Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Kicking 2019 To The Curb With A Celebration and A Raffle!

A or B?
(Scroll to the bottom of the page to purchase, but be sure to read all the details too!)
You guys (my Facebook and Instagram friends) were such good sports! You voted without any explanation!

A or B? I asked. And you responded A. No B. No A. Wait, B! Both!

I don't blame you. That's how I feel when I look at these two works. Both my art - one in my typical neutral palette and the other in the colors that started making an appearance over the past couple of years.

Some days you just need a little color in your life. And some days you just want to pull up the blankets, put a fire in the fireplace and nestle down in a cloud of soothing neutrals.

Here's the deal - last year at just about this time, I was gearing up to hang these two works, along with 6 other pieces, at SOFA Chicago. Hard to believe, but it's been an entire year since I realized one of my biggest dreams as an artist, to see my work hanging at SOFA.

It's been a heckofa hard year since that time. Nearly the week after the show, life just sort of blew up. I won't rehash it all, but to say, I'm looking forward to 2020. Not as a victim who just made it through, but as a victor! A survivor!

Older. Wiser. Winner.

I want the year to go out with a celebration. Kind of like how March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion. 2019 thought it could kick my ass, but I'm kicking this year to the curb!

So to help mark the end of this really life changing year, I am raffling off one of the works I created specifically for the show that I dreamed of since my art career began! A celebration commemoration!

Read on, dear friends, to find out how you can own a giclee fine print, vote on which original collage will be raffled off during my upcoming Holiday Open House at the studio - and don't wait to purchase your print, because you get double the chances for all purchases between now and November 15th!

This is a Fine Art Print Sale with a twist!

This is a Fine Art Print Sale with a twist! Please be sure to read the entire description for details on ship date and contest information. Your purchase is your raffle ticket, but it's also a high quality art print ready for framing. Oh, and it's also a vote! How can one fine art print, be all of those things?

I'm so glad you asked...

First, and most importantly, it's a museum quality fine art giclee print, shot and produced at a professional fine art printer. The detail this company manages to get from my work never disappoints.

Your choice- two designs available.

Both from original collages that were created for the SOFA Chicago Exposition 2018. One went on to spend some time at an exhibition in California, before making its way back to my studio.

Each collage design will be printed on a high quality archival art paper measuring 9" x 12" including a white border. Archival fine art ink is your assurance that this print will last! It comes hand signed by the artist in a protective sleeve with a sturdy backer, ready for you to frame.

Your print is also your vote!

The contest: When you purchase one of these designs, I'll be keeping a tally- each print purchase is a vote for that design. The winning design will then become the prize. That is to say, the actual original work of art, measuring 30" x 30" and retailing for $3000 will become the contest prize. PLUS a second drawing will be held, for a full sized (30" x 30") hand-embellished reproduction of the non-winning design!

So how do you win?

Easy peasy. Your print purchase is also your raffle ticket! Each and every print sold comes with a chance to win. Buy one of each design? Then you get 2 chances to win the original work and 2 chances to win the hand-embellished reproduction! Buy one for every art loving friend and relative on your holiday gift giving list, and increase your chances of winning, while getting all the good feels of the season. The gift that keeps on giving.

The Details:

Shipping: Orders begin shipping the week of November 18th via USPS Priority Mail. If you purchase before November 15th, your art will ship that following week. For orders placed after November 15th, weekly shipments go out each Monday until the contest ends on December 7th.

Winning Design: The winning design will be determined from online print sales, tallied through the first week of December. In the event of a tie, I'll toss a coin.

Drawing: A minimum number* of prints must be sold for the original work of art to be raffled. This will include prints sold during the event where I'll be holding the drawing: The Holiday Open House at my studio on December 7th. In the event that the minimum is not met for the original work, the full sized (30" x 30") reproduction, professionally printed on canvas, hand embellished, hand signed work (of whichever version has sold the most prints) will still be raffled.

