“Here, at the age of 39, I began to be old…”

I revisited Brideshead Revisited last night and was struck, more deeply than usual, by Waugh’s opening line:

“Here, at the age of 39, I began to be old…”

Why did this opening line stand out?  I’ve been trying to find the right quote, the right words to help me reflect on my current dip into anxiety after the vulnerability hangover took over a while back.  It’s not letting up.

My body has rebelled, or more accurately, my chakras are screaming!  Or even more accurately, or what comforts me to focus on, is that my sacral and throat chakras are in dire need of attention apparently!

My lower back was thrown out last Friday and refuses to ease.  Ah, it’s the old dance injury, familiar worries about money, embracing transitions, change, re-experiencing triggers.  And my old wound is acting up (an old left parotid gland/facial nerve tumor issue)- so scratching my left ear feels like I’m scratching my cheek.  Running my tongue along my upper teeth on the left side, pausing at the missing tooth, is interpreted as my lower jaw.  It’s all familiar.  It’s nothing new.  Benign.  But important.  Just old friends encouraging me to pay attention.

So why does the Waugh quote feel like the right words?  

“Here, at the age of 39, I began to be old…”

What does it have to do with aches and pains and anxiety?

The quote brought me right back to my 39th birthday, when I began to be old.  It was the turning point.  I experienced an intense, earth-shattering betrayal.  The wound was deep, great, painful.  It was different from other losses and experiences.  It attacked the very core where my innocent inner self was housed.

When a strong trigger strikes now, it opens that wound in the heart.

It’s a falling back into darkness.  It’s the place I am forced to go, to huddle and shake and decide how to utilize this in my personal journey.

On my 39th birthday, truth came out and I was exposed.  

Vulnerable, raw.  I began to be old.   Of course, so much more has happened before and since, but that experience stands out as the turning point into adulthood.

It fascinates me that as I look back on my journals and see where my anxiety/depression is at its height (or my energy at its lowest if you will)- it is after I have been exposed.  Or am exposing myself to the world.

Risking.  Risking failure.  Thus the vulnerability hangover.

Recall posts:

ANX·I·E·TY /ANGˈZĪ-ITĒ/ August 20, 2011

DIH-PRESH-UHN November 13, 2011

We all struggle.  And I send out love to all who are struggling right now.  

Check out articles shared on FB:

Thank you, Patti, for this one:

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Thank you, Margot, for this one:

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And so…

There, at the age of 39, I began to be old.

And I have journeyed through.  I accept my struggles, accept that life is a rollercoaster of triggers and emotions.  But I am HERE.  Strong, vulnerable, able, fragile, triggered, achy, anxious, a woman trying her best, a very very human being.

What do I do with all this info, lessons, tools, self-care, evaluations, experiences, wisdom etc.?

Well, here, at the age of 53, I decide I am wise.  And ready.

Yes, today is a new day.  I’ll wrap up the old wounds.  Lengthen my spine, listen to the birds, and revel in the theme of of this month [thepowerpath.com].

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Frida Kahlo and Bird
Frida and the Robin [a personal art therapy tool is to pick up a china marker and simply draw out the anxiety]
 Recall: Pay Attention to the Birds: American Robin

The robin brings a fresh new perspective to situations that are otherwise foggy and unclear. Try calling on robin energy for clarity when your judgement is clouded or when you need light shed on an issue.

The red robin reminds us it’s time to shake the sleepiness out of our head (both figuratively and literally), get alert, get moving, and start enjoying life! Spring has sprung, tides have turned, and no matter how crummy or grey our world has been it is time for new beginnings! Enjoy the bright road ahead because it’s only going to get brighter! [source]

And so, the vulnerability shakes set in…

Hi.

As you may know, I’ve been fully immersed in process in the last month or so- working on my book presentation for my agent to shop around, and I have LOVED the process, trying to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.  Exciting to be at the next stage.  Ready to share.  So ready.  But let’s be honest- there is still a safety in the preparation.  The not quite ready for prime time mode.  The holding back to get it right.

Safety because it is still just mine.

And I’ve been enjoying working full days in my PJ’s and torn cardigan and worn out socks, wearing a scarf made by a dear friend, counting “pennies” (nickels now I guess), eating “poverty sandwiches” (which are very tasty, by the way- rye bread from No Frills, toasted, with No Name mayo, Spike spice and a generous topping of spinach leaves).

But the time had to come.

Shit or get off the pot.  So finally releasing the private presentation, sharing with a particular list of people for feedback, has been liberating and exhilarating.  But there it is… UGH… the old vulnerability hangover, as Brené Brown calls it.

