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karenika - mixed media class

Your Unique Journey

This is one of my favorites of the faces I painted so far. It’s based off of a Leonardo painting I believe. It’s using gold paint on the hair and shirt. It’s not perfect of course but I like it especially because profiles are so incredibly hard for me.

Today’s quote reads:

Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.

I had a long, wonderful talk with my mom today. It was her birthday and yet she spent it talking to me, worrying about me, and helping me. (I hope that when my kids are grown up I can be nearly as caring and loving a mom as she is.) And we were talking exactly about this topic.

I often have the story that my thoughts, way of life, and choices are too different from everyone around me. I feel off. Odd. Outside. Broken. Like I just can’t do anything right and like my journey is the wrong one to be on and the one that disappoints all the people around me.

My wise and loving mom reminded me that we each have our own journey and the most important person to be at peace with is our very own selves. And that I don’t owe anyone anything. As long as I am happy with my choices, they are mine and I get to live them and no one else gets to tell me that’s not okay.


If only it were so easy to remember. Or to live by. This is tough for me. Somewhere along the line, I must have decided that I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I want to be kind, loving, generous to everyone. I want everyone to get what they want/need. Even when everyone’s interests are conflicting with each other. And with mine.

Which is, clearly, unwise. And unattainable. Impossible.

But alas, I strive for it.

And drive myself insane in the process. At first I get frustrated, then mad, and then deeply, deeply sad. Then, at some point, I don’t even try anymore. I do nothing. But I still continue to feel bad about it. Which is basically just asking for punishment.

It’s not surprising that I end up sad, depressed, and feel like giving up.

I am almost forty and this is a pattern I’d like to stop.

After our talk today, I thought long and hard about my mom’s words. And about how much all this is costing me. My life. My days. My moments with the people I love and adore.

And I am just done with it. Done with caring about what I don’t actually care about. Done trying to worry about the people who don’t matter. I will do what I can and the rest can deal. To make it even more specific, here’s my plan:

I will put photos of the people I care about in my notebook. When something gets me upset, I will look at the photos. Is the person who upset me in there? No? Then I let it go. Who cares about these other people. They are not on my list.

If the person is in there, I will let the hurt go and reach out to them to clear the air. These are people I love and people who I know will respect my journey even if they don’t understand it. These are my people.

And if they don’t, well that’s okay, too.

Because, in the end, it’s my journey. And only I need to understand it.

Like everything else, it comes back to you. Who you are. What you believe. What your values are. Again and again, life is about honoring that. Stepping fully into who you are and being truly at peace with that. Because you are meant to be here exactly the way you are.

And so am I.

And no one gets to take that away from me. Not even I.

(Thank you for being you Mom, you always, always, always have my back. I am so deeply grateful for you. And I love you. Happy Birthday!!)

Shots We Don’t Take

This face was supposed to be my version of a Boticelli lady. I love Boticelli so much and wanted to give it a try. It’s not perfect in any way but I love it anyway. I love that I tried.

Here’s the quote from today:

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

This is one of those “so obvious and yet we forget so often” quotes. Clearly if you’re not taking a shot, you’re not going to make it. But we’re often so afraid of failing, we don’t even try. And I’m not even talking about the really big stuff. I can see how moving to a new place, starting (or ending) a relationship, changing jobs, etc can be really scary.

But we often don’t even take chances in the small stuff: our hobbies, our wardrobe, our hair.

We don’t take the shot. We don’t want to disappoint, fail, look ridiculous. We don’t have to patience to see it through. We don’t want to work at it. We don’t have the time. We are worried about not meeting expectations. We don’t always even know what we expect.

So we take the easy route: we don’t even try.

But, then we miss out on the joy too.

The joy of accomplishing hard work. The joy of finding a new style that really speaks to us. The joy of becoming a little bit more authentically ourselves.

So maybe we start small and take some of those little shots.

Even if we miss 95% of the time, that’s better than 100%, isn’t it?

What you Allow Inside

This face was made with neocolor watersoluble crayons and gesso for the most part. It’s not one of my favorites but I made a whole range of them this month and this one is there. I like the quote on it which is why I wanted to make sure to post it.

No one can depress you. No one can make you anxious. No one can hurt your feelings. No one can make you anything other than what you allow inside.

This is one that has me thinking often. Even this morning. I had to make a decision at work and one of the engineers didn’t like my decision. It wasn’t an easy one, I thought a lot about it and then had to make a call. A big part of my job is making these calls. They are never easy and I often have to weigh all sides, think things through, and then make a decision between two bad choices. It’s not something I love but it’s something I have to do. Anyhow, I made a decision and he didn’t like it and then he made some snide comment.

