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Post-carrying Day 17


Today felt physically better. Began eating normally. Then got sick again. What's this all about?


Decided I'm getting a tiny chair to paint an put on my keychain. Hear that universe? Tomorrow (I WILL feel better) I begin looking for the perfect little Chair.


The Little Fear Chair (LFC) came up in a conversation with my sister today. I was unloading about some Fear I need to examin and, well, unload and asked "god, do I need to start carrying my Chair around again? I am really stuck here!" She said, "well, maybe something smaller." BAM! A little reminder of the Fear Chair idea was born. 


Her point was a good one. She said the original Chair needed to be big because I needed to bump into others' reactions. This is true. But now I've reached a point where my Fear is all about me, and I SEE that. This too is true. I have written a bit about the detatchment the FCP has helped me develop. The differentiation, I think is the technical term. That is, I see myself separate from others as I have never seen before, even people I love. This has been an awakening that I've tried through talk therapy, writing, art, meditation, etc... for years to get to. I am very grateful.


But I think with the ending of the 30 in 30 challenge I've fallen for various reasons back into comparing myself to others. This is NOT detatchment, not differentiation, not actualization at all. And it is doing me harm. SO, a return to the Fear Chair is a good idea. But my sister is correct, carrying a big chair around would be going backward too. Responding to people's reactions to my differences and to my burden of Fear is not what I need. I need to recognize my difference and the Fears that remain mine myself and to honor and celebrate all this about me, myself.It will also be the totem for me of what I was and am capable of as a vulnerable AND strong, Fearful AND courageous person. THAT is what the LFC will be for me. 


I will keep you posted on what the Universe brings me and what I do with it....


Also returning to a bit of Jungian reading... I studied years ago but left analytical for cognitive therapy. There is much good in Jung however and with the Chair being such a significant metaphor, I think a return to some archetype work would be good for me. It might provide some good stories for you to read here as well...Off to the library tomorrowl...

Post-carrying Day 16


Caught a stomach bug yesterday. Not fun. Finally starting to feel human again this evening.


Do others, when they are sick, just feel like you will never feel like yourself again? I don't know if it's really a Fear but, well, perhaps it is. I think it's a bit of a self-sabotage as well. Usually when I get sick it's because I've been doing too much, well, shouldn't be judgey, doing a lot. Doing more than is really healthy. So I feel strong and capable and productive but eventually, if I don't pay attention, something gives, usually my health. My body has always been a good canary in the mine so to speak. It lets me know when my intensity of activity, even "good" activity reaches dangerous levels. And, I am certain this is what happened yesterday. Though of course a bug IS going around, the timing is quite perfect to self-sabotage as well.


With the FCP, the two month house painting job ending, the 30:30 challenge (and my rheumatologist convincing me to try gluten-free for 3 months), not to mention family intense circumstances, I've been pushing my growth limits pretty intensely lately. I am also supposed to be contacting galleries to show my prayer flags AND getting paypal connected to my website so I can start selling. Yet those two things are not getting done. Hmmm. 


Yes, I am afraid. I am afraid of success. Just as much as I am afraid of failure. Shit. I really thought this was not going to be an issue. I've been working very hard to move forward, to think positive, to lean into my Fear, to stretch. But, as i sit here, feeling the waning nauseau as my body regains it's hold on my health, I realize, I am going to feel better soon. I am going to feel strong again. Physically. The flu was temporary. It is not reason enough to delay getting paypal set up or contacting galleries. 


Do I need to carry my Fear Chair around again? Sort of feels like it. Or at least threaten myself with it. Fear of success. Why?


It feels out of control.


Well, carrying the FC around had a lot of out-of-control factors. No control over how people would react. No control over the spaces I was going with it. No control over what issues would come up because of it. Yet I carried it. Why was that ok but not contacting galleries or selling paintings?


