Summer Solstice #recoverygalsartexchange :: ABUNDANCE

It's been three months since the spring-themed #recoverygalsartexchange and I do not know where the time has gone. It seems like the end of the school year swallowed me up whole and I'm only now feeling a little more settled, a little more like myself.

Soft-covered book created + ordered through Chatbooks.com

Soft-covered book created + ordered through Chatbooks.com

The theme of ABUNDANCE is what we landed on for the summer solstice recovery gals art exchange and there are 11 women participating and exchanging art based on that theme this time around. You can read about past exchanges here, here and here.

There is a wee bit of debate in my head about the summer solstice date. I had 6/21/17 printed on the cover of the book I ordered from Chatbooks.com, but technically the summer solstice isn't until tonight, June 20th, at 9:24 p.m. in California. But in Florida and the U.K., the solstice is on June 21st. So, I release this post today knowing that technically the solstice is tomorrow for the two women receiving these books. I'm crossing my fingers the books make it to them in time! 

Initially, I wanted to draw thousands of tiny circles over the top of a colorful underpainting on a large canvas. But, life had other plans for me. I decided that taking on that kind of project would only add stress to my ongoing self-imposed creative to-do list. I was also exchanging with two women this time around and I needed to do something that I could duplicate fairly easily.

I started to peruse my photos from the past three years and realized there was a noticeable theme of abundance in a lot of my photos. Multiple images of things like groupings of fruit, art supplies, stacks of books and art prints I'd made. I pulled copies of those photos into a file folder and set about interpreting the word abundance through the images I was looking at. I wanted images that weren't personal to only me, but that would translate easily to anyone who was looking at them, too.

A homemade buttermilk pie that Sondra for made me on my last trip to Austin. Abundance.

My sweet dog, Bodie, and his boundless energy + unconditional love. Abundance.

The field in front of my home full of California poppies. Abundance.

My cardigan sweater collection. Abundance.

A stack of old style sections from the year I gifted myself a subscription to the New York Times. Abundance.

My drinking was at its worst during 2014. Looking back through my images from that year and seeing how (subconsciously) I was trying to find the beauty in my life really made me sad for that woman who couldn't quite seem to find her way...until she did. That year taught me a lot about myself. My creative self was dying to get out. I love how I can catalog my creative journey through my photos on my Mac computer this way. By looking through 2014's photographs, I am understanding that what I did was to consciously (and bravely) share what I found unique or eye-catching on Instagram and by doing so I was building my creative confidence slowly, over time, until I could share my own work without feeling pangs of the dreaded imposter syndrome. These pictures tell the story of my emergence from the woman who drank to excess almost every single night and checked out of her life to the woman who said Fuck that. No way. I want more. I have got to start changing this tired story. And I set about to reinvent myself and shed the old me.

As I flipped through the years 2015 and 2016, I could see how my images became laser-focused on locating the beauty in my days and when I ran across that tiny thing that made me smile, I would photograph it, magnifying the moment by either grouping the things I loved together or keeping it sparse and letting the simple object tell the story of abundance. I craved it. I sought it out. I appreciated it. I documented it. I eventually shared it on social media. I found my tribe. I created what I had been missing from my life. I created abundance in my real life.

To an all or nothing kind of gal, this theme spoke to me on a few levels. I used to think I had to have all the drinks, all the friends, go to all the parties. In sobriety, I still want all the drinks, but now they just so happen to be non-alcoholic - imported french teas or endless amounts of fizzy water. I also have so many friends that I can be honest with about my struggle to get here and I attend way fewer parties now that I no longer partake in boozy beverages. I also spend more time in the quiet respite of my home with my husband and son. The meaning of abundance has morphed and changed for me over the years.

All-in-all the book has 127 images pulled from my personal photo albums and it was a labor of love and quite cathartic to create and send out into the world.

I am definitely living an abundant life in recovery these days. So many things are different and all of it made possible by choosing to remove alcohol from my daily routine. By stripping away the unnecessary trappings of my old life and old ideas of what abundance was supposed to be, I finally can be alone with myself and feel the abundance I hold within me now. No outside forces needed to be content or full.

I am simply enough.