6 of Swords

Honoring Three Selves

I've been working through Andrea Balt's Creative Rehab / Year of You program, and have had quite a few powerful realizations as I've engaged with the material. This past weekend the title of the first journal exercise was "Accept Your Multiplicity." (Some of you will understand why this gave me a bit of a jolt/zing/twitch.)

Walt Whitman famously said, "I am vast. I contain multitudes." And so do you. To practice hearing and seeing your multiplicity, to get a richer, fuller glimpse of who you are, try splitting yourself into two (or three) characters -- two voices/people/forces -- two equal yet opposing sides of you. Describe each of them. . . Try not to polarize them. . . .

As has often been the case with these exercises, I did not want to start. It seemed like it would be both too easy and too painful. But that wasn't the case at all. Three "selves" rose immediately to be recognized.

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"A" is My Father's Daughter. This is not just my public personna, this is the part of me focused on being responsible, striving for financial security, fitting in in corporate settings to enable financial security, and etc. When I stopped to think about 'her' as a distinct part of me, she felt like a robe wrapped around me. I've often resented her, believing that she has stood between me and the pursuit of my dreams, but I've been coming to recognize that she is a Guardian. She is very much a result of my father's influence, but that influence has allowed me to support myself and my daughter over the years, and that's important -- and worthy.

"B" is the part of me which embodies my spiritual vocation, the part of me that wants to develop my spirituality not only for myself but in order to serve and to engage in public. This is the priestess, the spiritual director, the blogger. She gets frustrated by the amount of time and energy "A" demands, but also is intimidated because she (STILL) has a hard time feeling worthy of stepping forward in the public sphere.

"C" is the deepest, most passionate, most creative part of myself. "B" has her roots here, but she's still a personna crafted for public engagement. C is the Journeyer. C is the lover, the hierodule, the writer of my best and richest stories and essays, the panther.

And when I tried to imagine her, I saw a thin, wasted form wrapped in something like a shroud, sitting huddled on a chair. She's been starving for years. I've mostly healed from Lohain's death, but the creativity which had its roots in my engagement with daimonic energy has remained crippled. I've had a couple of erotic relationships in the past several years, but more recently my sexuality has been in hibernation. I haven't written anything truly creative in years.

But somehow seeing this part of myself in the way that I did made me feel hopeful. "She" was tangible in a way she hadn't been before. I could work on healing this personification of my core. So I started praying to Freya for help. And I opened some very old story files, files which hadn't been updated since the early 2000's, and started reading my old work. And I queued up some music playlists which went with those stories.

I couldn't go back to who I was when I wrote those stories even if I wanted to. They are the product of adolescent dreams and yearnings. . . but I'm finding that they are capable of setting up a resonance in my core. I'm reminding myself of who I have been, of what has deeply moved me. I can't go back and re-write those stories, but reading them is nurturing me in a way I did not expect.

Ten years will change a person. Ten years of grief-based depression also change you. I am not the same person I was, but I'm still exploring who and what I want to be now. "A" and "B" are important, and I embrace them. . . but I miss "C." I miss living from my core, in touch with my passion and creativity. But almost nothing stirs that fire.

I'm gently blowing on the ashes now, in the hope that I can kindle some new sparks.

Belly Dance Soreness, More Exertion To Come

So yes, belly dance class last night put me in a positive headspace . . . but last night it took me forever to fall asleep (which is what happened the previous week as well).

This morning I'm tired, a bit sore, and facing a long day.

Tomorrow morning is Lodge (60 miles away).

Does anyone have any tips for how to quiet the body after evening exertions so sleep comes more easily? I don't want to be awake half the night after every class!

ETA: I went back and changed the title of this entry. I've been alternately laughing at myself and kicking myself when I read my old entries and see how many are titled with such vivid subjects as "Monday Morning" and "Tired." I'm going to do better this time around.
Gypsy Free

Second Belly Dance Class

I had my second belly dance class this evening.

As I may have mentioned before, dance does not come easily to me -- and this evening I started to figure out why.

I've been focused so much on "doing it right" that I lost track of the fact that I was supposed to be dancing. The moves became much easier when I stopped being quite so grimly concentrated and focused more on enjoying the movement.

Don't get me wrong: my abdominals still aren't quite sure what it is I'm asking them to do half the time, and my feet aren't used to half-steps and half-turns, but I can imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when the techniques will start to sink in.

This class feels a lot friendlier than the one I took thirteen years ago. The previous class was an ongoing one, whereas this one is a six-week "Basics" course. There are a lot of experienced dancers in the group, but I don't constantly feel like I'm being left behind. The women are more welcoming than the other group was too, although still a bit cliquish. But I really like the instructor.

