Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Me, new art, life and 'surrogate suffering'.

WIP - trinity

So, it's about time to do a bloggie about me don't you think? I know, you've been dying to read more about my life, haven't you!? ;)

Well, I'm almost 36 weeks pregnant, round round round, busy, crazy busy and in love with my family and the world. That would sum it up pretty much.

Ah, you want more detail. I get that. ;)

Ok, well, here is how round I am:

I know, you *really* wanna do a belly swap with me right? ;)

Well, I'm pretty much consumed with 2 things at the moment: being pregnant and almost giving birth to babe nr 2 and Life Book. Then also, of course: Dylan and Andy, sleeping, trying to keep my sanity and eating chocolate muffins are also high on the list. Oh, I also try to take a few moments each day to relax and I paint to relax. The above image is a detail shot of a recent painting I've been working on. Those who follow me on Facebook will have seen it already. I've been experimenting with combining different face styles together. The face in the lower part of the painting is a stylised face and the other two are much more realistic. The top two are done through a different technique: paint-over acrylic's transfer (similar to paint-over collage). I'm not sure if I like the combination of the different styles. I like them all separately, but not sure if they go together. Interestingly, on FB there is a varied response, some people love the combination of different styles, others don't!

Here is the painting in its entirety, but it's not finished yet, still in progress, also, this pic was taken with iphone, so it's not the greatest pic of it:

The baby bump is so big at the moment that I'm really ready to have him out. But, I'm almost 36 weeks, so have to wait just a little longer. After 37 weeks he's ok to come any time apparently. Dylan came bang on his due date though, so if this dude is anything like him, he might do the same and I'll have to sit it out for another 4 weeks! Then of course: the whole birthing thing again; NOT looking forward to that bit in particular, but hey, it'll have to happen, ha ha.

Now, Andy and I are pondering on how to best prepare for babe nr 2. There are a lot of unknowns: how's Dylan going to respond? How much will this impact our current way of living (again! lol!), how will we organise all the night time arrangements etc.

No doubt it'll be almost as life altering again as when Dylbee graced us with his presence, yet, we don't really know it yet. Oy ve! Ha.

Speaking of Dylbee who is now 2 years and 2 months old. Woah, time flies! He is many things in the span of a week: hysterical, beautiful, amazing, annoying, stinky, wonderful, growing with leaps and bounds, expanding his vocabulary on a daily basis (he's recently started doing this thing where he tries to copy almost everything we say, including: when I call out for Andy, I call: 'Andy? Babe!?' and Dylan is now doing the same, he goes: "Daddy?! Daddy?! Babe!?" but the 'babe' sounds more like 'bep'. Ha ha! It's hysterical. I can't stop laughing every time he does it)! It's truly incredible watching him grow and develop. It's so fast now. Every day it's like he's a different person with more awareness and understanding. And the love, oh the love for this little being, sometimes it floods me and overwhelms me with such magnitude, it knocks me off my feet.

Here are some pics of him:

Dylbee swing

Dylbee slide

Dylbee sand

Zen stones Dylbee collected Zen stones grabbed 
(These were 'zen' stones that Dylbee collected and I laid them out nicely in a row, very zen no? ;))

And here is some new art I hadn't shared yet, these are new journal pages: 

Art Journal Sept 2011

Also, here are my first Life Book pages! :-)
These are the pages I'm creating in the first few lessons for Life Book! Eeee!
Exciting no? :)
Life Book - 2012

lb-3-700Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

  Life Book - 2012
Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Other than that, I'm ok, but I do still go through phases where I do this thing where I read something horrible (like a 10 month old who has been kidnapped or a 2 year old with leukemia) or hurricanes, earthquakes, wars and people going through tremendous suffering and then I imagine it happening to me and I then can't stop crying. I've always been an empathetic person, but since I've had Dylan this has become 'worse'. I put 'worse' in inverted commas as I think empathy is brilliant of course, but I also think what I do isn't necessarily empathy, but more a sort of "surrogate suffering" that is 'useless'. Ie: how am I helping anyone, by imagining my own child having leukemia or being kidnapped and then crying about it? 

I think this behaviour actually stems from stuff that happened in my childhood, what I mean is, when I 'suffered' in childhood due to bullying and other things, I didn't feel anyone cared, and I think subconsciously I think that if I do the 'surrogate suffering' for these people who are going through these terrible things, I somehow express 'care' and 'solidarity' which is almost like I'm giving myself empathy, care and solidarity for the stuff I went through when I was young. So by expressing care and sadness for other people's suffering, I'm also sending myself the same on some level.

