Long time ago, greeting cards were sent to the recipient in the form of a story...It was a series of cards, each depicting a different image and were mailed out one a time to the recipient, each week unveiling another scene from the tale.
Here is the Story of Love, one card at a time...
"One day you meet Love quite unexpectedly..."
"At first, you are skeptical of this so-called 'Love'. You think...'Love, I've never seen you before. I've heard of you, but never have seen you around...are you for real?'"
"Love makes such an impression on you that you carry it around with you every day. You feel incredibly luck to have found this love. You can't believe its yours. You feel so lucky."
"You and love spend long nights dreaming of a future together...all the things that could be..."
"But sometimes love would be confusing and frustrating. Sometimes it would even make you sad. And sometimes you would think that you were better off before you even met Love..."
"And then one day, Love turns into something unrecognizable. The language that Love is speaking is indecipherable. You are confused and wonder, 'What happened to Love?'"
"You are sad that love is so badly hurt. You send it away so that it can get better."
"When Love finally returns, it looks much different than before...sad and bruised, it lays limp in your arms. You realize that you probaby weren't as good to Love as Love was to you."
"So, you put Love in a special place in hopes that it will recover from its wounds. You cradle it and nurse it back to health. Love nestles itself deeply inside your chest, and there, ove finds its home forever."
I've finally done something with all those doodles that I've been making all these years! I've launched a web store which you can view at www.redsmudge.com. Red Smudge is a collection of unique greeting cards, created from origianl watercolor illustrations.
More cards are yet to come! A halloween collection will be released and available for purchase in September and the Christmas collection should be ready by October.
It breaks. It bleeds. Sometimes I kick it. Step on it. Sometimes I let it be squashed. Pummeled. Ripped. Run over. Flattened. And sometimes it feels good to suffocate it. Smash it. The reprise is sweet and filled with postpartum gratitude. Resuscitated thus appreciative. The broke heart never knows love until it is hurt then caressed. Never being fully satisfied keeps it alive and yearing for more.
Oh, wow. Two years ago I had professed on my blog that I was back to blogging, but then...nothing. After two years of hardship and limbo in my life, I finally feel inspired and ready to reconnect. Not just with blogging, but with life. I've been a zombie for too long. Things took a downward spiral for a while there and I am just starting to put my world right-side-up on level ground again. I am returning to me again. A new me, but even through this newness, I recognize myself far more than I have in the past two years.
I have newly relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina from Hamilton Ontario. This place feels like home to me. This is a pleasant surprise because although I like to think I do well with change, I don't, really.
Things are pretty much the same here in North Carolina as they are in most of the U.S. cities I've visited as well as most parts of Canada. We have houses, sidewalks, street lights, big box stores, little botiques. Some of the differences, though, are as follows:
1. The weather here is amazing. It is March and I have a tan. I can wear shorts in February. Its HOT. And there is no snow!!!!
2. In Canada we say "sorry" when we almost collide into someone with our shopping cart at the grocery store; here in the south they say "pardon me".
3. In Canada we say "thank you"; here a lot of people say, "I appreciate you" instead. I like that.
4. Here in the south they eat something called "collards and greens". I haven't researched what that is exactly, but I know what collards are and I know what greens are and it sounds very healthy.
5. Down here people wear jackets when its 20 degrees outside; in Canada, we bust out the shorts when it gets to be 12 degrees.
6. The bugs are WAY bigger here. I have never seen mosquitoes this big.
7. People don't understand what I mean when I ask where the "washroom" is. They think I mean laundry room. BATHROOM, people. Toilet. Loo. Comode.
8. Highway speed limits are higher here than in Canada. I have a very old car and it can't keep up with the rest of the cars on the highway. Or freeway. Interstate. I'm not sure what word I should be using for instead of "highway" here.
9. I referred to the garbage disposal a "garborator" the other day and was met with a wide-eyed unknowing look.
Other than that, I haven't encoutered too many differences, but I've only been here for two weeks, so time will tell. But so far, I am loving it here. I've found a couple places that I love, love love. One is the dog park near our house. The other is Healthy Home Market. I love my backyard where each night I hear a symphony of crickets and bullfrogs and other creatures chirping louder than any traffic I have ever lived near. I love the warmth of the sun and feel the vitamin D synthesizing in my skin and chasing winter depression away.
I am happy.
This blog has been far from my mind this past year. My focus has been on school. But now that's over with (for the time being). It went by so quickly. I just had my last exam yesterday and I miss it already. School is such a safe place. Although there were many rough spots over this past year, being a student and not working has been amazing.
So, this is the first day that I've had NOTHING to do. No reading, no studying, no case studies, no preparing of presentations. Nothing. Its so eerily quiet in my head right now. I like it. I think I'll go for a run today, clean the house, make up some business cards, apply to some jobs (I guess its not that quiet in there).
I haven't officially graduated yet. So, for now I'll just be working as a Nutritional Coach, and when I get my marks back, I can call myself a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. It feels so weird saying that. Wow. I'm finally doing something I want to be doing. It feels really awesome. I feel like I own it. I've never felt like that before.
Haven't bogged in a while. I've been working on another blog about nutrition, but so far its all on paper and hasn't made it to computer land.
