Depression Can Hit Us All

I’m very lucky I don’t get bouts of depression all of the time. For those with chronic depression, my heart goes out to you and I admire you for pushing through your life everyday.

Depression can hit us all. The last couple of weeks have been an overwhelming amount. It’s extremely frustrating and devastating. With the support of my fiancee, friends and therapist I can push through those dark times. Not easy by any means, but I can do it.

I didn’t just Become depressed. The whole year has been a rough one. But I can’t think of it all in negative terms or else I come that which I hate, miserable and spiteful.

What hurts the most is the massive events that happened in the span of a few days. It’s never a good feeling when you see the dark side in those that you would think would never be so vengeful. And vengeful for no actual reason. Although I could see this hopeful happy event go south, quickly. Not because I am a negative person but because this has happened many times throughout my life. And it happened yet again, which brought me to my breaking point.

I was hurt along with a couple others.

*I am being vague, I know but the people involved don’t need to be targeted*

I was devastated with betrayal. It felt like I was reliving childhood events. I would cry, than laugh, switch to anger and soon just an empty shell. This caused me to binge eat for a few days, which made me feel worthless and disgusting. Very strong words. When you feel them deep down as things are occurring it’s like being stabbed by an unknown force and you can’t just stop. You don’t know how because you are in a strange way not even fully there.

With the help from my therapist I was able to come up with ways to vent, cope and create lists to break things down better. Creating ‘Stress Lists” and “To Do Lists” has been helping so much. When I feel upset and want to evacuate my mind/body I pick up my list and go to something else. For example, instead of eating a box of pasta with tons of cheese, I put on a podcast or draw with thunderstorm sounds on in the background. Recovery methods. Although at first you feel silly doing lists, it’s so helpful.

Also, incorporating more meditation sessions I can calm my mind better as well. When I finish a workout, I meditate. Why during this time? Because I have worked so hard at getting my body to this place and want to continue to make it better. Not because I have a poor body image, I just love feeling strong in my own skin. Being healthy makes me a better person not just in medical terms but it spiders out in my life. So, when I complete my workouts and meditate to close it, it’s a way for myself to remind myself of my strength, courage and capability.

During these past few weeks, it’s hard to break it down into a comprehensive post. But, my biggest lesson from all of these events is this. I don’t want to become what I hate and how I feel when these memories surface. When you hurt yourself (physically or mentally) you turn into what those said you were. Worthless, stupid, weak, boring, ect. But you aren’t those things, neither am I. Those that hurt you want you to believe this because they are filled with so much hate and jealousy, you cannot be more successful than them.

Take your life one day at a time when things are difficult. And when it’s very difficult, take it one hour at a time. Oh and if that’s to hard, take it one minute at a time! When you are happy and healthy, it spreads out to those around you. Like attracts like. Be the person you want to meet. Keep going. Don’t stop. If I can do this so can you.

And one of the best things to help me get through my rough times, I drew. I completed a piece during this time as well. There were points when it was hard to do because I was in a foggy place but creativity can bring in the light.

Art. Music. Exercise. Clean Food. Writing. Podcasts. Nature. Nature Sounds. Speed Painting. Reading. Research. And, the Business of Art helps me move through the quicksand. Most of all, talk to someone. And if you need to cry, cry. Trust me, I shed many tears. That’s okay. 

If you have experienced bouts of depression, share your story. Together, it’s a little easier to get through things.

 

Lady Sable

Lady Sable; 11×15 inches; Completed in General’s Charcoal Pencils and Caran d’Ache Colored Pencils (for her lovely eyes)
Sable is a wonderful African Serval from WildCat Ridge Sanctuary

Visit my website 🙂

Lady Sable; 11x15 inches size; 300; charcoal drawing of sable african serval from wildcat ridge sanctuary.jpg

 

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When Stress Strikes

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It’s a part of life isn’t it? Stress comes in all shapes and sizes with no discrimination attached to it. It strikes us all at different times. It can take us down with a quickness. How do you handle it? Do you wallow in the thickness of it? Do you try to fix everything that is causing it? Do you throw in the towel and give up?

