Every once in awhile, in a moments notice, life turns upside down.
News hits your ears and shock waves ripple through your heart.
No one is exempt from these sort of moments.
They are built into the fabric of life.
When they arrive, we all stand, stunned. We almost never see them coming… and even when we do, we are shocked that they’ve arrived.
These moments- upon- moments-upon- moments, when time stands still,
crash into us
like a bolt of lightning. Electric and instant.
They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and feelings -- each one characterized by the
blind side that they bring to our reality.
Our brains scramble to make sense, our lungs struggle to take that much needed deep breath.
Our hearts beat wildly as we begin the next step… Processing.
Just the other night… I had one of these moments.
It knocked me sideways and swelled my heart with grief.
I felt heavy. Raw. And heartbroken.
After struggling with Infertility for the last (almost) 7 years, I find that I am particularly susceptible to emotional trauma.
Imagine a chronically ill person… they’re immune system is much weaker in many ways, and therefore more susceptible to a dangerous virus.
That’s me… only I am not chronically ill, I am living in perpetual emotional trauma.
It is strange to say that, but it is the most accurate way to explain my situation.
It is why I am consciously and actively vigilant to protect my heart. It is why I do my best to practice self care daily. It is why I say “No” to baby showers, and newborn hospital visits . It is why I no longer teach preschool, why I nap regularly, and why I choose to submerse myself in things that bring joy to my life.
My emotional well being depends on the amount of “defensive” work I do.
With all the work I do, to remain balanced and stable… I still know that I am going to have these blind sides… no one is exempt from these sorts of moments.
They are built into the fabric of life.
How do I cope?
I first let the wave crash. The one that follows the lightning bolt. I feel all the emotion in its pure form and let it wash over me. I observe it. I acknowledge it. Without judging myself, I let whatever I need to feel rise up and be present.
And then I breathe deeply. I hug. I remind myself of these important truth’s:
I am not in control.
This reality is painful, uncomfortable and unwanted… but it is here.
Therefore, I will do my best to accept what I must, change what I can and rise above the rest.
I am not in control.
And then I get to work, taking care of myself.
And for me that can mean many things…
A crying session. Writing. Painting. A brisk walk. Pulling weeds. Screaming loudly. Talking.
Tuesday night, after the initial shock wore off, and I began to process, I sang.
I sang my heart.
I sang on a stage, in a little bar. I stood, in front of mostly strangers, with a microphone, no musician to accompany me, and I sang.
And the healing power of art took over.
The music of my fellow open mic attendees and my own small set -- released the energy that had built up. It lessened the weight of the grief and sadness. It allowed me to move forward.
With each arrival of a new season I grow increasingly aware of my surroundings.
I breathe in the winds of change and I collect new memories. It is within these few transitional weeks that I find myself reflecting, observing and appreciating the world that surrounds me.
Life, in all its beauty is fleeting. If we don't stop to enjoy our days now... when will we?
It doesn't have to be a constant, grand notion... it can be found in the smallest of things.
Sometimes, all it takes is a tiny vase of flowers sitting on the windowsill dappled in sunlight.
Hello Dear Readers,
My goal for 2017 is to post at the very least, once a month.
Yet, February slipped right through the cracks.
Let's break it down and examine the two ways I looked at this.
Most of us... myself included... naturally and initially jump right to negative conclusions. We look at this kind of slip up as an indicator of Failure and as a strange opportunity to unleash our harshest critic. Ourselves.
Only the second month of the year and already I fell short of meeting my goal.
Several unfinished drafts, full of thoughts, are saved in the blog editor, various notebooks and my brain... but never made it to the publish button. What a waste.
This is a huge disappointment, to my goal setting self, my readers and my business.
How many times did I sit before the blank screen. A blinking line against a white backdrop. What is wrong with me that I couldn't take a moment to blog a few thoughts, words, or photos?
Maybe I am not a writer. Not a blogger.
Thinking like this is so damaging. It is like putting a giant "do not enter" sign on your dreams and goals and future. We start with words like Failure and they morph into others...
But there IS another way to look at it.
In the last five or so years, I've personally been growing. Leaps and bounds.
And the initial thoughts of self belittling no longer sit well in my company.
They do visit. But they are not as comfortable. They don't grab a blanket and overstay their welcome, getting cozy in the confines of my mind.
