow up! Rather than lash out at the world around you, ask what you need from yourself. When I realized my confidence, I was a little less guarded. I was free from my own negative perceptions of who I am, and what makes me a valuable person. It was a nice lesson, to be reminded that no one is out to get you. If they are, you can stand tall and be set to defend yourself. Just know, that when those defences aren't needed, we can almost aggressively keep people at bay, when we really want to let them in and share our best selves, together. 

But the truth is, I've been so prone to hiding. For over half of my lifetime I've struggled with a protective shell that comes from unfortunate experiences like abuse, abandonment, harassment, neglect, and ridicule. Those aren't easy layers to ignore, especially when our minds will work against us, to protect what has been hurt before. When people scoff and say things like, "let it go" I ask them to consider a little something called human psychology and conditioning. We don't just let go of what we know of the world when we experience certain things. It's when I get to explaining it a little differently for others to understand.

Ever meet someone who owns a rescue dog? There's something about them that is so incredibly nurturing, understanding, and patient; to see that they're urging an innocent creature out from hiding. When rescue dogs explore the new world, they do so with caution; as they've been hurt in such a way that can sometimes be paralyzing to their experiences. I say the same thing goes for people, and we need to offer that very same love and encouragement. We respond through what we know, and if you have been hurt in a way that has caused any form of trauma ... It's going to take a long time to shed that protective layer entirely and trust the world around you.

Sometimes, it never really goes away entirely, because our bodies react to the protective responses our minds create for us. Some people pack on weight, others -like I did- hide behind bulky clothing as a sort of protective shell. I realize that this is a continuing struggle for me, as I sometimes catch myself tucking away, especially from men, even when I trust them or begin to love them in my relationships. While my body might say I'm okay, my mind might not; or vice versa. With assurance, communication, respect, and patience, you can come out from hiding. Don't use your pain and experience as a shield of protection, wear it as your armour.

I'm going to say that being a woman is not an easy job. In society, there's a really funny pressure that comes with our appearances, and how being beautiful is more important than being seen as professional, or anything remotely serious. I used to devalue being a woman because I thought there was nothing good about us, except our bodies. I grew up with some pretty terrible examples to support that, so much that I had absolutely no respect for my own gender. I was just a walking body, and a man was there to do something with it. Sounds pretty harsh, but that's what I believed for a very long time. Fortunately, I've been lucky to have been proven wrong in my relationships, and the people who currently surround me and see my value. The downfall is that not all of the world agrees just yet. That's a really disappointing fact. Our world needs to grow up. It's why we need women to raise their voices about this stuff, and empower others to follow. It's why I'm here with this message.

(More deep breaths) And so, here is the image that changed my life (above.) The one I'm actually most proud of, and yet, the one I'm the most nervous to share. It's a bit... racy? Or is it? This image gave me some new words, that I didn't even consider to use when describing myself. I see it as something beautiful, strong, feminine, powerful, dare I say ... sexy(?) Me!? This image makes me see myself as so much more than I ever allowed myself to acknowledge. I look good. I felt good! I didn't know I was capable of such a feminine image.. because I'd been hiding from my own body for so long. The creeps, the pervs, the ones who make us -as women- never want to show our skin to the world, out of the fears of being put in a really terrible position of vulnerability. This image makes me feel kind of sad about how often I've hidden from expressing myself with this sort of confidence. I am blushing so hard and almost hiding my face about sharing this with the world so openly. There's nothing to be ashamed of, and yet my hands shake as I type this out. This is me, a woman, a walking, talking, Venus. I think all women need to discover their inner goddess and see it for themselves. We are far from weak. When I want to think of my brightest moment, my greatest achievement in self understanding and power, it's this image. It's my armour. 

I decided that this project will continue for a really long time, as I feel confidence takes practice in order to fully understand and embrace it. It's cool to go back to this series, which I started back in 2015, and to see that I've maintained some of the important lessons that I took from it. Like anything in this life of ours, in this complicated world, filled with experiences that shape us for the rest of our living years; we're going to have to practice how to stay on top of our game. It's why I believe that any form of weakness or personal struggle can be challenged to become something far more than a discovered strength. These are the healing powers that come with art and creation.
It's what I'm here for.

