It has been a while, and much has happened. But rather than get into that now, I’d like to share a piece of writing I wrote some months ago. A reminder:

The only way to move forward is to accept myself exactly as I am, in this moment. Not only to accept, but to love unconditionally. If I am constantly battling and manifesting thoughts of guilt and of being unworthy in myriad aspects of my life, in millions of moments throughout the day, I am hurting myself, stabbing myself, wounding myself, and draining myself. I turn to sleep to recover, but it doesn’t help, because as soon as I wake up, I am at it again. It is a vicious cycle that only ceases with mindfulness.

I am perfect just the way I am, regardless of what I think, say or do.

I am wonderful.

I am worthy.

I am a wonderful, loving presence in this world.

All these thoughts I can focus on when I feel myself slipping into self-loathing. When I love myself like this, my true needs and desires come out, and I can connect with my inner purpose.

I am a wonderful, loving presence in this world.

I am a loving, perfect being of light.

(And you are too.)

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My previous post was quite heavy and personal, but I feel that I need to be perfectly open and honest about my journey. There is no use in pretending I am someone I’m not. I am a beautifully imperfect human being, with my own special mash-up of struggles and weaknesses, triumphs and strengths. I’m happy to inform that things are looking up and I am pursuing different avenues of potential work and revenue. I realize that supporting myself financially is an essential act of self-care while I dream-up and build my business. I want my life and business to be heart-centred, honest, and true. I choose to honour my desires by giving them space and time to grow.

I’ve also had an epiphany in terms of the direction I’d like to take this blog and my potential business. I want to help people reconnect with their inborn, inner sense of childlike joy and wonder. This is what my art practice has given to me, and it has enhanced every facet of my life. It allows me to see the magic of the universe and the miracles that abound in everyday life. I sense this when I spend time in nature, with my pets, or marvelling at the little life growing in my belly. It is an expansive, all-encompassing feeling that speaks to our purpose and our ultimate potential.

Creativity is the key. It is our greatest strength, asset, tool. It can renew our faith, our hopes, our dreams. When we create, we have the opportunity to connect with this inner sense of joy that opens our hearts and minds. It feeds our creative spirit. When we are soft and open, we are more willing and able to see things from a fresh new perspective. We are less likely to fall prey to our anxieties and fears and stress. We are healthier, happier, more loving and productive people.

In terms of where I will go with this, I am already dreaming up an online course along the lines of Creating more Joy in our lives through creative play. I’ve already devised different sections and the overall “course story”. It is a course that I would love to sign up for if I came across it. We will see where this goes. I sure am enjoying the creative process! I look forward to sharing my ideas with you over the days to come.

In Wonder and Joy,

Carolyn xoxo

 

 

In my travels across the ether of the internet I came upon the beautiful Peony and Parakeet website and blog, and was lulled in by a brilliant art making challenge. It is called the Bursting Circle and you can read about it here. I thought I would share the results with you now, as they relate to what I’ve been going through these past few days.

Here is the art:

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This is what I see when I look at it: something beautiful gestating, growing, the cellular level that connects everyone and everything. Joy bursting forth from the primal place. Chaos, confusion, and  a multitude of feelings. Great wealth and abundance and a protective shell that keeps it at bay, keeps it separate. A garden of fear and delight.

I’ve had so many ideas for posts and for my business these past few days, but I have been paralyzed with fear–about money. It is the last day of the month and I have just under $15.00 to my name. Not paying my rent is not an option, so I am going to have to ask for help from my parents–something that brings me deep shame and anxiety. I don’t like having others support me financially–especially since I had only just started supporting myself a few measly months ago. This is deeply personal and hard for me to be open about, but I realize that owning the consequences of my behaviour (i.e. quitting work) is essential to my taking responsibility for my life and moving forward. I have a very poor relationship with money. Namely I feel there is never enough. Even when I was working, I worked so hard and was barely able to scrape by. Not every bill could be paid every month, my different services (i.e. phone and internet) would have to take turns. I am so sick of the struggle, and I know that I am not alone. I know how fortunate I am to have family who would do anything to help keep me from losing my home, to keep me fed and clothed and connected, because I know that most people don’t have that safety net.

