Grief takes many forms, and no one should be able to tell you what you may or may not grieve over. The termination of a job, the death of someone in your inner circle, or the end of a relationship can trigger feelings of sadness and loss.
When I first realized what grief was, I was five. Over the course of the year previous, my grandmother who was one of my primary caretakers, fell ill. She had been in and out of hospitals and came home to die in 1992. My parents tried to explain to me what was happening, but at the time I had little idea what was going. My parents told me things like: She’s in heaven now and she doesn’t hurt anymore. Even as a child I thought to myself: Is that the whole explanation? I still couldn’t fathom that she had died.
On the day of her funeral, I sat in a limousine that carried most of my family members. I remember the car moving slow and being uncomfortable in my starched dress and frilly knee socks. With little notice, I became extremely nauseated and vomited in the back seat. My brain and mind were so young that I think I had trouble processing the entire event. The funeral was the first and only time I have seen my father cry. This day is burned in my memory because I was in the throes of deep grief and had little idea how to cope. I felt very similar at the funeral of my dear friend in 2015. Looking at his mother in the pew curled over in grief sent me over the edge. During the service I sat alone about 10 rows back, though I could see our high school friends on the other side of the church. I tried to be strong that day and it was very difficult.
I will not get into the details here and now about my relationship with the friend I’m speaking of. I will say that he was the first friend I ever made and that I truly loved him. He was my best friend for a long time and we were attached at the hip, starting when we were just four years old. He lived across the street- I could see his bedroom window from mine. We used walkie talkies between our houses, we played outside every day. We were inseparable! In third grade he asked me to be his girlfriend (I said yes, duh) and we spent nearly every day together. We were cut from the same cloth, so to speak.
He had a two little sisters including the youngest who succumbed to her severe physical disabilities when we were about 11 and she was 3 or 4 years old. When she died I think that’s when our relationship started to unravel. I think back I realize that we both didn’t know what to do with our grief and it changed our relationship. After high school, we fell out of touch as I moved to Boston for college and he stayed in our hometown. He worked, played music, and studied as well. In the last five or more years of his life, my friend struggled with addiction.
Like so many, he fell prey to prescription painkillers after a car accident that almost killed him. From there, it seems that he had a cycle of hiding his addiction, trying to quit, and then falling back into it. I had no idea that he was struggling, or else I was oblivious. Two months before his death, we were hanging out more often. We met up one afternoon and it was like we never left another. We went on long drives, hiked together, had deep talks and reminisced about our youth. On an afternoon after hiking I noticed that he had red marks in a small part in the crook of his arm. I asked him what they were and if he was okay? He quickly crossed his arms and said he was donating plasma. In my denial, I took what he said as truth and didn’t think any more of it. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
In November, it will be four years since his death. I still struggle with it, I burst into tears sometimes. It’s normal. I have put a lot of effort into my recovery and I’d like to share some things that took me from the brink to where I am now.
The long and the short of it is that I use meditation. I learned it, I live it and love it. It has saved me from the brink of panic and utter despair in the past and I have confidence that it’ll help in the future. I can’t imagine the trajectory of my life if I had not added in a meditative practice. I use a free app (Stop, Breathe and Think) and Youtube videos as guided meditations. There are sessions that start at just one minute long. Even the one minute meditations can give me an anchored feeling for the day and smooth my emotions. The results of my own daily mindfulness practice have been astounding in terms of how I feel. I find that after meditation I’m focused, calmer, and more understanding of others.
Second and third, I let myself cry and I write a lot about my feelings. In order to not fall into a pit of despair when I’m full of grief, I put a timer on feeling terrible. I still do this after nearly four years! A ten minute timer on my phone allows me to ugly-cry my heart out and feel my feelings or write about it for a bit and then move on. This practice may sound a little strange but it really works.
Grief is a complicated emotion that deserves your attention when you feel it. I have been told by people who know that this emotion can take years to work through. That being said, it’s absolutely worth your time to work on healing and feel better. If you are struggling with grief or loss now, you won’t always feel this way. Take the time to work on yourself and your emotions and you’ll quickly see how it can help.
Questions? Email Me.
