Between the lines

I’m really, really enjoying this new piece I’ve been working on. I’m constantly fascinated by aerial views of the world. The way large things can seem so small, and this piece reflects a bit of that. I also played with the concept of connection. How no matter who we are as humans, we effect each other, no matter way, just like these drips of paint. I guess what was different with this piece for me is that much of it was made by scribbling wet paint onto the paper, letting it dry, and then using the way the paint naturally moves to create the work. I love that much more than constantly manipulating something. Trusting the paint to move through the cracks and create art was really interesting for me. I was surprised by the amazing amount of shapes that happened organically when I let myself just play and be messy.

Ah! I am buzzing with so much joy in creating this. Even though I am near the end, I am a little sad. I’ve loved connecting to it as we have created together.

Ahhhhh

Sending everyone love for a great weekend!

xo

Jill Gallenstein

I was browsing through Pinterest this morning. Something I rarely do now that I’m totally caught up in Instagram, when I came across these lovely detailed illustrations by Jill Gallenstein.

I am loving these ephemeral floral designs etched with a little bit of sadness and hope and otherworldness.

Wow! Check her out:

http://www.jillgallenstein.com/index.html

 

Under all the Art

First of all, I am so so so so so appreciative that I get to create. That I have SPACE in my life to create. I am so appreciative that making art fills me up in such an incredible way. It’s like this warm hug, right from the universe. I feel empowered and connected and powerful and it’s all from the act of sitting down with my paintbrush. Just opening a can of my favorite paint melts my heart and sometimes I can’t stop myself from bursting into tears.

This is the best parts of being an artist for me.

This is the part where no matter what my life looks like, I can say with everything I am that I am so so so grateful I have something that fills me with this much passion and joy. I am truly grateful.

With every ounce of my being it’s not about what other people think AT ALL. AT ALL. For me it is so personal, and it is entirely the process, the in-the-moment creating that makes me feel so full.

That leads me to a slight issue.

I said I want to BE AN ARTIST. Be the artist I know I am.

What does that mean exactly?

Well, if I had my way I would be painting and painting and painting for hours on end with sore fingers and an open heart. I would be immersed in doodles and sketches and shrieking and giggling and crying as I create, all day everyday. All the time. But I said I’d like to also make money as an artist. It’s funny, saying the word ‘money’ along with art physically twists my stomach into knots. I don’t really care if people want to buy my stuff or not, I don’t.

I create solely for myself.

That being said, I also know without a doubt that we are given gifts and abilities to SHARE.

As you can see, I’m sorta stuck here. Stuck between what is comfortable and replenishing and what I know in my heart we as humans are here for.

So what do I do? 

 

I do know that I have always wanted to make a difference in peoples lives, and now is no different. I love community service, and random acts of kindness, and smiling at strangers, etc. etc. etc. If this really is the case, would I really want to hide away day after day creating and bursting and feeling and playing and making all in secret?

That’s not me living my truest self. 

If SHARING who I am means SHARING my art, how can I do that authentically?
Without feeling like a jackass?

All marketing is a painful, repulsive venture for me. I literally have to force myself to post on Instagram or Facebook, or even show my work here.

Wow. Okay. So I am noticing as I write that I have a LOT of emotions, way more than I thought, and it’s making me I want to shut down and cry and make art.

I realize that if the idea of showing my work is making me this upset, I must have a lot of fear underneath. 

Maybe it’s fear that I’m not good enough.

Maybe it’s fear that I won’t make money.

Maybe it’s fear that I WILL be seen as someone that needs to be acknowledged for her art.

Maybe it’s fear that someone will actually LIKE my work.

I’m not sure, but because of all these extreme reactions, I’m going to investigate. Ah! I love discovering more things about myself to release.

I guess this just means I need to share, I need to post, I need to expose myself anyway.

I don’t need to BE COMFORTABLE.

I can jump even if it’s terrifying and feels gross. In the end I will grow and that is what matters to me.

What the FROG?!

Ok. Okay, so you’re going to die.

Literally MINUTES after I finished writing my last post, the strangest thing happened to me. Oh my gosh.

I had just walked away from the computer and was heading out to the garage to paint, when I noticed a small puffy lint ball on the ground.

As I looked closer I realized IT WAS A FROG.

A frog! A frog??

The small frog was covered in lint that resembled our rug.

What? How would a FROG get in our house? We never leave the doors open, and besides that,.. HELLOOO I live in San Diego. I have never seen a frog ANYWHERE around here.

