Healing Through Art

Yesterday when I received the email from my relative I mentioned that I did not read it, only the first line. This is true but that first line was enough to leave me shaken, quite literally.

I have been taking good care to protect myself from the negativity of the world for some time now. It started with my decision to no longer watch violent TV, then I stepped back from watching the news everyday, then I made the decision to remove myself from social media, then I started to became mindful of how I spend my time and made the decision to be selectively social.

In order to be able to wake up to my own truth about myself and love and life and everything beyond these things I had to turn down the volume on everything else so I could hear my own truth and inner wisdom.

This has worked for me. I have had more epiphanies in all of these areas thanks to my solitude and silence than I have ever experienced previously in my life.

I will not go on this way forever. I may continue with some of these decisions such as my absence from social media and my decision to filter out the media and violence but socially I know that I will not remain a hermit long term. What is point of these epiphanies if I cannot build connection through sharing my truth with others and those I love?

For now this where I am at and I know with my whole being it is where I am meant to be.

These choices I have made have in essence been like a spiritual cleanse. An emotional/spiritual detox of sorts. A resetting of my soul and being. Because of this I have noticed that my level of emotional sensitivity has become heightened.This truth is what made my relative’s email so unbearable for me today. It is the reason I only got through the first sentence before I said to myself, No. I will not expose myself to this poison.

We receive invitations all day long through our interactions with the outside world. What is important to remember is that we are not obligated to accept these invitations. When my relative wrote that email he was essentially saying here is this darkness I have that I am not able to hold, I am bringing it to you so you can hold it for me and I can feel better. I knew immediately I could not grant this request for him. I declined this invitation and chose not to read the email as an act of self-love and emotional preservation.

That first sentence I read was like being bit by a venomous spider. I had a physical reaction. I began to shake. I recognized immediately the reaction I was having and stopped. I will not suffer to ease someone else’s suffering. I do not owe anyone that. I will not burn to keep someone else warm.

I took sometime to recover. Took a deep breath and wrote my truth in my response. After I felt better. I also sent a separate email to my extended family to offer them love and support and healing energy I felt they all might need to balance any difficult emotions they may be grappling with after the initial email from our relative.

Once I had done what I felt comfortable doing for those I love it was time to take care of me. I knew what I needed today: light, gray, AND, nature, painting, and writing. This is what that looked like for me..

  • I changed into my favorite gray clothing to wrap my soul in my own truth: that the world is not black and white, it is beautiful shades of gray where everything is allowed to exist together.
  • I lit my gray candle for healing and two more tea lights to bring light and love through the amethyst stones that held them.
  • I grabbed my art supplies and headed outside to set up shop among the leaves that blanket my backyard.

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I spent the afternoon in the company of Lu, the squirrels, the leaves and trees, and gusting wind that would occasionally blow pollen and leaves into my paint and down my shirt. The afternoon was gray and overcast and I know the Universe did that for me because today I needed to feel the all consuming comfort and healing of the gray.

Lu looked on as I released the toxins from my system by slapping and spattering paint on to my canvas and across the leaves that served as my back drop. Gray and black and white and every color of the rainbow came flying off my paint brush and from my fingers in a mess of color and pain and love and surrender.

Then I began to write. I gave voice to every AND that was banging around in my soul. I bled it all out until I felt clean again. Until I knew it had all been heard, and seen, and released.

healing-and-arthealing-and-art1

As I look at this piece on my book shelf I have unending gratitude. It is holding so much for me and it does so without needing anything from me in return. This is how I know I am on a path of love and acceptance and healing. I did this for myself. I took my pain and I made something beautiful with it. In this way I AM THE ALCHEMIST.

This is a representation of the AND I am always talking about. This is life. It is messy AND confusing AND dark AND colorful AND light AND love AND GRAY.

There is room for everything here. The pain I felt when I read the first line of that email AND the clarity I felt in the message I was meant to send. The rage I had over what was said about someone else I love AND the compassion I felt for my family member who is clearly sitting in the middle of their own pain. The ability to express my own truth in that moment AND make room for others to express their own truth as well.

This is not easy work to do. I have not come to any of this in ease or grace. It is only through willingness to embrace my own darkness and shadows and love them fully that I have been able to wake up to my truth and share it so earnestly.

I am still working, I think I always will be. I know what took place here was important though and I wanted to make sure to give it recognition. I think it was another small step towards my something bigger, whatever that may be.

