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self help

[Blog] No One Chooses To Be An Artist

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No matter the medium they’re deciding to dabble in, I can’t help but find it slightly comical every time someone declares that they want to be an artist.

It’s become a subtle way of chasing fame and fortune while still maintaining some element of depth. They can bask in the glory of narcissism and boast proudly under the guise of substance. Which is obviously much more dignified than merely being an instagram model. And I resent that something so innate for me has been reduced to just another career path anyone can choose.

But then I remember… that it isn’t. And even if it was, no one would willingly choose a path that has been proven to pan out tragically almost every single time. Just show me your favorite artist and I’ll show you a calamity.

You see, I don’t just feel compelled to self express, I’m downright tormented by the urge. And it is not fun. Or prestigious. Or even worth it.

The work itself is the easiest part. It’s the suffering I’m obliged to dive head first into that sucks. As a writer, I’ve been given quite the fortunate life. Unlike Bukowski, I never sought hardship and adventure to write about – it was just given to me. But I still need to feel it all. I don’t run from the extreme ends of my emotional spectrum, I go towards them. I embrace adversity, heartache and grief with open arms because an artist is just the sum of their experiences so the more, the merrier.

It’s a subconscious act, of course, because doesn’t my style of writing conflict with my belief in the law of attraction? I feel compelled to write my darkness but doesn’t that act in itself evoke more? However, even when I acknowledge that no writing ever done is worth being at the mercy of my emotions and refuse to participate in this self sabotage any longer, it is still at my very core.

And that’s what I think separates us from the folks just looking for an aristocratic hobby to disguise their narcissism with. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from studying all of the creatives I admire, it’s that we all do it. We refuse to deprive ourselves of any experience, no matter how much it might hurt us. We are compelled by our pain and chase any thrill that may ignite it. We are slaves to confronting ourselves . No one with any common sense would choose this.

[Blog] Taking My Inner Child; I’m Fighting For Custody

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As I watch the colors in my cup of coffee swirl, I longingly remember a time when life was so simple. My 9 year old self would be deeply disappointed in the vanity slave held captive by technology that she’d grow up to be. She’d feel downright betrayed by the amount of time and money I invest in things that would never matter to her like make-up and hair. She’d laugh in my face at the opportunistic relations I have the nerve to call “friendship”. And if someone told me to ‘either stay out or stay in’ the way my grandmother used to yell, my younger self would never believe that I would opt for the latter. I was told that it was foolish to compare myself to and seek validation from an entity within me that had not yet experienced life. But is it?

I stood for things back then. I remember feeling so one with nature, (as it was the place I spent most of my ‘playtime’ after-all), that when I found out the damage pollution was doing to our planet, I immediately went on a recycling kick. I didn’t have to ‘ween’ myself away from drinking squeeze-its or using styrofoam cups in the way that I have to ween myself off of meat now. Right and wrong were right and wrong and I stood by my beliefs firmly. If I witnessed a classmate being bullied, I defended them… not slyly disappeared into the crowd afraid of what might happen to me if I dared. I showed off my poetry, stories and drawings with absolutely no regard for what others might think because I was sincerely doing it to self express… not for some sort of commercial gain. My ambitious nature had me participating in every athletic from basketball to tennis to ice skating and everything in between. Not to be slim but because I didn’t shy away from competition the way I do now; I enjoyed it. My morals and values were clear and I didn’t need society to determine them for me… I just knew. Because it was all based off of how EYE innately felt.

Now I feel so inveigled by all the drastically different surroundings I’ve had to readily adapt to over the years that my sense of self has completely diminished. Instead of experiencing growth, I feel like I’m regressing. So why is it foolish to yearn for the person I used to be? Especially when she was just so much… better.

A lot of people think that we get better with age, but I think that maybe we were already born perfect and complete. And over time, the harsh realities of our world plagued us with self doubt and stripped us of the innate confidence and child-like wanderment we came into this world with.

Are there any characteristics that you used to have that you wish you still possessed? And then, how do we reverse all the conditioning that made us rid ourselves of that? Because at this rate, there won’t be a trace of myself left in a few years.

[Blog] Letter to my Grandma

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See, me and you, our relationship was different. Calling you my ‘grandma’ almost devalues it. Like you were merely some lady I visited every other summer. But you are the woman my father took me home from the hospital to, the person who raised me, the ONLY constant in my life and essentially… you are my mother. Although your other grandchildren, each of them having their own special relationship with you, are in just as much pain as I am, they still get to go home to their moms and have that maternal guidance. Your actual children; though they could have never been ready to lose you, had the privilege of embarking on adulthood with the support only a mother could provide. But me, I’m at the ‘in between’. Where I’m just too young to be losing my mother. And I just feel so robbed.

Because when that time comes, I can’t call on you to find out how you make your laundry smell like perfection. Or how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner fit for a king. There is no one to make proud. And the thought of having children without you there to show me how to be half the mother you were is downright unbearable. Every woman gets help from their mom when they have their first kid. But I won’t. And honestly, if my children have to be deprived of your gentleness, then I don’t want any. Even now, I am so conflicted about the direction my life is going, and I know you’re the only person who would listen and guide me the right way. You used to sing to me ‘the best has yet to come’, but it’s hard for me to believe that, Grandma. Because no matter what I accomplish or how much of the world I get to experience, it will never compare to the times I had with you. That was ‘the best’… and it has already passed. I’m 20-something and I already believe there’s nothing to look forward to.

