Finding Your Unique Voice

in life •  last year

Why I Do The Things I Do

I am a self taught artist and I want to share my struggles trying to better myself through self discovery. What I've found walking through my 57 years of life is you can do anything you can imagine. If all you see is negativity that is all you will find. You are not your negativity, you are not what you think, happy, sad, or neutral, so who are you?

Mixed media, watercolor painting, acrylic, pen and ink, 1994ish

Let Go Of The Past But Don't Forget The Lessons You Learned

As a child I drew because my Mom drew and painted, I copied her, this is what children do, they copy their parents. My Dad died when I was almost 5 years old of cancer, it wasn't an easy death. My Dad was 29 years old, a jet fighter Captain and navigator with a young family and a passion for going fast. Mom couldn't cope and I was left alone at 4 years old taking care of my little sister and my crazy Mom. I started drawing to cope with my trauma, I didn't know how to write but I could draw and I could get lost in little worlds I would create.

My mom went through a series of dysfunctional husbands, most were drunks but one was a child molester and I was his victim starting at 7 years old, he tried to groom me and when I wouldn't cooperate he would tell everyone I was crazy and beat me until I had to defend myself. I would be punished trying to defend my own body and grounded to my room and eventually sent to a dysfunctional foster home at 13 years old. My books and art saved my sanity. I could leave my horrific home, family, society and go on adventures.

I Wanted To Marry Isaac Asimov

He literally saved my life with his stories. I was given a subscription of his science fiction magazine, I loved the stories and illustrations. I read his books and branched out to other hardcore science fiction writers. Back in the day there was no sex and violence was not so horrific. The stories I read were about discovery and I developed a love for learning and going into the unknown without having to leave my bedroom.

Asimov was my first crush and to this day I am attracted to intelligent creative people.

Watercolor paper, Watercolor and Gouache, 2017

Get Out Of Your Way

  • Before you sit down to work get your tea or coffee
  • Lay out everything you need to work
  • Set a timer for how long you want to work
  • No excuses, do your work
  • Set boundaries with self and others
  • Don't let yourself or others get in your way
  • Let go of your fears
  • Forget about the past and tomorrow
  • Let go of expectations
  • Accept you are not perfect and work with what you have
  • There is no perfect situation to start working and being creative
  • Just start
  • Focus on the process
  • Forget about the finished product
  • Don't be afraid of critical reviews from experts
  • Don't be afraid to throw away what isn't working
  • Help people feel something
  • Don't copy other people
  • Stay off of social media whilst in the process
  • Build your own garden and don't let anyone in
  • Share the fruit from your garden
  • Again...Don't think of your finished work
  • Think of the process
  • Don't be afraid to fight and feel the pain of creating
  • Don't hide from your pain by getting lost in other tasks
  • Learn to be naked and not feel shame
  • It is easier to talk about doing rather than doing!
  • Relax

Art Stopped Being My Escape And Became My Friend

As a child art was a way to connect with my narcissistic mother, a way to escape from the death of my father and the sexual abuse and neglect I suffered as a child and teenager.

I painted as an adult to escape from my abusive husband and the trauma of my past. In my early 30s I went to my first Vipassana retreat. Vipassana means insight into reality as it is and that's what I found along with stripping away everything I held dear including my art. I no longer needed to escape, I just let go of everything. I had to start all over again, I had no desire to create art. I started new and fresh making the processes of creating my best friend, my guide, my ally. I could set my friend aside, which I did after my five years of vipassana meditation retreat and I left my abusive husband and family, I went to college and got a job after 20 years of being a stay at home wife and mother. I took a dive into the unknown and found new healthy friendship with myself and other people.

My art waited patiently for me to return and 2010 I finally had the time to work on my art again. My dear friend has lead me to the gateway of my fear, taught me about fighting the fear, letting go and accepting the process of creativity. It is not easy and never will be easy letting go of my fear and sticking to my cushion. Just like meditation and entering samadhi, I have to let go of my fear before I can enter the gate to the jhanas.