I stared at him for a minute with my mind racing. ‘Oh my gawd what do I do what do I do what do I do how do I get him outta here what do I do?’ I started looking around in a panic for a box or a cup or something…

All of a sudden, he started hopping. He hopped across the rug, through the kitchen, under the bar,.. and plopped right into the CAT’S WATER BOWL.

 

frog in cats water.jpg

What. Was. That?

A frog appeared in my house?

Now if you know me, the first thing I did after shaking my head in disbelief was look up the MEANING of finding a frog.

Here is what I found out:

‘Frog spirit animals show themselves to us when we are ready to move on from a dramatic experience. They represent physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation. Just like the frog that cleanses itself in water, we need to cleanse our spirit from energy that is no longer serving it.’

Wow.

So there you go.  Just like the frog started out covered in fuzz and cleaned himself off, I am clearing away negativity and cleansing my spirit to show up as my true self. Yay!

Thank you Mr. Frog!

I love how magic surrounds us when we least expect it!

 

 

I need a Change NOW

These past couple of weeks have proven to be some of my most difficult. Probably ever in my life. But through them, like icicles glimmering in the sunset, there are always nuggets of realizations and moments of discovery. This time is no different. I guess what gets me through the tough times is knowing without a doubt that there is SOMETHING for me to learn.

Something for me to deepen as a human.

Something that I may have missed before but that I am now ready to learn. 

 

So here goes.

The thing that has by far taken up most of my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy right now is BEING A STEPMOM. I know I know I’ve written about it a lot lately. I’ve done google searches and researched books that could maybe help me feel more empowered, more at peace, more in a place of joy. And yet most of what I read is pretty depressing. I mean it’s nice to see that I’m not along, but there isn’t a lot of ACTION ITEMS to try, which is what I am truly craving.

The truth is, I haven’t liked who I am lately. I’ve felt so tired and annoyed and irritated and quite honestly stuck. It’s a horrible feeling, and because there is probably nothing I dislike more than feeling like a victim, I know there is a way out.

There is always a path to empowerment, I just need to find it. 

This weekend was another one of those hard times. I spent most of it in tears, and exhausted from attempted to guide, and teach, and ask questions, and create plans, etc. etc. etc. and I’m left buzzing around from one thing to the next completely drained and unhappy. I don’t like feeling angry. I’m so sick of being upset and near tears so much of the time. This isn’t the way I want to be, and I know that my core is not.

Things need to change and I am so so so ready for it.

One thing I have learned from past experience is that the CHANGE I’m talking about needs to come from me. It doesn’t work to be waiting around for the ex wife to change, or the kids to change or the situation to change. They all have their own agenda and course to run.

The change NEEDS to come from me. 

But what is it? Hmmm…
I know I can meditate more.
I know there are a handful of things that I probably need to let go of.
I know I can’t do everything.

But how do I make these adjustments? 

Amidst all these questions running through my brain, I got this funny little realization. Perhaps it’s the title that is screwing me up the most. Since I’ve titled myself as a MOM, and the kids STEPMOM/BONUS MOM, there is instantly this pressure to do everything I can to encourage!  To shape! To question! To inspire! To lead! To guide!

Is it the word, MOM?

Though when I say it to myself I feel full, powerful, maternal, warm, and like I have a place in this world. But what comes out is burning weights of pressure.

If the kids don’t learn their manners, it’s my fault. If the kids still don’t have goals, or interests, I didn’t do something right. If the kids are horrible at time management, I must not have carved out time to teach them. If the kids are lazy, I screwed up.

I have just realized the terrible voices that run through my mind all. day. long. No wonder I’m exhausted. No wonder I have this anger hiding inside my body. No wonder I’m feeling small and yucky and not enough.

I was realizing all of this after my husband pretty much required me to go out to the garage to meditate and paint. Both of these are things that I love and center me, but usually when the kids are here, I have a difficult time doing them.

Anyway, after a good hour of Jackie time, I realized something else. Though it’s obvious I need to make ME wayyyyyyyyyyyy more important than I have been. In fact, I need to be the first one that gets attention. I also realized that I don’t need to say the word ‘MOM’ to myself. It’s fine whatever the kids see me as, but to me,… I can be just Jackie.

If I am just Jackie, then I get the FREEDOM to show up as me. NOT as someone that needs to teach them or guide them every minute. NOT every second should be a teaching moment anyway. What if we are just a couple of souls that are hanging out in this lifetime learning from each other?

What. Woa. This just took the pressure way off.

Now, I still see myself as a MOM, but what if I am more of a universal mother, NOT NECESSARILY THEIR MOM?

I walked back into the house, and noticed right away the change in the energy. I felt a desire to chat with them and laugh and it felt easy.

I was being Jackie.

