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.

 

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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

 

 

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 🙂

When Doors Are Forced Open

In my quest for an amazing 2016, I’ve had to allow myself to be a little more vulnerable. Not only in my work, but to myself.

We all have doors that are scary, painful and just plain terrifying to open. Typically these doors are linked to certain things that happened in our past. Usually childhood. The important thing about these doors is if we don’t open them at some point they take us over or are forced open.

Over the past couple of months, many things have happened. One big thing:

I got engaged to my amazing boyfriend of 8 years. 

Now, anyone that has had a wedding knows the pressures of planning and how taxing it can be on you and everyone around you. What is rather fascinating for me is that this process of planning triggered many deep seeded things in me.

While I was trying to not see these things I was going through a roller-coaster of emotions. Let’s list them off 🙂

  • I sleeping less than usual (I have issues sleeping but it was getting slowly worse)
  • I was depressed
  • Stressed out
  • Although I kept my workout routine, I binged once to twice a week on a massive amount of food
  • Felt overwhelmed
  • And, many other things

The bingeing for me was the biggest problem because it triggered the depression, stress and feeling overwhelmed.

On Tuesday, it all came to a massive erupting volcano. I was tired of feeling so overwhelmed and confused. Planning a wedding should be fun but I was losing my mind. I went to work and let myself feel whatever it was that I was feeling.

It was scary. It was emotional. But, it was necessary and freeing. 

I cried. A Lot. I asked everyone at work to leave me be, let them know I was okay but I just needed to be by myself. I work in a picture framing shop so this was doable and good for me.

When I got home my boyfriend asked me to let it out and I did.

As a kid, there were many times where I felt like I was a failure. I was told this many times. I wasn’t good enough, not talented, not attractive….I wasn’t what certain people felt I would be. Now, as a kid it’s natural for us to learn how to bury those feelings and triggers. Overtime, they come up.

Planning this wedding started to make me feel as if I was putting on a show to prove to many people that I am worthwhile, I am talented, attractive and good.

Long story short, logically I know I am not a failure by any means. But to feel it emotionally within you is a journey within itself. Once I let these words out. Once I cried and expressed how I felt and that I knew what was reality, it’s as if this heavy shadow was lifted off of my entire being.

After that, I got a massive headache. Went to bed, slept great and woke up with a blinding headache again. But it wasn’t a bad feeling. I equate it to that feeling of getting over a cold. You aren’t 100% better but you can function better. Over the day the headache lifted but I don’t remember how long it lingered.

In closing, I wanted to share this story with all of you because I know there are so many out there that are going through this, have gone through it or are scared to do so. If you aren’t strong enough nor ready to open up those intimidating doors alone, seek out a good trusting therapist. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, one day I hope to get therapy of my own. After all, you hired them so if you don’t like them you can fire them.

Another interesting thing that occurred to me to is that my urge to binge has ceased. It’s incredible. And my creative mind feels more peaceful and free. Keep your head up and keep going forward. It’s so lonely to be afraid of things that you aren’t ready to see. It’s scary and intimidating. But, when you crack those doors open and work slowly to walk inside, things will shift and the storm clouds will clear.

I promise. It’s worth it.

New Pieces for Safe Haven:

*40% of the price for these two pieces goes directly to Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary.*

Steele 9x12 $240 white charcoal and black charcoal on black paper of steele the male bobcat from safe haven wildlife sanctuary

Steele; 9×12 white and black charcoal on black paper; $240.00

Buy Now:

http://taylorannfineart.squarespace.com/shop/steele

Tace & Scooter; 9.5x8.5; 240; colored pencil drawing of two macaws for safe haven wildlife sanctuary.jpg

Taco & Scooter; 12×9; colored pencil on watercolor paper; $240.00

Buy Now:

http://taylorannfineart.squarespace.com/shop/taco-scooter

New Work:

Hawk 12x9 white charcoal on black paper 240 hawk drawing study using white charcoal.jpg

Hawk; 12×9; White Charcoal on Black Paper; $240.00

Buy Now:

http://taylorannfineart.squarespace.com/shop/hawk

 

 

 

 

 

Change Is Never Easy; But So Worth It

Over the past couple of weeks I have had a mind/body battle. Anyone who is on a health/fitness journey knows this battle. For some it’s more severe and heartbreaking, while others it’s smaller but still difficult to go through. I am happy that my battles are smaller compared to many. No matter how small the battle is though, it’s still difficult and should never be minimized.

