Posts by Jen Picicci

Jen Picicci is an artist and writer living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She creates colorful and uplifting abstract artwork, which is available on her website. She also teaches classes on painting, intuition, and mindfulness. To see her work, follow her on social media, or download her free Intro to Mindful and Intuitive Painting Guide, visit www.JenPicicci.com

Jen Picicci's Website

Learning to Have Faith That All Is Well

“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.” ~Wayne Dyer

Gwen and I first met at a lactation group for new moms. She seemed like someone I’d get along with, and we talked here and there, eventually becoming Facebook friends, but nothing more.

Fate (or just good luck) intervened, though, when we met up again months later at the first birthday party of a mutual acquaintance’s daughter.

Gwen was the only person I knew at the party (other than the hostess, of course), and I was the only person …

Easing Anxiety: How Painting Helps Me Stop Worrying

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” ~Kahlil Gibran

Anxiety has followed me around like a lost dog looking for a bone for years now.

I feel it the most acutely when I’m worried about my health or my daughter’s health. I notice a strange rash or feel an unusual sensation and all of a sudden: panic!

My worries are not limited to health concerns though, and my ruminations go in the direction of dread about the future of the world, worries about my finances, and fears that I’m not good …

Why I Want to Stop Judging and How This Opens My Heart

“The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Things are hard right now, aren’t they? When I first started writing this article about my goal to drop labels so I could live without judgment, I was thinking I didn’t want to judge people at the gym based on what their T-shirts said.

Now I’m trying not to judge people in my local community and around the country for taking actions that make me feel …

I Spent Years Looking for Happiness in the Wrong Places

“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” ~Unknown

About ten years ago I made the mistake of re-reading my journal from high school. Wow, was I ever a miserable, slightly unstable person.

I dated the same (great) guy for three years, but looking back over my handwritten confessions, you would have thought I was dating Mussolini. I had endless complaints, wanted to control everything my boyfriend did, and every other word I wrote was a gripe. And this was about a guy I tried to get to notice me for months before he finally asked me …

Why Positive Thinking Drained Me (and How I’ve Found Peace)

“Glimpses of love and joy or brief moments of deep peace are possible whenever a gap occurs in the stream of thought.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Eleven years ago I read a book that was life changing for me. It taught me something I never considered during the previous twenty-nine years—that I could change my thoughts.

The book was Loving What Is, by Byron Katie. It set me forth on a journey that included dozens of books that communicated the same thing: We think the same thoughts all day long, over and over, and many of them are negative, filled with …

Confrontation Can Be Hard, But It’s Worth It

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” ~Fred Rogers

I was immediately uncomfortable when the older gentleman rode up on his bike and loudly told us that our kids shouldn’t be riding their bikes on the velodrome; it was against the rules.

If it had been just me and my daughter, I would have said no problem and left the area, maybe even apologized. But I wasn’t alone, I was with my friend and her son, and my friend doesn’t back down from confrontation like I do.

Instead of saying okay …

Why I Focus on the Now Instead of What I Want for the Future

“The next message you need is always right where you are.” ~Ram Dass

I want you to go back to New Year’s Day 2009 with me for a second. I’d recently left a job and was embarking upon a new career, one in which I was self-employed.

I pulled out all the stops and created a vision board that contained all of the things: how much money I wanted to earn, how I wanted to dress, where I wanted to vacation, how I wanted to eat, and everything else I could think of. I thought if I created this …

How Observing My Emotions Helps Me Let Go of Anger and Anxiety

“Even when in the midst of disturbance, the stillness of the mind can offer sanctuary.” ~Stephen Richards

One night my four-year-old daughter woke up crying, startling both me and my husband from sleep. He rushed into her room and I came in shortly thereafter, and I immediately got annoyed with how he was handling the situation. I’ll admit this now: I can’t even remember what he did, but in that moment I knew I would have done it differently and it made me feel irritable and angry.

I left the room and went into the bathroom. While I …

Trust Your Intuition: If It Feels Like a No, It’s a No

“You will never follow your own inner voice until you clear up the doubts in your mind.” ~Roy T. Bennett

One evening my husband and I decided that we, along with our daughter, would go together to a neighboring town about thirty minutes away the following morning. He had an errand to run, and I was going to take our daughter to a nearby playground.

The morning arrived, and as I thought about it, I had a wave of feeling/thought that said, “I don’t really want to go,” or maybe it was more like, “I’d rather just stay around here …

Someday This Will Be Funny

“A great attitude becomes a great mood. A great mood becomes a great day. A great day becomes a great year. A great year becomes a great life.” ~Unknown

I was already in a terrible mood by the time we arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm. It was Thanksgiving, and my family and I had spent four hours in the car in order to visit out-of-town family. My daughter had an accident in car seat on the way out there, and my husband and I were both battling colds. Oh, and it was my birthday.

