Why I Don’t Share My Art

13100942_1569254576701127_193671617851906004_nEver since I was little I enjoyed coloring, sketching, painting. It was a hobby I picked up and stuck with as I grew older. Throughout my younger years in school, with the art classes and projects, I stuck out. I loved every minute in the art room and was proud to show off my latest work.

But the first time I made a real commitment to art was my freshman year of high school. I can’t imagine not taking that class now, I so wish I could again. My art teacher, one of the only two, was utterly amazing and although he could be a little blunt, he knew what he was doing. He is who pushed me to come to his class to take more art classes, asked me every year why I wasn’t back with a pencil in my hand, and why I couldn’t fit it in my schedule. If I could go back…But that doesn’t matter now.

He was my art teacher who stirred his coffee with a paintbrush and if that doesn’t say artist, then I don’t know what does. That teacher is who I went to when I had nowhere else to go, when I couldn’t stand the lunchroom any longer, and who always welcomed me. I wish I could have given him more of my time.

Now, in college, I realized that I’ve never shared any of my work with anyone–not my family, not my friends, not even my boyfriend. I keep it hidden in my portfolio, away from the world, away from criticizing eyes, and away from unimpressed minds. I’m scared to show my work, to know that it might not be good enough, to call myself an artist and to feel like an artist, but not be an artist to others.

Its funny because I can write these words, put them into a post, and let the world read it. I don’t care about what people think of my writing. I don’t think I’m a great writer, I think I’ve been given some great opportunities, but I don’t think I’m anything special. I’ve been told some pretty amazing things about my words, about my articles, about whatever, and it makes me feel good, yes, but that doesn’t mean I believe in them.

The best compliment I’ve ever gotten (and I think that any writer can get) is when I was told my writing made someone smile and frown at the same time. I could not think of a better way to tell someone I enjoyed their work. But that one opinion won’t overshadow my own. It might be because I don’t care if I’m considered a great writer or not, so I can share my thoughts with all, I can be free to say what I want, to write what I want, and to believe what I want, because it doesn’t matter to me what others think about that.

But art is different to me. I want to be great. I want to be seen as an artist. I know that I am one, and that I spend hours poring over minute details, but I’m not seen as one. And I won’t be until I share my art. I just have to find a way to do that. And I let people see my process, the bits and pieces of sketches, the canvas of paints, leading up to the end, but never the final piece. Its a matter of getting there.

I was good at what I did in those classes. I was. I might not have been the best at every type of project, but I was good at what I loved. When I handed in my work, to be judged and graded and criticized by my teacher, he based it not only off of our foundations, but how we felt about each piece. Did I like it? Did I put in my all?

But that’s the thing with art, there is always more to do. More to edit, more to draw, more to erase. It won’t ever be exactly perfect, because art isn’t. So as an artist, you have to know when you want to call it quits, when to say you’ve done all you could, and when to let go. I think, for me, this is where I have trouble. This is why I can’t share my work with others. I can’t let anyone see it, analyze it, feel it, because I don’t know if its done yet. I don’t feel it yet.

So now I’m realizing, it isn’t the end piece that I need to feel. Its the time I put in, the eraser shavings under my palm, the lead in my hand, the hair in my face, the paper under my fingertips. Thats what I need to feel. And if I can do that, then I’ll be great in my own way. Then I can share my art with the world and let it all be.

