An excerpt from an old art journal I was writing in at age 20. “Here’s a little story about three people: a mother, a father, and their daughter. The daughter loved them both dearly, but the mother didn’t love the … Continue reading
To this day there is only one other person who knows the exact whys and hows of that season and what had been happening over the two year time period that finally forced me to leave. That person was my closest confidant and more importantly, believed me when I told her what was happening. She was the only one who ever has. I didn’t always do right by her as a friend, I couldn’t I was too much of a mess mentally and emotionally, but I’m grateful for what she gave me: a place to stay, friendship, an escape through writing and art journaling…an identity. It was she who first told me I that really, I was an artist and was born to create. A poet. A wordsmith who’s words bore power. When I had told her that I was afraid to write because writing had always been dangerous for me, that my words unfiltered and raw on the page pushed others to silence my voice and invalidate my sense of being upon discovery, she gave me an alias: Nicole Paul. My middle name + my favorite apostle. Continue reading
“List ten beautiful, amazing, breathtaking experiences you want to have THIS YEAR with your art,” my friend and story coach Elora wrote on the wall of our writing community’s Facebook group last Monday. As I watched the women in our … Continue reading
I quickly scanned through my inbox this morning on my phone while getting dressed. My eyes rested on an email from LinkedIn, notifying me that people were congratulating me on a work anniversary. Puzzled, I logged into the site to … Continue reading
“She found hope laying in the street as she made her way across the unknown expanse before her. When she picked it up it burned hot her palm, leaving its truth imprinted on her being. She knew then she was ready for the journey that awaits.” Continue reading
Confession: My greatest fear is that I will lose my life to suicide. I don’t say that to be melodramatic, I simply state it as a fact. As a person living with bipolar disorder, it is a fear that silently … Continue reading
I've spent the last 6-8 weeks riding waves of emotions that have turned me inside out, exposing my inner seams. Some are frayed, some are unraveling, some are loosening, others are bursting, but yet still others somehow remain stitched tightly woven together, holding me back from completely spilling out and over onto everything I touch. I'm frustrated. I'm relieved. I am both angst and peace. I am joy and stress bounding and striding in rhythm with the same heartbeat. My blood pumps feverishly hot through my veins, but my thoughts drag along in the cold sludge of my brain. Yesterday I was yes and breaking open, arching my back and thrusting my chest in the sunlight of all things new. Today I am no and folding inward, shrinking back, giving life to fear with the doubts that flow from my lips in ragged whispers. I can't go back to where and who I was, yet I'm slipping and fumbling with each step forward and into the me and life awaiting embodiment. I am tiptoeing my way along the cusp of my greatest triumphs and current failures, looking for a break along the way to press myself in and abide. Sometimes this what breaking through is-navigating the time in between as it refines you for your life's work and purpose. This is my metamorphic moment . #liberatedlinesopen #wedontedit
I’ve spent the last 6-8 weeks riding waves of emotions that have turned me inside out, exposing my inner seams. Some are frayed, some are unraveling, some are loosening, others are bursting, but yet still others somehow remain stitched tightly woven together, holding me back from completely spilling out and over onto everything I touch. I’m frustrated. I’m relieved. I am both angst and peace. I am joy and stress bounding and striding in rhythm with the same heartbeat. My blood pumps feverishly hot through my veins, but my thoughts drag along in the cold sludge of my brain. Yesterday I was yes and breaking open, arching my back and thrusting my chest in the sunlight of all things new. Today I am no and folding inward, shrinking back, giving life to fear with the doubts that flow from my lips in ragged whispers. I can’t go back to where and who I was, yet I’m slipping and fumbling with each step forward and into the me and life awaiting embodiment. I am tiptoeing my way along the cusp of my greatest triumphs and current failures, looking for a break along the way to press myself in and abide. Sometimes this what breaking through is-navigating the time in between as it refines you for your life’s work and purpose. This is my metamorphic moment.
I’m currently taking an eCourse called Liberated Lines. I jumped at the chance to take it because not only do I love Alisha’s work (I’m a new and HUGE fan), I’m also trying to find my poetic voice again. It’s been years since I’ve written poetry, and since my goal for 2014 is to embody who I am as a writer and artist, this course is the perfect chance to jump back in, head first. I’m feeling all wobbly and rusty, but also very good to be working these creative muscles again.
