5x self love

I’ve been participating in the 7 day self love challenge over on facebook. While I might reprise some of that writing here for y’all, meanwhile I wanted to share some links to things that I’ve been contemplating as I spend some time lovingly navel gazing.

  1. Nobel Winning Physicist Frank Wilczek on Complementarity as the Quantum of Life and Why Reality is Woven of Opposing Truths  via Brain Pickings
  2. Solo-Polyamory, Singleish, Single & Poly via Psychology Today
  3. Our Individual-Collective Midnight Anxieties via dear soul Kyle Golemba
  4. How to Flush Negative and Draining Emotions Before They Lead to Physical Illness via Hearty Soul
  5. Gabor Mate: The Myth of Normal via Crazywise
  6. Bonus: Tonight I will be completeing Danielle Ayoka’s Full Moon ritual. You can read more about it here
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Sober September

Last night at midnight I had my first beer in a month. It tasted good, but not as good as I remembered. It helped pass the time as we visited after a night of music & dancing, but it didn’t improve my enjoyment of the night noticeably. 

I didn’t want to make a big deal about committing to sober September because I didn’t want to come across healthier than thou, but also because I wasn’t sure what kind of statement that would be making about my life. Part of me was also a little afraid I would not be able to do it. I’ve never attempted a complete cleanse before. what if I really was in denial about how much I drink? What if I had become dependent without realizing it? What if my social life evaporated? What if I realized I didn’t like myself without the alcohol?

In short: it was fine.

Nothing really dramatic changed. I was still depressed, still thought about death too much, still had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, still went out to see shows at bars with friends and danced and had fun, still said wildly inappropriate things over text, I even tried to date and flirt a bit. In short it was a pretty average month except I was a little more acutely aware of the pain of existence, and I saved a couple hundred dollars.

 It also allowed me to admit that I am actually sick. I am deeply depressed & anxious. Drinking certainly doesn’t help alleviate my depression, but it isn’t the source of it either. I need to seek separate support for my mental health beyond just making healthier choices. It did reassure me that I am in control of my life. I might live on the edge occasionally, but I accomplish the goals I set my mind to with ease.

Over all I think it was a successful month. Not a lifestyle change I can imagine subscribing to in the long run, but a practice I plan to maintain awareness of going into the long winter nights.

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5x catching feelings

A few things I’ve been thinking about.

  1. This Moth story is beautiful as shared by Brain Pickings
  2. Liana Finick artwork is so simple & so potent
  3. A Relationship is Not a Skill via Medium
  4. Reclaiming Bisexuality via Clementine Morrigan
  5. This band inspiration playlist that Sarah started for Women of Faith formerly Hush Harlot
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Anxiety & creation

I’ve begun to own more & more that I have an anxiety problem. I have not been diagnosed so I won’t say disorder, but occasionally I am over run by a crippling fear, adrenaline, cold sweat, heart and thought racing kind of feeling. Sometimes it’s accute and begins and ends rapidly, sometimes it’s a prolonged uneasiness that sits with me for days and disturbs my focus and robs my sleep. After either is usually followed by a blue period of listless apathy and regret. It can be triggered by many things and sometimes for no apparent reason at all. 

So how do I create work in spite of this feeling of impending doom?

A big one is give the brain a problem to solve. Often the characteristic of anxiety is ungrounded fear that is incurred from events or experiences out of my control. If there is a tangible task set before the anxious mind all that nervous energy can be channeled into solving it as quickly as possible to relieve the symptoms of stress.

The other one is to disassociate my creative self from my anxious self. I have to be careful with disassociation as it has been tied into my major depressive spells where I can feel lost inside myself for days or months at a time. However, in this case by being able to see my anxious thoughts as not part of myself, as something that is happening inside of me like indigestion that isn’t truly who I am, I can set those thoughts aside more easily. Sometimes I do that by writing every anxious thought down, or scheduling a specific time slot when I’m allowed to think about it, or through visualization exercises. 

Being able to accept that these thoughts are happening to me, but do not define me has been a huge step forward. I think there is a lot of fear of mental health stigma still, or now the double edged sword of fear of misusing mental health language in an ableist fashion. I’ve not been diagnosed mostly because I can’t afford to go see someone who would be qualified to diagnose me, but being able to name these emotional upheavals has helped me be able to work on soothing them. Same as naming them has allowed me to talk about them and ask for help.

Creatively, if I am feeling anxious about a project it is usually the easiest anxiety to quell because I can lay out clear steps to get me where I’m going that my anxious brain can latch on to. Each step might fail, but it provides a way to tangibly measure the outcomes of my anxiety to disprove it again and again. Social anxiety lacks these clear markers of success. Anxiety about the future is too large to productively map. Anxiety triggered by feelings of unsafety is not so easily quelled as the stakes are much higher. Creative anxiety can actually be quite motivating as those bursts of nervous energy can help me achieve super human feats in relatively short periods of time.

Because of the positive correlation between my anxiety & creativity I often wish to get through particularly anxious times with more creativity. The problem is my energy & resources are limited. It can set me up for unrealistic expectations which lead to a bigger drop when anxiety subsides and I have not channeled it through this creative lens. Intensified anxiety does not always mean intensified creativity, and at a point is just disruptive. I’ve had anxiety attacks so intense I thought I was physically ill. At those times there is no amount of creative out put that will help me cope.

Usually though my anxiety needs the same things my creativity needs: 

  • A space where I feel safe to fail and be vulnerable. 
  • People who love & support me. 
  • Time to work itself through to completion. 
  • Mindfulness to experience this moment fully before jumping on to the next. 
  • Compassionate truth seeking to cut through illusions without degrading the spirit entwined in them.
  • And radical vulnerability to be present and generous in this state of flux.
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5x burn out

I am managing some code orange burn out after a more than hectic month which means I’m being extra mindful of what I spend my energy on. Unlike in the fall, the managing is actually going really well! I am finding time & energy to do the things that matter to me, and not killing my body in the process, but it means I don’t have much to share with you in the way of writing this week, so I hope you will accept this reading list instead of new material. If you are in Saskatoon you can come visit me at Short Cuts this weekend and I would be more than happy to fill you in on what’s next, otherwise stay tuned for new projects in May. Find somewhere to put your feet up and let your mind wander through these links.

Enjoy

  1. LSD’s Impact on the Brain Revealed in Groundbreaking Images via The Guardian
  2. Kierkegaard on Anxiety and Creativity via Brain Pickings
  3. Social Delicacies by Chunder Buffet via Bandcamp
  4. Episode 29 Aaron Scholz interviews Janet Scholz via Weirdo Magnets
  5. Sylvia Plath’s Drawings via Bust
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