Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star

Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star  

 

I recently completed a 4-day watercolor painting class taught by Ellen Jean Diedrerich from Fargo, ND.  She is a well-known and  talented artist.   This was a “beginner” class but I surmised that I may have been the only novice.  Being a practiced “mindful person” I saw this beginning status as an asset.  

Did I have a book called Beginning to Paint loaned from a well-seasoned, paint enlightened friend?  Yes. Did I open and read it prior to class?  No.  My brain wouldn’t allow it.  Can I blame my brain?  Sometimes I do that.  First, I’m an experiential learner which means “learning through refection on doing”.    I grew up in the conventional culture of conformity, sitting still, memorizing and comparing.   The older I got the trickier it became and by the time I reached college, I began to realize that I would need to learn some study skills.  I attended my first year at then Mary College in Bismarck, ND.    I perceived myself as being a decent student, but it was difficult to learn and memorize all the material that was required.  I thought in concepts and for me, it needed to come together in some understandable format to really digest it.  I finished the year with a C average across the board and I told myself that was ok…. yet I remember that feeling of discontent of why I couldn’t magically get all the information that was pumped out.  I knew there was more within – I just couldn’t reach in and get it.  I remember getting cordially nudged out of certain fields of study and the subtle messages I perceived as not being a star in anything.   I used to draw pictures of beauty queens with stars surrounding them, big smiles on their faces, always thin and always beautiful.  I wanted to be a star, but society’s road was narrow.

Social Work became my focus in large part because I had a mentor, one that I experienced as a good and caring person.  She also saw something inside of me …. This dovetailed with one of my childhood visions of being like Albert Schweitzer and find ways to help in the world…another big star for humanity.  I often hear from others that they don’t have a vision of where they belong, what they should do etc.  Often, this vision eluded to  in others and myself is the desire to feel good, content, happy or fulfilled depending on your school of thought and that is subjective to each one of us.  Wondrously, creativity relates with these  inner stars of happiness and fulfillment.  The more avenues we find to connect these inner stars, the better.  When they shine, our energy centers can flow with ease, our bodies can move with more flexibility and our strength grows.  The inner core of the body is more important to strengthen than the outer limbs and core muscles.  That inner core can include how you think, how you manage emotions, your beliefs, and your past experiences.  One of the exercises I use to get a perspective on inner  core health – Stand in front of a large mirror nude and observe your reaction.  Spend a minute really looking.    Where are those stars  when you need it?  Where is that beautiful self-talk and the encouraging voice to help you along your life path?  This research will give you clues to those things that may need changing.

Day 1  My first day of painting class went  like this.  I compared, felt overwhelmed and wondered why I was even there.  I learned about basic brush strokes, the color wheel and the importance of design and shapes.  I didn’t do well in geometry or math and avoided these kinds of things but here these shapes were set up in front of me; cones, boxes, pyramids, garlic containers, and whatever else.  I didn’t know about drawing from the right side of the brain which I am exploring now.  Then, I just knew frustration.  I called my artist friend that evening and basically vented – sharing the “it’s too hard” mantra of my childhood.  But now, I have learned just to be aware of the thoughts, then find creative or positive strategies to cope.  At my age, sometimes its’ easier just to coast and avoid the challenges.  Is this healthy for the brain?  Avoiding stress can sometimes be a prescription for health but avoiding the creative parts of self is damaging in the long run.  So, I chose the path of stress with the hopes of a good outcome.

Day 2  It was better – we got to “color” from the color wheel, draw circles and combine colors.  I learned how designers choose the best compliments and layouts for environments and how artists can create paintings from just a few colors.  I was still hesitant to mix the colors and learned why not to use black or white except on rare occasions.  I listened to my inner critic for good parts of the day as I drew and painted the first picture of a hydrangea.  I put the picture on Facebook and got a few positive comments from my husband, my mom, and my childhood babysitter.  Now that is love.   

Day 3  This was my emotional day.  I was late, had clients prior to the class and said goodbye to my son leaving home to move across the country.  Our project was to find a picture we wanted to paint, draw and paint a grid and begin the work.  A grid is this underlying drawing of boxes that you paint with a few colors.  This serves as a base for the painting.  The picture I brought in was a complex group of flowers that I grabbed off the wall.  It wasn’t a thoughtful process and one I learned from.  The lesson – to think with intention before you create.    Tension developed from the start and involved a change of pictures; a rough day of trial and error.  I needed lots of direction from Ellen and even her repairs couldn’t fix the issues.  I started a new painting for fun which I liked a little better, but it looked like it was one of those 3rd grade tree pictures.     As a child, I painted like I thought I should, compared a lot and got by in the average lane.  I’m realizing how the potential didn’t have the chance to grow – I was too busy surviving.  This class has connected more of these dots from childhood.

Day 4  Ellen is eager to share the wisdoms of the watercolor art.  She gave us her book called Progressive Painting.  She shared the inspirations of the why she wrote this book.  I was amazed at her process as an artist and a business builder.  Being in my own private practice, I understand the need to blend the art and the money.  We all need to survive while we “strive to thrive” as I like to say.  I was drawn to the class by the colors since I work with the rhythms of the emotional body.  I’m keen now to the energetics and colors of the body, the frequencies of words, products we use, thoughts we think about and behaviors we engage in.  It all matters.  Emotions are the powerful drivers for us humans – that’s how we end up in the messes that can teach us the way of finding peace within ourselves.  At the end of this day there is a critique session where each person presents their art.  Since I’d needed to leave early for a work obligation I discussed mine early.  Secretly, I was relieved to avoid the group reaction to what I had accomplished.  Now, I wish I would devoted my entire day to the class and stayed to present this oddly shaped disaster of mine.  The more I think of it the more pleased I am to think of all the learning this little piece inspired.  Do I now have an appreciation of why I have avoided this art until now?  Yes. In the midst of this  “trudgery” I have discovered tiny glimpses of my own truth – my own voice of creative expression which can be empowering and ripple into other aspects of life.                      

Creativity is a given for some people – they are born with an innate perception for the arts, yet they may have challenges in other areas.  I’m realizing we are all filled with creativity – it just varies in  its form.  My emotional artistry can be quite amazing when used to understand the emotions of others.  When I work with couples, the intensity of these emotions can be sensed like waves hitting the shores.  When we find the right path to transform the painful ones to higher frequency feelings such as compassion, love or caring the result is better relationship.    It’s our job to find it the things we need to do/learn to be who we were born to be.  I refer to listening to the heart in many of therapy sessions.  Just a simple hand on your heart helps remind the brain what really matters.  The more I explore my creative side, the more that life opens, and this openness creates flow and health in the body.  There is an essential oil blend called I love that when used on the body or inhaled can help inspire the heart energy.  The essential oils of Rose, Clary Sage, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang Complete, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Spikenard, Neroli, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Lavender, fine; Dragon’s Blood, Cedarwood Atlas, Elemi, Grapefruit, pink; Marjoram, sweet; Petitgrain, and Cypress.  What a power blend!  In hindsight, I should have used this every day.

A star is born?  Usually I would say of course not, I don’t have talent.  Now that those words are out of the way I can expand that to say a few  stars were found in the process.  I think we are the product of many little stars – scientifically speaking of course.  Do the research.  In the meantime, pursue creativity even though…. Stress/illness/grief/depression/anxieties/ADD/obligations are just a few blockers to our inner stars.  Reach out, seek support and be perseverant.  I will continue to seek my painting passions – adding it to my therapy toolbag, more appreciation for art, or continuing practice sketches and simple watercolor pieces.  Thank you, Ellen, for  sharing your gifts and talents.  It makes a difference!

 

 

Wake up and Change – The Search for Inspiration

 

 

A book ran across my screen last week…. and for some reason I paused and read the summary.  The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry MD is about the “hidden dangers” in healthy foods.  These types of books don’t normally stick but I started reading immediately and just finished it.  Audio books, for me, are a great invention as I can walk around, be active and still read.   I was immediately inspired.  There is no logical answer as to why.  I felt my body engage – motivation to keep reading was on and I felt “obsessed” to understand it.  This is a book about change – how to change your body by changing your gut.  I frequently see adds and info on products, weight loss strategies, and ways to improve health and usually skim through them.  I haven’t made significant changes to my diet for a couple of years and that was only because I had to when my husband decided to be a vegan; meaning no dairy, meat or animal products.  I adjusted to a moderated diet and considered myself a vegetarian that ate fish.  I chose not to be rigid or restrictive in my choices because for me, being flexible felt healthier.  Nevertheless, it was a change.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed changes in my body related to resilience, joints, muscle pain and energy.  I’ve tried to “figure it out” and find ways to reverse these symptoms.  I’ve had some successes but problems remain.  Pain on any level is a motivator so if you are a positive thinker, there it is!  Soon, another type of change is coming….one that will significantly alter the way I think about food and the way I consume it.   Some time back, I wrote a blog on “My fat story” which highlighted my journey as an obese child/teen and how I came to grips with it, made changes and moved forward.  I needed to be strict with myself for some time as that was the only way my mind could think of to lose weight. My memory of these major diet changes connects with the original Weight Watchers program in the 70’s.  Yes, I ate cans of french style beans and tuna fish, the ones where you could run your finger around the can’s edges and see the gray residues.  I was allowed 2 slices a day of Sweetheart white bread, hot dogs with mustard (no ketchup) once a week and lots of chicken, iceberg lettuce and weight watchers salad dressing sold in tiny packets filled with preservatives.  This was followed by diet soda, artificial sweeteners and an array of sugar free jello desserts.  You may be getting the picture of how much I was influenced by the culture – far removed from healthy human development but capitalism and the ads of the 60’s were in full swing – the power of the spin.  We all continue to be onslaught by media only far more and most people’s minds are spinning – which is part of the increased anxiety symptoms seen and high demands for mental health care.  More and more I am seeing the urgency to wake up from the culture spin and find truth an as I find strategies to coax myself out of this culture coma I experience many rewards.  When I started my study of essential oils, my knowledge was limited – basically started from scratch.  This relationship with the oils of nature has evolved and grown to include an even bigger perspective.  Now, on to repairing and finding ways to support my gut buddies as Dr. Gundry calls them.  His book is filled with knowledge of our guts chemistry and alchemy to keep us humans going.  He also has a history of being obese and trying all kinds of things to find a healthy weight and body.