During the afternoon of the Holiday Open House, I'll ask one of the studio visitors to draw, which I will video tape and post online with the winning name. In the event that the minimum is not met for the original work, the full sized (30" x 30") reproduction, professionally printed on canvas, hand embellished, hand signed work (of whichever version has sold the most prints) will still be raffled.

*just 100 prints - that's 50 of each design, or any combination of the two.

And your odds?

One chance per print sold to win either the original work, or the hand embellished full size reproduction - BUT purchase before the November 15th and you'll get TWO chances to win with each print purchase!
So here they are. Which design will you choose? (scroll below images to purchase)

A. Gentle Wind Whispering
B. (nothing's gonna touch you) Golden Years
C. Or Both!

Gentle Wind Whispering
by Crystal Marie
(nothing's gonna touch you) Golden Years
by Crystal Marie

Choose Design

Sunday, October 13, 2019

It Was So Much More

Today is that long awaited day, the one I kept telling myself was the reward for all of my hard work. It is nearly noon, and I am sitting in bed surrounded by pillows and a stack of new magazines. Dog snoring heavily on my feet, and random assortment of beverages and food at my side. 

It has been an incredibly busy time in my life, it seems from the time that I first shared the news of my recent diagnosis and need to slow down the pace of my schedule for the sake of my health, life has been testing my resolve. 

And it is a test. There is a point when I am working hard and have such a stacked schedule, that the body has sufficiently strained the adrenals for every last drop of go-juice, and I start to think I am fine. Normal even. Look at me rising to occasion after occasion. Nothing is wrong. All is well. I am grateful for these drops of energy filled adrenaline when it is helping me teach and pour myself into my students. 

But then reality comes back to smack me in the face and wake me from the foolishness of such thinking. My body doesn't just hit a wall, as I so frequently describe it. No, it's more like I hit a windshield head on going 90 miles an hour.

Splat! I am bug juice on the windshield of life. 

Thursday night I had the opportunity to speak at the Racine Art Guild's monthly meeting. They meet at the same museum where my Shields show is hanging, so I thought I would talk about the show specifically. But then when it was time to go, I realized I wanted to share a bit more. I got to talk about the Shields last month during my Artist's Talk and will do so again at the end of this month, so I wanted this talk to be a little different. I decided to give an overview of my career as an artist, show some of my current collage work, along with samples of my oldest works - including the very first collage I ever made. 

This more overarching look at my career as an artist, includes the discovery that art is a tool for healing-both physical and emotional. I share bits of my background and story. I talk about the general theme of my work - that of finding value in what society has deemed valueless. That of recognizing it is by embracing all the pieces of our lives that make us whole, and how collage has been a tool of recognition for me. 

After the talk, I was surrounded by a small group of participants who told me how they connected to one bit or the other from my talk. For some it was that I shared my background of growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent, becoming a mom at the age of 16, and how art was a way to channel my emotions, heal from the trauma, and own my stories in a redemptive fashion. 

For others, it was the encouragement I gave about having carved my own path as an artist, without a formal higher education. I broke the rules and applied for things I was told I wasn't qualified for and have had so many opportunities as a result. Opportunities that I would never have allowed myself to take if I listened to the system that told me not to bother trying. 

Several people enthused that my talk was so much more than they expected. They shared their own stories. They opened to me as kindreds who suddenly felt known and seen. And I drove away also feeling known and seen. 

I drove home reflecting on what I heard being spoken to me. I started remembering, this authentic vulnerable sharing was a vital element for the book I want to write. The one that talks about the process of making art, yes, but also the one that gets in underneath the rules and the medium, to the heart and the voice of the creator, elevating the work to something more than we we are capable of on our own. 

My life is impossible to separate from my art. My process for becoming whole, for healing, for discovering my authentic self under the scar tissue and lies of the past, for learning to take the next right step without knowing exactly where I am going, and for learning to use my voice, is the same inside the studio as it is beyond those four walls. Art is simply a visual illustration. A map. A signpost. A guide to the deeper, mysteries of life. Reflective and storytelling. A place to pause in the midst of it all. 

