Utterly Transformative

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Wow.. where the fuck do I even begin. I feel like one of those debit machines that just keeps flashing “processing..processing..”. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say later, and it may be premature to write about this before I’ve had a chance to truly reflect, but I feel compelled to share some of my raw, unrefined thoughts so please bear with me.

I spent the last four days at earthdance exploring free movement, sounding, contact improv dance, and much more with a group of wonderful, free-spirited people. I did things I never expected I would do; that actually make me laugh when I recall in my head because it’s so absurd that I actually did these things –ME!?!

To give you a taste of what I’m talking about – I participated in improv sounding and movement (one example being jumping up and down yelling “ka-kaw” pretending to be a crow), performing improv monologues and dances IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, literally hanging out with trees (I’m an actual tree-hugger now), as well as contact improv dancing (which is basically rolling and flipping over people..and those “people” being strangers on the first night). So yah, I did that.

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I dove in. I took risks. It’s not that my insecurities vanished as I arrived at this place, although it is magical. I felt my insecurities and inner bullies bubbling up, especially in moments of intense vulnerability.  At times I felt them tying me down like I was on a leash, and although I can’t say I fully broke it, I pulled it so taut that I was able to meet the challenge anyway.

I made many choices this week. The choice to go, the choice to keep going, the choice to participate, and the choice to seek out even more opportunities to participate. As I sit in my hotel room, half-way home, I am feeling proud and extremely empowered.

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One choice in particular is sticking out to me about this weekend. In this one workshop we had just finished our monologue performances and I was shaking with the shock of being so vulnerable and witnessed. It was time for the next activity, which was picking a “status” from 1-10 and acting it out. At this point, I was naturally feeling very 1ish and I felt compelled to write down a 1. I paused, staring at the paper with the 1 on it. That 1 stared back at me as if it was reprimanding me with a “you know what you need to do” snort of derision. That’s when I added the zero.

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I decided that what I really needed right then was a boost of confidence, even if I didn’t feel it. So I made my 1 a 10 and took it overboard- I decided I would not just be a super high class woman, I was going to be a superhero. So I proceeded to fly around the room with a huge smile, yelling “I’m awesome” “I can save you!”. It was just a silly exercise, a mere moment in the realm of the whole weekend, but it feels monumental in the grand scheme of my transformation journey.

 

 

 

The Beginning..and Dodgeball Apparently

The beginning. I guess it’s too early to say it was the hardest part, but deciding to go and actually leaving felt like a huge hurdle. And not a hurdle that was cleared gracefully like the skilled hurdle jumpers do, but rather one I was trying to climb with one leg still planted on the ground that I ended up straddling until I fell in a heap on the other side.

Leaving was painful; the voice that is all too good at convincing me to stay home in bed continued in full force long after pulling out of my driveway. The whole drive through Nova Scotia felt easily erasable, I was playing the indecisive game until I reached the half way point of tonight’s destination. Once I reached the point where going back home would have been as much, if not more difficult then continuing onward, it felt easier. There was a relief in it, a finality to the decision to actually go through with this plan, for better or worse.

IMG_1292I made myself a rear view mirror hangy-thing (if there’s a term for this I have no idea what it is, and google wasn’t fast enough for how tired I am). I like having my dragon girl with me; she’s right there reminding me what I want to be – what I can be.

To stay would have been to stay small, and that can’t be me anymore. Even though it’s familiar and still so ingrained that it’s formed a weave with my identity, I know it’s time to let that go.

While driving I had a flashback to playing dodgeball in grade school. There were a few boys in the class who threw the balls with such ferocity they would leave bruises, and had enough force behind them they’d knock over classmates who ran by. I was scared of getting hurt. I was afraid of them. In order to secure my safety I made a deal with these boys; whenever I caught a ball I’d hand it over to them, and in return they wouldn’t hit me.

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I sacrificed any chance of winning. My only goal was to keep the dodgeball bullies happy so I could be safe. I literally gave away my power. Driven by fear, I made myself small to survive gym class – I never won, I never really even played, I simply existed until the bell rang.

This pattern didn’t end with gym class. I’ve been perpetually making myself small, giving away my power to outer and inner bullies, so I can exist.

But what’s the point in just existing? Sure, I felt safe in my small role – at least at times, and the method of keeping others happy did seem to work. But what did it do to me? Putting on mouse suit over mouse suit for so long, it’s no wonder that after a certain amount of time I didn’t remember there’s a dragon under there.

I’m done. I no longer want to simply exist while waiting anxiously for the bell to ring. I can’t frantically scurry around chasing an elusive form of safety. I can’t give away my power.

It’s time I pick up the ball and throw it myself. I might get hurt but at least I’ll be playing, and who knows, maybe I’ll take out a few of those motherfucking bullies while I’m at it!

I’m off into the great unknown tomorrow, my only plan is to end up somewhere between here and my final destination in Massachusetts, everything else is up in the air.

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More inspiration on the dashboard. The pic on the right is the dragon and the little girl, and the yellow thing is my hook card 🙂

 

To Go or Not To Go

..that is the question that has been plaguing my psyche for weeks now.

