my . artist run website

post chair carrying day 46

 

Two things happened today.

 

First, I noted as I wrote my morning pages that I am far more judgemental than I have believed I am. This was a blow to my ego just hard enough to wack some sense into me. It is time, I am ready to let go of the judgemental stuff. It was Fear-based and was harming no one so much as myself because I was one of those judgers who really tried very hard to not let on that I was judging. The words out of my mouth were compassionate, and I really felt that; but deep in a secret place inside, where no one saw, I sometimes nurtured judgements. And though I kept those judgements silent usually, knowing what I do about phsychology, I'd say they showed themselves in other ways. And, certainly they were not healthy sitting burried inside me either. Judgement of others and myself feels like the last great negative burden inside me. Realizing it for the cancer that it was and exposing it to the light of day, the light of consciousness, mindfulness, feels like opening a window and letting the breeze blow in and cleanse a stale room of it's contents. It may not be unusual, it may be human, but today I found myself burdened by the practice of judging and I realized I have been burdened by judgements for many years. But today I began to teach myself better, more purposefully, how to allow. My mantra for the day was "Breathe and Be and Allow." And when I encountered hints of judgements, the mantra reminded me of the change I wish to create in myself and in my world. I am very grateful for the humbling awakening to my judgemental habits. I am very grateful for the work of correcting my posture in the world and clearing my inner rooms.

 

Second, I have lost the totem that was "the Love Fear Chair." It has been on my key chain. Today I ran errands, had lunch out and went to a meeting. When I got home and checked the mail with my keys, I noticed the Chair totem was missing. I checked the car and retraced my steps but did not find it. I called my sister to tell her the news because, while there was a peacefulness in my response, I wanted to talk about it rather than only think about it to insure I wouldn't go to negative places in my head. I was sad to lose it. It was adorable and I felt connected to it. Yet, I admitted to my sister, there always was a temorary quality to the totem even as I labored to strengthen it with three coats of epoxy. She helped me see too that perhaps I needed to lose it, to let go of it; and perhaps someone else needs to find it. Perhaps it will be a good totem for someone else. After all, none of us knows what our creations might bring the world. It was created in gratitude and love with feet (legs) firmly planted in human experience. May it bring joy and love and wisdom to those who encounter it. 

 

I just realized the totem was lost on the same day I seemed to have opened the window on the "last great negative burden inside me." Hmmm, coincidence? I think not. Makes me smile.


post chair carrying day 45

 

Fear is so insidious. It lurks secretly inside motivations I though I knew well.

 

Tonight I was talking with my husband about obsessions and compulsions. I reflected a bit. "I just pay attention so I don't get compulsive or obsessed." I said when asked what might trigger such behavior in me. Indeed, I HAVE worked very hard through the years to be mindful of former obsessions and compulsive behaviour. My answer reflected confidence that I have it all under control.

 

Immediately I remembered however, just a couple weeks ago obsessing when my daughter left me a troubling message then didn't return calls or texts for three days. I let myself get worked into a frazzle over that. 

 

Then little and big and every size obsession or compulsion flooded my thoughts. I checked off those I'd not-so successfully kept under control through "mindfulness." And I told my husband to hold on a moment. I searched again for what triggered these behaviors as well as what fueled my "frazzle." In less than a minute, I'd filed through reactions to get to their sources and it wasn't very hard to see that there was a common denomonator. Fear. I quickly searched old stories too. Yep. Fear was always there. Every time I feel obssessive or fall into compulsions, the root can always, always be traced to Fear.

 

Fear for someone's safety, Fear of loss, Fear of loss of control, Fear of letting someone down, Fear of annihilation,.. that's the map of my "frazzle" obsession when my daughter didn't connect for three days. I wasn't conscious of those Fears at the time of course but upon reflection, I can totally own them. They weren't BIG at the time. Infact the Fears were very well hidden by the busy-ness of my obsession, by the justifications I created for my behavior, by my obsessive behaviour itself. 

 

But I didn't feel good, feeling obsessed; and I think that is a clue to look for. I think I will start paying attention to when a reaction or an action doesn't feel good. A simple thing really. I will pay attention to simply not feeling good in my gut. Then see if I can map that feeling and find where Fear hides in it. 

 

Odd, I just realized Fear is starting to feel a bit like a toxin to me. It is something that doesn't feel good or healthy in my body. Even when Fear is helpful (when there is real danger to avoid for example), it doesn't seem to belong in my body. This is a new experience for me. It's not just intellectualizing the understanding that a person can possibly be free of Fear. It's becoming a physical understanding, a physical experience of desiring to not pollute my body, my being with Fear. 

 

Hmmm...