I know, it seems perhaps convoluted and roundabout, but I think I'm onto something here. 

There is the additional fact, of course, that I really do care for people and their suffering. Truly, if I had one wish in the world, it would be to erase all suffering (or at least: certain types of suffering that seems too painful for me - certain type of suffering should just not be 'allowed'), but I also think when I do this 'solidarity crying', it's about me and deeper stuff about me. 

Additionally, the fact that horrible things like leukemia and kidnapping etc happens to little ones, does make me feel fearful and worried about what could happen to my own children. Imagining Dylan with cancer just absolutely devastates me in so many ways and on so many levels. And then I think: but this IS happening to some people! And that's how I get into a crying sessions, imagining how those parents must be feeling etc etc. See? Useless no? How is that helping anyone? 

And of course, this 'behaviour' is very non-zen or being in the now. It's all about future projection, attachment and 'false suffering'. (Well, it isn't 'false' as I am suffering, but I'm crying about an imaginary situation: Dylan having cancer or being kidnapped (!)). 

The other thing that is going for me too is that: all children in the world are Dylans to me. It's isn't less 'bad' that it's happening to someone else's child, it's as painful to me to see a little 2 year old starve to death in Ethiopia as to see a 2 year old in France battling cancer or Dylan going through something horrendous. 

Anyway, I try to be more present to just the now and tell myself that if such a horrendous thing DID happen to me, I'd have to deal with it then and not suffer for it now, but at times I just can't help myself and just tears keep flooding out of me. I suppose preggo hormones don't help either. 

Byron Katie helps me too with this, though her 'work' is quite radical and one needs to live it continuously. Also, at times it feels devoid of empathy. Anyhoo, the other day, this vid of hers helped me: 


and also this one always helps me as it's about fear of 'something in the future', worrying about a projected potential future (that is totally me): 


and lastly this one also mighty helpful: 


I just watched all of those and I'm actually feeling a lot lighter again. 

But anyway, I go through phases of just feeling absolutely aggrieved by what goes on in the world and feel lost as to how to deal with it. Byron Katie and Tolle are my usual go to guys to feel more balanced and leveled, but the outbursts often come back. I suppose their work is something I need to integrate into my life on a daily basis.

Don't want to end this on a slightly sad note, I'm not sad now, just wanted to share this with the world out there, as I feel sharing this sort of stuff often helps others too and I'm all about wanting to be authentic and open, so there! :-) Let me know if you understand/ relate? 

On a VERY happy note: Life Book has just exploded with sign ups, this makes me soooo happy I could cry happy tears! :) I'm also very excitedly writing up the detailed WEEKLY year outline (we're doing something every week, even though small things on some weeks), which is just so cool! And I'm super excited about having 2 more teachers join instead of Leonie! (I'll be introducing them on my blog this week and next week too). They are Kylie Fowler and Tracy Verdugo!

Registration is still open if you want to join the 220 + students who have already joined!


  1. I most definitely relate to your surrogate suffering-it's something I've done my whole life and has propelled me into being an activist about so many things. It's an affliction that I think can be channeled and used in a positive way, but it took me years and years to find some way to get the positives without falling down that well of uncontrollable heartache for the world's pain. I give myself permission at times to really just give myself over to the sorrow for others, set little internal goals of how long I can spend doing that, and then start rebuilding my thought processes with looking at the promises and hope so many people work towards (non-profit organizations, activists, etc) and get my butt up and take an active step towards supporting change in whatever way I can. I truly believe my deep connection to the global tap root of life is what drives my passion and is the basis of my constant quest for wanting to be a better person, and I'm thankful I have it :) Thank you for writing about this Tam-Big big hugs my fellow "global pain specialist" :)

  2. New 2 you and your Art works but just wanna say I think ur such a beautiful, fun amazing open person - thank you for caring and promoting arts just as u do in ur own very unique way ~ l love BK & ET 2 :-)) totally get what ur saying when identifying with pain In ur thoughts ~ thank goodness life is also full of many amazing moments & smiles ~ Wishes 4 u x

  3. Just wanted to say a quick note re: surrogate suffering. Welcome to motherhood. You are SO not alone... we all do it in one way or another. Every year there is something else to worry about, project about, fear. Mine is 10 and it doesn't stop. Now I worry about teen years, lol. Being empathic is a good thing but it sure can wear you out if you don't shield it sometimes. Mine waxes and wanes but there are still things that I simply cannot watch or hear or I swear it will break my heart. Thanks for the lovely, honest post. XO

  4. Thanks Tam for sharing your feelings. I´m very lighter too to hear these people too.

    Big hug and i wish you the best!!!!