Spring is here and it has put a "spring" into my step and pushed the winter depression far, far away from my mind. Lately I've been focusing intently on school, thinking about future plans, running, and doing a little art here and there. My passion for art mainly has been on the cartoons that I do, but recently I've fallen in love with the canvas. I've found a place in my painting that I finally feel comfortable in. Its a style that I finally feel comfortable in and that I can say, "Yeah, I painted that." rather than hiding it in a closet and being embarrassed about it.
I've always thought I was more inclined towards straight lines and squares, but as it turns out, I love circles. I love the fluidity of drawing them. I get a weird satisfaction of drawing the perfect circle. The circle is symbolic of so many things. Really, you can make a circle mean anything...
A while ago, someone told me that he considered my other paintings to be erotic. I was dumbfounded by this comment because my nudes were always self portraits of myself and in no way sexual. They were a way of being free in my body that I could not be in my real life and, to me, were filled with sadness. Regret. Inhibition. Self-loathing. http://bozena.typepad.com/canvases/
Interpretation is an interesting thing.
I think I want to be a bit more vague in my art now. Retract into myself is something that I do well when exposed. So, circles it is for the time being.
One day, you meet Love quite unexpectedly.
At first you are skeptical of this so-called Love. You`re like, "Love, I've never seen you before. I've heard of you, but never seen you around. Are you for real?"
You and Love spend long nights dreaming of the future together...all the things that could be.
But sometimes Love would frustrate you. It wouldn't do what you thought it should. It made you feel confined. Sometimes it made you sad. Sometimes you thought that perhaps you were better off before you ever met Love.
And then, one day, Love turns into something unrecognizable. The language Love is speaking is undecipherable. You are confused. You don't understand what happened to Love.
I've been in the grips of a mass depression this past month. Far worse than I've ever had before. Its been so bad that my lover has appointed a baby-sitter for me this week while he is away for work so that I don't do anything stupid.
Normally I would fight against this. I would argue that I'm okay. I have lived with it always and know the ins-and-outs of it. But this time it is so strong that I have to just hold up my arms and let people do what they believe is best for me because I'm not sure what that is right now. I don't know the 'out'. I have to accept the help that I am offered.
But there are a few things that I do know .....
I know that my lover loves me so truly. And he will never break my heart.
I know that I have strong friends to hold me up.
I don't even have a single Christmas decoration in my home. No Christmas tree. No lonely ornament hanging from a curtain rod. Not that I ever did, anyway. Once I made a 10-inch christmas tree out of paper and put it in the window, but that wasn`t a very happy Christmas.
A friend of mine was over last weekend and she expressed her desire to create traditions with her lover and was determined to wake him up early the next morning so that they could both decorate their Christmas tree together.
Maybe, one day, the tradition of Christmas will make sense to me. And I will fill my home with tradition and Christmas decorations. I do have my eye on an all-red christmas tree that would look great against my smokey blue living room walls, though. If I`m going to instill tradition in my life, I want it to at least be something slightly unconventional.
But this year, all I have in terms of festive decoration is this illustration.
I`m having a difficult time being festive this year as it is, anyway. When your lover calls you up and is falling apart because someone he loves is dying, when your new dog has been abused all his life and doesn`t trust people, when there is heartache all around, it is difficult to devote time to Christmas.
And even though I have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about Christmas, and even though there is grief all around, i think that tomorrow I will still go out and get that one Christmas decoration, as lonely as it may be, and hang it from the loneliest curtain rod in the house, just because I know that my lover loves Christmas and it will make him smile when he comes home.
This is Gordon. Our soon to be new-addition to the family. Steve and I visited him this afternoon and fell in love with him. Its not a done deal yet, but I think that Gordon's foster dads liked Steve and I the best of all the potential adopters.
We still don't know too much about Gordon. He is timid and gentle. He is estimated to be around 5 years old. He was rescued from a busted puppy mill in Quebec about four weeks ago where he was treated horribly and did not have human contact. His foster dads say that Gordon is just learning to be a dog and how to do dog things. He is just starting to understand the concept of treats and is very fearful of being on a leash. He just learned how to walk up and down stairs.
He has been kept in a tiny cage for five years. He has not been able to develop his muscles because of this so his back legs always shake. Up until 4 weeks ago he did not understand what it was to be touched or cuddled.
Steve and I are super excited to bring him home and give him an awesome life and to watch him progress and become more confident and grow to be the dog that he is meant to be.
Because I don't often blog, its really difficult for me to harness my thoughts and write about just one topic when so much has happened since the last time I blogged and now. So, sometimes I do these blogs called "Plural Effusions" which is just randomness that is packed into one post that probably doesn't make sense to anyone other than myself. But that's okay because blogging is supposed to be just for me, essentially, right?