The shakes.

What does it look like from in here?

Do this for me- wrap yourself completely in a blanket, preferably in a room with a window, preferably daytime, so it’s bright out.  Huddle in a sitting position or lie down- now just expose one eye.  Look to the light.

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Look out at the world from this place.  Listen to the loud beating of your heart and feel the acidic pit in your lower abdomen.  The endless self-attacks and doubt.  That’s pretty much me right now- or my frame of mind at least.  Oh yes, I know, I know, I KNOW that

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

I have done so much self-work, and gathered so much support around me, yet the racing mind is back.  Oh my God, what have I done?   The what-if questions.  The fear of failure.

Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound. – William Goldman

So what has happened since I started sharing the presentation?

The feedback has been incredibly positive.  Wow.

Truly!

And I’ve tried to share with a wide variety of reader types.  And I’ve received some great and valuable suggestions, which I am working on today.  And I have the greatest support from my agent.

But I want to be real about this feeling.  It is SCARY.

It’s the life of the artist.  Or just simply the human condition, I suppose.

I’ve got to take my own hand and pull myself out of this, if I truly want it.

Do I want this?  All that lies ahead- even if what lies ahead is HUGE AND GREAT?!  

Yes!

I look to my guides.  What are they saying, experiencing?

Aligning with this cosmic energy and really feeling my vulnerability and frailty. Embracing it and being clear for it so I can properly navigate it and not cause any added self suffering is challenging but I’m determined to ride this spiral wave into the depths of my own insecurities and come out with a renewed perspective centered on gratitude and a deeper sense of self love. I know there is a divine reason for being this empathically sensitive to everything around me. Sending love out to anyone being challenged right now with loneliness or feelings of unworthiness and to anyone being tempted by old cycles that don’t serve their highest selves. We really are in this together, all connected, all one, so I know I’m not alone when I feel this way. Blessings to us all. Faith, love, community, and courage will get us through this! Through anything! One love! – Terry Tsipouras, November 29, 2015

Ah, Terry.  Ok- that makes me feel understood!  Terry Tsipouras always posts the most soul-touching wisdom just when I need it the most. Deep gratitude for this magical human being!

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So I take off the blanket:

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Gather the affirmations!

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent van Gogh

I look to the birds!  The herons are back on the roofs on neighboring buildings.

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Head high!  Invite it in!  Be ready!  Enjoy!

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INNER CRITIC series part 1 of 6: RANT! #journalexercise

I have visited and revisited the inner critic here on my blog again and again.  The inner critic is a good friend of mine.  And also a pain in the ass.

Recall the journal exercises in  “TAMING THE INNER CRITIC” JOURNAL EXERCISE REVISITED

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But the inner critic is always worth a revisit.  I’ve been mulling over this particular journaling series and weighing what it is I’d like to share with you and why.  And to do it in a new way.  So I have broken the series into 6 parts:

1. RANT

2. JUDGE

3. INVESTIGATE

4. CAUTERIZE

5. TEASE

6. EMBRACE

Each exercise starts with ajournal entry and/or mindmap.  Then we look at the emotions that come up as we share openly.  I encourage you to experiment by sharing your thoughts in the comments here.  Share your rants and judgements.  Judge me freely; judge yourself.  It’s all good.  Let’s demystify.  Let’s take off the mask.  Let’s remove the hesitation.

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INNER CRITIC series part 1 of 6: RANT:

As always I share myself here freely.  This was a rant I wrote on the weekend.  I was going to delete it.  Was going to cross it out.  But instead, in the spirit of allowing me to VOICE what churns inside, I will share it.  Then in the spirit of this exercise, I will share the emotions that come up for me.

JOURNAL EXERCISE: RANT WITHOUT HESITATION.  DON’T WORRY ABOUT AUDIENCE. OR ABOUT COMING OFF AS ENTITLED OR WHATEVER.  EXPRESS FREELY.  LET THE UGLY OUT.

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MY JOURNAL ENTRY (unedited):

Do we always need to let go?  To trust the universe?  I’m kind of sick of it, honestly.  All this accepting, trusting, allowing.

Yet I am also tired of fighting for what I am worth and tired of trying again.  Tired of the signals that want to prove to me I am incapable.  Tired of talking.  Tired of digging deep.

Tired of this:

“Here’s another idea.  Let’s try this.  Oh, it didn’t work?  That’s OK.  Let it go.  You tried too hard.  Let it unfold.”

BLAH

Why does a watched pot never boil?  BOIL DAMMIT.

