Friday, December 3, 2010

Breaking Free

An organic, free-write written on the bus after group this evening:

This is a beautiful life. The joy, the in-between, the pain. I think they're all really beautiful right now. I've come to have love for the pain in my life. Not in the way of clinging to a morbid depression to associate myself with. No. More so in a nurturing, loving-kindness, I-can-know-tenderness-toward-myself kind of way. I used to fight the pain and discomfort of whatever was ailing me in fear that I'd be stuck there, uncomfortable, forever. Like, the eternity kind of forever. This led to suffering. Pain is okay. Pain happens. Pain is the other side of joy. It would take one to know the other. Pain passes. Pain felt like punishment. If I wasn't glad I thought I must be doing something wrong. Now, when I hurt, I don't run and hide from myself. Literally, it doesn't work. Figuratively, you think it does, but only for so long. It stopped suiting me (and everything I wanted to see happen in my lifetime). First, I began to acknowledge the urge to distract it. I give myself the choice. I'm taking a road less traveled right now so I opt for distraction-less. With some breaths, that urge passes. Then, I sit with what's left: discomfort. Eventually, that too passes.

I've learned to hold myself through it; to nurture and love myself in the best way that I know how to in that very moment. I know that that is when I need myself the most. I stick around long enough to tell myself "this too shall pass". And it does. It always does. Things don't feel like they used to now that I've learned to accept everything I feel and discard "good", "bad", "right" and "wrong" from my vocabulary. Fuck 'em. It began with taking my first risky step - having faith in myself. Taking the risk to step out of what's familiar and feel my way around the things I couldn't see or identify or name or judge. I met the discounted opinions and the vile, penetrating feeling of being alone even though you're with yourself. Your SELF. YOUR self. Yourself! How can you be alone when you're with yourself..? I feel like it's everywhere -- planted in our heads from the movies, the television shows, the magazines -- "Need. To be completed. By something. Outside of myself. " You cannot be alone within you. You CANNOT be alone inside of you. But you can feel that way, if you haven't stuck around long enough to question who that is; who you are - at 16, at 23, at 45, at 68, because you're forever changing. I took that risk of asking that question, surrendering to myself, whom I felt I didn't even know anymore, set aside my beliefs about the world as I knew it, felt like I experienced my own death and I let myself feel it all. The trust that I didn't have, but wanted to have was what got me through (not to mention the love and kindness around me). I thought if I let "the fowl" in, it'd stay for good. But, I decided to try it (worst case I could always go back to ignoring myself, right?). I learned that if I gave it it's turn; gave it a voice, it'd show up, do it's thing and leave. Maybe for 3 minutes. Maybe 10. Maybe 30. But it never stuck around forever. Not ever. Ever! It just wanted to be acknowledged. I mean, on the most basic humanistic level, isn't that what we all want? We don't intentionally want to make ourselves miserable. Opening up to myself makes me feel stronger. Every time. At least, a little bit, if not a lotta bit. I think of it like an exercise - using muscles that have softened, that I forgot I had. It takes practice, not prayer. It takes an awareness, but an authentic, natural-born, this-is-yours-and-only-yours kind of awareness. Not something you get from a book of inspiring quotes, but by trial and error. Trial and error. "This works" and "This doesn't". You can't know until you try. It's about giving yourself room; about not judging slips or un-supportive thoughts; about letting yourself have anything and everything (however scary and overwhelming such a human-right can be!); about falling asleep and waking yourself back up and still being able to say "I'm so proud of you. Look how far you've come." That's the awareness. That's my awareness right now. Nothing is void. Nothing is off limits. Everything is mine and everything is yours. I have a choice and you have a choice (and there is nothing to be scared of, because, if you're this far into it, you'll start to know how to make kind choices for yourself). My collected awareness is what has brought me back to (my) life - to play, to give, to be, to laugh, to eat, to make love, to make art. Every step is a step in recovery.

