Okay, I had a choice. Each of us have a choice, but there was something inside of me that said... It's time to bloom. You have to. You CAN. This is the only choice. Do you know what I'm talking about? You know that moment when we have a choice to show up or shrink, run or stay, be big or stay small, shine or hide? It was scary and I wanted to run but my feet planted into the ground with a stance that said, "You got this!" My ego was violently shaking its ugly head no but my soul was screaming yes... "you are loved, you are supported, and it's time to shine." So... I had no choice but to bloom because it was my time to shine, to step into the light, and bloom.
Let me back up. 2014 went out with a bang. The unraveling began in September 2014 and it seemed to only get worse as the months went on. My employment was in jeopardy. I'm a single mom who is self-employed, so as you can imagine, this caused an initial panic inside me that I can't describe. I had to remind myself several times that I am supported and loved by the universe. Again my ego went into overdrive raising the red flags of self-doubt, fear, and anxiety but all the while my soul calmly waited for me to get centered and to trust that there was a plan in place bigger than me. There are a few things that I am VERY passionate about, my work as a life skills coach is one of them. I know that I won't do this work forever, but right now I am where I am supposed to be and I love the work. And I'm really good at it. So as I waited to hear whether I could still be a self-employed mom, who is available to her children, another bomb dropped....
My step-father died. Hello October. Thanks for your warm welcome. Glenn had been a part of my life since I was a small child. My parents divorced when I was five and my mom married him when I was seven, so yes he was a large part of my life. It wasn't always love, sunshine, and rainbows though. Maybe I'll leave that for another post, but what I will say is this... it took me a LONG time to love him and he patiently waited. He loved me dearly and I'm grateful that he waited for my love because the feeling was mutual. Death is so hard... it's a reminder to love madly, live in the moment, and hug the ones you love everyday because tomorrow may never come. While still grieving this huge loss another bomb dropped...
"Toni, I have cancer." What? Really? Are you sure mom? I hadn't even made it through October when this enormous bomb dropped. Is this really happening? November and December were a little bit of a blur... mom had surgery, was in and out of the hospital a few times before the year ended, thanksgiving, Christmas, grief and loss. It was a hurricane and I was being swept up in its fierce winds.
I wanted the year to end and I welcomed the new year with open arms hoping for something better. For the time being I was still able to do the work I loved and feel passionate about, so that was a plus. Then I received an email from my BFF, Karin, on January 18th. A little over a year ago now..... wow time flies! The subject line read: "It's your lucky day, my dear!! xo" When I clicked on the email I had NO idea what was in store for me or how drastically my life would change in the upcoming year. Karin had entered my name into a drawing to win a free on-line intuitive painting course with Flora Bowley. I had no idea who she was as an artist and I had no idea the journey I was about to embark on.
Initially, even though I was really excited that I had won something, my body and mind became riddled with fear and self-doubt. I can count on one hand the times I had won something. So my thoughts were, "seriously, I had won? Karin are you sure? Go back and check..." Then came the thoughts, "Are you sure you can do this? What happens if I'm not any good?" But yes, I really had won and it was right before my 40th birthday. My soul sister and loving friend, provided me with gentle encouragement and love to give me the boost I needed, all the while stating that I deserved it. She reminded me that I am supported and loved by the universe and that this would be good for my soul and my art. To assist my journey and celebrate my 40 years on this planet, Karin made sure I was set with the supplies I would need for the course, and sent me on my way to embark on this transformative journey. So now it was up to me... choose to bloom or choose to stay a seed. Choose to shine or choose to hide my light.
This five week course started at the end of January and even though it ran for five weeks, I had access to it on line for six months from the time the course concluded. Sweet! This was perfect for me especially since my life was in upheaval at the time of winning this beautiful gem. And to be honest, it took me a little while to wrap my head around the fact that I had won this, whether or not I was capable of doing it, and whether or not I deserved it. Yes, I said it... did I really deserve something so wonderful? It took me a little while to answer these questions and when I did... the magic happened. I went on the site, read, re-read, and then started doing small things to get myself prepared to start and to push away my so called friends, fear and self-doubt. All the while I was still dealing with a very sick and grieving mother, who was in and out of the hospital numerous times until the middle of March 2015. In April, mom started to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually which also assisted me with my own healing. In mid May, I received an email stating everything would remain as it had been with my self-employment, so I was no longer sitting in limbo regarding my job status waiting for another bomb to drop. I could breathe a little easier and worry a little less. So it was time to start to show up for myself. No excuses.
If you are like me and have never heard of Flora Bowley or her art, please for the love of God go check her out.... only after you finish reading this blog post of course! Her art is amazing, her gentle and loving spirit so inviting, and her approach to art refreshing. It was EXACTLY what I needed to transform and bloom. Ironically, the 5 week course is called Bloom True. Great, how appropriate.
I have struggled with the words, "I am an artist" for as long as I have been creating. I was never really able to own the words and it definitely affected my creative life. It wasn't until the conclusion of the online painting course, that I realized how much it affected my creative life. Thankfully, despite the lack of owning these words, I still showed up and created. My soul in many ways overpowered my ego, something I am grateful for.
Other than the gift of being a mother to my beautiful children, the painting class with Flora was by far the best gift I have ever been given. There was a shift that occurred in my being while taking this online painting course that I find difficult to put into words. The light and guidance that Flora emitted was hard to hide from and made me want to rise and shine. My small seed opened accepting the light she radiated and the inner growth I experienced was magical and deep. I allowed myself to grow, transform, and shine instead of staying small. At times it was so hard to stand in front of my canvas and allow the magic to happen but I'm so glad that I did. I'm glad that despite my fear I showed up for myself each day and allowed the light to enter, causing this great shift inside of my being. When I let go of all the negative words that held my soul captive and really believed in myself as an artist, it was there that my voice emerged. This voice was so beautiful and the art that has come as a result leaves me standing in awe. Sometimes I stand in disbelief of what I have just created, asking myself, "Is this really mine?". Yes, Toni, it is and it is beautiful.
I have had a few difficult years and last year was certainly one of them, but this painting class transformed my life and I will never be the same. And neither will my art. It provided a safe haven for me to grow and heal. It helped my creative vision and assisted with finding the courage to show up each day for myself creatively. I see the world through a different lens now, everything is a little different and the world a little brighter as a result. Although the painting class was 5 weeks online, it took me the entire time I had access to it online, to get through the lessons. The painting that I did during the course took almost a year to finish.
The painting below I completed after the painting course ended and I was still working on my painting from the class itself. I started this painting for an art show I was participating in and the night I finished it was magical. I stood in front of the painting with tears in my eyes, a fire in my belly, love in my heart, and a disbelief that this was mine. I created it. ME. And it was beautiful. I had let go of the fear and self-doubt that had muffled my voice and instead chose to rise allowing my seed to be cracked open and my voice to emerge triumphantly. My voice sang a creative music I longed to hear and I owned every bit of the sentence, "I AM AN ARTIST."
I chose to bloom and I'm so glad that I did.
***Stay tuned for my post about the class and the picture of my completed canvas....
All of the photos used in this blog post were taken by me in the Spring/Summer 2008