All right, welcome Cindy. I’m so glad to have you here on the podcast today.
Hello, I am so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Of course, of course. So for anybody who is not familiar with you and your work, can you just introduce yourself to us briefly?
Sure. My name is Cindy Ingram and I have been running the website Art Class Curator since 2014. I’m a former art teacher and a former art museum educator. I’m newly calling myself an artist. I’m newly calling myself a poet. I’m an author of a book that’s coming out October 31st. Yeah. Yes. Yeah, that’s a new one to say.
Yes, yes, I was going to say you have to name yourself as an author, claim that one too. Yes. Wonderful. So, as we just mentioned, you have recently written this beautiful memoir called Art is About Being Whole. And when you sent me a copy, I think I devoured it the fastest that I’ve ever read something. I mean like…
I was, I could not put it down. My husband was watching the playoff games and I’m like, I don’t even care. I want to, I was so enthralled by your story. And I’m going to read this because I don’t want to mess it up. In the very beginning, you shared that for most of my life, I have never felt safe. If people knew who I really was, they would leave me. But when I was in front of art, I knew I belonged. I felt held, I felt welcomed, which…
That is such a powerful introduction that I think almost every human could relate to at some level, right? So tell us more about this book and what you’re hoping others will receive from it.
Yeah, um, that’s funny. I haven’t, so I think that’s the first time I’ve heard my words like read to me. I was like, I almost started crying. I was like, oh, they were like, that’s so, oh, that was really, that was, sorry, that was a moment. Yeah, so this book actually started as an art education book a couple years ago. I was going to write this, you know, how to look at art and how to connect with it personally and how to like make life decisions with art and all this stuff. And the more I wrote it, the more I realized I was doing a bunch of telling, like this is how to do it. This is how to do it. And I, at some point was like, no, I need to show them how I do it. That will be more powerful. That will be…
make a bigger impact than any telling that I could do. So it slowly kind of morphed into a memoir. And when I decided for it to become a memoir, I had already written 50,000 words and I cut half of it out. And the book now is like 55,000 words. So it was like a book almost done. And I just like slashed half of it and then just leaned heavily into memoir.
Yeah, and so the memoir is about my, really about my mental health, um, and about, I used to just be completely riddled with anxiety, very, um, very so, a lot of social anxiety, especially, and a lot of shame. And it has been a very long process to sort of peel off those layers. And, but I always knew, like when, when I went to an art museum or even when I saw.
movies, certain movies, listening to music. Like that’s when I felt most connected to who I really was at my core. Because I really, I think I had built so much armor that I didn’t really know who I was underneath everything. Like I had this identity that I had built that I had to kind of deconstruct and figure out like what is actually underneath all the identities I piled on top. But art I always felt so safe with and would make life decisions in front of and all of that. So, yeah.
Yeah. Well, and I think your journey, first of all, we’re going to dig into a bunch of what you just said because it’s so filled with gold right there. The whole idea of this mental health journey that you kind of go on. And we often have such a stigma about mental health, even still. We just, there was mental health day, not yesterday, I think was the actual mental health day. And I, there are so many people who have such a variety of things that they’re working on and the stigma, I keep saying the more we talk about it, the less the stigma sticks around. But particularly for people who have an arts background or who connect in some way really powerfully, that’s their tool or their avenue in terms of exploring the world. And I think, and I call all of us artists, whether you designate that or not, but how did you feel like art specifically for you helped you on that journey of peeling back the layers and how did it help you in reframing this book?
Yeah, it’s, that’s a kind of a hard question because at the time I didn’t know that’s what was happening. You know it was not like I got in front of art and I’m like yes I’m me. It was just looking back I can see it so clearly. But at the time it was especially… so I’m talking mostly about my 20s. That was probably the worst the worst of it and then into my 30s too but my 20s were rough.
