Can You Truly SEPARATE from Yourself?

The debate of whether or not you can separate the art from the artist is one that may never end. Can you truly separate a piece from a whole? A servant from its master? An ideal of perfection without failure? Love from hate? Nothing from everything? 

Each individual creates their own reality based upon perspective. It is all mental. We all have our own set of rules, constructs, values, and beliefs – that is okay. It may be hard, but it is important to accept that. 

As individuals, we are different for the same reasons we are alike. There is a reason opposites attract a magnetic force, no matter how far away. We thrive off of one another to live. Everything we do is just a mere projection of ourselves. 

Once we have accepted ourselves, our purpose, the risk and uncertainty that comes along with us on our life journey, then we are truly able to open ourselves up to vulnerability. Upon reaching this moment is when we are finally able to create for ourselves. This is up for interpretation, but I believe this is when you are truly free.  

I am grateful for all of my experiences as an artist. Others showed me the ropes so I can control the reins for myself. I do it for myself in hopes that one day I may be able to inspire and teach others as was done for me. 

This number of how many does not matter, it has always been about quality, not quantity. History and oracles speak of what it’s like to let power fall into the wrong hands. We create history every day. 

Every time I create, I leave a piece of my soul within my craft. Whether it be on watercolor on Stratford, oil on canvas, ink or graphite on paper, or even the words you are reading digitally on this screen, I am leaving a remnant of my carbon copy. 

I think, therefore I am. This is my consciousness, it is important to be aware of yourself in relation to others.    

Likewise, my fellow creators, the masters, and my predecessors, I am an artist and my work is my way of expressing myself. 

There is something extremely dangerous yet attractive about the way an artist works. Artists wear their hearts on their sleeves. We love to give, but we also love to receive. Our wounds are open, you will see us bleed. 

We express vulnerability outwards. It’s hard at times, although it is vital in our process of personal growth and reflection, along with deepening our understanding and connections with our surroundings and others. 

The true beauty of life resides in the foundation that everything is up for interpretation. While we may be similar, as we are all created from stardust and matter, our individual experiences are what guide us and pull us together through our separation and differences aside. 

Can art truly be separate from an artist’s work? 

I know the answer, it’s a no from me. Alas, everything is subjective, relative, and up for interpretation, I’d love to hear your side of the story.

21 Life lessons

I turned 21 today, and while there is still a pandemic and no way for me to really celebrate with my friends, I decided to share with you all 21 life lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life. I am doing this because with life being so bleak lately, sometimes a little optimism is what just one person needs to see. These are things that I was taught by loved ones as well as people I’ve never met. 

  • You never have to do today again.

This resonates with me the most because of my struggles with anxiety and depression. Some days are worse than others, but ultimately I learned that saying ‘you never have to do today again’ helps me feel better. There will always be tough days, but you never have to handle that same day ever again.

  • Do no harm but take no shit.
  • Being alive in today’s world is one of the bravest things you’ve done.
  • Do or do not, there is no try.

#livelaughloveStarWars

  • Turn your guilt into action.
  • Don’t sell yourself short.
  • Tell others when they hurt you. You can learn a lot about a person from the way they react.
  • Loving yourself is hard. But it is worth every second of struggle to see the result. 
  • You are not a bother. You are not a burden.

This can be the most difficult journey. I’m still working on changing my mindset to match this idea.

  • The way you perceive yourself is often different from how others see you.
  • Do what you think is right.
  • Never be afraid to be the real you.
  • Be selfless but don’t be afraid to be selfish. Do what you need to do.
  • Sit outside in the sun.
  • You are your own fairy tale.

As quoted from Amanda Lovelace’s book of poetry Break Those Glass Slippers.

  • Be unapologetically passionate.
  • It’s okay to have bad days.
  • The only person that can bring true happiness is yourself.
  • The best things in life are priceless.
  • It doesn’t matter where you started, but where you end up.
  • Surround yourself with people who love you.

