Are you good enough?

There's a question that I've heard asked more times today than ever before: Am I good enough? 

This question got me thinking about why this is a growing concern right now–why are their more people today struggling with the fear that who they are, what they do, and how it all looks, might not be good enough?

When did everyone stop believing in themselves? When did everyone start comparing themselves to people who are nothing like them? 

I have a thoery.

I believe we've become so attached to the way we look and how much people "like" us online that if we don't get any likes, comments, or followers that means we're not good enough. We're not successful. We're not as good as everyone else so that must mean we're not worthy. And if we don't have X amount of followers than we'll never be successful. 

Basically, we're ranking our self-worth based on algorythyms and images of people we've never met. 

I've learned this the hard way. I've found myself getting triggered when I would see another artist painting art that looked like mine, or another artist who is doing something I wished I had done first. I, too, have studied Instagram feeds to locate some sort of formula that would amount to their success so then I could follow that formula and create my own success. I have invested more time than I'd like to admit on growing my following. 

I don't blame myself. I don't blame you either. We've all done it because at one point in our lives we were told to "fake it till we make it" or "find someone else who is doing what you want to do then learn from them" and because we've had it cycled through our brain so many times that "more is better".  

I believe we've all become observers and consumers instead of cultivators. We're watching everyone have their impressive little lives on social media, when in reality, thier life's (and our own) are far from what we see in those beautifully curated squares. We're paralized by consuming their lives (their stories, their successes, their beauty) that we stop cultivating our own. 

But the thing is, Instagram is not our real lives. Our self-worth, our success, our lives were never meant to be reliant on social media or other people's judgement. Who we are, what we do, how we do it, the happiness we cultivate, the love we share and beauty we experience–in it's truest form–can only be found offline.

I know you've read similar articles before (like the one I'm writing right now) but have you actually taken a step back from Instagram to get in touch with yourself? Can you actually say (and believe wholeheartedly) that you are good enough? That what you do does matter–your voice, your beauty, your love, your art, your story, your imperfections, your everything, matters?

I have a feeling you're reading this because you might need the extra nudge to take a break from the noise in order to cultivate what matters most like writing your story, sending a card, visiting with your neighbor, going for a hike, cooking a meal for someone in need, calling your mom, reflecting on the day, sqeezing your loved ones extra tight for another few moments.

Whatever this article inspires you to do–do it now before you unconciously click through the apps on your phone and allow inspiration to deflate you once again. Better yet, delete the apps right now. You can always reinstall them when you're ready to jump back in (that's what I do). I encourage you to actively create the life you want to live by going and living it! 

Lastly, I know I'm not sitting next to you in real-life to say this to you personally, but I want you to know that I believe in you. I know that you're good enough. And I know you have everything you need right in front of you.  

Top 3 things / April 20th

My husband and I often reflect on our days, after a long day of work or parenting, by asking each other what our top 3 things were of the day. I'd like to share those things with you here every so often. So here's my top 3 for today:

1. Watching Noah get so excited about going to the zoo. The first thing he said when he woke up is "see Evan. Go to zoo?" (Evan was a friend we went to the zoo with)

2. Fitting into a pair of shorts that I havent fit into for a few years.

3. Making an amazing meal that was healthy, fresh, organic and delicious! It was blackened wild-caught salmon served on a bed of local green, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and honey, garnished with a few avocado slices. Then I made myself some chocolate mousse made from avocados, maple syrup, coconut oil, cocoa, and vanilla extract. Food aside, the feeling I had after I took the first bite of salmon was so rewarding. I felt like I was "me" again. I was taking the time to make healthy meals that nourished me. I was taking the steps to make better choices about my body and what goes init. This might sound small but this is something I've lost touch with the past several years. I've made a lot of food decisions based on my emotions, greif, anxiety. So it's nice to be back to a place where I don't feel so sad, lost, stuck or anxious. I feel in control and ready to keep feeling this way every day. Also, I've cut out dairy, sugar and caffeine from my diet, which is worth mentioning. Oh, and Elijah has only been waking up twice each night too (rather than 3-4x), so that's helping me feel more rested, finally. 

Pistachios

I remember going to dad’s work around the corner from our home. There was a gum ball machine in the reception area stuffed full of pistachios.

That was my first time trying pistachios. My fingers would be stained red from the shells.

