Triggered Reactions: A Practice in Floating Atop My Emotions Instead of Drowning in Them

Getting my float on energizes my pool time with joyful giddiness. It’s my adulating playtime.

Getting my float on energizes my pool time with joyful giddiness. It’s my adulating playtime.

When I learned the word trigger, I couldn’t have been but knee high to a grasshopper.

Not so much. No. Not at all was there any reference to even the word trigger beyond gun references. Hair trigger. Trigger finger. Pull the trigger.

Emotional triggers: I learned this insightful word and its meaning only in the past few years. 

This is the story of a mild trigger - like a gnat buzzing around my ear, I could step out a bit and see more clearly how and why I was triggered, and that working on my response is a practice well worth the effort. 

Likewise to all things personal growth for me I dived into the deep waters of learning and came out with painful lessons, forgiveness, warning signs, and most importantly a few pretty simple practices addressing how to better respond when I’m triggered emotionally. 

Practicing how to process my reactions in a more positive way. 

Inspired as well after a recent conversation with a friend. She had just been triggered by something in her social media feed that just a couple years ago had coached me through: trigger, reaction, emotional backlash, deeper trigger, change action(s). Our talk providing a bit of comfort around the open timeline and process of putting change work into practice. 

Patience.

Being able to better feel the spark ignited by the trigger without the powerful rush of my history with the subject matter has enabled me to function a bit more skillfully through both my response and attempts at prevention.

Just like peeling off the layers of winter clothes as Summer approaches to go to the pool, shedding the angry and visceral responses to what the world around me presents is like a cool float on a hot day.

Nothing like a community Facebook group page to test my progress.

It’s now been a year living in a planned community with my mom. It has all the things you could possibly want if you play fairly nice with others. It has a pool and hot tub, a homeowners association, and of course a group facebook page. Oh yeah, and plenty of deer.

Seemingly the most boring of pages, which is quite nice given the madness available on the internet, still has its moments. I rarely pay attention to it unless there’s complaining involved. Always a man. Always. 

For me, my social media pages are such a learning process and sometimes quite baffling source of stress, getting emotionally charged by something triggering me out of a fairly calm and peaceful state.

Thankfully, I get to go online and enjoy it in short bursts. Having a business has increased my presence, also directing it in specific ways. Having a business so closely tied to my identity creates new possibilities and new pitfalls. In retrospect, I created the many pages because I think I can balance the two. The verdict on my success with that is still out

Fumbling through social media and experiencing both my own and others triggers put personal growth work to work. Getting a glimpse of my process play out, is both good and the helpful in the areas still needing work with more and more skill to navigate moving forward with less trauma. 

Working to overcome my anger and temper has helped me identify more acutely my triggers with some great skills to remain out of the red - most of the time. 

This is an example of the progress I’ve made and the constant work in practice I call my life.

I go to the pool here in my community, swim and relax a bit in the sun while I dry off. The times of extended laying out for that tan are less important than less healthy to me now. Life is shorter now and I ain’t got time for laying around baking to a crisp in the desert sun.

Our pool closes in winter and only has 2 precious weeks before kiddos get out of school and it admittedly gets a bit hectic for my taste.

The weather was perfect! I jumped right in and even took some photos, documenting the serenity and joy I was basking in more than the sun. A little bit of sun. Just the vitamin D requirement worth.

Warm.

Sunny.

Refreshing.

Happy.

Good to go with my fun in the sun fix. I got out, dried off, headed home, and got online posting amusing pictures of the deer pruning the bushes outside the pool. This is when I noticed a grumpy neighbor posted a complaint on our group Facebook page and I lost my cool. 

Oh deer!! A warning: stay out of the crosshairs. Becoming keenly aware of how to better move through triggers.

Oh deer!! A warning: stay out of the crosshairs. Becoming keenly aware of how to better move through triggers.

I have a few internet and social media rules now that I try to abide by. Embracing a more harmonious and pleasant presence in social media land with a goal to reduce triggers as much as possible. Probably helped when I started using it for work purposes. I didn’t want to let my personality and posts be all business though, these few steps just help me navigate away from negativity. 

  1. Creating a social media mission or values philosophy. Everything I post now aligns with my main goal of sharing a thoughtful and overall good time. I’m a photographer and painter so I share beauty in images. I’m a health & lifestyle coach so I share expressions of my journey to living a more energized, fulfilled, and joyful life now, before it’s too late. 

  2. I don’t have time for people that spread anger that ends up on my feed. I’m not in any kind of business that requires I see these toxic posts. Unfollow and unfriend if posts trigger a downward spiraling response, getting them out of my space.

  3. If I don’t have anything encouraging, constructive, relatable, or funny to say in response to someone’s post, a loosely termed friend according to Facebook, I move on, making no comment. Leaving posts and comments I disagree with and quickly moving on to more pet photos, please. An effort of being kinder and more respectful to myself first. Everybody else gets a beautiful, upgraded version because of these simple rules.

When I saw this neighbors rant about our pool, I was at first critical; don’t you have anything better to do than get in our neighborhood group and complain? Followed by thinking how fortunate are we that we have such sublime problems; a step emotionally in the right direction.

Just that moment of a curious thought mixed with a bit of gratitude adjusted the trigger a bit in my brain.

At this point, I was instantaneously distracted from my original purpose for getting on Facebook, which isn’t uncommon in playing the game of social media. 

Of course, in retrospect I can clearly see the trigger had been pulled.

I wrote a scathing response, which I deleted. Wrote it again. Deleted. Knowing me I probably copied and pasted it into my journal if it was a good enough zinger. I finally trimmed to the most zen I could think of, taking a pause in my emotion.

Why did this get me so hot?

Hot: a word I now use in reference to my temper.

Dissociating from the anger a bit and giving it a little space to simmer down.

What I ended up responding with:

“When I go to the pool or any place and find that it is too crowded, or the scene isn’t what I’m interested in, I leave and come back another time. I hope you find your right time.”

Not bad, Sam! Way to reel it in.

Not everyone can do this - yet! I didn’t used to be able to do it either. Sense that I was being triggered by something in my line of fire and sooth my emotional state instead of letting my temper flare, and my fingertips deliver a snappy comeback. 

It wasn’t until I saw my partner at the time fully check-out from reality and into a past experience, unleashing a fury upon me that taught me what PTSD can do. Only in reflection can I see the triggers so clearly and how they reflect our responses. It didn’t take long before I knew something was drastically different in these incidents. I quickly and desperately wanted to know how I could change MY behavior because my reactions were not helping the situation. I can look back on that now with forgiveness for us both, and a very clear understanding that I’ve got to do my own work first before I can help others.

Progress!

In additional to my outwardly mild response to this neighbors post, I upped the ante, taking a completely unnecessary passive aggressive turn. Posting pictures I’d taken around the pool, the calm waves on the water, the blue sky with clouds in the distance, that cute deer picture with a pretty obvious and overly enthusiastic celebration of all things community pool.

The passive aggression was only obvious to me in retrospect, not in the moment. In the moment my only thought was to show something else, more positive because I knew that lashing out at him with a verbal tirade was not the answer.

I’ve been kicked out of a social media group before!

I know how to play this game!

My real trigger came blathering out of me in my initial response to this man’s criticizing post: the only people I’ve seen behave badly at the pool are male. From little boys cannonball diving next to my head - to this old guys post.

My biggest response to being triggered is anger. Red, hot, anger released in a wave of psychobiological response surging through my body, wreaking havoc on my entire being. 

My most profound personal growth work has come through working on my anger response. I learned too young the power of anger. How it shapes interactions. How energetically charged and in control I felt while in reality, I was completely out of control.

Even with the therapy I received as a child to combat my anger response, it doesn’t compare with all I’ve learned to address my anger most beneficially in the past few years.

The energy of anger used to be my crack! I will forever be learning and putting into practice how to build that energy in more positive, loving ways.

It sucks really.

I’m so good at anger now!

Too much practice at anger instead of love. It wore me down after 40 years though. Leaving me Emotionally depleted. 

I turned my seething anger, the chip on my shoulder, into a great career where I could siphon it through the guise of righteous anger. Working as an insurance billing specialist and medical manager. The goal to get health insurance to pay for what it states it will pay for but doesn’t guarantee it will pay for until billing is processed.  A never ending battle for health. I remember thinking of it as helping so many people. I was helping people get medical care. I was helping healthcare providers treat patients. I was helping insurance companies pay for it. My anger was justified in my efforts or so I thought at the time.

This worked as a great cover-up for over 10 years. Until I got laid off and every job I looked for made me think of what most people said to me during this time of my life.

“I don’t know how you can do this everyday. It would drive me crazy!”

That sums up my downward spiral. I don’t recommend picking a career with the need to feed anger at the top of the job requirements list. I appreciated the reminder of this in my community because they are electing a new home owners association board, and my mom suggested I throw my name in the hat after this interaction. I’ve gotten enough distance from my triggers to know one thing for sure: Don’t go into any endeavor with anger as the main motivator. It will for sure lead to more anger.

