Blogging From Bed
Dear Creative Crusader,
I have missed you. I have missed the process of sharing my inner world in the hopes that you will receive encouragement, inspiration and connection. When I write to you, my hope is that I make the world a safer and more loving place for artists, healers and sensitive souls, like you, and me.
It’s been five months since I wrote my last museletter. I got really busy in January, and then it got harder and harder for me to return to this vulnerable process. I began the museletter concept one year ago, at the beginning of summer, like it is now. And I started my first blog six years ago, at the end of summer. Summer has a special meaning for me since I moved to Baja almost 10 years ago. In some ways, summer here is like the winter of the cooler parts of the Northern hemisphere—it is a time of introversion, avoiding the outside (it is very hot, humid & buggy) and of storing up for long periods of downtime. Summers here can be very isolating, and it can be difficult to find motivation for projects because there is a sticky slowness that descends over everything.
Summertime inspires me to make different kinds of commitments--to writing and recording or other introverted and antisocial projects. It is a time that makes me want to get back to my core—the part that I too often hide from people, the part that has ideas and thoughts, dreams and visions, and lots and lots of feelings.
The need to return to my inner world is also motivated by the end of the high season here in Baja. The high season starts in November, and is marked by a feeling of excitement about the return of people, projects and events—all extraverted activities. When November comes, which is also my birthday month, the extravert in me can’t help but jump in to any and all opportunities and invitations. I love people and I love collaborating—especially if I have been deprived and holed up in my house for months on end. (Side note: the longer I’ve lived here, my summer has become busier, and I have found a little more balance. I continue teaching Dance Lab all summer, and will continue to see clients.) Sure, I have my family, and we have a lot of fun together, and I do travel back to the US to see my family of origin. I am not completely alone, but my extraverted side needs quite a bit of socializing to feel satisfied.
So at the end of the high season, in the summer, it’s the opposite. The introverted side can’t wait to get into solitude. All I want to do is read, meditate, draw, work on new songs, and especially, write. Writing is an activity I’ve always done and will always do. For me, it’s like breathing. It’s my way of thinking of understanding my point of view. Without writing, I feel listless, unsubstantial, like a leaf being blown around by the wind. Writing every day grounds me to my core, and then sharing my writing with you creates an exultant & risky feeling that I equally fear and adore.
I have sought out psychics only twice in my life. Both times with burning questions about my writing. Usually the question is about the process—how long will it take to write my book? When should I start? Or how can I approach my writing? The second psychic I consulted, a year ago, told me that she saw that I was meant to write something raw and honest, and that a lot of other people would relate to what I write, and that I would do it in a fashion that invited others into it. It would have a community aspect to it. I put this reflection aside, and a few weeks later I started my Sunday Museletter—which was then called Reads, Listens & Looks. For years now, I have created public announcements, creative challenges and deadlines to give me the accountability I need to take the writing plunge. So far it’s worked. This is partly why I host creative challenges for others to participate in. Just yesterday I started posting about my desire to start blogging again on my Instagram stories, to see if it would force me to get this post out today. (It seems to be working.)
I have been thinking about returning to blogging or sharing my museletter again with you for months, but I have found myself silenced by the inner critical voices. It’s that classic double bind--creating causes fear, self doubt and shame-attacks and not creating causes anxiety & depression, aka: stuckness. It’s hard to admit to you that I— a creativity coach, an expressive arts therapist, an artist, an encourager of other people’s creativity and art—get stuck sometimes, too. So, I am taking my own advice, the advice I give my students and clients. Instead of going around the block, avoiding the block or forcing my way through the block, I am going to explore the block.
What does the block feel like? Look like? Taste like? Draw it. Write about it.
My feeling of being stuck has a very particular flavor. It is bitter. It is rarely about a lack of ideas, lack of motivation, or even a lack of time (I have changed my life completely in order to accommodate the time needed for a person who is constantly in need of creative expression.) My stuckness has the distinct taste of fear. It is born from old ideas that my intellectual mind is tired of. Ideas stemming from how I was judged or discouraged as a child. Even though the cause of the fear is old, emotionally, I am still right here in that fear. We now know that emotions are not linear creatures, but rather, particular arrangements of peptides living as potentials inside of us, and all we need is a trigger to set them off. The fears create well worn groves and it is very difficult to carve a different path. However, carving a different path is the way of life I have committed to, and so, over and over, I have gone through that familiar process. The pattern goes something like this: I share something and feel triumphant about overcoming the inner obstacles, then I feel like a failure when my expectations are not met (because I am a grandiose optimist from NYC, my expectations are almost never met), then a wash of shame soaks through me and I find myself, stuck, frozen in fear. I am caught between wanting desperately to express myself, to keep the channel open, to connect with others, to share my longings and disappointments, to stay authentic, no matter how painful or scary, but I tend, instead, to hide. To turn away from my audience, friends, family, and most especially, myself.
