Hello From The Other Side

I figured, since so many of you have left lovely letters in my inbox, that I’d update you on where I’m at. :)

Since last we typed, I caught a virus which lead to an ‘exacerbation’ – basically, my asthma got uncontrollably worse due to the inflammation caused by the virus that had moved into my respiratory system. I’ve been on prednisone and a couple of new puffers in order to reduce the inflammation, and I am happy to report that I am *finally* seeing some improvement. I can breathe much better than I could last week, and though I am still coughing, it isn’t quite as all encompassing an experience as it has been. I can make it from the couch to the kitchen without gripping furniture for support (the shortness of breath has been off the hook) which is nice, and I actually managed to eat solid food yesterday.

Yesterday was the first ‘close to human’ I’ve felt since the virus hit on the 5th of September, and I pulled out a limited palette of things to play with in order to remind myself that I *could still paint*. Believe me, after ten days of doing nothing but moving from bed to couch to bed again, one can forget what one is made of, and that was definitely my experience.

I came into the studio and put on a movie on the lap top (Eat, Pray, Love), pulled out a journal a friend made me years ago, and made a solemn vow to myself that I would not judge the outcome. I would just *play* for the sake of playing. I reached for whatever delighted me (in this case, fluorescent pink paint, turquois pthalo, black pen, pink and blue Tombow markers, gold paint, a stencil, a couple of Faber Castell Pitt Pens, and a white paint marker) and I just made stuff for the sake of making stuff.

It was like getting reacquainted with my inner artist, who had been hiding in a blanket fort under a pile of Vicks scented Kleenex.

Oh, hello. Are you still in there? Think you might want to come out and play?

Painting while under the influence of NyQuil is really interesting. There’s something about this stuff that depersonalizes me – meaning, I don’t feel like myself at all while I’m on it. I feel like I’m outside of myself watching myself. It is very difficult to get in touch with what’s happening on the inside of the equation. Numb is a good descriptor, along with foggy, and pretty much ‘out of it’. Still, the flinging of paint without caring about outcomes let me reach through that fog so that I could shake hands with myself once more after ten or so days of being relatively unknown to myself. It was a bit like an archeological dig. Oh, yes. There I am, under the rubble of exhaustion and an overwhelming list of blown deadlines. There I am, still complicated as ever, still grappling as usual, still half bewildered and half determined, still somehow *here*.

I know that in the big scheme of things this ten day ‘down and out’ experience of mine is no big deal. I was able to adjust things, tweak things, beg off, switch out. I survived. My business survived. But it is *scary* when something like this happens and you have absolutely no control over it. There are no sick days to call in. There’s no one to pick up the slack. It’s just you and this alarming new normal wherein two hours of upright are too many, and you can forget about painting or writing anything coherent. You’re lucky if you can make tea.

It’s made me think. Made me wonder how I can create a life in which there is time for the inevitable frailties of the body. Made me miss being partnered up so that when the chips are down, there’s someone there to change the sheets and make the soup. Made me question the way I schedule myself down to the very last second of every single month, week, day, hour.

I’m still thinking.

Meanwhile, here I am, making the most of the time I have with you this morning by coming in here to share that I am alive and mending. I also wanted to share the journaling I did yesterday in my bid for freedom from the artless, NyQuil haze. Click through them to see them full size. They’re unusual for me. A bit on the psychedelic side, colour wise. Looser than my usual fare. Less concerned with outcomes. I like them a lot, and I especially like the honesty in the sentiment I included on gold paper. “I’m willing to find out…”

CLICK THROUGH TO SEE THEM FULL SIZED

And that’s me for now, on the mend.

xo

Effy

Your Piece Of The Work, And Mine. {with Video Diary}

NOTE: This post is part curated from my archives (the Bed Head Diaries), and part present day.

The world is hugely heavy right now, and my life is hugely heavy.