So what worked to change?

More breathing deep and exhaling fully.

Soothing myself through exercise and meditation.

Energizing my life with more joy has worked wonders.

One big key was letting go of the notion that I could flip a switch and be a beacon of positivity. I’m not going to be so dramatic as to say it was too late for me. More so, the persona I took on through my anger has lent so strongly to my personality that it will always be there.

My ah-ha moment around this came when I learned that having a long history with an emotion that has become toxic doesn’t mean I can’t make changes to improve my reactions and overall attitude. 

Bonus! By fostering my softer side, finding ways to boost my joy, people that don’t know the past me think I’m always going to be chill, relaxed, and affable. 

Oh yeah!

Working on boundaries has helped considerably in conjunction with working on my temper. 


When a conflict situation arises, I can now better catch the trigger. My responses have the expertise from a lifetime of anger as a go-to response behind them.

The energy is palpable. As I write this, it flares slightly, like standing near an electric fence. Tick, tick, tick. 

The deeper work for me under this trigger was enlightening. Given the current rise, not so much moving toward more equal footing between men and women, as making a long overdue jump forward. When I was able to sit with the reality of most of my negative, weirded out experiences in pool setting, they involve males. I’m using males because the range is from boys to old men.

  • Being leered at and hit on by men at pools. Not at my current pool. Thankfully! 

  • A young male child, like 4 or 5, pointing at me and saying, “that’s the lady that never talks to anybody” while dad ignored his kid talking to me this way. Thanks kid. Thanks dad. I think it’s best that women in their 40’s aren’t talking to you but nice to see you’re already passing judgement on how I should act at your age.

  • In the hot tub by myself when a gaggle of pre-teen boys being obnoxious in the pool all get out simultaneously and get in the hot tub with me. Nothing like being surrounded by pubescent boys for hot tub relaxation. I’m not going any deeper into hot tub situations, we’ve all got other things to do today.

  • A teenage boy, who’s mom was trying to tell him it was time to go started doing flips into the pool right in front of me. I’m not sure if it was to get attention or just not thinking of other people around him, or the rules, or to simply ignore his mom’s request.

  • An evening when I wasn’t going to the pool but walking by it when a young woman was insisting to her male companion that she wanted to leave. He just flat out told her no and loudly. Leading her back into the pool area by her arm. There were other people in the pool so I just hurried away, not wanting to get involved. I wouldn’t do that now. I would make it known that I was there and ask if everything is OK.

  • When I was younger being aggressively “played with” at the pool by boys, often holding my head under water and lunging at me to scare me. Similar to other scenarios, if I saw that now I would say something, loudly and sternly. 

This older man, complaining to everybody in the community triggered a whole landslide of bad experiences at pools that I never processed. 

It wasn’t until I saw his post that I was able to soothe another layer of buried anger and resentment about how males have generally been able to act however they want in any situation while the rest of us let it happen. I’m all kinds of over that.

When I saw the Facebook group admins warning come across my alerts, asking for positive posts and not complaining, it was good to see some amount of checks and balances, helping temper my triggered response.

People also got on board with my passive aggressive post with over the top appreciation and many likes. There was a pang of guilt. That I encouraged others to gang up on this grumpy guy through my exuberantly positivity, passive aggressive cheer for our pool, wasn’t the ultimate in better behavior.

For me, a step in the right direction. I can reflect now on how I would have responded just a few years ago. In a way that would have gotten me kicked out of the group and even more angry at myself.

That’s the old rollercoaster I no longer choose to ride. The magic is that choosing works. I can make that choice more successfully now. Making different choices that better reflect how I more so want to interact with… I should say people, but with myself.

I have a better relationship with myself and that includes my anger. Something delightful and a bit sinister has happened with my efforts; I am also better able to unleash it in healthier ways. We all get angry. I’m not as afraid to say something when something needs to be said. I don’t check myself as much, and I can better express my reactions when I am confronted.

Every time I get angry, whether it’s an injustice in the world or some heated post on social media, I used to end up internalizing that anger. This causes suffering. My life is not for the suffering. Life is too short. The people I love and most care about deserve better too. 

The jig is up and this story adds to it. It’s a privileged and very 1st world example. Nonetheless, the facts are in*; when people lash out in anger and we see it, we can be confident there’s an outdated behavior screaming out to be upgraded

The facts are in*; when people act out in anger and we see it, we can be confident there’s an outdated behavior screaming out to be upgraded. 

Knowing this now brings me a similar joy to floating buoyantly at the pool because I’m doing it and it’s working.

As a coach, I love helping people make this upgrade - from anger to joy in 90 days.

With this expertise, I’m more confident than ever that I most definitely can’t make anybody change that doesn’t want to, so I no longer have to worry about beating my head against a wall trying.

The day after or maybe the day of this incident, I received a book I ordered more as a joke than as a serious dive into personal development.

The Manual: A Philosopher’s Guide to Life, by Epictetus, A Greek philosopher circa 125 ad. A short book of passages to live by. I about fell out over reading passage number 4:

“In preparing for any action, remind yourself of the nature of the action.

For instance, if you are going to a public pool, remind yourself of the usual incidents: people splashing, some pushing, some scolding, thieves stealing unguarded personal belongings.

You will not be disturbed if you got into the experience prepared for such things and determined to retain inner harmony.

If something undesirable happens, you will be able to say, “My desire is not only to swim, but to remain in harmony with the nature of things. I cannot stay in harmony if I let myself become upset by things beyond my control.”

Why had I never seen this wisdom before?

So old and so profound this learning.

I turned into Yoda! 

Not quite.

It was yet another positive reinforcement of the practice to consistently embody my desired state more than trade it in for anger. I wish I could give three easy steps so let’s see if I can:

  1. As always with me, take a deep breath in and a full breath out; releasing any tensions or judgments you may be holding. Engage with a positive self state. I like a happy medium. Can you embody a contented emotional state? It doesn’t have to be over the moon but something above complete emotional wasteland.

  2. Take another deep breath in, letting the pleasant emotion you’ve invoked ride the breath throughout your entire being. Hold onto that emotion and that breath, for another second or two, turning the volume up a notch on the pleasant sensation rising within you. Release. Breathing out fully any toxic remnants of emotion no longer serving your higher purpose. 

  3. This is the desired state that will tread the current when, in an instant, a trigger comes rushing forth with charged, toxic anger**. Take a few breaths as the wave rushes over and past. Breathing deep and broad into your desired state. Breathing out fully any rising tensions.

Everything starts and ends with our breathing. From the moment we arrive in this life to the moment we leave. Throwing a couple water comparisons along the way reminds me that I have been practicing floating when I go to the pool. Which may look funny to some people at the pool because I never see anyone else floating. Either that, or I’m perceiving myself catching glimpses because I don’t see anyone else ever doing it. Either way, I’ve learned through trying it that it’s something that both soothes my senses and invigorates them all at the same time. Helping me connect with my own joyful state of being fully present in my life. Now, I just want that for everybody.

Starting a practice of floating at the pool has added buoyancy to my attitude. I wouldn’t have known unless I had tried something, by no means new to me, but definitely too long since learning.

Starting a practice of floating at the pool has added buoyancy to my attitude. I wouldn’t have known unless I had tried something, by no means new to me, but definitely too long since learning.

I recommend trying it. There is something fully engaging and joyful about floating freely in the water. The sound instantly quiets.  I fully engage my breath through my entire body as I gently tread water under the blue sky and sun.

I am able to change and through pretty simple and often repeated actions, I can create new habits.


So can you.

Believe me! If I can do it and Epictetus from 2000 years ago can do it, anybody that wants to can. Grumpy pool guy complainer too.

Cheers!

As always if this resonates with you, please leave a comment. If you think someone you know may benefit, please share. If you have questions or want to talk to someone about increasing positive emotions in your life and releasing toxic anger, I encourage you to schedule a free energizing vision session with me. You can also get a video version of this blog on my Youtube channel and a podcast version wherever you podcast.

*Plataforma SINC. "What happens when we get angry?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100531082603.htm>

**Dr. Caroline Leaf enlightened me to the terms toxic anger and the love zone. Her podcast. Cleaning Up the Mental Mess, episode #54: How to Deal with Anger and Toxic People. November 11, 2018.

Waking Up with Gratitude Boosts Positive Attitude

In all seriousness, I just woke-up! If you had told me I could wake-up smiling 10 years ago, I would have probably slapped you. Maybe more of a disdainful glare over my coffee but it would have felt like a slap.

In all seriousness, I just woke-up! If you had told me I could wake-up smiling 10 years ago, I would have probably slapped you. Maybe more of a disdainful glare over my coffee but it would have felt like a slap.

Ever wake-up angry?


I used to wake-up angry every day.

Embodying all the cliches.

Until I found the cure!!! **

It all really started when I didn’t even want to get out of bed anymore.

Not a good sign.

Which probably developed from one too many days getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

Being a, “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee” person turned into more of an overall, don’t talk to me, lifestyle.