And now we have things like the internet and social media that are telling us, that people are talking about their struggles, they’re talking about their journeys, they’re using the words anxiety, they’re using the words depression, they’re not afraid to use those words. I mean, some people still are, of course. You said that stigma is still there. But when I graduated college, I didn’t know what anxiety was. I don’t think I had ever heard that word as an actual diagnosis. I thought maybe I knew it as a feeling, but I don’t even know that I knew that. And so I had been struggling with anxiety all through college, and I didn’t know,
I didn’t know what anxiety was. I didn’t even know what even… like the internet was so new. This was like early 2000s that I didn’t even know what to even look for and so I just knew that art had something and I knew like I would seek out art. I would go to art museums. I would you know study art because I knew when I was there that I felt different than when I was anywhere else.
And it was just a matter of, okay, that was, I was like breadcrumbs leading me along like, okay, I’m going here because I want to feel that way. I want to feel good. When I, most of the time I did not feel good. Most of the time I felt like I was, you know, just either hiding or anxious, but when I was at art, I was like, okay, I could breathe, you know?
So it wasn’t until like more recently when I really started to figure it out, when I like took all of the shame and all the things kind of had kind of settled, not all of it, you’re never fully devoid of shame, it pops up a lot still, but that I started to like see the patterns and see what was actually going on.
And really when I started writing the book is when I really figured it out. You know, that like the journey of just writing it was so revolutionary to me. Yeah.
Yeah, so the process of getting it down into word was what actually kind of highlighted that for you. And I gotta say the beginning part when you’re spending the time in your 20s and your early 30s and you’re describing what it’s like to be in your college dorm room and everybody else is doing their thing on a Friday night and you’re like you’re in your dorm room you’re looking around you’re like that’s not me and why is that not me and feeling that kind of social anxiety. I’m like girl, I am feeling you. Like I remember that from my college days. You were not alone. You just felt that way. And I also remember like, and I went to a music conservatory. So, you know, I’m surrounded by the arts all the time. And yes, they were an outlet, but they were also, and I don’t know if you can relate to this part, but there, you know, there’s always somebody who’s better than you are in those situations. You know what I mean? Like you’re never, you were never the best one on campus, even if you think you are, you go to a recital and suddenly it’s like, oh my gosh, well, there’s this person or there and that puts your life into perspective pretty harshly, you know? And so arts, the art was itself was almost a double edged sword. It wasn’t until and like you, I had anxiety and I ended up going to see a therapist during college for it. I ended up with some depression and anxiety.
And it was not something you talked about, right? Like you did it on the DL underneath the surface in those early 2000s. And it wasn’t until I went through that process that I understood how to differentiate my place in the arts. And you’ve said that you’re now claiming this piece as an artist. And I’m curious, did the book help?
Yeah, I think they served each other. But yeah, you’re exactly right about that college. I had the same experience. I tell a story in the book about a drawing class that I was in and… And…the teacher in my final critique, all the art was, you know, all my drawings from the whole semester all around us. And he was like, you’re the hardest working person in here. And I’m like, yeah, I am. I tried really hard and then I got to be, you know, I was like, well, OK. There is the person next to me who has this natural talent, who, you know, gets an instruction and just know, like, just intuitively knows how to do it. And I’m sure she got an A. And me working twice as hard.
I was like, you know, it was like, yeah, it killed, it killed the artist in me. I think that that, not that one experience, but that seeing all these people are like, I am not as good as them and I never will be. So I’m gonna lean hard into art history. I’m gonna lean hard into my own connection to art and follow that feeling. And I’m gonna put making art to the side. And so for 20 years, I didn’t make any art except for, you know, in my classroom for examples or you know if I have to make a poster for something for the school or one year I made paintings for my family because I was really poor and like they were not good paintings but like you know I would try every now and then but it was in this sort of early process of I’m trying to think the timeline because you asked about how the book informed it but I think the art making started to happen before, yeah, it was before the switch to memoir. It was, it was around, but it was around the same time of like, I was going through this sort of, um,
I’m not gonna say existential crisis, I call it the bug soup of like when the butterflies or the caterpillar just completely disassembles itself as in goo and one of my coaches called it bug soup and I said that’s what I was, I was like I didn’t know which way it was up, I didn’t know what I was even doing.
