bare

IMG_20160301_095142 I read an article recently that recommended walking with bare feet.  I’ve been dutifully trotting outside each morning while I wait for my coffee to brew and walking on the little gravel patch on the side of the house.

Back and forth.  Bare legs.  Bare arms.  Bare feet.

The rocks are hard and cold on my tender feet.  It hurts.  I feel the nerves in my legs responding and muscles contracting.  I feel where I am unstable and where I overcompensate. It’s fascinating and disturbing but answers some questions about my body.  Doing this makes me feel very vulnerable.  I become aware of things I need to change and of the temporal nature of life.  It’s also making me feel stronger and more alive, day by day.

I’m finding that love is a lot like this.

Continue reading “bare”

bricolage project day 20 [Artemisia]

Today’s randomly-chosen word is Artemisia as in the Warrior Queen and comes from The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz.  I really love that my finger landed on this name rather than a more mundane word because I love her story!  In fact, I might weave her story into the play I’m writing with my daughter.   This has been the biggest gift of the Bricolage Project thus far:  Not only allowing me to stretch creatively but also helping me see how my gifts, interests, and the mysterious synchronicities in life are woven together, how they inform one another.

Today’s post is informed by writing this at 1:30 this morning:

I awakened from a dream.  No, I was the dream.  I awakened with blood between my legs but didn’t want to get up.  I wanted to feel it there.  This could be my last blood.  It has been three months since my last.  I want to cherish it.  Put it in a cup.  Paint with it.  Feel its stickiness on my fingers.  Smell it.

So I drifted back to sleep and began to hear their voices.  The voice of my friend Courtnee talking about women who are losing their lives and having their fertility taken from them shortly after their first blood.  She was like a wraith in my dream.  Haunting but not unwelcome.

In my dream I go upstairs and encounter a woman who was coming out of our bathroom.  I know her from work and she talks about how important it is that we talk about all of it as women—all of our bodily functions including our bleeding time.  That we need to be acknowledged for our earthiness.

I know this is in response to him saying he thinks women should hide things like farts and burps, that’s it’s not “feminine”.  Fuck that noise.  I’m not interesting in hiding parts of myself.

I woke up again a few hours later with more blood pooled underneath me.  Yes, I’m writing about this because it’s a beautiful part of my life and my heritage and I truly will miss it when it’s gone.  Maybe it’s shameless.  Maybe I don’t care.

Shame is pretty overrated.

When I ended up choosing the word Artemisia this morning and reading about her I thought about how it must have been for her, a warrior queen, to be commanding a ship.  Her fierce heart but soft body with a moon cycle to deal with.  Did she also wake up in a pool of blood?  How did she handle it?  I feel so connected to women and to the earth when I’m bleeding and, as my therapist pointed out this afternoon, it’s also a beautiful reminder of the gift of giving birth to two beautiful girls.

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This piece is an assemblage that uses a page from a sketchbook that I created in Larry Calkins’ class at Pratt several years ago and some more recent items including a perfect crow feather I found while walking to therapy today and this morning’s fresh blood.

Today’s quote comes from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés from her audiobook Seeing in the Dark.  I was listening to it in the quiet of the morning today and realized it contains the intention of this piece and the entire Bricolage Project quite well:

“For most artists, they do create out of angst but they don’t sit in the complaint and the condemnation.  They create their way of out if they draw it, they paint it, they write it about it, they dance it, they sculpt it, they do any number of things to express what has happened…so that others will be protected and healed also.  That is one of the greatest ideas that I know behind the creative force is that you use every disappointment…everything is used to create from.  Taking all that is in shadow or the feelings that we don’t belong.

Of course we belong.  Of course we can create out of darkness.”

Yes we do and yes we can.

bricolage project day 15 [result]

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Today’s random word, result, comes from Archetypes & Strange Attractors:  The Chaotic World of Symbols by John R. Van Eenwyk who I had the pleasure of hearing speak at Antioch University Seattle many years ago.  Because I love the text so much, it serves nicely as today’s quote:

“As we now turn to the diachronic process of individuation, bear in mind that psychological growth occurs as a result of tensions, especially those between opposites, in the psyche.  Among these are conflict and resolution” (p. 31).

Isn’t that reassuring?  All of that delicious tension is helping us grow!  Reminds me of the Degenerate Art Ensemble exhibit I saw at the Frye Art Museum in 2011.   There was a video of dancers embodying creation.  I think it was a bird coming out of an egg or perhaps a seed bursting through the earth to kiss the light.  I just remember it felt inherently violent.   Like the dance , our ego’s relationship to to our complexes creates this tension that help us grow into a bigger version of ourselves.  Without integration we continue to repeat patterns that keep us stuck.  Without shadow, we don’t learn.

I’ve often described my own process as “dancing with my shadow” because that’s how it feels. I don’t let it rule my life but I am aware of it.  I certainly see it mirrored back to me and have learned to tend and befriend these various aspects of myself.  When I was creating today’s bricolage, I did the painting that you see (the black ink in the left margin was done by dipping a dried rose in ink, btw.  I love how it turned out!) then made a cut out of a little angle/devil creature.  I thought it would be fun to have her dance around as a shadow instead of placing a static piece inside the frame.  I ended up painting with shadow.  I did all of that before choosing the word and subsequent quote.  I love synchronicity!

I made a little video of it just for fun.  Painting with shadow.