And it hurt my feelings.

I was so upset that I had tears in my eyes. (Reason #23463 I am grateful that I work from home.) And then I thought of this quote. He can’t make me upset. He can’t hurt my feelings. He can just make some crappy comments. And I get to choose what they mean. I get to decide their impact on me. I get to choose how I feel.

I get to choose.

I forget this often. I think it’s easy to fall into the victim mentality and act like things are happening to you. What I like about this quote is that it’s a reminder that you are in control.

Let me rephrase: You are never in control of what others do but you are always in control of how you feel about it. Every. single. time.

You get to choose how to feel. What to feel.

And once you claim that choice, you are now in a position of power. You are no longer a victim. You remember that you own your life. Every single part of it, including all of your feelings.

You own everything that you allow inside.

The Entire Ocean

This is one of my favorites from all the faces I made in May so far. I can’t really describe what I like about it. Maybe just that it turned out the way I hoped it would.

The quote says:

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean.

When I first read this quote, I was struck by it. Reading it now, I am still struck by it.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what strikes me about the quote. Maybe the magnanimity of it. How enormous the idea of being the entire ocean sounds to me. As I imagined it more, it made me think about holograms. I remember, years ago, I learned in a human brain class how a hologram works differently than a picture.

If you were to print a photo on glass and then break it, each glass piece would have a part of the photo. If it’s a face, for example, a broken piece might have an eye on it or an ear, etc. But a hologram doesn’t work that way. If you break a hologram printed on glass, each broken piece has the whole hologram on it, just faded. So you’d see the whole face on each piece.

That’s how I thought about this quote. How we’re all the entire ocean. The ocean is made up of all of us. Each of us is a whole piece of it. Like a piece of a hologram. We’re not a part of the whole, we’re each the whole. All of the whole.

Something about that idea makes me feel whole, held, belonging.

It also makes me feel bigger, wider, all encompassing.

I like the idea of all of us carrying the whole inside of us. Not just a piece but the whole thing.

Isn’t that a lovely thought?

Any Other Outcome

today’s face is made on a brown paperbag. I took it from the bagel cafe we go to in the weekends. I then scrunched it up, and then wetted it and scrunched it up once more. Then I flattened it out and let it dry overnight. And then painted on it. It was fun and I like the outcome.

Today’s quote is:

If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.

In some ways, this one seems so obvious, doesn’t it? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get the outcome you’ve always gotten. But even though it sounds relatively obvious when we read it, we still do this all the time. I find that I have lots of areas in my life where I complain about how things go. I find myself frustrated with the end results.

But, I rarely do anything different.

Most of the time, I am just frustrated but I don’t really take action. Even if I don’t know how to fix the outcome, what this quote reminds me is that I need to change something. Anything. The only way to ensure my output is different is to change my input. In any way at all.

So here’s my plan: next time I find myself complaining about the outcome of something, I will see if I can change what I do. Anything that can possibly give me a different outcome. Even if it doesn’t end up being the ideal outcome, I think trying new things will show me what’s possible.

At least, I am willing to try.

Decorate Your Soul

today’s quote is:

So plant your own gardens and decorate your soul instead of waiting for someone to being you flowers.

This one had me thinking for a while, too. Maybe this is because of movies or books but I think we always wait for others to do the nice things for us. Part of growing up, for me, has been realizing that I can buy my own flowers. And chocolates. And presents. I don’t need someone to buy them for me.

And even more importantly, someone buying or not buying them for me doesn’t mean anything. I’ve had it both ways and I can’t say that the guy who bought them loved me more than the one who didn’t. Some people are into those little things and do them all the time and others do not. In fact, the guy who always bought me flowers was also considerably less nice to me overall than the one who didn’t.

Who made the rule that we have to be waiting?

Why do others get to decide when we get to have flowers?

Why does anyone else ever get to decide my worth? My soul’s joy?

Part of growing up is owning who you are. Stepping into that fully. Decorating your own soul. Planting your gardens. Buying whatever you desire without waiting for approval. Being not just okay with who you are but beaming in the unique beauty of fully being you.

That’s what I want for myself.

And for all of those around me.

So, I start the process of decorating my soul.

With All they have

Today’s quote is:

Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with everything they have.

As I grow older and older, I understand that this is one of the fundamental truths of life. It’s true for couples, siblings, parents or any other relationship you can think of. People love you the way they love you. They can love you will all of their hearts and souls and it might still not be what you want or need.

But it’s all they have.

We often don’t understand others’ perspective. Sometimes we don’t even understand ours. We don’t know what makes us do what we do and we certainly can’t understand what motivates others. But when it comes to judging people, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re measuring them from our perspective.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this.

I’ve been realizing how much the people in my life love me. And even if they don’t always love me the way i want to be loved, I know in my heart that they love me with all they have.

And how can I possibly ask for more?

Known Suffering

Today’s quote is:

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out if fear of unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

This piece was my favorite of the ones I did in my first week, mostly because the way I did it was so new to me. I first painted the background all black. And then drew my face and painted it on top. Which is why it’s dark looking. But I love it. I loved the process of seeing the face emerge from darkness.

I wish I could tell you my faces get all better after this but that isn’t so. As I predicted, I do a few I like and many I don’t. The process is long, tough and arduous. But we soldier on.

As for the quote, it’s another one of those that gave me serious pause. I will admit right here and right now that I do this. I do this all the time. In fact, I am doing this right now in various areas of my life. As I get older and have more responsibilities in my life, I’ve noticed that I get more and more scared of the unknown. I get much more risk-averse.

The suffering I know is much better than the potential suffering that might come from the unknown. Who knows how bad it might be? I never think “Oh it might turn out so much better.” I just spend most of my energy worrying about how very bad it might get.

And while a little risk-averseness isn’t necessarily bad, it can easily get debilitating. If I am always choosing the familiar suffering, I am still always choosing suffering over any other possible path.

And here’s something I learned a long time ago: taking risks is like a muscle. Unused, it can atrophy. To be good at taking risks, you need to practice that muscle. You need to be willing to try. The less you try, the more you breed fear. The less you’ll try and the circle will go on.

So here’s what I thought today when I read the quote: Maybe I can look at my life and see the small sufferings I’m choosing. Ones that I can risk playing with. Ones where even if the unknown ended up being terrible, it wouldn’t be disastrous. I can start taking small, non-harmful risks wherever I can. This way I can flex my muscle. I can practice and strengthen it. I can also show myself that sometimes the risks pay off. Sometimes the known suffering is much worse than the alternative.

And I will only know if I try.

Shades of Words

Since I had book club last night, I didn’t get to post so I thought I’d post two today if I can. This is actually face #4 and I will post #3 tonight.

This one was an attempt to take a photo Judy gave, turn it upside down and try to draw from there. And then to paint it with just a single color to study values.

The quote says:

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.

Since this was a study in shades, I thought the quote fit the drawing. I am not a fan of this face but it’s all part of the process and I am trusting the process. I am trying to show up and do my piece and call it done until the next day. I am actually a few days in now and I can tell you my pieces do get better.

As for the quote, this is one of those things that I think is really important to remember. What is there is just words, we are the ones who give meaning to them and sometimes that can be really dangerous. Our own mood can impact how we read an email, how we interpret a friend, how we decide to respond.

As so much of our communication has moved to written media instead of the phone (which is interesting to me since on the days before the phone, the primary media was written too, is this progress or a regression i wonder?) I think this idea of human voice infusing words with shades of deeper meaning becomes more and more relevant.

It means you have to be careful with the words you choose to ensure it’s not easy to misinterpret them. It means you have to be aware of your own bias/mood/attitude when reading others’ words.

These are extra hard in today’s “get-it-done” or “check-mail-while-multitasking” world. We pay less attention. We are not so mindful.

And yet I think this form of communication requires less rush and more mindfulness.

Email is a tough medium, in my opinion, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with it. But, in the end, it’s another reminder to live my life mindfully.

And I could use many of those.


Today’s quote says:

I myself am entirely made of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.

When I decided to tackle faces for May, I knew it would be challenging. I’ve tried to draw, paint, color faces before and it was tough each time. And it’s still tough. The thing about art, for me, I’ve learned, is not how realistic it looks, or how unique it is, or whatever. It’s about how closely it matches my intentions.

Does the outcome match what I had in mind? Does it match what I wanted to create? Does it give the feeling I was looking to communicate?

And, well, it rarely does.

Which is why I keep trying, I guess.

There are cases where I don’t have a major plan and I just let it be. Or times when I am satisfied enough. Or, I might even be pleased on some rare occasions.

But I knew it wouldn’t be this way with the faces.