Hello Beautiful People:
I talk about comedy a lot. I can’t take back my love for everything funny now- I’m pretty sure it’s a matter of public record. You can catch me watching tons of stand up and I definitely follow what’s going on in the comedy world. Needless to say I’ve watched a hell of a lot of comedy movies. I’ve seen some of these on the order of twenty or more times. If they are on this list, then it means I can watch the movie time and time again and still think it’s great. Here’s a list of my favorite comedy films of all time in no particular order. Please note:This is not a list of all the comedy movies that I like and I'll likely update it as I remember more awesome things.
Questions? Email Me.
There have been a few times in my life where I felt artists’ block. During those times I had nothing but fear when facing a blank canvas or sheet of paper. I shamed myself further for not having good ideas or for not creating any artwork. For me, this persisted on and off for years. Anxiety has proven to be a creativity silencer for me. I find that when I calm my mind that ideas start to appear.
Meditation is an excellent and proven way to get my mind into order. It admittedly took a few false starts before I made this practice into a habit. I’d recommend trying meditation apps like Calm or Stop, Breathe & Think. There are plenty of free sessions available between both of these apps. Both even offer a timed guided breathing session that has been a lifesaver in times of anxiety and stress. I have confidence that when you quiet your mind that all your good ideas will appear.
Second, record the things that come up in some manner! You can’t guarantee that you’ll have that same thought again so it’s best to keep notes just in case. The mentors I look up to also suggest this exact same thing. Writing in a journal or notebook around could be the answer for some people and talking into a digital recorder could be better for others. Keep track your thoughts in any way that works for you.
I recently worked with Chris Pemberton of Crisp Creative when I participated in Creative Mirror USA and he has some very interesting thoughts on creativity. Check out his TedX Talk here.
Breathe. Take a beat to focus with even a tiny amount of meditation and the rest will follow.
Questions? Email Me.
Looking up to famous artists is one of the smartest things that I can do for my prosperity. I like to read other peoples stories of success and apply their tactics to my own life. I recently finished “Tools of The Titans” by Tim Ferriss which examines the habits of very successful people. Literature like that makes me feel I’ve leveled up after I'm done. Think about it, reading is a quick way to assimilate others’ knowledge for your own use. All with no power or WiFi required. Thanks, books! Shout out to local libraries too, man. Talk about doing the good work for communities everywhere.
Anywho, I’m here today to talk to you about my favorite artists. These are the people who inspire and influence me the most. This isn’t an exhaustive list and there’s no particular order to it. I’m purposely excluding classical artists. Expect posts dedicated to these people in the future. Click through and let me know if you agree with me.
I’m actually a little late to the “Baskets” game. Have you seen this show? If not, I implore you to check it the hell out! It's great. I discovered this show embarrassingly recently: Jan. 2019 or so...and promptly binge watched it. Around this time two cloon-type things merged in my life at once which can’t be coincidence, right? After the Creative Mirror show last year, I found a mentor in Grey Anatoli Cross. He tipped me off about a show that was coming up that he was taking part in and the subject matter was clowns. I had been watching Baskets recently and was intrigued by the show, so I wrote to the art director and asked to take part. I ended up getting into the show. The Baskets piece plus some of my stream of consciousness paintings were displayed for a few weeks while the show ran here in New Orleans. I posted the painting on social media and got some serious love from the official BasketsFX account on both Twitter and Instagram. Cool!
I woke up one morning a few days later to a comment directly from Louie Anderson saying he loved it! It was really, really cool (to say the least) to see the response.
Please watch Baskets, it’s brilliant! We need as many seasons of this original and unique show as we can get. (Season 4 starts in June 2019)
Hello Party People:
I wanted to update you on which comedians I’m painting next.
