Sep.15

Walls…

I started the month of September with a strong sense of possibility. On 9/1/2014 I had a vision of the latter half of the year as an open field before me…so much potential…so much to accomplish.

And then by 9/2/2014 the stumbling blocks arrived. It seems fate or the universe had some unforeseen need to test my metal. By the time the second week of the month hit, the stumbling blocks had become brick walls.

  As strong as I strive to be, I am still human. It was and still is more than a bit overwhelming at times. Even as continue working, grinding, hustling… it seems there is a unfailing counter force at work to deter me. But as I write this, the wall firmly at my back, I still take solace in the bright sky above me and warmth of the sun on my face. I can feel my optimism surging.

There will never be a point where there is no obstacle along the path. The walls are part of the journey to get to my greatest self. And because of that I have chosen to not bemoan the path, walls and all, before me. I will take the obstacles as they come and make my way around them. And for the days when the walls seem to become too vast and broad for me to climb, I have packed a sledgehammer to clear the way.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing

Sep.01

The Journey

I was recently asked two very distinct questions which, once I answered them, gave me a bit of perspective on myself. The first question asked of me was, “What are you thankful for?”

That’s such a loaded question. The possibilities can be infinite. I could say family, friends, my health, the list could go on and on. But after a moment of thinking of all of these things, I responded that I was thankful for my renewed sense of self.

It has taken me almost 2 years of work to get to my current point in my life, both personally and professionally. However, even with that being said I know I will continue to evolve. What I knew of myself this time last year is not what I know of myself today, and I am grateful to know and accept the difference.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go. -Dr. Seuss
The second question asked of me was, “Describe how you came to be the artist you are today.” Or more simply put, “Who are you as an artist?” Again, a question with boundless possibilities for a response. My response was, I am a woman trying to discover herself with my paintings as the medium. I started painting again because I wanted to stop hating my body and my own self-image. It was a means to fall in love with myself. My journey to reach those goals has led me to find a level of work in myself that I didn’t even know I was capable of. But again, my vision and passion as an artist will still continue to grow and evolve with time and experience.

So what is the perspective I gained…it is to not be so worried about the fine lines others may at times ask you to use to define who you are, or what you do. I am many things…mother, wife, artist, writer…none of which can be made to fit a single mold. I can define and re-define what those words mean to me a thousand times over and still not be done. I am a work in progress and my journey has only just begun.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Quotes,Art,Artist

Jul.17

On Writing…Connections

As writers there are any number of books, articles and blogs that look to give the tips and tricks for cultivating a successful writing career. One tip I have come across numerous times is to join a writer’s group. For some, the mere mention of walking into to a group of other writers and sharing your work has been known to induce a cold sweat and clammy hands; its fear factor second behind pitching your work for the first time.

The first group I joined consisted of 8 women I had either never met or had met, once or twice before. Not exactly the most ideal way to ease into sharing your work, but I figured if I was going to join a group I would go with the first opportunity. So off I went, feet first over the edge.

Now generally, I am able to talk in front of people and convey my opinions with confidence and ease. Then it was my turn to share the piece I was working on and I became a wreck. As I read, I flushed to a shade somewhere between crimson and purple and my voice quivered so badly I sounded like a scared goat. It was definitely not my shining moment.

But as the weeks stretched to months, we built a connection. I began to seek out these women for not just their feedback on my writing but for their support. We were all striving to a common dream of being writers. Family and friends are definitely a support, but it is the person that has lost sleep over a sentence, or has faltered in the face of a deadline and a glaring blank page, that will truly connect with our angst.   When I’d become frustrated and discouraged, they would not tell me, “You’re working too hard, just take a break.” They would rally to push me forward and help me find my way back on track.

Sadly, time and circumstance got in the way and that writers group disbanded. But I recently had dinner with several of the women. In that room the same energy surged and we found our connection was still there. We went around the room and spoke of recent pitfalls and triumphs and it was magical. A great writers group will become more than getting someone to help you with an awkward sentence here or there. Once you find the one that’s right for you (not all groups will suit), it will become a support and connection, that as a writer, you will not want to be without.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing,On Writing

Jul.02

What The Wall Has Taught Me

The first half of the year is done, and what have I learned from it?

I’ve learned that hitting the wall hurts, and hitting it more than once leaves a bruise.   But, in the healing I have found my resilience.

There has been a significant learning curve for me.   My passion and belief in myself as a writer and artist is what has kept me rising from the dust and ashes again and again.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. -Joseph Campbell
These months have taught me that my creativity requires me to use a more tactile and basic technique. For me, the creative process must begin with no more than a pen and paper.  I must start with these basic tools before I can even attempt to sit before the canvas or a keyboard.   Attempting to follow the methods and structures of others has failed me time and time again.  But in this approach I found I can be consistent.

So, maybe for you, my dear Constant Reader, this year has been filled with the sort of magical kismet that has the stars aligning to present one opportunity after the other for you.   Or, if your year has been more like my own, you have found yourself standing in full dark with no stars to light your way.

Courage dear heart.

