At My Art Table

What’s at my Art Table Wednesday

August 24, 2016


What is at My Art Table Wednesday?

This.  This is on my art table this week. The most important “art table project” I’ve ever done.  This is the week I dropped my son off at college.

My son.  The most significant and important creation I have been a part of.  The best choice I’ve ever made, the most awe-inspiring thing I have watched grow, change, blossom. Just like art.  It is true of him, my other two children, and husband as well. My family.

But this week it is this guys’ turn.  His turn to start something new, find independence, take off and fly (oh, dear God, please fly). It is significant for him to be sure, but let me tell you, it is super significant for this mamma too.  I swear I think parents should get some sort of award for raising a person. Taking care of another soul, guiding, directing, hoping, and staying the course.  Am I right?  It is hard work.  Not for the weary or faint of heart. That is what my husband and I always say to each other.

But, man, I love this  lil’ family of mine, this creation. My most lovely, honoring and lasting art project I have ever made.

I was going to post some art here this week, at least something since I promised I would.  But my heart tells me otherwise.  My heart says that this post can hold its’ own and should not be disrupted by another art piece, although loved and cherished, not nearly as important as this one.  This is a stand alone project, the most important of its kind.

I will be back next week with pretty stuff, new things going on around here that I am excited to share, some eye candy. So please come back for a visit. Thanks for the read everyone.



At My Art Table

What’s at My Art Table Wednesday

August 17, 2016



Inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts class, Spirit Wings

Inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts class, Spirit Wings

What’s at My Art Table Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will be showing you what is on my art table for the week.

Here is how it will work:

What’s at my Art Table Wednesday will show some art that will be successful, others not so much. The art might be complete or it might not.  I will show my own art and personal creations or, perhaps a class I am taking and would like to share.  It will spread the gamut.

Remember, in addition to my successes,  I will be showing my imperfect work.  Work that is in progress.  Things I have learned and how I am growing.

Let’s Check Out What’s At My Art Table the Week of August 17


Oh these little angels!  They are so sweet and so fun to make.


She says,

“Come Out Inner Creative, Inner Artist.

Be Birthed, be Brave, be Bold.

Fly Free and be Seen.”


I am currently taking an online class from artist Kelly Rae Roberts called Spirit Wings. Many of you will be familiar with Kelly Rae and her work but for those of you who aren’t, I would encourage you to check her out.

Kelly Rae is an artist full of fun, light and encouraging words.   She has a huge following and her work can be found in many, many stores.  It is not surprising as her work portrays her uplifting, believing spirit.

Something I have loved about the class is that she embraces what she calls, “happy accidents”, mistakes essentially.  Even showing them on camera, not stopping to edit, but instead, gives permission to her audience and to herself in these instances. She then easily carries on, walking through the process of using these mishaps as opportunity to make something better.  I love that!  I think her approach is brave and disarming and inspiring.  Not to mention the truth about how art, and life, really work!

That philosophy falls in line with my intentions for  What’s at my Work Table Wednesday.

To show the work in its’ fullest form,

with beauty and imperfections, with success and struggle,

 examining the process in a real and unedited way.


Here is What I Learned

Of course I learned all the amazing and fun ways to make the angel in through the class . But here is what I learned about my own personal art practice. The placement of the lettering was difficult for me!  It was where I struggled most. Surely, this must be something that needs to be practiced because making the words fit in a succinct fashion did not come easily.  Placement and being able to “eyeball” it was hard.  I even practiced on a sheet of paper that I had cut into the shape of the dress and still I struggled.  There are six angels we will be completing in the class. I am hoping to improve with each angel. I am sure it is a “feel thing” that comes by doing. We will see how my upcoming angels progress.


A River Flows Through Her

Acrylic paint, oil pastels, chalk pastel, Stabilo pencil, and a white gel pen were used to create this lady.

I love the mandala, the vine around her forehead, and I especially love how some of the imagery from the book is left raw and untouched near the crown of her head.  If you look closely you will see a river that is flowing.  This is a such a striking metaphor for how thoughts move through us.  I just loved how the river showing through was not something I purposefully planned, rather, I noticed the opportunity to use the river while in process of creating her.


You can see here how the page looked before the glazing that went over the pages.


