Soulmates.

I was out, but at a computer, missing the Artist. I was studying for a midterm, and of course full of stress and anxiety about it. I am waiting to hear if I got into the MA program I applied to and interviewed for, and I am really stressed about that too. Stressed if I don’t get it, yet anxious if I do. If I don’t get in, that is a lot of hard work applying (and applying for a scholarship) that didn’t pay off, and my plans will have to change. But if I do get in, that is 2 more years of what I know will be really hard work. I want to take on the challenge, but still, I know that lots of hard work would be in my future. Not to mention the stresses of daily life, trying to find time to do laundry and cook and all that.

I had been feeling particularly stressed at that moment, my body feeling restless and anxious, and I was yearning (and still am) to take a vacation with the Artist. We took an amazing week long vacation to the Dominican Republic in 2010, and we went to Chicago for a few days exploring in 2015, but that is it. We have bee talking about wanting a vacation together for so long, even just a few nights away somewhere within driving distance where there is a cheap motel where we can watch a “movie on TV” and order all kinds of takeout and junk food for a few days while we enjoy an outdoor pool, restaurants, sightseeing, a beach, etc. Even that seems impossible when you are broke AF, let alone going somewhere tropical or otherwise expensive like NYC or Florida.

But, my number one way to redirect my anxious thoughts it to think about my love, and how we get to share our lives together, no matter what. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we get to be together. Master’s program or no Master’s program, vacation or no vacation, money or no money, we will make it. We will figure it out. And then I checked my email. The Artist sent me an email with nothing in the body or subject line, just a link to a video. The video was of a car commercial, and the song of that car commercial has become associated with our lives. I was just saying that every time I hear that commercial, I think back to last summer. We had just moved, it was a hard, hard move with lots of obstacles. We were even more broke than we are now. I had classes start the day after we moved in, I didn’t know my way around and had no phone to use GPS, on top of the nerves of just going back to school after 5 years off. The summer was spent in a realm of anxiety and stress, with boxes everywhere as we tried to balance school, job searching, and unpacking. I was so stressed that I had no appetite and didn’t sleep well, and if you know me, you know that this is VERY unlike me. And somehow, with that commercial always coming on, the song somehow became associated with that period of our lives.

But now, the song is a reminder that no matter how stressful life gets, I have this guy by my side making me laugh, supporting me, and enriching my life on a daily basis. He sees beauty in such ordinary things that I never would have noticed before, and it reminds me to stop and smell the roses. So we would stop the craziness for a few hours, go exploring in our new city, and have some laughs.

I teared up watching this video, it was like he knew exactly my stress levels and that I was thinking of him, and sent this video to let me know he was also thinking of me, and that whatever happens, we will find a way to flourish, together ❤

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Free Spirit.

The Artist and I have frequent hear to heart talks, discussing life.  These talks are really heart felt and intense, but in a good way.  During one of our more recent talks, he told me about how he saw me as such a free spirit when we first met.  He said that I was very “real”.  That I was unafraid to be myself 100%.  And that he admired this, and my free spirited-ness inspired him to be more relaxed and stress free.

I was a little surprised by this, I had never really thought of myself as a free spirit, so I asked him why he thought this.  (Note: The Artist and I were roommates, with another roommate and two people living in the basement of the house during college, read more here: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/3-years-of-the-best-marriage-ever/ ) He said that he was very uptight and felt stressed all the time with regards to things like doing paperwork, house chores, etc.  He admired how I left my dishes in the sink for a few days before washing them, and how it didn’t bother me.  How I slept in on weekends and walked around the house in my pyjamas in the middle of the afternoon.  How I stayed up late watching a movie I had been craving to see while eating a big bag of chips, even though I knew I had to get up early.  How I threw my dirty laundry on the floor of my bedroom.  How I wanted to carve pumpkins at Halloween and put up a tree and a million knick-knacks during Christmas.  He said that I would get ready to go out with friends in just a few minutes, and look amazing.  How I gave honest opinions, and was direct with people on what I wanted.  How I would wear flip flops in the middle of winter to take the garbage to the curb……among so many other things.  Initially, I was thinking that this just proved that I was a slob, and kind of lazy.  But as we talked, he explained how it inspired him to live life in a more mellow, relaxing way.  To go with the flow, and stop to smell the roses along the way.  And that the way I seemed unafraid to be myself, even in front of a stranger, he said I was very “real” and wasn’t acting in a way that was unnatural to me or that I was trying to impress someone.  He said that I have changed his life, for the better.  That he is now more mellow, and doesn’t let things bother him.  And that this has carried over into his art practice, he stays up until the wee hours of the morning if he is on a roll with a good idea- instead of doing the so-called “sensible” thing and going to bed at a reasonable hour.  He doesn’t feel as much pressure to produce paintings quickly, but rather, lets the creative process take him over.  And that the result is works that are launching his career.

