Relief from unexpected places

When I searched for something on social media today, something else came across my path that was not what I was looking for, but it was helpful in a different way.

A year ago, someone connected to one of my online connections posted some articles on Medium detailing their horrific experience as an adjunct at a university. It was a detailed account spread among three articles and it confirmed a lot of what I knew, some of what I surmised, and helped me acknowledge that my failure of working in academia was such a good thing, even though I rarely felt like it was.

It’s not that I feel like it would have been a perfect fit, but it feels like it might have been closer to my mental world than anything else I’ve done. But the toxicity made me realize it wouldn’t have been a good idea. And I think the only way I could make something like this better is if I started some kind of educational effort from scratch that is not affiliated with any higher ed institution – and we all know that kind of money does not grow on trees.

The logical part of my brain knows that I am not a stupid, worthless failure. But the inner critic that developed acutely sharpened fangs in my time in grad school begs to differ. Reading about this person’s struggle and then seeing so many in the same or similar institutions saying that merely walking near the building is anxiety-inducing, that there are counselors near the school who had many patients with similar issues conclude they should just pipe Zoloft in the university air vents because of the overall stress, anxiety, and mental issues…I felt so seen, heard, and validated. I’m not nuts for what I’ve felt and what I’ve experienced. In fact, so many more have experienced the same or similar things.

This makes me want to create the possibility of round-table learning that could be ongoing and available to a community that would be not super expensive, but something that would be helpful. I’m going to think about how that might work and see what I can do.

It’s odd to feel this much lighter after reading something and adjusting my perspective, but that is exactly where I’m at right now.

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Nuance and grief.

I feel like we’re not going to fix anything for real in this world until we understand nuance.

At this time, so much is being ruined by black and white thinking, and we’ve built such a narrow colonialist system that supports this that we will forever be stuck here unless we make major changes or abandon our current systems and start building again from scratch.

I see this in politics, and I feel like our conditioning for black vs. white / us vs. them is strongly conditioned through the Church of Sports. But it goes so far beyond this. I have been listening to podcasts like Conspirituality, and while I appreciate their critical analyses and exposures of conspiracy theory crap and pseudoscience, they, too, acknowledge no gray areas. I totally agree that we need to be careful of all the grifters selling snake oil and getting others hyped up for no reason, and yet, it looks pretty dumb for people calling for scientific basis to ignore real clinical studies for herbs or natural substances. Are there a lot of bullshit products peddled in the “natural healing” realm? Absolutely. So much garbage abounds, and yet, there are studies showing proven effects that could be helpful. (This goes the other way, as well – there are plenty of natural healing folks who are anti-conventional medicine, and I recognize, first hand, that there are issues within conventional medicine, but to disregard it all together is a great mistake.)

Our inability to get nuance comes from our attempts to distill feelings, opinions, and findings into Tweet-size bites. Back in June, someone posted about being in the “classical music” field and being unhappy, hating a lot of what they play. Many reactions were like, “well, then…QUIT. Nobody wants to listen to your sorry ass play stuff you hate anyway.”

That reaction made me think about my own feelings about music. I used to like it. Once in a very great while, there would be a moment that felt absolutely right and like it was the thing I was supposed to do. The other 98% of the time was a slog. The harder I worked through the slog, the smaller the positive experience percentage shrank. And I recognize an audience wants the performer to meet the typical standards of the storied inspirational motivation and undying love of art; however, there have been several performances I have done of pieces I’m not enamored with, that people just loved. We, as musicians, are highly-trained storytellers, artists, and actors, too.

(Looking back, I see this is a tenuous and not fantastically-written pivot, but if you know me at all, you’ll make the connection.)

I have tried (understand – tried in this case does not mean one session, but often months of sessions) various therapeutic approaches to help my mental state: psychiatrists, psychologists, hypnotherapists, SIT session therapists, somatic sessions), much of which didn’t help at all, a couple made things worse, and one or two have helped. In my recent work, I was asked to make a piece of art that fully honors and grieves that which I have lost.