I have copied other people, learned their technique but I have an overwhelming drive to express my own creativity so I always learned the recipes like in cooking and made my own unique meals. That takes some courage because there will be lots of bad meals, eat them all, you will learn a great deal about yourself and the process of creating from failure.

I often think about the finished product, other peoples success, all the things that could be instead of the process of creating my own work. The process of creating is painful and lonely, it's like a secret garden no one else knows about. Face your own loneliness and pain, use it to create your own voice.

Don't run away from your pain by putting off the process of creating, stay away from social media and other peoples idea of success and creativity. They cannot do your work or help you develop your own voice and process.

Learn to be naked, what I mean is strip away all your conditioning and expectations, create your work in the raw. Maybe after I am done helping my daughter here in Oklahoma and we move back to our farm I start painting naked. But I am not talking about the literal nakedness. I am talking about discovering who you are and share this naked vulnerable part of you with all the lonely people who haven't found themselves yet. Everyone is so lonely because they don't know who they are. If you find yourself, who you truly are you will never be lonely

Set boundaries for your creative process. Don't let others get in the way, don't let others failure or success move you. Remember it is much easier to talk on social media than to find your process of creativity and fight to find the gate to your own secret garden.

When you find your garden after walking through the gate of fear and fire, it will be fallow, you will have to break up the sod, care for the dirt, plant the seeds, pull the weeds, harvest the fruit and process your food to eat. Without doing this you will be a starving artist and have to get a job doing something very boring.

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What a terrible childhood you had! Not many in your place could overcome everything and paint beautiful pictures!


@dlina-v-metrah, I learned to transform my pain into beauty, I had very good Buddhist teachers <3

So sad story @reddust, but i love the way you fight and makes your way in life, you should never regret anything in life, if it's good it's wonderful. if it's bad it's experience.


And that is what life is all about, we can drown in war and suffering or make our life a work of art, thank you @adnanrabbani <3

Followed, Upvoted and resteemed @reddust, i read you article and like to say one thing and that is "Kill them with success and bury them with a smile".


I understand the tool of killing them with kindness @maryambibi, I found that to be a great ally! I wish all my enemies find enlightenment that would be the ultimate revenge.

Wow, that's an amazing and inspirational journey @reddust! Thank you for having the courage to be YOU... yes, I know it's all we really can be, but it's not always easy to shed the layers we wrap around ourselves-- for protection, and whatever else.


I think that's how we make our art our way of life, that art of living! Thank you @reddragonfly!


Creativity-- whether from writing, drawing (doodling!) or other outlets-- has probably been my best "therapist" since my teen years.


Yeah, at the time I didn't know I was saving myself, I could of gotten into drugs, sex, and rock and roll. I lost many friends to drugs and was offered many times to prostitute myself...

After years of work I truly believe the only one who can truly heal you of illness is yourself...

Science based doctors and psychologist still haven't figured out how to heal a broken heart ;-)

Thank you for this piece of your history.

The story you have told appears quite dark, but it isn't. Not as dark as things could be. If the sexually abusing father was gentler in his approach and seemed to offer love that you needed, you could have been stuck in a sticky soul sucking life where you wouldn't even be able to tell if "rape" is a bad thing.

Or you could have gone your whole life not knowing your mother is a narcissist. And never figuring out why the pain in your back always seemed worse after you talked to / saw your mother. Or you could have become a narcissist yourself and you would not be an artist today.

And finding Vipassana out of all the meditation types, yoga paths was very fortuitous.

This is not to say that your childhood was not bad and troubled. I wish you could have had a wonderful mom that could have taught art as a joyful process. A way to express your imagination. Not a way to get the darkness out of your soul.

Be well


I guess I needed to walk through the dark woods of my soul to appreciate the light. I would never accepted sex at that young age because it was alien to that young body. Others tried the gentle way with me, there are child molesters is dark times right now, our world is in the depths of Kali Yuga.

I am amazed at my karma, from child molesters, narcissistic mothers and family to enlightened Buddhist teachers...this has taught me not to judge the path of others...

I found through this process there is no darkness or light that I haven't created...there is something beyond my creation though, I touched it in vipassana and that's why I started dzogchen with Tibetan teachers...


