Sunday, September 14, 2014

Finding Strength

I love it when conversations happen with different people at different times and a theme emerges.  I think these themes become apparent during times when we need them most.  This week the theme of strength has become a popular topic.

The obvious strength conversation has been with my best friend Lydia, who has been working out with me at the gym.  I've been doing the weightlifting program since May... I think. And it has been amazing to find out what I am capable of doing.  Lydia has begun doing the dumb bell classes with me, where she, too, has discovered her own strength.  We have both enjoyed watching our bodies transform and become stronger.  We get so excited when we see muscle developing and we talk about our favorite trainer, Anthony, all of the time.  We love the other trainers, too.  We just seem to spend more time with Anthony, and he always pushes us.  Some mornings, when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the amount of weight or the amount of reps per set, he will tell me "I believe in you, Nadia, even if you don't believe in you."  I like hearing that because it reminds me that a lot of the time we are stronger than we think.  And he is always right about how much weight I can handle during the workout!  I have had to learn to trust my trainers, but they have also had to learn to trust me in knowing how my body feels.

To think that this was me a year ago! (I'm on the far left)

And now I do this! And it completely blows my mind that I do these things!

But I love it because I feel so badass when I lift the heavy weights... especially doing the hip-thrusts.  A few days ago, I hip-thrusted my heaviest weight, which was 295lbs!!!  Craziness I tell you!
It is a great feeling to feel physically strong.

I've been thinking about some of the other exercise adventures I've had and one that I loved the most was yoga.  I miss it, but don't really have the time for it. Two years ago, Lydia and I went to a yoga retreat where we did some really cool partner yoga.
I wonder how much easier would it be for us now that we are stronger???  We might have to try to recreate this photo!

The other strength conversation I found myself having this week with another friend was about emotional strength.  We were talking about how frustrated I am with life... more like how impatient I've been.  I feel like I've had some pretty big challenges or obstacles in life that were not or have not been easy to deal with.  Losing my dad continues to be this surreal experience.  There are good days, but mostly there are *huge sigh* alright days.  I don't quite feel like myself and just feel very blah. And it is frustrating to feel sensitive and vulnerable constantly.  The impatient part of me wants the grieving to be done with already, but I know it isn't that easy.  Most people have told me that I most likely won't feel normal for about a year, and even after that, when I'm feeling good, they said I'll randomly be hit with sadness.  I'm not looking forward to it.  I just want to be happy. It just makes me wonder what exactly do the higher powers to be have in store for me where I need to be emotionally strong?  But in my conversation of emotional strength I did point out that perhaps this whole experience was to teach me how to allow others take care of me and to allow my vulnerability to be seen while holding on to my independence... or it's to re-teach me patience.

Strength is an interesting concept to think about.  Everyone is strong in some way or another.  I've always hated when people tell me that I'll be fine because I'm a strong person.  The worst time was a year ago when a person who knew me from high school told me that it was ridiculous that I was depressed when we received news about my dad's tumors. He told me that I have always been such a strong person that I shouldn't allow this to bother me.  I think that is when I began to realize that true strength isn't necessarily dealing with problems by yourself, but true strength was allowing yourself to open up to being vulnerable.   It takes more strength to reveal the truth than it does to shield yourself.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hitting the Reset Button

This summer has been the worst summer of my life. Losing my dad has been this unbelievably painful experience that has left me feeling empty, stuck, and lost. But even in all of tragedy, I've probably learned the most this summer.

Things I learned or realized this summer (not in any order of importance):

 1- I haven't been as active of an artist this year as I have been the past few years.  I think having my art in the Orange County Creatives Gallery in Laguna Beach threw me off a bit.  It is a great honor to have my work there and I feel like it is a goal of any OC artist to get work in a gallery in Laguna Beach.  But I haven't been challenged to keep doing more art the way art walks do.  I haven't massed produced Mizzles or create a series of mizzle paintings for a show in a long time.  To remedy this, I began making more Mizzles this week.  I even bought a massive amount of polyester fiber for motivation!