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As silly as this sounds for many, my battle is with sweets. Not cakes and pies but something smaller. Over the past 10 months I have slowly limited my sugar intake, by a lot. No more candies, ice cream, pies…unless it’s a special occasion or it has been at least a month since my last sweet tooth treat. Now, my indulgence is….peanut butter and almond butter. I’m not talking a tablespoon, I could destroy the whole freaking container! Sometimes I’ll add in coco powder and spread it on some fruit.

Now this isn’t terrible if it were occasionally but I have to watch myself with this. Over the past few weeks, I have limited this treat. This is my battle. When I’m stressed, tired or bored I tend to just go straight there. While eating I think ‘I deserve this’ ‘ I’ve worked out hard enough for this’ ‘It’s not like it’s a whole cake’….ect. But I know me, my mind and body and in reality those little bites add up quick, sticking around like a plague. My next wonder was…why I am doing this when I know how I feel after and what it does to me when I do this a lot?

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After sitting with this I realized a powerful response.

I am holding on to the past me through these binge treats.

Deep down I believe that if I let go of this piece of me that enjoy nut butters (which there is nothing wrong with that!) in large doses, I will change for the worse. I will move away from a past that isn’t relevant anymore. I started using this as a coping mechanism years ago, as in when I was a kid. Stressed out….Oreo’s and peanut butter would be grabbed at. Or peanut butter cups. M&Ms were there too. Over time I moved away from the processed foods and stuck with nut butters. Which is fine but I can’t go there anytime I feel stressed, anxious or sleepy.

Sitting with this epiphany, I started to become emotional. Not unstable but choked up. It was that little scared girl in me saying ‘don’t forget about me!’. Although the past is what makes us up and can define us it doesn’t mean we need to live there too.

I will still allow myself to have these treats but in a controlled manner. I talk to myself a lot when I grab that jar and wanna plunge into it with a spoon. If I am stressing out, it’s time to distract myself or attack the issue I am trying to cover. When it’s things I can’t really face on my own yet, distraction is helpful. Going for a run (if the weather is cooperates), play a video game, go out (love the bookstore!), paint, ect. Anything that keeps me focused on something more important helps.

Also, I have started a new fitness challenge and daily I write down the workouts I did that day and anything I felt was significant in that day, or seemed important. This helps to just vomit up those emotions without any judgement.

There are many challenges to face right now, and that’s okay. I just means I am going somewhere good. Fear is natural. To fear letting go of a past you is normal but it is possible to move past it. You can and will. But be honest with yourself and with others. Have a support system, it’s helpful. Most of all:

 

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Project Warrior: Change Your Life Because You Deserve It

It’s on. How many of us out there sit on the couch and say “I wish I could” or “I want to” and never actually do anything to make those statements real? You want to run a 5K, enter one and train. You wish you could paint with oil paints, take a class and learn. The opportunities for these things are everywhere but we never take them.

And believe me, I can understand why. Time & Cost. In all honesty, I felt that why too and than I woke up. I was overwhelmed, tired, and felt like things were getting away from me. I know I don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of cash to learn things and spend a massive chunk of time to do things. You have got to plan.

