Thursday, December 17, 2015

The thing about blood...

Is that it's virtually meaningless.  Yes, we may resemble each other or be able to donate a kidney to one or another if we had to. The thing though is all of that can happen without having shared DNA. It's irrelevant when it comes to personal relationships.

 Let's just say that I have a dad that is, in all actuality, my mothers ex-husband. No relation but he is my Dad. I still call his 2nd ex wife my stepmom and her daughter is still my youngest sister and aunt to my children, though no blood relation. We spend the holidays and birthdays and summer barbecues together. Peacefully. These are my family.

 Regarding my oldest two, they were legally adopted by my husband in 2006 and they remember having to go with their biological father every other week until he signed the rights over to my husband. It took months of filing paperwork and sending it to him to get notarized and such. Finally we became a family by name even though we had been a family for quite some time.

 My husband thought it was best to not mention anything until the kids did. To let them ask anything they needed to know or wanted to know. Guess what? They didn't. Well they did but just recently. As they both either approached and is now approaching 18 years of age, I gave them all the info. The court papers, emails, photos- and told them that they are free and welcome to seek him out which does NOT involve me. I gave them all the names and facebook pages of all of their biological family members. And I let it go to them. As they are becoming adults I felt it important that I gave them the truth and trust them to do whatever it is that they feel the need to.

No strings attached. That's what real love does.

 I too have a biological father out there in the world. I used to be so angry at him. Used to wonder why he didn't want to be in my life. I really felt like a walking mistake. So when I heard from him when I was 18, I wasn't ready. The anger was still present and I wished him nothing but sorrow. Until I turned 30. Something about that number made me think that it was time to put some things to bed since they were not hurting anyone but me.

 I contacted my biological father and we talked. For a few months this went on until one day he stopped answering and never returned my calls. I was confused but not hurt. By talking with him I realized that he also had his issues, which had absolutely nothing to do with me, so I just let him go.

 Later his father, my biological grandfather- whom did want a relationship with me and visited me and my family every year- well he came to visit and told me that my biological father was convinced that I had put a curse on his other daughter because after he started talking to me she had gotten in a car accident.

 So upon that shocking news I just decided to be grateful for the life I had without that man. I cannot imagine what kind of fresh hell growing up with such ridiculous notions would have been like. My parents have their faults but they never accused people of putting curses on them and they did their best with what they knew. Which wasn't a whole hell of a lot sometimes but I can say that they had the best of intentions for me.

 I have taught my children, rather unconsciously, that real family doesn't degrade you. Just because someone shares DNA with you does not give them the right to abuse you in any way. My mothers family showed them that. I guess its been my reaction to that family's latest round of abuse that has really shown them that. People like to throw "cutting you off" around like its some sort of vile punishment. I have to say that since my mothers sisters and their spawn decided cut me and mine off because they thought one of my paintings was a political cartoon about them, that we have never been happier. I realize that distancing myself from them and their way of thinking has allowed me to find myself, my voice and who I am. Confidently. So now they get to see that THIS is how a self-respecting person reacts to such egotistical actions such as getting "cut off"- You do not react back. You let them go and be grateful for the times that were good but life goes on and not all people, especially if they are toxic, are meant to stay in your life.

 I have married into a wonderful family, so many stable and nurturing people are in my family now. Marriages last for 50 years and still going strong, they get together without sisters talking so much shit about their brother or his wife or who ever isn't in the room. That the type of shit I was raised seeing. I am embarrassed when I think of the times I emulated this behavior when I was a young adult. So unaware of the vices that family role models had on me. Manipulation was part of being a real grown up, right? It was all I had seen with the family that I spent the most time with. I can only accept that I emulated what I thought to be the way things were done. I still make apologies when they have made themselves known, for that time when I had things so wrong.

Humility is one hell of an anchor. Accepting responsibility  for things that you got wrong when it is due is the only way to set yourself free.