When I come up against stress I think of the following story, to which I am paraphrasing the best I can:

“….there are three people in a sinking boat. An optimist, a pessimist and a realist. The optimist says ‘We will be fine, help will come soon and we will survive. No need to worry!’ The pessimist says ‘We are all dead. No one will come, everything is ruined.’ And the realist says ‘We are in a sticky situation. The likelihood of us surviving may be slim but what can we do to increase that?’….”

Be the Realist.

Things are in a bad place. You cannot stop nor control everything going on. But you can manage things as best as you can. You can survive.

Don’t push away those annoying crappy feelings. It’s okay to be sad, mad, upset, annoyed, all of those emotions are normal. It’s not a bad thing to feel that way. You may think ‘my problems are nothing compared to people who are trying to survive a food storage or war’ but they are real problems in your world. And that’s okay.

Another quote for you “God gives you no cross you cannot bear”. Now, I am not religious but I do like that quote and truly believe it. Things get heavy but you can carry the load and if you are wise, lighten it over time.

I have many different things going on right now. In the next post, I will dive into that a bit more. Until I am able to sort things out a bit more, I will leave you with some ways I have learned to get through those times.

I allow myself to feel depressed, sad, mad, upset, ect. I don’t allow myself to stay there forever, you must move forward or you will sink deeper and it’s twice as hard to get out of that hole. If you already suffer from depression this will of course be slightly different, consult with your doctor/therapist on ways to move through those emotions safely.

Don’t pretend everything is fine or will always work out. Sometimes things don’t. But, as a realist figure out ways to manage things on a more level head. You will survive this, you’ve survived many things in your life.

Talk to people you trust about what is going on. For me, I have been figuring things out in my mind before I go and speak to people about my business. If I speak to quickly I get super negative and my stories are jumbled. When I take a moment to pause and sift through things I can explain myself better.

Get out! Do something active. You don’t need to spend money either. Just move around. Hang out with friends or family. Ask them how they are doing. Be the listener. Find a hobby you love to do and do it. Exercise, draw, meditate, walk the dog, read a book (yes a book!), window shop, explore the town, ect.

Life is hard. Stress is hard. Saving money is hard. Paying bills is hard. But all of this is not impossible. Take it day by day and if that is to hard, take it minute by minute. You are stronger than you realize. Keep moving forward and don’t look back.

This stress is just that chapter in your own book of when you learn another lesson. Just keep your eyes, mind and heart wide open. You Got This.

 

Art. Sleep. Health. And Understanding

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This graphic explain my week in a nutshell. The good, the bad and even the down right ugly. Which is okay, for the most part.

The week started good leading into messiness which started stress and ended here with an ‘ah ha’ moment. This blog isn’t just about me as an artist. It’s about my work, my passions, my life and the in betweens. It’s amazing, tough, stressful and beautiful all jumbled together. I want you to come into my life a little more because I feel we are all connected in more ways than one and maybe, just maybe, when we share these stories we don’t feel so alone.

The Art

More work has been done on my elephants, yay! Slowly coming to the end but with a lot more to go through. The most difficult part with this piece is that it’s a pretty large drawing. So, you spend a lot of time on one area and it feels like you haven’t gotten anything done. But, the truth is you have. Because if you rush through any piece with detail, it’s going to be done quickly and it won’t look so great.

So the pace has been right, just a little frustrating. Which is totally fine too 🙂

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Not to mention, putting a new feature on my website! Purchase a work in progress piece, like this one 🙂 

I have a few other drawing lined up which always feels good. One frustrating part right now is focusing on the piece I am working on. With several other things going on I am re-learning how to focus on one thing at a time. Meditation is slowly helping with that 🙂

The Sleep

And when I mean sleep, I should say the lack there of. I’ve had a sleep issue for a while now. And I am learning how to prioritize it better, not easy when you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep many nights.

