Denise Morencie

Little adventures in life

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Big Announcement!

I am going back to New Orleans.  The sultry air, filled with the smell of gumbo, seafood, neighborhood cook-outs and the denseness of the flowers of the streets. The sound of the rickety St. Charles Streetcar.  The live oak trees making their announcement from under the earth and sidewalks.  The historic buildings and above-ground cemeteries coming back to life with hundreds of years of stories as you pass.  The sounds of the music flourishing from bars and street corners. The hope that there will be a little second line coming down your street.  The Mardi Gras Indians, the brass bands, the jazz funerals. And there is Okra Man and the Roman Candy man in my neighborhood, the love of neighbors and friends welcoming you like family.  The Where Y’ats, Who Dats and the Hey Baby How’s Your Mom ‘n Em.  In all its bruises and black eyes, this city IS Resurrection; life after death. It screams life from every historic brick.

And I miss it…I miss it to the point of tears.  Only those who live there or who have adorned her streets can understand.  Understand the love and hardship she gave me for the overall 13 years I was there.  She understands my fears and embraces me for a second (third, forth) chance.

No regrets.  I have asked a few to give me another chance, to forgive me for leaving; not knowing…being afraid.  But they understand better than anyone; welcome me back with open arms.  People who never once questioned my choices…just say “Get yer ass back home”.  And that’s all I need to hear.

I have also understood that coming to a small beach town allowed me time to be alone with my thoughts, although often lonely, but with a lot of internal exploration which made me understand myself better.  Time to find myself.  Time to breakdown and lead myself to a breakthrough. Time to gain confidence as an artist. Time to say hello to the ocean everyday and ask her for advice.  And mostly I got to spend time with one of my best friends…we encourage each other on our separate entrepreneurial journeys…lots of drinks and crying on each others shoulders.  Encouraging each other to “Breathe”.

And I have discovered where my heart lies.  Where home is.  So I hope you join me on my journey back to New Orleans.  More struggles as an artist…sure, but that’s ok…this is the life I truly want; that much I know.  It’s just a life to be lived out in New Orleans.  Take me home.

“Walking To New Orleans” ~Fats Domino

This time I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m gonna need two pair-a shoes
When I get through walkin’ these blues
When I get back to New Orleans
got my suitcase in my handNow ain’t that-a shame?
I’m leavin’ here today
Yes, I’m goin’ back home to stay
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
Ya used to be my honey
‘Till you spent all my money
No use for you to cry
I’ll see you by and by
‘Cause I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’ve got no time for talkin’
I’ve got to keep on walkin’
New Orleans is my home
That’s the reason why I’m goin’
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

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My Art: It’s all in the Eyes?

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance


Since I’ve been doing all of my art meditation sketches and posting them to various social media outlets and texting to a few people each time, I have noticed a wide variety of reactions.  Thankfully none of them bad; I guess it’s what people “like”.  The few with a more artistic mind, love the ones that I do.  Some like the colorful ones, some like the charcoal.  Some like the figurative or portraits and other like the objects, buildings or landscape. And there are those that are really special to me and I can’t seem to understand the non-reaction by most. Hmm. Art is subjective.  Some may argue that and although I do believe there has to be talent, which is where the objectivity lies, but art really is impressive when it searches your soul.  Makes you think.  Makes you wonder.  Makes you look into the heart of the artist, the power of the subject.  Maybe you get a similar reaction to a painting of a sad, lonely person or a landscape of a distant forest.

I have chosen to follow many artists on social media from all over the globe and of all ages. I am amazed by the amount of talent out there in the world (and non-talent, but trying) and even of the young artists around 15 or 16 years of age…I see myself at that age. And it’s been exciting to display my art on these platforms, wondering if Picasso, Monet or Cezanne would have posted a photo of their art on Instagram!  One thing I have noticed is many artists, including me, fall into the trap of “what will people like, what will they buy”.  We get caught in the objective maze, but when we try too hard to please too many people, we fall short as an artist.  The fear of trying to create art we “wish” the viewer will love and purchase (and because they hit a “like” button does not mean they buy!), means that we will not create our OWN art.  And when we create our OWN art, we create our best.

