AND THE WINNER IS!!!!
Congratulations, Ursula! I have sent your details to Kara! xo
I am so excited to announce that I am going to be a guest teacher in LET’S FACE IT 2017! In case you are unfamiliar with this course, it is a year-long, online, art class created and hosted by Kara Bullock, devoted to creating portraits! It is for any level: beginning, intermediate, and advanced.
The 2017 Let’s Face It class has a BRAND NEW line up of amazing teachers, and FIVE new areas of focus, with some other exciting EXTRAS, too! This year, Kara is joined by 19, AMAZING, guest teachers! You will not believe this line up! Together, we will be giving you 50 weeks of lessons that will continue to encourage and support you along your creative journey that you are
on! Come and join us! Together we will connect, collaborate and create!
To find out more about LET’S FACE IT click on this link! Registration opens on October 10th, and If you register by December 1st, you will get an "EARLY BIRD" discount!
AND GUESS WHAT! I'm giving away a free spot!
To enter this give-away:
I will announce the winner TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2016.
There is this absolutely amazing series on the History channel (also available through iTunes) that has completely shattered any shame I might have had about my feelings about human connection. I no longer feel any shame - like zero - about loving, wanting, desiring, or longing for human connection. I feel no shame for missing the people that matter to me, despite decades long conditioning to believe that doing so was somehow unhealthy or overdramatic.
Loving people is the common thread that unites MOST of us, and this show proved that to me.
Let me explain.
Some of the people that I've come into contact with (read: love) seem to have very poor esteem/lack of understanding for those of us who need other people. They appear to view this need as pitiful, laughable, or as a weakness. And I have had first hand experience with certain people who I've witnessed responding to other people's dependency on others with something that looked to my admittedly biased, untrained eye like derision. There appeared to be some pity, some disbelief, and some shaking of the head, bafflement & even confusion. If I'm being honest, there appeared to be a bit of a sneer for the pathetic human who was crying from feeling the ache of loneliness we all feel when we've been alone for a time.
I'm not naming any names, but this is a true story.
I was sitting on the couch in my apartment with someone I love very, very deeply, who has professed to love me deeply, but who doesn't desire my lifestyle of connectedness, relationship, and commitment. Don't ask me why I was hanging out with him. I just was, because stupid, and also hopelessly in love, and also competely oblivious to our irreconcilable differences *up until that point*.
We were hanging out, as humans do, watching the show. I'd suggested it as something said person would really love, and of course, I was right, but there was this thing - this earthshatteringly horrible thing, to which I'd been previously oblivious - that became evident over our shared enjoyment of the show.
During Season One, Episode Nine, a cast member expressed deep longing for his person.
My person-who-is-not-willing-to-be-my-person turned to me with a look of such disbelief on his face that I felt it as though I'd been slapped in the face.
This person, this beloved of mine, seemed to be unable to relate to the cast member's longing for their person *at all*. They wore a look that bordered on scorn on their face as the cast member spoke openly, beautifully, vulnerably about the way he had to *force himself* not to think about his love because doing so was too painful for him to bear.
Being who I am, and feeling the tension rise between us, I turned to my beloved and said "Look, you attach differently from other people. I get it, but this is how the rest of us attach. We miss each other. We long for each other. When we love someone, we ache to be with them."
He nodded, thoughtfully, and then said:
"It would be different if I knew for certain that I would never see that person again, but otherwise..." and he kind of shook his head and trailed off.
Meanwhile, I kind of scuttled off into the corner of the other end of the couch because I felt a little bit like I was in the presence of another species - one that could not possibly begin to understand the depth of my feelings about loss, love, longing, desire, and attachment.
I didn't want this moment of clarity. It was completely unwelcome. But it came on, and it came on like most true things do. Like a sledge hammer. Without mercy. And with no way back from knowing.
Here's the thing.
I don't get people that don't miss people. I don't. I don't get people that could go off into the wilderness for more than a few days without starting to feel longing like a motherfucking razor blade in the guts. Some of my children live in other cities from me, and some live in other provinces. Some live right here in the city I occupy. I miss them. I feel it daily. I cope with it, because one must cope if one is to live with the reality that one's loved ones can't always be present, but I *feel* it all the same.