Ummm....so, my lover is out of town tonight. Yay! Just me and my dog, Daisy. I love my lover very, very much. Tis why he is my lover. But I have to wonder if I am meant to cohabitate. I believe that I am at my most happiest when I am alone, when the house is quiet. When no one else is here to mess up the place. When no one is asking me where I am going, when I will come home, or what I did that day. My lover often complains that I don't talk to him enough. I get annoyed when he says this, but I think its true that I don't talk enough. I used to talk non-stop until I kept on getting in trouble by teachers in my pre-teens. This was looked down upon and they would report back to my parents telling them I was too verbal in class. I would get in trouble. And then try to be really good by not talking to my friends in class. And also, growing up as an only child with parents who didn't care about what I had to say. So, I talked to myself in my head. And now, I just go about my day and don't bother talking about it too much because that's what I've been taught. Sometimes I will spend hours with a friend and she will talk and I will listen and this is what I am used to. And I want to say things, but I don't want to interrupt. And its really frustrating for me sometimes. And now I'm 30 years old and there have been so many things that I have left unsaid. Or if I say them, they come out wrong because I am not used to so much talking, I think. And when words do come out, they are often to the extreme -- either they are really happy words or really sad/angry words -- words that can't be contained. I fear that my lover will be disheartened by all my sadness, but he always tells me "You lead with your heart and I like that." He is awesome.
On a different note, I've been having dreams about working at my old job lately. The job that I lost in August that I didn't want anyway. I keep dreaming that I am working there again. I think that there is a part of me that isn't letting go. I am still hurt. I thought I was over it because I moved on so quickly by enrolling in school almost right after I lost my job. But I'm not over it. Now I'm in school and there is the fear of the unknown. What will I do after school? What will I do between now and when I'm done school? How will I survive financially? My lover thinks that its the greatest thing in the world that I'm not working at that place anymore because he has seen a marked increase in my happiness factor since and also believes that I am on the right path and I am capable of so much more than that job, but life is difficult when there is no defined purpose. A good life not only consists of shelter, food and love. There needs to be purpose too. And I don't want my purpose to be making lots of money. If there is lots of money, it should be a by-product of my purpose. Currently I am in school pursing my purpose -- to be an awesome holistic nutritionist. But right now the purpose is just a daydream in my head. Making my purpose actually happen is the scary part. I see other people trying to create their purpose and it is a long, slow, arduous process. But all that hard work is better than helping someone else create their purpose, I think. Like some huge uncaring corporation that destroys the planet (which may or may not be my previous job). I don't want that kind of purpose.
And on yet a different note, I have a little website displaying my art. I have submitted it to two galleries, but have not heard anything from them. This is very discouraging. Why continue producing art if no one wants it? Originally, I thought I was just doing it for myself because I haven't tried to share it with people for so many years. But now I know no one wants it, so it leads me to believe that I DID want to share it with people and now I find it difficult to create more because the galleries haven't responded to me. Its the rejection that I have always feared. I should give myself credit for putting it out there, but mostly I'm just embarrassed. But on the bright side, I'm not as afraid to show it anymore, so if you're interested, here it is: http://bozena.typepad.com/art/
Also, I want to thank Revenue Canada for forgiving me a $1200 fine. I often feel helpless when it comes to our government because they take and they take and they take. But today, the nice man on the other end of the line said, "Okay, I'll just put zeros in here and you won't owe anything." I am so grateful for this because I am currently unemployed and don't have that kind of money presently. I know his name and want to send him a thank-you card. He has no idea what a tremendous help he has been in my life today.
And eventhough I have no money right now, I know of a little dog that needs a home and some love and I want him to be part of our family:
Here he is. His owners apparently didn't understand the responsibility of having a dog and felt that someone else could better take care of him. Hopefully things work out well. My only reservation is that Daisy will feel less loved. Daisy has been my one-and-only for over 9 years now. He's not the smartest, but he's very intuitive, which makes up for it. He is love embodied. He saved me when I was at my lowest and saddest. He fills my heart when it is dehydrated and makes it overflow.
Here's what you don't do: You don't surprise your lover in bed by biting his buttocks while he is turned away from you setting his alarm clock. I have come to learn this lesson the hard way because this action turned into a swift reaction from him which created contact with his arm and my chin and therefore resulted in what was a dislocated jaw. It was painful, but whatever. I can deal with that. I can sleep that off and wait to see a doctor the next day. But what I can't live with is a lower jaw that is shifted to the right and skews my entire face and makes me look like a monster.
11 P.M. and off to the emergency room we go. I'm already stressed out because of this stupid jaw situation, but in addition, I had a test scheduled early the next morning and I NEEDED my sleep. Oh, and what stressed me out even MORE was when my lover, rather than quickly rushing out the door with me to go to the hospital, thought that he would first rummage through the fridge for something to eat.
I also learned that, although I am afforded free health care in this wonderful country o' mine, my tax dollars can only pay for one emergency room doctor, which translates into a two-hour wait time on a slow night at the hospital.
I inquired as to how much longer I would have to wait and I was next on the list behind a few people, one of which was a woman who fell on her face and had already been waiting for hours. So, I decided to take myself off the waiting list. There were way more needy people there than me that night. But seriously, is that the way our health care system should work?
Oops, I hurt myself. Let me assess for myself whether my time is more valuable than my health. And then let me assess where on the scale of severe to really severe my injury falls into and then decide if I'm willing to spend three hours or so in a waiting room.
