Monthly Archives: July 2012

Rethinking My Blog Themes

I’m playing around with themes for the blog. I have been unhappy with the old layout for some time, but haven’t had any inspiration about what I wanted instead.

I expect things will change around here several times before I settle on something new.

The purple picture is a photograph of water I manipulated using techniques Samira Emelie taught me. Samira is one of the stars of my Mixel community. She makes rich, textured images by layering transparencies. Often, each transparency is a different series of manipulations of a single image. Layering the transparencies creates a sense of depth.

This theme is Mystique. I like a lot of the default elements, but not all of them. I’m still thinking. For now, here is this change.

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The Danger in Blogging About Your Growth Processes

A recent Mixel thread involved presenting collages of what we do when we aren’t making Mixel art.

Hey, look! I’m back!

If you have been around for a while, you know that I take unscheduled breaks from time to time. Part of the reason for these breaks is the nature of my creative process. Part is the fact that my four children come before my writing, and children have irregular needs. And, part comes directly from what I have chosen to focus on in this blog.

The posts that seem to resonate most with my readers blend theories about writing and creativity with reflections on my personal journey. In writing these posts, there is an element of self-disclosure, and often related self-discovery, but also an element of analysis.

Sometimes, I am so busy living my inner transformations that I have no time to reflect upon my recent experience in a way that might be meaningful for my readers. And, when there is a lot of transformation going on, I can be so deep in trying to understand what I am going through that I find I cannot write meaningfully about anything other than my current experience.

During those periods, I often find myself struggling for cohesiveness in my writing and my blog goes dark for a time while I go through whatever life experience I am going through.

There is big stuff going on with me right now and I don’t have a handle on it.

Pushing myself deep into my emotions and imagination to improve my novel is awakening feelings and ambitions that have been suppressed for decades. I feel a need to honour these awakenings, but determining how to do that in the context of my current life (as opposed to the life I was living when I suppressed the dreams) is challenging.

At the same time, our new house is calling out to be transformed into a home that truly reflects who we are as a family. It is a unique house, perfect for a nonconformist family – and we are all nonconformists in this family. I speaks to me, “make me yours,” and I find myself wondering which aspects of me and of us should be reflected in the decor, furniture, use of rooms, etc.

I have been hiding in plain sight for years, acting like a pseudo-normal suburbanite, and delving deeper into my writing, choosing a house that reflects my unwillingness to look and act like my neighbours, and writing about giftedness for An Intense Life have all pushed me into an existential quandary.

Who am I?

Once upon a time, I knew I was in training to be an eccentric old lady. I think I am back in training.

But, I have been feeling adrift, without anchor, unable to encapsulate any of this experience in blog posts.

When I read Suzannah Windsor Freeman’s post Don’t Quit! Help for Burnt Out Bloggers on Write It Sideways today, I knew I had to write something about what I have been going through. I don’t want to disappear.

But, I can’t. Not clearly.

All of my past identities are vying for attention: artist, activist, intellectual, parent, wife, home-maker, preacher, existential philosopher, lawyer, biopsychology student, writer, actor, director. A desire to dream big and change the world has been awakened and is raging through me without direction.

My battles against petty fears have given me courage. My struggles with writing have given my sources of inspiration hope.

I feel like I’m on the verge of something, but I don’t want to jump too soon. I need to let these stirrings grow and coalesce without forcing them into an intellectually selected box.

There are passions rising within me. They need channeling and I have never yet succeeded in channeling them into productive projects that satisfy the big dreams.

I’m positively disintegrating.

I have been through periods of positive disintegration before. I am familiar with the feeling of not knowing who I am becoming – of my emotions and cognitive self-understanding trying to rearrange themselves in a more effective manner.

I know that my tendency is to force a  solution that only accommodates some of the crucial elements of my personality. Being adrift in all one’s potential is scary. Making meaning from so much richness is not easy.

I will try to keep blogging as my inner life reorganizes itself, but I expect that all of my theories will be tentative and all of my understandings limited for some time.

I’m okay with that.

I hope you are, too.

If these words resonate with you in any way, I would love to hear about your experience or get any advice.

Fear is The Mind Killer

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

~ The Bene Gesserit litany against fear from Dune by Frank Herbert

Fear: the great saboteur.

Personally, I fear failure and the changes that usually accompany worldly success more than I fear death and public speaking. Mice don’t bother me, but heights and crawly things with more legs than spiders do.

You have your own fears. You know what they are.

Fear can be like a black hole. We can get sucked in never to emerge if we aren’t aware.

I love the quote from Dune about dealing with fear. The first line, “I must not fear,” is non-sensical at face value. Fears arise of their own accord. However, I interpret it to mean that I must not be paralyzed by fear.

The rest is a great process for dealing with any problematic emotion: feel the emotion, let it pass through you and let it go. Hiding from emotion and getting caught up in emotion are both ways to get stuck.

For me, reciting “fear is the mind killer” in the face of fear lets me experience the fear without being trapped by it.

I ran into fear this evening. Our new house has a pool. After a rather long process of getting it open that involved failing to figure out how to get the pump working and growing an excellent algae culture and learning how to kill said algae culture, it was ready for swimming in. And I was first.

As I stood at the edge of the pool preparing to dive in, I found myself afraid. I took a deep breath and dove in. It was beautiful. As I swam, enjoying myself tremendously, I noticed that I had not put my face into the water since diving in. I played gently with getting my face wet, but my resistance was great. My long-standing fear of putting my face underwater has not faded.

I didn’t always have this fear. I remember the swim instructor whose instruction triggered the fear. I used to call her sadist, but I realize now she was merely not able to understand my problem. I used to be a fish – in the water, underwater, handstands at the bottom of the pool, diving, water polo – one with the water. And I still love swimming. As long as my face is above the surface

But I want to get past my issues with putting my face in the water.

I expect I’ll be reminding myself that fear is the mind-killer a lot this summer.

And that ‘s okay.

Fear isn’t stronger than I am. And it isn’t stronger than you are.

Is fear an issue in your life? Is so, how are you managing it?

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