28 April 2013

Worth Fighting For

Ah, finals. We meet again! I am quickly nearing the end of my undergraduate career, and the light of graduation is at long last appearing at the end of a very long tunnel. I have three more weeks to go, and it goes without saying that I have many more papers and presentations to complete before I get there.

Last week, while working on a project that I needed to do well on – a presentation of my own research regarding the intersection between creativity, education, and peace/conflict studies – I found myself idling away precious time with things neither productive nor particularly interesting. Considering that this project is something I am enormously passionate about, I was confused and frustrated with my seeming inability or lack of desire to start. After repeatedly questioning myself, I realized that my procrastination had less to do with motivation than with a hidden belief that I deserve no less than to fail my classes; to disappoint my family, friends, teachers, boyfriend, and myself; and to force myself into unhappiness (not to mention debt) by staying another year at university.

I became so angry with this voice inside me that has for years whispered the cruelest things, telling me that I don't deserve happiness and I don't deserve to do well. I'm still angry. I do deserve all the happiness in the world. I do deserve to get a degree and pursue the life I dream of, cat and Germany included. I deserve to be recognized for all that I've accomplished. I deserve to be happy and loved.

Grabbing a bottle of India ink and a half-completed painting, I wrote this inner voice a message, loud and very clear: f**k self sabotage. I will not prove this stupid Voice right. I will unhesitatingly stand up for myself. Inner Voice, do you hear me?! I will fight for everything I deserve and more – you are not going to win this!

I hope you fight for yourself, too, sweet reader. You deserve nothing less. Let's dream bigger, to the sky, the stars, and beyond, in and to spite of the forces against us.

Click here to see the original (uncensored) painting, and click here for an image large enough for your computer wallpaper for a daily dose of courage and healthy anger you can channel into fighting for all that is good, wonderful, kind, and lovely. (That includes you, darling!)

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. /Buddha

21 April 2013

Winging in the Blossoming

(all the merry little birds are / flying in the floating in the / 
very spirits singing in / are winging in the blossoming) 
- e. e. cummings (read full poem here)

If you have been following me for a while, you must know by now that spring is my very favorite season. The way that the world bursts into life almost overnight sends shivers of happiness down my spine – I couldn't help but take hundreds of photos yesterday, even though I am in the midst of my very hectic last few weeks of university. There's always time for creativity, yes?

What's your favorite time of the year?

14 April 2013

Connecting with the Self

Way back in the beginning of my blogging career I shared an article by Tina Su that guided me - and continues to guide me - to a place of deeper self awareness, a place where I can explore and discover overarching dreams, hopes, and life goals.

After nearly four years, I feel it is time to revisit this short questionnaire and reflect on what has shifted and what has remained the same. Will you join me? You're welcome to share some or all of your answers in the comments or leave a link back to your answers on your blog.

* * *

1. What makes you smile?
The ocean. Laughing children. Traveling. People watching. Secret messages of love. Inspiring others. Animals and nature. Feeling truly beautiful. Silliness. Freedom. Thunderstorms, lightning, and wind. Humanity. Connection.

2. What were your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
Art journaling. Writing poetry. Reading. Games full of imagination. Drawing.

Decorating and designing. Traveling. Making others smile. Spreading messages of love. Dreaming of a someday home. Connecting with strangers. Random acts of kindness.

3. What activities make you lose track of time?
Dreaming of the future. Design. Losing myself in nature.

4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
Twirly skirts and looking my best. Exercising. Giving hope. Independence. Singing. Early mornings. Creating something I am proud of. Time to myself. Singing.

5. Who inspires you most? Which qualities in each person inspire you?
Sir Ken Robinson, pioneer of education, creativity, and the potential of each child. This is a topic I need to spend more time thinking about!

6. What are you naturally good at?
Painting and drawing. Writing. Design.

7. In what subjects do people typically ask you for help?
Writing. Advice. Design and creative endeavors.

8. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
I would teach kindness, love, and that every individual is whole, beautiful, and deserving.
I would also be interested in being a teacher in the early grades.

9. What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life?
Being independent, financially and otherwise. Having a child. Traveling at every opportunity. Having a home of my own. Being content, sure and secure, and happy. Making a difference. Being true to myself, always, above all else.

10. You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch. You can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy and are pleased with the wonderful life you've been blessed with. Looking back on all that you've achieved and acquired and all the relationships you've developed, what matters to you most?
My family. The stories and experiences I've collected while traveling. Practicing and teaching love and kindness. Standing beside those who struggle and giving them a voice.