I posted the art here on Instagram. The decomposing skeleton woman image is originally by Amanda Hollow Bones, and I felt it evokes the dying, draining, composting feeling I’ve been experiencing the past year perfectly. Here lies all of my intense musical research, my work in learning and applying entrepreneurial methodologies to musical freelancing, my dissertation, my interest in alchemy, my openness to the possibility that anyone could love this person in this body. Here lies dance, that thing that I enjoyed as it is so much better at expression than these clunky words are, but yet, this loose-jointed body could not keep doing what it was doing in dance.

The dark sky evokes a cavernous depth with hardly any light, but also exudes final peace, so that these elements won’t hurt me anymore.

Somehow, the glittering stars bring a glint of beauty to this otherwise grim image.

It’s like a visual representation of a major exhale.

I love the texture, colors, and sparkle of the sky the most in this.

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A Whole New World

It took me until the end of 2021 to be awarded a job and the beginning of 2022 to begin a full-time job again.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

I knew I would be a virtual go-fer between tech writers, tech illustrators, desktop publishers, and clients/suppliers. But I didn’t know how the day-to-day approach would be.

I received some training so I would know how to use the wide variety of software, applications, programs, and platforms required, and also given examples of how things were handled in the past.

Most of the time, much of the work I’ve done has been learning by doing.

In the process, I have had to face all my fears and shortcomings.

Examples:
– I am not a numbers person, and that has gotten worse over the years due to major fear of looking at my own financial numbers, because I was just getting by and knew that I would have to keep working hard until after my funeral luncheon at the rate I was going. In this job, I have lots of spreadsheets and spend plans and pivot tables and formulas. Initially, when I had trouble, I’d ask the other manager in my project vertical for help, and after realizing she just has more patience and less fear, so she just struggles through it to figure it out, I’ve found someone outside of the company who can help with Excel questions.

– Project Management is a world with its own unfortunate language and methodologies unto itself. Because of this, there is a certification exam that one can take to show that knowledge. When I initially started studying this, I was so damn lost as to how this made sense to any human, how any of this was useful, and how I was going to get this into my own brain. I finally found an exam prep course that has been helpful. We will see how this goes.

– Life revolves around deadlines and making them or breaking the news that they won’t be made. Those are things I have worked hard to avoid most of my life, so this has been another challenge.

By taking this position, I have learned a lot, I’ve faced a lot that I wouldn’t have otherwise faced, and I feel like I’ve made my brain work in ways I thought it was impossible to demand of it.

All of that said, there are plenty of times that life seems pretty damn depressing.

Yes, I’ve got a lot of new skills. Yes, I have the likelihood of making it until I croak in this late-stage capitalism world. And along with all that, there is flatlining. I know I’ve mentioned that problem before, but it’s hit a numb stage. There is no time and energy to work through any of this or to make visual art on a regular basis or to find some way for me to make my musical skills work for me on some kind of artistic endeavor I enjoy.

Pair that with physical difficulties (joints going in and out of place, increased hormonal issues as I march closer to menopause, digestive issues that flare up with stress or just because Princess the Stomach feels like it) and no good time to schedule a run, save for one day a week, and if all the joints are out at that time, too bad…managing the intersection of physical and mental health has been lacking.

(Okay, if I were reading this, I’d go, “come on, one day a week?!? WHY?!?” Because I already get up at 5am to go to work. I’m not running in the dark before that to encounter the skunks and coyotes, I get home at 6:30 or 7pm, at which time I am shot, and I need to do the running/walking when there is daylight because country roads have no street lights, no sidewalks.)

It’s not all bad. I have made enough money this year that I could actually have my instruments all fixed. My modern flute and piccolo have needed that for the past 20 years. And I feel like even if this isn’t a forever job, learning all of this is really helpful.

So I guess I’ll just keep chipping away and see where this takes me.

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The rawness of beauty…or creativity…or process…

Since the last entry to this page, a lot has happened.

-I was laid off from my job (caused by financial issues, not mitigated by any issues around my work).
-My grandmother’s physical and mental health tanked. So I have been helping my mother care for her.
-My landlord sold my house to someone who wanted to own the house and live there, rather than rent it out, so I needed to move.

So I am now living in my hometown full time.

Because I am not getting younger, and I’ve decided needing to work past my funeral luncheon is a poor plan, I have done an intensive course on technical writing (it’s something I think I could handle doing; I appreciate being able to work remotely, especially with helping as a caregiver here, and it would be the best pay I have ever gotten), and I’ve been applying to a lot of jobs to no avail since completing that course.

