Speak Your Truth, Even if Your Voice Shakes

I’ve chronicled my struggles with drinking and cough syrup ad nauseum. But why do I struggle with feeling like I need to self-medicate? Why do I look for easy ways out to numb myself, to stop feeling, stop thinking? What if I was doing it because I was afraid to admit who I really am?

At first I thought it was just because I had made it into a habit, and when I was bored it was just what I did. And then I realized no, that wasn’t it.

Then I thought it was from old emotional wounds and I was drinking because of this. This didn’t feel quite right, either.

I knew when I was chasing my spiritual side, my formerly unquenchable urge to drink diminished. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted. I had to relinquish the fear that I wouldn’t feel as connected spiritually without the cough syrup, but with my husband’s steady encouragement and support, I realized the need for over the counter cold medicine to feel something spiritually was a lie, too.

So as I peeled back all these layers, I found myself with a new truth, an uncomfortable truth to say out loud, but one that resonates so deeply within me I can’t deny it.

My Christian faith was so good for me, to me, for so long. It gave me the glimpses of something deeper that kept me searching for more, for my truth. Some moments of prayer and worship were ecstasy, while some things I struggled with, deep inside. Like a good Christian I stuffed them down and told myself I was being tempted, that it was sinful to feel this way.

Until I gave myself permission to let go of every preconceived idea I’d been taught of good and bad, right and wrong. I recalibrated my inner compass to follow my soul and not my brain.

I started connecting the dots. Hebrew is a magical language, based on numbers. It goes so much deeper than this, but there is a reason sacred texts were written in Hebrew. It lent a deeper meaning to the words, the letters even. Numerology? It’s directly connected to Hebrew. Shirley Blackwell Lawrence spells all of this out for me in her book The Secret Science of Numerology.

I keep following the breadcrumbs. Pythagoras (faint memories of high school trig come to mind, and I still remember a2+b2=c2) was on to so much more. These written words, when spoken, become vibrations. Sound waves. Just like music. And then she explains how there is a mathematical synchronicity between music notes and the color spectrum. Red is C, Orange D, Yellow E, Green F, and so on (Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, 911). She goes on from there and explains how it is all connected. God and science. Numerology and Hebrew, Tarot and astrology.

Growing up I’ve always had a fascination for Tarot cards and numerology, and the spiritual world. I just could never reconcile the two worlds (the esoteric/occult with Christianity) without feeling like I was doing something wrong. Blackwell’s book was the key I needed to reconcile the two and to let myself give myself permission to explore what really rang true for me.

Once I let go of my preconceived ideas, it was like the Universe just opened to me and I was realizing new truths everywhere I went, meeting people to guide me on my journey without even consciously seeking them out. A podcast (Weirdly Magical) listened to on my way home from work brought me to Lou Edington, someone who gave me so much of her time and attention as I was trying to figure all this out. When she did my astrology report, everything was so spot on, things I’d never told her or even my husband, she revealed after a glance at my chart. She gave me the encouragement to follow my heart’s desire with my art and nursing career, and gave me insight as to how I could reconcile the two (art therapy). She gently helped me come to my self-realization that I am not happy being a desk nurse, and this isn’t where my gifts lie. With this realization I spoke with my ever patient boss and told her I knew last year this desk job wasn’t a good fit for me and asked if I could work the floor as a registry nurse. I start Monday, and I am so excited.

I met a local woman who while looking for sage, who on first glance, felt like home. Kindred spirit, I found myself confessing everything of my spiritual journey as she nodded and smiled and showed me where the sage was.

A few weeks later, she helped me figure out what white sage looks like in the wild, and it turns out we have it growing everywhere on our property!

I started doing things instinctively. My husband couldn’t figure out my sudden aversion to plastic and wanting to compost, and watched with curiosity as I traded in my wine libations for tea.

I researched whatever called to me and felt right. I had my little diary, that I call my “Will o Wisp” diary, and would write down anything someone suggested, or that I read (it was my breadcrumb diary…the universe throws things at me so quickly I can’t keep up…)

This is the same diary that I looked back on recently and realized something that left me breathless. I never paid much attention to eclipses. But hearing Lou’s podcasts and reading her posts, that were so spot on, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. So I looked up where I was for each eclipse.

The first eclipse, of the year? In February? Was February 15th. The night I found Kelly Rae Roberts’ art class and decided to quit drinking, and inadvertently launched into finding my way back to my spiritual journey path. I was blown away. I had felt the need to chronicle my thoughts in this blog, and as I look back, finding my religion back then, reopening the door to my spirituality that I had kept so carefully locked away for over 7 years…

I started to realize there is a reason I always wanted to go into medicine. I’ve always felt called to be in medicine. When people asked I would tell them I wanted to be a librarian, an author, and a doctor when I grew up. I love the idea of being a healer, and have built up my stockpile of herbs bought from a local organic store and a local wellness store to research and study. Growing them is another story (except basil and aloe…I’m convinced they can pretty much grow themselves).