We’d spent the afternoon …

How I Stopped Feeling Trapped in a Life I Didn’t Want

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” ~Terry Josephson

When I was in my early twenties I was lucky enough to spend about a year living just a few blocks from the beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but you know what I remember most distinctly from that time? Sitting at a red light on the way to work one day thinking: I feel trapped.

To put it simply, I felt stuck in a life I didn’t want.

I had a college degree I wasn’t using. I had a job that I dreaded. I had …

How to Let Go When You’re Dwelling on Negative Thoughts

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind—you are the one who hears it.” ~Michael Singer

My husband and I recently moved into a new home. Shortly after we moved in, I left a wooden cutting board in the sink, where it was submerged in water.

My husband told me, in a tentative voice, that he didn’t want to upset me, but I really shouldn’t leave the cutting board in the water like that, because it would get warped and destroyed.

In case you couldn’t tell, my husband was …

Honesty Is a Gift, So We Don’t Have to Hide Our True Feelings

“Never apologize for showing feelings. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

I’ll never forget my progress report from third grade: “Jennifer shows disappointment when she’s not called on.”

This must have been a bad thing, because my mother sat me down to talk about it. Apparently, when I raised my hand and wasn’t called on, I frowned. I was to work on that, to try to stay neutral, to not show I was upset.

I also clearly remember the day my dad came over to my mom’s house to tell me his father, my grandfather, …

Sometimes the Safe Path is Not the Right Path

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw, especially, and even took art classes on the weekends when I could. For fun.

Obviously, being an artist isn’t a viable career (or so everyone in my life told me in subtle and not so subtle ways), so instead of going to college to delve deeper into drawing or painting or sculpture, I went the safe route: art teacher.

Well, after a few semesters I decided I didn’t want …

The Power of “No”: Better Boundaries Lead to a Better Life

“’No’ is a complete sentence.” ~Anne Lamott

When I went to counseling for the first time, my therapist told me I needed better boundaries. I had no idea what he was talking about, and although the book he lent me on the subject helped a little, I still didn’t really get it.

I tried here and there to integrate the few concepts I’d picked up from the book into my life, but mostly I stayed away from anything that could be considered boundary setting, as I still couldn’t quite figure out what it meant.

A decade after my first introduction …

When You Want to Judge, Be Curious Instead

“Curiosity will conquer fear more than bravery ever will.” ~James Stephens

Earlier this year I wrote a pretty honest and open article about how I was trying to be less judgmental.

As with anything new, there’s a learning curve. Letting go of judgments hasn’t become a natural and automatic part of my life quite yet, but a skill I’ve recently learned that’s making a huge, huge difference can be summed up in one word: curiosity.

Let me explain: I recently finished Brené Brown’s newest book Rising Strong. It’s all about getting up after a hard emotional fall, and what …

How Expectations Undermine Our Relationships and Happiness

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” ~Bruce Lee

A few years ago, my husband was away from me for a few weeks, working in another town. It was summer, and we were living close to the beach at the time, so I often spent my Saturday nights walking along the ocean at sunset, enjoying the colors and sounds.

One Saturday night I was in a simply glorious mood. The beach was filled with happy families and couples, the Atlantic was a particularly lovely shade …

How Obsessing About Your Body Gets in the Way of What Matters

“Focus on what you want your life to look like—not just your body.” ~Sarah Failla

Growing up I never had much concern for the shape or size of my body. Perhaps once in a while the idea of losing weight or beginning an exercise routine crossed my mind, but it was always fleeting and I was quickly back to gossiping with my best friend or writing a note to my boyfriend.

Once I entered college I gained some weight, what with the unlimited access to Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch (something that never, ever crossed the threshold of my childhood home) …

Escaping the Trap of “Shoulds” and Doing What You Want to Do

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~Maya Angelou

I’ve never done things the “normal” way. Yes, I graduated from high school and went on to college, but then I didn’t go the job-marriage-house-baby route.

After I had my degree in hand, I moved to Vermont to work at a ski lodge. After a few months of that I packed up all of my belongings and traveled around the country, landing in Montana. I spent a few months there, sleeping on a mattress laid on the bare floor in an …

You Don’t Have to Believe You’re Not Good Enough

“I don’t know a perfect person. I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” ~John Green

“I’m not good enough.”

I cannot possibly count the number of times this thought has passed through my head over the years. It’s been applicable to nearly every aspect of my life from childhood to my current status as an adult, parent, and business owner.

Still, both the frequency with which this thought enters my head and the length of time I spend believing it have dropped considerably, so I think my story and the lessons I’ve learned are worth sharing—especially since …