the in-betweens

 

I haven't spilled my guts for a long time. Deep breath. Here goes . . .

I started this painting years ago. It's a self-portrait, back in the day when I had long, rainbow colored dreads, when I was a single mom, did yoga daily & before I got sick. It sat in the back of my closet, unfinished, for years. I took it out one day last summer, put it up on my easel, opened up a bucket of gesso, dipped a giant brush into it, and brought the brush up towards my face, with the intention of painting over it, erasing it. Then I just stood there. Still. Breathing.

I dropped my paint-filled brush into a jar of water, put the lid back on the bucket of gesso, sat down & just breathed what was in front of me. Something inside me said, "It's time to finish this. The world needs this." I don't know if the 'world' really needs it, but I now realize that I really needed it.

Almost always, when I paint, I have no idea what I'm doing. I have a feeling, but I almost never have a 'plan'. I just feel, and I paint. It's therapy. It's how I work my shit out. It's how I express myself. It's how I move feelings through my body.

So here I am. Years later. Everything has changed. Hair chopped off. Married to the most kind & amazing human being I have ever met. Yoga is a stranger, and my health is a rollercoaster.

I was really sick for over a year, before I got diagnosed. Exhausted. Muscle pain. Aching bones. Tender stomach. In the worst moments, in bed, tears flowing, & the only way I could describe, with words, to my beloved, what was going on . . .'it feels like every fucking cell in my body is poisoned & slowly dying.'

After a super frustrating & painful year or so, I got a diagnosis. Hemochromatosis. It's is a genetic blood disorder. It causes me to absorb crazy amounts of iron. Who knew too much of a good thing could be fatal? Iron builds up in your body over time. You don't pee it out, like so many other vitamins. It builds & builds, continually. When your blood is saturated with it, iron starts being stored in your organs; liver, heart, brain, bone marrow . . . which can then cause liver cancer, heart failure, alzheimer's, & a ton more.

So that feeling I had, of "every fucking cell in my body is poisoned & slowly dying", was pretty accurate. My own blood was poisoning me.

The thing we watch & monitor, isn't actually iron, it's Ferritin, a protein in the body that binds to iron. Normal levels are 18-160. My ferritin was 1,918. They also look at your "saturation level" . . . to see how saturated your blood is with ferritin. Mine was 142%. I don't even know how that is possible, but apparently it is. 

I've been in treatment for about 16 months now. Treatment is . . . having 500mL of blood taken from my body every 2 weeks. The only way to get rid of the ferritin, is to get rid of the blood that is full of it. Bloodletting. Treatment will be forever, but will get further apart, once I'm at a good level. 

So there's that. That catches you up to now. 

It would be cool if I could say, HOORAY! I'm done! All better! But, no. They say that if you catch it before your ferritin gets to 1,000, you can 'probably' reverse the organ & tissue damage. Remember, my ferritin started at 1,918.

I have liver pain. I have kidney pain. I smell acetone 24/7, when there is none. I have bone pain. I have muscle fatigue. I have little to no appetite. Walking up the stairs feels like a marathon. My doc ordered CT scans so we can start to see where my organs are at, if they are still full of iron, if there's damage . . . what's causing the pain. My insurance wouldn't approve the scans, so I'm trying to figure that out, and the one thing that eases my pain is an herb that my state deems illegal & docs can't prescribe, BUT! I can get the CBD oil, legally online ;)  HOORAY! A round of applause for Mother Nature!

I may never go back to how I was before. I may never feel the way I felt before. I may never be able to do the things I used to. . . but the one thing I have taken from this whole thing, and it took me a while to get . . . in the moments, (no matter how short, few & far between), in the moments where my pain is less . . . in the moments when I have a burst of energy . . . those moments are fucking GOLD. 

Those moments are magic and filled with light & music & color & LOVE.

I grab those moments by the hand and pull them into the kitchen to make from-scratch sourdough english muffins for my beloveds.

I yank those moments up from the couch, in the no-bra pajamas they've been living in for days, pour them a shot of whiskey, nudge them to pull the guitar off the wall, & sing Rick Springfield at the top of my lungs with them, until I am dripping sweat & out of breath.  . . or I slap a wig on them & play Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks with my beloved, complete with a concert for the kids ;)

I grab those moments by the shoulders, look into their eyes, smack them on the back, encouraging lungs to fill up with air, strip all of their clothes off & taking a running leap into an ice cold lake. (true story. This was taken on our honeymoon, where I was sick, in bed, 12 out of 14 days. THIS was one of those golden moments & I screamed "I'M ALIVE!" at the top of my lungs, as I jumped off)

Those are the moments that keep me here. These are the in-betweens. The moments of life, scattered randomly, amongst the pain & the darkness & the not knowing.

This painting IS those moments. This painting is the light in the dark. This painting is the singing between the tears. It is the delicious food between the nausea. It is freedom of nakedness between the days of pajamas. It is the rainbow of color that screams from the blackness. 

It's not about being upset because of how things are or wishing they were different. It's about acceptance. It's about breathing. It's about celebrating the magic moments, wherever you can find them.

This is what I hold on to. The in-betweens. The breaths.

I offer this to you . . . my art . . . which is my heart.

I am making available to you, for pre-order, a limited number of signed prints, canvas prints, and the original painting. "The In-Betweens", is HERE. All proceeds from this painting will go towards my health & medical costs. (stuff insurance won't pay for & herbal medicines ;) If you want to help, but don't want or need art, you can do that HERE. Thank you!! 

In sharing this with you, I truly hope that you too, can slow down, breathe deeply, and find the exquisite, mouth-watering beauty of your in-betweens. Soak UP, as slowly as you can, every delicious second of your in-betweens. Let them melt in your mouth. 

So much Love & appreciation for you,

XO, E

what's your story? 5 really fucking hard questions to ask yourself, now.

"From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story."

This is the first sentence of my tattoo. 

Our stories are how we tell other people who we are, and also, how we see ourselves.

At the time in my life when this idea hit me the me the hardest, (and also in the most amazing way), I was pretty fresh out of a divorce, about 7 years ago.

It was so raw & so fresh & so fucking horrific. It had consumed me for years. I told my story to be seen & to be heard. I told my story to get sympathy. I told my story to hear, "Oh my GOD! You poor thing! How terrible!" I told my story, so that others would know how badly I was hurt.

The Cliff Notes version of my story went something like this, "He did this to me. He did that to me. Poor me. Can you believe all this crazy fucking shit I've been through? He was so terrible. He was a fucking monster. Poor me. I didn't deserve it" . . . 

I told that fucking story to anyone & everyone who would sit next to me long enough to hear it. 

Stories need feeding. Stories need re-telling to keep their power, and I was reeeaaally good at feeding mine.

Sure, it was true. Sure, those things happened. But, WTF?! How many times did it need to be told? 

One day, telling my story yet again, or another chapter of it, or what-the-fuck-ever . . . it was almost like I was outside of my body . . . it was like I was a witness to the story, instead of the person telling it. And, HOLY SHIT! I did not like hearing it.

Our "stories" are crazy powerful things, beings, entities even. 

All of the sudden, I wanted that story to fuck the fuck off! I didn't want to tell or hear that story again. I didn't want sympathy, and my biggest insight . . . 

I didn't want t be the fucking victim for one more day.

Then I started asking myself some really difficult questions.

If I am not THAT person. Who the fuck am I?

and for one split second, I WAS TERRIFIED. 

Because I had been with this man for 17 years, this is what I knew. This is what was familiar. This is who I was. (or so I thought). 

and then, I was washed over, with the biggest rush of hope & POSSIBILITY . . .

If I was CHOOSING to no longer be this person . . . I could also CHOOSE to be whoever the fuck I wanted! Are you kidding me?! How awesome is THAT?!!

But I'll tell ya, when I deliberately & consciously CHOSE to stop defining myself by my past . . . HOLY SHIT . . . a whole new world opened up. A world that I could not have seen, if I'd stayed in the "broken victim" mentality. 

Shit happens. It just fucking does. Bad shit happens all the fucking time. WE get to choose though, how much of our power we hand over to it, how much we allow ourselves to be defined by it. 

That day, I CHOSE to stop re-living, re-telling, & giving my energy to the old chapters,  . . . to turn the page, and to begin writing the words in my next chapter. 

That was a pretty fucking cool day ;)

So, here are those 3 questions I was telling you about.

Needless to say, if you wanna get anywhere with these questions . . . it'd be a good idea to get still, get quiet, & get really fucking honest with yourself. 

Ask yourself now,

1. What's my current "story"?

2. Is my story a happy one, or is it a story full of excuses of why I can't be happy?

3. Do I hear myself blaming my circumstances on other people?

4. How do I FEEL when I hear myself telling my "story" to someone?

 the last, and probably the hardest question . . .

5. Is it time to write a new story? & am I brave enough to do it?

Leave a comment & tell me what your "story" is . . . & if you're ready to write a new one.

If you need a beautiful reminder, that's why I created the painting above, "New Roots 1". Get it? New ROOTS ;) A little secret about me . . . I see/feel in metaphors . . . & in this particular one, the old roots, of the old life, were rotton & fucked up, and full of poison . . . so, I yanked that fucker out of the ground, roots & all . . . and decided to plant a whole new one . . . hence, "New Roots". Clever, ya? I thought so. Hahahahahaa ;) Art available HERE. 

If you related to my story, or you think it may help someone else you out, please forward it to a friend, share on facebook, or spread the love, however you spread best.

XO, Erica

ps. if you'd like to be on my mailing list & have me give you a little "tap!tap!" when I write a new story, create a new painting, have special offers, or just have something cool to share, you can do it, HERE. 

 

 

 

cocoons and snake skin.

like a snake shedding my old skin faster than I can regrow new skin.

raw, tender, bleeding, where the crusty, dead, old skin is peeling away from the fresh, new, under skin . . . almost unbearable.  the pain of the old skin is so fucking uncomfortable & I cant scratch it off fast enough.

this most recent shedding, as most of you know, has been wildly propelled by one, little book. (here).

boxes. clothes. books. art supplies. full photo albums. dishes. notes. art.

donated or in the garbage.

everywhere I look, everything I see . . . constantly asking myself, "Does this bring my heart JOY?"

and soooooo many times, almost EVERY SINGLE TIME, the answer is NO.

Facebook. Noise, polluting my senses, like billboard after blaring billboard, screaming for my attention. 

I deactivated my facebook account, again. 

 

Peace has taken the place of chaos and this time, I honestly don't see myself going back.

I have become a HUGE fan of peace, especially after working so fucking hard to get it. 

then there was email. over 10,500 in my inbox. 750 not read.

I sat in a blur, in a daze, unstoppable. email after email after email. I didn't move from my stool for 2 hours, until I was down to ONE. FUCKING. EMAIL. (from my husband ;) I unsubscribed from every fucking newsletter, except one, one that adds VALUE to my life. 

skin stopped scratching. breath came easier.

it's the weirdest fucking thing. I've become obsessed. I can't stop. 

It's like the more I let go of, the more clearly I can see what really matters.

I used to think these things were part of me, in some way defining me. . . but now, when I look at this shit, I'm sure I don't know the person who used to own them. She's no longer here. 

It always seems to happen that, the painting I am working on, somehow, in some way, is a mirror for what's going on in my life. 

This one, that I've been working on for the past several months, is no different. Layer after layer. I think I'm done, then realize I'm not. Each layer, facing the past, the darkness, fully . . . then, and only then, allowing the truth & the light to become more present.

It's good stuff. REALLY good stuff.

How about you? Do you have a lot of "stuff". Do you LOVE your stuff? Are you sick of your stuff? It's a weird & awesome & frustrating journey. So many times I've been soooo fucking sick of it I just wanna light a match & walk away. But then, I wouldn't be facing it. I find there is HUGE power in the toe to toe-ness of facing it. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts & please feel free to share, especially since I have packed up & moved out of social media land ;) hahahaaaa 

I am on instagram, though. to me, it feels, less like a high traffic, billboard crowded, highway & more like a peaceful walk down a country road with a friend. You can find me HERE. 

XOXOXO

Erica

ps. One cool box I found was a bunch of small prints, there are now on clearance for $2.50 a pop, over HERE. Check 'em out before I light that match ;)

pps. and you can bet I've been wearing my "Do No Harm but Take No Shit" tee, just about every day. You can grab one HERE. If you're into that kinda thing ;)

ppps. If you wanna be sure to stay in the loop . . . new blog posts, new art, special sales, sign up HERE.

peace out, bitches. xo

 

 

my life is Sacred, NOW.

this is a lesson that's taken me a long time to get, but when I got it? KABLAM!!! I got it, loud & crystal clear.

I have spent so much of my life . . . making lists, of things to do, of things to change, of things that will make me a 'better person'.

Things like . . .

health shit . . . IF I can just do yoga for an hour every day, eat clean, take all my supplements, do my detox work,  . . . THEN I will be so much healthier, and, therefore, happier.

food shit . . . IF I could just cook healthy meals every night, if I made homemade bread for my family, if I could follow a strict meal plan, . . . THEN I will be healthier, more in control, and, therefore, happier.

business plans . . . IF I could just get this computer work done, get this post updated, send out my newsletter, get prints delivered, get that painting done,  . . . THEN I will be successful, make more money, and , therefore, be happier.

cleaning house . . . IF I could just get the fridge cleaned out, go through my clothes, get caught up on laundry, sort through my jars, go through the pile of mail, dust the bookshelves, . . . THEN my house would be in order, I would feel more peace . . .  & therefore, be happier.

personal shit . . . IF this person would just say they were sorry, IF this person could just support me, if this person would just (fill in the blank), IF I could just let go of (fill in the blank), IF I could learn (fill in the blank) . . . .THEN I would truly deserve love & be loved,  . . . and therefore, be happy.

And, no matter how hard I try, I could never seem to get it all done, so, you see, according to the rules I set out for myself, I could never allow myself to be happy. 

My recent health shit has played a huge role in me getting this lesson, but even before I got super sick, I had made a "to do" list for the day . . . running around the house, freaking out, trying to get it all done . . . and my amazing husband tried to get my attention for something, I barely stopped spinning for a minute long enough to say, "I can't! I don't have time! I have so much to do!" . . . He reached for my hand, slowing my spin, looked into my eyes and calmly said, "What? What do you HAVE to do right now?" . . . I balked. Swiped my list off the fridge &  put it in his hand. He looked over every word, the whole list, and then looked up at me . . . "Sweetie, this list is crazy. This should be your list for the next month, not one day. There is NO WAY you can get all this done today. NOBODY COULD." . . .

I looked at him, tears in my eyes, "Really?"

That was almost 2 years ago.  It took me getting so sick, that I couldn't get out of bed for days at a time. I would still make my "to do" lists & I would still try to do them . . . wincing in pain, tears in my eyes . . . he would come to me & say, "sweetie, you don't need to be doing this right now. You need to rest." . . . I always have a good comeback. "It needs to be done. If I don't do it, it won't get done. I am the only one who can do it." . . . After MANY of these episodes, and so many days and months of pain & struggle . . . I gave in. I started letting shit go.

I then put the BIGGEST limit on my happiness.

IF I can get healthy again, THEN I can enjoy my life and be happy.

Day after day, so much pain. Day after day, remembering what I "used to be able to do." Day after day, trying to carry on, like I did before I got sick. Day after day, thinking about how my body can barely move now & how I USED to be so flexible move so easily. Day after day, missing out on life. Skipping out on a concert I had waited months for, but we gave the tickets away at the last minute, because I couldn't stand up that day. Missing out on family gatherings, because even sitting in a chair was too painful. Day after day, putting off my happiness, until my health was restored.

Our honeymoon, the most amazing 2 & 1/2 weeks of my life. I was sick, every day but 2. One day he got super upset, "It's SO UNFAIR! This is supposed to be an amazing trip, and you're feeling like this. IT'S NOT FAIR! I want you to feel good & enjoy this! It's our HONEYMOON!" . . . That's when it hit me on a deeper level. I looked at him, "Yes, my body hurts. Yes, I physically feel like shit, BUT, I am having the most wonderful time, in this beautiful place, here with YOU. I am SO HAPPY & I wouldn't be anywhere else. This is perfect." 

I think that might be a slight glimpse of acceptance. True, I couldn't go for a hike. True, sometimes we ordered in, because I couldn't go out, but my heart was SO FULL, and SO HAPPY, and SO GRATEFUL for this man who has rocked my world and shared a love with me I never knew was possible. EVERY moment with him is magic and SACRED.

I think that might have been the moment when the lightbulb went off in my head.

IF I could feel good, THEN I could enjoy it?

In the midst of all the testing I had done, I got results from an abdominal ultrasound, that basically said I had liver cancer. I also had an MRI done the same day & was anxiously awaiting those results. When I called into the clinic & they told me the MRI guy was out of the office & wouldn't be in for 3 days, I began to lose my mind. I told the lady on the phone, "I know I shouldn't google, but I did, and as of this moment I have liver cancer & I'm dying." Obviously, I majorly freaked out & so she had the tech who did my ultrasound call me. "I am looking at your MRI, and I am not seeing what I saw on the ultrasound. I did see it, and that's why I put it in the report, but I am not seeing it on the MRI, and MRI's are much more precise & accurate than ultrasounds. I think you're okay." But for the 24 hours before that phone call, I believed that I had liver cancer & that I was going to die, very SOON.

Hence, another awakening.

Even while finishing this painting today, the lesson was so physically with me . . . Since I started the painting last summer & then picking up my brush to paint the tiny lines this morning . . . my hand was shaking & unsteady . . . my vision was blurred . . . the lines under my brush were crooked  . . . should I wait to finish it? Should I put down my brush because I can't paint as well as I did a year ago?

I had been WAITING, to truly live, to be happy, and to allow my life to be sacred.

I had placed all of these parameters on how & when my life would be sacred.

and in that moment, I decided to be done with that.

I have decided, that My Life is Sacred, NOW.

RIGHT NOW.

In this moment, with the dirty laundry, and the pile of mail, and the pizza for dinner, and the non-doing of yoga, and the ache in my bones, and the burning in my muscles, and the pain that keeps me in bed . . . THIS moment, IS SACRED.

In this moment, I am alive, and I am surrounded by LOVE, and I am full of LOVE . . .

No more waiting. No more IF ... THEN...

It's NOW.

This beautiful, horrible, glorious moment . . .

My Life is Sacred, NOW.

                                                            "My Life is Sacred NOW" print available HERE  

How about you? Have you been making excuses for why your life can't be Sacred NOW?

What have you been waiting for?

Are you ready for Your Life to be Scared NOW?

Thanks for being here & thanks for listening.

Last week I realized that, even though I don't like to talk about it, it's probably a good thing for me to tell you one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about my life & my art. I'll tell you HERE. 

There are a few 2016 calendars left HERE. 

One of my favorite songs for you, HERE. 

BIG LOVES,

XOXO

E.K.

ps. If you don't want to miss my next blog post, new art & exclusive offers, get your booty on my mailing list HERE.

NOT fibromyalgia. What I have is FATAL. (please SHARE)

                Original painting HERE         Prints HERE

                Original painting HERE         Prints HERE

I share this, not because I want people to know my business. I share this for one reason, to help people, & ultimately SAVE LIVES.

I have been suffering 'fibromyalgia" symptoms & my health rapidly declining for over a year, (realistically, many years).

You can read about my symptoms in THIS post.

I finally have an answer.

It might not be your answer, but it might.

It might help someone you love who is suffering.

What I have is FATAL.

If left untreated, IT WILL KILL YOU.

See my urgency in getting the word out? This is serious shit.

I'll spare you the stories & details of how I got from there to here & just get the important points across.

I insisted on an MRI, because my liver HURT.

and from those results & further blood tests to confirm, 

HEMOCHROMATOSIS. (overview HERE)

Never heard of it right? I hadn't either.

Even when I looked it up, at first I wasn't too concerned, "Iron Overload Disease."

Problem is, hemochromatosis people have a genetic blood disorder. One that causes them to absorb excess iron. Iron doesn't have a way out of the body, so it builds up, pretty much from birth.

The iron builds & accumulates & eventually there is so much in the blood, that it starts being deposited in areas where it shouldn't be . . . Liver (like me), heart, pancreas, other organs, bones, joints, muscles . . . .

Basically, the blood poisons the body.

GOOD NEWS is . . . it is totally treatable if caught before there is organ damage.

Treatment is awesomely medieval . . . bloodletting.

The only way to get iron out of the body, is to remove blood from the body. It's called "phlebotomy", more on that HERE. I had my first one yesterday. You have to do them often when your levels are super high, then once you're in a safe range, you go less often, but it is a lifelong thing.

Most doctors don't even know about this disease, which sucks ass, because it is VERY COMMON. It is misdiagnosed & people DIE.

If you have some of the symptoms (HERE), get tested.

If you've been sick & doctors can't figure out why, get tested.

If you don't have insurance & you're using that as an excuse, get tested.

FATAL, people. DEADLY.

Your blood poisons your body, till you DIE.

SO, for the love of everything holy (that's YOU, btw), get fucking tested.

SHARE this information.

This is a SUPER COMMON DISEASE, but doctors don't know about it, so it gets missed EVERY FUCKING DAY, and people DIE. (here's a story of 2 local Utah people, 35 & 38, died from it because there doctors didn't know to check for it)

Why don't doctors know about it? My guess is that because there are no pharmaceuticals to treat it, which means Big Pharma certainly won't sponsor research for it . . . so, ya. They're asshats, but we already knew that.

You don't need an MRI.

Start with these 3 tests:

1. Ferritin level

2. Serum Iron Level

3. TIBC (total iron binding capacity)

More about testing HERE

So. There it is.

PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Share this information. It could save someone's life. For real.

People are dying from this, when it is TOTALLY TREATABLE.

Please help spread the word, share with friends & loved ones.

Press the little Facebook icon at the bottom of this post & help me spread the word, PLEASE & thank YOU ;)

No one should have to die from this.

Thank you.

Peace,

XO Erica

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retiring the boxing gloves

"Tribal Magic" available HERE.

"Tribal Magic" available HERE.

"FIGHTER" is tattooed on my inner left wrist. 

I fought because I had to. I fought for my life & my freedom & my kids & a new life.

I fought for years to get away from emotional abuse & narcissism, controlling & crazy making.

I fought in court. I fought the ugliest battles I would never wish on my worst enemies.

In a 20 year relationship, I fought every day for my sanity, my self esteem,  . . . everything, was a fight.

I've been free from that fight for about 5 years now

And only now am I beginning to realize that I don't know how NOT to fight.

It's like that's my body's default mode. It just is. That's what it knows.

And now that I don't NEED to fight, I can feel the poison of the fight built up in my bones. I can feel it in my tensed shoulders and the knots in my stomach & the muscles in my hips that are strung so tight, if I was a guitar, and you plucked me . . . I'd break. 

Even though my brain KNOWS that I am safe & loved . . . my body is still in fight or flight & it's done. It's done fighting. It's done flinching, tensing, waiting to be punched. It is SO fucking done.

Most of you know I have been pretty sick for the last year. I'm still trying to figure out what "it" is & I think it's turning out to be many things. 

I've been pretty obsessed with figuring it out. I want to be better. I want to feel better. I want to feel healthy. I want to be ok.

But even in figuring out the illness, it's almost like I've been fighting.

Fighting with my muscles. Fighting with the doctors. Fighting with the test results. Fighting.

I'm soon tired of fighting.

I am tired of fighting with MYSELF.

In a moment of complete & utter breakdown the other night, when an ultrasound was read wrong & I was convinced I was going to die, soon, I fell to my knees in tears, sobbing, breathing . . .

and in that moment, all there was, was LOVE.

In that moment, all I wanted to do was LOVE this body.

I didn't want to fight the sickness anymore.

I didn't want to fight with the doctors or my muscles, or this beautiful body who has carried me through so much.

I just wanted to LOVE this body.

Wholly, completely, as it is, in this moment.

So, I am going to do my very best to leave the boxing gloves on the shelf, and LOVE this body with everything I've got.

Real food = LOVE.

Gentle movement = LOVE.

Sweet rest = LOVE.

Relaxing baths = LOVE

LOVE.

The focus has shifted from "what's wrong with me?" to "what can I do in this moment to LOVE & honor my body?"

That's it.

That's where it's at for me.

It's a novel concept.

Wish me luck.

xo, EK

ps. I am off Facebook again. It's just too much. So, If you have a friend or loved one who might benefit from this post, please share. 

what matters?

lately, I've been doing a LOT of simplifying, getting rid of, throwing away, giving away . . . and in that process, asking, does it matter?

what matters?

what's important?

what brings me joy?

and I've realized something pretty cool . . . just in my "physical" world . . . 

I started in my bedroom, in my closets & in my drawers, with my clothes.

Now, maybe it's just me, but I see metaphors EVERYWHERE. 

(Just keep that in the back of your mind as you read this ;)

I have found that I had a shit-ton of things that 

do NOT matter,

do NOT bring me joy,

are NOT important,

and, while I'm being honest, most of these things served as a distraction, or were just there to fill up empty space. 

And in the hours and days, box after box of 'stuff' to get rid of, I realize something pretty cool . . . I REEEEEEAAALLLLY dig the SPACE I am creating.

SPACE to breathe.

SPACE to move.

SPACE to grow.

SPACE to appreciate & honor the things that DO matter, now, today.

That beautiful skirt that I paid $45 for, that I used to love & wear, but has been hanging in my closet for 2 years & I will most likely never wear again . . .

Those German shoes that I paid over $100 for, but they are just not "me" anymore  . . .

The jeans that are so god damn cute, have been in my closet for years & I have NEVER worn . . .

SO many things.

So many pretty things.

So many pretty things that I never wear, never touch, never use.

In giving them away, and going back to my closet now, you know what I see?

I LOVE every piece of clothing hanging up.

I WEAR every item in my drawers.

I see ME, today ME, not ME from two years ago . . . ME, in the present moment.

In getting rid of the EXCESS, I have made room for right now.

I have gotten rid of yesterdays & tomorrows that may never come.

I have a little moment of "now".

That gives my heart a little bit of PEACE,

and I really dig peace.

what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

BTW, I've struggled with the too much "STUFF" syndrome for years. I've stressed & fretted & TRIED to get rid of it for years, to no avail. This summer, I picked up THIS little gem & it rocked my world & started me on my 'getting rid of all my shit' journey. I highly recommend it ;) 

 

Big Loves,

Erica

oh YES! In the spirit of 'getting rid of", I have put 41 of my print designs on CLEARANCE, most for $1. Go HERE & scroll down. All Clearance stuff is at the bottom.

What happened after I decided to clear out some old art? I made 2 new paintings! Huh. Go figure ;)




Dear Louise Hay, BITE ME.

                                                                                                           "hold on" available HERE

                                                                                                           "hold on" available HERE

i've said before, that everything i thought was true & real has been turned upside down & shaken & i don't know what the fuck i believe anymore . . .

well, this morning i got a huge shot of clarity.

here is what i know:

i know that i am sick. (yep, i said it out loud). i know that my physical body is ill. i know that i have gallstones in my gallbladder & liver. i know that i have fibromyalgia. i know that my body aches so fucking bad, it feels like every cell in my body is dying. i know that my muscles burn, nonstop. i know that my bones ache like a motherfucker. i know that i get so exhausted, it is a monumental effort for me to do the tiniest task. i know that many times i want to be with the people i love, and do the things i love to do, but i physically CAN'T.

these things i know. these things are facts.

then there's this whole culture & way of thinking, which i have very happily subscribed to, until this morning, when this song came on the radio. listen to it, every word, before you read any further.

in an instant, everything i have believed is null & void. it doesn't make sense, and quite frankly, is complete & utter BULLSHIT.

Dear Louise Hay (& other heal-yourself-ers), I am officially breaking up with you today. It's been fun & romantic, with the notions that if I love myself enough, I can heal my physical body. But, I'm done. It's over.

Not that I am going to quit loving myself, or learning things, or growing, or healing . . . not at all.

On the contrary, my choice today, is the BIGGEST step I have taken in really, truly, actually LOVING MYSELF.

How so? Let me tell you.

Listening to the words of this song this morning, really, in one fucking instant, my mind exploded & it all became crystal clear.

What I have been doing, in subscribing to this way of thinking . . . is BLAMING myself for being sick. 

can you see it?

Gallstones. (read that post HERE). New Age would have me believe (& I did), that I have gallstones because I have held on to anger & resentment. Sounds reasonable, (well, it did, then).

I couldn't find any anger. I looked, but there was none there. (read this post) So what did I do? I fucking dug & dug & dug till I found (or created) some. WHy?? Well, duh, because these stones are there BECAUSE of my anger, and so, I MUST have anger &  heal that anger, in order to heal myself from these stones.

Wow. Really? It made perfect sense at the time. Now, it makes me fucking cringe.

DO you see what happened? Because of my beliefs (love yourself, heal your life),  . . . at the very core, I was BLAMING MYSELF for my physical illness, and for not miraculously curing it. 

I was sick, because I didn't love myself enough. I was sick, because I had not let go of anger. Well, fuck! Really? If I'm sick because of "anger", then, to get better, all I have to do is heal that anger, right? Ya, right.

So, I dug & I dug & I dug & I did find some shit to be angry about, real, true, heart-breaking shit. Shit that I had repressed & never acknowledged & was not pretty to visit. WOW! This MUST be it! This MUST be the root cause of my illness. MUST BE. Must be. Let's dig & excavate & re-fucking-traumatize ourselves in the process. Ya. Awesome. NOT.

then there's the New Age explanation for fibromyalgia: "stuffed trauma". Weeeelllllll then, let's fucking un-stuff it. Shall we? For real, I think I have single-handedly traumatized myself for the past few months, trying to "heal myself".

So, let me get this straight, I have fibromyalgia, because I have not properly dealt with a trauma . . . and I have gallstones because I am holding onto anger.

