Making an Abstract Art Wall Mural

After doing a large wall mural in my studio, oh how fun it was, I learned a lot about painting that large.

First off…. it’s bigger than you think! LOL. I was used to painting large on canvas, it’s my preferred way to paint, but the largeness of a wall is a whole different large. I was surprised at how taxing it was after a few hours of going at it. I do not plan ahead with my designs because they’re all abstract and the geometric shapes come out of the opportunities created while working, so that also created an interesting mind taxation because there were SOOO many large and small holes or crevices to fill. And I like large and small details so there’s something new to see at different distances.

The paints I primarily used for my wall mural were Blickrylic acrylic paints. They are very affordable and good paint quality.Get your. (affiliate link)

It’s physically more taxing because with a wall your having to bend, fold, stretch, reach etc. to get all the high and low places that need to be covered. For me, I worked better doing 3-4 hours at a time and taking breaks. I had a lot of time too and it was in my home, so I stretched it out over about 4 weeks or so to finish the entire wall. This doesn’t necessarily have to take that long as total hours were around 55-60 hours, but I stretched it out because I could and because I have some neck and back issues already that I didn’t want to flare up.

Second, plan what you can and leave room for the creativity to blossom. So, I said I don’t plan and that’s pretty much true but one thing I try to loosely plan is my colors. And that’s what I did with my mural. I had an idea that I wanted the colors to be calming and soothing like being underwater in the sea. Cool blues and greens. As I went along, I wondered if I wanted some brighter colors in there so I’d add a splash or orange or magenta as I went, knowing I can just cover it up. The beauty of acrylics! If you want to know why I paint with acrylics you can check out my post about painting with acrylics HERE. I realized that I liked my original plan of all cool colors and sea type vibe, but I did add some purple. I used a lot of ultramarine blue which when lightened has a very blue-purple feel to it so as I went up I decided to lighten the look and feel like it was reaching towards the moon and I made a lovely purple with ultramarine blue, phthalo red and white…and maybe another color but that’s all I remember.

Third, use thin paint. I normally don’t mind some thicker spots and textures on my canvas paintings as it gives the surface and overall piece a unique look and makes it more interesting to look at. But for a wall, you want thin! I used mainly Blickrylic student acrylic paint. It’s actually pretty good and very inexpensive. I didn’t think to use wall paint because I’m so used to buying acrylics from Blicks or Jerrys’.  I know the names of the colors I like and how to mix them. I had some older paint too that I thought I’d use up so I could get rid of it. Wrong decision but it worked out fine. Some of the older paint was heavy body paint so thick and pasty. Great for impasto work. I added water and some slow dry blending medium and it still didn’t thin well. I added airbrush medium and it still didn’t thin well. Next time I just won’t use a thick paint at all but that was really only for one color I had that issues. The main colors were all from the Blickrylic student acrylic paints. They worked great. They were pretty thin already but with adding just a hint of water or airbrush medium they got to a lovely flowing viscosity. This works so much better on walls then an impasto kind of paint and especially for if you want to paint over the mural in the future. So, yes getting wall paint would also make for a good option as it’s already the right consistency but I like the acrylics ‘I know’ better for now.

Another option is craft paints. These are also a good consistency and affordably priced. Good for any art and craft project. (affiliate link)

And lastly, have fun! I did not anticipate how much work it was going to be, but I was smiling and laughing (pretty much) the whole time. It really is a lot of fun if you love to paint and don’t mind making mistakes and just keeping going. The payoff is tremendous. I absolutely love walking into my studio and seeing that wall mural. I love it! It makes me so happy every time. And when I do Yoga in there, I just feel so calm and serene and I get lost in the shapes and it just brings a big smile to my face. So, do it! If you’re thinking of doing it, just do it! It’s really not that expensive and it’s a fun and fulfilling project.

Ok another lastly, the last thing I’d say is prep your surface first. If you’re wall paint is old the walls may be dirty or there’s a glossy paint on your walls your gonna wanna wipe them down and put on a primer first. Otherwise your new paint won’t adhere as well. A white primer is what I used but if you don’t want white you could color your primer also. This is something you can get at your local hardware store or my affiliate link above.

If you want to see my whole process from start to finish you can check out pics and videos on my Instagram @laurenkarpinski or Pinterest @abstractlaurenkarpinski or my YouTube @laurenkarpinski. Or just go to my Behind the Scenes page and link from there. If you want a mural, just shoot me an email!

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you tackle a wall mural? Why or why not? Or if you did, I’d love to see!

From my heart to yours,

Lauren

P.S this site uses affiliate links for small commissions on click through purchases, at no additional cost to you ever. Thank you for your support!

What is Reiki? And even if you think it’s woo-ey, it still has benefits.

So Reiki is becoming more and more popular. It can be done anywhere, anytime. Even over distances. The idea being that energy is never created nor destroyed nor is energy dependent upon time in space. It’s not linear.

So Reiki is the channeling of divine energy through one person to another for the purpose of doing the highest good for that other person, whatever that may be. The channeler cannot cure, and although called a healer is not actually doing the healing but rather assisting the other person in allowing their body to heal itself; by way of Universal energy as the person acts to be a channel for that energy into the person being treated. The Reiki practitioner is not suppose to ask for specific healing but rather just direct energy into the other for the highest good and let the highest good do what is best for that person. We cannot know what that is.

Sounds woo-ey right. I love woo-ey but lets say you don’t, you can still benefit from Reiki. How you ask? Yay! Let’s do this.

I’m gonna go all simple on ya. Basic levels of altering other people’s energy based on external stimuli. Let’s say you had a really bad day at work. Stress was rising, deadlines are due, Matt in accounting is being a real dick… you go out to dinner with a friend or your spouse maybe and you’re telling your story and complaining about the day. And that person sits and listens to you and takes your hand and holds it in theirs. Most people would say that small act of getting their holding hand held in a difficult time, brings internal feelings of comfort, safety, feeling not alone and of feeling cared for.

Now let’s say you’re having an okay morning. But, you stop at your coffee and when you’re checking out the cashier is extra smiley and happy and wishes you a wonderful day. You might leave there with a little extra pep or a smile of your own.

Or maybe you’re pulling out of the coffee shop parking lot and someone keeps honking at you. And in your rear view you can see them yelling and cursing you out, maybe giving you the finger…and not the pinky. This may cause internal feelings of anger or frustration bubbling up inside of you. Those smiley happy feelings are gone for now and anger has replaced them.

I view these all as energy transference from one person to another. An external stimuli is acting upon us and changing our internal energetic selves. It happens all day, everyday.

Now can we view Reiki from a not woo-ey place for a minute. If we put it to a more basic level.

