Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: artistic anorexia


Today is a day off, which is most excellent, because I’ve been craving a day off. I am relishing it.

It began with my morning pages. Almost every morning does, though a day or two is missed per month. Next, a nice, long walk with the dog at 7AM. The air was chilly and the sun just breaking the roof lines. Love. I listened to Jamie Ridler interview Rachel W. Cole while we walked.

Rachel spoke of her Well-Fed Woman interview series and her voice started knitting together feelings I’ve tried to express over the past few weeks. Some actual arousal in my body, the changing of the seasons, and a need that I’m not sure how to name, let alone fill. A hunger.

What I’ve been craving lately, in order from big to small:

  • The huge craving is to attend a creative retreat like Squam or Be Present. Right now time / cost prohibitive.
  • Launching a whole new blog with a professional bent. No idea where to begin.
  • Launching a video interview series of alumni. Serendipity is pushing this one forward. Scary shit.
  • Expanding this blog with more consistent posts and photography. Again, no idea.
  • Run a 10K which also means consistently training for one. Time, energy, etc.
  • Creating a presentation for a work trip at the end of the month. Perfection gremlins.
  • And lastly, to read more and watch TV less.

Rachel and Jamie spoke of projects and how creatives can feel unfocused because they have so many ideas.

Jamie: Creative people are project-oriented. We think we’re not focused… but projects create diversity.

Rachel: Projects and ideas come through me, they have their own timing, their own incubation period, their own birthing. I just tend to them and hold on to them and in time they come out.

But I see that just by listing out all the projects I’m hankering for, I can see they’re big, bold and yet it shouldn’t be too difficult to get moving on them.

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal…

What if I did a cleanse? What if, for 30 days, I worked out, slept enough, took deep care of myself, created space, removed sugar, drank enough water, watched less TV, didn’t drink alcohol? Would I attain some stability of clarity that I miss out on now? I don’t know. Interesting experiment though.

All of that is important and probably a bit more than I can chew, too restricting and black & white. But after the podcast this morning, I can see that my need to reorient my physical health, to control all of it in the name of deep self-care, is actually a superficial fix for the real issue.

Rachel: Hunger – are you connecting or disconnecting? Are you moving closer to yourself or further away from yourself?… It’s not so much what you’re hungry for, it’s what’s going on deeper than that.

Yes, sleep, water, exercise, good food are all great things to integrate into my life, but they’re kind of already there. And this “solution” is an echo of my pre-therapy days where I would think, “I’m so cranky today because I had Yogurtland last night” and not because I wasn’t allowing myself to feel something heavy or wouldn’t acknowledge something was bothering me.

But now I know.

Jamie: I was just really struck by the idea, the whole concept of ‘the well-fed woman’, you really struck on something and there’s something so sensitive in that hunger. It’s so vulnerable to be hungry.

Rachel: Yeah, and yet, it is the norm for many people, just to be in that state. I was actually thinking before this call, about how much more life I have, just space, to be creative or to have relationships, or to do meaningful work, space so much energy, mental energy, emotional energy, creative energy, time that used to be spent maintaining a level of hunger… It’s very transformative to live a life where no matter what the hunger is, that comes up for me, I meet it with “Alright” – my belief is that you should be fed whatever it is you are.

As I walked, I started to ask myself what time and energy I’m wasting “maintaining a level of hunger”. The question goes right to the gut. The fear of beginning, of not doing it perfectly, of how much time and energy the project may take, and especially of my not being “ready” are all ways I’m running myself around in circles instead of just doing the work.

I am hungry and it is vulnerable. There is something I need and now have to go about the process of asking for it and / or creating it. Requires putting myself out there, making time, working through the quick-fix cravings for something deeper. And it’s not to say that I need to back-hand myself into this place. This is not about being superior and better… it’s about allowing myself to just be and do and feel. To just create now. To stop withholding the nurturing food that my being craves. To feed myself and be well-fed.

Rachel: Creative ideas and bringing them to life is what made me come alive. I really believe that’s what we’re here to do.

All Signs Point To – Create Now!

Inspiration finds you, really, whether you’re looking for it or not. I mean, you can be looking for it, but you may find it somewhere you least expect it. “Just think really really really hard about it and then forget it,” Don Draper tells Peggy in “The Wheel”, season one finale of MadMen, describing his creative process.

My DreamLab class is going through the guideposts of Brene Brown‘s The Gifts of Imperfection. I was cruising along, loving everything that is coming together in my head about my life, all those tidbits in the mixing pot, and then last week – BAM – derailed.

Last week covered cultivating creativity, faith and intuition – all important markers that I’ve lost track of in the past 5-10 yrs. (Dang Saturn cycle.) I recognized the faith and intuition pieces immediately, turning them over in my mind to reintegrate. Creativity, though, talk about a shame trigger.

My experiences of the past 9 years have included so many art wounds that I can’t untangle them. Scratching the surface of those history-lines sent me into an emotional panic. Too much weight. The issue isn’t whether I think of myself as creative, it’s that I starve myself of creativity.

This week my therapist asked me about drug/alcohol addictions. My extended family has a history of alcohol abuse, but my immediate family has been addiction-free. She pointed out how my self-control has probably kept me from having any issues – since feeling even mildly out-of-control is terribly uncomfortable for me. Add to that the understanding that I’m predisposed to these pitfalls – I obsessively monitor my indulgences.

But not with art. Not with writing, blogging, photography, journaling, and especially, music. I hold back. I do everything else first. I have some warped belief that if I allow myself to do creative things, the rest of my life will be swept away in a tidal wave of irresponsibility.

So not only did I have DreamLab bringing me “art wounds”, therapy bringing me “addiction & control”, I tuned into this podcast from Karen Walrond. Honestly, previous times I’ve found her stuff on the web, I didn’t fall in love. This time, though, her voice warmed my earbuds and I was smitten. And now I find this post

“All you need to do to be a writer is write.  You don’t need to wait until you’re grown up, or go to university or anything.  You just need to write, and write, and write.  You need to make a point to keep on writing.  Actually practice writing…

Later on, I was thinking about this exchange, and I realized that the same is likely true for just living life: I mean, it doesn’t take a diploma or a formal education to live, and there’s no reason to do anything proactively in life, really, if you think about it.  You could just let it wash over you, and just reactively deal with circumstances as they come.  However, it seems to me that the way to learn to live life best is to actually practice living — challenging yourself to do more, or learn more, and to be more, you know?  Purposeful living.” ~Karen Walrond

None of that’s new to me – writer’s write, runner’s run – but again that theme of practice vs. perfection – that life is in the doing and the being and not the end results. That I’m drawn to creative blogs, photography, and journaling repeatedly, even though I’m not practicing it myself.

My perfectionism, my people-pleasing, my dissatisfaction seem to be ways that I muffle that creative urge.

Creating is the best way I can see to skirt around myself and make my way through on this journey. ~Glad for Art

Here I am 3.5 months later, still not really doing any of that, but it’s there. The urge to create, to express myself, to heal.

“If you decide to trade in your authenticity for safety, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your unexpressed ideas, opinions, and contributions will not just go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at your worthiness. You may experience the following: anxiety, depression, overeating, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

Experiences in the past 9 yrs had me trading in my authenticity and controlling myself by withholding creativity. It’s a damaging cycle. I know the antidote is as follows, and I know it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride: as Jamie wrote here, I don’t need huge swatches of creative time, I just need creative time NOW.