Regardless your path or methodology, stay the course. Hold true to your dream and the universe will follow.  I look forward to seeing what the rest of the year will hold.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing,Quotes,Constant Reader

Jun.17

Dear Universe…

I find I am at a crossroads and my thoughts are heavy with possibilities and potential outcomes. My bearings are askew and I find myself left of center. There is a crackling of static electricity rising from my skin; a verve of ideas that has me restless and apprehensive. And yet, I find I am pulled and distracted from the path yet again.

Tonight, even as I am soothed by the sounds of a sleeping house around me, there is, in the distance, the sound of a clock ticking.

The Universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already have. Rumi
It is a clock of my own design, massive and gaudy. It ticks away the minutes I have wasted, opportunities squandered and the foreboding sense that the greatness within me may never see the light of day.

Stories and characters are banging at the walls of my mind. Paintings burst like supernovas in my dreams and within minutes of waking they dissipate into vapor. Life has arrived in the midst of my creative burst; a colossus with no care for my plans. He sets boulders in my path and bricks on my shoulders to carry. And I push forward.

As I write this, I find that with each word I type, my hope swells. I sat with the intention of completing one word, maybe one sentence, with no clear outcome in mind, but now the words have begun to flow.
Therefore, I am writing this as a proclamation to the universe. I will speak into being that I cannot be broken from my dreams. I may stray from the path but I will not lose sight of it. A heavy heart and an anxious, worried mind has slowed my gait but still I strive.

Dear Universe, I believe in myself. I will not fail.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing,Quotes

Jun.01

The Abundance Within

There is a bone deep weariness within me fighting to take over as I sit writing this.  It has been a difficult week.  Sleep has become elusive and the periphery of my vision has been tinged with black.   And still I know that alongside this exhaustion resides a hope which is as bright and alert as the rising sun.

My heart constricts yet again as one more obstacle has been placed before me. But that will not deter me.  I have willed myself to take another step and then another.  Giving in to the exhaustion and despair will not due.

Who am I to bemoan hard times when others under greater hardships have persevered, achieved and surpassed with grace and peace in their hearts?

In every moment you have a choice about how you want to use two of your most precious resources your attention and your intention.
– Deepak Chopra

I have dropped the ball so many times in this first half of the year that it feels as though my palms have been greased.   But still I trust that there is an abundance within me; a well spring of greatness I have yet to tap into. 

I envision it as a ball of light which lives deep within the core of me.  Some days it is barely a flicker and others it is a ball of raging fire which envelopes me; racing through my nerve endings, so that it sizzles and sparks with all I set my mind to and touch.

But tonight I am tired and heart heavy.  I write this to remind myself to push forward and keep trying.  Even as my feet are leaden beneath me, I resolve to take another step and then another.

There is an abundance within me.

God please give me the grace to set it free.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing,Quotes

May.01

My Dear Reader

My Dear Reader,

I want to share with you something which has me red-faced and more than a bit chagrined.  I’ve slid down a slick slope of idleness and am at a loss as to how I got there.  I’m angry and frustrated with myself over my unproductive slip.

I’ve lost my flow and I’m struggling.

I share this not as a woe is me story, but in the hopes of helping my fellow writer, artist, dreamer and achiever who is awash in self-doubt and at a loss of how to truly articulate what their going through to the people around them.

For every person, whose momentum since the New Year, has rocketed them on an ever reaching celestial path, there are those like myself that are overwrought with ennui.   I write this as someone who was previously on the ball, working my hustle day and night and now it is a daily struggle to get just one thing accomplished.  I have no doubt that I am not the only one who is embarrassed at all I can’t seem to accomplish.  I worked so hard in the prior year to grow and take myself to the next level and now it seems I battle to motivate myself more than ever before.

I can tell you that March and April were no friends to me.  They brought with them a stockpile of issues, stress, headache and heartache.  And honestly I let them get the best of me, but I am only human.

I am not a machine and can only handle but so much.  Routines are broken.  No system or method is impervious to change.  It is in the pursuit of progress that we must evolve and if we don’t then the universe (at least in my case), will step in and show us a thing or two until we do.

I have begun to make small strides to pull myself back up.  Yet I still can’t say that I have my feet completely under me but, I forge ahead.  All things in their due time.

So to all those shooting stars out there having a phenomenal year I say, soar higher.  And to those who are struggling as I am, I offer the words of C.S. Lewis, “Courage, dear heart!”  We can make it back to where we want to be.  We must have faith in ourselves; in the untapped greatness within us.  We must evolve and create new paths for ourselves if we want to get back to where we once were.

Repeat after me…

Re-adjust

Re-align

Push ahead.

I am with you and believe in the greatness within you.

Siempre,

V-

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing,Quotes

Mar.16

A Candle in the Dark…

There has been an unyielding sense of ennui that has wrapped itself around my shoulders. It laid in like a second skin and I just couldn’t seem to shake it.

