Back to Top Priorities

Weeks ago, I wrote about priorities and choices. I wrote about my top priority always being the warm embrace of happiness. Throughout life, our choices may be limited or affected by our environments which question our commitments to that which matters the most.

I left undergrad in a place that was uncertain but proud. I had finally met Cayla. I listened to, supported, and embraced her. Through allowing her to thrive, I learned that she needed to be in the gym at least 3 days out of the week, silence for a good portion of the day, and to create things that were both important to her and others. And even if I moved, it was my responsibility to ensure that she continued to have those things which made her smile.

I did not do my job well. During this gap year experience, I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped supporting myself. I placed myself too far from my chosen family, outside of the gym, into 57 hours per week of noise, and within an uninspiring location. Instead of listening to her, I added distractions to my life which have veer me off of a path that I fought so hard to build.

At one point, I knew that I was meant to live alone somewhere near the sun. Somewhere where I could read books, enjoy hot tea, and dance to the sound of the wind. I knew that I wanted to help people by creating solutions to issues that make my heart sad. I knew that I didn’t care for economic wealth, just financial stability with zero debt. I knew that I would move the bubble to a place I could call home.

However, this year, I have developed unhealthy relationships and habits. I can’t remember the last book I read nor cup of tea I’ve drank. In the past, when I danced, there were always two friends who’d join in, but now I’m more of a spectacle. I have an endless list of things to do and no motivation to start them. I lie in bed eating marshmallows and watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 10th time thinking about all the places my body screams to go to.

9 months ago, Cayla would’ve written this to current Cayla:

1. Set Priorities

2. Assess Your Situation

3. Check Happiness

4. Plan Small Goals

My ultimate priory is to be happy and have silence. I can’t get that from anyone but myself.

I’ve allowed people into my space who don’t deserve my attention. However there were quite a few new relationships that I hope will stick. I’m also making some good decisions with how use my money. So I feel that I just need more structure to my life to rebuild some good and healthy habits.

I am unhappy because I’m not content with my environment. I want more choices and freedom than I currently have. I feel like I’m suffocating. As result, I’ve become more defiant and nasty, because I’m fighting… without a goal (besides freedom of course).

My current plan is to finish my service term within the next 2 weeks. Once released from service, I can allot time to think about myself, achievable goals, and actually follow through. So small steps: finish service, live alone in a pretty place, join a gym/ dance studio, read for pleasure, and eat healthy.

Hopefully by this time next month, I will have attempted some of these goals to get back to my priorities.

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Untitled (Blue) 2017

This piece was the heart of my show last spring. It was the last piece that I began working on and the first one that came to life. Although loosely created as a self-portrait, it embodies the spirit of the impact I wish to leave and the person I am creating.

6' by 3.5" acrylic portrait painting
Portrait of my guiding spirit and mood of my new mindset.

Gap Year: Romance for the 20 Somethings

You were my smile for every mensiversary complimented with an handmade card. You wrapped me in tales from the past, gazed forever into my soul, and escorted me home through the night. You were my home manifested into the skin of an imperfect human. You were the best friend that I wished I were not afraid to loose if I uttered that one four-letter word. It was as if God themselves had made a copy of everything that was me and changed my sex. It was as if they knew I needed someone to talk to about what all I questioned. It was as if I needed a night of mint chocolate chip ice cream before meditation. It was as if I had to know that I could develop feelings so quickly. For you were the only one who I was brave enough to trade numbers with while on the clock, because you are my Sunday morning.

And somehow, you were more than my sunshine. You watched my every move out of fear that you could not keep me. You didn’t listen to me when I said no. You lied to me about accidents and stood me up three times. You preferred the company of alcohol and cigarettes than me. You were always searching for something else or someone else. You suffered greatly of fernweh. Your heart was preoccupied. And unfortunately for me, you need time to work on your own holistic health.

There’s nothing more that 20 somethings like to talk more about than love. It is this fascinating mystery which is televised as high school sweethearts and uncontrollable foot pops. It takes a while to get through the myths and learn from mistakes, but once you get here, you question everything. While some found one of their soul mates and live in the butterflies every day, others have been let down and hurt. At this age, I am surrounded by young adults who are learning what adulthood means which includes how to develop and sustain relationships. We talk about love, because we all want to believe that it still exists. We want to know that it doesn’t have to be toxic, painful, confusing, forced, or just not right.

My first two paragraphs were statements about all of the boys and men I have encountered thus far. We remember people through emotions and experience. While the details may not remain, I remember who made me feel that I was never enough and who reminded me that I was a Queen. Against everyone’s advice, I have never let go of those relationships, because for me they define romantic and platonic relationships. Although these memories circulate within my mind as I date new men, I still allow for a new slate. However, I am still triggered by certain words or movements which remind me of those from my past. I honestly think there’s no way to avoid it either.