Ooooo, because nobody had ever done it before. The galleries and selling have been done by lots of people. I am comparing myself to others again. Measuring myself against what I see as other people's successes. And I know I won't be able to do it like they do it. So even if I do realize some success, my Fear is I will be a failure no matter what because I - am - not - doing - it - "right." It is that humilliation thing. That abandonment for being a loser, stupid, for not knowing how it "Should" be done.


I think what is needed here is some good centering again. Some time spent reaquainting myself with my intuition and self-knowledge. 


It amazes me how deeply buried are the tendrils of self-judgement. Deep. Insidious. Persistent. Perhaps "roots" is a better image. The roots of self-judgement are deep. I stopped in the middle of a painting some months ago I may go back to. It is the image of a woman with her eyes closed and trees have taken root all over her head. When I first started the painting, I thought it was a pleasant image. Like thoughts taking root but it began to feel anxious to me so I stopped. I couldn't figure out why there was negativity to it. Her face looks so peaceful. I think it perhaps is because she is unawakened to all that has taken root in her head. 

Her peaceful expression is ignorance perhaps. Hmmm. I wonder what the version with her eyes open would look like. 


I need some sleep so I can feel strong tomorrow. I have some work to do...


Post-carrying day 14


Had a breakthrough today after feeling like a breakdown was coming. I think sometimes the two go hand in hand. With the FCP and the 30:30 challenge and some other personal work I've been doing, it's been a very tumultuous and growthful time. Again, utter gratitude here. But last night I had some disturbing dreams that raised for me the question of whether I can handle this accelerated growth. By morning I was feeling like the sneaker wave was drawing everything up from unfathomed depths and was about to wash me out to sea.


After telling my very good therapist about the dreams, and how ultimately in the most unsettling one, I was able to say a protective prayer but eventually realized the task in the dream was not my job and was not safe for me, I woke myself up, we talked about vulnerability and boundaries. I realize that making myself vulnerable is a gift I have that draws people to me (sometimes) and it is something that I love about myself. It allows me too to get past differences that can divide so connections can happen. Connections are deeply important and passionately fun for me. Whether between opposing sides between people or issues, or 2 images that just don't seem to belong in the same painting. 


But this is only the first part of the breakthrough. The vital piece is the boundaries. I very naturally am comfortable with my vulnerability. This is a gift. Whether it's not natural or I wasn't taught, boundaries are the problem. Vulnerability is the strength. Lack of boundaries through my life has been the issue that got me hurt. Vulnerability is part of what makes me loveable. Not being clear about boundaries or not feeling worthy of having boundaries made me a victim. I realize I am not to blame for what others do with my vulnerability, but I all too often (and this was learned) went in boundariless to situations and with people that harmed me.


The third part of the breakthrough is that carrying the Fear Chair around, I right away had to set boundaries and I unquestionably felt I deserved as well as needed this. I set the rules, it was my project, and because no one else I knew had ever done this, I deserved to create the entire experience without question. THEN every day for 50 1/2 days, completely unconscious I was doing it, I practiced setting and maintaining clear boundaries around my vulnerability. The FCP was an exercise in vulnerability. I wrote about it at times in this blog. But what I didn't know is that it was also an exercise in setting and maintaining clear boundaries to keep me safe. And, because that has been a challenge to me, the FCP has also been an exercise in worthiness...


Wow... From Fear to Worthiness.... From Vulnerability to Boundaries... From just Doing my life like I always did to Loving so many newly seen parts of who I am... Again, gratitude for the FCP...

Post-carrying Day 14


Today I was reminded that not all Fear rises to the surface unless summoned. 


On my morning walk with our dog, I stopped by a neighbor's for a bit of a chat as they were out in the driveway. It was a beautiful morning tinged with just the slightest autumn chill beneath sunny skies. I was feeling bouyant in the wake of the 30:30 challenge being completed. While I had work to do, there were no deadlines awaiting me by day's end.


