I need some healing magic, how about you?
I would like to help. I don’t know where to begin. Tell me where does it hurt? It’s ok you can trust me. I’ve been hurt before too. In fact I’m hurting right now. I know it’s not always easy to say. Take your time. Let me help you. How can I sooth your pain? There is nothing too small or too large you could ask me for. I would love to help you. Can you point to where it hurts? Perhaps we can just sit a while. Tell me what is on your mind. The questions that pull at your heart. We can try to answer them together. Because when I see your pain I feel mine too. I would like to help make it better. Even if it’s only for a little while. Even if it’s imperfect & flawed. Even if you don’t think it matters. It matters to me. To see you happy & cared for. Because the love that we share heals me too. The parts of me that hurt feel better knowing you are safe & content. It might be a long journey, and it won’t always be easy work. But I will not turn away when I see you are in pain. All that pain hurts me too. I am also scared. I dont know where to begin. There is no place I would rather be than right here with your pain. For as long as you are hurting I am hurting too. I can only see with my two eyes, listen with my two ears, work with my two hands, and love with my big heart. But I am here in your service. Please tell me my love, where do you hurt?
A recipe for success?
- Have an existential crisis along the lines of “I will never create work again!”
- Frantically begin planning all of the projects over several notebooks, spreadsheets, text conversations, and chewed fingernails
- Plan to move away somewhere far where no one knows you and get a real job in a post office or cafe
- Make tea and soberly look out the window to see which idea comes to mind first, boil more water and refine
- Do the work, in small steps, that don’t require too much fore thought, but that make logical sense, until it starts to become too exciting to put down
- Go on a bunch of dates to try to overcome your nervous energy by channeling it into a bunch of new possibilities instead of focusing on the task at hand
- The thing is starting to look more like a thing! That you can tell people about! Time to invite in collaborators! Probably people you went on dates with in step 7
- Become morbidly depressed over the state of the world, the state of the work, and the sorry state of yourself. Decide to quit everything and go back to step 4
- Breathe, do some yoga, maybe eat a food, read a book by an author you adore
- Look at the thing you have created, look for what is missing, fill it with your love & excitement to share with the people you care about
- Share it in one wild beautiful attempt to transcend all the other drudgery and escape the inevitability that you will wind up returning to step 1 in a matter of hours
Rinse and repeat.
Sometimes I feel like shit & nothing seems to help. Doing nothing feeds the morbid cycle. In these times the only way up is through it. These are my earliest coping mechanisms that have served me through every major bout of depression. As long as I can keep doing the work putting one foot in front of the other I know I will be ok. For now the cogs still turn so it’s my duty to oil them rain or shine until they grind to an eternal hault.
Bethani’s 10 step plan for working her way out of depression:
1. A strict daily schedule must be maintained. Not so strict as to be inflexible to the winds of change, but sturdy enough to latch onto in the thick of a storm.
2. Daily exercise of the mind, body, and spirit are a must. Yoga asana & rest for the body, reading & learning new things for the mind, meditation & art for the spirit.
3. Meals should be simple & consumed regularly. Whatever requires the least thought & energy to prepare. Small regular meals are best that require little to no prep or clean up. Peanutbutter is my go to.
4. Go to bed early. Really it is ok. If you only manage to sleep until 4:00 or 5:00 then you will have a beautiful quiet window to practice your yoga or catch up on your reading. But really nothing productive happens after 8:00 pm anyways don’t worry.
5. Treat yourself to something fun once a week even if you don’t feel like it. For me that usually means getting real dolled up and going for a fancy meal alone. Sometimes it’s going to a show with friends. Other times it’s spending a whole day in bed with a lover. It’s easy to cancel plans indefinitely until you feel better, but try to find one thing a week that feels manageable and commit to doing it even if you still feel awful.
6. Tell your friends how you are doing. It’s ok if you don’t tell everyone, but make sure you have told at least one or two people how you are really doing. It’s ok if you don’t want to talk about it but let them know so that you are not alone.
