Self-Possession & Other Musings

This is x-posted from my newsletter.

If you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you know that my primary purpose, the #1 thing that drives me is self-possession. Whatever I’m doing, that’s the goal. I want to be my own authority. I want to know myself so intimately that everything I do is in alignment with my values.

Well, I lost myself there for a couple of years. A love affair and subsequent breakup, my son’s mental illness, which moved me to upend my life and move in with him only to turn around and upend my life and move out again six months later (we’re good now, though – we love GG! We just don’t love the illness that, without medication, makes him a bit of a bear to deal with, eh?), relocating to a new city in the middle of this damned panini, bone crushing loneliness, layer after layer of grief, intense trauma work in therapy….

…it should come as no surprise that wine o’clock started coming earlier and earlier in the day. I *know* I’m not alone.

Needless to say, I have been anything but “self-possessed”.

Twelve days ago at the stroke of midnight, I quietly and determinedly dumped all the alcohol in my home and rolled myself up in the blanket fort with the furbabes to have a nice long cry over my loss of control over my rate of consumption of alcohol. When I woke up the next morning, I signed up for an alcohol free challenge (gamefying things works for me), got my butt into a sober support group, and installed a sobriety tracker on my phone. I connected with a couple of people in my support group so we could “buddy up” and I’ve been alcohol free since.

Best. Decision. Ever.

This was me on Day Eight. LOOK AT MY EYES! Seriously.

The first three days were gnarly, let me tell you. Insomnia, tremors, difficulty regulating my temperature. My skin felt like it was going to crawl right off of my body. I was dizzy and wobbly and whoa. Slowly but surely, though, things improved. I started to sleep better. I woke up *without* anxiety and depression. My *vision* improved (did not know that was a thing, but it is a thing!). The tremors stopped. My digestion improved. My appetite came roaring back with voracious cravings for avocados and pan roasted tomatoes and sautéed greens and allllll the cheeeeeeese and olives and hummus and CUCUMBERS omg CUCUMBERS.

I stopped ordering in food because the crap I’d been eating wasn’t what my body wanted. I dusted off my chef’s knife and started cooking again. The dogs, who had been picking up on my frenetic alcohol fueled anxiety and acting out calmed right down and returned to their usual sweet, chilled out selves.

Seriously – I have never been able to get a decent picture of Salem unless she was sleeping because she *could not stay still*.

Look at this. LOOK!

Soooooo Mellllloooooow! *Happy Sigh*

Why am I telling you this?

I guess I want to you to know. I want you to know that while I’ve been plodding along over here through *waves at all of this*, life got to me. All the tools I had in my tool box – art journaling, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, therapy – lost their power in my life because I was soaking my brainmeats in cheap boxed chardonnay – and if that can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If you’re in your own struggle with whatever, I want you to know that you *can claw yourself back from it*, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Help is out there and recovery is possible. A quick Google search will yield results – some free, some not free.

Here are the resources I’m leaning on:

One Year No Beer Alcohol Free Challenge – Daily videos and emails, gorgeous support group. Varying timed challenges (28 days, 90 days, 265 days – I signed up for the year because I am dead serious).

Alcohol Explained by William Porter – This was life changing for me because it perfectly explained what alcohol was doing to my brain and why it was so easy to fall prey to it, and so hard to let it go. Available on Kindle, too!

I Am Sober – an app that tracks money saved, calories saved (I didn’t care about this, but some might), hours saved (because you’re not really focused and functional when you’re low key buzzed all day). It prompts you to make a daily pledge and then do a nightly review. Very supportive. Available on both Android and IOS.

For those who prefer a more traditional route (AA), check out In The Rooms for 24/7 meetings and support. AA is not for me for reasons I won’t go into here, but it works for a lot of humans, so if it resonates, dooooo eeeeeet!

Okay, that’s enough of that.

My focus from here on out will be all of things that move me in the direction of my prayers – the art as magics, the self-inquiry, the vigilance against anything that knocks me off course, connection with other humans, pottery (which keeps me grounded), ritual and structure and good habits (like walking the dogs and that vitamin packed smoothie every morning and fizzy water with lemon and checking in with my alcohol free buddies). I may occasionally mention where I’m at on this journey, but one of the things I’ve learned over the last 11 days is that focusing on what I *do* want (to be clear-eyed and minded and energized and ALIVE IN THE WORLD) rather than on what I *don’t* want is the way through this thing.

