Convos Between Siblings

They chat through their own bedroom windows about the cars passing by and what they are reminded of. Bruce and Teddy Love have a side convo about bear things and all I can think about is how beautiful this moments is. Standing in the hallway silently watching my two favorite people live out their childhood…..just smiling about how happy I am to be part of it. ❀

Seeing the bond between these two, I find myself incredibly happy to be their mother. Happy I can provide them with things I never had as a kid. Happy moments and beautiful memories. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

These Moments

This is a watercolor painting of my daughter in a moment we shared one week into parenthood. The illumination is a perfect representation of the new parent high I was running on. And, of course includes that baby smell. πŸ˜‰ I swear it’s like catnip for women!

How could I not be inspired by her beauty? As I slowly layered the colors I could feel incredible warmth coming from it. I knew I had accomplished exactly what I intended.

In these moments of creative clarity adrenaline fuels me. When I look at this painting I can imagine that memory perfectly. I feel her in my arms and can remember how the golden sun made its way across us.

That moment is perfection. Creating artwork that draws me in and keeps me intrigued is what makes it important for me. I love these moments. They are priceless.

My Inspiration

For all the things my arms have ever held, the best by far is you.

Everyday I grow closer to the momma y’all deserve. Some days I stumble. Hell, some days I crash and burn. On those days especially, I am most grateful to have your beautiful hearts close. Grateful I can hug you and kiss you and snuggle you. Grateful you accept my apology when I know I’ve lost my temper. I aspire to be as giving and loving as you are.

You lift me up with the simplest little grin. Your big ole’ baby blues melt my heart every time. You are the inspiration for all the beauty I share with the world. I find the most joy in these ordinary moments that make up an extraordinary life. How did I ever get so lucky? πŸ’›

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Loving An Addict

The hardest and most selfless thing I’ve ever done in my life is loving an addict. I actually love many. I am not a person to claim the role of a victim and the last thing I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me. I keep a positive outlook on life, despite what I’ve been through.

Talking about addiction is not easy, in doing so I hope it will help others in healing and maybe better understand an addict in their own life. Confronting an addict is heart wrenching and will test you in every way imaginable. I’ve been laughed at straight in my face and called a liar. My feelings have been completely disregarded, I’ve been bullied, and torn apart emotionally. I drove myself crazy with worry and finding proof of lies to make a point. In reality I never needed to. I realized if I needed to prove a liar more than once I was the fool. Addiction is all-consuming in its need for attention, by the addict and by the people who love them. I’ve learned what enabling is and how incredibly hard it is to distinguish between it and love. In loving addicts I have learned so much about the kind of person I am but more importantly the kind of person I want to become.

The most giving hearts is the ones who addicts like to surround themselves with. The most vulnerable people are the path of least resistance. They want you to enable them. It’s validating and gives them no reason to stop the destructive behavior. There is so much pain within them that it spreads, it seeps out and into everything they touch.

For loved ones it’s the pain of deceit, the pain of having them take advantage of you, and the pain of feeling like you don’t matter is what hurts the most. There is pain in knowing their selfishness is most important. What has been hardest for me is the realization that I’ve had to push them away. In showing the effects of their actions I needed to be harsh. A stark reflection of how they affected my life. Whether they want to see it or not it hurts. In every single way it hurts to witness the pain. It hurts being disliked and even hated for this when all you wish is for them to heal. I did not let the pain of this take hold on me. I do have times of sorrow, as does everyone but, it does not define me. No matter how hard it is to grasp for air sometimes I don’t let pain caused by others weigh too heavy on my soul.

In confrontation an addict will fight it. They will back you into every corner and make you feel as bad as they do. The pain inside they are trying to numb will exponentially grow in the realizations of hurting loved ones. Love can fight back even harder. Help them in every way you can without being taken advantage of. Help them gain the tools to cope but stay true to your words. If you give an ultimatum stick to it. Buttons get pushed and limits tested but keep standing strong and know that addicts can recover and trust restored. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We live, learn, and grow to become better if we want to.

Forgiveness is key. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Forgive and grow. I do my best to not be pushed around by their demons, or my own, and learn from my own mistakes and frustrations.

Strength comes in knowing that you could save their life. Holding them accountable may nudge them out of the state of denial they put themselves in. It will quite literally feel like going into battle. They will not want to stop. It will hurt them physically and mentally to do so. Everything in them will tell them no. The high they chase is in control and will not want to be diminished. The worst part about addiction is that the body loves responding to pleasurable things and loves dopamine. As the addict gets deeper into addiction the levels of dopamine they need to feel euphoria increases. The urge will always be there to push for more. The need to survive can even come second to the need they feel in fulfilling the addiction. I’m not trying to claim that I fully understand the inner struggle of an addict. This is just my thoughts from what I’ve seen. But, I do know what it feels like to watch someone you love, even more than yourself, struggle with it. It takes a lifetime to conquer addiction.