And, but I knew that I had this connection to art and I knew it was special. And I knew that the way I connected to art was different than like learning art history or you know like about the artist or about you know the elements principles or whatever it was. I knew that, I knew that what I had was different. And so I was just sitting there meditating one day. I’m like how do I show people this? Like how do I?
how do I tell them that this is so important, that this is possible and that you can use art in this way? And so I’m sitting there meditating on this and then suddenly, like at this like, it was like a, it was just, what more was a voice? It was like one of those moments where you’re just like a download happens and it’s like, and the answer to my question is how do I show them? And it said through your art. And I was like, my immediate reaction was, oh no. that no, you know, and now looking back, I could have interpreted it as like my creativity and my writing and like that stuff is my art. But at the time I knew it was like making art. Like I just, and my first thought was no, not gonna do that. And my second thought was that’s not gonna make me any money. So those two thoughts were just immediate. And then, but it was so clear of a message, whatever it was, wherever that was, if it was in my brain or what it, whatever it was, I don’t know what it was, but it was so clear and it was so true. It felt so true and it felt so like completely terrifying that I knew I had to like, I had to pursue it. But because it was so terrifying, it took me a long time. This was like December, 2021. Um, I didn’t start writing the book in earnest probably until May, 2021. So it was like a few months before and
I was like, okay, what am I gonna do? What kind of art am I gonna make? And I was like, had to like disassemble all the things that I thought about, that I learned, like that I learned in school of that what artists should and shouldn’t be. And I was like, okay, well.
I need a space. That’s what I need. I need to build a space. So I got COVID right after this. I think it was like the universe’s message for me to slow down. I’d never gotten it before. And then I was so dizzy for like the whole, I was like a month of being dizzy. So I just had to sit there. And so it was like, I planned out my whole art space. I got it all like, and I started ordering things. My art space wasn’t done for like seven months. And then once my art space was done, I was like, well, now I don’t have any excuses not to do this. And so then I’m just still not doing it. like several more months and then it was I was like I’m gonna have to force myself to do this so that I it was running a program and I added it as a thing that we’re doing as part of the program so I had to go I had to be there and that’s when like just forcing myself up there being a community with other people I finally started and then once I started it was just like a whole full body sigh of relief. Like it was like, oh you were supposed to be doing this all along and you’ve just been hiding from it. And I was so tied to that story that no I’m an art history person. I’m a looking at art person. I don’t make art. I can and I’m good at it but I don’t. And it was just like oh I’m me again. And that same
That same process happened with writing the book too. Because they were like, I was creating, my art is in an art journal because I wanted it to just be just for me. I didn’t want to like overthink it. So I thought that was a really safe thing to try. And, you know, I’m making an art journal book and I’m writing an actual book at the same time. And they finished around, they finished my first art journal as I finished my first draft of the book. And the same thing happened in, with the book is just one day,
I’m very long-winded to write a story. I was like, tell a lot of background information. I was like, I wrote a whole book. Of course, thank you. I always catch myself. I’m like, stop it. You’re fine. What was I doing? Okay, so I went to therapy one day and it was like, this was in December of 2022. So it was almost a year ago. And I was like, I was driving home from therapy and I had like this sudden realization that I’m a writer.
I had been writing a book for a year at this point. I mean, I had even started it well before that. And it was just like, I’m a writer. And I just like started sobbing. And I was just like, oh my gosh, I’m a writer. So that was December. And then, you know, it was like, hmm, what if I’m an artist too? Like it was just like that writer thing happened. I was like, am I an artist then too? And so I decided to make artist, my word of the year for 2023 because I was like, the thought of calling myself an artist was just really felt rebellious. It really felt like wrong for some reason because of all the things I’ve built up about what that word is. I will tell anybody, oh yeah, you’re an artist. You make art, you’re an artist. I’ll tell any student, you’re an artist. But I could not say that about myself. And so I started to call myself an artist this year. And it’s October, I’m still not fully comfortable saying it, but I’m trying my best to lean into it. Yeah.
