Disclaimer

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The information on this blog is for sharing of personal experience and artistic expression  purposes only and is not intended as professional psychological/medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

The photography in this blog and the website in general belongs to the creator of the website and collaborators unless stated differently.

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Strangeness of living

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Painting by Adriana Jamisse

I sometimes abandon myself and run into a dark cave

Darkness from which I later surface

After long starvation

After long deprivation

After shutting myself from myself

After watching myself drift away in complete and utter confusion

I surface

 

Sometimes, just sometimes I abandon myself

And fly into the blueness of the sky

So blue that it consumes everything about me

Blueness from which I later descend

After infinite inhalation

After infinite discontinuance

After uprooting myself out of myself

After hearing myself merge with everything in complete and utter despair

I descend

 

Sometimes… I… I abandon myself

And spread as thin as existence

So thin everything goes through it, sees through it.

Thinness from which I later reassemble

After vast disappearance

After vast emptiness

After tearing myself from myself

After smelling myself bloodily stretch beyond recognition in complete and utter agony

I reassemble

 

If not too dark and low,

If not too high and blue,

If not too bloody and thin,

If not surfacing, descending, reassembling

If not this,

I do not know how to live.

 

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Blinded

Painting by Monica Cook

Painting by Monica Cook

(this is something I wrote a few years ago, thought maybe people can find it relatable now)

I see things I’ve never seen before

I noticed how he blinked twice when the wind caressed his face

I saw, her eyes went from vague to piercing in a split second

I saw, the way he arranged his eyebrows when trying to say his thoughts

I saw, the way she moved her hair out her face

I saw how his chest anxiously lifted as he crossed the busy road

I saw how she tenderly looked at him and how he hugged her so protectively

I saw how he was full of emotions as he tried to pretend he was only angry

I saw how many thoughts she had in her mind as we spoke about the weather

 

I see things I’ve never seen before

I notice how her hair is slowly turning whiter and whiter

I saw how his body is craving for touch that is not contaminated

I saw how she lowered her gaze when she realized she couldn’t see my soul

I saw how he worries about the world, about him in the world

I saw how she was surprised by a presence that she did not expect

I saw how unsettled he was when he started talking

I saw how confused she was as she finished giving her heart away

I saw her eyes trying to read what the words could not say

I saw his fingernails shout out what his words could not repeat anymore

I saw the way she worries about things she could not attend to

 

I see things I’ve never seen before

But I am blinded by my sorrow

For what I saw in her was what I wanted her to see in me

For how I noticed him is how I want to be noticed

Things I see always change, are always new

I always change.

 

I saw these things I’ve never seen before

Then I started loosing my sight for what they truly were

And started noticing them as an extension of my wishful imagination

For no one sees how I blink my eyes when the wind brushes my face

No one sees how I move my hair out of my face

No one sees that my fingernails are shouting

No one sees how confused I am after I give my heart away

No one notices how my hair color changes

And how I lowered my gaze when I realized I couldn’t see anymore

 

I was blinded by my sorrow

So that no one could see how I look at them tenderly

So that no one sees how my body is craving for touch

So that no one sees how I worry about the world and myself in it

I was blinded by my sorrow

So I could stop seeing things I’ve never seen before

So I could stop noticing how him or her see me.

 

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Chronic loneliness and the sometimes necessary trap of self-pity

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Photo by Alessandra Griffin

It took me a long time to write again. Life has doing its thing and as usual throws a bunch of stuff our way, and we all need to do the dance of trying to live, trying to keep hoping and keep dreaming. I have had an exciting couple of months with a lot of adventures, some of them quite out of my comfort zone, others more like a reminder of things that were dormant inside of me… parts of me.

Today I decided to try tackle an issue that is a constant in my life, and hopefully it will be of some use for me and for anyone who reads this.

Chronic loneliness and the familiar self-pity.

Loneliness comes and goes, sometimes is because you are alone when you really wish you weren’t, other times its because you are surrounded by people who seem out of reach, or other times its just an emptiness you can’t seem to know its source. The point is loneliness enters our lives at some point or another. I think I have felt all of the above, and seem to be experiencing mutations and variations of loneliness as I go along in my life. What I did find out is that sometimes it has nothing to do with the people around me, and all about how far I am from myself. Of course, people do help, don’t get me wrong. If you are lonely and you have a person, your person, who you can message with random stuff, or if you lonely and your friends or family come over and make you forget that for a moment, this is when people really help. Even strangers can be helpful. Sometimes small talk is what one needs, sometimes one needs the random vent at a poor stranger that happened to ask you the wrong (or right) question at the wrong (or right) time, and was there to see the avalanche begin and end. People’s warmth and sometimes their mere presence is important if you are able to feel it.

I have found myself several times not being able to be close enough to my skin, in order to feel the outside world, and for that reason anything from the outside that can be comforting is seemingly far away from me. This is a recurring thing in my life for many many years. People simply seemed too different, too out of reach, too much on the outside while I was too deep in the inside. This is what I call chronic loneliness. Its worse if you have moved to a different country in the midst of your process of individualisation, or whatever you call the period of your life you discover you need to put your pieces together on a separate table from the people that raised you. When you are far from that nuclear family, far from your childhood and high school friends, or simply far from the place that is soaked in memories and experiences from an important time of your life, the feeling of nostalgia hits hard and shakes the loneliness monster awake. Every time…

You might have lived in the “new” place for years and years, made friends, adopt and been adopted by another family, sometimes even moved onto starting a family of your own… the feeling of nostalgia now and then comes, and if you have any other issue that is bothering you to your core, might be completely unrelated, but an issue that taps into the feeling of confusion, or helplessness, or anxiety, or lack of direction, or all of the above; loneliness will pay you a visit and you might end up spiralling downwards from there. It is hard not to, to be honest. Anyway, slowly but surely I am finding that there are a few things that help me at least get through it quicker:

Noticing when the invasive thoughts that feed the feeling of loneliness emerge soon enough to redirect them

This is far from easy, and one really has to have a good argument to present to oneself in the moment just before chaos settles. If I am able to catch the feeling, I tend to first simply say “hi old friend” then “We know each other, and we know it gets better, so what do we need today for us to get better”. It sounds simple, and it might be, but is far from easy. It’s the honesty with myself that I find hard. An honesty that is not self destructive or judgemental. An honesty that is understanding, accepting and loving. So when I spot the thoughts and identify the feeling, I take a deep breath and begin a chat to myself as if with a friend, allowing whatever needs to come out to come out, but trying not to hold on to a particular feeling for too long through keeping the focus on: “it will eventually pass”. It will pass, but there is no rush and there is space for this feeling to exist and express itself, while I listen and support myself through it.

