Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thought Swirls

Re-examine all that you have been told.....dismiss that which insults your soul.
~Walt Whitman
I saw this (somewhat paraphrased) quote by Walt Whitman on one of local artist Panhandle Slim's fabulous paintings yesterday and I was stopped in my tracks. I feel as though that is what I've been doing for years. I have learned so much growing up - especially in school - that was not helpful, plain wrong and often even harmful and now I'm trying to unlearn it. Boy, is that ever hard!!
There are rare days when those old voices are quiet and I can go about being myself and then other days when all I hear are those old tapes playing in my head. I KNOW they are not true, but I still can't shut them up for good. Do you know what I'm talking about?
I was a "good girl," mostly obedient and trying to please those in charge. I've come to the conclusion that obedient children will have it so much harder later in life. I wish I had been rebellious. That I had questioned what I was being told as "the truth" and that I had spoken up for myself! Instead I was a silent receiver of anything and everything. That said, I always knew my own personal truth, but I learned to hide it and hide it well. It's still hard for me to let it out, to show my true colors, especially around those who have known me all my life.
Those old tapes - those familiar voices that only exist in my head anymore, those comments that were made on the fly by someone, long forgotten by them, but forever remembered and internalized by me - I know they lie to me, but a little part of me always wonders if they aren't true after all. They compare me to others (never favorably), they question my value as a human, they criticize my body (oh, do they ever criticize my body - that's going to be a whole other blog post), they make me think that no matter what, it's never enough and never ever good enough.
By now those voices of people from days past have become my own voice in the present and I find it hard to sort out what is really me and what was simply dumped on me. When I got older, I did realize that those adults around me were mostly clueless when it came to life, but those messages were already in my brain, eating away at my self-confidence, making me doubt myself every step of the way.
I watch people who are confident in who they are, who are freely themselves no matter how weird, who love themselves ... and I wonder what that would feel like.  I wonder if I'll ever get there.
I will have family visiting in a few weeks and I am so excited about that. But that nagging part of myself is wondering if I'll be "perfect" enough. Will I fall short of expectations? Stupid, right? I know, but still...
A dear friend of mine is writing a book on perfectionism and we've had some great conversations. I realize that much of my perfectionism was birthed in Kindergarten and elementary school. My teachers had such an impact on me - and not a good one. I learned to do everything just so, to follow the rules, not to question, to be quiet and to always color inside the lines. That's how I've lived most of my life!
I think my way of painting is helping me undo a lot of that early damage! Instead of coloring inside the lines I paint with brilliant colors mixing and flowing and overlapping. No lines. Much fluidity. Nothing predictable. A beautiful mess. And the animal spirits that appear on my canvases are helping me heal as I connect with them, helping me on my journey to uncover my true self.
Speaking of animal spirits, some of my greatest teachers are right here! Our pets are such wonderful examples for enjoying life, accepting what is right now, relaxing, loving and being playful. I think I'll cuddle Winslow for a while and then go play with color...

I wish for you a beautiful Wednesday and leave you with much love and appreciation!

P.S. I should add (as pointed out by my sister, a most gifted elementary school teacher and beloved by her students) that I wasn't talking about teachers in general, just about the four I had in kindergarten and elementary school. They were of a different era and lessons were taught so differently than they are today... 


  1. Liebe Silke,

    besten Dank für deinen Post.
    Er schenkt viel Freude.

    Alles Liebe

  2. Oh yes, I've had to "deprogram" myself three times in my life. Once to get rid of all the socialization BS about what it means to be a female in our society, once to break free of Christian BS, and once to deprogram myself from homophobic BS about being a lesbian. It takes time and persistence, but once the deprogramming is complete, you will feel great! And free. It's worth the effort, believe me. Don't give up.

  3. maybe because i'm a counselor, but i think you are ready to soar. the burglar alarms that go off are not because of anything in the present, but your mind can't tell the difference. counseling, neurofeedback, other supports may be a way to hold on to that 'aha, that's why!'.

    your art these days is spectacular. i mean it.

    i appreciate your honesty always


  4. Those teachers in your past you should feel sorry for because they were raised in an environment that didn't allow them to color outside the lines. You, on the other hand are no longer in that environment and you not only color outside of the lines, you use your intellect to find your way to new truths. I have been around much longer than you and I can tell you that you will reach a point where all of your new freedoms will come together and outshine the old thoughts. You may never get rid of those thoughts, but they will mean less and less and you will be able to walk away from them when they appear. My favorite saying is "I don't do perfect" and I do not feel bad about it. I do the best I can and I am satisfied with that ... though I am forever challenging myseld to make my best better, it is not because I am trying to please anyone else. You are smart and talented, Silke ... you will get where you want to be. It is a life process ... :)

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  5. (Re: Teachers) Any group of dedicated individuals, can have its "bad apples." Simple logic.

    My wish for you, is that you will fully allow yourself, to be yourself. With no more, of that old... "Am I good enough, etc.?"

    Come on Dear, isn't it time? To leave the things of childhood and growing up, behind?

    And to let those who "knew you then," just take it or leave it. You aren't about to fit into any of their molds, any more.

    Isn't it time...?


  6. Like from Star Trek, you need to go where Silke has never gone before!! :-)
    I am wishing you the freedom to be yourself. I can see your art changing as time goes by, and it is exciting!

  7. Great post Silke! Thanks for so honestly sharing your feelings with us. You probably know how much I can relate to how you feel. I am struggling with that these days as well. I am glad that you have your art to help heal you and it is so much fun to watch you let go and blossom!! xoxo

  8. Painting with freedom is such a transforming process of how we see ourselves and the world. I can say this and feel it to be true at this time because I'm almost at the end of a month long e-course with Flora Bowley. It's been such a journey for all of us through such turbulent emotions along the way but it's amazing how the act of painting with trust and intuition can impact on all the corners of our lives. I agree with the comments above, your art is blooming! Jess xx

  9. As you can tell I am catching up on your blog! This is the second post that made me cry and I am NOT one to cry but it hit home with me. Yes those old school teachers were terrible...and some damaged me too. Why did we believe them, especially when they would counteract the good my mother taught me. When friends would ask how I got everything done so well I told them not to envy me because inside I never felt good enough! It took an illness to relinquish the perfectionism...thank goodness!!It was then I dared to put paint to paper. I often wonder why it takes so long to truly know ourselves!! I heard it said true freedom is not caring what others think and say about you!

    Hugs Giggles