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. 

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Self care spells for post-show blues

Sit with that uncomfortable empty feeling as long as possible. Look deep into your heart & repeat ‘I see your pain & I respect your journey’. Stay in bed with a purring cat falling in love with the sound of your own breath. Be quiet & still as you accept the death of another great passion, be grateful for such a flame. Walk in the sunshine & dine alone. Eat luxuriously slow while reading deeply of those who inspire you. Drink tea with cream for comfort. Listen to friends tell you the positive things you have given them, but don’t feel compelled to hold on to them anymore dearly than the negative things. Let your mind breathe through the thoughts of tomorrow. Sit in the window & watch the snow fall. Don’t ask any questions yet. Order too much Indian food to eat in bed & pretend to be glamorous for an hour or so. Be patient & give new ideas the space they need to grow. There is no rush to be whole again. Emptiness invites inspiration. 

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Change of seasons

I don’t want to make any more art about the things that have hurt me. Every piece I’m working on has some way tied into the experiences, people, stories, or places that have fucked me right up. Trying to make something beautiful & meaningful out of it to justify this feeling. Because I still believe it’s my responsibility to transform those thorns into a crown. It’s not. I don’t owe it to anyone. My sadness & pain are my own. Transforming them could be cathartic or it could be a way to keep me trapped in it. What would it look like to make art out of things that were already beautiful? Out of pieces of me that shine in the sunlight? What if I started with gold instead of straw? What could I weave then? I’m growing in a thousand ways that I don’t remember. I just want time to rest in the pieces of me that aren’t hurting. I feel like a fraud & a fake turning over a new leaf while these leaves are still green on the tree. Abandoning the project before transformation is complete. But I also recognize that I need to refuel. I’ve been joking about quitting to paint fruits & flowers. I think that might literally be what I do next. I’m taking a three month hiatus from all that is hard to only indulge the soft side of my art. Play music, play in film, play in paints & muck about. I have a few commitments that I will see through, but I’m shelving Dear Devotion for a time until after this sabbatical of gentleness. There are still a few more months left in this year of yin and I will indulge.

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5x nurture inner nature

Turns out I am thinking about lots of things with lots of links to share. 

Enjoy

  1. The Beginners Guide to Unschooling via Zen Habits – this is the best online description of unschooling I have been able to find it also has a great further reading list at the end for those looking to learn more.
  2. Mood Disorders & Creativity – Johns Hopkins Lecture Series with Dr. Jamieson
  3. How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, More Creative 
  4. The Art of Observation and Why Genius Lies in the Selection of What is Worth Observing via Brain Pickings
  5. I’m a huge fan of the album Flash & Yearn by tooth ache. You can learn more about her on She Does here
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How to love me – in 10 easy steps

“How would you like me to take care of you my darling?” I asked myself languidly tracing robin egg blue fingernails over the creases where sleep dust collects beneath my eyelashes. I pulled my legs up to my belly under the blood stained sheets & replied coyly:

How to love me in ten easy steps:

  1. Start by washing my dishes with soft ambient music playing. Scent the warm water with lemons. Burn sandalwood incense & sweep the floors.
  2. Give me books thick with poetry, rich with reflection, deep in mystery, full of adventure. Read aloud softly by candlelight.
  3. Teach me to play your instrument. Practice listening & trusting myself to play tangible music out of intangible thought. Learn how my patience wanders & remind me that it’s as much about the journey to get there as the destination.
  4. Stock my pantry with wholesome ingredients to feed a weary soul – earl grey tea with double bergamot. Cinnamon & cloves to make rich chai with a generous dolap of condensed milk. Blood red beets, golden yams, rich green broccoli, rice & beans. Watch me eat slowly & fully of the fruits of your labour.
  5. Meditate with me. Set aside an hour just to sit & listen. Give me the gift of your attention in a busy day. Succumb to the ritual of presence.
  6. Dance with me. Throw yourself into the music, become intoxicated with the way my body moves feverent with abandon.
  7. Be affectionate in your actions. Trace your fingers up and down my wrists while speaking gentle loving things in my ear. Touch my cheek & look me in the eye when you tell me you love me. Put your hand on my shoulders & remind me to relax. Softly place your hand on the small of my back, trace my hip bones, and slip between my thighs.
  8. Take me camping, search out the wild, walk with me under the sky, be present in the presence of the world being.
  9. Run me a bath full of Epsom salts and lavender. Ease my weary bones for a while. Rub coconut oil into my hair & skin. Dab the scent of lilies behind my ear lobes & between my breasts. Paint my nails, and wrap my shoulders in soft linens.
  10. Build a fire in the alter of my soul. Sacrifice your petty idols, moonlight romances, and timid temptations. Let the smoke cleanse all that is not brilliant & bold. Let the flames engulf you until passion becomes all reason.
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5x tea party of one

As Alice waddles home on her new found seeing legs, I too have landed securely back in the familiar belly of daily life. Still reverberating with thoughts, questions, ideas, and love stirred at the lab, I am holding space for the silence to echo back the most powerful chords touched. In anticipation for holding space, and some oblique strategizingĀ  in the boreal forest, I’ve gathered some things that have come to my attention in the last week to be added to the simmering aesthetic melding pot.

Enjoy

  1. Tinder via Shane Koyczan
  2. Life Hacks of the Poor and Aimless via Laurie Penny
  3. Viper’s Nest via Kaia Kater
  4. Empathy is Actually a Choice via The New York Times
  5. Leisure as the Basis for Culture: An Obscure German Phillosopher’s Timely 1948 Manifesto on Reclaiming our Human Dignity in a Culture of Workaholism via Brain Pickings, compliment with a brief word from Alan Watts on Work as Play
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