“If you have a Why, you can Tolerate and How”  –Jillian Michaels

I love that quote. It’s something I remind myself daily. You gotta find your why, and it’s gotta be a solid personal why. I have many, what are yours? Share them 😀

Now, what is Project Warrior? It’s my own personal improvement journey but I urge you to join me. What am I improving and why? I’ll give you a watered down version for now but throughout my posts I’ll add more about this. As you may know, my life consists more than just painting and drawing. I have a full time job as a picture framer, which I love. I handle many historical and celebrity memorabilia for a company we work with. Lots of computer design and creativity all around, what artist wouldn’t love that? Also, I am able to frame my work….at work 🙂

I also have an amazing boyfriend (7 years and counting), an awesome dog (my fur baby), and I’m close with my mom. My grandparents are close by, I visit them when I can. Plus all of the curve balls life throws at you. Now, some may feel that’s a busy schedule, others may feel not so much (all of you moms out there, you’re warriors all on your own).

I save and make do with what free time I have to improve my life in the following ways:

1. Get up early to do a hardcore 30 minute workout (7 pounds away from my goal!)

2. Weekends = time with my art, website, and communication

3. After work I let off steam at the gym on the treadmill (1-2 times a week), kickboxing class with a friend (1-2 times a week), or go home and let my body/mind tell me what do to

4. On Sundays, I usually take that day as a day off. (play video games, draw, errands, spend time with family)

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Those are just the top 4 things, if you will, that I make sure I do. Here’s the deal, I don’t beat myself up when I can’t get to a class, sleep is awful, or my attention isn’t on my work. Things happen and that’s okay. But I get back up on that horse and keep going.

Main Goals of Project Warrior

I have been through my roads of Hell throughout my life. Rough patches have happened, and to this day I am still working on how those things affect me to this day. Over the past few months I have come to realize that not only am I still standing after so much but I deserve to continue to not only stand, but soar. Enter Project Warrior.

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I’ve always wanted to have a toned body, simply because it shows so much dedication to being strong (mentally and physically), healthy, and your confidence rises so much. I remember seeing Janet Jackson as a kid and thinking “Wow she is not only in amazing shape, she’s talented and absolutely beautiful.”

I am 7 pounds from my goal weight until Phase 2 or toning my Warrior body. Because I deserve it. I’ve never been athletic but always wanted to be. My drive for that has grown so much. When I pay attention to my health my confidence is high, my stress is better handled, more energy and my art improves. Plus, I feel I can take on anything!

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I want to be able to do more for Safe Haven Rescue Zoo. More work, more donations, more support. I would like to be able to not only go out to Safe Haven, but also have a “Meet the Artist” event with them. I love combining art with wildlife, and to show that on a more personal level is very important to me. Planning and saving for this is underway, I hope to release an update on this later in the year 😀

Being able to be in a gallery and part of more art groups (such as the Colored Pencil Society of America) would be amazing. To be honest, this is the one I am most nervous about. Perhaps it’s because it’s a big step. But you never know what will happen unless you try. Plus, if a gallery says no I will still survive and just move on.

These are just a few things. Some smaller goals would be to be able to do more for my family (buy gas for my mom, random gifts for people, go on vacation, ect. In time, things will pan out. But what I have learned is you have got to be patient and kind to yourself. Whether your single, married, a mom, dad, son, daughter, whatever…I ask you to look at  your life and see how you can do something for you. When your kind to yourself it spreads to loved ones.

Be healthy, kind, and productive. Why? Because you can.

Holidays, Art, and Dealing With it All

Happy Holidays everyone! I know this is a stressful time of year, which is one of the reasons for the silence from me lately. I was able to complete Ifaw’s painting, which is titled: Just Lion Around. I should have the process of this piece up by the end of the month. I also have prints available for this piece on my website. But for now, here is the final 16×12 oil painting:

Just Lion Around; 16x12 oil on canvas; $200.00 www.taylorannfineart.com
Just Lion Around; 16×12 oil on canvas; $200.00
www.taylorannfineart.com

During this time of year it can be difficult to get any type of art done. And that’s okay. You aren’t a machine, there are times when pausing for a bit is helpful. What I have found that helps me is actually rather simple. Eat right and exercise. The stress levels out, my mind is a little clearer, and my art is actually better too.