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Emotional Arsonist

emotional-arsonist

I was weary and ready for sleep tonight when it was time for lights out. I did not write yesterday because the words had not yet come to me. Then magically they appeared in the middle of the night as they sometimes do like a song stuck in my head. The longer I lay there trying to ignore them, trying to wait til the morning, the louder the song grew. Until there was only one choice to make, it is time to write.

I woke initially with a pain in my shoulder which makes sense because I am carrying a burden. A burden that weighs heavy on my heart and heavier on my soul.

Before I go further I would like to offer background for this post:
The Unraveling of a Family Tie
and
Boundaries are Hard in Families
will give some context to this post for anyone that wants it.

Out of respect for my family I have been doing what I consider shadow writing on topics related to family issues up to this point. For now I plan to continue to write in the shadows, I may feel differently about this as time goes on, that is yet to be seen.

So in these previous posts I have mentioned a long brewing issue that one family member is at the center of. In recent months another family member has become involved and when this took place a small flame was lit. A flame of negativity and malice, of confusion and mistrust. This small flame has resulted in a raging fire of destruction and disconnection that threatens to engulf my family.

Previously I mentioned that I am not the fire department and I hold no power to extinguish this blaze; that is still my truth. I am one person with a bucket though and today was the day I decided it was time to pick up my one bucket and use it before it was too late.

Up to this point this flame has been somewhat contained. There are two family members who started it and they have been trying to add small pieces of kindling but the fire has burned away from most of the rest of the family so we have been able to remain uninvolved with collective hope that this fire would burn out on its own given enough time. Today a flame from that fire licked my face and that was too close to comfort. It was time to set a hard boundary.

What took place was that my relative who is one of the fire starters emailed the entire family to speak their truth about another family member who they have a waged character war against. This was done as a way to further discredit this person and lambast their integrity. On this issue I remain neutral, this is not my quarrel. What I will not do however is accept any kind of correspondence that will cause further injury to my family. I did not read more than the first line of this person’s email, that was enough for me. From there I took a breath and decided to respond. My response was as follows:

_________________ ,

Please know that as I write this email I bear you no ill will. I believe that you feel that you are doing what you think is right.

With that said, I did not read your email and I will not read any further correspondence that means to further injure our family. When I say family, that includes everyone. You, ______, and _______ will always be part of my family and I will always have compassion for all of you, as I do everyone in the family.

I feel as though you have lost your way and I send you light and love during this difficult time.

As for  __________, there is nothing that anyone could ever say that would convince me that he is anything less than good hearted.

I hope we are able to heal as a family. The disconnection we are experiencing is hurtful and it does not have to be.

I am sending you love and forgiveness.

 

This was my bucket of water. This was my offering and my hope is that the healing energy of love and compassion would act as water to the flame. If not, I have at least set the boundary in an assertive way to let them know I will not accept this kind of correspondence going forward.

This person’s email was entitled “The Truth” and they spoke their truth. I took this as an invitation for the rest of us to speak ours.

I have remained silent and neutral up to this point, as the rest of my extended family has, for reasons I have listed before: hopefully this will blow over, it is none of my business, etc.

This is not blowing over, the flames are growing larger and the moment my relative sent that email to the entire extended family this situation went from being none of my/our business to this person making it our business.
There is a time for silence and a time for action and for me the time for silence ended the moment this person hit the “send” button and spewed this venom on the family.

I still remain neutral on the overarching issue because I do not believe it is my place to pass judgement on who is right or wrong. I might have my private feelings about that but I do not have the authority or the right to pass that judgement openly. I also do not believe that doing so will help me meet my ultimate goal for an outcome which is the healing and preservation of my entire family.

Judgement and anger and other negative emotions would only further insight this fire. To put out a fire you have to introduce a new element: sand, water, etc. Love is my water. Unconditional forgiveness  and compassion are my water. An invitation to heal is my water.

When I sent my response I replied all. No one else in my family had responded to this relative, this is still true. My hope is that I was able to set an example of love, an example that my family will have the courage to follow. My hope is that my family will see me here with bucket and join me with buckets of their own healing truth to share with this family member in an effort to extinguish this flame.

In the end we cannot control this person or their reactions. We are not the fire department and we may not be able to put out this inferno. I will not stand by with my bucket and feel useless though. I will not watch my family burn and do nothing when I have a bucket I can offer. My family may be doomed to burn either way but at least I know I did my part.