Doing nice things for the soul

Call it cheesy self-care, call it comfort food and comfort eating, call it hibernation, call it hiding in a cave… whatever you need at the moment to make yourself feel better even if temporarily, can be a good thing for you to get through it. Obviously don’t create a bigger crisis for yourself, by significantly damaging your health, your social life, or your professional life, but do those little things. Like dancing naked with your earphones in, or eating that chocolate cake while watching the crappiest comedy series, or watching cat videos, sending random photos of funny faces to your friends, cooking, cleaning that cupboard that has been bothering you for ages, messing around for no reason at all but because you can. Drinking wine and ugly crying at a movie you are seeing for the 10th time…  (no judgements allowed when reading this) The point is, make yourself be more comfortable with yourself, more comfortable in your skin. This will make it easier to be present for yourself, to show up and support yourself.

Doing little significant changes in your life

 Here it might get a bit tricky, but it is possible. I mean, do little things that fill you a bit more everyday, whatever it is. Going out for drinks with friends religiously once every week, or making time to read that awesome book, or making sure that you eat amazing food everyday, or listening to music for 1hr every evening, or starting taichi classes, learning a new language, creating a hobby or a small project, or even changing your work environment to something more fulfilling, or anything. Anything even if really tiny, do it and do it for yourself. Do a lil’ something everyday that will fill your cup. This I found important, because the more you choose yourself and do these things, the more you will want to do for yourself and the fuller you will get. You will find little moments of joy in your day everyday, and before you notice your entire life project is based on your happiness which will make those around you happier as well. This will fill your cup, and the empty hole you feel caused by loneliness will begin to slowly shrink.

Find your cheerleader

This can be an actual other person, who is the best at cheering you up, even if for the sake of making you lighten up about things momentarily. But it can also be, becoming your own self-hired cheerleader. Congratulate yourself for your small victories and accomplishments, pat yourself in the back when you make decisions that fulfil you, channel that motivational speaker voice in your head when you in the middle of a hard something, and so on… find your inner cheerleader. A lot of times fears take over, and frustration and helplessness dominate, but having that little part of ourselves that even if making fun of the self-cheerleading act, can pop up and lighten things up for a second, makes us break the downwards motion and sometimes change perspective. Frustration and impotence/helplessness are big food for loneliness so if you find healthy ways of overcoming those feelings when they arise, the chronic loneliness episodes will reduce significantly.

Going on a date with yourself everyday

By this I mean, reaaaaally get to know yourself, really find out your tastes and every single nasty habits you have. Fall in love with your date. Fall in love with yourself. Imagine your relationship with yourself as this amazing couple who met at very odd and unpromising circumstances but fell hard for each other and now cannot think of themselves without each other in the world. Fall hard for yourself, and create the dreamy happily ever after for yourself with yourself. And by this I don’t mean not feeling bad feelings, but more like creating a really inseparable and loving relationship with yourself. You will be able to go for the things you enjoy the most, more often. You will be able to show up and stand up for yourself more often. You will be able to nurture good relationships around you. And you will be able to keep fuelling yourself to pursue your dreams and even to create new ones. Falling in love with ourselves, and completing ourselves with ourselves, is one of the greatest tools to significantly reduce or even eradicate chronic loneliness from our life. It is also the hardest thing to do… specially in a world that seems to be trying to eat us alive… it is the hardest, but the most rewarding thing one can do for oneself.

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Photo by Alessandra Griffin

And this leads me to the next thing, which is self pity. It is a familiar feeling for most of us, and yes it is most often a trap. I don’t have a lot to say about self-pity, besides that it is inevitable. It is inevitable in life. There are several ways of feeling sorry for ourselves, and everyone always finds the ways that are most appropriate for their circumstances. It is inevitable. I don’t say it is a good thing, but it surely isn’t the evil in the shape of a feeling. Self-pity can be dangerous, as it can put us in a never-ending loop of negative feelings that lead us nowhere but to more misery and more self-pity. It is because of its danger that it is seen as evil/bad. But as I said before, here and in other posts, not allowing ourselves to feel something that we feel regardless, is simply not doing us any good. I have heard too many times the “ew self-pity” argument being thrown at my face either as a wake up call or as an attempt to invalidate my experience, or even as something that I should be disgusted by. I have heard the judgemental tone of anything that is close to one feeling sorry for oneself, and how much one needs to “grow up” or “pull it together”. And yes sometimes this argument does work as a shock, as a wake up call, but I believe also that contaminating a normal feeling with judgment and classification is not at all helpful. One might have woken up, but one might also think that this is the only way to shake others up to “pull themselves together”, while there are other ways too. Self-pity in my view is natural, and is justified. We should not believe that we deserve bad things to happen to us or negative feelings to dominate our lives. One feels sorry for oneself when one believes one does not deserve the circumstances one finds oneself in. And this for me is a valid and healthy belief. One should always believe one deserves the best, one deserves good, one deserves love, so when that doesn’t happen and one feels helpless, one will and should naturally feel sorry for oneself… and it is ok to do so.

IT IS OK.

Most of the times it is this feeling of self-pity that eventually drives us towards change, change for the better, change for what we believe we deserve. So self-pity is not a useless feeling, self-pity is not disgusting or repulsive… if you feel sorry for yourself its because you know that you deserve better, as anyone should. Self-pity is not always a trap, sometimes it is even a necessary stage one must get through in order to figure out what direction to take next, or at least what direction not to take again. Self-pity is not always a dead end, but it can be. It can be quite comfortable actually, and this is the danger. Like any other emotion, we should not hold on to self-pity for long, we need to allow ourselves to feel it and to use it to keep moving. The negative loop becomes very familiar and before we know it, we are adopting it as our safe place, as our foundation, as our home, as the thing we can always come back to, if we ever leave. This is the trap of self-pity. We hold on to it a second too long and the loop begins, and shortly after our inability to see ourselves outside of it… and that.. That is bad, but not because its against morals some dude came up with and decided to make it the norm; that is bad because it keeps us in a comfort zone that is not nurturing, that is self-destructive and non-conducive for the creation and alimentation of dreams and goals. And we all need those to keep moving no matter how big or small they are… we all need something to walk towards in life.

Self-pity is also alienating, we tend to isolate ourselves after some time and we feel out of reach making the loop bigger with more negativity, and in that we find ourselves alone, or rather, we find ourselves lonely. With a hole that can never be filled. Self-pity and loneliness most of the times walk hand in hand, specially if they become our home.

So it is fine. Truly accept whatever it is that you feel, just don’t hold on to it for too long, find what fills you, get to know yourself, fall in love with yourself, and fill in the emptiness with more of the self that brings you joy and love. But above all, be kind and give yourself the time and space to keep trying.

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Windstorms

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Photo credit: Marchers 2017 | Sculpture by Ndary Lô | at the Ecole des Sables (Senegal)

When I was little

I would listen to the whistles and the screams of the wind,

While soaking in angst and clinging to my bed sheets

 

“The wind is speaking mommy! The wind is speaking!” – I would say

 

And on those unsettling, cloudy nights of windstorms

I would sit by the window

feeling the wind travel through the tunnel of my tiny chest

and then joining the powerful gushes outside

 

So powerful, that they uprooted old trees

So powerful, that they made the street lights blink

 

I could hear the whistles of each blow,

of each wave of wind.