On Thursday nights, myself, three other women and our (recovered) art therapist tuck into our comfy corners in a cheerful, orange room for two hours. We close our eyes, breath, feel our bodies sink into themselves and we begin. These hours are for us and us only. For us to recharge and take care of ourselves so that we can authentically and meaningfully take care of everything and everyone we love in our lives. We talk and share for half of it and make art for the other half. Then, we share some more. Share, share, share, open, open, open. Let it out. Get it out. Freedom. Freedom. Liberation. All four of us are dealing with some sort of emotional distress around food. When anxiety and fear and pain arise (however "big" or "small"), some people turn to compulsive behaviors to cope - alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, socializing, exercising, routine, sleep - something to distract the conflict; to comfort and "take care" of us when we're down and feeling vulnerable. We, we've turned to food. I truly believe it has little to do with the route you choose; the off-switch you fancy, but everything to do with why it's so consuming and why moderation is a struggle. At this point, it's not so much about the food, about the desire for perfection, but a need for self-expression. I've used it as a means of communication. But now, I'm learning to give value to my mind, to my voice, to my opinions, to my art, and pull away from this associating my entire existence and value with this physical body, this beautiful vessel that I was given to walk through my life in.

I'm 23, she's 34, she's 35 and she just turned 57. We're all One, yet we're all different enough to teach one another something about ourselves, each other, the world around us and the people we weave our lives with during different stages of our journeys. Thursday nights are peace. I do four things that I love: getting this out, listening to women who know the shame, the guilt and the beauty that follows; how unflattering, uncomfortable and liberating this is process is, and make art for the things I don't know how to say and look forward to tucking myself into bed at night. For any woman (or man) who has questioned their relationship on the matter (it is America, after all - consume, consume, but don't fill up!), Geneen Roth's book 'Breaking Free' (from Compulsive Eating) has been our group read. In the 80's it brought my therapist to her healing and it brings light and comfort and affection and laughter to me on a daily basis through this process of getting to know myself outside (and inside) of my body. I'm almost done but plan to turn it right over and start again. Something new always pops out. Some of the exercises weren't recommended as they're a little routine-esque, which is fertile ground for compulsive behavior, but more than most of it was life-changing. LIFE changing. I bought it for a penny on Amazon (plus shipping) and would recommend it for any woman who has ever felt shame in a line of her body, or discomfort, or has doubted herself and her capabilities to follow her insticts and dreams for the way that she looked; for anyone who wondered if she was good enough, if there was more to her than a body and a face and turned to food for an answer. This is for you.

My journey into my relationship with food has been evolving over the years; brewing, steeping, waiting for it's time of "Okay, Liz, this isn't serving you anymore, babe. Let's look at this." It didn't bloom until just about a year ago last December. The crepe shop closed, I moved in with my parents and somehow managed to get a job serving and bartending at Seattle's oldest dive bar, The 5 Point Cafe. I stood under the neon glow of "Alcoholics Serving Alcoholics Since 1929" and poured and poured and poured. I listened, and I poured, and I poured and sometimes I put Bailey's in my coffee. It was the "easier" route. I was grateful, for all meant well, but it wasn't MY path. It hurt, I felt like a fake, a fraud and I felt guilty when I'd get home at night and stash my tips away in my closet knowing that they were the product of some man's sob-story. I was in pain, I was just starting to notice it and felt like I was getting paid to aid the pain in others. I felt like a piece of shit. I bought my first car - an '87 Dodge Aries station wagon (with intentions to cruise the coast, visit childhood stomping grounds and touch my soul again) and quit. Then, I asked for help. That was the most frightening, bonding and pivotal moment of my life, sitting on my parent's bed after nervously researching options - "I need this. Can you guys help me?". A month in and the car got ill and I sold it. The plan was to ship off to New Mexico and stay with a couple in the mountains who focused on herbal healing and intuitive eating. Feeling as though Western thought had helped pave my road to Here, I didn't feel like clinical help was my calling. After some talking to, I saw fleeing for the hills wasn't an option either and that's when my mother introduced me to Ashera. A medicine woman and shaman trained in the Toltec tradition. She was warm and beautiful and made me feel grounded, like the trunk of a tree. We met weekly for awhile. We talked a little, but I spent most of my time on her table, eyes closed, breathing deep, confused and scared to say what was really on my mind because I couldn't stop judging myself and telling myself how crazy I was for all of this muck. Rattles hovered over my chakras, a flute played on occasion, palo santo wood burned sweetly, flames drew across my chest, chords silently severed from my throat that you could only feel intimately, inside of you. We worked together for 9 months. I discovered my voice there. That was the first step in my healing - talking; expressing. Packing up for my first trip into the desert for Burning Man, I knew my time had come and Portland would follow suit as my new home. It's what the wild woman in me, Que La Sabe, the one who knows, wanted me to do. It was time to follow my heart and bring my dreams to the present; to make art and give myself Life again.