I’ve dealt with other people’s addiction my entire life. It took my childhood. It forced me to overcome. It taught me to push myself in the need to thrive as an individual, as a leader, and as a caring human being. It showed me what to avoid and what to question.

The key to truly loving someone is honesty. So many people fail in this. Honesty is the way of happiness. To do this I had to look inward. What was I doing in response to the addict that contributed in perpetuating the behavior? I became brutally honest with myself about my actions. When you’re in a relationship with an addict, your behaviors become just as important as theirs in addiction and in recovery. I changed my habits. I had to change the way I live and the person that I am to love an addict. If you trust someone nothing stands in the way of that relationship. It leads to feeling good about yourself and the only way to truly live your best life.

In having this knowledge and understanding I believe that loving an addict is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There is a fine line between being there for someone and knowing when to say that’s enough. In this there are many times I have failed. Many times I have had to pick myself back up and literally say out loud, “yes, it is worth it.” Loving someone isn’t always butterflies and rainbows. It’s a war zone, and you have to treat it as such. You have to protect what is worth fighting for and stand your ground.

In loving an addict you have to understand their limits and see if they’re willing to do the right things to save themself. You have to continue being selfless. I will spend my entire life trying to fully understand this. To recover from the selfishness of addiction, it takes selfishness of an opposite kind to overcome it. Loving an addict and being okay with this fact without resentment takes a special kind of love. In the pain of addiction, the beauty of recovery is so rare. Witnessing an addict who recovers and stays true to themself is inspiring. The transformation of a person learning to love who they are every day is beautiful. It takes extreme inner strength and perseverance.

So much of the person I am is because of addiction. My outlook on life is molded by my decision to not let an addict take me down that dark path. My need to create something positive in my life is from seeing all the negative self destruction of people I love. The way I have learned to love is because of addiction. Not a day passes that I do not feel its effects. I will always have hope in human beings to overcome. In these realizations the meaning of what it takes to love has changed for me. Loving someone isn’t just saying I love you over and over. It’s in every action you take. Its need is deeper and more intentional than I ever thought. After losing trust in someone they have to give back to you 10 fold before expecting you to give anymore of yourself to them. To regain that level of love within a relationship is rare but, achievable.

As a mother, I worry in a very real way, if my children or grandchildren will struggle with it. Addiction is due 50 percent to genetic predisposition and 50 percent to poor coping skills. I can’t help the genetic aspect of this. It is an major issue on both sides of my children’s genetic pool but, I can prepare them in understanding the dangers. I hope I can help in recognizing the signs if it becomes an issue they are faced with. I have faith I have learned enough and can provide them with the right tools to avoid it. It is a very real thought I have in raising them. My childhood and most of adulthood was impacted with the real effects addiction can have on a life. I will do everything in my power to not let my children live with the negative effects of this disease. Strength in honesty and truly connecting with one another.

Bentonville O.G. ;)

Bentonville is a tiny little spot of heaven in the middle of nowhere. Undiscovered in its charm and small town uniqueness, a place I have always been honored to call home. In the last decade or so Bentonville has drastically changed! Northwest Arkansas’s metropolitan area is one of the fasted growing economies in the U.S. and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping!!!

It comes as no surprise to me that other people have noticed and love our beautiful little town. Located in such a lovely part of our country it’s so appealing in rich history and southern charm, what’s there not to love?! We’re so blessed with the benefits provided to our community by the many corporate headquarters located here. They help keep our country’s commerce running and fuel innovation throughout different industries for the future of the world! In turn making our community even more diverse and expansive as we move forward.

I recently had a friend, I’ve known most of my life, tell me she is coming to visit and wants to know what to do when they come! I was so happy to tell her about everything there’s to do here now! With all the growth and excitement I feel like sometimes I can’t even keep up with what all is happening! I got to the end of the conversation and realized I sounded like a travel agent for Northwest Arkansas! I get excited about sharing!!!

Most people leave their hometown wanting to seek bigger and better things. I feel like the bigger and better things have coming to me! I went to art school and then the art came here! How much luckier can I get?!

From the beautiful recently developed walking and biking trails that wind from Bella Vista all the way to Fayetteville to local breweries there is so much to experience in Northwest Arkansas! Pinnacle Hills, in Rogers, Ar has a beautiful sprawling outdoor mall that can keep you shopping until your hearts content…or your pockets empty! πŸ˜‰ Bentonville’s 8th St. Market and the Art District is constantly evolving with innovative new businesses enriching our community with fine art, amazing food, and custom shops. Bentonville isn’t the only amazing little town here either! All of Northwest Arkansas is expanding at an astounding rate! Fayetteville Ar. is one of the top 5 best places in America to live, according to U.S. News & World Report in its annual β€œBest Places to Live” report. Every industry here is seeing a massive boom, adding to our ever growing Arkansas based businesses and communities!

