Tag Archives: on my mind

Write Your Own Music; Sing Your Own Song

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I carry around all of these stories that are not my own. Do you know what I mean? People tell us we are one thing or another (insert lazy, boring, strong, weak, sad, happy, beautiful, ugly, talented) and sometimes they are true, but not always. Sometimes they are as untrue as they come. Usually these stories are more about the people telling them than about the people they are supposed to be about. Still, like a tape recorder we keep rewinding these stories and playing them over and over again in our own minds.  We adopt these stories as our own through repetition and familiarity. Eventually, we start to adapt our lives to fit into these stories. A self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts.

Write your own music
Step 1

When I started this painting I had no idea where it was going. I used the doilies again as a stencil, but this time I used regular acrylic paint instead of spray paint (remember the Sunflower painting I did last week?). At first I had the phrase “big wheels keep on turning” stuck in my head when I looked at this one. Those doilies looked like wheels that were rolling. I felt like maybe I was going somewhere: Rolling, rolling, rolling. Turns out I was right.

sing your own song
Write Your Own Music; Sing Your Own Song.

Somehow between then and today those big wheels started to remind me of a tape recorder turning those tapes (and playing the music someone else had written for me) in my mind. Repeating those messages I have received from other people about who I am and what my limitations are. These are stories that don’t even belong to me, not really. As I was painting today I thought about how I could change the stories on my tape recorder. It’s not easy to shut off those critical voices or the stories that seem to define you as a person because you have been living with them for so long. Still, with some effort and some practice, I think I can write my own music and sing my own song. I want to write my own stories. I want to define my own life.

 

She Wrote Me My Own Hallmark Card

mermaid sketch Hallmark cards
Daily Mermaid sketch No. 2

Molly Field wrote me a hallmark card in the form of a blog post. It made me cry a little and feel all mushy and sentimental inside. It’s good to have friends. Even imaginary ones like Jim calls all of my Internet pals. There is nothing imaginary about them though. These people are sometimes more real than the people I interact with in person. I am totally blushing by the title of Molly’s post, but if you want to see what got me all choked up you should read: The Amazing Lillian Connelly.

My Internet friends save me on a daily basis. They save from myself. When I get overwhelmed by motherhood and painting and blogging and cleaning and trying to be the best at everything, my friends remind me of my priorities. Alex over at Late Enough sent me a link to her post Writing As A Mother: The Price I Pay and it helped me tremendously. I recognized myself in her words. She gave me permission to choose family first which should be a no brainer, but when you are driven and passionate, you sometimes forget that what is most important to you is the people. THE PEOPLE! Plus, there is so much pressure to “be” your career, but some of us aren’t built that way. Once you figure out what is most important to you and get those priorities in order life starts to make sense again. Life doesn’t become perfect, but it becomes manageable. Happiness is worth paying a price for.

This week my friend Silvana shared a video of Amanda Palmer talking about creativity and the importance of writers and artists. Our job is to “connect the dots” we see in the world and to make sense of things. In the video, Amanda Palmer talks about courage and criticism and how our voices are only our own until someone else can relate to what we are saying, and then our personal stories become shared stories. You can watch the video here: Amanda Palmer On Creativity as Connecting Dots  and the Terrifying Joy of Sharing Your Art Online. You may be surprised to know that I often hold back in my writing (and in my art) because I don’t want to be criticized or to offend anyone. This 30 minute video changed the way I see my place in the world, my place on the Internet, and the value of my words. I am going to try to be more courageous from now on. It’s important. If you have some time I highly recommend watching this video, especially if you have ever wanted to write or paint something (or even say something), but didn’t because you were afraid people would disagree with you. I am not surprised Silvana was the one to share this video with the Global Niche group I am a member of. She is a master at connecting the dots. She has an eye for patterns and beauty. If you are on Pinterest just check out her boards SIlvana Vukadin-Hoitt and you’ll see what I mean.

On top of all of this, I had a big painting break through this week, and learned a lesson in letting go, which I am positive has to do with the three things above happening and with my writing this: Everything Right Is Wrong Again. When I wrote about my need to control the painting process something broke free and I was able to stop trying to control everything so much. It was like getting a new pair of glasses. Suddenly I could see things I couldn’t see before. Writing is such a powerful tool for opening up your soul, vomiting up your fears, and getting your head wrapped around all of the confusion and worry that builds up inside. Having friends, invisible or otherwise, to support you through some of these emotional processes is invaluable.

So, is there anyone in your life right now that you could write a Hallmark card to? Someone who needs a little boost and support? Someone that needs help in letting go of something trivial or holding onto something important? Bolster your courage and tell them what they mean to you. It could make all the difference in the world to them in this moment. Don’t let fear stop you from making a difference in the life of another.

Eat Fear!

 

Do You Feel Pretty?

Feel pretty?