With a Reiki treatment you either lay down or sit comfortably, preferably laying down where you can close your eyes and get settled in. Maybe some gentle soothing music is on allowing you to relax even more. You know it’s just you and your practitioner. Your practitioner may hover hands or lay hands on you in specific places. Without even thinking of chakra energetics, imagine have someone trustworthy lay hands on you. This could evoke feelings of safety, security, being cared for, loved, attended to. Maybe the longer the session went on you start to feel special, a good-humble special, to be focused on so intently. Maybe the hand positions bring attention to that specific area of the body and you realize you’re holding tension or tightness there and, you can let that go. That feels really good. You didn’t know you could be tight there. Maybe another position brings up memories of that time that guy was honking at you while you were pulling out of the coffee joint. You feel angry and then slowly, slowly it starts dissipating as you feel the calm room and loving hands upon you. You can let that go. Maybe work stress comes up while the hands are at your feet. On your feet all day running around, tired, working hard paying the bills. Slowly, slowly as this position is held maybe you feel this energy draining out of your feet and away from you. You feel your head clear, you mind become calmer. And in this calm, slow moving treatment you feel your breathe become deeper and fuller, your thoughts maybe a little less jittery or dancing around.

These simple acts of intently being present with someone and aiding them in calming down the mind-body can assist them in slowing down, turning on the rest and digest nervous system and get out of the flight-fight stress response. This is a space where our bodies can intuitively heal themselves.

Nothing woo-ey here. Just simple human touch or just human presence, with a caring-loving intention and focused attention.

And yes, if you’re saying our bodies repair themselves when we sleep you are so right! That’s why getting enough sleep is vital and we all need different amounts. That being said, if you can practice being consciously (awake) calmer and not stressed in your mind-body, your body can remember and use these skills-feelings when in times of stress to decrease the stress in the moment and decrease the length of time your body is in this stress response mode, which is not just helpful but healthier.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what great things you’ve noticed with Reiki. I’d also love to hear any other thoughts you may have about energy healing even if they differ from mine.

Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new posts. And check back soon or sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out on my distance healing Reiki sessions coming soon.

From my heart to yours,

Lauren

Forced Meditation. Acupuncture. Yin Yoga. And taking your Power back.

Forced Meditation sounds like an oxymoron because meditation is a practice in experiencing the present moment, focusing and letting go but not forcing anything. So how can forced meditation be anything but stress for your mind? Well, it can’t…and it can. In a certain way. Let me try to explain.  

Going through school for Acupuncture, and even before that, when I would get my acupuncture treatments there was something that always stuck in my mind as to how I felt. I’m open about dealing with anxiety and if you have an anxiety disorder or even experienced anxiety for a period of time then you’re familiar with the happenings of the body/mind when this goes on.

Not everyone experiences it the same but there are a few symptoms that most people experience. Some may be, thoughts and worries circulating in the head that are invasive usually coupled with a feeling of fear or apprehension with physical symptoms such as, tense rigid muscles, a racing heartbeat, tightness in the chest and sides, stomach knots, decreased appetite, loose stools, increased urination, tightness in the throat, sweating and heavier shallow breathing.

Now these functions that usually needed in a time of survival or running away from a dangerous situation, are just there. That’s how you’re feeling throughout the day pretty much and it doesn’t stop, because this response is due the thoughts we are thinking and beliefs we are believing as opposed to us needing to flee because we’re about to get hit by a car. Its cause is internal instead of external. Now, I’m not saying this couldn’t be about something happening externally, but the external trigger is not what is keeping the body in this manner, that’s the mind. The mind keeps our thoughts in a danger loop and the stress response is activated and can’t go away because the mind is telling the body there’s danger.

Now why did I get into all that, ok, so a lot of times it’s very hard to calm down when your mind is spiraling out of control and your body feels like it’s trying to flee or it’s stiff and frozen. There are coping skills to use to help, which do help, like CBT skills and meditation, yoga, energy work, acupuncture and many more, which aim to assist the mind in calming down, focusing and getting out of the worry loop, calming the breathing so we intake more oxygen into the blood stream, increasing circulation to non-vital organs and the core, activating the lymphatic system to aid in toxins getting circulated and released. These are some of the physiological processes that can happen while using these modalities.

Now getting into what I mean about forced Meditation.  When I would get my Acupuncture treatments, after getting my needles in and the therapist would leave, I could feel myself physically and mentally relaxing. It was like a wonder drug without the drug. So lovely. And I’d lay there with these needles in various places throughout my body, which if you’ve had acupuncture before you know that you can’t really move when they’re in. You don’t want to twist, turn or bend the needles because that could be dangerous. So, you lay there. Just you, the room, the needles, the possible discomfort of one or more needles or the focus on sensations in your body or even just focusing on the fact that you don’t want to/can’t move, the focus on the possible emotions coming up from being stuck there or from other emotional events, the trying to remain still and then the calming down of the body, the calming down of the mind, the letting go of physical tension and the deepening of the breath. It’s truly wonderful and it was the only time I had ever experienced this, meditation from external stimuli. The experience I called, FORCED MEDITATION.

And what I mean by that is simple. It is simply the fact that I didn’t intend to meditate, but meditation happened as a result of getting the treatment.

(Okay one more thing before I get into Yin Yoga because some of you won’t’ know why meditation is even a good thing. I won’t go into too much detail here because this post isn’t about the workings/ history or different styles of meditation, but I will tell you the most common effects of most meditation styles. Meditation has been known to improve focus, immune function, self-image, anxiety/depression/insomnia, high blood pressure, irritable bowel and increased ability to deal with stress.)

Ok back to the story!

 But then, I started doing Yin Yoga. Game Changer. I experienced this Forced Meditation effect from Yin Yoga BUT the power was from within myself not from an external force. And the thing I experienced was responsibility for my own actions, thoughts and beliefs with feelings of full relaxation, a calmer mind, contentment and a general feeling of wellness and openness in my mind and body.

Yin Yoga is based on three principles. The first principle is to come into the pose and find your edge. Not painful but to the edge of where you can hold the pose with discomfort but still breathe deeply and there’s no sharp or overly painful sensations. The second principle is to make the commitment to find stillness and allow your muscles to relax. Yin Yoga is not activating the muscles unnecessary for the pose, it wants them to relax so there can be access and stretching into the connective tissues, joints, ligaments and bones. I see the muscle layer as our outside layer holding the world at bay and trying to keep us safe. Relaxing it isn’t always easy especially at first, it’s so automatic for us to tense up it’s like our protective shield. Think about what your muscles do when you get angry, scared, anxious, sad, etc. Your muscles tense up or knot up and it’s like this barrier between our insides and the outside. This can lead to issues getting stuck in the tissues, muscles and fascia. The third principle is to hold the pose for a specified time usually 1-20 minutes. So by making a commitment to be still, in the slightly uncomfortable pose, for a long period of time we allow our body to relax its defensive musculature system, we allow our mind to focus on something such as the discomfort or the breath and we open up deeper layers of our physical bodies to relieve pain and tension as well as emotional layers of our bodies to relieve the same. We encourage flexibility and suppleness necessary for a healthy body/mind.