They would tell me things of the future

and sing songs from the past.

 

“I have a tunnel of wind in my chest! I feel a hurricane through my lungs!”

 

The wind in my chest uprooted me

just like it did to those old trees

The wind would make my heart skip a beat

just like the blinking street lights outside

 

I could hear the whispers, the whistles and the screams,

coming from the inside and outside of me

 

… and I clinged to my softened roots…

 

But once I understood that I was made of wind

I jumped up to fly

 

To fly,

Knowing things of the future

To fly,

Singing songs of the past

To fly,

Being the powerful gush of the present.

 

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SHIFTING THE GAZE

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The photos I have used and continue to use in this website and in my blog are a fruit of something very special and somehow a turning point in my life.

I know it might sound a bit overdone the whole thing of doing a nude photo-shoot, but this wasn’t about making ground-breaking work or engaging in politics of shock, or even trying to become someone I am not.

My whole idea for this blog stemmed out of the process and product of this photo-shoot, and I was waiting for a time that I felt was right to write a small reflection about it all. An aspect that fuelled me even more to write about this process was the reaction I got from people when seeing the photos. A much expected reaction in one side, but on the other a truly rewarding one.

I have had this idea in my mind for at least a year before I actually decided to manifest it. I think the reason it took me so long to go for it was that within myself I was not sure of why I thought something like this had to be made and what importance it truly had for me as an artist, but most of all as a person living inside my own body politics.

Because of that uncertainty inside myself, I sort of tried to seek approval from people close to me and it was in this process that the need to make it happen and the reasons for it started taking solid shape. In truth, I did not need anyone’s approval to do this, but my own. In conjunction, the varied reactions from people I discussed this with, made it clear for myself that this had to be my choice and decision, and could not be about what people thought of it, how the work would be read, how people think I should handle the whole process, who people think was ideal to collaborate with to make this happen, and how my public image would shift if I ever decided to make the images public.

All this was noise in my head; all this was a deviation from what I needed and wanted to manifest. And this is when I arrived at the perfect moment to manifest this, almost a year after the seed of it was planted in my mind.

I was at a period of self-transformation in my life, one of the many people undergo. This period in my life was truly a season of intense turbulence in order to manifest drastic changes within. It was a moment between “life” and “death”, in which even the very air I inhaled seemed to be trying to murder me. But I started shouting “life” with the very d(eca)ying lungs I seemed unable to heal. It was that clear moment when you are inside and within the lowest layer of a dark place; in fact, you are the dark place, and you decide to seek and to be light.

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It was the beginning of a journey to take ownership of my life, my body and myself.

Up until that point life was overwhelming and the distance between me and my physical manifestation was that of a black hole. I seemed to be wearing each word, each look, each reflection, each representation, each classification, each stereotype, each breath, each thought that was ever created towards my body and female presenting bodies like mine in many life times. I had so many layers on top of my skin that I completely lost track of it. I did not know how it was to breathe through my own pores, I did not know if my skin was smoothened or hardened by the layers. I did not know what laid underneath it all. But above all, I could not look at myself and see myself.

I somehow lost track of the learning how to see myself, and could only see myself through the eyes of others, through the layers accumulating on top of myself, through politics in my context, through the heavy, sweaty, lustful, unforgiving, entitled, imposing, careless, thirsty, violent eyes of hyper-masculine performers within a patriarchal world.

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I was ready to open up, to give it all up and begin shifting my gaze.

Shifting how I looked at myself, how I perceived myself, and thus who I believed I was.

This could only be realised from a place filled with love.

Love that comes with softness, with trust, with holding.

Love that is subtle but deeply rooted.

This love that yes, had to come from within, but also, and maybe most importantly, needed to be surrounding me and directed at me, simply because it is mostly through receiving and witnessing love that you can learn to love both yourself and others.

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Most of us are taught conditional love,

a love that only comes if one performs good deeds,

a love that only comes when one has been a “good” person,

a love that only comes when one is within the accepted boundaries of the norm,

a love that only comes when one fulfils expectations of the other,

a love that only loves the good, the right, the safe, the pretty, the simple, the norm,

the okay.

And that indeed is beautiful, it is true, it is genuine and something to be cherished. But what happens when one is navigating and manifesting the bad, the ugly, the wrong, the messy, the complicated, the marginal, the unsafe, the dark, the not-okay?

What happens, with the side of life we all experience where things go wrong, where things go messy, where things go absolutely mad and there is no morals, no logics, no straight lines, no path, no aesthetics, no binary, but just is what it is while it is and it shifts constantly? What happens to this side of things that every single living being has and goes through, and where most of the “good stuff” emerges from?

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One is not taught to love those parts, one is not taught to recognise these elements, these moments, these selves. What happens when we are not perfect (what even is that and through whose eyes)? What happens with the dark side, the ugly spots and the unpolished bits of ourselves? What happens to all of this if we are not taught to love it all, to love the whole?

This was the beginning of deep self discovery and willingness to accept the darkest and ugliest beings that inhabited my being. And it started by taking back my body, taking back the physical manifestation of me. Taking back part of me that had been neglected by myself as simply a servant and obedient reflection of my minds’ fears and obsessions. Taking back the vehicle that allows me to navigate this plane and manifest fully and solidly the ways in which I choose to exist.

 

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For me to begin learning I needed to investigate the loving ways and beautiful ways of perceiving myself, and I reckoned that photography would be an effective point of access to this learning. The eye behind the camera had to seek beauty beyond norm, beyond desire, beyond objectification and beyond sexualisation… the eye behind the camera had to capture me as a whole person, my body as a direct link to my soul, my presence as the resonance of artistic expression. The eye behind the camera had to see me, through the love lenses, and above all had to stay true and connected to who I was at that moment in time.

Mine was the role of showing up, of opening up, of revealing, of being, of moving and of being honest to myself. The gaze… for the first time in my life, I gave it with consent to someone I trusted would hold me through it. For the first time I had awareness and allowed a soft gaze to be directed at me, while opening myself up to receive it without letting it shape me.

I must say, more than the end product, the process of making it happen and of actually have gone through with it until the end, was the most important of it all.

I did a nude photo-shoot filled with love, truth and artistry. Yes, I was naked. I had nowhere to hide. I could not hide my skin, I could not cover myself inside the layers of perception, I opened up and revealed it all. But also, I could not dodge the love, and softness directed at me in the moment of capture. It was first a shock to have to just be there, to be present, to be and feel directly on my skin the soft loving gaze coming from outside towards me and growing on the inside from myself. I had nowhere else to hide, no excuse to procrastinate my arrival and rooted landing on myself. It was the moment of change, manifesting.