 

Practice being mindful of when the "not good" feeling comes and of tracing and understanding the root Fears will be good. And then breathing and letting go of the Fears, that will be important as well. Freeing my body of them once found, that will be the challenge. That will be the discipline. That will be the liberation. The healing. The health.

 

 


post chair carrying day 43

 

Fear really does find nourishment in reflection on the past doesn't it?

 

I started meditating yesterday. Simple, very simple zen meditation. And holicow, I find suddenly my mind wants to wander into the past and drag my Fear out from behind boulders waiting there for me. Wow. Very interesting how attempting to change something in ones self can dredge up old Fears and reveal addictions even, to Fears. I am not discouraged by this but I am a bit shocked by the magnitude of the effort a part of me seems to be making in response to change. 

 

For a long time, I've said, if something isn't remembered or isn't apparent in one's psyche, there is a reason. Our subconscious knows well how to protect us from that which overwelms us with Fear. So, meditating has been something I've tried to get myself to do for about a year now. There's been something in me holding me back. Now I am moving forward, stepping into meditation practice and that something is likely going to come into the light. The prospect is a bit scary. But in this NOW, the prospect is yet in the future and so it isn't for me to concern myself. When it comes to light, I will be ready. In that present moment.

 

 


Post-chair carrying day 42

 

Got 10 hours of sleep last night. Jet lag officially over. Well, for the most part. It's still a bit surreal being back; but I cleaned, did laundry, cooked a bit, spent quality time with my sweetheart and our dog and cat. Nested on a rainy day. Didn't go anywhere. So I am feeling planted again in my life here -- as much as I can with my heart (child) still going to school and working out some tough life-choices on the East Coast.

 

I have noticed so much strengthening via the FCP, some of which I elaborated a bit on last night. Today however, I noticed the one area where I have much to learn in terms of understanding and "handling" my Fear. Parenthood. 

 

The FCP has been enourmously helpful in teaching me to disassociate, to separate my feelings, my reactions, my life from others. Yet, when my child is troubled or somehow experiences pain at life's hand, my Fear levels rise abruptly and I must say, a bit frighteningly out of my range of comprehension.

Is it just that "deciding to have a child is like deciding to live with your heart outside your body"? Or is it something more to do with, what, survival? It feels like that. 

 

Perhaps this parental Fear thing is just based on my own life and that of my child's; or perhaps it is also something deeper. I've written about the "water table" of Fear, the deep undercurrent of Fear that reaches primal depths within our psyche. I really do believe that such levels of Fear exist in humans, in humanity. For tens of thousands of years we were primarily concerned with survival on very base levels. It's only really very recently that significant percentages of the human population goes through the day without considering survival let alone concentrating on it. Like domesticated animals through thousands of years change physically and behaviourally based on what is demanded from them by humans, perhaps we humans have been molded by what life demanded of us. Therefore, for the vast majority of human existence, we have been shaped by the instinct to survive and to help our children survive. That meant avoiding that which we Feared would kill us.

 

So today, I am not so concerned with survival per-se because we live in 21st century America. My daughter is warm, has food, has shelter, has friends, goes to school. But on some deep level, I recognize that her being across the country means she's not in my cave anymore. And the fact that she's struggling with some issues, stirs deep Fear for her well-being, even though I know intellectually that she will be fine and infact IS fine in this process. There feels to be something primal about my apprehension in response to her struggles. 

 

What do I do with this now?

 

While I visited her the past two weeks, I likened her journey to climbing a mountain; and I was beside her. Now I am 3000 miles away! Sure we can talk and text but while those are perfect forms of communication for life in pleasant times, they are limited communication when life becomes complicated and heavy. How did people used to do this when their children left home in England, sailed around the world to, wherever, or left on the Oregon Trail, never to return to the place of their birth? Did those parents feel the deep undercurrents of Fear for their children's lives? Well, they must have, for survival was much more an issue then than it is now.

 

Yet, I guess we do still have to survive and still do struggle for survival today. Survival means something different though than it did in pioneer or settlement or stone-age days. Today, our children have to survive emotionally and psychologically and financially in a world that can be quite hostile to the unprepared and prepared alike. Lions aren't trying to eat them, entire populations aren't trying to take their homes (not in America anyway), antibiotics and probiotics (or thousands of choices of chemical answers ) stave off the bacteria that would kill them. But the big danger now for our children is perhaps more internal, stress and perhaps even Fear itself. Fear of not measuring up, Fear of falling behind, Fear of failing, Fear of not fitting in, Fear of loneliness, Fear of the future, Fear of joblessness, and on and on and on...

