A Love Connection With Self

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Time to sacrifice a goat in a cave, slap people on the street with its bloody hide to help with fertility and purity, and then party all night! Well, maybe not any more. Luckily, the origins of this very loving Hallmark holiday is way in the past, so today we celebrate each other and our loved ones in a less sacrificial blood and chanting way.

I’m sure everyone who is in a relationship is planning dinners, gifts, and private moments, so I’ll get right to the point. I would like to add a little something else to this day, to be your own Valentine. I’m saying, let’s take the opportunity to watch how we talk to ourselves, trust me it’ll help your relationship.

Much of our self talk has a huge impact on our relationships. This stems from low self esteem and negative self worth. Many people find themselves not good enough to do or be something, and they make sure to remind themselves of this often.

In the area of love, this is one of the things that complicates our relationships. We sometimes get into a relationship with someone and convince ourselves that happiness lies in the other person. This is because we feel we are not worthy to make ourselves happy, and that we are incomplete.

Incompleteness is a silly concept, although it may sound romantic to tell someone that they complete you, really when you think about it, it’s stupid.

It is a concept full of expectations and assumptions. You expect the person to always complete you, and that will lead to resentment and judgment because ain’t nobody got time for that.

We tell ourselves that we are incomplete without this other person because we think they fill the void we feel in our being. They do not fill this void, they remind us how to fill it ourselves because they love us and we temporarily see ourselves through their eyes. This wears off eventually, and oh boy can things get complicated.

Rafi and Klee Silly In Love

Hey, all I’m saying is if you love someone, you better love yourself and be nice to yourself, or you’ll be making yourself miserable no matter who you have around. You’ll also be making the person you love miserable. Food for thought.

Love you valentine! From both of us!

The Nature Of Love

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I have a series called the nature of being, or as some people like to call them “Rafi’s Lady Trees.” This year I have really enjoyed reigniting the series as I set a goal to add subtle differences to the message in pieces within the series itself.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

The series itself is about being rooted here and now in your world, yet constantly growing and reaching higher than you ever have, naturally and organically. It’s about being flexible and naked to the world and showing yourself as you are, never hiding behind a facade of fear.

I wanted to showcase a unity within the scope of the collection with pieces that showed masculine and feminine intertwined with one another.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

These pieces are inspired by the journey that I have been on with my beautiful wife Klee and some of the lessons I have learned about what it means to be in love.

In the past I always assumed that being with someone meant that it was your job to make sure they were happy, and in return it was their job to make you happy.

Yet, this never seemed to work out.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It wasn’t until experience brought me to a place where I started to question the status quo of relationships and love that I realized that I had it all wrong.

It wasn’t about making the other person happy, it was about finding your happiness and sharing that with the other person. This in no way was a guarantee that it would make them happy, but that was alright. See, I found that the only person that could really make me happy was me and it was unfair to try and throw that burden onto Klee… She had enough on her plate just trying to make herself happy.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It was during that realization that I started to understand unconditional love. It meant that I had no conditions or expectations that she would behave a certain way in order for me to be happy, she had the right to be herself. To express herself and continue on her journey of finding out what life was all about for her.

I did the same, and we shared those moments with each other, talking about our experiences and realizations. We also share in our moments of growth as we journey on this road to find what makes us happy and how to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

It is quite beautiful.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of turmoil, because we all experience them, but with every moment there has always been an honest revelation and a stronger bond than ever before.

The thing is, we are both growing, learning, changing, evolving, on our own, yet our lives are intertwined because we choose to walk side by side.

It just wouldn’t work if one of us decided to carry the other… and it wouldn’t look as cool in a painting.

-Rafi

How To Take A Compliment #SBS

The other day, I was at the market and someone gave me a really nice compliment. I then preceded to get weird about it, which pretty much turned it into an awkward situation for the both of us.

Later on, I wondered why I didn’t just take the compliment and say thank you. It’s simple, there are no strings attached and you (and the person complimenting) feel good about the interaction.

I can get into the whole self esteem thing and all that jazz, but I wont. I’ll just say this, if someone is giving you a compliment, just take it… It feels better for everyone involved.

How-To-Take-A-Compliment-By-Rafi-Perez-web

Sketchbook Sunday #SBS

The Critic Doesn’t Count, THE MAN IN THE ARENA

It was about nine years ago, when I ran across this excerpt from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt. This speech changed my life and my point of view of people who criticized my ability to succeed.

pa-hay-okee2
Klee and Rafi traveled the country and challenged their old way of living, despite the naysayers and critics saying it wasn’t possible.