Besides Alessandra, the photographer, who was incredibly sensitive, holding, loving and who is the eye that could capture the faded beauty of showing up for oneself, I had with me two of my good friends, with whom I share a universal timeless connection with. Their presence was everything that made me show up and stay present. Their presence is what made me rescue myself from myself, their presence is what made me choose life, their presence is why I can perceive beauty in the ugliness of life… their presence meant I was held… in the past, was being held then, and am being held now. They created a soft web of smooth silk on which I could lay, and which would help me stand, find my feet, and rise up to the greatness that only I can be. They were the safety net, the supporting walking stick, but most of all their love became part of me, became the building blocks for loving myself and others. Their love, was part of the essential ingredient, part of all the moments where I have received and absorbed and manifested love. Their love was the reminder of that unconditional love I felt and had forgotten. Their love became part of my love for them and myself.

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Once I’ve gone through this process, I saw myself shedding unnecessary weights, found myself becoming lighter and diving deeper to know the unknown and dance with it till it became as recognisable as my fingerprints. There was no turning back, and I have never felt so liberated by that realisation.

The beautiful result of the shoot took shape and came into being, and through that I finally abandoned my old lenses and began to build the new ones, from pieces that were light, soft, strong, fragile, beautiful and powerful. I began completing the puzzle of my image with pieces I liked and admired on the centre of it. And gosh… wasn’t it radiant! It was powerful, it was true and it was pure light. From then onwards, I could shift the pieces that would accumulate around the centre, but would only do so if it made the centre shine brighter than before.

I kept (and keep) saying:

“let no one obscure you, let no one dim your light, let no one plant hatred for hatred sake, let no one contaminate you with the lenses of ugliness, let no one… not even yourself!”

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These are not simply images of me. They are mirrors of experience, mirrors of you, me, them, us… they are a snippet into healing, a taste of what art is in its becoming, a breeze of the intangible love that manifestation can bring to all of us. These images are not about me, really… all the reactions good and bad, are simply the pieces of you connecting the dots of your own existence. Ultimately, the fears that were mine before this, are the same fears I see around me, the same way that the love that grew inside myself, was and is the love that I received, receive, absorb, give, share, know, witness and chose to nurture within and without myself through myself and others.

These are more than just naked pictures made public. These are images of becoming…

… of loving and love, of creation, of resilience, of strength, of softness, of companionship, of motivation, of vulnerability, of beauty, of trust, of truly seeing, of acceptance, of recognition, of continual self-actualisation, self-discovery, self-nurturing, self-believing, of the greatness that exist in the world, of gratitude, of security, of holding and being held, of community, of love, of love, of love, of love, of love, of love and of supreme light… and I am not afraid to say it.

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PHOTOGRAPHER’S THOUGHTS:

“Taking a portrait of someone can be a deeply intimate experience; while looking through the lens a barrier is lifted that can often allow you to see parts of an individual that they usually keep hidden, things that they do not need to communicate to you with words, and sometimes even things about themselves that they may not be aware of.

Ironically, the process of taking someone’s portrait is often a process of seeing passed the physical parts of a person and into the essence of what makes up their being- all it takes is one off-guard expression and I feel as if I’ve caught a glimpse into the most private thoughts of my subject.

Being a photographer on a nude shoot is on another level of intimacy. In theory, no good images will be made unless you are able to make your subject feel comfortable; but in practice it can often feel like the person in the room with the most power is the naked one. Allowing yourself to be nude in front of the camera, where all barriers are gone and there is nowhere to hide is an incredibly brave and disconcerting thing to witness, and there is such empowering strength in that.

Sharing this experience with Adriana taught me a lot about the relationship between the photographer and the subject and reinforced for me that the images you create are a result of collaboration- as a photographer, you can only work with what you are given and you would not exist without the beautiful people taking a risk and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in front of your camera.”

ali

Alessandra Griffin ali@ormsctsp.co.za@alessandragriffin

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Movements of Life

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Photography by Alessandra Griffin

It is understandable why people perceive life as a journey.

I mean… you can look back today and realize that you are not in the same space you were yesterday, and regardless of you being in a better or worse space today, you have definitely moved. There is no such thing as stagnation really, because we are always one day, one hour, one minute older than we were before. But one can indeed float in time, trapped in the past, and this might be what we perceive as stagnation.

The issue with perceiving life as a journey is the danger of applying linearity to something so messy as life. There is no real starting point and there is no finish line. We cannot deviate from our life, and we cannot arrive at the end of it. We do not walk in straight lines and we are not bound to time.

I think the reason we see life as a journey so often, is exactly because we find ourselves constantly on our way to somewhere, coming from somewhere else. We are always in this in between space we call the present, where we not yet know it all but we also don’t know nothing. We are learning as we go. It feels as if we are constantly on the move with so many shifts, changes, learning, unlearning, dying and undying. And we are moving…

We are moving during every second of our existence. Someone recently told me, that even in stillness we are moving. The greatest thing is to be aware or be able to notice the movement happening within and without us, to listen to the movement that is our own entire existence in relation to what we perceive to be existing around or with us.

As we take note and absorb movement, we will understand at a core level the power of connection. The power of linking our existence to another’s; The power of understanding how we merge with everything, and of knowing that all that is, is because of us. All that is us, is so because of all that is. The power of feeling in our foundations all that moves. It is as if we dive into a flowing pool of energy, merging with it. It is as if we see ourselves beyond our form, and beyond form itself. But at the same time, it is as if we learn to appreciate our form even more, because of perceiving this movement within that is also without; because of perceiving how we are, more than what we are. The power of connection… the power of perceiving connection… the power of enabling, facilitating, emphasizing connection.

Through perceiving all this, we will be able to perceive time from the outside of it, and thus break the notion of linear existence. This happens once we make peace with the contradictions of life and accept its messiness as the main ingredient of its “beauty”. But we need to keep ourselves open to a certain degree. Not open to the point of self-eradication or compromise, but open to receive what we most need and ask for, whether conscious or subconsciously. As I most recently heard someone say:

“learn how to receive”

We are conditioned and built to fight for and work hard for, with the underlying belief of both, scarcity in the world, and inadequacy within. We most of the times are pursuing what we need and what we think or we know makes us happy. We are constantly on the move or in the fight to get whatever we are aiming at, in a manner which simultaneously feeds the narrative that we actually don’t deserve to have our needs met, or to be happy. This is where, learning how to receive becomes crucial. We need to be open to receive what we need, otherwise our hard work is in vain. Learn how to receive… learn to receive, as we learn to give. We open ourselves to give so much, we need to also open ourselves to receive and keep both doors halfway open at all times, no more no less. With that said, we must also allow ourselves the time to find that midway openness; allow ourselves to close too much or open too much until we find how to manage this according to our needs. Nothing is formula based, or set in stone, or a finish line.

Learning and learning. Many people say that we will never stop learning, and this I find true. The moment you believe you know it all is the moment you stop learning and thus end up knowing less. Yes… True… but this does not mean that we must keep solely learning and waiting for the moment we arrive somewhere, before we give or share or apply.

