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Valentine’s Day: What I Love about my Best Friend

As far as I know, my husband Sam doesn’t usually read my blog, but maybe he will today. I debated about what to write for a special Valentine’s Day post, and I remembered that day years ago when I came home to find a typed list taped to the apartment door of things Sam loves about me.

Since I don’t get along with our printer very well, I’m going to make him a list here, and feel free to comment about what you love about your significant other as well!

  • I love that he makes jokes and ends up cracking himself up. It’s hilarious when he makes himself laugh.
  • If I have a craving at work, all I have to do is text him and I’ll have a treat on my desk within 30 minutes. This is a nifty “magic trick” that really impresses the other girls at work.
  • He lets me have a cat even though he hates having a litter box in the bathroom and a layer of cat hair on everything we own.
  • He loves to watch Jim Henson shows with me.
  • He gets my weirdo sense of humor.
  • He’s always up for an adventure, even when I’m not.
  • He makes sure that I loosen up and have fun when I’m so wrapped up in my responsibilities that I forget to breathe.
  • He’ll make grocery runs or start dinner so I can come straight home after work and have dinner ready.
  • I get a massage whenever I want one.
  • He ALWAYS opens my door.
  • If we share a dessert or appetizer, he always gives me the last bite.
  • He balances my panicky tendencies with his “go with the flow” attitude.
  • He never fails to make me laugh.
  • He’s the most generous person I know.
  • When I want to throw my computer out the window, he’s always there to fix it.
  • He always drives so I don’t have to. I don’t really like to drive.
  • We met when I was 15, and he saw through the awkwardness and shyness. We’ve been best friends ever since ūüôā

I hope that wasn’t nauseating for anyone.

Tell your significant other what you love about them today. If you’re single, tell the mirror. ūüôā

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Wise Words: How to Be At Peace

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace, you are living in the  present.

Lao Tzu

I really don’t need to add anything to that, but haven’t we all spent some time in all three places?

I’ve ¬†struggled with both depression and anxiety, and the only way to let go of them was to learn to live in the present, which requires a great deal of trust.¬†When we trust, we can let go of the future and focus on ¬†now, because we know that things will work out.

When we don’t trust, we live in fear and scramble around trying to put the future together rather than let it come together the way it needs to.

I’ve thought about this quote many times lately as I constantly rein myself back into a mindset of love and trust instead of freaking out about what the future holds. Yes, the unknown is scary and overwhelming. Yes, we need to lay a foundation for a good future, and we absolutely should do a little planning ahead to help things run smoothly.

But anyone with any experience ¬†know that things don’t always go as planned. In fact, they rarely go as planned.

So why try to force them?

Let go. Go for a walk. Watch the sun go down. Notice the abundance  and joy that exists in this moment, and know that things will always work out the way they need to, and that your job is to trust and love everyone.

It’s that simple.

Am I Living in Love or Fear?

Over the past few months, I’ve observed that at any given time, I’m living in one of two mindsets: Love or Fear.

Love is a mindset of trust, joy, gratitude, patience, passion, and caring.

Fear is a mindset of worry, want, insecurity, judgement, impatience, and obligation.

Where would you rather be?

I think this is true for everyone.

When we’re living from a place of love, we are happy, our creativity flows, we appreciate what we have, we live in the moment, and good things seem to happen to us.

I know when I’m living in love, because I spend a lot of time writing and painting, I have to scribble down ideas in the checkout line or at red lights, I only think about food when I’m hungry and I even put off eating because I don’t want to stop what I’m doing, I’m patient with myself and others, and I feel adventurous. I trust that everything is and will be ok, and that I have everything I need. I feel grateful.

When we’re living from a place of fear, we worry a lot, spend a lot of time planning, think in terms of “should” and “have to”.¬†We get frustrated with other people and ourselves, and we live in the past and future-anywhere to avoid the present.

Sometimes it takes me a while to accept that I’m living in fear, but it’s not hard to identify. ¬†I can usually tell because I don’t feel like making art and I spend a lot of time planning, budgeting, making lists, crunching numbers, and thinking about food when I’m not hungry. I munch a lot and feel like I need to sleep more. ¬†I feel insecure on many levels, whether it’s with money, career, or something in my body feels off and I panic.

I lose my trust in life and feel that I have to force things, because what if it won’t be ok?

Fear isn’t a fun place to live.

So if we’re living in a mindset of fear, how to we switch gears?

  • Gratitude: Look around you and notice the beauty, the abundance, and the joy. Look back on your life and remember the time that seemingly bad things worked out for the better (they might still be working out)
  • Have faith: Whether you believe in a higher power or not, know that God, life, the universe or whatever has a way of guiding you to what you need. Knowing this is the key to trust, trusting is the key to letting go, and letting go is the key to being open.
  • Be gentle with yourself and others: To borrow a quote from the amazing Tara Wagner aka The Organic Sister, “Everyone does the best they can with the tools they have.” This also applies to you. You aren’t lazy, stupid, or weak, and neither is anyone else. While this doesn’t justify things that are wrong, just realize that mistakes are a matter of not having the correct tools, not ¬†that something is inherently wrong¬†with you or another person.
  • Know what makes you happy, and what doesn’t:¬†I love art and writing because they open up a part of myself that I can’t access otherwise. I love walking and yoga because they connect me to my body and free my mind. I love good food, animals, spending time with people I love, and reading. Worrying, planning, and making endless lists doesn’t free me. It just works me into a mess of obsession that takes me away from things that truly bring me joy. ¬†While life does require some planning and organization sometimes, those things will never fill me.
  • Love someone else: We’re all in this “life” think together. We all move back and forth between these two places of love and fear. Help make someone else’s day better, and you’ll feel good too.

