Gestalt: A Re-Entry

2019-06-19 07.38.01

It’s been maybe a decade since I last wrote here. I used to write about my artwork, my creative process for all sorts of paintings. I bared the soul of my healing journey separately and through art therapy, expression.

I would like to re-enter this loop in the world, this discussion that may mostly be one-sided, as I begin again to clear my mind of things that bring me joy, despair, anger, grief, etc. There’s a lot in me to let out, in everybody. Everyone’s dealing with something, even several things in their own lives. I always try to remember that.

My friend Kristen Chapman Gibbons, community artist and storyteller beyond belief, came to visit what she calls an oasis in our home. I love that she feels that way about our home and our time. I try to listen best I can, as well as relate my experiences or thoughts here and there, to let her know I see her, that I can understand.

She suggested as she was heading out, that I restart my old blog, but this time share my stories, all my stories, details about each day. See, I do things in the community. I’m also a community artist. I’m limited by disabilities, though. It’s not possible to work full time, because I would need so much time off, personal time, doctor appointments, and healing. I do a lot of processing during waking hours, and I guess through dreams overnight. It’s my responsibility to manage myself, to have a moral code, to do my best each day. I’m not able to anything on a regular basis, but I can do things in short, intense spurts of activity here and there.

I can’t predict when I’m able to have those productive periods though. I’m not able to do everything I want to do, because of severe mental illness and chronic pain conditions. I have fibromyalgia since 2013, and early onset osteoarthritis. I’ve had eight surgeries: both knees, my neck, my lower back twice, both hands, one shoulder, a thyroglossal duct cyst of all things. Two jaw surgeries for temporo mandibular joint disfunction. I’m on federal disability because of things that happened to me growing up. I have PTSD, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder. I’m also OCD. Constantly monitoring everything I do to be the best of my ability. I abhor any imperfections in myself. I try to be perfect all the time. So I’m also setting my bar for personal best higher with each accomplishment. That’s just an example of how the world is for me inside.

My counselor yesterday, who I’ve known since 2015 here in Nashville, TN, said what I’m doing now to reframe my healing every day is a lot of progress.

I have a dark underworld, which I think is literally my subconscious, which used to terrify me. I would hear insults, negativity, criticism, as well as goth, dark, morbid thoughts. Hard to make sense of, in one sense, to try to understand it, but on another level, knowing now that I’m older, how I came to be this way.

Lately, as in the past two weeks, still coming to terms with what it means to me to literally have multiple personalities, with advice from my counselor, to tell each alter, We escaped, we got away from all of them, we’re getting better now. It has helped so much for all of the alters, to begin to understand that is is safe now. Safety is a joke I tell myself, is a line from a poem of mine. But now I’m beginning to feel a bit safer, not in less pain, but less crisis. Each of the alters expressed recently that they are in a lot of pain even though I escaped. I have expressed, through talking and listening to their experiences, that I’m here to talk about it, and help any way I can.

I spoke to the dark world recently, realizing its indifference, absolute depression, on the edge of remembering suicide attempts and suicidality for most of my life, and asked it, Is there Light down there? No. Is there love down there? Maybe. I also can feel that dark space, and everyone who feels safe down there, where they hide, glad and responsive, now that we are able to talk. I’m not afraid of it anymore. It is beginning to share its pain with me. Monday I asked, Can you stand up from down there? Yes, but it will take time.

I realized over this past weekend, in writing an email to my counselor as a break from this constant processing that I do, that perhaps my groundedness is deep down in that darkest space that holds the majority of all the hurt. That if I reach back to that little girl, however old she is, that gave up on life and joy, love, an end to pain, a long time ago — that I’ll find a place to be, or stand up, from down there.

I used to want to be Beth, in Little Women, because she dies, and everyone loves her so much. She is so stoic, so beautiful, loving, sweet. I wanted to be all of that, and tragically die young, so everyone would love me, too. Even as a little girl, I wanted to die. I told my family I wanted to be Beth, there was concern, we talked about it, but nothing changed ultimately, with the dark things, secret things, that I couldn’t tell anyone about to save me from them, that made me want escape from them, death, mercy at last — continued.

I understand how I dissociate most of the time. How even in our garden, I’m not totally at peace, not totally able to see or feel the beauty of Nature around me. Nature is the guiding Light in my life, showing me so much over time. Perfect Imperfect, beautiful, abundant, giving, wise Nature. Endangered world. It affects me on a deep level that we are in such a crisis for our planet. I sit in the garden and can hardly stand it. I see the beauty, noting growth and blooms, health of each beloved plant we are growing here. There is some joy, but not all of it is accepted by this darker world inside me.

It’s like, no matter the positives or negatives of my life in the present, all the alters deep down are not moved, touched, impressed or able to let go of the weight they each carry. I understand that. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m deeply depressed and angry. I put on a pleasant face to the world, because that is the respect I give them. There is no need to present what I’m really going through and ruin their day, unless they are a dear and trusted friend. But honestly, deep down, nothing touches that blue. Eeyore was an early friend of mine through Winnie the Pooh. I so related to him.

That darker side cannot be placated for now. All the abuse that happened growing up, ritual abuse from people I loved, analyzed, watched every move, tried to please with everything I did early on, later rejection in college — all that pain, grief and loss reside down there in an underground safe place. No matter whether I’m putting on a laugh or smiling face, even if I seem calm and at peace, I literally am the opposite deep down.