Greater Completion Yoga is a good path. Not easy, not fast, but all encompassing.

And as comparison, it took me 40 years and literally burying my mother before I realized just how evil and manipulative she was. How much I destroyed my life, turned off my emotions and was numb to the world because of her teachings and manipulations.

I would not be on the path I am now without those experiences. The knowing is incredible. But I do not feel I will take this path next life.


For the longest time I thought this was the way everyone lived. It just hit me the other day if someone is in a bad mood I do not have to listen to their crap and anger dumped on's a long process to unlearn early childhood memories, especially before the ability to communicate through language. A lot of my memories are pre language emotions. I never hated my Mother, I just didn't like her very much, same with the rest of my family. I always felt very uncomfortable around them. I found after I left home that I did not feel that way around other people but I still like being alone.

Part of my practice was to forgive those that hurt me, because in many ways I was just like them until I figured out my anger came from ignorance. This was my way of forgiving and letting go.

I have empathy for your struggle, my Mom died just recently, I no longer participate in family rituals and have no communication with them. I told her I forgave her a long time ago but I will never see her again.

I hope my next life my family can find enlightenment, peace, and happiness. So if I have to hang out with them it will be a nice experience this time around.

such a cool post ! thank you for sharing. i have learned a lot from the points you put together. and most importantly - very nice drawings !!! ( voted, followed )


Thank you @algneslaczo, I am glad my paintings have brought you happiness, that was my goal.


yes, and i am looking forward to see the future ones ! i am glad i found you ! best wishes to you! :-)

You took me through such a beautiful journey. I was also self taught after imitating artists within my family. I also felt inspired and motivated after reading your practices to get out of your own way. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself. :)


@vermillionfox, after looking for myself and finding no-thing except conditioning getting in my way, I started laughing so hard...hahahaha


It's probably just the combination of small things that keep us distracted. :)

Hello @reddust I am glad to know that the art you carry inside gave you the opportunity to have a new life of new projects, I also like art very much I look for everything I do for that river, I sing and dance although I draw Not so good but relaxing, I really enjoyed reading your publication and know something more, thank you for sharing with us.


Thank you @katari, dancing by the river and singing the river songs would be a wonderful experience. I wanted to share my journey because everyone of us around this world has some things in common, we all feel sadness and want to be happy. Sharing my journey helps others who think Americans are like what they see on TV is simply not true. We all share the human experience no matter where we live or who we are.

I like going outside on a clear night laying face up on a lounge chair and Star Gazing it really refreshes my mind. I feel like I'm receiving Galactic messages from a Cosmic Awareness...

I wish I could paint like you! I'm a musician of Brass and Percussion Instruments ~ Playing music opens the colors in my mind like our third eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight...


I will paint to your music and we can dance under the stars, drawing, writing, cooking, caring for others, it is all art if your intentions are right. Thank you @smartcasual!


That's Brilliant! @reddust ~ It would be a Majestic Collaboration! :)

Wow, that is one hell of a deep and personal story. U seem to have grown a lot and become a wise woman not letting urself dragged into the negativity by the things that happened to u. To add, ur art is just amazingly beautiful!


Thank you @droucil, what I found is, I am my own creation through how I react to sense pleasure and paintings are just like me...a creation of my imagination :P hahahaha


That imagination of urs though, not sure if I should be worried or impressed xD

ur story is sad but not u r mam reddust and not look u from ur face 57 u look only 42 to 45 almost and ur works and all art photos really very beautifull and specially i like these all photos i see these first time and know i most believe ur art work that u r best in ur work and also thanx to believe us and ur followers and share ur story with us ur u see many painfull days in ur childs but that day gone now and now all days are happy day for u and wish u ur all next days fill with more more haapiest


My family does not age quickly and we mature late...Thank you @tayab! We humans all feel this kind of betrayal, maybe not by family but through our work or government...this type of conditioning I went through is called trauma bonding or trauma betrayal. We trust authority to care for us and we find it only cares for itself.

thanx to share ur story with us i really impressd from ur story and also from u and ur story from start is sad but after ur work ur bravery and ur fight to get a good way in ur next life and finish the all troubles is really for appriciate and also appriciate ur art work and i amaized to see ur this art photos its too good reddust


Thank you @mikewilliam through the process I found letting go of the past I found relief in creating beautiful art, it brings happiness to me and I am happy that my art also makes you happy.