I bought books on Tarot, numerology, astrology. I don’t have the patience for astrology, and I find I don’t like hearing what’s coming up—it leaves my mind feeling muddled and overwhelmed–but I love looking at my diaries and reconciling everything afterwards.

I love my Tarot cards, the High Priestess, the Empress. I did my Tarot spread, asking what was coming up for me in the next 3 months. The final card, outcome, was Death. How fitting. Not death in the physical sense, but death in the way that I am being emotionally, spiritually reborn. I’m no longer a slave to my addictions–for the most part. I still fall down at times, but the times in between stumbling are getting further and further apart–and as I get better at recognizing my triggers–my moments of weakness, and then learning how to work through them, the less of a hold my addictions have over me.

The universe led me to the most amazing art therapist who seems to understand me better than I do myself.

My go to book for insight is Women Who Run with the Wolves. It’s so deep I can only read a little bit at a time, but then when I digest it it’s exactly what my soul needed to hear, and I realize the answers are all within, if I can only quiet myself and be still for a moment.

I find amazing Facebook groups that resonate so deeply, and meet fellow women who I connect with on an inexplicable, primitive level. Rewilding for Women is amazing, and I adore the women who I Zoom with on Thursdays, one of which who sent me sand from across country for my abalone shell. I receive a friend request from another girl who is planning to move back to Montana and was also in the Rewilding for Women, and she suggests a book. Women Who Run with the Wolves. I can’t help but laugh as agree with her how great of a book that is. I suggest Paulo Coelho’s Brina and The Witch of Portobello. Both books left me breathless and feeling so inexplicably close to something that I can’t quite explain.

She suggests another book–Witch. Unleashed, Untamed, Unapologetic.

I read the Kindle sample, then order it. It strikes something so deep, and visceral. The same feelings I had when my mom told me my sister and her were going to Salem, MA next month for a tour, and invited me to go with. I found myself finding a dirt cheap airplane ticket, and talking with my husband about going. I can’t really explain it, but it’s as if I’m being drawn to go and I need to see this, hear this story for myself.

But what about the negative connotations? The judgment? Condemnation?

It can’t be any worse that the self-judgment, the self-condemnation, of living a life barely half lived, a life of half truths and feeling empty inside. With every fellow woman I meet who dares to stand tall and say she is not afraid to embrace being a female, and is not afraid to meet her deepest, darkest fears head on, I feel a little more empowered.

And when I read of what happened to millions of women years ago, and what continues to happen to women via shaming and guilt trips, and suddenly I feel a lot more empowered.

It’s only when I deny who I am that I am weak.

It might not always be easy, and society might not always understand. But I know the deep love I have for my earth, my fellow women, the children, the elderly, the broken, the hurting, and my fellow women, and if using my power to help them makes me a witch, then that is exactly what I am.

Our Suicide & Drug Epidemic

Depression and other mental illnesses are widespread in America. I could take time to link studies, but I’m not going to. My toddler will be up soon and Google is free. 🙂

I always felt things more deeply, it seemed, than my brothers. I find it interesting that I’ve always been more spiritual than they are, too. I self-medicated with alcohol, starting in 8th grade. I live in a state where alcohol consumption is prevalent, and until my mom moved out of state, I didn’t realize how out of the norm the drinking culture is in Montana.

So whenever I was uncomfortable, upset, or bored, it was easy to find peers and alcohol. As I got older, I found myself in situations that I felt ill-equipped to handle. (I wrote more about this in my previous post—Nice Girls Finish Last). As a result, I had more layers of things to work through. But drinking was easier. I tried weed, but I really didn’t like the way it made me feel. I was offered other drugs, but I think my guardian angels stepped in and I just never felt the need to try cocaine or any of the ‘hard’ drugs.

I’ve taken opioids for surgical pain, and honestly, they don’t really do anything for me. I’d rather take ibuprofen for pain, and I really hate being constipated. Looking back now, I’m grateful for this quirk my body has–that I don’t find that same high others do.

After I had Dillon, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression and started on an antidepressant. I don’t really know if it helped, because I still self-medicated with wine. I do know it left me with horrible brain zaps–like someone is sticking an ice cold needle right to the center of my brain for a second, whenever I moved my head. Zap, zap. Zap, zap, zap. I looked it up and it was a symptom of withdrawal from my SSRI.

So if an SSRI was supposed to make me feel better, why did I still find it compulsory to self-medicate with alcohol? Maybe because it wasn’t an organic condition like diabetes or hypertension that could be treated with insulin or a blood pressure pill. Maybe because it’s not a physical condition so much as a spiritual condition.

