I’m getting ready to record for the podcast I’m co-hosting with my friend Jess. We’d been co-hosting a local Red Tent women’s circle, and decided to take the content digital. Our hope is to connect with more people this way. So far, we’ve discussed the history of the Red Tent and importance of sacred space. We’re getting into finding your tribe and why the heck it matters on the next episode and a half. Our discussion of the feminine is completely inclusive, and we want people to engage through the podcast, blog, Instagram etc. You can find the podcast here: The Dynamic Feminine
We’re also on Instagram: @thedynamicfeminine
You can listen to the Podcast on Messy.fm, Spotify, and Google. (Apple is in the works)
We hope you’ll join us for discussion of all things womanhood.
Sometimes, just being yourself, in this world, is an act of revolt.
Recently, I found myself in group therapy, getting choked up, as we read a list about boundaries. To me, it read like a list of rights, freedoms that were being granted to me and acknowledged in that moment. It was overwhelming.
One of the things I’m working on is the amount of guilt and shame I feel, when I can logically say that I shouldn’t. It’s what I know in my heart and mind, but my spirit has been worn down by experience. I can believe in all my power, but unless I feel it, it’s difficult to act on.
When I do act like myself, and share things with others, that I truly feel, an opinion, belief, or fact that I know when they may not, I often experience guilt and shame for speaking up. Who am I to do or say something? Who am I to have an opinion? Who am I to be an authority on a subject? (EVEN WHEN I TRULY AM) How dare I have the audacity?!
The conditions are unacceptable, and I don’t like myself much when I accept them.
Why should I feel guilty for existing and breathing and having experiences and opinions? Others may not agree with me, but it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong – that something is inherently wrong with me.
IT’S A DIFFICULT MESSAGE TO UNLEARN.
And it’s not a coincidence that SO MANY WOMEN are out there talking about worth right now…
Here’s the list:
A boundary is the:
– Emotional and physical space between you and another person
– Demarcation of where you end and another begins and where you begin and another ends.
– Limit or line over which you will not allow anyone to cross because of the negative impact of its being crossed in the past.
– Established set of limits over your physical and emotional well-being which you expect others to respect in their relationship with you.
– Emotional and physical space you need in order to be the real you without the pressure from others to be something that you are not.
– Emotional and/or physical perimeter of your life which is or has been violated when you were emotionally, verbally, physically and/or sexually abused.
– Healthy emotional and physical distance you can maintain between you and another so that you do not become overly enmeshed and/or dependent.
– Appropriate amount of emotional and physical closeness you need to maintain so that you and another do not become too detached and/or overly independent.
– Balanced emotional and physical limits set on interacting with another so that you can achieve an interdependent relationship of independent beings who do not lose their personal identity, uniqueness and autonomy in the process.
– Clearly defined limits within which you are free to be yourself with no restrictions placed on you by others as how to think, feel or act.
– Set of parameters which make you a unique, autonomous and free individual who has the freedom to be a creative, original, idiosyncratic problem solver.
How does this read for you? Do you ever feel audacious just for being yourself?
I might be a little obsessed when it comes to getting happier with Gretchen Rubin, but with good reason! This is one of my favorite podcasts, and I think I’ve recommended it to everyone I know at this point, because it’s so helpful, insightful, and accessible. There’s also this INFP love of personality investigation, and Gretchen is a great guide along that path.
This week, her idea to try at home is to invest in your identities. The podcast discusses how our identities are important to us, our sense of self, worth, place etc. The “try this at home” encourages us to reflect upon our identities and if we’re investing in them according to their importance to us.
This coincides with some self work I’ve been doing this year, my motto being “EMBRACE BEING MULTI-PASSIONATE”. Funny that I couldn’t come up with a word for 2019, so I picked this motto – quite appropriate.
What’s this about being multi-passionate? Well, I wanted to look at the things I love, and increase their volume in my life. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at how I spend my energy (when my body literally doesn’t do a good job of making it) and learning to make better choices for my needs and wellness. I wanted to make sure this resource was spent in the places I wanted to grow, not wasted. We all have some sort of limit on our resources. I think of this as a sort of budget for the good in life. (Umm, budgeting isn’t really fun, but this feels more like dreaming up plans and finding space for them).