A purse dump of happenings:

I am in the middle of a unexpected move, which is a positive change, (I have a view that isn’t my neighbours doing the naked dash and a dishwasher and a gorgeous walk in shower, and my rent went up but only by about $50 a week), but it’s a change that came at crunch time for several projects I’m working on. This means I am a frazzled mess. Like, seriously frazzled. Grateful for my friends who show up big time and put up with the ‘I’m going to stick a fork in your face’ look that takes over my usually pleasant features while I’m a frazzled mess. And,

I had to put my lovely dog, Sasha, down at the end of May, which broke my heart and broke the dam that held back some long unresolved grief. And,

I am supposed to be going on vacation on from the 13th of June to the 17th of June, and this move, and all the work that is due has to be completed before I leave. And,

Anthony Bourdain died. I can’t even talk about it without crying. You have no idea what he means to me, what role he’s played in my spiritual lineage. I am devastated. And this triggered some more long unresolved grief. And,

My relationship with my ex has shifted from every Friday on my couch to I only ever see him when necessary. We are distant with one another. We are civil, but not warm. We are, finally, exes, and it feels fucking awful and I do not want this even though it’s what’s good for both of us at this time. And,

I have a huge tax bill about to come due, and it is very huge. Did I mention huge? It’s huge. And,

Other stuff I can’t talk about because discretion and not airing other people’s bad behaviour out on my laundry line. And,

The world. This whole fucking world. This scary, enormous fucking heavy fucking world.

This is me today.

I am trying for soft. I am trying for willing to be open to the possibility that everything is falling apart so better things can come together. I am trying for gentle, with myself, with you…

I am luggage under my eyes. I am so stressed, I can *literally* barely focus my eyes, which will *not stop twitching*. I am procrastitweeting and procrastiworking and procrastidoodling and procrastipanicking.

I am spent, but still pushing. I am my shadow written all over my face. I am ‘woe’ and ‘why me’ and #firstworldproblems and whine and wine.

I am also premenstrual, and I have been eating utter crap, and I am retaining water, and my eyes keep leaking without notice.

I am inconsolable, and walking around holding my guts in, and wondering what the point is. I am worst case scenarios. I am unable to recognize my own face in the mirror (who is this haggard looking person?) I am worn. the fuck. out. I am ready for a change, and yet terrified of what change will bring.

I am terrified. I am lonely. I am struggling. I am striving, but definitely not, at this particular moment in time, thriving.

Maybe you are some of the above, too, or all of the above or some combination of some of the above + stuff I can’t even imagine. Or maybe you’re just fine. (Could you send me some of that? With some dark chocolate and a Valium? Thank you.)

Wherever you’re at, I offer you this:

We’re going to be okay. I believe it even when I don’t believe it. I believe it because the story isn’t over yet. There is still story left in the story. We’re just in a really shitty part of the book. Let’s keep reading, okay? Take my hand. Hold on tight. Flip the page.

We’re going to be okay.

This version of the Bed Head Diaries, originally filmed in 2016, felt appropriate to share right now. In it, I talk about ‘your piece of the work’ (and mine) and explore the idea of  ‘going dark’ as a form of self-care. I also pull tarot for my peeps this week, and we talk about the 8 of cups.

To sum up:

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”  – The Talmud

Hold my hand. We’ve got this. We’re going to be okay.

xo
Effy

 

Not What I Signed Up For, Or Is It?

Things have been really heavy, both ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ for me over the last couple of weeks, and I’m feeling the need to unpack some of it today. I am going to hone in on the ‘out there’ stuff. Please bear with me, because these thoughts are flying out of my fingers faster than I can think.

Out There, there are conversations happening about racism and cultural misappropriation that I have felt convicted to attend because I teach spiritual things. As a teacher of said spiritual things, I find it really important to address things like sourcing our spiritual modalities with integrity, with respect for the cultures from which we draw our practices. My personal stance has been to examine all of my practices, and ask myself if they actually belong to me. I even went so far as to have a DNA test so I could get a grip on my blood lineage. What am I made of? What were the pre-Christian practices of my ancestors? A lot of this work has been inspired by Leesa Renee Hall, who teaches expressive writing, and runs a ‘Decolonize Your Ancestry’ program on her Patreon.

My public posts about these subjects (mostly on Facebook) have resulted in a lot of push back, sometimes public, but mostly in the form of things landing in my inbox or PMs. Included amidst the push back are thoughtful messages in which important questions are being grappled with, and those aren’t the kinds of messages I’m talking about. I’m talking about messages in which people seem to want to debate me on my stance, point out how my stance is wrong, express anger or disappointment in me, or tell me how my stance is making them feel bad about their stance.