As we stopped in the driveway, I thought to wish our neighbor an early "happy birthday." He is exactly one year older than my dad, so I always make a point to wish him well each year. This morning he didn't seem to take note, but, looking somber he informed me that a young man who'd been causing a bit of upset and unsettled the neighborhood over the past 8 or so years had committed suicide and would be buried today in the little local cemetary down the hill. I said, 'he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder wasn't he?" My neighbor confirmed this and we talked about the young man's life and his death. I learned quite a bit more than I was ready to hear; but my neighbor, understandably needed to talk. The boy was the grandson of his best friend.


We parted, both of us shaking our heads at the tragedies of life and of death in it's odd forms. 


As I walked home, I noticed my own life present itself before my thoughts and the suicide began to seep into my bones and cells drawing up the deep Fear there. Someone close to me has Bipolar Disorder. While the young man who was buried today lived under his own circumstances, the Disorder is serious under any circumstances. AND, while I am deeply deeply grateful the person I am close to with Bipolar is actively seeking to learn how to manage it, I was surprised at the unconscious response my body underwent in hearing about the suicide. By the time I arrived home, I was near tears and needing to process the impact of being reminded in such a graphic way of the potential outcome of Bipolar. 


Suicide IS one possibility one always knows is there when you care about someone with Bipolar. But being conscious of that doesn't mean there isn't Fear surrounding it on deeper levels.


I guess that brings up the notion that no matter HOW aware I am of my Fear, there are always going to be nuances or levels to it that can only be seen let alone understood when the Fear is brought to light by life circumstances. I wish I COULD pick out Fears one by one and stick them under a microscope, examine, poke, prod, even carry them around for a while and get to know them then be free of any surprises as I move on with life. Unfortunately Fear doesn't work that way. 


Again, this brings to mind why I carried the Fear Chair. Not to rid myself of Fear, for that is impossible, but to better understand it and perhaps even lessen my Fear of Fear. My Fear about a loved one committing suicide (like any BIG Fear I suppose) is complex and layered. I can intellectualize and analize it and get to know it pretty darned well. And even let go of a bit of it. But when faced with the actual, flat-out reality of the statistics and then someone I know (even not well) actually committing the act, will open the deep tendrils and layers like intellectuallizing and analysis cannot. This is because, duh, Fear is not a function of intelligence. Fear is primal. It's even more than emotional. It's physical. It's historical. Most basic of basic experiences. Before language. Before communication. Who knows, perhaps even before Love, was Fear.


Anyway, I called a couple friends and processed. Did my work. Then spent ample time in my studio working on a Fibre Collage that is the final piece in the 3 piece Prayer Flag Series "The Serenity Prayer." I've done "Courage" and "Wisdom." Last is "Serenity." How fitting. "Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference." Counter to the order of the prayer, perhaps "serenity to accept the things I cannot change" is hardest for me... "serenity to accept the Fear I cannot change," hmmmm...

post-carrying Day 13

I struggled a bit with leaving last night's post up. It was a bit long and had a bit of a rant slant. I still struggle with having a voice. With visability. Why would I take it down? Let me list the whys.... 

  • someone might be offended
  • someone might disaggree with me
  • if someone disagreed it might mean what I wrote was/is "wrong"

Here's a secret, someone in my life whom one would expect would love me unconditionally given who they are in my life has told me more than once that (they) didn't want to talk about certain subjects with me or hear my opinions about them because not talking about them would allow this person to continue to love me. Since my earliest memories, circumstances in my childhood convinced me that to be myself would  dissappoint important people in my life and I'd be sent away.


That's as detailed as I can get but I think it shows enough of the situation to explain why posting such strong opinions about something as public as media was a huge risk for me. Yet I did it. And, I did not remove it. I allowed myself to be seen.


Visible is risky. Yet, I am learning two things from the FCP: # I have as much right to be seen as anybody and #2 In a way I have no choice but to BE visible. It was a lie I told myself as a child that I could hide who I am as much as it was a lie I told myself that I SHOULD hide who I am.