I have a creative heart, abundantly full of ideas. So what keeps me from thriving, from sharing openly, freely, abundantly, profitably? Fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, the ultimate underlying fear that I am an irresponsible, selfish, lazy failure that will never amount to anything. I know this is heavy, but this is the kind of thing that has been haunting me for years. I’ve let fear have such control over my days, over everything I think and do. I am tired of it, and I am ready to change. Did you hear that universe? I am ready to change!

The fear has grown, throbbing stronger in my heart as now I am bringing a child into the world. What right have I, the fear asks, to bring a beautiful little being into this world when I can’t even take proper care of myself? I am unhooking fears’ claws from my flesh one by one. I hope you will join me on my journey as I seek to grow love and faith and push forward with my dream to sell my creations. I need your love and support. And please know that I will always love and support you.

Love and Abundance for All!

Carolyn xoxo

Twinkle Sunning Himself

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From everything I’ve been learning about running an online business it has become clear to me that consistency is key. Not only in the quality of one’s offerings, but also in terms of keeping the lines of communication open and flowing freely. This is something I have struggled with over the years, due to a lack of confidence, faith, and lots and lots of fear (this relates to the hiding out I mentioned in a previous post). When it comes to developing my passions and business, I’ve had many stops and starts.

And I realize, it’s okay. It’s okay to stop and start because your dreams will wait for you, will wait until you’re ready to take the plunge. In fact, these lapses of faith are a vital part of the business building process. The most important thing is that you keep coming back and starting over. These little “breaks” give you time to build your faith and resolve and vision, and you can learn as much from them as your forays into the dark and scary forest of dream building. (And I’m learning it is not quite as dark and scary as I imagined). 

Every day, as I attempt to learn and connect and put myself out there more and more, I am growing, and find my life is more enriched and meaningful. My business is still in its infancy, I’m still developing it’s focus, but I am so excited to get up in the morning and find where my dreams and visions will take me. I’m riding my faith right now. I’m praying a lot, my way of connecting with the universe. 

I’m still facing down my fear demons, especially where money is concerned. There is a lot of negative chatter in my mind about that topic that is sharp, accusatory and painful. But I just grab on to my faith, my life raft, and keep moving forward, moment by moment. And the ideas keep flowing. And my gratitude keeps growing. 

I realize the importance of confidence, resolve, vision, and faith in the realization of our dreams. I would love nothing more than to be a post of support and inspiration for anyone who feels overwhelmed by their self-doubt. I believe in you. Together, we are unstoppable. Let’s do this!

All of my Love,

Carolyn xoxo

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When the going gets tough, keep going. When you’re walking through hell, keep walking. I will walk with you, and together we can make it through.

Whenever I’m having a tough day, I work on my “bad day handbook”, a guide to help me get through bad days. It is just a foggy figure on the horizon at the moment, but just writing a few words down in my journal, brainstorming a little bit, helps me feel better. The gist: it’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to feel down. Giving ourselves love and permission to feel the way we feel is vital to our relationship with ourselves. We are simultaneously acknowledging and giving voice to our feelings, and accepting ourselves fully. This really helps to make the bad days better.

I will walk with you. I will share my love with you. I will see the best in you.

Lots of Love,

Carolyn xoxo

I am an expert at hiding. Hiding my self from the world, holing up in my cosy little closed cavern of safety. I’ve been doing it for the majority of my life. But I have chosen to break free, and I want to help you break free too. I want so much for you to come out of hiding, to share your true self, and your true gifts with the world. The world benefits immeasurably when you step out from behind the scenes and allow yourself to shine. I believe this with all of my heart.