Tonight I send out love and light to everyone in my family, we all are hurting in the wake of this crisis. My hope and intention is the light I am sending out be the light that guides my family back to a path of love and connection. We have to come back to each other in love and connection to heal and be whole again.

 

An aside: When I got out of bed to come and write I did what I normally do when I write in the middle of the night. I lit my candles to bring light and love to darkness, I lit my salt lamp with the same intention, and I made myself a cup of tea. Then I took my tea and nested in blankets on the couch for comfort. The tea I often make for middle of the night writing is a brand that has what I think of as “love notes” on the tag. When I looked at the love note on my tea it was as though the Universe knew what I am trying to do with my healing bucket of water and was sending me support and assurance in its own way.

cosmic-support

 

The Sacred Pause

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We have been taking pauses our entire lives. When we are children it is yelling time out!! during a game so someone can get a drink of water. We take a break to go to the bathroom. We pause the TV or a movie to answer the phone or get a snack. We allow ourselves to be interrupted by coworkers and loved ones and to respond to the basic needs of our bodies. We pause without true recognition of the pause.

At the agency I am working and in the field of social work in general we talk about the importance of self-care and how to practice practical self-care daily. One thing that comes up is taking breaks during the day. Take time for lunch, don’t eat at your desk. Or Step away from your computer once in a while. Or Take a moment to get up and stretch.

I consider these mindful pauses. We are being deliberate in this action. We are taking purposeful action to take of our brains and bodies by giving them a break through out the day. What if we, as a society, were committed to taking that mindfulness a step further. Transform that mindful pause into a sacred pause.

To me the sacred pause is the true answer to intentional self-care, it encompasses not only taking care of the body and mind but the heart and soul as well.

For example:

Take that break to step away from the computer by going outside and sitting on a bench and let the mind wander or rest quietly.

The stepping away is not enough to constitute a true sacred pause (in my opinion), you have to allow for solitude when you can throughout the day and for your mind to rest. If you are stepping away from your computer to go speak to a coworker about work, that is only speaking to one aspect of self-care, the physical. What about all the other parts of you that could benefit from that break. Challenge yourself to step away and leave whatever you were doing behind both physically and energetically. It is not a true break if you step away but are still running lists of things you need to do etc.

The sacred pause speaks to our need to reflect and  to reconnect with ourselves, to be at peace in a moment of stress or chaos, to show ourselves the kind of love we show others by making all aspects of our own well being a priority daily, even for a brief moment.

I think the sacred pause also helps with CONTROL. I capitalize this because for those of us (yea, I am absolutely included in this statement) that have issues with control we know very well that control can feel like this, big and all consuming. The sacred pause allows us to practice letting go, even for a moment. That can be a really important baby step.

This morning I was awake before the sun. I am leaving shortly to continue my two day workshop experience about setting my intentions for the year and recognizing the blocks that are present that could lead me to self-sabotage or just generally stand in my way of manifesting these intentions. When I woke up this morning I lay in the darkness of our room and words started coming to me..

Reawaken. Reconnect. Connection. Love. Suffering. Disconnection. Rediscover. Discovery. Reclaim. Roots. Wings. Foundation. Earth. Build. Truth. Sacred Truth.

The work I do with my clients is sacred, it will always be sacred no matter where or how I practice. The same is true for the work I do with myself. I am doing sacred work to discover my own sacred truth and the sacred pause is an extension of that that I can incorporate into my daily life. I wake up every morning with the unspoken but very present intention of having my light turned up for the world, I now understand that by making myself a priority I am allowing myself to feel the warmth of my light as well.

sacred-pause

Best of 2016

This morning started off on the wrong foot. More specifically, it started off on the poop foot and the glass foot.

Let me first give a little bit of a back drop for this story by explaining who I am as a human in the morning. I am not at my best, I am actually more of a beast first thing in the morning. I wake up angry. It does not matter what time I wake up, I am usually upset to be awake. I recover quickly but this has been who I am for as long as I can remember.

In recent years I have found ways of easing into the day gracefully that work for me. I start with quiet time, which is most important. No talking, no noise, just me wandering around in the silence of our home. Tea helps too. Stretching first thing in the morning really helps. Meditation, soft music like crystal bowls, and sitting in sun beams. Long story short, peace and quiet is the best way to get me out of my morning grumps.

I actually love mornings. They are my favorite part of the day usually. I just have a hard time shaking off the sleepies.