Until I ended up not liking myself most of the time. Which probably happened after one too many days being shitty to people I love. Really sets a crap-o-rific tone for the day and for a life.

This is where not getting the day off on the right foot can really take an overall turn towards a lifestyle filled with bad days so I went on a search for the easiest ways to make my bad days better.

That this daily practice has worked wonders is the whole reason to share it.

It’s a gratitude practice

Inspired by enough practitioners of personal growth and development that I no longer have specific idea whom to give credit to. This is a common occurrence for me as I go from learning ways to shed anger, resentment, fear, loathing, anxiety, depression to practicing my joy, love, happiness, inspiration, and excitement on a daily basis. ***Actual credit to a few of the people that have recommended this practice or something similar provided at the end of this story.

I will say, for myself, it took re-learning it again, and again over 20 years to put daily gratitude into real practice.

Everyday I get out of bed happier now, open to the day, ready for anything(but positive and ready, instead of an asshole and not so ready).

After I first feel myself come alive for the day, the very first thing I think about is what I’m grateful for.

Taking just a few extra moments in bed to enjoy a few clearing breaths for the day.

Stretching out fully, the sensation of aliveness beginning to course through my body.

I think of other things I’m grateful for as I breath deeply from my belly and exhale the nights sleep fully.

Maybe a sip of water or a big gulp of it if you live in the desert like me.

My bed. My wonderful bed. Thank you for supporting me through sleep. My pillow, cradling my head. Thank you.

The cool darkness of my room or the bright light peeking through the windows.

My utter disbelief that these words are written by me. That I am sharing them now is shocking to say the least.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

It started with trying a few things I’m grateful for and now I just let my gratitude flow until I get a message from the day that I want to get out of bed to greet. My favorite is the sparking of a bright idea charging me up and out of bed to get a jumpstart on. Something new I want to bring to my life, job, or family gets me pumped to jump out of bed too.

I often smile and sometimes even shed a tear or two at the things I am grateful for.

Now I get out of bed happier and more prepared to interact with the people I live with, the most important people to me, the ones I love the most, and want to be my best for.

I’m grateful to live with people I love and I have already learned the hard way that being grumpy towards them is not how I want to be.

This simple, relaxing, comforting, invigorating, and loving technique has totally helped change my drag myself out of bed grumpy to feeling better about myself as I enter into a brand new day.

Here’s the simplest of steps to try:

  1. The moment you wake-up think of one thing you’re grateful for.

  2. Take a deep breath in and a full breath out, grateful for the breath you are taking.

  3. Think of another thing you are grateful for.

  4. Take another deep belly breath into a big stretch down to your toes, out to your fingertips, to the top of your head, gratefully feeling your body come alive for a brand new day.

  5. Think of another thing you're grateful for in the stillness before the day starts.

  6. Take another deep breath in and with your next exhale rise with grace to meet the day.

I encourage you to try it for 62 days but maybe start with 1 week. I get the 62 days, most recently, from Caroline Leaf. Her estimate on the time it takes to create a new habit.

Now, after a few months, I’m really quite amazed with the benefits.

Give it a try and please let me and others know how it worked for you.

Cheers!

** I didn’t find the cure, just something that has been working for me with delightful results for a spell. Give it a try. If it works for you too - yay! I’d love to hear back if it does or even if it doesn’t and you tried something else that works for you. Actually, if it didn’t work I want to hear from you more.

*** Authors I’ve read recommending gratitude as a practice; Brené Brown, Julie Cameron, Susan David, Gay Hendricks, and Greg McKeown, Caroline Leaf --- If anyone has additional names to add please share them in the comments. Thank you!

Walking with Me, Myself, and I

Riding the rollercoaster of emotions with myself, as I hike by myself in the woods.

Riding the rollercoaster of emotions with myself, as I hike by myself in the woods.

Walking with Me, Myself, and I

If the three of us could only divide and conquer all the dangers of the wild woods.

Ever feel like your Spring got snowed in or maybe this year rained out?

This sums up my Spring.

Recovering from Winter.

I needed to get out!

The thing is, I’m on my own out here in the wilderness. I’m living in an outdoor wonderland but I’m new around here and don’t know anybody yet I want to spend hours with in pursuit of outdoor adventure. Trust issues. Anti-social inclinations perfected at this point.  

First venture in feeling myself by myself was barely making it out of the snow on a road trip to Vegas. It had a little bit of the fear and loathing creep in along the way while at the same time loving every minute on the open road, cruising solo.

Along the road to Vegas and back I would spot places to explore with a hike and get scared that I was by myself. This thought cycle has played on repeat my entire first year here in Bend, Oregon as well.  

Now Spring is here and I’ve dedicated time to getting out into nature and roaming around.

Alone! The single females trigger warning system alert.

The thought thrashed through my brain, I’m by myself. I thought my mom would be with me on these hikes until we tried that a few times and we are in very different places now in our hiking trail choices.

She’s in a strolling phase of her outdoorsing it life now, averaging about a mile at a time.

I’m in a 3-8 mile window of hiking enthusiasm. A committed day hiker. Although the idea of packing sparks into my fantasies about going out and about in the wilderness overnight and then I remember.

I’m by myself. I’m not alone mind you. Maybe it’s better to say I’m with myself. I’m taking myself out for things I both love to do and do to show how much I love to do them. Remember, It’s a me, myself, and I activity.

Attackers of all sort lurk!

Men!

Cougars!

Random tree roots and rocks!

Steep inclines.

Selfies!

So I started with walks close-in to where I live in Bend, Oregon, which is already kind of out there in the wilderness.


Walking in the city limits on the Deschutes River Trail last week, a warning sign for cougars was posted!

Hey cats! I’m the only cougar on this trail…. If only bad jokes kept dangers away.

Picking a hike a little outside of town, about an hour with plenty of quiet backroads.

Too many backroads it turned out.

On my way I noticed three, maybe four other spots where people were parked to hike. One trail was clearly marked with amenities and I totally thought to myself, should I just stop there?

No way! Stick to the plan Sam! I had made my safety text. To a friend that lives a solid four hours away and doesn’t drive. Perfect worst case scenario planning!

Before I left, I did look for the bear spray I thought I might have and the pocket knife. Finding neither seemed to me a good sign that I wouldn’t need them.

My GPS directs me to take an unmarked turn with no signage. Pretty common out here. So are the unpaved roads. The one I was on was in pretty good shape, for a few miles.

The road started winding, getting narrower as I took turn after turn. When suddenly around a corner a big white truck approached. A work truck. There was huge mountainous piles of tree debris from forest fires either last year or the year before. 2018 was a horrible year for forest fires. May have been the worst year on record in Oregon. Sometimes that means good wildflowers and mushrooms though.

This is actually why I wanted to go into the pine forest: mushroom spotting. A little bird watching. The occasion picture to take. The wildflowers of Spring are a vision of loveliness to behold.

An added red flag warning came with several trees seriously getting their lean on right over the road due to the clearing of trees from fire damage and prevention going on. Please trees, don’t fall on me or the road, preventing my passage.

Driving up and up, yet feeling I’m getting further away from what I really want to do, and more nervous. Then, I miss a turn. The road is so narrow I just have to back back down the road in reverse. The turn I miss is going up yet again and I think for the dozenth time, I’ve gone too far. Let’s me, myself, and I go back. Then I come upon a wash-out on the road and decide, not today mountain lake hike. Not today. My personal Game of Thrones finale tribute!


Not the first time I turn back when the conditions tell me to, won’t be the last. Now I can enjoy the adventure on the way back.

I’ve come a long way in just one year around this predicament and response.

The first time this happened to me, I got so mad. The bonus of this burst of anger, I was just tipping the scales, still in the midst of working through how much my temper and my anger fueled my life experience that it shocked me a little. It had been a serious driver in my emotional range for most of life.

The only thing is now that I’m living with my mom and doing a lot of life with her, I can’t stand that old anger fueled, hot tempered me. The one that got mad at my mom all the time. Granted, she got mad at me all the time too. That was a long time ago now.

This, for me, reinforced that the solutions to problems I came up with when I was 5 years old, definitely no longer serve me.

Spending the years I have now to work through those well established beliefs about myself and how I express them.  

Making really big changes to how I want to be present in my life aka feely words warning: behavior change, living my truth, living my joy, using my temper more in humor, I don’t give a fuck what anybody calls it, I call it chilling the fuck out and enjoying this one life to live. Trading my anger for emphatic enthusiasm and making a soap opera reference for the life win!

Something else hit me about my anger response too; when I’m feeling confused or unsure about my next step, if I was able to find something that made me angry, I could pawn it off as more important than working through to gain clarity around the next actions to take in my best interest.It has been fascinating to watch my own progress through both being fully present and also dissociating and watching myself with a bit of distance from what used to work to what works for me now.

Where was I?

Lost in the wilderness.

Got it.

I got mad the first time this happened. With an indignant, “I came ALL the way out here to be hindered in my pursuit of happiness! Fuck!”

Didn’t make the road or the trail passable.