I look at all the ways I "tried" to hide; and I look at all the ways available to "cover up" who one is in our culture. I don't think I am alone. I am realizing visibility really is huge not just for me. I think I had to see how huge it was/is for me before I could see it is a Fear that is very prevalent in our culture. I don't mean just the make-up or dieting industries. Visibility is vulnerability. Personas, positioning, competition, busy-ness, separatism, possession accumulation,... So many, so many forms this Fear can take without our even realizing. 


Many years ago I was dating someone who took me to a dinner with fellow  professionals in an MBA program. Before I walked in to the room, I could feel the buzz of the expectations that all attending would measure according to the standards befitting such a program. We sat at a table with several lovely people, a partner in every couple was in the course. So the program was talked about peripherally for a while, then we got to introductions. The man next to me turned and introduced himself and I myself, then he asked, "and what do you do?" How many time do we get asked that question in our lives and know that what they mean is, "what do you do that someone deems worthy enough to pay you?" In other words, "what do you do 8 hours a day, I'm not interested in the other 16."


I answered chuckling, "Well, I do a lot of things," and started listing my artwork, my daughter, my apprenticeship, storytelling, library work, "what specifically would you like to hear about?" The answer fell flat. My date was furious and quickly stepped in to "save" the situation.


Not only do we not really want to be seen, but I wonder if we also have a Fear of seeing others. If their vulnerability touches too closely to our own. We seem to have an unwritten aggreement, "you keep your wall up and I'll keep mine. You over there, me over here."


I think the FCP has helped me see my walls for the divisive and, really, useless lies that they are. Though to be honest, as I alluded to at the beginning of the blog, I still feel the Fear at taking them down, or even peeking over them. It's still risky. But then, so is keeping them up.

Post-carrying Day 12


My husband and I compared notes this evening. I haven't watched television since 1996 (here and there on vacation once in a great while not-withstanding but not in our home). Our daughter (20) was raised without television. He is my daughter's stepfather. He stopped watching television the latter part of 1999. We dabbled in Public Television a bit but when everything went HD, we didn't convert. And we never looked back.


I stopped watching originally in 96 when heavy rains after a freeze caused flooding and a mudslide that carried a truck 20 feet in a Portland neighborhood. The news stations went wild. Even the one I'd watched thinking it was reserved and respectable. The video of the slide and the truck was shown whenever there was a transition from one reporter to the next because nothing else dramatic happened. The rivers stayed within their banks though they rose significantly. Later there was a very damaging mudslide but that was the next day, for an entire day we were fed this little drama over and over and over. It did get that ridiculous. Until I turned off the TV. 


This is coming up because of two things that happened today. My husband and I realized that neither of us even listen to public radio anymore (except on Saturdays once in a while) because they've gone to a 7 days of news format. Even on public radio, the present energy put into producing news stories is at a level that feels unhealthy to us.


Humans are creatures that run on energy at certain frequencies. And we are affected by energy around us. A lot of studying is currently going into possitive psychology (Harvard even offers a degree in it) and the effects of possitive energy as well as negative energy on people's happiness and longevity. My husband and I simply feel the negative energy from television far more than we feel the positive. I know people argue there is a lot of good stuff on TV and Cable, and there IS. Once in a while we'll happen upon something on the internet or DVD that we love. But not enough to hook up the Television and bring it in as a member of the family.


The other thing that happened today was that my Dad, an avid news-watcher, mentioned that "it's all getting repetitive," then he added, "and it's getting even scarier." I've watched enough news programing with my extended family or in hotel rooms through the years to be grateful to hear him notice this. Now, whatever you watch as a news source (I've watched my parents' choices for news and I've watched others, supposedly opposing perspectives) I'd agree, the Fear is running high. Is it that the world really IS a place we should Fear more now than every before? Or is it that Fear is being SOLD better than it ever has before. I've also heard these arguments. 


Tonight I have to ask, does it matter? Really? Does it matter if the world is a scarier place or if people are selling ("mongering") Fear? The point IS we have this wonderful invention, the Television/internet/radio (media - any one or all) and people are either turning it/them off or sitting glued to their every word in case next up there's a video of a (insert here gruesome murder type or political scandal or celebrity nip slip or yet another speculation while we watch, again, the mudslide footage). 