It can be interesting to use a book with existing imagery and words for art journaling and creating.  This book was something I purchased about a year ago at Goodwill for this purpose.  I used it for one project and haven’t picked it up since.  Honestly, it has been buried in a drawer and I haven’t even thought of it since.  While doing some other things at my art table last night I suddenly had an urge to work in it. It was one of those moments where I did not want to start something on a blank page.  I am not typically intimidated with the “blank page”, as many people are.  The “messy middle” is a much more formidable place to be in my opinion!  I can get stuck there for what feels like forever!  But on this day I wanted to work on something that already implied a background and had some existing imagery.  It was super fun and I will be doing it again.

A Loose Interpretation of a Floral Arrangement

20160811_142722The Flower Recipe Book by Alethea Harampolis is a such a clever book!  When I first discovered it, I was completely taken by it, both for its’ beauty and its’ concise and easy to read formatting.  It is essentially a “cookbook” for flower arranging, each individual arrangement having a “recipe” for its’ creation.  So cool and interesting!  While I am not into arranging flowers necessarily, I did think this would be a great book to use as inspiration for my art!

Here I have done a very loose interpretation in charcoal.  You can see that this is not an exact replication of the photo, rather, in the spirit of it.  This was my goal as I wanted to do something that felt nice and easy and “flowy”.  Perfection was not what I was after.


For the next stage I decided to add some color.  I used gesso and Inktense Pencils, finishing it off with a few butterfly stickers. Here was the lesson.  I liked it so much better without the color. Not replicating the color exactly was purposeful ,again keeping it loose, however I learned that it probably would have looked a bit better if I took the time to get the light and shadow correct. The dark blue in the middle was my least favorite part.  If there is any darkness in the arrangement it is in the succulent off to the right a bit, not in the middle left.

The Lesson Here?  Sometimes it is Possible to go Too Far

Practice and sheer volume of work will help me to learn the stopping points that feel comfortable for me.  Even though I wasn’t thrilled with the addition of color and wished I had kept it as is, I am still able to feel happy with the drawing,  had fun creating it, and learned a few things.  I consider that success when it comes to art making.

Cheers to another week of creativity!  In the comments share with me what have been some of your most valuable lessons about creativity?

 What’s at my Art Table Wednesday will bring new art and life discoveries that you won’t want to miss!

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At My Art Table

What’s at My Art Table Wednesday

August 10, 2016
What's at My Art Table Wednesdays

I am so excited to start this series!

What’s at My Art Table Wednesday

On Wednesday’s I will be showing you what is on my art table for the week.

Here is how it will work.

Some of the art I will be showing will be successful, others not so much. It might be complete or it might not.  I will show my own art and personal creations or, perhaps a class I am taking and would like to share.  It will spread the gamut.


I am all at once enthusiastic and nervous.  Why?  Because I will be showing my imperfect work.  Work that is in progress.  Stuff that might be, dare I say, a bit ugly?

Listen, we all know that if you try lots of anything, and it doesn’t have to be art, sometimes it just gets ugly or doesn’t work out.  That is true no matter what we are doing, whether it is art or some thing else we are taking on.  There is lots of trial and error, lots of learning.

You know, I always hear artist talk about their art that just never quit makes through the “ugly stage”.  All the stuff they make that never makes it out into the world for eyes to see, perfectly curated and pleasing.  I always think to myself, please show us the awkward, not so great stuff that you say you make.  I just want to see it! Don’t you? It is so that I will know that they too make things that go wonky or never really get prettied up, just like me.

So, I thought, if that is something I wish someone would show me, perhaps I will show you!  This whole learning art thing is a journey for me.  A process.  I have learned so much already and yet I have a lifetime of learning yet to come.

That is What What’s on My Art Table Wednesdays are All About

 The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Let’s Have a Look

This painting…there is a whole story behind it that I will be sharing in a different post.  However, it was important for me to share it because it represents a moment where I finally figured out something I had been working on for a long time. I love this painting so much.  It is so incredibly vibrant and alive.  I wish you could see it in person. Let’s just say it took me a long time to for something to finally click to where I could produce something I liked as much as this one.


These two together?  Electric and vibrating.  Love them.  The one with all the pink on the left is the second one that came after the one that clicked, on the right. It feels so good to be in the flow with these.

This is the third in the series, with a twist.  See those raised medallions? Those were made with a stencil and joint compound!  Yes, the stuff you get at the hardware store to use on walls!  I think you use it to smooth over the tapping on dry wall?  This is such a cool technique that adds dimension and texture, plus its cheap and easy to acquire!

