One of the things that I truly, madly, deeply love about teaching is that I get to tell all of my students that there is more than one way to work with clay. I let my students know that I am teaching an easy way to feel successful on the potter's wheel, but over time, they will each develop their own relationship with clay.
Every time I teach this approach, I am reminded to do this in my own life in everything that I do. It is the most freeing thing I have done for myself, to give myself permission to find my own way to do things when whatever I have been told to do is not working out.
Throughout my life, I have curated activities and paths that would enable me to have many options to choose from and many back doors through which to escape if needed. I began very early living an unconventional life, though at the time, I didn't see it that way. I just knew that I wasn't interested in doing things that I saw as illogical or boring.
When I tell my students to focus on developing their own relationship with clay, I know what they are doing is what they would do anyway; create a relationship that mirrors all the other relationships in their lives. For instance, if a potter has a problem with boundaries with their loved ones, this will come out in how they approach the clay. If another person cannot seem to master the rhythm of the wheel, it is because they are out of rhythm, in some way, in their life. If a student is disappointed in whatever they make because their expectations were out of line with what is actually possible....
You might wonder why I know this. How I could possibly know for sure that this is the case? Well, it is because of the hundreds of conversations I have had with students when we talk about what is going on with them and their clay and they respond with, "yes this is how it is with my ___________." As above, so below.
This is why I encourage people to undertake an art practice, any art practice, because if they are able to pay attention to how they handle their materials, and how they react to the pieces they create, they will see that this is also how they treat the rest of their lives, and maybe even see a reason and a way to grow and change things if they so desire.
It is the most powerful transformational tool I have ever used, and no matter what I am working on, be it sculpture, pottery, paintings, stickers, or social engagement projects, I pay close attention to how I interact with the content, materials, and outcome of the work I do. It serves as a powerful mirror for the things I might be fooling myself out of seeing. It also comforts me. I spend hours and hours alone with my work in one way or another, and in this way, I am connecting with myself on a deep level and bringing out parts of me that sometimes surprise the hell out of me. It's awesome.
I have recently started a new series of work and ended another. It is an exciting and scary time. I am watching myself slowly move forward with this new work, as what I am doing is somewhat intimidating. This is how it always is at first. I give myself plenty of time to think about my work, what it means, what I might be missing, and what could maybe be thrown out of the creative equation. The idea for my new series came to me in an energetic vision. The development of that idea is up to me, and the strategy of making is also mine. I don't know where I get my ideas, except to say they come from the universe. They feel very much like they are planted in me, and I know when I get one, that I am supposed to put it out into the world. If I don't, I get depressed, conversely, the more I listen and follow this guidance, the more I get them.
Over the course of my creative life, I have noticed a few things about creativity that has helped me with my efforts.
I have created a religion of sorts around creativity that puts me in the best place to make things on a pretty regular basis.
This is part of my sense of self, how I see the world, and it flavors my perspective of others. I know for a fact that everyone is creative because I know that I am not special, I have just focused on being creative. I know I was born with it, just as every other person has been and will be, until we cease to exist. I also know that most people don't think they are creative because they have been abused into believing that they are safer being typical. That's why I am a cheerleader. The world is full of people who will put you down. Full of governments, organizations, and companies that will force you into tiny boxes that cramp your muscles and limit your ability to breathe. I will not be one more person who keeps people from realizing their unique and fantastic potential.
I am the person who will cheer you on to ignore the bastards who would have you cower, and find and celebrate the creative person that you are. I am the person who will hold up the magical mirror and help you see your beauty. I get to tell all my students that their way is the best way for them and it is their responsibility to find it. That's my job.
Aren't I lucky?
The Mystery of Creative Drive
I hear different versions of the same question all the time: "How do I harness my creativity?"
Sometimes it's, "what do I do if I'm not creative?" which is an even more troubling question, because everyone is born creative.
The answer is more simple than you might expect. Creativity is your body's ability to express in a variety of unique ways. For example, when you want to simply and easily express an idea to a friend, you speak by stringing words together to convey your idea, combining different verbs, adjectives, nouns, and so forth. Expressing yourself creatively would mean putting your own personal twist on that string of words. Creativity is possible in all forms of expression. The "creative" element of any expression, be it completing a work assignment, cooking dinner, or painting a picture, is your particular perspective or spin on that expression.