I had to turn around.

I had to find a new way.

Today the way was back the way I had come. I went too far by myself and I wasn’t safe.

Safety first!

I’ve now discovered there is a dark side to expecting peace and quiet to be inviting. A bright side to constant connectivity when the bars on my phone change to NO SERVICE.

Aren’t I the one that creates my state of mind?

And isn’t the state of mind with me everywhere I go?

It isn’t the place that creates the way I want to feel, it’s me. It wasn’t until I stepped out of old worn out patterns that I felt differently wherever I happened to be.

The truth shall set you free.

The truth is, the parking lot full of cars gave me a great sense of relief about the hike I was about to take. The audible sigh I made, a reinforcement of my comfort and enthusiasm.

I found a lovely spot to hike.

Parking right off the main road.

Cell service on the trail.

A woman alone(almost) in the woods.

Off I went.

The great part was that the initial trail is something that would be perfect for my mom. Living with her now has had its challenges but the rewards after a year are plenty. I can go out by myself, which I like to do, and I can scope out places suitable for her as well.

This perfect mom trail lead me right to some ladies too. They were stopped at a majestic overlook to have lunch. Eight ladies, all a little older than me, a little younger than my mom. A hiking group. What an idea! They were almost as delightful a site to behold as the view because although I like to be by myself, I also like hiking with others because it definitely reduces my fear factor.

Look for group hiking excursions. There are even entire vacations built around hiking. My mom is actually on one right now for birding.

Although I think I saw at least 2 women give me an approving side glance. Groups have that downside too. Organizing the group and hoping for the best in getting along.

Not that I always get along with myself. I’m better at it now. Lots of personal growth work. I needed to do it and we all get along better than ever!

Descending into the canyon and walking along the river was where I wanted to go. A bit more harrowing. The fear crept a little midway down the slope. I took a panic selfie to capture my unwarranted mindframe. This made me laugh and relax to keep trekking. By the time I got to the river I was happily loving my decision to keep going and the location. I took a serene selfie looking down the river.

A sound startled me. Cougar! Creeper dude! Or just a couple with a baby. It doesn’t get more confident building than that.

Then I saw a lady jogging with her dog and realized I had to be closer to town than I thought because I rarely see that when I’m out further in the wilderness. Good sign of safety. Next was an older couple and they looked like they’d been hiking for 80 years. Two very inspirational pros.

Relaxing now into my experience and letting the fears fall away. Fears I never have when I’m with a buddy. A woman walking solo got killed by a cougar on a hike I’d done with my hiking buddy from Portland, Oregon. She is a reminder to be safe and to know the very real dangers in the woods but not to let anything hold you back from what is essential for you to do to make this life all that you want it be.

I’m willing to take some calculated risks in the life I want to live. I’m not free climbing a cliff or going into the wild, wild, wild, wilderness. I’m the wildest thing I want to see in my surroundings.

Stopping for lunch along the river, I thought again about being alone. It was peaceful and quiet as I munched on my apple and carrot. Then I pulled out my stinky beef stick and got a little bugged out again. If I attract danger with my beef stick, I will be pissed!

Then I stopped. I took a deep breath in and let it fully out.

Are you looking for anger?

Are you looking for a fight?

Out in this beautiful setting with all the signs of personal safety present and begging for presence and I’m feeling the fear creep in, the anger calling to come out, the fight waiting for the bell.

STOP!

Laughing out loud, I stopped, breathed deep the fresh air. Then I looked out at the river and saw a Dipper! I saw a Dipper! What a cute, fun, and river loving bird to spot.

What a treat this learning was. Taking a dip at my thoughts and how to shift them and then how they tease to engage.

Being present with myself by myself helps me experience the ways I want to be present and engage with the ways I don’t so I can elevate my mindset and my behavior to match.

As with everything it is a work in progress and this story is of progress being made toward how I want to be, how I want to live my life, and then doing it.

Laughing out loud at how proud Brene Brown would be! Braving the wilderness. Finding courage in my vulnerability. Letting the shame float away down the river for the cougar to devour!

Admittedly, part of the trail finding frustrations with my mom from the past year, helped further navigate away from anger as a choice and find ease and joy in the experience, wherever the experience may lead.

I want to have more fun with my mom now and not judge or resent her change nor my own. Doing my work first has been the most important work I have ever done. I think back to running million dollar companies and it doesn’t even come close.

Close to the view points, the shade groves, the blooming flowers, the smile on our faces when we both spot a bird we rarely see. It’s both putting the camera down to be fully in the moment and picking the camera up to record some of the moments to look back on for reference of things we’ve seen and expressions of joy on our faces.

It takes good planning and being prepared for anything in order to focus on being present for the adventure as it unfolds.

As Spring rolls into Summer I’m excited for where new and old trails lead.

Together.

Cheers!

Getting Caught… In the Tendrils of Experience

Feeling today in the contrast of light and shadow.

Feeling today in the contrast of light and shadow.

Is this really the beginning of something great?

Getting caught up in the new year and lofty goals.

Getting caught up in self-doubt and apprehension.

Getting caught up in all the details.

Getting caught up in what’s most important in prioritizing tasks.

Getting caught up in making my experience awesome.


Too many things! Seems overly simplistic and obvious too even spend the time writing it here but there is so much that can overpower me. I now choose instead to be empowered by my desire to create happiness and my need to get the images blaring in my head out. The images, the words, the sounds.

Letting overwhelm fall away

Asking myself for quiet

Soft and gentle quiet

To listen with love

Receive with grace

Give openly my creative force

Sparked from within

Reflected out

Images of all shapes and color burst forth

With creativity unleashed

Dancing my way from overwhelm

Energy to be fully expressed

All the tendrils of experience released

In my most recent episode of Creativity Unleashed there is a point where I exclaim, “This is the beginning of something great!”

Totally unscripted and off the cuff.

This tendril of experience I will hold onto moving forward.

What does moving forward look like?

This is a great question and one that calls for clarity.

Clarity for me has meant drinking a little less and moving my body a little more.

Through this clarity I gained the insight to let fall away that which isn’t serving my purpose. If my purpose is painting. Then fucking paint already. Everything else comes after.

Moving forward from this moment; lofty ideas and grand new year plans that start out with a blast and quickly get buried under winter cover are kept safe to sprout in Spring, blossom into Summer, Fall into something that’s growing with each season, and plan for what’s next come Winter.

I vowed to bring Creativity Unleashed on the daily in a variety of ways: painting, photographing, and writing. Weaving it all together for a mind blowing body of art and bursting onto the art scene like a pro. (Now, as I proof read this I’m not surprised I got overwhelmed.)

And then it snowed.

That’s not the reason. It’s not even a good excuse.

Probably no surprise to anyone and not to me either that I got overwhelmed and confused in my lofty ideas. Disoriented in my own plan. Good thing the best plans make room for inevitable mistakes, as well as, the occasional snow storm. The tendrils of experience catching me up and quickly off guard.

I stopped.

I stopped everything and focused on the most important thing: painting.

I’ve been spending the past few weeks in painting storm.

Painting with sides of movement; yoga and dance indoors and brave excursions into this dessert hinterland. With meditation, journaling, and coaching around clarity of vision for my desired result: making an art business a money making business.

Before I tailspin into my money making madness and save that for another episode, let me try to break down what might be most useful from this episode of Creativity Unleashed:

  • Have lofty ideas and ideally express them but if need be, first record them. Write down that brilliant idea or take a video showing the idea if only for yourself, to know you have brilliant ideas.

  • Heart on heart on heart rainbow reflection. My example of a painting expressing tendrils of experience. 2 paintings I’ve started that are mirror images creating a heart when they are put together. Seems totally loving right? It’s my initials. I’ve decided to be OK with all the aspects of who I am in an attempt of living an honest existence. I have some delightfully narcissistic tendencies that I no longer have the energy to deny.

    • These 2 paintings are also in a category that seems the antithesis of the fine art. Clever. A saying to the effect of, don’t be clever, be clear comes to mind. Again, what can I do? I thought of it, I did it. Then because they were nearby when I spoke of tendrils I picked them up and put them in front of the camera.

The upside of reflection - tendrils of rainbow hearts

The upside of reflection - tendrils of rainbow hearts

There’s no downside, just another upside. Blue Kitty approved.

There’s no downside, just another upside. Blue Kitty approved.

  • What does success look like?

    • Not sure?

      • How about, what does failure look like?

        • It’s important to imagine both. Play it out.

  • I had a brilliant idea! To go to art openings and start to step out and connect with the art world in my community. I lined-up a few opening nights. Then, when they came around, I couldn’t go. If I can’t socialize and go out to support artists and galleries this whole business of making art a business might not work. Failure.

    • I’m not ready.

    • New people and new places are scary.


Maybe because it’s winter and I’ve just started painting again for reals, I was able to sit down with a glass of wine the night of the art openings and instead of beating myself up, ask myself what does ready look like? What about new people and places scares me? What will I do when I’m ready?