On that note, I’d like to share a piece of my writing that has helped me on my mission to share my gifts. Here it is:

This is a Call

This is a call to stop settling for a life that is less than. To stop selling yourself short. To stop killing time and putting your dreams on hold. You can do it. You are worth it. And you are desperately needed and wanted in this world. This is a call to go forth into the world and shine. Shine in your fullness. Shine in your beauty. Shine in your perfect imperfection. Live the life your heart yearns for. This is the time. This is your time. Go Forth and Shine.

It might help to read these words over and over, and to write them out and place them on your wall. Carry them in your heart. I want you to join me on my quest to create a beautiful, authentic life and business. Remember this: everyone benefits when you allow yourself to shine.

Love always,

Carolyn xoxo

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Twinkle sketch by Carolyn Czegel

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“Jules” by Carolyn Czegel

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Putting some of my art up for sale recently felt really good. It’s been a dream of mine for years–I first set up my etsy shop in 2011. But I first put something in it only a couple of days ago. I felt elated–for a few minutes. Then found myself drowned in a thundershower of doubt. What if nobody buys it? What if nobody likes it? What if I am never able to support myself and my family by doing the things I love? A heaviness lay upon me. After a good sleep, and taking some deep breaths, and the merciful love and support of my best friend and partner, I now realize this is just one step on my path. That I must release myself from the outcome by trusting the process. That what I take and learn from this experience will be my ultimate reward. I love seeing people put themselves out there despite the enormous self-doubt they face. It is a powerful thing to do. May we all harness the inner strength and vision to follow our heart’s desire. To live our lives swollen with joy and gratitude rather than self-doubt and fear. I wish this for me, I wish it for you.

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Here I am, writing this entry almost one year after posting my last. Much has happened this year. I met my partner, moved in with him, and now we are expecting our first child. One side effect of my year of new experiences has been that I’ve put my creative dreams on the backburner–until now. Now that I am expecting, they have come to the forefront. They represent not only what I wish to express creatively, but also the kind of life I want to live, to provide for my child and my family.
     I have been blessed with many ideas and visions for my creative life and business. There are books I want to write and illustrate (both for adults and children) in various stages of development. The most challenging part is putting myself out there. I started writing a book about following my dreams called “Go Forth and Shine”. I’ve decided to hold off on the book and create one-of-a-kind 5”x7” original artworks featuring some of the text from said book to put up for sale. I hope to use the proceeds from my art to further my publishing and creative business dreams and ideas.
     As for this blog, it is my intention to share my hopes and visions on a regular basis.
     I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my beautiful life.
     My artwork is available here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleWindStudio.

Notes of Love

Some of my original artwork.

I devised a simplified living plan in my journal about a week ago, and thought I would share it with you. I tend to be easily overwhelmed, so the idea is to remove what is non-essential in my life in order to make room for my loves and dreams. This all came about after I dealt with the first in a list of 72 ideas comprising ZenHabit’s Simple Living Manifesto which involved me listing the 4-5 most important things in my life. Once I did that, this plan just started to flow onto the paper. Without further ado, here is an overview:

Carolyn’s Eight-Point Simplified Living Plan

  1.  Declutter: Systematically de-clutter my life. Implement decluttering as an ongoing practice.
  2. Cut out tv/excessive internet usage: These distractions eat up a huge amount of my time and energy and keep me from facing the true causes of anxiety in my life, and from moving forward. Develop a plan to wean myself off of these.
  3. Set time aside each day to create: Develop a creative practice by creating something every single day. Pick a time, and devote that time to creating anything, daily. This can be writing, music, painting–any type of art, really.
  4. Develop a spiritual practice: Continue to develop my spiritual practice by meditating, praying, and writing in my journal every day.
  5. Connect with family every week: Includes emails, letter/card writing, phone calls, in-person visits.
  6. Exercise with pets every day: Includes dog walking and cat play–good for all involved.
  7. Develop a regular cleaning schedule: When to clean what, so that I can keep a handle on the cleaning front.
  8. Make time for friends: Set aside time each week to connect with friends.

I plan to go into more detail on each step, as well as how each step fits into my life, in future posts.

Little Mama in happier times.

Little Mama in happier times.