What does that mean to the O.G.’s?! When I say O.G., being that I’m only 31 I can only go back so far, I know there are much more legit O.G’s! If any want to chime in please feel free to add a comment! I’d love to hear your stories! Locals have loved Bentonville before it started to evolve and become “cool”. We’ve watched how beautifully our sleepy little town has become a hub of new culture and interest from people around the world.

Growing up on Main St. and having relatives living all around downtown my entire life I have countless memories that make the Bentonville Square my favorite place! As a kid I remember spending time around the fountian downtown where only a few lawn chairs and a couple good ol’ boys playing folk music on Saturday nights filled the square. The farmers market was only about 10 booths and they only sold vegetables! When the coolest thing to do was walk around the Wal-Mart on Walton Blvd. and see ALL your friends doing the same!

Spending afternoons with my siblings at Bentonville Public Library, which at the time was located in the old Massey Hotel that is now Phat Tires Bike Shop, was my favorite space to pass time. The same place that sparked my love for art. Seeing a 3D model of Crystal Bridges with stars in my eyes. When I was just 11 years old, Crystal Bridges was just a concept living in the lobby of the library. I would see it every week and daydream about what it would be like. How it would open up my eyes to the world of art! I never imagined that I would get to experience it with my children! Literally puts the biggest a smile on my face! My love for Bentonville and the pride I have living here is grandiose! I absolutely love it and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

But, with this excitement and huge growth I also wonder how it will change our identity. There are locals opposed to the growth. They don’t like all the “newness” and change. I do not see change as a bad thing, uncomfortable at times-yes but, always an opportunity to become better in a new direction! That being said I wonder if we will lose our small town charm along the way? What will we become when there are 100’s of thousands of people living here….or even millions?! Will we get that big?! What will Bentonville look like? Will we lose our charm we are so dearly loved for?

All questions I am anxious to see play out. One thing’s for sure change is here and I am one to embrace it! ❀

*all photos are taken and copyrighted by Courtney Kitterman

Where Does Your True Happiness Lie?

Tell me all the things that make you smile! I mean really smile. The kind that you feel growing from within, finding its way to the corners of your mouth blooming like a flower upon your face. Bringing with it joy and usually, if not always, love.
It’s that in which our happiness lies. And isn’t it what we are all chasing? Happiness is a moment and not a destination. With the understanding of this statement I began to see the importance of these seemingly small moments of finding a smile creep across my face. Not small at all. Huge, grand, beautiful moments that make up a happy life. A life worth living. A life of smiles.

I find myself smiling with the warmth from a sunrise coming through my studio windows. In the thrill of creating something from nothing. With the infectious laugh from my son that fills a room. When the arms of my daughter wrapped around my neck from an unexpected hug while she tells me I’m the best mom ever. I smile from the nourishment of a meal lovingly cooked after a long day. In the excitement of bringing someone joy with an act of kindness. I love making the world a better place just by sharing the talents I am blessed with. Chasing a stunning sunset until all color has left the sky with stars in my eyes. Not a day passes that I do not find something within it that makes me truly smile. And with that I have to say that I have a happy life. Moment by moment is where my happiness lies. not a destination that is one day reached but, instead happiness in moments throughout the journey that make me smile the most.

I’ve found if it doesn’t raise a smile within you leave it. Life is too short. Life is too precious to spend it on things that aren’t meant for you. With that being said I also believe you should never regret things that make you smile, even if it no longer does. If for a blink of your eye you let something touch your soul enough to bring a smile to your face it was worth the thought and energy you put forth.

Chase all those smile things. Follow the sun. Cherish and give to the people you love. Happiness comes with the way you look at life. We all have sorrows that are deep and burdens to bear. We all have regrets and hardships that need dealt with but, in letting it fill your heart and weight you down you’ll never find yourself smiling at the things you love. Let things go and smile a bit more and in these moments you will find happiness.

Bentonville + ART + Waltons = Change

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“You don’t need to go to New York or Europe to see great art! I’ve tried to tell my friends for ages that Bentonville, Arkansas is where a serious art movement is happening! And your art is crazy inspiring!” As I heard this over last weekend I couldn’t help but have the biggest goofy smile plastered on my face! Being considered “inspiring” is the best thing an artist hears! It roots my love for art and is my fuel to continue.

I had the honor of participating in the 2018 Art Market in Downtown Bentonville on June 2nd. It was such an amazing experience! What a great event for our community to host. Letting local artists shine!