2- I lost sight of my goals.  I used to be extremely active as an artist attending illustrator meetings and art association meetings every month.  But at the moment, I can't remember the last time I attended either of those meetings.  Partly, I've been doing color runs with friends, which happen to fall on the same days as my illustrator meetings.  Also, I was spending time with my dad.  I don't think this was bad at all.  But I feel stuck now.  And I've realized that some of these meetings are going to continue to be put on hold thanks to a work conference I have to attend the next few months.  I'll just have to focus on other areas until my schedule clears up. 

I did manage to get a few things done this summer:

 A few sketches to keep me sane during a conference I went to.

A drawing for my dad

And I created a "Nap time" Series for my friend, who is expecting twins!!!!  I created a Mizzle Mobile, and some onsies.

And I played with paint

3- Painting makes me happy even if the painting turns out bad.  Sometimes it is just about the act of painting.  My best friends and I began going to a few Paint & Vino Events, where an instructor guides a room full of people to paint one image.  We have had a lot of fun doing these.  Most people would think that it would be boring for someone who is already an artist, but it was nice not having to think during the process. 

For a while, I had wanted to use my garage as a studio.  I couldn't do this until recently... long story I'd rather not get in to.  But the important part is that I FINALLY turned my half of the garage into my painting studio.  After doing a few of the Painting & Vino classes, we agreed that we could do something like that ourselves. So, I had a group of friends over to celebrate the conversion of my garage to studio with our own paint and wine night.  It was so much fun!  I was really proud of my non-artist friends.  And we already have a theme for the month of September!

4- I am blessed to have amazing neighbors!  They have all been a great support group helping me, listening to me, checking in with me at some point, and giving me many hugs!  I love listening to their stories!  And they have such great personalities!  I am always smiling or laughing when I'm hanging out with them. 

5- I discovered that the best and most important family is the one you choose!  Don't get me wrong.  I love some of my blood relatives and they know who they are.  But the family I chose (Lydia, Reena, Jenn, Tracy, Peter... my workout family-Alex, Anthony, Cade, Leslie, Sonny, Lisa)... turned out to be the ones who helped me through this difficult time when family failed to come through.  Even my mom's friends were a better family.  I don't think I've had a chance to tell my friends, but I am unbelievably grateful for all of them...including the ones I haven't mentioned directly in this post.  This is odd to say, but everything seemed to go so smoothly because of them.  And I continue to get through each tough day with their help.

This photo is missing Reena, but she is the one who took the photo... so I feel like she is there in spirit!

And thank you to everyone who sent me text messages and photos of my art at the OC Fair!  I didn't get a chance to go myself, but it cheered me up to receive photos like this one:

6- When life takes something away, it gives something back to you just when you need it.   It is a very surreal feeling to have someone important taken from your life and everything around you remains the same.  Life continues as if nothing has changed.  Then coming to realizations that may have never crossed your mind like how much you miss hearing their voice.  For some reason, I haven't been receiving any of my voicemails.  Yesterday, a bunch of voicemails turned up on my phone going back to April.  I was really sad at the thought of never hearing my dad and then there was a message from my dad on my birthday.  I immediately researched how to save it as an mp3 file, so I can have it forever!  Life, also, introduced me to new people this summer.  I'm not sure what roles they will play in my life, but they were small moments of absolute joy this summer during a painful time.

7- Sometimes you just need to hit the reset button! 

I know it looks like I've done a lot this summer.  In a way, I have.  But it just hasn't felt the same.  I feel like a lot of this was just me going through the motions trying to feel like my normal self.  In all honesty, I have felt lost this summer.  I feel like I got stuck somewhere in life without realizing it.  The last time I felt stuck in life I moved to Huntington Beach, which was the greatest decision I ever made.  This time moving is not going to be the answer.  This stuck feeling is something a bit deeper emotionally.  I have to figure out what that is exactly, but I do know if I learned anything from my dad, it was to always dream and to keep moving forward. So, for the time being I'm just going to hit the reset button and place my focus back on some original goals.  I feel like this week has been very productive!  I worked on pages for my book, made mizzles, and began working on a few ideas for upcoming shows.  I've also decided I want to get back to my daily drawings.