Here is a close up.  I took my palette knife and knocked down the edges a bit while it was still wet.  Then I used  fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the roughness just a little bit.

It Seems Like Everyone Has a Version of the Whimsy Girl and Here is Mine 


Whimsy girls are so much fun to make but they don’t really feel like me.  I feel a bit like I am wearing someone else’s clothes.  While the clothes might be lovely, it doesn’t mean I feel comfortable in them. Whimsy girls are so sweet and cute and inspirational so I will probably make some more of these at times. But in the end, I suspect that I will move in a different direction.


This is where whimsy girl started out.  Just a collage background with some paint pushed around.


I have added a floral stamp and am playing around with acrylic paint using a cotton swab as an applicator. The red is called alizarin crimson.  It is a luminous stunning color.  This photo does not do it justice.  I love this color and the pink it makes when white is added.


Adding a sketch of whimsy girl.

Here she is!


The sequins on her dress were super fun!  I just love those little details and the texture they bring! Oil pastels were used for her face.



Here is another girl, not precious, cute or whimsical. She has a bit more mystery, a deeper story to tell.

This one looks much different that the previous pieces.


This lady has been on my art table for forevah!!  She may never leave.  I don’t know.  She has gone through many stages and forms, this one.  She still is not done, at all actually.  At one point I just decided to do some radical things like blocking out most of her face with the grey paint and adding in the silver.  In a way, getting so frustrated with a painting can lead you into the state of mind where you are willing to throw anything at it to see what will happen because it is just not working anyway.  Why not just go for it when it is not working anyhow?  So I did.  And I learned some cool things.


See that tape over her eye? Dry wall joint tape.  Cool, huh?  It creates almost a window like effect.  I also enjoy the beading around her face. However, I wish the beads were not covered with glue so that they still sparkled.  Because they are so small I am not sure how to glue them in a way that prevents that.

 See, All Part of the Learning Process!

I learned that I love the bead work.  I also learned that I need to continue to search for a way to glue the beads in a way that allows them to shine.  All of this because I was “going for broke” on a painting that wasn’t working for me.  It is a good reminder that there is a lesson in everything.  Nothing is wasted.


Alright you guys!  That is What is On My Art Table Wednesday for this week.

Let me know what you think in the comment section! If you have questions, ask away! 

 I Love to Hear From You!


Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved

A Personal Story About Not Alone

August 1, 2016

A Handful of Years Ago I Went Through Something Very Difficult in My Life 

This is a Personal Story About Not Alone 

The nature of this experience was one that could break a person in half and required a lot of processing and work to pick myself back up again. There was a profound shift in my life from what had happened.  It was a really, really difficult time.  The healing and working through it did not come overnight even though I really wanted it to.  It was a baby step by baby step process that included learning about and finding tools that would support me.  It was slow and hard and I had to dig so deep within myself.  Have you ever had that?  Where you had to dig so deep, deep, deep into your soul that you didn’t even know if you could go that deep?  It was one of those times.

Here Is the Thing

Even though this was my work to do, even though no one could work through this for me, even though it was a slow and painful process,  I was Not Alone.  I cannot even express the significance of the power of Not Alone during this difficult time of my life.

A few trusted people in my life “bookended” me through this, shoulder to shoulder, on each side of me.  If I felt ready to move forward a step, they said, “let’s go”.  If I needed two steps back they said, “we are with you”.  They never pushed nor pulled nor prodded.  They always wished the best for me but never demanded it.  There was never a need for me to feel better so they could feel better themselves. If we needed to sit in that difficult uncomfortable space for forever, well…that would be okay.

Of course, they wanted all good things for me.  This was not some passive, hands off, this is your thing, kind of approach.  No, this was an all hands on deck, we are in this together, we will get through it, kind of endeavor.  They were just with me, just as I was, patiently with me.  I was Not Alone.

I will never forget that.  It was one of the hardest, most difficult experiences I have had to go through in my life.  But at the same time, to feel that kind of, I’m going to love you through this, I am with you through all the hard things, I will stay with you forever, for as long as we need to be here, was one of the most healing, awe-inspiring things I have ever felt.  To be carried in such a way, we all deserve such things in our lives.

Sometimes that is all it takes, isn’t it? We want our people to just be there with us, for us.  It is often enough to sooth our soul in a way that gives us strength, courage, and relief. It also empowers us to take the next step in order to heal and grow.