In fact, almost as soon as the Failure alarms sound, the new team I've acquired hop into action, and set to work organizing, banishing, and modifying unwanted thoughts...like triage or a particularly talented stage manager.
Soon, the crippling thoughts of Failure are replaced with more tender, well crafted, kindhearted, loving and helpful thoughts.
"February slipped through the cracks."
It sure was a quick month. Busy too. Remember those notes jotted on paper. I was sure hoping to expand on them in the blog space... I suppose I still can, later.
It never felt right, every time I sat down to blog last month... it felt forced and insincere.
The last thing I want to do is to start posting a bunch of random stuff just to meet a goal. HA. I am so transparent, I am almost positive that a blog post-forced would be a blog post- torture for the reader.
Perhaps there isn't any good reason for a month of silence. I am human. And my humanity affords me a fair amount of mistake making.
maybe there's a more significant reason. Perhaps I have been busy living out and fleshing through some very real notions. Needing the experience before I can articulate them on the page.
This has been true in the past, and now that I think about it... I HAVE been wrestling with a few topics haven't I?
And there is the big stuff too. The infertility treatment decisions and the business decisions. The extra naps, the traces of depression and anxiety trickling into some of my days. The several BIG idea projects holding space in my brain... not to mention the short story I've been writing... the short story that seems to be turning itself into a long story.
This is what my new thought process looks and sounds like.
Isn't it so much more gentle and understanding. It leaves room for growth and perspective. It encourages thoughtful reflections and ACTUALLY inspires.
It accounts for life, the messy complicated bits and it helps to remind me that I am not a production assembly line.
I am a living, breathing, mistake making, thinking, growing person. Not a failure.
furthermore... it sounds a lot more like how I would talk to someone I love.
More forgiving. More tender.
It makes me think of being a child at the carnival. You approach the coveted ride, hoping to God that your head will rise above the height line, the one that determines who can and who can't ride.
Failure- and our subsequent self talk tends to be like the carnival worker. Grimacing down at us, declaring that we are not allowed to move forward.
But life isn't a carnival ride... it is a grand and wondrous adventure... not a short term thrill.
We needn't hold ourselves back with negative thoughts, my friends. It isn't helpful.
My hope, in writing this... is that you, my dear reader, would find a path to a kinder, more tender self love.
That you could set to work replacing harsh criticisms and unrelenting negative self talk, when bumps in the road happen and they will.
That you would look in the mirror and speak gentle, encouraging, thoughtful, tender words to yourself, AND mean them... sincerely.
We need to keep moving forward
a whole lot of
a view of my writing nook
Today I took our little dog for a walk.
It was cold and windy. I bundled up, she wore her scraggly fur as usual.
Gusts blew the wisps of hair sticking out from under my hat.
We took a familiar path down the sidewalk, of a cul de sac. Upon reaching the bend, my ears caught sound on the wind. A steady playing of rhythm instantly noticeable as wind chimes. Melodic dancing tones.
Ellie too caught the sound, it utterly terrified her.
She glanced at me, at the house, and then as if to say "let's get out of here" she pulled hard on the leash. Doing her best to get away from the wind chimes. Looking at the house and it's mystery sound with frequency, until it was well out of site. Her little dog brain trying to make sense of this new information.
We are like that sometimes. Frightened by the strange, the new, the unknown.
We pull hard in the opposite direction.
There is no shame in being frightened and perplexed. It is a key part of our learning experience.
However, unlike my sweet dog. We have the ability to understand on a level that is much more intricate and nuanced. We do not have to remain frightened and worried by that which is unfamiliar.
In fact, we have such a privilege to learn and grow and change.
We have tools at our fingertips that can help teach us.
We have relationships with people who can share what they have learned.
We have the ability to discern. We have the opportunity to build new relationships, to ask questions and seek information.
we may, still, armed with knew knowledge, carry fear.
But it is my hope that we would first move forward in love and curiosity before we cast a net of fear out before us.
Fear is like a snapchat filter. Fear is like a pair of foggy glasses. Fear is a means of distorting perception. Be cautious about that which intensifies fear in your heart.
Once, as a little girl, I was looking out the back window of our family vehicle. It was night and we had been traveling for awhile. I noticed a small feathery seed clinging to the window. It looked so strange. I didn't know it was a seed. I didn't know what it was.