So I turned to what has always been my comfort…books and the stories that live within them. My status as a constant reader, while it’s had moments of wax and wane over the years, has held as a steady necessity for me. It is within a book’s pages that I turn when I find myself lost in moments of weariness. I looked through my catalogue of books already read, knowing it would be there that I would find my reprieve. This feeling which grew from a mild nagging to a sudden constriction of my creative flow, would only be improved by the familiarity of a story, well-known and loved.

I settled on a romance; a novella I’ve read a couple times already. Some would mock the choice, I’m sure, but everyone’s comfort is their own, and I find no shame in mine, nor have I ever cared much what others thought of my choices in literature. But I digress…

I eased into the story and familiarity of the characters created by author Patricia Briggs in “Alpha and Omega” and felt the tightening slowly alleviated with each page turned. The story, a paranormal romance, is also one of fate and destined love. It is the story of Anna, a broken and battered woman, and Charles a powerful, heart harden and stoic man; a story of soul mates. Their story, as favorite stories are known to do for those that love them, improved my mood. It was through the storytelling and writing (thank you Mrs. Briggs, I have been your Constant Reader for some time now) but also in something much deeper that I found solace in.

Within the lines of this story lies a tale of hope; even when life feels at its most dire there is light and within that light is love, strong and unwavering. This may be the opinion of one foolhardy romantic, but it was that thought that eased my restless heart.

So, my message to you, my fellow Constant Reader is to go forth and seek out your comfort, wherever it lives and cherish it.

This is my candle in the dark…what is yours?

Challenges,Writing,Romance,Constant Reader

Mar.01

Deadlines

I recently had an epiphany. It came in the form of an SOS from another writer given a tight deadline for edits from her publisher. She asked for my help as a second set of eyes and I agreed without hesitation.

The catch? The edits needed to be back to her that same night. I received the piece at 10pm and was finally able to send it back by 1:30am. The next day, as I sat behind my desk at my 9-5, I realized I’d done for her what I wasn’t doing for myself.

“The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.” –Steven Pressfield

I had become lazy, subconsciously nursing my own self-doubt. I made the process harder than it needed to be so that I could tell myself it was okay that I wasn’t writing. I was missing opportunities and deadlines for submissions, but could not produce a valid reason for it.

But, the real question I was left asking myself was, why? Why was I willing to lose sleep and work late into the night for another writer but not be willing to do the same for myself? Fear, self-doubt, self-consciousness, take your pick. I was feeding into my own anxieties and in turn shutting myself down.

Spark.
Fan.
Flame.

It was so easy to find the excuses not to do what I knew was completely within my means to accomplish. I’d become the foil within the story of my own life. And now that I was able to see that, I couldn’t un-see it. I have been writing, revising and producing work of my own everyday since. I have set short tight deadlines, (I realized as well that I do better with them than without) and have not let myself waver from them.

With each new day, I will make the conscious decision to push past the resistance I have created in my own mind. I will overcome the self-doubt that was preventing me from putting out the work I know is within me.

The deadlines are looming. I am more productive than ever…it’s time to get to work.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Writing,Quotes

Jan.31

The Octopus Lives…

“You are going to need to grow an extra brain and arms.  You wanna be an octopus.”

That was the advice my husband gave to me recently as I relayed my frustrations over trying to figure out a game plan to get more done within a day…week…month.  I was so serious and intent in my angst that his response took me completely off guard.  His beguiling West Indian tone and deadpan delivery had me laughing for at least 10 minutes.

The Octopus Lives

But in all seriousness, his comment does beg the question that many of us who are in the throes of trying to build our dreams into a reality are faced with…Am I trying to accomplish more than is humanly possible?

I seem to constantly grapple with the question of whether my overreaching and overzealous ambition has become the equivalent of a subversive self-sabotage.

The truth that always sets my mind at ease is remembering that this is all part of the journey.  Frustration comes when my desire and drive are moving faster than everyday life. The struggling and fighting for my dream is all part of what comes with creating a life where I am able to live out my passions every day.  This is about commitment and my commitment to myself can never be wrong.

My ambitious nature, which I held silent for so long, has now surged forward.  With each accomplishment the list of things that I want to undertake continues to grow.  Each goal surpassed sets my eyes to the horizon for greater and grander peaks to reach.

At the beginning of last year my only goal when it came to art (because I did make a list) was:

By Summer 2013: Have a completed a painting and/or drawing

After not painting for 7 years that was a big hurdle to cross.  I was not even sure I knew how to paint anymore.  But once I started again and rediscovered my passion, I not only completed a painting but I exhibited in 6 different galleries and venues within the course of the year.  Tooting my own horn…your damn right I am.

My passion, ambition and drive got me there.  And I’m sure there were times over the course of last year when I may have seemed like an octopus.  But as I write this I stand confidently in knowing this is the truest version of who I am.  Not having multiple wheels rolling at once makes me anxious.  If I know there is more that I could and should be doing and instead I find myself sitting on the couch watching TV…that is the self sabotage.  It may seem like too much to some and over the top to others, but  I can’t and don’t want to change.  This is me.

So for now the octopus lives on….I’ll let you know when I finish growing that extra brain.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Quotes