 

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Running With Asthma: Fish-Out-Of-Water

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I’m here to tell you all not to take the way your body runs for granted. The way your heart pumps blood, the way your lungs take in oxygen, the way your muscles move. I have asthma–and I know there are people out there who have much more serious disadvantages and hardships in their life–but for me it is my less serious hardship. Being a runner and having asthma is like being a jumbo shrimp. Two opposites that just don’t go together. If you cant even breathe normally how are you supposed to run and breathe? Other runners can walk out the door and not worry about the wind. Not worry about the trees and flowers. They dont worry about allergies, the pollen count, or running near the woods. They dont worry about their chest getting tight, their breaths getting cut short, or staying pretty close to home in case of an attack. They dont worry about if they want to carry an inhaler, if they have to have their phone on them in case something happens, if you have to stop and get through the attack alone. They dont worry about not being able to breathe, about being a literal fish-out-of-water, about suffocating on air. It is scary and it makes it hard to get the run in that you wanted. It makes it hard just being outside sometimes. I’m lucky mine is mostly seasonal, as having a slight asthmatic attack this morning, reminded me of that fact. I know there are those who have it much worse, but to those who don’t, do not take the way your body runs for granted or the choices you can make in life that others dont have the option of. Im so grateful about what I can do and that I can live a normal life, but not everyone can. Its just something I was reminded of this morning as I couldnt even make it a mile without not being able to get air into my lungs. 

Looking Back on My First Year

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I have to say my first year of college was nothing I had pictured. I had expected meeting a great group of friends, going out on the weekends to coffee shops and parties, and loving my school with everything I had. Of course I miss the gorgeous Colorado, the campus, and the hikes, but its not like how everyone else feels. All people have been talking about is missing their roommates and best friends from school, not wanting to ever leave, and how they can’t wait to go back. Not me. I don’t have any friends to miss, any people who changed my life, or an atmosphere I couldn’t stand to get away from. I have never been happier to come home and stay.

This past year was dreadful–the worst of my life. I struggled with homesickness, depression, anxiety attacks, and met no people I connected with. I had thought going across the country, alone and independent, was going to be nothing but good for me. It was supposed to be so life-changing. 

I didn’t want to be the cookie-cutter girl who stayed close to home like everyone expected me to, who went onto our community college with 90% of the kids from high school, and who was predictable. I just wanted to be different for once in my life. 

I totally understand its not always probable or possible money-wise or for other personal reasons to do what I did, but being “scared” or just knowing “you couldn’t” didn’t sit right with me. If you want to do it, do it.  I made the deliberate and selfish decision for myself to leave home and leave everything behind. I wanted to experience life, and experience myself, without anyone there to hold me back. And this was just my own personal choice for myself and what I believe would be best for me–this might not work for everyone else.

I don’t miss anything about college. I don’t want to go back. I don’t even know if I’ll be there the whole school year. I am applying to other schools this summer.

My freshman year was tough. It was lonely and scary and I became very unstable–mentally and emotionally. I struggled with getting out of bed some days, looking myself in the mirror, and knowing somewhere else all of my friends were living the “college life”. It hurt. I got onto a dark path in my mind, which almost affected me physically.

If it weren’t for someone very special to me, my life may have gone differently. I might be sitting in therapy or at the doctors. This person has been there for me through everything, my ups and downs, my struggles and insecurities, my happiest and best moments, and he still is. He is what stopped me from doing something I may have regretted. He is who I can count on, even from 1000 miles away.

It wasn’t easy, crying myself to sleep more nights than not, having the pressure of big decisions sitting on my shoulders every day, and finding the motivation to keep up with schoolwork. My sister is coming out next year, if I transferred would she still want to go there? My parents had bought us a house to live in, Colorado licenses, signed a lease with me on an apartment, were opening a business out there, and thinking of moving near Fort Collins. If I changed my mind, what would happen to all of those plans? It was all on me. I wasn’t just affecting my life anymore, but everyone else’s. That is something most other college student can’t understand, they don’t have that type of weight on themselves.

I tried joining many clubs, organizations, and groups over the last two semesters. Of all the times I was on the fence about my decisions, I know I was right in each and every one I chose. I felt relieved when I dropped my sorority, I felt refreshed after I went to a pre-vet meeting, and I felt lucky when I was offered an internship at a goat farm and writing opportunities from Mogul. These were things I could hold onto to get through each day.