I can’t say that I have just one thing I’m passionate about. Yeah, I’ve always loved art, but that’s incredibly broad! I feel like I needed to accept that I’ve got multiple things I’m passionate about in order to properly feed them all. Sometimes the things on my passion list have overlap – like when I get to take my nieces and nephews to the art museum (we’ve got #auntielife & #artlife happening together). And other times, they’re more singular experiences. Combining multiple things I’m passionate about definitely increases the happiness factor. Like going for a walk in nature, with my dog, and taking photos. (#pantheism, #furmom, #artmaking).
I’m also making connections with my trauma work in therapy. Staying grounded often takes layered approaches – mindfully engaging multiple senses at once. Embracing multi-passionate-ness enables me to see how everything can work together better, and dissociate less. I can be a sick person who also is a leader, an artist, an activist, a friend, a family member, a writer, and a magic player. Taking steps to invest in identities that resonate with my true self has obvious benefit, even though the work isn’t always as obvious or easy.
Awareness is the start of it, and Gretchen provides us with a wonderful prompt with her “try this at home”, to become more aware of our identities and examine what we want to put more time, money, and energy into.
Gretchen mentioned in the podcast that it is good to have multiple identities so that if one changes or shifts into something else, you aren’t lost. I think this is the strength of being multi-passionate, the more I layer these identities and passions, the stronger my sense of self and my happiness with being who I am in the world.
The news may report many different things about this situation – Black Israelites, Native American war veterans, Catholic teens in MAGA hats… but it fails to report that this situation is really a product of institutionalized hatred and a gross lack of understanding.
I, myself, used to go with my Catholic church to the March for Life. It was taught that all life is sacred, and that was something I truly felt, so I went to stand up for it. It was there that I learned about peaceful protest and we delivered petitions to offices. The experience was sometimes scary, sometimes intense, but I’m glad to have had love at the heart of it. My brother and I were discussing recent events, and he remind me of the words behind the concept – we were taught “hate the sin, love the sinner”.
It was this love that allowed me change my perspective as I understood more.
Realize that I’ve only lived with having access to the internet for about half my life, I don’t expect my pre-internet self to have so much knowledge and awareness, but after, I consume it, trying to further my understanding.
Somehow, we take the wrong parts and radicalize them. I’m not entirely against radicalization, I just think that the only good way to be radical is through pure love and compassion. Jesus.
What else is the point? Power? Dominance? Ultimately these are workings of fear. Hate is it’s tool, and it prevents us from meaningful existence. It will dismantle no institutions, because it busies us with our personal judgements against one another. We are so afraid and hateful that the systems that keep us suffering, keep chugging along, and we are instruments of it’s manipulation.
The only way to break free is through love. Radical, table flipping, Jesus-level love.
Looking at this situation, I see the colors of money and manipulation. In red hats, and hateful words. This is an age of (mis)information. But the truth is there if you seek it. Don’t put faith in their systems, the only faith to be had is in holding compassion for each other.
I absolutely love our art museum. I’m not sure everyone locally realizes how lucky we are to have such a gem, to access so much art and history so easily. Recently, in response to the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, art museums opened their doors for free. Refuge, history, comfort, knowledge. The museums know how much we need art. Which is why the Westmoreland American Art Museum got rid of its suggested donation fee for good. That’s right, go visit the museum FOR FREE. Whenever.
What I find at the museum is not only a home as an artist, I find hope. I find strength, and connection. The paintings of local scenery and history give me context, something to hold onto when the world shakes me.
This opportunity is an invaluable gift.
I thank the people who make this possible, including those who said, yes to both paintings.
In the article, when given a choice between two very different paintings for acquisition, some said both, and put their money behind it.
I am also excited about the fact that one of these was a Mary Abbot, and that Barbara Jones (not my mom) gets the importance of the contributions of women artists, how they shaped the history, BUT WERE NOT GIVEN CREDIT.
Studies are now showing that memories pass through DNA. What does this mean for trauma? There’s also a component of Fibromyalgia that it is familial, and mostly women end up with it. And then there are thoughts occurring, I don’t know of research yet, about how our culture is causing complex PTSD, through drone war tactics, media inundation, and constant hate speech.
I have always felt incredibly sensitive, I know that tensions and hate fueled agendas take a toll on me, but now it is suggested that I might suffer from complex PTSD, and need treatment to heal the trauma, to release it from my body, to change the way my brain perceives these situations, presently, and in the future. Now, part of having fibromyalgia is having a brain that is in constant fight or flight. My body always thinks there is a traumatic situation happening – and in this society, I can’t really convince it otherwise.