In all the great compliments I’ve received, here are a couple of my recent favorite comments that really resonated with me: One from someone in New Zealand: “You have a way with telling the story though their eyes…Intentional or not”.  And another translated from French (after googling): “you have a gift to look into the importance in the eyes, not in the thing looked”.  The second, although a translation, I took as a similar compliment to the first…my creative gift is in the eyes.  And it is true, I want you to feel the pain, sadness, loneliness, happiness, excitement, endurance in the portraits and figures that I draw or paint.  How that subject in the artwork engages with the intended viewer.

So, although I won’t stop painting colorful scenes or buildings, I will concentrate on what I love to paint and draw…portrait and figurative emotion…in the face, the eyes. the body, the character, the power.  Some of these are based on my feelings at the time, or maybe of the person drawn.  I love drawing or painting musicians for this reason…they really show their emotion and artistic “all” when performing, and I love bringing that feeling in my art.

I hope now some of you who previously haven’t looked beyond the initial “appearance” of the art (mine or anyone else’s…just “I like that or I don’t like that”) can now take just a moment and see the intention or un-intention of the artist.  Take just a few moments with any artwork you view whether in a gallery, at an art show or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  See the emotion not only of the subject, but also that of the artist.  Let the art, whether it’s the simple sketch or the hopeful masterpiece, fill your soul as it has with the artist.  It is then you will see that art is subjective.

For all the creative people and the viewers of the arts…from the wonderful Alan Watts


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Trying Not to Regret

You regret that last drink that put you over the edge

You regret eating too much at dinner

You regret buying that outfit with your last bit of money

You regret sleeping with that person

You regret polishing off a whole container of ice-cream

You regret not working out

You regret doing this or not doing that…

Most of those are relatively minor regrets that would hopefully not have any emotional or physical personal damage.  But what about the life changing decisions that do not go as planned?  It’s easy to say, “have no regrets”; I say it all the time and it’s true we shouldn’t, but deep down we do.

I learn constantly from falling on my face!  I learn almost everything in my life from my mistakes and even others mistakes.  I make decisions from one spectrum to the other and somehow, instead of regretting the mistakes I make, I learn from them and find my balance.  Ok, so I don’t always learn, I guess, because I keep making them (lol),  and make them a lot, but I must say I have no problem trying and failing.  At least I always try.  And often I am humbled by those failures, but not regretful.  I am going through that now and it’s hard not to be disappointed with decisions I’ve made…possibly hurting others or not getting to see my family, but I will stay focused, keep learning, make new changes and stay on my artistic path with hopes it all works out.

There is no perfect plan. We all have our own paths we follow and we all approach and interpret life differently. Accept fear, embrace the whole picture and take chances.  If you fall, if you fail, if you make a mistake, you may say you would do it different had you known, but would you really?  Would you give up the experiences, the people you meet, the self-growth?  The so-called bad choices or regrets may lead you to a greater path on your journey.  We have to believe this whole crazy life, its adventures and misadventures, lead us to love, success and happiness.

We have this one little life to live.  Don’t have any regrets.

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Lessons I Learned in the Past Week

At first I was going to explode into a blog rant about a woman I met the other day, who after a good time at one of those wine and paint places decided she was going to “be an artist”. She went on and on as my blood boiled thinking of the daily hard work of every artist (painter, writer, musician, performer). Darlin’, that’s a lifelong thing you just don’t “become” one…ok mini rant…I’ll stop.

Then I thought, I should write a post about my whole depression thing I went through last week, having to be encouraged back to happiness by my friend. What was I going through?…depression, an artist mood, mid-life crisis, pre-menopause, PMS, loneliness, being broke?? Or a combination of all? Yikes!