It always hurts me when I hear such stories. I think you did the main thing - you could save yourself and remain a fine kind person. I will not say that I can imagine how difficult it was, because it is unimaginably difficult. You not only survived, but also created your own beautiful world and you give the world all your wonderful art. This is a real miracle.


I'm sorry my story hurt you @animal-shelter, I've told this story in survivor groups and codependency groups and no longer feel too much sadness. You got my thesis, I want to show people that the world and many people are horrible but that does not mean you have to live in that world. You can create your own world of art and kindness and not participate in this crazy world.


Yes, I understood you very well. I just wanted to say that it's a great pity that such things happen. I would really like to support you, because I know that it's impossible to forget. A little girl who lives inside of each of us remembers everything and she needs care and support. It is in your works. Maybe I'm wrong, but I see it so.

Your art is beautiful. I'm sorry that you had to endure such terrible moments of life and I am glad that the light in your soul has not let you fall into despair.


I read many shaman go through horrible childhoods and also illnesses. I figured this is part of my growing up spiritually, how I react to others makes my reality not the other way around.

ohhh reddust mam really sad to read ur article and i dont know what i say u bcz i have no more words to say u i see ur only happy face not this and really i didnot know about ur life and ur childhood which he punish u i hate that person and i want to punish him and i appriciate u that u make u a example for all peoples to reach at this success


@kellyrose, I am happy and my children are all doing very well. They were able to see me work through my rage and anger, let it go and find health. It was hard for all of us but I think we all learned something we would not of learned if I had grown up in a loving and kind family. We had to search for and learn what real kindness and wisdom are and build healthy relationship through purpose not just out of social habits. I hope those who struggle with trauma and depression learn to transform their pain into something beautiful and healthy.

What the actual... You had some serious experiences in your past.
All child molesters should burn slowly in fire.

Let go of the past, appreciate what still remains and look forward to what's coming next!


I work with so many people in trauma groups that have gone through what I've been through and even worse experiences. One in 3 women are molested as a child and I think 1 in 5 boys are molested as a child here in the United States. It fundamentally causes glitches in our conditioning that stop spiritual and psychological growth. I found art, meditation, learning about myself helped me fix those glitches. There is a way out of this matrix and it's by going inside oneself to see who one really is....this is the key to growing up.

i really feel many pain to read ur story mam and i dont know that a happy and good good lady have face many problems and pains in her life we r wish u to god give u more more happiness and joys and bright ur life mam and god punished them those give u pain


@robrowe, I have the child I once was is with me now, she is safe and no one can hurt her. The past is gone, I hope my art brings you happiness right now because I am happy right now (hugs)

really good u r great @reddust and i also more respect u and if u think and have negativity about u i think that person only for hated from me and whole steemit great comunity only some good person in this in my followers like u and u r great from all happy always with ur family always..and also ur story is sad to hear about ur father death and after ur life is with some pains and ur bravery with u stand yourself is only for respected and appriciate @reddust i really love u


@shencoin my family is happy, my 4 children are healthy and successful adults. They saw my struggles to let go of the past and know it can be done. I used to miss my father something terrible but I had a dream long ago just before I started meditation. I was walking down a long hall with many doors on both sides. I open one door and looked in and saw a family, a mother and two children watching TV. They said my father was with them now but I could visit him he was in another room and pointed to a door. I walked in and open the door and my dad sat in a chair in the middle of a dark room with a light shining on him surrounded by darkness. I ran to him with my arms out and started shrinking to the small child I was when he died. He grabbed me up in his arms and held me tight. He told me he would always love me and I could see him any time I needed too. I woke up crying but it was happy tears and I no long missed my father in a painful way and felt no need to see him again. I had finally let go and accepted my fathers death.