We all have this in us, but we go through an education that teaches uniformity and conformity instead of originality and uniqueness. So, as we are trained to be more like each other, as we are punished for our emotional expressions, and rewarded for our ability to integrate and conform, we slowly lose touch with our creativity. It does not mean that it is gone, it just means that like any skill, the less we use it, the harder it is to access. All it takes to get it back is a certain level of comfort with being different, and practice.
Drawing, painting, music playing, sculpting, these are all skills that one can use creatively to express ideas, curiosities and feelings, but make no mistake, a person can be an excellent painter and still not be very creative. Creativity comes as a result of an expression of insight and emotion, it is not the mode of the expression, but the way in which something is expressed.
If you don't listen to your body's creative impulses, over time, they diminish, but your creativity does not leave you entirely, it lies dormant waiting for inspiration, or, rather a willing participant. Creativity expands the more it is used, and withers with abandonment.
We live in a world where the expression of feelings is seen as weakness, conformity is rewarded, and being different is seen as a threat. It is no wonder that so many people think they are not creative. It is also no wonder that people are not in touch with their feelings, as we are taught to either stifle them, ignore them, or manage them in a way that is private or shameful.
It takes courage to be creative because the people who originally set up the educational system in the US were training people to work on assembly lines. The US education turns out people who are docile and easy to manipulate. In short, our educational system in the US teaches repetition, mimicry, and standardization.
This used to upset me, but now, it is just one more thing about the way the world works that I ignore, as I go about living my life, being creative wherever and whenever I can.
The Bottom Line.
If you want to harness your creativity, get in touch with your feelings. Get comfortable with how you feel about the world around you. Practice a healthy expression of them. Creative strength is the ability to express your passions, beliefs, and perspectives in unique and original ways, and the only way you are going to get good at that is practice. Even if you are practicing alone in your journal and never show a soul.
Creativity is good for you. When you listen to how you are feeling about things, when you act on and express those feelings, you are practicing the highest form of self-care. When you ignore your feelings and act in ways that are not in your own best interest, you are sending signals to yourself to shut down. As you shut down, your body craves silence in the form of addictions.
In short, the more you are able to truthfully express your feelings, the less you will reach for substances and activities that your body aches for to fill that gap you have created by ignoring your feelings.
If you find this hard to believe, I understand, but I would ask you to just try. Try to listen to the messages your body is sending you. They are subtle, but they are vitally important, and they are the key to unleashing your own particular form of creative expression.
Steps to Tap into Your Creativity
It doesn't matter if you decide to needlepoint, paint, cook, make pottery, or sing as a mode of expression, what matters is that you find joy in the method and then express the way you think and feel about anything you want. This, in a nut shell, is creative expression. Practicing this will add to your life in ways you never thought possible. The more you tap into your creativity, the more creative you will become.
I started teaching again this week at the ceramics studio, and while I knew that I missed teaching, I didn't fully comprehend just how much I missed it and how much I actually get out of teaching art to kids and adults.
My kids class is full this term, and as I always do, I started class by telling the kids that there is only one rule, and that is kindness. After I laid that on them, I went around the room and I asked them to give us definitions of different types of kindness.
It is wonderful listening to kids talk about their idea of kindness, and inspiring to watch them agree to cheer each other on as they make whatever art they decide to make. Everybody leaves class on a high because they understand how good it feels to be nice to each other, as well as how different it feels to make art in a space that they know is safe. This is the same message I give to all my classes, but for the teens and adults, it is less of a straight-forward conversation and more of a role modeling situation.
There is an older woman in my sculpture class who has taken a few art classes here and there in her life, but has never really thrown herself into art making, though she has wanted to. She told me that when she was a kid, she had an art teacher who told her that she was not good enough at drawing or sculpting to do either, and that she should probably focus her attention on other things instead. So she did, though the act of art making brought her a lot of joy.