I’m constantly in the process of trying to release old pain. It’s my responsibility to reach out to it, listen to it, try to help it understand, get over, survive, stop being in flight or fight, and help express, get out, all the various sources of pain inside.

Above all of that, in my upper body and mind, there is hope, there is constant activity, analyzing, turning over of all the possible things I can think about, trying to figure out the puzzle of myself, how to heal, the puzzle of the world, how to save. I literally feel like it’s my responsibility to help save the world somehow. I’m very worried right now about the corruption and dishonesty of the Senate and this Administration right now. It is entirely destructive of so many beliefs I have. Compassionate beliefs lead me to severe anxiety, worries about the world, all its systems, ecosystems, wild and tame. Human and plant and animal. We have to turn the ship around now.

My days are unpredictable. To have a night of sleep, usually with nightmares, waking frequently to get into a comfortable position, or sleeping the night through rarely, I wake up in physical pain, stiffness that I have to work out with stretching, movement, resting, and yoga. I don’t know what it will be like from day, whether I’ll get anything done at all, a few things, or one of those intense few hours of intense activity.

It’s also possible several times a week to have to lose the whole day to rest. I get overwhelmed and fatigued, exhausted very easily. I’ll need a day frequently through the week to rest and process what just happened to make me so tired or achey. Each day is a pain du jour, I like to say, ankles, knees, shoulders, spine, hips, hands, neck, headaches, overall tenderness and achiness, all of which is so hard to cope with.

I’m a huge fan of managing myself as much as I can. I really have to, especially since things are so unpredictable each day. I’ve learned over the years about neuroplasticity, how you can literally change yourself, with practice over time. I have had so many internal thought and behavioral loops to dissect and unravel for decades now, and am still sorting through old patterns of unhealthy stuff I learned to do to to cope, or was taught to be, instead of who I was, early on.

I’m trying to reach back to what was good of me growing up, my potential as a person, and make a link to the good in me now. I can now, recently, begin to say, I was a good kid. I am still not able to accept that as an adult, since growing up into now, that I am a good person. I think that’s a bit fascinating to watch progress. I literally have internal resistance with the thought that I’m a good person. Achievements, whether it be washing dishes or doing anything productive for myself, my husband, or the community — don’t stick. Instead of being able to affirm what I’ve done on a complete and grounded level of self esteem, it breaks like the surface of so much water falling away from the upper levels of my awareness. Depression and pain resurface in response.

I’m trying to balance the past feelings with present feelings, to sort that out as it occurs to me, as it happens. Alters are not able to control when they come up to remind me of something awful that happened to us growing up. For now, no matter what I’m experiencing in the present, there is part of me that wants to be alone, curled up, resting, not having to interact, the dark depression, the anger, are always there in a huge block of me deep down.

So it’s good we’re making progress with me interacting with all that is down there. We shall see how I unfold. Right?

This first re-entry blog entry is almost like coming out for me as a mentally ill person, even though I shared a lot of my daily struggles and creative process in the earlier blog writings. There is a stigma with mental illness, even inside me, judging me constantly inside, but especially for those who either don’t understand it or don’t want to, as if we were crazy people who would hurt them, weirdos, or whatever. Someone they can’t cope with.

I believe in telling people I trust what has happened to me growing up, and how it affects me every day. They begin to understand what life is like for me, who I am, what I can contribute, what I need to get better, to cope every day.

I’m on a lot of meds for my age, at 54. I literally am bedridden and not able to cope, without my medications. I resisted going on the mental health medications in 1998 but finally accepted the help from them. It takes tweaking over the years, as new meds come out, and really none are designed for what my symptoms are, only what seems to have reduced symptoms for others. I do accept the help, and my responsibility to stay on them and do my pill box with all its combinations for each pill, once a week.

So now I’m wondering, now that I’ve written all of this, whether it was helpful, interesting, informative, changed your perspective about the challenges of mental illness or not. That’s up to you, really.

I think we all need to reflect, investigate and be responsible for all of our own issues. Without that self-reflection, we can become hard to deal with, interact with, love, understand why we act the way we do, seemingly out of control. When you deal with your own shit, honestly, your life improves. You can see a way out of things you need to change about your life to be a better person, the person you were born to be, the best you can be. You can reach your potential, your dreams, contentment with yourself and others, your life, the world, be at peace, happy.

What is this about Gestalt? I wrote a line many years ago in my uber-long ode to Summer, Summer Thicket, the line, melodic gestalt. This month I’ve been trying to come up with a new name for the poetry open mic I host every month. As I read that line, the word gestalt popped out for me. My thought writing melodic gestalt was that walking through or being in Nature, with crickets and cicadas, wild life of all kinds all over the place, that cacophony and abundance of life cycles simultaneously, was kind of like the world, human society,also. It was musical, and moving in multiple directions, in this case positively, growing.

I looked it up on the amazing instant encyclopedia that is the internet, and found multiple meanings. In German, form or shape. In Gestalt Psychology, however, it became challenging and intriguing. I scanned that part, seeing that it was grouping of the ways people perceive things. Literally shapes and things visually into our mind and system, but also other types of perceptions.

I wondered then, how do poets perceive the world? Any differently from anyone else? So this became a curious name for the open mic. It has multiple levels of meaning to explore, but what came to me was a vision of folks coming together to share their issues and stories via poetry and spoken word. It is a safe space, for first timers and veterans, to express their deepest selves. That is my hope, with the renaming.