So, the first few times I did Yin Yoga the effect was the same as for Forced Meditation in Acupuncture. I didn’t intend to meditate but the result from doing the practice was meditation. Now, it’s sort of different for me because I know what I’m intending to do but the effect is the same, it’s meditation. So the forced part comes in but in a different way, it’s more from my internal world than external world from the needles. By making the commitment to hold an uncomfortable pose, gently forcing myself to be there in that moment and with that discomfort when part of my mind/body wants to get out of it, this was the missing puzzle piece for me. The power, strength, decision and ability coming from within me whether to hold, fidget, move, or flow and this has given me a more confident feeling about my self, well being, healing and ability to handle stress.

I gained a unique sense of responsibility and belief in myself and self-healing and put the power back into my hands and my spirit. I am gaining my power back instead of looking outside myself for some kind of saving or healing. Though I do believe that we can be healed or cured from another person who channels true healing (who ultimately is just the channel, our body/minds do the actual healing. Example for this can be the placebo effect, the mind heals the issue because it believes it’s getting healed), I also believe that the best thing we can do for ourselves is to find our own power and do our internal work. Even if we get cured from some issue by the help of a healer, if we return to our normal lifestyle with the same thoughts, beliefs, actions, inflexibility, job, etc. then we are only allowing the process of disfunction to start all over again. We must do our own internal work as well. This is what Yin Yoga did for me. Because it gave me the same Forced Meditation feeling but I also had control over it. It’s a mind over matter practice that really works. I could break my commitment to be still. I could break my commitment to hold the pose. Or I can stay. Committed to stillness. Committed to holding steady. Finding a deeper breath into the belly or the discomfort. Holding steady in spite of the discomfort and resolving to allow the dual truths of feeling the discomfort and wanting it to stop yet feeling the discomfort and allowing it to be there. This! This is everything. And this has helped wonders for my anxiety as well. If you experience anxiety, I definitely suggest trying some Yin Yoga.

And I do still love Acupuncture and think it is of great value as well as has the added value for healing energy shared between practitioner and patient! I’m just sharing my story that for me adding Yin Yoga was a game changer. And I will continue to use Acupuncture and Yin Yoga for healing and well being.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog.

I hope you find this helpful in some way. If so, I’d love to hear from you. I’m also currently taking my Yin Yoga teacher training and my plan is to make some Yin Yoga videos for YouTube or other online learning format so stay tuned by following me on social media. @laurenkarpinski on Instagram and YouTube. @abstractlaurenkarpinski on Pinterest.

From my heart to yours,

Lauren

While doing my Yin Yoga teacher training, I learned of the Traditional Yin Yoga creator Paulie Zink, his style includes Yang flow with Yin Stillness. Yin-Yang together the way they naturally are. He teaches to flow gracefully and spontaneously like animals into poses or like changing elemental processes. Holding poses and relaxing muscles then flowing into other poses that may require strength or mobility and back into flexible relaxation poses. And on and on. Spontaneous and graceful with a mix of Yin and Yang. Interestingly I would naturally do this as I practiced Yin Yoga poses. Before I went into another Yin pose I would naturally do a gentle Yang flow whether the teacher did it or not. It just felt right. And now that I know this is also the original intention, I do intend in the future to take his Teacher training classes as well to deepen my awareness and experience of this amazing meditation in motion.

That being said, I still see the value in an entirely Yin class as most of us are usually always in a Yang active state of daily life or exercise. So, whether it was his original intention or not I am still in love with the value and effect of a mostly Yin class and it’s benefits of meditation, focus, flexibility, breathe-work and commitment.

Yoga for self healing

   Yoga helps to tone, strengthen, lengthen, twist, stretch all the pathways, organs, fluids etc to allow smooth flow and release any blockages. When these blockages start flowing, maybe a chronic pain in the hip starts loosening up, the stuck emotions can come to the surface and we have a release of possibly tears, laughing, anger, shaking; however it comes for us as this stuck-ness starts circulating, as it should, and releases its stagnant hold on our physical body as well as our mental body and our spiritual body.

   Doing yoga makes me feel stronger physically. Not just stronger but I’m going to start there. I feel stronger in my body and I can tell that it’s not only strengthening my body it’s strengthening my mind as well. As I’m physically getting stronger and feeling stronger, I can feel my spirit getting stronger. I feel like I’m wanting to take responsibility for my choices and make decisions better and stand up for myself more by speaking my truth. My emotions seem more stable and my past doesn’t seem to trigger me as much. As I’m working with asana yoga and feeling stronger physically, I love how this strength is also affecting my spiritual self, my strength of character and will.

   Doing yoga helps me feel more flexible. Years ago I used to be extremely flexible and then I stopped practicing awhile and got some aches and pains and started again and it’s taking me much longer to get or feel flexible again. Though slowly I am getting bit by bit more flexible. Someone once asked me why I was so flexible, I just remember saying “flexible body flexible mind.”  I don’t think I understood fully what I was saying then but now it’s more clear because I’m feeling the same way as I become more flexible physically again. I feel like my body is opening up, my aches and pains are lessening and mentally I feel less aches and pains as well and it feels good. I’m moving around more fluidly and it feels like a dance. This physical flexibility allows mental and spiritual flexibility. Allowing life to flow, dancing and moving with it. Things will always come up that aren’t’ planned because that’s what life does, and we can bend and move and go with them, with the dance of life, the more flexible we are. Physical flexibility helps mental flexibility because you’re releasing your hold on your thoughts , past events and past beliefs and allowing anything stuck in the tissues to come up, circulate and  leave getting rid of stagnation in your body and mind and leaving you feeling more flexible and able to move forward.

   Stretching itself can help relieve stress due to the amazing mind-body connection. Using the body to help ease the mind. We can also do mental/emotional work such as meditation, breathwork or affirmations which can conversely help calm the body and ease pain. So, if you’re not yet into the Yoga lifestyle then there is still value doing stretching and strengthening exercises coupled with mental/emotional work such as therapy, mediation, breathwork etc.

   One major thing that changed for me this year, 2020, was taking responsibility for my choices and actions. First realizing my choices are why I am where I am and think/believe or act the way I do. Looking at these and seeing which ones serve me and which ones do not. I have come into deeply practicing understanding what is giving me power and what is draining my power. Understanding what helps me feel empowered, I can do more of those things. And learning how to understand what drains my power and makes me feel weaker mentally and spiritually or even physically then I can work on those limiting beliefs or fears that are holding me back and draining my power. I can actively work on taking my power back and taking responsibility for these limiting beliefs, work on changing them by accepting them and then letting them go.

A great empowering resource I’ve found for this is Caroline Myss and her book Anatomy of the Spirit. She has many many other books and classes and lectures, but this book so far has been a gamer changer for me.

Something else that helped me feel more empowered was Dialectical behavioral therapy which focuses on making positive choices and encourages the ability to help yourself, putting the power back into your hands. It does this by coupling Cognitive behavioral therapy with Mindfulness techniques of mediation and the power of being in the present moment. I found this very insightful and useful especially when feeling anxious.

Coupling this therapy work and my yoga practice has literally changed so much for me. I feel different, in a good way. I have a lot of work to do still and will always but just really internalizing that I am in control of my power, my spirit is my responsibility, and I have the ability to take my power back at any time by letting go where I need to and make choices or decisions from only a place of faith, not fear. This has been such a great starting point for me for deeper spiritual work.

