Fear and Panic are the Enemy!

Don’t Panic, Instead, Live a Life of Truth, Clarity and Calm – and Abundance Will Prevail.

I believe in the cliche’, if you build it they will come — gasping? I know…wretched, but true. I believe in this overused term, of course, until my own panic sets in and fear leeches into my psyche!

I battle this most everyday. Artists and writers everywhere face this demon.

I recall one of my favorite cartoon characters, The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. Gazoo represents this emotional, spiritual, crises of the conscience. A little space alien, appears above Fred’s shoulder. He’s lecturing him on — what’s right and wrong/good and evil — evoking fear and panic in Fred’s mind, playing upon his guilty conscience.

Abundance comes in many forms. One thing is certain, if you panic, abundance becomes restricted, delayed, suppressed. If you start the day with clarity of purpose and faith in your ability to remain calm, things begin to manifest. Abundance presents — not as money (however, it can and many times does) but as flow.

What is Flow?

It is the excitement and expectation that what you create today is good, purposeful, beautiful, delicious, charming, in fact —  it’s great!

Haven’t you had this experience?

When you paint, write, sing, cook and everything you create is amazing!

That’s flow –that’s abundance — that’s money!

Photo by David McBee from Pexels

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Abundance shows up as a peaceful knowing that your spirit is free. Creativity is purpose and innovation. You will have gratitude for your clarity, joy in your creation — that’s the ultimate reward!

When the juices are flowing you feel the most alive. I do.

Panic, worry, doubt and fear — these feelings present as a spiritual crises of your soul. Your flow stops, sputters, chokes, and your creativity/abundance — stifled.

These feelings happen to me on a regular basis. Anxiety sets in — am I wrong? Should I, would I, could I? — blah, blah, blah. This is the look on Fred Flintstones face, the anxiety and panic. He thinks, am I making good decisions? Struggling to regain his sense of clarity, his sense of spiritual truth.

Truth is… making art/writing/being creative, sets my personal point of reference back ‘True North’. I wrestle with my anxiety by creating my art. If I surrender to the flow, the spirit, the force, the magic — however you want to label it — abundance prevails. Making art/writing/being creative, has been the ‘set point’ in my life. Without this clarity, this purpose, I would fail miserably in life.

I struggle with this strange notion that if I’m not working a job, bringing in lots of money, then, what I do isn’t legitimate. After all, society perpetuates and rewards this ideology. This truth has been hard to digest at times. However, by seeking calm and clarity (and most important) by keep building and tending to the garden of my creativity — I know the fruits of my flow is the reward. 

Like Fred, The Great Gazoo is with me. As good spiritual leaders do (okay, okay he’s a cartoon character) but I like him, whatever it takes… Gazoo is with me, helping me to find clarity, calm and truth. I won’t surrender to panic and fear, rather, I will use it to forge a path to greatness, a path to abundance.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexelscolorful-colourful-outdoors-830829.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pivotal Moment I Followed My Passion And Became An Artist

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexelsadult-alone-black-and-white-551588.jpg

That pivotal moment came – after personal tragedy

I was Twenty years old – lost, depressed, and confused after my cousin Billy committed suicide. We were close growing up as children. Billy’s suicide was the dark storm that wrecked me. As a child of the 1970’s and 80’s, drug use was commonplace with teenagers. Billy became an addict and succumbed to the effects of this lifestyle at a young age. He shot himself in the temple. A common (and preferred method) for men. Billy was twenty-one years of age. And, as I said, I was twenty. I was no angel either, however, I wasn’t an addict. Instead I was in danger of becoming an alcoholic. At the time of Billy’s suicide, I was in the process of getting my act together. Daunting at best, as I had little (to no) resources or support. I proclaimed to myself – I would avoid going down that same path ever, ever, EVER.

Kicked-outta’ the house and living on my own (after graduating high school) life was difficult for me.

Photo by Min An from Pexelsadult-alone-concrete-720362

I found a single room (in a Boarding House). The Glenside Inn, located in the town I grew up, was a restaurant and bar with single rooms upstairs and a shared bath. The Inn became my home for a bit. I found full-time work in a print shop – an old vintage print shop. The shop, in operation since the 1940’s, was still (at that time) using those old typeset letters and burning metal plates for the printers. 

Photo by Wendelin Jacober from Pexelsbusiness-close-up-equipment-1440504.jpg

Available today as collectibles on ebay https://www.ebay.com/itm/250-Vintage-Lead-Typeset-Letterpress-Block-Letters-In-Drawer-1-4-3-8-/113272846465 .

Ha! No secrets here, I’m an OLD man! Okay – I might be overdoing things a bit… however, millennials such as my son might agree with this.

But – I digress.