Fear is powerful. The final days carrying my Fear Chair, I noticed very well how powerful Fear can be. It too is an energy in this universe. Fear has it's own frequencey. Ever notice your dog seems to notice when you are feeling insecure and need some loves? Remember, "horses can sense Fear" from the movies? "Never let 'em see you sweat," I think is another one. Fear changes us in ways that animals and other humans can detect, even when we aren't entirely aware ourselves that we are feeling uneasy. Before carrying the Fear Chair, I thought a lot of my behaviors were just habits or "how I am." Some are of course, but I was amazed how much of my behavior, how many of my decisions on a daily basis can be traced to Fear/s. 


I do believe Fear is selling far more than ever before in our media, that's why I limit my exposure. I really don't need others telling me what to be afraid of in Iceland or Hollywood, or even Washington, when my worrying, my anger, my Fear won't change anything but me. It will make me a worried, angry, Fearful person as I live my life thousands of miles from those places. 


I am not saying don't be informed. I am saying Information is no longer the same as News. And, I am saying there might just be such a thing as too much information. TMI after all, but not just about what your best friend did with her boyfriend last night. And I'm not saying don't do anything to make this a better world. But - it - really - is - true - you - can - only - change - YOU. Ghandi was indeed a wise man, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Don't shake your fists and yell and scream or threaten and expect to get love and peace. It's just not a scientifically sound if not spiritually sound method for improving things.


Also, there is much being said regarding this slant or that slant to the news. So we even Fear the news! We don't know whom to trust.


For me, I just choose to live a bit closer to home.

Post-carrying Day 11


Looking for a new home for the Chair. I've let the question sit in my subconscious over the last 10 days, what to do with the Chair. I know I said I'd donate it but (that big butt again) just haven't made movement in the direction until today. I did contact the Community Warehouse in PDX. Hopefully they will want it for their fundraiser.


This brings me to my assignment from Carol. I am to look up and educate myself about galleries and submit enquiries to jury my artwork. Sigh. I did a little bit of this last night but not anything committal yet. As I write this, I am going to cut myself a little slack. I still have two more paintings to do for the 30 in 30 Challenge. I need to wait until that is past. I just do. Not out of Fear really, but out of shear sense of still swimming in the waters of CHANGE. I did some work on an old painting today and was blown away by how my confidence and skill have developed/are developing.


I think I am hard on myself by expecting when an idea comes, I MUST act upon it immediately or it means I am afraid of it. Well, perhaps there IS a bit of Fear, but sometimes, as I've said multiple times, Fear is self-preserving. Sometimes I need to hesitate before jumping into another pool. Sometimes I don't yet know entirely how the present pool will affect me until I am out of it. THEN would be a better time to judge whether I can handle another swim. So, hesitation is ok. Besides, my subconscious was a good place to have stored the decision about the chair until it's time. I am learning to trust that as a good choice rather than a hiding from action. Sometimes plans need to sit in my subconscious for a bit for me to see whether they are good ideas. I think this is a good realization.


Perhaps I used to Fear my subconscious. Perhaps I used to Fear letting go and trusting it. So much so that when ideas came to me I all too often jumped at them rather than waiting and listening. Yes, that does sound like me. 


In this culture we are so action oriented; it seems that to sit on an idea, especially a good one, is considered foolish. But does EVERYTHING have to be trial and error? I don't think so. In a book I am reading right now, action is described as the last step in a plan. Intention and belief must come first. Trial and error are not bad, this still needs to happen; but I think I've made a lot of choices far too abruptly because I didn't trust my subconscious/my soul/my self to just be with ideas for a while. 