This is an unfortunate institutional message given to most kids at an early age, because on a very basic level, all public school classes, even most art classes, are created to teach and reward conformity and mimicry, and stifle originality and creative thought. As a kid, there is no way to know this, so when your teacher tells you that you are no good, you only know that it hurts, and internalize the crushing message that you should probably not believe in yourself. It doesn't matter who you are, if you hear this enough times, you believe it, and then, even in the face of situations where you prove to be successful and powerful, there is still that voice inside you that has been planted by the establishment that tells you not to believe it. In essence, in the face of your own magic and power, your training has taught you to believe that it is a lie, or a fluke, or luck.
It's tough to feel good in a society that only celebrates what it can control, and only rewards what pushes the agenda of conformity forward. If you happen to be in any way different, it can also be dangerous. It's one of the reasons that I believe art classes for all ages is so important. We are taught at a young age to push whatever makes us different down deep so it cannot be seen. By the time most of us reach 30 we don't know who we are because we have been working so hard trying to be what we have been told is acceptable. Art and creativity is one very obvious way to acknowledge and cultivate the differences and universal similarities we all carry within us.
Human beings are all creative, and all in very different ways. Unfortunately, most of us believe that we are not, and many of us believe it so deeply that we go out of our way to squash whatever creative impulses we see in others because it doesn't align with the messaging we have internalized and suffered under our entire lives.
So, if you are reading this, and there is something inside you screaming that you are not creative, understand that this is the result of programming in a society that profits from your ability to conform and not be curious or ask questions. In short, this voice is bullshit, and the sooner you learn to ignore it and finally create a new voice within you that is kind, supportive and loving, the sooner your entire life will change.
We have been shown in the last few years just how much of what we have been taught has been created to control and divide us, and the messaging about creativity is no exception.
So if you have even a tiny inkling about picking up a paint brush, a saxophone, a sculpting tool, or a knitting needle. do it. Throw yourself into it. Put your heart into what you create, no matter what that is. You will discover a limitless well of a life inside you that changes and evolves over the course of your life that is all yours to tap into, anytime you want.
Don't believe the lies that you are not in some way creative. They were told to you by people who were never allowed to believe in themselves, and instead of seeing you flourish and grow, they would rather you suffer with them.
Don't let the bastards get you down.
Seeing as the last time I posted it was last summer, I think you can guess at what I have and have not been up to in the interim. If you can't, read on.
Life has changed. I house sit most of the year, live in an entirely new home in the same town, and teach five classes at a local ceramics studio. I have been creating stickers and designing other things trying to sell them on Etsy to supplement my income. I have also been selling my work locally. At this point, my work consists of both pottery and wood paintings. I sell them at local shops for the most part.
I am still getting used to managing my energy levels. I sometimes overdo it (busying myself with making, writing, and socializing), then end up quite ill. As always, the biggest challenge for me is managing my emotions around this situation, as it sometimes feels like a never-ending acid trip, only not as fun.
This last go-around, I was sick on and off for weeks, due to all the illness going around my town and the stress levels I maintained while getting ready for holiday sales. I was pretty low for quite a while, then I remembered my friends. I started reaching out to them, letting them know how important they are to me, and before I knew it, I was feeling much better. It was actually almost an overnight change.
I like being reminded of the importance of my connections when I realize my actual sickness might be due in part to acting like a hermit. Being a maker and a writer requires one to be alone quite a bit, staring at her own navel. This is only good for a person for so long. For much of my young life, being alone was a scary prospect, I worked on that to the point where I now have the tendency to get caught up in my own machinations and forget about much of the external forces that are equally important parts of my overall health.
Likewise, I get so much out of teaching. Watching people find and outwardly express dormant potential they had no idea was there really nourishes me on a soul level. Every time it happens it feels like the first time because of the way people react to their own potency. Because I get so much out of this endeavor, not teaching for six weeks has been kind of harsh. I am so pumped to be teaching the kids tomorrow that I am almost worried I won't sleep too well tonight due to excitement.
I have also decided to get a counseling certificate in the state of Washington so I can work online more and more as I get older and not have to worry about retiring. From a very young age I knew I would never really retire, that instead I would spend my life doing things I love to do, and for the most part, I have done that. Don't get me wrong, I have learned some hard lessons working for The Man, but I don't even regret that. My life has been as varied and interesting as I hoped it would be, and for that, I have nothing but joy and gratitude.