I miss the people I love. I miss *my* people.
I *hope* I'll see them again (if the fates are kind), but that isn't promised, and I know that. Having lost people I loved (my sister, my first husband, my father, friends I loved, friends I didn't know well at all, but grew to love from a distance) to suicide, illness, and the mysterious randomness of the universe, I have learned not take their presence in my life for granted.
I may never see you again. The last words I utter in your general direction may very well be the very last words you ever hear me utter. I may die with everything unspoken. You may die before I have my chance to speak what needs to be spoken.
I live with this every day of my life.
You know? If you've lost someone, you know.
This is the unbearable lightness of our being. It is brief. It is not guaranteed. It comes with no promises or contracts, and while I am taking a two hour bath with my phone off, something catastrophic could *absolutely* happen that would mean that I will spend the rest of my life missing someone who had *no idea* I would miss them except that I did my very level best to ensure that they knew that I would completely fucking miss them.
If you know who I'm talking about, you'll know the absolute stunning, awful swiftness of that dear love's departure from our lives. One day, she was administrating my groups beautifully, and the next, she was dead. Gone forever.
It is a teensy, tiny consolation to me that the last thing I ever said to her was "You matter to me."
Because she did.
And I wanted her to know.
That kind of consciousness - the fully, deeply experienced awareness that we are here and then erased as though we never existed - has the power to make you really fucking crazy, or really fucking awake, and in my case, I think it's made me awake. It's made me awake, and it's made me very particular about how I treat the people I love.
I want them to know they matter. I want to be certain of that. I want them to never question for a second that I thought about them all the time, that when they weren't around, I missed them, and that they were wanted, loved, valued...
That guy on Alone, Day 9, missing his wife with an unbearable visceral longing that was only eased by the thought of bringing home a lifetime's worth of abundance *to her*, *for her* is my fucking hero. I get him.
The guy that wanted his dad to be proud of him, who took the adventure on with a full-throated, unabashed devotion to making his dad proud; he's my hero, too.
The guy that said, with tears in his eyes, "It makes you wonder if the people that you love really know how much you love them..." before he shut his camera off because the moment had become too big for him, too vulnerable to share - he's my hero.
The woman in season 2 who went home because she felt her children tugging at her sleeve from across a continent. The man who asked "What good is all of this if there is no one to share it with?". The one who said out loud that he had everything except his wife...and then went home because fuck it. He wanted, loved, missed HIS WIFE.
And the guy who quit second to last because he realized that nothing meant anything without his partner, and the one who hung in there long after his body screamed for relief because he wanted to become the YES MAN to his beloved children at whom he'd always had to chant the words "Sorry" and "NO".
Purveyors of hope.
Shining beacons of light in my dark, dark night of the soul.
There is a lot of social shaming around needing and/or wanting to be coupled up/connected, but I think that's fear talking. You hear me? I think the way we talk about being too awesome to be bothered about whether we are loved or not, accepted or not, alone or not, is unadulterated bullshit the majority of the time.
This show really proved that to me.
We are nothing without the ones we love. Nothing. Without our attachment to those we love, our lives go un-witnessed. There is no meaning in them. We exist merely to eat, sleep, shit, and die. We give nothing. We receive nothing. Maybe we do good work that pays our bills (if we're lucky) but unless we're curing cancer or discovering something completely, stratospherically, mindblowingly brand new, our names will be forgotten within months, if not days, of our inevitable death. The name on the product is completely, utterly forgettable. There is a huge difference between the time and energy you invested in accomplishing accolades for shit that will never really matter to anyone but you and maybe someone else's bottom line vs. the gentle, soft gratitude of a loved one who saw what you did there, and loved you for it. Huge.
And that is my bottom line.
Love the ones you love in the verb sense of the word. Do it. Make sure they know, and if they aren't certain, figure out how to make them certain.
Because there will be nothing you will regret more than their dying without knowing how much you loved them. There will be nothing that weighs as heavily on them as your lightweight, half-assed, lick and a promise. There will be nothing you will wish to take back as much as your unresponsiveness to those who loved you best.