 

I am working on a video that is about taking negative criticism, so I’ve been inspired to share it with you:

” It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ”

— Theodore Roosevelt

UPDATE:

Here is the video I recently did about some of the negative critics I have had, and how I deal with them.

When you hold on to your vision, no one can ever stop you.

Vision In My Mind By Rafi Perez
Vision In My Mind By Rafi Perez

Stay endlessly inspired by the stuff of life. Love you. –Rafi

Why The Joy Of Koi?

Recently, I had the opportunity to create a custom commission of a series that has a very strong meaning for me. It symbolizes, joy, hope, never giving up on who you are, and following your own path, no matter how difficult.

img_9212

Here is the story:

When I was in my twenties, I had made a series of decisions that put me at a crossroad in my life. I had just told my father that I did not want to follow in his footsteps, that I wanted no part of the family business. It was a bitter and heated argument, which ended with me saying he could stick said family business up an orifice located at the rear of the human body.

I stormed out, jumped in my car and just drove. I had nowhere to go, the decision to leave meant I was leaving it all. I no longer had a place to live, I had no job, I had nothing.

I decided to go to a fountain that sat right on the Chicago River, I went there a lot when I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. It’s a beautiful fountain that was hidden on a lonely road behind North Pier, and I felt like it was my secret place in the city.

dsc03572-l
The Nicholas J. Melas Centennial Fountain and water canon shoots a stream of water across the river every hour, and the fountain itself has elaborate steps for the water to cascade and surround you. It is beautiful, and rarely did I see many people around, it was usually just me and my fountain.

There was no cascading water, or shooting stream that night. It was unseasonably cold that day, and I guessed the fountain was shut down for the winter. The cold wind bit through my sweater, and I rested my hands on the icy railing and looked into the vast darkness of the Chicago River.

Joy Of Koi Series By Rafi Perez

Warm tears burned my cheeks as the realization hit me that I was alone. Truly alone.

Should I go back and apologize? Just go back to the life I knew? I mean, most people are miserable, maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

No, there has to be more out there, more to life.

I was shaking now, wondering if I could sneak into the house to get my coat. My dad wouldn’t care, he would give me his coat off his back, despite what I had said, but I was making a stand. I would die before I went back.

Hours passed, I stared at that dark abyss lost in my thoughts. I fell into a deep despair. I felt such hopelessness, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. I couldn’t seem to pull my mind away from the downward spiral I was in. Then, against my better judgment, I contemplated jumping into the dark water. My eyes blurred with tears as I stared out into the cold dark water.

Joy Of Koi Series By Rafi Perez

In the darkness, I saw a glint of gold. I stood up straight, wiped my eyes, and strained to see what was floating in the water. I looked for a few minutes and saw nothing but black water.

Then a brilliant flash of gold from under the surface of the water radiated out towards me, then it was gone. One moment it would be there, the next moment it was gone. This happened for the next hour or so, although it felt like minutes to me.

What was this glowing thing? This small golden light that shone so bright in the vast darkness.

Was it hope? Like a candle flame, lighting the way. Even the smallest, dimmest light can shine bright in the darkness.

Suddenly, I felt alive. I felt like only opportunities were ahead of me, like I couldn’t be stopped… Especially, not by despair.

Joy Of Koi Series By Rafi Perez

Then for a brief moment, I saw what had been playing with me in the water. It was a fish, a brilliantly golden fish, a very large goldfish or Koi… Then, just like that, it was gone. I didn’t see the golden flash any more that night, and I didn’t need to.

My series, “The Joy Of Koi” is based on this story.

The Power Of A Child

“When you dream, you are free…to be the things you want to be. When you dream, you are free…to see the things you want to see. Sometimes in my dreams I fly, through the starry, starry sky. When I see the moon I laugh, it’s a great big bed for the tall giraffe.” -Anonymous

The Power Of A Child By Rafi Perez
The Power Of A Child – Acrylic On Canvas  24X30

We know that kids have big imaginations. But sometimes we forget just how powerful they can be. We forget just how much joy and creative fire they can fuel within all of us. To let go of our imagination is to let go of our power to create wonder in the world.

The Power Of A Child By Rafi Perez

So I created this piece to symbolize what I believe is the power that we can easily misuse as adults. As a kid, I was constantly told to get my head out of the clouds and grow up. Yet the most powerful moments in my life came as a result of allowing myself to dream bigger than what seems to be possible.