It is nice to have priorities going into the game, knowing that they might change and welcoming them when they do. For the balance of my life, I have decided to spend at least half of my time helping people realize their potential. There is so much joy in this work, and we just happen to live in a world that crushes the souls of most of its inhabitants. So, sadly, there is lots of demand for this kind of work as well.
Part of this is to write a new weekly blog here about some of the things that happened in my classes so that I might inspire my readers, however few of them there might be, to discover their own special brand of magic.
Below find just a few of the stickers I have designed to remind people about....priorities.
What is it to live a life? For me, it is doing several projects at once, building an art business, and trying to stay afloat financially by landscaping, teaching art, house sitting, and doing small repairs and home projects around town.
My latest endeavor is to build a small collection of work to sell on Etsy (1000 + pieces) so that I might register on the algorhythms and maybe bring in a few hundred extra per month to help with the rising costs of, well, everything. I don't know if this is forgetting who I am again. I don't like shipping things. But, making tons of stuff is right up my alley, so, I'm giving it a go once more to see if I can achieve the elusive "several streams of income" I have been hoping to build for the last several years.
I'm also working on letting go a bit, maybe being more playful and silly with my work. The events of the past 2+ years have been somewhat harrowing, this last bit with the walking backward of justice has been disturbing to say the least, and I am trying to keep my energy so that I can create things that might inspire some type of change, or, at the very least, a laugh. I have never believed that the goal of life was money accrual. I have always seen it as an experience to be had. This is why I am in what most people in the Western World would call a "tight spot" financially, over fifty, in debt, no retirement. It doesn't bother me too much. As long as I keep working, that is.
I live in a small town. It is growing rapidly, and feels like it might become a shithole much like Seattle and Portland became when people over populated it. The cost of a house or apartment is about ten fold out of my reach here, but while this gives me pause on occasion, it doesn't often bother me.
Living in a tiny home next to an art studio is still pretty fantastic. It is only truly challenging in the cold winter days in December and January. Peeing and cooking in the freezing cold has never really been that appealing to me, but if I am not lucky enough to get a house sitting gig during that time, that is what I end up doing. Hopeful this fall and winter will be full of opportunity for sitting in houses.
I am not sure what the purpose of this blog is, it might not even be to have anyone read it, and for right now, I think that is suitable because I am almost positive no one does, it has been inactive for so long.
For now I guess this is for me.
I have been teaching art to kids and adults for a long time. It is only in the last ten years or so, however, that I have really done it well. So, seeing as I started teaching in 1997, that says a lot about how much I didn't know and how long I didn't know it until I did it.
I am now, I can honestly say, getting so much more out of teaching than I ever had because I got out of the way of my students. Instead of giving students assignments, rules and parameters, I now provide a space in which they can work with materials free of judgement, harsh criticism, or regard for expectation.
I see my job as a teacher to create a creative space where people feel like they can be themselves fully, explore unknown themes and strategies without fear of reproach, and feel the support and encouragement of their teacher and their fellow students. In short, it is not my mission to teach art and help people be good artists, but to assist people, at any age, to get to a point where they are curious about what makes them tick, and find a path to discovering themselves within the context of a creative environment.
Basically, I just get out of the way.
In this way, I am more inspired in every class I teach than I have ever been before because I have the privilege of watching people become. I have the honor of watching people take risks. I have the opportunity to cheer people on as they fail and succeed in challenging situations.
There is nothing like telling people, wordlessly or otherwise, that you believe in them, and then stepping back and watching what happens.
I vividly remember lying in my bed at about seven or eight years old, in my favoritest (I had many favorites) Wonder Woman jammie jams, staring up at the chunky wooden support slats of the top bunk from my well-worn and much safer bottom bunk, as I clutched my blue and black striped friend, Eeyore. The visceral memory of chilling realization washing over my tiny body that my life was going to be spectacularly challenging had kept me up long into the night. I had made the profound mistake several years earlier of painting my room a deep, dark purple, so the only glimmer of light in my room came from the two windows next to the bed and the brightly painted yellow stairwell that led directly into our dining room where my parents and their friends were sitting, drinking wine, and laughing with an obscene lack of consideration- with the door wide open. With each laugh, the reality was driven more deeply into my gut that my life would be a tormented one, at best.
