Love Is

What is love?

People have their own definition of it. But I think most people do not really understand it. They have an idea or an expectation of what it means, but they are too afraid to truly feel what love is. So, let me define it for you right now. Love is appreciation. Nothing more and nothing less. The highest form of feeling is appreciation. It’s a vibe and an energy that has no expectations. It is a constant element in life. Like energy, it just is. Love is our spirit or soul. Love is what we are in spiritual form. There is no beginning or ending to love. It exists and is therefore a part of every single person on this planet. It does not require anything to be given back. Love is given because it can be given and it feels amazing to give it, but love should not be given with the hope of getting anything in return.

If you tell another person you love them and then expect them to love you in return, that is not love. That is expectation. If you love someone because you believe their actions are justified as ‘right’, that is not love. That is judgement. You may feel that I am wrong in my assessment, but I assure you I am not. Now, just to make it clear, I am not talking about romantic love or the act of being in love. I am speaking of unconditional, divine love. A love that allows each and every one of us free will, regardless of the outcome of whatever choices we make.

When I was growing up, love was given and then taken away. If I acted according to what was deemed ‘right’, I was loved. If I acted in a way that was ‘wrong’, love was taken away. I was told I was not loved anymore. I could never figure out how to turn love on and off. For me, no matter what, I still loved. That feeling never went away. I could get angry and upset and wish that my life was elsewhere, but I never let go of love. I believe that is in part why I never converted to the dark side of life. I think that is what saved my sanity. I know now that it was said as a punishment and to make me feel like I was unworthy, to keep me in line and to control me.

To this day, I continue to love those that dislike me or even hate me. Not because I believe it will change their minds, but because I know that this is who I am. I cannot be otherwise and I accept this willingly. It is a very easy thing to love those that love us. It is a whole different ball game to love those that reject us or despise us. It is hard to do at first when you are programmed to return whatever feeling is given to you. Hate is given, so hate is returned. Anger is given, so anger is returned. It is a useless and empty cycle. I choose to break that cycle. I have no fear of being rejected or despised. It is irrelevant because I love freely and have no expectations. However, it took me time and a lot of practice to let go of the expectations. It takes strength and courage to watch someone walk out of your life and choose to continue loving them while letting them choose their own life.

I encourage you to think about this change in perception. It can be life altering. It can be the difference between defining your life in the way you choose or be defined by life’s circumstances. You can transform your life, your person, your thoughts and your perceptions with unconditional love. The only real thing we have control over in life, is who we are and what we project out in this world. I say, let us project as much love as we possibly can. Let us appreciate the hell out of this world. Goodness knows, the world can use it!

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Take That Chance

I feel some life changes coming. I am not sure when these changes will happen, but they will happen and every bit of my life will be in transition. I look forward to that. As a matter of fact, I am damn well excited about it.

My life, for so many years, has had a great number of ups and downs. The dynamics of many of my relationships with family and friends have been altered and changed. Most for the better. A few I have had to completely walk away from. Yet, there is one area that has been stagnant for far too long. And though I have tried to make a change, I have not had much success. That is about to change, for success is all there is left for me to experience. There has been a shift and I plan on taking full advantage of it.

For the last 2 years, I have slowly been stepping out of my shell. I have been building a support system that is far different from what I have had in the past 10 years or so. New friends and connections are stepping into my life. Where once I shied away from these types of connections, I am now embracing them and ready to accept the heart-felt offerings of friendship. I am also finding that I have far more in common with them than I ever could have imagined. It is proof that the inner work I have been doing for many years now is paying off. I have changed on the inside and find myself attracting a different type of friendship or connection. Which indicates that I am ready to make some much needed and wanted changes in my outside world.

For a long time, I have felt that I did not have many options to making any lasting changes. In my heart, I knew there were many more options than I was willing to look at. Fear kept me from acknowledging them. I refuse to let fear get the better of me anymore. I now know my future is wide open. I now know I have options to really shake up what has become stagnant and dull. I am more than willing to make those options my reality. I am willing to take the chance of breaking out of what has become a rut and seeking to forge a new path. I am willing to upset the status quo and those who advocate it. My next step in life is to take that chance to change what needs to be changed. And I will love it with my whole being, no matter what the outcome.

One Doubt At A Time

I have been trying to change my life by changing how I think about my life. It is not an easy endeavor. I took a hiatus this summer to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation. I have been going through these periods of extreme doubt. I doubt my ability, my worth, my art, my looks, my connections to other people. I still find it amazing how much doubt I harbor within myself. I am learning how to quiet that voice inside me that wants to keep me from stepping into my glory.

Every once in a while, when I am attempting to explain the meaning behind my art, I get lost. I cannot seem to articulate the feelings and sensations I experience. In the end, I always feel like a complete idiot and the person I am talking to looks at me as if I am crazy. I walk away doubting myself and my art, feeling naked and vulnerable.  I know this is my own fear of being judged. Why we assign so much relevance to what others think of us is beyond me. I think my next step to conquer this fear, is to write about what each painting means to me and share it with the world. Every doubt I can face and release, is one step closer to the person I know I am inside. I still have a ways to go but I am confident I will achieve my goals as long as I remember to take it one doubt at a time.