I don’t think we are meant to go at it alone.  Our culture  tells us that this is the preferred way, that it somehow stands as the true badge of  strength and power.  We do things “our way”,  fly solo, go at it alone. So we do that. But how well does that really work out for us?

Our vulnerabilities and our ability to let our guard down enables us to walk through life together.

In this way we are exposed to each other, relying on each other, putting hope into the strength and the safe haven of the relationship.

This is What a Meaningful Life is Build Upon 

Let’s reach out to one another.  Let’s find our Not Alone. Let’s not settle. We will go after it, seek, fight for it. We simply cannot accept this ideal that it is taboo to rely on each other, seek one another out, and share life and bread together. We will continue to seek. I will continue to seek. We will not settle.

With the same vigor that we pursue a sense of Not Alone for ourselves, let us also be the one that provides the Not Alone for someone else.  Let us hold space for one other, and, in as much as we can muster up, be free from judgement. It is with that mindset that connection is often made.  Or better yet, in our conversations, let’s not go into them trying to gain something for ourselves. Let’s lay that down.

Let’s Be Someone Else’s Not Alone, and in Turn, Find Our Own Not Alone

I am going to be talking more about things like relationship building, what it means to have and be a good friend, communication, and how to create a tool belt for self-care, and of course, creativity.   All of these intermingle and lay the foundations for each other.

 I invite you to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it! 

It has been on my heart to share in this way and I want you to be there!


Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved






At My Art Table

Buddha Board-Art and Life and Letting Go

July 21, 2016


 I Love to Share Resources

 This is a fun one.

Have you guys ever heard of a Buddha Board?


Buddha Board says that it is about “Mastering the Art of Letting Go” and is “inspired by the Zen idea of living in the moment”.  Basically, it is a board that sits on top of a vessel that you fill with water and a simple brush.

Buddha Board 4

You can then “paint” on the board with just the water. The way that it works reminds me of when rocks get wet and change colors, going from light to dark.  You know how that happens?

Buddha Board 6

Here is the catch and how it lends itself to “letting go” and “living in the moment”.  The painting disappears! Gone. Bye.

Buddha Board 7

See how it has begun to fade away? After about a minute or so the painting is completely gone.

Buddha Board 9

Buddha Board 11

After that you can start again. And again. And again.  Always in the moment, see?  Here is the struggle.  You make something you love, that you want to preserve, and you can’t.

You Must Let it Go  

I think this is a great tool both in art and in life.

So much of life is focused on what we produce, how quickly and efficiently we produce it,  and how well we do it.  Always checking the box. But not here.  This helps us to practice letting go, let what will be, be and to appreciate what we have while we have it.

I love it for art making and practice.  This is a very loose noncommittal way of practicing art.  If you don’t like it, wait a minute and you can begin again, over and over.  Also, there is virtually no mess involved as it only uses water.  Love that!  And, it really is so relaxing to use.  Lately, I have it sitting by my computer and I paint on it while I am listening to other things at the same time. I just “Zen out” and paint while I listen.

I Have a Funny Story About This Buddha Board

I was visiting one of my best friends, Bonnie, who lives in Australia. While visiting, I brought her one in my suitcase thinking she would love it. I was so excited and eager to give it to her. I brought it all the way to Australia with me! She was gonna love it!  I just knew it! She did not know of this plan, of course, as it was a surprise. Anyway, one of the days she was sitting with me near my suitcase and accidentally saw it, asking what the heck was a Buddha Board? I explained it to her, what it was, the premise of living in the moment, to which she exclaimed, “See now, I would hate one of those”.  Remember, she had no idea this was a gift for her at that time.

Oh boy.  Apparently, I was way wrong on the whole, “this is so cool”, factor.  Here is what you need to know. Bonnie is a low-key gentle type person. But this Buddha Board?  She was not having it!  Not. Having. It. She was really turned off by the impermanence of it all.  Make something you love only to lose it?  No thank you! Work on something only to see it fade away?  Nope, not interested.

Well…okay then. I giggled and sheepishly told her it was supposed to be a gift for her!  But now? Well, I guess not.  I was wrong.  Way wrong.  We laughed about it and then I packed that thing away and toted it all the way back to America with me! A few months down the track, after she thought about it for a bit, she said to me, wistfully, one day, “I sure do wish I had one of those Buddha Boards. Those things really do seem cool”.  Yep, I bet you do.  Too bad you, “would hate to have one of those”, and I had to bring it all the way home to America where it could live with me.  It is three years later and we still laugh about that Buddha Board and, “see now, I would hate that”.  I guess not.

