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Thanks for checking in. We all know life can be EXTREMELY complicated. I blog about recognizing and removing the barriers that sabotage our living well. 

- Nobody had perfect parents, so we all have issues.
- We struggle to keep up with work, personal goals, staying healthy, and all kinds of relationships.
- Our minds are busy, and they seem to often work against us.
- At the end of many days, we're disappointed about what didn't get done, how we failed, what we should have done.

So I blog about increasing personal awareness and finding balance so we can cut ourselves some slack. Let's stay grounded as we move forward in manageable steps. Perspective is everything, and I try to see around the corners so we can leverage what we've already got into more of what we want.

Follow me and give me feedback. You inspire me, and I'll try to inspire you. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

While in the company of writers, the stars aligned and shed light on my self

Once in a great while-- a very great while, I'll experience a life-transforming event. Back in the '80s Codependent No More fell off the shelf in Barnes and Noble, I picked it up and had to take two days off from work to read and process it. When I encountered Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, I stayed in pajamas until I'd read it all the way through and taken notes.

Well this weekend, some creaky old door within my psyche flew wide open. It started when I was featured as visiting author at Alice Osborn's Wonderland Book Club to discuss Salt in the Sugar Bowl. Participants opened up about their own understanding of and experiences with issues of abandonment, the vulnerability associated with being authentic, tendencies to hide, self-protect and project.

Right after that session of honest reflection and sharing, I drove westward to Asheville to attend the North Carolina Writers Conference. Things got deeper when author Lee Smith stepped onto the podium as the keynote speaker. As far as I can tell, Lee Smith is about as authentic as they come. Her words, her accent, the rich and random stories that seem to percolate from her very being reveal, to me, a life fully lived and processed-- which she generously shares in almosraison d'ĂȘtre fashion. That was Friday night.

On Saturday, an itch--an irritation like an emotional pimple erupted. I had vague conversations about  "being an artist" with writers Danny Johnson, Crystal Simone Smith, Grace O'Casio, Rowena Mason, Alice Osborn, Maureen Sherbondy and Robin Muira, respectively. It was vague because I was unearthing and coming to grips with a self-defeating tendency I'd unknowingly cultivated-- that of public self-protection. I thank them all for their (unknowing) parts in clarifying something for me: Art cannot and should not occupy the same space as avoidance, pretense and toxic shame. 


I believe I have spent decades creating and presenting a self-protected aspect of myself. Parts of my story, my history, are dark and shadowy. These parts have made me gritty (and sometimes coarse). There are other aspects that are tender, optimistic and resilient. But all parts crave expression and acceptance. However, issues of trust, abandonment, fear of rejection and judgment have caused a general apprehension about the safety of being authentically who I am in light of all the places I have been.


I needed the company of artists at this point in my journey to reveal to me that artists can't hide. The general population may have the luxury of digesting societal norms and existing safely within their margins. But retreating to the safety zones might just do the artist in. In the end, our work, or at least my part of this work, is to have the courage to look under rocks and venture into the shadowy corners. Artists share and push themselves toward greater levels of honesty. We wrestle with and reveal aspects of experiences because they need to come out-- no matter how light or frivolous or dark. I don't believe the artist can concern herself with the perceptions of others, or burden herself with keeping up a persona. Such a tendency, I've learned, will consume the energy needed to turn over the boulders and hold them up long enough to capture what we've seen.


16 comments:

  1. Wonderful, Angela, on the importance of not "keeping up appearances" as in the British show by that name.

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    1. Growing as an artist and a person is like peeling an onion. Learning to feel safe is a biggie for me!

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  2. Angela, you are an insightful and inspirational writer and speaker. Your insight wakes the dormant spaces existing in each of us. Thanks for the light.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for that. The search within reveals countless volumes! I love the journey!

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  3. Replies
    1. A person who is codependent usually had some important relationship early on that made the child feel vulnerable and unsafe-- whether emotionally, physically, or psychologically. The young person grows watchful of the people around him or her trying to figure out the environment, trying to figure how she can make things better or okay. It happens a lot to children of substance abusers or the mentally ill. It can happen with any number of situations that make the caregiver unavailable such as when caregivers die or divorce, etc. Sooooo, the child will bring this watchful behavior into their adulthood-- trying to solve problems, anticipate what's needed to fix situations, and help out even when they'd do better to pay attention to their own lives and well-being. Codependents over-help and often interfere.

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  4. Angela, thank you for this post. I, too, am thinking about what it means to be an artist, and what it means to practice my art in a healthy way. It used to be that I created in spasms -- writing a lot in a weekend, then not writing at all for two weeks. Now though, I'm learning to write/create daily, fluidly, healthily. It is hard, because much like codependents, the wrong way of doing things is embedded in me. But I'm confident I can root out the wrong, and replace it with the right, in due time. Again, thank you. Thank you for reminding me I'm not alone in the struggle.

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  5. You most certainly not alone! It's such a process. The one thing I wish I'd done earlier was prioritize my "creating" no matter what was going on. That nourishes me and makes everything else turn out better! Thanks for reading my post!

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