Unravel 

Unravel Self Portraits - For my online Portray Yourself Group (feel free to join in - Link Here) 

Unravel Self Portraits - For my online Portray Yourself Group (feel free to join in - Link Here) 

unravel | ˌənˈravəl |verb (unravels, unraveling, unraveledunravels, unravelling, unravelled)1 undo (twisted, knitted, or woven threads).2 investigate and solve or explain
Undo and investigate and/or explain. 

I have been unraveling for quite some time.  I certainly have been undoing a lot of things I have done and I feel like I am constantly investigating everything. I love that part of life.  The investigation part, the questioning of why and how, where and who, and what!  I’ve been an extremely curious person since I was a child. That childlike curiosity has stayed with me my entire life, keeping me deeply engaged in everything I do. Thankfully, this curious nature has coincided nicely with my unescapable desire to be an artist, even if a lot of times being an artist means undoing what you’ve done, mostly because you went too far and screwed things up. Sometimes undoing isn’t possible and you just have to start over, especially when it comes to art, and especially when it comes to life.

Lately it’s the life part more than the art part where I feel like I’m starting over.  Not completely starting over, more like starting again, from where I am now. Not able to go back and not able to go forward until I stand where I am and unravel a few things that have tied me up into this uncomfortable feeling of not being able to completely solve or explain why I am feeling how I am.  Sometimes it takes a lot more than just investigating to unravel. It takes time, it takes surrendering, and it takes courage… lots and lots of courage.  That’s where I am at.  Waiting, surrendering, and trying my best to be courageous, when really, I just want to find a quick fix and be on my way.  

If only it were that simple.  How much of the world is looking for that quick fix?  That pretty bowl of something sweet, a magic pill, or a vacation from everything, even though upon returning you know it will all be there, eagerly waiting to engulf you.  With life, one thing I have learned over the past 41 years is… that there is no quick fix!  At least when it comes to life’s real problems.  Most know that sugar is a once and awhile treat we should try to avoid, and that those magic pills often lead to more pills to counteract the side effects of the first pill and before you know it you have a whole pharmacy in your bathroom and you don’t even know what the real problem is anymore, and as for vacation, everyone needs to indulge in taking time for themselves, but it won’t be a quick fix unless things change for the long term. 