Buddha Board 3

I have no affiliation to this product.  I just like it!

Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved

Soul Hunger

Brave Girls Symposium 2016

July 12, 2016


Three days. Five hundred ladies. Led by the founders of Brave Girls Club,  Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins. Themed What Can Love Do?

I Want To Bring You There With Me
Imagine For A Minute  

Have you ever been to a rally, conference, or a Sunday morning at church where the feeling inside that room was electric?  Think about how it feels when singing the national anthem on July 4th or the vibe at a sporting event where everyone is cheering for their team.

You Know How That Feels…Alive?   

That situation when each persons’ hearts and spirit are in alignment with one another?   Where the intentions of the group come together to make one? How the stranger next to you suddenly crosses over some invisible boundary to become your comrade, your partner, your friend? Where for one moment in time it feels safe, accepted,  and encouraged to reach out to the person beside you even if you have no idea who they are, where they come from, what beliefs they hold? In essence, even if they are not like you or maybe they are just like you.  And with these virtual strangers you find yourself feeling and thinking, “I’m home. I’m home. I’m home”. Whew, power right there.  It makes me emotional just to write it.

That was Brave Girls Symposium, For Three Days Solid


What Can Love Do?

This room was so full of the spirit of love, grace, and acceptance. Everyone should have the opportunity to come into a space like this and have the opportunity to get filled up in this way.  It was like the cracks in my heart and spirit got spackled, covered, and filled.  I came out feeling full in way that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I almost forgot what it was like to feel that way.


Typically, in a situation similar to this I would be pondering over about all the things in my life that I might change.  You know the drill, kind of like resolutions in the New Year.  I would walk away feeling inspired, yes, but also with this long list of all the things I needed to “fix”.  A laundry list.  Good stuff for sure, but not this time.  This time was different.  You know what I felt?


Like It Was All Good

I want to say that again.  It was all good.  I felt so held,  so complete, so at PEACE ya’ll.  I’m serious.  It felt so freakin’ good to just sit in that warm bath of okay-ness.  I did not need that laundry list of things to work on. That was a really different outcome for me.  I thought to myself,

What if…

I really am okay, just now, just here, just like I am today?  Not fixed up, not perfected, not polished?

 What if…

I am held in this way by something greater than me that looks at me with tenderness and pride and says, “girl, it’s all good”.

 What if…

I am able to incorporate that feeling, that truth into my everyday life?  How might my life take form if I really believe, let it get into my bones, that I’m good just as I am? Might I love better and deeper?  Might I have more joy and less angst?  I bet I would.


Let Me Tell You About The Speakers 


Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins

Melody Ross. Flora Bowley. Kelly Rae Roberts. Glennon Doyle Melton, Keri and Richard Paul Evans, and many more! All utterly amazing.  These people shared here.  They did not present. They laid it all out. I mean, really, they put on their bravery, laid down their armour, got dirty and shared.   Know what that brings?  Connection and inspiration.  That act of courage?  That’s generosity right there. These people were generous in their spirit of showing up with humility and the belief that their tender personal stories might help someone else in some way. Generosity to its’ core.  Good stuff, I’ll tell ya.



Kelly Rae Roberts


Flora Bowley


Of course, no awesome, love filled retreat would be complete without good food, a hotel and grounds that were decked out with artfully creative decor, shopping, music and dance, and The Goodie Bag. Do we not love The Goodie Bag? You know what I’m talking about here. You want to show me some love?  The Goodie Bag. Want me to feel welcomed?  The Goodie Bag.  I know all you ladies are shaking your heads right now going, “mmm, hmmm.”  Right?  We looove The Goodie Bag.  Basically, every inch of that space someone thoughtfully presented for all of us.

 It Was Evident That Brave Girls Club Intended To Show Love In Those Spaces





Man, don’t we need some of this in our lives?  Don’t we want to be in a place where we have the chance to feel complete and accepted just as we are?  Good news.  They are having a Brave Girls Symposium 2017!  Woo hoo!  You can go too!  I’m going.  I’m already signed up!  People, if you can get there next year, go.  It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, what you’ve been through, and this is not just an “artsy” thing, this is a heart thing.

If You Need Some Encouragement and to Fill Up That Cup of Yours, GO!!



Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved

Soul Hunger

Bravely Speaking Kind Thoughts

June 30, 2016

I have a philosophy.  It goes like this.

