Ignite

“Ignite” 8×10 acrylic

I’m Here…Just Consumed By Life

Sorry I haven’t stopped by here since May 20th. Life’s been pretty consuming as of late, and I’m not as good about writing my way through periods like this as I was a year ago. Things are busy busy busy and I’ll be honest-sitting down to write has proved to be more difficult than I would like it to be. The words are there, waiting to be given life, the stories are stacked up on shelves in my brain, the desire is there, but it all just becomes a jumbled mess when I sit down to type or even write in my journal.

Part of it is because my brain is so scattered, thanks to my disorder and my recent hypomanic episodes and cycling. Part of it is because I become to preoccupied by my compulsions to clean, organize, and rearrange everything in our apartment. Part of it is because I’m fatigued and the energy I do have is poured into being  pregnant, mama, wife, housekeeper, cook, errand runner…the desire to create or give anything back to myself lingers quietly in folds of my heart, but never finds its way to execution. My mind is scattered and my hands feel inadequate, empty, unable to form the words or images that are mixed in the chaos.

Part of it is because I’ve become completely immersed in a new parenting approach with Alex and in implementing new routines and techniques I hope make like easier for him…and for all of us, really. I’m seeing how different and significant some of his needs are and in a lot of ways re-learning this whole parenting thing. From how I discipline, to the words and tone I use when speaking to him, to even how much pressure I apply when I touch or hug him, my whole posture towards parenting and mothering him has changed. Most of my days are consumed with being engaged with him in ways I wasn’t before. Learning about sensory processing disorder, autism, and what we’re learning from his therapists since April has given me new ways to engage and interact with him  that are different from how I did before. It’s been quite the learning curve-there’s so much more to be aware of these days! I’m more watchful, taking note of the slightest change in attitude or behavior (positive or negative), more apprehensive and mindful about how changes in routine, however slight, will impact him from moment to moment. In some ways I feel like I’m on high alert from the time he wakes up until he finally falls asleep after I’ve put him back in his bed and given him a deep pressure squeeze for the fifth or sixth time. I’ve had to become much more patient, learning to move at his pace, and how to move him along faster in a way that he can understand when we’re short on time. I’ve found that all of this has taken an energy that I, especially being pregnant, barely have the reserves for. The simplest things from washing his hands to getting dressed to helping desensitize his facial muscles before his speech therapy sessions is all a process; exhausting and consuming, but one I’m committed to helping all of us navigate and learn as best we can.

Part of it is because I’m committed to being well during this pregnancy and am forcing myself to focus on self-care. This becomes increasingly difficult when pregnancy is kicking my ass, particularly when migraines attack, and my blood pressure is low. The migraines have been pretty frequent this pregnancy; during a good week I only get one, during my worst I’ve had them for 4 days straight. Functioning when I’m a wreck physically feels impossible, but I somehow get through making sure the kids have what they need for the day and that’s about it. Aside from eating and taking my medications, taking care of myself takes a backseat and I have to fight to make things like taking a shower, combing my hair, getting in any kind of exercise or leisure activity a priority. Overall I’m doing better on the self-care front than I have in the past, especially during my last pregnancy.

All of this focus on concentration on these other areas of my life leave little for my writing here and painting….advocating even. I had all of these plans for my creative pursuits this year but the mental and creative bandwidth I need to execute them isn’t what I’d like it to be. For some reason I can’t seem to find space for those two to fit in my life as of late and this does sadden me. Frustrates me. Leaves me to wonder how I’ll fit them in when there are THREE children to give my time and attention to. I’m hoping I can find a way….I’m in awe of those who’ve found a way to balance and navigate it all.

At any rate, while I find it hard to write and paint these days, I have found it easy to keep up with vlogging-probably because I can just do it on my phone while I’m on the go and have a few minutes alone. So I think that’s just what I’m going to have to do for now because it’s the one thing that I can keep up with that fits in best with everything else. It’s the one thing I feel I can keep up with right now on this front. I’m hoping to write here during the summer, but know that if you don’t see me here, you’ll be able to find me on my YouTube channel, addyeBeesWorld, where I’ll mostly be sharing the nitty-gritty of navigating bipolar disorder while being a pregnant mama. Feel free to watch and subscribe-I’ve done videos for weeks 15, 16, and 17 so far (I tell you what we’re having in my second video for week 16!) And of course, I’ll always be on Twitter :) (@addyeB)

So that’s where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, what’s going on. I’m still here…I’m just consumed is all.

Maybe I just need to Lean In…anyone have Sheryl Sandberg’s number?

FRESH PAINT: New Horizons & A Foreboding Joy

I painted two pieces last week, and tried something new with both of them.