I stayed busy, I worked, I did homework. But I was on autopilot. I wasn’t fully there for some of it, and thats what I regret. Its hard to explain until it happens to you, but the past five months are a blur. I can’t get them back, I was stuck in my own head for awhile, and now I’m finally starting to find myself again.

I am grateful to be home, and more importantly, to feel healthy again. I don’t dread living anymore and I feel whole again. I am surrounded by my family, by my friends, and by love. Summer will be busy, and fast, but I will cherish each moment. There is nothing else I have to ask for anymore.

 

 

 

 

Horsetooth Falls, Fort Collins, CO

May 3, 2016

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I’ve already covered the trail to Horsetooth Falls in a previous blog post,  but this time I went in May instead of August! The hike was much faster and much simpler than I remember, but definitely worth it.

There were still the open switchbacks to start for about twenty minutes and then moving into the forest. There were amazing waterfalls (besides Horsetooth) that gave opportune photo spots. At this time in May, where it had previously snowed a week or two before, the water was rushing and filled out many canyons. This was a much better time to go than any other season, as I had seen pictures of hikes from March with only trickling water.

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The falls took less than an hour to get to, offered various routes, and some great climbing activity when jumping around little rivers and large rocks. There are plenty of people on the trail and dogs as well, all of which loved the water.

I was able to wear shorts, running shoes, and a tank top, and I brought a sweatshirt and flip-flops in my bag. Once we made it to Horsetooth Falls, there was a beautiful pool at the end of the waterfall. It was freezing no doubt, but I went in for a little while (with flip flops on so I didn’t cut my feet on the rough pool ground) and got some amazing pictures. Dogs were swimming, kids were playing, and the sun was shining. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Heading back was even faster, but overall the hike was brilliant. We even went above the falls for a few good photo opportunities, but being underneath this time of year was surely better. I can’t wait to go back again, hopefully after summer break. It was a much better option than studying for finals, this is something I will remember forever.

For now, happy hiking and happy summer! (:

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Bear Lake, Estes Park, Colorado

May 5, 2016

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Dream Lake

The week before finals are meant for studying, more studying, and even some more studying on top of that. But I have been procrastinating (as with all other aspects of my life), especially since the pressure is on.

So instead, I went hiking. The drive from Fort Collins to Estes Park is not only fast, but stunningly beautiful. It is one of the most picturesque drives you will ever take, guaranteed. You are gliding through the mountains for forty-five minutes before Estes amazingly appears before you. It is breathtaking.

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Once you reach Estes, it is only about another fifteen minutes to reach the trailhead for Bear Lake. Parking was free for me, but some days it can upward of $10. There is a nice parking lot and picnic tables in the central start of all the trails, so you can bring a lunch for a break or tailgate as well.

It was May and 80 degrees that day in Fort Collins, so I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I hadn’t really thought about the altitude change heading up into the mountains from the foothills, and I hadn’t really thought about the change in temperature. It was about 10 degrees cooler at the top and surprise surprise, the trails still had snow. Once I got moving though, the temperature didn’t affect me, and it was actually really weird getting sunburnt  with snow on the ground.

Lucky for me (and my running shoes), the snow wasn’t fluffy so I wasn’t sinking into it or my feet would’ve froze, and my shoes would’ve been soaked. Instead, I skated my way on the trails, slipping and sliding. It was actually pretty fun! There were a few close calls but I caught myself, of course that was after everyone heard me utter an “Oh sh*t!”.

The first trail I took was about 3.5 miles roundtrip; Alberta Falls. Heading to the falls was quick and slick, and I wasn’t feeling tired at all. Many people had been stopped along the trail and I felt lucky the altitude change hadn’t bothered me (yet). To be honest, the falls were an okay view. The water was rushing and there were a few photo opportunities, but the scenery on the way there seemed more gorgeous to me. The vibrant green of the trees was such a contrast to all the white, it seemed unnatural that such life was living in such a snowy environment.