There has also been this struggle with me trying to identify if I actually like anything anymore. I try to approach anything around this topic as diplomatically as possible, though it was helpful in helping me cull the things I wanted to get rid of in my collection of stuff. I did one downsizing as I packed up to move out of Milwaukee, and one as I attempted to settle my things into the second floor of my mother’s farmhouse. I’m sick of material stuff and that helps. If I felt an extreme sense of hatred toward anything (for instance, I really want to burn my entire collection of music, at the moment), I’ve told myself I can put it on the back burner and decide in a year what I’d like to do with whatever it is.

Sometimes, I don’t sleep well. Either my brain keeps me up, my digestive system complains of a culinary misstep taken earlier in the day, or my grandmother has a night with restlessness or multiple bathroom trips. Last night was one of those nights, and I checked in to social media and I found out that an artist I knew in Indiana passed away in April, and his memorial is this weekend.

Some background: I went to Indiana because the university there seemed like a great idea on paper for me. When I got there, it wasn’t a great fit, and I got into a bad bicycle accident the first week I was there. Between real life discontentment and pain management meds, I fell into a pretty deep depression. One of the few people I chatted with on a regular basis was this guy who hung out at the Union all the time, spending most of his day drawing sketches of everything and anything. I learned that he was a professional artist who was a professor, got into a car accident in which his wife died, he was depressed and went on Prozac, which led him to make a series of really unfortunately poor choices that resulted in him being jobless, homeless, and without his large collection of artworks he created through the years. When I first met him, he was living in his car. In a few months, he got a small apartment, though he didn’t see the point of doing much of anything.

Despite all of that, music was still something he loved, something that comforted and uplifted him.

I had a hard time understanding that back at that time, and I still, to a point, feel that now.

Though, now, I wonder: is it that he was willing to face the pain in his creative interests that he was able to move forward and still find some joy in them? Is this something I should be doing, rather than avoiding it like the plague?

I had been out of touch for so long. The internet search told me of his involvement in a printmaker’s collective, as well as musical open mics, that so many people appreciated his work. And yet, there are people who made comments that showed me he was still struggling with his mental health.

It’s something that has shocked me and stuck with my brain all day, and I don’t think I’ll let go of this too easily.

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Looking back: the Pandemiversary.

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media saying, “last year at this time, we had no idea what we were in for. We were just happily doping along in our mundane lives, and this hit us out of nowhere.”

Well, no. We’ve had a lot of warning signs of something like this coming our way for a while. And also, yes. Did anyone think we’d still be in this mess now?

In any case, I was reviewing all of my unlisted YouTube videos, and one of them was a general Tarot card reading about the COVID-19 situation. The audience for this was a small group of others who were pulling one card a day for perspective and meditation. It’s so funny how it hit so much deeper on so many levels. I do readings in terms of perspective, not as prediction, and in hindsight, I feel like it was pretty on, though I’d consider the Ace of Orbs to be about self-reflection, self-evaluation, particularly about how we live(d) our everyday mundane lives. I also ended it with a shallow, candy-coated platitude, “it’s going to be rough, but we’ll make it.”

There’s never such certainty. That should be lesson one. So many people have died. They did not have the luxury to make it. Businesses have closed, people have gone bankrupt. Tenants have been de-housed.

(Side note: for several years…I want to say, from 2017 until about mid-2020, all of my readings I did for myself as well as some collective readings I’ve done had the Tower card. Broadly interpreted, it can be about letting the things that no longer work for us crumble and fall to its ruin. There’s also an interpretation that there’s a lightning bolt striking the crown, almost forcibly shocking one into enlightenment or different understanding of a situation. All of this fits our current experience so well, in my mind.)

I don’t know about you, but throughout the course of this past year, I feel like I have buried so many old versions of myself.

d. 2020. Here lies Monica, the people-pleaser, Monica, the one to do everything possible to put other people at ease and in comfort at her own severe expense. Monica, the gifted musician. Monica, the smart one. Monica, the dumb one. Monica, who believed we could use society’s current setup to get back on track. Monica, who did so much extra work to demonstrate she’s absolutely not lazy. Monica, who is always on the ladder/treadmill of higher/better/faster, achieve, achieve, ACHIEVE. Monica, whose chronic challenges get in the way and hold her back from being the fake ass that others want her to be.