For this blog entry, it means opening up the various levels and types of perceptions I have about myself, others, Nature and the world beyond and right here in my community. I do work in brief spurts, nudging folks in the community to begin to collaborate, supporting and encouraging expression of individual, community and worldwide truths. On my level, it helps me understand how to organize myself a bit better.

I have innumerable alters, due the the years’ long ritual abuse by multiple trusted people. Things are grouped down deep by experience, abuser, feelings of emotions, and reactions to repeated pain by the body. I’m not often in my body, our home, with my husband, the garden, others, as much as I want to be connected and in the present. I dissociate mostly. Who lives here? not recognizing my own or Rob’s things, the garden, like I’m not really here. I am a grouping of perceptions and experiences, feelings, thoughts, core spirit of love.

For me gestalt is analyzing my perceptions all the way through until I’ve cleaned it of pain. To be at peace with myself, so I can better be present with the world and people I love. That is the goal. I can’t feel it or see it, but somewhere above the persistent darkness of my past experiences, I have immense hope. Not sure how that works, but that’s how it is right now.

I do hope that anything I’ve coped with or experienced might be helpful to others in their journey to heal and be the best they can be.

Kristen told me to tell you a few more bits of my life, so I will close with those.

We were sitting outside under the Mama Magnolia tree, where many birds and their young find homes and shelter year-long. Listening to crickets, seeing flowers and grasses blowing in the wind.

I confided to her that I’ve been conversing with one or more female Cardinals this Summer. We will make eye contact, I will speak to them, Pretty Bird, Pretty Bird, Aren’t you pretty? I will make a ticking or clucking sound with my mouth that gets their attention in a nice way that makes them curious. They fluff their feathers and begin to preen, shake, when I say, Are you a good Mama? Yes you are. Ha. Really, they come closer and chirp in different ways, cocking their head and making eye contact.

I blink often so they aren’t threatened. They sit on the top of the arbor or the nearby tree and chirp. We have a few minutes of this communication and hanging out in peace. Eventually they fly off to catch a bug or so. But they return, and we continue. This is somewhat the case with enormous, vivid, starkly crying Blue Jays, Goldfinches, Robins. I do my best to make them feel welcome. Mockingbirds, though, are so territorial, they and I keep our distance. I interact a little at the start, then look away from them altogether so they can do their thing. I’ve had too many attack me over the years while walking, to mess with them very much.

Another aspect of my life Kristen wanted me to share, after being in the garden with me, is how I will wave to the folks in each car going by. Sometimes they wave back. Sometimes they don’t want to, or don’t understand. About half or more will wave back, especially when they are out on the weekend or holidays. Folks are for the large part, so sweet and nice here, that as I’m out gardening, I’ll say, Good morning, or wave to passersby on foot. They will say Good morning, and I’ll ask them how their day is going. They will tell me and ask me. I’ll say, Have a blessed day, so will they, and we’ve each brightened the other’s day. I love doing that so much.

My husband Rob and I are restoring a Victorian built in 1884. It has a good-sized lot, maybe a 1/3 of an acre. We are gardening geeks, for sure, and look forward to this time of year ALL WINTER. Ha. We are the white minority in our neighborhood. We live a few blocks from Napier and Sudekum public housing. We are on redevelopment committees along with community residents, public housing residents, community partners in metro government, police, churches, social services, the local library and health service.

The vision is to replace the public housing in phases, maximizing the space for as many units they can build. Green spaces, water park, senior residences, one stop shop social services, smart street practices, future transit stop preparation, urban gardening linked to the excellent local after school program. It’s comprehensive, extensive redesign of our neighborhood over the next 10-15 years.

I tell you that because affordable housing shortages and gentrification, loss of historic communities and properties, are like some sort of Wild West land grab in our country right now. I’m working to help preserve the history in our neighborhood, much of which dates back to 1900 or earlier. The property values under these historic homes built so soon following the Civil War, have skyrocketed. Even one of the local churches is in the same place as it was around 1887. I see some folks might see my husband and I as gentrifying our community. We are doing our best to be great neighbors to everyone, to help be part of the transformation of the community, where the quality of life for everyone will be vastly improved.

I’m rambling and writing more than I thought I would. I do hope the read is of interest to folks out there, though. It actually does feel good to just express myself on all these subjects that are so meaningful to me.

Now for a few graphics, since I’m a multimedia artist. It’s all art therapy for my disabilities, but it’s fun to share.

2019-07-21 13.55.22

This is the view when I’m sitting at our dining table. I harvest and dry fresh Italian herbs from the garden for use over the Winter. This is where I do that preparation. I also make huge bowls of potpourri from hydrangea blossoms, and all the mints and lemon balm we have grown. That’s this year’s mix, anyway. πŸ™‚ For Christmas, I give it away to friends. Fun!

2019-07-14 08.58.59

This is the view of the developing garden beds to the right of the house culminating the in the driveway in the foreground. Where the large planters are, there is an arbor with a white and a red rose growing up from either side. We plan to create a wooden wall where you see the chain link fence, for more privacy and seclusion. We will still have the open space of the wrought iron fence in the background. We have lots of plans to finish everything, from the garden to the house. We have lots of projects and have to focus and refocus on priorities a lot. That is also home ownership.

