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Monday, February 1, 2016

Unhappy Hour, or How I Find Myself Waving a Sword in My Living Room on a Monday Night

Sometimes I want to step back and take a snapshot of my life so that I can look back later and have a good laugh.  Just a few minutes ago I was holding this aloft, wondering what my neighbors must think.

I'll skip telling you why I have the sword (it's an art model thing) and get straight to what I was doing before that.  See, I'm reading this great book by my favorite astrologer, the esteemed Rob Brezsny of Free Will Astrology, called "Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia - How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings".  It's sort of an irreverent, spiritual, comedic self-help workbook with a lot of fun exercises designed to shake you out of whatever state you're in, and open up or let go.  

So far, there's one exercise I really like:  Unhappy Hour!  Surprise!  60 Minutes of dwelling and reveling and going to the depths of whatever is making us unhappy, really getting down into the muck.  There's a place for mourning and moaning and groaning, or complaining or being unhappy and frustrated, or what the fuck ever.  To be healthy and happy individuals, we need to acknowledge and feel our feelings, rather than trying to pretend they don't exist.  Life is not a constant ticker tape parade riding on top of a tiger.  At some point the parade is going to come to a halt, and the tiger will in fact eat you.  Sometimes life sucks.  Enter Unhappy Hour.

Now I'm not trying to complain about my hard knock life.  I've got it really good, I feel very blessed. But I am human, and there were a couple things eating at me tonight.  My instinct was to try to find someone (anyone) to hang out with, so I knew I needed to do exactly the opposite.  Shun people!  Hang out with myself and feel that shit!  

Making up my own version of Unhappy Hour on the fly, I turned on my altar lights and lit some sage.  As I lit it I chanted a silly mantra to myself, and fanned the smoke over myself with my ceremonial broom (because urban witchezzz, DUH), continuing to chant and rotated slowly.  Then I smudged my apartment, dramatically bewailing anything, no matter how slight, that I could think of that wasn't going my way in that moment.  

I laughed the whole time I did this, and I had to reach for my creative woes as I ran out of real ones.  I had done this once before, a couple weeks ago, and got a little more oomph from it.  That time I laid on the floor listening to Liszt and managed to squeeze out a few tears.  Both times, once I gave myself over to feeling my emotions without requiring that they be okay, I became calm almost immediately.

In this instance, once I finished smudging the house I thought I should practice with my sword a bit.  I keep it next to the altar, on the opposite side from the broom (because warrior priestess.  Duh).  Eventually I'll start posing with the sword for some costume gigs, but first I need to build up the muscle groups.  It was super fun though, I held some very short poses, and felt like Jaime Lannister.  And I wouldn't even have noticed the sword there if I hadn't been giving myself over to Unhappy Hour.  And if anyone can see in, hopefully they're entertained by the woman with the sword and the broom.

I encourage you to give Unhappy Hour a try.  If something is bothering, allow yourself to feel it, really.  Dedicate some time, even just a few minutes, to wallow in your sadness, or what have you.  The first time I only made it for twenty minutes, and this time only like five.  And now I'm done wallowing until the next Unhappy Hour, whenever I decide that is.  Now I can just do something productive.

Like write a blogpost.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Numbers

   What a crazy fucking year 2015 has been.  This has been my most difficult, and most exceptional year.  Emotionally I have gone into the fire and through the maze, and I still don't know if I'm out.  And at the same time, in terms of career and overall life experiences I have traveled places physically and made connections I had no idea were in my immediate realm of experiences.

It would be impossible for me to qualify or properly categorize 2015, but I'm going to try my damnedest.  Because looking at 2015, the things that stand out to me are the numbers.  The numbers that keep floating to the surface of my mind are

33 and 142

That's my current age and weight.  As a model/performer/actor/creative woman/personality I feel a lot of pressure not to age, and to stay thin.  And although I clearly am thin, I often run into this dumb stereotype about my weight and/or dress size.  When I tell people my weight they most often seem surprised, their guess is often 15-20 pounds lighter.  Likewise people often assume I'm five years younger than I am.  Part of me doesn't mind, but part of me minds a lot.  