(And that’s the tip of the iceberg.)

This year has been about reevaluation. What the hell was I doing, driving all over the place for gigs that don’t pay enough to warrant doing so, playing music I don’t like? And while I don’t want life to be about making obscene amounts of money, I acknowledge that it’s okay for me to want and have comfort, financial cushion, perhaps moments of traveling to places of interest. What do I really like? (Answer: for the most part, not what I’ve pretended to like for most of my life.)

What is important in life?

Some of the best times over the past year have been spent either alone, making art, herbal medicines, reading, or taking a walk, but also having good conversations on Zoom, cooking good food, and sharing some time with my mom and my grandmother.

How do we make life better?

For me, I struggle with less time on social media. I am better away from it, and yet, because I currently work a 9-5 sitting in front of a computer, social media time is inevitable. (Also, there have been years in which I constructed a whole life out of my mental construct of life via social media, and that addiction is hard to keep broken.) More time in my body, walking, moving, being good to myself. Enjoying time outside when I can. (I tend to be super cold, so I’m excited that spring is coming!) Sharing what is authentically “me” with others and learning not to give a damn if they can’t handle the weirdness. Removing the wall between the Other and me to create better communication and understanding. And because I spent so much time being upset at all the awfulness in political life, I have resorted to doing what I can regarding calling Congress, signing petitions, etc., and then leaving that whole cluster and heading toward doing work that will help people as a whole. I don’t have a lot of extra money to give, but giving a little money or time to organizations helping black families in our city, donating food to food banks, offering reparations to marginalized groups, and listening and sharing more info about disability in our culture…doing those things have helped me feel like there’s a tiny bit of progress made. Your mileage may vary. But finding something that is on a grassroots level that truly helps at a local level is how we make life better for everyone.

In short, this year has helped me realize I was chasing a dangling carrot that wasn’t and isn’t there, and taking the time to reevaluate has made me take the time to treasure the important things, do the work to improve the bad things, and rest when needed. This is easier said than done, but they’re important points to keep in mind. (I also recognize that I had the privilege of having the luxuries for all this that I’m blathering on about, and for that I’m grateful. And I/we need to take that privilege and help others in any way we can.)

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Uncomplicated matters.

I am the queen of making things far more complicated than they need to be.

Having a mind that overthinks everything and chooses some topics to obsess over, I have gone through a lot of versions of the kaleidoscopic complexity I believe life to be.

And lately, I’ve been calling bullshit on that.

Disclaimer: this is about me and my personal path, my personal beliefs. If any of the things I mention that I’m discarding are things that work for you, keep working with them! We are all different.

In this year, I completed an herbal apprenticeship, as well as that I completed the beginning, intermediate, and advanced programs at the Herbal Academy. I did that in order to get more of the scientific and clinical side of herbalism. I’m glad that I did that, and I see that I fit somewhere between folk/community and clinical approaches. I shall hang out there and continue learning from the plants to see where we go from there.

I have cycled through spiritual/philosophical/occult studies. There are fascinating traditions out there, many of them complicated and rewarding its practitioners after months and years of dedicated work. That is wonderful. And after giving quite a lot of time to it, it’s also not given much (other than the perspective to be immersed in it) back to me. And I’ve had rather low energy, so I need to guard it preciously. This means my personal practice is really simple. Honoring the ancestors, animism in its most basic sense, and offering help and kindness through my actions, especially herbal consultations, offering card readings for perspective, and cooking for others. That’s it.

Health-wise, I’ve been battling some stomach issues, and based on some online support, it seems to be gastroparesis. This isn’t new…upon learning about this condition, I’m certain this is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. Conventional medical care for this seems to be lacking, even with those I follow who have good health care plans and knowledgeable physicians specializing in gastroenterology. One of the folks I follow cannot seem to keep any food down, and she is quickly becoming a skin-covered skeleton. Another had a feeding tube installed in her stomach, and, while it has helped her with having a baseline of nutritional intake, she still has problems with projectile vomiting as well as saliva/bile/water vomiting. Initially, she was told that she’d have the stomach feeding tube temporarily…and now it looks like she might have it and a barfy outlook for the rest of her life.