In other words, this will not become a “sobriety newsletter”. I have a million other things to write about and focus on.
LIKE ALL OF THESE GOODIES!

First of all, I’ve got a special weekend workshop upcoming in which I will be decorating a new Sweet Trash Journal for use in 2022. This retreat will include a bunch of demos of how I use the journal! It’s being offered as a special price until December 13th! Get the details here:

Ten hours of live video instruction + replays + forever access for $27 until December 13th, at which point the price will go up to $45! I hope to see you in there. 

ONE BAD ASS ART JOURNAL is now open for registration. EARLY BIRD PRICING IS $69. I’m really excited about this year since I wasn’t feeling very bad ass through 2021, but I’m definitely going into 2022 with my BAD ASS FULL PRESENT. Here are the details. 

FREEBIES FREEBIES!!

We have a full moon + info session on December 18th (Full Moon Actual) at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link This gathering will include an hour long info session right off the top, and then we will move into a Full Moon Painting Party. Everyone who attends will get a coupon code for Moonshine 2022 AND a chance to win a spot.

There will be a replay offered to all attendees. If you can’t attend, but you want a replay, please hit reply to this email and I’ll send you one. 

We have a Solstice Releasingi Ceremony on December 22nd, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link. This gathering is open to the public, so feel free to tell your friends!

And FINALLY!

Book Of Days 2022 is filling up with beautiful faces and I hope you’ll join me for a gorgeous year of creativity presented to you by me and my deep diving, soul stirring, amazing guest artists!

Class is on sale for $99 (no coupon required) until December 31st at which point it will go up to $120 (still a fraction of what it’s worth!)

Sending you all my love,

xo
Effy

The Universe And Cucumbers And Me

I. The universe cracks me up.

II. I was on Zoom with my beloved Tam the other day and we were talking about how we both keep forgetting that the trick to getting our guides, spirits, and holy helpers to – yanno – help is to actually *ask them* for help. We were *cracking up* over this because we both really suck at the whole “OH HEY COULD I GET SOME HELP HERE” thing both in the realm of delegating to those in our lives who could help and in also with regards to help that might be available in the spiritual realms.

III. Which is weird because I teach a year-long class (coupon code covenup) in how to engage with The Powers – however you might define them – in the development of a creative spiritual practice that includes raising energy toward the attainment of your desires.

And, look, I *do* the work, but I usually ask for help with things like “Make me stronger/wiser/more useful” rather than “OH HEY COULD I GET SOME HELP WITH MY C-PTSD? COULD I GET A BREAK FROM THE TRAUMAS THAT KEEP PILING UP? COULD I GET SOME PROTECTION AGAINST *WAVES AT ALL THE THINGS*? COULD I HAVE MY DENTIST/DOCTOR/FILLINGOUTFORMS PHOBIA REMOVED?”

IV. So, anyway. A few days ago I was craving cucumber sammiches. Delicious thinly sliced, lightly salted organic English cukes with fluffy dill infused whipped cream cheese on soft tiny triangles of bread with the crusts cut off, served on a beautiful plate. So I put in a grocery order for everything I needed in order to fulfill this craving, because I am badass at self-care.

V. The grocery delivery arrived, and guess what? No cucumbers. All the rest, but no cucumbers. And of course, I was too busy dealing with a dog who has regressed to peeing on my bed because she has separation anxiety now that I’m leaving the house more often + an intense trauma response to a couple of things that happened, one right after the other, plus the vestiges of a wicked case of vertigo so I didn’t bother tracking the order so I could make substitutions if requested. To be honest, though, the shopper didn’t even try. They just refunded me for the cukes.

All I wanted was a fucking cucumber sammich, which in that moment represented *something going right for once*.

VI. I want to preface what I’m about to say with this so that you do not worry unduly: I truly am going to be okay, but I have not been in a great headspace for a while now, and I am super reactive to even the least little thing.

So. The missing cucumbers? They made me cry. And *pray*.