Then I decided in the middle of the night what I wanted to really share with you.  I do know if I focus, keep positive and stay on my path I can choose to get through rough times with a smile on my face or through misery (and drag the world with me kicking and screaming). Yes, the smile is tough sometimes and sadness is inevitable, but I have to smile. Choosing to live simply and be a full-time artist, while also working other jobs to make ends meet, is not going to be easy or create over-night success, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Also, most artists create some awesome art in our darkest times so I’ll take that as a positive from it all 🙂

nwm - Sketch - Self Portrait3

Self-portrait sketch from last week

The support of family and friends and simply the compliments from anyone who looks at my artwork is really what counts and keeps me on the forward path.

What I learned from all this:
1. I know the direction I am heading
2. I am an artist and that will not change
3. I will figure out a way to make it all work

I first laughed when I thought of using this song, but the lyrics are spot-on and Freddie Mercury was so awesome, so it works.  And you can get a little fist-pumping going on too 🙂

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Small Changes in My Daily Life Added Up

I thought I would share with you a bunch of changes I made in the past year and a half or so that really got me to become healthier and more balanced inside and out and with my surroundings.  Some big, but most small.  Some of them may be a little hippie crunchy for you, but I hope you get a little positive vibe to make one of these changes.  🙂

  1. Ok we will get the biggie out-of-the-way:  Following my bliss.  It took me a lifetime of striving for the “I will have enough of blah, blah, blah and then I can be an artist”.  So I did it.  I created a piece of art that made me want more and a year after that I took the plunge to do so and become a full-time artist.  Is it easy?…Hell no, but I am grateful for every struggle that means I am doing what I love to do and I won’t give that up.ThrowMeSomething
  2. I gave up TV.  First I gave up news that would deeply upset me.  I gave up the horrors of reality that media throws in your face.  I gave up the nonsense.  It was all stressful. Then I cut out that bill all together.  My brother gave me an antenna so I can watch the occasional Michigan or Saints game, but otherwise the TV is a dust collector waiting for a game or movie to be watched on its screen, but it’s very rare.  I don’t miss it at all and surely if the world is coming to an end I will find out somehow.
  3. Gratitude list…added to my daily routine.  I heard about it on many podcasts and I know it’s nothing new, but it is a list that will make you realize that things aren’t all that bad, in fact they are pretty great!  Anytime during the day I will make a list of 10 things (and some days it is tough to think of one!) that I am grateful for: as simple as my family, friends, my pets, waking up to a new day or other things like a phone call from a friend or a great night of artwork.
  4. On the second side of that paper alongside the Gratitude list is the “Idea Muscle” list (via James Altucher), which is to just keep the brain thinking.  Keep the ideas flowing.  It could be about my art, health, home…just my little brilliant ideas! And sure, a lot are not so brilliant, but I have implemented many of them.  10 ideas is the goal, but most days I can only come up with a couple and that is fine.  It’s not meant to be stressful to make, just do it as a daily routine.