This last week has been challenging. Last Thursday I left work early because I was having a bad mental health day, and I took the next day off. Then the smoke rolled in, and that was stressful. On top of that, I've been doing User Acceptance Testing at work, and while I'm excited about the tool, the test was not set up well. It's confusing and frustrating -- the more so because of how important it is. (It's a national project.) It would have been very easy to stay home from class tonight, but after class I felt better than I have since last Thursday. My whole body has gotten a relatively gentle workout, my lower back feels much freer, and I'm in a much better head space.

I need a new dancing icon. I found some good images, but don't have the time to crop and adjust this evening. . .

ETA: The only problem is that now it's late evening and I'm very, very hungry!
Not Well Behaved

Fashion Smog Masks

I still live in Seattle, where we are suffering from a heavy cover of smoke from the wildfires which range from California up to British Columbia. I am very grateful that we are not threatened by flames, but the smoke is oppressive on multiple levels -- the more so because this is the second summer in a row this has happened and it's probably not the last.

The air has been at "unhealthy" levels for a couple of days now, but I've seen only a few people wearing protective masks. Instead I've seen people working outside, jogging, the elderly and young children (who are especially vulnerable), and others going around outside as if nothing is wrong and we are not surrounded by a miasma which has real and serious health impacts. I've been wearing one of the N95 masks I bought last year during the smoke, and have resolutely pushed down my feelings of embarrassment for being the only person walking around in one.

Wolfling, who has asthma, posted a photo of herself in a mask before heading out for school (she's finally started community college -- an important catch-up post in its own right) and in the comments someone posted links to smog masks being worn in fashion shows in China and a more general article about fashionable smog masks.

The fact that such masks may become standard wear, even if only a few times a year, here in my beautiful region breaks my heart, frightens, and infuriates me.
Tiger and Foot

Icons and Dreamwidth

I've been unable to import this journal to Dreamwidth because apparently I no longer know the password. (It had been saved in my browser all this time.) I'm going to need to do a password reset.

But after poking around I've realized that I probably will be posting from here to Dreamwidth instead of the other way around.

One of my favorite aspects of LJ has always been the user pics. I lovingly curated a collection of almost 200 when I was active. Dreamwidth charges $1 per extra icon slot! Not my idea of fun!

Back when I transitioned this journal from QoS to Queen_in_Autumn I went through and "retired" a lot of my userpics. It's very frustrating now as I'm going back through my archives to realize how many of them have reverted to my default Queen of Swords instead of whatever I had put there. I've actually re-uploaded a bunch of them, and since the keywords still match they show up again. I'm not fretting over it too much, but it is disappointing.

They were all saved in the original form back when I exported my account using the export/archive tool, but it hasn't been updated since Windows 7 and now I can't open those files.
Hermit Scholar


So. . .

Dreamwidth migration was happening while I was still active on LJ, but I wasn't interested in joining the exodus. Now I'm wondering if being over there (but still cross-posting here) is something I should look into.

Does anyone have any experience to share? Are there more active accounts over on Dreamwidth?

Elphaba Writing  by elphie_chan

Changing My Story

One of the most powerful realizations I’ve ever had is that the stories we tell about ourselves shape our realities, and that if we can change our stories we can reconfigure our brains and transform our lives. It can be easier said than done, but every so often something in my brain clicks and I realize that I’ve been trapping myself in a story which no longer serves me (if indeed it ever did).

One of the most dramatic examples from my own life was the day I realized that I was tired of and bored by the story of myself as a woman with a broken heart. Yes, the pain of my failed marriage and the bad ending of a subsequent relationship was real, but I was done with letting it be one of my defining characteristics. A relatively short time after that, LM entered my life.

For the past several years I’ve been mourning the loss of creativity which resulted from his death. I’ve felt hollow inside, unable to create new fictional stories or work on non-fiction projects, cut off from the stream of passion that used to be part of my essence. It’s felt like I’m missing a vital part of myself. It has hurt a lot, and I haven’t been able to “fix” it.

This evening I realized that I was tired of that narrative. It had been true for a long time, but I was beginning to believe that the story was preventing me from moving forward. Something went “click” and I released the story. I am no longer a woman whose creativity was stolen from her.

I’m not sure yet how my creativity is going to manifest in the days to come, but I have faith in the power of changing the story.

ETA: I've been going back through the archives of this journal and just came across the post I made about that original story change. Oddly enough, it was also in August. . .