This exposure-disappointment-shame-frozen in fear cycle is something I have learned and practiced since an early age, and it was born from what I call the Scarcity Complex. The scarcity complex is the idea that there is a finite amount of love, money, success, shininess and attention in the world. It is an airless space, devoid of compassion and connection.
However, when we pause a moment, and open up to the larger truth of our experience, we see that love is infinite, that love is our true nature, and that the universe is expanding. We see that we are not solid things to be compared and competed with, but rather energetic beings in a constant flux of evolution. There will always be more, because the universe will expand to meet us as we evolve into something more complex and intelligent.
And so, I have discovered that the best dissolution for the scarcity complex is to expand one’s point of view, to see how we are ALL connected, and to find gratitude for what we already have rather than focusing on what we want or want to achieve. For those of us who believe in the Law of Attraction, this does not mean we shouldn’t imagine what we want to create in our life and in the world, but it does mean that equally important to our envisioning, is our feeling. In order to attract what we want, we must feel the feelings that resonate with the unique quality of our desire. Desire is a feeling, not an image. We must actually feel the desire and the gratitude for what we have already received. No matter how destitute you are, there is usually something (EG: the miracle of life itself) that we can find at least a little bit of gratitude for. And if you cannot genuinely find gratitude for something in your life, start then, with something you desire, and imagine yourself actually feeling the gratitude as if you already had or experienced that thing. In some cases, we are blocked off from desire too, in which case we start from whatever we actually feel--the block, the resistance, the fear. As I am demonstrating here.
The scarcity complex is dangerous--it cuts us off from our spiritual nature, the larger part of us that knows we are all one. It distracts us from our core truth, that we are love. It convinces us that we are in competition with our fellow humans, rather than in cooperation. It cuts us off from our higher intelligence, which is intimately connected with the heart. Knowledge is only information, if it is not also not felt in the heart.
As much as I don’t want to admit it to myself, or to you, I see now that I have been caught up in the scarcity complex. And even though I have been aware of it for a little while now, it still causes tremendous pain to feel so cut off from my spiritual nature. I still mediate every day, practice yoga, dance, sing, write, sit with others, and do all the things that I know are good for my whole being, and yet, I still find myself daily, slipping into the pettier aspects of my personality. The part of me that feels insecure if I don’t get attention on social media, or feels threatened by people doing similar work to mine, or who isolates, when I am in pain, rather than reaching out to loved ones. I have found myself more and more under the grip of my trio of inner critics, the self police (who doesn’t want me to perform or get attention), the judge (who judges my feminine aspects), and the task master (who wants me to do everything faster, bigger, better, and right now!).
When I am under the grip of any of the inner critics, I believe what s/he is saying to me: “No one values your work, that’s why they don’t come to your class” or “Everyone is so sick of you. You should be ashamed of yourself for continuing to put yourself out there.” or “You will never finish your book. It’s just a bunch of disorganized, half-baked ideas.” or “You are pathetic, don’t share your insecurities with other people because then they will see you as you really are: an impostor, a hack, a dilettante.”
As I write the things that my inner critics say to me, I am taken aback by the lack of compassion. However, the process of externalizing the critic, that I share with my clients and students: drawing him/her, writing down what s/he says, acting out the conversation between you and your critic - is very illuminating. Witnessing (from the higher self perspective) the meanness of these voices inside, I immediately feel compassion for the me that is being barraged by these critiques. Genuine heartfelt empathy magically arises: “no wonder you feel ashamed or blocked or afraid to create or express or share your work.” The arising of this compassion is what allows me to share this with you. Compassion is a magic thing. And the moment we have more compassion for ourselves, we can have even more compassion for others, including the inner or outer judges of the world. After all, once we face the critic with compassion, we usually find out that s/he is well-intentioned, and is just trying to protect you (or your ego) from getting wounded. The inner judge has a really antiquated, unhelpful, shaming style. It’s like a parent from a previous generation that never learned how to be sensitive. It means well, but it’s doing a shitty job. In fact, most of the comments people make that hurt my feelings, have that same quality. They probably think they’re being helpful or encouraging, but because of their own fears and judgments about their own inadequacies, they are actually projecting their own stuff onto me.
I am so tired of getting hurt by “well-meaning” people who accidentally shit on you because they have no idea how to actually listen or take someone in. As the women’s empowerment coach Tara Mohr says, criticism reflects much more about the other person than it does you. Your critic’s criticisms stem from their fear. They come from the scarcity complex. Yes, the critic is part of you, but it started out as an outside person—a person that represents the norms of society. A parent, teacher, religious figure, sibling. This is why externalizing the critic is so powerful—when we start to see it for what it really is, we have the power to listen to it, and respond, instead of projecting it onto the people around us. We can turn down the volume of the voice, or purposefully put our attention on something that makes us feel more alive and whole, rather than ashamed and shut down.