I used to play a game called "Score Four" as a kid. (like three-dimensional checkers with pegs and beads) It was the only strategy game I seemed able to consistently win. I always loved playing it because of this but mostly I loved it because I knew why I won. I won because I would sit forward, then shift side to side, then look up and down and latterally to study the game in it's present state before I strategized my next moves. I remember wishing someone would take note and ask me about my proficency but no one ever did. I just wanted to talk to someone and find out if it was really a good way to play this game and what it meant that I'd figured this out for myself. Alas, no one was that interested in why I was good at Score Four. But, looking back, I can see a young girl just beginning to catch on to the belief in her own intuition, her own subconscious wisdom. This I suppose was the beginnings of self Love, which is the antidote to Fear. That young girl carried a lot of Fear/s, I am gratteful to note that she also knew a bit about Love.


LOL, I just realized I jumped on the FCP pretty quickly and acted to start immediately. Yet, actually, Carol had told me about the woman who carried the "Anger Chair" several months ago and it didn't cause any sort of action to go buy and paint and carry a Fear Chair. It WAS sitting in my subconscious and all it took was Carol bringing it up again at the "right" time for me to realize I need to pay attention to what emotion burdens me the most. And once we began exploring this, in my present place in life, in that moment, in that NOW, it was time for action. 



Post-carrying Day 10


Tonight was my last catering. I don't even know how many years I have catered through the wedding season (April-October) for my friend's business. I just realizes though after the wedding a couple weeks ago that I am at an age where one job that beats my body to a pulp is enough. Also, circumstances are such that I am needing to work more in our contracting business now. So, I listened to my body and gave notice that tonight (also the last of the season for the year) would be my last catering.


I will miss much about catering. I LOVE serving people. This is weird I know, but I come from a Benedicting and Franciscan Catholic background. Though I am no longer Catholic, the tradition of hospitality and service were something I deeply loved and provided the only way for me to truly feel at home let alone valued in the church. So it was a part of me too that I learned to love early on in life. It is part of who I am, part of what I feel makes me loveable is my love of service.


Also, I will miss the food. OMG, Maggie has the best food! And when catering, there is little time to eat (sometimes no time) and if it comes, the time is hours after we've carried, prepared and served the food, so we work very hard AND suffer not being able to eat what smells absolutely fabulous. So, when we do eat, it is well needed and well deserved. I will miss the passion of that dynamic. Oh, and we get to sample the wedding cakes most of the time. This is always like a tip at the end of the plate-clearing. We get to sneak a sample to share and we always critique (tonight's was AMAZING!, moist and flavorful. I didn't even think about it until I pulled into my driveway after work, I am supposed to be on a gluten-free trial for three months)


I will miss the people. The catering staff changes from time to time. Some people are better suited to it than others. It's a fast-paced, hard hard job (I'm in construction and sometimes I have trouble deciding which provides the better workout). Most staff works in earnest, even if not well suited, to do the food justice by providing efficient and lovely service. But it is the people we serve that I will miss as well. Some have been challenging, some characters, most have been utterly delightful to serve and to encounter. There are a LOT of amazing and lovely people in this world. Utterly delightful meeting them or just seeing them celebrating life! 


I will miss the dressing up. We live pretty simply and don't really go out much. If we do, mostly we go out for breakfast or something casual if for dinner. My husband and I agreed before we got married that we would never tell the other how to dress. I got married in a full-length, fitted, fully-beaded evening gown with a sequin phoenix down the front and slits up to my thighs that I'd bought years before at a thrift store. He was wearing Tommy Bahama shorts and a tropical motif silk shirt. We both were barefoot because my sandal broke just before the ceremony, so we took it as a sign we were supposed to get even more comfortable. So, anyway, we don't dress up much. Caterings gave me some semblance of glamour. Such as it was.... lol.


So I am sad. Yet I am also relieved. My body feels the relief. My heart is a bit sad. And I'd be lying if I said there was no Fear in this change. Catering has been part of my identity in the community, part of a friendship, part of my social life (odd but true) and part of my connection to what makes me loveable. It is a little scary to let go of that. What will this mean for my identity, my friendship, my social life (such as it is) and my love of service? I am not overyly Fearful. I know life will continue and fulness of living is still mine to enjoy, but it is a shift and there are unknowns. So, one day at a time in this change too... I trust all will be well and all IS well....