36x36x1.5 Acrylic/ Resin/ Glitter/ Gold Leaf. Ready to hang.
I had only been to San Diego once before we decided to move here, to La Jolla in the early 2000s. Even the gas stations felt like a polished movie set where nothing bad would ever happen. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time, watching the sunset as I sat on a huge cliffside, in awe of the mansions and their intricate flower gardens on one side, but more so the way that the deep blue of the water stretched beyond forever under a cotton candy pink sky. I remember how when the sun went down the three dozen or so people that gathered to watch the scene gave the ocean and sky a standing ovation. My life was such a mess I almost jumped off the Coronado Bridge that weekend. But that’s a different story for different art on a darker day.
20 years later I see that bridge every day. The skyline of this city is still like a movie set as I flicker back to being that girl. Driving a little faster up the freeway I let all the pieces of me that died slip out of my mind like the perfect wind on a spring San Diego day so bright I can taste the sun. I wanted to live in San Diego so I could walk to the ocean any time I wanted. In my mind, I pictured walking on the coastline with my two dachshunds the ultimate freedom. Just like every single other one-dimensional goal I’ve ever had, I only imagined the outcome as the picture - not the way it felt to be in that ideal. I believed that being with the ocean every day would somehow level out all of the other sides of me that are well - difficult. Like I would just be a different, healthier, happier, more peaceful person automatically because of the salt water. The Pacific Ocean is to me one of the biggest spirits on earth. I thought that being in it’s presence alone would carry me into becoming who I need to become. Or at least someone else.
Rewind. In March of 2012, I walked into my first Bikram Yoga hot room. I’ll never forget that first day. It was just as hard then as it is now, just in different ways. 11 years later I’m still in that hot room, except now because of those 11 years I know that only pain kills pain. I get to accept that there is no way to think or move that will feel more comfortable. I know how to stare at myself in a mirror for 90 minutes a day every day with nowhere to hide from myself. I know my strength and the way that I set up limitations for myself to sabotage that strength. I know the impact that physical and mental trauma has had on my body. I know the way that fear tricks me into non-action. Which is trying to avoid making a decision in order to avoid being responsible for the outcome. And then crying because I feel stuck and when I feel stuck I feel like such a loser.
And speaking of crying, and salt water, and the magic of that. This year I became a hot yoga teacher. I memorized the same 90-minute dialogue I’ve been practicing for 12 years. I cried every single day for at least three months because I lose my fucking mind every time I have to learn something new in front of people putting their time into me. I was in my car in the yoga studio parking lot last week about to go in and teach my second-ever class. I was ugly crying so hard into my steering wheel that I almost threw up on it - I was terrified. But I let the tears come and go, collected myself, and went in and delivered the class. To any normal person, I was just learning to teach yoga. But for me, this has been one of the most important tests of how hard I am willing to work through the fear and limitations I create. Also a test of what degree I am willing to take care of my physical, mental, and emotional health in order to possess the stamina for what I know I am here to create.
I have a story to tell and a novel to write, and a painting within me for each scene of the novel that I am to create. I have said that my whole adult life. But suddenly I am meeting the people that will actually help me to make that happen on a large scale. It makes me want to sit on my couch watching reality tv instead for the rest of my life. In hiding within my great potential, blind to my own unexplainable talent - and not responsible for what might happen.
A long time ago I was fixated on how the tides are always exactly the same but never the same at the exact same time. Every day after my yoga class no matter how hard it is or how accomplished I feel, my teacher says “we start from scratch all over again tomorrow.” That reminds me of the magic of the tides. And the magic of making art, the unbelievable battle with myself that has been learning to teach. No matter what I made or did or said or felt before I’m starting over again every time I start.
As I was up on the podium teaching my class, streams of sweat running down my chin, fingertips and elbows with my hands clasped behind my back in a white knuckle grip so that I project my voice and appear calm it hit me. The true magic of salt water comes from the inside out. It isn’t an ocean out there. It is the sweat and tears from the work I am willing to put in walking through the fear that I create. That is the real strength. The true saltwater magic. The sweat. The tears. The transformation.
Nothing is ever on the outside needing to go in like I always used to believe. It is all on the inside needing the space and courage to appear in the form that will best help me become the next version of this life. This painting is a portrait of the frequency beyond the veil of misperception. The belief that everything we need is outside of us, separate and somewhere else. The real process of becoming is in the drawing out of what I am. A place where the destination isn’t one-dimensional in my mind. A time when all of the tiny gold threads of time, circumstance, and vision come together. Salt Water Magic. Glittering and sincere in all of its imperfection and difficulty, failure, and triumph.
I hope when you look at this painting it reminds you that there isn’t anything you can’t do, no matter who you think you are or what you feel.