 Though it was a slow process, I have come to realize just how wrong my former family dynamic is. Not just for the people they are destroying with their words, but for themselves. They destroy themselves more than anything. That is why they keep having to sink lower and lower in an attempt to feel important or better than someone. I am nothing short of grateful that I didn't stay following the lead of those people that I still love. I am glad for the rejection they gave me and my kids. I am SO glad that my children will not KNOW of their sick dynamic first hand. That cycle of abuse has to stop. I am doing everything I can to make sure that all dies with me. That all decedents that I may have will not know the sickness I was born into. That it always remains foreign and unfamiliar when they hear stories of abuse. That is my prayer.

 On that note my art therapy journey brought me to this project. Which brought me all the contemplation I just wrote about. Its like a conclusion. Closure, if you will......

My grandparents on their wedding day. 1955. I never knew them together. They had divorced around the time my mom was pregnant with me in the late 70's. Here they seem hopeful. Joyous even. Grandma looks a little lost. Which she was. An orphan in the Bronx that, like the millions of others, didn't find their "Daddy Warbucks".
  Oh these two have tales. Just an entire book of tales. I cannot wait to write about someday, perhaps in another life.

 Well, I've finished one semester of college. So has my son. Keeping my oldest daughter on track to graduation is, in itself, a full time job but since we've loosened the reigns a bit, in an effort to start handing over control of her life to HER, she's been getting herself in all kinds of shenanigans! It's hard not to worry, since life seems to be showing her how hard things could be without permanently damaging her, I guess I don't have to. She is learning quickly. I will just have to let her make her choices and hope she truly understands that nothing is without consequences. Good or bad. Being an adult means you and you alone get to deal with consequences, good or bad!

God help me.

Happy Christmas. See you in 2016!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

To be clear....

Recently, I have noticed that a few people that claim they want nothing to do with me in life are currently reading my words here. Wait. What? I thought I was too insignificant for you.....HA!

  I think its because recently a lot of my social media has been made public. My "Blocked" list has been eliminated for the most part.

 SO let me be clear.....

 It is not an invitation. Not because I am sorry. Not out of any form of regret did I do this. I do not miss anyone that I haven't approached. Not out of anything but sheer forgiveness that I have stopped hiding. Whether the forgiveness deserved to be given or not is irrelevant. I deserve it so I forgive.

But I will not forget.

I have been hidden out of fear. Out of pain. Out of hurt.

Now I do nothing out of fear, pain or hurt. Or as little as possible anyway. That is that.

 It has been said to me that art is not so much a matter of talent but of a matter of the heart. As long as you have dedication and have something to say, you can be successful.

 Boy, do I have a lot to say.

Currently I am driven in my desire and dedication to learn and it is leading me places that I didn't dare dream of....

Good stuff.

Drawing class...

Black and white charcoal on a 19x25 burnt sienna colored paper. LOVED it!

 Halloween was a BLAST! I went dressed as Lily Munster! I know, what a surprise.

Then my daughter, husband and I went to see Awolnation in concert!

How cool would it be to create a painting of this photo above? They put on such a great show. My husband, whom was not a fan of AwolNation, is now a fan!

Other than that, life is good. Busy but good. I am blessed with good friends and family.

Now I will gear up for the upcoming Holidays and final exams as I continue my education. Exciting stuff!

Until next time,

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Being Schooled.

I am a full time college student. And life has once again made me eat my words. I told my kids "Scholarships don't find you, you have to find them!"


The community college emailed me and said I qualified and attached an application. I thought 'what the heck?' and filled it out and sent it back.

Just like that. I was in! 2 years paid for.

So its a bit surreal being in school again, with people closer to my children's ages. Their point of view is just so funny to me. I hear their complaints; "I'm so tired. I'm hungry. I have to work 27 hours this week. I only got 7 hours of sleep last night."


So I am seeing that my children are no different. They seem to complain about the same things. So that is good. I worry sometimes that I have coddled them too much with their silly complaints. But I have to remember that they haven't experienced any real hardships that fell on their shoulders yet. They do not know what sleeplessness is, nor work, nor hunger....etc.

 I am most proud of that.

So I would like to call myself an artist. I would love to say I am naturally gifted. That I have a "trained eye" and master technical skills with ease....

But I would be lying.

