The Storm, Find The Calm Within The Storm

I enjoy painting. I enjoy taking a blank canvas and making it not blank anymore, wild idea I know! Pour some acrylic paint onto a paper plate (I’m super sophisticated), dip my paint brush into the paint, and begin to create whatever I see in my head. Beautiful thing about painting, especially with acrylic, is if you don’t like what you are seeing, you can always paint over it. Mostly though, I really enjoy taking a vision in my head, as I love to play in imagination land, and try to replicate it onto the canvas. This is a part of the challenge thing I like. The challenge in my painting is, can I get close to what I picture in my brain. I easily get lost in the process. One of the best parts about it is, I can get lost in my brain and my creation for awhile and forget about everything else. I basically can transport myself somewhere else and escape from reality for a while.

Painting is a form of expression. It is a form of expression I enjoy doing. It also is a release. I find myself painting when I feel down. Some of my paintings are done when I was feeling good, but a lot of them are done when I am not feeling great. Some of my favorites have been done when I am down. I think this happens because during those down times, in my brain, I’m thinking about what is going on quite often. As much as the feelings in my brain aren’t awesome during these times, my brain is working overtime. This overtime work my brain is doing, allows me to really see some vivid images in my mind and within my imagination. Sometimes, I feel these images need to get placed on canvas. The act of placing these vivid images on canvas provides a release for me. It provides a level of escape and it also provides a release for me.

Ben in the sky, a calming force, amongst the stormy seas.

One painting in particular sticks out. It is the painting you see here. This painting was the one I was working on right before I went into the mental health unit at my local hospital. I call it finished, now, but technically it isn’t finished. I didn’t complete what my vision was. When I came out of the hospital, my vision was there, but it wasn’t. My mind set had changed and I couldn’t bring myself to finish it, so I deemed it finished. As you can see, there are stormy seas, with stormy clouds, and an image of my dog just above the horizon. My dog, Ben, represents the calm within the storm, as the storm was surrounding me at the time.

Here is a little back story. We had to put our first dog to sleep as she was dealing with some major issues with her kidneys. She was 12 years old and put up a great fight over the last one and a half years of her life. Katie was such a good girl and she was a devastating loss to me.

My wife and I were not able to have kids. Someday I will elaborate on this more, but as of today, I still don’t want to elaborate too much on this one element of my history (I am still a work in progress as we all are). I will tell you, we tried everything under the sun to have a child. We ended up spending a lot of money in the process as well, but money is money, it was worth the effort of achieving one of our dreams of raising a family. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.

Enter our dogs. They are very much our kids. Katie was our first and now we have Ben who we rescued after Katie passed. Both of our dogs have been rescues. Please, if you are thinking about getting a dog, think local rescue! Katie was a Hurricane Katrina rescue who ended up in central Illinois at our local humane society. Ben was rescued from one of our local rescue facilities in town. Both great dogs!

At the time I was doing this painting, we were approaching the one year mark of the day we had Katie put to sleep. I went into the hospital a few days before the one year mark of her passing. Along with everything else in my life, the loss of my four legged child was and still does have a strong effect on me and my mental health.

Originally, the painting was going to encompass everything you see in it, but I ended up not putting the last element in. The last element was going to be adding a row boat working its way across the stormy seas. In the row boat was going to be an older man with a grey beard who would be wearing yellow rain gear. His hood would have been up, but you would have been able to see his grey long beard sticking out of the hood. He would be rowing the boat. On the boat I was going to place Katie. She would be laying peacefully on the back of the boat. Almost like she was sleeping.

I’m not exactly sure what the man represents, but I do believe one interpretation was he is God. He was rowing my girl across the stormy seas of my emotions and where my life felt like it was at that moment. Rowing her too safer and calmer waters.

Ben, in the sky, represented the calm. He represented the calm I needed in my life. He represented the calm which hadn’t been completely lost. The calm I wasn’t able to see at the moment. He represented a focus I needed to have. A focus that provided hope during this very dark and stormy time. He provided a beacon of something positive I needed to try and remember was still in my life. He was the lighthouse in the storm helping to guide me and remind me that I will be OK. Safer seas were ahead.

