One of my favorite sketches from when I was taking a break from social media.
Having spent much of my life catering to the needs and desires of others, I felt empty and alone when I wasn’t. I felt I was only recognized for what I did by being there for others. But I was rarely taking care of myself. I felt invisible, unless someone made me feel seen. Unless someone saw me. Unless I felt seen by another. And one way to not feel invisible was to show up on social media. I’m not going to lie. The likes, the follows, the comments, the subscribers…seeing them go up or down made me feel seen or less seen. The numbers really affected me. So I had to step away. And learn to feel seen by my Self. It was hard, given that I had very little experience feeling seen. I feel like I’m always calling out for it, but never really FEELING it. Until I met someone who did see me. And I felt seen. While I do not see this person anymore, I remember how it felt to be seen by them. And I used that feeling I felt from them to see myself. As a beautiful, radiant, gorgeous human being. I wake up smiling to myself in the mirror everyday. Because I really love what I see. Deeper. Behind the eyes, The cheeks, The smile… I see me. … Thank you so much for the kind words from my ”return” post. I realize now I do not have to go through life alone. I do not have to be the best to be seen. I can simply be myself, and that is enough. ♥️ I will be posting more sketches I did while I was away and perhaps update you on my new offering as well. This new offering is inspired by my own recent experiences…and by all of you. I am in love with it and am doing my best to stay present with it until it is ready to be received by you all. I will talk to you all soon!
Sugar has been my substance of choice. Every time I felt stressed, I immediately turned to sugary foods for comfort. It seem to ease the stress and anxiety. (Do you relate?)
One day, I listened to a talk at an online Brain Change Summit (still love neuroscience!) about how an addiction researcher allowed his research participants, who were looking to quit smoking, to smoke.
“What?” they asked. “I thought we were here to quit smoking.” “Just smoke,” the expert said. “But pay attention to the smoking.” They did and one woman recalled her experience which—to summarize—was: “Yuck! It tastes like chemicals. Gross!”
The idea is when you pay attention to a behavior/habit and observe no real gain or even a negative experience as a result of the behavior, you may have reduced craving for said behavior/substance and step out of the habit loop.
This sounded interesting to me and so I decided to try it myself —with sugar. Here’s what happened:
I first tried some sort of pastry, I believe. A cookie, perhaps? (Me not recalling it well tells you a great deal already.) Within 30-60 minutes of consuming this sugary substance, I notice my mind slowing down, shutting down, even. Focus became difficult, so I left my work at the table to take a nap. 1 1/2 hours later, I woke up. That was my first noticeable “sugar trip.”
I was like, okay, maybe it’s just this ONE time. I’ll try it with another sugary substance and see what happens. This second time was with coffee ice cream. (I remember this one better probably because I told someone about it soon after.) I made sure to take a look at my watch before I had some ice cream to get a more accurate reading of the time frame. Ice cream at 3pm. Grogginess at 3:30pm.
Yup, I was definitely feeling groggy, mind foggy. I had a difficult time concentrating and my brain function slowed down again. I don’t think I took a nap, but I did have to sit in my bed a bit. Again, no work.
As it turns out, the following days without sugar were more productive, with many more hours of work done (and feeling good about it too)! I seem to have lost some weight as well, as the fat around my belly seem to have decreased and not yo-yo drastically as it did in the past. (This is just by eyeballing myself in the mirror.)
At this point, I didn’t want to try anything sugary anymore. Those two experiences were enough to keep me from taking anymore sweets. Even holding a fun size Snickers bar today for a 3rd and final test got me feeling physically ill.
What I used to imagine as sugary yummy, goodness in my mouth and medicine for my anxiety has become a near gag reflex and panic attack when I tried a pinch of chocolate-filled bread (instead of the Snickers bar) today. Just a pinch! My heart started racing, immediate thirst, then brain fog. My body was not happy. I felt like pulling the piece of bread out of my esophagus.
So now I can’t have sweets. Not because I know cognitively that it’s not good for me. But because I am more aware of how my mind and body are physically affected by sugar. And the experiences have not been good. I still crave a little of the sweet taste, so something less sweet is fine, but nothing that is made with only or mostly sugar.
I also feel much better, happier, and healthier without it. Feeling alive and focused makes it easier for me to manage my stress and meditate.
Why go back?
I’m not sure what your relationship with sugar is (or any other kind of food or substance) and how your body is affected by it, as every body and mind differs in how it reacts to substances. However, I thought I’d shared this experience with you. Maybe if there’s a behavior, habit or addiction you’d like to pay attention to or you know someone who is struggling with addiction of any kind, this may help. 😊♥️
I met with Anxiety and Depression late 2016 and into 2017 and 2018. I still see them from time to time but our relationship is much better now than it was before, as I have taken the time to recognize, understand, and accept them as they are.