My room, as it was, was actually a large passing-through space not contained by any but the outside walls, on the way to my brother’s bedroom. The upstairs bathroom was also joyously situated just off this room and at the head of the stairs, so that every time my brother did anything in there, I heard it. Sometimes, when the breeze blew through, I even smelled it. Without going into too much detail, I will merely say that the proximity my room had to the bathroom was quite….unfortunate.
Both of my parents had obnoxiously loud and untempered laughs, and by the sound of it, they did not seem a bit concerned that they might be keeping their small children awake on this late night with their antics. Of course, I could hear my brother snoring from behind his bedroom door just as plainly as I could hear my parents’ laughter, but I knew, as surely as I knew that the deep dark purple had been a mistake, that my young life would most likely be riddled with one embarrassing event after another, unless I took matters into my own hands. I would feel and act on this same sense of responsibility many more times in my life as I dealt with harassment in the workplace, inconsiderate boyfriends, and social injustice, and keep coming up with creative plans, sometimes in a moment’s notice, sometimes after months of plotting and planning, to change the course of events for myself and those around me. Not always successfully, but as you might expect, as I grew older, my priorities and goals changed.
This is the dark but glorious moment I remember most clearly as the gleaming point of inspiration where I was motivated to change my fate by creatively conspiring to throw my parents from their usual obnoxious and embarrassing behavior by distracting them with my own. I will never forget the electrifying surge of hope I felt in my tiny body when I came up with my plan to derail their social behavior. This feeling, this revelation, was such a welcome reprieve from the usual heavily anxious sour stomach I had developed as a toddler, that it became something I would reach for over and over throughout the many years of my creatively maladjusted life. Prior to this moment, my greatest fear had been that as time went on, their behavior would get worse if I didn’t do something to divert their attention in some way, so this idea was truly something that I thought might save me from years of parental aggravation. In that moment, I had no idea that even the most carefully laid plans, made with the best of intentions and the most cautious of plotting, can go wildly and quite disturbingly wrong.
You might wonder why a young girl, lying within the darkened walls of one of her first great creative failures, (it would live on forever in my mind as the great purple failure), would ever dream of coming up with a way to change her parent’s behavior so that it might suit her own better, and I can only tell you, these forty-plus years later, that it was a hearty combination of innocent youth, reckless desperation, and unbridled energy that propelled me forward into a space where I believed I could actually change the behavior of my parents to suit my needs. I had been having a deep, gnawing feeling for several months by that time that things were just going to keep getting worse, so I felt it was my responsibility, neigh, my duty, to do something to avert certain disaster. When I felt the sudden and unexpected relief from the pain of my anxiety combined with the pure and joyous beauty of creative inspiration run through my body, I knew it was the answer I needed to elevate my existence and put me on the path towards what I assumed was my potential greatness.
THE LAST SIX WEEKS
I have been writing other things recently, important other things. All the things I have been writing revolve around the topic of creativity. I have been a student of creativity ever since I first discovered its power to save me. The more I poured myself into doing things, not just art things, creatively, the more I liked who I was becoming. The less I worried about what was expected, the happier I became with what I could do when I left myself to my own devices.
For the last month and a half, I have been reading up on what other people have written about creativity, and while the topic has been examined from academic and professional perspectives, the one thing I have noticed that is not mentioned is the emotional content, the very meat of what makes creativity such an important element in any society.
WHAT WE ARE TAUGHT
We are taught to suppress our feelings. Creativity is the act of expressing them. It does not have to be a drawing or a sculpture, it can be anything, from the way you dress to the way you take a bath. Once you make something your own, you have been creative. The problem is, we are all taught to keep our feelings to ourselves. We are taught that any expression of emotion is a weakness. We are taught that it is a sign of strength to keep a stiff upper lip. But emotions are powerful tools that tell us who we are, what we fear, and what we can do to more meaningfully engage with the world and the people in it.
