Sometimes I like to end the tiring work day with a movie; an escape from reality. A reminder of the poetic beauty in life we seem to forget in the day to day grind. Last night I decided I would pop in a childhood favorite, A Little Princess. Please tell me you’ve seen it. If you haven’t, it’s totally a must see (I’m serious) for every daughter, sister, mother, and best friend. I had been feeling stumped on what to write for this week’s linkup until I was reminded exactly why I loved this movie. The main character is sort of like the spirit guide or guardian angel that we all deserve to have whispering in our ears; her unconditional faith in the magic and beauty of the world is more poignant to me now than ever.
I fully realize the level of cheese I’m at when I’m spouting sonnets about how much I love this movie, but I’m just a sucker for films/books/anything that reminds me of the hope we all used to have when we were children. We believed we could be princesses, we could be artists, we could be anything we want if we just believed in it hard enough. Where does all that optimism go when it disappears? Does it transform into resignation and regret? Could it ever turn back into what it once was?
There’s something so beautiful about mornings. The sun slowly streams through your window and it’s like possibility is being reborn. A couple mornings ago, as I was enjoying my morning coffee drip and toast with apple butter, I took notice to a guest on the Today Show. The topic was personal finances and the guest was Kate Northrup, author of Money, A Love Story. Her book is a guide on how to refocus your understanding of money in order to take into account not only its monetary value, but its emotional value as well. Her perspective makes perfect sense to me and reminded me of how infrequently we, as a society and particularly as women, feel like we have enough to be happy.
I thought this would be a great subject to touch upon for the Choose Beauty Linkup because the way in which we choose to spend money can directly relate to how beautiful or valuable we consider our surroundings and belongings. Money is such a sore subject and I often find myself (especially lately with the move and the job instability) complaining that I don’t have enough of it. It’s easy to resort to this rant because it places blame on the external rather than admitting to the weaknesses of the internal.
I’d like to think that it’s fate that my birthday this year falls on the same day as the Love Yourself Linkup. A lot has changed for me in this past year and so it’s crucial to fight the usual bouts of disappointment I typically associate with this annual event. I am officially closer to the age 30 than the age 20 and instead of feeling like my youth is slipping, I need to look at this birthday as one year closer to happiness.
The lure of admitting defeat gets stronger with passing time. As I begin to hear the biological clock ticking away, I often wonder how much longer I can keep this up before having to succumb to my greatest fears in order to sustain my hopes for a family. But as much as I’d like to fall in line with the crowd, I know that happiness is still out there. The yearning I have for it is more palpable than ever and as the desire for stability grows, so does my resistance to the currents of practical living.
How do you keep swimming when you have no idea what direction the shore is in? (Yes, I’m going to try to keep going with this ocean metaphor)… You just do. There is no answer other than what your basic survival instinct is telling you to do: keep your head above it all and continue searching.
I’m sad to say that I’ve been guilty of not writing to the fullest. And this is mainly because I haven’t been living to the fullest. With the pending move and the shape shifter that is known as my income, I’ve been happy to even keep my head above water. When going through times of change, decisions get that much more difficult to make given how much is riding on them. I know now that the decision I made to begin this blog was a landmark for my personal and professional growth, so continuing to move forward with it is just as important, if not more so. Despite feeling like I don’t have any beauty to give right now, it’s also important that I participate this week in the Choose Beauty Linkup – in order to remind myself that there has to be something left inside to push forward. There just HAS to be.
One of the obstacles I face every day (particularly lately because I’ve been on so many job interviews) is projecting the shiniest and best, most optimistic version of myself. I wear carefully curated outfits, I meticulously draw on my lipstick and my smile, I speak confidently about my erratic and yet fulfilling journey.
For this week’s Choose Beauty Linkup, I was able to convince my best friend Liz to write an article for Tide & Bloom. I am extremely grateful to have someone like her on my side; she’s been a steady force in my life since high school, always supporting and loving me through all my crazy periods of growth. It’s no surprise to me, or anyone else that knows her, that she turned to therapy as her career path – making it her life’s goal to help others. I’ve been begging her to write something for me because she has too many great things to share and I knew this series would be something right up her alley.
When I began this entry, I did not know exactly what I wanted to say or where it was going to end up. I knew I wanted to focus on the power of nature, as I have been using it as a personal self-care strategy in my life. Christina and I had discussed the idea of me guest-blogging many times before, but I have a lot going on in my life right now having just moved to a new city and began a new career. In the midst of that, she still wanted and believed that I had something to offer in writing a column. I felt many doubts run through my mind… “I can’t do that, I am too busy,” or “Ugh, what do I have to offer to anyone anyway?” The irony of that last statement is that I am a therapist, a mental health counselor who helps people for a living.
Some may wonder, what is it like to be a therapist, to deal with people’s problems all day? It is true that in my professional life I deal with the entire spectrum of human emotions. I see people at the lowest of their lows, as well as hear about truly horrific events and situations they have experienced. It is crucial that I have ways to protect myself in order to have an escape from all that trauma, hurt, sorrow, abandonment. One of my current rituals is taking time at lunch to step back and be with nature. I work in an office with no windows so by lunch time, I am craving the sunshine and open spaces. I am fortunate to have beautiful outside spaces surrounding me. Although I do not claim to be an outdoorsy person, the research, along with my own experience, shows how powerful communing with nature can be. Within minutes of being outside in the open air, I feel a shift in my being.
Right now I’m going through somewhat of a tough time. The instability that surrounds me feels like it will close in at any moment and I’ll crumble right along with it. And so in an attempt to try to be my own happiness, to be my own best friend, I am going to write a letter to myself (and hopefully it’ll resonate with you too).