Do you feel pretty? No, I mean really feel pretty? I don’t. I don’t know if I ever have. I have been thinking about this lately for a couple of reasons. The first one is I want Tiny-Small to feel good about her body now and forever. Secondly, I am getting older and I have more wrinkles, more droopy parts, and my teeth are not as white and shiny as they once were. When I look in the mirror I see a woman with very tired eyes staring back at me. She is not pretty. She is doing her best to get by.

When I was younger I never thought about feeling pretty. I was too busy trying to be pretty. I don’t try so hard anymore. I am too tired and too busy to put the effort in. On the other hand, I still want to be pretty. I still want to feel pretty. I want to feel young and hip and hot, but if I am completely honest with myself I don’t feel like any of those things. I feel more like a chubby, washed up, middle-aged woman who gets more of a thrill out of the new ice cream flavor in the grocery store freezer than out of being a sexy, diva, housewife-mom. The thing is, it’s not like when you get older you no longer care about being attractive. You still care, it’s just you care about so many other things too. There are new priorities to consider. There are new things to occupy your mind. There are new stresses and worries that lead to the consumption of ice cream at 10:30 pm (the only time you can watch your favorite TV show without having to rewind the dialogue in each scene eight times because all the people in your home will not stop talking to you). You stay up too late and get up too early in search of quiet and a few moments alone. Your reckless lifestyle begins to appear on your face in the form of dark circles and bad skin. You start to age at an accelerated pace. You forget to apply eye cream and moisturizer at night. You skip the sunscreen during the day. You choose the pants with the elastic waist just because they are easy and comfortable. You stop feeling pretty. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you even stop worrying about it.

As I get older I feel increasingly invisible to the opposite sex. I may have lost my sex appeal. Where did it go? Will I ever get it back? I think I lost it when I became a mom. I am too tired and wrapped up in making lunch and painting. I am too busy trying to remember to pay the bills on time and ensuring that we have gallons of milk in the fridge so we don’t ever run out. I am too distracted to be pretty and too distracted to feel pretty and it shows.  It’s hard to feel sexy when you are tired and your pants won’t button and the makeup you applied, in a feeble attempt to be pretty, has slid into your crows feet and accentuated the shadows under your eyes. Gorgeous! It’s hard not to feel a little frustrated when everyone is telling you how important it is to be and feel beautiful when you have no chance of ever really doing either one.

How to feel and be pretty without really being either.

I keep reading that moms need to have a positive body image to set a good example for their daughters. That we should announce that we are pretty. That we should announce that we feel beautiful. What do we do if we don’t feel pretty or beautiful? Do we say we do anyway? Do we lie? Are lies going to help the next generation with their self-esteem? I don’t know. I think maybe it will just give them another set of expectations that they can never meet. Moms are supposed to adore their children every second of every day, feel pretty, keep their houses spotless, and satisfy their husbands every desire. I think it’s all a myth and I can’t live up to it. Do I want to tell my daughter that she should try to anyway because it’s the “right” way to live? Not really. Do I want to change the emphasis on beauty to something else? You bet your droopy arse I do. Seriously, there is more to women than being or feeling pretty. We have very rich lives. It’s just everyone seems to be obsessed with beauty and getting self-esteem through how we look. It’s always the most important theme running through our lives, except sometimes, in reality, it really isn’t. It’s not for me anyway.

So, I keep wondering why do I have to be pretty or feel pretty anyway? Can’t I just be smart instead? Or funny? Or sleeping? Maybe I can be sleeping beauty or sleeping pretty who wakes up smart holding a paintbrush. I might be able to pull that one off. I don’t tell Tiny-Small that I feel fat or wrinkly, or sad that my clothes don’t seem to fit right. I don’t tell her I need to lose weight or that I wish I had straight hair and whiter teeth and that I could look 20 years of age for eternity. I don’t say those things, but I also don’t walk around saying I feel pretty when I don’t. I am a terrible liar.

So, I don’t feel pretty, but I also don’t believe I have to feel pretty to be happy or functioning. I don’t exist to be a show piece. I have too much work to do for that. I am not going to lie to my daughter and tell her that I feel beautiful when I don’t. I’m functional. My body works. I like it. It gets me where I need to go. It doesn’t have to be beautiful too. When she hits middle age and realizes her sex appeal is diminishing and her youth is ending, I don’t want her to feel bad for mourning the changes. I don’t want her to have to pretend she feels beautiful when she doesn’t. I don’t want her to think something must be wrong with her because she doesn’t feel pretty when she is “supposed” to feel pretty. I want her to realize that beauty isn’t everything. It’s not as important as being kind and funny and smart, but when we lose it we do feel it and it’s OK to be sad for a while. It’s OK to miss your sex appeal, but it is also OK when it is gone. Getting older with grace doesn’t have a road map with one direction on it. Beauty is not something we have to cling to as we age, despite the messages we receive from popular culture. Appearances do not have to be what life is all about. If she feels pretty that is great, but if she doesn’t, so what? Why can’t we just feel the way we feel and let that be enough?