We are taught to conform to a standard or norm. There have been many times in my life when I have been pressured into doing something I didn't really want to do; whether it be change my hair, shave my toes, or dress in a way that didn't suit me, I, just like everyone else on the planet, have been taught to conform through advertising, the educational system, friends, relatives, partners, and anyone else who might want to throw in their two cents. Conforming is always rewarded, and diverging from the norm is at best questioned, and at worst, punished. Women must look a certain way to be considered beautiful, and beautiful is the standard by which women are judged. Men must look and behave a certain way in order to be considered masculine, or strong, which is the standard by which men are judged. Creativity, intelligence, empathy, these characteristics are secondary to looks and power.
We are taught that we are not creative. We are taught all through school that if you aren't good at art, you aren't creative. It's a way to keep people from questioning the norm. It is a way to control a populace full of people of different genders, races, religions and political parties. It's a way to keep people from discovering and using their power. Because the truth is, we are born creative.
George Land's NASA creativity test proved that people are born creative over and over again. His study showed that as children progress through school, the educational system trains them out of their creativity, that basically, creativity is un-learned.
This test has been given many times with similar results each time. This test, originally created to select highly creative engineers and scientists for NASA, has proven over and over that the educational system in this country is actually dumbing down the populace and has now put us in a place which many say is a creativity crisis in the US and abroad.
I realize this is not what I usually write about. I usually write about my emotional journey through my life; what I learn from the mistakes I make, the fears I have, and the people with who I interact. This in itself has pushed me to explore the idea of creativity and why so many people are afraid to take risks, put themselves into their lives in a meaningful way, and allow themselves to express what they think and feel about themselves and the world. I believe that if more people accept the fact that they are creative and become curious about how to express that, the world will shift in such a way that many of the social issues we face today will be lessened if not completely resolved.
I have been reading a lot of books that tell people how to be more creative, a lot of complicated steps that will teach people to be more creative at work. But the thing that all this misses is that creativity is an expression of what is inside, and if we keep suppressing our emotions, if we stop ourselves from expressing who we are in favor of conformity, nothing will change.
In short, behavioral creativity is the extent to which people diverge meaningfully from the norm, it is the way an individual expresses themselves in the things they do every day in every aspect of their life that makes a meaningful impact on the level of satisfaction and joy they derive from that activity. For instance, The American Dream is something that US citizens and people all over the world have been sold on for a long time, so many people believed that going to college, getting married, and having kids was THE WAY to live a life. The problem is, during this life, many people who bought into it felt empty, had mid-life crises, and lacked the satisfaction with their lives that they expected to obtain by living something everyone believed to be a DREAM.
It is not to say that this life is not good for some people, but for many, it is no way to live a life, and surely no way to fully develop into the person they could be if they were not putting so much energy into being someone they do not truly feel themselves to be.
Make sense? No? Then just do this. Consider for a moment what you would do if you believed yourself to be a creative genius. Consider if your life and the things you do would alter at all if you did not believe the lie that you have been taught about yourself. Consider who you could become if you were not afraid of standing out, speaking up, or simply, not participating.
Now....get started. Express yourself. Experiment with your day. See what happens when you follow your heart, when you do the work of taking a risk for who you really want to be.
Below you will find an entire gallery of images of things I have done and created in order to meaningfully engage with the world and express my point of view. Take a look and see what you think. Leave a comment if you would like.
Want me to come to talk to the students at your school/college/university about creativity and what that can lead to? Email me!!! I will get back to you in 24-48 hours.
My heart sank when my phone stopped working. It was 8 a.m. on a Monday and I had a whole other day planned, full of organizing, cleaning, and making, but my phone stopped, well, technically, it stalled, and I kind of panicked.
I tried all the tricks to fix it, tried to get my mobile carrier to help, found out that even though I had been paying nine bucks a month to insure my phone, I would still be paying $150 out of pocket to get a new one.
I spoke to Apple, whose iPerson sent me on a wild goose chase all over my small town. Then, when I had just about decided to give in and buy a new phone, a young, earnest man behind a counter in a small, soulless building told me that he could fix it. And within ten minutes, he had. When my phone started working again, the display read 2 p.m. and I had lost my day and a part of my mind in this crazy whirlwind of pursuit.
As I walked out to my car, taking on the familiar crook-necked posture humans are evolving into, it hit me. My phone really controls my life. It keeps me from feeling things I probably should be feeling, thinking things I could be thinking, and most importantly, making things I could be making. I realized in finding my phone that I might be losing my mind.