I realize that this is just the tip of the ice berg, and yet, so much more than I ever imagined to share with the world. I still have hundreds of photos of this project tucked away for myself to review, and continue to add to as I get to know myself. My message(s) may be a little lengthy and complex, but in simplest terms, I believe you have more to offer this world than you likely allow yourself to see. I've sat with this project for 2 long years, pacing, questioning, wondering if it was even worth it to share so openly. Maybe it's totally inappropriate, or too revealing, or absolutely absurd. Those opinions are yours, and we are entitled to believe all that we want; without having to fight for what is right. I'm just here to offer a voice, to share where I've learned something valuable about my strength and purpose. I hope I can touch even just one person, to take maybe a little piece of motivation from this, to understand that you got this. You are a beautiful, brave, incredible, a work of art. Show your true colours, and let them shine. You don't have to hide. The world needs you, right now.


the end of 36

I only have a couple of days left in 36, and I have to say that I've reflected on all that made it my best year. At least, the best that I could make of it. It most certainly wasn't my best year... 

It was a tough year, and yet there was so much good about it. I got to love and be loved, I got to grow and expand. Yet, there were a number of heavy restraints. They pushed me really hard. In many ways, they (literally) broke me. From replacing my stolen things, to being sick every other month, hurting from my living space, to running a business, keeping up with the demands, the questions, the balance, the juggling act; the not knowing where I was in my surroundings, trying to accept the changes, trying to appreciate the moment, trying to love every little piece of what kept me going, to accepting that I'd have to pack up and move again, to falling flat on my ass (broken rib). The universe told me, straight out, to just stop running. 

It was where I had to learn how to ask for help. It was so difficult for me accept it, and yet, it was fine time I got some practice. I've spent years trying to do it all on my own, in my own way, as if asking was too much for anyone to keep up with. I thought I had to give so much back in return, when the truth is that people just want to love you. Closeness was so difficult to accept, when I felt I couldn't give back my best. Those who love you don't ask for payback. Care is honest. Love is truth. I had absolutely no idea how to accept it, when I felt embarrassed for being less of myself. I had to accept that when things break down, it's okay to go with it. Let it happen. Let it be. It's part a part of life. Love is there to heal.

It was a year that I learned my personal strengths, hidden within my weaknesses. No matter the struggle, I pushed my focus to the better side of things. There's damage in optimism when you choose not to see the truth behind what's hurting you. I was pushed around on unsteady ground, surrounded by noise, chaos, and tension. I didn't know that my living space hurt me that badly, until I left it. I was scrambling for a place to land, while clinging to something so unsteady. Let the falls be part of the process. It has increased my optimism to believe that these moments are meant to teach valuable lessons. I learned a big lesson about the importance of home. It needs to be safe, supportive, secure, and steady. If it's not... the disconnect is very tough to live with. No amount of optimism will save you. Damn, I tried so hard.

I was given the gift of a loving heart. It held me tight. It told me everything would be fine. It took me in when I needed shelter. It gave me wings to fly. It always encouraged me upward. It showed me the truth of simple, lasting, love. It gave me more than I could ever put into words. Companionship, strength, understanding, truth, structure, trust, honesty, beauty, simplicity, connection, family, play, exploration, creativity, expansion, growth, care, balance, openness, vulnerability, hope, acceptance.... A never ending list of discoveries. This is the part of my 36 that I choose to take with me. It's what kept me smiling through all of the incredible challenges. I learned that it's okay to just let love in. Even if it's a scary thing to accept. 

Photo by Scott Townend

I learned to accept this love from all directions. I visited my roots. I surrounded myself with family, to bring myself back to where it all started. I'd spent a long time running from it without reason. There were things I didn't want to revisit, and yet those things had been put to rest. Nothing can hurt me anymore. I took a deep breath, and I chose to go forth. I chose to accept the changes that have delivered an incredible list of experience. I am loved, and there's beauty in knowing that no matter where I am, and no matter the shape I take, I have a loving place to rest. I am so grateful for knowing where I come from. It's where I acknowledge my core, and view my truth. I come from a good place, with a little bit of grit around the edges. It's the imperfections that bring about a beautiful surface. I learned to accept that even from myself.

I got to experience the absolute importance of what I do. To see how my art, which is my heart and soul, can affect the hearts of others... No words can describe it for what it is. I honestly can't express the gratitude I have toward these experiences, because they run deep. They're things that only I can know for myself and why they touch me the way that they do. They are the memories that I'll carry with me forever, without any doubt. I'm still learning to let go of how absolutely overwhelming it is to know that what I do has so much meaning. I can't.. I really can't express it. I just know I have a whole lot to be proud of, and that's going to take some time for me to process. The value in what I do has absolutely nothing to do with dollar amounts. Memories like this ... yes, they're priceless. I got a whole lot of gifts of gratitude in 36. It goes both ways.