The Power Of A Child By Rafi Perez

I think we all use our imagination… I mean, when you are stressing out about something that hasn’t happened yet, you are using your imagination.

I try to imagine several impossible, amazing things every day. Things that are full of possibility and wonder… Things that make me feel like I can achieve anything.

This little girl symbolizes the power of our imagination and returning to that magical time of being in control of what you picture in your mind. Molding your thoughts into impossible dreams of awesomeness.

The Power Of A Child By Rafi Perez

I am stoked to announce that she made it into the Cinco Banderas Exhibition at Artel Gallery. If you are in Pensacola, stop by the gallery and see her. Reception for the show is November 4th 2016 from 6pm-8pm at Artel Gallery on Palafox.

Don’t Forget That Life Is Amazing

Today, a good friend of mine, shared a blog post with me. I had to share the information with you because it is just that good. It came at a perfect time too.

rafi-nude-1

Usually, this time of year, Klee and I are busy with commissions and orders for the holiday season. It can get a little crazy. We sometimes find ourselves spending full days in the studio, for weeks at a time, without venturing out into the world. Leaving the house only to buy groceries, like vampires leaving their den in search for food.

Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do, but just like anything, you need to remember to stop and smell the roses every once in a while, or you’ll find yourself caught up in deadlines and an overwhelming sense of duty to the next task. You find that there is more to life, when you are willing to look at the bigger picture.

P7040019

Remembering how amazing it is that we are alive, at this very moment, on this planet, is necessary for quality of life. It only takes a few minutes a day, to remind yourself.

STOP, GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK UP

Rafi_leaves_copy
Rafi Looking Up

Look up to the sky or out to the horizon. Let your awareness expand to fill the vast distances that you see. Focus on the sounds, the feelings on your skin, the smells, the colors, and Breathe deep. Just do this for a few minutes, until you feel a physical change, then go back to what you were doing.

FEEL HAPPINESS

A smile, a happy song, laughter, a silly dance, these are just some of the things we can do to create a feel good moment. We can also become aware of more amazing moments around us that bring us joy, and milk them for as long as you can throughout the day.our-journey-46

STOP AND SMELL, INSPECT, AND STARE AT THE ROSES

Just pause for a moment and see if you can look at something deeply. Really give yourself time. See if you could make it a priority. Your mind might scream at you and tell you that you have better things to do… But you don’t. Take some time to just appreciate the world you live in, and experience it fully for a few minutes. This will get easier and easier, eventually your mind will just shut up and let you do your thing.

If you want to read the original blog post on MIND FUEL DAILY click here.

Are relationships really about compromise? A Question Inspired By My Painting.

One of the things I like most about working on art at the market is being able to mingle and have conversations with thousands of people that walk through there every Saturday and Sunday. It’s a chance to jump into the diversity of life and share my art and my self expression.

Believe it or not, not every conversation I have at the market is about art technique and form, in fact I would say that the majority of conversations I have are about life and relationship. In my opinion art is always an expression of self, whether you are the creator or the observer. Many people when observing my art see something that either relates or contradicts something that they believe about life, this then brings about some of the most interesting dialogs I have ever had.

One intriguing conversation I had recently began after someone saw a pair of my paintings called “Expressions.” These paintings represent faces with slightly different expressions that tell an opposite story to the other.

The person walked up and said “I love this painting, what was your inspiration?” Since I always seem to have difficulty with this question because my inspirations come from so many different places within myself, I responded with a question.

“What do you see when you look at this piece?”

“I see two people who have a good relationship because they understand that the only way to make it work is to compromise” she responded.

This caught me by surprise because I actually believe the opposite of that statement.

“Really, that’s interesting.” I said.

“Why do you think that’s interesting?”

“Well, when I look at this painting I see two people who are not willing to compromise who they are for anyone, and definitely not for each other.”

She looked confused by my statement so I continued to elaborate

“I think a lot of people are just used to thinking that they are supposed to compromise in order to make relationships work because they try to model after terrible examples of relationships. They see people who will give something up about themselves in order to make someone else happy and expect the same in return.”

She looked at the painting for a while and said “But there has to be some kind of compromise, two people just can’t get along with every aspect of the person they’re with.”

I smiled “I used to think that too, but I realized a few years ago that it is easier to find someone who loves you for you and someone you love for who they are than try and change someone into a person.”