Do you see the fucking irony here???

The belief is that "if you love yourself enough & heal your emotional shit, your body will heal & all will be well" . . .

HOWEVER that very same belief is pointing one big fat fucking finger of FAULT at the sick person. 

It's my FAULT that I have gallstones.

It is my FAULT that I have fibromyalgia.

It is my FAULT, because I am not 'in touch' enough with my spirituality.

It's my FAULT, because some fucking book says I must be angry.

It's my FAULT, because I have not been diligent enough in my spiritual practice & certainly, i still MUST have something really important to learn from these fucked up illnesses, CERTAINLY, or, obviously, I wouldn't be sick. Duh.

Do you see the huge, wide, gaping wound of discontent & NON-ACCEPTANCE here? 

We suffer when we want things to be different than they are. NON-ACCEPTANCE. Well, who wants to be sick? And who, if they COULD heal themselves, wouldn't? So, instead of accepting reality, (i'm sick, ACCEPTANCE), I create HUGE anxiety around the hopes that I actually have some control over this & if I just work hard enough, things will be different (NON-ACCEPTANCE).

I never saw the ridiculousness of all this until today. And even more, I'm kind of blown away at the astronomical number of people (previously me, until an hour ago, included) who subscribe to this way of thinking.

It is so blatantly, BULLSHIT . . . "Love yourself enough & you will heal", but in the meantime, BLAME YOURSELF for physical & biological fucking phenomenons!  BLAME YOURSELF for not healing, because, after all, YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER IT!

REALLY?!!!

How could I POSSIBLY love myself when I am daily, hourly, by the minute, BLAMING myself for being sick??? I'd venture to say, it's near fucking impossible.

I wonder where "BLAME" fits on the physical/emotional wheel? I wonder what kind of damage it does to BLAME yourself every minute of every day? I wonder how conducive "BLAME" is to healing?

If you are still sick... if you are not healing... well then, it must be something that YOU ARE DOING WRONG. Obviously, you are not being diligent enough or working hard enough on your emotional shit. 

Because you are the master of your life & if you "think good thoughts", you will heal. And for the love of God, don't SAY (out loud) that you are sick, because whatever you SAY will become truth.

Ahem. Pardon me, while I VOMIT. If that were true, if our thoughts & our words had the power to CREATE REALITY, then, please, someone s'plain to me, why all of my reading, & workshops, & spiritual work & forgiveness & releasing & positive thinking, & saying "I'm healing", and my gigantic vision board with photos & healing words hasn't done SHIT? Tell me.

Yet, if I were to allow the words, "I'm sick", to fall from my mouth, then I better watch out, because surely, I have just told the Universe that I am sick, & NOW it's gonna be real. (Because before I actually DARED to say it out loud, it wasn't true?) Fuck off.

BULLSHIT.

BULLSHIT.

BULLSHIT.

(bear with me, i'm on one today)

so, then, there's the whole thing of this book . . . which I absolutely fell in LOVE with, scooped up & made it real in my life, used it to make sense of horrible things . . . which worked, until NOW.

Here's why:

The whole idea that "I CHOSE" to come into this world & live 20 years in an abusive marriage, to get a black eye, to be fucking raged at, to be called a whore, to forget who I am, to live in a nightmare, to fear for my life . . . whY? (insert romantic notion here:) . . . well, let's seeeeee . . . I "CHOSE" that so that I could help other women. I "CHOSE" that so that I could make really powerful art. I "CHOSE" that so I could write a blog. I "CHOSE" that because I wanted to learn what "forgiveness" is. (It all sounds very martyr-ish, in hindsight). Wow, how very brave of me, how very unselfish of me, to CHOOSE to live a fucking hell, so I could help other people. Someone, saint me! Quick.

I CALL A HUGE FUCKING BULLSHIT.

We ARE LOVE. We don't need shitty fucking things to happen to us, to learn how to love. We don't need to suffer, to be whole. We ARE WHOLE.

So, this morning, I am breaking up with New Age thinking. I'm not listening to another podcast. I'm not buying another book. I'm not subscribing to the bullshit.

This is what I know: I am a beautiful, loving Spirit, living on this earth, and right now, my physical body is sick. THIS IS THE TRUTH.. I accept it. 

I know that I have gallstones in my liver & gallbladder. I know that this sent me to the emergency room. (I also know they are there, because I saw them on the ultrasound with my own eyeballs). I also know, that it is possible to rid my body of these stones without surgery. I know that I have done about 6 liver flushes & every, single time, hundreds & hundreds of stones have freely left my body. How do I know? Because I have seen it with my own eyes. I have photos, if you need proof. 

Just to clarify, it was the liver flushes that sent the stones out of my body, NOT the talking, not the spiritual work, but the physical/biological work of doing a flush.

I know that I have fibromyalgia. I know that it is unpredictable. I know that there is no "cure". I know that it fucking sucks ass & some days I want to die. I know that not every day is a bad day. I know that there is still light. I know that sometimes I can't do a god-damn-fucking-thing to make the pain stop. I know that sometimes, it's bearable. I know that acupuncture & yoga & swimming & massage & epsom salt baths all help me to feel better. 

(I also know the the emotional & spiritual shit makes me feel bad. It makes me sad. It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel broken. It makes me feel like I need "fixing". It makes me feel like a fuck-up & a failure).

I know that I am not a quitter. I know that I am stubborn & sometimes a hard-ass. I know that I will keep doing everything I physically can, to feel better. I know that I am committed to loving myself. I know that I made a HUGE step today, in deciding to stop blaming myself for being sick & for not "healing".

So, to Louise Hay & many well-meaning friends, you can believe what you choose to believe, & I can choose to believe what I believe. We all have the right to believe what we want, but from this day forward, I CHOOSE to stop blaming myself for being sick. I CHOOSE to stop feeling bad or feeling like a failure when my "spiritual work" doesn't heal my physical illness.

I CHOOSE to believe in reality. I CHOOSE to accept what is real, in my life & in my body at this moment. Does this mean I am giving up & giving in & resigning to be ill & suffer? FUCK NO. 

But when I have bad days, when my body aches so much that I can't get out of bed, I will no longer tell myself, "You must be doing something wrong. You must not be working hard enough. You must not have healed your inner child. You must not have truly forgiven. You must not deserve to be well yet. There must be some karmic debt you still owe."

Never again.

You see, I'm all about taking responsibility for your actions. If I drink too much wine & have a headache the next day, well then, yes, my actions caused the headache. Or if I eat a gallon of cheap ice cream & get a terrible stomach ache, then yes, my choices caused that physical ailment.

But not one more day, will I wake up, every cell of my body in pain, and BLAME myself for not healing my inner child, or whatthefuckever.

Do you see the HUGE amount of pressure and stress & anxiety this puts on someone? Telling them that they somehow are CAUSING this illness, something they have done, or haven't done, and if they work hard enough & dig deep enough & pray enough, that they can CURE THEMSELVES? Wow. Really?

a very ugly realization about how dangerous this kind of thinking can be . . . not ONLY was I condemning myself & blaming myself for ME being ill . . . but, inadvertently, I was also blaming every other person who is ill, for their own illness. I would go so far as to say that, I unconsciously believed that, people who die from their illnesses, could have, in some way, prevented it, stopped it, or healed it . . . but, that they just didn't "work hard enough to heal their emotional shit".  Now, THAT, my friends, is fucked.

How about this? Do you know someone, have you loved someone, have you ever lost someone you loved dearly, to illness, or disease? Would you ever dare to look at that person, laying in bed, in so much unbearable pain, dying, and say . . .  "If you would have just worked harder. . . if you would have just forgiven Uncle Joe, if you would have prayed for 2 hours every day, if you would have seen a therapist or a shaman, if you would have healed your inner child, you wouldn't be in this predicament . . . you could have prevented this . . . the pain you are in right now is your fault . . . you had the power to heal yourself, but you just weren't diligent enough. You didn't try hard enough. You didn't dig deep enough."

Would you? Ever? Seriously.

I think we are too attached to meaning. We try to find reason where there is none. We want to make sense of fucking horrible things, in an attempt to make them less painful, so we reach, we stretch, we concoct romantic notions that we have any control at all . . . or there is a 'deeper meaning', or 'everything happens for a reason'.

Thank you, Lucinda Williams, for the beautiful song, that exploded my brain this morning. 

"You weren't born to be abandoned
And you weren't born to be forsaken
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved

You weren't born to be mistreated
And you weren't born to be misguided
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved

You weren't born to be a slave
And you weren't born to be disgraced
You were born to be loved
Mmm, hmm, you were born to be loved

You weren't born to be abused
And you weren't born to lose
You were born to be loved
You were born to be loved

You weren't born to suffer
And you weren't born for nothing
You were born to be loved
Mmm, hmm, you were born to be loved"

I listen to these words, and I feel my heart breathe a huge sigh of relief . . . what I hear is . . . "girrrrrl, some shitty things have happened, and it's not your fault".

xo, 

EK

ps. subscribe to my newsletter & blog posts HERE

 

 

 

too much.

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Right?

Hence, my silence.

Who wants to hear about my laundry list of physical ailments? Who wants to read about pain & suffering? Who wants to hear . . . blah, blah, blah.

And then I remember, If I am not REAL, who am I? If I am not HONEST, who am I? If I am not a TRUTH-teller, who am I?

So, here is my truth . . . it's all gotten to be TOO MUCH. I went off social media over a month ago. Too much noise, too much chatter, too bright, too loud, to scratchy, TOO MUCH.

I find myself on this "healing journey" . . . has a nice kind of romantic ring to it, doesn't it? Emotional healing. Physical healing. Body, mind & Spirit. Romantic.

Until, it all gets to be too fucking much. I used to subscribe to the idea that, "everything happens for a reason", and "physical ailments have emotional roots" . . . It sure makes the tough times a lot easier to swallow, when you have these beliefs.