They were going to be hard and I was going to be unhappy. Drawing faces is hard enough for me, and painting them is down right impossible.

But then I remembered that Learning is a core goal for me this year. As I was thinking about 2013 and 2014 back in December, I realized that a lot of what I did in 2013 was practicing things I’d learned the year before. And I wanted 2014 to be different. I wanted it to be full of new experiences, growth and new learning.

Learning something new is never easy and there’s a long period of adjustment (or sucking if you want me to be honest.) For the first hours, days, weeks, months, even years of doing something you’ve never done before, you are not good at it. You struggle, you mess up, you get frustrated, you want to give up.

Or maybe it’s just me.

But the trick is to soldier on. The trick is to show up every day and try again and again. Even after you’re exhausted. Even after you feel you’ll never ever get it. Even after you regret the day you decided to try this to begin with. Even then.

You keep going.

You keep showing up.

And when you’re worn out from the wear and tear. When you’re spent. When you feel it will never happen for you and that you must just not have the head/talent for it. You still keep going.

And then one day it just happens.

You wake up, you sit down, you try again and you notice it’s not as hard this time. You start not hating what you came up with. and that little bit is all you need to just keep trying.

That’s how it works. Learning new things is tough.

I often hear people say I don’t have the ear for languages. I don’t have the talent to draw. I don’t have the head for math.

What you’re missing is not the ear/talent/head/time/heart…. what you’re missing is the persistence. The unwavering dedication any new thing takes. I am not saying we all have to learn new things but I am saying that if you truly want to, you can. Anyone can. You need a lot of persistence and dedication. A lot.

Anyhow, I decided I wanted 2014 to be a year of learning for me. Which also means I need to be willing to suck. I need to be willing to spend the time and effort and not have it pay off for a while.

and that’s ok.

So I will paint my faces. And most of them will suck. And maybe one or two will be okay and that will be wonderful. To ensure the process is less painful for me, I decided to change the perspective on my intentions. My intentions this month are to show up daily and paint a face. Nothing further than that. If I make it to there, I did good.

My pages will be entirely made of flaws but will be painted with good intentions.

Your Worth

Back in February, Judy Wise put a class announcement on her blog and I signed up immediately. See where it says March 24, well, apparently I didn’t because I put it down on my calendar as April 24. So when I emailed Judy, full of excitement, on April 23 about how excited I was for the class, she emailed me back immediately, kindly telling me I had just missed the whole class.


On the up side, I now had all the lessons at once and didn’t have to eagerly await for the next day to show up. But on the down side, there’s something to be said for the momentum of taking a class along with others vs having to do it all on your own.

So I had to make a plan.

Since April was almost coming to a close, I figured the timing was perfect to make this a new monthly project.

So here we are. I will post all the April pages at once next week but now it’s time to start May.

I decided I would couple the assignments with quotes because I’ve enjoyed them all April long and I wasn’t ready to let them go yet.

So today’s quote is:

Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

A good one to start the month with and a great one to remember. You, and only you, decide your worth. What others see or don’t see is on them.

Not you.

Feeling your Life

Today’s quote is actually the ending of a longer quote:

Allow beauty to shatter you regularly. The loveliest people are the ones who have been burnt and broken and torn at the seams, yet still send their open hearts into the world to mend with love again, and again, and again.

You must allow yourself to feel your life while you’re in it. – Victoria Erickson

That last part of the quote really spoke to me.

I always get annoyed when people tell me I feel too much. Too strongly.

I believe that if we don’t let things get to us and we don’t let ourselves experience the feelings we’re having, we’re not really doing them justice. They won’t disappear just because we’re not expressing them (worse, they sit dormant and explode at the most inopportune times). And BrenĂ© Brown has said many times that if we numb the bad, we also numb the good. So, yet, another reason to let ourselves feel it all.

I look at my kids and they experience life with so much more acuteness than I do. When something bad happens, it’s a huge disaster. Big tears. Super sadness. It’s like the world is over. This person is no longer my friend. On and on. But then when the good stuff happens it’s just as strong. I LOVE this. It’s the best EVER. I am so HAPPY. And on and on.

But you know the best part?

Because they let themselves experience it fully, step into it and own it, it doesn’t drag on. They feel it and then they move on to the next moment. And it’s over. The expressed whatever it was they were feeling and it’s not in their system anymore.

That’s what I love the most.

I believe we all could learn so much from the little kids in our lives. I want to allow myself to fully feel my life while i am in it. I want to live all of it. Feel all of it. Let it out.

And then make space for the next thing.