Sunny Blog - The Affirmations Art Store Blog – sunnybraveheart
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How To Create Art

How To Create Art

In case you're an over-thinker or a perhaps a recovering one, or you need rules to follow in order to succeed, here are a few guidelines for making art: 

1. Do what makes you feel.

Not specifically good or bad or any one feeling solely. Just do what makes you feel

2. Color outside the lines.

That's right. Ignore the advice of your kindergarten teacher if you must. One of the most beautiful things I ever overheard, was an artist at an outdoor art festival called Paint The Heartland chatting up a tiny human. He told the little one "Don't ever let anyone tell you you have to stay inside the lines". How freeing to not be bogged by THAT rule! 

3. Make the things you want to make.

Sure, some artists rely on a paycheck for their masterpieces and that's ok! Maybe you can also make room, though, for spending energy on you and doing what you want versus what you feel you're supposed to do? 

4. Declare yourself an artist - no matter what someone else may know or think about you

5. Listen to Mr. Rogers. Always listen to Mr. Rogers. 

January 24, 2016 by Jenn Seeley
Tags: art
Not A Real Writer? Says Who?

Not A Real Writer? Says Who?

Many of us learn to hold a crayon as early as someone thinks to put one in our hands. We're encouraged to spell and practice our name long before any formal education. And once we hit school? We write. For years. 

There was a time in my life when writing caused me physical and emotional pain. Close friends know this about me already, but I find I am inspired and motivated further every time I share about this terror.  I'm talking body-numbing, brain-paralyzing, tear-inducing side effects. The very act of writing this blog post was once-upon-a-time impossible seeming. 

I didn't always experience this writing anxiety. As a kid, I wrote Mother's Day poems worthy of being saved more than 25 years later. I entered essay contests, and wrote a book report on a book I never read only to find out it was my 9th grade teacher's all time favourite. I got 100% on that book report by the way. I was comfortable and confident and could string a tale on paper. I wasn't a very good journal keeper, yet I often wrote about my thoughts and feelings in other ways. 

And then it happened. Grade 10. Creative writing class.


Miss Culberson may never know she negatively affected me in the way that she did.There was rarely ever anything wrong with the structure of my stories, only critique that I could do 'better'. Eventually, I gave up trying and didn't bother to write, failing the class. Something that I felt good at as a kid, suddenly felt impossible. It became so much more than just a belief that I was a bad writer. Eventually, it hurt me to try. I was so convinced Miss C was right about me, that I believed her grade of my work to be accurate. 

Interesting to look back on how much easier it is as a kid - previous to the high expectations that seemingly appear out of nowhere at one of life's crossroads. We colour outside of the lines, until someone dares tell us that's not ok, and we spell things wrong and make a grammatical mess of the pages of our journals until we feel oppressed by folks with more literacy privilege who find ways to tell us that we're not actually a real writer. 

A lot happened for me since that awful high school experience. I met several people who saw me differently. One person especially, Kim, witnessed my anxiety and then walked though it with me. Rediscovering the magical power of words - MY words - led to all kinds of neat experiences! From accidentally landing a job that required I write, to being published. From going to college and nailing it ... to writing this blog. I write. 

It's still a struggle. I'm very aware that I structure sentences informally, and am heavy on making up my own words with excessive hyphenation. I over use the ellipsis because I love the way little  dot-dot-dots look on a page. I write like I speak and think. I am learning that that is enough. This is me. I am a writer. What I write, how often I write, and what I write about is exactly enough to earn me that title. 

What about you? Who are you? What are you? Who was your Miss Culberson and who was your support to overcome? Where was your crossing over point from enjoying an activity to being stressed by it? I would love to hear your stories :) Feel free to leave a comment below, or click the Contact Us link to send me a note. Whatever you do today, know that you are enough. 
** note ** I sat on this post for four days before actually feeling I could share it. I stopped worrying about it being perfect. It's just the raw me. 
January 20, 2016 by Jenn Seeley
Yoda Was Wrong: All You CAN Do Is Try (Guest Post)

Yoda Was Wrong: All You CAN Do Is Try (Guest Post)

I'm learning to be kinder to myself. I have been gifted this space to talk about my journey, but I can't tell you where I'm going if I don't tell you a bit of where I've been. I was diagnosed with autism as an adult, with a big twist of OCD and a debilitating anxiety disorder. I'm not entirely gender binary, and I've loved all kinds. I often choose poorly who I allow in my space because 'love' has been a strange and fickle thing in my life.