You should, you should, because I’ve seen some of the works that you have frankly shared online and you are an artist. You are an artist and you, after reading this book, you are a writer. You, I mean, just who you are, Cindy. Yes.
Thank you. Yeah. And a few months after that too, like I was, I was writing the middle part of the book, which was a really hard part two was really hard to write because so much of it was like emotional. And it was there was no like story. And so I really had to lean into the art, but I was talking to my book coach and I was like, I don’t know how to tell someone how I suddenly learned how to feel my feelings.
I was like, because it wasn’t a to do list, you know, and she was like.
Well, what do you think about poetry? And I like started sobbing to just said this. Like I got so freaked out at the suggestion, because when I was a kid, I wrote poems and poems I have. I probably have 200 poems still from my childhood. And and it was like she hit a nerve. It was another thing that I had like really stuffed down and stopped doing for so long that when she when she said it, she was like, you don’t have to do it. You know, I was like, I have to do it. you have just unlocked something that I had forgotten about. Like for, you know, I don’t know, 30 years, I probably have not written a poem. And then I’d go back and look at what I’d already written. And I was like, I already have poems in here. They’re just written as paragraphs. So I just started, I would look at a paragraph and I’m like, let’s put some enters in there. I was like, hey, I have been writing poems all along. I just didn’t even know. And she was like, I knew, that’s why I brought it up. It was fascinating. So now I call myself a poet too, the book I have to guess I have to do that I have to call myself that
I mean, what’s fascinating to me about listening to you talk about the evolution of the book and your connection with art and your development and reclaiming of artist and writer and poet is that it sounds like this, as you’re writing the book documenting what had happened in the past, you’re also at the same time currently re-evolving into something that you don’t even know yet, where it goes. Am I right on that?
Oh, 100%. Yeah, like. And it was. Oh. So every it was it felt like magic. I felt one day at writing practice, I was in a writing group. I was like, I think I’m a witch. It was like, I write something in this book and then it happens in my life. That was so it was like, I’m writing a chapter about how I wrote a letter to express my feelings and in real life.
I was writing a letter, it was like, I, you know, it was like, I’m writing a chapter about shame and suddenly something pops up and I’m just overwhelmed with shame. It was like every single chapter, bro, I had to re, first I had to refill all of the feelings, um, that I’m writing about so that I could adequately portray them on the page. So I’m re-feeling all of those, feeling them in my regular life.
And that was just totally, completely hard to explain, but just one of the, it was like the hardest and best thing I ever did. It was one of the best therapy probably I could ever, I had to go back to therapy because I was like, I can’t do this. But yeah, and at the same time, I’m realizing, I’m like piecing together my identity after like, I think the beginning of writing this book, I had like fully shed all the layers of what I had put on myself was how I should be. I should be perfect. I should be, I should be the smartest one. I should, you know, I should, like, perfect is really like, if you’re just like, perfect is what I was trying to do. What every woman probably is aiming for in their life. And
I had shed all of that and as I’m writing, it’s like each chapter I wrote, it was like I was putting, I hadn’t really thought about it this way, sorry I’m like working out an idea as I’m talking, that I was putting that chapter, I was putting that part of my life like officially behind me in a way.
And allowing it was like, it was closure in a way that I didn’t, I don’t think I realized that it was. And so by the time I get to the end of the book and I have to write like the ending, I’m like, Oh, this is not an ending. Like this is, I was like, what’s next? I was, I don’t even know because the, it’s just, um, it just feels like, it just feels like a beginning right now. And yeah.