I could go on a rant here about how there aren't enough doctors here and that they're not getting paid enough for what the do and that's why they're fleeing across the border and that's why a specialist appointment for me to have LUMP checked out months ago took 5 weeks (and that was fast!) and how everyone blames doctors and hospitals, but really its what we call 'government'. And they're raising taxes this year and where is my money going? I have wonderful ideas as to where 35% of my income should have been going for the past fifteen years. But I'll stop there.
So, what I'm trying to do here, in essence, is to give you some advice. If your lover ever accidentally injures you because you were doing something slightly ridiculous to him, do this: Look into his eyes lovingly and ask him if he could have possibly hit you any harder because, really, he'd be doing you a favor, because if you're unconscious, you'll get in to see the doctor IMMEDIATELY. Its the truth. You'll get bumped up to the top of the list.
Disclaimer: This post in no way advocates violence against women.
So, I'm into week three of being unemployed. Its true what they say about time going by quickly when you're having fun. These these weeks are going by quickly. I've always wondered what it would be like to not work and it is wooooonderful, to say the least.
But its not like I'm sitting around on the couch not doing anything. Apart from wasting some time playing Wii (I'm working on Super Paper Mario at the moment -- its awesome), I've been running, painting, going up to a friend's cottage, lots of dog walking, reconnecting with friends, reading, going on little day trips with my lover, staying up late... This is the holiday that that I've been yearning for for years and years. I can actually say that I'm truly happy now.
I start school tomorrow at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and I couldn't be more looking forward to it and devoting my time to being a student again. And not only that, but I'm excited to be devoting my time to GOOD things. Things that are good for me. I've always known that the corporate world wasn't for me. And now that I'm free from it, I couldn't be more pleased. Of course losing my job was devastating to me at the time. I felt betrayed, hurt, unwanted, undervalued, alone, amputated from a life and people that I spent years with. But that stuff doesn't last long.
Change is happening so quickly for me right now. Not only am I starting school tomorrow which will lead me to a career that I will love and value, but I am now (after many years of denying it) an ARTIST and will work as one. Wow, that sentence was very difficult for me to write. I've been down-playing my art, my love of it, and keeping it small and mostly hidden. Now it will be coming out into the world. I have a few very special people in my life who I have to thank for teaching me the courage it takes to put myself out there and to slowly become more transparent and to live my life as me. You know who you are, but I just have to mention it here because I am so thankful and grateful.
Firstly I have to thank Krista who, at the cottage this past weekend gave me a talk about working as an artist now. We were soaking up the sun at the beach and she has this way of suggesting things that sound so nonchalant, but are so powerful. Also, Cindy who is my life coach and now a friend that I cherish with all my heart, who has been working with me to reach this goal for a very, very long time. Thirdly, I have to thank my life lover, Steve, who has encouraged me from the time that I met him and now is my actual agent, and will be selling my art. And I definitely have to thank Connie who has a painting of mine that I did way back in high school hanging up in her bedroom and brags about it to people as though she owns a Picasso. Also, Debra who always tells me that she loves my art. And I have to thank the person(s) responsible for me losing my job, because without them this either wouldn't be happening or would have taken a much, much longer time.
So, so far, apart from the short bouts of feelings of loss and mourning over my job and the people that I spent years with, this force that has been let loose in my life has been nothing but good. And we all deserve good. Everything that was lost is filled up with good things. I wish I could use a better word than 'good', but this simple word, when truly spoken, fills me up. And so, I feel good. And when I say it in my head it sounds more like, 'Goooooood' accompanied with a grand smile on my face with my eyes closed. Like when you put an exquisite piece of chocolate in your mouth. (Or, in my case, when I put an exquisite piece of caramel in my mouth, or a delightful piece of sushi or butter paneer or roti.)
This post has been littered with art that I did at the cottage with Krista. A long time ago, when life was a little simpler, a little less complicated, we would do create art together on a regular basis. Her on one side of the table, me on the other, a bottle of wine between us and art supplies surrounding us. This has always topped my list of best memories and it was so incredible to do that again this past weekend with her.
So, my art (so far) will consist of greeting cards (some of which are posted here) along with canvases (which I have not posted) of nudes which are a little more on the serious side. The nudes are representations of me and body image (which is what I have been struggling with all my life). I'm submitting my canvases to galleries in the Hamilton area this month. This, to me, is frightening. I fear rejection. But I'm going to do it anyway. I've been through some pretty tough rejection with losing my job and all, so I think that I'm prepared.
Here goes nothin'.
Just jump in.
The water is cold...
...but once you're in it, it feels good.
There's this cupcake place near where I live, simply called "Cupcakes". These things are incredible. Normally you think of a cupcake as a little cake with frosting on top. But these things are like magic.
And I lost my job this week. I'm shifting between nausea, excitement, tears, optimism, anger, and loneliness. I am somewhere in between mourning and celebration. The loneliness is what I feel the most, though. Its the strongest at nighttime and when I awake. I'm trying to just feel all the feelings as they come rather than rushing through the bad ones in a hurry to make myself feel better and because of this I have found calm. Still, everything feels like its bigger than me right now.