I let go of the PRESSURE to do anything else. The kids and I hung out and watched Project Runway. Ah! It felt so much easier and smooth, and we were chatting and discussing the whole time. I felt myself being interested in their observations and enjoying myself the way I am with anyone else.

I know everyone has a way that works best for them, but this might actually be mine. I’m seeing that even if I had my own kid, the pressure to BE SOMEONE’S MOM, can be overwhelming. And yet, they are on their own journey just like we are. They are here for their own reasons, and maybe I’m only here to softly guide and continue along my path side by side. I don’t know, I haven’t worked all this out yet, but it definitely feels better, and I like just being Jackie.

What the HELL is my role

The biggest question of my life right now,…

What is my role????

I’ve told myself I am confused about this question because

I am a stepmom.

Right away the words STEPMOM fill the room with hazy smoke, the kind where you can’t see 2 feet in front of you, and you suddenly have no idea where you even are. Just THE WORD is full of questions. 

But then for some of us, the role gets even stickier.

I’m not ‘just a stepmom.’

In fact, I am the kids main emotional support. I am the instigator, I am the listening ear, I am the one figuring things out, communicating with teachers, connecting the dotes, finding therapists, locating new schools, discussing, giving consequences, and driving all over the place.

It’s a strange dynamic because I enjoy being a part of a family. I love being relied on and knowing that they can trust me to follow through.

But,… I’m not the mom. I’m just a stepmom.

Right?

Am I only doing these extra things because their MOM can’t? No,… that’s not entirely  true. My love for them continuously grows the more I do. The more I learn about who they are and what they need, the more I want to show up.

Because I love them.

And then again there are times when I get super annoyed that their ACTUAL mom doesn’t know even a morsel about them. I get angry, and I feel taken advantage of, and I want to step down.

But what would I be stepping down from when my ROLE was never established in the first place?

What would I do if I ‘stepped down?’

Who would fill these roles if I didn’t?

So I go back and forth between feeling obligated and then really wanting to show up. Sometimes I have lots of energy for it and I feel empowered and strong. Other times I’m seething with anger and want to scream at everyone.

My feelings go back and forth, just like the hazy, muddy, slightly skewed title of ‘stepmom.’

I was thinking about this today as I was doing yoga.

MY ROLE is all over the place and nowhere and has no definition and is yet all encompassing. I was starting to get anxious just thinking about it.

But then I realized something else.

Why am I so special?

I mean, am I the ONLY one that doesn’t have a clearly DEFINED role?

I’ve been so caught up in my STEPMOM identity and what that means or doesn’t mean, that I didn’t give myself a chance to check out everyone else.

Maybe the reason this has been so confusing for me, is that we ALL seem to have some weird idea that our ROLES, any of them, should be clearly defined and explained.

We must feel like we SHOULD know exactly what it means to be a good wife, or good friend, or great sister or daughter, or excellent employee.

We SHOULD have learned what the parameters are, what is expected, what isn’t, how we can EXCEL, etc.

The more I think about it, there isn’t one single thing in life that is surrounded by clearly created black and white boundaries and definitions, right?

What if the very concept of ROLE is just bullshit?

What if it completely depends on who the person is and their intention for how they want to show up in the world? Wow. That just took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Seriously, I felt them just fall.

What if I don’t need to do ANYTHING to perfect my ROLE. 

What if I just get to be Jackie? I can do more or less depending on what I feel, but I don’t need to have all the answers, and I certainly don’t need to FEEL like I have to do anything. I’ve just decided while writing this that my only requirement is that I’ll do everything with lots of love. Love for the kids, and my husband, and his ex-wife, and my family, and my friends,…

But most importantly, I can have a lot of love for myself, and let myself OFF THE ROLE HOOK!

 

Microscopic Universe

I know I’ve written before about wanting to create pieces that feel more fluid, like what I do in my art journal. This one, I am grateful, is moving towards where I naturally am when I am just creating, just feeling, just being.

I played around with using bits of tissue and wet pen to create some of the look over acrylic paint. Ahhhhh! I want to create more pieces like this that feel loose and easy and wild and open and full of play! The key is feeling that while I am doing them….

 

Crisis

In a flash my reality as I have known it has changed. In an instant what I thought I knew about my life and the people in it has vanished, and I realize I am in the middle of a crisis. Now, it’s funny with crisis’s, we think they happen all at once. It does feel that way, and yet usually it’s because we finally see the whole story all at once like a million blazing lights. Were we just ready to finally see the truth? The truth that has been sitting on the bleachers this whole time waiting to be seen?

As I sit here after having spent many hours replaying events, trying to FIGURE out reasons, and meanings, and researching help, I am faced with an interesting question.