 

What perhaps stirs my primal Fear most is when I notice my child is experiencing Fear -- for whatever reason. In this way, perhaps I am the same as that pioneer's mother, or that explorer's mother, or that cave-dweller mother. What causes me the greatest Fear, and perhaps any mother the greatest Fear is feeling, sensing or knowing that our child is in a state of Fear. That is why we can let them go when they feel the call to explore new lands, new lives. They step forward fearlessly, excitedly even. But when some threat to their plans, or threat to their lives and what they are building comes to light, whatever the source or type of threat, how can a parent (a mother anyway) not feel some sense of that deep, thousands-year-old conditioning? 

 

So how do I detatch again?

 

Well, if the FCP taught me anything, it taught me to carry my Fear out infront of me where I can see it. Get to know it. Let it be seen. Unappologetically befriend it. And by all means keep moving. Don't sit on it and stop living. Yes my child is 3000 miles away. Yes she is working through some tough stuff. But I can still be with her in her climb. And she is still with me in mine. Fear can parylize me or Fear can wake me up. And what is the antidote to Fear but Love.

 

Perhaps the disassociation I seek really IS from not just other's feelings but also from my own. Emotions are important but they are not ALL. They aresimply tools to help us get through life. I can use Fear where appropriate and I can use Love whenever possible... :)


Post-chair carrying day 41

 

Beginning to feel as if my head, mind, and soul have caught up with my body after the transcontinental flight. Jet lag is so disorienting. The 3 a.m. wake-up this morning didn't help but I am hoping to stay up a bit later tonight and remedy my sleep pattern.

 

As I begin coming back to myself, I am wanting to note some things here;

 

First, I am vastly changed due to the FCP and continue to discover ways in which this manifests in my life. Being with my daughter at her college, helping to expedite processes and plug into resources, I discovered not only how much faster things get done when the one writing the checks is simply present, I also really enjoyed being "big." That is, I enjoyed the empowered feeling and the visibility. I found myself very pleasantly assertive when the situation called for a bit more push and things got done while genuine smiles were exchanged. I went into the situations fully aware of my Fears but chose to focus on my love for my daughter and on thinking of the school personnel as team-mates in the tasks at hand. And things got done.

 

Second, I am "checking in" with myself in present moments far more frequently than ever before. This means I am learning to better live "in the moment, in the NOW." This is empowering, humbling, joyful, beautiful to think about. It means present moments, even scary ones are being experienced far more fully than I usually allow myself. One ultimate test was the flights across country. I have in the past despised flying for the Fears it created in me. For years I've practiced visualizations to get me through flights. This helped. This trip I practiced pre-gratitude for the co-passengers that would be provided who would somehow help me feel more distracted at least, more safe at best during the flights. Then I just breathed and trusted. As my Fear subsided my trust in the Universe/God/Source grew so that when my seat partners and I began talking, I was struck with immense gratitude (and smiled broadly in my heart) at the wisdom of the Universe's choice. 

 

Third, healing is happening in a relationship I'd nearly lost all hope of redeeming. Not just healing but deepening. I find that the FCP has created in me a strength that plants me firmly here, on this planet, in this moment, in my skin; and when I am in that place in me, I can better meet those around me with openness, love and compassion. It reminds me of "Namaste'" which has been said to mean "I honor the place in me of light, of life, of love. I honor that place in you of light of life of love. I honor that when you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one." Wow, I've always loved that word. Now, I believe, through Fear and the FCP, I am beginning to LIVE it. Beginning is good.

 

Fourth, the Community Warehouse, a not-for-profit in Portland contacted me today and they are excited to receive the Fear Chair as one of the pieces to be auctioned off next spring at their annual fundraiser, "The Chair Affair"! I am so excited it will move out into the world and do more good for someone! It has changed my life! It has changed me! And continues to do so. Tonight I epoxied (a sturdier clear-coat) the smaller version of the Fear Chair that I will begin carrying tomorrow as a totem I am calling "The Love Fear Chair." It differs from the original only in size and that "Love" is painted topside with "Fear" painted on the underside symbolizing my choice of focus in the moment, moving forward.

 

I have MUCH work to do, MUCH living to do, MUCH learning to do and I am in this moment overjoyed at the prospect; and moving forward in gratitude.


post-chair carrying day 40

 

Really needing a bit of time to process my journey. Just had a very intense two weeks. Still suffering a bit from jet lag; but more, I think, my soul is suffering from instensity-lag. Not feeling Fear. Feeling vague impressions of Love and gratitude but also just not caught up with myself. Of course when I write this, a tiny nudge of Fear enters my consciousness. Fear that something is "wrong" about this; but only a nudge. Then I pour Love upon it and I am able to relax and allow. I simply cannot write too much right now. Too much ambiguity, too much vagueness, too much tiredness. I will be here waiting for me to return from the flights across the country and all the intensity of my time on the East Coast. And, when my soul and mind are again present, I will write.