We must not wait, we must not wait, we must not wait.

Don’t wait till the right time, till you know more, till you are ready, till you learnt it all. Simply because these moments will never come. Or at least they won’t come before you do what you need to do. Most of the moments that are right, that you are ready, and you know enough, are recognised only in hindsight. So waiting for something you can only realise in hindsight is not an effective strategy. This is why we need to tell ourselves to jump, to share, to put it out there the best way we can, what we have gathered so far… and it will be through this exchange that we will learn more and grow beyond what we’ve ever imagined.

We know this, all we need is to not let our fears and over-humility stop us from jumping. And please, don’t close your eyes and jump, rather open them and jump because even though you don’t know where you will land as you leave the ground, you must keep your eyes open so you see the whole journey there, including where you land. So you can guide others to do the same or even better.

As we land, we must allow ourselves to absorb the impact and process the fright that came with it. As we land we need to become aware of the connection we have made. As we land we must digest the power of connection, the fright of the impact, and the movements of this shift. As we land we must acknowledge that we are not where we were, thus we are not who we were and that that is ok. As we land, we must grow deep roots again and reach as high as possible again… but this time differently; we must just be… again, but be as we are now… not yesterday or tomorrow.

Finally, whether you understand life as a journey or not, whether you are in the past still, in the future already or you have managed to be in the present (be it stuck or be it flowing): be gentle. Walk gently. Speak gently. Touch gently. Work gently. Love gently.

Be gentle within and without. Be gentle towards yourself and others always.

And if you can’t, if it hurts too much, listen to the movements within and without, be open to receive what you need, including the softness of love and care, connect instead of disconnecting. This will show you the way to be gentle and still in the flow of your movement.

For all that is, is because of us and all that is us, is so because of all that is…

We see it through, for, and in ourselves. So gently open your “eyes”.

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Photography by Alessandra Griffin

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Making Peace with Imperfection

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As a perfectionist myself this topic is particularly challenging for me to reflect on in a useful way. With everything I put my mind into, I can hear myself screaming inside my head at the lack of perfection, joined with back up voices of other perfectionists I grew up with. Some people say perfectionism is something that is born with you, specially if one of your parents was one. I say, that its like everything else, if you have an inclination for it, all it takes is that aspect of yourself to be fed on a regular basis for it to grow strong. And I guess that was my case with regards to perfectionism.

 

As a dancer this is a trait that is triggered by the kind of dance training where all you look to achieve is the perfect something: the perfect line, the perfect jump, the perfect turn, and on it goes. As an artist and performer, perfection takes a different twist. I guess that when you begin to develop your own style and voice, you worry less about perfection in the eyes of others and focus more on what perfection feels like for you. Now, for a perfectionist artist, perfection is unachievable by the self. We tend to be the kind of people who are constantly hard on ourselves, who find celebrating little victories challenging, and who always think that there is a lil something that could be/get better.

 

As I particularly don’t draw the line between art and life, I say that we take the lenses that developed from our up bringing, from our educators, from our role models, and start to look at everything through it. Not only the “art product” but also, our body, our personality, our activities, our way of thinking, our way of being, our way of breathing. EVERYTHING becomes the subject of evaluation, of analysis and of improvement. If we are not careful we will join the group of millions, who are miserable with themselves because they somehow went too far in being too hard on themselves.

 

Perfectionism is not a bad thing, it has lots of advantages; it makes us give great attention to detail, focus on hardworking, and somehow it turns us into passionate beings and passionate doers. The issue appears when one does not have a clear definition of perfection, and thus never meets that goal. It can always get better, or it never looks quite right, simply because we most of the times don’t reaalllly know what we are seeking for. We don’t know what is the perfection that we think we are capable of observing for ourselves. Most perfection is seen by others, and perfectionists navigate a world of imperfection. The most challenging type of perfectionist is the one that cannot see perfection. While there is the other type, who can appreciate perfection, but only outside of what one has done, or was involved with.

 

But when I stop to think about perfection, there is a void that appears in my mind, followed by a deep sense that perfection is as relative as most things that require this kind of analytical perception. When I look at nature I see perfection, but for those who love symmetry and linear shapes, maybe nature is actually terribly imperfect. When I think of how I saw a loved one, and just admired how perfect this person was with everything included, and how someone who just doesn’t like that same person cannot see the perfection I see. When I hear some music which I love and admire… I see how perfectly combined all the elements of it are, meanwhile those who don’t have the same musical taste as me will simply disregard it. And this goes with everything.

 

I then started a journey of shifting the lenses through which I see myself with, including my perfectionism. Instead of seeing from a point of departure of imperfection, I attempt to see from a point of departure of perfection. Meaning everything is perfect first and foremost, within this perfection are imperfections that make that which is seen what it is, thus perfect in its own imperfection. With this said, I am definitely not advocating for an all-butterflies-and-flowers kind of vision of the world. The world most of the time is crap nowadays, and one must see it, but in terms of survival and daily uplifting, as well as, in terms of building a world we wish to live in, one has to focus more often on manifesting what one wants to see. Using lenses through which we see perfection first and foremost, will allow us to start to nourish acceptance and love. I am not talking about tolerance!

 

Tolerance is not acceptance, tolerance is an affirmation of self-entitlement and superiority to the point that one needs to learn to tolerate difference rather than accept it. Acceptance is in many ways closer to unconditional love than tolerance. If one truly accepts that loved one as a whole, one is abler to truly and deeply love this person as a whole. Acceptance doesn’t mean stagnation or refraining from change, on the contrary, once something is accepted that something can freely evolve into something even better (flourish), or it can slowly fade away. This is simply because once something is accepted the weight of rejection and resistance to it is no longer there, therefore, the thing takes its true form and most of the times the huge seven-headed thing we have so much resistance towards, is in its true form actually a tiny irrelevant thing. We most of the times don’t have control over our built-in resistances, because these mainly come from our past experiences and our conditioning, both extremely valid for who we are today. But we do have control over what we do with regards to that resistance and rejection once we spot them. We can build it up until it becomes a monster bigger than the universe or we can bring it down until it turns into a grain of sand in the midst of million others. This is something that we can all do if we have the resources to do so.

 

This is an important part of it. Most perfectionists and generally hard-on-the-self people have a hard time accepting past events, or attitudes because they view it through the lenses of today. Forgetting the simple fact that most of the times, today one has more resources than one had yesterday. So in sum there is no need to dwell in past imperfections either in this case.

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I found that being able to see, accept and even admire perfection surrounding me was something easier to tap into once I addressed it. What is taking me longer is to be able to see, accept and admire perfection in myself and the things I do. For this I find it a challenge because I see myself as a vessel of imperfections and am still unable to see that as part of the perfection itself.

 

There are many examples I could give, but the easiest to relate I think would be, when I look in the mirror. I know this is an issue that touches everyone no matter where you are in life. What do you see first when you look in the mirror? And can you even look in the mirror?

For many many many years looking in the mirror was not something I particularly enjoyed. I would stand in front of it and make all the funny faces, or just focus in on that unreachable pimple, but I would never stand and observe. Simply because I had my imperfection glasses on, and the moment I tried to see what’s in the mirror I simply could not stand it. Because of this simple intimate issue, I could not stand watching videos of my performances and I could not stand looking at anything made by me. I simply could not stand how imperfect I was. The glasses I wore everyday had contaminated everything that came from me, and washed clean everything else, so I was the personified imperfection navigating a perfect world.

 

But it got to a point that I had to look. For survival purposes, I had to look and see what was there. But truly see and not just assume. I remember that the worst thing about looking in the mirror was the fact that I could not see anyone there; I could not recognise the person reflected in the mirror. And this is a pure manifestation of resistance and rejection when built on for years after years.

 

Slowly, I began

  1. Firstly, to stare at my eyes and say some affirmations I believed in about myself, even if in the beginning the verb “want” was in all of them… (i.e I want to be happy) at least I was looking at myself while doing this.
  2. Then I started looking at myself to simply observe the shape and colour of things without analysing it deeply. I would spend a few minutes contemplating the shape of my lips, the colour of my eyes, the length of my eyelashes, and so on.
  3. Then extending it to the whole body. Expanding it to texture and feel. Doing this made evident the randomness of judging these things on the basis of comparison.
  4. At a later stage I began to build a check-in system. Where I would look in the mirror asking myself “so how are you today?”, then try and really read it from what I saw.
  5. Then from observing the shapes, I began to pin point what shapes I found interesting, unique and beautiful.
  6. Obviously through doing that, there’s a voice inside telling me how many things I found ugly and disgusting. With those I took note of, but in the beginning tried to not get carried away. Then later on, I would reflect why I disliked things about my body. Most of the time to find out that those things came either from stuff that was told to me when little, or stuff that did not match my view of perfect body through comparison.
  7. I began to, on top of all that, also embrace these imperfections, as marks of my uniqueness and as things that make me me in this moment in time. Thus lifting the weight of the I-hate-you-go-away perception of the parts of my body I liked less.
  8. Finally, I tried to stop looking at myself and doing things to make them good, and started approaching everything rather as to make them better, because they are already good (this is a shift in perception mostly useful for those like me. who have tendencies for low self-esteem).

 

I am still in the journey to accept myself including my body (obviously) as a whole. But I more and more find that most notions of perfection and most things we don’t accept about ourselves come from our conditioning and what our environment around us dictates as acceptable. So I found that if I could give that validation, acceptance and love I got used to seek from the outside, from myself to myself, I would be able to lift a heavy weight from my existence and just love myself more and more as time passes, for as time passes I will find out more and more about myself.

The more I know myself, the more layers I perceive and the more whole I become. Thus when looking in the mirror I am seeing a whole person and can then be proud of the physical manifestation of the person I am. I also found that through getting to know my own layers, I could build more acceptance towards who I am and my body, this led me to be able to love myself. The separation of who I am and my body starts to become irrelevant, and slowly through this acceptance I am making peace with my imperfections. For when I can accept things about myself, I more promptly engage in developing or creating or moulding those things into better things. I have more energy and motivation to change, simply because I am coming from a place of self-love and not of self-hate/rejection.

 

This goes to art making too. Diving into those imperfections became one of my focuses, and the more I dive into it, unpack, reveal, understand, accept, the less imperfection I see on it. Slowly that ugly angle, that awful turn, those clumsy arms, or that little unexpected slip, are all things of their own, and thus have their value and beauty. What this does is simply make the imperfection lighter, thus we let go of it more easily, but most importantly we make more art, because we love what we do more. With this comes the consciousness freed from the goal of the master piece and the master piece only. As a result, due to the passionate detachment through which we begin to approach what we do, masterpieces start to emerge, and what is crucial is that we then are able to truly see it this time.

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So it is all about letting go of seeing perfection, letting go of searching perfection, letting go of wanting perfection. And instead, being able to look, to love, to do and to be… whatever it is and whoever you are. Perfection is and will always become present where there is love and acceptance at the foundation of everything. Because you are gifting yourself with the lenses of perfection, something that no one else can do, you can see it for yourself.

 

To be perfect, make peace with imperfection first, and you shall be perfect in all your imperfection.

 

Photography by Alessandra Griffin

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What of Emotions?

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Human.

Trying to define this term, control it and delineate its boundaries, just so we know who is part of it and who isn’t… is just a struggle we should know better by now not to even waste energy in. We try to determine which are the characteristics that makes us human and which makes us non-human. It is exactly this need to put “humans” inside a very neat and hard box that took us, as Humanity, into the depressing point of disconnection we find ourselves in now.

Separating. Dividing. Delineating.

Until there is nothing left living outside the thick and bloody borders we have created and passed on from one generation to the next. What is most intriguing to me is that while we want so badly to determine what we aren’t, our “human” box becomes emptier as time passes, until it becomes a black void in the centre of our existence. We seem to have built a world that kills us, along with everything we claim to be human.

There are several human conditions. An example is how we are taught to (not) deal with our emotions. Emotions are perceived as evil, and things that will take us away from functioning properly, having a good job, being a good parent/friend/sibling/colleague/every and anything. That without mentioning the gendered emotions, which someone out there, decided that there are certain emotions more appropriate for specific gendered performances/roles/representations. This gendered view of emotions only makes me more concerned, as it actively limits the range of emotions one should feel and express.

As with basically anything in life there is a good and a bad to it. This is the beauty of it. And yes both can co-exist in (dis)harmony. Emotions in my view are one of the aspects that makes us living beings (not exclusive to humans), it is literally what keeps us all alive and fill our bodies with substance. I have had a few people telling me in different ways to rather approach my emotions as a compass.

A compass that will determine how close or how further I am from my needs/path(s) in life.

A compass that will activate a defensive and protective mechanism if it sees that I have gone too far away from my path and thus my best self.

A compass that will tell me when I am entering new and unknown grounds; and where I am stumbling upon the same rock for the 50th time in my lifetime.

In sum, a compass that serves as a check in mechanism to maintain harmonious connection within the self and enables one to know what to do/where to go.

This sounds very simple, but again, I’d rather say that these things although simple they are not easy. In order to stay tune to my compass I need to be honest with myself at all times, and unfortunately in this world this is one of the hardest tasks to maintain. Thus it’s something I’ll probably be working on for a long time in my life.

We are scared even of our own thoughts because of ideals of perfection that were imposed on us at such a young age and into such a deep layer of ourselves. We paint an image of ourselves without truly looking at ourselves in the mirror. We no longer recognise whose voice speaks louder inside our own mind with all the “shoulds” and “should-nots”, and we demonise the matters related to emotions, feelings and intuitions. We have built an illusion of a barrier between us and our emotions. And all it does is foster disconnected individuals who have challenges in feeling fulfilled, in finding a direction in life, and in knowing where their limits are (can you relate? I can).

