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Posts tagged ‘heart’

No 37: Baring Secrets

Portrait_Week37

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“Baring Secrets” speaks to some new and very personal things stirring inside me in the past few months. Most significantly, the ideas of love and vulnerability. I met a man recently who I formed an instant friendship with. From the get go, it was less like meeting for the first time and more like remembering someone I haven’t seen in a very very long time. It is the very same sort of feeling I had when I first met my fiancé.

Being faced with such a connection has left me both thrilled and terrified. Both happy and conflicted. And interestingly enough, I now realize why it took so long for the heart images to come to fruition. I think things were getting in the way on purpose until my heart was in the very space it needed to be to tell this story – until the circumstances of meeting this person came about.

There are stories of fear and bravery here. Stories of the secrets I hold deep within me… the places of pain that no one else sees. Places even I have not dared to venture within myself since my fiance died. Places that I have sewn tightly shut for the past two and a half years. Places that I know – once the stitches are removed – have the potential to be very painful and scary.

So it goes with the heart… with the possibility of allowing someone new into the most sacred parts of ourselves. It is not only for the widowed, but for anyone who risks their heart. Because we have to open up the stitches of old wounds if we’re really going to love and be loved. We have to be willing to bare the secrets that reside in those most private, dark, dirty, worn corners of us if we ever want a chance to feel that beautiful soul-filled unconditional love from another.

It is not easy to open up these deepest wounds. It takes incredible bravery. The open air can be excruciating at times. We have no guarantee that the person who is loosening the stitches will do so gently and with love. No guarantee that they won’t try to rip them out, or seal them shut without a care to heal them. All we can do, is hope, and trust that we chose someone who can do the job right.

God, it is terrifying… so terrifying to let new hands begin to loosen the stitches. Especially when someone else had already done the job so well, years ago. Someone else, who’s death caused new stitches. But… I think, far more terrifying to never let new hands touch the heart. To never try and allow someone to be gentle with me. Because in that, I will never learn that someone new can do the job well, too.

After years of hiding it away, I am finally presenting my heart bravely, and allowing some of those stitches to be loosened. Not all of them, and not all the way. But some, and slowly. Thus far, these new hands have been gentle. They have not tried to open my heart any more than I am ready for. They have not tried to sew the wounds back shut once they saw inside. Instead, they have held my battered heart quietly, with strength – seeming to know that all it needs is to be held, to be seen as fully as it wants to be seen.

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Week 36 // Balance

Portrait_Week36

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I’ve been waiting for this image for a long time. Over the past year it has evolved in various forms until the idea of creating a story around heartstrings came up. The original of the idea came from hearing a story about a woman’s near-death experience recently, in which she described leaving her body but seeing literal strings connecting her heart to all the other hearts around her. That clicked for me as the perfect concept for this shot.

I’ve sat with all the images from this shoot for over a week now because so many of them turned out to be very powerful. So much so that I’m thinking I will break it out into its own smaller series – in color. I’ve certainly had a hard time choosing just one for this series, but this is the one that is speaking to me today.

The heart story. Connections, love, vulnerability, tension, fear, courage. The heart is a raw, wild place inside us that we only ever allow a very select few to see. Personally, I like it that way.

There has been, all my life, this constant tension between myself and the outside world. I have lost far too many people in my 32 years to be frivolous about who I attach it to. This isn’t something that has been caused by my fiance’s death, but likely by the death of my mother when I was very young and likely also to the dysfunctional nature of my childhood. I turned inward when she died, and spent much of my time within my own heart and mind. Safe from the pain of losing others. Over time, I became an expert at keeping connections at bay… but in the background, I always knew there was something about this that I didn’t like. It was all too easy to sever ties with most people because I never let them connect to me in the first place.

My fiancé’s love changed all that. He crept into the depths of my heart in ways that I had not allowed anyone else to. His essence wrapped itself around the deepest, darkest, most vulnerable parts of me. There was no fixing, just existing. Together. Wrapped around each other’s darkness. And around each other’s light. I let him all the way in. When he died, I could do nothing but bleed for a very long time. The brokenness made it impossible not to.