I want my next book to read a little like a memoir, a little like an encouraging healing coach or best friend, and a little like a manual on art making as storytelling, with a nod to the spirit that guides me. Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, Madeleine L'Engle's Walking On Water, and Art and Fear, written by David Bayless and Ted Orland come to mind. But who would want to read such a mishmash of topics if I wrote it? Who would even publish such a thing from me?

I arrived home late Thursday night, to find a package waiting for me. A beautiful handmade mug that fits my hands just so, along with a handmade card and a note tucked inside. Sent by an artist who took my September workshop to thank me for the experience. She confessed she's been in something of a dry spell for a while and took my class at the recommendation of a friend who told her she just might find what she needed there. She shared how my story so closely resonated with her own. She wrote that she came for an art workshop, but "it was so much more". 

This sweet gesture made me reflect on all of the surprise gifts and sweet notes I've received in the mail over the years. All of the affirming messages I receive after writing a vulnerable blog post, or from sharing my story at a talk or a workshop. All of the supportive words and thank yous that have come by way of my website inbox, or email, or facebook messages.

I decided I need to gather them. Print them all out and compile a binder to return to when the doubts start to creep in. Something solid to hold onto during those dry seasons of my own. And perhaps a little affirmation to show to my publisher, to help them feel comfortable with taking a chance on me. 

To all of you, who have written, or talked to me in person, to those who have responded with light and love and encouragement in any way- your words of gratitude fill me. They move me, hit me in my most tender spots as a living balm that soothes this weary, and sometimes insecure and doubtful soul. I am flooded with awe and wonder at the enormity of it all. How big it feels to hear someone say my story matters. Thank you. 

Maybe you meant this to be a small gesture of your own gratitude, but to me it was so much more. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Order. Disorder. Reorder. What next.

A Studio full of friends and fellow creatives makes my heart swell
I sat in my studio Thursday afternoon on that couch over there in the corner by Noreen in the green shirt. The workshop was over Monday afternoon, and all that remained as evidence of it's vibrancy was a few bags of trash to empty, tools that had yet to be returned to their proper place, and a glow from the creative energy and sense of connected community that each person who was there contributed to so willingly. 

Spontaneously, I posted an image to Instagram, sharing my thoughts and ending with a series of hashtags, including one that said "everythinghappensforareason" and as soon as I posted it, it bugged me. 

I don't actually ascribe to the mindset that everything happens for a reason. I see it as a cruel dismissal of real people during real seasons of horrific trauma and pain. How do you explain away to a young mother without her baby in arms that there was a reason her child would not grow to see it's next birthday? How can you say everything happens for a reason to a widower who lost their beloved spouse to a tragic accident?

No. Just no. Sometimes there are things in life that just happen. Hard things happen because the world is home to both beauty and brokenness. 

I do, however, believe that there is something for me to learn from most of my experiences in life. Maybe it's about resiliency. Or maybe the situation is teaching me to have patience with someone I find challenging. Maybe life is helping me to shed false beliefs about myself. Or the cycle I find myself in over and over again is removing something from my heart that keeps me from connecting more deeply with another. Like a woodworker's block plane gliding across the surface of an invisible scar. Removing layer upon layer of tissue through the repetition, until I can once again feel love and be loved without defensiveness. 

But I also believe that without reason, we lose hope. That believing everything is arbitrary and random allows for chaos to have no redeeming quality. It just is what it is and no outside force is going to save me is a belief I used to have. It led me to some pretty messy decision making because I had no hope that something greater then me would step into my circumstances. 