Yes, you heard me right. I cried. And prayed.

It sounded a little like this:

“UNIVERSE FOR FUCK SAKE COULD I GET SOME GODDAMNED CUCUMBERS? HOW HARD IS IT TO PROVIDE CUCUMBERS! IT IS NOT A LOT TO ASK! SERIOUSLY! WTF?”

I was *frustrated* It’s been quite a decade, okay? Give me a break.

VII. So, anyway.

Last night while I was cleaning out my fridge (garbage day in these parts, so the fridge got cleaned – how adulty! GOLD STAR!) and I noticed the soft bread and the container of whipped cream cheese and I said “I’MMA ORDER SOME G_D CUCUMBERS RIGHT NOW. UNIVERSE? ARE YOU LISTENING? BRING ME CUCUMBERS!”

I believe I even raised my fist to the heavens. I was not fucking around.

VIII. This is what was delivered this afternoon:

A pile of English cucumbers numbering six

IX. I am amused.

X. In other news, Book Of Days 2022 opened for registration today.

I hope to see you in there.

And on that note, I’m going to go make myself a G_D CUCUMBER SAMMICH!

xo
Effy

P.S. If you love my writing, please share it on your socials? I appreciate you. xo

 

Stay

I. I sent out a newsletter today – more like a love letter – in which I extolled the virtues of puttering and shared my newfound love of putting gold stars on the back cover of my journal when I complete tasks. You can read it here if you want. I’ll wait.

Within mere moments, I started getting emails from my lovely subscribers thanking me for sharing & reporting that they are going to go buy some gold stars because they love this idea. Some shared some sadness over how little appreciation or acknowledgement they grew up getting. Some shared that they are currently struggling and that this idea sounds motivating.

My heart!

II. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this little page of gold stars represents every moment that I overcame executive dysfunction, depression, anxiety, trauma, the consequences of narcissistic abuse syndrome…

These little stars are victories that range from making a difficult phone call to filling out a crucial form to doing my dishes to ordering dog food to feeding myself before noon to launching an e-course to scribbling the realness that is in my journal.

Victories.

III. The thing I really want to share with you, though, is that after I finished writing that little blurb about puttering and how it helps me and gold stars and how they help me, I had a moment of hesitation. I thought to myself “No one cares about this stuff. You aren’t doing yourself any favours by sharing this. People are going to think you’re silly/childish/unwell. You are taking up too much space in other people’s inboxes. NO ONE CARES EFFY. WHY SHOULD THEY?”

And my finger hovered over the edit button for longer than I’d like to admit before I shrugged, gave myself a little internal hug, and hit send. I put another gold star in my journal right away. Because, victory.

IV. I also got some feedback yesterday about this paragraph from this blog post:

I was talking to a peer last night about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and feel like you have to be positive all the time and “keep up appearances” in order to succeed. It’s such bullshit. So alienating. Life is a mixed bag of delight and despair and I’m too tired to lie.

I heard from more than a few people that they resonate with this and they are as tired as I am of living in a world where we all have to be shiny happy people all the time.

I am not a shiny happy person all the time. My choice is to stop sharing when I’m less than shiny, fake shininess so I feel comfortable being in the world, or being honest about the world as it is for me and share anyway and let those that want me, stay and those that don’t, leave.

I choose the latter.

V. I woke up this morning to find this awesome writing on my timeline. Andrea and I share a lot of the same concerns about online marketing and entrepreneurship, justice, and cultural misappropriation, so I always listen when she speaks. This blog post on spiritual bypassing was just what the doctor ordered.

VI. What if we just showed up in our realness? The thing we are taught to fear is that everyone will leave us. No one will buy our stuff. We will end up homeless. We will be labeled negative nellies or worse. But I’ve been doing this for over ten years now in a variety of venues, and while I do not have the quantity others may have to show it, I have the quality. People who just want me to shut up and talk about paint don’t stick around for long, but those that appreciate feeling like their own realness is welcomed, do.

And I live for that, even if it sometimes makes me wonder if I’d be a millionaire by now if I just shut my fucking mouth about how hard things are sometimes.

Being real? A million dollars?

I’d rather be real.

