thoughts

Hello 2021!

Happy New Year! Usually every year I make a big list of resolutions, but this year I’ve decided to guide my decisions based on two goals: 1) getting healthy and 2) embracing the discomfort. This first is pretty straight forward, but I should probably explain the second.

I realized this last year that there are a lot of things I don’t do because I’m basically avoiding discomfort. For example, one of my weekly tasks is to clean the bathrooms, but I constantly put it off because I’ve deemed it a complete pain in the ass. In my head, I’ve built it up to this Herculean task that will take forever, when in reality it takes 30 minutes tops and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. I used to beat myself up and label myself lazy. But all that did was make me feel worse about myself and definitely didn’t inspire me to get the damn bathrooms clean.

However, I’ve decided to try re-scripting the conversation that goes on in my head and asked myself what it is that I’m trying to avoid. The answer, to my surprise, was simply boredom. Cleaning the bathrooms is boring. And by trying to avoid the discomfort of being bored, my brain brews up a swirling shit storm of negative thoughts to make sure I walk away. It’s a defense mechanism really. My brain is just trying to keep me in my comfort zone because in a very basic way, comfort is equal to safety. But now that I know this, I need to flip it on its head. Instead of stepping outside my comfort zone, I need to actually expand that zone to include things that I once deemed uncomfortable. Embrace the discomfort.

As for my blog, I plan on continuing my daily art posts. I am going to work on a weekly schedule that includes writing, because I haven’t had the time for that lately and I don’t want it to fall to the wayside. And in case you didn’t know, I also started a YouTube channel. I’m super excited about building that up this year and plan on making one video per week. Where will I find all the time? I have no idea. But I’m sure going to give it my best.

So here’s to a new year of full of creativity, good health, comfortable discomfort, and clean bathrooms! What are your goals for this shiny new year?

Postcard Therapy: My New Mantra

I had a small breakthrough last week which led to the birth of my new mantra: It’s going to be hard, but I can do it. During a conversation with my husband, he helped me realize that I have always believed that happiness should just happen, and that if it didn’t, then there was something wrong with me. For some reason it never occurred to me that happiness was something I would have to work at. Of course it seems obvious now, but I just never saw it that way before. This led to the realization that I think this way about a lot of things. And that I talk myself out of A LOT because I focus too much on how hard everything is going to be – how much work I will have to put in – which eventually leads to the “I can’ts”. So I decided to take that bad habit and flip it on its head. I’m used to telling myself it’s going to be hard, so I’m building on that ingrained habit and adding the positive twist – but I can do it! It’s been almost a week with my new mantra and I’m already noticing a huge difference. Not only am I not shying away from things, but I’m also seeing things in a more positive light.

I also started reading the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is all about learning how to control your consciousness to discover true happiness. The timing couldn’t be better.

I hope this postcard helps whoever receives it, as much as it has helped me.

Session One: I need therapy.

I have always been a creative person. The few times I have really thrived in my life, have all occurred when I was deep in the process of creating something – music, writing, drawing, painting, coding, designing, photography, problem solving, building a business. All of these things bring me joy. A few years ago I became very depressed and stopped creating. Fear of failure crippled me. And even though I had two small children and an amazing husband/best friend, I had no joy in my life. My fire was out. My soul had grown cold.

Then came the psychotic break. What started out as slight paranoia, turned into full blown delusions with auditory and visual hallucinations, and I was admitted to the hospital. My entire life was turned upside down. I remember thinking, “This can’t be my life.” But this was not part of the delusions. It was real, and it was terrifying. And, it was best thing that ever could have happened to me.

My first day in the hospital was hell. I knew no one. I trusted no one. I wasn’t even completely sure where I was. I was so scared. I cried the entire day. The only time the tears let up a little was during art therapy. But even then I struggled to create anything. I was so deep in my depression, for so long, that I didn’t even notice I had been swallowed whole.

It’s a little over 3 months since I got out of the hospital. So much has changed for me – all for the better. I have stronger relationships with my family and friends, and most importantly, with myself. I have found connections to things that give a deeper meaning to my life. I no longer feel like I’m unworthy or not enough. I am not only capable, but capable of great things. I have passion. My soul has been set on fire. Creativity fuels this fire. I decided to start this blog to document my creative sessions.
It is my much needed therapy.

 

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The first two drawings I made while in the hospital were of this infinity symbol. My delusions had a very distinct theme of duality. At times I felt as though my soul was at the center of The War of Good & Evil. But I began to see it less as a war, and more of a delicate balance — Yin & Yang through infinity. I also started to gain some clarity about how negative & positive are not just things that exist in opposite of each other, but actually exist because of each other. How would you define good if there were no evil? How would you truly find joy & happiness if you hadn’t also experienced sadness & disappointment? Without these opposing forces, life would be flat. Emotions would be monotone.¬† Expressed as color, black & white would be grey and expressed in form, infinity would be a straight line. So even though we try desperately to deny or avoid negative emotions or experiences, I now believe they are a necessary part of the ebb & flow of life. They are also temporary. Sooner or later the tide will turn and everything will seek balance.

This is a very comforting idea for me. My depression came with a very heavy theme of nothing-will-ever-change-ism. I felt permanently stuck. It seemed as though Herculean amounts of effort would be needed to even scratch the surface. I had a chronic case of the “can’t”s. Of course none of it was true, but when your manipulative self-talk spins its web of lies, it becomes the truth. Truth through simple belief. Now I am beginning to understand that when I am struggling, there is something I need to learn. Some erroneous belief or idea that I need to let go. Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” I’m starting to ask “What is the Universe trying to teach me?”

There is a great quote from the Dalai Lama,

The enemy is a very good teacher.

If negative experiences are an inevitability, I might as well gain something from it. If I can walk away with a little more knowledge or at the very least gain a little perspective, all is not lost. The infinite loop will go on and balance will be restored.

I think our time is up. Until next session.