Although the week start well, by the time yesterday hit I was beat down. To the point of not being able to put a sentence together, wanting to eat crap food and not being hungry at all. When you’re tired, you start to lose it slightly.

Which leads into….

The Health

I am a dedicated workout chic. I know how to lift, what exercises work well for a certain body part, the best foods to eat, what to stay away from, ect. I know my health inside and out. However, I also know I have been struggling with binge eating for a while now. At least 5 months now and it’s not simple.

It doesn’t take a genius to know you can eat through any workout. Especially if you have a body type like mine that can put on weight easily. I’m healthy, I’m at a great weight but truth be told I’d like more. I’ve always wanted to have that toned athletic body and be athletic. That is another goal which I can arrive at as long as I can get my issues in check.

Which is one reason why I started therapy. It’s time, it’s been time for a while now. But taking that one step feels great. Being able to talk to my therapist all week has helped me move through this week without to much destruction. I’ve slipped at times but I also got back up right away.

The Understanding

We all have those ‘ah ha’ moments. Those times when the pieces seem to finally fit. Well, about one hour ago I had that moment. And I hope to have many more throughout this journey.

I realized this with a reason why I binge. As a kid I was told many times by different people in my life that I couldn’t do something. We all were a certain times I’m sure. However, when you are told this so often, you start to believe it. I thought I moved past it but I haven’t yet. (Thank you therapy for helping me there!)

For me, the food represents something I want to overcome or do. In this case, not eat the trigger foods. My mind (which during the binge moments is like an itch I have to scratch) are people telling me I can’t overcome or do something. Well, I started to believe that and I give into temptation. After the short lived satisfaction, I feel guilty with those old voices in my mind going “told you so”.

I do this with other things but I didn’t realize I was doing this with food as well!  Ah Ha!

The point is, don’t do something to prove others wrong. Do it for yourself. Have your reason Why and make it personal. I have my personal whys but I’m not looking at them. I’m looking at “is this what this person would want?” Not groovy.

Honestly, just do you. Easier said than done but possible. Join me on the journey. It’s scary and hard but by sharing it becomes a little easier to handle. 🙂

 

 

 

A Week of a Breakdown. What I Learned.

We all have bad days. Bad weeks. Bad things happen, can’t change that.

This was one of those weeks for me. I felt like I was losing it, quickly. Lack of sleep, stress and things creeping into my mind from my past since being triggered a few months back.

I was truly exhausted with a thickness of depression settling over me. It was plain awful. But when I looked inward I realized this was my cue to finally take a step, okay a Giant Step, of reaching out for help. I entered into therapy.

Since money is tight I went to the online option, Talkspace. Which so far has been quite helpful. To have a therapist with no connection to me, my family or anyone I know  that is there to listen and guide me is incredible. Knowing you need help is a great step, taking the initiative to get help is another.

Why am I sharing this? Because it’s a part of my journey as not only an artist but a person overall. Something I feel we all forget. We tend to put people in boxes with labels. It’s safe, easy and convenient. But it’s not always helpful. I don’t want to just be ‘an artist’ or an ‘animal lover’. I’m so much more than that. Being transparent about things makes me grow and hopefully helps others as well.

With a week of tears, confusion, discovery, guilt, exhaustion and everything else in between it’s been a somewhat humbling experience. I don’t want to go through it daily but I know I will go through it again, it’s just how things are when you open up. And that’s okay.

The desire to create has been a little difficult lately. With my schedule jumbled and my mind racing it’s hard to focus on my work. Be it drawing or the yucky business side, the drive to do it hasn’t been there. I went over this in my last post in case you wanted to take a peek.

Once I entered into therapy and started short mediation sessions on my own, I started to slowly see a shift. Not a major one but enough to acknowledge it. I was able to sit for a few hours the last couple of days with my elephant piece and work on it. I paused at times to collect my thoughts and relax. Telling myself it’s okay if it’s hard to focus, this made it a little easier to focus for longer periods of time.