I learned that I have a very emotional job. For an emotional person, this can be a really tricky balance. My heart is expansive, and yet it has its limits. With what I do, I have to balance out all that I give, and practice giving it back to myself in return when it is needed. My job deals with a lot of loss and heartache, and so life and death are a constant reminder that this is what we're here to do. I've drawn probably hundreds of pets and loved ones who are no longer with us. This can actually cause me to stop, breakdown, and cry directly into the faces of those who are in front of me. I don't like to be reminded that all is temporary.. and yet, it's where I learn to appreciate every waking moment that I am given. There is a lesson behind all hurt, and I'm grateful to be able to relieve others of their own personal heartache through the joy of making art. I wish to continue to do this through my living days, but a break is necessary for some breathing room. I'm just glad to realize that there is so much love in this world. Far more than I ever anticipated to discover. 

In the mix of it all, I was still scrambling. I was hanging on tight to where I wanted to land, and yet that landing space was pushing me out. My home was telling me to leave, as I was trying to stay. I'd come home from a place that also pushed me out (the island). One, I left without hesitation, to come back to where I couldn't let go. The difficult lesson in it all was that I was returning as a different person, and all that was familiar, was no longer. The disconnect made me really confused, and I even clung to the thought that maybe I needed to be back on that island again.. even if the push was toward all that I wanted. I didn't know what that was. I really didn't even know how to look for it.. until I had to. I was pushed out again, and I grew even more resentful of the instability. Like floating and falling into distress, with absolutely no place to land.  It's tough when you don't know where you belong, or even who you are anymore. I felt so lost and, at times, completely alone. It was an entirely new shell of isolation that I didn't want any part of. Like floating away from earth itself.

Of course, I eventually landed. Sometimes, it happens when you least expect it, and sometimes things have to reach a certain level of uncontrollable chaos before it finally comes to a halt. It's like stepping, blinded, into the colourful world of Oz, after a black and white cyclone has taken you for a spin. I finally landed. My mind is at a resting place, my legs no longer wobble beneath me, my fingers no longer scramble to cling to a surface that is pushing me away. It's calling me in. It's like I arrived, at last, to place where I am not only home; but where I am whole. I see so much of what was calling for me, right here, waiting. I now have room to grow, a place to breathe, space to expand and reach further into the wild unknown with a firmer grip on where I belong. It's like the best of both of my worlds just presented themselves in front of me. The welcoming expanse of nature (like the island), and a place I know to call home. It's different than what it was before, but it's more of who I am today. It's the end of a blurry 36, and the beginning of a clearer, welcoming, 37. It's like the universe spoke up again and said what it told me from the start, just stop running. It's time to relax. Be free. 

Go be 37.


art work

A couple of weeks ago, I got myself a pack of 10 canvases. Considering I haven't had much of a relationship with painting -lately- it was a bit of a weird choice to go so overboard with my purchase. They were cheap, and a series was calling me. When I finally spread out my materials, shut off my distractions, put on my paint clothes, and decided to let my paintbrush do the talking, I saw something that surprised me.  I was coming from a place of distress. 

It has been a struggle to openly admit that I'm tired of the world. The anger, the immaturity, the pussy hats, the fighting, the pointing fingers, the war, the competition for who is hurting the most. It's so tiresome, and I don't feel I have to be part of it on a daily basis to classify as caring. Happiness is a recipe we all want to get our hands on, yet it is bashed and trashed for being too much. It's not a competition. I've decided that if I can't control the sanity of the world, I can at least control my own. 

Since becoming a paid artist, the disconnect from work and art have come to blur my vision. For years now, I've been doing it in an entirely different way from what is natural to me. My skills haven't improved, my drive no longer exists, I'm following lists of instructions from someone else's vision, in some ways I'm even dumbing it down so far below my capabilities just to play it safe for what is acceptable. Art isn't about reading minds, or doing what you're told. At least not for me. Ask any artist about custom orders and they'll likely tell you the same story. So soon as we're asked for reason, we shut down. It's what I believe kills creativity to begin with.

I've struggled with seeing the value of my position, even though there are a number of incredible artists who I look up to.  I don't know how to put myself in a higher position, or even see myself as intelligent, or brave enough to firmly believe that what I have to offer has far more value than a marketed price tag. It's where my confidence falls short, where I don't trust even my own voice, and why I'm pushing harder to understand what it is that keeps us standing in our own way.  All at once, I'm discovering my true value. This is a push to move forward. 

This is still a growing practice, putting myself out there. I don't even know where I'm going with it. All I know is that a lot of struggles are going on under the surface, along with what is going on outside. It's not easy to keep up with, and I feel that now is the time to really find the strength to get through this. You are in more control than you are led to believe. 

I'm here to help you.