 If I Am With Someone and I am Thinking Kind or Encouraging Thoughts About Them,

I Bravely Step Out and Tell Them What I am Thinking

It is a bold and risky move but it is a principle that guides my life.  I don’t keep uplifting thoughts to myself.  I say them. Now, here is the risk. Risk in being vulnerable. Risk at being awkward.  It really isn’t within social norms to speak real, sincere words of encouragement to people, particularly if these are not people we are already close to.

I Feel That Words Have Power

Power to heal, to connect, and to help others feel seen and validated.  I think this can change people, bring them hope, and turn on the light that is inside of them. For example, if I am thinking to myself that someone is doing a good job at something, or if they are inspirational in some way, if they live their lives with courage, or some such thing, I might think encouraging thoughts about them, but then the thoughts could just sort of sit there inside of me. I often think, does it really do the good that it can do if all these encouraging thoughts just sit inside of my head? What good is it, for only me to know? If I walked away from the conversation with only myself to bear witness to it?  What if I just…shared it instead?

How much better would it be if those thoughts could be birthed into conversations that can bring about healing, growth, and connection? What if I had the courage to buck social norms, go ahead and get awkward, let down my guard, and instead choose a spirit of generosity to speak these kind words? So I choose to do it. Sometimes it goes awkward.  The person is taken aback or feels exposed.  The conversation doesn’t follow typical social protocol.  Maybe the person thinks I am just odd.  But you know what?

 I Am Okay With Risking Being Seen as Odd Every Once in a While

Why? Because time and time again, way more often than not,  I speak those encouraging words and  I can see change in the person I am talking to.  I see their posture straighten up and their bodies relax.  I often see their face soften as a flood of relief comes in. Their spirit lights up.  I can visibly see the relief and appreciation of being seen. It is worth the risk of being awkward or vulnerable.  What stands to be gained both for them and for me is so great and is so worth it because our words have power.

So, if we are naturally thinking kind and encouraging thoughts, let’s go ahead and say them.The world needs to hear it. People are so very hungry to feel seen and to be heard.  Our words have the power to facilitate that.

Let’s Step Out and Bravely Speak Kind Thoughts!


Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle  All Rights Reserved

At My Art Table

At My Art Table-A Bit of Collage

June 30, 2016

I Love Sharing Resources and Information

I am taking a lovely online art class called Inspired Collage with artist Petra Hrziwnatzki.  Her soft, subtle and approachable nature comes through in her art work and her teaching style.  Most of the classes I take and art work I do are typically more bold and saturated in color and style.  However, strangely, even though I am drawn to that style, I am really never quite satisfied at the end.  Somehow, even though I like vibrant colors,whatever I make doesn’t really feel like me. In this class Petra mentioned having a similar experience which I thought was interesting.  It can take a lot of restraint to create something more subtle, muted and understated.


It is interesting that in the last year and a half that I have begun making art this is the only piece I have chosen to hang up in my home.  Comfortable is a bit of a strange word to describe art work but that is how it feels for me, comfortable.  Check out Petra and her beautiful soft artwork and her class.


Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved

Soul Hunger

3 Ways to Make Peace With Fear

June 30, 2016

blog-photo fear

I have been talking to some friends lately about fear, theirs and mine.  I have noticed a pattern in the way we internalize our fears.

Fear Has a Sort of  “Double Punch, a One, Two Whammy”

It looks like this. Punch one, the initial fear. It can be about anything, our children, our jobs, the future, who we are or aren’t, finding our place in the world, all kinds of fears. The named and unnamed. The known and unknown.  Punch two?  A sidekick, a secondary emotion that closely follows. This emotion is less detectable but equally as debilitating. Now instead of having the one troubling emotion, fear, we now have doubled it to have two. That’s the “double punch”.  Fear with inadequacy.  Fear with guilt. Fear with desperation. The original fear followed by the fear of the fear. Sound familiar?  When I am in the ring with this “double punch, a one, two whammy”, I begin to dissect fear and its side-saddle friend. Taking a mental step back to get some distance from fear helps to see fear (and myself in that fear) in a more kind, compassionate way. A way that helps to gain steady solid ground involving truth instead of getting pummeled in the fight.  Here are three things that can help to make peace with fear.