But then, I guess you'd have to really care for any of that to matter.
Anyway, Alone. Seasons 1 & 2. Listen to what these people are really saying about what matters, and you might find yourself broken wide open.
My epic weekend of fun things began last night at the KW Boathouse with a show. I've seen Jackets a few times in the last couple of years and I always try to go out when they come to town. There's something about their music that's strangely nostalgic for me, despite the fact that these guys could be my kids. They sound like something I might have heard at a house party my parents might have thrown. Their music is laced through with something bluesy, folksy, something slightly psychedelic.
They rocked my night, and if I hadn't been up at seven yesterday morning, I would have stayed for the whole show, because I was snuggling with a guy who uses words like Effyness and Museability. My whole heart wanted to stay, basking in the warmth of the kind of touch & attention I am not accustomed to receiving, but my body demanded sleep, so I obeyed. I trust that there will be more snuggling, more banter, more of the same, so I can let it go in favour of the things my body insists I need. Rest. Arms and legs akimbo, laying diagonally in my queen sized bed, taking up every inch of space. Deep sleep. When you know there's more, you don't have to cling.
Anyway. Jackets. Here they are, though, for your listening pleasure. :)
In Other News
I'm making a beef stew today and having a friend over for The Tragically Hip concert. We were going to head out and enjoy the live stream at a public event, but the forecast is calling for more thunder and lightening, and having been caught in the deluge last night on my way home, I'd rather avoid any more dousing. Home, with candles lit and nag champa burning. Home, with someone who never needs an explanation, never needs the backstory, never needs context to understand exactly what I'm thinking or feeling. We're not supposed to be hanging out like this, really, because its complicated, but fuck it. Life is short. I'm looking forward to it.
I hope you have a blessed weekend, and I don't mean that easy, hand waving kind of 'blessed' that people tend to throw around these days. I mean that I hope you find beauty & meaning in the hidden pockets of your hours. I hope you find something worth remembering in among the ordinary, unremarkable moments. I hope you love someone fiercely, and that they love you back. I hope the divine touches you on the back of the neck and makes your hair rise *at least once*. I hope there's poetry in it. Or maybe, song. I hope there's pleasure in it. I hope there is pride in the work of your hands, be they engaged in art making or bread making. I hope you know your own worth, and that when you catch sight of your reflection, you smile with your whole heart beaming out of your eyes at that extraordinarily beautiful person looking back at you.
It's one of my core beliefs that we're all in this together. I may not understand your particular way of being in the world, but I know I don't have to understand to love you. I may even feel occasionally affronted by some of the things you do or say, but I after that feeling passes, I want you to know that what remains is deep affection & devotion for OUR humanity.
We are all just walking each other home. Ram Dass said that, and when I found myself reading it, I nodded my head so vigorously in agreement that I cracked my neck. It was one of those TRUE THINGS, the Internet as oracle, that comes across my feed now and then, that makes me exhale in a soundless, goose-bump raising OHHHHHHHyessssss. and I took it, claimed it, tucked away in my collection of things I know to be true.
I love thinking this way (after I've finished doing the work of feeling those first feelings we feel when someone pisses us off or behaves in ways that we find difficult to deal with). I love knowing that we all get caught in the same storms. We are all breathing the same air. We all look up at the same moon, and our lives are sustained by the same life giving sun.
The divine is present, all around us, within us, always, known by ten thousand names, dancing to whatever tunes we play for Her, wearing whatever costume might be appropriate given the occasion. (I'm paraphrasing Victor Anderson here.)
I may not necessarily recognize your version of divine, and you will probably not recognize mine. Mine exists in the way my body moves when the Jackets play. It exists in the beef stew I'm preparing, and in the hands that are preparing it, and in the body that it nourishes and sustains. It exists in orgasm. It exists in failure. It exists in misunderstanding, in insurmountable obstacle, in hummingbirds coming to the feeder, in the feeder. It exists in the newborn's cry, in lost love, in devastation, in quake, thunder, flood. In death.
I know it exists, and despite there being so many masks for it to wear, and though I know that I may not recognize some of those masks, I know another thing as well as I know the back of my own hand. I know it recognizes *me*, no matter what mask it wears. I know it recognizes *you*.