With that and a lot of research taken from clinical studies, I’ve been working through finding some things that are helpful, and some that aren’t. It’s a trial and error thing that I need to continue working through.

Here is some of the best news, and I haven’t wanted to jinx it by being public, but I’m also pretty happy with this, so, here goes: I think I found therapy that works, that fits me, that seems to help. This is big, after having tried so many different approaches that the general public has sworn by. It’s called Subconscious Imprinting Technique. It works by finding past traumas, facing them, working through them, and letting them go. I will admit there is a bit of a “woo” factor to it, so it might not be the best fit for some, but it’s been a great fit for me. Here’s hoping for continued healing and improvement!

Otherwise: I’m still not sure of what to do with my life, and I’m not holding that over my head like an anvil until I figure it out and make life happily ever after. That’s not how it works. I’m trying to be more present and find the small joys there.

Making small, informal pieces of art is a joy, and I don’t afford myself much time doing that, mainly because it tends to take a lot of time to set it up, get into it, complete it, and clean up. But I still do what I can. Most of what I make is posted to Instagram.

Music is still touch and go. I’m recognizing that my concern about my involvement with Classical/Baroque/Historical music is pushing an already overworked Western European colonialist narrative is part of what makes me step back. And that there’s little that I honestly enjoy in the realm of music in general. So that is still a work in progress.

I will always love dance that tells a story with emotive gesture. And I feel like much of that has fallen away from current dance performances. And…I have to be careful with my own movements because the loose-jointed/hypermobile issues seem to be worsening as I age.

Rather than worrying about what kind of big artistic splash I’m going to make, or how much success I have or should have, I’m focusing on how to be kind to myself and others. How can I make life better? Take a walk in the woods? Cook a good meal for my mom and my grandmother? Learn as much as I can about the basic kind of holistic health options I can share with others, in the event that we all become uninsurable? Writing to congress and doing what I can to advocate for better policies and structures in this world? Yeah. That’s what I’m doing. And it seems like the place at which I’m supposed to be at this moment.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CG8r2AWFxSD/?igshid=1g2pux7f1vv4
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Advocate – allow – adjust

I’ve been quiet, simply because I didn’t have much to say, or if I said anything, it wouldn’t have been original, or it would have seemed like a reach. Instead, I thought for a long time and have come to these conclusions, none of which are earth-shattering, but it will show you where I am (currently):

-Advocate: in the best ways we can, we need to advocate for those who are marginalized. And so many are marginalized. At this time and for the long haul, supporting Black lives in getting true equality in treatment and care is critical. It is criminal that it has taken us (I’m including myself, because, even though I considered myself an ally, I didn’t speak up and out as often as I should have in the past) this long to do the messy, uncomfortable work of facing internalized racist and otherwise hateful structures. The most effective way I’ve found to be helpful in this regard is in one-on-one conversations. They tend to be quite uncomfortable and painful for me (who is just not a “hey! Let’s talk to other people” type) and that is okay and necessary because it is needed, and it is the only possible way that some of these people will be introduced to other ways of thinking. Of course, I’ve been e-mailing, calling, etc. to voice my concerns to those in power, though I don’t know how much of a difference that does. There are social media posts, which I’ve resorted to sharing if I feel they’re informative. I know some don’t believe I’m visibly posting enough, and for that, I ask, for whom? So that fellow allies see how much I care, or so they can nod in agreement with what I post? Most of the people who need to turn around their understanding of their own inherent racism will either ignore or rebuke those posts.

And advocacy doesn’t stop there. I’ve been learning more about a lot of the horrors that Native Americans experience now, and we need to show up for them, as well. Of course, this month that is fast closing is Pride month, and we need to support GLBT+ in their battles resulting in hatefulness directed our/their way. (I feel like I more or less fit into this group, as someone who currently identifies as Asexual, but also don’t really feel like I quite fit, either, so…I never know how to address this…except, really, in all of these cases, we shouldn’t be thinking in “Other” terms, but as how we can support our fellow humans and eradicate antiquated, hate-filled attitudes.)