1. Fear is What Makes Us Human

Fear is part of our makeup as human beings. We are biologically bound to experience fear. Our bodies are hardwired for this emotion. Humans have experienced this since the beginning of time. We cannot ban it from ourselves or be rid of it.  There simply is no life without fear.  Even though the media and social culture would like us to think otherwise, it isn’t the truth.  We cannot deny what we are hardwired to experience. Recognizing this as truth can help to make fear feel like a more normalized experience.  It is helpful to let go of this ideal that we should beat fear, put it in its place, yell at it and demand that it back down!!  Oh,what a pressure and heavy load to have to constantly shun fear or somehow be shamed by both our fear and our inability to quickly and efficiently snap it into place.

2. Fear is a Common Denominator

Everyone has fears.  We are never alone or the only ones who have fear.  There is no fear that I may have that some other person has not already had.  How do I know?  Because we are all human and our emotions are our common denominator.  True, our life experiences and our stories might be different, but the emotions that are around those experiences are the same.  They put us on an equal playing field and assure us that being in fear is not unique to only ourselves.  We are in this together. When we are in fear let us find comfort in that.

3. Fear Can Be Good and Even Necessary

Healthy balanced fear can be good for us.  Think about it.  Fear is what helps us to get our children to the doctor when they are sick.  Fear is what helps to keep us from breaking the rules and promotes social order.  Fear can keep us in community if we follow our natural instinct to connect.   Sometimes I think about what this would look like in primal days.  We were meant to live in community to keep each other safe.  We wouldn’t want to wonder off alone into the mountains or the field away from the protection of our community.  Even though we aren’t living in those primal times our biological make up and needs are still very similar.  If taken to an extreme, a person without fear is one who is in danger or without consciousness.  Fear can be a helper to us and is necessary in our lives.  Let’s allow it its rightful place.

I think of making peace with fear in terms of fear in a child.  If a child has a fear of the dark I do not have the expectation that they are inadequate for having the fear, nor of not being able to put their fears aside.  I do not expect them to look at the fear with logic in order to “logic it away”.   I don’t yell at them, distance myself, or allow our relationship  or connection to suffer in any way because they are in fear.  Their fear does not scare me, move me, cause me to wither or puff up.  It does not threaten me in any way.  I simply stay with them, rub their back, speak soothing words, and show them understanding.  I do this for as long as they need to process through their fears.  I cannot take their fear away from them but I can provide a source of strength and comfort until they can feel their way back to safety.  If I can do this for a child, I can also do this for the child that is within me. We can do this for the child and places of fear within each of ourselves.

Next time we experience the “double punch, one, two whammy”, let’s move through our fears in a mindful way and use these principles to make peace with fear. Buffering fear with kindness and self compassion is key to softening and finding hope when we are in the arena getting sucker punched by fear and its sidekicks.


Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved


June 30, 2016

Wouldn’t It Be Easier if We Could Start at the End Instead of the Beginning?

That is What I am Wishing for Now

I want to know where I am headed, where I will end up, to feel safer, more secure to begin my journey of showing up and being seen. But it doesn’t really work like that. So here I am, at the beginning, not knowing how this will end up, how the journey will unfold, or if it will be “worth it”.

If you know me in person, you will know that I am an open, candid, honest person. I cannot fake it, even if I want to. However, I am also introverted and private. Perhaps because when I do share I know it will be “the real deal”, so it’s scary, to come forward to an online world where you can’t read the room or see the person you are talking to, where people can be mean and forthcoming with their opinions.

 There is Risk

But I guess there is also risk of staying quiet, staying small, playing it safe, and that really isn’t so safe after all. I suppose it is about balance between candor coupled with healthy dose personal boundaries. Anyhow, I imagine it is like anything else and is something I can only learn by doing and trying and living a little bit bigger until I comfortably fill up the space that is made for me. So I guess I have come out of the gate in my typical style. If I am gonna say it is going to be “real deal” and this feels pretty real deal to me.

I am Here Have a Place to Share and Connect and Grow in My Voice

It is a place to share my thoughts on life, personal growth, and art and how those might intertwine. Hopefully, I will gain community, connection, and some inspiration. I want to go out and find what I have been seeking. A tribe. I hope you will come along with me and be my tribe.

So I will show up here, all awkward, and tottling and learning to take first steps. And I will learn, I know I will. I will learn how to tell story, how to photograph, how to make art, how to share about life and love, and how to connect with people online. If you feel inclined leave me a comment. I want to “see” you and know you are there.



Copyright 2016 Shay Michelle All Rights Reserved