Yet somehow, my wild imagination convinced me that it was a thing to fear.
I imagined that this seed could bore into my skin. That it would travel through my body. It spooked me in such an impressionable way, honestly I do not know why or how or what justified this fear. It was completely and innocently made up in my seven year old brain.
This year will hold many unknowns.
My creative business is changing. My artwork is expanding. I have new and exciting projects. I have growing connections and interesting challenges.
Personally we have decisions to make, treatment to plan for, embryos to bring home. The political climate is feeling very unstable and I feel as if a constant noise of argument is humming in the background. People I know and love are facing heartbreak and uncertainty.
this space... the here and now, it is a hard and difficult space to be sometimes.
My hope is that my artwork, my words, my actions, and my love will inspire in you a new hope.
One that lets fear fall into the shadows.
Forward, without fear. 2017
As many of you know, if you've been following along my journey, creating art has been a healing revolution in my life.
Years spent in the ongoing throes of infertility had left me feeling broken and less.
It felt as if the strong negative emotions creeping in were slowly changing my identity.
Bitterness, anger, pain, heartbreak, helplessness, fear, frustration, anxiety, depression and more...a cocktail of darkness loomed over me.
It was exhausting.
Early in 2014 I experienced one of the biggest shifts in thinking. A brand new idea to me.
Learning that I could give myself permission.
Permission to be what I had a sneaking suspicion I had been created to do all along.
Up until that point, I actively cultivated "becoming the best version of me." (I even wrote a song about it) but in some ways I was still holding back.
The dark cloud loomed and I seemed to be in battle... a constant struggle. It was so hard to better myself while trying to cope with our infertility journey.
At some point, anxiety became a leading role in my life, depression took center stage- yet all the while I was making strides in self care, gratitude, kindness and more... Yet, it wasn't until this permission slip to my soul unlocked a new identity that I truly began to part the clouds of darkness and embrace my journey--- in other words---HEAL.
I gave myself permission to be me.
It looked something like this:
"dearest self, you have permission to be who God created you to be. Stop selling yourself short--- as 'just a creative.' You are so much more than JUST creative.
And dear, your broken heart... it is part of you, it is intertwined in the very fabric of who you are... but you are so much more.
Stop working so hard and be.
You ARE an artist! Create!
Feel! Breathe! And
Take this messy, complicated, long season of waiting and use it.
And one more thing... it is so sweet that you desire to be the best version of yourself, but YOU are great
opening your heart to the authentic you--- embracing your art, your journey, your pain, your longing, your truth...
well dear, that IS the best version of yourself.
Yes! You will always be unfolding, becoming but know that you are already here... and
YOU ARE ENOUGH"
Go ahead and read that last bit of it again.
"You are Enough"
Wow. Making a declaration to yourself, giving permission on this level. It does something to you. A great and mighty shift has occurred, and I can never go back.
I am an artist.
I capture moments.
I encourage others.
I love people.
everyday I add a small portion,
what will be considered
What is it that you need to give yourself permission to be?
When will you decide to love who you are?
To proclaim that YOU are in fact ENOUGH?
We need to shift the way we think.
Because we are all creative---
let's stop thinking of ourselves as
groups of humans who are "just creative"
and other groups who are "Not creative"
still others who are either "super creative" or those who think they have "zero capacity for creativity."
We are human... it is in our nature to create---
we were designed that way!
So maybe you wont be a painter, or a photographer, or a novelist, or a poet, or a musician, or a sculptor...
buried deep inside your soul ...
is a masterpiece...that only you can bring fourth
It is your life.
Photos taken by Jaci Musec
Scenes provided by the great creator.
Hey there dear ones. I took a short break from blogging so I could keep my sanity during the holiday season. Now it's January- a new year- and I am feeling energized and inspired.
One of my January goals includes making studio time a priority. I am also making "getting fit" a priority too, but that's another post.
So... I've had a few solid days of studio time and I feel confident that I can keep up my current schedule.
Two reasons: 1. I am exploring and "playing" with different colors, ideas, processes and subject matter--- portraits! (My least confortable area so it is fun and challenging to open up and try.)
2. I am working on a new series of paintings. The collection is titled "Through Infertility".
Basicly I am working with five unique couples who have experienced or are currently going through the turmoltuous journey of infertility.
Each week I will focus on an individual couple... taking their personal story and turning it into a work of art.
The goal is to give them something tangible that will in a way commemorate this season of life, while honoring their pain, joy, sorrow and uniqe twists and turns.
As I am working with couple 1 this week I am reminded anew why I choose to go after this project. I am inspired, honored, and moved to be able to paint an abstract expression of their journeys.
I've been emailing couple 1 with updates, details and photos the past two days. Their reaction to this experience is more than I could have hoped for. This process seems to be touching and healing for them.
"I'm speechless. I cried looking at the photos you sent. I love knowing that our story is literally the heart of this painting."
Yet, what I am most suprised by, is my own response.
am deeply moved. We've only just begun and I find that I am full of emotion, energy, inspiration, tears, joy and hope.
When this idea first came to me- fully formed- I recognized it's power and beauty immediatley. I knew I wanted to do this project to give healing hope, through my art, to other's on this journey.
What I didn't anticipate was just how beautiful and powerful it would be for myself.
I am so excited to see where this Through Infertility project goes and how it evolves. For now, I am just in awe of the way it has moved me in such a short time.
"You are not alone"- Couple 1 (female)
So it is with much anticipation that I begin this new year, this new month. 2017 will have a major focus in my art, it's growth and how I "put it out there into the world."
Follow along on Instagram at @artbyjacimusec
Please share with others who might be encouraged by this project.
and stay tuned for more Captured & Reclaimed updates.
Ps. Thank you, for being you. A miracle of life, breath & soul, heart & humanity, spirit & body... may you find inspiration and beauty in your life.
Several years ago I had an idea for a small business.
I was't exactly sure of all the details or what it would entail but this little spark of a thought rolled & tumbled through my brain.
I had ideas...a logo idea. A retail space idea. Ideas on the services I could offer. Ideas, ideas, ideas. They ran wild.
I wasn't ready to jump in to all the little idea avenues, so I let my imagination play. I didn't try to jump ahead, I started doing the steps that would get me closer. I let THAT be enough.
I noticed that in time, certain ideas grew legs, others drifted out to sea.
And most excitedly, I had started incorperating some of these ideas into my daily life. I tried my hand at projects, painting techniques, estate sales and more.
I signed up for a market, a booth rental and more.
Before long I was starting to see this creative business come together.
Jessica Ball (owner of the Art Garage) & I
My ussual route from our house to the Art Garage is under construction with a good portion of the road closed completely.
I took the route anyways.
I had been through this detour a few times and I still thought it was my best option for the night.
My energy level was at the max. While driving I switched between no radio quietness, to loud and pumped up music, back to no radio but add in self pep talk.
There was a moment when I detoured from the detour because I thought maybe I could bypass the construction a different way. This left me driving through an unfamiliar neighborhood and feeling slightly out of sorts. So I backtracked.
And I fretted a tiny bit because I was going to be "late".
To clarify, I wasnt actually going to be late... just later than I had hoped.
Finally, just a few minutes away I was sitting in a long line of traffic waiting at a redlight on University. I looked over to One World and saw my friend Jessica with her teenage niece, who she has taken in. Setting up their outdoor art space for the First Friday Event. I saw my friend Sammy taking dinner orders from the outdoor patrons.
In the 10 second window, life made sense, everything was so beautiful, and there I was looking in from the outside on people I love and admire. As I was on the way to my own event. It was a moment when things got real intense and I shed a few beautiful happy tears.
The Projekts and I.
I arrived just in time. The Projeckts (Chrys & Jessica) were unloading their equipment and setting up. Jessica Ball was doing last minute things. Her husband and sweet daughter were prepping for the night.
I stood there. Taking a deep breath in and soaking it all up.
There on the walls ... my artwork.
Displayed so well. It was surreal.
Then all these people started trickling in...
My heart just beamed! Every time the door opened and new faces walked in, it felt like little gifts.
Oh and some people even brought gifts! And flowers! Which was totally shocking and unexpected!
I love seeing people I love.
I love hugs!
I love flowers.
I love sharing my artwork.
I love live music!
I love people watching.
I love connecting and sharing and talking.
I love gifts (giving them, recieving them) 😁 I just love it!
my parents came.
All four of them.
At one point, I took a little sit down break in the back patio area.
Under the twinkle of lights, looking at the beautiful mural on the wall... I was overcome with gratitude.
Out there I had a quiet moment to reflect on how grateful, full and loved I am.
This night was so special and I loved sharing it. I loved experiencing it.
I know it is a treasure of a memory that I will look back on for all my years to come.
As the night drew to an end I couldn't help but think back to all the times I had meekly asked about showing my artwork. The places that I took business cards and email addresses from, in hopes that I would contact about displaying my work.
The thing is... for the longest (months-years) time I didn't push beyond the asking. I never sent the emails. I didn't.
Then one day I did ask, and I had pictures on my phone so together the owner and I picked a date.
But circumstances got in the way... we had a misscariage, the bar I was going to hang work at closed down.
It all seemed to unravel before it began. Which was okay because it wasn't the right moment. I wasn't ready yet, and neither was my art.
I kept creating. I kept feeling. I kept learning.
I joined an artist group.
I entered two paintings in a show for Unseen Voices. I couldn't go to the opening because of bedrest & strict doctor orders. We had another IVF, another early pregnancy loss. Both things were happening at once. My artwork was out there... but I was home hoping, waiting and then grieving.
A week or so after the news was confirmed.
I sat amongst a pile of artwork. The emotions poured out of me, onto the paper and canvas...
it was clear to me I was ready.
I sent the email. I asked the question.
I hoped that I would maybe, possibly be considered.
Within the next few days this show was scheduled,secured and finally happening.
The road to get HERE was long. Paved with heartbreak.
I've lost babies, chances and years.
Birthed in all this space and pain is my voice. My art.
As my new identity emerges I count myself lucky to have survived this far.
To have flourished even.
now to be here... to share.
To speak for those who are not ready to, for those who have endured similar roads, to the little ones who never had a chance to be a part of this beautiful life.
It is a privilege and an honor.
All of my artwork is for sale.
When I prepared for this show... wireing painti gs, varnishing, naming, organizing... a little idea came an landed on my shoulder.
It told me.
Paint the embryos. Paint your babies.
I set out to find 10 small square canvas. I chose the colors, the texture paste, the wood piece to
mount them on.
In one 3 hour sitting I started and finished painting them.
When I finished. I spoke.
"hello littles. Thank you. I love you"
I shed tears.
I felt joy.
Thank you dear reader, friends, ones I love.
Thank you for allowing me to share my journey.For encouraging me, showing up, and loving me where I am.
Thank you for loving our littles too.
If you know someone experiencing Infertility, depression, anxiety, heartbreak, loss, grief. Please remind them to be gentle with themselves and love them so hard!
I am open to sharing and talking about my experiences and I welcome the opportunity.
Artwork can be viewed during October 2016 at The Art Garage, Main St. peoria IL.
I've been riding a steady stream of excitement and adrenaline for a few weeks now... crunch time before the big art exhibit, preparing and being incredibly excited.
All that goodness...
Yesterday I felt myself hit a wall. I thought to myself, "I need to be careful with all this excitement".
Let me explain.
This is all very much my dream come true. It is what I have been working towards, WHY I started Captured & Reclaimed.
I am using my art to express myself... people are responding... I HAVE A SOLO EXHIBIT all month!!! This is beyond great, it is fantastic, wonderful and just about the coolest thing!
This art work comes from a very tender, vulnerable part of me. This whole experience is a result of all the hardship that pushed me forward and expanded my "what if's".
Hanging on the walls are reflections of pain and hope and devastation and beauty. I am so honored to share it, so proud to bring forth something tangible to show and so very torn
it is really scary.
And this is a big deal to me.
One thing I have "inherited" during our infertility journey is the beastly issue of anxiety. It walks hand in hand with another part of me... depression. If I get too emotionally charged... these two sense opportunity. If I am not careful they could jump in the drivers seat.
I have worked hard to navigate stress, manage grief and keep these two in check.
But sometimes I get lazy and stop doing the necessary things to properly care for myself. I am human after all.
Tonight I had planned to go to a writers group. To chat, share poems and have a good time. But I think I am going to pass. I think I need to detox from stimuli and read a good book. I think I need to lay on the sofa and do a whole bunch of nothing.
I want to have all the space and energy to be present. To be excited. To soak it all in.
This is such a beautiful life and I feel so grateful that it is mine.
"You are Loved" 18 x24 acrylic on canvas
"Anxiety, Release me"
I love using words to connect with my fellow humans.