This really touched me.  I really never thought of myself as a free spirit type of person, and I still don’t know if I am.  But the way he expressed these feelings to me was very moving, and my heart almost exploded ❤  I had no idea I had touched his life on such a deep level.  Of course we love each other and have an amazing, fulfilling life together, but this story touched my soul in a way that I simply cannot describe.  I don’t think I have ever heard someone articulate how they saw their loved one, and how they fell in love.

Then I thought, am I still the free spirit he fell in love with?  And I sort of panicked, as I wasn’t sure if I was a free spirit then, let alone now.  As I was saying this, we were getting ready to go shopping before the store closed, which was soon.  I was starving so I microwaved some left overs on a plate, grabbed my purse and got into the passenger seat of the car- like it was no big deal. He looked at me, smiled, pointed at the plate of leftovers and said, “free spirit”.  And he continues to do this now, as I was having a hard time seeing in myself what he saw.  One time, I didn’t want to wait in line in the fitting room at a store, so I tried the shirt on over top of the shirt I was wearing.  One time I couldn’t find the lid for my Magic Bullet smoothie cup, so I screwed the blade back on, put it in my purse, and headed to my office.  Another time, I spilled a giant gob of salsa on my shirt, and proceeded to lick it off and continue eating.  On a rainy Saturday, I sat on the couch for several (and I mean several!) consecutive hours watching TV in a nest of blankets.  I am convinced it is more laziness, but my Artist continues to tell me how I inspire him, as I do what I want and indulge in a lot fun things.  And when we indulge in watching TV until our eyes burn, cuddled together, late at night, and having these heart to heart talks, the Artist points out what a fun night it was spending this time together giggling and being silly.  That it isn’t laziness per se, that yes- we could have cleaned the apartment or done something more “productive”, but instead had a wonderful night together.  And in my books, taking the time to live and love is way more productive in the grand scheme of life ❤

The Artist’s First Tattoo.

We were getting ready to go walking down Delmar and the Artist was looking in the mirror and said that he wanted a tattoo of the letter X on the right side of his chest, near his armpit.  I was confused, this was oddly specific and a weird thing to want as a tattoo.  And he didn’t want a fancy letter X, just 2 straight lines.  I asked him why.  He said that it was my spot ❤

The story of my spot….

My side of the bed is the right side, and I like to lay on my left side facing the Artist, with my head on his chest/in his armpit, while his arm wraps around me tight.  I am then in perfect range of motion to receive a forehead kiss, and his hand can stroke my shoulder and arm.  It is so sweet and cozy, my favourite way to fall asleep.  My favourite place to be at all, really.  We always have the best talks like that too.  And when I get all sleepy at night, I literally CRAVE to be laying like this with him.  Those minutes before falling asleep, is my favourite part of the day.  So I felt very privileged that he wanted this tattoo in honour of me.  There happens to be a tattoo parlour on Delmar, so we popped in to see about the pricing.  One thing lead to another, and the Artist and the tattoo artist did an “artist swap”- a painting in exchange for the letter X tattoo that he wanted.  And boom- it was done.  It took longer to apply the stencil and disinfectant then it did to complete the tattoo, haha.  It was that simple and quick.

The Artist hugely suits tattoos.  A lot.  He is such a big, strong guy, with a huge beard and long hair.  He looks rather intimidating, actually.  But inside, he is the sweetest, most sensitive, cuddle bug that I know.  The contrast that I am describing is one of my favourite things about him, and the idea of even more tattoos would just further it.  He has practiced a few more with a pen to test out his ideas, and they look awesome.  Nothing crazy or anything, but rather symbols, interesting drawings, and even one in memory of his childhood dog that recently passed.

It was a wonderfully spontaneous, spur of the moment adventure.  And I think that in life, we all need to remember to have a little spontaneous adventure once in awhile.  It is good for the soul, in my opinion.

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No turning back now!

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It’s done! Doesn’t his missing chest hair look ridiculous?! Ha!

On the way home!

On the way home!