-Allow: So much allowing is necessary. Allow outdated systems that don’t work for us to crumble and crash down. Allow and accept that we are uncomfortable and we’re going to be in this uncomfortable place for a long time. Allow for ongoing time to learn. And allow for taking breaks to rest. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Make sure you fill yours up.

-Adjust: Recognize the myriad of adjustments needed to ever learning, ever moving forward. Adjust your thinking to realize we might not be able to grasp all the possibilities our new futures can hold. Adjust to every unexpected thing that shows up in our path. (And in 2020, there have been a LOT of unexpected things showing up for us!)

None of this is easy. All of it is messy. We need to do what we can. And chat with each other for support along the way.

My own path is still quite foggy. I have been continuing to learn about plant medicines, and I know for certain the directions I shouldn’t go, not quite sure how I will be extending this to others beyond using my knowledge to help my own health and wellness. I know my workplace is barely hanging on at the moment, and we’re going to be experiencing more cuts. And there’s not a lot out there at this time, especially for someone who is wayward with her personal direction and would like to be paid at least a little closer to her worth.

So, like you, I’m trying. A step at a time. Learn what I can. Make mistakes, learn from them, do better. Keep kindness in mind. And we’ll figure out a new way, even if we all have no idea what that way is right now.

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Cross my heart, hope to fly

I’m at the point now at which I should accept that I shouldn’t come up with a crazy series to work on unless it seems like something that I love and that I’m committed to. I’m thinking particularly about that idea that I had to play short improvisations outside whenever it moved me. Then it became and remained colder than I would like and I amended that in my mind to strike the word “outside.” Annnnd then I didn’t play and record any short improvisations.

Everyone has been going through their own weirdness during this time of isolation. I have, too, though it doesn’t seem to be solely related to the quarantined life. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I found this magic triumvirate of herbs for my mind, which addressed my anxiety, depression, and sadness. What was fascinating is that, once all that dissolved, it wasn’t like joy popped right in to fill its place. No, I was struggling with the feeling of nothing. A big old void of blankness. And prior to this herbal discovery, I was already feeling like I lacked purpose or direction or interest or whatever. That felt like the most cavernous yawning gap after anxiety and depression weren’t there, incessantly yanking me around.

Anyway, fairly recently, I had this dreadful realization: this is where I will remain if I don’t do something to change it. I had been trying so many things to help in the flavors of psychology, spirituality, physical activity, studying herbalism further, getting outside. Nothing was helping much. When I had this feeling that this everlasting vacuous dreadful nothingness was here to stay, I thought about, well, what else could I do to fix this?

For some reason, a pop album came to mind. On TikTok (yes, I’m on TikTok, as an observer, at the moment) I encountered quite a few testimonials for the album Qabalista, with one of the main perks (according to online legend, BTW, this isn’t something the creator of the album proclaimed or encouraged) being that one can lie down, listen to the whole thing, and have a trippy experience or astral projection without the psychedelic mushrooms. I thought I’d try it, but I failed because I couldn’t sit still to this kind of energetic music! I want to RUN to this!

Ah, running. I’ve been having increased hypermobile joint issues, so I haven’t been running for a while. Heaving a disappointed sigh, I gave up on the album then. But I decided to work out to it, doing a workout that focuses on alignment, lymphatic drainage, and some isometric principles. (And I do modify some parts of it because, otherwise, I’m fairly certain I’d end up completely dislocating my shoulders, and I’d need to pick up one arm off the floor with the other.)

It was such a beautiful experience.

I hadn’t enjoyed a workout like that since I was able to run on a regular basis, and I think it’s because a lot of the words fit so well into my esoteric studies. I essentially combined my meditation and simple daily ritual followed by this workout fueled by Qabalista and I felt amazing. And I was surprised, simply because there were a couple of tracks that I didn’t particularly relate to (on the musical style part of it), But especially some of the words to the song “Tiphareth” really built me up.