Let It Go

I have a hard time letting go. I can let it be, I can let it slide, I can wait it out, but I cannot seem to just ‘let it go’. It seems I like to cling onto the guilt that weighs me down. How do I just let it go? How do I not feel guilty for the behavior of others?

I have come to the conclusion that I need to figure out why I cannot let it go. This is not an easy thing to figure out. Each and every situation is different and brings with it a different set of emotions. Every self-help book I have read suggests that it is an easy thing to do. It is not! How can you let something go when you do not even realize why these emotions cling to you? How is it that it is easier to hold on to that guilt than to let it go, even when you know you will be better served by casting it out?

For instance, I have a friend that showed up to my house one night, bloody and broken. He’d been jumped by 5 guys and they broke his nose. I flipped out and he proceeded to try to fix himself. I was absolutely no help to him what-so-ever. I had no car and no phone with which to get help for him. He reset his nose in my bathroom. The next thing I knew, he was out the door to go find help. I had no idea that I was watching him walk out of my life. For 20 years, I wondered what happened. For 20 years, I wondered why I did not do more. To this day, I feel guilty for not helping him more. I feel guilty for not staying by his side while he sought help. I have for all these years, blamed myself for losing him.

I am still trying to let this guilt go. I will eventually succeed at this seemingly easy task. One of the first things I have to recognize is that his actions contributed to this situation as well. There are many things that could have happened differently that would have changed the outcome. So why do I put all the blame squarely on my shoulders? I think one of the reasons I do this is because I have always valued him more than myself. He was a very important person to me and he never even knew it. He still is. Why assign blame to someone when it is easier just to carry that burden myself? It is easier for me to blame myself than to blame someone to whom I keep close to my heart.

There are all kinds of deceptive ways to undermine one’s self-worth and that is exactly what I have been doing for all these years. I am learning that I need to apply the value I see in others to myself. It is not an easy thing to do when you have been practicing self sabotage for most of your life. There is a part of me that would love to tell this friend that I blame him too, but I probably won’t and it really does not matter either way. What I really need to do is forgive myself. I need to continue to tell myself that I am allowed to make mistakes too. I need to continue to build my own self worth so I can honestly let go of this guilt and move on. How long it takes me depends on whether I am willing to look for evidence of self-worth or whether I will continue to look for evidence of unworthiness. Any confirmation will be in direct relation to what I choose to focus on. Maybe I should start by taking a good look at my own paintings. The brilliant potential I paint of others is a reflection of my own brilliant potential. I tend to forget that, so maybe it is time that I focus on helping myself as much as I help others. And maybe by helping myself, I will be better prepared to help others in a more meaningful way. The possibilities are endless. All I have to do is let it go.

…And It’s So Lonely On A Limb

I have been listening to The Smiths a lot lately. I discovered them back in the mid-80’s while in high school. I loved them. They were different and few people I knew had heard of them. Their sound fit me perfectly. (Thank you Johnny Marr.) They were outside of the mainstream music of that time, plus they had something to say about life on a much deeper level.

However, I stopped listening to them after my daughter was born. Not for any particular reason. I just sort of stopped being in the mood for them. And yes, it takes a certain mood to listen to Morrissey and his lyrics. It was a rare occasion to pull out one of their albums and listen to the whole thing. To be honest, for a few years, I had a really hard time listening to Morrissey bitch and complain. That is how I thought of it. I would think, ‘Good God! Could he whine any more than he already had?’ It was only when I was feeling sentimental and victimized that I could relate anymore.

In this last year, I have become re-acquainted with them. Only this time, it is better. I do not have to feel maudlin or depressed to enjoy what I hear. It is not their message but the feeling of who I was and a knowing that part of that person is still alive and well inside me. I have now moved on from what I felt the first time I fell in love with them. I have changed, my view of life has changed, my inner being has changed. I can now enjoy this music and at the same time still feel connected to my past, without a change in mood or emotion. This shift in perception is amazing because I can now see the path of who I was and how it helped lead me to who I am today.

These songs that have meant so much to me are another reminder of my inner strength. They remind me that it is a good thing to be opinionated, to stand out when I want to, to forge my own path, to do life my way. I used to take risks and not worry about falling or failing. I had faith that life would work out for me. At some point, I lost that faith and fear filled in. It has been incredibly hard to clear out that fear so faith can once again reign, but I am determined to achieve that goal. I am determined to continue to take those steps forward and not worry if the ground is solid enough. I am once again willing to take a risk and see what happens. I am ready and I will happily sing along to some quirky lyrics while I walk along this path of the unknown. I have faith I am right where I need to be and that the ground I walk on is solid and stable.

