17 lessons i learned in 2017...

For me, 2017 was a year of incredible highs and lows, yet chock full of Life-Altering Soul lessons...

  1. Anxiety and Stress can wear you out, if the root cause is never discovered and worked through... and if you self-medicate your way thru it; you WILL prolong the Lesson.
  2. Loyalty can be a blessing and a curse. It can heal hearts and create trust & connection, or it can keep you in places you’ve outgrown. It’s not your job to get your Family to The Promised Land. Show them what’s possible in how you LIVE LIFE. If they wanna go, they’ll do the work.
  3. “Rest” doesn’t always mean sleep. Sometimes it means fresh air, a journal, a bath, a stillness meditation. Plugging out by taking breaks from phones, social media & people can be hella restorative. 
  4. You teach people how to treat YOU based on your tolerance and low expectations. This includes YOUR children, no matter the age. Boundaries are what help people grow. 
  5. Know When to Let Go. Some Mamas really pride ourselves on nurturing and enabling laziness in our grown Sons and Daughters in ways that feel good to us; but isn’t good for them. If your need to feel Needed is what drives you to do things for people, it might be time to consider letting go. Here’s a great podcast on the subject: http://apple.co/2zawkJb 
  6. GRACE isn’t given; it’s received from the the Great Omnipotent Divine (GOD) and is not meant to rescue you from Pain...but rather sustain you in learning the lessons Pain presents, until it gets better. 
  7. Be careful of who you allow to Sow or Speak into your life. Not every philosophy, message, word, inspirational newsletter, Coach, or Strategist is right for you. Once you really know Who You Are, you can learn to listen to your own heart, and follow that voice. 
  8. Move Your Body and Be kind to it. Eat well. Fresh, life-giving foods. A run or walk outside in fresh air, a private dance party around the house, or even 20 minutes of deep breathing & stretching does wonder for body chemistry and balancing emotions.
  9. UNSUBSCRIBE from Philosophies and Behaviors that no longer serve you. Why get EVERY Email about sales when trying to save money? Why hang out with people who eat greasy food and hang out at bars when You’re trying to lose weight and drink less??
  10. Don’t let GUILT hold you back. Reaching some level of success can make you feel guilty about leaving loved ones behind, especially if they feel threatened and/or jealous, and comment on how you “must think you’re all that.” As much as you want to bring them with you, they have to WANT to come, and CHOOSE to do the inner work. 
  11. Your big Energy, Presence, Drive, Determination, Resilience & Ridiculously LOVING & FORGIVING Heart is NOTHING to be ashamed of, so Own Your GREATNESS, UNAPOLOGETICALLY. 
  12. Sabotage is REAL. You can deliberately destroy your own destiny or allow other people to do it, simply by not Speaking the truth to what you know is right. 
  13. To LOVE someone is to Tell them the Truth. Be a radical Truth-Teller at all costs; it can really bring about change for people. Do you want your friend at the restaurant to meet her Prince Charming with Cilantro in her teeth? So why not tell her (gently, of course) that her bitterness and abandonment issues still show through her cute hair and outfit? 
  14. WHO YOU ARE is ENOUGH. So you can Stop over-giving, running yourself ragged, buying the gifts, and trying So hard to be ALL things to ALL people. Your presence and energy (when you’re emotionally healthy) matters way more in the end. 
  15. Success CANNOT be duplicated. There’s no perfect, one size fits all approach. But knowing and/or seeking to find YOUR unique purpose is the real work, with the real rewards. 
  16. REFILL THE WELL.The best help I can give to someone else comes from planting good seeds, and watering my own garden first. 
  17. STOP letting your Inbox, Phone, FB Messenger and all SOCIAL MEDIA PUNK YOU INTO NOT TAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF. Solitude and Stillness, is not a Luxury. Especially for Creators. Being willing to listen and receive is Prayer. Prayer changes everything. Now GO BE GREAT! 
VersAnnette BlackmanComment
On Grief, Grace & Grit

If you've been rocking with me for a while, you're aware that earlier this year in May, I lost my younger brother, William to suicide. (at least now I can say his name). He was 32 years old. The healing process from this tragedy has left me with a lot to learn; so many feelings to process, and a greater understanding of who I am and this ever so complex thing called Emotional Wellness. 

The driving phrase I chose for 2017 was "Cultivating Radiant Joy". In January when I chose it, I told myself I was going to study and understand joy, I was going to pursue JOY and have a JOYOUS year. Yup! Happy dance type shit! All the time! What I didn't know then but definitely know now is that truly deep sorrow and Grief gives way to joy. 

There aren’t really words to tell you how this pain has cracked my soul wide open. It's such a visceral pain; the kind you can feel in your chest -- while the rest of your mind and body feel numb. On the flip side, it creates an intensity of awareness that makes you feel a connection to everything around you. You start to discern things about people you couldn’t see before. You feel the truth about situations in your spirit. 

But this connection only comes after the hardship of feeling, you know the kind that causes you to lose interest in work, being with people, or pretty much anything involving you to feel things. The kind that makes you walk around in sweatpants and not comb your hair. It's strange how even the most connectedness driven folks can push everyone and everything away and operate in that state of isolation for weeks without even noticing. And if you're anything like me, you'll do your best to avoid feeling down because it's a source of discomfort. 

And that’s where Grace comes in. 

Grace is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot. But I wanted to dig deeper for an adequate definition. Here’s what I found:: It has been defined as “the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation.” 

I binged watched TV shows, enjoyed one glass of wine too many, too often. I didn’t hang out with friends, and I barely answered my phone. Some days the “influence to regenerate and sanctify” my own soul led me to pick up my paint brush even when I didn’t feel like painting. And on some days I found an ounce of strength and endurance, but On sooooo many days I was this close to giving up. And sometimes I just DID NOTHING. And grace was being okay with that. I’d love to know, where has GRACE shown up in your life lately? Have you endured any loss this year? How are you getting thru it? Leave me a comment below. 

My newest collection, "This is Grace" will be released next week. These paintings are special and are from a beautiful place in my heart. I hope you’ll connect with these pieces, and more than that - I hope that there’s at least one that speaks to you.

Embracing the Mystery of Uncertainty

This painting was completed just before my solo exhibit this Spring, but sits in my studio and is one of the first things I see daily . It emits a lot of energy, but the more I look at it, it seems to be telling a story.

I see the trees that speak of wilderness experience and growth, I see bright edges of possibility,

but I also see the figures at the bottom trying to figure something out. They seem to be on a journey, and at this most critical moment they seem to be faced with a decision. Do we keep going? And what lies on the other side? How to move forward when we can’t see what lies ahead?

How do you move forward when you can’t see what lies ahead?

The only thing I’m certain of is that uncertainty happens to all of us, at some point or another. I’m not sure that it’s an enjoyable process, or all that tolerable for most of us. Because of my faith, I’m taught to trust that even in the mystery of uncertainty, I can trust that things are working for my good, whether it feels good or not.

Every time I begin a painting, there is an element of uncertainty. I don’t know what the finished product will look like, I could hate every part of it, I could mess it all up. But I keep moving through, adding layers and layers of paint until something in my soul is satisfied.

This is a season of lunar eclipses, retrogrades and yesterday’s full moon. The tides are high. Which leads me to believe that many of us are in a season of transition. Unsettling in nature, transitions can bring about expansion and force us to break through our own internal barriers. Mindsets that hold us back. Stretch us outside our comfort zones. It’s just growth. Never easy, always necessary.

It is my prayer that no matter who you are, or where you are, that you continue to push, stretch, expand in growth and trust it’s all working for your good.