I am learning so much of what I thought I knew. In all areas....

 I am learning the basics. The real foundation of art. The shape, value and scale of things.

 I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Even when I get it wrong, even when I put 2 hours of work into something and failed. Even when I get it right and then we move on to something difficult. I LOVE what I am doing. The process.  I don't think I could have been this patient with myself at any other time in my life. I am hard on myself by nature but the closer I get to age 40, the more I realize being hard isn't helping me. Being kind and gentle with myself, as I would with any of my friends, has allowed me to grow and be better. As I wish.

We had to do something called "blind continuous contour line drawings" where we look at something and draw it without looking at our drawings and never lift the pen from the paper. It helps build our hand-to-eye coordination. Upon looking I was disappointed and felt like I failed. My teacher came around and was admiring it and said that its not perfection we are after but an idea. She could see my idea clearly and was impressed.

 So that is the best thing I could have been told. Not aiming for instant perfection but for discovery. I am pressing on.

I have been sketching, transferring and more sketching using graphite. Testing how far one drawing will transfer and the differences with each transfer.
 Here is the beginning sketches of my Morticia Addams type character.

I have drawn and and transferred her 3 times. She now looks like that Kim K. person people love to talk about. Oh well. Not perfection but discovery.

Robert and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. He spoiled me all day and I spoiled him as well but those details are sacred and not for sharing. ;-)

The weather is cooling and we are busier than ever but happy.
I am attempting to sew my own costume for Halloween. We have our huge Halloween party coming up and the guest list is growing. People are spreading the word. I am looking for a bigger house because of this phenomenon. Guess I can throw a mean bash...who knew?

Happy October!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The art of happiness.

 The art of happiness. The art of being happy.

What is happiness exactly?

Though I am getting closer to defining that, I can, with no uncertainty, tell you what it is NOT.

It's not money. Yes, money has its place. It can buy things and experiences. What it cannot buy is healing. Physical ailments can sometimes be healed, yes. But its not certain.

 Money cannot also buy you peace. Especially if you war within yourself. You can see all the therapists you want, but if YOU don't do the work, it ain't gonna work.

You also can't buy healthy, well adjusted and happy children. Yes you can buy their education, their caregivers, their possessions to make others jealous, but can you buy them a kind soul? Can you buy the surety that they will grow to be happy, independent and functional adults??

Thanks to examples I have had, I can tell you for sure that the answer is no. Money cannot buy these things for another generation.

Time and a damn good example are the only ways to ensure these things. Even then its not 100% sure, but pretty darn close.

How about education? Can getting the MOST education one can get in a subject bring you lasting happiness? Again, thanks to the examples I knew first hand the answer to this is a definite NO. I knew someone with their doctorate in family social science have the biggest ego and deepest insecurity. This person displayed the most disrespectful and childish behavior, right out in the open. Unashamed, they went around picking fights with others. So no, happy people don't behave like that. They may have Dr. in front of their name but that's where the facade ends when put to the test.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I am talking about happiness. The deep down feeling of contentment that is there when everything else is gone away. In the stillness of the night, no one is watching, its just you and your thoughts, can you feel it?

I can.

So that is why I am explaining it here, because I was never taught this. My female family role models are STILL chasing these aforementioned avenues to find happiness. And let me tell ya, they are not happy people.

I think that I've discovered the art of happiness. For me.

I used to make art whilst solely drawing out the pain of my past.  This only brought out more pain like a magicians handkerchief, it kept coming out, infinitely . All tied together.

 So after much learning, reading, searching I decided to start by being grateful.
Yes, grateful.

 Now I make art. Yes it could be about sad things that happened to me. Yes it can be about the painful truth. But here is the difference- I am grateful for it all. I have realized how its made me into who I am. I wouldn't change a thing. This has made my art beautiful and made me feel beautiful inside. Just for myself.

So at night before bed, or when I wake up in the middle of the night, I find myself smiling and giving thanks for everything that has made me who I am. And giving thanks for all the beautiful things I have yet to experience. Its a very good feeling. This is how I find happiness.

Here is my first gratitude piece.... My art of happiness.