A Passion Found

Finding my passion in life was a long road. I wound around and meandered through many different events before I found what really thrilled me.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had the good fortune of being able to choose to be a stay-at-home mom. I loved every single moment of it. The cooking, the cleaning, tending to my daughter… all of it. I was good at it too. I had finally found something that brought me a certain satisfaction inside. A pride I had never known before. It lasted only a few years.

By the time my son was born, almost 5 years later, that feeling had faded. I still loved being a mom and the things that went along with it, but the emptiness I had felt all my life had returned. My life had changed dramatically and I was having a hard time adjusting to it. It was the beginning of a dark time for me and I was retreating inward. The more I retreated, the angrier I got. Life was simply unfair and I felt that I was paying the price for other people’s actions and decisions. I felt helpless and powerless. The only joy I had were my kids. The rest of my life swirled around me and all I could do was watch.

In the past 10 years or so, I have had many things happen. From financial ruin to cancer to certain family members warring with each other and more. I was a victim in each case. I did not cause these events, but was plopped down in the middle and expected to clean up the aftermath. My life was about everyone else and I went right along with it, thinking I had no choices. I finally hit bottom and it was an ugly sight. I knew I had to make some changes.

I was incredibly unhappy with my life and I had hated who I was for so long. I did not know how I was going to make those changes. Lucky for me, I had one person who was willing to listen and guide me to a different understanding. That person is my sister and she has supported every single step I have taken in this, my inner journey. I have come to believe the most important things she taught me is that I am not a victim and perspective is everything. I get to choose who I am and where I want to go in life.

It was only through taking those steps of seeing life in a different light, that I became the person I am today. Only by facing myself and my fears have I been able to develop my creative side. Only by realizing that I had to love myself first, could I truly see and feel the love for others. Only by shifting my perception, could I see the real beauty in others and understand that what I was seeing was actually a reflection of myself.

I do not think I would be standing here, on the edge of awareness, had I not braved taking those first few steps. I have discovered that with each step I took, life decisions became a little bit easier. Every little shift in perspective gave me the opportunity to let go of fear and anger. I was able to let go enough to open a door I was not even aware of and welcome a new discovery. This discovery has filled that void I always felt was missing. I found my passion and I will never let it go. Now all I have to do is continue to follow it, continue to take those steps through fear. I have never been more excited about life and this path I am traveling on. That empty feeling is gone. I feel whole and ready for whatever obstacles come my way.

I Do Not Follow

I am not a follower. When the crowd moves in one direction, I will either go in a different direction or hang back to observe. It is the same when reading self-help books. I will not blindly follow what I am being told to do. Just because someone is considered an expert or guru, does not mean I have to follow their methods of self discovery. I have this habit of taking bits of information from different sources and transforming them into a system that works for me. I get flack for it at times from friends and acquaintances. To practice something that does not feel wholly me, is a waste of my time.

I have been told I should go to a meditation group or retreat. I have been told I should go see a shaman to find out things about myself that I have not yet discovered. I have absolutely no interest in doing either of those things. I am a loner. I like to work in my own way and my own time. I find I get overwhelmed with the energy and vibrations of others when in a group or crowd. Plus, I believe the answers I am looking for are already inside me. I do not need to seek them from the outside.

I am in no way saying that these gurus, shamans, and teachers are fakes or frauds. I believe, for the most part, that they are servicing a need that many people want and seek out. I just happen not to be one of those people. I am okay with that. I like the view from where I stand. It is with this attitude that I produce my artwork.

The satisfaction of self discovery is not to be taken lightly. It is a profound event. One that can be life changing. It gives us a broader awareness of the choices we have and the power to move in a different direction, if we choose to do so. However, it is not always easy to make those changes in ourselves. As a matter of fact, it can be down right hard and chaotic. If you find yourself lost and wondering if you will ever get on solid ground, know that you are in that perfect place for transformation. It is there that revelations about ourselves are found. It is there that light shines on us from an unknown source. Once we become aware of it, the unknown becomes the known and we wonder how we could have been unaware of this source of information. Suddenly, we find ourselves once again on solid ground with many options from which to choose. Now, with this new-found knowledge, the only thing left to do is make a choice and move in that direction.

I started this blog in part because I recently found myself in a place of turmoil and confusion. I felt as if I were being pulled under and drowning in a tidal wave of emotions that I had never experienced before. I knew I was treading on unstable ground. I also knew if I did not face these emotions and continue to move through them, I would never make it to the other side. It was in this state of mind that I realized I had the power and the confidence to take those steps that fear had kept me from taking. I now have plans to move further down this path I currently find myself on. I now feel I am once again on solid ground. I now know I can do more with my work than I thought prior to facing my fears. This is just the beginning and I am excited to see where I will be in one year… five years… ten years. For the first time in my life I feel that I have a purpose and can live my potential. I do not think I would be here, in this place of creative discovery, if I had followed what others said I should do or be. Only by forging my own path, my own way, have I begun to discover who I am and I would not have it any other way.