For us 20 somethings, many of our relationships are measured and outlined according to our past experiences. I’ve recently ventured into the territory of online dating which I wrote about in an earlier blog post. While it is fairly simple to find decent people to chat with, it is so much harder to find someone who’s a great match. Also, a good number of people online opted into the dating sites, because they find it difficult to find and talk to people in real life. After trying out a number of sites, I discovered that it was not going to me my path to a lasting romantic relationship (unless you want to be married asap, because there a plenty of people who can’t wait to get to the altar). I also realized that I have just as great of a chance going out to events and finding people. Even when I do that, I still get people who like the idea of love, but are too afraid or not emotionally available to dive into something new.

This reality makes me reconsider my own priorities. What is my goal? Do I want a romantic relationship? Do I just want friendships? Do I just enjoy flirting and the chase? Do I want more or will I accept having access to only a small piece of someone’s heart? But most importantly, do I even care? Right now, I have so many other things that are more important than figuring out who will buy me chocolate for Valentine’s Day. In short, Romance for the 20 somethings is confusing, exciting, ever changing, emotional, and different for everyone. It is defined by moments in life. It has new perspectives. It is a wondrous mystery which we dream about.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Untitled Senior Show

First, I apologize for my absence. This Winter and Spring has been occupied by events, projects, trips, and conferences. Although I have not been writing as much, I have been documenting those memories on my other social media platforms.

My last post summarized the most important parts of my senior Communication research. Since then, I have noticed that I really enjoy learning about how the world informs us about race and how that encourages us to or hinders us from taking action. As I work to improve my physical being and my outlook on the world, I began focusing within and actively practicing more self-love.

My senior Art Capstone documents this process through paint. I will release the artist statement and final images for the current exhibition on display within the next couple of weeks. However, I will insert a sneak peak below! More images are loaded onto my Instagram
account.

With Love,

Self-Portrait of Artist/ Writer in Acrylic on Canvas
Self-Portrait of Artist/ Writer in Acrylic on Canvas

Senior Art Show

During the last couple of months, I have conducted research on the self-image and self-definition the identity of young African American women. Much of the literature review and expert interviews led to conversations which were challenging to grasp. Just understanding the reality of the adversities that come along with the intersectionality of being an African American woman in the U.S. was disheartening. However, the research did not end on a sad note.

What I realized is that young African American women see the importance of self-love. The group in my case study had begun to practice self-love and a freedom of expression which may initially sound rudimentary, yet is so complex and necessary to the collective progression. The majority of participants agreed that the thing they wanted most was to be free from expectations on who they should portray, what they should say, and what they should do as African American women.

With this in mind, I am continuing with this research into an artist project. For my second undergraduate capstone, I am creating a show through paintings which address the issues mentioned above. I have planned three large scale nude self-portraits in an attempt to humanize African American women through my own personal experiences. I am in the process of releasing myself from pre-prescribed labels and expectations. I am excited to keep you all updated with this process. The show will be exhibited on the 13th of April. 

You can follow the experience in real time via Instagram: cayla_jae. I will be posting sketches soon and process shots throughout the next couple of months.

Tune In This Winter

I have spent weeks trying to find the words and the perfect quote to express this thought. What I have now realized is that it does not have to be ingenious or flawlessly crafted. What I want to say is that I am transitioning.

For years, I have created work that I felt others wanted to see. I have painted, drawn, and written narratives that we not of my true nature, voice, nor intentions. Therefore, following my explorations aboard through the landscapes of Ireland and then nationally within the suburbs of Orlando, Florida, I have reached a period which I consider the eye of the storm.

I am currently doing research, along with person soul searching, in order to properly articulate my narrative. For this reason, I have not and will not be posting as often as I have in the past; however, this Winter you can expect sneak peeks of my first exhibition. I am excited about this for many reasons, but I am most excited to be able to sincerely share myself with you.

Best,

CDJ

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

  • Maya Angelou

Wunderlust

After this summer, I know two things for sure: if you truly want something, it is yours to have, and also remain flexible, because you’ll never know where this world will take you. With a positive mindset and a good amount of stubbornness, I have no doubt that you can turn life’s unfortunate events into dreams. I had heard an artist say before that the most important thing to them was to “craft their life” and not just let it play. Being humans, we are creatures of habit and without a little bit of creativity or curiosity, we find ourselves stuck. Always question, always challenge, and always grow…for not all those who wander are lost.

Rest Your Mind

“Now that he was safe from the world outside he was being attacked from within his own head.” – Cal by Bernard Maclaverty, p.106.

The art process is very vulnerable and uncertain. Much of the time that I spend working alone is filled with doubts and negativity from my mind. Art involves so much self criticism that one become less bothered by others expectations. One of the things my professor tells students is to not forget what you do well. As a group, we spend more time attempting to perfect that which is already perfect. Let your mind rest and enjoy your days.