I am Here. In Portland. I made it. I am making life with my own hands, my own voice and my own heart. This is my beat. I do art. I make love. I live simple. That's all I want to do. As I heal and give up old ways, I get more life, and with more life, I get to walk taller, bend easier, love harder and give selflessly. I am learning to love myself so I can love the rest of our World.

I wrote this because I know that I'm not alone.
I wrote this because it's so widely unsaid but so widely apparent in our culture.
I wrote this because my healing comes from sharing, and being shared with.
I wrote this because it because it's worth it.
I wrote this because all sorts of other, beautiful ways of living do exist.
I wrote this because if I can heal, anyone can.
I wrote this because things do get better (and this too shall pass).

Practice doesn't make perfect.
Practice brings you present (and that's the only place you can be).

A heartfelt thanks for everyone who's been with me on this journey (whether they knew it or not).

Big loves,


Monday, November 29, 2010

Waking up in Seattle

I guess this would be as good a time as any to add to this abandoned blog now that I've just returned from my first trip back to Seattle and remember again why I chose to do this move in the first place (there was some questioning!). I caught the train bright and early the morning of the Thanks. It was a gorgeous, snowy 4+hour ride. I spent it reading, thinking, and writing letters to a man out of San Fran.

Coming home, seeing the whole family, going back to the island and seeing my two closest girlfriends was exactly what I needed to gain some perspective on these past couple of months after the move. I got filled up on love and got back in touch the instincts that told me Portland was the next step. Thanksgiving was great. My family is beautiful. My childhood best friend, Bridget (from Berkeley) joined in per usual and brought her boyfriend to meet The Family (my family/our family). I got special time in with mom, caught up with my brother, saw dad in passing, spent irreplaceable time with Bri, my soul sister, and was surprised to find there will be a new family home to come to visit for Christmas!


Thanksgiving was at my grandparent's house on Vashon Island. This is seriously the best clan I could ask to be related to. I just dig 'em... a lot. The food was gorgeous and delicious and simple, the house was warm, the conversations were a kick and the music ruled (courtesy of cousin Wes and his guitar). Each and every one of those vibrant, special people under that roof Thursday night added to where I am today. That's such a cool thought. I'm so grateful for it. Jesus, I missed them.

 (no island visit is complete without aunt Jennifer's granola)

Friday and Saturday were spent with the ladies. Friday night I shook my ass to DJ Zac Hendrix with Bridget in Ballard at the Sunset Tavern. Saturday I roamed Capitol Hill and prowled photobooths with Bri.


 Before heading back on that train last night, I got some really sweet time with my grandparents, madre and wee bro while dad was at work. I whipped up my mom's first (positive) adulthood brussels sprout experience (I found them a couple of weeks ago and can't stop making them) and we sat around and sipped on her homemade butternut squash soup and picked at a warm loaf of vegan, gluten-free rosemary garlic bread from up the street. My grandma brought me some old family photos and miscellaneous jewels and my grandpa talked (fertilizer) shop. How I love them.

(there are little words for how much I adore this picture of my grandma and her sister. the gorgeous pendant was made by her father. something I had to shoot for inspiration) 

Seattle was sweet and the visit was needed. I love the people in it, but it's no longer the city for me. Portland is home. 

The past few months have been... I won't lie - hard. Different? Different hard? Good hard, rough hard, maybe a necessary kind of 'hard'. With my shifting perspective I've been able to move out of the realm of "bad days". Now I just have different days: quite days, loud days, bad hair days, colorful days, black days, crying days, funny days, cute days, sweet days, really good hair days, all-I-want-is-oatmeal days, experimental days, cold days, movie days, library days, I-think-I'll-try-this-bottle-of-wine-and-not-leave-the-house days, I-forgot-to-pull-my-dress-down(in public) days, I-love-the-bus days, and I-can't-afford-to-do-anything days. But all for a good cause - myself. Those are the kinds of days I have. Human days.