I never finished my vision of this painting. I came out of the hospital feeling much different and much better. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it because I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I paint what I feel. If I am not feeling it, I fear I will not put forth my best effort in laying it out. I decided the painting was done and still represented what I wanted it to represent.

Even in the storms that like to pop up in our lives, we need to seek out the calming elements which remain present. They get hard to see, but they are there. When we feel like crap, it is very hard to see these things. Please be assured, the calming elements are still there. We need to seek them.

My dog, Ben, the dude in the sky, was a calming element for me. I remember I would be laying in bed. Hungover most likely. Super anxious and having horrible thoughts of myself and he would jump up into the bed and lay there with me.

He knew I wasn’t right and he wanted to help. Sometimes he would bring a toy into the bed. He wanted to let me know there was other things out there besides the darkness I was feeling. Sometimes he would go grab another toy. I know he knew those toys brought him happiness and he was trying to provide something happy for me.

Call me crazy and obsessed with my dog, but this feeling of my dog really helped me not completely lose it. He kept me grounded. Whether it was intentional or not, he kept me off the ledge so to speak. I believe he knew what he was doing. Dogs really are smart beings who want to make their pack family happy.

Also, Ben came along at the right time in our lives. We got him a month and some change after we put Katie to sleep. He filled a huge void. I really struggled with the passing of Katie. It was weird being in the house. It was way to quiet.

Enter Ben. He was just what we needed. A totally chill guy who loves to be near us and loves his tennis ball. He helped to remind me of the simple things. He is a big softy and really just wants to hang out with us.

These are the reasons why you see Ben in the sky of this painting. He was my calm in the storm. He helped provide perspective for me during a time I had lost all perspective. He knew I needed help. He is in the sky to remind me that everything will be alright.

I really do love my dogs. They provide me with so much happiness. They also provide me with a focus I need to keep going and also a calm when the going gets rough.

We all need something we can focus on during these hard times we face in our lives. Life can get dark and we can feel hopeless at times, but we need to focus on something which brings us calm. We need to focus on something during the good times, and the focus we have on the good elements in our life during the good times, so we can have something to pull up when we need it during the bad times.

What is it for you that brings you calm? What brings you calm when you feel good?

Think about this for a while and log these things so you can pull them up when you don’t feel great. We need everything we can, during the darker times, to help us to have hope. Lean on these calming thoughts. Let them provide you with a level of grounding. Let them provide you with hope that there still is good aspects of our lives out there. It gets bleak sometimes, but there always needs to be something to provide us the motivation to continue seeking the better times ahead.

Hope is out there. The good days are out there. They are. Without this hope, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Today I feel good. I’ve experienced a good run lately and it is awesome. Part of what has gotten me to this point is remembering the calming forces which are built into my life.

Lean on your calming forces. They are there to help us. They are there to pull us along. We will traverse stormy waters from time to time, but there are always calmer seas ahead. The storms will pass and the seas will calm down. I believe this. I think we have to believe this. We have to believe this to keep moving forward on our journey.

You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking together on this mental health journey.

Thank you very much for making my rambles a part of your day!

Have a great day!

Jason

A website I started. This blog and a podcast, amongst some other stuff, live here. Check it out!

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.rockingmentalhealth.com

Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

www.facebook.com/groups/rockingmentalhealth

I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.

Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health

https://rockingmentalhealth.buzzsprout.com/

Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, and Pandora

Please check it out and feel free to share it as well.

Published by Jason Kehl

Nurse, artist, musician. One I have done professionally and two that I have not😉. I enjoy creating art and music as a hobby. I do it mostly because it helps me to feel better or express something that I feel inside. I am a believer in Mental Health Awareness. My goal is to throw myself out there in hopes that someone sees it and can gain the strength to seek help or keep working on themselves. We are an unfinished product! That's OK!

2 thoughts on “The Storm, Find The Calm Within The Storm

  1. This is a lovely painting, and a good read too! I spent the last year on a small sheep farm and amongst the anxiety and chaos of human interaction, I always found the sheep incredibly calming. Considering the year that was 2020, the joy they gave me really kept me going- and I mean, the delight of watching a squad of young lambs racing and jumping around a paddock, well, that could ease almost any suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

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