I wish no child ever has to go through what you and so many others have. If I had a superpower it would be to keep children safe and happy.
I found your progression of pictures in this article very interesting. The first and last seem calm and happy to me, the ones in the body of the article a lot more disturbing.


If this was a perfect world our children would all be safe but it will never be safe, we can try to make it better though through making our life better and sharing it with others. I wrote this story for others who may be lost and feeling empty. There are processes one can go through just like creating art to help fill the empty void caused by trauma. The meditation painting with the snake and the skull is symbolic for knowledge represented by the snake called the Naga and the skull which represent wisdom, knowledge that phenomena is always changing and there is no self in that changing, it makes it easier to let go of pain understanding that grasping and trying to hold onto what always is changing is the cause of our suffering.


You're absolutely right. I had what I would term a normal childhood, but on reading so many stories, mine seems anything but. I can feel your art. Maybe all that are able to need to create safe spaces around ourselves.

I admire you for the mental strength you have developed, during your adverse time and planned how to steer in that life with a targeted and measured journey . Your teaching is great beneficial for every men of different stories.


Thank you @mahammedfelahi, if I can help one person find peace that will have made all the pain I suffered as a child worth the struggle....

Thanks for sharing. Your story is very inspirational. I looked up the Vipassana meditation retreat. That's pretty intense. 5 years? Wow! You must exist on a whole other dimension of living after that.

So many great tips in this post.


I did 3 retreats each year for five years and after that I've done one retreat every year. There are many vipassana meditation retreats. I did my retreats through SN Goenka's centers which can be found all over the world. The centers are free you can find a retreat near you at The retreats are 10 days long, I used my vacation time when I worked to do my retreat time. I did not do a solid five year retreat, I reread my article and it is confusing.

WOW!!!!! your artwork is just great. You picked many of my favorite pieces in this post you know. I am very sorry to hear of your childhood. You have always been a shining light and your art shines bright too. :)


I know it's hard to read but I post articles about my past to show people one can overcome all sorts of obstacles if they don't give up...Thank you @jonjon1.

hahaha I am addicted to detail lololol <3


Dear @reddust
Very very beautiful photography.
Very useful story.
Good advice for all.
Meditation is path for 'Nivena' health and brain.
Thank you very much for sharing.
Upvoted and resteemed.

You struggled a lot in your life but you didn't give up that's what i like you keep on doing the best and you have shown us through your art Massive Respect to you i am happy to be one of your Follower who inspires me everyday to achieve something good in life :)
My best wishes to your keep smiling and steeming :)

its so sad rddust to read ur story of many time ago but now not that time that sad time u defeat with ur great mind and hardwork and ur bravery now look forward and try to make next time good which u make already good and perfect and only focus ur mind in ur art work and ur whole good family

So Sad to hear that you have gone through lot of struggle but you are a fighter who never ever give up :)

Nice art with sad story,learn a lot from your story and its true that face all difficulties of life with smile :-)

i will not try to be overdramatic but will express my true feeling you are a gem of a person after reading about your life journey this really hooked me up wanting me to read more and more about you you learnt a lot from othes and always tried to improve yourself that is what make you incredible and you never stop learning and with the flow you keep going on and never stopped again your are such a motivation to all of us you had up's and Down's but you break the jinx and you are truly today what you are !!

@reddust, I am saddened to hear your story, but I am appreciate your willingness to share it. There are things that happen in life that should never happen to anyone.

I am glad that you found your voice and that you speak so well through your art. It was fun to see various pieces that you have previously shared in one compilation post.

As always keep up the great work. It is much appreciated!

Wow....nomore words...superb artwork by @reddust
I really like your paintings and your ideas...
Specialy Third one...I think it is amazing artwork and include goid idea..
My dear friend @reddust
Happy painting...happy steeming..happy posting..

This post made me respect you even more. Shame on that man for being so cruel to you and more power to you for moving forwards like a tigress. U inspire me. I agree with what you said: you can do anything you imagine. If one is positive about living a good life, he can indeed bring positive changes in his life. I had some rough patches in my childhood because of my alcoholic father but due to my brave mother and the positivity she had drilled in our minds, we moved on.