  5. Read daily.  I read at least 5 pages of anything!  Fiction, non-fiction…anything that will keep my mind working.  I usually read a little right after dinner.  Just another daily routine and it doesn’t take long at all.
  6. Along with reading is being a podcast junkie! I try to listen to at least a couple a day on Paleo health & nutrition, self-help, productivity and about doing what you love to do.  I have learned a lot and it keeps the brain learning and growing and becoming more open to trying new things in my daily routine whether it has to do with my health or my art business.
  7. Sleep 7-8 hours a night.  It is so vital to our health.  I heard so much about the importance of sleep in many podcasts and blog posts like Robb Wolf.  I knew I would feel better, but never seemed to be in a position to do more than 4-6 hours some nights.  Then I made a point of getting 8 hours of sleep a night, at least 7, and WOW what a difference in my mood, brain function and ability to get things done.  I sleep in a dark room, no lights and an eye mask.  I just felt better and now when I don’t get a good nights sleep, I can really feel the negative effects it has.  If you take anything from this blog post, get your sleep!
  8. Meditation.  You may just want to think of it as hippie-dippiness, but seriously the ability it has to take away stress, anxiety and negativity is amazing.  Relaxing, positive overall feeling.  I simply sit quiet and try to push all thoughts about anything out of your head; difficult to do.  We have such crazy overactive brains that just think too much.  I started with just a few minutes saying a couple of affirmations trying to concentrate on clearing my mind. Then I went to 10 minutes.  It wasn’t until about 6 months ago I made it a serious practice of 20-30 minutes a day and now it is part of my daily routine.  A great meditation puts you in a state of sheer mental nothingness for even a few minutes and it feels wonderful, like a drug.
  9. Art Meditation: Ok that is a link right to my art blog post about how I started.  It simply takes the same concept as regular meditation, but putting it in something you love to do for a period of time.  For me it is sketching, alone, without interruption for 5-45 minutes and not only do I get “in the zone”, but I have created some pretty awesome art!
  10. Walk more, stand more…sit less.  So I’m sure everyone has heard how sitting for as long as we unnaturally do can affect our health, so now I walk the dogs a few times a day; our morning walk is about an hour or more depending on time.  Natural exercise and getting out in nature.  And I can only think it helps my pups too!
  11. I have dialed in my nutrition in the past year to two even since I have started the Paleo lifestyle a few years ago.  I am nutrient dense crazy!  Plenty of good healthy fats, organic fruits or vegetables when I can.  Grass-fed beef, free-range naturally fed chickens and pork and good farm eggs with their orangey yolks, liver (yes yummy nutritious liver), homemade bone broth, sardines and salmon (all with the skin and bones).  I eat for a healthy, good quality and strong life. All along with a daily dose of Bulletproof Coffee. I am my own health care. I am mentally and physically in tune.
  12. Cleaned out my closets (mentally and physically)  and everything else.  I scaled down and tried to get rid of as much “stuff” I never used.  And even cutting back as much as I did I can really use a little more cutting back.  I find there are many things I don’t even know exist in my home (excluding sentimental belongings).