Life isn’t fair, and you’re going to have painful experiences. It’s part of being human, and growing and learning. But instead of listening to my soul crying out for attention, I took the easy way out. Re-reading this, I examine this statement. It might seem like the easy way out at first, but really, isn’t this the hard way out in the end? I’m still left with everything I’m struggling with, yet now I have to deal with the hangover, my family’s frustration, and most of all, my new layer of self-disgust, my feelings of being weak and wondering why I can’t just get it together…

2018 has been eye-opening for me. It is hard to feel that restlessness, that deep discomfort even though all might be well in my life. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me. I found an art therapist whom I love and just seems to get me. I’m finding more and more amazing people in Great Falls who understand this concept of how important holistic medicine is and are so generous with their knowledge. I trust them, because of the way I feel inside as I listen to what they tell me and feel my parched soul soaking up everything they’re telling me, and because when I’m still and I listen to my intuition, I know this is what I need.

The opioid crisis? The suicide crisis? I truly believe it’s a crisis of the spirit, and if our modern medicine would look beyond just the physical body that we can scan with X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs and test with fancy blood work, if we could stop trying to Band-Aid with these slew of psychotropics with proven nasty side effects, we could be so much more effective at healing our walking wounded, and in return, heal our country, and our world.

#metoo

This video may be very triggersome. But it is so powerful and made me realize some deep, dark truths that I felt compelled to share.

As I watched this video, my first thoughts were of times I felt violated, of the stories I’ve listened to from tearful friend, and I wonder how these men could ever think this is okay to do this to another woman.

And then as I watch further, I realize I’m just as guilty.

I’m guilty of laughing at crude jokes that objectify women.

I’m guilty of judging another woman based on her outfit, a rumor.

I’m guilty of perpetuating rape culture.

I’m guilty of being silent, and in being silent, condoning this type of culture.

My #metoo hashtag isn’t my story of my experiences being objectified because I was born with an extra X chromosome.

My #metoo is because I’m guilty of not speaking up, not respecting my own sex. I’m guilty of perpetuating rape culture, a culture that says it’s okay to treat women disrespectfully.

I can’t change my past actions, but I can change my mindset right now, and make it my personal promise to gently hold myself and my peers to a higher standard so that we can change this culture to a better one.

Mommy, My Knees Hurt…

“Mommy, my knees hurt. I don’t feel good.”

My former ER nurse brain glances over at him as I flip his pancake. He’s walking normally, his mucous membranes are moist, he still has his ‘sparkle’ in his eyes. I brush him off and tend to Logan’s fussing.

“Mommy, my head kinda hurts.”

I glance over at him once again. He looks fine, he ate a hearty breakfast, he’s afebrile (no increased temperature). He’s fine.

We drive to school and my usually talkative son is quiet. We get out, I talk to one of the other moms, and head in. Dillon balks. “I. Don’t. Feel. Good!” Tears in his eyes. My first thoughts are, “Your teacher has already started class and we’re being disruptive!” I don’t know what to do. Is he faking it? Now that I’m writing this I think about this thought and examine it–my sweet boy, who had an excellent first day yesterday, who loves his classmates and his teacher, why would he fake it?

I try to talk to him, cajole him. Finally I tell him to get in the Jeep, but when we get home, he’s going straight to bed, no iPad, no TV. He can read books, but he’s not playing. Inside I feel like I’m failing as a mother, and I can only imagine what his teacher thinks of me.

I put his little brother down for his nap. I’m overtired, having worked yesterday, and then stayed up late painting and meditating, and even though I woke up feeling refreshed, my self doubt as a mother and feeling of inadequacy are pulling me down. My fantasies of day drinking at 9 in the morning quickly make me realize I’m being triggered, and as I retreat to my quiet space to think, my sweet boy follows me downstairs.

I have my online Vibrant Happy Women’s circle in a bit, so I tell him to get his iPad and his headphones and lay down on the bed in my craft room. As he situates himself, I feel compelled to talk to him. As I sit next to him, he sits up and folds himself in my arms. “I don’t like it when you’re mad at me, Mommy.” My heart melts and I get a flashback of myself at his age. Instinctively I realize he’s scared.

“Dillon, your knees hurt because they’re growing. They’re telling you to get ready, because you’re going to start turning into a man like Daddy. They might feel like pain, but really it’s just discomfort. It’s your body talking to you.” He looks at me and embarrassed, laughs. I tell him we can give him some ibuprofen, but in the meantime, he’s missing out on learning all the wisdom his teacher has to offer. That he needs this education to learn how to be a good farmer/rancher like he wants to be, that this beautiful woman won’t be around forever in the physical sense, and we need to soak up everything she has to teach us while we can.