   Thanks for reading, let me know what you think and if you’ve had any major shifts that have helped you move forward in your life.

From my heart to yours,

Lauren

Dino Nuggets make me more creative!

Dino Nuggets (not a paid link, just for your enjoyment)

I’m a grown ass adult woman and I love eating dino nuggets; and no not because I have a young kid to make them for, I make them for me. I know you might be scratching your head and/or laughing and/or scratching your head and laughing because yeah, it’s kinda a weird title that needs some context. And yes, I really do love eating dino nuggets or any kinda nuggets or tenders really, but why would I say dino nuggets make me more creative? That’s pretty weird. Weird but true my friend. In my opinion anyway and I’m the one writing so I get to express my opinion and you, you get to scoff at it or take it into consideration. That is the agreement we are embarking on so if you do not agree then read no further.

  Now to begin, first let’s start with what dino nuggets are because I seem to get asked that a lot when I say I love them. To me it’s seems straight forward as it’s in the name, but they are chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. That’s it. Dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Nothing complicated and nothing fancy.

When people ask me what my favorite food is, I usually say dino nuggets and nachos. I’m a grown ass adult and I make nuggets or nachos probably 2-3 times every week. Love ‘em. Can’t get enough of ‘em. My nachos aren’t crazy and I make different kinds, but I will say that getting a Costco rotisserie chicken and pulling it apart and spreading the chicken over some scoops Tostitos with black beans and cheddar cheese, pop that in the old oven, then after it’s all melty and gooey add dollops of medium spicy salsa…. Perfection! There are other combos that are good as well but if I start listing them here, I’d just sound like that character in forest gump who lists all the things he could do with shrimp. My nacho habit is kinda like that though. And dino nuggets oh dino nuggets oh how I love thee, let me count the ways. Also, from your local Costco are the big boxes of dino nuggets that last a couple dinners, probably more if you didn’t have a hungry husband and a hungry 18-year-old like I do. So yes, I’m an adult woman and my favorite foods are the foods of children. At least that’s what others seem to tell me.

I like them because they’re fun and creative and sure they taste good too. I mean I enjoy eating them and they’re not terrible for you, though different people have different opinions about that as well. In any case they’re fun to eat and that’s the point. When I eat dino nuggets, besides them tasting good, it feels fun to eat them. How can it not? They’re little nuggets in the shape of dinosaurs! You can bite they’re heads off or bite their tails off. You can make them pretend to fight or be more grown up about it and just dose them with ketchup and eat ‘em one by one with a fork all respectable like. Doesn’t matter really the bottom line is, they’re fun. I can’t help but smile and giggle when I eat dino nuggets and they make me feel younger and reminds me of childhood and imagination and making up stories, movies, hiding in forts etc. This is why I say they make me more creative. It’s the feeling I get when eating them. I let myself feel young again and carefree, and in a world full of dinosaurs. Allowing myself to experience these moments and get into a state of imagination and childlike wonder then carries over and helps me be more imaginative and creative for my abstract paintings. Am I painting dinosaurs, no; but tapping into that imagination and giving myself even snippets of time to feel that wonder and possibility allows the creative part of my brain take over. The more I can do this, the more I can exercise my creative brain, the better. Fun ideas come to me that I can write down for later, color combinations or shapes that I want to try to lay next to each might come to me all because I’m opening myself up to feeling my imaginative mind and allowing it to flow. I also dare to say this is good for overall health and wellbeing. We live in a world that glorifies the brain and the mind and ‘smarts’ and there is nothing wrong with smarts but being too one sided has it’s draw backs because we need balance of the two sides of our brain for wellbeing. If we have too much negative stress and are always stuck in our heads thinking without enough fun and relaxation our health can suffer. Everybody is different with the amount they need but we all need both. So, adding some fun, even in the form of dino nuggets is good for creativity but also overall wellbeing. This feeling of fun helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your rest and digest system, and de-activate your sympathetic nervous system, which is your fight, flight, freeze system.  Sounds like a double win am I right?  

  Then there’s nachos too, I feel creative when I’m making them. They’re simple yet layered, messy, full of colors and lots of fun! It gets me into the creative part of my brain. I mean, it’s not so much a switch or a bank that you can pull from, but I firmly believe that the more we allow ourselves to feel imaginative wherever we can, the more imaginative we will be in general.

So, there you have it. It’s not just the dino nuggets per say but it’s the feelings the dino nuggets let me experience. These feelings of fun, carefree, childlike wonder and silly weirdness are a lovely contrast to responsibility, hard mental work and ‘being on’. I try to experience these whenever possible to keep my life feeling fun and full of imagination. I mean, it just makes life feel better and the added bonus is it inspires my creative imaginative brain and I believe makes me overall healthier. So, in my opinion there is no reason NOT to eat dino nuggets and I’m not going to tell anyone what to do and I’m not a doctor, so this is not advise, but if you’re able to then adding dino nuggets to your food rotation is nothing but a good idea. 🙂

From my heart to yours,

Lauren

Can’t Do The Side Hustle? Consider Side Slow Dancing.

Start Slow

   It’s great to have goals but sometimes life gets in the way and your dreams and goals can get pushed to the side. Don’t be discouraged by your busyness. Be empowered because you’re already doing a lot so you’re more than capable of pursuing your goals. Starting something new can always be overwhelming so start small but dream big.

When it comes to achieving goals, there isn’t a monumental moment of accomplishment but more so incremental and consistent baby steps. One rule I live by is, “What CAN I do?” When i focus on one thing in front of me that I CAN do right now and stop focusing on all the things I CAN’T do, things just get a little easier and more clear. I have giant goals and dreams but sometimes that’s overwhelming and I feel like I don’t have enough time, money and resources to do what I want. When I stop letting that overwhelm inform me and I just ask myself what I CAN do right now, one small thing to move me towards my direction, then I feel better, more accomplished and excited again instead of like I’m under a mountain of I CAN’TS.

Set loose rules for yourself

   Once you choose to focus on one goal you need to make a specific plan. Nothing crazy but loose rules for yourself to say consistent with moving forward, in your own time. Set light rules for yourself every day or every week to accomplish a tiny part of that goal. Just one thing to move yourself forward. Sometimes it will be something creative and sometimes it’ll be as simple as giving yourself a reminder to make a phone call or jotting down a blog post idea. Do not burn yourself out by trying to squeeze too much work into a short period of time. You could become overwhelmed and abandon the goal. Small incremental steps will help you stay fresh and keep it fun and light. When something feels fun and light you’re more apt to stick to it. This process can also help you discover if you truly want to achieve that goal along the way. Sometimes we think we want something and as we try it and do it we realize it’s not what we thought it was and that’s okay. 

Think outside the box

   Experimenting and thinking outside of the box could lead you to another outcome that may be better than you could ever have anticipated. Being flexible with your goal will give you wiggle room on your journey to success. Another important thing is to reach out to others. It is perfectly fine asking someone to help you reach a goal. Divvying up the work can keep you refreshed and also give you an outsider’s perspective. 