Learn your own signs that you’re living in love or fear. Learn to make the shift if necessary, and life will be amazing.

Painting-Lovers in Autumn

This is one of my all-time ¬†favorite paintings. I painted it before I started blogging about painting, so I wanted to tell you about it. Over the next little while, I’ll also do a few posts on the paintings in my shop that I haven’t written about yet. They’re all significant artifacts of my life, they deserve to have their stories told.

Four years ago this month, Sam asked me to marry him. As I sat on Santa’s lap and told him what I wanted for Christmas (guess what?) Sam dropped to one knee and presented a Ring-Pop with my gorgeous engagement ring on top.

We didn’t have any money, so we joked that he’d have to propose with a Ring-Pop. Yes, I ate it afterward. And my actual ring tasted like grape.

That’s a cute story, but it started with the preceding autumn.

I love how the light changes with the seasons, and I remember the light of that autumn was very gold. Everything glowed during that time. Every night, the sunset lit the sky on fire.

That’s how it always is when you fall in love.

24X30 Acrylic on Canvas

This piece is available for purchase here.

There is Only Love

If you’re a creative person (and you are, you just may not know it yet) you probably know what it’s like to be stuck. You might sit down to create something or face a problem, but something seems to block you, and you can’t put you’re finger on it.

If you have a partner, children, coworkers, or if you interact with other humans at all (most of us do) you know what it’s like to be frustrated, hurt or angry with someone else.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, had nasty thoughts about your body, or stayed on the beach because you wouldn’t take off your sarong to get in the water, you know what it’s like to struggle with some degree of self-loathing.

In my last post, I talked about one of my favorite mantras: I Choose. I’ve really gotten into using mantras lately and I can’t believe the change in my attitude and perception. Here”s another powerful mantra I use when I’m frustrated for any reason.

There is only love.

I tend to use this mantra for three things:

  • my own creative work
  • the way I relate to others
  • the way I treat my body and myself.

If I’m in a creative funk, I sit with that feeling and usually realize that I’m afraid of something. Failure, judgement, limitations, whatever. The only way I can get out of that block is to remember how I love to create, and how I love to share my ¬†creations with others. Fear is the opposite of love, and my creativity can only flow when I create from love, not fear.

If I have a disagreement with my husband or a family member, if someone cuts me off in traffic or if a cashier grumps at me, I say to myself “There is only love.” Instead of seeing the other person as a jerk or feeling like someone is out to get me, I try to be compassionate. They probably weren’t trying to hurt me. Maybe they’re having a bad day for whatever reason. It’s ok if Sam doesn’t see everything exactly the way I do, we just haven’t found that common ground yet.

I’ve a proficient intuitive eater, but every once in ¬†awhile I still have a ghost of a bad body thought, or I might feel slightly guilty for eating something that isn’t good for me. Or, I might be stressed out and feel like emptying out my chocolate stash, but I know that isn’t in my best interest. I remember, “There is only love.” No need to guilt trip myself for a treat. I love my body, so I try to treat it well.

I use this Every. Day. I write it in my journal every morning when I wake up so I can start my day thinking this way.

Just write it down every morning. Say it whenever you’re frustrated. I can’t believe how powerful it’s been in my life.

Try it!

Three Years of Marriage Lessons

Three years ago today, I married this guy:

Absolutely perfect, gorgeous spring day just like this one. It’s been quite an interesting three years!

I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about marriage over the last couple years, because marriage is a huge learning process.

1-First and foremost, you are best friends. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in “grown-up stuff” like bills, jobs, and whose turn it is to do the dishes. Sometimes, you might feel more like domestic partners than a married couple. Remember, this person is your best friend. Would you snap at your best friend for that? Wouldn’t you want to have fun with your best friend? Shouldn’t your be silly and yourself around your best friend? Worry about the other stuff later, but marriage is supposed to be fun. Yes, it’s work but that doesn’t mean it’s a chore. Work can be fun, marriage should be fun!

2-Know your needs.¬†I’ll just be straight about this: girls need affection and sweet talk, guys need sex. Both equally important needs. Make sure you both understand this, and your lives will be so much easier, I promise.

3-Communicate, communicate, communicate.¬†The numero uno priority! Talk all the time. Talk about what you’re thinking, what you want, what’s bothering you, what you need, what you like, what you dream about, what you plan together, your goals, everything! Talk talk talk! If you don’t communicate, you’ll never understand each other and understanding is a BIG deal! Talk about everything. Don’t hold anything in (don’t be tactless either). The other half of communicating is listening. Listen to what your spouse has to say, and listen when they aren’t talking either. I don’t mean reading into things that aren’t there, because let’s face it, guys are pretty straight forward and they don’t try to encrypt things. Also, listen to your own thoughts. Don’t hold them in for so long that you dont’ recognize them anymore. Know yourself, know your spouse, talk about it!

So there you have it: McKella’s marriage advice in a nutshell. If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments!

Happy Friday!