Living With Yourself

Living with yourself is hard.

Living with unruly thoughts, unwanted worries, unforeseen heartbreaks–all of which feed upon aborted or abandoned dreams, discarded or misguided hopes–is hard.

Living with the evidence of your life is hard.

Living with your choices is hard.

It’s why we anesthetize ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, smoking, exercise, work, sex… because the hardest thing in the world is living with yourself without being distracted or sedated.

Addictions come in all forms and they are hard to break because they serve a valuable purpose: keeping us from living with ourselves.

Without wine or unnecessary food, all I can do is wrestle with unpleasant emotions and invasive thoughts. I sit and simmer in a pool of pain, my own and that if the world around me. I struggle to stay afloat. I imagine we all do.

Writing helps me.

Writing this helped me.

What helps you?

Just What I Needed

I’ve been struggling a great deal since the mass shooting in the synagogue this weekend. I find myself crying quite a bit. I think I’m at a tipping point emotionally. There are so many bad things happening, I can’t process it all anymore.

Then today, around 12:40 PM, I heard Car Radio by 21 Pilots and I just wanted to run. As close as a year ago, I was running. I haven’t been running in months. And I’ve gained a great deal of weight. In high heels and without regard to how I looked, I promptly left my office and went on a brisk 30 minute walk. In the process I was rewarded with random yellow flowers and a field of donkeys.

I was also rewarded with a brief reprieve from grief.

It was just what I needed today. And probably what I’ll need every day.

Patience

Last week, I signed up for a watercolor class at Michael’s. It’s fair to say I certainly learned a lot.

With acrylics, you paint dark to light. I’ve been focusing on acrylic painting for the last few months, but I’ve always loved the look of watercolor paintings. So I signed up for two 2 hour classes.

In four excruciating hours, I’ve learned:

1. Patience is vital to watercolor.

2. Planning is just as vital. It is much harder to wing it when you can’t undo or paint over your existing work.

3. Thicker paper is better than thin.

4. I may not have the temperament for watercolors.

And, without further ado, here is my four hour progression, starting with the inspiration painting:

I want to add more to my little watercolor but I’m terrified that I’ll screw it up and be unable to fix it.

If you are a watercolor painter, God love ya. ❤

Good Men: A Letter To My Sons.

I’m a single mom to two sons. I’m also a survivor of rape and domestic violence.

I struggle to convey the importance of being a good man in a society where sexual predators are Presidents and Supreme Court Justices and where women go on national television to protect the men they know from even the threat of accountability for their actions.

In short, I worry about teaching my sons how to be good men in a society where being a man alone is what makes you good.

I used to emphasize being a good person but now I think I need to emphasize that in order to be a good man, you MUST be a good person.

So I’m penning this letter to them, tonight.

Dear Sons:

Even though you’ll always be my babies, you are also going to be men someday. And I expect you to be good men.

Good men are kind.

Good men comfort rather than bully.

Good men are respectful, gracious and patient.

Good men listen with open ears and open hearts.

Good men protect others in need–adults, children, animals.

Good men never touch a living thing in anger.

Good men don’t treat women like objects.

Good men seek consent before touching a woman (or romantic interest) and don’t resent them for having to seek it.

Good men don’t make promises they can’t keep because good men keep their promises.

Good men speak out against injustice, discrimination and abuse–even if what they say is unpopular.

Good men admit their mistakes and are unafraid to apologize.

Good men treat others as they themselves wish to be treated.

Good men try to help other men be good, just as I hope you two will always try to help each other be good.

From what I’ve taught you, and from what you’ve shown me so far, I have no doubts in your abilities to be good men. You’re already good people. Just don’t stop.

Love,

Mom

Making Time

When I was getting back into jogging, I saw a meme that really resonated in me. It read:

Someone busier than you is running right now.

That logic has stayed with me and become a source of motivation.

We make time for the things that matter. We don’t make excuses. If you’re making excuses, then the thing you’re not doing isn’t really that important.

I am using this logic to keep painting. My apt is small and not at all conducive to painting. I am a working, single mom. I’m stressed pretty much all the time. But if painting matters to me, then I’ll make time for it (even in this little apartment).

Case in point: I’m working on my largest painting yet. This is my “studio”:

I’m making it work because it’s something I want to do. (Albeit somewhat inexplicably bc who decides to be a painter at 44?)

I’m also blogging to keep up some writing. I’m using my cell phone as I type this. I’m making do because writing matters too.

What are you making time for in your life?

Productivity

I know I should be seeing a therapist but I’m stubborn.

I know I’m using food and wine to anesthetize myself.

I know these are terrible and destructive methods of coping with my emotions and stress.

And yet, I still do it. Old habits are hard to break. But I’m gonna try.

I’ve been painting. I am drawn to it and am pursuing it (when I can) because of the Rumi quote, “what you seek is seeking you.” Although I am using YouTube videos to learn about painting, I am determined to continue.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I don’t use food or wine to distract myself from my emotions, I’m much more productive. I clean more and now, I’m painting more.

I finished an acrylic painting of my son last week (I’m sharing progress photos):

And another this weekend (12×12):

And tonight I’m starting again:

The painting on the wall of the woman is oil paint. I prefer oils but acrylics are more practical. They just drive me crazy because the paint dries so fast.

The point of this, of course, is that if you dont dull yourself with alcohol or distract yourself with food, there are a lot of things you can do. Like butcher a canvas.

Painting with Acrylics

First, let me say that painting is so much harder than it looks.

Second, I’ve never taken any art classes, so everything I create reflects my progression as a self-taught painter.

Lastly, I prefer oil painting but my small apartment makes it too hard to do, so I’m focusing on acrylics.

Acrylics are driving me crazy because I prefer blending on the canvas. And as you know, acrylics dry within seconds essentially. I have tried to use a slow-dri medium but it doesn’t make acrylics like oils. It still dries too fast in my opinion. But, space (and money) reinforce my commitment to acrylic painting.

This painting, which I call Safe Harbor, reflects my struggles with blending with acrylics.

I dont know why I’m writing about this. I just feel like sharing. And blogs are great for that.