Greatness begins with inspiration.   Now, I’m ready to sweat a bit and do the research needed to begin this life change.  First, it’s understanding to a reasonable degree what the science is and since I’ve “felt” it to be worth doing now, to balance this felt sense with logic.   Remember the Logic of Love and Emotion?  That is one of the central themes of creating healthy love relationships –  love is a feeling and creating a healthy relationship is work.  Tools are the communication skills.   In positive relationships this work has many rewards vs in unhealthy relationships this work may feel endless, discouraging or frequently frustrating.   I refer to the spin couples can find themselves in as emotional allergies.  Over time, we’ve all seen the impact of these emotional spins.  Creating a healthy body while in a healthy relationship – consider the potential!

Loving ourselves is where the power is yet we need the power and gifts of nature to help.  I am beginning to see a human-plant relationship in my thinking!  Dr. Gundry states, “My philosophy centers around the fact that the human digestive system is a very complex and very sensitive machine. It needs key energy sources that you’re not getting in your diet… and at the same time, it’s damaged by a vast number of foods that are a big part of our “Standard American Diet.”  What I’m learning is the importance of Polyphenols, the negative effects of lectins found in many types of processed and unproperly cooked foods, and finding the balance of bacteria in your gut.  As a therapist I am more keenly aware of the brain and the need to take care of it.  Its health is intimately entwined with our digestive system.  This isn’t new information but like I said I was inspired to take a closer look at what I was feeding my brain/body.  I want to feel better too!   I want an intimate relationship with my own body. The more we understand about our bodies the better we will be able to control what’s going on with it.    This will require some changes to my daily routines and have already spent a few days discarding foods like peanuts, cashews, breads and crackers, processed salad dressings and paying close attention to the labels of things to avoid additives.  Just in the few days that I’ve tried some of the changes my body has given me “I like you” signals. I’m happy about the dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee part.  Red wine can keep its place from time to time as well.  The book identifies lists of say yes to foods and say no to foods that seem handy enough.  I ‘m gathering my materials.  He reminds people that one can start where they need to start and only gives suggestions.  I’m excited and will keep you posted.

Winter is a challenging season for many reasons we are all familiar with.  Foot soaks with dead sea salts and essential oils soothes and provides vital minerals and magnesium that most of us need more of.  Earlier this month, I participated in a health fair sponsored by Natural Grocers in Fargo.  The individuals I visited with had genuine interest in essential oils and the holistic concepts of health.  Let’s keep the awareness going.  Maybe I should have added that to the Women’s march agenda last weekend.  My sign may have read -Support Natural Health Care NOW!  Somehow, my inspiration didn’t coax me out the door into the cold of Fargo.   Finally, Green Organics has a new line of hemp products which I am excited to try.  The hemp is grown in Kentucky and is organic.  It is naturally rich in Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 Essential Fatty Acids.  It comes in drops which you place under the tongue.  BTW it is 100% legal.  HBNaturals, the sister company of goDesana highlights the same strict quality standards as how essential oils are chosen and tested.  It’s marketed as a full spectrum oil and aids the brain/body in regulating sleep, appetite, pain modulation, mood enhancement and libido through the introduction of hemp-derived cannabinoids like the CBT oil.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Cannabinoids are designed to promote homeostasis at every level of life.

The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.  This information was gleaned from HBNaturals so I will be searching more sources as I become more aquainted with it.

Don’t worry, no getting high here – just all the other benefits.  For more info check it out at  http://www.hbnaturals.com/newpath

This will be interesting to study and see the results.  I’ll keep an open mind.  For now, learning and experimenting will be on my schedule.  Inspiration can come to you at any moment.  Set an intention to invite this inspiration to come into your life in a surprising/unexpected way.  Take time to mediate or reflect quietly in prayer and get familiar with your thoughts – the ones that are important and the ones you want to send down the river.  Have a great month.  As always, please let me know if I can help you in your health journey.  Life loves you!