Archive | Personal Essays

What is the Shape of Your Soul?

daydream papa nap dream

The only statement you really need to make is the sound of Your Name pressed against the never-ending skin of the universe.

When someone is striving to be more spiritual or more religious, all too often they end up despising their physical existence in the hunt for the metaphysical. I have been guilty of this. I understand the impulse. I want to rub up against something divine, to grant Meaning and Purpose to my mundane existence. I want to believe things happen for a Reason, that the monotony and heartbreak of everyday life isn’t all that there is.

I’m not supposed to talk about these things. It’s not polite. But, during tragedies, or in the quiet, lonely moments of the night, these feelings slink about in my heart, like never-ending questions. What is the meaning? Who am I? What is my purpose?

I don’t have answers, but I find comfort in words. (more…)

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Updates: Note Cards Now Available and My Next Project!

Oh deer cards

I am excited to announce that I am now offering note cards in my shop!

My popular Oh Deer print is now available in a 4-pack of note cards.  It has been a journey this last year finding a printer that makes quality note cards; after dozens of test prints from shops far and wide, I’ve found the perfect match. The subtle and soft quality of the watercolors comes across wonderfully, and the card stock is a smooth, matte paper and feels excellent and is very easy to write on.

You can buy the note cards here! (more…)

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Paint Away The Pain: On Hard Times and Creating Art

whimsical whimsy owl squirrel mouse fox mooseElune and I are discussing artwork and the creative process. She asks me: “Have you ever used art to paint your way out of your hardest times in life or your inner struggles?”

This past year, I addressed some painful issues: depression, financial insecurity, old wounds, and disillusionment with church leadership. These topics probably seem even heavier when juxtaposed against the lighthearted and fanciful style of my artwork. How does my life experience inform my artwork? How can someone who thinks about such dark things create such whimsical pieces?

I’m not sure I have an answer. (more…)

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Depression, Suicide and Hope: My Redemption Story

jeans with ripped kneesI need to tell you about the time I tried to kill myself.

I spent my early twenties at Harding University. When I tell you that my school is a legalistic Christian school, this is what I mean: not only are there strict rules about modesty, one day I was stopped by a teacher in chapel and told to change because my jeans had ripped knees; girls and boys are in separate dorms, at opposite ends of campus, and have strict curfews; girls are required to pass a weekly cleaning inspection; not only is alcohol consumption forbidden for all students and staff, but if a student is merely seen holding a can of beer for someone else, they will be expelled. I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the picture: I was in a controlling environment.

When I think back to my emotional state at that time, I imagine myself cowering in the corner of a room, huddled with my head between my knees, with sticky black paint poured over my back, dripping down my head, pooling at my feet.

I was 22 years old when I overdosed on pills and was rushed to the hospital. I used to be afraid all the time that I would die by suicide. It hurt so much to be alive, and some days I just couldn’t bear it. I spent the entire ride to the hospital terrified that I had tried to commit suicide. (more…)

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Why I Let My Kid Watch Too Much TV

parenting ipad television dangers too much tv

Phoebe had a head cold two weeks ago. Last week, as she was getting better, I caught her cold. Neither of us had any energy, so I downloaded Netflix onto her iPad. Since then, she’s been watching Littlest Pet Shop every single day.

We aren’t sick anymore, but she’s still lethargic, and she still really wants to watch TV. A lot. Every day.

TV is brain candy, so I’m getting really stressed out about it. How much TV is too much TV? (more…)

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((new portrait)) Facing My Fear of Painting

 Facing My Fear of Painting new watercolor and ink portrait
 I sit down to paint, and I am scared. This portrait is 15 x 22 inches. While watercolor artists regularly work with this size, this is the biggest portrait I’ve ever done.

I’m scared that the painting will suck.

I’m scared that I’ll screw up.

I’m probably not supposed to tell you I am scared. I’m probably supposed to be mysterious and aloof and confident. But I want to be true to myself, so I will tell you that, when I paint, a part of me is always scared.

 

 

(more…)

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((new portrait)) Beauty Grows In the Thick Of Things

photo1
I am a sublimation junkie.

Well, not technically. Let’s have a little tangent and unpack “sublimation” for a bit.

Psychologically speaking, sublimation is when you take something reprehensible and transform it into something acceptable. But that’s not what I mean. I get excited when I am presented with a situation that is painful, broken and sad, and out of the pain, something new and beautiful is born, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Philosophically, Kant’s theories about The Sublime portrayed it as something beyond the grasp of mortal man. Mortal man is too messy, too complicated. However, I disagree with Kant. I don’t believe our messy, mortal lives are something we need to overcome or despise for their limitations. I believe we, as people, are fully and truly exactly who we are meant to be…and that connection to The Divine can be discovered when we live more fully, more deeply, and more truly exactly right where we are. (more…)

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Radio Lab, Musical DNA, and Surprising God

tech joy

My hands are in the sink. I am washing dishes. My family is off playing Nintendo. I am blissfully alone, and my mind is open. Radio Lab is on NPR.

The interview is with David Cope, a composer. When faced with musical writer’s block, Cope built an analytical computer program, named EMI (Experiments in Musical Intelligence). EMI is able to ascertain patterns unique to each composer run through its system. After analyzing scores of music, Cope applied algorithms from these composers to other works of music, giving them new and amazing life. (more…)

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I’m Just Like Isabel Briggs Myers

matt & phoebes

Myer-Briggs is my favorite personality test. When I stumbled across this little nugget about Isabel Myers and her husband, Clarence “Chief” Myers, I was exhilarated: I have the same personality type as Myers (INFP), our husbands have the same personality type (ISTJ), and, according to the Myers-Briggs test, we are NOT supposed to be compatible!

Isabel and Chief were, by all accounts, happily married; Matt and I are, as well (of course I have to say that, but it’s nevertheless true). However, learning to love each other has had its obstacles. I thought I’d share a few tidbits of what it’s like being an INFP who is married to an ISTJ: (more…)

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