Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Tales

(Photo by Eduardo Rubiano Moncada)

I've been far too exhausted to write anything this week; several weeks of intense work and travel were followed by five days of intense creativity and feminine energy at Squam by the Sea. I returned home joyous and nearly comatose in time to celebrate my birthday three days later. I had a spectacular birthday and the amount of love and good energy I received absolutely blew me away, but the festivities left me drained. Today, Halloween, I'm still struggling to be able to think straight. All I want to do is rest, and I have a mere week to prepare for my return to Brazil for a month-long project throughout the country. I'm inclined to hide under my bed for the next few weeks and hope nobody notices.

While my mind and body re-group, I thought I'd share an appropriate story given today's date. The image above was taken a couple weeks ago, the day my pumpkin found me. The site wasn't a true pumpkin patch; actually, the pumpkin refuge was on the lot of a local church where the pumpkin-sellers would lure their customers in with their good-looking produce and then go into brainwashing mode... I managed to escape unharmed and without offending anyone.

A few days later, my pumpkin took a road trip with me down to the Outer Banks. He sat proudly on the dining table at Squam for the duration of the workshop, waiting expectantly to be carved, and then reluctantly got back in the car with me and returned to southern Virginia. I'd had him for nearly a week at that point and had grown rather attached to his firm, round, orange surface. I do hate that pumpkins rot so quickly once you carve them; I suppose on some level I was avoiding the inevitable. Upon returning to Virginia, I decided that it was time. And my craving for pumpkin seeds had become unbearable.

Here is a photo of the pumpkin awaiting his fate:

And here is the final product:

Yes, I realize the carving job is a little mediocre. And I'm fine with that. Part of my ongoing effort to keep it simple.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recharged and taking flight

Just reentering the real world after five marvelous days in the Outer Banks with some of the most inspiring women I've ever met. As expected, Elizabeth and Michelle created magic. They held the space for all of us with grace and love and changed all of us for the better. Sarah coaxed me out of my head and away from fear and showed me that I too am an artist. (The photo above is of the paintings I made in Sarah's class- I'm still glowing about them.) Michelle, my angel in so many ways this year, led perhaps the most powerful, meditative yoga class I've ever experienced. I was so blissed out after class I could barely speak. Jen, my storytelling guru, got into my head once again and pulled out all sorts of ideas that I can't wait to get onto paper (or the computer screen). And rock star Mccabe encouraged me to release my inner mermaid and strut my badass self. She also reminded me how great it is to dance to that really ghetto club music from the late '90s. Thank you all.

With fuel in my tank and wings on my back, I'm taking off and ready to conquer the world. Yup, I'm feeling pretty damn good right now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

System failure

Let me preface this post by sharing that I am currently immersed in Squam love on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina, hypnotized by sound of the waves and the creative energy all around me. I feel myself being catapulted yet again onto another plane. I'm finding myself and connecting with amazing souls. Few things could make me feel happier or more at peace. Especially after last week.

"El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta." Loosely translated, he who carries too much can't get a good grip on any of it.

I've always considered myself to be a good multitasker, but I've realized that in truth, at least during this stage of my journey, that's a load of crap. I need to concentrate on one thing at a time, do it well, and move onto the next thing. And I need to stop taking on work that hampers my process and leaves me ragged. It's just not worth it.

It's a standard problem of freelancing, learning to balance your time and trust that if you say no to one opportunity (paycheck), another will come around. In the last few months I completely over-committed, delusional about the number of hours in the day and the amount of time I need to complete my work and still have time for myself.

Last week I hit my breaking point. I took two steps backward in terms of progress on my internal process by putting my own needs on the back burner as I struggled to juggle my various freelancing projects. I accepted "one last gig" for a certain project that has caused me absurd levels of physical and emotional stress in the past and, not surprisingly, I became instantly sick. (I get it. That one really was the last one.) Finally, I dropped the ball on a project for someone that really believes in me. As a recovering perfectionist and manic approval-seeker, I'm having a very hard time forgiving myself for this one.