VII. Speaking of real, this is what one corner of the studio looks like right now.

And this is what one corner of my living room looks like right now:

And this is my life. Some of it is a mess. Some of it is sanctuary. All of it is useful and all of it matters. 

VIII. I know I’m not alone in this, but I was not allowed to have needs when I was a child. If I needed attention (as all children do) I was attention-seeking. If I needed comfort, I was needy. If I was sad, I was dramatic. If I was angry, I was defiant. Having feelings was very dangerous and often resulted in abuse, but I never learned the knack of not having feelings. I don’t know why. I know a lot of people raised in the situation I was raised hardened. I didn’t harden. I got better boundaries – especially over the last few years of intense therapy, but I didn’t harden. I stayed open. I stayed sensitive. I stayed emotional. I *stayed with myself*.

Through betrayal, abandonment, rejection, apathy, I stayed with myself.

As as I stayed with myself I noticed who stayed alongside me. And I noticed who didn’t. And (eventually) I stopped chasing the ones who didn’t. I turned to face the ones who stayed and they are my chosen family and I know they’ve got me and I’ve got them. In their eyes I am not “too much” of anything. I am just the right amount of everything. A lot, yes. But never too much.

IX. If someone decides that you are “too much”, let them go find someone lesser because they are *not enough* for you. 

X. I want you to stay with yourself. Come sit by me. Let’s stay with one another.

 

 

Delight & Despair

I. I’ve been down with varying degrees of dizziness/vertigo for two weeks now, and I’m over it. Leaf mold allergy, probably, since this happens every year around this time if there’s a lot of rain. I’m doing Benadryl and Gravol when it gets really bad.

II. Turmeric and ginger in my coffee in the morning, and turmeric and ginger in my chamomile tea at night. Luscious.

III. Pottery makes me happy. I turned and trimmed 12? 13? pieces yesterday and also got to play with coloured slip. I’m going back next Tuesday to glaze. I can’t wait.

IV. We’ve had issues with a peeping tom on the property for almost a year now. He was caught red handed on Saturday morning, charged, issued a restraining order, and then released. It was a *nightmare* waking up to all that drama (cops on the front lawn – my dogs went off their rocker and my heart aged ten years), and it’s been a nightmare worrying about whether or not he’ll come back, since he is clearly not right in the head and these things have a nasty habit of escalating.

I am feeling very woe, woe, why me as a result because *fuck me can I not get a break?*

V. Since I’ve been leaving the house more, Salem has regressed a bit in her house training. This is unpleasant and frustrating to say the least. Add that to the disaster that my house becomes when I have vertigo, and I’ve been in a state BUT today has been better. I’ve been watching her like a hawk and crating her when I can’t and so far, so good. I also got four loads of laundry done.

In better furbabe news, Sybil has been super snuggly, and I love it.

VI. Here! Have a giveaway!

VII.I still miss him and I’m pissed off about that because I should be over it by now, but nope. Definitely not over it.

VIII. I was talking to a peer last night about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and feel like you have to be positive all the time and “keep up appearances” in order to succeed. It’s such bullshit. So alienating. Life is a mixed bag of delight and despair and I’m too tired to lie.

IX. I am craving cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, and I am going to make that happen.

X. And you? How are you? Tell me everything, the delight and despair.

October Was A Bear

I. And not a teddy bear, either. A red in the fang and claw, big burly cantankerous miserable lumbering dangerous “The Revenant” style bear. But I got through it.

II. The usual autumnal bout of vertigo hit me just in time for Samhain, which annoyed me to no end, and I had a few moments there where I wondered if this was just gonna be my new normal, but nope. Benadryl and Reactine eventually worked and I am no longer spinning off the planet every time I move. Leaf mold allergy. Who’da thunk it? But given that when I went to get tested for allergies my whole arm lit up like a Christmas tree, it figures. Last time it was this bad, it lasted for weeks and weeks, but I got savvy to it this time, so it passed within a week. I expect I’ll grapple with it until the trees are done doing their thing and we have a good blanket of snow, but at least I know how to treat it and that I’m not going to die from it.