2019-07-08 08.36.23

This is what we call our Cantaloupe daylily, because we don’t know its real name. Actually, although we have been to nurseries, gone to specialty plant shows, garden shows, and free plant swap meets twice a year, we’ve bought and chosen very little in the garden. We’ve continuously been surprised to find we own this or that lily, iris, foxglove, etc. This is a delight actually, and a little challenge if they’ve been planted in the wrong place. We are recording and watching as the plants grow and bloom, to see if we like where things are. We plan to move a lot of plants around next Spring, when everything is so full of life, and has much less shock after being divided or transplanted.

Rob collects oxalis and iris. I collect day lilies and echinacea or coneflower. Together we collect old fashioned, blowsy roses. We are learning how to care for the roses, as well as the needs of each plant, as we go along. Gardening is a wonderful cardio activity for us as we get older, ha, and also brings us so much joy. We planted tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, basil and other Italian herbs this year. Hoping to harvest and freeze enough basil to make at least one batch of pesto this year.

2019-04-15 11.55.46 HDR

This is our left side of the house, and how things are developing. There are a large camellia, several hydrangeas, iris, day lilies, a white Veronica, dark cannas that bloom orange, moonflowers, geranium, and a smaller camellia at the end of the wall toward the street. We have three Lady of Shallot, peach roses climbing the wall toward the street. In the foreground is a temporary sitting area to take a break from the exertion of gardening and the heat. The garden bed in the foreground is for herbs and vegetables. The trash you see is what we collect as often as we can. Here, trash blows all over the place, in the street, down the sidewalks, into everyone’s yards. We deal.

2019-04-27 10.52.11 HDR

This is the front right corner of the lot, where the hundred year old (at least) Mama Magnolia tree is. We have lots of iris, some oak leaf hydrangea, and plants that prefer the shade under here. Largely an experiment, rather than a plan. We are still figuring it out. Immediately before this photo, in the foreground, is where we are able to sit for long periods of time under the tree, in the SHADE. This is priceless. We just try to breathe it in and figure out how we got here. We are still learning to accept it all. We are blessed, we know, but adjusting to a new and foreign positive, in a way.

2019-06-09 10.51.59

When we are sitting in the chairs that you can’t see in the foreground, this is our view facing our project, our home, the house. We can also watch the blooms sway, in some cases smell their fragrances, see how the palette of the rainbow colors that are all welcome here, changes over the months. St. Francis of Assisi is beside the front porch, with his bird in hand and head bowed to it. The shrub is overtaking him from behind, a sort of jungle.

We decided these are our golden years. We are able to care for each other and improve the house and garden, sit and enjoy our time together whenever we can.

I think Kristen had a great idea this morning to encourage me to tell some of my stories to you today. It’s been a catharsis to write what I’m thinking and feeling out into the world, the open, like this. Thank you for listening to me, and I hope to write again soon. Feel free to comment, positively if possible. Happy to share information if that is helpful to anyone going through a hard time, if I can relate.

Take care, and talk soon.

Amy πŸ™‚

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Update on Rainforest Painting, Screenplay

2017-09-10 11.39.24

I am painting again today, for the first time in many days. I’ve been recovering, and still am actually, from a bad cold. Boo. So there has been much resting and emotional processing going on. That’s what I do a lot anyway. If you can tell, I’m also dealing with a bit of depression. Well. So.

Anyway, I am working on my attitude. I am so blessed! I am thinking so much about all the survivors of so many natural disasters right now. All over the world. There is so much going on. You’d think global warming was real. Damn. But we need to care for the world, in a triage manner, while we also plan ahead to develop solutions to care for our planet better. For if the solar eclipse did nothing, it reminded us we live on a freaking planet, after all.

I am able to paint today, and as you can see, since the last time I blogged, have here and there been up to fleshing out the details of the painting I’ve been creating. There are still many layers to go. Today I focuses on extending the green line from the middle, throughout the painting, as I had completed the river flowing through the center some time ago.

Now, before I turn to a completely different mix of colors, more shrouded in brown and gray, for the sections above that are in the light of the Sun, I thought I would stop and show you where I am in the painting.

We have the house windows all open today, and the breezes are blowing through. It is so very fresh, and music is willowing through as well, the Alternative Mix: Bowie, Wilco, Arctic Monkeys, Prince, Emiliana Torrini, Harry Manx, it makes me happy that the eclectic mix is all together. And in cases like Modest Mouse, it’s the only way I can manage the nerves to get through the album. I love Modest Mouse, in small doses, is all. Brilliant.

Speaking of brilliant, Regina Spektor just came on. OMG. I can listen to her all day. OMG. She makes me very happy, due to her spirit, vocalized. Well, I guess you could say that, almost about anyone, but I feel very happy listening to her.

Okay. I ramble. I shouldn’t. I should say that I recently attained something marvelous! My first screenplay, Rebekah’s Closet, loosely based on my first novel of the same name, a few days ago won into the Official Selection for the Oaxaca Film Festival 8. Sadly, a few days, later, a very serious earthquake hit, followed by a tsunami. It’s just horrible. So, I have mixed feelings. Here is a link you can follow to help the survivors: UNICEF.

I know so many things are happening right now. Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katya. It’s incredibly overwhelming. But I thought I would send the link, all the same.

So before the earthquake, when I found out, even when I found out, I was still in such a depression. That is the nature of true depression, yes? I mean, here I was telling myself, I wanted all my life, since I was a kid, to be a writer. I now feel like I’m a writer. The affirmation. I have it. But all I could do was stare into space. Now, granted, I was still sick with this miserable cold in my head and chest. So there’s that to consider.