1st, I pondered the new places and people and reinforced with myself that I have social anxiety. I’m totally uncomfortable and weirded out by new people and new places. After spending a lot of years pretending I wasn’t and then using drugs and alcohol to help barrel through them and make myself sick in the process, I’m happy to be honest with myself about it. Success!

Now what? I made a simple adjustment to my brilliant idea; go to the galleries and shows I’m interested in on any other day than the opening. That feels way more comfortable and since having thought that I’ve found a few I want to check-out. Stay tuned to find out how that goes.

What does ready look like?

To me, ready looks like having a little bit bigger body of work done and a portfolio on my website created. Great news! I have a dozen paintings in the works and about 6 that are almost done. That makes 12 total. A solid start to the portfolio. Success!

2nd, I did some math; if I want to do this for the rest of my life, my body of work will only grow and the paintings I paint now will indeed be the beginning of something great. As an example; if I do 2 paintings a month, that’s 24 paintings a year. After 5 years, I’ll have painted 120 paintings. After 50 years. I’ll have painted 1200 paintings.

If I put myself in the shoes of a gallery or an art collector, hard core supporters of the art I imagined; the more work I do the more the previous pieces will be worth. This is my thought process and is very likely totally wrong, I honestly have zero idea. I haven’t done a lot of homework in this area either. I’m gonna just create thoughts again and guess that there’s little rhyme or reason to the value of art. Has anyone given insights in this area? I ask out loud as I stare blankly at the Google search bar. There is a desired expertise for me around this important detail for sure! Writing this now makes the kind of sense to me that pairs perfectly with the creation of art itself. Especially abstract art. Time to work some reality into this picture. Looking forward.

I can’t stop this truth telling spree! I’ve got some serious money stuff around not only my worth but the worth of what I create. Even now, doing a bit of math here, I get nervous. I refuse to feed the lie of the starving artist any longer and I’m done with it.

There is a strong apprehension in sharing this. 

Shhhh, Sam…. Don’t tell anyone…

I want to be a successful artist. 

I want my art business to be a money making business.

Sam, you can’t say that! You have to say that you’re driven to making art by divine force. Truth. That divine force also wants you to be successful and successful is in part profitable. Not at the expense of others, at the pleasure and joy of others. Not gross profits. Shit! That’s totally a thing; gross profits. Our language around money is so fraught with what seem to be damned trappings of the soul.

Failure!

How about net profits from painting? A safety net supporting Creativity Unleashed. Tendrils of support.

Success!

A work in progress; The story of my life.

Somewhere in my past I got stuck in this financial maze. I let my insecurities get the better of me. I let the insecurities of people that love me get the better of me. I hear the echoes of concern, ‘have a back-up plan, a good career, something safer, you don’t want to be a struggling artist for life.’

I let my insecurities get the better of me and turned toward the “good career” so I would be financially stable. I told myself, as others did too, I could paint as a hobby, on the side.

I never painted on the side.

Then, I ended up losing the “good career”.

I was left devastated and in the midst of a potent life crisis.

It turns out, the big failure happened.

That “good career” money gone.

I’m now living with my mom.

The completely amazing and rich thing to me is, I knew the living with my mom part was going to happen. Only child, divorced parents, inevitable and turns out a life saver. I put this idea on myself a long time ago. I also envisioned I’d be living in a cottage. I never thought about the money.

So it turns out I envisioned with acute clarity exactly what I’m doing now.

Success!

****

If I can create this reality, then my theory is now to create more from the infinite possibilities available to me. Grabbing the tendrils of experience I envision with acute clarity and energizing them into existence.

****

Showing myself and others what it looks like.

The truth.

The successes.

The failures.

****

Moving forward ready… looks like creativity unleashed on the daily. painting almost everyday. Building a body of work that I share with the world. Making more money the more I do it.

****

Well, that’s some clarity alright! I went on a profound tangent there and look what came of it? A couple clear sentences of what moving forward looks like. A little shaky about the blatant money statement. But hot damn! Cardi B won a Grammy last night for such a blatant statement so I’m gonna follow suit.


It looks like the beginning of something great.

There is so much more in the episode though and I’ll just skip to the end.

In being honest with myself as a practice and confronting the dreaded money stuff, I’m learning how to re-write my outdated and completely fictional beliefs around money with new ones.

Great news! There’s a wealth of information out there!

Similar to the self help books I used to hide and now don’t care who knows because all that personal growth work has done me wonders. I’m now re-writing my financial story to make an art business a money making business.

Currently with the help of Jen Sincero’s book, You are a Badass at Making Money. The exercises and insights have been eye opening and super helpful and I will leave you with this excerpt and get my butt back in front of the easel.

****

“Take responsibility for the fact that you created everything in your life via your thoughts, beliefs, focus, actions, and energy, and that you have the power to shift your mindset, raise your frequency and create new things that will serve you better.”

****

It might be snowing outside but today’s painting will be fields of green under blue skies accompanied by rainbow tendrils of experience.

Cheers!

PS. Now here’s what you’ve really come here for… Emerald Heart Vagina.

IMG_5478.jpg

Sketching Out Orbs Before Painting - Painting Priorities

This week called for change-up.

The on-track of Creativity Unleashed.

It was a simple concept. Easy.

Was it too easy?

Yes. It seemed that way.

It is to paint.

The thing that I am here to do can be summed up in one word - paint. I laugh out loud as I write this now. Part of getting in front of the canvas, paint in hand, ready to rock, is clarity of vision to energize into existence.

Toying, playing, sketching an idea out. The practice of flow - having an idea clear enough to conceptualize in reality and expressing the freedom of the motions involved. I tend to tighten up the more I work on something. It starts as a clear idea. Sketched out loosely. Sketched on the canvas. Paint applied. Layer upon layer. Line after line.

As the idea becomes more real, the trappings of focus, clarity, and the boundaries of reality can weigh on the movement and action of emotion.

The feeling is joyful, happy, free. That the feeling can be taken with the observer. Not firm, constrained, perfect. A letting go.

As I start to sway with the flow of feeling. Lifted by light and color. Shape is transfixed on the canvas but also seems to move to the joyful upbeat expression.

The process is what it is and I can't make it something else. What I can do is make it exactly what I want it to be - a joyful, uplifting practice.

Back to it!

For you too!

To Creativity Unleashed!

Cheers!

Visit me on all the socials and say "hi" - ask any question you may want answered via any of them. You can visit my website - https://www.samanthashearer.com/gallery/ I paint, draw, write, podcast and create this zesty little show here. This is Creativity Unleashed. Thanks so much for watching!

Creativity Unleashed: What if Cthulhu & Darth Vader had a Baby?

Today's episode rides the ups and downs of Creativity Unleashed.

The Up's - completing my artists statement and painting.

Summarizing this weeks blog post: Just Write Zone: Energizing Vision Into Existence. The importance of having a open and safe space for self expression through journaling and sketching.

The Down's - the sketching video on how to draw a face for the abstract artist was a total fail. I couldn't edit into anything other than the crap it was. Although from this video I'm going to cut the section of me showing the picture and my statements about it. Cracked me up.

At one point in the video I mentioned I should be reading verbatim from my pre-recording notes and here is that writing: My artists statement - flowed freely - thankful for that - I cannot stress enough to shut-off - cut-out the outside noise and endless chatter of what other people - all the people - especially anyone not doing it and criticizing - fuck, what the world wants and focus on your individual message - because your message is important - your voice is important. It can change the course of events for you and the world - mine has been changed for the better through setting free my own self-expression - it’s fucking scary and takes bravery but when you step fully, unapologetically into your truth, it’s a clear path to self expression. Whatever that expression is.

I had a perception of what I was supposed to be and it made it so hard to express myself fully. Now that I’ve shed that, what has come out is my desire and fulfillment of happiness. Sharing images and ideas that can encourage joy. My own joy and the worlds joy. It just came out and I’m letting it be. The miraculous thing is if I’m judged harshly by some critic for my creativity unleashed, it’s on them. That’s their subjective perception, that’s where they’re at and they can go look at something else if they don't like looking at what I'm creating. For you. I want you to know you can do it too. Share here what "it" is and what your doing to energize it into existence. Reach out to others doing the same if you get stuck.

For next week: not giving up on drawing for the abstract artist video. The next blog drop is all about how raising our voices can change the course of events.

It's gonna be a goodie. I started adding to it here!

Just Write Zone: Energizing Vision Into Existence

Are you in the Just Write Zone? Have you done your journaling yet today? What are you waiting for?

Are you in the Just Write Zone? Have you done your journaling yet today? What are you waiting for?

I’VE BEEN DOING THIS REGULARLY FOR THE PAST 3 YEARS AND IT HAS WORKED SOME MAGIC ON MY PRODUCTIVITY AND PERFORMANCE.

Ever feel too scatterbrained to make sense out of what needs to be done, much less take the best next action step?

Just me?

I’m gonna go with it’s not just me because diaries, journals, and sketchbooks have been around way longer than I have. Way longer. So much longer.