It’s been hard, and annoying, because I’m not the sensitivity police. I can’t tell anyone else what’s right or wrong for them. I can point out blatantly racist content or marketing, but I stay in my lane, by which I mean that I will arrive to back up the voices of BIPOC, but I don’t ‘go after’ these things on my own initiative. And I don’t ‘go after’ individuals who appear to be misappropriating culture unless they’re bringing it into my spaces in a way that harms or disrespects BIPOC. I don’t mean to be telling anyone what is or is not okay for *them*. I take a stance about my own personal convictions, and I establish what’s okay and not okay in my *spaces*, but it seems that taking that stance is interpreted as issuing orders or assuming I know about the contents of your character or your own soul.

I’m not the boss of you. Just because I think something is wrong for *me*, doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s wrong *for you*. I have no idea what’s wrong for you. I prefer to let you figure that out for yourself. Honestly, I have enough work to do over here in this little puddle of Effy flavoured goo without taking on other people’s work as well.

Sometimes what happens, I think, is people feel personally convicted by my personal convictions, and that is super uncomfortable. The thing I’m convicted about not doing – for example, smudging, using the word ‘tribe’ to describe my on line community, using the word ‘gypsy’ when I mean ‘free-spirited and colourful lifestyle’, or chakras, or deities from lands and cultures that have nothing to do with my ancestral lineage – is something they really enjoy, and so my eschewing it makes them feel bad about doing it. Instead of examining why they are feeling that way, people feel free to inundate my inbox with why I’m wrong and why I should continue smudging or using the word tribe or why I should just shut up about all of this political stuff and make art.

Like, I didn’t ask them. You know? I’ve drawn my conclusions on my own after much education from BIPOC. My stance is not up for tweaking or debate. I didn’t take it lightly. I took it after much personal examination.

But I’m not saying YOU can’t do whatever it is you want to do. I may have a boundary around what we share in the temple space I run (Moonshine), but it looks like this – “In this space, I’m asking for sensitivity around the use of spiritual modalities that belong to BIPOC. I don’t want memes about smudging in here. I don’t want discussions of ‘spirit animals’ in here. What you do in your own personal practice is none of my business, but in here, let’s keep our discussions to spiritual modalities that we can claim based on our ancestry. So if we’re white, we source our spiritual practices from our European ancestry.”

It seems this has set me up for a lot of extra work, because people get *pissed at me* for this, or they examine their own conscience around this and want me to help them untangle it (which is great, but it’s not really my area of expertise). I have a handy ‘you must do as your conscience dictates’ ready for these kinds of messages, which feels like good boundaries, but I’m not sure what to do with the people that *get upset with me* over my stance. Like, how do I answer those messages? What do I do about those? How do I say ‘you know, your stance and integrity are none of my business, and I’m not auditioning to be your Jiminy Cricket.”

There is a feeling arising out of all of this that when people follow my posts, or read my blog, and ‘reward’ me with their time, attention, likes, loves, etc. they feel a sense of entitlement about what I post in those spaces. If I’m posting about racism or cultural appropriation on my personal Facebook wall, and it upsets them, they feel entitled to ask me for my (unpaid) time in helping them resolve those feelings. Like, they want to continue feeling good about me, or good about themselves for liking my content, so they ask me to help them feel better about *me*.

But it seems like what they’re really asking is that I change my stance so they can feel more comfortable. It feels like they’re asking me to stand down on the cultural appropriation issue. “Let me smudge, let me ‘namaste’, let me ‘Aho’, let me ‘spirit animal’ without questioning it, without investigating my own right to do so…Let me feel okay with myself so I can continue feeling okay about you…”

Um…so not my job.

Because, first of all, I can’t ‘let you’ or ‘prevent you’ from doing anything, except in the context of what’s okay to share in my spaces. I have those boundaries in my spaces, not because I want to be the sensitivity police – good gods, y’all, I have enough to do without adding that to my job description.  I have the boundaries I have because my personal stance has attracted BIPOC into my spaces, and their safety from racist rhetoric and cultural misappropriation in my spaces *is my responsibility* as a holder of that space. If I’m welcoming in BIPOC, and then I’m encouraging or condoning practices that disrespect them or cause them harm, I’m a shitty facilitator. I don’t want to be a shitty facilitator.