But still. That shows you what kind of work it is to create my perspective anew pretty much all day. I have to carve it out of the marble of depression. Old stuff. Old Gothic stuff. The past is ever present. My self esteem. I make myself every day. Out of neuroplastic adjustments to my brain. Literally rethinking my way out of old ways of seeing myself.

So I parse and I parse, through everything that is offered, thrown up all day in my mind, heart, soul. I’m not complaining. It’s literally what I do. It’s my responsibility. I’m on it full-time. It’s exhausting, and at times overwhelming.

I am blessed. My screenplay won an award. Maybe it can be made into a film one day, during my lifetime. I’m writing up my second script now, and it is much more adventurous and fun. Intriguing, even.

Now, while the light and energy is good, I’m back to painting on this canvas. My next one, my plan is, will be a complete abstract, a color study, going into Autumn, and Winter. All the colors, it can be. I’m looking forward to that very freedom.



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Painting is a Blessing

Photo Aug 18, 2 29 42 PMIt is a blessing to know anything about painting at this point. I started painting in watercolor in 1993. I didn’t know anything, and painted in cloud forms on a tiny notepad with a tiny brush, from an even tinier palette a dear friend gave me.

Now I’m painting cloud form reflections in water and it is an emotional process. Things come and go, and I’m aware of how to keep a neat brush after I’ve gotten it messy due to angrily dabbing it around in the paint for a while. Of exactly how much paint I need for what I want to paint next, how much is on the brush, how much time I have with it on the canvas. How to mix paints, how much to mix for how much canvas. I guess now that it’s 2017 and I’m painting in acrylic and acrylic glazing liquid with a Masterson’s palette (actually, three of them), etc. that makes me an old timer. Still self taught, though.

Yesterday, I was self-deprecating and I regret it. It’s part of having multiple personalities. I was thinking from a different perspective, in a meeting, and had a different part of my ability set on at the time. That’s the way it is, but I said something rather down about the artist side of me. “I don’t always think from an artist’s perspective,” I said. But I am very much an artist. I was thinking more from a policy/education perspective at the time, but isn’t that also allowed to be creative? It’s confusing.

Today, I hear a familiar voice telling me, I don’t feel well. I know this, and respond. I know, I’m sorry you don’t feel well. And flashbacks come while I’m painting. Feelings of pain, sorrow, grief, sheer pain, emotionally and physically. I let it out with sighs, and sometimes I whisper to myself, both to the alters and to instruct the painting, to make sure it still goes forward.

Even this is hard. You can’t force creativity. Today I’m up enough to paint, and I am blessed, but even so.

I’m grateful that I have the ability to express myself in any way, am free to do so. That I have any experience at this point is a good thing, and I am practicing my craft, as it is healing me, art therapy.

Here is how the current painting of a Rainforest from a photograph I found on the internet, is looking at the moment, many more layers to come:

Photo Aug 18, 2 29 30 PM

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Oh My, But It’s Been a Long Time …

Right? Since September of 2016, since I blogged. Well, I haven’t felt like it, I suppose, and I FB and Tweet and now Instagram, right? and I say, right? all the time? omg.

Silly me, for real. But I did want to let you know of an important development psychologically that happened week before last. I was just telling a dear friend about it while we were hiking in the Summer rain, at Radnor Lake. It was so perfect and refreshing, and invigorating. Just like healing can be. So.

With multiple personalities, they don’t go away on me. Just like jumping when I hear just about any noise at all, the PTSD doesn’t go away, either.

The personalities in the past come up and have like, tapped me on the shoulder, with intense feelings and memories, and I’ve let them in. I’ve tried various ways of responding to them, and other alters (personalities) will come up and respond as well, positively, negatively, etc.

So it’s a lot to manage, and respond to, etc. I’ve likened it to managing a playroom, since so many of the alters are children, literally, stuck in a wartime of abuse, in the 1960s or 70s. They can’t help it, so I’ve been largely compassionate, and … well, managing them. Observing everything to the best of my ability, trying not to get engaged overly in the past, but trying to let the feelings come up and out, let things go as much as possible.

That has worked well for like, ten years or more. As I’ve figured that out. But then something clicked the other day. I realized how much I and a few Motherly alters were trying to control things all the time, and how control wasn’t necessarily what I needed and/or wanted anymore/all the time. There are a series of masks that go on all the time that are associated with that level of incredible control, politeness at all times, no really everything’s all right, smiling when things hurt. Not being real. Learned behaviors that are very very old and cultural. Politeness is a virtue that goes very deep. Sharing your pain, it all depends. Mostly, it’s better to be stoic at all times.

But this was a different approach. More like being at home among my selves at all times. They didn’t have to come up to me, because I went down to them, down in the dark where I’ve made them stay down, where they’ve had to live, all this time. It was almost a political shift, personally. Internally. To allow them to be, for me to be with them, finally. To accept. To be among them.

Honestly, it’s literally like sharing space in a crowded room. Not much room at all, and some are irritable. Most are hurting about one thing or another, and I don’t blame them. There is a lot to process still. Who am I? A host of some sort. ? It gets confusing when I ask that question, and it makes me laugh.

