Limited or Limitless?

I have said before I am many things, one of them being an artist. 

I have made this claim on the fact I have created things, drawings, some paintings, even a terrible sculpture or two over the years. In fact, my first memories of drawing and finding a love of creating goes all the way back to when I was six years old.

The problem up until now has been how I have approached art. The how and why I create. You see I have long looked at what I could or could not do based on what I could afford. On what I wanted and not what I had at hand… it was a process of what I could do if I only had this, that, or some other thing. I never really asked myself “what I can I do with this, that, or some other thing.” I never looked at the world and saw possibility, only limitations.

I now can begin to understand the saying, “if you look only for what you want, you will never find what you need.”

I am going to share some pieces I created a few years ago. Sadly, neither I nor time have been very kind to them. As I said, I simply couldn’t see what was right before my eyes, blinded as I have been.

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Each of these was done on a piece of scrap paper, backing board actually, which I retrieved from the trash.

What I’m not very proud of is the fact I didn’t see them as “real” art.  I thought of them as doodles, play things, nothing serious. 

You see, real art was created on proper materials, using the proper tools. Not like these, on scraps and drawn with cheap mechanical pencils bought at Wal-Mart. 

I have created other pieces using Sharpie markers or Bic pens. These too I thought of as pointless, just scribbling because I couldn’t see them for what they were.

Art.

My art. Created from imagination with my hand.

Each of them are a little part of me and I just threw them away.

For a long time I have limited myself. My creativity, my imagination… my pain and pleasure. I didn’t see what was there because I was blinded by what I thought wasn’t there.

The funny thing is I have seen “found” art created by others and thought they were wonderful. I have seen paintings made from fruit juice and pretty much anything which can stain a canvas or piece of paper. I have seen soft art dolls made from scraps, and many other wonderful works, yet I thought they were things done by others. Not me.

Not me…

Why?

Why not?

What was it about me which so restricted my creativity?

The answer I’m sure is simple to see…

It was me.

 

I tell you all of this because placing limits on myself isn’t just about art. It’s about life. It’s about every day you wake up and what you think of as being possible. How can you hope to do anything, for yourself, for others, when you only see what you cannot do?

Or what you think you cannot do.

When you look around and see trash where another might find treasure?

Life, like art, is what we make it. Not what is handed to us. It is made of the wonderful and the terrible. The beautiful and the ugly. 

Of trash and treasure.

Each of us needs to learn to become artists. Maybe in paint or pencil, maybe in words or actions.

An artist is someone who can find the wondrous in the ordinary…

Learn to be an artist. 

In the spotlight: Carmen Carrera

“A little more light!”It’s an early morning photo shoot for Glamour Magazine UK. There’s a blizzard outside the window of Jack Studios in New York as the crew sets up in a flurry: Photographers meticulously adjust the lighting, makeup and hair artists arrange their bounty of brushes and stylists hang up racks upon racks of familiar names — Ralph Lauren, DSquared2, Zac Posen, Helmut Lang, Agent Provocateur, Vivienne Westwood.They’re all here for one person…

Read the rest at CNN

I’ve Been Thinking…

Yes, dangerous I know.

Most of the time when I write about the issues I am having, I seem to try to convey my emotional state more than anything. Maybe it’s because as I find myself dealing with issues, it is the emotions which come to the forefront. Which color my sight and leave a metallic taste in my mouth.

Yet I wonder how often this ends up clouding the issue.

These past few days are a good example, so let me take a moment to try and explain much of what has been bothering me. Maybe in this way my day to day life become a little clearer. After all, as far as I know, there isn’t anyone reading this blog who knows me in my day to day life out in the ‘Real World’ or if they do, they haven’t said as much to me, and so the only images you have of me outside of this space is what I write here, and truthfully, 99% of this is about what is happening on the inside.