That randomness of everything left me feeling like a victim. I joked about being the court jester in the theater of life. I threw in the towel and thought really terrible harmful thoughts like "it's all up to me". And let me tell you, when you are a woman who grew up in a home with an alcoholic perverse man as a father, and who got pregnant at the mere age of 15, gave birth to your first child at 16 and moved into your first roach infested apartment with your husband and two year old child at 17, thinking that there is no one you can rely on but yourself is a pretty dismal prospect in life.  

Eventually, and through a series of unfortunate events, I began to see that this truth wasn't the truth. Life began to inform me in a way that allowed a crack in my heart for God to step in. 

My story with God isn't tidy. And this post really isn't about that, except to say if I had to stand up and give you my testimony of that time that saved me, It would be more than a few hours long. Messy people (aka - most humans) often need saving over and over again. And there was the kind of saving where I knew without a shadow of doubt that a hand over my life had led me to that thing. But there also has been the kind of saving where that hand was simply leading me to discover what I already contained within myself. Not as "all up to me", but as a strength and ability that came through the newfound confidence of knowing I am really not alone. Somebody does have my back. 

I hear those protests. I spoke them aloud to myself and my kids for years and years. I know all the best arguments and all the irrational logic that can come from the belief in God, or the belief in no God. I've walked on both sides. Many times. I've swung back and forth in the process so completely that my life might be described as a pendulum. If I were a politician, you'd accuse me of being a flip-flop. Swinging from belief, to unbelief, to different versions of belief, to various ideas and philosophies. Or what Father Richard Rohr describes as the typical believers process - Order, Disorder, Reorder. 

Order is a season where everything has to happen for a reason. It is a tidy belief where God has control of everything and my job is simply to put on the sweater set, the pearls, get a sensible haircut, stop swearing, and smack my kids on the back of the head when they roll their eyes too much or fall asleep in the church pew. 

Disorder comes next. Tidy doesn't stay tidy very long. Kids rebel. The dog of life runs through the mud and tracks it all over the clean kitchen floor of your heart. There is no way to explain away the terrible thing you are going through with the belief that everything happens for a reason without winding up hating God, or believing that God hates you. Or your neighbor. 

Searching for meaning that is tidy and fits these things can make an even bigger mess of it all. In this season, where I am still walking fairly consistently, I haven't stopped believing in God. On the contrary, my belief has become stronger. I stopped going to church, but not to God. It's been a different experience then when I dropped out just after I was "saved" as a teenager. It's not a rebellion, but an expedition. I am forging my way through the jungle of my heart and the lies I've believed. His hand is that carpenter with the plane, shaving away what isn't serving me well. Not that shaving thing that happens when you are in a season of order, and the sweater set, pearl wearing version of yourself throws away all the Metallica CDs. Quite the opposite. 


It's the part that begins to grasp that there is something beautiful in the mystery of not knowing. In the lack of explaining. The lack of the dualistic black and white thinking. And the lack of being able to explain it all away with a cheerful glowing God has a reason blah, blah, blah. I begin to understand there is something more. Deeper. Wider. More free then I can imagine.

It is in the chaos that comes from breaking free of the rigid restrictive rules of order that I meet myself. In that old place, I am ever in jeopardy of losing my ticket through the pearly gates. One wrong move and it's over. Disorder helped me see that I don't have to walk that plank. 

In this place called Disorder, I find the green valley at the foot of the mountaintop. I can run. I can walk. I can lay down in the grass. I can read different ideas and explore my own thoughts, and find my way through each story I encounter to find the shining glimmer of truth it contains. I am learning to let go of my fear. If I talk to someone who believes differently, I don't have to be afraid that their beliefs will overpower me and invite something horrible in. What a closed door that would be to connection. But I also see that I don't have to allow every toxic person to have access to my life. It is not my job to be present for everyone and anyone who crosses my path. I don't have to prove anything for God's sake, or my own. 