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A few months back I discovered a three day dance/creativity workshop retreat. It takes place at the end of this month, a 12 hour drive away from here in another country. When I discovered the retreat my heart leapt out of my chest with excitement. I was intrigued and energized about the possibility of going. The idea of driving there alone, finding places to stay, experiencing the workshops and people put this huge dumb smile on my face. It felt right.

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The closer it gets the more that sense of “right” is turning into uncertainty, excitement into fear, and intrigue into wishing my passport would magically expire overnight.

I felt empowered about the idea of travelling solo and proving that I can take care of myself; showing myself that I am stronger, braver, and more capable than I think. The hope was that this trip would make me more connected with the dragon, but now I’m worried it’s going to do the exact opposite.

When I think about the trip, I honestly cannot even picture doing it. Maybe that’s perfectly fine, but for some reason it scares me. Maybe it means I’m not ready. Then again, maybe the only way you really get those clear pictures of yourself is by doing the things you are trying to imagine. I certainly have no issues imagining myself panicking 😉

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I haven’t felt particularly strong lately, certainly not as strong as I wanted to feel before taking this trip. I want this to be a good, healthy, empowering experience, and I’m worried that if I go and end up feeling like shit that it will only perpetuate the belief that I can’t do this. I’ll never be able to travel again. I’ll never be okay alone. I’ll never be able to take care of myself.

Is this just fear that I should push through or a sign that I’m truly not ready that shouldn’t be ignored?

Not To Go. What does that accomplish? As much as I can wish that I never found out about this retreat or had the idiotic idea to sign up for it, the reality is that it is already in my mind (and now you all know about it) so at this point it would really feel like I’m backing out of it. And doesn’t that also prove and perpetuate the belief that I can’t be alone/travel/all those things I’m worried might happen if I go and fail? Doesn’t backing out just mean I fail before I even try?

..or is it protecting me from a bigger fall?

This incessant game of mental pong is driving me mad. I don’t know what the right answer is, but it seems my only option at this point is to go.

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To Go.

Take the leap and see what happens.

 

 

Playing in Murky Water

I haven’t written in awhile; admittedly I’ve been pretty caught up in my inner world lately. Sometimes in a productive way, other times purely lost in the muck.

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I’ve been working hard on being a good protector for the Little Girl, and I’m proud to say I’m getting to be a much more reliable caregiver. Whenever I feel myself getting overwhelmed or feel a rush of anxiety, I give myself a time out. I try to get somewhere I can be alone, use self-soothing, positive self-talk (“I’ve got you” “You’re safe”), and do a calming activity (colouring, meditation, listening to calm music, etc). By responding with compassion and giving myself the attention and space I need, I find I can decompress and return to whatever I was doing in a much calmer state. On bad days it has also helped me realize when returning to the activity isn’t the best option. At these times I try not to beat myself up for failing to return, and instead acknowledge that I’ve had all I can handle right now and be proud that I am doing what is best for me in this moment.

Developing my self-compassion has proven to not only be helpful, but absolutely necessary for wading through life of late and allowing me to delve deeper.

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And deeper I’m starting to go. The “self-project” I’ve been trying to work on is addressing repressed emotions that I’ve been told could be destroying my life, as well as my intestines. Since I’m so beyond sick of being sick, I’m more than ready to try anything, including playing in the murky waters of my subconscious. It’s been slow going because I honestly wasn’t sure how to tackle this. I felt so oblivious I even resorted to googling it (hint; healthy tribe are much more helpful). I’m still not sure exactly what needs to happen to be successful in this endeavor, but I’ve started trying things anyway and it feels good to at least be taking a step.

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I’ve been having a rough time with the physical and mental effects of anxiety. Half the time I’m consumed by symptoms and stuck evaluating what they mean, and the other half is spent trying strategies to deal with them and address root causes.  In other words, it’s been murky.

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I can feel myself slipping back into that place, I picture it when I close my eyes. I’m inside a water slide, desperately trying to grasp the sides to keep from falling down. The water keeps rushing into me and my hands and feet keep slipping. All I can hear is that horrible noise that happens when you rub too hard against wet plastic.

My panic rises. I know I have to keep trying to grasp this impossibly slippery surface. The wall sends electric shocks as I get close, taunting me with the futile connection that exists between us. Each time I lose my grip I fall further into the darkness, closer to the water below.

Pleading that this water stops rushing into me, pleading that I come across a chip in the wall so I can get a better grip. But the water is relentless, and the inside of this tube so dark that even if there was a chip it’d be too dark to see. I keep slipping further down. And the scariest part is not that I’m falling, but knowing I can’t swim.

The scent of plastic and chlorine flood into my senses so vividly I close my mouth so I don’t choke. Right then I open my eyes and wonder, are the memories of drowning enough to prove that I can’t swim?

It’s those small moments I keep finding, those light bulbs that flicker in the darkness, shining clarity or beautiful doubt into my awareness.

They are the gems hiding in the murky water.