Most days I do little or nothing to change my appearance from what it has been for the majority of my life. True, I have let my hair and nails grow. I use lip balm more than I use to, but really there isn’t much of a noticeable change. I still spend my days in jeans and sweat shirts or tee shirts depending on the weather. I wear tennis shoes more often than not, though I have to wear boots for work. When I look in the mirror I see the same reflection as always…

When I speak I hear the same voice in my head. I have made no efforts to feminize my voice.

I have adjusted the way I walk, but it more to the point where I don’t obviously walk like a man, ram rod straight with a tight, overly aggressive step.

Outside of this, I have tried on many levels to allow my thoughts to open beyond the narrow day to day view I had trudged through for so long, yet it is all too easy to fall back into those familiar, comfortable patterns. 

It is the same with my emotions. Yes, I have loosened the bonds I kept them under, to do anything else would have lead to a breakdown, yet I still find times when it is difficult to let go and just feel.  Then again, the very fact I can feel anything positive at all is a vast improvement over where I was. Too many years of nothing but negative emotions, the self hatred, disgust, loathing, and the anger… Oh, so much anger… 

Still, even here I can find myself falling back into those old, familiar ruts. It’s the path of least resistance. The sharp, bitter taste I know all too well.

You see, in so many ways, in so many things. Thoughts, actions, emotions; I often find not much has changed from what has gone before. So many days when I think,look, or listen to myself and I wonder what has changed? 

I think, often, if I went full time, this would change. It would have to wouldn’t it? To make those changes, no matter how minute, which transform me, in my own mind, from costume to reality and lead to the “new” me becoming more “real” than the old?

This is the question I cannot answer. Maybe it is the thought of being given no other choice but to change these things which attracts me to the idea. Maybe it is the thought; by maintaining so much of the trappings of my old self, I can never be anything else…

If I look in the mirror and see the past staring at me, am I really anything else?

I think I have said this before; if I could rip off this skin, like a snake or bad parlor trick, and step away as I know myself to be… I would do it in a heartbeat.

If I could step into the shower and standing under the stinging water to be transformed, I would rejoice.

Nothing is ever so simple though, is it?

There is a constant tug of war between what was and what I wish to become.

I don’t know… I really don’t. Some days are easier than others. There are times I want to get up and sing and dance like no one is watching… and then there are the other days. Days in which I want to scream until my throat is raw. To dig my nails into this skin and tear it from the bone.

Days when I just want to be me and days when I want to be nothing at all.

Maybe some day I will find my balance. A time when it really won’t matter what I look like, how I sound, what name someone addresses me with.

A day when I am truly myself.

Idea

Sometimes my thoughts and emotions take to me strange, unexpected places. The images so vivid it is as if all I need do is close my eyes and I can watch them play out like a movie on the screen.

I never know just what will trigger this, a song, a commercial. Sometimes it is a random memory, smell, or something else which brings back a time and place long lost to the past,

Today it was a song. Part 2 – June (Melancholia) by Richard P. John from his “Seasons In Flight” album.

As the music played, I closed my eyes and a scene came to me, the beginning of a movie or maybe just a video…

The camera pans across a bathroom vanity. There are various makeup products there, foundation, powders, blush, eye shadow, lipstick…

As the camera moves from left to right a hand comes into frame. It is shaking slightly as it moves downward toward a jar of liquid foundation, until an index finger finally dips into the soft brown substance held in a small, unassuming bottle.

The camera, in close up, follows the finger bearing its shimmering cargo as it moves upward to a cheek where in one swift movement it leaves a smear of color against pale skin. The contrast striking in its sudden appearance and the the jarring difference in color.

Following the Spark

I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything personal for the past several days, honestly, it’s because there really hasn’t been anything of interest happening. For me this is a good thing, though it takes some getting use to, but makes for some boring reading which is why I have been trying to find news and information which I think others might want to know. This isn’t to say my mind has been blank, quite the opposite, but I’ve mostly been listening to the quiet… To many this might seem strange, yet for me it is still a new sensation, this lack of chaotic emotions and thoughts, this feeling of being a peace in my own skin more than not. To being able to look in the mirror and see something there I like enough to smile about.

