Respite

Adjacent to my unsteady relationship with living my passion through work, the rest of my life was going quite well. I was happily moving along the ups and downs of life.

One morning I woke up and had the best idea! I ran to my sister and told her. “Ok, I know what I want to do. It’s amazing, are you ready?” She reluctantly nodded.

“Ok, so I have this beautiful, peaceful space set up and I sit across from somebody…and I look into their eyes, and I smile. There’s no talking, just sitting.”      Her: “Ok? And?”
Me: “That’s it, we sit together. I SEE THEM. We all just want to feel seen. I’m really good at seeing people.”
Her: “Oh, ok…”
Me: “Yeh! Isn’t it the best idea ever??”

It felt so genuine to me, like it was the most a-u-t-h-e-n-t-i-c  idea I’d ever had. I kept feeling around in it, why did it appeal to me so much? I just felt like I could SEE. That when I looked at someone, I could see them in a different kind of way, a comforting way. And I thought, I like being seen too. It’s about connection, or feeling like a person, like you’re actually here and known.

A few weeks go by and one morning I wake up and have a thought drift in, “How about giving someone an energy reading?”

Wtf is an energy reading? I had no idea, but I posted on my social media to see who would be into an experiment, of sorts. I felt like whatever it was, I knew how to do it.    Some lovely (trusting) friends volunteered and I did my first reading.

I was no stranger to intuitive readings. I had read tarot for over a decade and I always seemed to just “know things”. It felt like there was something to be read between the lines of life. But I didn’t like the idea of being too “foofy”. I liked being grounded in day to day life.

During the first reading, I was extremely nervous. It was like entering a room I’d never been in before, blindfolded. In that darkness, I sensed something. It was like I could see, even with my eyes closed. But I was seeing the i-n-s-i-d-e  o-f   t-h-i-n-g-s.

It felt strangely familiar, like I knew how to move around here. I quickly opened my eyes and said, “Uhhh let’s try for a tarot reading first”. It was comforting to read the cards, that was a well trodden process for me.

After, I tried again…I could still sense something. This time I felt like I could hear the i-n-s-i-d-e  o-f  t-h-i-n-g-s.

I threw caution to the wind and just started saying what I was feeling, what I was sensing. I felt really hot, burning up like a fever. I tried to steady myself. My friend was lovely and gracious, she stayed with me as I felt around and said things.

That first reading, we held hands. We both got a little emotional, I was shaking like a leaf. I had no idea what happened or what to make of it, but I was so thankful that she had agreed to sit with me.

I started meditating more diligently than before. I got a notebook to record what was happening. I continued reading my friends and sister and with each reading, my sensing became more pronounced. My words became cohesive. I would go into a more and more relaxed state, letting go of the neuroses of my every-day self and surrendering into a peaceful space.

People asked if I was channeling, if so, who? I would say, I don’t know.

“Can you ask while I’m reading you?”

And people asked, and answers came. One phrase in particular emerged consistently with each response, “The Light”.

Who was the light?

Finding My True Calling (*hint* it’s a trap) Part 2

I gave up on my passion driven work twice.

The first time, I was taking a drive by the river and I felt an idea slip into my mind. It wasn’t words so much as a visual. I saw myself throwing all of it away into the river. I tossed away my labels, my p-l-a-n-s, my accomplishments. I was none of them. Could it be so easy? It was. I felt free.

I went home and packed up all of my fabrics and anything related to sewing or designing. I put all of it in boxes and into a back closet. I moved the studio all around and left only art supplies.

I had taken the pressure off. I had decided to end my suffering. I thought back over the last while and felt how hard I was pushing. I was squeezing the life out of myself, in the name of passion.

I thought that a lifetime of trauma was the reason I had so much trouble with my creative process. I thought I could heal this like I had healed so much of myself.

Having been so decided on recovering the creative parts of myself, I was going about it like a warrior. Trampling all over my own feelings. Those times I was saying to myself, “I’ve had enough. I’m tired now. I don’t like it. This isn’t the way.”

I decided listening was more important now. I was going to listen to myself. I set down my sword and I took time to just be with myself, with no expectations.

Months passed and I had pulled out boxes of fabric. I started new projects and was furiously writing in my notebooks. Outlines, p-l-a-n-s, sketches. Opportunities fluttered my way, as though the universe knew I had awoken.

I was sewing again and thinking of endless new ideas for what I wanted to create. One day, I was standing at my work table stitching together two pieces of leather. Suddenly, I heard a screeching sound…a s-q-u-e-a-l-i-n-g.

“What was that?”

It grew louder. Like a train coming to an unplanned stop. It rang into my ears until the needle fell from my hand and I closed my eyes as tight as I could. I opened them and looked down at my work table. I looked around the room and it looked back at me.

I could feel it sweating. The air was moist with something sickly and familiar. Everywhere I looked, self-loathing looked back at me. But it wasn’t loathing, it was sadness. It was my failure to have an identity, to believe in myself. I didn’t know who I was here. I didn’t know what these things I was making were supposed to say. When I looked at them, they looked weak and warped. They felt incomplete and alone.