Another example, closely related to the gendered emotions, is the rules of survival in this capitalist economy. So basically, the part of us that wishes to be a robot in order to do our job. This in sum explains what most aspire to be in order to survive in the professional world. And surprisingly, one can spot this perspective even in the art world which in my view is intrinsic to the inner experience. In order to succeed in one’s professional career and in whatever one does in life, there seems to be a crucial need to have a healthy relationship with the self and one’s emotions rather than neglect them.

Emotions are often demonised. Our binary perception only allows us to  see a particular something as either good or bad and we try to apply a so called “objective” view to this moral judgement. Emotions are not evil, but they can surely be detrimental if, let’s say, out of balance. For a couple of years now, I have been trying to perceive this notion of balance as rather equal to the notion of a scale, and less about a state to arrive in. One needs to be able to put one’s emotions on a scale and, as life comes, put more of what is needed and less of what is not. Our main problem as (human) emotional beings, is that we hold on to our emotions even when we don’t need them anymore. And this creates confusion and disconnection.

Whether we want to accept it or not, there is always a reason for us to feel a certain way, even if it is with the simple purpose of feeling this in order not to feel something else. Not paying attention to these signs and holding on to the emotion, making it our identity-determining aspect, makes us stagnate in a single state of being. And this state becomes so familiar that later on, even when realising that it is no longer necessary, we see the leap into another state as so big that we rather stay in the familiarity of the state we are in, regardless of the pain we experience.

Emotions require a flow.

They appear,

they are acknowledged,

they are accepted,

they are understood,

they are expressed

and they leave.

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Most of us got the acknowledging and the expressing part, but have no clue how to accept, understand and express them. This happens because of the “shoulds” and “should-not’s” we were given in life; we tend to think to ourselves “I shouldn’t be feeling this way”. But when we feel something it is there for a reason, so rather look for it than being stuck in the “shouldn’t”. You are feeling it! That’s what matters.

Sometimes we go even harder on ourselves saying that others are allowed to feel and express whatever they like, but this allowance is not applicable to us. Emotions dealt with like so, will obviously become the evil side of the story, but in reality it does not have to be that way. If one accepts oneself as a being who feels emotions, one needs to accept that all emotions are included in this. One must embrace it all.

This might be the first step.

Then, one does not have to express or throw ones emotions at people all the time everywhere. If there is built up, obviously to even things out, one might need to let go and release it for a few days, weeks or months. This is healthy if done in a non-harmful way to oneself or anyone around. It is also healthy if one recognises when there is need to move on into the next step and, through acknowledging this, proceed to accept it and slowly making the move. Meanwhile, one might start to build a healthier dynamic with regards to how to deal with incoming emotions.

Each person has their own mechanisms, here are some of the things I do:

  • I do a honest daily check-in with myself (hello self, how are you feeling today?)
  • If something is bothering me I take an active role about it (what, why, how, when). There is always something connected to it. But I also allow myself to feel it.
  • I try and name every single feeling and emotion I experience, and if I don’t know the name I go look for it until I do. At the beginning it’s hard work and a mission but with time I gain a vocabulary. Providing language to what we are feeling and to our experience is a gateway for our reconnection and healing, and makes it easier for those around us to also understand and help us.
  • Once I have spotted and named, I observe my resistance towards it. ie. “I feel angry”, but I took long to get to that conclusion, or haven’t expressed it = I have a resistance towards allowing myself to feel and express anger. This gives me something to work with ie. I can now go punch the bed, scream at the pillow, I can go write an angry note, go break something, go running, etc. And also I can dive inside to answer what I think is so bad about anger and why I don’t want to allow myself to feel/express it. This is a solution-oriented approach that breaks the feeling of helplessness/impotence when we are overwhelmed by an emotion.
  • I listen religiously to my needs in each and every minute of the day. In the beginning this is tricky, because sometimes we are so disconnected we don’t even know what our needs are. In this situation, I just tried to follow what felt less harmful, and with least (emotional) effort, until I slowly started to know what I needed. This required me to create my own terms for the situations I had control over.
  • Which brings me to the next one, which is finding/exploring my limits. Firstly, most of the times we cross our limits, our emotional bell will manifest one way or the other, so we can try to hear it. When crossing a limit, I try to make an active decision to deal with it like: 1) I found one of my limits and its right here, I can stop now, or 2) this is my limit, let me explore its flexibility with caution. All depending on how I feel about it.
  • I try to investigate different ways to release/let go/put it out there by trying different things. I try sharing/exchanging my inner experiences and mechanisms with others as well as listening to other people’s ways, as I might gain some new insight into what I have or haven’t tried. Being vulnerable and exploring vulnerability itself.
  • I try to let go of linearity in the emotional journey. It is messy. This needs to be accepted. For a long while everything is a MESS and complete CHAOS, and that’s OK. Even once we have travelled quite far things will never be neat and linear. There is no sense of linear timeline for this. One can face a situation as a 45year old, but if this situation triggers an emotional imprint of one’s 3-year-old-self that hasn’t been identified, one will react as a 3-year-old. The process of dealing with this and of gaining emotional maturity is also not a straight line. Everything is messy and multi-shaped, with no sense of time. I (reaaaallly) try to be patient.
  • I try to be kind to myself, and truly accept that I am learning. I try to always identify when I am being led by fear.

In our way of seeing the world, I could say that our humanity sits exactly in the ability we have to deal with and manifest our emotions. Even in the so-called professional world, our emotions can determine our success… one can always sense the difference when something was done with a little extra or when it was done with a little less. Trying to separate ourselves from our emotions, to deny that we experience them, and that certain things affect us, is a form of holding on which only leads to stagnation. I am aware that in certain views of professionalism, a radical view as such has severe tangible consequences. What I also think is that there are subtle ways to gear it into the direction of change. One of them might be allowing the bold to be bold, and the subtle to be subtle without underestimating anyone’s effort towards a goal.

Human,

I don’t know if it can be fully described, but if we are so proud of our species, and if we can appreciate our art of survival over billions of years (in all its contexts, shapes, times and manifestations), why do we insist in neglecting our “humanness” even when this neglecting no longer serves us and only pushes us into disconnection. There is no need for this any longer.

I do wish to wake up everyday and celebrate my humanness, by first tuning in both to what’s within and without, experiencing things, and letting go of them. This is an exercise that needs to be done in this current human world, in order to create a different one, and to (with less effort) survive many more to come.

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Photography by Alessandra Griffin

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Loss, Grief and Celebration

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Photo by Alessandra Griffin

When the subject of loss comes to surface, most of those involved immediately understand it as solely the giant socially accepted notions of loss such as the loss of a loved one to death, the loss of a limb or mobility, and so on. If one is lucky some people connect to the loss of a loved one through the split of a relationship, but most of the times people are thinking about the extremes. And yes those are significant and undeniably very painful losses, but there are other losses that are subtilely hidden and happening undercover, and which most are not sure if they are justified to grieve for it. Grieving is an important part in the process of managing, accepting and letting go of loss, no matter how big or how small it is.