So, I guess I'm going to just take the next week or so and be really good to myself. Things like running everyday. Taking Daisy to the dog park each evening. Staying up late and sleeping in past 7am. Painting. Reading. Convincing my lover to skip work in favor of going to an amusement park with me. Enjoying the last bit of summer as though I had nothing to worry about. And dammit, I deserve a lemony cupcake with a delicious, gooey, lemon-filled center and a mountain of delicious frosting so, I'm going to get one of those too.
Sometimes I worry that you will forget about me. Maybe for a day. Maybe for an afternoon. Of maybe just for even a moment. Just long enough to change everything.
I haven't been blogging much lately. Not that I blog much anyway. I've been "arting" on canvas which is a step up from doodling, I guess.
Tonight I painted this:
...whilst thinking of my lover who is out of town for work tonight.
Now I'm going to go pee, brush my teeth, put on very un-sexy pajamas, cuddle up with my dog in bed and read my book ("The Gum Thief" by Douglas Coupland) until I fall asleep.
I am moving next week This is my last weekend in this apartment and I wonder what ghosts I will leave behind. What memories that only these walls will know and never speak of. The person who moves in here next will think that my ghost liked vibrant, rich colours. And that's the only part that will haunt her unless he or she paints over these colours and then my ghost will be gone.
Which makes me think of all the ghosts that I've left behind...the people that I used to know, the lovers, the old jobs, old bosses. Ghosts that I don't even know about. The people that perhaps I made an impression on that I don't recall. The people I've embarrassed myself infront of that I don't remember either. Perhaps there is a cashier somewhere that remembers me. Or someone in a bar who's name or face I don't remember.
Everywhere we go we leave a piece of ourselves. Often we don't think what part of ourselves we're leaving behind as we zip from point A to point B.
So, after this weekend, I'm headed to point B and I feel like I'm leaving a lot of ghosts behind that I'm not ready to leave. But I'm headed for somewhere else where I'll be creating new memories which in time will turn into more ghosts when I head for somewhere else. That's just the way it goes.
Dozens of pugs on the loose. A dream come true. All these little fur balls running up to me looking for attention, giving kisses.
I'm not sure if Daisy had such a great time. He prefers humans to dogs, but I hope that he took away something positive from this experience -- a bit of interest in other dogs, a curiosity of what they are about. He's very tentative around other dogs, only going up to them when they have turned away and he thinks they are not looking. I hope that he got over some of his fears that day.
My heart swelled during the times when he left my side to investigate his surroundings and check out other dogs and greet other people. I was so proud of him.
There may be more pugs in my life. Steve and I are moving in together in 3 weeks and we will have a BIG backyard and we`re considering being foster parents to rescued pugs without homes. I think it will be difficult for me to say goodbye to the pugs after they`ve been placed with their forever families. And how will the new BEIGE couch fair with all the pugs, I wonder. There`s also the issue of Steve not wanting the pugs to sleep in our bed with us (other than Daisy, of course). Hmmmm...not sure how I feel about that. Falling asleep in a bed with Steve and a couple of snoring pugs sounds like a sweet dream to me. We shall see how it goes.
Might be time to upgrade to a king size bed. I`ve always known my heart was bigger than a queen size.
To see a photo of ALL the mommies and daddies with their pugs click here.
I took a much needed day off from work last Tuesday to recover from a depression that I didn't think I'd be able to see my way out of. I spent a day playing, laughing, loving, and eating soup at Hamilton's annual Soup Fest. Maybe soup is better for far more than just colds. Not that I'm credit soup to my feeling better. I think my depression just ran its course as it does every once in a while.
When it was over (which I'm hoping it is) I remembered a recent conversation my life coach and I had. Its not often I ask her questions about herself, but when I do, or when she offers information about herself, I devour her every word and secretly hold back joy when she divulges pieces of herself. So, anyway, we were talking about the concept of the things we know for sure. These are the things that we truly believe. Listening to what you believe from the depths of yourself, beneath all those layers that the world around us has enveloped us in. When she presented this question to me, of what I know for certain, I was stumped. Not a single thing ran through my mind. So, I asked her the same question and she answered it effortlessly. And not only did she give me one answer, but she gave me several. One of her answers was "I know for sure that love conquers all". She knew what it sounded like when she said it -- cliche, ordinary, simplistic. But when she said it, I believed her. I could tell, without her telling me everything in parentheses, that this woman has been through some shit in her life and now she believes that this is true.
So, upon my awakening from a selfish, loathsome, mean waking sleep, I remembered her statement of love conquering it all. I remembered it in parallel with the memory of my lover holding me while I cried, yelled, and tried to push him away. I remembered it at the memory of my lover's face filled with helplessness and tears because he didn't know how to help me. I remembered it at the memory of my lover not leaving my side as I raged against him, tried to kick him out of my apartment, tried to break up with him. He loved me during every ugly minute.
I wasn't sure if I was excited about the party or if I was excited about the dress. I quickly realized when I arrived at the party that it was the dress. The dress was a month in the making. I chose the style. The pattern. Had four fittings. Saw it from conception to its birth. A dress all my own. A one of a kind. Fit me perfectly. Like it was a part of me.
I felt pretty that night. I don`t normally feel like that. It felt nice.