I see a gleam of understanding in his eyes, and feel a peace in my own heart. My self doubt as a mother is replaced with an understanding by viewing the world through my sweet boy’s eyes. His knees are hurting. He doesn’t know why, and it’s scary.

This is the first of many changes he’s facing, and I realize now, writing this, that I made the right choice by letting him stay home with me today. We can make up the numbers and reading, but I can never make up for these moments when he reaches out for me and tells me he needs me.

Nice Girls Finish Last

I was raised to be a ‘good’ girl, a ‘nice’ girl, to be a people pleaser, to not offend anyone. I wanted to make everyone happy. Until I got older and suddenly found myself in precarious situations. They want one thing, but I’m confused. It doesn’t seem right, I don’t want that, yet I don’t know how to stand up for myself…

Not that I’m blaming my parents in any way–they had and have nothing but love for me, and I never once doubted I was loved by them growing up, even when I tested them beyond reason. But back then, it was almost like a societal expectation. The meek, shy, good girls were praised, while the outspoken girls who dared to stand up for themselves were labeled as ‘tomboys’ or ‘dangerous’ or ‘unruly’ or even ‘bad girls’.

I’m reading my old diaries, my poems, and remembering. I came across this one entry, and it stings. Do I dare publish it? It’s painful, but then I read it, and think of my sister, my cousin, my niece, the sweet girls in my son’s elementary school. I think of my younger self, and I know I need to…for her.

If I can share my experience and if these sweet girls that I love, with their eyes filled with trust and their sweet spirits can learn from it, if they can walk a different path …at least some good will have come from my lesson. This is from way back when, long before I met my sweet husband and built this life I love.

I made this mistake last night

Said I don’t know

When I should’ve said no

Why can’t I learn to fight for my right to say no

So I come home numb

Stand in the shower and try to cry

But no tears come

I can’t get the water hot enough

To erase the stains of his touch

My heart turns to stone

I’ve never wanted so much to be alone

I forget my past again and trust

When will I learn–

If I believe, I’ll pay the price of being naive

I never wanted that to happen

I’m not that kind of girl

I hate this price I have to pay

Now I cling to the hope

I’ll wake up and it was just a dream…just a dream. Just a dream.

Maybe if I repeat it enough

Tell myself over and over, I’ll finally believe…

It truly is simple. If you’re in a moment and you’re not sure, listen to that voice in your heart. If you’re uncomfortable, not sure what to do, or just feel confused, stand up and walk out. Make up an excuse. <3

Something Wonderful

This is the journal my mom made me when she was visiting last Christmas. She told me to buy paper, so I bought mixed media white paper, 18″ x 24″, at Michael’s. I lugged this home and watched her skillfully cut it up into pages after asking me what length I wanted. I loved the idea of being able to make flaps and pages that opened this way and that. Once I had my signatures (the bookmaker’s term for a couple of sheets of paper), Mom and Nate worked together to sew them. I held onto it, not quite ready to use it. I knew it had a purpose, and now I know what for. This is my spiritual journey journal (I’m pretty proud of that little alliteration that just popped out, ha ha).

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog and social media. I’m still wrestling with the fears of alienating people if I reveal to them my true self. I thought I had this lesson covered, but the fear and self doubt are still there. I’ve been busier than ever, reading everything and anything that I find in my path, meeting new people, learning new things, and realizing life is so amazing. Yet when it came to sharing my experiences and my art work, I felt…stuck. Held back by my fears.

A phone call to my cousin in a moment of procrastination gave me the truth I needed. As I told her my issue, I knew instinctively what I needed to do. This is my truth, and this is my journey. I can’t live my life trying to make everyone happy, trying to please everyone, or trying to fit myself into a box so I don’t upset someone.

I wrote in my last post that I just can’t go back to being the ‘nice’ diminutive girl. That doesn’t mean I give myself permission to be disrespectful or not care about others–far from it. But I do give myself permission to follow my own arrow, to explore wherever it leads me, and when I get there, to be still and decide if it feels right for me.

My mom and I had an interesting talk the other day. I was 17 when my little sister was born. Mom and I were raised to be ‘nice’ girls, while Ronda was encouraged to be respectful of others yet to stand up for herself and to be true to herself, even if it went against the status quo. She is so amazing, and an inspiration to me. I look at my baby sister and want to be like her when I grow up. 🙂

Yet I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s a little scary, putting myself out there. My spiritual walk is as strong as ever, and I am so amazed at how everything just…fits together. Yet it also means I’ve changed, and I don’t know if everyone will accept these changes; accept me…

I’m learning about things I always (secretly) scoffed at, such as aromatherapy, Reiki, acupuncture, and other alternative medicine. I wondered why I went through everything this spring, only to realize it was to give me a glimpse of what it’s like to be a patient in today’s healthcare system.