I was three years old the first time my grandmother put her hand on my stomach and tsk tsk'd that we'd have to "dress around my bulges". My mother's war on her body was passed on to me every day, that we needed to "conceal" and "flatter" and find something "appropriate" for big girls to wear. I was also three when a little boy shoved me into a tree and told me I was disgusting (as an adult I feel horrible for that little boy, what must his short life have held for him to act that way?)

That was the start of a trend that would become my whole life.

I. Have. Baggage.

It took over my whole life and I needed help.I've been in therapy every two weeks for over four years now. Hashing out how to human and cope with family difficulties, sexual assaults and all kinds of trauma.

I learned asking for help is okay.

My mental health and identity have been forged through awful things, and now a whole lot of hard work to claw my way to what I think might be "adulting". I've decided I'm too old not to make my own choices, I've worked too hard not to try to be my own person. I'll try whatever I want now. I'm going to be me.

Most days, I almost stick to that.

The biggest thing I've learned in all this? Yoda was wrong, all you *can* do is try. Doing is a conclusive act, which works fine when you're occupying a finite film space with a pre written plot. But to live is to try! Trying lives through everything.. You try new foods, you try on clothes, you try a strategy for something, try a game... Some days it's just trying to tie your shoes or trying to leave the house. For me, I leave hundreds of things that need to be tried on my list and I try to try something every day (and some days trying to try is enough!)

Trying implies an effort laid forth. Just hold onto that thought for a minute. Trying is an effort laid forth, how much is entirely subjective and imo not relevant. I've learned to see every little try in my life and be pleased with every single one. This is how I'm kinder to myself in my daily life, this is how I string little things into big things.

I recognize that everything that happens in a day requires try, some days there's lots of try for big scary things, and sometimes trying to stay sane is it's own big scary thing.

I don't measure myself in what I "did" I measure myself in how much I TRIED. Granted, this can be a tricky thing to explain to people in your space, but the value is in yourself. Truly, you're your worst critic, so maybe um 'try' to explain all this to that little critic ;)

About the blogger: 

Kate Bev left the city for a cowgirl dream. She loves her dogs, her horses, and her wide open spaces. Oh, and she also likes trying to try as often as she can!

January 07, 2016 by Guest Blogger
Selfishness As Self Care (Guest Post)

Selfishness As Self Care (Guest Post)

A Note from Jenn: Selfishness IS self care and exploring what our heart needs most is a radical act of self love. Chandra Tucker shares great words about her own realization of exactly that. Read on! 

When times get hard, and every source of comfort and love seems to be slipping away into that dark abyss it is truly challenging to cope. It is when the sound of nothingness becomes something which rattles your cage, deafening you and your ability to stop the mind-liquefying panic of what direction the next step should be in, with ultimatums and sacrifices in every direction. This is where I am sitting right now, at my cross-road, not ready to take a single step out of the crosshairs or turn my back on any path; in essence, too scared to lose something or someone from the avenues I am surrounded by.

Now, so many people become disheartened by opportunities which they do not see, or ones which when times are truly challenging are simply not there. Knowing I am surrounded by chances and new paths, having been blessed with hard lessons over the past few years, despite my current upset and dismay, I do feel blessed... but suddenly guilt as well. This concept sparked realization as I sat in the wee hours of the morning at a table with an older woman who once found herself at a similar intersection; it is the burden of guilt and fear of regret which has me stopped in my tracks. Guilt of not wanting to disappoint, hurt or lose anyone who I cherish so dearly.

This woman advised me to do something which may not seem odd to some, but was something which surprisingly shocked me. She told me that I needed to hold my heart in my hands and feel it for some time, learning what it genuinely wants and needs. To no longer listen to those outside forces in my life, but rather the one which radiated within myself. She told me not to move a muscle or set my sights on any of those paths until I let my fingers explore each curve, crack, edge and crevice of my own heart. She told me to listen to it, feel it, to finally do something which I needed, to ignore the panging of guilt which I will eventually have to teach myself how to subdue, but most importantly to be selfish for once.