I’m not quite sure why I was at my dad’s work that day. Where was my mom? Was she working?

I remember sunshine beaming through the open garage door, which I could see from where I sat, waiting for dad.

The receptionist was the garage owner’s daughter. There were 3 or 4 of them. They were all so pretty and nice.

Across the street from the garage trailers were neatly lined on a patch of grass facing the road. I believe this was their way of storing them while also advertising them. Adjacent from that patch of grass was the bar that my parents met in.

She was a bartender, he a patron. She was 25, he was 20. She was a mother of 3 and recently widowed, he was fresh out of college. They married in a courtroom.

My mom said she proposed to him. Their reception was at my grandparents house (dad’s parents)—just a few houses down from the garage.

I remember that day. Eating cake. Playing in the creek. Drinking soda from a can. Playing with my uncle—the one that’s only 2 years older than me. At that time I was about 4 or 5 years old.

9/11

This morning I woke up from a dream. In the dream a large burning light came soaring down from the sky and hit the earth. The earth shakes and a loud, almost deafening noise followed.

I knew in that moment it was the end. 

I was in the dining room of the house I grew up with my oldest sister Mandie to my left and my niece Ruby to my right. I competed with the noise and shouted to my family I loved them. I wanted–I needed–them to know I loved them. 

Moments later we rushed out of our house and into the streets where we knew there were other children who needed help. When we got to closest house there were a few children outside crying from confusion and fear. We did our best to console them, gathered them and kept moving. 

Then I woke up. 

I looked over at my peacefully sleeping husband and thanked God I was alive. And thought that if I knew the world was going to end, would I live my life differently? Would I change something about myself or how I spend my time? Am I doing what I was put on this earth to do? 

When I realized what the date was today, I knew I had to share my dream with you. Most of the time when I recall 9/11 I'm in disbelief that something so tragic, so heartbreaking, so scary actually happened. But in the world we live in today with so much evil, there really is no saying what could happen next. So be sure that what you're doing right now is worth it. Make sure your loved ones know you love them. Make sure that if today was your last day on earth, you're happy, you did your best and you have no regrets, because you never know when today will be your last.

I wrote this story years ago. In my quest to start assembling my book, I will be posting old entries like this one. Then soon, I will begin to put this puzzle (my life/my book) together.  

Look up

The ceiling needs attention just like I did. 

Now that I have the ritual of bathing each night after the boys are in bed, and writing while I soak, I suppose it’s time to share the love and repair our ceiling.  

I can see a crack that’s opened like a wound with brittle edges and a mysterious core.  

Freckles of mold. I should turn the fan on every time I shower, but I don’t. The loud humming disrupts the small pleasure of a shower. 

I should’ve painted the ceiling years ago when we painted the bathroom just before Noah was born. But I didn’t. The idea of painting it felt completely unnecessary at the time. 

In a way, the ceiling is a reflection of my carelessness. That same carelessness that had me in survival mode without any self-care rituals. With a loss of self. I was neglected and falling part.

I’ve cut corners and I’ve lacked discipline. Both of which I’m trying to get better at.  

I wonder what it would feel like to have the bathroom completely finished—tiles framed, ceiling painted, cupboards organized, everything always in a state of clean?  

Co-sleeping

I stayed up too late. I need to be quiet when I walk into the room. I need to keep the flashlight on my phone partially covered with my fingertip to see. Don't step on that creaky floorboard. Keep the handle of the doors turned as it shuts so it doesn’t making that awful loud sound. Turn the white noise machine down so I can actually sleep. Lay on the opposite side of the bed to write that idea down on my phone so that the blue light doesn’t wake him up. Don’t use scented products during bedtime wash to make sure he doesn’t get a whif when I slide into bed. Don’t allow the comforter to create a breeze as I pull it over my body. Don’t toss and turn. Put your phone down. Close your eyes. Get to sleep. He’ll be awake before you know it.

Self-care

To be honest, I had no idea what self-care really meant to and for me until a few months ago when I chose to pause my art business to focus primarily on caring for my two children.

I can now say that self-care, for me, is much much more than a pedicure and a face mask.

It’s knowing what your body needs and making it a priority. It’s asking for help when you need it. It’s saying no to commitments when I already have way too much on my plate. It’s creating boundaries between work, family, and friends.