It sucks.

Not the doctors, not the nurses, not the X-ray techs, not the CNAs. They all valiantly want to make their patients feel better. They put their heart and soul into what they do, and are just as discouraged as their patients when they can’t quite say what is wrong, when the labs and imaging don’t quite explain why their patient is so miserable.

Our healthcare system seems to focus on one aspect of healing–the body–and not so much the mind and spirit. Or maybe it’s society in general, and not necessarily our healthcare systems’ fault? All I know is my spirit was on life support, because I had shut it down for so long, until I felt like life was no longer worth living. As a result, my mind was depressed, so I drank too much alcohol to self-medicate. This was as healing as putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone, Bacitracin on a ruptured appendix. Yes, it numbed the anxiety and pain for a bit, but once the anesthesia wore off, the pain was right there waiting for me.

Once I started listening to my spirit again, I started healing. This seems so simple now it makes me feel a little foolish. I can see clearly why we have such an opioid problem. People are looking for something to quench their spiritual thirst. They need something to make life worth living for, otherwise what are we but robots, going through the motions? Some people are content with their lives the way it is, and there is nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, their mind and spirit are at peace, and that’s what matters.

But for others, they need something more. And when you feel like you have the perfect life and have pretty much everything you want, yet feel empty, it’s pretty easy to feel ungrateful and to give in to the fear that you’re not enough and everything is pointless.

So when the body is assessed and nothing is found to explain the patient’s ailment, then maybe it’s time to start looking at the mind and spirit. That’s where complementary and alternative medicine come in. It might seem ‘woo woo’, but everywhere I turn I find people who are convinced it works. Even I’m convinced, and through my research, I finally figured out how it works. It’s all connected.

For so long I’ve questioned if I made a mistake becoming a nurse. When my beloved mentor passed away, I felt like my nursing path ended. I no longer felt like I was meant to go back to school and become an educator. It honestly felt like that door was shut and locked.

So now what? I love my art but I also love being with the sick and hurting and watching them heal. Everything happens for a reason, and I’m realizing now my path is to become a holistic nurse–focusing on not just healing the body, but the mind and spirit.

As I research this Eastern medicine, I can’t help but delve into the religions and cultures. Certain quotes and poems have always resonated with me, but now I’m looking at them more closely, and realizing they feel good, they feel right. I read everything and anything. Some things don’t feel right–like it gives my heart claustrophobia–and I quickly back away from anything that makes me feel nervous. But I give myself permission to let go of preconceived beliefs and just let my mind be open. Some things don’t resonate with me, and that’s okay. Others do, so intensely that I feel compelled to write them down.

Luckily I have a special journal made for me by two of the people who love me most. <3

An Attitude of Gratitude

You guys. I have been silent, writing behind the scenes but afraid to publish what I’m going through. I’m reading, searching, exploring, and my God is blowing my mind. There is so much more out there that I’ve always felt pulled toward but when society told me to shut it down, I did, like a good, nice girl.

But I’m so tired of living this shell of a ‘good’ girl, a ‘nice’ girl, who doesn’t make waves, who doesn’t say things that make others uncomfortable, who constantly overanalyzes everything before she says it to make sure no one is offended, at the detriment to her own soul.

Lately I’m breaking out of this shell, involuntarily. I truly can’t help it. Everything I’m stumbling on is feeding my soul like manna, and I’m so in love with my life and my God and I just want to keep exploring…I want to share everything I’m finding but I’m afraid. Of judgment, of losing loved ones…

Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart…my God has never seemed so close to me, yet I’m realizing I’m creating distance with my religion. I have no ill will and nothing but love and appreciation in my heart for this sweet church that has helped me grow up and done nothing but encourage me. Yet I’m realizing some of the things I’m exploring are in direct conflict with what they practice. So I close my eyes, quiet my spirit, and listen.

My treasure Thou art…I just want my God. I can feel Him in my soul, in my spirit. The English language gives him a male connotation, but really, He’s neither male or female. He’s light, and divinity, and everything that makes life worth living. He isn’t a he, or she…He just….is.

I’ve been surrendering my will, trying to figure out my next steps. I love to create. This feels good, it feels right. I love to encourage, to teach. I love to give hope, to transform ‘garbage’ to ‘art’. It’s all how we perceive things. I put together my Patreon, a website that allows artists to make money through their services, but it didn’t feel quite right. ‘Who am I to beg money for my work’ rang through my head, obnoxious and persistent. This isn’t right. I tried to give it time, thinking this is just how I’m supposed to make money so my husband can follow his dream. Instead my creativity suffered and I consulted my tarot cards. They revealed what I already knew.