Yesterday I heard a woman on the radio talking about the difference between safe spaces and brave spaces. Safe spaces are places of protection for the traumatized person to recover, to recoup from the trauma, in whatever form it came for them. Safe places look like havens for the lost and abused survivor to allow their reactive adrenaline driven response system to stop firing every time a car backfires. When I left the world of order, I needed safe spaces to regain my equilibrium. Some people make fun of safe spaces. They're probably the people in need of them most. Order says if you follow the rules you are safe. Disorder says sometimes the rules are harsh and extreme and unattainable. Or just flat out don't work for us all.

Now, I'm on the verge of finding my place in Brave spaces. I've been practicing. Very deliberately allowing myself to state my truths in places where I may meet opposition and backlash. Feeling uncomfortable letting myself be known and seen by people who may very well not like what I have to say, or what I believe, or even just me as a person. Letting myself feel that discomfort and resisting the urge to run away and hide is my training for being brave. I don't know if it ever gets easy. If it felt easy to be brave, I am pretty sure it would mean there is something inside of me that is still in hiding. 

That thing that cares about what other people think of me isn't going away, it's maturing. I want to be known and liked for who I am. But I also want to live passionately into the causes that I believe in and for the purpose I see for my life. I'm more and more okay if I'm not seen, known, understood by all. I'm okay if someone of the same belief disagrees with how I walk, if other artists think I'm weird when I talk about God, if I'm judged for the near constant coffee or toothpaste stains on my shirt. I want you to like me, but I'm okay if not.


Reorder looks like freedom. I get to choose. I get to follow that glimmering trail of truths and not be afraid of where it might lead. I can toss out the ill fitting sweater sets, the pearls and the self-flagellation. I can embrace all of me with the understanding that the way I see, the way I am wired, the experiences I've had and the stories I contain are not flaws. They are my strengths. They are what enables me to be brave. 

Reorder feels like calm. Not from outside circumstances, but from inside that place that knows I've walked through the valley and now I'm ready to follow the trail to the mountaintop. Father Rohr says most Christians get stuck in order or disorder. I see that. The narrow path is the place of reorder.  

Reorder brings me to a place of walking bravely into the future and it begs me to ask the question, what next? It's not a formula. Of all the things I thought I'd be doing, all the places I've been, all the information I've gathered, I weed through it all and life starts to inform me. What is my next? Reorder is a restructuring. It's an inside job. It can't be done through outward appearances. And it's impossible to do without tearing down that old foundation called order. That old foundation could have never supported what Reorder is bringing me to. 

Now that is informing my hope for the future!
So really, what is my next?

I sense it. This place of transition I am in. Where I begin to live more on the side of Reorder, than Disorder. I feel that confidence rising in it. But I feel somewhat lost. Because it is time to make decisions. My body is reminding me that it has been through more in the past year than many people deal with in a lifetime and it can't be pushed anymore. So I sit quietly and ask important questions. Of myself, of God, of the universe. What now? What do I do next? And then those little glimmering flashes of truth begin to shine brighter. I open the mail to find a royalty check from the new publisher who bought out the one that published my book.

Penguin Random House. In all my years of dreaming, I never thought I would be able to say I am an author under Penguin Random House's umbrella. I want more of that. Writing keeps pushing its way into my dreams and I know it's time to listen. I am determined to write. To begin to draft that next book, the one I keep calling my book without pictures. The one I didn't think my old publisher would see as a good fit for them, but wasn't sure where else to take it. Now I have a little glimmering light shining on a new possibility. I am going to follow it. 

And the studio. I thought when I moved to my new home that I would have to let the big studio go, because I couldn't afford both. I knew it would change the way I work, but didn't know what else to do. In the process, I realized I wasn't ready to let go. It wasn't just about how my work has changed because of the new space, enabling me to work large and messy, that made this space outside my home appealing - but the way that it serves to bring people together. I started seeing new possibilities to create stability in my income and life by keeping my studio, not letting it go. And in the dreaming about what that would look like, new glimmers of truth and light presented themselves. Once I allowed myself to follow those flickers of promise on the horizon, things started moving rapidly. 