I, at 33, 6', 142lbs, am not a fragile little twig of a girl.  I am a woman, with muscle and fat and broad shoulders.  I think this is to my advantage: I can sit down comfortably and stay reasonably warm when working nude, plus I have a wide variety of life experiences and training to draw on, allowing me to embody emotion and story on the fly.  Annoyingly, however, I regularly see women shaving off a few years and a few pounds online to seem more desirable.  I, in turn, have participated in it to be competitive.

Well that's it.  I call bullshit.  Lying about my age or my weight to try to get jobs or seem attractive is totally stupid.  I want to empower women to own themselves in full, and that means owning those numbers.  I'm proud of my years on this planet, and I'm proud to take up some space.  

Ultimately, I don't think those are the even the numbers that matter.  Here are some of my favorite numbers from 2015.

highest elevation: 8262 ft, continental Divide, Yellowstone National Park, 12/22/15
lowest elevation: 200 feet below sea level, Death Valley National Park, 4/6/15
states visited: 7 - WA, OR, CA, WY, MO, NV, LA
other countries visited: 1 - Canada
territories: 1 - US Virgin Islands
hot springs visited: 4 - Esalen (three times), Desert Hot Springs, Deep Creek
                                  - Yellowstone (no swimming!)
epic roadtrips: 2
solo truck stop dance parties: 1
mileage on my car: 165,240
weddings attended: 3 - 1 secret wedding on the beach, 1 pagan self-marriage in the woods, 1 very               
                                     short notice in Victoria BC
individuals, workshops, schools, studios, or events worked with: 74
photo shoots in exotic locations: 4
viral videos views: 34,592
new tattoos: 1

Looking at all those numbers, you might think 2015 was nonstop excitement and fun.  But it wasn't.  I have a few really sad numbers, or difficult numbers, that have weighed me down a bit.

lowest weight in 2015: 120lbs
hardest day: 3/4/15
psychiatrist visits: 4

Let's just end that list there, shall we?  I didn't intentionally drop 20 pounds in the end of 2014, but I did.  For the first time since I was a young girl I weighed what people had always guessed.  And I can say categorically that I feel better this way.  Gimme that 22 pounds.  Did you know that women primarily store serotonin in the fat cells around the belly.  Ding ding ding!

So I just want to come out and say it, loud and clear.  I'm 33 years old, and I weigh 142 pounds.  This is a real woman's weight.  My resolution in 2016 is to be honest with myself, to love myself very well, and never to apologize for myself.  2015 was all about those things, and I wouldn't change anything. Let's see what the new year has to bring.



Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rolling the dice

Lately I've been feeling a little blocked. I made the conscious decision a year ago to take time off from producing new work while I worked on myself. It has been wonderful. I've gone inward a lot, made some really self-nurturing decisions, and seen a lot of beauty. And now that some time has passed, and I feel more in touch with certain aspects of myself I am ready to pick up some old projects again. 

Since coming back to Los Angeles this fall though, I have felt a bit paralyzed. I haven't exactly known where to put my energy when confronted with all the ideas in my head. So what to do?  How to choose?  Luckily a friend reminded me of a fun method to get around this: roll the dice!

So, I made a list of 20 things I can think of to do. Everything is on there; physical activities, chores, paperwork, artistic projects, meditations. Anything that will aid me in my desire to take something out of my head and make it real for other people too.

Then, because I am a nerd and a have one of these, I roll a 20-sided die. 

Then I have to do whatever number I roll. As if!  Inevitably, no matter what I roll, my first reaction is "I don't want to do that!" So I don't do it...yet. 

Take Friday for example: I rolled a 2. Painting ❤️. I have two large canvases I'm working on at the moment, but not a great workspace. I've never worked this large in my space, and I don't have an easel, and I end up in a different spot each time, wedged around my desk behind my couch. As I pondered this, I was inspired to rearrange my living room, which was number 18 on the list. So I completely reorganized my space, including vacuuming behind things I moved and dusting etc. It took half the day, but I LOVE the way my space feels. My desk faces the window and the front door now, and I have enough room to hula hoop to my hearts delight when I want to. So later that evening, when I felt ready to paint, my space was ready for me. 

I like using this method because it feels like a game. I tend to change things up a lot, and this helps manage that. And I almost always find that by the end of the day I've done more than one item on my list. You could use a regular 6 sided die (d6) if you want, or d8, d12, whatever ya got.  (You've wandered down the role playing path once or twice, haven't you?) 