You’re turning 26 soon and let me tell you: you are exactly where you are supposed to be. It may seem like everything’s been for naught, like everything feels like a waste of time. But I promise you that it is not. I promise you that you are going to make a difference to someone, somewhere… and soon. The things you create and the ways you love are limitless and there is no reason to keep that from the world.
One of the most agonizing parts of making art is trying to explain your work to other people. A majority of artists would probably agree with me when I say art work is supposed to speak for itself; that’s why we make art work in the first place. If we could have expressed the idea/concept/feeling in words, then we would be writers and poets. Our gesture is our word and our end product is the essay.
But of course, the world just doesn’t work that way. Audiences want to understand what they see using context and background of the creator themselves. Thus the ever-annoying request for the “artist statement” (as if the work itself didn’t state anything already). If you look closely enough, I think all art is merely a reflection or manifestation of the personality of the artist. Sometimes they can cite theories, events, and other matters that informed their original purpose – but in the end, I kind of just don’t even care. I know that sounds pretty terrible to say as a person in the art world, but regardless of how much I learn about the artist or what the work is about, all I really need to know is how the work makes me feel.
Artwork is a form of communication that relies heavily on the success of impressing internal change within a viewer. It’s a personal experience informed by subjective opinions and histories. Work that makes you gasp, work that that makes you cringe, and work that makes you love and hate – it all did something noticeable to you and perhaps even only you.
I am pretty uncomfortable and sometimes terrified when people as me what my work is “about”. I wish there were a simple elevator speech I could regurgitate on command. And I wish all my work had a single meaning or perspective, easily understood with a concise goal in mind. But here’s the thing. It just isn’t.
I do my best work when I don’t have a plan. When I am free to act on impulse without worrying about meaning or judgment, the marks flow through my hands readily and I enter a state of pseudo-meditation. I guess you could say I’m “in the zone”. Letting go of the “statement” of my work gives it the room to breathe and find its own visual voice. After a few of these sessions, I can sometimes say that the drawing is complete, but rarely am I ever proud of what I’ve made. The equal amounts of loving and loathing seem to negate each other and they just are what they are.
My work is me. It’s from me, it’s about me. Everything that I am as a person has some sort of influence on what comes out of my hands. My history, my aspirations, my self-imposed handicaps… it’s all there on the paper.
I want to write on something a bit different today. The Love Yourself Linkup has been a great way to explore ideas and personal stories on self-image, but for this post I would like to focus on something we tend to forget about until it’s corrupted – the value of our professional work. It’s a different kind of self-love that’s not often given attention due to cultural norms in the American workforce. When I say value, I mean in it a variety of senses: monetarily, creatively, metaphorically. As young professionals in a depression era, we’re unfortunately subject to a skewed value system in which the unemployed abound and the employed tread lightly for fear of losing their coveted positions, even if they’re really not so great. Too often we let our desire to be liked dictate the course of action we take when wanting to take a stand for our worth.
I wanted to speak on this topic because I have way too many talented friends and colleagues who are being taken advantage of, without them even knowing it. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced it firsthand as well. It’s become so evident to me recently because I’m a mid-20-something meaning all of the people I socialize with are going through a similar professional crossroads. You usually begin at the bottom of the totem pole after you graduate college. I graduated 2010 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, entering the workforce at probably the worst time to have such a degree. And so the imposed societal instinct is to suck it up and take what you can get, if you can get anything at all. Prove yourself worthy, exceed their expectations, and stay quiet. While I still believe this sort of work ethic is important, it also underscores the rip current that takes you further and further away from reaching the status and value you actually deserve.
Please find the courage within to fight for what you are worth.
There are honestly so many negative thoughts running through my head right now that I feel like I can’t even type fast enough to get them out in a clear manner. I just spent the last hour driving home from an extras gig, bawling the entire way. I didn’t want to bother any of my best friends with a random whiny phone call so I just allowed myself to jump into a pit of sorrow and self-pity. I simultaneously love and hate that I feel so strongly about my journey. Right now the only word I can use to describe it is lost. I feel so, so, so lost. All of the time. Well, maybe not ALL of the time. But it certainly feels like it right now, as more tears roll down my cheeks.
Important note: if you are a real life friend or family member of mine – never mention anything about this post to me in real life. For the sake of my pride, I’d like to pretend that I still have a shred of anonymity and dignity when it comes to this blog. The reason why I write it here and cannot discuss it in real life is because I just can’t bring myself to let you see me this way.
Explaining your goal in life or work is never easy. There are all these things that people expect for you to say – to make the world a better place, to have an effect on people’s lives, to make money, et cetera. Of course those are all things I want to do, but that doesn’t really explain how I’d like to do it. I think my life is better summed up as an endless pursuit of beauty. I want to seek beauty, find beauty, and cultivate/create beauty within others and within myself. So when Natalie Borton began her Choose Beauty Linkup, I knew I had to get in on it. I’ve read such lovely and poignant stories being shared on Anne‘s Love Yourself Linkup so it was a no-brainer to join another network encouraging earnest reflections on personal stories and experiences. I may not be able to post every week on both linkups, but hopefully what I do get to share will be fulfilling for both me and you.
I’ve always thought of beauty as an outward journey, an active search or effort to bring more beauty unto me. Whether it is through clothes, make-up, decor, or whatever, the thing I thought I needed to find would always be out there somewhere. It was within the pages of the glossy magazines showing me who I could be if I just tried a little harder. It was in the stacks of history books in the art and architecture library. It was growing outside in the meadows and all around me. It can actually be overwhelming sometimes when I think about all the ways in which I see our beautiful world. And perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I see beauty so pervasively is because I often fail to see it within myself.