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After a few weeks of his hair growing back.  And no, his hands are not tattooed (yet!), he is just drawing ideas with a pen to see what they look like 😉

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My spot ❤

 

PMS

Lately I have noticed that lots of people post on social media about how crappy they feel, how sick they are today, how they wish their cold would go away, etc. and I am seeing these posts from both men and women.  And then I had an epiphany.  For several days a month, lasting several decades of every woman’s life, they experience menstruation, and I have never heard any complaints on social media about cramps or bloating and the like.  Why not?  Why the silence on things?  Having a cold or flu usually consists of an upset stomach, headache, muscle aches and cramps, feeling tired, irritable, and maybe a nasty cough.  Aside from the cough, most of the other symptoms are experienced with nature’s monthly visit to women, and then some.  Add in there feeling bloated, food cravings, and having to use feminine hygiene products (that are not cheap!) to get through it, along with a variety of other things as every women experiences her own combination.

Some would argue, that it is just nature.  Well wait, so getting the flu is some robot phenomenon?  Why didn’t anyone tell me!  Ha!  Some might also argue that women are “built” for it, so “it can’t be that bad”.  That is like saying that humans are built to require a heart to pump blood, therefore they are built for heart disease and “it can’t be that bad” since we are built for it.  Haha!  And it’s not like women can take sick days when feeling under the weather from PMS, because that would usually mean a few sick days taken every month from work.  Who has that many paid sick days, and/or who can afford to take that many days off unpaid?  Or in movies and such, you hear men say things like, “watch out, it’s that time of the month for her, she will rip your head off and then cry her eyes out”.  Well, men, if a large muscle in your body was contracting hard, you had a headache that wouldn’t quit, your body felt tired all over, you couldn’t hold your eyes open because you are exhausted, your stomach is acting up, and you couldn’t take the day off work because you have no sick days left, wouldn’t you be cranky too?

So we just go about our lives, uncomfortable and sometimes in pain, for 2-10 days a month (the average) and we just shut up about it.

But I don’t think it is necessary to suffer in complete silence.  When the Artist isn’t feeling well I will take over making dinner, give him a back rub, and make some snuggle time together to watch a movie for example.  When I am not feeling well, no matter the source of my symptoms, I expect the same.  Even if life is busy, it is never too busy for a 10 minute back rub before bed, and sometimes that is all takes to take the edge off.  He does not find me disgusting during this time of the month, as sadly, is the attitude that some partners take, and I can feel comfortable talking to him about concerns I have, or how I am feeling, and he will do what he can to help.  In the end, both getting through a cold and getting through the symptoms of PMS, well, you just have to ride it out until it has run its course.  So good coping skills is the most important thing to get you through it.  My favourites are delicious food, a movie, comfy pyjamas, and lots of TLC from the Artist.  And his favourites are exactly the same.  Now, I am not saying that women “get sick” every month, I am just trying to point out that we go through uncomfortable, sometimes painful, unpleasant, inconvenient physical symptoms for several days a month, for several decades of our lives, and it is ok to talk about them without giving away too much detail or being obnoxious about it.  So here it goes: today I feel so tired despite a good night’s sleep, I have terrible cramps, and a headache.  And I will feel this way until the weekend is over.  Now, that wasn’t disgusting or obnoxious, was it?

But, after all, this is how we experience pregnancy and become mothers, and that, is truly beautiful.  I look forward to the day that I can feel a baby kick, and then watch it’s first steps and smiles.  So folks, appreciate the women in your life.  Sisters, spouses, girlfriends, mothers, friends, etc.  Think about the tremendous miracles that their bodies are able to go through, and support them through it.  A little empathy and understanding can go a long way.  And the opposite; women, appreciate the men in your life.  Fathers, brothers, friends, spouses, etc.  Appreciate the support they give you, and their love for you.  As all relationships in life are give-and-take, not give “or” take, it is a big circle of mutual exchanges.

You never know what this world will bring…so love hard, laugh often, and be thankful for every day ❤

 

Women in the Working World

Lately, as an adult women who aspires for both a thriving career as well as motherhood, it seems as though having both is a puzzle I can’t figure out.  I am turning 25 in a few weeks, and the Artist and I hope to be fortunate enough to have children together in the future, and we both have big dreams for our careers as well, however, more and more it seems difficult to have both.  Things are different for women, we have “biological clocks”, and as we approach 30, or so I personally feel, our clocks start to remind us that time is ticking and the pressure of aging (as well as even more immense pressure from society) can be abundantly felt.  So here is what started my thoughts on all of this….

As my 25th birthday approaches, I have decided that I would like to further my educational career with a master’s degree and have been accepted to Washington University in St. Louis.  It is a 2 year MSW program and quite pricey, and I got a partial scholarship.  I am in desperate need of funding to even begin to be able to afford this, and have a deep gut feeling that I will not be attending classes this fall because I can’t afford it.  To read more about my situation on this: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/bittersweet/

So that is another year before I can apply to other MSW programs, and another year delaying the beginning of a career, would then put me age 28 before my careers even begins after graduation, and then building a secure lifestyle that allows me to try and get pregnant and be financially stable enough to take time off, and be able to afford it, to care for a child….pushing me past that ripe age of 30 that I mentioned above.  I know plenty of women have children well into their thirties, and I might be one of them, but wouldn’t it be nice to not feel pressured to have a child by the big bully called age?