Want some outside the box materials for you next craft or art project to keep your creative mind playing and exploring?! Affiliate link to Blick Art Materials for your paints, papers, canvas and all you need.

Stay true to yourself

   Remember that your timeline is your own. You cannot compare you chapter one to someone’s chapter thirty. Your timing is different from the person next to you and where they are compared to your timeline is not pertinent to yours. Some things might take longer for you to accomplish then the next person. Keep striving. It does not matter. What matters is that you are in control of accomplishing the goal or not. What matters is that you belief in yourself enough to do so and you just keep going.

Be good to yourself

   The most important thing you can do for goals is take care of yourself. Address your needs and pursue things that make you happy. Maybe you have kids, a career, parents, and circumstances where you feel you can’t pursue a side hustle and achieve your dreams. But you can if you give yourself a break, make it small doable steps, be consistent, and set realistic goals for yourself. Take the weight and pressure of the rat race and throw it off your shoulders. You are in absolute control of your life and your dreams. You decide when your goals will be finished. You decide your future. Even if you can’t have a full on side hustle, so what, you can pursue a slow dance and make your own time line and create the life you want. 

Confucius: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Get all your fluid acrylics or canvases via Amazon with my affiliate link. Affiliate links help support this site with no additional cost to you, ever. Thanks and let’s get creating. Tag me @laurenkarpinski and use #makeshitdonttakeshit

Thanks for reading, if this helps at all please leave me a note and let me know. This is what I use for myself and I hope you get some good from it. If not, no worries, you’ll find something that resonates with you.

Don’t forget to check out my other blog posts for Art, Mindfulness and some Woo Woo.

Love,

Lauren

Lead Me On

Sometimes we can see our goal or vision but we just can’t reach it. We feel like it’s literally just beyond reach. We can smell it, see it, taste it but it’s just over there a little beyond arms length.  Doubling back sounds counter productive but may be the smartest thing to do. If we take a beat, back up a few, sit and allow this to be as it is, then we open the space needed for the new direction to come in. We can see another way around that will allow us to go further than we were now. 

I thought of this as I tied my two dogs out in our backyard on their leads. The leads are anchored between two great big lovely trees that are magnificent and beautiful. That lead has another lead on it that attaches to the dogs’ harness and allows the dogs to run freely between the trees and as far out as the attached lead will take them. These leads, of course, get stuck on stumps or rocks or wrapped around other trees. This is what made me realize that I need to take a beat. Just stop for a second, quiet down and reassess. But not reassess my ‘thinking’ yet rather my connection to the divine. This is where we can ‘feel’ or ‘know’ which way to go that best aligns with us and our highest purpose. I do feel like I’m following my intuition, which is the way I want to live, but I also have a lot of irons in the fire, so to speak, that can leave me confused and unsure of which way I’m ‘suppose’ to go. I have a lot brewing and I love having a lot of creative things going on but it also can leave me scattered and feeling like I don’t have enough time or I’m not getting enough done. The need to prioritize came up in my tarot card pull yesterday and today the spontaneous thought as I was tying the dogs out really brings that message together. Stop a second. Prioritize. Get clear. And then and only then move forward with purposeful aligned action. The only thing is, we never know when we will get the messages to move forward and a lot of times the hardest thing to do is just to stay still. And that’s where I am right now. Just trying to stay still and be okay in what my ‘mind’ tells me is useless wastes of time, but yet my heart/soul tells me is necessary to really understand what messages are coming from my intuition and the divine and what messages are weeds of the mind and ego.

Want a great book for creative living beyond fear! Get it now. I’ve read it twice and reference it often!

So getting back to my dog. There’s the big tree which is closest to the house and that has the first lead attachment to it that spans to the second tree. The running lead we clip to the dogs harness can go left or right around this big tree. So he can either run right or left around the big tree to get further into the back yard. Most of the critters, chipmunks and squirrels are running around by the shed which is to the right back corner of the yard. My dog, Sims, got clipped on and then ran around the tree passing its left side and ran towards the back right corner towards the shed. Since the lead had to use a few extra feet to wrap around the tree to the left he was able to get close to the shed but not actually get TO the shed like he can when he goes right around the tree. This left him stretching and pulling and whining because he could see where he wanted to go but he just couldn’t get there. I stared for a second and thought, how many times does he do this and not learn the lesson of just making sure to go right around the tree allowing him the most length in his lead possible? And then I thought of me. Oh yeah, I do the same thing. I have all these ideas and I’m running around ‘the yard’ in my head trying to get to the ‘shed’ that I can see and want to be at but because I’m so busy just running around and chasing squirrels and chipmunks and not fully paying attention to the aligned direction I’m going, I feel like I end up just out of reach of my intended destination. Now the truth is, maybe I don’t. Maybe that journey is the intended destination because those are lessons I have to learn; and not that there ever really is a destination because things keep right on moving and changing. But when feelings of choking myself off come, I know I’m running around too much and not paying attention to clarity and being still enough to align with what I know feels right.

I can do this by journaling and writing up my contract with myself which journaling is something I love to do so would work for me and by scheduling in STOP time. Downtime, mediation, quiet time, alone time, contemplation time, prayer time whatever you wanna call it without any intent on momentum. That time is strictly for being. Just sitting in that moment and not striving or pushing or looking to gain something. Just being. I’ve had a daily practice in the past and lately I’ve been better about having a daily practice of yoga, mediation, qigong or walking/hiking, reading etc that allows me to quiet down my mind and relieve anxiety and stress but one thing I’ve been noticing, that I’m working on, is that even then I’m letting thoughts come in and catering to them. I’ll stop my yoga flow to jot down an idea that comes into my head. Or as I’m on my peaceful walk I’ll pull out my phone and make notes to check into later. It’s because my mind is always active and running that I must make strictly being, without allowing thoughts to take over, a priority. The time to ‘not pander to my thoughts’ but to say thank you to my thoughts for coming but not listen to them in that moment. Not write them down. Not get stuck on the thoughts and keep following it down a rabbit hole. Just let it come and go. This I know I need to work on and will pull me back from choking myself around the tree. Allowing me to cut through all the noise to really be able to feel what is right. I’ve been getting better at this as of late and I really do feel a shift happening and I’m going to keep at it. Even my paintings have changed. My paintings went from active and splashing and sort of chaotic, moving as I worked through my emotions or anxiety to now being very much a mindfulness practice for me. Where I can focus my mind on just that one task and put my full attention into the act that I’m doing without thinking of the next step just the part I’m doing. I absolutely love it. It has helped me tremendously. I still like splish splashing paint so of course I still do that but I also try to do that more mindfully. Appreciating every drop and splat and swish. Then I put mindful presence into the continuation of that painting shifting into more defined shapes and mixed colors and it all comes together beautifully, ceremoniously. 

Want to make your own creations and practice mindfulness, check out Blick Art Materials and get supplies for simple, easy mindful art.