What I have come up with works really well for me now. Well enough that it might work for you too. Feel free to just pick out parts that inspire you to give a try. Add to your current journaling routine. Mix it up!

I’m just gonna spill the beans here so you can get the goods and go forth. If you want to stick around for the tantalizing back story, please be my guest.

I keep an open document in my internet browser to journal in at all times. No endorsement here from Google(yet…).

What I do is have a google document tab open so I’m always just one click away (and an internet connection) from journaling.

As an alternative, I’ve used a document to leave on my desktop. Which works better if there’s no internet. Any of the desktop publishing programs work. I’ve even used Notes for Mac.

Here is an example of my Just Write Zone document.***

Images from my document: JUST WRITE ZONE

Page 1 of 2 - how I set-up my monthly JUST WRITE ZONE.

Page 1 of 2 - how I set-up my monthly JUST WRITE ZONE.

Page 2 of how I start my monthly JUST WRITE ZONE document. Good thing I can create a link.

Page 2 of how I start my monthly JUST WRITE ZONE document. Good thing I can create a link.

What follows are my steps for creating your own Just Write Zone:

  • Create a new document for each month. Titled: Month, Year Write Zone. Example: January 2019 Write Zone — I start with month and date to keep organized for reference. I need to just delete some, I do not look back at them but once in a great while.

  • Date each day. Example: Thursday January 3, 2019. I wasn’t in the best headspace when I started this journaling style. Having recently found myself laid off from what I thought would be my “good career”, I was having trouble remember what day it was. Good times.

  • Start with 20 minute free write. Just spill out all the words in your beautiful brain out onto the page. Don’t hold back. Don’t edit. Just let it out.

  • See what ideas flow out. After, I often go back and highlight, put in BOLD to explore ideas of jotted down further.

  • I also try to give some gratitude. What went well in my day. What’s going well. A little self love. A proverbial pat on the back.

  • At the end of the day I create the next days heading. Separating days by inserting a horizontal line. I just added this next step as I listened to my Mom watching football. I write PRE-GAME and jot down the most important things I want to accomplish the next day. This really helps me prioritize. Today for instance; finishing this was most important after painting.

  • When I wake-up in the morning, with my coffee, I start the day with GAME DAY and go write into it. Ha! Word play and puns. Can’t fight that loving feeling.

After the month is up I store them in a folder by year so they are easy to find. Which again, I have very rarely ever gone back to. Sometimes I have though but months, not years later. I don’t even want to look at what I wrote 3 years ago now. I’m going to clean them out.

For me it is that this practice has helped me create both my blog, that this is part of, and a podcast and vlog. If you would have told me I would have been able to get my shit together enough to start a new career as a painter, blogger, vlogger, and podcaster 3 years ago I would have said you were crazy!

Free writing stream of conscious style takes practice. I loved this idea of freely writing without inhibition. Whatever the thoughts may be. I do use it as a safe, confidential space to express openly all kinds of things. I’m especially grateful to my journal for allowing me to express my anger and frustration. When I’m upset about something that has happened this is now where I talk it out with myself toward a resolution.

I upped my journaling game with insights from Susan David, the author of ***Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life. She shares what she calls, Pennebaker’s Writing Rules, from James Pennebaker, a University of Texas professor. Professor Pennebaker did 40 years of research to writing and the emotional process so we don’t have to.

What we do have is the benefits of both their expertise to get ourselves on our own best track.

Pennebaker’s Writing Rules combine setting a timer for 20 minutes and letting your current emotional experience spill out. No holds barred. No judgement. Get curious.

I am especially thankful for my Just Write Zone when a post on social media triggers me. I’ll rant in response in my safe space and leave the triggering post alone. Letting that count toward my 20 minute of free writing a day goal.

One thing that still cracks me up about embarking on this endeavor is that I still edit as I write and erase sometimes. I can’t believe it! Erasing in the Just Write Zone is not necessary. I now test myself to just let the words flow onto the page. Letting go of the details; sentence structure, correct spelling, embarrassing details.

INHIBITION WARNING: I have had my journal read before and I have also sabotaged my journal for a snooper. Now I just let it flow and let it go. I don’t have time for that. If someone reads my writing from this safe space and doesn’t like what they see, that’s on them. Their problem. Not mine. I am just right here in my free zone. My radical freedom at its finest. Laying out grand schemes, solving the world’s problems.

More often than not, it helps me get out anything that might be holding me back from my objectives.

It helps me stay on top of details.

It helps me remember amazing experiences I want to keep fresh so I can enjoy them in story form again and again.

Through this practice I have been able to create this blog. I fantasized about art I would make. How I was going to do it. Now, I have completed paintings for the first time in years. I’ve created a whole website and a virtual gallery to sell these completed paintings.

I’ve written down dreams and actualized them through writing about them first in my Just Write Zone.

I’ve taken this journal around the world.

I also have a sketchbook, a few really. Always a great thing to have at hand. I use it for both sketching and journaling. Taking notes on a subject or from a speaker.

I may be above and beyond in my note taking but it’s how I organize my thoughts and expand on my ideas.

If I had a dollar for everytime a random person approached me to compliment me on my sketches(just because they see me holding a sketchbook). Usually expressing something to the fact that they can’t sketch at all and wish they could. I’d have a decent bottle of wine with that cash and not once has anybody outwardly seen what I’m doing.

As an abstract artist, it’s most likely something unrecognizable and even when it’s supposed to be recognizable, it isn’t always good. Sketchbooks and journals aren’t just for the good. They’re for the everything.

I do have my journal and sketchbook by my bedside and on my computer desktop at the ready. I’ve created notes and video journals on my phone too so that I always have an option for recording that exquisite, bright idea.

At the same time I no longer beat myself up if I can’t get to either with an idea and it flutters away. Often times those ideas come back. Not necessarily right away, nor do I always remember if I’d even had them before.

After 3 years and thousands of pages of creativity unleashed, more ideas come to fruition by writing them down.

Better to have a place to put them and not need it, then to not have the perfect place for exquisite, bright ideas. If there is nowhere for it to go it could fly away, never to be actualized. Or worse to be caught by someone else. Sliced bread! If I would have only written that idea down and sketched it out! Never again!

That is the case here. I could swear I’ve had the idea to share this before. I’ve shared the idea with friends and family. You’d think if that was the case there would be evidence but none I could find so I started anew.

Starting anew. Something I have taken to heart in a variety of ways and can’t recommend enough. No matter where you might be in your life. Start anew. Start now. Use whatever device, trick, hack at your disposal to help keep you on track. For you. For us.

The ideas and thoughts in your head are worth it. My new thing to say is that they are exquisite. Just write them down.

Get to it!

Cheers!

***

Here is mine to just have. My gift to you. Copy, paste, convert, and go for it! If only it were that easy. Turns out I can’t or maybe can’t figure out how to share a useable document to copy, paste, convert so if you are wanting it, I am happy to email it to you. No gimmicky, sneaky bullshit here just a legit sharing of a .doc file and a .pdf for anyone who wants it. Just email me at sam@samanthashearer.com and I’ll send to you to start on.

Also, This document is revised right from what I do. It is an example not a requisite. I only say that because if you have more income or less. More bills or less. You might have an accountant or like my Dad, getting his accounting program of choice on.

David, Susan A. Emotional Intelligence: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life. New York: Penguin, 2016. Print. pp.93.

Kicking Off A New Year Clear: Go Time v. Quitting Time

How I do some of my best work. Samantha Shearer sprawled out on floor in studio.

How I do some of my best work. Samantha Shearer sprawled out on floor in studio.

This is a story about when to keep at it, when to quit, and how to make that decision.

You ever think you’re being very clear and it turns out nobody, not even you understand what you were trying to convey?

I just did my 3rd episode of Creativity Unleashed - a show about doing just that and as someone that spent 30 years indirectly being creative while putting the back-up plan and “good career” in the forefront instead, giving myself permission to make art is indeed an unleashing.

The thing is, sometimes I don’t always know what I’m doing so when I did my last podcast and vlog it included an abundance of vague communication. Statements like: these and this thing I’m doing. Poor listeners, I’m sure they tuned out even though there were some nuggets of the creative process amongst the garble.

What is this and these things?

Paintings. Abstract expressions of creativity unleashed painted on canvas, wood, and sometimes something in between.

With these paintings, again, still lacking clarity. At least I included the word painting this time. This is what I want to invoke. Clarity of vision in order to have exactness in execution.

These paintings are new to me. They are landscape abstracts. Surreal in that I have been trying to combine the majestic beauty the landscape of Eastern Washington and Oregon with the joy and connection I feel when I go out there, into the east of the west.

The original idea for this series of landscape paintings came from driving through Washington wine country on a weekend trip to Walla Walla, Washington. One of the most lovely places I’ve visited in the Pacific Northwest in both the landscape and the fun I always have when I‘m there. Lot of wonderful wine drinking and wonderful food to accompany it. Throw in some great company and it‘s party-on time.

NOTE: this is not an advertisement for Walla Walla, Washington just one woman’s good times to be found there. A wine drinkers paradise. Maybe reminiscing more fondly since I am on the old wagon for a spell. The new year is off to a sobering start.