I am fragments, pieces. but I do okay. I’m learning how to be with my selves on a day to day basis, lately. it’s much more challenging, but I’m more more capable of feeling things that are real. I might tell you I just had a flashback, or a memory, or an old feeling that doesn’t relate to now, because I can’t change those things about me. But the good news is that what is happening in my now is good.

I’m happy at home, I have a garden, and am in a healthy relationship. I’m learning about love, healing, art therapy and volunteering. I’m beginning to work a little to see if I can handle it, and it seems to be okay, but it’s the unknown, so it’s scary. I feel like I’m ready to fly from the nest, but I’m unsure.

This is the nature of disability. I’m living with it. I’m trying to heal and get beyond my limitations, but I’m not really sure how it works. I will need coaching and support going forward, a healthy support network. I am blessed to be where I am, and wanted to share with you all, that I am in a good place, a safe place. πŸ™‚

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Fragments 5 Finitti and 6 Begun …


It’s been since March since I blogged … hopefully you all will forgive my silence. I’m sure you will. Alas. I haven’t painted since May, but I did finish Fragments 5 above. As of yet, several new paintings in the Fragments Series are not up on the website. Not sure why, but I’m happy to be painting again, as of this morning.


I sketched the shapes above in May, and have been studying what to do with the background since then. I also have been studying Georgia O’Keeffe, and a book of tribal art with clays and items from Nature for decorating the body.

Color and shapes will come. In particular, I’ve attached to an oil painting by O’Keeffe with the subject of the rings that trees make as they grow. I’ve always been fascinated by those. I did attempt to sketch some behind this group of shapes, but declined. Instead, I decided to paint this first few layers of Mars Black (with a bit of Acrylic Glazing Liquid for fluidity). After I get these layers down, I’ll try to sketch with chalk or something. We shall see.

The color of the group of shapes will ultimately be a glowing lime of my own mixing. However, these can be very sheer in practice, and disappointing. So my thought is to play with a few blue under layers first, like ? Cobalt Blue, or a mix of one. Then build up from there. I will test on paper or something first.

The shapes are … mysterious even to me. I must admit. I drew them from my subconscious, meaning, they were a response to a study over a few days, in answer to the question of … roughly … what does my core look like? what survived from birth through all the abuse growing up? It’s not a straight line, but it is like a spine of sorts, able to take … trauma.

… I’ve recently decided that life is somewhat of an obstacle course. You?

So maybe that explains a bit of the mysterious nature of the way the vertebrae of my symbolic core turned out. You know the way rocks are shaped by the water as they go down the river. So, but differently. Also, the beaten dog learns to bite. A bit of that goes a long way, so there is a point. Above all, to me though, that there are crescent pieces, comforts me, that there is roundness, makes me happy. There is strength in the thickness that remains. I’m not worn to a crisp. I also seem to be able to rock, like a rocker, to balance out, with the changes. There are inherent circles, cycles, transitions, growth, evolutions, and transformations that come about from the core.

To me, on explication, it is a powerful set of shapes.

Now, why black for the background? First of all, that represents my subconscious, the place I go when I sleep.

It is also the place where all the alters/identities go when they are not up. This to me is somehow, not literally, but symbolically, where all the memories, flashbacks, etc. live. In the dark, waiting to come up on their own for whatever reason, as they do. Or to be triggered, which is very frequent.

Thirdly, and what comes to mind FIRST of all, but for some reason I’ve waited to tell you LAST, black symbolizes my major depressive disorder, or the depression that comes. It just comes. I don’t expect or not expect it anymore; when it comes, just like any other alter, I say hello, and I’m sorry you feel that way. Whereas with the alters, it is a tiny bit different actually; I say hello, I’m sorry that happened to you, depending on what they bring me.

So out of this darkness the core vertebrae is able to … float. Observe. Be. To some extent. Survive to a great extent. I would say function, or be a host, but that is not its … thing. It is more integral to existence and being and light … spirit … essential values and self … than that. Perhaps it is my soul.

If that is the case I’m reminded of a few things. As a Buddhist, the need for boundaries, but not liking the sharpness. I love nonviolence, but I agree with a strong defense against evil in the world. I may not be able to provide that defense, personally, but I am aware of the need for strong boundaries. Personally, I cannot predict what my triggers will do in a situation. I can only do my best to survive going forward.

Secondly, I remember Le Petit Prince, or The Little Prince. The dear rose with her thorns. Poor thing, right? But I do understand the need for thorns. That is somewhat of a wee joke. And kind of sad, at the same time. I understand.

There is already a lot happening in the painting, which excites me, after so many months of not painting, and serious study.

Now, I will say that I have also been seriously writing on my Rebekah’s Closet screenplay? It has been an incredibly emotional process. It is an art therapy project of the deepest kind.

I’m so glad to be back into painting again, and in a place with the screenplay where I can balance writing with visual art once more. I need the tangible stimulation of the painting, as well as the instant (or almost instant, heh, about as fast as I can paint?) gratification of seeing the artwork coming into being.

But I also need the … ? … so many levels are stimulated by the art therapy of writing the screenplay. I have no idea what to say to describe the challenge of being a writer again. Or for the first time? I’m beginning to feel like I’m becoming a writer … now. Because I’m allowing myself to be one now.