I’m not anywhere near where I would like to be of course, only waking up to find myself as the woman I so often see in my dreams would put me there and we know this some fantasy world where all of a princesses dreams come true before the last page is turned. I have a long list of things to work on ahead of me, yet I feel I am one step closer than I have ever been before.

There is also the issue of not living this life alone. I have to take the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of other into consideration. Last weekend A just wasn’t able to see me wearing my hair. She was fine with everything else, just not this one little thing. It might be because I have been correctly gendered even when I’m not thinking about it, doing this for her really didn’t bother me as much as it would have just a short time ago. Well, I did feel a little off but I know is was more about what I would have iced to have done to feel just a little more comfortable and not about how anyone else sees me. See? I still have some things to overcome.. 🙂

In any case, I think this is the happiest I have been in, oh, I don’t know… forever? The simplest things can bring a smile or those strange little critters… tears of happiness. Something I never thought I would experience.

Do you remember when I spoke of the times I sat alone in a motel room wondering if I could simply walk out the door and be accepted for myself?

I think the question has been answered… it just took a little longer than I expected.

More than anything, it took reaching a point where moving forward was less painful than living with the fear…

Fear, what a terrible thing… a vicious beast which can eat you alive and leave nothing but a shell behind… As much as all of my thoughts, hope, and dreams; the prayers, wishes, and tears have defined so much of mu life, there has also been the fear. The fear of failure, of success. Of stepping beyond the boundaries to find who I really am. Of following my heart and doing what I know, with every fiber of my being what is best for me even if it goes against what everyone else wants. 

You know, there is a saying; when you have surrendered once, the second time is easier and so is every time afterwards.

It’s true, even if the first time was so long ago you no longer remember it. It’s begins a pattern of behavior which is difficult, not impossible, but difficult to break even after you realize what your doing.

There is another saying; strength is what your left with when there is no other choice.

I have found the truth of this, when all else has been stripped away and I have been left with no choice beyond to live or die, I have found the strength to live… maybe for just one more day, but I did it. Now one day has piled one atop the other and I find nearly two years have flowed past. 

I am somewhere I never believed existed, experiencing things I never thought possible and slowly… oh so slowly, I am beginning to look a little further, to seek out not what was, but what might yet be.

To find within myself the spark of hope.

Talking To The Girl In The Mirror

I read a wonderful post today and it reminded me of something I too often forget in the hurry-scurry of every day life.

I have spoken before of being a child and having dressed for the first time, standing in front of mirror and looking to see who was looking back at me. If there is one thing I remember from then it was the feeling of finally seeing myself for the first time, not some circus mirror reflection, but me. Really and truly me. At the time the fact I didn’t have a ‘girls body’ wasn’t an issue, I thought a little work her, a little work there and I could become who and what I was suppose to be…

Ah, the innocence of the mind of a ten year old.

At the time I didn’t think it was strange to see a girl where a boy should have been. I just saw myself… male, female, neither was really an issue. Yes, I would love to see my hair longer and “down there” would be so much better if it looked like it did after getting things out of the way… still, all just minor things which would resolve themselves in time I was sure…

There was so much I didn’t couldn’t understand then. How my parents, classmates, teachers, society its self would work in concert to make me no longer feel normal, right within myself, at peace with my reflection to feeling as if everything I knew to be true was a lie. As if I couldn’t trust myself or my feelings.

I couldn’t trust the girl in mirror.

You see, it didn’t matter to them how I felt or what I saw looking back at me. I had things which labeled me a “boy” and there was an “M” on everything which identified me to the world and so I was expected to act in a certain manner, to like certain things. To be rough and tumble and love to get dirty, and fight and cuss and… and… on and on and on…

All because everyone else expected me to “be a man” to live up to some ideal which never made sense to me.