III. We had snow yesterday and I loved it. This surprised me because I am usually the kind of girl who will groan and whine and fuss over the onset of winter, but not this time. This time I’m ready for thigh-high cable knit reading socks and my Amigo The Devil plush hooded robe and blanket forting with the furbabes and hot toddies and binge-watching whatever I want.

IV. Mumblefish about things I can’t talk about because they’re too heavy and too painful and not really my story to tell but universe? If you’re listening? Fix it. Thank you.

V. Butandalso there are two big containers of soup to heat and eat today, and the vertigo is gone, and I went to pottery on Tuesday and had some success at centering, opening, and widening, and I’m going back on Saturday to do more of the same and it is the most wholesome thing I’ve ever done – the most grounding and challenging – and there’s this thing they do where you can rent a wheel for a week and make all the pots you can in that time and return the wheel with the pots and they’ll fire them for you and let you use their glazes. This is something I’m going to do this winter. That and handbuild watercolour palettes and paint cups and maybe little offering bowls.

VI. GG is doing a lot better. It was touch and go there for a while, but he is stable and medicated and gainfully employed and in good spirits. I am relieved. We gotta get him moved here, though. I want him close enough to come over for Sunday dinner on the regular, and he wants the same. We’re conspiring. Wish us luck.

VII. I got Moonshine and BOD ready earlier this year than last year and I’m counting that as a victory. I’ve also nailed down what I want to do over on Patreon next year. “Book Of Mirrors”. Uplifting spreads in a Sweet Trash Journal. Some poems, some songs, some quotes. Something for everyone. My patrons are excited about it and so am I.

VIII. Andrea wrote a thing on spiritual bypassing and gaslighting and I was so happy to read it because I have been chafing about this stuff for a long, long time now and it’s good to see I’m not alone. If your response to people in distress is to tell them to look on the bright side, or to abandon them because they’re “too negative” or to offer them unsolicited, useless advice, you’re kind of an asshole, okay? Stop that. It serves no one.

IX. I said what I said.

X. Today is for clawing my house back from the week of vertigo, and I’m resentful that the dishes have not yet learned how to do themselves, but in other news, I look like this in this hat so it’s not all bad.

A friend took this picture during a Ladies Night with the next-door neighbours on a Saturday before the vertigo hit and now a hat just like this is on its way to me because I *need this hat*. This hat is life!

Oh, and also! I dressed up for Halloween for the first time in a million years and went to an actual party and that was super fun and memorable.

And this was me after teaching the second in a new series of weekend retreats that I’m doing now that I know how much I love teaching “live” in a Zoom room full of engaged and lovely human beans.

There. Proof of life.

xo

Effy

P.S. Art Bundles for Good went on sale today and my Journal Jam Retreat is included. Get it!

A Mixed Dozen

I. I am hoping that this is my last October in this headspace. That’s the hope. *Fingers crossed*

II. Meanwhile, the weekend got much, much better. The girls next door had me over and we talked until the wee hours. It was delightful. Sunday was for puttering and working and being extremely gentle with myself and so was Monday. Yesterday was for filming and editing and laundry and yet more puttering.

III. This got finished for A Year Of Mary

IV. This got finished for New Moon

V. I finished figuring out who teaches in what month in BOD2022, so I’m getting there with putting that together so it can open for registration on November 15th. Moonshine 2022 is also almost ready.

VI. I put this together for next weekend.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday live on Zoom with forever access to the replays after. It’s going to be amazing. Here’s a video promo:

I don’t think I’ve ever actually made one of those before! It was super fun!

VII. Stuff going on with the family that I can’t talk about but whoa. The worries. I am aging exponentially as we speak, yo.

VIII. I am ok, though. Everything is moving in the direction it should be. I’m hanging in there.

IX. I’m here today because I didn’t want that last post to sit here as the first thing on the page for any longer. After I wrote it, I pulled the six of swords and that was a good nudge in the direction of “Okay, missy. Time to move on.”

X. Insert many thoughts here about how much easier it would be to move on if I knew what I was moving towards and how tired I am of the pandemic and how much I wish I had someone who was adept at navigating life to take me by the hand and help me figure out *waves at all of this*. But also thoughts about how at least pottery is awesome and how well work is going and how much I love my people. So, yanno. It’s a mixed dozen around here as usual. Heh. :)