We are the beloved, and because we are, you, personally, you, reading this, you agreeing or disagreeing, you, nodding or shaking your head in rejection of my way of thinking, you are the beloved.
The beloved is for loving, so, I love you.
I may not always like you, and I may not always enjoy the dance you're dancing as you dance your way home. I may not always respond from a place of highest goodness to the way you choose to be with me, the things you choose to say to me, but in the still, quiet, reflective pool I carry in the center of my being, I see you. I see myself in you. I see us, together, walking one another home, and I love you.
Blessed like that.
There is something potent in endings that creates space in me to consider how far I've come. Perhaps it is a way to compensate for the sorrow. Yes, I am crying a river, but I am also counting the ways the situation grew me.
Maybe that's where resilience really comes from.
If you had asked me five years ago where I'd be now, I could not have imagined this. Self-supporting, in my own completely adorable, self-pleasing apartment, cooking for one, still in therapy, growing by leaps and bounds. At the time, I imagined a life with my beloved - the same but better, fuller, more joyful, less fraught with the minefield of our un-sorted-through unconscious content. I imagined that we'd grow *together*.
We grew apart instead.
That's sad as fuck. I feel the weight of that sadness. I went to bed last night at 9 p.m. under the full, thick blanket of that sadness, and I tossed and turned and wondered if I could have done anything to save us...and the answer is 'no'. There wasn't. If I'm being honest, the only possible way I could have stayed was to stop growing. The only way to remain was to shrink, be quieter, be less demanding, be less insightful, be less intuitive, be, in short, less of myself.
This foot in the end and foot in the beginning place is always a little bit scary.
There is a deep, deep temptation on my part to run back to the other side, where I am fully engaged in denial, and I am trying to be friends with someone I'm in love with, and I am trying not to say what I see, or know what I know. That is known territory, and as insanely painful as it was, it wasn't scary, because I could draw you a map of that place, and I could point out all the familiar landmarks.
This side of the thing is completely unknown.
I have no idea what's going to happen next. There's a guy pursuing me quite ardently, and I am freaking out about it. I know exactly how to handle ambivalence. I don't know how to handle desire. I know exactly how to be with someone who doesn't really want to be with me. I don't know how to welcome someone who appears to be very, very interested. I know how to respond to being last on a person's list of priorities. I don't know how to respond to being first.
But I'm willing to learn. I'm willing to grow.
I saw this in my Facebook feed today, and it felt like a message. Pulling back the veil destroyed my marriage. That's the truth. If I'd left well enough alone, we might still be together. But I'd have died. At least metaphorically. And now, having pulled back the veil, I see that I want to live more than I want to 'win' someone's love. I want to live more than I want to avoid being alone. I want to live more than I want to do whatever I can to prevent being rejected.
If a thing isn't growing, it's dying.
I want to keep growing, so I accept the challenge of this next cycle of my existence. I want to grow in my ability to be open to what it might be like to be chosen. I want to grow in my ability to say 'too much, too fast' without blowing the thing up all together. I want to grow in my ability to protect my much needed solitude without putting someone else through what I went through. I do not want to align with the misanthropy I grew accustomed to. I don't want to maintain the cynicism and the unphasedness that became necessary to survive. I don't want to squelch my joy or my delight in ordinary beauty. I don't want to pretend I'm above needing the caring hands and eyes of another human being in order to feel like my life is complete. I don't want to be constantly risking having the rug pulled out from under me.
There's something else I don't want.
I don't want to hold on. Growth requires that we let go. It requires that we not stay stuck in the same phase of a cycle. It requires us to risk blooming, to risk all the transformations that allow the next cycle to begin.
I'm willing to risk it.
I'm willing to fail. I'm willing to be heartbroken. I'm willing to lose. I'm willing to be with the fear. I'm willing to experience pain. I'm willing to come to the well with an undefended heart. I'm willing to let go of my expectations.
I know this was rambly.
I'm mostly just thinking out loud at this crossroads I'm on. Back there, known territory, and so much deprivation, and pain. Up ahead? I don't know...