But it seems that some people in my spaces are now uncomfortable. I hear things like “I’m walking on egg shells” or “I’m afraid to say anything”. So I’ve failed somehow, and I’m not sure how to fix it. Like, how do I say ‘this is my stance, your mileage may vary, just don’t bring it in here, please!’ in a way that won’t alienate people? Maybe that’s impossible. Maybe I should just accept that people will be alienated and maybe my content isn’t for those people. 

It would be really great, though, if they could decide that for themselves and just wander away, because I didn’t sign up for this part – this part where people feel free to ask me to help them be okay with me *when they are obviously not okay with me*.

Like, it’s okay to not be okay with me. Be not okay with me. Own that. Don’t ask me to fix it, because that is not my job.

It takes an enormous amount of self awareness and self-accountilbity to question your own sense of entitlement to the spiritual modalities of BIPOC. Why do you feel entitled? There’s a treasure trove of healing to be done around that question and I admit it isn’t for the faint of heart. That I ask people to do that in my paid content means I have to show up for the consequences of asking that. I admit I was ill-prepared for that. I blithely included these requests for self-examination in Moonshine expecting that the people who were going to be attracted to this program would have already made some headway in this area. It didn’t feel like such a big ask that we switch out misappropriated spiritual practices for practices that were not stolen from other cultures. It felt, in fact, like a no brainer.

I’m teaching art witchery. For me, that doesn’t include smudging or spirit animals or shamanic journeying or anything else that’s been sourced (stolen) from lineages that are not my own. I, personally, have no desire to end up as a thread on this forum, where plastic shamans are called out and examined. I have no desire to steal culture when I have so much of my own rightful ancestry to explore and indulge. I have a primarily pre-Christian European Witchcraft based practice that uses art as its primary method of raising energy toward the attainment of my desires. That’s what I’m trying to present. That’s my area of expertise. 

But it seems that because my witchcraft, which doesn’t include practices sourced from spiritual modalities I believe I have no right to use, bumps up against witchcrafts which include whitewashed, misappropriated spiritual practices, I’m now in an awkward position. I’m having to field a lot of ‘who do you think you are’ type ‘nobody tells me what to do’ style push back.

And I guess this is what I signed up for when I designed this program with requests that people respect BIPOC. Because in this time, and in this political climate, asking that people respect BIPOC is, apparently, super controversial (WTF?). Which makes me sick, because it really should be a no brainer. We are sourcing our energy from this land we’re living on – land we stole from First Nations. Let’s have some respect. We are sourcing our energy from this land we’re living on – land cultivated by and built on the backs of People of Color. Let’s have some respect.

Why is this so radical? Why is this such a big ask? 

I don’t know, but I’m here, showing up in all the ways I can, answering the questions – even the ones that are insults in disguise – and I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for this. I’m here to keep asking this ask. I’m here to design content that asks for respect for BIPOC. I’m here to help you create a spiritual modality that can enrich your art journaling practice, to help you create an art journaling practice that can energize and inform your spirituality. I might be failing, but I’m listening, and I’m trying. And if you’re not interested in sourcing your spiritual practices in a way that respects BIPOC, my work is not for you. And it saddens me that there are those of you who feel that way, but that’s okay. I can deal. I know there are just enough of you *that are* interested in that, so I’ll turn my attention there in the certainty that what I do serves *you*.

Thanks for listening.

Effy

P.S. This post would be incomplete without this list of links to BIPOC who have contributed to my education in these matters. If you are grappling with all of this, I highly recommend these resources. They are *way better than anything I have to offer* in the area of cultural sensitivity and dismantling white supremacy. (In other words, go pay them. They are the experts.)

Layla Saad – Wild Mystic Woman: www.Patreon.com/laylasaad

Torrie Pattillo – www.patreon.com/TorriePattillo

L’Erin Alta – www.lerinalta.com

Leesa Renee Hall – www.patreon.com/leesareneehall

We Did It!

Well, a bunch of us did it, or at least, did part of it! YAHOO!

I ran out of steam nearing the end due to having way too much personal shit to deal with and not enough emotional energy to deal with anything else. But still! I managed to get most days in, and I consider that a win! And, because I skipped a few days, I feel nudged to keep on blogging. Win win.

it was good. Some good writing came out of it. Some new connections. Some renewed connections. And the reminder that, yes, I can do this. I can write like this, regularly, openly. And when I write, my people show up to read. Maybe not in droves, but at least a few will come leave some love and understanding, or tell me how they were served by what I wrote, and that’s priceless, I think.

