Category Archives: Life Journey

Dualities

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Original Oil Painting “One”

What it represents to me.

What it means to me is acceptance, of the world, of the way things are, in all its complexity. Even if I don’t understand a lot of things.

It’s about learning that in life things of opposite nature live close side by side and without one you cannot have the other: Ying and Yang, female and male, negative and positive, dark and light, opulence and poverty, life and death.

I was thinking a lot about dualities and my attitude towards it.

A few years ago, I was invited to a party, in someone’s home or what seemed more like a museum/castle. This person seemed to have the whole world and all that is available in it – the best! Family, money that will never run out, social standing, good health, looks…

I was happy and grateful to be invited of course…but afterwards for several days  it had an interesting effect on me…something I did not expect…not at all positive.

I found myself incredibly depressed and crying a lot, things weren’t making sense and I just couldn’t understand how there could be such extremes in the world.

It’s one thing to kind of know about it and a completely different thing when it’s staring you right in the face.

Just days before going to this party I accidentally came across something on the internet; it was a statistic about homeless children in Russia. I am Russian by the way, I was born in Estonia and came to US when I was 15.

It said that it was estimated that there are between million and five million homeless children living in Russia. One of the stories was about a 6 year old homeless boy, who was buying glue in the store, (a lot of homeless children there sniff glue…beyond heart wrenching…) a cop saw him, took away his glue and squeezed out the entire bottle on top of his head. Yes, a 6 year old child! I felt that my insides turned, I wanted to lay down on the floor in fetal position and cry my eyes out from the intensity, cruelty and injustices of the world.

Every emotion came rushing in, engulfing me in a tidal wave of confusion. My own life experiences came to mind…my childhood, where I grew up…

I grew up in Estonia, which used to be part of Russia. Mom worked 2, 3 jobs, going to university and raising me as a single mom without any support, except my grandmother, who was living on the opposite side of the country.

We had to live in this old communal house, government controlled the living situation…what is communal house? It’s basically a tiny room…you walk in the wing where we lived, there is a long hallway, along the sides were doors to the rooms where each family lived. There was a communal kitchen, with 2 stoves, 1 sink, no hot water, no bathtub or any kind of bathing facility, just a toilet that basically was a hole in the ground.

I remember the tiny window in the bathroom, it felt so creepy there…I had nightmares for so many years about living there, in my dreams I was always trapped in that house, trying to escape as it’s collapsing or being submerged under water.

It was a house of horrors, the walls had such large cracks you could put your entire fist in there…there were some epic spider webs, the whole house was infested with bugs and rodents. One night the rat crawled inside our radio (this radio was very old school and big), it was squeaking all night and my mother couldn’t do anything about it.

The neighbors weren’t kind, they would get enraged when my mom played classical music and treat us with a lot of hate. It’s like they thought that my mom thought she was better than them because she had an education and class.

We lived there for 12 years. At one point it was my mom, my stepfather, my newborn sister and me in one tiny room.

When my sister was close to year, the three of us went to the mayor’s office to declare hunger strike, that’s the only option we had to get out of there, to finally demand healthy living conditions. My mom is my hero on so many levels.

So yeah, that’s a super short story of my background. It’s hard to take that much of opposites, it’s hard to process it in my mind. If someone told me when I was little that I would be living the way I do now and in US I would have probably died from happiness.

It isn’t that I wanted to live in that big mausoleum of a house or have the social standing, I never cared much about that, it was just that it was really hard for me to accept things that were on such opposite sides of the spectrum.

But it definitely took a lot of soul searching to make amends with my past and to accept life with all its variety of dualities and experiences.  I count my blessings every day for having come such a long way from where we started and for so many good things in my life.

I am also grateful for so many hardships along the way, they shaped who I am today, helped me to have courage and ignited the passion within me for life.

I also strongly believe that all those experiences have led me to discover myself as an artist.  It’s like a whole mix of good and bad that made way for something higher and beautiful.  That’s probably why I feel so strongly about seeking out beauty in life, wherever I may find it.

“Art is to cons…

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Glimpse from the life of an immigrant – Dream, Live, Create!

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One of my paintings in progress “Where are my roots?” It was inspired by feelings of being very much displaced in life as a result of an immigration.

As I sit here at work on a slow Monday afternoon I am grateful that it’s slow and that the phone isn’t ringing off the hook anymore, that the much popular car exhibit has ended at last. But the time is dragging, much like it does on Friday afternoons when you wonder how you’ll make it through the day without dying of boredom.

Yeah, it’s one of those days like that.

Don’t get me wrong, a very large part of me is beyond grateful, for the steady income, a job that is relatively easy to do and most of all that it’s in the museum. I know that many people would love to have this opportunity and I count my blessings for having this opportunity extended to me…that is all well and good.

But another part of me feels like I want to crawl out of my own skin…I earn for adventure! I have an insatiable appetite for life and I want to experience as much as I can while I am here on Earth.