So this morning I was awake for all of 5 minutes when things started getting hairy. I had my green tea, I was sitting in a sunbeam in the sun room drawing, the house was quiet..

I had the back doors open to let the breeze in. I was enjoying bird song and the sound of the train going by when Lucy came running in from the back yard. She ran over to me to say hello and I noticed a little leaf fragment on the side of her butt. I flicked it off for her and was horrified to realize it was not a leaf at all.. it was poop! Damn it Lu! I got up to wash my hands and called hubs in to see if she had poop on any other part of her. Low and behold, her back foot was covered in it. Time for a bath little girl.

This was not how I wanted to start the day.

I helped scrub her down and then left hubs to finish. I walked into the kitchen to get Lu a treat, she always gets a treat when she gets a bath, and felt a sharp pain in my foot. I looked and realized I had a minuscule shred of glass stuck in the ball of my foot. Oh that is just great.

We finished Lu’s bath and then I sat on the kitchen floor and hubs plucked the glass out with tweezers.

It normally takes me about a half hour to adjust to being awake in the morning and transition from beast mode to my human self. At this point I had been awake maybe 20 minutes. I was a bear.

Time to clear this energy. I sat  back in the sunbeam for a while and continued drawing and then thought about how I wanted to end the year, because I certainly did not want to end it in this energy.. I knew the answer instantly. In gratitude. I want to end the year in gratitude. I pulled out my phone and texted all the people I love and admire and expressed my love and gratitude for them while wishing them a happy new year. I instantly felt better. Then I went and sat in hubs lap for a while and cuddle with him and our clean pup.

As this is the last post of the year I decided I would do a true review of the year and share my personal favorite posts from the year. My year on this blog started in February as last year I was dealing with some heavy emotional work and had been on a break from writing when the year began.

So here we go, the best of 2016 from The Brain Work of an Idealist as chosen by the idealist herself:

February 2016: Acceptance

March 2016: I Built a Bridge

April 2016: Two Years Later

May 2016: Getting By Without a Mirror

June 2016: I Don’t Believe in Monsters

July 2016: Sacred Truth

August 2016: I Love Myself Most When

September 2016: I Am ——

October 2016: Now I Know Why I Am Here

November 2016: Letting It All Out Part III

December 2016: Hugs and Chickens

And my personal favorite of the entire year:

Constant Gardner

With corresponding art work for the post found on:

From Walls to Fences

Thank you to everyone who walked this path with me this year. Thank you for reading, thank you for responding, thank you for your support in all its forms. I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve that finds you surrounded in love, comfort, and connection.

With unending gratitude,

Jillian
The Idealist

 

Friends, Podcasts, and Lots of Tea

podcasts

It has been another great day. I started with cold pressed juice and washing some dishes. Then I lit my candles and put on my favorite oil and prepared my home to receive a guest. My friend came over and we had tea, lots of tea, we love tea. We exchanged gifts, she was very excited about the salt light and the book, she had been eyeing my copy of the book for a while. She got me a mug that says “you’re the best” in pretty script (I am thinking of planting a plant in it), and one of my favorite lavender teas, and a rose quartz stone (also a favorite – you can never have too much rose quartz in your home and your life).

We talked for hours about human topics and higher topics. It was a lovely visit. I am so glad I have been able to spend sometime with friends over this break and reconnect.

After she left I made myself a grilled apple and munster cheese sandwich with tomato soup and watched Harry Potter for a little while.

I am thinking I will finish my afternoon listening to Podcasts and painting.

That is something that my friend and I talked about at length last night, all the different podcasts we listen to and what makes each one great. My favorite for a while now has been This American Life because it elicits such an emotional reaction in me, whether sadness or joy, their episodes capture the entire spectrum of human emotion.

The conversation of podcasts has come up with each girlfriend I have spent time with recently. Last night my friend and I even listened to an episode of Memory Palace together (Mary Walker Would Wear What She Wanted). I loved the rhythm and cadence of the story, I also loved the content. I identified with Mary Walker immediately; she refused to be uncomfortable just because society stipulated that “this is what women have to wear”. She said fuck corsets with the same energy that I say fuck bras. She could be corsetless in a pair of pants and still be a woman, I get it.

When talking about podcasts I always have to bring up my favorite Episode of This American Life, Who Do We Think We Are . That one is not for the faint of heart. One of the segments (the one that makes it my favorite episode) is about female genital mutilation. I sobbed when I listened to that episode and that is part of why I love it so much, because this person who I will never meet had such an impact on me with their story.