Questions? Email Me
In November 2018, I went to a Doug Benson show in New Orleans at Cafe Istanbul. I had tweeted about my excitement the night before the show and Doug ended up mentioning my tweet on stage. He started reading my Twitter name aloud and said : “Hey wait, is your last name really Galactica?” I huffed loudly and just said: “NO.” I’m kinda delighted to say got a laugh or two from Doug and the crowd. Needless to say, I have been asked more than a few times if Samantha Galactica is my real name. In the interest of transparency and honesty to the people who have supported me, I’d like to clarify and share a few things:
My given name is Samantha Hayslip, I was born in 1987. I grew up in Lisbon, Maine. (Never heard of it? I’m not shocked.) I went to the local public schools and graduated from high school in 2005. After high school I moved to Cambridge, MA and started attending the Art Institute of Boston. I went there for about 2 years and learned about a few different types of art in a short amount of time. I studied art history, I learned about photography, I was taught how to paint in oil and how to draw. I struggled with the practicality of my decision to study art pretty much the whole time I was there. I left AIB sometime in 2008 because I thought I wanted to get into nursing school and secure a practical career. I had a crisis of thought about studying to be an artist because I couldn’t figure out how I’d make money or start a career. I didn’t have anyone mentoring me in one way or the other so I caved to the thought that I needed to choose something more practical. I started exploring nursing programs in Boston and applied to several schools. I got into exactly zero of those schools. Struggling to find a direction, I took the advice of a friend at the time and enrolled in some exploratory classes at Harvard Extension school. Harvard was in very close proximity to where I was living and working so it made sense to study there. I never declared a major and lasted 2 semesters. I wasn’t asked to come back after my grades dipped below a B- for too long. It was an interesting experience but now seems like time wasted because I didn’t pursue anything specific.
I ended up moving back to Maine in 2009. I took a job at the nursing agency that I had previously volunteered at and where my mother also worked. In 2009 I became certified as a nursing assistant and was able to work in many different areas of healthcare, including:
Somewhere around July 2017, I had decided to leave Maine and formulated a plan to move. I came to Louisiana in late August 2017 and it’s been a great choice so far. I feel grateful for the people I have met and the connections I’ve made. I can now be an artist again and it feels natural to be working in the way that I do. I’m always going to be Samantha Hayslip, but becoming Samantha Galactica has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I was scrolling through Twitter when I read the first post about Brody Stevens dying. My brain turned to instant denial and that it must have been some sort of cruel rumor only the internet of today could provide. Then I saw more tweets, pictures and memorial messages. I felt and still feel a lot of disbelief that this truly funny and good hearted, positivity-pushing comedian took his own life. I do not place blame on Brody for leaving us, I’m just really sad that he’s gone.
In the days following his death, I knew I needed to paint Brody’s portrait. I wanted to memorialize him in some way, and I used the time spent making his portrait as my own type of therapy. It felt like my way of saying goodbye and helped me work through a lot of sadness by focusing on my craft in those few days.
Brody meant a hell of a lot to me because he shared things so openly and he helped me feel less alone in my own life more than once. When I watched his memorial at The Comedy Store on Periscope I saw that he helped not only me but plenty of other people during his time here. It was so clear to me how loved he is. I still feel a pang of sadness whenever his photo pops up in a feed, I miss him a lot. I know lot of others do too. All we can do is keep is memory alive and be there for one another.
Believe It Fund
Push & Believe!
Last September I was sitting at my display booth a local art show as people walked by and checked out my paintings. A passerby was perusing my art pointed at my painting and said: “Kinda folksy, huh?” while walking off. I realized in that moment that artwork can be easily misunderstood and that the message I'm trying to send isn't always received by the viewer. The big lesson here for me was that if I make strange art, which I do, it may serve me to try and explain it to the world. There's a big part of me that wants each individual viewer of my artwork to have a different idea on what it means, independent of what I say. I like to provoke thought and conversation as an artist and I'm glad if my work does so. Still, I think it's probably good to shed some light on my process and how I come about the imagery I create.
I do have a process that I like to follow. I enjoy creating little rules of each piece of artwork. These rules end up helping to inform the piece. For instance; I might make a rule that I can only utilize certain colors or tools. It's my thought that by creating small limitations that it helps me move my work in an abstract direction. I also change the orientation of my canvas intermittently while I work. I like to check that my image has visual balance and I think the change in perspective helps my brain see things more clearly. It's the same idea as stepping back 10 feet from the easel while working; a shift in perspective is good most of the time.
For these types of paintings I have adopted a stream of consciousness style. I'm not sure that is an exact or popular style, but it's what I call it. When I say stream of consciousness style, I mean that: