Emerging From The Mess: The Person I Know Best

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What a week this has been. Throughout the hectic schedules and running around to a million places, I knew I had to complete this week’s Lifebook lesson. Of course, I didn’t have to, but I am at a place where I have to dig deeper within myself and pursue my passion, challenging any excuse or time stealer.

As I followed this week’s lesson, “The Person I Know Best”, taught by the talented Misty Mawn, I knew I was in for some trouble. Her lesson asked to paint a portrait of ourselves, not focusing entirely on depicting us perfectly in every feature, but bringing forth the person we are inside, or the one we want to bring to life. This portrait signifies the connection we have within ourselves, knowing we’re never alone as long as we are in tune with who we are. That itself wasn’t a huge challenge, but a task I welcomed entirely. The problem was the call to work primarily in acrylics.

Now, I love my acrylics, I really do. They are smooth, rich, and full of life…if you know how to master them. Misty worked with them in such an effortless way, merging shades and hues in harmonious connection. After my initial sketch, I selected my colors nervously. An hour into the portrait and I looked down at the paper with horror. My painting was streaky and plastic looking; graphite lines were blending with each color stroke; the entire portrait looked like a mash of shapes and blobs of paint.

IMG_4214.jpgI began resisting the process. How could I be expected to do something so advanced in only week three? I thought of my familiarity with whimsical painting, where your subject needs to look less realistic and there’s more leniency in using different mediums. I sought refuge within my art group, fellow Lifebook participants. I voiced my concerns and frustrations, which many shared as well. But there was also positive encouragement, a reminder that it’s about the process, not the result. I posted a picture of my early picture, showing them just terrible it seemed to me. Should I scrap this? I asked. The answer was a resounding no. A fellow artist told me to push through it, see where the process leads me, and learn from it no matter the outcome. I decided to listen to them, but first I needed to walk away from the project entirely.

I couldn’t stare at her, the girl who was supposed to represent me, without a pang of anxiety. I did want to scrap her; but I was also drawn to her. She looked messy, cracked, and flawed. But so was I, at so many points of my life. She was endearing, asking for help, asking me to see through all that streaky noise, where her true beauty waited. So I left her on the table, thinking of her often and wondering if she’d ever come to life.

The next day I visited my art desk again, where she waited patiently. As the streaky mess had dried into rough patches, she had a different look about her. She was still flawed, but those rough spots showed a resilient, thick skin. Where the paper had peeled and shredded while wet, it was now whole and harder. The shadow lines that lined her features seemed more like layers of years lived. The sad smile, the dull look in her eyes, somehow they seemed to reflect a certain wisdom about her, as if she held the entire meaning of life. She was still there, flawed and cracked, but beautiful nonetheless. So I went back to work.

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The next few days I worked in several layers. Coating after coating, I watched her transform. She was reddish and dark at first; then she turned a mild yellow with shades of brown; her features kept changing, her chin straightening out; her eyes growing a little more vivid with splashes of gold; her smile turning less sour and more peaceful. I watched her evolve and finally it hit me. She wasn’t always beautiful or wholesome or perfect. She kept changing, molding day by day, doing exactly what was asked of me: give life to the person I was, am, and will always be. I realized that just like my portrait, I am this strong, flawed, solitary, ever changing human being with a story to tell. So she isn’t perfect. That’s what makes her beautiful.

I have learned so much during this process. Perseverance through the dark stages of painting—or life—can show you exactly who you are. Embracing the ugly mess, loving every flaw, not giving up at the first challenge, not only makes you a better artist, but a better human being.

I started not knowing who the girl in the painting was. I thought it wasn’t me, it couldn’t be. I didn’t recognize the features or who she was trying to be. By the end of it, she told me exactly what I needed to know. She is, after all, the person I know best.

 

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The Hummingbird: Positive Affirmations Through Art

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The second week of January comes to an end and as promised I’m journaling my experience with Lifebook. Last week I introduced you to Lifebook, a new journey of mine, a yearlong workshop hosted by Tamara Laporte, that teaches about mixed media and guides you through a self-exploration voyage.

This week was the beginning of a breakthrough for me on so many levels. I began the week diving into the first bonus lesson, “Taking Flight-The Song of the Hummingbird”. The main theme for the week was positive affirmations. The hummingbird flies into 2017 with personal confirmations of love, self-care, belief and determination. Each artist was asked to take some time and think about his or her inner needs, focusing on positive affirmations needed to nourish the soul.

When creating my hummingbird, I chose a bright and pinky color scheme. As many artists do, I pick my colors in a certain way as to relay the emotions and message housed in my work. I’ve always found that pink, turquoise, and purple express a sense of peace and restoration. My hummingbird flies into 2017 with a purpose of renewal, hope, and positive expectations.

The feathers hold a message, a visual reminder of those positive affirmations. As I begin a new year, I’m determined to reconnect with my soul, to draw inspiration from within, to seek the inner peace that will develop into my purpose in life.

As I log onto my Facebook account, my feed has been swamped with other Lifebook participants posting their own artwork, experiences, and emotions as they embark on the same journey. I can’t tell you how touching and inspiring it is to see what others are going through as they create not only art, but their lives around a sense of renewal.

There is also a lot of hurt, the one hidden in deeper levels that you have to poke at to break through. Sometimes in order to renew yourself and rebuild your life in a positive direction, you have to touch on emotions that aren’t pleasant. Some participants have shared their own emotional rollercoaster, an important step in healing. It is through connecting with others, persevering through those tough emotions, and continuing to let art guide our souls that we can heal and grow into who we need to be.

As week two draws to an end, I’ve also been meditating a lot more, on my own and through Soul Driven Summit, a series led by Devorah Spilman. This course is designed to let your soul drive your life’s direction, listening closely to the inner purpose. So far, it resonates with me in many ways. I plan on writing a separate blog on my experience with this course, so subscribe and stay tuned if you’re interested in learning more.

989e5fb46b363fd5677cae430c7bc482It has been an emotional, inspirational, and uplifting week. I will dedicate this weekend to the second bonus lesson given by Lifebook: creating a positive affirmation card deck. My teenage daughter and I are tackling this project together and I can’t wait to share our experience with you.

I ‘ll catch up with you all next week. Until then…love, believe, and create.

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Untapped Potential: Finding Your Talent

iStock_92171083_XLARGE.jpgI’m a firm believer that each of us is born with a particular talent. Many of us walk around with untapped potential, but I think it’s still there, hiding somewhere inside of us. For a long time I used to think that it was a treacherous journey to discover our true talent.  What a miracle it’d be to find out what we were meant to do and what our passion really was.

Then I realized it’s not as complicated as I thought.

Throughout my life I’ve experienced several ups and down, and each event has blatantly showed me my talent. It might’ve not presented itself with immense clarity, but it manifested in different forms each time.  The message was always the same: Tamara, use your imagination. Be creative. Go back to writing. Just create. And each time I followed that advice, I healed a painful experience, created opportunities, learned something new, met new people, or discovered a new part of myself.

If you think hard enough, I bet you’ll find a recurring theme in your life. It may be something that helped you through a situation time and time again. Something small and mundane, such as [Read More Here]