7. Stop spending money as much as possible. It’s very tempting to think of all kinds of things that might make you feel better, but more often than not you end up over spending when you’re depressed and regretting it later. Use your lack of energy as a time to be frugal and watch your savings grow for when you are feeling better and able to enjoy it.
8. Avoid drinking to excess/at all. A drink with a friend might be the pick me up you need (see 5), but a drink after work every night quickly leads to self loathing (see 7). Alcohol is already a depresssnat and if you are following step 6 most your friends should be understanding if you want to find other ways to connect.
9. Pamper yourself in nice smelling things. Don’t underestimate the healing powers of a hot shower. The smell of rot & death has a tendency to subtly creep in when depression hits. A few drops of essential oil, or a freshly washed t-shirt sometimes is the small reminder you need that there is good in the world.
10. Whenever you can be helpful to someone else. Pay them a compliment, give them your spare change, bring someone coffee, help them tidy up. These small gestures will help you feel connected to someone else, and remind you of the positive things that you can bring to the world.
11. You will probably still feel like shit even after doing all these things. Remember everything is temporary and at least you gave it the good old college try. You can create a nice life even when you are too sad to enjoy it and that’s kind of magical in itself.
What does it look like to share resources with those that have not had equal access to them when everyone at the table is facing cut backs? How do we move past the fear scarcity complexs push our minds towards and look to one another to create abundance with what we have? When will there be another opportunity to give back if we do not create one now?
I learned a new phrase today “opportunity hoarding” I think it is an important one. It creates a vivid image certainly. And it relates to something I have been thinking more about in relation to what is leadership?
I don’t think that leadership is synonymous with power, and in fact I think many of our most influential leaders have been born out of disenfranchisement with people in positions of power. It would be great if those who held offices that determined national laws & global relationships were gifted leaders as well, but more often than not they are just specially trained workers fulfilling the duties of office as listed in any other job description.
None of that is revolutionary information.
I’ve known since a young age that I have the gift of leadership. I have a vision of where I want to get to & make decisive actions to manifest it. When I am of pure intention people naturally want to listen to what I have to say. There is a comfort in having a direction for the herd to look towards while we co-create this future, and I don’t mind being that focus point as called upon.
However, I am also conscious that some of the reasons I may be called upon are not of my own making. I’m a able bodied thin traditionally pretty cis-gender white girl that was afforded many educational advantages in ways many of my peers have not. There are certain things that grants me access to, and certain things that denies me, but it’s part of my reality all the same.
I have been awarded nearly every grant I have ever applied for because I am well spoken & have high artistic integrity, but also because I had access to education & mentors that told me what grants were available, how to position myself, and encouraged me to apply.
I was able to land a secure full time job with benefits with no university degree because I am highly intelligent & hard working, but also because my mom went to college with a woman who had connections to my boss that recommended me.
I have written, created, and independently produced 12 pieces from poetry books to theatre to dance. Which undoubtedly took a lot of work, personal resources, and perserverance on my part, but was also made easier because of real tangible opportunities that were presented to me because of my position in life.
I don’t know who I beat out for those grants. I don’t know why there were not more women of colour programmed at the festival that selected my work. I don’t know why I have had the good fortune of meeting so many wonderful mentors when some peers work in relative isolation.
And it’s a problem that I don’t know why. It’s my problem. That I can fix.
I can’t wait for society to level the playing fields. I need to be working consciously to reach out now to make sure those opportunities are getting around. It isn’t about hand holding or lowering my creative integrity, but about looking around to see who else is struggling to get work seen. I can ask myself what tools & resources I have to help them achieve their goals, not my goals, and spread the opportunities so that more amazing artists have a chance to make their come up.
This is what I view as my work as a leader. This is what I view as my work as an artist. This is what I view as my work as a person.
My challenge to myself this year is to be more conscious of where my creative resources are going to ensure that opportunities are not being hoarded beneath me, and that the energy I am investing is helping facilitate the flow of more resources to many rather than a few. Particularly to my women & femme creators & all the other intersections there within. This year has powerful feminine energy. It’s time we collectively make a come up.