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We live in a complicated, toxic, emotionally draining world, where we are often dealt more than we ask for.  All this can lead us to a place of real discomfort.  A place that we often fear, especially when we can think back to a time before we knew that place. When we are stuck in that place all we want to do is get out of it.  I know.  Where’s the get out of jail free card?   Where’s the fearlessness I once thought I had?  Fearlessness?!  hahahahahah.   To be honest, I have never ever been fearless.  I’ve pretended to be “fearless”, but deep inside I know I have never ever been fearless.  When I got on that plane by myself to Australia I wasn’t feeling fearless, I was scared out of my mind, but I got on it anyway.  When I drove through the city of Pittsburgh for the first time I wasn’t feeling fearless, I was terrified, but I drove anyway.  Each and every single time I say goodbye to someone I love I don’t feel fearless, I feel a deep sense of terror, what if it’s the last time I see them?   What does it mean to be fearless?  I think it means to be full of bullshit, that’s what I think!  I fear everything and I am not ashamed of it. I am alive and I know I am not in control, as much as I present that I am, I am not.  Everything could, and will be taken from me eventually.  Unless, maybe you are one of the few “enlightened” beings here on earth, how can anyone be alive and be fearless?  Sure you can have moments of fearlessness or honorable bravery, but to live fearlessly?  Fear itself is what keeps us alive, it protects us, when we aren’t sure about something our bodies let us know by the flight or fight reaction. Of course there are two types of fear; rational and irrational.  The fear that keeps us alive is the rational fear, the kind where if you see a frothy brown bear charging at you, you run fear, not the oh my god, what if I get on this airplane and have to use the bathroom and get sucked into the toilet and fall out of the sky, fear.  The hard part of this is that it’s the irrational fear that I want to have less of, I am completely okay with knowing my rational fear strategies are strong. I am not completely okay with the irrational fears that creep into my body at unexpected times, leaving my heart pounding while I hold my breath and then gasp for air.  Lately, of all places, for me, this place has been on the yoga mat, during Savasana, otherwise know as ‘relaxation pose’.   How ironic.  It’s rather amusing that I have developed Savasana anxiety.  It happened after a bout of dizziness during a hot yoga class, due to, what one doctor said is “dysfunctional eustachian tubes”.  Which honestly, I feel is the result of my digestion issues, which I feel is a result of stress, a round of antibiotics, and high gluten/grain based diet. (more unraveling a.k.a. investigating)   After I had this dizziness my body made sure to take notes in order to “protect” me if it ever happened again.  So next time, there is was, that overwhelming sense of anxiety that I might feel dizzy again. Not the dizziness, but the fear of it.  I didn’t like feeling like this, so I took a break from yoga.  I took a couple months off.  Thinking time would resolve the problem.  It didn’t.  Feeling resentful toward the anxiety I decided to “show it” and go back to yoga, irrational fear of savasana and all.  There is was again, right where I knew it would be.  Pounding heart, shallow breathing.  I rolled to my side, and let it ride itself out and it did, and it was uncomfortable,   very uncomfortable.  I showed up again, and there it was again.  This time I decided I was going to just let it happen, knowing the uncomfortableness would eventually have to pass, unless it killed me, either way I wanted to work through this.  During savasana this time I was “prepared” to greet it differently, this time instead of fearing it I flung open the door and invited it in.  my heart pounded as I envisioned myself. I decided to give the anxiety a shape, the shape of a person, it was dark and afraid, I could actually see it, I pictured me with the anxiety, sitting side by side on my favorite hill, where I sometimes like to sit in the summer months, I put my arm around the anxiety and tried to comfort it best I could.  As I did this I actually started to feel relief, my heart slowed down and I didn’t feel the deep desire to flee, but to sit and comfort the uncomfortable.  I felt a sense of empathy for the anxiety.   The next time I decided I was going to approach the whole savasana differently, and do a mental body scan, where I would go from head to toe and give a mental note of appreciation and love to each part of my body, thanking and loving it for what it does.  I love you little toes, for helping me stay in balance. I love you legs for moving me through this world. I love you stomach, for doing your best and healing each day a little more. I love you heart, for loving so deeply…and so on.  This too helped, even though I felt my mind wanting and trying to surface that irrational fear.  But I told it, it’s okay mind, you don’t need to protect me, I am okay right now.  The next savasana I was ready, knowing I could approach the fear in two different ways or even try counting my breath, another of many options I had in my pocket if needed.  But this time I felt calm, I felt like I used to, before the dizzy spell.  I felt like crying.  Now I am in the middle of a 14 day yoga challenge, going everyday to the studio where I take yoga, putting myself in the place of possible discomfort, but working it out, best I know how.  So, I say stop trying to be fearless, there’s no such thing.  There are moments of bravery and courageousness when you show up to the fear and let it move through you, but fearlessness, it’s not human to be fearlessness.   

If you suffer from anxiety try this next time you feel anxious, let it move through you and think of it as something/someone that needs comforting. See if you can comfort it and therefore comfort yourself.

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Recently we adopted two feral kittens, one more feral than the other.  For the first three weeks she would run when we came near her, fearful from whatever she had already experienced in her first 3 months of life.  With time and a good atmosphere she has started to stay where she is when we come near her instead of run.  Last week she even fell asleep sitting beside me.  The past few days, when I feel anxious I think of her and her little scared pounding heart, and how I want so badly to comfort her and make her feel at ease.  That’s what I want to do to the anxiety, too.  Comfort it and let it know everything is okay.  

Another thing that I feel has been helping me?  Magnesium and changing my diet.  After more investigating and two + years of digestive issues I have finally decided to try (reluctantly) giving up gluten and grains.  I tested negative for Celiac Disease, thankfully, but the more and more I read and learn the more I feel that it is the gluten that’s causing a lot of my problems.  Most humans, especially as they age, do not have the necessary enzymes to digest the wheat, and our bodies create antibodies to defend itself when we do eat it.  It’s not necessarily the wheat itself, but how it’s being grown now that’s wreaking havoc on the human digestive system.  The soil has been depleted, the seeds have been modified, and the plants have been heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals, overall it’s just not a good choice for many people.  This gets tricky when on a vegetarian diet, but not impossible, it’s just learning a new way of eating…which is worth it, if it means you feel better, which I do.  

She placed her hands on the ground
and prayed directly into the earth,
her love carried the message of gratitude,
apology, and a new willingness
to defend the only home
she has ever known.
 - yung pueblo