I'm going to hope for the best, though, and I'm going to let myself grow.
One of the big stories in my childhood is of never being chosen.
I was never anyone's favourite, I was never picked for dodge ball (or any other team), I was never singled out as the 'best' at anything (second best, though - once. Deputy Wing Commander in Air Cadets). My mother chose her lovers, and my half brothers. My father chose the bottle. I chose (and chased) every lover I've ever had, and scrambled after them like my life depended on making them choose me back. They didn't.
I have experienced some of the feeling of being chosen in the realm of my business. My students choose to work with me. Some of my very favourite mixed media art teachers have chosen to collaborate with me. I was chosen for training in something I badly wanted TWICE last year.
Some of my friends have chosen to be my friend, despite the difficulty inherent in befriending me. (I am armoured. I am slow to trust. I am hermity. I am often so wrapped up in orbit around my family that I prioritise their lives over and above my own, and when I had a lover, he was the be all to end all of my existence).
It's been sweet to be chosen in the ways I've been chosen.
But that wound - that 'pick me' wound - is oozing lately. The death of my marriage came with the realisation that what I really want, what I've always wanted is to be *chosen*, to be wanted, to be desired, to be picked out of the vast array of available choices, to be settled upon in that way lovers settle upon one another, to be *included*, to be *valued* above work or video games or drugs, to belong to someone who isn't obligated to claim me by virtue of genetics.
Having just come out of orbit around someone who spent twelve years actively *not* choosing me, actively choosing everything else *over* me, actively excluding me, I am feeling this wound very, very clearly.
The wound, though, wasn't caused by him. I would hazard a guess, actually, that all my life, I have chosen to love (fiercely, desperately) people who will, for whatever reason, *not* chose me. I think there is something in me that has needed to reenact this original wound - this original story of having not been chosen (except as an object to be used for sexual gratification or to prop up someone's stories about themselves), and the outcome I have desired in these choices is that they will *see me* and *value me* and *choose me* after I prove to them how worthy I am of being chosen.
I am worthy of being chosen. I know this in my head. But I've never chosen myself. Ever. No one ever showed me how to do that. No one ever chose me, protected me, put me on their wish list, honoured their promises or commitments to me. And I grew into womanhood having no earthly idea what being chosen felt like. And I grew into womanhood having no earthly idea how to choose myself.
This is the next thing, I think. This grappling with the subject of choosing and being chosen.
I wanted to stay friends with my ex because, (I think, I'm guessing at my own labyrinthine psychology) within the context of our friendship, he might still choose me. Meanwhile, I experienced all this longing and desire, this carnality, that meant that being in his presence was like sitting down before a banquet, starving, but wearing a ball gag I couldn't remove. It was masochistic. A form of self-torture. Being 'just friends' meant I had to censor myself, tuck my hands between my knees, deny the very real, sexual desire I felt for him, deny the longing for the kind of intimacy that flows between lovers - the kind that means you *see* one another, know one another, *choose* one another...
It took me two and a half years to accept that this hifalutin goal of being 'just friends' was completely, utterly beyond me.
I choose not to do that to myself anymore. I choose to go where I don't need to wear a ball gag at a banquet. I choose 'alone' over 'fucking torture' and unrequited love and longing.
I have no idea what comes next.
Which is why I'm writing today, even though I have no happy ending to share, and no wisdom to impart. I'm not writing this for an 'audience' or to edify you or embolden you or empower you.
I am not here in service to you today. I am here in service to myself.
I'm writing this is a way to choose myself - over my work, over my 'audience', over my sense of protectiveness and loyalty to someone who *never fucking chose me*.
This is where I am. I've had a very hard life. I have experienced an enormous amount of pain in the last year *alone*, let alone in the other 46 years of my life that have been marked and marred by violence of all the ways there are to experience violence. I have *been in pain* for most of my life. No word of a lie. And yet, I have risen. And yet, I have created beauty and meaning. And yet, I have kept on keeping on.
But I hadn't yet done it *for myself*. I did it (I know this now) so someone should SEE me. I did it so someone would LOVE me and, finally, so someone would choose me.