But last week, I was sitting, having a conversation with my love & I said, "What if it's all fucking bullshit? What if there is no "reason" for my fibromyalgia or my gallstones or my sick liver? What if it just fucking happened & there is no deeper meaning? Because, if it WAS caused by traumas, & to 'heal the physical ailment, you have to heal what caused it'.....I have done NOTHING but work on healing these traumas . . . I have dug so fucking deep, my entire world as I know it has fallen completely fucking apart because NOTHING is what I thought it was . . . I have worked SO FUCKING HARD at healing these traumas . . . every single day, my sole focus is healing . . . and my body is falling apart. I feel like I'm dying. What if I do die? Does that mean I didn't work hard enough at healing? FUCK THAT."

I told you I didn't have anything nice to say, but this is where I'm at, LOST on this "journey". Even that word . . . JOURNEY, makes me want to fucking vomit.

It doesn't feel like a journey. It feels like death.

Oh yes, I've always been fond of the "caterpillar in the cocoon, turning into a butterfly" idea . . . another romantic notion to help us make it through hard times . . . which, also, at this point, brings an instant gag reflex to my whole body. 

To describe what it feels like, when I close my eyes . . . there is No "journey". No caterpillars & cocoons. No steps on a path, leading me to a better place. No healing light. No one guiding me. No amazing metamorphosis. . .

What it is, is this . . .

dark. pitch black. no evidence of light, anywhere. it doesn't exist here.

cold. bone-chilling cold. cold that can never be warmed & never goes away. 

aches. in the very core of my bones. feeling that my body has been beaten & smashed by a hammer, from the inside out. 

muscles that are so weak I can barely move, yet are so tight, they burn like I've been weight lifting for hours.

a head that is so heavy, it feels like it's made of lead & my body can barely hold it up.

sleep, that is so elusive & hard to find, even when I am so exhausted I can't move. muscles that won't relax, nerves that don't shut 'off' . . . waking up feeling like I was run over by a semi truck.

that's just for starters.

so, you see. I'm having a really difficult time finding the "reason". I'm having a hard time with the "caterpillar & the cocoon" deal. 

I don't write this to complain. I don't write this for pity. I write this for the reason I share anything personal . . . in the HOPES that it will help someone else. Personally, I find great comfort in knowing I'm not alone in my struggles.

Please share this if you feel it might help someone. Please let me know if it touched you, or helped you.

Because maybe, the whole idea of "sharing my pain to help other people" is just another romantic notion that needs to go.

I don't know.

Frankly, I don't know what the fuck I know anymore.

*to subscribe to my newsletter/blog posts, go HERE.

addicted to pain.

I must admit . . .

I've gotten swept away in a whirlwind of emotional & physical pain.

I've been working on healing my physical pain, which started out this summer, as a trip to the ER & a diagnosis of gallstones. Months & months & months of debilitating & deteriorating physical health & a new "dis-ease", fibromyalgia. I've been working my ASS OFF trying to "fix this"! My monkey mind feels the NEED to figure things out, to find the "why" behind everything, to DIG & excavate  . . .
I've been reading, researching, digging . . . working on the physical part with acupuncture, massage, TRE's, yoga, whatever I can think of.
I have unconsciously allowed myself to get swept up & consumed by this new "story" of pain. I have made this my "new identity". Hell YES, the pain is real. Fuck YES, the trauma I have uncovered is real. Holy shit, YES there are things that needed to be acknowledged & dealt with, but, MYGOD, did I ever get swept away in the "STORY".
Wow. HOLY SHIT. Wow.
It wasn't until yesterday, in a thai massage session with a very dear friend & energy worker . . . laying on my back, all of the sudden, it was clear as DAY & I said to her, "I think I'm addicted to pain!? WHAT THE FUCK?!!!"
For real. Did I REALLY need to dig that far? Did I REALLY need to let it consume my every waking thought? Did I REALLY need to go, "oh YES, this is who I AM."?  . . . ummmmmm. No. I did not.
So, this is a pretty, spanking, brand-new realization I've got goin' on & it's kind of blowing my mind. BIG TIME.
My friend sent me this link this morning, about pain addiction & it rings true & completely makes sense. Right? Right.
It's so weird & awesome how everything is intertwined. Everything. I have been uncovering, through acupuncture, alot of repressed memories & feelings from when I was a little girl. Things that are pretty rough & painful, so my brain (thanks, brain), stuffed them away, so I could get through it. But now that I am not a little girl, or even the girl who was married to the abusive husband, I have certain things, patterns, ways of reacting to the world . . . that were put in place when I was in a scary, unsafe, uncertain, painful world. 
My world is completely different today. So, the challenge that lies ahead, is not the digging & feeling of incredible pain & sadness that I thought it was . . . the challenge is to recognize old behaviors, old thought patterns, old ways of reacting to my OLD world . . . that are no longer valid & no longer serve me. In a sense, it is re-wiring my brain. For real.
It's awesome & exciting & liberating & scary. 
Who am I without my pain?
I remember after I got divorced, there came a moment, when I was soooo sick & fucking tired of being the "victim", of this "poor girl" who had gone through this nightmare. I was DONE being her. I was DONE with that STORY. Then, for a split second, I was fucking TERRIFIED . . . "If I'm not the victim, who am I? If i'm not his wife, who am I? If I am no longer this person that I have been for 20 years . . . WHO AM I???" Terrified. But then, in that same moment, the terror gave way to excitement, "I can be whoever the fuck I WANT TO BE!"
Wow. Yes. At that same moment, right now.

Letting go of the "STORY".


Deeeeep breaths. Self love. Compassion. Not beating myself up. Embracing this journey as much as I possibly can.


Exhausted.
Excited.
Thankful.
Ready. 
BIG LOVES,
Erica

p.s. I've been reading a lot of amazing books that have helped me on my journey. You can see them HERE

OH YES! I have 4 lots of Clearance art 123, & 4!

If you haven't already, and you want to be kept in the loop, sign up for my newsletter HERE.

church

so, the day I wrote my last blog post, I was kind of a mess. Exhausted from the physical pain, I wrote. Then almost immediately after, I found myself at church. 

This isn't a church with a sign out front, or walls, or pews or sermons. This is my church. I drive up the canyon, I walk down a windy path, I wade through the cold water and find my seat on the river's edge. THIS is my church. THIS is where I connect with Spirit. THIS is where my answers come. Every single time.

I sit & I talk. I talk, just like I'm talking to a friend. I say, out loud, everything that is in my head & my heart, & I talk until the answer comes out of my own mouth. This day was no different.

I said, "Bring it! Let's do this! Let's pull out all this anger & deal with it!" . . . and then something awesome happened. There was NO ANGER about my past. NONE. There was no emotion. No hurt. Nothing to forgive. That work had been done. I tried again, digging deeper, and deeper . . . NOTHING. I really had worked through it. I really had forgiven. I really had moved on.

The physical stuff that ended me up in the ER was there, but it is OLD, and I knew that. I knew that I had been feeling that pain for years & years & years. It took 20 years for it to get like that & it wasn't about to disappear after one week of eating good food. The emotional/spiritual work to heal it had been DONE, and now, what is left, is the PHYSICAL work, the NUTRITION & self care that I have already started. I AM on the right path.

Of course, learning a new way of living & caring for my body is not as quick as surgery, that's obvious. But surgery will not teach me how to take care of myself. Surgery will not teach me how to lovingly create whole food meals to nourish my body. Surgery will not help me create a yoga routine. Surgery will not help me to acknowledge when I am tired & need to rest. Surgery will not help me develop a new water drinking habit. Surgery would serve one purpose: to REMOVE a part of me that, for YEARS, was trying to communicate with me & teach me what I needed to look at & deal with. Surgery would cut out the most important step in this journey, ALLOWING me to LEARN to love & care for my body, on my own.

I always try to find the lesson in life's hard moments. I ask, "What is this trying to teach me?" . . . and after over half of my lifetime, I get it. My lesson here, Speak UP, Stand UP. Don't play martyr. Don't play victim. Don't suffer in silence. DON'T SWALLOW YOUR FUCKING TRUTH. Period.

And, despite what some people might think I should or shouldn't do, this is my journey, and I am not a skip stepper.

What DID come up, while I was up the mountain, talking to Spirit was this . . . I have been feeling resentful. Resentful that my children's father chooses to see them once a year. Resentful that he doesn't show up at Christmas. Resentful that he lets them down. Resentful that he doesn't even know them.

But, as quickly as it came out of my mouth, I felt Spirit's hand on my shoulder, my heart cracked open a little wider & my words changed. Drastically.

"Thank you, for him not being in their lives. Thank you, for him living 1,000 miles away. Thank you, for him not being a daily influence on them. Thank you. THANK YOU. OHDEARGOD THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Thank you for the amazing man who has CHOSEN to be in our lives. Thank you for the man who IS a daily influence in their lives. Thank you for him being the most kind & generous & loving man I have ever known. Thank you for this man, who is a GIFT, who shows them love & compassion & empathy & selflessness. Thank you for this man, who was not around when they were conceived, but, who CHOOSES TO SHOW UP FOR THEM, DAILY. Thank you for this man who CHOOSES to be in their lives, who CHERISHES every moment with them, who LOVES them as if they were his own.

THANK YOU for these amazing, beautiful, resilient kids. Thank you for their love & their lessons & their forgiveness & their LIGHT. Thank you for our safety. Thank you for our home. THANK YOU FOR OUR LIVES TOGETHER. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

And, just like that, Spirit had set me straight. 

And so, with new gratitude & focus, my journey continues. This chapter: Nutrition. (whole foods, water, moving my body, rest, love)

Smiling.

I can do this. I AM doing this.

Thanks for being here.

Much love,

EK

ps. If you want to be kept in the loop (when I write a new blog post, have a sale on my art, all that jazz), sign up for my newsletter HERE.

pps. In the spirit of cleansing, purging & releasing, I am having a BOGO sale in my shop. This includes regular priced prints & cards. It does not include clearance prints, originals, canvases, or custom pieces. The sale will last ONE WEEK ONLY. When you place your order, Include a note, telling me what you want for FREE! 

Buy one get one FREE on regular priced prints & cards of same or lesser value.