Where do you go when there’s a crisis?

When everything you thought you knew is suddenly bubbling all over the ceiling? When you feel like you must keep yourself busy but exhaustion hits?

That’s where I am right now, and I am grateful. I always know there is a lesson, I just have to open my eyes wide enough to see it. I KNOW it’s there, hidden in the shadows waiting for me to find it.

In this case, I think I know part of my lesson. And it is MY lesson. It was gently placed here in my lap for me to unwrap, uncover, and grow from. I can feel it inside my body, I know what this is. Here in front of me is the realization that I must make better boundaries. That I must make myself #1.

I have known this, as we all do in some way or another, but with this particular situation, being a step mom to kids whose mother is on the spectrum, I am constantly, constantly doing more than I should. I am keeping myself way beyond responsible for everything, and expecting her to do nothing.

I am putting the kids in front of me, and then my husband, and I am cramping up big time.

Why do I feel like it’s all my job to do alone?

If there hadn’t been an impulsion in these last couple of days, I would just keep doing and expecting that I must KEEP DOING.

But now I see what I am doing to myself, my heart, my soul, my body, my exhausted mind. I must slow down. I must allow space between what is in front of me and what I keep DOING.
I can no longer keep juggling, so that other people can step up.

 

The funny thing is is that I feel great for awhile when I buzz around handling it.

I feel accomplished!
I feel like a winner!
I feel like I have a purpose.
I feel loved and valued!

I knew there had to be reasons for all of this, and there is. I do get something out of it. To pretend that I don’t would be a lie. I can’t keep running in circles taking other peoples’ responsibilities over so I can feel like enough. I am not saving anyone anyway, and I am drowning.

So here I am inside of a crisis where I must matter more than all of them. I must take care of me first so I can even make a suggestion of what to do or where to go. I must create boundaries and allow others to fumble with figuring out the next move. I can do this, and I will.

At the end of the day, it’s my sanity on the line. It’s my joy that is being threatened, and it’s my peace that I’ve gladly been trading. I have done that to MYSELF. It was not done to me.

It is my job to turn it around.

Live Your Truth They Always Say

I am in the middle of an interesting situation and had some thoughts about the concept of ‘living our truth.’

This is something that we always teach our children, remind our friends of when they have forgotten, and tell ourselves under our breath when life gets a little crazy,…
Live your truth. Live your truth. Live your truth. No one else is going to look out for you, so you must live your own truth.

Though I stand behind that 100%, I am suddenly in the middle of a predicament with a client. What my heart wants is now different than what she wants.

What do I do?

Do I stand up for who I know I am and the work I know I can do and say no to her?

Or…

Do I see that maybe the Universe wants me to push myself beyond my own limitations?

 

In the past, there were plenty of times that a creative situation didn’t SEEM like I would be ‘living my truth,’ so I bailed. I straight up walked away. Though I thought I was fearlessly standing up for myself in the face of possibly losing myself, what if I also didn’t give myself a chance to learn something new about life, or myself?

It just sort of struck me that if I only LIVE MY TRUTH, and only get involved in projects, people, experiences that I 100% KNOW for a fact will be amazing, how will I grow? Also when has anything, anything in life worked out completely the way we think it will?

Uh never.

Sometimes things work out better, but they are never exactly like we have them in our brain.

What is comfortable for me, may not be the best way for me to always grow. I want to learn more about myself, always, I truly do. So this realization that only moving forward when I can see the WHOLE path and it resonates with me FULLY AND COMPLETELY, doesn’t actually make so much sense.

So I am keeping my heart open. I realize I might have accidentally stepped into some uncharted (and currently undesired) territory, but I’m going to trust that it’s here to teach me something.  Maybe it’s to not try and have all the answers all the time, or let go of control, or play my way through it, or trust intuition. Lets be honest there are any number of LESSONS I could have lined up to learn. But for me, the important thing is to always be learning. Even if I hate this new situation. At least I said yes and put myself out there, and finished what I started.

What are your thoughts on sticking to your TRUTH versus allowing the Universe to sometimes guide? Do you go for that? Or does that feel like giving in?

Also, for me I am realizing that it’s not about the answer that I decide to give, yes or no, to this project. It’s only about the intention. I could say YES and then hold a grudge and feel totally put upon. Or, I could feel my anger and sadness, release them, and then say YES because I am ready for a new unexpected experience. In both instances I SAID YES but the last one is way more empowered. I know that when I have felt my feelings fully, I can move forward with a clear head.  I am going to take my time working through all these feelings so my answer can come from a strong, powerful, authentic place.

 

 

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