It’s creating anchors that ground me and give me stability when I feel like I'm in survival mode.

It’s building in rituals of self-care that make me feel good, allow me to reflect, provide solitude, and encourage self-growth and peace. Which, ultimately, helps me and everyone around me.

5K

Today I ran the same 5K that mom and I ran 4 years ago–the same month her symptoms began.

Although I was definitely in better shape 4 years ago, and had Mom to motivate and push me through, it was awesome completing this goal today!

I’m too tired to extrapolate on this but I wanted to make sure I wrote about it before the day was over. 

The first time I almost drowned

I almost drowned, twice.  

The first time I was under 10 years old. I wagered with myself how deep I could swim in the cloudy lake. I had to know if I could make it to the bottom. 

My siblings surrounded me yet we’re focused on their own swimming quest.  

My parents watched from the boat—the one we washed and waxed in preparation for the weekend lake-getaways.  

I began my journey to the depths of the lake with each inch of water getting increasingly colder the deeper I reached. 

By the time my fingers brushed the sandy bottom of the earth (I did it!) I had a rush of panic fill my body like a balloon because my body had run out of air. I rushed to the top of the water feeling like I could explode into a white light at any moment. 

Then I found air.  

I gasped, filling every corner of my lungs with plump, cool, fresh, life-giving air.  

I can’t remember if anyone noticed that I almost drowned. I was too freaked out to make a scene. I was also the kind of kid that kept things easy for my parents. 

 

The story of the second time I drowned will have to wait another day. Right now, it’s time for me to go to bed and get some rest for my 5K run.  

Stretchy

I packed mostly dresses and tights. These were the only things that were stretchy enough to accomodate my postpartum baby fat and nursing my 9 month old son. I'm certain I looked pregnant to people. I didn't care. I tried to look pretty. Feel pretty. 

All I wanted was more sleep and for my mom to get better. But I didn't get either.  

I also packed a black dress, again, just in case this time was going to be it. And it was. 

Bedroom door

I was there when you had your second miscarriage. I was a sunny day. Nick was running errands. But you weren't alone. I was there and I witnessed how painful it was. 

Since that day euclyptus hangs from me. The same euclyptus from your mother's funeral bouquet. 

I remember when you first moved in and set up a tripod in the bedroom. You and Nick held each other and smiled while the camera captured a few moments. That was before the miscarraige and the births of Noah and Elijah. 

Now I hold silence for the baby to sleep while you and Nick unwind from the day or when Noah runs from room to room. 

I'm kept closed most of the day but when I'm open I enjoy the human touch and watching each of you walk back and forth past me. 

I know there are several versions of me throughout the home but I feel I protect the bext room in the house. 

I wrote the above as a writing exercise from a workbook I’m using to help me write my book. The workbook is by Beth Kephart, titled “Tell the Truth. Make it Matter.”. It’s funny, like Beth mentions in the workbook, how writing in the voice of something that is not me actually forces me from the shadows. More exercises and writing to come... 

Pencil

I’ve never really had a home but most of us don’t. We float around from home to home, being used and lost every few months.  

When I was younger I looked my best. Never dull, never chewed on, never taken for granted.  

Now my age shows. I have scratches from falling, but marks from deep thoughts just before my head hits he paper.  

My first and only sharpen of my life was made by a knife. My point appears faceted like a cut diamond, rather than smooth and pointy like a golf tee.  

I hear that my eraser can harden over time, leaving marks instead of removing them. I hope I take care of myself well enough that that never happens. 

I’m happy to be where I am. I feel it’s where I’m supposed to be. But I sure do miss my brothers and sisters. I wonder how they’re doing?  

I wrote the above as a writing exercise from a workbook I’m using to help me write my book. The workbook is by Beth Kephart, titled “Tell the Truth. Make it Matter.”. It’s funny, like Beth mentions in the workbook, how writing in the voice of something that is not me actually forces me from the shadows. More exercises and writing to come... 

 

Home sick

I never liked school. To get out of going one morning, I whined and cried to convince my mother I was sick. 

The second I knew I had her, I laid it on thick. She openly contemplated that maybe I contracted an eye cold. I secretly disagreed, knowing she was wrong and I was perfectly healthy.  

My brother and sisters were running out the door to catch the bus when I started my act. 