Which is what sparked these thoughts for me in the first place.  It is like having to choose between having children in your mid-late twenties, or going to grad school during this time instead, and delaying having children until afterwards.  I know plenty of people have children while in grad school, but I don’t think that that choice is for me.  Or at least, it is my current thought.  So as of right now,  I plan to go to grad school at some point, we both want to get our careers up and running (which is really testing our patience, at almost 25 and 29, we just want to have established careers already!), and at that point, we will consider children.  I don’t want to have this feeling that I have to choose one or the other, so I just simply will not.  I am striving towards 2 careers; as a social worker with an MSW, and if I am fortunate enough to be able to bear a child, as a mother.  But you never know what life will throw at you, and the next day is never a guarantee, so although we have big plans for our futures, we try and live in the moment and enjoy each day as it comes.  Such as seeing a Shakespeare’s Henry V in Forest Park together, enjoying a picnic while we wait for the show, and having some quality time together, cracking open a fresh coconut, cooking a nice meal, celebrating birthdays, admiring the Artist’s thesis painting, chocolate chip pancakes and the best bacon I have ever had.  Because you never know what tomorrow will bring!

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park

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Sweet and a little spicy, orange chicken with cashews.

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Best, yet healthiest, bacon ever!

Best, yet healthiest, bacon ever!

So I encourage everyone of both genders to embrace the women in your lives as they balance life 🙂  I applaud all the women out there who are rocking it in their careers and as awesome moms, I look up to you all. ❤

The Artist’s Process.

I talk about my Artist a lot, I know.  About how he is gifted, in a way that is unique.  A way that is so unique, it is not something that one can acquire, or learn.  It is not something that can be taught either.  But rather, something that just exists.  It can be guided by others who also posses this, and honed and harnessed over time.  I went to his studio the other day and starting snapping pictures of awe-inspiring moments.  Of moments where I can feel the vibes in the air, viscerally.  Where my body is physically feeling pleasure and happiness, and passion that can only be understood by feeling it- not explaining it.  I am dedicating this post to the images I captured of my Artist doing what he is meant to be doing, in his niche, and exploding with passion and talent.

There are different “phases” of his art-making, that occur in no particular order and each time is different.  I call them looking and thinking, curiosity, and going on a rampage.  Here you will see him looking and thinking.  Ever see the episode of The Big Bang Theory when they have to buckle down and get to work, and then Eye of the Tiger comes on and they are standing and staring at their white boards?  It is kind of like that, quite simply put; he is looking, and thinking.  And holding his hand or brush in a strange way, to imagine certain scenarios.  But the thinking that is going on is intense. Sometimes it even makes him sweat.  Sometimes he can’t think about anything else, and even asking what he feels like for dinner takes up too much of his attention to think about.  And one time, Eye of the Tiger actually came on the radio when he was doing this, right after I thought of the parallel between him and the TV show.  It blew my mind.

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And then there is the curiosity type.  He is curious as what will happen if…..or what will happen when…..often using his foot to smudge something around, or crinkle up the canvas and patina it with old paint, dirty brushes, or roll it around on the messy floor.  There is a large playful aspect about this, where is he having fun and exploring.  The Artist is very curious by nature in every day life.

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And lastly, he goes on mark making rampages where he literally throws paint around, splashes it, and goes into a frenzy of sorts.  Often times, this is where the bulk of the marks are done, and in a short period of time, because truly, he can’t stop.  Even when he is plagued with allergies and is wearing sunglasses at night to protect his sore and sensitive eyes with tissues stuffed up his runny nose.  But not always.  There is no real pattern or predictability to his process, he does what he wants, when wants to do it.  It is almost like an obsessive-compulsive thing, where he gets urges to paint, and regardless of the time of day, where he is, or what he is doing, he finds a way to make the magic happen.

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As you can see, the Artist goes from squatting to standing to bending over about a thousand times when he paints.  This makes for a nice pairs of legs 😉

You are probably thinking that all these photos look the same, that I am a lunatic, and nothing I have said makes any sense- what is so special about all of this?  It is something that cannot be fully explained in with words, or justified with writing.  It is something that needs to be felt, and I am trying to convey the Artist’s passion and talent with my words and by capturing him in action, but to truly experience this, to truly get it, one must feel it and experience live.