 I have no plans to sell this piece yet. Its really quite a narrative of the time of my life that I have just entered. Where I can finally live out loud and to hell with all the people that will criticize me and my work. To hell with unfounded fears and anxiety that I used to have. I've got things to do. Important things.

 I have a gift and I have a mission. Mark Twain said that there are two important days in your life, the day you were born and the day you find out why.

I believe that I have found out why.




Thursday, September 17, 2015

How I know that I am healing.

I know its rather hard for me to believe, in fact, I have sat on this discovery for a few weeks now to make sure it wasn't some fluke, caused by a spike in hormones or opposite.

 I am healing.

How do I know?  I will do my best to sum it up quickly.

I know I am healing because I find myself, in the strangest of moments, sending out peace and love to all those people that hurt me in the past. Without that twinge of pain their memory used to bring.

All of them.

And there were many.

 I have become so much stronger than I was when I knew some people. Some of them never knew me at all, though I had been in their presence since I was born. Which, after a very long series of mistakes, has taught me how NOT to raise a family, how NOT to treat people that I really love. Which has given me the most loving and happy home life.

Some of them didn't like me as part of their family. Though I married into it, I was never to feel welcomed or appreciated. I was an outsider. I was just wanting to be advised, appreciated and belong somewhere. I was denied. Which has taught me how to be my own family, my own best friend and to be VERY VERY cautious of whom I will actually take advice from. Some folks do not live a happy, fulfilled life. Therefore they are quite unable to advise anyone on that subject. This was something I didn't even consider when I was 18 years old and needing a family. But I know better now and my life has improved drastically since those sad, co-dependent days. I pray that these people feel what it is like to be happy and fulfilled before they leave this earth. I genuinely feel it. Please God bless them.

Some of them promised me things. Promised me loyalty, without knowing what it really meant. Promised me faithfulness, but had already been unfaithful before that promise was made. I was so naive. So needy.  I knew it was a lie but tried to make it become truth. I thought I could love that person enough to respect me. Not possible.

This taught me to never expect these qualities but to be them. Never force someone to keep their word when they clearly cannot. I also shouldn't have tied my value to that as well.

Oddly enough it was the lesson I learned from this behavior that attracted my soul-mate in the time I was just brushing off the dust of a failed marriage but I learned quickly. I became my own best friend. I valued the quality of mine and my children's lives more than anything. I didn't hang my hopes on anyone's help, much less, love.

This all taught me so much. How to love myself. Respect myself and what the meaning of love really is. I had to love, respect and value myself before I could truly love, value and respect anyone else. 

This is what my husband said he loved about me instantly. I wasn't needy or clingy. I stood on my own just fine and didn't need him but made him feel wanted, for HIM, for the person that he is. It was the best lesson I have ever learned. He inevitably stayed true to his word from the very beginning, when I didn't demand it, he gave it all willingly.

He still amazes me with his unwavering love and affection 15 years later. I am home when I am with him. Which I look back now and see that was the feeling I have had since the very first time that he spoke to me, January of 2000.
 Such a magical time. I have learned such great things because of our meeting which taught me how to see God in the works. Such a great thing to come to appreciate.

In spite of this solid bond I had with a true partner in life, I still struggled with ego for many years and this feeling of lack that I seemed to carry in my heart since childhood. It is my experience that people from dysfunctional families, that eventually grew past it- that in our 20's we make decisions because of that feeling of lack from childhood and expect it to go away but in our 30's we can't move because of it. It demands attention for resolution, if we ignore it, we cease to grow. When we cease to grow, we develop "disorders" and if we keep denying it we get worse and are often diagnosed with various "mental illnesses" or physical illness.

The void tends to manifest physically.

 It did with me. Having my body shoot adrenaline all day and night, stuck in a never-ending fight or flight reaction was my wake up call. That was almost 4 years ago.

I gave it all of my attention. Its been a long road of many things- medication and meditation and everything else I could think of to do to shut this off. I think the turning point was learning to push past the state of pure fear my body was always in, even with medication, and STILL getting things done. Learning to feel the terror but do it anyway has been the most difficult and wonderful lesson of my entire life.