They spent a lot of time with me, trying to protect me these past few years.
Anxiety had me feeling so much fear, so I wouldn’t feel hurt from humiliation when sharing my artwork with others.
Depression kept me isolated from people, so I may recover from the recent trauma of losing someone I loved.
They wanted to protect me.
They did all they could to keep me safe.
And for a long time, I resented them.
I hated them for making me so scared to take action.
So mad at them for keeping me away from people for so long that it’s become so difficult to reach out, ask for help, and be with people again.
I hated them for doing what they only knew how to take care of me.
To keep me from getting hurt from what were perceived as potential threats:
I hated Anxiety and Depression.
But hating them only made it worse.
What is my greatest achievement these past 2-3 years?
Accepting Anxiety and Depression as they are.
Feeling them through and seeing them simply as primal states designed to protect and keep me safe.
So thank you, Anxiety and Depression.
For being there when I wasn’t aware.
I suffered greatly and unconsciously with you by my side.
I know you didn’t mean to overcome me as long as you did.
You only stayed for as long as I needed to realize that I didn’t need to feel bad anymore.
You were only meant to visit as fear and sadness, not to come and stay as Anxiety and Depression.
I just didn’t notice you were there with me until I did.
And when I did, you two kindly departed.
You were not meant to stay forever.
And until I realized this, I held you two close.
It wasn’t your fault.
It wasn’t my fault.
This was just how we worked together when I wasn’t aware of you.
Thank you for being around.
I’ll be sure to see you, feel you, and listen to you a little more intently, each time you visit now.
And with compassion.
Having gone through this period in my life, I sense it is not all for naught.
Nothing is wasted when it’s appreciated.
And I appreciate all that Anxiety and Depression has given me:
Immense insight and immense capacity to hold space for pain and to hold space for love.
I will take what I have learned through these low moments in my life and shine light on a new way of being and creating:
Creating with Compassion.
I didn’t create much when I was with Anxiety and Depression.
When I did, fear and shame was present.
I had difficulty truly enjoying and settling into the magic space of creating.
It was only until I look towards fear and shame with love and compassion that I was able to create from love and compassion.
That is what I wish for the world:
Human beings creating from joy, not fear.
From love, not shame.
To be a guiding light of creative compassion for others, I am building a business that delivers this message and practice to all human beings through online videos and a membership community.
We are all creators.
We are all artists.
We just need to be kinder human beings to ourselves so we may create more freely and generously with true abundance and care.
One of my goals for 2018 was to create more traditional artwork + make them more personal to me. I think I made that happen. 😊
Looking back, I was more vulnerable in my work than I’ve ever been. And I’m so, so happy about that ♥️. I didn’t know 2018 would be the year I would feel and heal through the pain of my past relationships and the absence of an emotionally available parent in my life. I didn’t know I would say hi, befriend, and REALLY experience emotions like anger and sadness as well as fear and shame. I didn’t know giving myself permission to feel these “unacceptable” feelings and understanding the human and personal reasons behind them would relieve the tightness from my chest and the heaviness of the critic from my mind. I didn’t know I could feel more love, not by rushing to help someone, but by continually looking within and asking the questions I need most to hear: “How am I feeling? What do I want right now? What do I need?” (I’m getting choked up just hearing those words.) To those who reached out to me because you were struggling with life decisions and creativity this year, I love you and feel you. You are not alone, as you reminded me the same. I am currently working on resources that may help me and others heal and create again, as it is something I am learning and practicing to do everyday. I don’t know what 2019 will hold, but not knowing got me here. And not knowing will get me through. Thank you for reading this far and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!!! I love you! ♥️ Truly, Tuyet
After a long discussion over something she has long since forgotten but still remember distinctly not letting up until she was satisfied with his answer, she smiled and gave him a warm embrace.
“Thank you,” she said, holding back tears. He returned her smile. A soft gaze. Then a grin. He stood up from the sofa where they rested, scooped her up in his arms and carried her to bed.
“I’m not too heavy, am I?” she asked. “Heh, no,” he replied. He laid her gently in his bed and was preparing to tuck her in when she jumped up and declared, “I gotta pee!” He shook his head in disbelief. “Oh my goodness. This girl!” And off she ran, to the bathroom, wishing she could have just NOT needed to go.
Because gosh darnit, it felt SO nice to be carried and held by him. To be tucked in by him as well? Ahh…well…