I’m not sure why I was so dead set on staying home from school that particular day.  

But what I do know is that that day I had the couch to myself, the television tuned into MTV and my mom’s undivided love.

Maybe that’s why I felt the need to stay home that day. Not because I was sick, but because I needed that time alone with my mother. 

Lasagna

I remember the first time you taught me how to make your lasagna. I was around 13 years old. It was in our old blue house—the one that caught on fire. You showed me how to boil the noodles, lay them on wax paper to cool. Then how to cook the ground beef, put a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan, swirl it around to cover the bottom, then add the first layer of noodles. On top of those went the meat, the cheese, the sauce, then repeat until ingredients were gone. Your secret ingredient—that made the casserole soupy (a trait we all loved)—was cottage cheese instead of ricotta.

You didn’t cook much. Most of our dinners were prepared by a company named Schwans. They delivered frozen meals every month, which was always clearly marked on the calendar. You were quite busy with work and running us kids around back then. If you weren’t able to cook, we just assembled a meal with the packaged food in the fridge or pantry.  When you did have something you cooked [mostly] from scratch, it was good, and I was interested to know the recipe. Except meatloaf. I never liked that. Pork chops too. They were always so dry. But I don’t blame you, I know from personal experience how hard it is to maintain moisture in pork chops. 

I don’t know how you did it, mom. 4 kids, who all played sports after school, you worked all day, dad worked day and night. You were the one who I remember being around the most, which tells me that you had the duty of caring for us on your plate more than dad did. You must’ve struggled and felt like you never had time for yourself. Maybe, and I think I might be right, you lost yourself, because, how could you really retain who you are when you had us to care for through those circumstances?

I wish I had become a parent sooner so that I would have realized these things about being a mom, and your experience with being a mom, before you passed away. I imagine what it would be like to talk with you about this. The struggles of early motherhood. The challenges of disciplining children. The hardships that create wedges in marriages, relationships, children. I feel like you’d understand better than most.

Speaking of food—one of my fondest memories of food with you is when we would bake cakes for a birthday party and have leftover frosting. You would then take that frosting and make saltine-frosting sandwiches. There was usually only enough leftover for a few of them. So we each got one or shared one. My favorite was chocolate frosting sandwiches. I can’t wait to make them for my sons. 

In Utero Pregnancy Series

22_Weeks_Styled_MeredithCBullock Back in January when I found out I was pregnant, I thought about how I wanted to document each week. The idea of bump photos did not excite me. Naturally, my first thought was to paint or create some sort of artwork.

I knew I wanted this artwork to be a bit different, something more ethereal; like the delicate love, skin and beauty of a baby. At times, I found I turned to darker colors because I was feeling worried or concerned, and other times very light and washy colors to reflect how happy and relieved I was.

I'm a few weeks behind, but each time I sit down to paint I try to tap into the emotion I had during that week. Each painting is painted with acrylic paint on 18x24" watercolor paper. I still have several weeks to go, but so far, here's what the collection looks like:

To see more behind-the-scenes of this series and to see more of what I'm working on, follow me on instagram and visit my shop.

Lately : 05

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It's been a while since I've written here and it's because I sometimes don't know what I'm going to write about. Back a year ago, my daily thoughts used to include ideas for business growth, marketing, what I'd blog about, and building my business as a designer. So writing a was kind of easy for me and essential to my business.

These days it doesn't come as easy. I no longer have the head space to plan out an entire blog post or compose a newsletter just off a single idea because my thoughts and my priorities have shifted dramatically. My main focus is painting, my baby and my mom.

ONE

Painting | Since launching my new artwork, I've sold several of my original pieces and have been commissioned to paint some lovely pieces. I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed and so grateful for all of the support and encouragement I've received.

I started a new series of paintings called In Utero. This series has a washy, ethereal vibe and a painting for each week of pregnancy, starting at week 13. See more here.

As I look forward to the next 4-1/2 months before our baby arrives, I'm brainstorming and making plans to grow my painting career as much as I can. Here are just a few of many things I have on my to-do list:

  • design and order postcards and send to galleries, previous clients and fans
  • consider wholesale sales
  • book art show
  • prep for art show at Holley Maher's Shop Launch Party
  • set up painting classes
  • curate a group art show, find a space, promote, etc
  • order prints of work
  • photograph artwork with real-life vignettes
TWO

Baby! | When I'm not daydreaming about what it will be like to be a mother, to raise a child far from my family, what the nursery will look like, and what our baby boy will be like, I find myself worrying about the baby. With my history of 2 miscarriages, I sometimes can't help that my mind goes there. I wonder if I didn't have the miscarriages if I'd worry like this. How about you - did you worry when you were pregnant?