That is as much as I can share with you about that. Soon enough I can share more. But it is in that place of letting go of what I thought I was supposed to be- order, what I had to shed- disorder, that I found my way again- reorder. The old dream about a gathering place. People working side by side. Community. Connection. This much I can say, sitting in my studio listening to the sounds of life, watching connections being made, creating together works of art and true belonging. That too is part of my next. 

Reorder. It looks like truth and life. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

As If

Brene Brown has a phrase for that feeling, the one that we get after we bare our souls or reveal something we've held close for so long, it's called the vulnerability hangover. Admittedly, this isn't my first go round of waking to this discomfort. As an introvert, I tend to pull back, go inward, and sit with it while it has its way with me. It rolls over as a wash of accusations, shame, system shock, and embarrassment. Did I really just say that out loud? Imaginary faces swim to the surface, nearly cartoonish in their looks of horror, laughter, rejection. It's the backlash meant to silence-- that tried and true, albeit broken response, meant to protect me from ever feeling that raw and exposed again. 

A few years back, I sat around the dining room table with a group of friends taking turns reading descriptions of each number on the Enneagram. We each took the test to determine our number and spent the evening laughing and bemoaning the fact that we were so easily typed, recognizing ourselves in these numbers. 

My number was a six, fear and anxiety driven, security and stability seeking, and divided into two subtypes, it is one of the most complex numbers on the Enneagram. And in spite of my moaning, I recognized myself in the pages of that book. In everything I do, anxiety is my constant companion. Fear driven scenarios play themselves out in my head and tend to cripple me before I can take action in whatever thing it is I'm facing; A direct result of the learned hypervigilance, and too often, rapid firing of adrenaline growing up with an alcoholic in the home. 

On the flip side, the more healed version of being a six, is a strong sense of intuitive discernment, a knowing within, a way of seeing that is a bit deeper and more nuanced than the average bear. A bonus to our friends and loved ones, we are loyal to a fault-- though often to our own detriment. And we always always have questions. We sixes need to know what makes the world tick in order for it to feel safe

We want to understand what you are thinking so that the wool doesn't get pulled over our eyes, or from under our feet. 

An Enneagram 6 has one of the strongest senses of justice of all the personality types, we want and need things to be fair. It is the only way the world makes any sense to us. We feel things deeply. And often for a girl growing up wired to be sensitive, it is the feelings of others we can more readily identify then our own. 

Constantly at war inside, are these two distinct qualities; that need for feeling safe, while the sense of injustice is being challenged. On one side, I am the pleasant, goofy, loyal companion, always ready with a helping hand and a supportive comment. Whatever you need me to be so you'll like me. On the other, I am outraged when I see injustices happening and feel a responsibility, nearly a compulsion, to speak up and lend my voice against the oppressor. 

Waking a few days ago, I felt a blanket of depression hovering over me. Depression has paid me a visit many times in the past and I know how easily I can get lost in it. Manifesting first in a heightened sense of anxiety, whence I can see every potential scenario resulting in my own doom, and that of the world. The long slow descent grows more rapid when I turn on the news. The world is doomed. We are all doomed. Everything is broken. This is when depression really sets up camp. I don't know how to fix it. Fix myself. Fix you. Fix the world, so I pull inward. Deep deep inside and pull that blanket over me, where I can remain detached and insulated from it all. It can be so welcoming and tempting at first. 

But that blanket is heavy and once it settles, it is hard to take off. Life continues all around, but I'm watching it from a great distance. Like a tv station with an undercurrent of static, or the way sound comes to you more slowly underwater. 

Having succumbed to it many times before, I know that depression is a liar. It doesn't offer me the security I desire. It isn't a safe place to hide until danger passes. It simply makes me want to vanish. Be invisible. Depression isn't the source of that message in my life, it is merely the vehicle that delivers it. Clutching at my throat, reminding me it is better to be silent. It is usually accompanied by a hefty dose of shame.