So it was his death which actually began to change something in me. In particular, the trauma and shock of how suddenly he died. It ripped my heart right out of my chest. What I didn’t know back then, is that although this meant my heart was now more vulnerable than ever, it also meant that it was more out in the open to receive love. That’s the thing of it – to receive love, to create connections, we must be willing to put our hearts out into the open and risk them being ripped apart.

It’s a terrifying thing. In the past few months, there have been some powerful shifts for me that have led to new challenges. There have been events and people who have come into my world which have pushed me to decide whether I will continue working to keep my heart our there in the world. Beginning to date again, and move into deeper friendships with men again, has been one of the biggest struggles of late. Particularly because it began to present itself so without warning and it has uprooted all sorts of things I had yet to begin to work through.

As I move forward, I’m learning a new balance with the outside world. I am not hiding my heart away like I used to. Finding less need for that now. I am not leaving it out in the open either though. I am holding it close to me, grasped firmly between strong hands – protected, but connected. Allowing others to grab hold of my heartstrings without letting them pull me out of balance. Choosing people who will not want to pull me out of balance. From here, I can loosen or tighten my grip as needed, in order to feel safe. And I can trust others respect that and do the same for themselves. The tension is no longer a negative. It is no longer out of balance on one side or the other, but instead like two equal forces, myself and the hearts of everyone else around me, creating power, energy and stability in the space between us.

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“Still, Life” is a year-long self portrait series exploring the journey of grief. You can read more about the project in this post. To see the full image gallery visit 2014 PROJECT. Please share with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

December: The Finale Poster

Look Into Your Heart and You will Find…

I can’t believe it – but it’s finally done. A whole YEAR of creative projects and blogging! It doesn’t feel at all like a year… in fact it flew by with all the fun I had with it! I was hoping to get this posted on the last day of LAST year – but you know, sometimes you just have to put working aside to enjoy some good memories with loved ones. That is really what life’s about, after all!

So, on this first fabulous day of 2012 I give you my final project from 2011… a poster design with the theme “looking inside”. It’s actually been really wonderful to start out my new year focusing on the idea of looking into the heart. The theme actually ended up carrying into our new year’s celebration last night, as we took a few moments to reflect on 2011. We shared things like our biggest disappointments, what we were most proud of, and what we were ready to let go of in the coming year. It was wonderful to take a moment to think about things like that, to share them openly with each other, and to listen. I was certainly most proud of this project.

The idea that is has helped to inspire even one single person to take on their own project in 2012 means more to me than anything really. I hope that if you are reading this – and are in a place in your life where you miss doing a lot of the things you used to do or have a list of new things you’ve been putting off for years – that maybe it helps encourage you to take hold of your creative spirit. Look into your heart… Get out there and do and be and live all the things that excite you and fill you with passion. We only live once, after all, so we might as well fill our days with the things that fill our hearts.  Goodnight Friends!

 

December Project Status

As promised, I dug my heels in tonight and got to work on this poster! I had a pretty simple idea in mind to do a graphic representation of the phrase “look into your heart” using an eye with a heart in the middle. As you can see – even a super simple idea like that can explode into something totally different once you get going! After doing a few sketches, I decided on one or two options to build out on the computer… then just spent a few hours playing with various ways to arrange the hearts in patterns in the iris of the eye. Pretty much just messing around until something looked cool and gave the feel I was wanting. Below are some of the earlier versions (and most recent version at bottom). Tomorrow I will be adding in some texture and possibly tweaking colors. It’s getting close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand-made Valentine’s Card

Hi all!

Just thought I’d take a moment to share the lovely hand-made card my friend Kellye Kimball sent me! She and I are participating in a little project called “Hand it Forward”. I recommend trying it out! Just post this in your Facebook status below and watch the hand-made goodies spread! =)

“Hand it Forward in 2011: I promise to send something **handmade** to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. You must in turn post this as your status and send something you make to the first 5 people who comment. It must be handmade by you and it must be sent sometime in 2011.”

Thank you Kellye!

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