I have spent the first half of my life in a cycle of hiding and revealing. Like a flasher—see me naked, now you don’t. After I shared myself publicly, I would go through days or weeks of shame, which caused me to hide, isolate, shut off my creativity, sink into darkness. Hiding, especially, the shame itself. But in the past few years, since I made a commitment to be more authentic, to continue to be all of my selves, I have been actively working with my shame. Facing my shame and having the courage to talk it about was inspired by the incomparable work of Brené Brown. From her, I learned how to “speak shame.” Naming it first for myself. Letting myself feel it. Listening to what the inner critics are barraging me for. And then, sometimes, when I feel brave enough, sharing how I feel with close friends. And this, now, is the last part of that cycle—sharing my process with you. Opening up honestly to what courage really looks like behind the scenes. As you can see, it’s not pretty, or glamorous or fun. It’s hard work. It’s confronting all the fears, and judgments.
I, like so many, was raised to be a people-pleaser. I learned at an early age how to transform myself to become what I intuited someone needed or wanted me to be. Often, it took the form of becoming the great encourager, putting people at ease, self deprecating or hiding myself so that the others would be more comfortable. I found all sorts of ways to hide—pretending to be less intelligent, more conventional, less sensitive than I really was. It took so much effort, but it was a survival tool that I needed. And of course, I was mostly unconscious of the behavior. It just happened.
But now, at age 44, with a family of my own, and a hand-constructed life in the Baja desert, I don’t think I need that tool anymore to survive. For the past few years, I have worked to liberate my conditioning, to unlearn those habits of behaving smaller, lesser, quieter than I really am, or want to be. Yes, it is safer to be hide, but it is makes life less satisfying to live.
And then, in the words of Anaïs Nin, “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” This moment of risk has come for me many times, and each time, I blossom a little further, I include even more of my petals in my bloom. Being outspoken, transparent, creative, loud, opinionated, unapologetic as a female makes you a target. There is no way to deny that fact—just follow the career of any female public figure, and you can see the ways they attract shaming, ridicule and hatred. Yes, these female figures also inspire love and inspiration—but the thing is you can’t have one with out the other. I now know that the more I put myself out there, the more people will judge me. The more I share my point of view, the more people will disagree with me. The louder I become, the more people will avert their ears.
For a reason that was not created by me, but given to me, I showed up in this lifetime to wrestle with this very thing--the process of becoming one's true self. To learn and teach the process of human wholeness and evolution, to understand how to alleviate human suffering through liberation and creative expression. To be an example through living my life transparently. To allow my own experiences with shadow to be a teacher, to encourage others to take up more space in the world. To not do it, to hide my suffering and fears, my passions and dreams, is to not honor the truth of my soul. To not to do it, is to let down the people who I help to open up. To not do it is even worse than the pain of rejection and shame.
I have spent the first half of my life honing my crafts. Learning everything I could about psychology, spirituality, education and the arts. I have travelled, studied languages and cultures. I have listened to people’s stories. I have read books with great insights. I have trained as an artist, writer and performer. In the second half of my life, my goal of course is to continue my studies, but also to integrate all of this experience and knowledge, all these learnings into books, talks, blog posts, songs, classes, retreats, videos so that it may help others live out their fullest potential and highest purpose. It’s a lot of work, doing what I do. And I so often get the feedback from others: you are brave or you do so many things. They look at me with fear or discomfort. But those comments, while they are intended to be kind, in truth make me uncomfortable. I hear, underneath the words, a judgment. I shrink a little at those moments. But later, when I am able to access my higher self and sees all of my smaller selves, I come up with an appropriate response, which is: how could I have it any other way? I am just allowing myself to be me. I am allowing all my selves, and I give everyone else an open invitation to do the same. I was lucky to be born with a lot of privilege, energy and a very optimistic nature. This optimism has allowed me to experience many rejections and failures, and even though those failures hurt me deeply, the optimistic part always wonders—well, what’s next? What can I create? What can I bring into the world? What is needed? What is the next form of healing that I can learn and teach?
And so, I end this letter with a few decisions I have made.
I want to keep writing, keep sharing my process, keep daring myself to be more and more transparent with the hopes that my nakedness will help you feel more safe to be naked too, in your own way. As I have shared before, I am working on a book. The form of this book is in constant flux, so I don't know exactly how it will all come together, but it is mostly certainly a book that will include personal essays on similar topics to my blog. I decided that I want to share more here, the process of writing my book. Some of these blog posts will be seed starters for longer pieces. As always, I welcome feedback. I encourage conversation. I plan on writing more directly on my blog. And then sending out a monthly museletter with links to posts, news and information about my music, art, community activities, events, classes, etc.
If you have already subscribed to my museletter, you will continue to receive monthly emails. If you want to read my blog more frequently, you can just come to my blog to see the latest posts. I love hearing from people. Please feel free to send me an email if something I shared resonated with you, or if you would like to share your own story or your own creativity. I extend to you an open invitation for you to share news with me that I can put in my monthly letter. Or if you would like to be a guest blogger here, I would be happy to publish your work, as long as it is in alignment with my core values.
Together, let’s create a community that is more balanced, compassionate, vulnerable, creative and authentic! I know that I cannot do this alone. And I welcome your contribution in whatever form it takes.
Love and creativity,
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