After all that has happened in the last month, I can see how my life might be telling me to put a bit more emphasis on real-life relationships and interactions, and a bit less on virtual endeavors.
I realized throughout this day without a phone, as I drove from one place to another in search of answers, or waited for service that would prove to be ineffectual and rude, that I was feeling a bunch of stuff I usually squelch with distraction. I was feeling my feelings, and it made me uncomfortable.
Feelings, by nature, are there to make me feel uncomfortable, and in so doing move me into some kind of action, and realizing I had been going without that lack of comfort was a bit troubling. Acknowledging that I had been avoiding so much of what normally keeps me awake to the world was profoundly depressing. In this journey to get my phone rebooted, I also decided it was time to get my emotional body rebooted as well.
I have a new strategy with my phone now, and while it was painful to look at how I had been ignoring my feelings, in the end it pushed me to be better about how I spend my moments in between. It's never easy to acknowledge that I have been ignoring some large part of myself out of laziness or fear, but once I get on the other side of it, I'm usually pretty good at doing something about it.
This forced hiatus from technology turned out to be a good thing. So good, in fact, that I just might take that same time every day just for myself. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be all about me. I will feel what comes up, make stuff, think stuff, and live a life of engaged action.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever found yourself using technology to squelch the feelings that naturally arise during the course of the day? Or do you have a coping mechanism to not allow technology to ignore too much of your wonderful life?
I used to be a fighter. I would climb atop the highest horse possible and dismount into the most self-righteous power stance I could take as I would retaliate with pride, courage, and unfortunately, anger. I always believed it was the world that was hard, unyielding, brutal. And around this belief, for most of my life, I have been at war with myself.
But this has recently changed. I no longer fight, and for this, I am grateful. It is not that the tendency to jump down the throats of anyone foolish enough to challenge me is not there, it is. But now, I wait. I think about why I'm angry, and beneath that, I always feel the pain. The pain of the fear of my suspicion.
I suspect that I am unworthy. I have an inkling that I do not deserve good things. I have a hunch that my time is not as valuable as the time of the people I know and work with. These fleeting thoughts and feelings are what upsets me when I am treated like my efforts, my space, my very time does not matter. It is not that someone else is treating me this way, it is that this treatment is confirming the thoughts that haunt me in my darkest moments.
But I have been practicing walking away for as long as I need to and feeling these things, asking myself if they are true, moving through my fear and anger, and coming to the pain. I am training myself to be friends with the ache that has for so long controlled me, for so long had me exploding at friends, colleagues, and loved ones alike, in fear that I might be right. In fear of unlovable. As I sit with this pain, I know that none of this is true.
It has always been too easy to blame myself, to tell myself I must be the problem if my parents are screaming at me, or ignoring me, or my boyfriend is lying to me, or this business man is harassing me, it has always been, "it must be me, it must be me, it must be me."
But it is almost never me. I have given up trying to control the actions of the people around me and more importantly, I have stopped blaming myself for their bad behavior. I still have the inkling, I just don't believe it any longer.
This last week, I was treated more than once as if I was not worthy of the love, respect, and admiration any human is due. In both cases, instead of flying into a rage, I withdrew and gave myself an opportunity to act with compassion for myself. Instead of self-blame, I sunk deeply into my sadness and examined myself. I cried. I held myself in a soft place until I could come out of it confident and softened.
Being hard, tough as nails, or as an old friend used to say, "a pleasing creature with sharp edges," is exhausting. It just wears me down and gives me one more thing to regret or attempt to maneuver into justification later.
I hold more compassion for myself in these moments, and in so doing, hold more compassion for the thoughtless mistakes people sometimes make.
I write about this now after decades of struggling with my anger in the dark without a compass. I have had years and years of therapy, hundreds of different alternative modalities exercised upon my energetic system, and many opportunities to practice not jumping to anger, and here I am, almost 50, and the thing I never thought of, treating myself more tenderly, with more compassion and love, has finally yielded the grace I have been seeking all this time.
I have found the courage to not believe the lie and the compassion to believe that I am worthy.
Is an artist, a philosopher, a writer and a teacher. She will be writing random thoughts here. Follow along if you are interested.
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