Bottom line, take care of yourself! You’re worth the hard work. It’s so easy to slack off on things that are good for us, but in the long run it’s incredibly painful if we do. So give yourself the gift of health. Plus health and creativity go hand in hand amazingly well. This is a subject I will be working in a little coming next year. Health is something that carries me through my work as of late. I’ve really been paying attention to this subject for about four months now and the results have been so transcendent.

Art News

So what’s on the easel now? Starting two new drawings, one Safe Haven piece and one drawing of a Barn Owl. Also have a painting mapped out for Safe Haven as well, of Cheyenne the fox. I will of course keep you all posted with these pieces.

Also, on my site, I have a few pieces that are available for prints. It’s a great option for those that want a piece and cannot get an original.

I will also keep you more updated on new art auctions for my Daily Paintworks page as well.

Working on a way to perfect short videos as well. It’s something I’ve wanted to do and have done a little, on my Facebook page. Pretty much just short clips of me working on a piece so you can see, in real time, what I do in certain steps. It is fun to do, plus it’s always neat to see how things are done.

I’m sure over the year things with change and improve, but for now these are the items on my ‘to do’ list! Have any ideas? Comment and share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Stay in the loop even more, and sign up for my newsletter 🙂

 

A Week of Accomplishments

What a crazy week! Friday was one of those days where I just hit a brick wall. Got home from work, sat on the couch and just let it all come out. Stress was building and it needed to be released. After talking it out with some amazing wonderful friends (they really do rock) I felt better. I could breathe and I slept soundly.

Completed the tiger cub drawing on Saturday, yippee!!! Took care of a few small things as well. Pieces should ship this week to Safe Haven for their auction on the 17th, super stoked about that one too. Hope the prints do well, I’ll never know unless I try right?

This week my mind will focus more on my health, fitness and goals. I usually do and I was pretty proud of myself that I stuck to my goals last week too. Even though it was a little difficult to, I knew I was worth the hard work. It takes time to realize this, unfortunately. But when you do, it’s very much empowering. What are your goals for the week?

He's finally ready! Now, to decide a suited frame and mat for this little guy.
He’s finally ready! Now, to decide a suited frame and mat for this little guy.

Tree Challenge:

Completed the Cherry Blossom Tree as well, which was titled “Nature’s Dance”. This is available now on my website and my Daily Paintworks page in auction format! Get your bid on and bring this piece of artwork home with you 🙂

Nature's Dance 14x16 oil on canvas

Going Through a Dry Spell in Art

Every have a day or week where you just don’t have the major urge to do anything artistic? Kind of going through that right now. Frustrating, Yes. A bad thing, No. I’ve met very few artists that go through dry spells. Most of us do and the more often we do I feel, the better we grow. Sometimes you have to look at something like this in a good way.

I usually look at as my brain needs a break, my attention needs to be elsewhere for a little while, stress or I’m growing in creativity. I don’t always know which one it is right away or at all, however, it’s usually one of them. Right now, I feel it’s a combo of all. And I’m okay with that.

After A Shy Face II was completed (below) I started a new drawing and painting but stepped back for a while. Feeling guilty I sat and thought about Why I felt guilty. I came up with a little bit of a list:

A Shy Face II; Oil on Canvas; 24x12
A Shy Face II; Oil on Canvas; 24×12

 

  • The less images of pieces in progress I post on my fan page, people will lose interest in my work
  • I’ve put less focus on my work & promotion of it than I should
  • Calling myself an artist when I don’t paint daily isn’t right
  • My focus is all out of whack

Bottom line, I felt horrible. But once I realized what my reasons were I realized a few things about myself. I shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Life is life and it can get crazy. Things come up, you discover new things and oh so much more. We all know it. Do I feel I am an Artist, heck yes. Do I know I am an Artist, heck yes.  No one should have to explain why they aren’t painting besides the fact that things happen and those things need to be addressed before you jump back in the studio.

If my mind isn’t clear, there is no way I can paint right. Plus, Just because I’m not producing art, doesn’t mean I’m not growing as an artist. I read, sketch, talk about ideas, and plan out things for the future. We all need a break, sometimes it takes more than a statement to realize that 🙂