I also wasn`t feeling social that night, so I spent the evening trying to avoid people, which isn`t easy at a work Christmas party. I think that I`m just not a social person in general. Actually, I don`t think that. I know that. But what I am, however, is completely comfortable being in the spotlight. Put me in front an audience and I`m on. Which is precisely what happened at the party. I was trying to hide away in corners, but when it came time to draw the names and announce the winners of a game that we were playing in front of a group of people I felt completely at home.
Which is weird because I`m supposed to be presenting four training sessions at work with my boss, and he had to back out of two of them. I went into total panic mode at the thought of doing the training sessions by myself. Suddenly the spotlight was frightening to me. I went to him and told him that I felt uncomfortable doing the training on my own and told him that I think that I lacked the `charisma` to do it on my own. He laughed and offered up someone else to accompany me and said, `You bring the knowledge and I`ll find someone to bring the charisma`.
In that moment I felt immense relief at not having to present the training on my own. But truthfully, I kind of wish that he didn`t let me off the hook so easily.
I think sometimes I just need a little push to do scary things.
Perhaps if I wore my dress, it would make this stint in the spotlight a little easier.
You. You waste away on the couch. In front of the television. Day and night. Day after day. Living your life in talk shows and game shows. You feed your depression with anger, indifference, gambling, cigarettes and alcohol.
You. You haven't left the house in years. Haven't picked up the phone. Have done nothing.
I tried to help you. I told you how much it pained me to see you this way. How I've been through the same thing and got better so that you could see that there was hope. How to watch you do this to yourself made me unwell.
You. You cried. You told me that you had nothing to live for. That you were just waiting to die.
You. You accused me of being a narcissist. Selfish for trying to help you. You hated me with all your might in that moment. I could feel it.
I had to walk away.
You. You are my mother. And I'm standing here alone just like I was when I was a little girl, not knowing what to do next. Not sure if there is something to do next. I'm just waiting for this to be over.
I am longing for summer and fall has just begun. I am mourning summer as I do every year from October through April -- when I can walk Daisy straight out of bed in the morning without having to put on layers and layers of clothes.
I am in my apartment alone and loving it. It is clean and tidy and there's nothing better than just hanging out alone in a clean space with nothing to do apart from things I actually want to do.
I am in the middle of painting a painting on a canvas which I haven't done in a very, very long time.
I am watching a remake of the original 'Night of the Living Dead' and its scaring the shit out of me because zombies are my BIGGEST irrational fear. But I've watched enough zombie movies and read enough zombie books to be confident as to what to do in a zombie situation.
I am tired and going to bed soon and I am going to leave the bedside lamp on because I am spooked after having watched that movie.
I love living alone. I love coming home to an empty apartment after work. I like cleaning the bathroom at 7am before work if I feel like it. I like having the whole bed to myself. I like cuddling my dog when I sleep. I like the silence. The stillness. The calm. I like having no demands. I feel fortunate for this. I relish it. I can do anything I want without distraction. Without having someone ask me, "When are you going to be finished doing that?" or "What do you want to do next?" or "When will you be home?" or "What do you feel like having for dinner?"
He doesn't understand this. It scares him.
And I don't understand why he would want to be so enmeshed in my life. And it scares me.
In my perfect world I picture myself living in his own space and him in his own. And we breeze in and out of each other`s lives when we want to.
The funny thing is...the more women I mention this to, the more I discover that I'm not alone in this. These are women who are married. These are women who are single. The desire to be with someone, yet be alone.
I had my heart set on cleaning out the spare bedroom tonight -- going through boxes where I've stored old receipts, old household appliance and electronics manuals, random papers and ex-lovers. I wanted to cleanse myself of some past lives and create space. Not space that I can fill up again. I just wanted to create space. I've never been a sentimental person and its not difficult for me to throw away letters, photos, mementos. However, my unsentimentallity combined with my bad memory means that without the mementos, I may forget things forever. I'm okay with that, though.
But there was one thing that I could not throw out. Amongst the photos, notes, a manual from my first cell phone, critical life insurance policies and the like, there was a letter. From about seven lovers ago. He had written it to me years after we had broken up. He loved me fiercely. The sorrow and reget in that letter -- his words -- still break my heart. I want to keep that heartbreak. Even if its only his and not mine. Its the saddness that I want to keep. Hurt and saddness are things that are often pushed out too quickly and rushed to be forgotten.
Maybe I just want to remember that I was once loved so much.
This week in my Life Coaching session I had an "Aha!" moment. You know...when a connection is made in your mind and you realize why you do the things that you do and your life suddenly makes a little more sense, but it FREAKS you out that you went about living your whole adult life not knowing.
My "Aha!" moment was slow to register. I had it in my session on Friday, and I started freaking out about it the following Tuesday.
Here's a brief, itemized synopsis of what brought me to this pivotal point:
1. I started Life Coaching to work on the following things: communication, transparency and career advancement within my company.
2. Life Coaching took a drastic turn after the topic of my love of creating art kept coming up. The focus continued to be on communication and transparency, but the career development part turned into a two-year plan to get me out of the corporate office world and into one where I'm living a life where I'm doing what makes me happy and harnessing the confidence to believe I can sustain myself doing it. And then actually living it.