I want to tell you that all changes today, but I have no idea.I know that my desire is that this dynamic change. I want to tell you that I will only ever work, create, serve from a place of self-love and self-possession. But I suspect, like every other way I've ever grown, that this will be a non-linear child's scribble of a journey, and sometimes I'll succeed, and sometimes, I'll fail.
What I will promise, though (not you, though - me) is that my days will be spent asking myself this question: "Are you choosing yourself in this? Are you being present with yourself FOR yourself? Who is this for?"
And my mantra will be a continual reminder that I exist, that I *matter*, even when no one is looking.
I've had a bit of a time, and I'm not even sure how to write about it. There was a death - my biological father - and the details are horrifying - he wasn't found for some time - and I am still processing it.
I've been posting about it on Facebook as news comes in, as I grapple with it all, and that's been extremely helpful even if I do feel rather exposed. When an abusive biological parent dies, even if there's been no contact for years, even if, legally, you have no obligation to engage the situation, there is still pressure to 'rise above' and 'take the high road' and 'be better than them'. With that kind of pressure comes a fear of judgment.
But, I'm not succumbing to any of that.
I'm am rising above in the very best way I know how. By refusing to take it on. By holding my boundaries. By saying "No". You see, legally, I am under no obligation to involve myself at all. He signed away his paternal rights when I was nine and gave me up for adoption to my then step-father. We do not share a name. I am not *legally* his next of kin. His *actual* next of kin called me and tried to make me responsible for what comes next, and I *almost* fell down that rabbit hole of guilt and shame and obligation, but I found my equilibrium, and I am standing very strongly in a very determined Fuck No. This is not mine.
Difficult, to say the least.
It is my pattern to seek the approval and love of those who reject me. It is a core belief of mine that if I am just a good enough girl, they will love me and want me back. When these people arrived on my virtual doorstep with 'big kisses' and 'you should come visits', I felt the seductive siren song of 'family'. But, here's the thing. They did not call to *ask* if I wanted to be involved despite the adoption and estrangement. They didn't call to say "What are your wishes?". They called to say "This is your responsibility." even though they had absolutely no legal leg to stand on. They do not want *me*. They want me to take care of this horrifying thing for them so they can wash their hands of it.
That's not a family I want any part of. <----That feels like a huge shift for me.
The way this was handled interrupted any possibility that I might be able to engage my own feelings about it properly. I wasn't given the opportunity to feel what I might feel about my father's death. I had to go straight into shields up from toxicity. My very first interaction around this whole thing included the words 'you are responsible' - for the clean up, for the arrangements, for the bills. It knocked me off center. Bile rose in my throat when I realized that if there were anything to gain from all this, they probably wouldn't have called me. They would have taken care of it themselves and cashed the check. This is who we're dealing with here.
Grief is too vulnerable a thing to give space to when you are faced with this kind of thing, so I have hit pause on it. I may grieve later. I may *never actually grieve*. I may, in fact, have nothing *to* grieve, but I will always resent that I wasn't given the benefit of softness, of consideration, of choice. I was told the most horrifying thing a child can be told about their parent - that he died alone, that he wasn't found for many days, that the apartment he died in had to be extensively cleaned - and in the same breath, I was told that I would have to deal with it despite the fact that I am not legally related to him, that I live in an other province, that I have been completely estranged from him for years...
What in the actual fuck were they thinking?
And I really don't want to talk about it anymore. I felt like, given the bigness of the thing, that I should at least acknowledge it here on my blog, especially since I wrote so openly about it on Facebook, but now that I've done that, I want to move on from it. I want to embrace my wholeness, my no, this ending. He's gone. I no longer have to duck and cover. I no longer have to wonder. I no longer have to feel guilty that I refuse to take his (drunken, abusive) calls. He's gone. I was anchored to him through memory and history, but with his death, that anchor is gone.
I will ascend. I will fall into light. I will rise.
I. am. free.
I just had a phone call from a detective in Montreal. They are taking it for me from here. She said in no uncertain terms "This isn't your responsibility. If the family doesn't want to deal with it, we will. If they call you or try to reach you, call us and we will take legal action."
I'm going to go have a good long cry and a shower.