So far, it's been an incredible pregnancy. The first trimester was a little rough, but mostly I've learned how to deal with the tiredness and queasiness with lots of naps.

Yesterday we had our 20 week checkup and ultrasound and found out we're having a boy! Honestly, we were very surprised because we were certain it was going to be a girl. But now the idea of boy is all I can think about. And regardless of the gender, we're just to grateful that the baby is healthy and growing big! Y'all should see my belly - it's growing like crazy!

THREE

My mom | About 2 months ago my mom was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It's been almost a year since the symptoms began and the hunt for what was causing her weakness, inability to eat certain foods and declining health. A year ago, just before the symptoms began, she ran a 5K with me here in Nashville. It was such a fun thing to do together. I remember saying to her "we're almost there, I see the finish line" then we turned the corner and realized that we were only halfway!  I remember how proud I was of her too. We went out to breakfast and treated ourselves for such a feat!

Today, she can't walk unassisted. She needs help with several daily tasks and her ability to talk is rapidly declining. To say my thoughts are with her is an understatement. I think about her all the time and can't go a day without calling her.

They say that this disease can slow down and even plateau for a while. We are hoping and praying this will happen for her. ALS is something I know so little about, please feel free to share any advice or thoughts below in the comments.

So, what have you been up to lately?

New Paintings & Big News!

New_Paintings
The day I realized I longed – I needed – to paint again, was the day I challenged myself to paint at least 1 hour each week. With my schedule packed with loads of design projects, it wasn't easy to find the time. But I made the time and found Fridays to be the best for me, coining #FridayPaintday as the name of my personal challenge.The challenge began in August of 2014 and since then I've accumulated dozens of paintings and rediscovered my calling, my innate desire, my what-I-was-put-on-this-earth-to-do-realization that painting was what I needed to do.

After only a few short months, I didn't feel like I was on a challenge any more, I felt like I was back on track, back on my path. Realizing painting was what I was going to pursue came with a mound of fears "who's actually going to buy my paintings?", "can I make a living painting?", "what will my husband think about me shifting my career, again?", "will anyone like what I create?"....

I tossed and turned for weeks scared to admit it to myself, to my husband and to everyone else that I had to follow this calling. Because I knew it meant so much change and hard work. But I kept looking at the paintings on my wall, paintings I had created years ago when I was painting and I was less fearful and jaded, and the paintings I had created in the past months, and just I knew I couldn't wait any longer. I had to follow my heart and face my fears - not just because I owed it to myself, but also because we had just found out we were pregnant (!!).

I confessed everything to my husband – and hearing myself say it out loud – I felt immediate relief and a sense of calm wash over me. I was exactly where I needed to be.

So here I am today, excited to share with you what I've created. I'd love for you to go and take a look around. You'll see paintings that date as far back as the beginning of the challenge and some as new as last week. You'll also see a few of my new series dedicated to each week of my pregnancy. These paintings have more of a simple, calm, ethereal feel and are created with watered down acrylic paint on watercolor paper. They begin at 13 weeks and will continue till the end of my pregnancy.

When I was asked by Craft Your Life Collective why I paint, I answered:

"Painting and creating art comes from my desire to express myself and to somehow capture and render the emotions and beauty I experience. It also pushes me against insecurities and boundaries that limit my imagination. Each day I paint I feel more whole and exactly where I'm supposed to be."

Let me know what you think by sending me an email or by going to my instagram and saying hello. If you see something you like or are interesting in a custom piece of artwork, let me know. Read more about my new decision and new energy here.

Desktop Art / Painting No.13

Painting No.13 Desktop Art Yesterday I celebrated my birthday by going for a hike, then to the art museum, then out to dinner. It was such an amazing day! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and here's a new desktop art download for your computers or phones. Enjoy!

Painting No. 13 Download

Psst...Find this same painting here as iPhone cases, pillows and more!

Abstract art iPhone case and pillow by Meredith C Bullock