A Letter To Myself In A Moment Of Darkness vs Light

I wanted to let you guys in on a process that I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed or dark. I write a letter to myself and then respond from a different point of view. This isn’t something that someone typically shares with folks, but I know I’m not typical, so here it is.

Warning, you may read things that concern you, don’t worry, I’m fine, this is just a way to get the feelings out in their rawest form.

“Dear self,

This week has been a tough week for me. I’ve been wading through an emotional cesspool of insecurities and old painful memories. As a result my environment has lost some of it’s vibrant color. I am walking around in a world that I recognize, yet haven’t visited in a long time. It is a dark grey world in which the sunlight is nonexistent. For a person such as myself, an artist who thrives on vibrant colors and light, this is what I imagine hell would feel like.

Rafi Stressed

It’s interesting to me that when your mind takes you to a dark place, it seems like the entire world has conspired against you. It’s like you’re in a movie and the set design is based on the overall feeling of the main character. You watch yourself on the silver screen of life following an old dramatic script that you have rehearsed so many times that it seems like it all comes so naturally. You are the main character, yet no one else is experiencing what you are experiencing, feeling isolated and alone, surrounded by smiling faces, yet totally by yourself.

So, my question is this, what do I do now?”

Rafi in a messy art studio

After a short pause… I read the letter, take a deep breath and respond as best I can.

“Dear Dramatic Self,

Good question! Well, you get off your ass and out of your head. Listen, I understand that sometimes shit happens. You are going through a point in your life that might be transitional. Maybe you feel like you lost a sense of direction, maybe you are going through something emotionally taxing, maybe some button got pushed that hasn’t been pushed for a long time, maybe things just suck right now. No matter what it is, you have every excuse to feel the way you do, but that’s the thing, they’re just excuses.

In my opinion, things that people call emotionally chronic are simply practiced. You’ve spent years practicing how to be dramatic and respond to certain thoughts or situations in a certain way. That dramatic script you mentioned is a real thing, people can follow the same script over and over in their lives without even wondering if they can change it. They can feel like their thoughts are thinking them, instead of them thinking their thoughts. 

Do What You Can Rafi Perez

You find yourself in a rut and what do you do? You sit, slump, cry, withdraw, and replay events over and over in your mind, and repeat. You find something or someone to blame for what you are feeling. Maybe you even pull yourself momentarily out of your funk by putting all your energy into being angry at this person or situation. Yet, nothing changes, this just keeps replaying over and over in your life. So much so, that you think this is just the way it is, “this is my life”.

You believe your story, you shape the world after your story, and discount anything that challenges that story. The story has to be true, if it wasn’t true, then it means you are torturing yourself for nothing.

Well, guess what? It is true. It’s true because you think it’s true, and your brilliant mind is going to do everything in it’s power to make it the truest thing you have ever experienced. Your doubt is going to punch you in the face, your insecurities about yourself are going to knock you down, your judgments and fear about people will come true, and everything you surround yourself with will be a constant reminder of your misery and fear. 

Rafi Perez

Do you know what else is true? That your courage will destroy anything doubt can throw at you. Your determination will pick you up when you fall, stronger and better equipped than ever before. Your hope and unconditional love will present itself to you in overwhelming love and kindness, and everything around you will glow with vibrancy and light, this being a constant reminder of your sense of optimism and hope.

It’s ALL true… Every last bit. The question isn’t who is right or wrong, or what is true or untrue, or what you should or should not do… but simply, what would you rather do? How would you rather feel? What would you rather think? What do you want to focus on? Who do you want to be? And what do you want to believe, right now… in this moment?

Office Decorated By Rafi Perez

We don’t carry feelings in our pocket, or find them in a box buried somewhere. We produce those feelings based on our perspectives and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. You can believe what ever it is you want to believe about yourself and what is possible for you, and you can do that right now.

Honestly, this moment is all we really ever have, this moment, right now. So make a choice, despite the script you have been rehearsing all your life. Just make a choice.

Now quit whining and pick yourself up like the awesome person I know you to be.

With Much Love, -Rafi”

And that’s it! Welcome to my world of crazy 🙂

 

 

 

 

Why Do I Paint Birds?

I seem to have always been fascinated by birds, from the pigeons in Chicago with the iridescent neck feathers, to the occasional happy bright red cardinal.

Recently someone asked me “So, why do you paint birds?”

rafi painting birds

I though about the question for a moment and said “Overwhelming fascination.”