I must start by saying, there aren’t many people who love this beautiful little town as much as I do. I am born and raised in the perfect little bubble of NWA. I spent my childhood growing up in downtown Bentonville. Even now, as an adult, I work downtown and love seeing how much things have evolved and grown! What I especially love seeing is the growth of the art community! The increasing interest in our area brings more than 1000 people moving to Northwest Arkansas every month! I couldn’t imagine a better place to call home, along with loads of other people! They must see what I see. πŸ˜‰

Obviously, you can’t talk about how great Bentonville is without giving credit to the Walton Family! The opportunities the Walton’s have given our community has increased our quality of life 10 fold. For me personally, the greatest impact has been in the introduction to fine art. I remember being 11 years old going to the Bentonville Public Library and seeing a model of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I was in complete awe! I just starting to draw and it was such an inspiration. I thought to myself if Bentonville gets an amazing art museum I must become good enough to have my art there! Always Dreaming Big!!!

It was the beginning of my love for art. It fueled my drive to pursue it and always be striving for more. I watched as the museum slowly inserted itself into the stunning landscape of the Ozark Mountains, wrapped in a winding spring feed creek, hidden within the forest of Bentonville. During its construction, I took note of the meticulous care and preservation of the natural surroundings. They showcase all the beauty the Natural State has to offer in the softest and most inviting way.

Now 20 years later, Crystal Bridges is one of my happiest places! I go often for new exhibits, to view the permanent collections, attend special events, and just walk the beautiful trails. I’ve photographed many people within the grounds of the Museum, I never get tired of seeing this beautiful place. I take my kids quite often (giving my daughter Abby, especially, a growing fondness for fine art). When we visit I tell her that one day she will see mommy’s art there! She tried giving a greeter my business card! πŸ˜‰ I don’t have any art hanging there…….yet! πŸ˜‰ …. but, it will most likely be at the efforts of Abby Rain, who has all the confidence in her momma.

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So, my acceptance to take part in the Downtown Bentonville Art Market this year got me super excited! Bentonville + ART = all the love! Being part of both at such an exciting time for art and our community is an honor! I brought various examples of my work, set them up, and I was absolutely amazed at the reactions from people! Like, honestly blown away! The kind words and the look in people’s eyes as they viewed my art was truly heartwarming! Touching people’s hearts and making them feel something, that’s what art is all about. evoking emotion, whether good or bad or indifferent..it still says something about the person viewing it and less about the art. Art is all in the eye of the beholder. Each person has their own experience with it that is unique to them. I enjoyed watching people as they view it and conversing about their thoughts. It gives me insight to what it is that draws people in. What emotions does my art evoke? Is it what I intended? What does my art say about me?

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Recently, being inspired by the Walton family I am drawing a portrait of Sam Walton. I felt that I should honor such a great man who has influenced our community and lives in such a massive way. With this portrait, I wanted to evoke a warm friendliness that I knew he had. Let his kind heart and love for people shine through in my drawing. You can see it in his eyes and that is what I want this drawing to say. I never met Sam Walton. I was 5 when he passed but, I do know people who knew him, meet him, spent time with him and his family, worked for him, and I have never…not even once heard a bad word spoken about him.

I know that there is a divide when it comes to support for Wal-Mart. You either love it or you absolutely hate it!! I thought about this when I started the drawing and it made me want to do it more!! I knew that I would get a lot of support from locals! We have so much love for Sam!!!! We know of his philanthropy and kindness. His drive and charisma. We live it every day. We see and feel the efforts the Walton Family have given our community in such positive ways. I am grateful for having grown up here and to raise my children here. That being said though, not everyone across the world gets to see that side of the Walton family, or choose to see – I guess is more correct. The Walton Family is so much more than a WAL-MART SUPERCENTER.

If just in the small scheme of things, my love for art is forever growing because of the efforts of the Walton Family Foundation. Inspiring a young country girl to dream big! Any goal is reachable and Sam Walton proved just that. I LOVE being inspired by the local life and sharing it with people across the world is a blessing. I love Bentonville. I love creating art. I love Sam Walton. I love what he represents for our community and that it’s something that has changed the world forever. I felt compelled to draw his portrait and am proud to call NWA home.

Northwest Arkansas and the world for that matter would not be what it is without the Walton Family. Still today, even 26 years after Sam’s passing, people maintain their loyalty. Locals especially have a fondness for Sam Walton and what he stood for. What an impact to have!!! what a legacy to leave! What an honor it is being part of something bigger!!! I love being part of this culture that is continuously evolving. In the words of Sam Walton himself “You can’t just keep doing what works one time, everything around you is changing. To succeed, stay out in front of change.”