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“Fearless AF”

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This is my team of new best friends, thanks to 261 Fearless, and their invitation to run with them at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon.  What a truly amazing experience this has been.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to run with 261 Fearless for my first full marathon.

And I now recognize how fortunate I am to have the running community that I have at home, through the Stoney Creek Running Room.  261 Fearless is a social running community that unites women globally.  No judgement, no competition, and welcoming of ALL abilities, shapes and sizes, religions and skin colours, it’s an all inclusive club for women who share a love for running and a desire to keep fit while having fun and creating lasting friendships.  Whether you are a walker or a marathoner, 261 Fearless is for you.  They have a new Friendship Program, that is inclusive of everyone world wide through the wonders of technology, to help support women who crave a community but don’t have one in their physical location that they feel comfortable in participating.  (If you join, let me know…as I am a member!)

These women I ran with and socialized with throughout the weekend are all phenomenal people.  This is what I will hold onto the most, is this new family.  And my newly discovered strength in the face of pain and adversity that comes with running a marathon.  I am honoured to have been able to share this experience with one of my teammates, who also finished her first ever full marathon!  We helped each other through the second half…complaining when we needed to vent, and encouraging each other to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, and reminding each other how awesome we both are, especially in those tough moments.  And I cannot forget the team members that waited to greet me in the hotel lobby as I came back, dazed and confused, and accompanied me to the after party (once I had showered).  This small act of kindness was HUGE to me as well, as I wanted to celebrate, and eat, but I was also so exhausted I didn’t want to wonder around alone.

What shocked me the most is the magnitude of people, both spectating and running, in the New York City marathon.  The crowds were phenomenal, a little overwhelming at times, but so excited and encouraging.  And how amazing is that, considering it rained all day, that people were out on the course the whole way for so many hours, cheering, both for loved ones and complete strangers.  I have never heard my name called out and encouraged so much in my life.  It felt amazing.  The crowd really did get me through…I felt like I floated through the first half of that marathon, until I realized…I had to do it all over again, and I was already starting to feel tired.  Half way was actually one of the hardest moments for me, mentally and emotionally, because that’s when the self doubt started.  But it didn’t last for long, as I found my teammate, Elizabeth, and I changed up my plan and we finished together, strong.

The temperature was perfect, the misty rain was constant and welcomed, and the crowd was inviting.  It was truly an amazing, once in a lifetime experience for me.  I hope to someday run again with 261 Fearless.  But for now, I will savour the memories of New York, and my new friends.

More to come on my NYC Marathon experience.  😉

“Just do it”

I hear a lot of people say “I will do such in such when…I lose 10 lbs…I take this course…I perfect that skill…I have more time…my kids are older…I am healthier…I fit into this size…I quit that bad habit…” In fact, I used to be (and sometimes still am) one of those people. But here’s the thing I am learning…the “right” time seems like it never comes. Or the opportunity isn’t there when the timing is “perfect”.

I believe that when an opportunity presents itself, we have a choice…to pass it up because the time isn’t right, or to be courageous and go for it. Its only by taking a leap of faith that we will reach our goals, even if we are unaware that it is even a goal of ours.

For example, I had been thinking of maybe doing a marathon, sometime, and then I heard about Team 261 Fearless and the NYC marathon. I applied, with really no experience, just the willingness to train hard. I didn’t make the team, originally, but then, I got a call, and an offer to be a part of something big, something empowering and amazing. A once in a lifetime opportunity, to not only run a marathon, but to start it with Kathrine Switzer! And not just any marathon, one of the biggest marathons in the world! A bucket-list event and accomplishment.

Now my brain said “definitely not…you’re not…fast enough, slim enough, strong enough…you can’t do that much fundraising in such a short time…its not possible…its too risky…you will look like a fool…you will fail”. And yet, something inside me lit up, and made me smile and think…”but what if i did it…what if i could do it?” The thought stuck with me, and I knew that if I didnt give it a try that I would always wonder if I could have done it. I knew I would regret not doing it…even though I didn’t believe at first that I could run 42.2km. And then I convinced myself I could do it. I wanted it so badly, I could no longer imagine NOT doing it.

And so…I took a leap, and put faith in my wings. And with the training has come confidence. Now, in all honesty, I’m not completely fearless in the sense of lacking fear…but I am fearless in that I am courageous and empowered…afraid and doing it anyways. Going for what my heart desires, despite the difficult journey.

I believe this is the key to happiness in life. It’s not a lack of stress, but the balance of the right kind of stress. Test your limits, push your boundaries, and always grow. Life is about the journey, not the destination.

Be Fearless…Be Free.

Marathon Ambition

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Hello Friends!  I have been very busy this past month!  As many of you who follow me on facebook know, and some of you may not be aware, I am going to run in the New York City Marathon on November 5th, with Team 261 Fearless, lead by the one and only Kathrine Switzer!  I am beyond excited!  With a charity bib, comes fundraising, and good fundraising takes creativity.  I created the painting above to be the cover of a cookbook that I created to sell to raise money for 261 Fearless.  If you are, by chance, interested in a cookbook, please find me on facebook here, and send me a private message.  I will ship!

I must admit, I LOVE the way my desire for bright colours merges with my obsession with a Paynes Grey female body.  I wasn’t sure if it would work, but was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.  This image is also used as a poster for my 5K Fun Run Walk, Saturday October 28, 2017, for which you can register at my Eventbrite page.

Running is just as important to my mental and emotional well being as painting.  They actually have a lot in common, which is surprising!  Both act as a meditative activity for me…I get into the zone and tune everything else out.  Both are relaxing and rewarding.  Both running and painting make me feel confident, empowered, and ready to take on the next challenge.  Both make me get over perfectionism, and help to teach me to go with the flow, because there are so many uncontrollable factors involved.  They teach me patience and acceptance.  They allow me time to be with myself, and treat myself in a kind and compassionate way, granting me the much needed time to recharge, and recenter.

261 Fearless helps women feel the confidence from running through empowerment and fearlessness.  They create global networking environments and safe running groups for women to learn to run, in a safe and injury-free manner.

If you are interested in more information about 261 Fearless, and Kathrine Switzer, click on 261 Fearless.  🙂  If you would like to sponsor me in my journey to New York’s Marathon, please click on sponsor me.  Thank you so much for helping me to reach my goal!!!

One more favour…what do you see in this painting?  What stands out to you?  What does the woman represent?  I’m curious how this image is received and interpreted.  😉  Thank you!!!

Playing with colour

I have a new project in my mind that I am super excited to work on…so I started at 4am! After researching photos, making a basic sketch, and painting the background, I decided I wanted to test my colours before I put them all on the canvas. So I very quickly made a fun colour swatch, with my fingers of course. 😉

This is a new process for me. Usually in my art I work more intuitively, reacting to what is placed on the canvas at each step. I attempted the plan it all out and paint step by step method in the past, and it didn’t work out so well for me. It lead me to a lot of self doubt and negative self talk, because i didnt have a completely clear picture in my head of a finished product. I only had an idea, and some feelings towards colour.

So this rare image of what I want to create is in my head. But again, I dont actually “see” the finished piece…i see parts of it. So to make sure my ideas will fly together, i decided to play with colour. I think its going to look great, and I can hardly wait for the background to dry!

I’m curious…do you have a picture in your mind of the finished product before you start painting? Or do you begin based on an idea or a colour or a desire to play and just see what comes out?

It’s Official!

I am a member of the Cocktails n Canvas team in Hamilton! The top six paintings are the paintings I added to the Cocktails n Canvas library! I am SO excited to have contributed, and to hopefully see people create their own versions of my paintings. I hope they are received well by the public! Mostly, i hope people have fun with them.

I attended an event on Sunday, after a day working at the hospital, to see how set up and clean up goes, and get an idea how early to arrive before an event. It was magnificent! I was invited to paint, so I got to learn another painting. And I had the opportunity to help people around me when they were struggling, or a few that came late. It was so rewarding!

I also just plain enjoyed the experience of painting…and this gave me a reason to paint, both to create something new for Cocktails n Canvas, and to paint and complete something fun for me. I’ve gotten into painting with a lot of detail and layers, which takes time amd patience, and can be hard to get back to after a break for a few days. These paintings need to remain simple enough to complete in under an hour so tbat they can be taught in 2 hours. It was so rewarding to complete something beautiful in the short time that I had to paint. This was all happy making. It fed my soul!

Most importantly, I built my confidence up, and I am certain that this is a perfect step for me as I grow as an artist.

Stay tuned for an announcement on my first event! Likely happening in September. And thank you all for your support and encouragement.

“Why I Run”…and Why I Paint

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A few months ago, in my half marathon clinic at the Running Room, we had a guest speaker come in to talk about his book, “Why I Run”.  I bought the book before the talk, and read it.  Let me tell you, it was a hard read for me, because I could relate so much to the author, especially with being in a tough emotional place at that time.  I was in the pit of “not-good-enough”, and had virtually stopped my self care activities, including painting.  I was running, but it had begun to become focused training and no longer as freeing.  It was on my “to do” list rather than my “to enjoy” list.  I read about the tools the author was using to outsmart his depression, and how he changed his internal dialogue, and turned to running as a positive practice for body, mind and soul.  And my gremlins came up, with self doubt and so many questions.

And then, at the clinic, I met Darcy Patrick, the author of this amazing book.  He was excited to share his experiences with us in a very real way.  Depression is a real thing.  And it can be beaten, with a lot of hard work and devotion.  Darcy was open to answering any questions we had for him, even the difficult questions.  I had so many.  I admired his strength and courage.  Many of us struggle with depression, and few are willing to admit it, out of fear of judgement or of being a burden to others.  For me, I’d rather deal with it myself than bring another person into it, most of the time.  But here’s the thing…depression, and shame, don’t like to be talked about.  In fact, being open about these feelings actually helps to ease them, and make them lighter.  That’s the secret.