 

anger stones

So, a few weeks ago, I ended up in the emergency room, with pain in my stomach, so bad, I felt like I was dying. I knew I wasn't dying, but I felt like I was. The ER doc asked me, "describe your pain. What does it feel like?" . . . through my tears, "it feels like my stomach is full of poison!" . . . He looks at me weird, "Well, I'm not sure what that feels like? I don't know what it feels like to have a stomach full of poison." . . . Me, "I don't either, but I would imagine THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE! It's not cramps. It's not a stomach ache. It's not food. It's not a stabbing pain. From my belly-button up, all up under my ribs, FEELS LIKE IT'S FULL OF POISON!"

Let me say that, I have had stomach issues for YEARS, like, at least 10. My stomach almost ALWAYS hurts. It's something that is just always there, & I have learned to live with it. I have had soooo many blood tests, pee tests, ultrasounds, x-rays, all of it. No doctor could ever find the cause of it.

So that day in the ER, I got another ultrasound. But this time the tech was focusing somewhere that never got looked at before. He was looking at my upper right side. A very small area, under my ribs.

Gallstones. Cool. Aren't those the ones you pee out & everything is fine? No. I had no idea.

So, back in the room with the ER doc, "Gallstones. ALOT of them." Me, "Like, how many?" Doc, "ALOT! Way too many to count."

"Ok. So how do we fix this? How do we get them out?" . . . Doc, "Surgery. We cut out your gallbladder." . . . Me, "Ummmm, and what if we DON'T cut it out?" . . . Doc, "Well, then you will continue to have this pain, which is caused by a stone getting stuck in the bile duct. The pain will get worse. Every time you eat, you will have excruciating pain. Eventually, it will get so bad, that your gallbladder will become infected, and you will get really sick & might die."

Not cool. Not the answer I wanted.

I had already cut waaaay back on food. I rarely eat, and only a week before, had said to my honey, "I think I know why I hardly ever eat! Because every time I do, I feel like SHIT afterwards. My stomach hurts so bad.

"Louise Hay mentioned that gallstones could be tied to bitterness, hard thoughts, condemning or pride. Over the years, these unexpressed emotions could solidify into gallstones. And if it causes a lot of pain and inflammation, it also represents the seething anger. 
Let go of the anger. Soften our hearts- forgive. In forgiving the other person, we also forgive ourselves. We forgive ourselves for making the mistake of trusting and loving the person. I
t’s time to learn from the mistake and betrayal and move on in life. Look around- there is still a lot of goodness in the world. They are many others who are kind and love us- let’s not make a bad experience ruin life for us ." -Link between gallbladder & gallstones & our unresolved emotional issues/Digestive Wellness, Mind-Body Connection. full article HERE

So, I've read & I've researched & I've decided to do my best to avoid surgery & heal this on my own. I've made some big changes in the nutrition department. I believe I can heal this on my own, with food, exercise & a whole fucking lot of letting go.

That's where I'm at now. I'm physically exhausted every day. My body aches. My stomach hurts. I feel 100 years old. I'm doing the nutrition part, but the emotional part is still waiting. It's funny (not really), but I FEEL like I've already dealt with this, the anger, SO MANY TIMES. I thought I was over it. I thought it was healed. 

I believe that physical dis-ease is directly tied to emotional/spiritual wounds/work. I have said, quite a few times, "I'm surprised my body wasn't full of cancer by the time I left." (Speaking of my 17 year relationship with an abusive man). I held SOOOO FUCKING MUCH inside, for sooo long. I held on TIGHT to hurt, to pain, to bitterness, to hate, to anger, to resentment . . . SO MUCH, for SO LONG.

Good news. Bad news. I am NOT full of cancer, but I am full of gallstones, a dis-eased gallbladder, a dis-eased liver, a dis-eased digestive system. And why wouldn't I be? Why would I have a healthy stomach, when I have housed such poisonous emotions in this area for now 23 years? 

7 years ago, a few months before I finally left my marriage, I was sick. I was skinny & weak. I wasn't eating. I had migraines. I had stomach pains. I almost fainted, alot. I was going to the doctor & they ran all sorts of tests. Blood tests, pee tests, ultrasounds . . . so many tests. After months of tests & trying to figure out what was going on, my doc says, "Good news is, all your tests are clear. Bad news is, we still don't know what is going on with you." Exhausted, I said, "Well then, can you at least prescribe me some antidepressants? because I am really fucking depressed." My doc says, "You are? Why?"  . . . after a few sentences of me describing what my life was like, he looks at me & says, "This would have been REALLY helpful to know a few months ago!" Naive little me says, "Why? This has NOTHING to do with what is going on with my body!" Smarter than most western medicine docs then says, "This has EVERYTHING to do with what is going on in your body. You are not dealing with it, so your body is screaming at you, and will continue to do so, until you DEAL WITH IT."  . . . ouch. truth hurts sometimes.

It's funny, how naive I can be sometimes. When I first read Louise Hay's reasoning for gallstones, "bitterness, hard thoughts, condemnation & pride", I almost laughed out loud. I was like, "Oh, I am so over it! I have worked through my anger! That lesson is over." . . . funny, not.

So, here I am, in this cocoon. Again. It's fucking PAINFUL. So physically painful. At the beginning, someone asked me, "what are you angry about?" . .  . "NOTHING! I'm not angry. I'm FINE! I've dealt with my anger. I'm OVER IT!" . . . . continues the unbearable physical pain. So, a few times, I've allowed the question to come into my body, "Erica, WHAT are you angry about?" . . . ohmygod . . . I just get a GLIMPSE of a really fucking long list & then I shut it down. Not ready. Not willing yet.

Yes, this cocoon. Wrapped up fucking tight. Arms bound. Legs bound. Mouth covered. Dark. Painful. Rotting away from the inside. Wanting SO BADLY to break free. Wanting to kick & scream & bite & yell & run the fuck away. BOUND.

It's waiting for me. My list of ANGER. It's patiently waiting for me to sit still & get real. It's tying my wrists & squeezing my legs & holding it's ugly fucking dirty hand over my mouth. It's keeping my weeping, weak body in the dark, until I give the nod, & say, "ok, I'm ready. Let's do this."

you see, it's not going to be easy. I know this. and honestly, I might just be a little fucking terrified of the darkness that is swirling around in there, poisoning me. 

I want to "have already healed it". I ache to "be over it." I YEARN to "have already forgiven." But the truth is, I haven't. 

yesterday, I tried to explain with words, to my wonderful, patient beloved, what I am experiencing right now . . . theses are the words that came out, "I just want to fucking rip my clothes off, scratch my skin off & go running into the mountains, screaming!"

cocoon. I know it. I recognize it. I have been here so many times before. I know it won't last forever. I know there is brightness on the outside. I know I will be different when I emerge. 

I also know I won't emerge until I dare to sit with myself in the darkness of the decomposing & speak honestly, with myself, about that anger, until I speak, OUTLOUD, and name every fucking one, even if it takes all day, & when I am done, I am so exhausted that I can't do anything but lay there & my eyes are so swollen from crying that I can't see, and my voice is so hoarse from sobbing & screaming that I can't speak another word. 

This is how the cocoon will crack. 

DEEEEEEEEP BREATHS. DEEEEEEEP BREATHS.

unconditional love.

patience.

thank you, for witnessing my journey.

much love,

EK

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hello . . . Spirit calling. is anyone there?

one thing I have realized lately, is that some people WANT to change, and some don't.

some people YEARN for growth, and others run from it.

that was a good wake up call for me, because i just kind of ASSumed that everyone wants to get better, right? no. not right, Erica.

i don't even know why i would assume that, because i was "stuck" in a really shitty place for a really long time (20 years, ahem). and you know what? i wasn't ready to change, until i was good & FUCKING READY!  

before i realized this (that people will only change when they are ready) . . . i was on a personal mission to SAVE PEOPLE. i tried to save an old lady at the liquor store whose husband was yelling at her & hitting her. i tried to save the girl at the bar whose boyfriend punched her upside the head. i tried to save a friend who SAID she wanted out of her abusive marriage, but kept going back. i tried to save another friend from drinking herself to death. i tried to save everybody. i really did.

guess which ones i saved??? not ONE of them. NOT ONE. the old lady in the liquor store went back to the man that had beat her for 70 years. the girl in the bar yelled at me for ruining her life when her boyfriend got taken away by the police. the friend left the abusive marriage, but abuses herself & everyone in her life, daily. and the other friend DID drink herself to death.

when i was in this "i'm gonna save everybody" phase, a good friend of mine looked at me & said, "that's kind of cocky don't you think? who put you in charge of saving these people? who gave you that job? what makes you think they are not exactly where they're supposed to be?" . . . . . . . hmmmmm. (I have really smart friends ;)

so, who CAN i save? well dear, look in the mirror. me, and only me. and i'm cool with that ;)

back to the "wanting to change . . . wanting to heal . . . wanting to face that deep fucking hurt, see it, honor it, move through it  . " YES. (facing your fears, like the "Dragon Slayer" above that I painted last week. That's what she's ALL ABOUT!)

so, last year, i did this really amazing thing, and when i came back, i WANTED to share it. i wanted to tell you all about it, but i was hesitant. it was SACRED. it was MAGIC. it was mine.

it is time to share, because i realize that there are people ACHING for healing & growth. this is such an amazing opportunity.

this healing took place over a weekend in the gorgeous mountains of Utah.  Tammy (who I didn't know from Martha Stewart) said, "hey! i'm doin this woman's healing retreat thing. do you wanna come?" (reeeeal casual like). well . . . . .sure. 

the first time i looked into her eyes, i knew i was safe, and i knew something huge was about to happen. i knew Spirit guided her to me.

Tammy is a medicine woman, a healer, a shaman. Spirit moves & acts through her. she is beautiful & gentle & kind & full of love & connected to Spirit. (BTW, she would never say any of these things about herself. she is WAY too humble. but you know me, & i tell it like it is. so, there we have it)

i am not going to share the details of exactly "what" happened, because it is very sacred. but i will tell you that the weekend started with 8 strangers in the mountains. we worked, we felt, we saw, we honored, we listened, we broke open, and we broke free. it was the most difficult, beautiful, amazing spiritual experience i have ever been a part of. EVER.

we each did our own work, but there is also work that is done together. MY WORK? what happened when it was my turn in the circle? CRAZIEST, MIND BLOWING, BREAKING OPEN & FREE EVER!!!

let me explain it with my art. i was SOOOOO MOVED by the work that we did, by the work that these women, who were complete strangers the day before, what they did FOR ME . . . that when it was all said & done, I gave them each, one of my original paintings. THAT is how i expressed my gratitude to them, for what they did for me. THAT is how powerful this was.