The next several bring me to that hippie crunchy girl I am. 🙂  After reading the Skintervention Guide by Liz Wolfe, purchasing items from Primal Life Organics (when I could), downloading an e-book called Toxic Free by Robin Konie  and reading more on the blogs I follow like Wellness Mama, I wanted to make a toxic free me.  If I was working so hard on the food aspect of my life and lifestyle in my modern Paleo living, then working on getting rid of the toxic crap we voluntarily put on and around ourselves had to go too. All of the home and body ingredients I use can be used in several ways.

  1. No-poo and that means no usual shampoo and conditioner.  If you read your shampoo and conditioner bottles (yes even most of the “organic” ones) you will find a bunch of chemicals, perfumes and plain ole toxic junk we put on our hair all the time.  For well over a year now I have been washing my hair with 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of water, then conditioning with approximately 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water.  And now I’m down to one or two times a week.  No dreadlocks aren’t in the plan yet! lol
  2. Skin care.  I use mostly just unrefined coconut oil…the same kind I cook with.  Or I have recently been combining the coconut oil with shea butter or cocoa butter and any other good oils like hemp or avocado oils.  And sometimes I will put a dash of a scented essential oil for a different scent, like mango or vanilla.  And I put it on daily.  Soft skin, nourishing, and no chemicals.  The same goes on my face and I would like to think that along with my real food eating, my skin looks great for my age.
  3. No make up.  I had switched to more natural make up from , but it is still fairly expensive.  So, after I moved and had to cut back on a lot of things, and in my process of learning to accept and love how I look naturally, I ditched the makeup except for mascara once in a while (from 100% pure).  And I also made up a face powder on days I go out…I use only cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and arrowroot powder.  All yes, from the kitchen.
  4. All natural body soap.  Thankfully almost all farmers markets these days have someone who makes all natural soap with coconut oil and other oils as the base or I will use Dr. Bronner’s bar or liquid soap.   This is a person I met up in Detroit at a farmers market and can also be ordered online: Union Street Soapworks
  5. Yes oil on my body to clean and also on my face.  The oil cleansing method, it is called.  I use a combination of olive oil and castor oil, but have also used coconut oil.  Rub a tiny bit on your face, wipe off with a soft tissue or cloth then take a washcloth and dampen with hot water and lay the cloth on your face to steam.  Repeat the steaming then wipe clean.  Feels so clean and refreshing.
  6. I also have always hated perfume and I liked the body sprays, but why spray toxic chemicals that don’t last long anyway.  Mix a tablespoon of witch hazel with 8oz of filtered water and about 10-20 drops of any essential oils you like together.  I have coconut mango now and have had pineapple vanilla too.
  7. And for the home, check out the ebook Toxic Free I referred to but this is my main one:  All purpose cleaner, which is basically 1 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of distilled or filtered water with about 20-30 drops of essential oils like lemon, orange and/or lime.  And it can be used on anything.  I also use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to clean pans, the tub and stainless.  And good old baking soda and vinegar to clean the toilet.  Simple, simple stuff our grandparents used to use! I have used several other methods from this book too.
  8. Using glass and no plastic containers and glasses or at least whenever possible.  Leave behind any problems BPA and BPA free plastics can possibly cause.  I save the glass jars from my coconut oil and reuse for food and skin care products.
  9. Tooth care. A few years ago I ditched fluoride toothpaste.  I read how fluoride could cause tooth enamel loss and gum receding, which I was experiencing, so I tried it and within a month my teeth felt stronger and better.  I had also started eating a Paleo diet at the time so I can only think that helped too.  Now I make my own tooth powder with a combination of baking soda and bentonite clay with several dashes of peppermint oil.  Just dip the clean wet toothbrush in the powder and go to town on the teeth.  I also made a little container mixed with olive, peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint, ginger, lemon oils and put a couple of drops on the toothbrush too.  And if I want a mouthwash I take a few drops of that oil mixture and swish with some hydrogen peroxide.
  10. Finally…I make my own deodorant.  If you think you will be stinky if you don’t slather the name brand stuff on your pits you are wrong.  And those deodorant and antiperspirants have been found to be highly toxic.  You are meant to sweat, but with a good diet and a simple recipe you can hide the stink too!  A couple of years ago I started using the basic coconut oil and baking soda, but the baking soda would sting.  Then I decided to research a better “bar” recipe and came across this one by Wellness Mama, but I just used some products I already had on hand and stuck to the basics.  How I make mine is 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup shea or cocoa butter, 1/2 cup organic beeswax, 3 Tablespoons of baking soda, 1/2 cup organic arrowroot powder and 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oils (non required).  I put it all in a glass jar in a bath pan of water on low heat and stir until it’s liquid.  Cool at room temperature and put in an old cleaned out deodorant container or small glass jar.  This amount lasts a very long time!

I am always researching and willing to change many other aspects of my day-to-day living to make it healthier and more balanced and yes, more applicable to a simple and budgeted lifestyle.  If I have anymore changes I will certainly share.  And if you have any to add, please do share!

Also, please take a moment and visit my website, because if it weren’t my love of art and being an artist, the rest wouldn’t be possible:



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Loving Yourself: Happiness is an Inside Job


Do you love yourself? Are you happy with how you look, feel and live your life?  Loaded question, I know.

I learned to love myself only within the past couple of years…had to learn.  Yet, still there are struggles to this day.  I can, today, call what I have been through most of my life as an eating disorder. And now I finally accept me for who I am…just me…a beautiful me, who is not perfect, not living out someone else’s dream of how I should look or feel.  No longer is the need to seek approval and acceptance.  I am a healthy, strong and sexy woman.  I am short, have big boobs, stretch marks and excess skin from yo-yo dieting, but I think I am now in great healthy shape with all the imperfect this and that!  I point those out not to poke fun at myself, but to say Hey I love all that about me now!!