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Alberta Falls

While my friend was off shooting closer to the water, I had stopped to take a Polaroid. A grandpa and little granddaughter approached me, asking if my friend was my husband. It was one of those situations where you try not to laugh too hard, but I couldn’t completely stifle it. No, no that was not my husband.

“My wife and I have been married forty-five years,” he said, “And every place we would go to when we were your age, I would be taking pictures of her, not of that stuff,” he went on, nodding at my friend near the water. “I think he’s kind of silly.”

I smiled. It wasn’t one of those outright compliments girls get like the ever-so-often “You’re beautiful.” And I don’t think I’m anything special, I’m a firm believer in inner beauty. But his words stayed with me. It was like something out of a movie, its not something people just say. And this guy was older, he was genuinely saying that, without trying to hit on me. And I don’t think he was even talking about my looks, but about love and loyalty and pride in your significant other. It made me reflect not only on myself, but my long-distance relationship.

Before I left, he wanted a picture of his granddaughter. He captured people, I captured moments. I don’t think one is better than the other, but I think when you love someone enough, you capture their moments instead. And it becomes that much more meaningful to you.

Alberta Falls had a sharp incline at the start, which was slippery going up, but worse going down. It was actually dangerous because of the jagged rocks and one wrong move and you dropped into the falls. I slowly made my way down. Unfortunately, as our trail to the waterfall had been mostly downhill, going up was not as fun. My shoes had no traction so leg day was a success.

It took about an hour and half until getting back to the main trail start. I was tired from the climb, but I wanted to continue. Of course our next trail was about ten times worse for an incline than what we had just came from. About forty-five minutes later, we reached Dream Lake. Its like Twilight–walking out from the tree line and into a clearing where a lake was frozen over. You look to the south and there are booming mountains with white peaks of snow. I gasped at the sight. You forget you are actually in the mountains, since all you see are trees and tiny paths in front of you, until you step out and step back and get a spot to take it all in.

I was mesmerized.

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At this point, I wanted to stop. I was getting a headache from the altitude and a lack of hydration, and in the open it was much colder. But I found the energy to continue on, uphill more, and steeper since it was getting rocky. The snow paths were less walked on and a lot less worn down. I couldn’t step in grooves of other peoples footprints so I felt like I was going two steps forward, one step back.

But we reached a rock with a great lookout. It was windy up there and cold, and I was getting hungry, but you kind of forget all of that when you are looking around. (Though the smell of someone using recreational drugs couldn’t seem to leave my nose.) The view was truly Colorado.

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Lucky for my aching legs and rumbly stomach, the way back was a slipping slide of downhill fun. All the hard work on the way up, made it easy to run down. (And yes I ran, it was a lot easier than walking and trying to slow yourself down.)

Soon enough, we were at the main trail start again. But we came to Bear Lake right? Well, then I better see it. The sign pointed south, 256 feet. Now, I could handle that.

It was the same reaction as before. You don’t even realize where you are until you step out of the trees and into the sun, where a lake and clearing lay before you, with the mountains in the background. The lake was frozen over of course, and snow still sat on the peaks, but it was beautiful none-the-less.

If I could do this hike again (which I definitely will be), I would want to go in the summer time. I want to see the blue of the lakes again the green of the trees, and all the contrast of the intense summer colors.

For May, I suggest bringing a few types of shoes to figure out what would work best once you get to the trailhead. I would have worn shoes with better grip, hiking boots or trail shoes. Many people had poles to help with balance, something I wish I would have thought of. Others even wore snow shoes! You really never know with Colorado weather-especially in the mountains. Be prepared for anything. Dress warm, you can always take off layers. Go slow if you aren’t accustomed to the altitude and bring plenty of water.

Bear Lake was worth the drive and effort, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It is one of my favorite hikes so far and I strongly recommend it (maybe just with less snow!). Best of luck and get out hiking this summer.