Write. Create. Listen to your intuition. Things will happen as they’re supposed to. Quit trying to force things. Temperance. Sweet temperance. I feel called to meditate on this…to me it’s like a crucible, a refinement. Becoming stronger by trials.

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. I could listen to this song over and over. Overwhelming, never ending reckless love of God…I look at Logan, toddling toward me as he walks past Nate’s truck in a busy parking lot and my heart swells with pride and love and protection. I helped make this beautiful, sweet boy. I would do anything for him. I want nothing but the best for him, I will move heaven and earth to make his dreams come true, yet I know he has to play his part as well. If I can feel this as a parent, imagine what our God must feel towards us, His creation???

My love for my God has never been stronger, but I’m questioning everything…my traditional customs, the usual way I do things. What if there is a different (dare I say–better–??) way of faith than the usual customs and traditions and societal regulations…

I’m realizing the answers I’m so desperately seeking are inside me. So I’m listening to this sweet, still voice inside my soul, that sends whispers to my heart with beacons of hope and talismans of faith…

This sweet, still voice. If I can just pause the incessant chatter of my brain, the deluge of messages from today’s world, find my center and listen, I can find peace.

It takes effort…so much effort. It’s so simply complicated. Breathe in, as deep as you can, and let it out. Over and over. Let go. Just be. Some days are harder than others, but I keep my ‘Will o Wisp’ journal handy and it keeps me on track.

I live my days for this sweet, still voice. She guides me to still waters, and holds the lantern to illuminate my path. I tried so hard to find others to guide me, to tell me the answers and show me the way. I bought and read books, looking for wisdom only to find mirrors.

I’m realizing the answers are inside me. When I take a moment to be still, when I record the moments that speak to me and make me feel–be it happy or angry or sad or determined–that is my answer. This sometimes takes me down the most unorthodox paths. As I was reading Paulo Coelho’s “The Witch of Portobello”, so many sentences are speaking to me. One speaks to me so much that I write it on my bathroom mirror in permanent marker

“Everything is worship if your mind is focused on the present moment”

Yes. So much yes. My worries for tomorrow, my thoughts of yesterday, are nothing but stories my brain is concocting. I take the back roads home from work, and try to let my anxieties go.

Let it go…instead, focus on what I’m doing in this very moment. I slam on the brakes on the gravel road as I look at the doe with her two fawns as I mentally thank my God for this moment that reassures me that all is as it should be. Worrying has always been one of my worst faults. But why? What does worrying accomplish? My brothers don’t seem to worry about anything, and just live life as it comes, and I love their free spirit. What would happen if I ceased worrying? We wouldn’t have hamburger buns for our barbecue? So what…lol. No one comes to the BBQ for the hamburger buns…they come for the company, to enjoy each other’s company!

I’m letting go of inhibitions. I never liked dancing, unless I was thoroughly drunk. Deep down I knew the sacredness of dancing, and I couldn’t let go. Reading this novel, the discussion of the ‘navel’, made me think of belly dancing, and I googled it. There was a beautiful YouTube video talking about how to belly dance, and I loved it. As I moved and swayed to the foreign music, I felt like letting my hair down and free. This wasn’t about sexuality, or fitness, or whether I could hear the beat. This was letting the notes wash over me, seep into my soul, and feeling my inside respond with swaying to the beat, without thinking about it. It was losing myself to the rhythm. I danced, and danced, alone, for almost an hour. At times I caught myself pushing my palms to the ceiling, thanking my God, thankful to be alive. As I finally tired, I felt an impulse to unwind with yoga. As I googled yoga with gratitude, sweet Adrienne popped up. Life is so good, and I am so thankful.

Just a closer walk with Thee <3

Lovely Fool’s Journey

So much has changed I feel like I don’t even recognize myself anymore, in a good way. This year has been such a radical awakening, I almost feel as if I’ve been reborn. Wine has lost it’s glamour over me…and I’ve tried it and it’s just not the same. I had two glasses of wine a few weekends ago and to my surprise I was pretty tipsy. The next morning I woke up and I felt slightly pukey, and my head ached, and it was just…ugh. I hadn’t realized I how much I appreciated getting out of bed, feeling good and rested and getting on with my day. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating on special occasions but now I’m more than content to let the whiskey get a little dust on the bottle.

By no longer dulling my senses every night, my eyes are wide open and I feel like the Universe has just opened itself up to me and revealed so many secrets. I’ve found so many new things I feel deeply called to study, to research, and there’s just not enough time in the day, in a good way. My minutes are packed as full as I can get them with moments that make me happy. I started listening to my inner voice and stopped doing things because “I should” but didn’t really want to. If it feels good, I do it. I wear the black skirt that makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn. I let myself stay up all night planning and figuring things out for our future. I let the laundry stay in the dryer for a moment and lay down on the floor and feel the ground beneath my back, let my muscles and vertebrae settle, and welcome Logan’s sloppy kiss.

