Stinking Thinking

Some of you may remember from my book, “Turning Blue to Blue: How God Used Art to Lift My Depression”, that I have watched and learned from some of the saddest reality shows. Well, I came upon another lesson recently.
The show follows morbidly obese people for a year after their weight loss surgery. In the season finale, a woman believed to be 800 pounds was featured. They were not able to weight her initially due to timing and health concerns.

Her background story was that she had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint by her boyfriend after trying to end their relationship. He managed to escape after killing 2 police officers who had come to rescue her. She continued to fear for her life and hid in her home for years. Food became her comfort. Now she is in her early 40s and wants to change her life.

Due to the severity of her situation, surgery is immediately performed on her. Usually the doctor asks patients to lose 50 or so pounds first to see how serious they are and what kind of family support they have. After surgery it is usually advised to get up and walk as soon as possible. But this patient refused to even try. She would tell the physical therapists at the hospital to come back later. She was busy on her laptop. That went on for several months. Eventually, the doctor sent her home. Despite family that seemed supportive, she continued to refuse to try to walk for 10 months. Finally, at a family member’s request, the doctor came to her home and coaxed her into allowing the paramedics to help her stand. They showed her standing twice in a row for about 5 seconds each. Afterwards she smiled and seemed so relieved. She said she hadn’t believed her legs could hold her. That’s why she wouldn’t try.

Now I realize this is “reality” TV. It was edited in such a way to make it a compelling story. It ended on a hopeful note that now she would continue the hard work to regain her mobility. However, the lesson for me was powerful.

I’ve been watching that show for years and have seen the miraculous physical and emotional breakthroughs patients have had in their first 12 months. But because this woman didn’t believe she could stand, she shut herself down from trying or even getting more help. Many of the patients see a therapist and I certainly think that would have been beneficial for her. So in effect, 11 months were wasted. At 600 – 800 lbs, every day is precious and proven professionals offering help is a godsend.

I thought about myself and some other people close to me. How long have we been refusing to “stand”, because we don’t believe we can, when all the while we have access to everything we need to not just walk but run? What we believe about ourselves and our situations is so powerful. We just can’t allow stinking thinking to hold us back any longer.

Everyday I’m working on freeing my mind. At some points in the day I may need to recite a scripture or sing myself a song. My meds continue to help and so does my art. Through inspirational words on my Facebook page, my writing workshop, my art workshops or talking with me one on one, I hope to encourage those I can touch to free themselves from self-doubt, self-hate, perfectionism, anger and fear.

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Three reasons why I’m not trying to sell you my art

3 ladiesYeah, so here are three reasons I’m not trying to sell you my art:

1) No one has ever sold me any art. I have enjoyed viewing and buying art for the last 12 years. I have purchased several pieces for enjoyment purposes. I was out browsing, usually for something else and a piece would catch my eye and my heart. I would buy it on the spot. Only once have I bought an “investment” piece.  But I didn’t buy it for the investment possibilities. Proof of that is I spent lavishly on the framing and the next person to own it won’t care at all, beyond that the LE was well protected.

2) Original art is not a 2014 car. No one needs to explain anything to you about my art when you are looking at it. The title might make you smile. The measurements might help you figure where you are gonna put it, but that information usually comes with/near the art. No one needs to convince you that the acrylic paint used is the coolest new color and your neighbors will be jealous. (Although they very well might be. Just sayin’.)

The story of how my art was birthed out of direct instruction from God to draw, and that without any training and little confidence in my abilities, I launched My Blue is Blue is encouraging or inspiring to some. It may cause you to take a second look at a piece. But it won’t make you buy it.

3) The folks who happily spend $49.99 on a two by three foot reproduction of abstract art are not my customers. I have nothing against those folks. Mass reproduction and distribution have made it very easy for everyone to afford eye catching pieces. I have nothing against the art or the companies that are churning the stuff out. I hope the artists are being properly compensated, but I suspect all those talented, unknown artists somewhere in China are not being paid fairly.