Good news is that eventually I repeatedly stepped out of my comfort zone in every area of life and the fear minimized until it was gone. Somehow, in treating myself this way I landed a Scholarship and am currently going to College for the first time, full time and paid for. I humbled my heart and put aside my pride and talked to my in-laws about my struggle and as it turns out, they ALL understood and they loved me and gave me that sense of belonging I had been so focused on in my youth. I am closer with my sister-in-laws than ever. I love every second with them. Its amazing to experience, first hand, how taking a leap of faith and God, The Universe, or whatever you call it will rise up to meet you and take you further than you dreamed.

Keep stepping out in faith. Keep dreaming. Keep trying. There is NO quick solution for our healing. Its a combination of many things. Not all the same things for every person. We are unique, so keep that in mind.

That's how I know that I am healing. I can see how all the perceived pain and hardships of the past have come to absolutely BLESS me.
I'm making art about it and amazing myself with what I am dreaming up to express this time of reflection.

 I hope that all of those people that I am speaking of here are healing too. Pain begats more pain, so I imagine that someone, or many someones hurt them all too.

I wish, with all my heart that they heal. All of them. Completely.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Checking in....

I haven't been here in ages. I just found another "rabbit hole" to fall down in other social media and I have been pleasantly wandering around there.

 Pinterest, is my FAVORITE place, Oh but then Instagram- Yes I LOVE the visual displays of other artists and fun people I have gotten to know there. I have been making mermaids with my photography business and I love to share my work on our facebook page.

 Been working on a facebook page just for my artwork.{Click Here} .its not much yet but please go check it out! BUT I am sure about opening a shop over at Big Cartel just for my artwork! Check it out GioncarlaLovato on Bigcartel. This shop will have my new artwork, including my personal photography work. 

I loved their terms, price and it seems Etsy is just getting more and more expensive to keep open with now having to pay for your items to show up in a search, etc. Its just time to move on from there I think.
 I do not like thinking of the money side of things and I avoid it as much as I can when it comes to my personal art so Big cartel made it easy with a monthly fee- boom, its done and I don't have to worry about so may different varying fees. LOVE IT!

  I also found a home for all of my older, retired or sold art. I have used some of their aspects in a digital re-working and then have them printed onto products! These will only be found at my shop on Society6!!!

 Other than that our oldest child, and our only son, graduated High School! It was a wonderful and emotional day. I am SO proud of my son. Many people, including myself, didn't think I could do a good job raising a son as young as I was when I had him, but with the help of my husband and his supportive family, I am seeing that I did it and he came out well. Such a fine, caring and responsible young man.

I am grateful.

 He starts college in the fall with 15 credit hours already done and a 4 year scholarship. Yeah I AM proud! :-)
Now I have his 3 younger sisters left in school. My oldest daughter will be a Senior in high school in the fall, my middle daughter enters the 8th grade and my baby will be a 6th grader! Crazy!!! Time flies so fast with kids. I am trying to be more mindful of the moments we have now because I have learned that it all goes by and once the day is over, you can never get it back. This is especially true with your children. Soon they are no longer children, but young adults making choices that will effect their entire lives. Its deep.

 Life has been good. I have still been working on managing life with anxiety. I have been able to make good choices for myself and every day I get just a little bit more aware of how  to change my thinking. I firmly believe that we can heal from depression and anxiety if we are patient and devoted to it. It's like riding a bike, in order to do it you must learn to balance and always keep moving forward.

 Well I hope this little update finds you well. I am making art and mostly sharing it on my instagram, which is now set to public, after learning much about my family dysfunction I came to the absolute resolution that it was not I that offended but they that chose the offense. Pity, because my art, being about me and my life, might have opened a dialogue for healing. But if one doesn't want to recognize their sickness then there can not be healing. So I will keep going on my healing path knowing that if others are moved by my works, even if it feels negative, it is always for my benefit. There is much to learn where there is pain. Address the pain, find the source and you find the release! That is what is helping me anyway. I hope it helps someone else too!

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