I was hesitant to write about the tiny colony of feral cats I care for just outside the apartment building in which I live. I am protective of these cats, and I know people have strong opinions on how they should/shouldn’t be treated. But they are a big part of my life, and it would be a big omission if I did not even mention them. I’ve mainly had a “hands off” approach to their care–they are truly feral, and so in the past when individuals have shown signs of illness, I let them be. I know the stress that can be caused by bringing a feral cat inside. I also know the fate that would befall them if I were to take them to a typical humane society or shelter (which I would never do). So mine has been a bit of a “live and let die” approach. Until today.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. One of the feral males came by the feeding station looking in particularly poor shape. He was dirty, and his face was covered in dark, caked snot. His appearance was so compelling, I tried to catch him. He was definitely slower and weaker than usual, but my clumsy attempts to catch him were still unsuccessful. After contacting a couple of local rescue groups about the possibility of trapping him, I decided that it would be in his best interests just to let him be. The day after I tried to catch him, there was a huge snow storm. I built another shelter to add to the two I had built in the fall. I set up a sort of a tent between two of the shelters using a plastic drop sheet. They could walk from one shelter to another in this protected “hallway”. I made sure they had food and water, and cleared the snow regularly for them as best I can. I saw him on this day, saw that he was piled into one shelter with all the other cats and thought of him, surrounded by his family in a warm shelter, with food and water right outside. I thought I had made the right choice. Until today.

I hadn’t seen the sick boy since the day of the storm, nor had I seen the matriarch of the colony (I call her Little Mama) for a few days. Today I saw Little Mama–and she looked terrible. She had the same crusted nose/mouth area that I had seen on her son, the sick boy. A terrible realization slipped over me–I don’t think it is just crusted snot on her nose–I think it is frostbite. Without a second thought, I reached over while she was eating and grabbed her in my arms. She struggled a little bit, but not a lot–she is definitely weak. I brought her inside and placed her in my bathroom. I set up a travel carrier with thick blanket inside, and a towel covering it, a small litter box, and lots of water and food choices. As I was setting up her area, she just sat there quietly–not usual behaviour for a feral. As I type this, she is curled up in the carrier.

I’ve been going out regularly since then, looking for Little Mama’s son (Little Son). I think it is in vain–he has probably died since I last saw him. But I still hold on to the remote possibility that he is alive. It kills me to think of how he must have suffered. That I should have pursued him and brought him inside. My heart is heavy with regret. This is the downside of caring for these creatures–thinking of their suffering, carrying the guilt of not having done enough. I know I tried my best, I did what I thought was best. At the end of the day, this is all that I can do.

I don’t know what Little Mama’s chances of survival are. Probably not great. But at least she can rest now, in her warm little cave (it is bitterly cold out today). I pray for these creatures. May I make good decisions on their behalf. They have brought so much to my life–caring for them is a great honour. May Little Son find his way to me if he is still alive. May he rest in peace if he isn’t.

Dixie Mae looking pretty, as usual.

Dixie Mae looking pretty, as usual.

Things I currently enjoy thinking about:

1. Tiny Houses

2. Simple Living

3. Beautiful, Ethical Clothing

4. Life on a Small Farm

5. Writing

As of this moment, I am changing the direction of this blog. May it reflect my life, my passions, my strengths, my struggles, the best and worst parts of me. Let it be this way so that I may come to love and accept myself even more. And maybe those who read it will come to love and accept themselves even more. Let it be a cyber embrace, an affirmation of our collective humanity, our strenghts and weaknesses, our passions and struggles. May it provide a space for us to bolster each other, so that we may overcome our challenges and grow as individuals, a society, a species. May it be heart wrenchingly honest and bold. This is me, cold and vulnerable, warm and caring. This is me, this is my life.

And so it is.

Walking under the full moon last night, I recalled that the third thought by the river I had that day (see previous post) was not about “faith and perception” but about balance. I remembered this while gazing upon the naked trees. I love looking at naked trees, how they move, how they pose like dancers. In line with my thought about growth patterns, I noticed that the position of things in space, trees are what I was thinking of in particular, however this idea is more widely applicable, is dictated by the interaction of mass and gravity, and this is a careful balance.