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March Update

Is it Spring or is it not? Who can really say one way or the other? with waves of warmer temperatures in blocks of four or five days? Who even knows what to wear? Ha. Not me. Layers and scarves I guess and colors are anything goes for the first time ever as the designers have blown out the flowers and traditional color palettes for Fall and Spring. For example, rust in Spring and pale pink in Fall. Butterflies in the Fall and neon brights in Spring — it’s insane. Well, isn’t it?
Not really. The world that is. I believe we have the ability to right what is wrong with our very actions, voting, writing to Congress and all. Democracy still is in our hearts and hands. The planet is still receptive to transformation and change for the better.
And I’m glad to see and feel Spring in the air and under my feet. I know that when it’s time to plant again that the time will be ripe for the soil beneath us. The Earth is so abundant, it surprises us every time, but it is as old, as old as time itself. πŸ™‚ So I’m looking forward to gardening this year, salad, beans, tomatoes, basil, flowers, etc. It’s a time of year that is so full of promise, you can see it budding around you on the very trees. The tulip trees are in bloom here, and I think I saw a cherry tree as well.
NEW! Foto Print Clothing
I’m thrilled to share with you my first clothing and scarf collection on VIDA!
This collection represents some of my best artwork from over the years and is very authentic to who I am as an artist. I’m really proud today to share this work with you.
I’m really excited to collaborate with VIDA for this collection. VIDA is a new kind of fashion ecommerce company that connects artists like me all over the world with producers to bring our work to life. For every product sold, VIDA hopes to provide the gift of literacy to the makers they work with.

I’ve made a series of industrial foto print tops and cashmere/silk scarves for you to play with …

Thank you,
Amy πŸ™‚
Three of my paintings from the Rage series,
the cover painting for Rebekah’s Closet,
and my Memoir/Novel itself,Β Rebekah’s Closet,
will be featured in:
Finding My Own Voice, Victims’ Rights Art Exhibit 2016
April 1 – 28, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, April 1, 6-9 pm
Artists & Makers Studios
11810 Parklawn Drive, Suite 210
Rockville, MD 20852
I have to say that the watercolor I was attempting at last writing, well. Well. I didn’t like how it turned out ultimately so … there you have it. Ahem. Thus and so. However I have started another sketch for another small watercolor based on an Okefenokee foto and it bodes well in sketch mode. We shall see.
Fragments 3, Acrylic on canvas, 22 x 28 x 1.5 inches, $350
That being said I have been painting in acrylic and finished another Fragments painting, the one above, which did take a lot of study and did teach me a lot as well. Hooray. I blogged about the experience if you want to read more about that.
Since then I’ve begun and almost finished another very thoughtful, deeply moving painting for me, number four in the Fragments series.
This is how it looked a while back, before I painted in the left and right fields or sections below the arms of the … person in the painting.

This is the way the painting looks now, in process. I am going for a “Chinese Mountain” and “calligraphy” roughly, effect there on the left. Oh please bear with those who truly know how to paint that way. On the right it is truly about color, transparencies and textures, which you really need to see in person. Really. Neither side is finished to my satisfaction. So, more to come on this.

The first of the three screenplay comes along, tediously but happily. It needs the Final Draft software, but I’m editing in Word still just so. I am still able to get things done in chunks and bits here and there and that is progress for now. I realize time is of the essence and I need to get this done! agh! so I’m feeling the impetus/energy of Spring upon me and wanting to get this completed soon. There are windows of time and one must act!
I have had a series of colds. Well two, that makes a series that has just been very frustrating. It’s made for a very achey artist and yogini but I’ve done my best to continue at least yoga but walks have been very few. For the time being my left hip is extremely achey with bursitis and arthritis is also going after a right hand finger knuckle making it blue and sensitive. Luckily the weather is changing and more friends want to walk in the nicer climate, so that may resolve the hip issue and overall achies for the remainder of the warmer months. That is the hope. The cold also seems to be on its way out, finally.
Like I said, I am going to be starting lots of mezclun salad seeds in the coming weeks, as well as Romaine and chard, trying to learn how this stuff works. Hee. I’ve been a vegetarian now since November of 2014. It’s great, my bloodwork and everything. So let’s see if I can grow my own food, or some of it. πŸ™‚
Well, happy Spring almost? Easter? March 27, or so I’ve heard …
Please do write me if you get a chance. I’d love to hear from you if you can.
Take care,
Amy πŸ™‚
P.S. I’m on Facebook( and Twitter (#amyjacksoncc)
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Fragments 4: Progress


Fragments 4 Sketch

I thought and studied the blank canvas before me for a very long time before sketching. I then returned to my sketchpad, making a tiny sketch, which became this large one, above.

To me it represents a helpless, tortured figure, tormented by forces on all sides. This represents to me a very old me, but also an inner me, deep down, in what I call The Pit. Many if not most of my alters or personalities “live” down there. One in particular, called Rag Doll, who was unable to do anything more during repetitive abuses, but survive, in shock, in numbness.


Fragments 4, Pink Special Mix and Raw Umber Layers

The Pink Layer is me as a vulnerable body with feelings, and as the object that I was to the abusers. The Raw Umber is my Spirit and my Spine, that survived and survives, my Strength.


Fragments 4, Red and Black Layers

The Red layers remind me of someone being hurt, being striped by a whip, by whippings, by something torturous and painful, the actual abuse. The Black layer is Night. Here is is not as ominous as it might seem, for it was a place for me to wonder, and to hide, but it was also a place where so many secrets were kept. Most of the abuse was done to me during daylight, but not all. So night was a safer place for me.