Think about the things that get your heart pumping a little faster, that make your body tingle, and that causes your brain, and your heart to explode with intense emotion.  It may not be art that does it for you, but it is still an experience of passion, of something beautiful.  And I am so incredibly fortunate to get to experience  this on a daily basis, on top of a million other things that make me happy.

As I read this post over, I am not totally satisfied.  It is missing something, something to really push my point across so share exactly how I am feeling, how the Artist feels, and what these experiences are like.  But then again, that is just it.  I can’t express that missing something with words about how I am feeling, the only way to experience it for yourself, is to to do just that- experience it.

 

Isn’t Life Beautiful?

Isn’t life beautiful?  After all, you only get one!  I highly recommend watching this amazing video: http://www.wimp.com/survivorsay/

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How incredibly moving was that?!  I am lost for words.  It was just so inspiring.  Sometimes I feel like “time is running out” and I have to get my education moving and my career on the go etc., and women have more of a “biological clock” then men do, so what about trying to have children?  That is a lot to take on over the next decade, and sometimes I feel like I am sort of “behind schedule”.  But then I stop and think, behind what schedule?  Who made these schedules about the so called order of things….education, marriage, buy a house, have kids?  And who says I need to be doing any of these things even at all?  I have to stop and remind myself that this phenomenon of social pressure is what is making me feel like I am “running out of time”, and that I am “behind schedule”, that I should be developing in this quite normal of a pattern, which isn’t for everyone.  I am 24 years old and I have been married for going on 4 years this August, with no kids.  But that doesn’t mean I  don’t want children of my own someday!  It’s just that right now, in this very moment, what is important to both the Artist and myself is reaching our education and career goals, and enjoying each other to the maximum.

This can sometimes be a great source of stress for me, but after watching this video, it completely diminishes.  And I think this source of stress itself is going to completely vanish, because Alice makes such a good point: everything in life is beautiful.

It really is, isn’t it?  If we don’t stop and smell the roses, where is the enjoyment in life?  Finding passion, being interested in new things, and as one of the ladies in this video said, “putting as much into your head as possible, because no one can take that away from you”.  I really like this statement.  Because you may not have a lot of material things, or money in the bank, but if you have passion within, you will always have that inside, and you can experience it whenever you want.  This video was so inspiring, to empower myself, to inspire myself, and to see the beauty in life every day.  She talks about her love for music, and how Beethoven is a miracle, and how intensely she feels the music, is very similar to what I was trying to write about during my experience at the St. Louis Symphony: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/a-passionate-life-filled-with-love/

There is another video that I love, and highly recommend viewing: http://twentytwowords.com/sweet-old-lady-smiles-and-waves-at-passing-kids-every-day-they-finally-show-her-what-it-means-to-them/

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Amazing, eh?

What I love about this video, and how far a simple, friendly gesture goes to making life that much more beautiful.  One of my best friends in the world is a 70-something year old lady whom I carpool with to go volunteering at a domestic violence agency, and she is so full of love and life, it is contagious.  She is so sweet and kind and generous, that she always makes my day a little brighter. She has been travelling for the last few months, and I am finding myself craving her company!  What does that say about something as simple as being kind to others?

I always say that the Artist and I are contagious to one another.  He does something really nice for me, like make a nice dinner even though he is exhausted, and then I am really excited to return the favour and find my wheels spinning thinking of what I will do for him.  Then I grind him fresh coffee beans the next morning and bring him his hot coffee, and he is so happy and grateful that he starts thinking of the next thing he will do for me.  But the same goes for something as simple as a hug, or kind words.  The same cycle exists especially for kind words!

We are only the experts on our own lives, we have no idea what exactly another person’s life is like.  Especially strangers.  So if someone isn’t as friendly at the drive-thru window as you would like, instead, give them a smile, maybe a compliment, maybe wish them a nice evening or great weekend, maybe ask them how their day is, or thank them for their service.  Because we don’t know exactly what is going on in their life, maybe it is just one of those days, maybe they are grieving the loss of a loved one, maybe they got some bad news, but wouldn’t some kindness brighten all of those things?  And maybe that was the thing that just made their day, and they go home feeling a little better about whatever it is that is going on in their life.  Personally, if that happened to me and I was the one who had their day brightened (like this one bus driver who out a smile on everyone’s face, and made an effort to say hello to every passenger!), I would be grateful for that stranger’s kindness 🙂

Clearly, I am a big believer in the power of optimism and kindness 😉

These videos were so inspiring and uplifting, I watch them over and over, and get teary every time.  These women are just so beautiful, and convey such a powerful message:  ultimately, despite struggles and stresses, in the end, we are alive.  And if we aren’t alive, well, then what is it that we have?