I think I'm finally done banging my head against the wall and have learned the lesson. I'm making it public to keep myself accountable. If I need money that badly, I can start selling blood plasma.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Facing demons and pushing boundaries

I hope you are all enjoying Columbus Day. It's a rather strange thing to celebrate, setting up shop in already inhabited land, but for many it offers an excuse to take a long holiday weekend, so it would be hypocritical to say it's all bad.

For me, today is special because it marks the start date to my first-ever creative writing course. That is, the first writing course I'm taking on my own terms, not for grades and simply for my own enjoyment and development as a writer. I've been finding excuses to avoid signing up for over a year now, so I'm happy to publicize that I finally took the leap and stretched my own limits.

I see this course as another important step in my active process to let go of those things holding me back and step into my fullest self. In a short time I've made significant progress that is perceivable not only to me but also to those that know me well. Naturally, this gives me fuel to continue pushing forward. I admit, however, that this process can be quite a struggle and shouldn't be described as "fun".

Rather, I'd say that what I'm putting myself through in some ways resembles an exorcism or rehab. I can't say I've ever been possessed (some people might testify otherwise), nor have I had a serious meth addiction, but teaching myself to think differently--to actually re-wire my brain (neuroplasticity is a new fascination of mine)--is not a matter of flipping a switch and boom: miraculous change. I believe that the DECISION to make a change can happen suddenly, but what follows is far from smooth. Some days I feel like I'm unstoppable, like I've truly reached another level of understanding and calm. Then out of nowhere, my confidence kicks me in the face and the negative thoughts and feelings I thought I'd already processed and set free reappear and I'm forced to deal with them all over again. And the second, third and fourth times, those old bad habits don't release their grip so easily. Instead, they hold on tighter, fearful of losing their controlling force over me, making me work that much harder to evolve. As a result, I've quickly come to realize that sticking to that decision to change is what matters most. Like kicking any addiction (and believe it or not, a granola addiction is a tough one), some days are easier than others.

As my partner put it, it's something like a river. Sometimes it flows rapidly, even violently. Sometimes it's barely moving. And sometimes it's seemingly flowing in reverse. What's important to recognize is that it is moving, freely and organically, and eventually it will carry you downstream. It's a matter of patience, and sometimes rowing a little harder to stay on course.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A simple reminder

Thank you, Jenny, for sharing these wise words:

"Give yourself credit for all that you do and all that you are."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More talk of rest

I'm tired. Yesterday I realized just how tired I am when I looked in the mirror and barely recognized the face staring back at me, at which point I had my first real "oh f*$%, I'm aging" moment. Now I realize that those of you who know me are probably scoffing at this; I am blessed with great skin, I look years younger than my age and I ALWAYS get carded. All the more reason I was shocked to see the effects of too much sun and fatigue so visibly displayed on my face.

I'm fairly certain that all my moving around is starting to catch up with me. Since the end of June, I've put nearly 7,500 miles on my car (my Honda Civic has been good to me) as I travel from place to place on my nomadic journey. These last few months, however, are only a fast-forward version of the last several years of my life. I can't recall the last time I had a true "home"-- meaning a place from which I didn't have a scheduled departure two weeks, six months, a year from the move-in date. Save the two suitcases, a yoga mat and a stuffed dog that currently reside in my car, my life-- or rather, the belongings I refuse to part with, namely designer shoes, handbags and clothing-- is packed away in boxes in three different cities. One of those cities is across the Atlantic.

While I'm very much enjoying the ride and excited about dreams of returning to Europe and spending time in the South Pacific, I'm starting to realize just how badly I need a place to call home. Not a place to stay forever; not "the" place, from which I'll never move again. Simply a place that serves as a base, with a bed I can call my own. A place that reflects me. A place where I can unpack my shoe collection and leave it nicely displayed amidst other chaos in a big, disorganized closet when I travel elsewhere for months at a time.

For now, as I continue my search, I'm grateful for the many temporary homes I've been offered and for the chance to stay in one place longer than a week. I can only hope that the dark circles under my eyes will start to dissipate once I get used to the bed I'll be occupying...