Mindfulness practice has really helped me focus better but I know that making space for quiet, doing nothing and not allowing my thoughts to take me out of that state will help me even more. And I have to make it a priority. Because my busy brain would rather be ‘doing’ anything else. Watching my dog wrap himself around the tree making him just out of reach of his goal showed me that I’m doing the same thing to myself. I’m choking myself by straining and pulling and running around all busy in my brain and out of my brain, that if I just stopped pulling, backed up a few steps and went back home, (quieted my mind) I would be able to see clearer where I wanted or needed to go. Maybe it’s a few steps over to the right and then around the tree. And there I’d be, along the path that will get me to that shed I can see ahead of me. 

Get a coloring book for mindful art practice right now from Amazon and put your mind at ease and have fun with colors and focused attention.

Another thing I know is that it doesn’t even matter what you do. It really doesn’t as long as you’re not choking yourself off from your intuition. If you’re following what feels good and right at the time and you’re trusting your intuition about what you’re suppose to do, then that’s the right thing to do. We learn the lessons we need along the way and we may never get to the shed but we may get to something even better. Or we never get to the shed but get to something we didn’t desire but this end leads to something unexpected that we couldn’t even have imagined. Either way the lessons are there for us to take and keep moving forward. All are equally good because we are trusting our intuition to lead us. And that makes life feel good. And what’s better then life feeling good? 

Do you ever feel like a dog wrapped around a tree pulling and straining to get to the critter you’re chasing? I’d love to hear. Leave me a comment. 

From my heart to yours,

Lauren

Creativity makes you healthier

Can creativity help you feel better?!

The short answer is YES! But that wouldn’t make for a fun blog post. :-p

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines holistic health as:

viewing man in his totality within a wide ecological spectrum, and … emphasizing the view that ill health or disease is brought about by an imbalance, or disequilibrium, of man in his total ecological system and not only by the causative agent and pathogenic evolution.1(p13)     (The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/)

Healthy is subjective depending on which western doctor, holistic doctor or any person you ask. We can break health down into organ systems but even when they all seem to be functioning normal we can still not feel well or have some issue going on. This is because our health isn’t just separated parts, its parts of a whole and the whole picture include physical, mental/emotional and spiritual well being. Have you ever gone for a walk or run or a hike or did yoga and after not only did you feel like your body got a workout but your mood was great, your mind felt clearer and your stress levels seem to have gone down. This is a simple example of the mind/body connection. This is also enhancing your spiritual wellbeing and it’s also stuff that I like to call, Sneaky Woo Woo. Yes there’s technical mumbo jumbo to describe what’s happening but it’s also magical and amazing that we can use our minds to heal our body and our bodies to heal our minds. We are not parts, we are one whole.

So back to my topic, can creativity help you feel better? Yes. Creativity, whether it’s making art, doing crafts, dancing, gardening, anything that gets your creative energy flowing is a great tool for leading to a healthier you. These creative activities can relieve stress, increase your mood, ease negative emotions and help you learn about yourself on a deeper level among other positive things.

It doesn’t matter what type of creative venture you choose, if you like poetry then read or write poetry, if you like dance then dance and watch dance, if you love music learn to play and go to concerts, if you like art then draw or paint and visit galleries with glorious art hanging everywhere. Because not only doing the activities but being engaging in the activities by viewing them can help improve your health and healing as well.

Creativity can be a very valuable tool in your health, healing and well being. Find something, anything to engage your imagination, your playful youth, your eyes of colors, yours ears of sounds or your body of movements. Make it a daily habit to do something engaging and fun and creative and reap the benefits of a more contented life.

What do you do for creative fun? Let me know!

Love,

Lauren

Why I love painting with Acrylic Paints

   So there’s a lot of different ways to make art out there and we all will lean towards something over something else and/or we decide to learn and use many techniques. Whatever. It’s all cool. I personally love acrylic paints. I’ve dabbled in watercolor, I dabbled in water based oils, I’ve tried sketching and markers and colored pencils and although they’re all cool, I just LOVE love love acrylics!

Why you ask?  Ok, I’ll tell you. And I’ll even tell you a few of the cons and how I’ve tackled those issues. Keep in mind this description is purposely not very technical in nature and I’m using words or phrases that can be easily understood by anyone who just wants to know a little more about acrylics paints. Plus technical bumbo jumbo isn’t really my jam. So, let’s get to it. 

Ok, so what do you know about acrylics already? That their non toxic. Yup. Water based. Yup. Kids can use em. Yup. There are a ton of brands out there of them for sale. Yup. 

  Great we have a starting off point. Now let’s get into it more. Acrylics are water based paints, meaning they can be thinned or re-activated with water. Thinned meaning that you can put a small amount of water into them and they become more runny then they were.The consistency is more…watery. Tadah! This also diminishes the color and the coverage transparency and the permanency, so too much water is not a good thing either. We will get more into that later. Re-activation with water means that if your paint is laying out for a bit and you don’t want it to get gummy or tacky from drying out you can give it a spritz with water and it’ll be soft paint again instead of a gummy blob. Acrylics cannot be out for too long before they start getting gummy and then hard. The water evaporates into the air and leaves behind a goopy mess that will turn hard and you cannot paint with it. So some people don’t like acrylics because of this ‘time is of the essence’ part to them. And yes sometimes this is frustrating but there’s work arounds to it that are more then worth the pay off, in my opinion. We will get to that too. 

You can use acrylics similar to watercolors and also use them to be similar to oils. What?! How crazy cool is that? It’s like the versatile new kid in school who seems to fit in with everyone when you can’t seem to fit in with anyone and you wear weird shoes and dye your hair weird colors, you stare at the stars and wear bright colors because their fun and funky and no one your age seems to see just how cool you are really….er, um, ok, lets get back to acrylics.

Since acrylics are water-based, just like Watercolors, you can add water to them to get similar effects to Watercolors. You can also thin them down with additives to the acrylic paints and there’s a difference in the two techniques. Which we will get into. And there’s different acrylic paints, which we will get into. Ok so lets describe what Watercolors are first; Watercolors are pigments that react with water and become the consistency of how much water you use. The more water, the more splish and splash but the less potent the color. Also Watercolors are not permanent so if you let your Watercolor art dry and then put water or a watercolor on top of it it will lift off your previous work and/or blend it with your new color because the water from your new layer re-activates the bottom layers. See, we re-used that fancy word from the beginning. I’m killing this blog post. Air five! So the BIG difference between acrylics and Watercolors is the permanency of them because acrylics have a glue binder in them that makes them stick when painted. They’re that piece of white dog/cat hair on your black as black can be pants that JUST WON’T COME OFF! Yeah. They stick. So you can paint acrylic on top of acrylic after they’ve dried and it doesn’t re-activate. So you can layerrrrr!!! Wootwoot! I love me some layering. Drool. And this is one of them main reasons I love acrylics. Layering. One, because layers can add depth and look super cool but also because as part of the creative process I mess a ton of sh&t up or just do stuff to see if I like it and if I don’t then, bip bop boop, when it’s dry I cover that mess up. Bam. Mic drop.