Things have started to pick-up now that I've got a grip on my heart and landed work (I'd be damned if I were going back North!). My roommates are the biggest dearhearts and I'm so grateful to be living in their beautiful home (even if it is only for another month - a possible sublet). My krapht is growing strong out here. Kirsten lent me one of her desks upstairs in the studio and it truly is my little sacred space that I love being able to tuck into. Slow, but coming along, I've also set up my Etsy shop for Pine Marten's 'kraphtwurk'. I've already had a few purchases and an interested local boutique so it's started off nice. I've started working, serving sushi at a little family joint on Broadway. It's slow and humbling and I think just what I needed - I get paid for drinking green tea and staring at fishtanks. The language barrier was a challenge, but I think it's good for me - talk about having to pay attention! I'm not getting my rent paid in a weekend, but there's a trade-off and it's a little something I call sanity! They treat me well, though, and I kind of feel like I'm working in an aquarium that plays Bonobo on repeat. I eat everything with chopsticks, put soy sauce in my hummus (fact) and will eat your ginger (and wasabi) if you don't. After weeks of nothing, I finally heard back from my dream(serving)gig with the Luddites of Ned Ludd. I start on Saturday. That, I am stoked on! 

When I haven't been working I've been writing, reading, trying all sorts of art workshops in search of my b e l o v e d medium (oh hello, lino cuts!), watching oddities on the boob-tube in movie-land in our family room with the ladies, not riding my bike in the rain (or much at all), drinking a lot of wine, making art, trying to make art, not feeling like making art, experimenting, getting to know the girls better, riding the bus, getting lost on the bus, getting lost off of the bus, having my roommate tattoo a heirloom tomato on my arm in tribute to the Covelo days, grocery shopping (because food stamps are awesome!), growing my hair out, going to woman's group art therapy, taking walks, collecting old photographs and papers, visiting salvage yards, writing letters and taking care of myself; my dreams. All the things a gypsied-up, 23-year old who wants to sit with paper and glue and pliers all day does, I guess! I'm looking forward to letting these months ahead unfold. I've learned a lot. I know four things for certain: I like Portland, I love art, I really, really like brussels sprouts and I think I'm doing a pretty good job being me. It's safe to assume the rest will unfold as naturally as it already has. I've been working closely with patience each and every day.

As a very special cousin would say: "I love you (all) like a giant!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where Am I?

An actual post to come (with substance and pictures, oh my!). But in the meantime... a summation of this past week in one word: lost (where the hell did my damn East go?!), and the face that comes with it:

Gettin' lost is tiresome business, you know.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1913 Days of Seattle

Today is a last, and tomorrow... a first!
It's been a more than memorable past five years up here in Seattle. It kind of feels like it's always been home. Things grew here. I (really) grew here.
Tomorrow I head out on my own, though, to try on a new city - Portland, Oregon.
Lucky for me, Michael is a l s o  moving and is loading me up and dropping me off on his way down to his next home - LA. Us. Moving. Fitting!
Thinking that I was leaving on Sunday, I'm feeling pretty over the whole living in boxes thing and got sick of looking at trinkets and clothes everywhere so I went for (yet another) spin on the the ol' "just ditch it!" train. Best. Method. Ever. Just lose it. Pass it on, recycle it, donate it, let somebody else love it (if you're not going to use it... and you know half of what you fancy collects more dust than praise...)! At this point, I think half my wardrobe and kitchen trinks and dresser doo-dad-what-a-nutters are laying next to the dumpsters in the alley. I figure I could support a cause (dumpster divers unite!), and lighten my load. Pack light. Pack with care. Pack what feels good. Pack what you u s e! That's my motto after half a paper container of pinot and I'm sticking to it. Every move over this past year and a half just seems to get smaller and smaller. I like that. Tugging along less and less. More room for me. More room for kraphtwurk. Less room for old attachments. More room for more loves, more memories, more hobbies, and most important -- more more m o r e  inspirations!

The past week has been filled, f i l l e d, filled with family and friendly visits and hugs and besos and grateful-gifting and celebrating and thanking and tearing-up and meal-sharing and drinking. There is absolutely no shortage of love here. None.

Yesterday brought good things.
Today brought good things.
Tomorrow -- good things.

So many thanks and all of my love to those of you who have been a part of my life up here in Seattle. New city. New chapter. But hey - same book, so don't stray too far!

See you tomorrow, Little Beirut. See you tomorrow Kirsten, Silje & Kari ( a n d  Cupcake, Ruby & Aspirin)!