• Leah Shelley

The Adventure is beginning

Hey there!

As a way to share my story, specifically to share my story through art, I decided to start blogging again. If you read any of my blog posts from 2015/16, you might come across some of the same stories, I apologize for that, but just stay with me as these are important pieces!

In these posts I’ll be letting you in on some of the experiences that inspired my paintings. You see, I believe that vulnerability can be a beautiful thing so I would like to share why I create what I do. I don’t anticipate every post coming easily, but neither does every painting. It can be tiresome, it can be draining, and it can be downright painful, but the outcome is almost always worth it.

If you've read About Me or know me personally, creating is a way I experience the world. It’s how I make sense of it. How I process the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The irony of this post is that there isn’t a painting to go with it! I had a different post all planned and ready to go for today, but I realized that the story I was going to share was not where I wanted to begin.

So let me begin here.

A theme that has intrigued me for many, many years is the reality of what is and the hope for what is to come. The light and the darkness. The beauty and the tragedy. The hope and the sorrow.

It is never just one or the other. It is both-and.

Both questions, doubts, fears and love, joy, hope.

For anyone who doesn’t know me yet, I have a relationship with anxiety. I was on medication for three years and in October of 2018, after I discussed it with my doctor, I stopped. I have learned healthier coping strategies, I have learned to recognize when my mind is spiralling or when I am ruminating about something. I have learned how to communicate with my anxiety and I wanted a chance to learn how to fight it without medication.

Most days I have found myself winning this fight. And on those days I feel like I’m living a hope-filled, joyous, beautiful life. A life untouched by mental health concerns. Untouched by darkness.

Yes, most days I win the fight, but sometimes I lose. Fear, pain, insecurities: the anxiety still exists within me. The consuming darkness still exists. The worry still exists.

I live in a world full of both fear and hope. Full of both darkness and light. There is no either-or. It is both-and.

Recently, as I have been creating my website the tension has increased, that fight more intense. My mind has been plagued with insecurities. I leave work after sharing how excited I am to be creating this and come home to doubts about why any one would care. I am just another person who picked up a paintbrush. I am not an artist.

And yet, I am truly excited about this new adventure and hopeful for what could happen! I get so much joy out of sharing my art with you and have been so encouraged! I have so many dreams and paintings! I am an artist.

I am both-and.

I feel as though we get caught up in either-or thinking so much that we lose sight of what makes us unique as individuals. Sometimes it feels as though you can only be happy OR sad, healthy OR unhealthy, fearful OR hopeful. That we cannot be both at the same time or we are deceiving ourselves and others. But that is not so. We are both-and creatures. We do a disservice to ourselves when we don’t embrace the whole, complicated, complete version of who we are.

Me, I am both a person in a relationship with anxiety and a person who has great hope for the future. I am both driven by my faith in God and filled with doubt. I am both numbing fear and intense joy. I am both light and darkness.

I exist in this tension. And this is why I paint.

I paint because I am both restless in the tension and I see the beauty of it.

I paint because I see both the reality of what is and the hope of what is to come.

I paint because I am in search of something greater, greater than my own afflictions and joys, greater than what this world has to offer.

To find truth, God’s truth, and to share it.

Welcome to my adventure.

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