Of course she did not mean ruthless, hoarding the last chocolate bar so no one else can have it, being blatantly hurtful or rude to get my own way, throwing elbows in the shopping centre to get the last pair of shoes kind of selfish, but rather not acting in everyone else’s best interest, instead doing what is in my own. She meant re-examining what my ultimate dreams are by wiping away the layered restrictions that others have painted onto them along the way and following that heart which I just so tenderly massaged for the first time in all of my existence. Honestly, I have never been provided with a more daunting task. Our conversation lasted over thirteen hours as she coached me through building the strength to embark on this new journey but as I walked out her front door at almost eight in the morning, with the brisk winter air greeting my cheeks, I decided that I was ready because if I didn’t do it now I would only begin to lose more of myself under the rock of guilt which has had me trapped for far too long already. 

I am ready to embark on the journey of understanding myself beyond the layers of anxiety, sadness, guilt and confusion to find the root of who I am which is become buried under everything else. The map is staying in my fanny pack until I figure out what I need and then I know my cartographer skills will emerge when I design my own path, one which may be alone, scary and unfamiliar, but one which I know will lead me to what I have figured out I deserve. Her last remarks to me were that I have two feet which make footprints on this earth during my time here and they are mine to use and explore with, no one else’s so I must embark with them on my own journey, leaving my own mark in this realm during my short time here.

With this, I suggest that everyone take the time each day to hold their heart in their hands too and decide whether or not your feet and heart are traveling in synchronicity. If you discover that your soles and your soul are using two different maps, do not worry, I invite you on my journey. May we all follow our hearts and support each other in doing so. Remember, sometimes it is okay to be selfish when we are not doing justice to our own being. We all deserve to be happy by being true to ourselves.

January 05, 2016 by Guest Blogger
Owning Your Awkward!

Owning Your Awkward!

Learning to embrace and own the very things that make you YOU can be a real challenge. Whether it's something about the way we speak, look, or behave (and beyond!)...  pressuring ourselves to be someone or something that we are not won't fast track us to a happy place. 

There's something incredibly freeing - and empowering - when we own our quirks and traits and see them as AWESOME versus awful. Easier said than done? Sometimes! Yet, steps toward embracing something real is a different kind of work than playing the role of someone else - and it's work that can pay off! 

I logged onto Facebook on New Year's Eve and when I saw one post in my feed, I stopped abruptly only to begin again and read it out loud to a friend nearby. What we both took away from these beautiful words? Owning your awkward (or insert whatever trait you need here) can lead to a fuller, happier time!

With permission from Emily, here are  her raw, real, vulnerable words of how she owned and overcame! 

awkward

Of course, if you can't do the thing that's always ok - regardless of what anyone tells you. Just know that when or if the time comes that maybe you can try, there's a good chance it won't also end up to be that awful thing you suspected! 

Whatever your path... wherever you're at..... no matter what your own flavour of awkward and owning it looks like, I'm wishing you a life lived fully in 2016

Your comments and engagement are welcome <3 

January 01, 2016 by Jenn Seeley
Good Year, Good You: An Instagram Play-Along to Celebrate YOU This Year

Good Year, Good You: An Instagram Play-Along to Celebrate YOU This Year

Making New Year's Resolutions is something you may choose to do year after year. It's also an activity that you may end up beating yourself up about before January is even over due to guilt for not following through. Some of the goals we set for ourselves are dreamy seeming and really hard to commit to. In fact, often times the goals we make in a new year are more about what we think we should do versus what we really, really want for ourselves. 

If what you want for this new year more than anything, is to be a happier you, I have an idea for a guilt-free resolution this year! Why not resolve to be kinder to yourself - including not being hard on yourself for learning to do something new for you. If you must resolve at all, resolve to use words like practicetry, and work-on as you aspire to do better at being a kinder, gentler YOU to you - while also remembering that you're just getting started, and perfection is never part of the plan. 

Because I would love to inspire you to put you first, I would love nothing more than for you to join in some new-year-good-year fun on Instagram! (If you're not following us, follow @sunaffirmations)

All of January 2016, we'll be using the hashtag #GoodYearGoodYou on Instagram and following the day-by-day ideas outline in the image below. There will be no rules - only FUN! Play every day, or only on the days that you want :) As an added bonus, each day you play your Instagram username will gain a ticket in a draw for a free gift from Sunny Braveheart! It is my hope that no matter the reason for playing along, you'll win!

January Instagram challenge 2016 good year good you

December 26, 2015 by Jenn Seeley

Being Gentle With Yourself

People keep asking me: "Why should I be gentle with myself?"

It's really this simple. 

We believe so much of what we hear. We're influenced - whether we like it or not - by mass media's ideas of what our lives should look like and be. The more we hear something, the easiest it is to believe without asking questions. 