First, instead of reaching for the 16×20 bundle packs I normally grab (and can afford) I listened to a heart whisper and went BIG, purchasing sizes I had yet to explore: 24×48 and 36×48.

(How would I fill such large spaces? What was my inner creative longing to release that required more space to tell it’s message on?)

Second, instead of reaching for the brushes in my box, I found my hand landing on the rag I normally use to wipe my brushes on, and used it to distribute the paint across each canvas’ surface.

The results? Left me breathless to be honest. I look at both pieces now, in my living room and am in awe of what’s staring back at me. Maybe it’s vain to say I absolutely love these pieces and I think the messages they convey are important ones for me…but…it’s the truth-my truth anyway and it’s not often I find myself in love with something I’ve created on canvas.

Two of my words for this year are “explore,” and “pursue.” In regards to painting I told myself  that I would explore my new found passion for painting and experiment with various styles and techniques to find what “fits,” if that makes sense. Working with a rag and my hands instead of brush and with larger spaces exposed me to a freedom I hadn’t realized my inner creative had been longing for. I’m looking forward to doing more in this fashion, and I think I have a theme that can make the pieces in this style an actual collection….we’ll see.

Both pieces are up for sale in the shop along with other pieces from the last 7 months. Feel free to stop by for a look….

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“New Horizons” 24×48

This one was inspired by a lyric from the song “New Horizons,” by Flyleaf: “Bring your normalcy to the edge and watch it drown in new horizons…new horizons…” It speaks to the new horizons that have been stretching themselves across my life these past months: new decade (30’s!), new city & home (AUSTIN!), new marriage (details and photos in a forthcoming post) and…..one completely unexpected and unplanned that I will share in a post later this week :)

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“A Foreboding Joy” 36×48

This one took me by surprise-it started out very dark with just black and white paint blending together to create a very heavy, grayish-moody base. I didn’t really think about it much as I worked, adding layers of color and I moved quickly through it, finding myself a little winded at it’s end. As I sat back to wonder what the hell it was, my mind rested on a comment made by Dr. Brene Brown regarding joy: “If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy.” She had made the comment to Oprah, during a Super Soul Sunday discussion, and was speaking to how joy terrifies us so we never allow ourselves to experience it in it’s fullest. Watch her discuss it here: http://www.yidio.com/show/super-soul-sunday/season-0/episode-0/3088395102

I realized that as overwhelmed and happy I am about all of the newness in my life, every time I’ve felt joy trying to take over, I’ve immediately pushed it away…this piece represents that tension, that fear….

So…those are my latest pieces. Thoughts?

Painting: Don’t Think. Just Feel

Today I sat down, brush in hand, colors spread put around me, and just stared at the canvas in front of me. I wanted to paint but my thoughts were too scattered to focus on a concept or any kind of intentionality. I closed my eyes and just sat there. Alex came and sat in my lap, and proudly began naming the colors he recognized.

I dipped a brush in red, his favorite color at the moment, and handed it to him. Without saying a word, he snatched the brush from me and got to work covering the canvas in frenzied streaks of red. When he was finished, he said “RED!” did a little hop, dropped the brush and ran to his room with a smile on his face.

I know at some point I would like to work on developing intentionality, so that I’m better at communicating what I’m trying to say through my paintings. For now though, I’m realizing that I’m content to just pick up a brush and attack the canvas much like Alex did. I might have one thought I focus on or I might have nothing but emotions, and I like that. I think some of my best pieces have come from when I’ve turned down the volume on my reasoning and listened instead only to the emotions that were waiting to be acknowledged & allowed to speak. I can’t always articulate what they are in words but on canvas, they pour out of me with each stroke; their voices speaking through each color and layer I apply.

If you were to ask me why I painted what I did today, I’d simply shrug & say I don’t know. It’s just what came out. They were directed purely by emotion, with no direct thoughts or intended meanings. They’re simplistic & maybe look amateurish, but I’m okay with that. I’ll get better with more practice and exploration.

The first one is untitled for now. I have to study it & “hear” what it’s saying before I name it.

The second one? Well, I’m not sure, but when Bertski looked at it, he said it kind of reminded him of the early 80’s and the New Wave music era…I laughed because I was born in ’82…and I’ll be 30 on Saturday…so maybe it represents that? Not sure but I thought it was a fun interpretation, considering how much I love music and the bright fashions from that time period.

So here they are. OH-in honor of said 30th birthday, I’m having a sale in my Etsy shop-all unreserved listings are 30% off now through Saturday. Stop by & have a look :)

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America the Beautiful?