Working on this project has drawn me deeper inside myself into the deep quiet.  I’m feeling and seeing life more geometrically and have been finding my way to far more authenticity.  It’s as though life is saying, “It’s okay.  Just be you,” so I am.  Messy.  Experimental.  Playful.  Intense.  Present.  Growing.

bricolage project day 12 [know]

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Today’s random word is know and comes from Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience.   I’ve been pondering gender identity lately.  There’s been a lot coming out about toxic masculinity and the harm it causes.  I’ve been noticing where this lives in my own heart and trying to make sense of my own feelings about being a woman in today’s world trying to love fully and raise daughters.  Trying to make sense of how to be more trusting but also discerning with men.  

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I have tinkered with this piece for days.  I’ve been really struggling with some issues related to gender identity, intimacy, anger about the senseless violence and pain, and the serious injustice that is going on in my country right now.  It can drag a girl down, you know?  When I told my daughter about my contempt for humanity the other day (it was fleeting but strong), she wisely put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Have you written about it yet?”  In truth, I hadn’t because I knew that all that would come out was bile at that moment so I kept pouring my frustrations into this piece.  I moved all the elements around many times.  Left it on my desk.  Came back to it.  Used the tweezers on my eyebrows then put them back in the frame.  Tinkering with identity.  Thinking about how we’re all in drag in some way.  So much pretending and posturing.  So many walls built around ourselves to protect our most vulnerable, precious selves.

Then I talked with him for a long time.  He wanted to understand.  He asked a lot questions and did a lot listening.  I felt much more peaceful.  More raw and more real.  It was like being cleansed in some glacial river.  I felt clean and clear and so very human.   Much less anxious.

This morning, I saw this poignant video with Junot Diaz this morning talking about the culture of silence that exists within the Patriarchal construct.  Watch it, then keep reading below…

This idea that if we don’t talk about it, it’s not hurting us is so absurd and frankly I’m very weary of it.  I’ve been the one to broach uncomfortable topics many times.  This can make a person unpopular.  I once had a lover say I was “toxic” because I spoke my truth.   I didn’t speak it in a mean way, not shaming or blaming, just saying what was true for me and asking for what I needed.  That hurt me deeply and shut my heart down for quite some time.  I have since begun to realize that male fragility comes from this toxic masculine environment in which we’ve all been raised and, while I have compassion for that, I am also a strong advocate for personal responsibility.  What we’re not imagining is that men are killing women because they won’t say yes and countless other people are being verbally and emotionally abused by this toxicity.    That shit is real.  David J. Schwartz does a great job of articulating what this is like for men in this article titled Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder:  Breaking Down the Nerd Box.   He unpacks how the way our culture creates heirarchy by labeling what it means to “be a man” that ultimately hurts everyone.  He owns his own part in this in a most glorious way that other men can follow:

But surely the Box, that construct built by others as much as by ourselves, that little prison we started building to protect ourselves from things we didn’t even understand yet, the invisible walls that keep us from being vulnerable enough to make connections and train us to see every approach as an assault—surely that can go. Surely we can recognize that as the source of so much of our tension and anxiety.

Because I’m open about my own process and fears, a woman recently asked me about navigating the world of online dating and asked what to do if she’s not interested in someone.  She was worried about hurting their feelings.  I said, “Ignore them.   Their feelings are not your responsibility.”  She told me how liberating that was.  That it was a revolutionary idea to her.

Think about that.  It’s revolutionary to realize that, as a woman, we don’t have to care for every, living thing.  We can care for ourselves.  Stake a claim for our own happiness.  Think about our own interests and take action on our own behalf.  We’re often afraid to do this because of the tremendous push back we get for doing so not just by men but by other women.   I found when I saying yes when I meant no so many times, I ended up feeling shattered and resentful.  By walking through the fire of learning how to say no or just not saying anything and dealing with the heat of that, I’ve learned to honor my own needs.

One thing I know for sure:  I did not come here to live inside someone else’s construction of reality.  I’ve learned to curate my life, to invite in what I wish for and what my heart most needs.  Instead of accepting the bad behavior of  pouty, petulant boys, I am inviting in the bold and vulnerable hearts of men who are doing their work and willing to walk alongside me while I do mine.  That’s what discernment brings.  That’s what love really is.  It’s not a game of power.  It’s a process of opening.

As Diaz says in the video, “Who doesn’t want intimacy?  Who doesn’t want to connect with a partner profoundly?”  I so agree with that and in order to do this, I’m realizing that I have to take responsibility for my own happiness so I can.  That starts with not engaging in conversation where someone is arguing with my feelings while I’m listening deeply to theirs.  I’ve had a lifetime of that.  Somehow working on this Bricolage Project is helping me understand these things.  Surrendering to the process and paying attention is showing me how much I have been operating from my wounded animal self and is helping me imagine something different and wow, am I liking it!

Today he said to me, “I don’t want to turn you away for any reason. Everything you offer is something I want.”

Imagine that.

bricolage project day 9 [gentle]

Tonight’s entry is very late in coming.  I’ve been talking with him for hours.  And he’s been listening.  A different kind of listening than I’m used to.  He wanted to understand.  What a remarkable experience.

I’m not surprised then, that tonight’s randomly-chosen word, from the Delta of Venus by Anais Nin is gentle.  My heart being touched so gently and with such wisdom is new for me.  It felt like this.

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Today was a “no rule” day.  I worked on the piece all day off and on.   I have many things that bubbled up but as I was working but I’m not ready to write about them yet so I’ll just share a quote from Carl Jung.

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.