Yeah, and I can tell you from reading the ending, it does. It feels like you’re ready to start something new, which is wonderful. So part of the thread of this book is the idea of connection making and using art as an impetus towards that. And I think so often we look at art as either a topic that needs to be taught or something that we just look at or even something for self-expression purposes. But you really use the premise that it is a way to connect to yourself, to your life, and to others, right? So how can people lean into the connections that they make with art? Like how do they, first of all, how can they go about doing that and opening themselves up to that idea? And then how can they then lean into it rather than run away from it. Because I think that’s the very first thing that people wanna do is go, ooh, not me, I’m gonna be like that, right?
Yeah. Yeah, not for me. Yep. That’s a great question. And my mind went five places, so I’m just gonna like pick one. Let’s see. I also learned of the process. I have ADHD, so I’m just like, now I’m like, I’m just own it. I’ve got five things happening. Yeah. As I went about my career,
And it was very much focused on, at first I called it art history because it was like, okay, that’s what I studied in college, it’s art history. And then I had this powerful moment in front of a painting where I realized, oh, it’s not art history, it’s something else. You know, there’s something more here than art history. And then I started calling it art appreciation because it’s the only other words I had. And I was like, no. As I’m working, I’m like, anytime someone would say art appreciation, I’m like, that’s not right. Art’s not there for us to just appreciate. It’s something deeper. And so, throughout my whole career, there’s just this thing in my head that’s like, that’s not what art is about. That’s not what art is about. And I would try to put words on it, and I had this, I always have this mental picture, and I would try to explain it. I could never explain it.
And then one day I realized, I was like, uh, okay. I was like artists about self-development. I was like, okay, that, that feels good. Art is about like self-discovery. And I was like, that’s really how I use art. Um, and.
So I don’t think I said it yet in this interview, but in the book for y’all listening or watching, each chapter is a work of art that I interpret alongside my story. So I never should have said that like very early on this conversation and I did not, but that’s okay. I’m still getting new to talking about the book. And so I kind of model it in the book, but so how you can do it yourself is, is you know, follow what feels right. Follow your intuition, follow your guidance. I think that a lot of people go into an art museum and they think they have to be a certain way. They have to be smart. They have to understand everything that they see. They have to enjoy everything. Everything they see they have to respect and appreciate and they have to read the label, they have to learn something about it, and at the end of it, they have to feel like they they feel better about themselves because they got smarter or they did something cultured. But in the end, like, and so they feel like they have to see they go out there to see everything and you have to give everything your own time. And really what I and what I do when I like go to a museum is I just kind of look around the room and I go to whatever draws me. So if there’s like a some there’s this painting at the Dallas Museum of Art that has this like brilliant blue, it’s like a Renaissance painting, but I just be aligned to it every time. So I’m like, oh, I love that go over there and just be with it. And I think that is the most powerful thing you can do. I have a whole framework you can do after you be with it, but like just be with it and allow yourself to explore it, allow yourself to like luxuriate in it and delight in it. And know too that whatever is coming up for you in front of the art is the right thing. There is no right or wrong. A lot of people think, okay, I gotta interpret this right. It has to be, so they’ll read the label and they’ll see if they’re right or wrong. Or they won’t even do the interpretation themselves. They’ll read the interpretation first, then look for the interpretation in the painting. So yeah, just be with it. Allow it to sink in. Notice what you notice. Look at the, you can look at the label, but do it last. Don’t do it at the beginning.