Yet not once did anyone think to talk to me…

To ask me what I wanted…

To understand how I saw myself…

To understand me.

I looked at my Father and I knew he was a man. I never gave it any thought but I knew I didn’t want to be like him. To have to shave every day, to have hair on my arms, legs, and chest… the very thought was gross.

I was ten years old and I wanted to never see myself as I saw him…

I wasn’t like him.

Yet with time I buried these thoughts and feelings. I tried to conform to what was expected of me. At some point I quit going to look in the mirror. I quit putting a towel on my head as hair. I quit dressing in anything but the clothes my parents bought for me. I quit trying on powders and perfumes. I didn’t look at my mothers makeup wishing she would teach me how to use it… or be allowed into conversations instead of being shushed out of the room to, “go play.” 

I buried everything I didn’t see or hear from the males around me. 

It was all conflict and conforming. Be one of the in crowd or be an outsider, forever alone… No one wants to be an outsider. Everyone wants to fit in… even if it never felt right. Felt as if I was killing something inside just to get along.

Day after day, conversation after conversation I changed. Not into who I was or wanted to be but into a parrot, repeating back what everyone wanted to hear until their voices became my voice and I forgot who I was.

I forgot to look for the girl in the mirror…

I tried to get into different things, manly things. Sports, physical activities, smoking, drinking… so many things…. Yet none of them ever felt right, never felt true… It was all just a act. A production and no matter how much I told myself I was fitting in… I see now I truly was still an outsider.

I said before, we can convince ourselves any lie is the truth if we try hard enough.. and wow, did I try.

I finally reached a point where the lie became the truth. When I drank enough of societies Kool-Aide I could no longer see the girl in the mirror. She was still there, I had just dirtied up the glass enough so she was reduced to a formless shadow…

Living a lie day in and day out, trying to rebuild yourself as something your not, not because it is your choice but because you have been beaten and torn down to the point you don’t know what else to do has its own cost to pay. Low self esteem, lack of confidence, depression and thoughts of suicide are just a few. There is a constant battle going on in your head between the voice inside and the ones outside. There is so much confusion and dissatisfaction with what you have become because you know, somewhere deep down inside, it is all a lie.

I do wonder, is this what a gay person feels when they have tried to live a straight life? Hiding in the closet afraid to come out into the light? Especially if you live in an oppressive home where everything you do and think and feel is labeled as bad, evil, demonic… Where you never dare breath a single breath of defiance in fear of the repercussions?

How long have others lived such lives, pretending to be something they can never really be?

For me the thoughts, emotions, hopes and dreams were never very far from the surface. There was, more than once, a moment… just a flash, of the girl waiting for me in the mirror. She knew the truth and so did I , even in those months and years when I tired to blind myself, when I refused to listen.

The problem I find now is in deprogramming myself. To be able to look past all of the outside influences to see the truth inside myself. Before I came out I battled with societies vision of who I was suppose to be. What I was suppose to like, what I was to think and feel… How many times I told myself it was okay to think these thoughts, to feel these emotions, to see myself in a way which stood in direct opposition to what I had been told. 

It was okay to be myself… even if the entire world insisted I was wrong because to do anything less was killing me.

I still fight with this. I still look in the mirror and tell myself I can’t trust myself.

The world sees me one way and if I don’t agree, it will break me. It will strip me of everything and leave me naked and alone… and no one wants to be alone in this world. The thought is terrifying. It is chilling, nauseating, and my mind wants to refuse to accept it. There is a part of me which wants to give in, to accept the lies and sink back into the obscurity of conforming. To just be like everyone else…. except, I’m not like them. I never was. To do such a thing is to reduce myself to the angry, depressed, self hating, self loathing creature I had become.

That’s not who I am, not who I want to be and thinking of becoming such is crushing.

So every day is a battle of wills, between who I was and who I dream of being. Of the world around me and of the girl looking back at me through the glass asking, “Is today the day you accept me? When you embrace me and set me free?”