My job at the print shop was to shoot the mock-up’s, develop the film and burn the metal plates that attached to the large Heidelberg printing presses. Of course, back then, the graphic artist did all the mock-up’s by hand – cut and paste (pre-digital) – an acquired skill and tedious to boot.

What got me jazzed was the grit and grind of the shop

The cool-looking, large plate burners – the graphic artist, angry and stressed – cutting/pasting/smoking – the piles and piles of cut up papers and magazines, stacked messy and high on the drafting board. Yellow dingy windows – the dark and dirty factory atmosphere – the frenzied pace of deadlines – the photography – the typesetting – the wooden print shop relics – and the humongous LOUD printing machines. All this chaos, captured my fascination. I became transported back in time.

After working all day, alone and depressed in my room, I started to draw again. With weekly trips to the library I found art books to study, copying Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s – determined to learn more. I developed a love for abstract art, and began experimenting. I drew my little sister’s elementary school pictures, dogs, abstracts and strange, distorted self-portraits.

No matter what – I wanted to BECOME an artist

This was a bold awakening for somebody that had NO real direction in life. My parents education level – both of them high school dropouts – struggled to raise us kids. Unspoken yet expected – the norm had been – you would somehow GET A JOB when you graduate.

J-O-B’s – weren’t enough

So…I enrolled in night school at Penn State University’s satellite campus. I had no idea what I was doing. I muddled through the process. I spent time planning and studying financial aid (still mystified) I pressed on. Attending part-time at night, while working full-time to pay rent. Art classes during the day and Liberal Art classes at night, I succeeded in bringing my grades up. The daytime art classes were my favorite. My art teacher mentored me, showing me how to get a portfolio together. This was invaluable.

Ultimately –  I transferred full-time to an amazing art school

The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I couldn’t believe I was there. The whole experience was super exciting and new. Considering, at first, I snubbed the idea, I wasn’t sure I wanted to earn a degree. I believed I would find an artist community and be self-taught. However, that idea folded quick. And without this experience, I might have ended up with my own personal tragedy. Following my passion saved me. Four years later, I graduated, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a certificate in Art Therapy. Eager to conquer the art world and live my ARTIST life, I succeeded.

The after artist’s life (so to speak) is a whole other story…

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I Cracked the Outer Shell and Touched the Inside of my Soul

selfieA vision struck me one day, that little bubble that appears in newspaper comics popped inside my head: “The Artist From The Inside Out”. In that moment, clarity washed over me. I said – “What a great premise for my blog”. Lay everything out, bare naked and in the open. Being an artist who is going through transition is simultaneously exciting and exposing; sometimes leaving me in a raw emotional state. After all, I didn’t plan on being transgender, nevertheless this is who I am. I spent my life hiding inside a shell. In mere seconds, I cracked that outer shell and touched the inside of my soul for the first time. A shell created to protect me from our society’s hate, ignorance and judgement. This coping mechanism – I honed –  from the outside in.

Realizing that I had defaulted to my shortcomings and created a suitable safe existence, became shocking to me. This idea of “The Artist From The Inside Out” reversed that dialogue with myself. Critical that I live unrestricted, free from hate and judgement, my quest is to get re-acquainted with the boy I abandoned years ago. Reclaiming ones’ self-identity is vital to transition. Being transgender, and an artist, means visiting the places I forgot, the uncharted experiences of my life that I desperately desired.

When I was a child, I assumed I was a boy, however, society rejected this and rendered me female – that was devastating. Life became hard when that reality sank in. As people challenged my identity, seething anger replaced innocence. The outer shell of self-protection began to form, but with consequences. My life became sad, depressing and scary. Confusion twisted my little soul in two, and I split my world to somehow fit this “new reality”. To become whole as a man, and as an artist, is my end goal. That’s happening with ease now, but with moments of grief. Normal human behavior is to look back and mourn the years we lost. However, grief purges the soul and opens your heart.

“The Artist From The Inside Out” was the light switch moment; the flipping of my life story. As an artist, authenticity is my mantra – what I strive to live by. Living by this code is what I need to feel connected. That authenticity is unraveling for me everyday as I learn something profound (or not) in becoming connected again to my true self. Funny, but the experiences I find profound are the simple memories of a carefree boyhood and joys of unfettered play. The simple love of my Matchbox and Hot Wheels , my purple Nerf football and my reckless tree climbing were true bliss.

However, as a small child I had awareness that I was different. My mother shared the other day a memory of me, at five years old, punching the little boy next door for calling me a girl! I consider myself a Robin Hood type, but a bully – no! My nature is to come to the rescue of the victim, the underdog. I suppose I was the victim of that little boy – and the five-year old me – didn’t accept this! Mom verified to myself (and to herself) that even at five years old, I understood I was a boy.