Yet, everything is moving so slow…my dreams and aspirations…kind of like this day. I have so many dreams and intense desires and sometimes I wonder why in the hell I am feeling this if there is no way for me to do any of it. It causes me much sadness…I feel powerless…and small. I try to talk myself out of those feelings and most times I succeed, I try not to allow myself to wallow in self-pity, it’s just that there are times when I feel stuck on this merry-go-around and don’t know how to find a way out.  I am just trying to be patient and working on CREATING an opportunity for myself! As I don’t feel that the opportunity for me to discover myself was ever given to me.  I have become strict with my time management, I had to put any kind of a social life on a back burner for now, all my evenings and weekends are spent either creating art, collages, paintings, taking photographs or studying something relating to that. In between of cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping and whatever else we all have to do in our daily lives.

I want to become an artist and photographer, so much that I feel like I NEED it, not just want it, where I am doing that for a living. I want to take vacations, to be excited on Mondays as much as I am on Fridays, I want to have a freedom to take a walk during the day if I feel like it, to Visit Hawaii, to take underwater pictures, to go back to Russia and Estonia and walk in the places I used to…to see how far I’ve come. I want to have a sense of a family…to have my own family. I want for my life to be filled with meaning…. 

I’ve come from Estonia which used to be a part of Russia, 19 years ago. Yet, I am still dreaming of taking a real vacation which I have never had in my adult life and to perhaps even visit California. To me, being from another country, I feel like it’s something I really desire, to see many different places, especially US. I dream of going on a long road trip around the country where I eventually end up in California and travel to all the places I wanted to go for so long. Like the Red Woods forest. I just want to feel what’s it like to stand under that old, mighty tree, to walk where thousands of people came before me, to admire nature in all it’s indescribable beauty.

 I feel like it’s absolutely crazy that I’ve lived here for 19 years, yet I’ve never been to New York, LA, Las Vegas or any of the popular places. And not for the lack of the desire…but much like the car that won’t move unless it has gas it in, no vacations are possible without $. I have worked since I was 14 years old. And have always taken care of myself. Everything I’ve ever gotten in life was with sweat, blood and tears. I guess there are times when I really wish things were a bit easier…that I actually could work and enjoy life, not live for the weekends from paycheck to paycheck.

I want to love life, not feel like I have to fight it for every minute and every dollar.

 My mom brought me and my little sister here to US. I was 15, my sister was 4. Mom had 2 small bags and $10. We had to leave everything behind, mom made so many sacrifices for us, to bring us here…and now my sister has grown up to be an ungrateful, selfish person…it’s so painful, we don’t even talk to her anymore…she has caused our family so much grief…it has been an exciting, agonizing and complicated journey…one that is still filled with much of uncertainty…as we’re finally after almost 20 years are getting closer to finalizing our status…

Because of living in the limbo for 20 years I have made many decisions which I would have probably otherwise wouldn’t… But who knows really what it’s supposed to and not supposed to be like…In life, you can never hold on to regrets. Ever! It carries destructive power and brings doubts. Whatever happened, happened, good, bad or ugly, everything is a life lesson.

Sure, I wish that I have had an opportunity to go to college, to experience childhood, to feel like I had the same opportunities that other kids did…but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t able to go to college because of our status….I could only work and pay taxes.

I have so many dreams! Now, that I have allowed myself to dream. For so many years I just accepted what was dealt to me, being an outcast that fell through the cracks of society because of our immigration status…I didn’t dream…just survived the best I could.

About 4 years ago I went through an intense spiritual awakening. That resulted in a creative awakening as well.  Through a lot of soul searching I created an outlet for all of my emotions to be able to cope with it all. I started painting, I didn’t know how, I just picked up paints and brushes and started. I felt a bit like driving with a blindfold, but I kept with it, searching any tutorials and instructional videos on internet, borrowing books from the library, anything that was free and I could get my hands on. I just became a sponge and wanted to absorb any knowledge about art and photography that I could.

I remember hearing the words ringing in my ears: “Out of nowhere, out of nothing – a way will be made!” I guess that’s how I feel, I am self-made, everything I have I have worked hard for, anything I’ve become is the result of many at times painful life lessons. You can create your life the way you want it to! But it’s not for the weaklings, it takes a lot of determination and hard work. But most of all, you have to have hope, even if you have to create it out of thin air, and you have to allow yourself to dream! I believe in many things but most of all, I believe in myself!

I believe my art and photography will set me free. Free to create the life that I am meant to have, not the one I was dealt.  

It is my life’s mission to manifest my dreams. Doing what I am passionate about, doing what makes me feel most alive!

This dream is what’s keeping me strong and keeps me going. I know this is what I am meant to do! And I will get there, no matter how long it takes!

I hope to look back at this life’s journey and say that it was all worth it…………………..

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

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I am fascinated with arches, tunnels, cave openings and anything that suggest going through darkness towards the light. Why? I came up with a title for a body of work that is called: “Light at the End of the Tunnel” which symbolizes my own life experience. Everyone on Earth has a different life experience, yet, we’re all able to relate on some levels. Overcoming struggles, obstacles, our own demons and self-made limitations. It takes courage to walk through the darkness, sometimes when you can’t even see the light, just with sheer hope alone, knowing that the light will be there. 

I think it’s important to have hope and to have dreams. And no matter what to never stop moving towards something, new goal, interest or just finding peace within. 

Art definitely became my outlet and my light at the end of the tunnel. I needed that to resurrect the hope within me for better future and better me. 

I like dark topics and I am not afraid to go there, but I also believe that it’s my own personal mission as an artist, to always have a positive presence and to convey feelings of optimism and hope.