“In fact” I continued “I realized that no one can be changed anyhow. No one changes until they are ready to change, and the only way they will be ready to change is if they’ve changed their point of view about themselves, but they will never change for you… Just like you will never truly change for anyone else. You might say you are changing for them but the truth is that if you are changing something about yourself it is always for you, if not it’s more work than it’s worth and you’ll most likely fail.”

She stared at me for what seemed like forever, her eyes were very intense. “So what do you do if someone gets on your nerves when they do or don’t do something constantly?”

“It all depends on what it is. If it is something that is harmful to me, for example if the person is constantly physically or verbally hurting me then I get as far away from them as possible and delete them from my life… My rule of thumb with any type of abuse is that the people around me will always abuse me slightly less than I abuse myself so if I experience any abuse at all in my life and “dealing” with it then I look closely at how I talk and treat myself. “But” I continued “If it’s something silly on my part, like my spouse always leaves the dirty dishes on the table then I have to consider that dishes on the table are a bigger priority to me than to my spouse.”

She held her hand up “Yeah, so they should put the dishes away and make a compromise. If I clean the house then they should at least put the dishes in the sink or pick their clothes off the bathroom floor.”

“I understand” I said “I’m only sharing my opinion, but I notice when I am completely focused on why I think someone else does or doesn’t do something, I usually feel like a victim, a tyrant or a combination of both. In any situation I look at myself, if something is bothering me than it’s up to me to do something about it… If clothes on the bathroom floor bother me for what ever reason I pick it up, if dishes in the sink bother me, I wash them. If the house is dirty and I prefer it clean, I clean it.”

“But, what if you get tired of cleaning after someone else?” She asked.

“I can’t answer that.” I said.

She scowled “Why not?”

“Because I don’t clean up after anyone, if I see something and it bothers me, I clean it… I do not clean for anyone else and I don’t clean after anyone… I simply clean for the sake of keeping myself happy if that’s what it takes at that moment. In fact everything I do is for the sake of making myself happy at that moment.” I smiled “Everything I do and everything I am is me, I never lie because I have nothing to hide from and I never do anything if it makes me feel like a victim, but most importantly I know that if I feel like a victim it’s because I’m looking at something like a victim.”

“Well, I’m not a victim, I just hate cleaning up after him.” She said

“Then don’t do it.” I said.

“If I don’t do it, it will never get done.” She said.

“So let it never get done.” I said.

“But it would just be easier if he cleaned up after himself.” She said.

“Does he care?” I asked.

“No, he would just let the house be dirty.” She said.

“So you want him to change, to make you happy?” I asked.

“Yes, him cleaning up after himself will make me happy.” She said.

“So basically what your saying is that your happiness is based on whether or not he decided to clean up after himself. If he never again cleaned up after himself you would just be miserable for the rest of your life. To me, it seems like you’re putting your happiness in his hands when it would be easier to keep it in your hands.” I said.

“God, it feels that way sometimes.” She sighed.

“So why do you clean it?” I asked.

“Because it bothers me.” She responded.

“But it doesn’t bother him?” I asked.

“No.” She sighed again.

“Then you’re actually cleaning it up for yourself because if it didn’t bother you, you would just leave it and go about your day, but instead you make the choice to clean up because it makes you feel good. This is what I mean when I say that I don’t clean up after anyone or for anyone… I do everything because I feel good doing it. When I wash dishes, I don’t stand there and think about how no one else does dishes because that would make me feel like a victim to everyone else… I just do the dishes and clean up because I feel like doing it, not because I’m expected to and not because no one else will do it, but because I want to… It’s all about perspective.”

“So I should just clean up after my husband and be quiet?” She asked

“Nope, clean because you feel like having a clean house. If you don’t, that’s no big deal either, it’s not like someday you’ll be on your deathbed and think to yourself -man, I wish I had bleached the tub more often. Like I said, if it feels good I do it, if it doesn’t I don’t. When I clean the house, I put on the radio and enjoy the entire process and then bask in the feeling of a clean house… I never think about who else is doing what, I just think about what I’m feeling. If I don’t feel like doing it, I don’t, plain and simple.”

“I get it, you choose how you feel… If I choose to feel good about doing what I do then no one can take that away from me because it’s my choice.” She said with a smile.

“Yup, like the faces in the paintings… the expression you wear and the feelings you have are always a choice no matter what the situation is.” I said.

“That’s awesome! I love that painting! Well it was nice talking to you.” then she walked away.

I smiled and wondered why she didn’t just buy the painting… Interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/user/RafiwashereUS https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rafi-Was-Here/178839118531 http://www.rafiwashere.com