I will have a bonus that comes with the book that have like an art connection guide that kind of goes through this framework that I’m talking about. But then you can just, you can do some interpretation. You can notice the artist choices. And then at the end though is to.
connect with it. So find something in that artwork that reminds you of something in your own personal life. And everybody is going to come across this in a different way. So if it reminds you of your mother and something from your childhood or it reminds you of like there’s this one painting I love to show of this person with their head down and in front of them is this big bowl of like murky stuff and then it’s called Soup of Europe the painting is and then around him is this beautiful library and it’s like golden ceilings, but he’s just like, like looking into this thing. And so when you look at it, you’re like, Oh, I felt that way before. And so it, and then you’re like, you, you think about what it reminds you of in your own life. And then next then think about like, well, what can you do with that awareness? So if, if you know that you get caught up in the soup and you don’t look around and notice your surroundings and you don’t like notice the beauty around you, maybe you’re like maybe I start putting my head up for my phone and looking around a little bit more in my life. So it’s like you take an action step based on your connection. And it’s a muscle, it’s a practice, but it is a lot about noticing your thoughts, noticing your feelings, noticing your sensations in your body, and following that. And because we’re taught that the answers are somewhere else in art and in every other subject. But really the answers, especially with art, the answers are in you. You don’t need anything else but what you already have.
I love that’s brilliant because, and I think you’re so right when people, people don’t know what to do with art, but you know, or they look at something and they’re like, I don’t understand why that’s art, right? They don’t, but the idea of taking your time and allowing yourself to just sit with it for a minute. I used to think about that with Jackson Pollock things. I’m like, really? Like just paint spotter. But the more that I sit with a Jackson Pollock, like when I go to a museum, I will, seek out a Jackson Pollock if it’s there, because I want to learn more about it. The more I sit with it, the more I give myself permission to look beyond the judgment of it and really start. And then of course he goes into, well, of course you’re judging it because you judge yourself, right? As you just said, everything is really inside of each of us and how that comes out and how we interpret it is one of the beautiful connections with art that I think that you share in this book. I wanna get, I wanna dive into a section that it’s fairly personal and I was so happy that you were able to go there. Cause I don’t know if I wrote a memoir right now, if I’d be able to go to this spot. This space where you start talking about your relationship with your husband and how that evolved as you were evolving, because of course we know that we change, you know, and our partners change too, you know? And so what that looks like, and in that process, you discovered that he had autism. And there’s this whole space that you write in the book with big capital letters, how did we not see it? And it resonated so hard with me because literally in the last six months, we’ve discovered my husband has ADHD. And this is the same question that he and I have been asking each other. But he’s also been asking of his parents, like, how did you not see this when I was a kid? How did not, how did anybody not notice this? How did I not pick it up myself? Right? Like, how do we not see these things? And what stood out to me was this kind of gut punch feeling that we all get with this because you just eloquently explained how to look at a piece of art and how to notice things and how to observe. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve done that work for a long time. And when something like this happens and you go, how did I not see it? This is what I do for a living, right? I notice things. How did I miss this? How did, what did you learn from that experience? And how did that impact your relationship moving forward?
Yeah, oh, that, I’m glad that chapter resonated with you a lot because it originally wasn’t in the book. I felt like it was too personal. Yeah, I, it was terrifying. Not just, you know, I am an open book and I just overshare all the time. So it’s like, it wasn’t really as much about me, but that the fact that it involved him and it was his story, like that felt…
Yeah. Braveheart, my goodness, Braveheart, yes.
Cindy Ingram (32:59.388)
and so much of that story was in my head. And that I didn’t communicate with him how I was feeling for a very long time. And so, he was really hard to write. It was hard to have him read it, because I was like, he has to read it to make sure he’s okay with me putting this in here. So just for those listening, basically, I…
I am addicted to self development and I’m addicted to trying to fix myself. I’ve been trying to fix everything about myself my whole life. Um, I realized, um, how do I tell this without giving too much backstory? But okay. Uh, I realized that, um, probably about eight months before we realized he was autistic, that I realized I had ADHD. And I feel the exact same way that y’all are experiencing with your husband is like, that’s all I talked about for six, probably six months. I was just like, my mind was blown, but it was all the shame, all the anxiety, all of the perfectionism, all of those other identities I was talking about, they were hiding all the ADHD stuff. Like it was, I was interpreting all of those as like the anxiety and different thing sensitivities that I never noticed and like I have like I just didn’t notice because there was other things blocked there was other things hiding it and it wasn’t until those things were cleared that I was able to be like okay I’ve cleared all these things I’ve worked through everything but why do I still feel this way why do I see you know and then so that’s when it was just like blew my mind that I just made it so long without realizing it and then so you know neurodivergency was kind of on our on our minds because that you know
And then even my husband was like, maybe I have ADHD too. And I was like, you don’t have ADHD. I know that for sure. It was like, it was like, I just, I mean, okay, you, I can believe you could, I’ll trust you, but I don’t think so. But you know, there’s that conversation that’s kind of happening. And then a friend of mine’s daughter was diagnosed with autism. And she’s so good at like educating everybody about what that means and.