That is why I love podcasts, they stimulate a sense of  connection. I love that my friend shared so many new ones with me last night. That is all hubs and I listen to when we are in the car together, it makes for great conversation after and it is way better than listening to the same old songs all the time. I am excited to share some of these new ones with him as we are driving around over the next few weeks while we have time off together.

There are two different podcasts I am debating between for today while I paint. Excited to start new things and let free some more creative energy.

Making Magic

For the past few weeks I found myself feeling a bit uninspired. I am so thankful for all my supports when I fall into little slumps like this. One day I came home to this postcard in the mail from one of my friends that was at the meditation/drum circle with me a few weeks ago.

badass

One: getting personal mail that is not a bill is so fun.
Two: How bad ass is this postcard?! and how bad ass is my girlfriend for thinking of me with it?!

Then for an early birthday present my parents gave me a dozen canvases. I was thrilled. I came home and started with this:

alaska

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It does not have a name yet, I am just calling it Alaska because that was the inspiration.

Mid-week last week when I was still sick I spent an entire miserable, feverish day on the couch. I ended up renting BFG because Roald Dahl is one of my heroes (right up there with Shel Silverstein and Jim Henson). It was so good I watched it twice that day. It was so whimsical and full of fantastic magic.

Slowly I felt myself coming back in good place. My joyful, inspired, light place.

Today I finally had a chance to process some of the anxiety I had been dealing with over the last few weeks with my therapist. My internship supervisor brought me some of my work with the rant she went on during supervision a few weeks ago and I am grateful for that. She said it was not about me but I was still triggered by it none the less and have work to be doing in this place, I don’t want to ignore the dark pieces of myself that reacted to what she said and the energy behind her message. I still have work around the word entitlement in particular. I am curious to see what I will learn about myself as I navigate this shadow piece further.

So after therapy I came home and finished working on my joyous bell stick, aka the infinite love shaker, aka Marge. She is ribboned and belled and absolutely beautiful.

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This is where I am at. Inspiration restored, magic flowing through my veins again, ready for some time off to let my inner artist run free (and not a moment too soon).

I have a few more posts to write based on the personal work I am currently doing to help me process it a bit more but I will save it. Not really in the mood right this moment. This week I turn 33 and I am not in the mood for dark writing. I just going to leave you with art and Marge and awesome pots cards and call it a day.

Happy birthday to me. Can’t wait to celebrate with hubs.

That Wasn’t My Best Me

energy

This last week was not one of my best and I certainly did not show up with my light turned up. Between bad energy at internship, Thanksgiving not going according to plan, and then hubs and I both getting the flu over the weekend.. I have not been at my best emotionally, physically, or mentally.

I am so close to the end of the semester and having a break from internship, there is piece of me that is tempted to just sit in this place of anxiety and negativity until the break. Why though? Why would I deliberately put off feeling better? Because it would be more work to actively try and feel better while I still have work to do and assignments to complete rather than just allow myself to give into what feels easy, this negative energy.

I had been doing so well with my intention of turning up my light. I am disappointed that I was so easily derailed by other people’s energy, illness, and just life in general. How committed was I if it was that easy to give in?

I think it is good though. It causes me to reflect and realize how easy it is to forget our purpose. This is not something I can be passive about. It is something I have to be actively engaged in everyday. Waking with intention, going to bed with gratitude. I admit I have been doing neither for last few days.

I can give myself space though, I have been ill and in a medicated delirium. Now that I am starting to feel better though I would like to get back to having mindful intention and gratitude. I have felt incredibly unbalanced the last week or so. That is how it goes sometimes though. I can try to show up as my best self everyday but the truth is I am human and sometimes I am going to show up in very human ways which may not feel like my best spiritual self.

So tonight as I am getting ready for a very big week that I know I have underlying anxiety around I would like to show my dark pieces love. My sick pieces, my vulnerable pieces, my scorned pieces, my jealous and angry pieces, my very human and beautifully flawed pieces that show up in painfully honest ways.

I am doing my best and my best looks different depending on the day. Today my best was taking care of body while it healed from the flu and giving Lu a bath after she rolled in the dirt even though I was completely exhausted.

Yesterday my best was making a conscious effort not to puke on my husband.

Tomorrow I will start my day with whatever intention is awake inside of me and I will give the day my best, whatever that looks like tomorrow.