Okay so I mentioned there are different types of acrylic paints as well as things you can add to your acrylics to make them act and look more like watercolors. If you buy a fluid or thin acrylic you’re going to get just what the name tells you, a fluidy or a thin easy to spread permanent acrylic paint that is more water like.You can buy it like this or add a medium to it. Coming back to the point above about thinning acrylics with water; this is good and it’s also bad. Er or I don’t know. I don’t like saying it’s good or bad but it changes the properties of the paint so depending on what you’re wanting and if you’re aware of what you’re doing then you’re all good. So remember we talked about watercolor not being permanent because it doesn’t have the glue/binder in it that acrylics have to make them stick and stay. So if you decide to thin down your heavy body or even soft body acrylic with a lot of water you can, buuuut just know that you’re turning that into a watercolor because you’re breaking up that glue binder so it won’t stick and stay and with much less color oopmph because your increasing the transparency. Now, you could also thin your acrylic by adding a medium to it that is made to thin it down. It will still lessen the color oomph but keep the glue-ness to it so that it stays permanent.  I’m not going to go into the different things you can add in this post, maybe those specifics will be for another one but just know that you can add to the acrylic to thin it down with permanency. You can also buy one of those fluid or high flow acrylics we talked about earlier which is basically a very thin watery acrylic but with the glue-ness already added for permanency so you don’t have to do any mixing and spell casting. Or however you mix your colors. We’re all different. Don’t judge. These fluid acrylics allow you to buy it….dun dun dun already fluid and permanent. So these fluid acrylics, self mixed or bought mixed, are yes, you guessed it, layerable.! My number one favorite reason for using acrylics. With the fluid additives or by buying fluid acrylics you can make cool watery watercolor like effects but also layer them, which, if you ask me, is pretty f&ckin cool. It’s so much easier, flexible and diverse. (You can add a fixative to watercolor surfaces to, just as the name sounds, fix it to the surface but I’m not going into that here, that’s watercolor world and it’s not my jam.)

Acrylics can be like oils. Yes I said that as well. Now if you want to have a look more like oils, which is usually that goopy built up look, think Van Gogh, you can buy heavy body acrylics which will hold the shape of the paint more. It’ll give it more structure so kinda like your modeling the paint like clay in a way. You get it. It’ll hold the shape of the paint and you can see your brush strokes or knife marks. Now to get it more like clay and goopy oil you can actually add modeling paste to your acrylics. This makes it very thick and it is like putting clay onto a surface and then modeling it on your surface and then you can paint over it. Babam! Very cool things can be made here. And just like making things out of clay, no it’s not always easy and that’s why I gave up on this. I’m lazy. I do love the look of this heavy texture though and I will most likely revisit it in the future. You can create some cool flower shapes and abstract textures that are 3D and pop off the canvas. Very cool.

texture with acrylic and modeling paste

Another way that acrylics can now behave like oils is because of something called Open acrylics. These acrylics come with extenders in them that well, I’m sure you’ve guessed by now but they extend the Open time, or time it takes for them to get all goopy and gross so that you have a longer time to use them. This is more like oils which take foreeeever to dry so you can go back to them like a week later (I don’t know how accurate that is for oil drying time which I feel like is months but I don’t use oils so I cannot confirm nor deny that above statement) and keep using them or mixing them with other colors on or off the canvas. So these open acrylics take more time to dry and you have more time to work with them and you buy them like that, you can also add extender medium to your acrylics to do the same thing. That way you can pick and choose which colors or layers you need more time with.

Moving on. Yes, oils can also be thinned with oil thinners and used not goopy so there’s that as well. But we’re not talking about oils we’re talking about acrylics so don’t get me off topic please. 

Okay so we learned about acrylics drying out when you have them out too long and that you can spritz them with water to keep them active. Not like crazy drowning in water splashes but spritzes of water to keep them going. And one cool new thing I learned from some of Jerry’s Artarama videos on Youtube (It’s Mike not Jerry, is my fav) is to put a few drops of extender into your spray bottle water so that when you spritz your pallet a bit of extender gets on the paints as well and this slightly increases your open time for working with your paints. So it gives you just a little extra time before the paint gets goopy and you can keep adding little spritzes (little spritzes) to add more time. And, like was mentioned above, you can buy extender and mix that in your paints to allow them more time out in the air as you’re working on your painting. Adding it gives you the option of which colors you need more time to work with as opposed to open acrylics where you get the time whether you want it or not. This, and yes it all comes back to layering for me, is not as good for me because I love layering…which needs to dry before to do so; so I don’t like mixing extender to my paint because that’s too much time fore me but a light spritz in my water does wonders. If you like blending and making smoother transitions or like to go back and re-mix a color already on the canvas then you’ll love the open acrylics or adding extender to the paint itself. I mean, we can’t be friends but that’s cool if you like that. No, haha just kidding! We can only be acquaintances though. :-P.  

Another neat trick I’ve been doing with my acrylics is putting them in jars with Press’N Seal over them. I saved little glass jars from these desserts at Costco. Tiramisu or something like that. I use those glass jars to mix my colors and then when I’m done for the day I put a spritz or two of my water with extender in em and then use the Press’NSeal over it to keep the air out and skippidy do dah, it’s still ready to go the next time I come back to it. I’ll give it another spritz and mix before use and it’s painting in funky town time. This trick I especially love when I’m mixing weird colors because I know I won’t be able to do the correct ratio the next time, even if I write it down and try really hard, (also see above, I’m lazy) so I can do my crazy funky cool mixes in these jars and just have them until I’m done with that painting. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way of not keeping these colors. Ok, I keep learning it because really I need more of these jars. I’ll have to go to Costco and force feed my family Tiramisu. You know to stay green and re-use jars instead of buying new ones. I’m earth conscious like that. (update, my husband bought me a bunch of glass jars with air tight lids for my bday. It was a present so I have to keep it…and I’m very happy!) There are other ways that acrylic artist use for keeping their acrylics lasting longer but this is what works for me.

Amazon affiliate links for these jars-click through

So let’s do a quick recap. Things that are great about acrylics:

1. They can be layered!!!

2. They can be thinned or bought thinned to use like watercolors. 

3. They can be bought heavy bodied to show marks or strokes like Oils 

4. They can have extender added or bought Open to be used like Oils

5. They can be bulked up like the Hulk with modeling paste or other additives and used like clay to design or draw in

6. They can bring fun and enjoyment to any age group or talent level 

And I’m not putting down a re-cap of the cons because honestly I went over them already and they aren’t even worth recapping because acrylics are awesome and that’s the point of this post and I wrote it and I can do what I want. I have also not gone into detail in this post about the many different brands of paints, quality etc. that will be for another post.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you have gotten some beneficial info and feel inspired to go get you some acrylics and start playing and painting and having a great time. You and your family. If you want to spend time with your family that is. I usually paint alone. It’s my escape. Don’t judge, we all need an escape. No yes, of course I love my family. It’s just paintings’ my thing okay. But yeah you do you. Anyway, I’m out of here. Gonna go paint and have fun. Alone. 🙂

If you’d like to see behind the scenes studio shots or videos check out my Instagram @laurenkarpinski or Pinterest @AbstractLaurenKarpinski or my Youtube @Lauren Karpinski. They’re mostly all the same videos and pics but depending on your preferred viewing platform, you have a choice. 