11. What are your deepest values?
Love, love, love. Compassion for others, for nature, for animals. Kindness.

12. What were some challenges, difficulties, and hardships you've overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you manage to rise above them?
Depression, anxiety, and self hatred. I took one day at a time, journaled, learned to be gentle with and love myself, practiced noticing the positives in my life, and finally reached out for help. Sharing my story publicly did more for me than I ever could have imagined.

13. What causes do you strongly believe in and connect with?
The beauty and worth of every individual, the battle against depression/suicide, civil rights, the reduction of inequality. Self love. Education that inspires, connects, teaches, grows. Love and gentleness in childhood. Compassion for all. Respect, kindness, love, imagination, and creativity.

14. If you could get a message across to a large group of people, who would those people be? What would your message be?
The world: you are loved. You are whole. You matter.

15. Considering your talents, passions, and values, how could you use these resources to serve, help, or contribute?
My passion for children and education is valuable in working to reform the education system and promote all children's ability to fulfill their innate potential. My knowledge of suffering and depression offers wisdom with which to help others in the same position. My ability to write enables me to reach out with the messages I have to share. My compassion for others is essential in fighting for those who do not believe they are worth fighting for and in standing up for those who are wronged.

12 April 2013

Contagious Joy

My skin is still warm from the rays of the sun, and it smells faintly of sun screen. In the past few days, spring has bloomed in all her glory, leaving me wanting nothing more than to dance and sing and create and write. Inspiration is a funny thing, a creature elusive and sometimes hard to find. Other days she comes bounding, refusing to let me do anything until I've satiated her desire to create. And oh, how I love to be inspired!

This time of year is my very favorite: the world comes alive in a way so different from other seasons. Bird song, insects, laughing clouds, beams of sunlight, blossoms bursting with color and fragrance – how can I contain all the joy I experience?

The truth is, sweet souls, I am unable to. And so I will share it in every way I can, whether capturing it through photography, within my paintings and sketches, in my art journal, on the pages of this blog, and with every person I encounter.

How do you celebrate the joy in your life?

10 April 2013

21 Secrets 2013

Two years ago I was honored to be a part of Connie's amazing art journal project 21 Secrets. I can't really call it an ecourse or a workshop – it's too unique and wild and wonderful for those words. It is a collaborative experience created by twenty one incredible artists, each sharing some of their own artistic wisdom. The teachers and individual lessons (scroll down on click through!) change each time it is offered, but every time it is magical, enlightening, humbling, rewarding, and wonderful. I was so moved when I was a part of it.

Join hundreds of individuals from all over the world and from all walks of artistic journeys and take part in a community creation that may just be the most fantastic thing you've ever experienced! 21 Secrets is open now until January of 2014. Registration ends in October. You can register here and gain entrance to a private digital space where you can access all the workshops 24/7 until the end of the year. In this space you can have direct contact with the workshop authors, ask questions, share experiences and art, get feedback, make dear friendships with hundreds of other artists, learn, grow, and be supported every step of the way.

I love Connie, and I love this beautiful thing she has created. Check more out HERE!

07 April 2013

Five-Minute Collage

There is a misconception that art requires a great deal of time and expensive materials. This couldn't be further from the truth! The above collage was made in under five minutes with papers and material I've found or collected over the past few years. It's a super simple, virtually free, quick art meditation that is a wonderful way to practice following intuition – there's no time to overthink! – and to rest your mind for a moment while tackling that long, long to do list.

Materials used: Map, dictionary paper, washi tape, stickers, potting guide, graphite pencil, Karneval streamer.

06 April 2013

Twenty Five

Twenty four was wonderful, and I have so much to be grateful for: finding the strength to break my silence; exploring, learning, discovering; learning how to paint with oils; watching spring turn to summer in Tübingen; spending a great deal of time with the one I love; laughter and joy; Italian-made ice cream; celebrating the new year in the streets of Germany; discovering Berlin; discovering New York City all over again; meeting a sweet, sweet reader and becoming fast friends; birds flying through my room; wild thunderstorms; traveling through the breathtaking mountains of Austria and the magic of Venice; and so, so, so much more.

Here I am, close to the end of college and the beginning of my life. The possibilities give me goosebumps.

Sweet Self, I am so proud of you. I love you deeply, in all your imperfection, and I so admire your silliness, your wonder, your compassion, your zest for adventure. Here's to another wonderful year!

 * * *
Send love to these other April babies!
Rhiannon Stone - April 3
Natty Malik - April 5
iHanna - April 17


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