I gave my original paintings of "I choose Letting Go", "I choose Light", "I choose Truth", & "I choose Forgiveness" to four of the women.

I gave my original painting of "She Found Peace" to Stephanie.

 

I gave my original "Shapeshifter" painting to Nancy (& it now hangs in House of Heart, the lodge where the healing circles are held).

 

and i PAINTED this "Hawk Medicine" when i came home from the weekend. THIS is how i felt. if i could wrap the experience up in a picture, THIS is it.

i gave this original painting to Tammy in a small gesture of the enormous gratitude & love for the experience & what she had done for me.  it now hangs in House of Heart.

i am telling you all of this, a) because it's AWESOME, and b) there is opportunity for you to participate.

it is an amazing experience IF you are tired of carrying your old shit, IF you are ready for change, IF you are willing to do some deep work, IF you want to get unstuck, IF you want to peel back some layers, IF you are ready & willing to break open, so that you can break free.

the next workshop is July 25-27th. Space is very limited. 

Contact Tammy to register #801-548-2287 or at tammy.isisdistributing@yahoo.com

ps. it is worth EVERY penny & more!

XOXOXOXOXO

big LOVES,

EK

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wild women sisterhood

This past weekend, I attended the Wild Women Symposium, in Provo, Utah. I went as a vendor, to sell my art, and while, yes, that did happen, there was SOOOO MUCH MORE. I wasn't planning on attending any of the classes, but once I met the instructors & some of the amazing women attending . . . well, I'm just going to show you what I wrote to all of these beautiful souls, after I got home . . . and show you the art that is overflowing out of my heart . . . (click on each photo to see the feather art in my shop) . . .

"hi! me again  just want to express HUGE gratitude & LOVE to Jennifer Stanchfield (aka sparklepants) for creating the safe space, turning the volume WAY THE FUCK UP & teaching us how to use the tools. I just blasted shamanic music, hands & knees on my mat, eyes closed, & moved, danced, connected with & called IN my sensual, wild, POWERFUL self. THANK YOU, sister.    and . . . I was so excited yesterday, that I forgot to share this at the closing circle, but, I really know that everything happened in divine right order. I only made it to 2 of the classes . . . the last 2 of the whole weekend. well, and Zumba, the night before. so... here's my "share", about my experiences, a day late . . . so, I have suffered chronic pain in my back for a long time. I USED TO walk like an old woman. I USED to move like an old woman. I USED to wince in pain everytime I got up or down. Then, by way of happenstance (& Krysta) I ended up in this room full of women in workout clothes?! no bra. no shoes. never done zumba, but there i was, lookin' at Jackie's adorable face & smile & enthusiasm & energy & I was like, "ok? let's DO THIS!" . . . HOLY SHIT!!! SOMUCHFUN!!! my back was cracking & clicking & making all sorts of old-lady noises . . . I looked at Krysta, "ummmmm MAYBE I shouldn't be doing this?!!!" . . . she smiled, the way she does, and says, "MAYBE you should?" HA! well, I did! I even learned how to TWERK! Aparrently, I can shake my ass something fierce! SOMUCHFUN!!! walked out of zumba . . . not limping, not holding my back . . . feeling AMAZING. I went to bed expecting to be in HUGE pain the next morning, NOPE! no pain. SO GOOD! . . .

Then Emily climbed on me & pushed me & pulled me & stretched me till i thought i would break . . . (thai massage) . . . I would do "OWWWW!", expecting her to back off . . . . um, no. she laughed, and waited for me to BREATHE, then she stretched me further. holy smokes. THEN, was Jennifer's class . . (embodying the dark goddess) . . . moving breaking pains open. MOVING. not stopping. MOVING. connecting. MOVING. . . . . oh my. then we partnered. my sweetLeanne, with nothing but LOVE . . . SAW me . . . and SHOWED me, without words (cuz Jennifer kept yelling, 'NO CHATTING!" haha) . . SHOWED me how powerful I am & SHOWED me the power in a group of women. She SHOWED me that I don't have to fly solo . . . that there is power in the circle. my brain EXPLODED! for real. it did. and my heart cracked wide open. . . .

so, right after, was Leanne's breath class  . . (breath circle) . . . shamanic music, breathing, breathing, breathing, (OHMYGOD! can we STOP breathing like this?!?!! NO.) . . . meditation. deep meditation. relaxing. alot of rocking my hips around. (that's where the pain was stuck) . . i couldnt lay still . . my hips wouldn't stop moving. breathing. it was all good & beautiful & nice & then ALLOFASUDDEN I get this HUGE message . . . my heart was disconnected. not broken. not weak. not loving less. but, completely DISCONNECTED from my body, like 2 separate entities . . & I have been living like this for a LONG time. (i'm a shitty eater. shitty at drinking water. just all around shitty at taking care of my human body). then the tears came. my heart hasn't felt safe in my body for so long, so it separated. my body has been in some pretty fucking terrifying places & had to deal with some pretty shitty stuff, so why WOULD my heart want to stay there? it wasn't safe, and so it left my body. so im laying on the mat, tears rolling, and then, because she knew, Leanne gently laid a blanket over me. i knew i was ok. more tears. then the moving stopped. a smile came to my face. my hands moved to my heart. and I quietly whispered, "it's safe now. come back." . . . and it did. 

 THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH Krysta, for taking my hand, Tonya & Suzanne for saying yes, Jackie for shaking your booty & my body, Emily for stretching me, Jennifer for rockin' my wild woman to the surface, Leanne for guiding me, and every single amazing woman that was there this weekend to step forward & make this circle. I love you, SO MUCH.  BIG, GIANT, HEARTtoHEART HUGS. xoxoxo, Erica"

I am forever changed by this past weekend. By the Sacred Circle of Wild Women that gathered & the work we did together. 

xoxoxoxoxoxo

EK

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 xoxo

growing pains from the cocoon

everything was loud. everything was bright. everything felt chaotic. i felt sensitive & vulnerable. "you know what to do. make your cocoon. it is time.", i heard. and so, i did. 9 days ago i went off facebook & went inside myself. 

i wasn't sure what the outcome would be, i just knew it needed to happen.

here's how my brain works: BIG & in COMPLETED GOALS. you see, i have a hard time with small steps & small goals & the 'in between' phase. i want to go from where i am now, to where my brain SEES me after all the work is done. (my brain completely SKIPS the steps it will take to get there.) my brain works in pictures, big, beautiful, full color, moving, dancing pictures . . . & i see the END result, almost to a fault. with everything. i see the POTENTIAL, rather than what it is in that moment. i do that with people too. i SEE potential. 

so, i've been wanting to do this cleanse . . . it's like a week long, no food, crazy detox cleanse kind of a thing. i've had it in my mind for awhile that i am going to do this cleanse & get rid of all the built up toxins & when it's over i will be this peppy, sparkly, full of energy, amazing being. sounds, awesome, right?

so, my first waking up, unplugged from social media, i figured was a brilliant day to start this cleanse. i am also working with a friend of mine, who is a magic fairy (reiki & healing flower powers), and i thought, "sure, this will all be great!"

i missed my blog post & newsletter last week, because i was flat on my back in bed, (actually, i'm pretty sure i was in the fetal position. in tears). EVERYTHING HURT. my brain hurt. my eyes hurt. every muscle in my body hurt. my stomach hurt. and my heart hurt, ALOT. 

i wasn't eating (cause the cleanse instructions said no to, and i was damn determined to do this the right way.) i was drinking water. i was chugging organic apple juice mixed with this 'toxin absorber', that i'm sure it's entire purpose was to kill me, SLOWLY. 

being NOT plugged in to social media . . . i have slowly realized something. facebook is a really good god-damned way to distract yourself, FROM YOURSELF.

laying there, feeling like i was dying, i wanted to reach for my phone & plug back in . . . but i didn't. i wanted to read about someone else's life. i wanted someone to tell me that it would be ok. i wanted, SO BADLY, to NOT feel, what i was FEELING, (which, turns out, was more than feeling like i was dying).

the second morning, my flower fairy friend texted me & i told her what was going on. she basically advised me to pull back on my crazy-ass, over-the-top, detox mission . . . my liver was working overtime & couldn't handle it . . . letting go . . . releasing . . . physically, obviously, right? that's what a detox is, yes? physical cleansing.

or so i thought. but physical is tied to emotional. yes, i know this. but sometimes i forget, until i am reminded so HUGELY that it knocks me on my ass & i can't deny it.

flower fairy sent me reiki & flower magic & prescribed: food & rest. THANK GOD. (i think i actually thanked her, when she told me to eat).

so . . . here i was on day 2 of this . . . laying in bed (cause i literally couldn't sustain vertical for more than 2 minutes) . . . hurting, physically, SO BAD. every atom of  my human body was screaming. laying there, TRYING to just fall asleep . . . and then it started, little clips, like a snapshot. like a camera taking snapshots. FLASH! FLASH! FLASH! . . . cool, right? NO. not so much. these snapshots were like ugly fucking flashbacks of bad shit from my past. memories that were hidden. memories that my brain, in protecting me, stuffed away somewhere . . . (maybe in my body, and this goddamned detox made come back out?)

i think i actually said out loud, "NO. go away! i don't need you. i'm done with you. you're not welcome here." . . . (body screaming, fetal position, snapshots flashing) . . . then something WEIRD happened . . . i took a few really deep breaths & said (outloud again), "ok. go ahead. show me what i need to see." GULP.  . . . then the snapshots turned into movie clips. little movies playing in my mind. the exact scenario, just how it happened, in my brain. they were short, like 5-10 seconds. and as soon as one finished, another started. it was shitty. these weren't pretty memories. these were ugly & painful & they just played. they wanted to be SEEN, i guess, by the me that i am today. makes sense, right? because the me i was when these things happened, no longer exists. even the me i was a year ago, no longer here.

these memories wanted to be seen & FELT by the ME i have become. the ME who has been working so hard to heal & open her heart. the ME who sees and FEELS so very differently than the me of a few years ago.

there were many memories, but the ones that hurt the most, were the ones with my kids. the ones where i saw their innocent, little faces. the ones where i felt the pain in their hearts. the ones where their father was yelling at their mother. the ones where their mother put up with abuse. the ones where their mother closed part of herself off. the ones where their mother lost herself. the ones where their mother was weak. the ones where their mother was someone i don't even recognize today. the ones where their mother was quiet and scared. the ones where their mother showed them what marriage & love is about, and it was COMPLETELY FUCKED UP. the ones where their mother showed them, that when someone loves you, they hurt you. 

ouch.

laying there, tears streaming down my face, the pain in my body was instantly the same pain in my heart, and i, outloud, said, "OUCH! fucking OWWW!" like i just got cut open with the blade of truth. FUCKING OWWW. not, "poor me. i'm a victim. look what he did to me. look what he did to us." no. not that. no more of that. 

it was overwhelming. it was painful. it was growing pains like i've never felt before. AND IT FUCKING HURT!!!

it took me a few days to catch my breath, but when i did, i brought my 3 kids into one room and sat with them, and had a conversation we've never had before. it HURT, in the most amazing & freeing way.