Eating disorders can look different in many people. In order to try look and feel a certain way I have starved myself, severe calorie counting (under 500 a day for over a year back in my 20’s), took over-the-counter-pills, over-exercised, bingeing on entire containers of ice-cream or pasta or loaves of bread, over-eating when depressed (or happy); I have gained, lost, gained and lost so many times, and in more than just a physical way. I have screamed at myself in a mirror, cried over my weight, poked at myself.  If you have never been through this, just know your mind can fuck with you worse than anything.  Could I ever be happy? I hated myself…thought I didn’t deserve love. I thought I lost people in my life because I was a bad person. Ridiculous right? But how many of you have done some or all of the same things.  How many times do we think that exterior looks and the awesome rocking body are all it takes to be happy.  Wrong.

I think we all know media perceptions do not help matters. I am not even going to go there. No one wants you to achieve beauty by being healthy do they? Lets just say I stopped watching tv over a year ago or paying attention to most media info. I could care less who is doing what, how much they lost or gain or what body part they transformed to make themselves better or worse. Blah!  Media is the energy sucker who feeds on the innocent with self-image issues.  Even as I turned on my laptop last night, a headline, I glanced at. said that a woman’s photo of herself 170lb weight loss was not good enough for Shape magazine…too real.  WTF? I can’t read that crap.

I have reasons for what I went through, sure…some typical, some not so. I can’t change that, but I can grow from it. It started when I was young and manifested itself into the monster it became. I remember every time I was called fat or rejected…and I’m not just talking about as a teenager! Situations (good or bad) controlled my eating habits. I could never see the light. I stayed on that emotional ride forever, but maybe it was good that the lightbulb went off when it did.  I guess it was time.  First I tackled my anxiety issues…accept myself, knowing I had to love myself and knowing that I was safe.

About 4 years ago after losing 25lbs or so, I did the usual re-gaining. I was miserable once again and felt that loss of myself. I decided once again to lose weight and joined a gym.  This is it, I told myself. Time to take control.  But had I learned enough at the time?  Was this another desperate measure of wanting something or someone to fix me? I just wanted to be happy with myself…happy…period.  When I lost most of my that weight I was “eating clean”, but then I hit that usual brick wall. I got scared….again. I didn’t start to gain, but I felt bloated and unable to control the sugar urges when they came. My indulgences were never healthy, they were full on blowout pig out parties that turned into pity parties. Then I discovered a Paleo lifestyle and I have never turned back. If offered the mental need that means so much more than weight loss.  Making fundamental changes in the way I ate meant eating for health.  And what results?  A healthy happier me!

As crazy as it seems, I became tired of people asking me how much weight I lost or how much more I was going to lose (really??). I mean, I loved hearing I looked great, but it’s what they didn’t see that matters! No one really cared once I told them what I was doing…they thought it was kind of crazy.  You eat what?  I was transitioning into a life not filled with nonsense, misery and restriction.  I eventually became happy and confident on the inside and out.  I threw out my scale a couple of years ago and have never checked it since. I don’t know anything about calories I consume anymore, in fact a couple of times I threw them into a calculator to check how much fat I was eating, I laughed at how MUCH I ate!  Now is Paleo the end all to eating disorders? No! Actually for some, there are just other things to be obsessed about.  You have to heal the inside; the heart, mind and soul.  But I think it can be helpful in a good caring way; not a self-abusive way. Gaining control of my health inside and out gave me strength, courage and the beauty I could never see. I am ok with myself. But there was still more I was searching for.

So I started to look inside myself.  It may sound “woo woo”, but getting away from it all, becoming the artist I always wanted to be, daily meditation and trying to get to know my inner self,  changed me and made me grow emotionally.  I had to uncover the reasons why I did what I did all these 40 plus years…how I treated myself and start asking myself some really tough questions. We all need to do that to move forward in life.  The result: that I have become less and less concerned with how I look and more concerned with how I feel. Living as simple and natural as possible, little or no make-up, wearing my hair my natural color and not being afraid of a few grey hairs. I have learned to say “no” and become excited at the little things in life. I am grateful for many things everyday. I have better ideas now. I have become more “aware” of my surroundings and my feelings.  It has made me more confident than I have ever been. And do you know what the most important thing is? People tell me I look happy. It seems crazy to me that making simplistic changes, living as the healthy free-spirit I am, has given me the self-love and self-respect I have deserved from myself my whole life.