Small but important.

It’s going to be a long road ahead but the journey will be worth it. If you have ever wondered about therapy, consider it. Starting with Talkspace is a great step. You don’t have to go anywhere, it’s doable as far as money goes, and it’s great way to feel safe. Don’t lock those things away, open them up with a professional. If I can do it, so can you 🙂

Elephant Piece:

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I was able to get a lot done in the past few days after starting therapy, listening to myself, meditating and getting a good amount of sleep….finally 🙂

New Website Option:

Also, I added a New option to my website. Being able to purchase in progress works!

WIP Buy 1

 

 

Do You Always Want to Create? No.

One question I get, along with many other artists, is:

Do you always want to create art?

Honestly, no I don’t. Does that make me less of an artist? Of course not, just confirms I am in fact human. The interesting thing about this is I may not Always want to create but I always want to be around art.

Whether that is looking through art magazines, viewing artists websites, reading biographies or redoing my studio, the love of art never leaves me. At times I get annoyed that I can’t “art”. It’s as if I am lying to myself about being an artist.

Silly as that sounds that is a real feeling and that is okay. But the beautiful thing about that is I can appreciate other realms of art. I can have my mind go to a different type of art. Giving that creative mind a break and open up a different part of me. Learning and even Relaxing.

Never ever let someone tell you that being an artist means wanting to create all of the time. That doesn’t make you an less awesome of an artist. Just means you need a break from creation and that’s is perfect fine.

If you do, great. I sorta envy you but I like that my mind wants to shift at times.

Creating 1

What do I do when that drawing bug isn’t biting at my skin? See below and maybe, just maybe this will help you as well:

  • Clean my studio or home. When things are messy or have been set the same for a long time I need a shift in my environment.
  • Reading or flipping through art magazines or books.
  • Time Lapse videos of artists painting or drawing.
  • Exercise. At times, I have to much energy built up. In order to draw I need to be a certain level of relaxation. Yoga is a huge help!
  • Take care to the miscellaneous things. Paying that bill, doing the dishes, laundry, taking inventory, ect.
  • Playing a video game. Being a gamer, sometimes I just need to escape to a different world.
  • Reading a good book. With a cup of coffee or tea 🙂
  • Looking through reference photos. Sometimes an image may strike you to create right away.
  • Writing or blogging. At times my mind is filled with so many thoughts I just have got to get them out.
  • Venting about things. We tend to bottle up emotions, not good. Venting to someone, the room, your pet, a piece of paper helps so much. Not to mention, you may figure something out about yourself that you never knew.

The last one on this list is the one that is usually the one that helps me the most. Or dealing with miscellaneous items. Vomit up those feelings and stop procrastinating on random things and you brain will shift to a more pleasant place.

Never give up art. It’s freeing, important and stabilizes you in so many ways. Keep going. That feeling of an art rut will pass. Instead of waiting for it to strike, find something else to do. You got this.

 

 

 

Being Vulnerable…

“It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.”
― Jillian Michaels

Being an introvert is a tad difficult. You enjoy keeping to yourself. Don’t love a ton of company. Have a lot of acquaintances and a few really close friends. You are a perfectionist at times. You tend to have a “I’ll do it” attitude. Which in turn, makes it a hard to be vulnerable.

How on earth does one become vulnerable? It’s one of the hardest things to do as an adult. This is something that 2016 is all about for me. With Growth comes Change and with Change come Vulnerability.

Terrifying but needed.

Throughout the past few months, I have been learning a lot about myself. Most of this occurred after my fiance and I got engaged in January. Let’s list them out:

  • I want to fix everything, including everyone’s problems
  • I have a very hard time asking for help. If I ask for help and I feel that I will look like a failure, a reoccurring feeling in my life. 
  • I tend to do a ton of projects all at once, only to burn myself out with a quickness.
  • I’m a perfectionist that is also a major procrastinator when it comes to anything with numbers. Finances, yuck.
  • I always feel like I am disappointing to people. Yet another reoccurring feeling in my life.
  • I have a fear of pushing my limits when it comes to success. I know what I completely want but I’m afraid of failing not only myself but everyone around me. 

