More Tree Hugs

Hello friends,

I have been silent for quite a while as I was not able to paint or write any new blog post. Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, which was followed by other related health conditions, I felt very trapped for a long time.

Honestly, 2022 was a year of doing almost nothing. First, my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease towards the end of 2021, which required me to adjust and adapt a fully new diet. It was also a very emotional period for me as a mom, because it is hard for a little girl to accept that she will never be able to eat again all those gluten containing foods, some of which were her favorites. It took me almost 6 months to adapt and learn new recipes. When I finally adjusted to this new lifestyle, I needed a break of some sort. I had a beautiful summer break but shortly after that I finally got a diagnose for something I have been struggling physically. 

The weird thing about autoimmune diseases is that it is very much connected with our psychology. I was dealing with it on and off for the past 2 years. But after the diagnose, I had the worst possible flare ups. Because it had a name, I read about all possible scenarios and felt scared for my future.  

I am sure a skill does not go away within a year but not practicing art enough brings with it many other issues, most of which are emotional and mental. In the past, even a week long break was making me feel very rusted. Imagine what a break of one year does to an artist. I may have been totally fine and could have picked up colors far earlier, but I was very much pressured by the outside world. While I was trying to pull myself back to into painting, other artists were continuing to grow. This made me feel like I will never be able to fill the gap between me and others. As a result, I did not even try and instead fully gave up. Giving up is anyway easier when you go through physical pain combined with some sort of depression/anxiety or grief.

We are all different, aren’t we? I could not remember this for some time. The new world order is constantly pushing us to do more, and it is only praising those who can push further, who are hardworking even at the most miserable times. I remember seeing an illustrator who was painting at her hospital bed which made me feel even worse because I was not able to touch my art materials.

That eventually caused me to take a break from social media. I reminded myself several times a day that I am a different person, my life is unique to me, there are so many different factors that affect our lives and comparing myself to others is only harming me more.  

During this silence, I gained a lot of other skills which are important for my own life. I learned to let go of some fears. I learned how to deal with bad news without destroying my soul (it took me the longest though and it may still repeat). I realized that I need more time in nature, I need to re-connect with nature because it is the only thing in this world with huge arms to sooth our hearts unconditionally. I learned that I need to take care of my body.

In the past, I often skipped meals until dinner, also often forgot to drink water, only for the sake of creating an illustration or to meet a deadline. Most days, I was sleeping late, or I was pushing myself to work after an already tiring day. I also learned that being a mother does not mean that I need to be a superhero and working on the weekends instead of enjoying with my family is only stealing more beauty from my own life.

I also learned to meditate; it is helping me a lot!!! Isn’t it weird that we created this hectic, success & money-oriented stressful life and now, we all need to re-learn how to connect with our own selves, with our inner world?! I believe social media is doing more harm than good to us but on the other hand, I don’t know how else I can connect with my community or even sell art. That is why I am going to put more emphasis on my blog posts than my Instagram page, maybe it is the mediator. Instagram is too fast and too fake for the most part. On this website, however, I am purely myself, at my own pace. I don’t even know how many people read or like my posts, but I don’t need to know; it is beautiful the way it is. If you write a comment, I am more than happy to answer, if you don’t, that is fine too. There is no algorithm which is forcing us to connect. In fact, you are connecting with me even if you don’t leave a comment. One of my sentences may stay in your mind for a while, that is a connection. Or you may find yourself in a similar situation as I have been in, that is a connection too. I don’t have to be aware of all these connections. It is beautiful to think somebody is reading this post and maybe thinking of it or reflecting on it.

2022 is ending soon. And even though it is only some numbers that change, I like to think that a new page is turned for me in 2023. For the first time in my life, I won’t put my career goals or wishes at the top of my list. I also won’t repeat the same wish as in previous years when the clock is showing midnight on 31 December. Every year in the past, I wished good health for myself and my loved ones. But I realized it needs more than a midnight wish, I need to work for it. I need to put myself first, eat a balanced diet, exercise, spend time in nature and with friends and my family, I need to stop putting unnecessary stress on myself regarding work, I need to let my hands do the magic and not force myself to paint when I don’t feel for it. I need to love myself with all my flaws and mistakes. The rest is not under my control.

In 2023, I want more nature time, I want more tree hugs, I want to meet unexpected animals in the woods, I want to watch squirrels while they are eating nuts, I want to talk to the birds, I want to spend time imagining myself flying across different worlds. I learned this year that every season is very beautiful with its own characteristics. I will not complain about winter, rain, or the cloudy days anymore. I want to embrace the seasons even more in 2023. I love the sun, the wind, the rain… I love the snow, the moon, the stars… All the elements of life are there for a purpose. There is no need to rush life.

Also, I want to watch more poetic movies with wonderful scenes, messages, and emotions (if you have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to write). For sure, I want to sing more often. One thing I realized is that when I go through stressful periods in my life, I stop singing or listening to music. Although music is as crucial to my soul as water is to life.

I also want to read more books or at least listen to them while working. If I can squeeze in sometime, I would love to write poems again. Who knows, I could also illustrate them and turn them into a book of my own.

And sketching: since starting my illustration career, I was unable to fulfil this dream of sketching often. But hey, I found out that during this time I had disappeared, the root problem had been money. Good sketchbooks are expensive, my acrylic gouache tubes are expensive, the brushes I use are not cheap either, pastels and color pencils are expensive. So, I was super careful when using them. I did not want to waste them for uncomplete illustrations or experiments. To change this, I aim to have a better relationship with the concept of money, I am sure it will set myself free to experiment more artistically.

This topic brings me to another wish: I want to let go of my perfectionism and I am quite curious about how it will impact my art.

I ask my disease to be kind to me in 2023 and not flare up too often. Maybe she is waiting for me to appreciate and be aware of more things in my life, that is why I will continue to mediate and give space to myself to discover my inner voice.

I wish you all a peaceful and balanced 2023, I hope you stay safe, and please pay more attention to what you love doing. Maybe sing, dance, make jokes, walk or paint more often… Thank you for reading and following my art journey. Knowing that you exist keeps me stronger and motivated!

Now tell me, what are your wishes for the coming year?

4 replies on “More Tree Hugs

  • deb

    Hello Cagla. This is a new step out o my comfort zone to communicate through a blog or anything on social media. I have just signed up for your Domesticka course, and I am really excited about leaning new things. I have had to withdraw from my usually social community as I have been ill and have needed treatment. But, the blessing is finding I have time to practice my creativity into art. I love your illustrations which come from your early cultural upbringing. I have yet to find mine. But what I really wanted to say is thank you for your openness and honesty in this blog about how life has been for you, but that you are finding a way to embrace your new understanding of freedom from pressures and for living in the moments you have to feed your soul

    • Cagla Zimmermann

      Hello! I am very sorry that I did not answer your comment earlier. Blog posts are new to me and I am getting a lot of spams (I need to figure out how to block them entirely). This precious message made my day today! I am very sorry that you went through some difficulties health-wise, I do hope that you are doing much better now. Thank you for all your kind words, did you enjoy my gouache course?


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