I’ve never wanted to run with the crowd. I never wanted art that I had seen or might see on someone else’s walls. And even though I didn’t know that for what I was willing to spend, I could have had original art, I chose unusual pieces that spoke to me as a woman and as a person of color. I chose pieces that made me smile or added to my sense of peace.

I’m an artist. That’s how I earn my living now. I paint almost daily as part of my continuing therapy. I have produced a lot of art. Almost all of it is for sale. If you see something that grabs you, don’t let price stand in the way. If you’d like something completely unique, I’d love to create it. However, I’m never gonna try to sell you something.

Guest Post from Dr. Angela Hargrow

Tough Love

Tough love is a term that is often used when parents treats their children in ways that some might call harsh, with the sole intent to help them in the long run. The use of tough love has been scrutinized by many as nothing more than reasons to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive towards kids who are already suffering. I believe we can use tough love with kids who have mental illnesses. This form of tough love means loving them enough to set tighter boundaries and allowing them to experience natural consequences. When our children are mean or act poorly with others who then reject them, we have to love them enough to not only let them feel the pain of that rejection but to talk with them about how their behaviors puts others off. When they don’t do their homework and we are stressed out by arguing with them, communicating with their teachers, and frustrated by keeping up with their assignments, then we have to be tough enough to let them live with the consequences of their actions, even if it’s a failing grade. Life’s experiences will begin to help us motivate them to understand their own illnesses and to work with us to help them not only manage their symptoms but also to manage their complete lives.

Tough love means not always avoiding the tantrums, tears, and rages. It means holding tight the boundaries that not only we have set but those set by society because our children will have to live by those boundaries someday without us. Tough love means we stop making so many adjustments to keep them happy because we feel bad that their friends didn’t call or they missed out on a school trip because of their behavior. And yes, it means letting them fail a grade or even letting them leave your house when they reach a certain age. Sure, it will be hard to watch them falter, fall, and sometimes fail.  With our guidance life can be a great teacher if we use its experiences to teach our children. It will be tough, but we have to love them enough to help them succeed by not holding their hands and feelings so afraid for them. We have to be tough enough and love them enough to let them go so they can stand on their own two feet.

http://ahargrow.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/tough-love/

Angela Hargrow is a licensed psychologist with over 15 years of experience. Not only does she have a child who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder but also she has worked extensively with parents of children who have a variety of mental illnesses. She has used her experiences as a parent and as a psychologist to help families understand their child/teen’s disorder and to cope with the stressful impact that the disorder has on not only the child but the entire family. Used with permission

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My first display- part 1

Avoiding pigeon-holes

Back in November of last year I was walking through our local library. I noticed original art of a surprisingly ethnic type, on display. There were some rappers, a black Jesus and other pieces. They were well done, just seemingly out-of-place. But it hit me, why shouldn’t my art be in a display case too?

I went to the information desk to find out who was in charge of the showcases. I was directed upstairs to a large office with lots of…books…everywhere. As I waited for the nimble office dweller, I thought about my art. Sometimes it feels as if African-American artists are required to do “ethnic art.” As I look online and in galleries for black artists, I see tribal influenced works, urban scenes, musical and erotic pieces. They are often bold, exaggerated or colorful.

I’m not sure my stuff really fits into any of those categories. Actually, if you didn’t know I was African-American, would my art tell you? Should it? Well, I’ve always seen my race and culture as just two of the factors that define me, not even the most important. Really the strongest visual theme in my art seems to be my identity as a women, and my concern for other women.

Display at Lewisville Public LibraryMarch 2013

Display at Lewisville Public Library
March 2013

Hey, perhaps there are lots of artists of color that I haven’t discovered, simply because their work is not ethnic in a traditional sense. Well, not liking to be pigeon-holed myself, I’ll try not to have preconceived expectations for artists of color. Instead,

I can simply enjoy the diversity their experiences bring to the canvas or potter’s wheel.