Rolling the dice (die) is working for me right now. I'm sure I will get bored with it eventually, but hopefully then I'll find some other way to keep myself having fun. That's the trick I think, keep making it a game, keep having fun. 







Monday, November 23, 2015

Taking another pass

Yesterday for my 33rd birthday my friends and I adventured to Deep Creek Hot Springs. I'd say hike, but honestly it was more than that. Being our first time there, we didn't know what to expect, and ended up taking an intense route. 

Taking the intense route kind of seems like the theme of the last year, or even longer, maybe since the last time I posted, over 18 months ago. Maybe that's the theme of my adult life. Up until a few days ago I wasn't feeling too great about turning 33. 32 was an incredibly difficult year. I experienced my worst bout of depression, and came face to face with some life long patterns and habits that were no longer serving me. Luckily I have an amazing support system of friends and family, and I got through it. I did a lot of inward looking last year. 

In these past few weeks though, coming up to the anniversary of my birth, circling back around to all the expectations I had for the year, versus the reality of what I experienced, I haven't been that stoked. Even though I have tried my best to divorce myself from "shoulds", from ideas of what I am "supposed" to have achieved by this time in my life, it's difficult when faced with a birthday not to hold that measuring stick up and find myself falling short. 

Recently though, I went to a great talk about creativity by artist Dave Zaboski. He talked about his keys to creativity, and how he has used them to keep from getting blocked. The thing he said that resonated the most strongly with me is that artists iterate. Artists take a pass at an idea, and then, in the event that the product of their efforts doesn't match the desired outcome, they circle back around. To illustrate this idea Dave drew a spiral, indicating that each time we take a pass at an idea we come closer to our goal.   

I love this. The notion of the spiral as a function of the way we cycle through experiences in our lives is not new to me, but I had never quite thought of it this way. I like the idea that if I try something and it doesn't work out, when I give it another shot I'm not going back to the beginning, rather I am continuing around the spiral, closing in on my goal, making a smaller revolution on the way in there. 

I recently had been getting down on myself for feeling bummed out again because I thought I should be "better". I felt like I had to start all the way over to feel happy again. But now I'm looking at it a little differently. It's not that I'm going all the way back to where I was last year at this time, heartbroken and sick and pretty lost; now I'm just taking another pass at it. I'm not starting completely over, I'm circling around the spiral again, closing in more quickly or concisely this time on the ultimate goal of happiness and self-awareness. 

Our hike yesterday took about an hour and fifteen minutes down to the springs, which seemed long and steep. Our hike out took about two hours, finished in the dark, and seemed never ending. We had to stop to rest multiple times. But it was so worth it. It was one of my most unique and cherished birthdays ever. And I would not have had that experience, or even the idea to do that, if I hadn't gone through this last year.  And now I'm feeling pretty great. Ultimately I still have the same challenges in my life-I still have to figure out how to achieve my goals, I still have to clearly define those goals, and support myself while I do it, but I remember a little more clearly that the journey is more important than the destination. I saw so many gorgeous variations of the sky yesterday. The hot spring was the midpoint of the journey, it was not even the end of the adventure.  

I'm the spirit of the spiral, in the spirit of enjoying the journey, I'm taking another pass at some things, including blogging. I'm a little rusty at the moment, but I trust the process. Happy fucking birthday to me!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Great Feelings ideas and storyboards


As promised, here are the drawings I made for my Great Feelings video. The first sketches are the initial ideas I had during my first brainstorming session.  (Remember: the challenge was to create a one minute video on your device of choice, with the theme Great Feelings, and elements drawn from a hat. The elements I drew were tree bark, and mirror.). Following the sketches are my storyboard; the inspiration for which came to me totally visually, in one large download. 




So often the things we say to ourselves in the mirror.  I struggle with this to the extent that I wrote a reminder on my bedroom mirror a while back: "I love myself".  Most likely everyone can identify with experiencing very great feelings, both positive and negative, while looking in the mirror.  And what if even natural, inanimate objects felt the same way?  Does a piece of tree bark which it had smoother skin?

From there, I was inspired by an Instagram account I stumbled across called Heal Yourself, Skeletor.  Most of the affirmations spoken by my two characters were found there.