Sunday, August 2, 2015

Celebrating 5 Years as an Ex Smoker

Spirit Guides and Angels

Celebrating 5 years today as an ex-smoker.

Looking to quit? Tell yourself it will be easy instead of hard because your mind believes what you tell it. I wholeheartedly believe this because for me it was easy. I quit cold turkey and never experienced any cravings or withdrawals. Notable factors surrounding my quitting included drinking a ton of water and sweating profusely the few days prior which likely helped with withdrawal of the toxins from my system. I also really wanted to quit and towards the end, was choosing to be very conscious of every action- from the horrible taste, to the way it burned my throat on each inhale.

My habit was to light up each morning when I woke. That morning, August 2nd 2010, I took out a cigarette and looked at it and said to myself, "I could light this, or I could go for a walk." I chose to go for a walk. When I returned, I said, "I could smoke this now, or I could just be done with it." And that was that.

Changing a habit means changing your behavior. What if you make yourself get up at 3:00am to smoke? Would you like it as much? What if you made yourself walk backwards around the block every time you lit up? This might sound silly, but just see what happens when you shift the habits surrounding your habits.

Can I tell you about the elephant that used to live on my chest? Within just a few weeks of quitting, I noticed how much easier if was to walk up a big hill by my house. I said that it felt like there used to be an elephant sitting on my chest that had finally got up and left.

It is sometimes common to gain weight when people quit smoking. My weight was stable for a year after I quit. I began to gain weight after a year and then within a year and a half after that, was at my heaviest. I know that I was stress eating a very poor diet and quite sedentary. Being peri-menopausal for an eternity probably wasn't helping.

In October of 2012 I began taking a few yoga classes here and there. In June of 2013 I cut almost all refined sugar and refined flour from my diet and began to focus on eating more fruits, veg, and whole grains. In 2014 I set a goal to do yoga once a week. I finished the year having done it between 1-3 times a week. In 2015 I set a goal of twice a week, and with yoga teacher training, have surpassed that.

The last time I was on a scale, I was down roughly 35 pounds from my heaviest. It could be a little more than that right now. I've gone from barely fitting in 2XL clothes to L and XL. The inches lost through yoga have been quite dramatic.

I can honestly say that at 44 and at my heaviest, I had literally and completely given up. I would look in the mirror at my naked body and think to myself, "I guess this is just going to be how it is forever." I moved like an old person. Lacking body awareness, when walking, my foot didn't always go where my mind wanted me to place it.

One of the key factors in deciding to try yoga was seeing a 71 year old woman yogi move like a 40 year old. I thought to myself, "There must be something to it if she can still move with such ease." Thankfully, I was right.

I'm writing all this to let you know that you have choice. That you can change. That you aren't alone. That you have the power to do it. That sometimes it will be challenging but that the benefits will greatly outweigh any temporary discomforts.

I do believe that change is easiest when you really want it. Do you want it? Yes? Then now is the time.

With much love,
Stephanie Smith 08/02/15

Monday, June 29, 2015

I'm Still Here

New Blue Mandala Painting

Growing, shifting, changing, I am still here.

New Blue Mandala Painting

Monday, March 2, 2015

FAQ: How do you decide what you are going to paint?

Untitled work in progress

When someone recently asked me, "How do you decide what you are going to paint?"  I realized that I hadn't really ever thought much about it. The simple answer, is intuition.

Untitled work in progress

When I make the decision to show up, (to be creative) I'll always feel a pull towards one thing or another. That thing could be "gesso a bunch of canvases" or "draw this outline" or "make a piece based on tonal variation" or "work on drawing the figure". As the results of these efforts as well as the creative process itself is often pleasing to me, (sometimes eliciting a much needed emotional release of some sort) I've come to trust this way of working. This means often working on many pieces at a time - though if I have to complete something for an exhibition, I am able to focus my efforts as needed.

Untitled work in progress

If the question is based on design, I'd say that I work in a spontaneous, yet informed manner. I've drawn and painted literally thousands of mandalas over the years and from those studies, I believe that I have developed an individual artistic language. Certain shapes, forms and colors will resonate more than others and I feel an intuitive pull to repeat them. (I suppose this is one way an individual artist develops their style.) I also spend a fair amount of time looking at art and design (modern: late 1880s through the 1960s, and also primitive mark making from a variety of cultures and wisdom traditions) and allow myself to play with any individual elements as they inspire me.

Untitled work in progress

If the question is about what to paint first or next within a specific design, as in, why am I working on one area of a piece over another, I'll often work on what I "see" first. Sometimes that means sitting and staring at a piece until I understand what I need to do, or else it means taking risks, (and painting over them if it doesn't work out) or it could mean taking a photo of a piece and test painting it on my iPad before committing paint to canvas.

Untitled work in progress

Untitled work in progress

The center of this piece will be bright red- but first, I paint a few coats of red mixed with white to make the semi transparent red POP ovet top of the black gesso. PS: This piece will be hung on a diagonal when complete.
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