My intention is to paint clouds of black and white and charcoal to the left, and red and rust? to the right. This in in part because during the abuse by one abuser it was so traumatic I would literally pass out to the “right” or the “left”, to my child’s understanding, with the colors of black or red. Now I don’t remember which is which, but I like the unstable element of having the odd colors that way in the painting.

Part of me wanted to keep the painting pink and raw umber, because now I’m so much more calm. But this is a therapeutic process for me. These are healing paintings, descriptive, so I’m going deeper into my psyche for colors and forms.

Thank you for listening.

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Fragments 3: Finitti


This is the completed painting but I did want to show you all the layers that it took to create this. I’ve been putting on about a layer of paint every other day or, and then letting that layer dry overnight.

Black Layer:


Β I really added a lot of new dimension to the painting with this layer.

Charcoal Layer:

IMG_0085This softened the black considerably, and to me signifies a depression over the absolute death that almost stifled me a few times in the past. These are like wounds to me. But there is healing as well. They are also like nerves, muscles and synapses, pathways, routines … a journey …

IMG_0089and here is the last red layer I put on before adding the final black details and rust touch-ups here and there, which you see in the final piece.

I can hardly wait to start a new piece, along a similar vein …

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Fragments III: Beginning


First, yesterday, I sketched in rust and raw umber, mixed, with a medium round brush, from a tiny sketch I’ve had for some time. This reminds me of cells, and roots, simultaneously. That being said, the ultimate image is to be of embers, the various stages and colors of something, in this case, me, burning. Ouch. Oh well.

In order for the integrity of the structure of the bones of those lines to stay intact, I had to be super-patient, which I did not want to do, and let them dry overnight. Blast! Argh. Oh well. But I did, and found other things to do, like work on my screenplay trilogy. Alas, which was a good thing, right? Yes. All in due time.


This afternoon I began applying layers of a special mix of handmade pinks and glaze, with Β cream. Mmm. Now, I ran out fairly well after two sections, of the initial mix. An old old rule of mine is never to start a painting without a good supply of a certain mix. But in a way I’m glad I didn’t, for I couldn’t have matched the initial mix, and didn’t on the next go around, and the painting is somehow better for the difference. The depth and transparency therein. So there, me with rules and such. Hmm. Any way, I used my smaller fan brush, and made extra special careful sure not to show ANY brush strokes. That being said, I did show some texture here and there, that I did like.

Next, is to let THIS layer dry, and what comes next is a bit of a surprise, even to me. I mean, I have ideas, but I’m not sure which way to go.

I really like this template and can see playing with this idea a lot with different color schemes, as a way to explore the fragments series. Yes. Me likey, a lot. It’s working for me. Mmm. You?

My hip bursitis is really acting up. At night it wakes me up and I have to keep flipping over to get to the other hip, which hurts less, relatively, than the hip I’m laying on, which is screaming out. During the day the left one in particular hurts all the time. Walking in particular. Hmm. My muscle spasms all over, and aches all over, are nuts. I have been back on the muscle relaxants I’ve been prescribed, like one a day, and yoga, lots. Inescapably, to survive, to move. It’s so hard to get out of bed, for those reasons and depression, and for getting over a chest/sinus infection, still. I’m ordering a special “Indian Cough Syrup” from the Vitamin Shoppe online on Wednesday because it has Osha root in it, and is supposed to kill icky virus and bacteria things organically. yay.

Let’s hope that works, eh? Ha. Otherwise I’m headed back to the doctor for another z-pack? Ida know. agh.

I walked down the gravel driveway in the melting snow for a bit of much needed exercise this morning, hoping to help my back and hip and everything else in the old body, right? And to get the mail from the mailbox. What happened but some nice older man pulls up in the driveway across the way, and introduces himself? Gives me three loaves of bread, and two of rolls, saying he delivers for a local bakery and also is our house for sale he’s becoming a realtor in a week? Yes, I say, etc.

Now that is extraordinary timing. I must say. I struggle with my hands and wrists gratefully all the way up the hill. Laughing at my good fortune. Laughing at my aches and pains now.

It was worth the pain, right? The freezer is now full of bread for many weeks to come.

I’ll do some more yoga and stop complaining? And head down the hill in the morning again for today’s mail tomorrow. It’s a good routine, and seems to pay off well, in bread, if not in exercise and inspiration from Nature. Birds abound in the seeming Nature sanctuary here on the farmhouse land.



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Okefenokee Watercolor I

waterside55This is a foto of mine from years ago taken in the fall in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It is in the Waterside collection and is Waterside 55. I’ve come into a small collection of lovely ornate gold and carved wooden frames in a rather smallish size, so I’ve gotten a sheet of Fabriano heavy lb. watercolor paper. I’ve cut it into six squares and begun a series of watercolors. This is the second, the first being pure exercise and given away to my housemate, because she likes it. πŸ™‚

I’ve sketched the foto above in pencil, and have now moved on to a day’s worth of watercolor. See below, but please know this is only the beginning and I hesitate to show it to you for it is childlike, fairylike, compared to the dark creature it must become. Alas.

Many layers are forthcoming …


Now here I complete forgot that I should paint the background first. Rutro. For now with the tiniest of round brushes and the perfect amount of pigment to water on the brush, I must insert and layer in the background over time. OMG, is right, if you thought that on my behalf. Ha.


Here I feel much better about where I’m going. Yay. I painted a bit of lime over the dark bank and enjoyed it immensely. This might turn out well after all?

Wish me luck …


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