I’m grieving the loss of my mother, except the world isn’t as forgiving when the title is ‘grandma’. The same friends whose aid I ran to when they lost their parent, the same ones I listened to cry in my ear for hours on end about their hurt, were nowhere to be found when I was bedridden and not eating for three days. I wasn’t granted the 2 weeks ‘bereavement leave’ allotted to those who lose their parent at work but was expected to be there, smiling and greeting. I had to save my tears for the train rides home. And it hasn’t even been a month since you’ve been gone, yet everyone is treating me like I should be over it by now. But really, I just want to fall out on the floor, kick my feet and throw a tantrum over your absence. I feel guilty for even continuing to live in a post-you world. There are even times when I’m downright angry at you for leaving…. and I hate myself for that. But most of the time, life just feels like this surreal lucid dream that I’m waiting to wake up from. Because… this, this can’t be real life. My psyche just won’t even allow me to grasp the concept that I will never see you again.

People tend to romanticize things when they lose someone they love, but I don’t even have to. Sometimes just reminiscing about you hurts because it brings me back to a time when life was damned near perfect. My childhood with you was truly magical. The way I’d go to sleep on Christmas Eve in a tree-less house certain that the next day would just be another regular day and wake up with an 8 foot, fully decorated Christmas tree surrounded by a train and a plethora of toys. The way you’d have a glass of cold milk waiting by side when I’d randomly wake up in the middle of the night. The smell of your house during the summer. The taste of the tomatoes you grew in your garden. The sounds of the pool in the backyard. The comfort I felt whenever I was in your presence. I knew that I was in the presence of someone who truly and utterly wanted what was best for me. No expectations, ulterior motives or egoism. This was someone who loved me unconditionally. It was nurturing. You were my safety net.

Even when my father would move us away from you, you remained my best friend. Until I reached middle school and became old enough to make the decision to stay with you for good. It didn’t matter if my father and brothers moved a few blocks away, to the next town, or to Georgia, I stayed with you. We were inseparable. I grew into the type of teenager who would prefer to stay in on Friday nights with you, talking or perusing your music collection. And then your disease came. Except, none of us recognized it for what it was. I remember when you first started hiding stuff, misplacing money, and lashing out. I once told you, ‘I never know how if you’re going to wake up angry at me or laughing with me.’ I didn’t realize that all of this was a part of your disease but I regret that I didn’t. Maybe I could’ve stopped it.

Once your Alzheimers got to a point that you couldn’t remember my name, I was heartbroken. But there were times… these times when you would talk to me thinking that I was Aunt Endi or one of your sisters. It allowed me hear stores you never shared before and to know parts of you I had never known. Which felt good. The last day I saw you, I immediately broke down. You were in so much pain and it killed me. I started apologizing for every little argument and telling you how much I missed you and needed you. You stepped out of your dementia, looked at me, cried and said ‘I love you’. I was in complete disbelief. It was exactly what I needed to hear. And even in your final days, you were still protecting MY heart. You were hurt by MY hurt. You were so selfless.

Your memorial was the hardest day of my life. Just seeing the family, the pain in their faces and realizing what we were all there for made me burst into tears. I barfed twice before we even got to the eulogy. But hearing what everyone had to say about you, Grandma, truly warmed my heart. Everyone talked about how you had an open door policy, how many kids you raised, how you’d take in a stranger, how you accepted everyone as they were, how you had a way of making each and every person feel like they were special and just how significant the impact you had on their lives was. They weren’t just idealizing you because you were gone… because as their stories of how you impacted their lives unfolded, I remembered….

I remember Rory coming to stay with us when he was facing adversity and how the two of you would stay up all night playing cards and talking. I remember Uncle Arthur stopping by every couple of weeks just to sit on the couch and have a talk with you. So many people did that. People around the neighborhood, distant relatives, even my friends, would just stop by our house to talk to you because your spirit was just that uplifting. I witnessed you take in complete strangers. I saw you stick up for the underdogs and love the outcasts firsthand. People didn’t have to embellish because you really lived that way. Not because you wanted some sort of recognition. Not because the bible told you to. Not so that they would return the favor. Because that was just your nature. And to think that all I’ve witnessed was only ? of your life…

I love you Grandma and I yearn for you every second of every day. While I work. While I eat. While I play. While I sleep. It just never goes away. I literally can’t go a day without recalling something you’ve taught me or said to me. But even your passing makes me stronger. Because the thing I feared more than anything in the world has already happened to me. Everything that is good within me, from my inner egalitarian to my free thinking comes from the values you instilled in me. Not by telling me, but by genuinely living that way. I can’t even believe someone ever even loved me as much as you did. But I’m honored to have felt something so pure and unconditional just once in my life. If you’re desire to be with your mother is as strong as my desire to be with you, then I’m happy for you. I love you.