In life drawing class we are taught about how weight is balanced throughout the body–so that in a standing pose, for example, if the hips tilt one way, the shoulders tilt the opposite way so that the mass is balanced and the person can remain upright. When I look at the shape and direction of growth of trees, I see this same principle.

I then thought about how this idea can be applied to life in a more general, metaphorical sense. There is a divine balance to everything, I think. This balance can not be violated as it is deeply ingrained in the nature of things.

I am scanning more paintings today. Will post soon.

A while back I was sitting by the river with my dog, Mira, in tow (as I am wont to do), and three specific ideas floated through my head. I wanted to record them, and I haven’t until now. So here they are.

1. Solids Aren’t as Solid as I Think They Are: This relates to my art in that things flow one to another–they need not be represented as stiff and separate, because they are not so. Rocks and tree branches are softer than they appear, constantly blending into and out of everything around them.

2. Telescopic Growth Patterns: Observing the trees and plants around me I note that branches, for example, are sectioned into parts that grow out from one another, and that all growth follows this pattern. From one thing comes something else that is supported by the one thing.

3. Faith in our Ideas of “How Things Are” Belies our Visual Experience of the World: When I draw and paint, I sometimes consciously add value to shapes to give them the illusion of form. Value is a cue that “tricks” the mind into seeing a shape as a form. What is interesting, is that many times when I am looking at something (a tree, for example) in nature, it actually appears to be quite flat (this happens in low light–grey, cloudy days, or when the subject is backlit by the sun). The only thing that keeps me aware of it’s three dimensional form, is the faith I have in it’s three dimensionality. I think I know the tree is a cylindrical form, and then I perceive it as such. Artists can affect the viewer by manipulating our faith in form–they add value to shapes, tricking the eyes into seeing them as forms, which makes the drawing appear more “real”. I guess what I’m trying to say is that a “flatly” portrayed tree is no less real than one portrayed as having form. Just a meandering thought in development.

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(Trafalgar Square by Wayne Roberts)

I love looking at paintings. I love how every individual’s hand is unique. I find the artwork of Wayne Roberts resonates with me greatly. I love how his watercolors are loose and flowing, and at the same time communicate the structure beneath so clearly. His use of color is genius. One of my favorite aspects of watercolor is how the transparent pigments intermingle with each other, and reflect back to the viewer. When used in a certain way, they form a new colour together, and yet retain their individuality as well, so that it can be difficult to identify the colour you are actually looking at. Melted rainbows.

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Two Trees (10.5″ x 14.5″, watercolor on 140 lb/300 gsm Arches hot press watercolor paper, Carolyn Czegel 2012)

My name is Carolyn Czegel. I am an artist, working primarily in watercolors at the moment. I like to paint rather spontaneously, and I am attracted to paintings which have an air of the spontaneous (even if they are meticulously conceived and executed). I am fairly novice when it comes to painting with watercolor, and so this has been a sticking point with me–unlike acrylic, I find there’s a point of no return when painting with watercolors, the painting looks “overworked”, which is the term commonly used. The colors are dulled, the forms are lost, it all becomes dark. This seems to happen in my work, even when I am meticulous about my planning. Today I am having a sort of a breakthrough. I am painting completely spontaneously and unplanned, and very wet, and I am getting some nice effects. Every painting, every drawing, offers up valuable learning.

Update: On this same painting, I have stumbled upon a lovely recipe for making black: W&N Artist Watercolors 1. Winsor Blue (Green Shade) + 2. Permanent Rose + 3. Burnt Umber. It is like a dark, melted rainbow. I find there is a fine line between “blah” and “magical” when it comes to watercolor.

Also, I think I have tended to overemphasize the pigments in my work, rather than focusing on the actual water itself, the way it is manipulated. The wave and flow of water is at the heart of watercolor painting.