It’s been a while.
And recently I’ve been wondering if it would be longer still before I posted. It’s been a beautiful and difficult summer.
Beautiful because I feel like I’ve done so much in the way of living and creating, and also because we were fortunate enough to go on a wonderful vacation to Boston and Vermont (something that neither of us took for granted in any way because even a year ago this was far from possible).
Difficult because my residency was under review. Because America is imploding. And most of all because my mother was diagnosed with cancer again.
So in addition to beach trips and cherished moments, there have also been tears and the hard to face facts that family relations are not always easy. And some of them break down irretrievably.
It’s been a time of knowing.
Knowing what I need. Knowing what I don’t need. Knowing what I have to do for myself in order to stay afloat and not go a million miles under.
I’ve set boundaries like never before. I’ve not answered messages if I haven’t had time or inclination. And this has been met in different ways. Some people have honored the space I have asked for. Some have pushed back and ignored my requests. And still I have kept true to my own needs. I have not bowed to pressure.
Each of us has the ability to bend. And each of us has the ability to break.
If we don’t honor our own needs, nobody else will (all of the cringiest cliches are true). Breaking point is not a destination that anyone wants to vacation to. Seriously. The scenery there? Not good.
The key is to know your own warning signs. And the golden key is to listen to them.
Which is actually really damn difficult because we live in such a contradictory World:
Take time for yourself. Practice self care. Take breaks from social media.
You’ve got to have connection! Bills are more important than candle lit baths! If you’re not on social media then your business will suffer! You’ll be forgotten! REPLACED! You won’t exist. Post! Post! Post!
For the love of milk chocolate wafers, can we just not with this?
I have stopped listening to anything that doesn’t feel like a fit for me. And this includes, but is certainly not limited to, the following:
You have to send a daily (God help us!) or weekly email to your subscribers because otherwise they’ll know you don’t have an endless supply of content.
You have to post constantly to Facebook. In addition to this, you have to answer every comment and if you don’t you will be judged to be A Very Rude Person Who Doesn’t Care About People.
On a regular basis you must produce podcasts, giveaway giveaways, collaborate with Important People (importance to be based on how many followers they have or whether they know someone who knows someone who dated someone who once went to school with Beyoncés hairdresser) and of course, you must keep an hourly track of what other Social Media Influencers are doing (and I’m too busy gagging to type more on that.)
But wait, there’s more.
You have to have a theme. (Nope, not a dream. A theme). So that anyone who visits your site or page will know in a matter of seconds what it is that you DO.
Which means you cannot be witty and then be reflective. And you cannot post a picture of yourself at a protest and then post your poetry. Because you are not supposed to be multi faceted, purely one dimensional, preferably whilst looking flawless.
And I Can’t. Do. That. Shit.
The world would have me believe that I have to choose some of the pieces of me and disregard the others (or at least the social media/entrepreneur world).
I won’t do it. I hope you don’t either.
Back in my early days of figuring out this whole writer gig, I had someone reply to one of my posts saying that she couldn’t believe that the woman who wrote about fierceness was also the same woman who wrote about depression.
I remember thinking that she wanted me to choose. Choose which part of me I presented. And this is how it has been for my whole life.
Select this. Leave that. Present this. Hide that.
Why, why, why are we still denying ourselves, and each other, the right to use all of our colors? Why are we still severing and comparing and cramping and compromising our humanness?
What do I do? I help women find their courage through creativity.
How do I do it? First and foremost by living my own life exactly that way. I use writing, and often photography, as ways to translate myself to myself and to the rest of the World. I create courage by creating. I find (and joyfully lose) myself over and over again in the depths of creativity.
I create to survive. To find a bridge between breaths. I create so I can make sense of everything that doesn’t have a name or a space anywhere else.
And my work is to remind other women that they can live this way too. If it feels good for them. If they feel the pull or the call to do so.
I will not be selective of which parts of me I love. And if I am selective of which parts of me I share then it will be on my terms and not the rules of the social media gods and goddesses.
How would you live if the World wasn’t watching? Would you do anything differently?
It’s an interesting question to consider. I think most of us feel some kind of pressure surrounding how we are seen and received by others. Sometimes that can help us keep focus or momentum. It’s not all bad.
But when we begin to feel as though we have to eliminate some truths so we can spotlight others, we are doing our humanness a disservice.
Maybe some day there will be a planet of robots living perfect lives. All day. Every day. Maybe there already is. And I can’t tell you how much I don’t want to live there.
I often say that the living isn’t always easy. Summertime, or not. But fuck it, we’re here. You and me. We’re here. And we won’t always be. So let’s live in the way that most fulfils us as individuals whilst also having respect and compassion for our other planet companions (humans, animals, nature).
Know yourself and show yourself in the way that YOU desire to. Know what you have to give. Know what you want to keep back for yourself. Know that you do not have to dilute one part of yourself in order to strengthen another. You’re the full cocktail.