Or maybe this all means, I actually haven’t dug deep enough.  Tried enough.  I’ve been digging.  I’ve been trying.  But maybe I’ve been too much of a pussy.  Maybe  I have no idea how to let go. Maybe I don’t really believe I am worth more than $1800/month.   Asch.  BLAH BLAH BLAH.

In 2015, I want to MAKE MONEY.  I want to be able to say- wow- I deserve this for I believe I am worth this and my bank account reflects that.  

I don’t want my current salary to be the proving of my theorem that I am incapable of being paid more.  I don’t want to depend on my kids.  I don’t want to check the mail box anymore for hopes of scraps.  I no longer want to be proven that “you know, really, creative arts and youth work don’t deserve to receive more- yeah… you do great things, but isn’t the goodness of it the real reward?”  I don’t want to hear about budgets and lack there of.  I don’t want accolades for work well done while still having my heart in my throat about not being able to pay the rent.

I don’t want to chase.  I want it to come to me.  I don’t want to ask.  I want to receive!

I KNOW WE ALL STRUGGLE.  I don’t want anyone to struggle.  I know the world is a beautiful and horrifying place.

Yet, stop.  

I remember to breathe.  To pat myself on the back for journaling it out.  To remind myself to trust, allow, expand…

Ah, fuck it.  What do I know?

I look around and am reminded of my beautiful, messy creative life.  I savour it.  You know, I love that I am a messy creative that struggles.  I love that I affect people positively as they awaken to their own possibilities.

I wouldn’t change anything about the journey that brings me to this moment.

OK, breathe.  I am grateful.  But I’ll just go check the mailbox one more time.

EMOTIONS THAT RESULT AS YOU REVIEW : WHAT COMES UP FOR YOU AS YOU READ BACK?  WE WILL ADDRESS THESE IN PART 2.

MY EMOTIONS:

• Self-blame

• Shame

• Anger

• Laughter

• Empowerment

• Embarrassment

REMINDER:

You are worth of love and belonging.
You are worth of love and belonging.

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Inside Out: youth empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

I am so excited to be part of this incredible project inspired by my hero JR:

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MOUNTAINSIDE SECONDARY: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey

Youth-run initiative using the vehicle of portrait photography and street art to learn life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

THEMES: Connection and Empowerment

CO-FACILITATORS: IAN POWELL, KAT THORSEN

Pilot Project: September 30, 2014- October 30, 2014

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Mountainside Secondary School (MSS) is the North Vancouver School Districts smallest and newest secondary school, meeting the Ministry of Education requirements for funding as an Alternative School (BCEDAlternate Program Policy).

MSS functions as part of the continuum of social/emotional/behavioural supports that are available to all students at all secondary schools in the NVSD, and targets students in Grades 9-12 (ages 14-19).
MSS aims to allow for varied and alternate pathways to graduation (80 credit or Adult) or School Completion, and beyond.

MSS Core Values

  • Mutual respect
  • Genuine relationships
  • Flexibility
  • Choice
  • Individual accountability
  • Community Connections
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TEST SHOOT, INTERSECTIONS MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH SOCIETY, 2013-2014 (including Mountainside students/alumni)

We are proud to be part of the global art initiative INSIDE OUT PROJECT founded by JR:

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As mentioned, we are part of a global art initiative founded by French street artist JR, winner of the 2011 Ted Talk Prize.  Our project is called: The Inside Out Project- Own Your Journey.

As they work through the curriculum, the students will be gaining some valuable life and transferable skills.

We use TED TALKS to inspire and to induce dialogue and self-reflection around the theme.

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Student journal entry

When you try to be yourself there will be people who will put you down. You grow up looking up to people and not knowing who you are and being told what to do and what not to do. We all deal with pain in different ways- some do it in a sad way. Having to live in a world where judging a person we don’t even know is a good way to make yourself feel better, or even judging a person makes ‘cool.’ But in the end we are all on this earth for a reason ans we should all love ourselves the way we are and respect all of our good qualities and get rid of all the negative, cruelty thoughts. – student journal entry

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We are registering our project with JR’s site on Tuesday! And our unique angle is that it is a youth run project and that by addressing their own vulnerability by connecting w people/community through portrait photography, the youth, in turn, empower the subject to feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of the camera!
The project will culminate in a large outdoor installation in the Spring.  A documentary and a behind the scenes short film will also be produced!

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Co-facilitator Ian Powell and his dog, Finnegan!

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STAY TUNED FOR OUR FUNDRAISER TO HELP US WITH PRINTING COSTS AND PROGRAM EXPANSION!!!

Source: The Music Empowers Foundation
Source: The Music Empowers Foundation