I’ve known this little girl since she was in second grade and now she’s a freshman in high school and they made a video that’s like um everything that they had learned about autism to share with all of her friends and my daughter’s her friend too. I’m friends with mom and my daughter’s friends with the daughter and so we watched this video and she goes through like the traits and we’re like oh yeah that makes so much sense like she this girl was making like she was just making sense to us and then you know because I’m thinking about these traits of autism and then husband and I’m like… you? I was like every life situation we ever have you compare it to a Star Trek DS9 episode. I was like you can pull a quote from a movie you saw 20 years ago and just you can’t go to social things like any acted differently in social situations I’m like why does he act differently like what is his voice change you know like I was these things that I thought were weird and then like
But I think too, why I didn’t see it before is because of all the growth that I had been experiencing. Becoming more myself, being more authentic to who I am there was this nudge in the back of my head like, is he right for me? Like, is this right? Is it like, and it was this disconnection I was feeling because like, I was, I’m very, as you can probably tell, is I am very like outwardly emotional. Like I will tell anybody my feelings, like, you know, and like, and I can’t lie. So someone like asked me how I’m doing. I’m like, impossible for me to say fine because it’s just like, you know, because I’m like, I have to give the truthful answer. So it was like, I, I’m, I’m very outwardly emotional and I want to talk about everything. And then I would try to talk about things with him and like, he wouldn’t, I would never get anything back. And so I thought like he didn’t care or that, um, you know, there was just, there was, there was just some weird disconnect that I just didn’t understand. And because I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to acknowledge it, because if I acknowledge it, then you have to deal with it. Um,
And so, you know, I’m, I’m fixing everything in my life. I’m doing all the things, but I would not do anything related to my marriage because I was like, I don’t, like, cause there was part of me that was like, if I deal with it, what if it explodes? And what if I’m, what if, what if, what if my marriage ends and my, my daughters don’t have a, you know, we weren’t a fan of full family anymore. You know, it was like this thing that was just, I just couldn’t deal with it. And then I was working with a coach, a healer person, she just saw right through me and she was like you have to deal with she was like all of this you’re talking about the overwhelm with your life and all the things she was like that’s not it she was like you didn’t even deal with your feelings about your marriage and I was like how did you even see that I’m keeping that from everybody I’m keeping that for myself but once she said it I was like oh now I you know it’s out there um
And so that’s when I started to like be a little, I guess a little bit more curious about what was actually going on. Because I think I was intentionally not noticing things because I don’t wanna think too hard about them. But you know, once I figured out he was autistic before he went in and I went, it took me a couple of days because I really, one of the themes of the book too is like I didn’t feel comfortable expressing myself. Like I’ll tell you now, I’ll tell you anything. But like for a long time I wouldn’t because I just, I didn’t want people to leave me and I didn’t want people to think bad of me. I didn’t, you know, I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be loved and I didn’t feel likeable or lovable. And so I didn’t, if I had something to say to someone that would hurt them in any way.