I laugh out loud when I think of the most fantastic afternoons I’ve spent tasting amazing wines with my girlfriend as we look out at beautiful views. Here is probably the pinnacle of our tasting excursions. This was a magical afternoon that should have been hotter than it was, yet it was quiet and serene at Waterbrook Winery.

Again: not at all an advertisement but a remarkable place. It is in that category of place that at first glance looks inviting and at the same time so beautiful that I held myself at bay from. As if it might have an attitude about it. A self-consciousness on my part that I’m trying to lean more into than to exclude myself from based on appearance. It also has wonderful food. A bonus that not many wineries provide.

Me on the left. My dear friend Clairece Rosati-Hemenway on my right. All the wine and snacks that could fit on our table before us.

Me on the left. My dear friend Clairece Rosati-Hemenway on my right. All the wine and snacks that could fit on our table before us.

Yes! That’s right! There are all of the above in Walla Walla, Washington.

Couple more things: Walla Walla, Washington is a weekend getaway treat, I’m not getting paid to pronounce this and my girlfriend will probably prefer I’m clear about being single. This is not an advertisement for my single-hood, just a fact.

Gold. If you’re one for the finer things in life. The land just rolls along in gold.

When it isn’t gold, it is the most majestic of greens. The greenest of green from the alfalfa. I think it’s alfalfa. The vineyard green is captivating in its precison of planting and care. It’s winter now so my mind is imagining it as green, gold, blue. Clear. Bright.

Then the wine is poured. White, red, rosé. I had an image - an idea of how this amazing substance - color - interplay of community and gathering with dear friends could be creatively unleashed on the canvas. Wine and kinship mingling and growing forth from this beautiful land.

A few things became painfully clear when I started. I don’t paint landscapes. As challenging as that twist was on its own, I also didn’t quite realize the fine balance, similar to wine, from the original grape to the end product in the glass. My lack of clarity regarding my idea, as well, perhaps mingling with sobering from the wine party I’ve been having the past few years.  

As I painted, oddly shaped orbs formed or balloons growing out of the landscape. This excursion into landscape painting being totally new to me so even trying to explain it now is an amusing recollection as to how they really have yet to be determined or named. 

Clarity gained from realizing it is difficult to energize something into existence if it cannot be clearly described or defined as what it will become once made real.

So I painted them, even though I wasn’t totally sure what I was painting. Even my sketches are too vague. I’m surprised as I look at them that I was like, yes! Let’s do this!

Sketches for paintings done in late 2018.

Sketches for paintings done in late 2018.

I approved of my representation of the landscapes. I genuinely was proud of myself and my attempt. Combining the Blues(Blue Mountains of Oregon & Washington), the expansive, clear, blue sky, the wheat, and wine. Then these orbs coming up from the ground really messed the whole thing up for me. Unable to grasp their truth. Unable to express the vision with clarity.

Are these wine glasses? I had that idea and I loathed it for its predictability. Glasses of wine. Writing it now is just embarrassing. That I’m sharing the embarrassment is my growing edge. Wine glasses, full of different wines; white, rosé, and red. Not what I was going for emotionally. I wasn’t feeling it. I still photographed them to document the process of creating them. A very clear divergence from my norm. Even though I no longer had any resemblance of a norm in painting. Everything is new.

I remember thinking, there is some part of me not acknowledging the truth of the matter. What lies ahead? There are no lies ahead. I have had it with lies. The truth is, It’s not just the wine orbs - it’s the experience I’m trying to convey. The word capture comes to mind as an antonym to freedom. Why would I be trying to capture something when what I want is freedom. Embracing the Declaration of Independence. Old school. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Gratitude.

The truth is I’ve gone over these landscape paintings at least three times now and still cannot, for the life of me get over this hump.  

Now I face doing them again.

The last incarnation - the last attempt - the last layer was of sunsets orbs. A brilliant idea. I hadn’t liked the wine glass idea and in contemplating my other feelings and visual reminders invoked from my beautiful experience, I tried sunrise and sunset colors. This incarnation invoked months later and from a new location after a most fantastic journey balanced against a most dreadful break-up. Painting from a place where I now can get a pretty good look around. Sunrise and sunset views a mere stroll away. A new and magical occurrence. Unlike Walla Walla, Washington, I have no desire to even hint at where I live. Being able to see the sunrise and sunset equally isn’t necessarily a common vantage point though. There’s a hint for ya.

While on the subject of home. The sunrise/sunset theme isn’t blowing my mind. It’s not filling me with the joy and pleasure I seek when I gaze upon my paintings or the sun rising. Sunset in a glass, Sam. So cheesy! An amatuer move. I’m trying to be a real deal painter here. Sunset wine glasses in a field is a fail.

Warning: recovering perfectionist and aggressive self critic on the mend.

Letting self judgment go, choosing a more gentle approach with myself as a practice. The paintings just aren’t invoking the feeling I am getting and have gotten before from creativity unleashed. They aren’t at the bar (Makes me want to be at the bar).

The discovery now before me is what next? What is wanting to be made real in this image now?

It is joy calling to be expressed. It is the heart of the matter. The land before me; fertile and rich. The companionship and connection of lasting love and friendship. Big views and blue skies.

This is the part that I’m interested in discovering in these paintings now. It may be 2 fold. Now that I’m facing the complete doing over of them again - going over what I’ve done before again - will it be that last time and it works or is it that it isn’t working and I should scratch the idea?

This idea was genius in my head.

The experiences I’ve had in Eastern Washington & Oregon have been exquisite. Repeated and enjoyed every time I head east and I envision visits will be repeated again and again. 

Actually, just now I am fantasizing about Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla, Washington. The first weekend in May. Before then, much before, I hope resolution is achieved with this endeavor. 4 month? More like 4 weeks to complete or cash out.

The choices ahead:

Choice #1: If I continue working this effort into existence for the, I believe, 4th time, what am going to do different in an attempt to finish this project I’ve started? From what I’ve written, the vision of what I would be creating wasn’t originally clear. Nor did I like the idea when I tried painting it so I changed it and liked the 2nd idea even less. How clear can I get about what I want to energize into existence?

Clarity Statement: These paintings are landscapes combining the Blue Mountains of the Umatilla National Forest with wheat farms, and vineyards in the foreground. Clear blue skies from warm, not too warm, light and bright days. Vessels of love not captured but swirling as wine swirls in the glass. The essence of something held dear. Why are they orbs? Because they are reflections of the sun. They are bright and radiating outward. A symbol of love. Love of the land. Love of the people that we share our experience with. There is some amount of opening so they are not completely closed off. These are expressions of love and joy open and free. So abstract. Light and bright. That helps.

Choice #2: When to quit? Some things deserve to be quit. I’m beginning to learn humans — myself included — pinch myself — are hesitant to change course once a certain amount of effort has been put in. After learning this I see it clearly in my past. No longer as regret but as insight. Now that I’m aware of it, how do I confront it more honestly? In order to do more of what I want that also is working for me, and less of what I don’t want that is not working out. As always — moving through fear here. Stagnation is the killer.

5 orbs behind a blue sky.

5 orbs behind a blue sky.

Blue skies abound. What’s next? Other than kitty stretches.

Blue skies abound. What’s next? Other than kitty stretches.

I’ve started a new pass at these paintings which is a good sign. I had started them a year ago and want to finish them or move on. I love the idea, as I said before it was exquisite to match both my experience traveling across the country and my experiences with people I love in beautiful places.

Honoring beauty. This has been a new embrace for me and a great help in acknowledging, as well as, leaning into fully, my truth. Sounds so corny or elitist and I’m just gonna have to live with that. It was upon discovering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint” that I was ignited and encouraged in my love of beauty. Even writing it now gives me a charge. I love that which is beautiful to me.

My gratitude to Dr. King for this inspiration is two fold: One, that he gave this speech to high school students, which touched me because that’s where I’m picking-up from and when I got off track. The other thing that struck me a potent and cathartic blow was his urging commitment to “beauty, love, and justice”. The love and justice is obvious to me coming from Dr. King but BEAUTY and placing it first, sparked in me a calling to make art again with his inspirational blueprint as a guide.

Re-igniting joy through imagery is the goal of creativity unleashed. Clarity and authenticity of intent. No easy task. 

My Shearer Guarantee is that the effort to try is worth it.

Cheers!

Creativity Unleashed: Building Confidence and Getting Brave

Photographing sometimes feels like the very 1st time.

Photographing sometimes feels like the very 1st time.

Photographing my paintings yet again. Third time’s a charm! I can feel the self-doubt and fear creep in.

I asked myself to put everything on hold until I finished these paintings. In a few cases, paintings I hadn't completed in years. 

How did I do it? How can I ignite the momentum to do what comes next?

A solid plan of actions. Sticking to it pretty well, adding in space and compassion for setbacks. Speaking of sticky - this is often where I've gotten stuck.