After the clinic, Darcy came for our 7km run with us.  I was at the back of the pack, not able to keep pace with everyone else, and trying to be fine with it.  Most of the time I’m happy with the pace I can achieve.  I don’t need to be the fastest, nor do I expect to be.  But sometimes, and this particular day, I wished I was a little faster, so that I could be included in the conversations that were going on.  But I remembered Darcy’s book, and his visualizations that he practiced, and I started saying mantras to myself…”I am strong, I am capable, I am a runner…etc”.  And it worked.  I had been using mantras for a while when the runs got hard, but not when I was just down on myself.  At one point in the run, Darcy waited for me to catch up, and he ran with me, and we chatted.  I find his story so inspiring how he began to run in the first place, and how he continued to run, changing the internal dialogue in his head.  It fascinated me that he has that kind of control.

We became friends and chatted from time to time on facebook.  One day, seemingly out of the blue, and exactly when I needed it the most, Darcy asked me to paint for him.  He was looking for a piece to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of his book, “Why I Run”.  Having just read it, I had a tonne of ideas start to flow through my head.  I got really excited about this project.  I made a couple of sketches and researched images of people running, and started to paint.  I got into the zone with this painting, and I loved it!  Man, had I missed this feeling.  And then, I had a lot of fear…”will he like it?  will he regret asking me when he sees it?”…the gremlins were back.  But I kept going with it, and I remembered to enjoy the process, because I could always paint something different if this wasn’t what Darcy was looking for.  The important thing was, I was painting again in a very true to myself way.

One night, I needed some reassurance, and I got brave and sent Darcy a picture of my work in progress.  And he loved it!  (Although, honestly, the gremlins still questioned).  I was so relieved, I kept painting, and did some more fun stuff for myself. I was returning to self care, and breaking the cycle of depression again, through art.

This past Monday, I delivered this painting to Darcy and his family.  We had a very nice visit, and I got to see the artwork he had in his home.  I am honoured that he asked me to create for him.  It’s such a personal topic, and such a personal painting.  And…in case you didn’t read it on Monday, Darcy announced that this painting will be on the cover of his new book that he is working on!  I’m so excited I barely have words!  I am extremely grateful for Darcy, for his book, and for his encouragement to do what makes me happy.  We could all use more happiness in our lives, and trust me, it’s not as far away as we sometimes think.

A New Leaf

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Sometimes in life we have a vision, and the path to achieve the dream is uncertain.  I am taking an opportunity, following a new path, in order to fulfill my goal, to share my art with people, and teach adults to play freely, reconnect with the child within, and give up perfectionism, if only for a moment in time.

It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing an end to my offering for Traveling Paint Parties.  (You will notice the page no longer exists).  I am in love with the idea of bringing painting to people and sharing my passion for creative expression and playing with colour.  I have been offered an opportunity to share this passion with a larger audience through Cocktails n’ Canvas, by teaching local social painting events.  I am so excited to be joining this amazing team of artists!

As many of you know, and some may not, I got my introduction to acrylic painting with Cocktails n’ Canvas.  I harnessed my courage and went to a restaurant with a few friends, and learned a painting.  What really struck me was the freedom of “anything goes”…”there is no wrong”.  As I focused on the experience and took pressure off of the final product, I fell in love with my painting.  I was very proud of it, and of myself, for the first time in quite a while.  I mixed all of those colours.  I may have followed step by step instructions, but it was my hand that painted it.  A sense of individual style was present, even then.  Everyone in the group had the same instructions, and yet, every painting was unique…and gorgeous!  This person’s colours…that person’s brush strokes…and another person’s blending…it all fascinated me.  I had to do more.

So I bought paint, and sought out videos online, online classes, and more Cocktails n’ Canvas events.  The experience ignited a missing flame inside of me.  It changed my life.  And now, I have the opportunity to give back to Cocktails n’ Canvas, and share this experience with my community.  I believe we are all artists when we are creating.  We all have a unique outlook, and if we free our inner child we can feel the rush of joy and excitement in our play.

So although it is sad that I will no longer be planning or hosting my own paint parties, I am excited to be traveling along this new path with Cocktails n’ Canvas.  Did you know that Cocktails n’ Canvas hosts private events as well as public events?  Held at one of their venues or at a location of your choosing.  🙂  If you’re interested, especially as the holidays approach, check out the “Create Your Own” tab for private events.  Looking for a painting event for yourself and a few friends?  Check out the events listing.

Thank you for all of your support an encouragement!  I look forward to painting with you!  Above, please find a painting that will soon be available for Cocktails n’ Canvas events, created by me!  (Sorry for the flash…)  Cheers!