I strive to express love, passion and the human spirit as an artist. I want to express this crazy need I have to say something in my life. Art is a reminder of the inner light us humans hold. The brighter the light the bigger the impact. Self-expression is one of the biggest needs humans have, but at times forgotten. What higher form of democratic-expression is there but the human right to self-expression, self-determination. Therefore, my self-discovery of being transgender and going through this transition has been the ultimate in self-expression.

A critical and larger part of a healthy democracy is all equal parts are thriving. Artists are here to remind us of the commonality we all experience, because art by nature allows for human connection. As an introvert – as an artist – albeit late in life; my shell cracked open and the man within – exposed from the inside out.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gender Identity and the Dreaded Self Portait; At Least I Didn’t Cut My Ear Off

 

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Vincent Van Gogh “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear” (Photo Credit: Public Domain)

Vincent Van Gogh cut his ear off. They claim he had mental Illness. Maybe he did – maybe he didn’t, I don’t know. Artists have demons. His demons caused him such distress that he physically harmed himself. He was emotional, passionate and intense; yet out of his element in that century. Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters. I related to him as an artist. Perhaps he struggled with his identity? He may have even hated his self-portraits. I dreaded mine. Self-portraits exposed me. I didn’t like being exposed. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right inside me. I never felt comfortable with my image. But at least I didn’t cut my ear off.

This past July I was recruited to do an “Ask Me Anything!” (AMA) event after being “found” on an illustrators group. I’d never heard of it before but after researching it, I was intrigued. I immediately signed up and soon after was hosting my first event.  The experience really touched me personally. It was this event that spawned the idea of  revamping my old blog. If you haven’t heard of AMA events, I urge you to check them out amafeed.com . I want to expound a bit on my answers to some very insightful questions I got from people during my event. One of the questions I was asked was, did I think hating my self-portraits had anything to do with my gender identity crises? To that I said, “I absolutely do!”  In fact as good as others thought my art was, I often felt it was not good enough or worse yet, they are lying (just to make me feel better) weird right? The imposter syndrome was always with me. Sure I liked my art. Sometimes I even loved my art. BUT it definitely brought out my self-hatred too, especially when I had to look in the mirror and do a self-portrait. I guess it was not the usual self-loathing that most people experience. It was a fear to portray myself as female. I thought to myself, is it okay that I looked and felt kinda like a guy anyhow? Gender identity was my Achilles heel . I was always trying to walk an imaginary line of androgyny. After all, androgyny was cool I thought, I’m an artist right? Also, I was struggling with never feeling quite right with being a “lesbian”. In fact, I never really self-identified that way, preferring instead to say that I was gay. This way I could avoid the female connotation, it was an easy and more accepted identity for me. I am very comfortable and relieved now that I’m not a lesbian. I never was. I am a male who is binary and straight. I was born transgender not cis-gender. This has been a huge relief because I harbored feelings that I might be homophobic or hated lesbians and felt extremely guilty about that. I haven’t picked up and explored self-portraits since transitioning. I suspect when I do it will be a better experience. I like how I look and feel now. I am not saying I won’t struggle at all, that would be absurd. However, I don’t have to agonize over my female features anymore. I can look in the mirror with confidence and ease. I finally like they way I look. Self-portaits aside, having transitioned to male and feeling my gender dysphoria slowly dissolve has been a sheer joy. This artistic journey, this human journey leaves me to wonder, what if Van Gogh lived today? Would it be different for him. Maybe he wouldn’t have cut off his ear?

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I know my posts have been few lately, as I have recently moved to a new state and have been out of touch a bit. Hope to post a bit more now. Stay tuned.

A couple of friends of mine and I went to a very interesting and cool art installation designed to bring recognition to farms and food co-ops that are rapidly growing. ( pun intended, sort of) this was held at the Weavers Way farm in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pa.

An artist by the name of  Meei- Ling Ng put together an inspirational art installation using recycled farm materials such as chicken coop wiring, irrigation tubes etc. here is the link  to her show Multi-Media Art Installation by Meei-Ling Ng and Farm Festival.

Below are some pics I took on my old iphone (apologies on poor quality) it was cold and rainy and dark,  but it was still very cool to walk around and experience the art,  and the farm.

This farmer greeted us upon our entry to the farm. Everything was lit by “Jackson” the lighting designer with LED and solar lighting.

This is a Beekeeper, which brought attention to the plight of bees and their scary demise due to pesticides! Very sad. She piped in a documentary on this topic by an award-winning director ( sorry can’t remember the name) in the beekeepers head. Nice touch!

I can’t recall the name of this piece, but I do know it lit up the crops in a very cool looking way drawing attention to the field. Reminiscent of Christo‘s artwork http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christo_and_Jeanne-Claude

And this is what she called “The Balloon Chicken” I loved this piece!!