Having NOT completed a painting in years but making a decision that I wanted to was the spark I needed to start anew again. For the umpteenth time. 

Embarking on paintings completely different than anything I’d ever done before left me a bit, how to put it, afraid. I was afraid to paint again, even though I wanted to and I was afraid of what I wanted to paint. Leaving me in a heap of self doubt mixed with a bit of loathing that took a few days to bounce back from but bounce back I did.

The thing that helped me get over my urge to not even start and also quit constantly along the way was the pretty good plan I’d laid out for myself to follow. It helped get off on the right foot for and really helped me keep going when I got stuck. Getting stuck has been my specialty. By stuck, I mean quit. 

Breaking down the actualizing of a dream into bite-sized nuggets of win. For me this was 3 months chunks. That’s totally from coaching. I didn’t invent but I decided to try it and it didn’t work.

KIDDING! It totally worked. 

By working I mean, I did finish. Did it go exactly according to plan? 

CLOSE. I was super close. Close-enough that sharing the steps in order to help someone else do it to and tell myself to keep doing it because it worked and it will work again, and again, and again.

CLOSE. I was super close. Close-enough that all my fears of failing erupted, yet close enough that I could see how far I'd come, how much I HAD accomplished, and best of all how close I was to finishing exactly what I had planned on. More actually. More because I had dreamed up and gathered new ideas that I wanted to energize into existence. 

Looking around me at not only the paintings that were very close to being done. I saw new paintings I’d started along the way. Helping to very clearly show me the progress I’d made. I’ve also recorded video and taken pictures along the way so I can see how far I’ve really come in my project.

I still was going to give up. Falling into the mindset of a painfully faithful old friend with some harsh - negative - self - talk. 

That’s when I used my trusted method of telling that shit talking voice, full of fear in my head, "thanks for thinking of me, now go away. I've got paintings to finish". Freeing me from the cycle of negative talk, allowing me to get back to work.

Turns out I was a only month off. The work to do has been mostly finishing touches and what to do next?

What to do next?

Sell paintings. 

Cue: oh shit moment! Now I’m here. This part that I want and I fear the most. 

Creating visually is so revealing in this: Making reality what dances around on our heads. I had an idea of rainbows flowing like rivers. It was a darker time in my life, full of turmoil. A relationship ending, a parent retiring, a self-prescribed mission that I would live with this parent and be there for her the way she was there for me. That’s plenty. A relationship ending, a parent move-in instead, I’ll throw in career loss. What the hell! No reason to paint a pretty picture where one doesn’t exist.

That sums it up perfectly: no reason to paint a pretty picture where on doesn’t exist.

Until that changed.

It all changed with a vision. A vision I wanted to make reality.

Learning and changing along the way and the shift in perception. Not only of myself but the view from others perspective. That used to scare me. What’s going to happen when I do this thing I’m passionate about doing and the people around me see me differently. When it came down to it I HAD to choose me. I chose to do the thing for me because I was pretty miserable and now I’m not and the people that love me dig that. ***This is a profound shift: think of it? Taking actions while navigating what others think is a detriment to making the progress that will have the greatest impact on those we love. I now scream out, STOP! When I start thinking about what other people are thinking. What a waste of time and a serious hindrance in making our own thoughts more impactful. 

Spending too much time on what other people think gets in the way of actualizing our own vision. Practicing keeping our thoughts the forefront of our execution is the essence of productivity. 

Want to be more productive? Stop thinking about what other people are thinking and get back to work.

A thing or 2 I learned can help others: to either not make the same mistakes I made, or confidently know it is possible to come out the other side triumphant. How fun does that sound? Triumphant! With more love not less. I gained. I want that for everyone.

This isn't a shtick.

This isn’t a sales pitch. Unless you want to buy a painting. Which would be lovely but not my desire in sharing the process. The process to success should be free. 

Idealistic? Maybe. Take a look at my paintings though. Rainbow Paths. Rainbow visions. I look at them and feel something. I feel a little brighter, lighter, a smile often crossing my face.

I’m thinking of an actor. Guess which one? Again, kidding. I’m thinking of actors that have had to play roles that were unflattering, ugly, hard. Glenn Close!! That’s the one! From the movie Fatal Attraction. I know people that still hate her because of that role. How powerful is that? Doing something so authentic and well that it creates a visceral reaction.

That is my goal here. To have you loathe me for creating something that ignites a visceral response. 

Not so much that. 

More to present something that lifts the spirit, making the moment better, if only for a moment. 

Leading up to this I was so angry, hurt, disillusioned, and so very regretful in all aspects of my life.

I wanted to paint my whole life and I had failed.

Until I had the vision of flowing rainbows to lift my spirit and get me to pick up the paint brushes, grab a canvas, and get back to doing the first and foremost thing I have found joy in my whole life. 

My previous career was in healthcare and my motto became ‘no guarantee’. It comes from health insurance when benefits are checked. At the end of getting insurance benefit details, for healthcare, the sign-off was and probably, as well as unfortunately still is something to the effect of, “a quote of benefits is not a guarantee of coverage”. 

Even to write it now, I get a touch of that visceral response.

That shit wore me down over time. I eventually lead almost every question I was ever asked with - no. Eventually I would have to go around and around to get to being open to a - yes. This also wore me down. In the end it wore me clear out of what I thought would be a long and prosperous healthcare career. I so wanted to help people until it got to the point I was hurting myself and others because of how 'no guarantee' had affected my whole person. 

It is true, there are few guarantees in life and the old adage, ‘death and taxes’, lacks the optimism and joy I now lean into so I came up with the Shearer Guarantee. My name has been a consistent and silly teasing throughout my life. Giving homage to anyone whose name is way more a target than mine, while also letting them know, no one gets off easy.

My Shearer Guarantee:

  • If I have an idea and it keeps popping back up, it’s wanting to come into existence.

  • If there is something I want to accomplish I make a plan to what I call, ‘energize vision into existence’.

  • I’m worthy of not only loving but being loved. If I don’t love and care for myself first, as a serious priority, I am no good to anyone else.

  • I can work on my faults. 

  • I can do better.

  • I try.

My Shearer Guarantee to you:

  • If you have an idea and it keeps popping back up, sometimes over and over, it’s an idea that wants to come into existence.

  • If there is something you want to accomplish, make a plan breaking it down into the smallest of steps. What I call, 'energizing vision into existence’.

  • You are worthy. If you don’t honor that first, you are not as good as you can be for others.

  • You can work on those things that seem to be holding you back.

  • You can do better. 

  • You can give it a try and see what happens after say, 90 days.

It’s those things in life that we can have control over the outcome of that make life truly worthwhile, and they ignite forth from us. Internal - eternal? It seems like eternal as I write it so maybe it is as well. They come from a triple D threat: drive, determination, desire. We ignite the drive through a desire and our determination is what energizes vision into existence. 

What I have deemed Creativity Unleashed. 

I raise a toast to a plan coming together, and another one now waiting at the ready. 

Cheers!

Creativity Unleashed in Green - A Mental Health Awareness Tribute

This video is great!!

And by great I mean I've never seen my downward spiral before and to have it documented is exhilarating! A tad frightening but mainly because I'm sharing it. I know some of my days are better than others but to see it, turns out to be more enlightening and uplifting then embarrassing or in honor of Halloween coming up - horrifying.

When I started this video I was at the 4-6 week mark of a 12 week plan to complete some paintings; to open the store, so to speak, and also use my images to create some retail with. I want a hoodie with one of the rainbow paintings on it and I want it soon!

I can tell I'm not feeling great in the intro video. I filmed it on the cusp of descending into a fit of physical pain and depression. No make-up, hair undone, and in my most worn of hoodies. I'm amazed I made a video! Hell, I'm more amazed I'm posting it.

There is struggle and difficult days as I work to create more good days than bad days, I continually learn more about what works and what doesn't. What didn't work just before this was an overloaded and very aggressive schedule that kind of made me sick. The bonus was I had planned a trip to see friends and getting out of the studio to visit with people I love was much needed and a definite treat. Coming back though was hard because I hadn't completed what I had planned to before I left on my trip and that guilt, combined with being a little worn out from all the fun made the next week of work slow and challenging.

The difference and benefit of seeing this video, which I hadn't watched until I completed all the paintings I wanted to add GREEN to is that I still managed to paint and record painting, it just took a couple weeks instead of a couple days.

Seeing this put together now, I'm OK.

I'm OK that I'm not at my most eloquent.

I'm OK that I'm not at my prettiest.

And I'm super OK that I'm still posting what I said I would because it shows that working through the fucking bumps in the road is still "on the road" and that I am truly thankful to be here doing this for myself and anyone else that struggles along their journey.

I'm also so thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. Love you! Love you! Love you!

COLORS: Titanium White - Blick

Iridescent White - Blick

C.P. Cadmium Yellow Medium - Golden

Iridescent Gold - Blick

Interference Gold - Golden

Permanent Green Light - Black

Phthalocyanine Green - Blick

Interference Blue - Golden

Brushes - Filberts all the way!!

Cheers!