Chinook

Winter can’t decide if it’s thawing or freezing, but I’m ready to hibernate for another three months. 2017 started with a bang with Alt Alt DIY Fest which was such a huge success on so many levels that I could not have anticipated. However it left me feeling quite emotionally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually drained for most of January and the better part of February. I’ve been in denial about how much that event took out of me because it was so truly obviously worth it, but living in denial is not the start to being able to adequately replenish myself.

Now that it is nearly March, and new projects are on the horizon, I am taking time to reflect on what it is I need to move forward. Burn out is a luxury I am afforded as a single person with good support networks and steady employment with health benefits. I can work myself to the bone for my community then collapse inwardly because no one is counting on me for their 24/7 sustenance, and because I know there are people around me who will catch me if I fall too deeply into depression or self loathing. It is truly a privileged position that I feel blessed to occupy, but this is not how I want to create in my career. Periods of intense creation, and intense seclusion will always be necessary to my practice, but neither state should be so extreme that it put such unnecessary strain on my day to day ability to live my life.

A huge part of the burn out taking two months is that I need to work 35 hours a week in addition to the 20-30 hours of creative & community work required by projects of this scale in order to support myself. It is hard for me currently to imagine a point when that level of work would not be required in order to stay a float, however I recognize that is a limitation in my belief structure rather than a hard fact. The question then becomes how to move beyond that bias in order to start to look at ways to become more self sufficient.

This is a powerful lesson to take from Alt Alt, the gift that keeps on giving, and now that I’ve identified what I want to avoid I need to set my imagination to work to find a new way. How can I create a practice that allows for projects of this scale without sacrificing my well-being?

It’s Pisces season, and spring is just around the corner which I feel is a good time to reflect on this question. I’m asking for creative vision to guide me in the next month as I look inwards to recenter. This is a time for tinkering, for dreaming, for meditating, for empathy, for love, for reflection. Planting seeds this month to harvest come June.

If you have experience or resources relating to managing burn out as a creative, or transitioning out of the work force let me know in the comments.

Standard

5x (come)immunity

Here are a few things that have rolled across my consciousness lately. I’m spending more time in quiet reflection than reading or writing these days. I am practicing being fully present. Listening to what is around me. Learning from what is there. It’s an inwardly reflecting period, so I don’t have as much to share here. I’m working on the poety & other small miracles still. Enjoy

  1. Color Schemes new track by my pal Eden
  2. In Defense of the Wastelands by Erica Violet Lee
  3. Arlissa on Hearts Ain’t Gonna Lie
  4. Anil Dash on Tech’s Moral Reckoning via On Being
  5. Date night idea making this while listening to Miranda Krogstad recite her Ode to Pasta
Standard

Who are you?

I am happy

I am searching

I am scared

I am scintillating 

I am heart broken

I am heart strong

I am loving 

I am loved

I am a witch

I am a leader

I am a artist

I am a storyteller

I am a mother

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a flirt

I am a lover

I am a fighter

I am a loser

I am a winner

I am a seashell

I am a shaft of wheat

I am a mountain

I am a wisp of silver fog 

I am a baby goat

I am twins

I am many

I am me

I am just trying to get by

I am getting by as best I can

I am caring for those around me

I am learning all the time

I am feeling inadequate 

I am looking for a better way

I am dreaming of a better way

I am listening

I am hoping

I am praying

I am breathing

I am here.

Standard

Where does it hurt?

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?

Standard

My process

A recipe for success?

  1. Nap
  2. Have an existential crisis along the lines of “I will never create work again!”
  3. Frantically begin planning all of the projects over several notebooks, spreadsheets, text conversations, and chewed fingernails
  4. Plan to move away somewhere far where no one knows you and get a real job in a post office or cafe
  5. Make tea and soberly look out the window to see which idea comes to mind first, boil more water and refine
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Breathe, do some yoga, maybe eat a food, read a book by an author you adore
  11. 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
  12. 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.

Standard

10 step plan

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. 

Standard