A small list with a ton of things in between the lines. Being afraid of success is such a sad thing. It’s lonely. It’s tiring.

So, I am done being tired of not doing. This year has been amazing. A lot of tears, “eureka” moments, discovery and a lot more. I am pushing myself to do things. Slowly doing them. Asking for help, with small things for now that adds up to a lot.

This is my year to grow. I am growing. The best part is I am ready, aware of my weakness, my fears, my desires and so much more.

So, I am asking you. What is holding you back from grabbing a hold of your dreams? Why are you letting that stop you? 

Looking deeper inward is terrifying. Crack those doors. If some are too painful to open, don’t be afraid to seek help elsewhere. It’s okay! Actually, it’s incredibly brave! Be brave with me. The change might feel slow, but better slow and steady than fast and messy.

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I may be an introvert at heart. But, I am more than ready to challenge myself to show that even us introverts can be vulnerable and brave to the entire world.

Join me, won’t you 🙂

On the Easel:

As a side note, here is the colored pencil African Elephant piece I am working on. A bit of an update. Have any questions on my work? Or interested in this or any other piece? Feel free to contact me on my website.

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Elephant Drawing with Facts

New Work on the Easel:

The newest drawing drawing on the easel is an elephant colored pencil drawing. This is a beautiful African Elephant mother with her precious 10 month old calf.

I got the reference photo from wildlifereferencephotos.com.

This is a large piece and will take quite a bit of time to complete but it is worth every second. The overall size is 17×22 using Faber Castell Polychromos Pencils. Here is the where the piece is at right now:

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Slow and steady with this piece.

Elephant Facts:

In the past few years the elephant has become the face of what extinction is. This is a sad fact. The spike in poaching these amazing creatures is not only alarming but heartbreaking.

There are two main species of elephants out there. The African Elephant and the Asian Elephant. Beside where each species is located, they also differ in size. Asian Elephants are smaller than their African relatives, they also have smaller ears unlike the wonderful fan-like ears of the African Elephants.

Elephant comparisons 1

Why do they matter? As with all wildlife, the elephant is important when it comes to balance of the planet. Elephants migrate, which in turn causes more pollen to be spread through their route. The more pollen, the more flowers, the more life. They also create clearings in forests which break up the forest overtaking areas, letting in more light and life.

As with most animals with tusks, their main threat is people poaching them for their ivory tusks. Natives use this for medicinal use which provides no valuable results when it comes to health. The only creature that needs tusks, is the animal itself. This illegal trade is a massive issue. Not only for the elephants themselves for the locals.

The more illegal trade, the more likely hood of violence to the native people. Which trickles down to a low amount of tourism, something that many of these countries rely on for income to the country. It’s a domino affect. No being deserves such a horrid thing to happen to them.

Together we can shift this trend. Make your voice heard. Donate when you can. Volunteer in your area when you can. One voice grows to many and that is when change happens.

What Am I Doing?

Art has been my biggest communicator when it comes to this passionate topic. Wildlife is a big part of my life, it always has been. Working with wildlife sanctuaries is just one thing. But spreading more knowledge to others about this topic is also another. Everyday I see more alarming stats when it comes to climate, wildlife, trade and violence. It needs to change.

This is one reason why on Earth Day April 22, 2016, I will be holding an art sale. 25% off of all original art on my website. That 25% you save goes to the WWF to help with their efforts in saving not only wildlife, but the planet as well.

My efforts and involvement will always continue and will be growing. It’s time to change the world one piece at a time. One choice at a time. Buying organic when possible. Limiting meat. Saving energy. Recycling. And much more. Spread the world, let’s make a change together.

 

 

 

To Art or Not to Art? Yes, You Should.