There's some ugliness mixed in there-can you see it?

So. The election season from Dante’s 7th circle of hell is over. As hellish as it was, some good DID come out of it,  at least in my opinion. We have 19 women Senators in U.S. Congress. Elizabeth Warren? She’s … Continue reading

Painting: Pennies for Your Thoughts

I’m not sure how I feel about my latest painting. As a result I have yet to title it. I know what drove me to paint today, but I don’t know why it was expressed this way. I’ve never done … Continue reading

Painting: My Refuge & Strength

There’s a Psalm in the Bible that speaks of God “being our refuge & strength.”

While I am at a crossroads with my faith (more on this in another post) I’d like to believe that God is our refuge & strength by actually giving us things that bring peace & provide a shelter from the chaos & realities of life…or our minds.

I spent some time in the hospital last week. The psych ward. After being hypo manic for nearly 4-5 weeks I started to crash into depression close to 3 weeks ago and wound up having suicidal ideation & thoughts…I’ll talk more about this experience later but for now, I’ll just get to the intent of what I want to share with you today.

What I’ve learned since I started painting at the beginning of the year is that painting is my refuge and fills me with a strength I’ve yet to experience otherwise. Yes, at times I’ve found myself leaning on God & my faith to pull me through the rough seasons of my life….

BUT-through this season, this time of grappling with my illness and striving for longer periods of stability, I’ve come to realize that painting, brushing strokes of color across a canvas brings me a calm & peace unlike any other. When I paint, the thoughts that yell & clamor for my attention quiet down and go back sullenly to their dark corners. I choose colors & sweep them across the canvas without a single thought.

Silence. Peace. Light. Wholeness. Myself. I feel the most like myself when I paint. I paint and afterward can go and laugh with my kids, deal with the frustrations & joys of life…and the crippling pain of a mind that at times seems to want nothing more to bring about my demise & the destruction of my family.

The Bible says God is a restorer. I like to think that He’s placed this, this whatever it is in my life to do just that-restore. Restore parts of me that I forget are still there. The parts that still exist among the scattered puzzle pieces that are my brain & body chemistry.

I’ve painted quite a bit the last few days, finding solitude & comfort after a painful & desperate couple of weeks where I clutched sanity & life with as much strength I could muster. For myself. For my boys.

(Sigh)

Well here’s a look at what I’ve been working on…

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What do you find comfort & strength in? What restores you?

Painted: Layering

So I’ve spent the last two days painting. It’s been awhile so my creative vibes didn’t flow as much as I hoped they would. Maybe it’s the new med combo I’m on. Or maybe I’m just rusty. It maybe I just feel more inspired & creative when I’m hypomanic. Who knows?

Anyway, the first canvas I gave up on, but the second, I liked how it started taking shape, so I decided to try and take what I’ve seen other artists do on YouTube, and try my hand at layering.

I did the base colors and started some blending last night…

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and spent about an hour and a half tonight adding, blending & building upon what was there.

The result? This….

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Not sure how I feel about it. I do at the very least like the brushstroke work I utilized throughout the painting.

What do you think? And seriously be honest, criticism is welcomed as long as it’s constructive. Also keep in mind I’m a newbie who knows nothing about technique.

I Miss My Paints & Artists Who Inspire Me

I haven’t posted anything about painting in awhile, and I think it’s mostly because I haven’t painted in nearly two, almost three months.

I miss it…

I’m slightly worried that my passion for it and the creativity that drove me to paint in the first place has faded away…

I’ve been asking myself if it was all just a fleeting fancy-just some form of manic expression that isn’t really…me.

Not sure if that makes sense…I wish I could articulate what I mean a lot better, but I’ve had two glasses of wine so articulation is swimming in Lake Moscato at the moment.

Ahem…

What I’m trying to say is that I’m a creative person who hasn’t been able to create in a few months and I’m scared this particular form of creative expression has moved on and out of my life much like dancing has….which makes me incredibly sad.

I miss my paints, and having my colorful creations adorn my walls. I gave away & sold about 15 of them, but those I have left are still locked up in a storage unit back in PA….I miss the excitement that emanates all the way from my toes to my fingertips when I sit down in front of a blank canvas to paint. I miss the adrenaline rush of the creative process and how it leaves me pregnant with possibility.

Anyway, enough lamenting…I’ll save the rest of this for a time when I’m less tipsy and a little less apt to talk about being impregnated by creativity.

I’ll leave you with some videos of artists I found via YouTube who are helping me keep my love and passion for painting alive….trust me when I say they are worth taking the time to watch.

Enjoy!

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Christopher Mathie

Nicole Hoschke

Mel McCuddin