I didn’t pack anything this time. I left everything exactly where it was. Every day I would walk through and pause to look around, to feel around the lines and shapes of what was in that room.

I looked to see if I was there somewhere. Maybe in a spool of thread or somewhere in that bin of leather. But I didn’t see myself.

A few days passed when I woke up and felt my body tense up. My muscles wouldn’t move. “What are you doing? I have to get ready for work.” My body, now full of sand, wobbled uneasily through my house and out the door to my car.

Instead of driving to work, I headed to the river. I drove north as far as I could, parked, and ran to the river. I stared into the water,

“Hey River, what the hell is wrong with me?”

It didn’t answer, but I felt something. I felt something melting and seeping through my skin. It slipped down my body, onto the river bank, and into the water. And then I saw them. There, getting carried away with the current: my labels, my p-l-a-n-s, my accomplishments.

I realized I could continue on this path, trying to express creatively through these crafts. It would continue to break me, to shatter me into little pieces and then put me back together. It was hard, up hill, and disorienting. But there were parts of it I loved. I had so many ideas, I would see them in my head and then bring them to life. I loved sewing, I loved fabric. But it wasn’t enough. None of it was enough.

I had to give up again, to follow a new path. It made no sense, why was it so hard to follow my passion? Why was it so painful?

:: Origin of Passion
1125–75; Middle English (< Old French) < Medieval Latin passiōn- (stem of passiō) Christ’s sufferings on the cross, any of the Biblical accounts of these (> late Old English passiōn), special use of Late Latin passiō suffering, submission, derivative of Latin passus, past participle of patī to suffer, submit;

O-h.

Finding My True Calling (*hint* it’s a trap) Part 1

Somewhere, among the ruins of my former life, pride, and sense of self I had a tiny little spark of desire. I had moved 1000 miles away from what was once Home and into my sister and her partner’s house in Florida. They had selflessly and graciously offered me a place to stay, food, love, and helped me in any and every way I needed. I remember sitting on the bed in my room feeling empty and dark.

What was I?

I had dragged myself through this last stretch of life like a resurrected corpse crawling their way through the earth, sliding across the soil of a graveyard. (And with about as much dramatic effect.)

But there was that spark. Something. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt it. I tried to chase after it a bit. I journaled. I figured if everything was over anyway, I might as well do something worthwhile with myself. There was nothing left to fear.

I would say maybe that spark was the idea of passion. The idea of doing something because it stirred something a-u-t-h-e-n-t-i-c within me. This was the beginning of my journey to lead a passion driven life. Most notably, a passion driven work-life. I was going to be one of those people who found their purpose and and soared onto its wings into a warm, welcoming (applauding) world.

And I did find my passion! I found many passions. And yes, there was a warm welcome from the world and scattered applause (at least in my head).

Following my passion was arduous. I often felt as though I was scaling the tallest of mountains, with no peak in sight. My highs were high and my lows gut-wrenching.

I came to resent the warm welcomes and the applause (imaginary as it was). “I’m not happy.” Wasn’t this supposed to be my happy ticket? Wasn’t I supposed to swim around in riches and soar with ease around my newly formed, righteous life?

With every turn I smacked head first into a wall of my own making. My own doubt, my self hatred, angry words of my mother binding around me every time I reached for a fresh piece of fabric to cut or a paint brush to dip into

b-u-r-n-t  s-i-e-n-n-a

or

p-h-t-h-a-l-o  b-l-u-e. 

I was often entombed in fear, standing in the middle of my studio-frozen. I wouldn’t give up. I knew the only way to succeed or to be happy was through this…somehow.

So I fought, I crawled, I grew long talons to rip myself back into reality from my tomb. I stayed with myself for hours on the floor, waiting for the anxiety to subside so I could start working on my projects again. It would get better, it had to.

And it did. Year by year, it was less painful. I could a-c-c-o-m-p-l-i-s-h things. The debilitating shame became bearable, just a sarcastic laugh away.

This was it. I was going to get there. I was going to make something of myself. I was going to make something of these pretty things I surrounded myself with. I had s-k-i-l-l-s now. I had experienced s-u-c-c-e-s-s-e-s.

So there I was, sewing away on my machine. Trying to ignore the void threatening to swallow me up if I stopped and looked its way. “Gosh, I love what I do. This is so fun.” I side eyed the Void, did it believe me? Would it leave me alone? I stopped to change my thread and picked up my fabric again. It had gone black. Black, like the basement in my dreams. Damp, cold, and abandoned. “How did I get down here? Can anyone hear me?”

Black- the sewing machine, my paints, the room, my arms. I was stronger than this. It wasn’t going to take me. I had fought for my passions. I fought for myself. The Black melted away and I sat, exhausted, at my machine.


A friend: “Hey! How’s work going? Making cool stuff?”

Me: “Yeh! It’s going awesome!”

‘I have lots of new ideas I’ve set into motion. I’m excited. I see my trajectory. See it? Over there. That illuminated winding pathway towards…

c-e-r-t-a-i-n

d-e-a-t-h

o-f

h-a-p-p-i-n-e-s-s.’

Awesome.