3. I posted a while ago about how I was raised to believe that expressing emotion was highly undesirable, which was a post that spawned from one of my Life Coaching sessions.
4. In my most recent Life Coaching session I realized that I express my emotions through my art, but I keep my art small, generally hidden, and I don't take care of it after it is finished.
5. The actual "Aha!" is this: I do the same thing with my art that I've been taught to do with my emotions...keep them hidden, highly private and undervalued. Of course I've always done that! My art is an expression of feeling and feelings are NOT to be expressed (or so I've believed all these years).
No wonder its such an embarrassment to me to talk about my art, display it, or accept any sort of compliment about it. And what if someone CRTICIZED my art? Would that be a direct attack on my emotions? I probably would have thought so before last Friday.
I do believe that I'm standing in a different spot now. The view from where I am now is a little different. I am in a bit of awe...I have a little wonder. I am certain. I am fearful. I am climbing. I am washing all the floors in the world. I am accepting this task.
I do believe that I am opening. And I am climbing out of the box that I've been living in and seeing all the dust that has settled around me and I am washing it away.
A slow and arduous task it is. I am hating it and relishing it at the same time.
I do believe I've heaved myself out of a tiny little box only to find that I am within yet another, bigger box and will have to heave myself out of that one and stand on top of it as well. And wash another world of floors. And when I am done, I will do it all over again.
A constant shifting and reshaping of life. Constant change. I read the other day, "We are all unfinished portraits." How true that is. How utterly boring life would be if we got to where we wanted to go and stayed there. Closed the box. And let the dust settle.
Love isn't typically part of my vocabulary when it comes to men. If you are a man, you will never hear me tell you that I love you. I will sign my letters "luv" or scribble a heart above my name. I cannot say "love" to you. The word is reserved. I don't know for who. I don't know when or if it will ever come out of my mouth. I feel it sometimes. I feel it sometimes so much that there is an ache somewhere inside of me. And not letting the word come out makes the ache stronger. But as is with most aches, it goes away. I let it pass. I let it go. It goes away. And I get over it.
Backspace...backspace...backspace...backspace and its gone.
I imagine that if the word were to ever escape my lips it would be a spillage. Bright red letters flowing from my mouth onto my pillow and pouring into your ear.
And I wonder what would happen if those words spilled into your ear. Would they make it from your ear to your heart? What would happen? I don't know, so I don't take the risk.
We are laying in bed. I say to you, "Its been a really long time since I've had my heart broken. Like, really REALLY broken."
You say, "I would never break your heart."
"Its okay. I'm ready." I say.
I devoted this weekend to Daisy and painting. I'm working on four paintings right now, but I can't post them just yet. I'm really pleased with them, which for me, is not an easy thing to admit.
Today was bath day. Look how cute.
To me, when I think of the word "whimsy", I imagine a frail branch that extends from a very strong tree. Even though the branch is attached to something very strong, even the slightest wind can sometimes make it feel as though it will break off at any moment, but it won't.
That's not the definition of the word, but that's what it made me think of. To me, its like a combination of the words flimsy and wind and wit and will.
I painted this tonight, not thinking about much of anything. Often I'll paint and then decide what it means to me afterward.
Sometimes I go down to the market and buy daisies. Some people think that they are weeds, but I think they are pretty. And sometimes I feel like I shouldn't have them in a vase on my kitchen table -- that they should have been left to grow in a field and live out their lives in a more natural way -- not as some pretty thing in my apartment, only to be thrown in the green bin two weeks later.
This painting makes me think of all the beautiful things that we destroy in order to create other things that aren't so beautiful, but we think that we need them -- more suburbs, more highways, more bridges, more golf courses, more parking lots. More, more, more. Lets just destroy all the beautiful things and look at what they used to be in magazines.
I've been feeling a little bit exposed lately. So, now I have two choices: hide in a corner or dance. I think I'm going to dance, even though it makes me feel a little bit silly and awkward. Even though it it may not look pretty. Even if its a little messy. Dancing never, ever made anyone feel bad, right? (And just so you know, I'm using the word "dancing" as a metaphor. I'm not really going dancing, but you probably already know that).
On a different and somewhat comical note...here's a little story:
I haven't been home much this week. When I'm not home my apartment tends to get messy. I can't stand it when its messy, but there's not much I can do about it when I've suffered four fashion crises four days in a row in a messy blur trying to get ready for work. There were jackets and shoes on the living room floor...dishes in the sink from the DAY BEFORE...dog hair all over the carpet.
So, last night I was home at a regular-ish time, so I decided to tackle the bathroom first. While I was scrubbing and sweeping I heard a knock on my door.
It was my neighbour, Martha, from downstairs. She's this awesome lady in her 70's, but you'd never guess it. In the past she has given me muffins for shoveling her back deck, her amazing embroidery as a welcome gift after moving into the apartment, pie for Thanksgiving.
Anyway, last night she came up to my apartment to ask me if I would bring her mail in the next day because she wouldn't be home until late the next night. I noticed that as she was talking to me that she was glancing around my apartment, but it didn't even occur to me that she was taking in all the mess around us.