And now, when I feel myself go down the path of fear, I feel the power and motivation to work on it.  I am mastering emotional tolerance. I am mastering the concept of the choice of loving myself.

What to take away from this:

1. Eat real food for health, not for a brief outcome.  Look to is as a forever change.  As long as it’s not destructive, have fun and indulge when you wish and be ok with that decision.

2. Make changes in your life as needed (job, friends, travel) so you can move toward exploring the reasons why you gravitated towards this self destruction.

3. Search positivity: keep and find positive people in your life, positive feelings and positive actions.

The result will be loving yourself as a complete person.

For you to read!: After reading a blog post a few months ago by Amy Kubal, RD I cried…that is when I accepted the fact I had eating disorder all my life.  Please give it a read; she has started an amazing movement in the Paleo world on this topic and I applaud her! 


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Why Worry!?

Why Worry

My dad passed away this month, April 28, 2006. He died in his sleep…and he was out with friends the night before having fun, so we didn’t have a chance to worry about him. I’m sure, I know, he worried about us, but in a way he didn’t…he encouraged us, especially me who has had so many life changes and moves over the past 20+ years.

I received the letter above in the mail, in New Orleans, from him after I was separated. I don’t think I was even in a frame of mind to absorb what he was trying to tell me. I worried a lot. After a month of living in the hotel I worked, with my dog and cat, eating McDonald’s 49 cent burgers, I finally saved enough money to get my own apartment in the French Quarter for $550 a month. (I say that because it’s almost quadrupled now) I then graduated to 99 cent red beans and rice packaged dinners and slept on the only piece of furniture I owned, an old sleeper sofa. I cried a lot, worried a lot, felt alone and then took on a new position at work just to make more money so I could worry less. I worried more. I re-grouped, tried again, failed again and kept trying; not sure where I was going.

My anxiety always existed, at times more than others and I perceive this to be hereditary in a way because my mom, who passed away at 39 years old from leukemia, was chronically anxious as I remember. She loved us so much and worried about us so much. A scrape on your elbow; arm may need to be amputated. I’m sure my brother would agree with the heredity thing. I was always up and down, but I could never figure out where to pinpoint my anxiety…death? money? sickness? No…I think it was more failure in life, failure in relationships, failure of love, just failure. Period. And I would worry about those I loved to the point it may have put that love in jeopardy. For example to worry about someone who is away and out of phone contact for several hours does not mean they are dead and permanently out of my life. Really, that’s what I would think. I knew this happened and I could not control it. I was not one to get help though. I learned to be independent.

About 4 years ago, my niece had me read a book called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. In that book there was a positive affirmation for those with anxiety to state over and over and it read (cannot quote without the book but…) “I love and approve of myself, I trust the process of life and know that I am safe.”

It clicked…I AM safe.

This led to a complete change in my outlook and anxiety. I no longer worried as much as I did. I made wonderful changes to my life and my health and felt an inner balance I had never experience!  I then found a lifestyle that brought me in control of my life (for the most part), made me feel wonderful and confident in myself and relationships.

Last year I had some hurdles to leap; some decisions to make about my career and whether to climb that huge mountain to become an artist full-time. I worried again. Then, as I was cleaning out the attic storage; throwing out stuff I hadn’t touched since my divorce, I found a few, again, life changing things. First, were some amazing figure sketches I made when I was young, maybe 18-20 years old. I realized I can make some great art. And second, folded up still in the envelope, was this letter from my dad. I realized I cannot worry. I am safe.

Although worry has not completely vanished in my new journey, life works out some how, some way.

In case you cannot read it above, here it is:
“There are only two things to worry about: Either you are sick or you are well. If you’re sick, you only have two things to worry about…either you live or you die. If you live you have nothing to worry about. If you die you have only two things to worry about…either you go to heaven or hell. If you go to heaven you have nothing to worry about. If you go to hell you’ll be so busy shaking hands with old friends you won’t have time to worry. So why worry!
Love you,