As long as I like the results I’m getting, I keep doing whatever it is that makes my soul happy without worrying about my inner lizard (a concept from Martha Beck’s book, Steering by Starlight) griping at me. My inner lizard is Rosie, and she has bright pink sunglasses that match her pink lipstick, she smokes like a chimney and has a tendency for theatrics. Her favorite way to pass the time is to worry about how wrong things will go and what other people might be thinking about us. Now that I know I can tell her to chill, I don’t mind my little lizard. Martha Beck is one of my new favorite authors and I’m only three chapters into her book but I’ve already ordered her other one, Finding Your Own North Star.

I’m exploring religion and spirituality, researching and seeing what feels right deep inside. And I’ve never felt closer to God than I do now. I have so many notes of books and authors I need to read, of artists I want to learn from, and a watercolor class that starts in August. I’m going to learn how to watercolor sunrises and sunsets, because pictures just don’t do justice to what I am blessed to see every day.

I’m definitely still on edge and feeling irritable at times, the itchy feeling like something’s under my skin and I just want to run, or the moments when I feel like I’m being swept away by a tidal wave still catch me off guard. But the more I reach out to people on Instagram and connect with my tribe, the more I realize I’m not alone in this feeling and it will pass. Everything is going to be okay. The sweet voice of Audrey Assad sings this hymn in my mind throughout the day and I love it:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance, now and always

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun

Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all…

I feel called to go back through my diaries and journals, to explore these thought processes that weighed me down for so long. I’ve already started going through my diary from when I was 8 years old, and realized so many insights as to why I do/think certain ways today. For example, I had written about reading a book that dealt with grief, and my anger and grief over losing my cat, Spanky. Then I had written that I can’t show my feelings in front of my parents because I don’t want them to think I’m a baby. Ignoring and hiding my true feelings; something I still do to this day. Why? Why do I need to pretend I’m not human? This is something I can let go. By looking back at my sweet, naive 8 year old self, I feel like I can heal a part of my soul.

I also stumbled on a website called Patreon, that allows artists to fund their creativity. I’m content with my job, working 24 hours as a nurse, but I would love to work toward generating enough income that my husband could quit his job and work at home full-time, raising cattle, hay, or whatever he feels he needs to do with these 80 acres. So I’ve been slowly pulling this website together.

There are four tiers to my Patreon, and my vision is to have it be an expansion of this blog, a ‘behind the scenes and gifts’ for those who feel called to help us work towards our dream of building up this land with livestock and a greenhouse, raising our boys, learning the ‘olden ways’ of doing things and sharing all this with you. This time last year I truly wondered if life was really worth living. Now I have so much I want to do and learn…Hebrew and Latin and composting, making paper from the birds nest that was in our barbecue, creating my art and watching my boys grow…I wonder how I’m going to get it all done in the next 50 years.

The first tier is Logan’s tier, and it involves me going through and writing about my old journal entries. I’ve thought about this for the last few months, because there are things in my diaries I’m not proud of, and sharing them with the world obviously invites scrutiny. Then I think about finding someone who was going through something similar, and the hope it gave me, the strength. To me that makes it worthwhile…to maybe hold a lantern for some sweet young girl starting out on her own path. The only regrets I have for my actions is the pain I’ve caused others–everything I’ve been through has taught me something and made me stronger and wiser.

By going through these entries there is also a sweet healing component. Almost like my spirit is there with my 8 year old self, telling me that all is going to be okay, and finally releasing that burden I insisted on carrying around with me all this time. I’m gaining so much insight and respect for my parents and others around me. I didn’t realize all they shouldered when I was young, but their grace in difficult situations has taught me so much and I am so thankful for them.

This first tier is for anyone who wants to contribute a $1 or more a month. I’ll still blog on this site, but some of the posts will only be for “Patreons” to see. I’m downsizing my social media, no longer focusing as much on Twitter and Facebook, and will focus on Instagram (one account only–I’m no longer going to do an account for home life and a separate one for art). It’s too much to try to keep up with while working and the boys, the animals, etc.

The second tier is Dillon’s tier. Dillon is my charismatic little artist, and he loves to interact with people as he creates his art. For $10 or more a month, Patreons can watch us livestream at least once a week and interact with us while watching us play with art. I love doing this because sometimes I’m not sure what direction to go and I can ask people watching for their input!