Brain on Fire: Detaching from Trauma and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Over the last couple of years, I feel like I’ve gone through an enormous internal metamorphosis. Most days, I wake up brimming with positivity and gratitude, and sometimes even a sense of self-actualization. I truly do feel like I am the best version of myself that I can be, and even when I make mistakes, I try to be gentle and forgiving with myself.

I wasn’t always that way. Middle school and high school, the most formative years of my life, were turbulent and full of dark energy and negativity. I constantly found myself plagued with anger, confusion, self-doubt, self-deprecation, the sense that I was a bad/broken person, and a tendency to exhibit fawning behaviors (common with survivors of verbal and emotional abuse). I was extremely anxious and highly sensitive to loud noises, confrontation, and raised voices. If someone even criticized me a little bit, and particularly if they spoke loudly, my ears would begin to hum and vibrate. I shared several of my childhood memories with a therapist in high school, including the time I was dragged across the carpet and spanked as a child, screaming, and how similar memories tended to pop into my mind like uncomfortable flashbacks. I told her about my notable (but not alarming) social delays, my broken confidence, my damaged relationships, and my extreme discomfort with certain areas of my body. She swiftly summarized my case as C-PTSD, otherwise known as Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. C-PTSD is commonly diagnosed in individuals who grew up experiencing repetitive, prolonged abuse, usually as a child. One of the most common experiences for young adults with C-PTSD is growing up with a parent who exhibits narcissistic tendencies, which is what my family agrees probably happened to me from my father. As a result of disconnecting from him, I went through a very mournful period of traumatic grief. 

What may be normal and surmountable to some children could be extremely difficult for others. Many kids grew up with unhappy childhoods and ended up fine, but for me, growing up afraid in my own household and dealing with anxiety through the roof, panic, and fight-or-flight sensations permanently altered my brain chemistry. As the therapist described it, my brain was “on fire,” constantly lit up with a life-or-death panic and ravenous will to survive.

There are still foggy patches in my brain, and sometimes, I lay awake and think, What happened to me? Most of the time, however, I put those worries to rest and allow the unknown to be unknown. At 20 years old, I still have several unrecovered memories that I choose to leave unearthed.

After I was put on a standard dose of escitalopram (which I continue to take to this day), entered college, and became estranged from my biological father, something surprising happened to me: I have seemingly recovered from my initial C-PTSD diagnosis.

This raises two questions. 1) Is it possible to recover completely from C-PTSD? Also, 2), did I ever actually have it? Do I simply have a ‘mild’ case of it? Am I just exceptionally lucky?

Honestly, I have no idea, and I almost don’t care to know. I do know that my trauma still impacts my life in several ways, but it’s not unmanageable and detrimental like it was a few years ago. It’s almost as if I’ve learned to love that part of myself and nurture it back into a state of healing. Additionally, as I emerge into adulthood, I feel like I have become very comfortable with self-regulating my emotions, particularly since I have such a strong support network now. 

I am a highly sensitive person. I still catch myself exhibiting fawning behaviors from time to time; particularly recently when I was going through a difficult period of anger and conflict with a close friend of mine. Rather than being angry, however, I am learning to self-soothe and forgive myself for the things I cannot control. I can truly say that I love myself and I’m enormously proud of the progress I have made.

When I feel my weakest, I remind myself that I am actually made of strength and perseverance. 

When my heart begins to cloud with fear, as it was a couple of weeks ago with my friend, I had a sudden moment of clarity and peace that enabled me to write this article in the first place: I am not a broken woman, I am not a bad person, and I am NOT going to push myself into a state of grief over privations when I can use this situation instead to love, forgive, and grow.

As I said, I wake up every day full of gratitude and fullness for the beauty of my life. I wish it were easier to put this feeling into words, but truly, I feel such a sense of clarity and excitement about the beauty and complexity of the world. Having gone through difficult things, kindness and compassion are even more present in my life than they ever were before, and I think that juxtaposition is a beautiful thing. Please don’t ever destroy yourself over things that are out of your control; forgive yourself for the cracks in your soul and learn to nurture those patches, too.