If you like to purchase prints, Digital Downloads or T-shirts, Journals and other print on demand items please visit my Etsy store Lauren Karpinski Art. For original art for sale stay on this website and visit my shop, laurenkarpinski.com or email me for something special.

Thanks for sharing your time with me!

Love, 

Lauren

Making the world a more beautiful place, one brushstroke at a time. 

P.S. If @Jerrysartarama, @Costco or @Press’NSeal are happy in any way that I’ve totally given them amazing street cred, then yeah sure, you could definitely twist my arm into giving you some ad space on my site. Just sayin’. 🙂

P.P.S Please note this post contains affiliate links that may give me small commissions on purchases when clicked through, at no additional cost to you ever! Thanks for supporting my site and Art.

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This is what love does.

I was laying in bed next to my husband the other night and this feeling came over me. I felt so grateful and appreciative to have such a supportive being and loving presence in my life. It wasn’t always so and I felt lucky to have it now. As I lay there I reminisced about the beginning times of our relationship. How exciting is was. How full of joy each moment was and how everyday felt beautiful and light and full of possibility. And then I wondered, why is it not always like that now? I’m not talking about the love I feel for him, that hasn’t changed but has in fact grown stronger, I’m talking about the fact that even shitty days, bad days, challenging days felt like they didn’t matter, that anything was possible, that no bad day could get me down after getting a text or phone call, or a smile from ‘my person.’ I do still feel better after seeing or talking to him but the powerful mind trap of thoughts and anxieties that used to seem to fade away do not fade away and are ever present.

It got me thinking about how life sweeps you up and takes you along and how fighting it is really exhausting and makes your head spin out of control. Yet that seems to be the state in which I struggle against and live in daily. Letting life take me along? How lovely and terrifying at the same time. Oh how I want to let go of control. My mind is constantly trying to ‘figure things out.’ Planning for tomorrow, for next week, for 5 years from now. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with plans but there is something inherently struggle worthy about being rigid and not allowing for life to sweep you up and take you with her. Because one thing that’s for sure is that this will happen. We cannot control life, as hard as we might try. That saying, Man plans and God laughs, it’s so so true. The best laid plans can turn to shit without anything going ‘wrong’ or us doing anything ‘wrong’. It just is.

So as I laid there looking at the adorable face of my sleeping husband I wondered why my mind plays these tricks on me. Why does everything feel insurmountable sometimes and why do I feel so on edge and pent up like I’m racing a clock, even on my days off of work? Sometimes it feels like I can never keep up with the world and at times I want to give up. And at times, I do give up. I just give in.

This year proved to be one of the hardest of my life. I am healing from and learning to live in peace with anxiety and depression. I had an extreme adverse reaction to a medication that led me down a deep dark path of hopelessness. For a couple months I didn’t think I’d be able to keep the devil at bay. The thoughts were so dark, calling me into the beloved embrace of source. Of emptiness. I wanted to go. At times I thought I would go. But reality would seep in and I couldn’t see leaving people who loved me. That was my saving grace, Love. Sometimes my husband would just have to lay in bed with me, holding me. Holding me tight while I wept uncontrollably at the thought of being alive and feeling this kind of pain and torment that was going on within my mind. I wept like I’ve never wept before. It was so scary, so bottomless. It enslaved my thoughts and my body would just wrench and wring itself around with every loud overwhelming sob. Sometimes he’d hold me for hours waiting for the darkness to finally subside. Sometimes he’d whisper things like “we’ll get through this” or “you’ve gotten through it before and you can do it again.” And I’d whisper back, “I don’t think I’m strong enough,” “I don’t think I can do this anymore.” But we’d laid there and we cried. Just being there, it wasn’t his words, it wasn’t the comfortable bed we were in, the lovely house we are lucky to live in, the clothes we were wearing, any money in the bank, it was his presence. It was him being there with me in those moments and not being anywhere else. Fully with me. He’d bring me back. He’d bring me back to here and now. And that is what love is. That is what love does.

I remember during one of my many crying episodes we went outside. We brought our dogs out and sat there on that particularly sunny and warmish day in the middle of March. And I sat there sobbing and caught up in my thoughts of wondering why I was even alive and wouldn’t it be easier for everyone and less burdensome if I just wasn’t there; when this lite wind hit my cheeks. I glanced up to see the sunlight dancing in the trees and showing little refractions of rainbow colors in between the just blossoming leaves. I sat there sobbing while thoughts of “how beautiful this is” started creeping into my head. “What a perfect feeling breeze against my face.” “Wow how amazing is that sun just dancing on the tree tops spreading its beauty into the world without wanting or needing anything in return.” The overwhelming beauty of just being outside and seeing the world as it was in that moment and letting the light shine on me helped bring me back, at least for a few seconds. I still couldn’t stop my crying but I did feel hope again in those few moments. I could feel my thoughts shifting from “why is this happening to me,” to “If life can be this beautiful in just a ray of sunlight and a whisper of wind upon my cheeks than what could I ever have to worry about and can I try to not allow this much pain to exist within me. Can I please just let go. Can I lay down my control and surrender.” The beauty of that moment in nature gave me glimpses of the purity of being in the moment and seeing it and feeling it as it was. The beauty of that moment was what love feels like. And I wanted love to conquer.

All these thoughts swirling around as I laid and stared at this sleeping being next to me in bed and I realized why it feels so good when we are first falling in love, or just when we feel love. It’s full and pure and all encompassing and it’s only only only in this moment. It’s right now. You feel it with every cell, every molecule of your being. It radiates in you and around you. You are waking presence in that moment. You cannot be in the past nor in the future to feel this intense loving state, it’s only here and now. It’s so strong and so pure and so intoxicating that nothing feels like it could go wrong or be bad. And this, THIS, is the state that we are aspiring to attain at all moments of waking conscious life. This purity that every moment is magical. That every moment of being alive deserves this kind of attention. This kind of solely being in the here and now. Nowhere else. Not here physically but mentally somewhere else. Just here. Present in every moment. Appreciative for every moment. In and participating in every moment fully. This is what love does. And if I, if we, can find this state of being in every moment no matter whether we are falling for another, we just got a new car or a raise, or we lost a job, lost a relationship or are dealing with anxiety/depression; if we can find and be in this state of love and now-ness at all times then there we would find peace, contentment and the divine. The amazing mysteries of life would be unfolded before us because we were present to see them, feel them and be them.

This is what love does. Love isn’t a feeling, love is being. Purely being. This is what life could be. And I want in. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy because it’s not. And I’ve been doing this work for over 15 years of trying to better myself and live a more free flowing life and be ok with just being. And I catch glimpses of it here and there and then they go and then they come and then they go again. I’ve been catching more glimpses as I’ve grown older and this is the hope; to continually walk the path of catching more and more glimpses until I can finally live as a being of pure love. Not just theoretically but actually and realize it was within me, it was me, it’s all of us, all along.

Love,

Lauren