What if you told yourself things that were kind and full of self love in an effort to rewire and tune out the negative garbage coming at you in full force? Besides, I bet you don't like it when someone says something mean to someone you love - or if a friend speaks poorly of themselves. Why should the rules be different when it's about you? 

So tell me, can you be gentle with yourself? What does that look like? And if you need help... That's totally ok :) 

I will be gentle with myself

December 11, 2015 by Jenn Seeley
Permission Granted: Your Body & Emotions Are Worthy of Your Love

Permission Granted: Your Body & Emotions Are Worthy of Your Love

Very recently, one of my best people blogged about Sunny Braveheart over on the Fit is a Feminist Issue blog. We had a sweet back and forth interview style interaction, where she asked me great questions about what I'm doing here and why. 

You can click the above link to read the whole thing (in fact, I recommend it!) but here's my favourite of the questions and my response below: 

Susan: These images are either body or emotion positive. Can you elaborate on the importance of emphasizing those two things in your affirmations?

Jenn (that's me!): Oh, this was and is super important. Thank you for noticing! There are all kinds of affirmations out there that speak to success – like careers & finances – and that isn’t the intention of Sunny Braveheart. Too often, (because: patriarchy) having emotions and feelings is considered weak and undesirable. Talking about feelings is hard! Especially if you fear ridicule or being misunderstood. And where to start on body positivity? Thanks to so many crummy social constructs that attempt to dictate what a ‘good body’ is and so few people (mainly women) who can’t begin to live up to standards that shouldn’t exist in the first place, people’s self-image and ideals take a brutal hit.

Think about this: so far, forever, we have been told all kinds of gross things about how our bodies must look. We have been told many conflicting messages about how to parent and how not to parent. We read thousands of words in fear every night on multiple web pages just trying to determine if we’re a good partner to our lovers. We are called weak for crying. We are put into boxes and labeled based on the colour of our skin and our spiritual practices. We are told from within the communities we belong to that even on the inside there are people who do-the-things-that-we-do better/faster/stronger/longer/smarter than we do.

Whether directly or indirectly, we get these messages at an alarming rate. Every. Single. Day.

What if instead of that I told you: You are enough. You are exactly enough. Your body is good. You are strong. Bravery doesn’t look the same for you and that’s okay – you’re still brave. Your feelings are valid, important, beautiful, and real. YOU are valid, important, beautiful, and real. Your body can tell you things that the internet can’t, so go ahead and listen to it. Give yourself permission to filter out the ideals of the world, and join a collective that wishes to change the narrative.

----

 

 

And on that note, today is all about giving ourselves permission. Permission to not only filter the bits and pieces of narrative about us, but permission also to design a better story - a better projection of our best selves. I'm quite tired of being told how to feel and be, so today I'm sparkling and shining. What about you? What have you given yourself permission to do or feel or say lately? What narrative are you rewriting for your life? And how are you going about it? Feel free to share if you are so compelled <3 

Love & cupcakes, 

Jenn

 

 

 

December 05, 2015 by Jenn Seeley

In The Beginning...

... there was a human who loved other humans so hard! That human? Was me! Jenn! (more about me here). 

As someone who loves hard, has big feelings, and sees every day as an opportunity for growth and strength, I wanted to share the things that get me through!

Sunny Braveheart was born out of a desire to inspire and be inspired. But what's with the name? Well, once upon a time, I met a huge crew of people - new to me - all at once in an environment I was excited about. It was an event I had never attended, and the event had a theme of sorts. I arrived in costume despite being a conflicting mix of extroverted and shy, braving a social dilemma as a fierce(ly cute) lion! It was actually just a costume

So I thought. 

Being the kind who thinks and reflects on intentions and actions, I couldn't help but wonder what led me to be a lion of all characters that night. Lions are symbolically brave, fierce, fearless, powerful, kings (& queens!) of the jungle. They have pride - and live in prides - and community, belonging, and purpose unfolded as I thought on these things. 

So was it just a costume? You decide! One thing is for certain, bravery means something different for you than for me perhaps and so I encourage you to own that bravery beginning with refusing to let others define it for you. 

Maybe bravery for you looks a lot like showing the world your art, your thoughts, your feelings? I know that is exactly how it looks for me, and I could not be more pleased to be sharing the journey! 

 

December 01, 2015 by Jenn Seeley