The third tier is my tier. For $20 or more a month, I will hand make ‘happy mail’ and send it you at least once a month…I love to share quotes that I find uplifting and encouraging, and have sent happy mail to a pen pal in Oklahoma City with real sunflower petals on it from our driveway. You also get the previous two tiers. I’m limiting this one to 20 people, since I can only make so many things a month 🙂

The fourth tier is Nate’s tier, and is for those who want to pay $100 or more a month. Nate is incredible at handtooling leather, and will create a bookmark or something similar for you. I tried to get him to agree to videoing a happy dance and uploading it to Facebook, but that was a hard no!

So we’re just throwing this out to the universe, ignoring Rosie as she whispers, “Do you really think people would be interested?!” And seeing what happens…

You can view our Patreon page here–let me know what you think!

Whatever will be, will be…

I am loving this app, Procreate. It makes it so easy to create designs that I can upload to my Society6 website. Add in the Apple Pencil, and I am in heaven. I made the above over this weekend. Saturday was a busy day for me, and I felt like I got a lot accomplished. Dillon and I cleaned his room and threw out/gave away a bunch of toys. I worked on the canvas below, and made the above.

Sunday I woke up with a headache. It felt like a tension headache, and I knew I just needed to rest. I took Motrin and a muscle relaxer and just let myself sleep. At first I felt like I wasted most of the day, but now I know I needed to catch up on my rest and I feel back to my normal self.

I’m slacking on my devotions and quiet time. I can tell because I can feel my anxiety and tension increasing, and I feel overwhelmed and scattered. I love my planner, because it helps me get things out of my head and onto paper. Nate and several other people I know can keep things straight in their head, but I can’t. I can’t even remember what I did last week on Monday without looking back at my journal or planner. I have to remember I can plan all I want, but ultimately God has control over what’s to come, and I have to know that whatever will be, will be…

Red, White and You Blog Hop

I am very excited to participate in my first blog hop, courtesy of Kate’s Crafty Closet. I “met” the owner on Periscope–Tony, who makes the most gorgeous cards. More importantly, Dillon (my 7 year old) was able to watch a guy crafting and realized crafting is not just for girls. He instantly fell in love with Tony and watching him work! You can follow Tony on Periscope with the handle @tonymac1974.

I love the Fourth of July, the fireworks, parades, barbecues, and celebrating our country. When Tony announced the theme for the blog hop I knew instantly what I wanted to do–a flag with the words “Home of the Free because of the Brave” somewhere on my work.

I didn’t have a flag stencil so I decided to try making one with my Cricut, using the holographic vinyl (all links are affiliate links) like this one: Cricut Holographic Vinyl on Amazon. This is the first time I’ve done this so I was hoping it would work!

“Weeding” the stencil. I decided to save the stars.

I was participating in Tony’s Friday evening Periscope Art Train, so I decided to work on it during my portion.

Let the creating begin!

You can watch me creating this on Periscope here!

For the words, I used my iPad, Apple Pencil, and the app Procreate to draw what I wanted to say. I just started using Procreate this last week so I’m still learning. I settled on this:

Next I wanted to print it on tissue paper–another process that requires some prayer! I use a glue stick to tack down the tissue paper onto printer paper and then feed it through. I have to be careful because I don’t want to jam up my printer. My mother in law bought me this printer for Christmas last year and I love it (thank you Becky!! <3)!!! It’s a Canon Pixma TS5020 and so far it’s been able to do whatever crazy ideas I’ve come up with! And it’s less than $100, which is a steal in my opinion.

I love printing on white tissue paper because when I glue it down with medium, it dries clear. I sprayed it with Krylon Fixatif to try to keep the ink from smearing when I used the wet mediums.

As you can see, creating is not a simple process–it’s a lot of trial and error and happy mistakes 🙂

I continued working on it a little bit the next night, Saturday night, during Lil Deb’s Creative Crew Art Block. Second Periscope

I didn’t quite like how it was looking…it was divided into two parts with the flag on top and the wording and ribbon on the bottom. I also wasn’t happy that my ink smudged. I decided to go to bed and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning.

So today I woke up and looked at it again. I knew instantly what I wanted to do. I had some parchment paper that I could use and if I overlapped it slightly onto the flag, it would help my piece look more cohesive.

I carefully traced the words I had written and glued the parchment paper down.

I sealed it with a coat of Golden Regular Gel Gloss and let it dry. I’m thinking of selling it in In my Etsy shop, along with the stencil. You can also check out my work on My Society6 site. From July 2nd to July 4th, use promo code HAPPY4TH to get 40% off all purchases on the Society6 website!

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and make sure to check out these other amazing, crafty bloggers!!

Anthony Macaluso – Kate’s Crafty Closet

Priscilla Joseph – Nubble Light Designs

Sarmin Lancaster – Funtastic Crafts

Lisa Bedigian – Royal Pumpkin Art