Don't be loud. Don't speak up. Your voice doesn't really matter. It tells me that showing real feelings is bad. Anger is dangerous and unbecoming of a lady. Don't be mad, it's safer to be sad. Don't talk out loud about the unpleasant things. Don't tell someone they hurt you. Be positive and happy and upbeat. Just give it to God. Nice girls say nice things. Don't you want people to like you? 

This is the loop I so easily get stuck in. Anger and a strong sense of outrage over the things that have been done to me, to you, to the world, rise up and I get close, so close to being able to identify the truth of it. To name the thing doing the harm. Then the backlash, the vulnerability hangover, the lies, come out swinging, pushing me back to my safe place of compliance. Having an opinion isn't an option. When you have little sense of your own worth, it's easy to believe nothing you say really matters

This year, something pretty amazing has been happening. Suddenly I am feeling emotionally stronger. More resilient. Better able to identify my own thoughts, feelings, and needs. I have been able to look at myself with more acceptance and grace. Loving the parts of me I once felt ashamed of and hoped you wouldn't see. Feeling empathy for the things I have done and the decisions I had to make with little in the way of mature guidance. When I see old pictures of myself, or watch myself on video, I've had this profound sense of compassion. I don't hate myself! Wow! A totally new revelation! 

I actually don't hate myself! I like what I see in the mirror. I am not bothered by the worn out and frazzled parts of me. I love the strong voice that compels me to speak. I am starting to think I actually matter. When I get the pushback that almost always happens when I start feeling too comfortable in my own skin, it hasn't been taking as long to come out from under it, and I'm recognizing this comes from allowing myself to be heard even when you might not like what I have to say. From allowing myself to say things even if they aren't polished yet. Standing in the face of potential rejection. 

Fear of rejection has been a crippling force in my life, born of that childhood wound of abandonment, skewing the unique qualities of my wiring, coupled with all the mixed up, upside down signals and cues that a girl can gather over time. So waking a few days ago with that old familiar blanket beckoning me to retreat, whispering its fears of a world gone mad and problems so large nothing I do possibly matters, left me in a state of confusion. Was my awakening too late? Was none of it true? Did I step out too far? Did I make a mistake? A tunnel of darkness formed in the peripheral, the way an old black and white movie announces the end. Anxiety drove a series of everything is doomed, I am doomed, everything is pointless, texts to a few good friends. 

Then a fork appeared in the road before me. 

One direction I saw the tried and true, the comfortable, the safe and the familiar. The other direction looked wild and dangerous. Uncharted territory. I don't have a map for this new path. I don't know what will happen if I continue down this way. What will happen to me if I get lost? 

I sit looking forward, I turn to look behind, voices rise and tug at me luring me to come back! come back! Then something inside begins to rise. A memory of the old days working as a project manager, needing to assert myself to lead a team to get the job done. Unnatural behavior to me, so I learned to act "As if". As if I had confidence. As if I weren't shaking in my proverbial boots. As if I had something to offer. I took the advice I so frequently offered my children when they faced a challenging situation, other people can't see your insides, act as if you aren't intimidated or shy and they'll believe you. 

Acting as if isn't the same as trying to fit in. It isn't pretending. It is acknowledging what I know to be true and what I am trying to nurture inside of me, walking it out even before my legs are fully developed. Acting as if is a way of owning my own power. Of shushing the fearful voices and saying no to that heavy blanket of depression and shame. No! I will not cover myself and hide any longer! I will not give way to the old familiar, dysfunctional, comfortable patterns! No! 

Acting as if allows me the strength to show up and be seen. Only this time, instead of acting as if in order to convince you that I have something to offer, I am acting as if in order to affirm it to me. 

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Seeing My Reflection

Acre Of My Soul - Detail shot,   Encaustic Collage Assemblage by Crystal Marie Neubauer

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

In my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

~David Whyte, The True Vow