 

Breathing for now...


post-chair carrying day 36

 

Sometimes I cannot believe I carried that chair around for 50+ days. This is only day 36 after putting it down and it seems like forever ago. 

 

Back to the "love is a helluva lot of work," "life is a helluva lot of work," thoughts... Yes, it is all a helluva lot of work. And, yes, it is all worth it. I look back on my life. I've done a wide variety of things I never in my life thought I would do. I've HAD to do a wide variety of things I never thought I'd have to do. I'd wager we all can look back on our lives and make similar assessments. There are things I would rather not have done or experienced. But they happened. And they made me who I am today. And today will build upon the past to create my tomorrow. It is all worth it. 

 

So, how to look at how I affected others in this light? I have also done things that have hurt people. I haven't intended to hurt people, well, most of the time. I am sure there were times when I sunk into my Fear so deeply that I probably felt some malice. Hate to admit it, but it likely is true. So, is THAT worth it?

Yikes. 

 

Well, I suppose those people I've hurt, whether intentionally or unintentionally will have to answer that question for themselves. Whether encountering me in whatever circumstances was worth the pain they may have felt is theirs to decide. So, how about my perspective? Hurting people is never a "worthy" option, under any circumstances, let me be very clear about that. Except, I suppose in self-defense. But otherwise, it is something I AM very sorry I did and I have had to work hard to forgive myself for the lapses into Fear that left me feeling justified or desperate enough to inflict pain. And I am hopeful of forgivenes from others as well. 

 

Beyond this, I cannot think about it. I used to be the queen of beating myself up over the past. It's taken years to learn to be kinder to myself, to forgive myself. And, actually the Fear Chair Project seemed to be the final step in my recovery from self-abuse over the past. As a result of learning how to better carry Fear, and Love, I realize that, sure those times I hurt others are very unfortunate, and they are in the past. They are not anything I can or need to carry anymore. Just like all of the past. The best thing I can learn from the past is how to let it go. The most important lesson is to live NOW. That is the lesson that makes even unfortunate events worthy, that they can be let go and I can move on from them. For, holding onto the past is what dooms me to continue to live in the Fear that created the unfortunate events. 

 

It is said that a history forgotten is destined to be repeated. This is also true. So, I am by NO means saying I forget my past. I know from where I have come. It is in the remembering that I can feel the deepest gratitude that I am now where I am and NOT in the past. I just must not hang the past around my neck. My past is not my now. It is the work of getting here from there that is worth it. It is the learning, the growth, the pain of seeing that I can sometimes be a monster and can learn to be better that is worth it. It is the pain of looking clearly at every inch of what needs forgiving and even at every speck of horribleness I may have inflicted and admitting responsiblity then diligently learning to forgive and move forward that is worth it.  It is even the pain of realizing that the people I may have hurt may not forgive me, OR may not even think I am important enough to feel hurt by that humbles me, humanizes me. This pain fully faced and felt, makes me grateful to feel humble and fully humanand THAT is worth it.

 

I cannot be fully ALIVE, fully LIVING my life if I am only facing beautiful and pretty things, memories, images of myself. It is in the acknowledgement and acceptance of my own ugliness and painful past that I can choose to set that down. Loving myself is a helluva lot of work. And it's worth it.


post-carrying day 34

 

"Luv is a helluva lot of work" 

 

When I was young my mother learned how to silkscreen. Her first job was to make felt banners with that saying on it. We kids helped by taking each finished piece to various surfaces, counters, couches, chairs, beds... Every surface we kids had used for safe in our games of "Lava." It was a two color poster, so the image evolved. And the house was covered twice. We all felt very important helping mom with such a big job. I believe 150 were made. And we all giggled that we got to say a semblance of a swear word infront of our mother.

 

One of my sisters has kept one of those banners all these years. Tonight she said, "being human is a helluva lot of work." A true twist on a truth. So often it just feels as if life could beat us. This "mountain" I keep talking about is littered with ridges and outcroppings and crevasses (to name a few) that just aren't visble until they are right infront of you. In other words, embarking upon the journey is one decision. Remaining on the climb is many decisions. At the outset we encounter our Fear confront it and move forward through it. As we continue, Fear leaves little and large reminders along the way that we are mere mortals. And this can be daunting at best, overwelming at medium and paralizing at worse. 

 

I don't really have any wisdom about this, it is just something that came up tonight. That life is a helluva lot of work. Again though I guess I recall the words, "but it's worth it!" And THAT is the wisdom. 

 

This week supporting my daughter as she goes through a complex passage and supporting other loved ones as well, I have felt a lot of Fear and a lot of Love but mostly what I have experienced is the worthiness of this journey. Love is a helluva lot of worth it! lol