So, what’s next? We just keep doing our thing, I guess. For me, that means slaying the usual lists, making the content, painting the paintings, and coming in here as often as I can to keep you posted on the state of Effy. Thank you again for being here for the ride, no matter how many days you wrote/read.

We rock!

xo
Effy

Find me on Facebook, Instagram  and Patreon

About The Blog Along

Every year, twice a year, once in April, and again in September, I blog every day for a month, and invite others to do the same. We have a Facebook group, and in that group the only rule is that for every link you post to your own blog, you go off and read three other blogs and leave a comment. This is simply a way to ensure that a community happens rather than just a ‘promo’ group. You’re welcome to join in as long as you are willing to read and comment on three blogs for every blog you post. Click here to join us!  If you’re too busy for that, you’re welcome to just blog on your own for a month. Easy peasy. No one is keeping score. There are no prizes except that you get to build your own readership by regularly populating your blog with good content.

To read all my entries for the Blogalong, please click here to access the Blogalong With Effy Category on my blog.

P.S. This contest to win $4400 worth of art resources is still open! Check it out!! 

 

Be Loving, Be Kind, But Have Boundaries Like A Scorpion

I skipped blogging yesterday, and in fact, the entire Internet while I wandered off to do things other than fume and burn furiously at the world at large. 

It all became too much for me, so I packed up my toys, kicked sand as I departed, and went home.

I doodled, and noodled, and puttered. I fed myself steak and asparagus and swilled Sauv Blanc. I ignored everything except the music that was playing, the dogs and the cat, and the weather (which was glorious). 

Last night, I packed a little drawing kit and headed off to my friend, Sal’s place for more Sauv Blanc and some drawing mentorship. She’s going to help me upgrade my skills by nudging me in the direction of doing some more technical explorations. I’m going to work with Drawing on The Right Side of the Brain, and see where that takes me. I’m going to draw different things every day, and see where that takes me. 

I’m hunkering down, honing in. 

I’m also, I realize, extremely fucking angry. I’m trying on new boundaries, like saying exactly how I want people respond to something I post. Like asking for the exact thing that I need.

“Space, less space, no advice, no ‘education’, no debate, or sure, let’s debate, education me, advise me,  come closer, go the fuck away…”

It is being met with varying degrees of respect – mostly respect by those I consider my wildlings. There’ve been a few who saw the boundary and just came right on in to knock it down – some out of carelessness (didn’t read the entire post). Some out of what seems to be a general sense of rapeyness, as in Oh HEY! I see you don’t want me to do this thing, so I’m just going to leave my consent violation all over this post. 

I realized this morning that I am dwelling too much on the latter, and not enough on the former, so I’m shifting focus. To those who *get* boundaries, who *have* boundaries, and who respect them, thank you. Bless you. You make my world a better place. For those who skimmed, and missed the boundaries, I forgive you. Please be gentle with me while we are grappling with Incel and the mass violence in Toronto, and the sexual assault trial, and my own sensitivity and work around dismantling white supremacy + family fuckery + general exhaustion and stress. If I seem pricklier than usual, I am. It’s not you. It’s me. 

I have really nothing to say to those who are rapey on purpose. 

***

I spent my morning getting Full Moon up for my Moonbeams. I am working with the fierce power of Scorpio. Intense energy, and needful at the moment. This is what I painted (and demonstrated) for the class. 

I’m going to wander off now, and take today and tomorrow to be with myself as much as possible. I want no social, no interactions except those that are absolutely needful, or those that come with fur. 

I hope you have a super gorgeous weekend!

P.S. This contest to win $4400 worth of art resources is still open! Check it out!! 

About The Blog Along

Every year, twice a year, once in April, and again in September, I blog every day for a month, and invite others to do the same. We have a Facebook group, and in that group the only rule is that for every link you post to your own blog, you go off and read three other blogs and leave a comment. This is simply a way to ensure that a community happens rather than just a ‘promo’ group. You’re welcome to join in as long as you are willing to read and comment on three blogs for every blog you post. Click here to join us!  If you’re too busy for that, you’re welcome to just blog on your own for a month. Easy peasy. No one is keeping score. There are no prizes except that you get to build your own readership by regularly populating your blog with good content.

To read all my entries for the Blogalong, please click here to access the Blogalong With Effy Category on my blog.