"i am SO sorry. i am sorry that you saw the ugly things you did. i am sorry for the nasty things you heard. i am sorry that i showed you what love is NOT, and called it love. i am SO SORRY that i showed you the wrong things. i PRAY that i left soon enough. i PRAY that you know now, that was all wrong. i PRAY that you can see NOW, what real love is. Love is not yelling. Love is not screaming. Love is not making someone feel bad. love is not changing yourself for someone else. love is not small. love is not petty. love is not ugly. love doesn't intentionally inflict pain. i fucked up. i fucked up HUGE, for alot of years. i was wrong. i made mistakes. i am SOOOOO FUCKING SORRY for all of the ugly things i showed you. 

PLEASE give me another chance. PLEASE let me show you NOW, what Love IS. LOVE is kindness. LOVE is caring. LOVE is accepting. LOVE is giving. LOVE is nurturing. LOVE is gentle. LOVE is kind. LOVE feels good. LOVE fills you up. LOVE is SAFE.

I love you SOOOO MUCH. I am SOOO sorry for my mistakes. PLease forgive me."

So. Ya. that happened. it blew my mind & my heart wide open. i had no idea when i was told to make my cocoon, or go off facebook, or start a detox . . . that this would happen.

OUCH. it hurts. in the best way a pain could possibly hurt.

onion layer #367 peeled away. check.

jeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

now, i sleep.

xoxo

E.K.

 

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fighter

so, my second tattoo, "fighter", is on the inside of my left wrist. like my "freedom" tattoo, i wanted it where i could see it every day, to remind me who i am. i am a fighter. i am stubborn. i am determined. i do not give up. sometimes i find myself in a puddle on the kitchen floor, wanting, with every cell in my body, to just give up, cuz that would be easier than to keep fighting . . . but i don't. there is something in me, bigger than that, and every time, i get back up & i fight for what i believe in, even when all the cards are stacked against me.

i have fought many battles in my life. i've fought physical battles, emotional terrorist battles, court wars,  . . . so many.

but that's not what this tattoo is about. this tattoo isn't about another person or a circumstance. this tattoo is about me, my heart & my soul. this tattoo is to remind me to FIGHT for who i am, who i want to be, how i want to show up in this world, who i want my children to learn from. this tattoo is to remind me not to give up, give in, or become like the darkness that hurt me.

you see, when you have been hurt so very deeply, all sorts of things happen . . . pain, anger, HATE, hardness, bitterness, shutting down of your heart, lashing out . . . all things i have experienced. i think they are part of the dealing & healing processes, but it is soooo easy to get stuck there, to live there, to BECOME that. UGLY. and that is NOT who i choose to be.

so this tattoo reminds me, daily, of who i am. it reminds me to FIGHT to stay true to myself, to stay open, and to be love. 

it reminds me to fight against the voices that say, "not good enough", "broken", damaged" . . . all that shit.

it reminds be to get up, stop pouting, and fight to hear the Voices of Truth, the Voice of LOVE, the Voice of Spirit. 

"you ARE good enough. you are SO enough. it is UNBELIEVABLE how enough you are."

"You are NOT broken. DOn't you see? the parts you call 'broken' are the very parts where your light shines the brightest."

that's what my "fighter" stands for.

i'm curious. what do you fight for? tell me.

xo,

EK

ps. Next week I am going to talk about what I have tattooed over my heart.

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freedom


So, a few years ago, I got my first tattoo. Up until then, there was nothing that I could imagine wanting on my body FOREVER. Times change. People change. Tastes change. You know? And I'm not really a fan of being part of the 'in' crowd . . . wearing what everyone else is wearing, you know? I'm kinda my own island. Thank god I didn't get a tattoo in college, or else I'd be walking around with a big ass sunflower somewhere on my body (I was obsessed with sunflowers). 

Somewhere along my journey, there WAS something I wanted on my body FOREVER. With every cell of my being, I wanted this word inked on my skin until the day I die. I ached to have this word on my wrist as a reminder of everything I had been through & everything I had fought for, and to never, EVER take it for granted.

I'll try & make this short & not get into gory details . . . I'll give you the Cliff Notes version: 

I met this guy in college when I was 18. He was loud & charming & funny & FUN & everyone on campus knew him, he was the fun party guy. And talk about chaaarming! We were friends for awhile, then we got together.

Mostly fun.

Mostly charming.

But then, there are these incidents, that, fast forward 20 years, when I'm sitting in a lawyers office describing the horror that was my marriage, she 1) looks at me like I'm fucking nuts, and 2) says to me, "Why have you stayed so long? He wasn't ALWAYS like this, was he?" . . . to which I QUICKLY reply, "No!" . . . (duh! cuz that would mean I'm fucking stupid!) . . . then i gulp, and then the floodgates open & the suppressed memories (that apparently my brain had worked really fucking hard at forgetting) start flooding back in . . .

within the first few months of dating (we were in college) & he saw me sharing a cigarette with a friend of his & he abruptly stormed across the room, grabbed me by the arm & dragged me into the hallway & yelled & screamed in my face for an hour, telling me I was a fucking slut & a whore &  . . .

oh ya, I had forgotten about that.

then there was a time (again, in college) we were at a friends dorm, hanging out, drinking. In front of a room full of people, he hurled a huge wad of car keys at my face. For no reason. None. I was in such shock that I couldn't move. My friends swooped me up, took me to their room, told me he was a fucking asshole, I wasn't to go back with him & took care of me for a few days.

I was 5'4" 110 pounds. He was 6'2" 210 pounds & a defenseman on the college hockey team.

I went back.

I wore sunglasses to school for a week to hide my black eye.

My art professor begged me to take them off. I laughed, made a joke, refused to take them off. He just looked at me, with such love & compassion. He knew. I knew he knew. Neither of us said anything.

I forgot about that one too.

So, SHIT. Ya, I guess he HAD always been like that. 

For MOST of our 20 years together, those crazy rages happened when he was drunk. The next day he would say, "Why are you mad at me? Why are you being so cold to me?" . . . and I would say, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!!! AFTER WHAT YOU DID LAST NIGHT???" . . . . (I don't know how many times those words were said between us, but WAY too fucking many!) . . . Then he would get all sappy & sweet & say shit like, "Oh, come on babe! I was so drunk I don't even remember what I said! It wasn't me, it was the booze!" . . . and eventually, I'd give in. 

WE got married. I asked HIM. Fucked, I know.

WE had 3 wonderful, beautiful, amazing kids, who are the love of my life & have saved me more times than I can count.

Probably about 18 years into this, I think I finally started to wake up, when he "all of the sudden" quit drinking. I was SOOOO HAPPY!!!! I was SOOOO HOPEFUL! I thought, for SURE this would change things. I thought, AT LAST, we would be happy, that I would be happy.

Well, it did change things alright. I remember the first time it happened when he was sober . . . he was YELLING & SCREAMING & SWEARING & ACCUSING & the look?!?!!! OHMYGOD, the look in his eyes . . . he wanted to kill me. I had never seen that level of anger & rage & hate & evil before in my life . . . and here it was, standing over me, staring me in the face. OHMYGOD . . . that's when my alarms went off . . . it was NOT the booze, it was HIM! Holy Fuck, help me.

Yikes, I was trying to make this short . . .

I wanted a separation. He refused. "We are NEVER going to separate. We are NEVER getting divorced. Don't you EVER SAY THOSE WORDS AGAIN!"

I told my mom, "well, I'm fucked. I have to stay. I have no choice!" . . . Thank god for my mom. "Erica, that's why there's lawyers."

So, back to this tattoo . . .

This tattoo came, after fighting for my freedom in the Supreme Court of Canada for 2 years.

This tattoo came after I was told "We will NEVER be divorced!"

This tattoo came after he said, "You will NEVER go back to Utah & be with your family."

This tattoo came after my lawyer said, "There is NO WAY a judge is going to give you sole custody.

There is NO WAY a judge is going to let you take the kids & move out of the country!"

This tattoo came after being stalked, followed, harassed, having the police on speed dial, restraining orders, hiding, living in terror for too fucking long.

2 years, I fought. Every fucking day, with every ounce of my being. 2 years.

This tattoo came after I WON my fucking case in the Supreme Court of Canada.

This tattoo came after I DID get a divorce.

This tattoo came after the judge DID give me sole custody.

This tattoo came after the judge DID grant me permission to leave the country with the kids.

This tattoo came after I DID move back to Utah & be with my family.

This tattoo came after I finally stood up & said NO FUCKING MORE!

This tattoo came, after the long hard battle to win my FREEDOM.

Freedom, has a whole new, beautiful, amazing meaning when you have to fight so fucking hard for it.

xo,

EK

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