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.


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