When I was a wee little artist, my mother who was young and dangerously overprotective, didn’t let me go outside much. For years, my entire world was from a large third floor picture window that looked down on a busy street.

I spent hours a day looking out at the people going about their day, the different birds roosting and flying about, the abstract landscape over the buildings, the little bit of greenery that would emerge from fascinating places in the concrete. I also gave everyone personalities and stories, people would have daily novellas play out in front of me, and so did the birds.

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Love Birds By Rafi Perez

But, although I felt that the humans had dramatic stories of heartbreak, turmoil, and moments of happiness, the birds symbolized something powerful.

Birds symbolized freedom and perspective. Because they fly high into the sky, I believed they were messengers who provide humans with a bridge between the mundane daily routine and powerful spiritual life.

I know, I know… I was a weird kid.

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

Every once in a while I would see someone at a bench feeding bits of bread to the pigeons. From my third floor window I could see a powerful dance taking place between the person throwing the bread and the birds. I could see something beautiful, a powerful connection to something greater, a brief moment of stillness among the chaos of daily life. No one else seemed to notice, they just hurriedly went about their day, barely glancing up or interacting with one another.

Years later, with no window barrier between me and the world, I was part of that chaos. I hurried importantly past people to get to work, or anywhere for that matter. I pounded my fist and certain index fingers at people who drove too slow. I was an adult, I was busy, I had things to do, I was responsible, I didn’t have enough time, and I was miserable.

Flight Of The Hummingbird By Rafi Perez
Flight Of The Hummingbird By Rafi Perez

One day, the overwhelm hit a fever pitch. As I was barreling down the road cursing in my mind at the lady in the car directly in front of me, my heart started to beat out of my chest. I loosened my tie and found that my forehead was soaked in sweat. It was so bad, that I pulled over.

I stepped out of my car to get some air and walked over to a bench.

As I was sitting there, wondering if I was going to die in my stupid suit, on a dirty bench, in a strange part of town, I noticed an old man walking towards me with a crinkled up paper bag.

Rafi Perez Art 2016
Rafi Perez Art 2016

“Great, he’s gonna ask me for money, just look away.” I thought to myself.

The man sat down, opened his bag, and started to sprinkle little bits of bread on the ground in front of us. Like a scene out of the movie “The Birds” a hoard of pigeons and other birds descended on us.

Didn’t he see that I am an important person? I was appalled at how rude this man was, surely a bird was going to shit on my suit.

Then, my heart started up again, and I breathed in deep… and just relaxed.

Rafi-Perez-Art-92
Fun Bird By Rafi Perez

Suddenly, amidst the gaggle of birds was a pop of bright color. A cardinal flew on to my armrest merely inches from my hand. I found myself mesmerized and just stared at it, we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. It then jumped down, grabbed a scrap of bread and flew away.

I’m not sure how long I was on that bench. I just sat there and time seemed to slow down. I could see the world hurrying past me, people waving their fists in their cars, and others looking at their watches every five minutes. I felt like they looked so… so… stupid.

At that point the old man looked at me, I could feel him studying me.

“Taking time to do nothing often puts everything into perspective. Remember that, young man.”

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Be Different By Rafi Perez

Then he got up and left.

I get visited by that cardinal every once in a while, when I get caught up in hurrying through life. I sound like a crazy person, but it’s true.

And that is one reason why I paint birds.

 

Ignited From Within

I’ve been thinking this morning,

I recently sold a piece of art that symbolized a very special story. When I posted it on social media I captioned it with:

Life can be a thrilling ride, or a terrifying one. It’s just a matter of perspective. It’s not always easy to remind yourself that you are on fire for life, but it is necessary if you want to ignite yourself, and blaze your own trail.

Ignited By Rafi Perez

This piece symbolizes what I think all of us have inside, a flame that burns and refuses to be snuffed out, no matter how hard we might try.

When I look at my life, I can see a very clear separation between the person who buried their ambitions and dreams behind a wall of fear, and the crazy risk taking weirdo that I am today. I’d be lying if I said that I am completely devoid of fear, but it is worlds away from the old version of me.

Ignited By Rafi Perez

The thing is, that if you ignore that flame, that passion that burns within you, it doesn’t go away, you are just constantly reminded of the things you are suppressing.

We are all such beautiful creatures, with amazing potential. I feel that we all know that to some level or another, but might be too scared to express it.

But the flame within you doesn’t go away.

Ignited By Rafi Perez

We are brilliant in our uniqueness. In the history of the world there has never been anyone like you, there is no one like you, and there will never be anyone like you… soak that in for a moment. Yet, we tend to compare ourselves and put ourselves down.