“I can’t draw or paint.” “I don’t have time.” “Seems expensive.” “That talent isn’t something I have.”

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At one point or another you or someone you know has said this about doing art. I hear these statements a lot. What’s sad is, all the excuses out there in the world are irrelevant.

As kids we didn’t wring our hands about creating things. It was fun, a way to escape reality, use our imaginations and so much more. But than we grow up and lose that child quality along the way. Relationships happen, jobs, college, marriage, kids, bills, the list goes on. And it Will Continue to Go On!

What I am getting at here is don’t let the habit of art die as life moves forward. Even if it’s just doodling on a piece of paper while you wait for your spouse to get ready, art! The “gift of art as a talent” (honestly, not sure what that means, we all start somewhere) doesn’t matter when creating. And not just drawing but music, dance, writing….all of the creative arts. Use it!

It’s so freeing to let that adult part of you take a nap (we all need one) and allow that inner child to express themselves somehow. Don’t lose that….Ever. It makes life a little bit easier. It’s a healthy stress reliever and it fun!

Whether you paint like da Vinci or a 3 year old, dance like Michael Jackson or your drunk uncle, I encourage you to do it. And who knows, if you do this consistently you may find an inner “talent” in some why.

Discover. Learn. Explore. Create.

And never ever stop. I am so glad I never did. It’s a part of me everyday. Keeps me grounded and helps me escape life’s stressful times.

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Find more about my work on my website or “like” my Facebook Page 🙂

Restarting. Letting Go. Moving On.

Over the past few weeks I have had the hardest time of letting things go. Specifically the concept of fear. Granted, fear is a necessary evil but to let go of fear linking to things that have happened in the past is a little different. Plus, harder to move past.

Not only am I passionate about art but also about health & fitness. They all link together in my life. Although, I have somewhat slipped on the food portion in the past few months. Up and down of to much and to little food. I came to a breaking point a few weeks ago. It was scary but needed.

Binge eating has been a battle as of late. Something many people battle with daily. I’ve touched on this before but felt an update on this was deserved. My eyes have opened to a few more things. For one thing, I don’t say things are ‘off limits’. All that does to us is tempt us even more. Once you get into that ‘off limits’ item it’s as if you are breaking a rule and it’s an adrenaline rush. In that moment it feels good, but that high goes away quickly and the guilt comes in screaming.

By allowing all food to be an option it’s been a little more manageable. I did have a binge episode recently but I didn’t tear myself down for it. Instead, I allowed it to happen and feel what I was feeling. The conclusion was:

  • I wasn’t eating enough food throughout the day.
  • I was bored of what I was eating.
  • And I felt like I was breaking the rules if I was eating certain things.

So, I completely restarted. If I want to have a quick snack in the middle of the day I have one. I pay attention to what I am eating, why and how I am feeling. If I am hungry, showing physical signs of hunger, I eat. Also, I check in if cravings occur to see if it’s really hunger or if something else is happening. Most of the time it goes back to fear of moving on.

Moving forward in my career. Moving forward in my fitness. Work. Family. Everything.

While growing up I felt like if I was to go forward not only would I fail but I would disappoint everyone along the way. I was never good enough to succeed. So, I would go to a certain degree of effort and than stop. I continue to do this.

However, now that I know what is going on within me, I am taking baby steps to move forward. A little everyday. Here is what I do a little of as often as I can:

  • Allow myself to eat when I am hungry
  • No food is off limits
  • Research things for my career at least once a week
  • Research things for my job 1-2 times a week
  • Make ‘to do’ lists for work with times to complete
  • Push myself in terms of my athletic ability each week
  • Slow down in my art, really allowing myself to explore my capabilities
  • Exploring food options
  • And many more small things……

Life is a mystery indeed. Nothing is off limits. But in order to move forward we must get to know ourselves which can be the hardest thing to do. And, if you can’t do that on your own, please reach out. It’s so important to talk to others about deeper issues. I can attest to that personally. It’s worth the tears.