I have some experience with different kinds of loss, as most of us do. I lost my mother at 16 to death, after loosing other family members relatively close. Most recently another mother figure died, as I lost my grandmother a year ago. These are great losses for me, and the grieving is still ongoing. But in conjunction to that I lost a great deal of other things, I lost boyfriends, I lost friends, I lost opportunities, I lost things, I lost trust, I lost hope, and even lost my sense of self to the point of utter helplessness and desperation.

Loss is something that happens to all of us in different forms, times and places, to judge which ones are justifiable to grieve for or to express pain for is just a deviation from our essential needs and a slow kind of soul suicide. We can also loose things that we never possessed, not only people, but also ideas of self, of life, of purpose, etc that we thought we had the lived experience of, but at realising that we didn’t we, to some degree, go through the process of loss.

Because in life we are constantly in transformation, in changing and shifting modes, loss is experienced throughout; bit by bit everyday. At each change we are forced to let go of something in order to embrace something else, thus we are always loosing in order to make space for gaining. It is for this reason that we need grief, for if we do not allow ourselves to go through all we need, within grieving periods, we are not allowing ourselves to let go of the same thing we need to release to make space for the incoming. In these cases, we are half-changing, we are holding on to the old and trying desperately to embrace the new. Shifts occur, but in the midst of a tug of war, most of the times ending up on a liminal space of neither here or there… and this is where most of us stay for great part of our lives if not all of it.

As I write these words, I have to stop myself from trying to generalise a concept and experience that is very particular, individual and intimate to each person. These words and ideas I express of loss are mostly based of my own lived experience and my witnessing through out life.

In losing my mother, I lost a great deal of things, with her went the sense of belonging, the belief of deserving unconditional love, the sense of connection and to some degree the strength to voice myself. Because she died at an identity formation stage of my life, I lost also a foundation in which I was building my sense of self on. Beyond loosing her as a person, as a mother, I lost the presence of the concept of motherhood whether fictional or real… with her went the physical representation of motherhood to me, in my place as daughter.  This sense of loss of a foundational connection, came back as my grandmother died a year ago. With her I was building a different yet familiar sense of connection. With her I had deposited the beliefs and concepts of representation of a maternal energy. As she died, I found myself grieving for all that represented motherhood. This included my mother, plus other relationships I had created that association which were no longer active or dying in their own way.

In losing a love partner due to the end of a relationship, I lost not only a connection to a friend and a particular kind of display of love, but also I was again losing the sense of deserving and belonging. The particularities of all my relationships and the way they ended, are charged with foundational aspects of surviving. My incapacity to build a strong foundation of self-love and acceptance, made me deposit that responsibility on my “mothers” and lovers… but more than on the people themselves, I was using the relationships as validations and safety mediums for me to keep existing.

Throughout the years, I had been struggling with a weak sense of self, a dissociation and disconnection to myself, a self-destructing pattern filled with intense criticism, doubt, and distrust that made me fragmented and extremely unhappy. This manifested through all the aspects of my life including all those relationships I mentioned above. When beginning to work on myself and making peace with my existence; when starting to build the sense of belonging, deserving and acceptance within myself… I had to let go of the old patterns. This old me was so familiar and painfully comfortable that seemed impossible to let go of. I had created all my identity around, below, through and above it regardless of how destructive it was, thus to undress myself of it was the hardest process I ever had to go through… and am still going through. It is as if I need to disintegrate and break myself in order to build myself again in a more harmonious way. For each little piece of new perception, I grieved for the old piece that had to be replaced, and thus was lost. I catch myself sad and angry for having no choice but to let go of an old self-defining pattern in order to be who I want to be.

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Photo by Alessandra Griffin

In losing hope, trust and sense of self, I took myself to the depths of pain and negativity. Slowly, through doubting myself so much, I got myself to doubt my own right of existence, of taking space, of thriving. I had complete distrust in the world and people around me, but most of all, if not the core of it all, I had complete distrust in myself. I did not know who I was, I had no connection to my body, I had no sense of core, of centre, and of ground thus I lived floating and sticking to any of the heaviness I found. Love had no weight for me, because I had no core to put it or store it in order to feed it. But fear and frustration with their fragmented nature had the heaviest of weights, as they could stick onto the lightest of beings and feed from its lack of core. To come out of that, I had to loose a lot of preconceived ideas of myself and life in general, some of which had defined my way of existing up until that point. Therefore, I also had to grieve for it…

I only started finding the other side of it all, once I accepted that I had to let go and with this, allowed myself to grieve my losses regardless of them being justifiable to the outer world or not. People talk about letting it go as a simple concept… and it might be… in the mind of a small child, or at least conceptually… but the practice and application of it is one of the most complex and challenging things people have to do, specially in the context I live in.

And with the allowing of myself to grieve, came the allowing and acceptance of celebration and praising of the new. The celebration in order to welcome what filled the space of what was lost. The process of withdrawing the weight from loss itself within ourselves and placing it on the aspect of gain of the new, whatever this may be.

So grieve however much you need, allow it to come in and go through your body, but also, allow it to leave… otherwise it will stagnate in your body and slowly erode your soul without you being aware of it, all because it did not follow its natural flow. So

allow. it. to. leave. you.

Allow it to go, so that you can receive, with celebration, what comes ahead. We are all grieving beings, we must accept it then celebrate its role and let it go.

Then see the wonders of the arrival of what is new.

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crop from Photo by Alessandra Griffin

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As I walk on this Earth

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Photography by Alessandra Griffin

As I walk on this world, my feet will grow roots BUT still move with the tireless and powerful spirits from the past. As a walk on this earth, the wind, the water, the sky will lead me to and through my many purposes. I will listen, as the ancient souls, timeless as they are, will be singing the names of my gods and my demons in tongues I will never be able to rationally understand, but I will always know.

As I walk, as I listen, I will connect to the knowing I was born with, I will shift everything I touch, I will bow to no one and let no one bow to me. As I walk on this world, the mixed blood running in my veins will begin conflict and try to rip my body apart… for my spirits from the past are from this land, and from the ones beyond the sea who took it. And as it rips my body apart, I will strain, I will break, I will scream… and thus I will heal. For breaking is a way of healing.

As I walk, as I listen, as I heal… I will be invincible, I will call out the souls from past and present to join me on a journey of different paths, I will sing the timeless songs of the spirits, the ancestors, the gods and the flesh. And I will carry on walking, I will carry on listening, I will carry on healing… I will carry on singing louder and louder…. because look at me!

I am softness and hardness
I am blackness and whiteness
I am heaven and earth
I am God and Demon

I am everything and nothing
but I am listening, and when my spirits and my gods call
there will be no way to un-listen
They will feed my soul and say:

its time for greatness!

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