So, today, I came home from work and I saw in front of my door a pile of magazines with a note from Martha expressing her thanks for bringing in her mail. It totally made me smile. How sweet.
Upon entering my apartment, I looked through the magazines that she had left me. Among them were such magazines as, "Home & Country" and "Home Basics" with articles that featured "97 Simple Secrets to Clutter-Free Living", "Small Spaces -- Quick Solutions for Every Room" and "Pretty Decorating Ideas".
At first, I didn't think anything of it, but upon second glance, I couldn't help but wonder...did she give me these magazines because of what she saw last night? And that thought made me smile even more. Martha is lookin' out for me.
This is what came out of my Life Coaching session today. This is how I’ve been living my life up until now. This is how I was taught to be. This is what I believe.
I hate bringing up the past for fear that I sound like I’m blaming someone or something for the way that I am now, but in this instance, I think it has a significant bearing. In simple terms, I was raised by a mother who doled out severe repercussions for having emotions. Growing up, I cannot recall an instance of being hugged or consoled when I was upset, nor was I ever asked what may be upsetting me. Instead, any tears or sad faces were met with yelling from my mother demanding that I smile and be happy.
So, I developed a coping mechanism: to smile and be happy on the outside (but not too much because that would arouse suspicion) and keep any negative emotions and feelings tucked away. And that strategy seemed to work throughout my childhood. I compromised the person I was or could have been in order to satiate my mother’s constant bad mood and mood swings.
But this strategy didn’t work so well for me in the real world when I started coming into adulthood. It didn’t work with other people. It kept me from developing deep relationships with people, kept me from talking about myself, kept me from connecting with people, kept me from experiencing life fully. I didn’t know how to handle all the emotions that come with growing up, with change, with the adult decisions that I had to make and how to be in adult relationships.
Suddenly, what had once proved to be an effective coping mechanism was about to burst – everything I had so skillfully masked was about to be exposed for all to see and that was not something I was ready or capable of dealing with at the time.
Hello eating disorder. You saved me from emotional catastrophe. For over six years you kept me focused and unfeeling. I had you to tend to during my every waking moment which freed me to continue to bury anything that resembled emotion. Even the good stuff (in time it became difficult to even distinguish good feelings from negative ones).
I have been recovered from my eating disorder for a long time now, but I’m still going through life unaffected, or trying to be.
So, I’m sitting there in my Life Coaching session today reluctant to fully participate for fear of this or that, you know how it goes. It took everything in me to share with my life coach that I believe that I was raised to not show emotion. Now I’m at the point where even if I did try to express it, I fear that it wouldn’t come out genuinely. I don’t know how to let myself do that. Not only did I reveal this information, but along with the revelation came tears. Here I was, doing exactly what I have been taught not to do.
And now I don’t know what to do with this newfound insight. It’s like there is this gigantic, messy clump of emotion sitting beside me staring at me and willing me to look at it, however, I’m reluctant to make eye contact with it.
Okay, yeah I KNOW you’re there. You’ve been there all along, but today is the first time I’ve been able to become acquainted with you. Just give me sometime to let this sink in before I deal with you head-on. I’ve let you get so big and unmanageable that, right now, you look very scary to me.
Used to think that eating was at the top of his list, but one day I found out that I was #1 when I had put his food in his bowl and went to the front door. He freaked out because he thought I was leaving and he left his food and followed me.
I coloured this pen drawing in photoshop which now I am thinking was definitely not the way to go. I thought that it would look cleaner and neater, but I like the messiness of watercolour.
Me + Daisy = Art!
Daisy has, for a long time now, been a huge inspiration to me and my art. I just finished making 16 cards in 2 evenings, each featuring Daisy. He wasn't my only inspiration though...I just finished reading Julia Cameron's memoir. It was laced with references to one of her books, "The Artist's Way" in which she urges artists/writers to write three pages per day. In one month, three pages per day will equal to roughly 100 pages -- easily the beginnings of a novel.
Now, I don't write novels, but I did start off with three cards per day and used older art to make the rest of the cards. If my cards were a novel, it would be titled "Waiting for January...". The "waiting" part is because Daisy is seems to always be waiting for me...waiting for me to wake up...waiting for me to give him breakfast and dinner...waiting for me to come home from work...waiting for me to go to bed...waiting to go for a walk...waiting for me to say something in my conversations with him that he recognizes, like the word "treat" or "walk" or "car" or "grandpa". The "January" part is because that month always holds some hope of new beginnings for people, or a renewed sense of hope -- everything old suddenly seems new in January. And that's the way Daisy (or any dog for that matter) lives. Each day to Daisy is like January 1st.
So now I have 16 cards. I have no idea what I will do with them all. And I have no idea what I will do with the ones that I create in the coming days...months...years. But I do know that I don't want them stuffed in a closet like the rest of my art.
Choice. Choose. Chosen. Hmph...how easy is it to choose? There is a huge web of thoughts behind each choice. From the apple you choose at the grocery store...to the absorbency of tampon you purchase at the drug store...to the people you choose to have in your life...to what the latest possible time you choose to wake up in the morning and still make it to work on time. Choice is usually a quick, messy calculation in my mind. I think I choose well. I don't know. I choose and hope for the best. So far, so good.