There are instances of clear trauma for people – fighting in a war, witnessing violent death, physical abuse, sexual assault, physical injury, weather disaster… but some are more murky and happen over time, like living in extreme poverty, or a family of narcissists, or holding a constant fear of one of the more obvious traumatic events. Layered together, one trauma might not even stand out from the next.
I also think that we experience instances of trauma to our collective psyche. And we don’t even know how this manifests. Complex PTSD is a newer term in the field of psychology. Exploring how someone like me might be affected by the whole of society’s traumatic events, or how women may carry the traumas of all women before them, through DNA and collective consciousness/unconscious, is probably something we’re not going to hear about for a long time. This doesn’t mean it isn’t there somehow, that these experiences aren’t felt now. Maybe just that they don’t have a name, and we don’t know what to do with the information.
At the pain center fibromyalgia group, we talked about ways to distract ourselves from pain. Things that engage the mind, such as puzzle games were common. Some people had another coping mechanism, like a fidget cube or a tapping habit. In physical therapy they taught us how to do tiny motions, that wouldn’t cause stress to your muscles or increase your pain, but just send another signal to your brain other than the pain. Another method on that uses the same science is using a light tracing with a finger or something gentle to counteract pain signals. It sounds weird, but when I was in really terrible pain, I would have my husband lightly brush the palms my hands with a soft round watercolor brush. It would help me get the pain under control. TENS machines work for the same reason, and I think this is why sensory stimuli are so popular culturally right now.
Google ASMR, if you don’t already know what it is. Look at how things like playing with slime, cutting sand, and other sensory experiences are popular on Instagram and YouTube.
I have heard that even though we’re more connected than ever, we’re also more lonely. I don’t doubt it. Is it possible that we’re seeking these simple sensory experiences because we’re lacking simple sensory experiences? Maybe we’re in so much pain from our cultural PTSD, that we’re looking to cancel out those painful signals we’re receiving with some other stimuli? I think about this a lot, and what it means for us, our personal and societal mental health, and physical well being. Are sand cutting videos and people pretending to cut our hair taking place of authentic and connected touch?
One of the things I loved about art history in college was how my professor (who taught most of my art history classes at Seton Hill) would tell us all the stories about these artists. While I have always had to work hard to memorize dates and names, the feelings come to me easily. There were so many interesting facets to who these artists were that I hadn’t heard before. It truly helped me understand their work, in all its context. I especially enjoyed getting all of my art history from female professors, at a newly co-ed university. It was different, and so much more engaging than the couple art history courses I had in foundation studies at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Smaller classes, and actual discussions that facilitated a conversation of how women fit into the traditional narrative of, well, everything. I had never felt so supported and connected as I did surrounded by so many women artists. It was there, that I really had space to examine how I hadn’t felt that before, how I hadn’t ever really connected to “the Church”, or various parts of society and culture, because women’s stories aren’t told.
An incredibly influential moment for me was in a women in religion class, where we were discussing how women aren’t represented in the Church, how women actually founded the Church, and how we might reclaim some space in our selves to connect to it again. Sitting with this emptiness and contemplating it led me to paint it, and become more interested in Buddhist ideas on meditation and intentional emptiness. I didn’t paint very much after graduation, as I was studying art therapy and doing photography. I went to the Savannah College of Art & Design for my master’s in photography, leaving my art therapy master’s on hold indefinitely. I just picked up painting consistently again about 3 years ago after going through substantial loss. I had to direct myself into something – painting emptiness, and making tiny sculptural bowls that held only space seemed to be the most sensical thing I could do.
One of the things I have missed since being at Seton Hill is absolutely that perspective that women have existed, contributed significantly, and have not received proper credit for this. Women exist in history, even if it isn’t well documented or taken seriously by rich white men.
I have realized that, even among the woke fellows that I know, they’re not the best at listening, understanding, or representing the work of women. I want to to be taken seriously. I want women’s work to be taken seriously. I want other women to know that women have come before them, and will come after them, and to see their place in all of this. This is exactly why I was so excited to discover a podcast called, Art for Your Ear, by The Jealous Curator (Danielle Krysa). There is much dialogue about all the varied valid ways that women artists exist, and discussion about the trials faced. In fact, Danielle has a new book coming out soon called, “A BIG IMPORTANT ART BOOK (NOW WITH WOMEN!)” that I can’t wait to get my hands on.