But the flame within you doesn’t go away.

It is simply a matter of perspective… The flame within you, is that part of you that sees your beauty, ability, potential, brilliance, your worth, and uniqueness. It see’s what you really are…

Amazing.

-Rafi

 

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.

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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

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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.

My Art Teacher Was Wrong

Have you ever had someone tell you that you are not good enough? Did you believe them?

Rafi Perez in Studio
Rafi Perez in his art studio

This picture is of me working in my art studio, creating art for a solo exhibition, because I am a full-time artist, who makes a living from his art. This is not what my teacher predicted… Guess he’s not a psychic.

If I had believed my art teacher in school, when he was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, and that “You will never make it as an artist” I probably wouldn’t be writing any of this right now.

But, I didn’t believe him… Well, eventually.

It’s interesting how such an insignificant event, had such an impact on my career as an artist. I’m sure he doesn’t even remember saying it, but his words stayed with me longer than I’d like to admit.

Watch this video to hear the full story:


Now, I wouldn’t change a thing, because eventually my journey lead me to finding my own confidence, and there is no point in wishing that things had gone differently.

It would be a lie, if I didn’t admit, that every once in a while, I wonder where I would be, had I started my art career sooner… But, it is what it is, and I’m enjoying the ride thus far.

Rafi Was Here Studios
Klee didn’t listen to the naysayers when she started her jewelry business and her work is amazing. She also didn’t listen to the naysayers when it comes to her music. She’s an awesome role model for me.

Why am I sharing this story?

I wanted to reach out to anyone out there that may be experiencing the same thing. Whether it be a creative field, a life goal, or a dream, Don’t ever believe anybody that tells you that you can’t do something.

It took me a few years to learn this for myself, but now that I have, I am unstoppable. I’ve learned that the only way you can ever truly fail at anything, is to give up. With my art career, I had given up, before I even started.

Being Childish Is Fun
My friends Monica and James didn’t listen to the naysayers when starting LunaStella Naturals. Their company is rocking the natural skin and body care market.

Because I lacked confidence in my ability to persevere, I took to heart the comments of naysayers in my family, and eventually my teacher.

Luckily, I put all that crap behind me and I know that the only thing that matters, is whether or not I believe I can do it.

So, if you believe you can do it, (no matter what it is) then you can… plain and simple.

Thank you for reading my rambles! Remember to stay endlessly inspired by the stuff of life.

-Rafi

 

Am I Inspired?

If you are a creative person, chances are you’ve asked this question.

I find that if you feel joy constantly as you are refining and tweaking your ideas of what you want to accomplish, then you’re on the right track of inspiration. It is so important for you to get everybody else out of the equation. Just remember that they’ve got their own thing going on; they cannot possibly fully understand your vision. Let them off the hook; stop asking them what they think. Start paying attention to how you feel. Just create what you want to create… A lack of inspiration is nothing more that your focus being on what other people might think of your creation.

Live Painting Rafi Perez

-Rafi

 

Dreamlike In The Garden Nude Painting By Rafi Perez

This piece is inspired by the freedom of allowing yourself to dream with no inhibitions.

 

Dreamlike In The Garden Nude Painting By Rafi Perez

ABOUT THIS PAINTING

The nude is laying at a dreamlike perspective. Thick brushstrokes and different signature layering techniques, create a prestigious, three-dimensional appearance. layers of paint, in the proper lighting, provide a beautiful shadow on her body and background and seemingly change dimensions. This is a work of art that has partially gotten its inspiration from the old masters in nude portraiture, with a contemporary edge.

Rafi Perez Dream Like In The Garden
Rafi Perez Dream Like In The Garden

I wanted to create something beautiful and stunning, yet peaceful.

Rafi Perez Dream Like In The Garden
Rafi Perez Dream Like In The Garden

 

The Future Is Now

We spend so much time worrying about the future.

spartan

What if, for just a moment, you imagined that life is all happening right now?

Even when it’s happening Right now, you are experiencing it in you mind.

You may be told that you are not being realistic, or that you need to think about tomorrow. The truth is, the only moment we really have is right now, this very moment when you are reading this. Look around you, hear the sounds, look at the colors, feel the temperature and breath… This is happening.

Tomorrow is a figment of your imagination, as is yesterday. Experience this moment now, change it if you don’t like it or milk it for all it’s worth if you do. Right now is your only guarantee so you might as well be here.

Just a thought.