This also inspired me to create some more little artistic pieces in my journal. On the left side, a dark, hopeless background, with a heart that had been completely bandaged up, a few bloody spots here and there across it. (Oh, wait, pause: I should mention that I had done another heart art piece before this, and it had big tears and breaks in which music and dance resided. In the art piece, those tears were stitched together with the greenery of plants as well as gold, in a Japanese kintsugi-inspired way. I had made that a week ago. I had no idea that I’d want to make a heart series later!) I knew that the lyrics from “Tiphareth” at the beginning fit this well:

“I said goodnight for a long time…
…I was not all right.”

The most interesting part of crafting this is when I took old torn shreds of book pages and began pasting them over the heart to make the bandages. At the bottom, the words “Aber soll ich” (But should I?) showed up, and to the far left, where music and its deep wound was in my first bit of heart art, the word “Gefängnis” (prison). Yep, that about sums it up. I have been holding myself in a prison of what my life and my musical self should be, while second guessing every single aspect of what I think I *should* do with my life. Art synchronicities strike again!

Later, the song grows more hopeful, and it plays on that same kintsugi concept that I had been using in the last two art entries of my art journal.

“Light up my heart
Brighter than my dark
‘Till all my scars
Shine like stars
Cast in gold
Endless gold”

I don’t know why, but this somehow opened something up in me and helped me transmute the years of shadow work I’ve been working away on oh-so-diligently. It has been a magnificent thing to behold. I look forward to seeing what the future holds, now that I have more than a crumb of energy and that which seems like the possibility of hope. (Probably why I wrote “Cross my heart, hope to fly” at the bottom.)

Much gratitude to selki girl for this album. ⭐

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Not for everybody.

I recently concluded that intensive study of astrology is not for everyone.

I have, in the past, envied those with encyclopedic and detailed knowledge of such heavenly studies. And I wanted to try to learn more after seeing the wondrous synchronicities some medical astrologists have revealed from a simple natal chart study. Despite my long-term efforts, I had to let go.

I’ve done this in the past with studies of other disciplines. After putting in so much effort and feeling like I turn into a combustible powder keg of resentment from the lack of returns, I needed to recognize that it’s not for everybody.

In a similar vein, I’m getting more comfortable with the fact that I’m not for everybody, either. To some, my music, my artwork, my personality, my feeling that I just can’t be bothered to put up much of a façade when interacting with anyone…all of that is too weird, too awkward, too much….or, more likely, not enough.

There will always be those who don’t seem to get along.

And there are those who are out there looking for the weirdo that is you. Or me.

I guess this is a reminder to fly that freak flag without the worry of offending others. We’re not meant for everyone. But our authentic selves are needed and sought out by some.

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“Be kind” – it applies to interactions with oneself, too!

The beginning of this quarantine was beautiful. I had enough time to spend by myself and recharge. I could get a lot of things done. I didn’t have pesky BS events taking up my time. So I luxuriated at home. Sleeping in, cooking good food as slowly as I wanted.

For the most part, I still feel pretty good about it. However, there have been numerous occasions in which I learned to what severe degree that I am my worst enemy. In the first week, I noticed I reverted back to eating-disorder-in-poverty mode, consuming a breakfast smoothie and little else daily. I snapped out of that once I recognized it.

Then I realized how many restrictions I put on myself because I’m not deserving in some way or another. Even though I thought I had been good with gentle, good-for-me physical movement, I found that I’m still very much all or nothing. Because I’ve been struggling with loose joints, I either wouldn’t do much in the way of daily movement because it was too wussy or gentle to make a difference, or I’d go all in and do the hardest workout I could muster, because my fat body needed that. Clearly, I’m dealing with food and dysmorphia issues that I didn’t realize were still there.

More generally, even before the quarantine, I’ve been beating myself up over past choices. Why on earth did I ever major in music? Why did I ever think that would work? Why didn’t I go into a more stable field that wasn’t about just barely getting by?

And this does tie back in to the prior entry I wrote about being okay with just being. Some days, I love and embrace that hard. Other days, I’m less than kind with myself and I harass myself over past choices and failures.

Of course, the “be kind” advisory is especially important for us to remember when interacting with essential workers, strangers, and loved ones. But part of that is also to be kind to ourselves. It is clear I need to face a lot of internalized self-hatred and transmute it into healthier approaches. I wanted to share the beginning of this process with myself, in the event that you have found you do something similar. Be kind to yourself, too, for you’ve punished yourself for far too long.

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