“Art is to console those who are broken by life.”
― Vincent van Gogh
Category Archives: Life Lessons
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.
As the weather was absolutely gorgeous on this past Sunday, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else other than being outside, enjoying some sunshine as the summer comes to an end.
As I was biking, making frequent stops at the places that I liked, I noticed that the church buildings were drawing me in, I wanted to study them, take photos of them and contemplate in my peaceful moments of warm sun and solitude.
I love those moments, when I just feel happy, peaceful, grateful and in touch with my mind, body and spirit. Those moments in time can occur anywhere and under various conditions. Sometimes I can be hiking alone in the park, sitting on a park bench or working on one of my paintings.
I didn’t go inside the church, but I definitely felt what I can only describe as a spiritual experience. I felt a surge of gratitude, not for anything in particular, but just to be, being alive, living in this moment. I felt connected to the whole universe and somehow a part of it all.
I think it’s important for all of us to find those moments in time, when we truly feel connected with the world around us and with our own mind, body and spirit.
Those moments can come at different times and places for everyone, some may attend church service, others may seek solitude or connection with nature.
I also think that we all need some time for ourselves, to be alone. For some people it may seem uncomfortable being alone, maybe because they’re not used to it. But I think there something special happens when you dedicate some time just to hear your own thoughts or your inner voice.
From the very young age we’re constantly being told to listen to others, to seek advice and guidance from those who are wiser, great advice of course. But there isn’t enough emphasis made on listening to your own advice, to your own inner voice.
Once in a while, we need quiet and solitude, to turn off all the interruptions that constantly pull us in so many different directions.
Especially in today’s world with constant stream of e-mails, commercials, phone calls and noise, being alone in the silence is like a therapy and needed much more than we may realize.
Some may call it prayer, some may call it meditation, I don’t really think it matters much what you may choose to identify it as, the important part is the connection with something deeper within us all. The precious connection of body, mind and spirit.
I came across this artwork and it seems to fit in perfectly with the theme I’ve been thinking about and been meaning to write about it.
Each one of us here on Earth is completely different and unique than anyone else out there. Like our fingerprint. So knowing this, how is it that we still compare ourselves to someone else or to a standard invented by someone else? With this knowledge, how is it that we still feel the need to be validated by others or we put our worth or self esteem on a scale according to what others think of us?
It seems utterly unreal…
I consider myself an independent thinker, a dreamer, an artist, a woman with a child’s heart, fighter and survivor and many, many things rolled into one. I have had an unusual life filled with many life changing lessons and occurrences.
I believe in allowing yourself to be free! To be free to choose your own path, to be as weird and unique as you want to be………I believe that this life is like a movie, where you get to be a director, a producer and a leading star. This is my story, in which I am an active participant and a writer.
Sure, we don’t pick our families, the country in which we’re born or the social and economic status in which we’re born into. That much is already have been decided for us. But at some point we all grow up and I think it’s so important to understand that when you’re coming of age. That once you grow up and move out, you have the freedom and a choice to do what you choose to do to live the way you want to live, to invent your own standards.
To me, one of the most important things for myself is to remain a life-long student, to never lose my sense of wonder, the child inside of me and to always continue evolving throughout my whole life on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
Especially on spiritual level, that’s one of the most important things to me, to become a better human being with each year of my life. We all have many sides to us, good and bad live in us side by side and it’s up to us which side we choose to embrace.
There are also many different sides and personalities that live inside each and every one of us. I find it humorous when someone so confidently says that I am this way or that way, like it’s set in stone and final.
We can be many ways. I also think a lot of it is habit, we get used to acting a certain way and after a while with continuous repetition of a certain behaviors it turns into a habit. But habits can be broken and so do certain behaviors.
I used to do that too, I still do, but because I brought an awareness to myself about doing it, I catch myself now and sometimes even manage to stop it.
I used to say that I was an introvert, incredibly shy, not a morning person, prone to depression and many other things. Sure, many of them might be true….but…… I am only those things part of the time, I am not always shy, I like being outgoing when I feel comfortable with the people I interact with, I like mornings, I just didn’t like the alarm clock and the traffic, see how untrue those statements really are.
Words are important. Being impeccable with your words is also important. Because words that you speak about yourself shape the beliefs you create about yourself.
By the way, there is a really great book about that by Don Miguel Ruiz called “The Four Agreements – A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, if you’re interested it would be well worth reading.
If during your childhood someone told you that you had a bad voice, because you might have been too little to understand that you needed to be quiet in that moment, loud and probably annoying, you carry that belief with you for most of your life. Maybe you have an incredible voice, but because someone told you that it was bad and you believed that, it might have changed your social interaction with others, maybe you don’t even like to speak, much less sing, maybe you got so shy that you speak very quietly and look down, as in your subconscious you remembered that you annoyed someone and you started to believe that no one would possibly be interested in anything you may have to say.
Words can shape your life and the life of those around you. It’s good to remember that story, so that it may help you chose your words wisely in the future.
So, be kind, let go of the judgement of yourself and others and know that you’re capable of many things you don’t even know about. You’re many things. You have many unique qualities, talents and abilities. And you can always change and develop things within yourself.
Write your own story! Don’t let others dictate or write it for you!
Art by Josh Hansen: http://joshing88.deviantart.com/art/Multi-faceted-Me-191194824
Post by Alina Skye: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alina-Skye/497309530287452