    Maria Esperanza

    By the way, i love your new face, realistic. Great nose and lip.

  5. Love realism in not so much. Big Hug for you from Canada, count your blessings and being aware of the world keeps your loved ones closer....prayers and warmest wishes Debix

  6. I love love love your work -- all of the journal pages, and of course the new painting.

    I totally understand the empathy-in-overdrive thing. I'm 26 (!!!) weeks pregnant with our first baby, and as amazing as that is, it also opens a door in my mind to all new kinds of fears and worries. The best thing I can do (and I'm becoming quite practiced haha) is to not open the door. Not let the worry in -- because once I do, I can't cram it back OUT the door again.

    That's not to say that I don't empathize and sympathize with cruddy stuff happening to others. But when I mind the door, it's harder to take others' suffering onto myself, if that makes sense.

    I'm so excited to "meet" your new little one! Dylan is such a cutie!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Hugs and the best wishes for you!
    Those links stole a couple of hours from my sleep, but were worth it every minute!

  8. Sweet Tam, Thanks for sharing this with us ! I read this on an important day for me, me too I am big time into surrogate suffering or blaming all things that go wrong in the world on myself. My sane self says it's ridiculous, my emotional self suffers and self-harms my soul. I just moved from very very broken Christchurch where we had more than a year of earthquakes and aftershocks to Tauranga, just in time for the worst ecological disaster in New Zealand history, an oil spill on the reef right in front of us. My heart cries and I feel as dark as the crude oil that is covering the beaches and the birds. But on a positive not, you absolutely bloom my lady ! Your face looks gorgeous and the twinkle in your eyes tell me you are so looking forward to having this new baby ! Best of luck for you and your family (also with LifeBook, a wonderful initiative !)

  9. You are a bright light in Blogland!
    All that you share just makes you even more likeable :)

  10. I go through phases like this sometimes, especially when I am pregnant. I try not to let it take over my life. I think that next year when my oldest goes away to college I am going to worry about her on a whole new level. My youngest is 17 months and still not sleeping well at night, so I am sleep deprived too, which just makes everything worse. What are we to do, just live life our best and don't cause the world more suffering by our actions. On another note, I am loving all your art. I like the faces to be all the same style in a piece. Your little one is so cute, enjoy him each day because they grow up too fast.

  11. Hi Tam, I just wanted to say I love your newest painting and all the lovely journal pages and sneak peeks at life book paintings as well. I am slogging thru some very dark times right now and your wonderful compassionate energy and art just lifts my spirt! Thank you!!!
    Hugs, Jessi xox

  12. Hi Tam, your painting is gorgeous as are your journal pages & Dylan too. I'm waiting for November payday until I can sign up for Life Book, it's no fair I want to sign up now, but I'm going to finish Art, Heart & Healing first, (only started it a year ago lol) Good luck with the impending new arrival.

  13. Thank you for sharing :) I love hearing about you and your wonderful family. I love your art too, it gets me so excited about life book!! I haven't been able to register yet, but I'm saving for it!! I def plan on taking it :-D It will be AMAZINg, just like you. Thank you for all your hard work you have put into creating and bringing life book to reality. I am super excited about there being so many different and wonderful artists teaching together.

  14. I am sooo excited about Life Book. Just finished WOW and Fab Faces. You are a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person. I want to be like you when I grow up.. Just turned 60 so I better hurry up no? LOL.. thanks Tam for sharing your feelings and your life with us.. Wishing you and your family the best. So exciting a new baby! I have fur babies and treat them as if they were kids. Can you say spoiled rotten.. LOL

  15. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who feels like this. It just makes me so sad to see all the horrible things people go through in life.

    Also, on a more positive note, I'm hoping that I can get enough money together to take the Life Book course - is there going to be a limited number of participants?

  16. I would appreciate if I can connect with you to discuss with you about the online course of learning to draw faces.

    Thank you,
    Goldie Stern

    my email address is

  17. Dear Tam,

    I am so enjoying the Life Book class!! And I'm happy to see you are also a Byron Katie and Tolle fan! As am I - they have helped me so much!!

    Much love to you! Silke


Thank you for connecting with me. I appreciate you! <3


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