I wouldn’t say it because it was my job to keep everyone happy. So even if it meant I was miserable, everybody else had to be happy. Everybody else had to be comfortable. The temperature of the room had to be right. The food had to be right. Everything had to be right because you know, I can’t bear anyone to be uncomfortable. And so if I have, if I’m the cause of making someone uncomfortable, I couldn’t deal with it. So anyway, it took me a couple of days. And then finally I worked with the courage. I was like, do you think he might be autistic? And he was like, I don’t know. I never thought about it. And, and then like a few days later, he was like, yeah, I am like 100%. He was like, I don’t know why I didn’t see it. It was just like this mind blowing thing. And he went through a formal diagnosis process too, cause I think he wanted that. Um, wanted that I don’t know, clarity and like officialness it gives him, but it has been the most revolutionary thing. I think I tell people all the time, like the best thing you can do in your life is to know yourself better, to know who you are. And knowing this about him has made… such a huge difference on our lives, our communication. We know how each other’s minds work. Both of my daughters have since been diagnosed autistic too because once we saw it in him, we were like, oh, wait a minute. It was like, there are more of you. We looked around and we first we picked up with the younger girl, we’re like, oh, definitely. And then the other took a little bit longer. But.
Yeah, it’s just it has made such a world of difference because now we know how each other’s brain works And we know that my adhd brain is almost We have a lot of crossover like sensory things but like there are complete opposite things about How we how we go through the world? That makes so much more sense now and that now he can understand where I’m coming from and I can understand where he’s coming from and yeah it’s been it’s been so good and speaking my truth made us come together instead of instead of tear us apart and it’s been it was hard but really good yes yeah yes
It’s wonderful. Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s, what do we call that? Brutiful, right? It’s the beautiful and brutal at the same time, right? One of the things, the other theme that popped out to me in reading this, Cindy, was the idea that art and making art in particular has helped you to trust yourself again. And if we go back to the title of the book, you talk about how art helps make us whole, right? So what does wholeness mean to you now? now that you’ve gone through all of this.
Yeah. I think, you know, for so long, you know, I keep I’ve said it many times in this interview that I was trying to fix myself. And what wholeness is, is the realization that you’re not broken and you never were. And it feels kind of opposite because whole you think, oh, you’re a whole thing. But like what wholeness is, is recognizing and accepting yourself just as you are now. It’s loving who you are now. Um, it is, um,
feeling that freedom and comfort in your skin and when you’re going through your life, it’s like this kind of peace and contentment of safety in your body and in your… It’s like… That’s such a good question. I’m like, I don’t have a I haven’t talked about this enough times with words out loud. I’m like, oh, I have three poems about in the book, but I can’t speak it. And it’s about there was one other thing I just popped in my head before I like went on that tangent. It was um
Oh, it was an important component. Hold on. Hmm. I lost it. It might come back. Yeah, I lost. It’s gone. Welcome to my brain!
It’s all good. Watch it, it’ll come back, it’ll come back. So in the meantime though, where can people find the book? Where can they stay in touch with you? Give us all the details.
So on October 31st, you can get it on any bookseller online, Amazon. The first week it will be available, the Kindle will be available for only 99 cents, but you want the actual hard copy book doesn’t have the images and the book is absolutely beautiful because it has all the artwork, it has my artwork in it. Trusting yourself that’s what it is. That was the thing I… sorry it was just like it does it does and always comes. The important things do come back. Yeah it is trusting yourself and that is one thing I learned with writing and with making art. Okay.
Yes, that’s good. Yes.
What was I saying? Okay. Yes. You can sign up to get updates on the book at artistsaboutbeingwhole.com. And you can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram. If you just search for Cindy art and self. And my tag on Instagram is art and self and Facebook, it’s art and self Cindy. But and then yeah, that’s it. Yeah.
Good, good, and we will put all of that in the show notes and on the episode page and make sure that we have direct links to everything so that it makes it super easy for people to pick up this book. Again, it is called Art Is About Being Whole by Cindy Ingram. Cindy, thank you so much for joining me today. This was such a powerful conversation, and I really appreciate you being here.
Thank you. Yes, thank you for having me. It was great.