Great installation, and her other work included paintings and wood sculptures throughout the farm, like the cool woodpecker sculptures that became suddenly exposed by the solar light that was on a motion detector!! Nice touch by Jackson the lighting designer. Kudos !!

© [Jay Mora- Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Thank you summer4soul for my award! I am truly grateful for your recognition. I have made an about turn, for now,  on my posting of awards and playing along with the “chain” of nominations. I simply can’t keep up with it and am selfish and only want to post what I want.  Blah, so there you go — I said it. I have indulged my impatience for the daunting process of the awards game. I am not ungrateful, just lazy. I’d rather spend my time with quick posts or the original reason I started this blog– to showcase and discuss Food, Art and Poetry.

So for now I bow down to the blogging award gods and goddesses, and bid you farewell and happy blogging! 

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

 

Surprise at the Farmer’s Market

We only have one more week before our favorite organic veggie booth, Worden Farms, shuts down for the summer. Rats!

It is that time of year in Florida where it’s hard to grow anything because the sun is so blazing hot!

So, we will fair well with our local Whole Foods Market and some conventional veggie stands for now.

This week I made a purchase at the homemade pasta and pizza booth (Peperonata Pasta). I bought some homemade Porcini Mushroom Ravioli, yum! They had some beautiful looking pizza crusts and focaccia I’ll try next time.

Next we headed over to the bread booth where we bought a lovely sandwich loaf that was a mix of Sourdough, Rye and Wheat. It has the perfect crust and flavor, especially when you toast it!

Also at this booth a nice woman named Gail was selling some of her relishes and jams, alongside of some luscious and fruity bottles of artisan olive oils.

The Sweet Green Tomato Relish was delightful.

What a nice variety of jams she made.

Olive oil, next time for sure!

I know… you’re wondering WHAT the surprise is I was talking about this week!!

Drumroll please….. 

An Arts and Crafts Market right next to the Farmer’s Market!! Woo hoo! Two of my favorite things at once!

Colorful handblown glass bubbles.

My fiancée knows this puppeteer “Doc” who set up his “Lions, Tigers, and Bears productions” stage on the back of his bicycle, very cool!

Doc hand carves amazing puppets!  This is one snazzy cat puppet,  playing a piano he made as well. Bravo!

Below is the side view of the stage and bike.

We thought this gentleman made some nice looking tee shirts by hand, cutting different fabrics and making one of a kind images with the cut up pieces.

This guy was pretty sweet too!

Mr. Panda, what a face,  he’s a beautiful sculpture.

“Waters Edge Studios” had beautiful copper and glass sculptures by, Terry Andrews.

This booth had glass vases as well as some very cool fake food art by “The Frozen Moments”

These Pet-it Fours looked so real you wanted to gobble them up, I actually had to double-check to see if they were real!

Fake cupcakes and chocolates.

Chocolate cake with fake strawberries too!

Huge flower-pot!

Next we spotted a large hand carved gator lying in the street!

We got closer…

C’mon it is Florida after all, gotta have a gator…oh and some tropical birds as well!

This Old Salty Dog in the background of the photo below, made these two out of metal, stunning in person!

ARRrrrgghhh!!!

These were full size Pirate metal sculptures, simply awesome and also very Florida!

What a great morning, and a great surprise – two markets in one today!!

We were pooped and HOT, after a long, but fantastic Saturday at the Farmer’s/Art market. We ended the morning with some chilled black and green Mint tea and some organic watermelon, from our favorite Worden’s Farm booth, of course!!

Yum Food!! Yum Art!!

© [Jay Mora- Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora- Shihadeh] and [artistfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dogzzzzz….Rule! (well, you know the rest)

Now that you saw from my post about the farmer’s market, that I have the BEST Dog On THE Planet!

Khalil!

 and one more snoozy pic! (note the faraway look in his eyes)

 Being the big dog lover that I am, I decided to create two pastel pieces in honor of my boy. Enjoy!

“Cave Dog”  Oil Pastel on Watercolor Paper

“Dog Run” Oil Pastel on Watercolor Paper

©Jay Mora-Shihadeh

 

My Poetry

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Today is the first day I will share my poetry with you.

My first poem will be, of course, about food!

“Just the meat and cheese please”

on some days you just ramble

and you think

is this crap any good?

or is it just crap?

but then again

it’s like the times you just want

only the meat and cheese

on pumpernickel please !

no accoutrements, no special sauce

no tomatoes, no lettuce or onions

and no fancy baby greens,

i’ll have,

just the meat and cheese

on pumpernickel please !

hungry for the simple goodness

of a fresh sandwich, you dig in.

mmmmm…..

now that’s a good sandwich.

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