Here’s today’s entry, quick and dirty, just speaking what came to mind…
“This is no ordinary love”, it whispers softly as it dances its faceted blues in the sunlight. I pause and let this truth wash away the stress & toil of marriage that collects from time to time like the grit & grime that collects under one’s fingernails. As it does, I feel my shoulders slowly sink back into their foundation and as the tension recedes like the tide, I open. To him. To us. To impromptu rendezvous and lunchtime mojitos. To connecting in the midday amidst the grind of daily living and earning to provide. I unfurl and soften as I watch the blue dance in the light. I open and let my heart stand naked and unashamed to the one who loves me like none other. #liberatedlinesopen”
Feel free to follow the #libertatedlinesopen tag on Instagram to read what words we unearth over the next 4 weeks!
We were given this for a journaling prompt in my writing & creativity class, Story 201 tonight. One quote, 7 minutes. This is what came out.
“Remember the deep root of your being.” (The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, Christine Valters Painter)
Go back and unearth what was buried.
Shove heaps of earth off to each side.
Until it’s in your view.
Breathe it in.
See it for yourself again with fresh eyes.
Recognize it as who you are.
Who you’ve always been underneath it all.
Unearth what was buried.
I’ve been in a depressive episode for nearly 8 weeks. The decline has been gradual. There have been good days scattered throughout, but I’ve been edgy, tense, fatigued….my mind has been too loud some days, eerily silent during others. I’ve been crying off and on in my bathroom to hide my breaking from my kids…in my car as I drive from one errand to the next. I’ve had to shift to auto-pilot to just get through hard moments, root myself in detachment to keep from getting swallowed up by the stress. I’ve spent the last two weeks cycling rapidly between hypomania (marked mostly by agitation and a mind packed with too many thoughts), and a dragging depression that swallows me up and sends me into its belly for a few moments then spits me back out into the sun and air where I can breathe again. And then everything’s still and quiet…I feel “normal” and then the cycle repeats itself hourly, daily, weekly….and so it’s been for nearly 2 months now. Rinse. Settle. Repeat.
I’m still in that critical postpartum window. I just weaned nearly a month ago. My body and hormones are in flux and adjusting as a result. I hate it.
Stress is both motivating and crippling for me. I can handle 10 things going on all at once with ease. It’s once the 11th shows up demanding my attention that my mind starts to split and scatter off into darker corners. I think about my life these days and chide myself with all kinds of “should” statements for feeling and being overwhelmed by all I manage on a day-to-day basis: baby is teething & raging, middle child with special needs, oldest was just diagnosed with ADHD and his enthusiasm for school has waned significantly, trying to overhaul our home and parenting lifestyles to accommodate and support their needs (like increasing structure and making our home more sensory friendly), supporting my husband while he deals with stress at work. New therapy schedules, trips to the pediatrician, and comprehensive psychometric testing have dominated our lives over the past month. Up ahead there is more testing to be done, and meetings with the school district to discuss accommodations for Brennan and evaluations and placement for Alex who is gearing up for preK this fall…
It’s not all stressful. I’m involved in birthing great projects. I’m taking my mom’s advice on avoiding burnout by feeding my spirit so I don’t fall prey to losing myself, you know? I’ve joined writing & art communities online, I’m painting at 11pm, I’ve signed up for retreats and writing eCourses, done a couple of write-ins with groups, and I’ve done a juice cleanse to try to reset my body and mind. I’m re-reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown as well as books on painting, sensory processing disorder, creativity, and feminism. I’m trying to find my way here still, in this space as far as my writing is concerned. I’m trying to learn how to embody all the parts of myself that have come alive over the past few years-artist, writer, advocate-in the midst of the daily demands on my person and time as a mother and wife. I’m trying to bloom where I’m planted. At 31, it’s still a stumbling process though.
I’m searching for my flow amidst the rhythms, rocking and swaying as the ebb and flow of my life’s current carries me throughout my days. But the stress of everything gets triggering and I find myself cycling with the ebb and flow as a result sometimes. That’s when my knees buckle and my head spins. My chest constricts and my brain starts to feel like it’s suffocating. My grip gets weak. Fatigue sets in and my steps forward get heavy. Taking care of myself gets harder, and usually becomes the last checked off item on my must do list-if it’s checked off at all. I end each day feeling as though I have no safe place to come up for air and just process my thoughts, fears, and anxiety…I end most days feeling unsettled and bottled up, stuffed to capacity and as I close my eyes to sleep I’ve found myself starting to pray like Jabez, asking God or whoever is listening for an increase in capacity…in ability…in might…
My hair is pink again with some blue added for extra fun. My hair and color are always my first lines of defense against the disorder of my brain chemistry and mood.
I visited my psychiatrist last week at the VA. This is another area that I can’t seem to find solid footing. We’ve lived here for nearly two years and I’m on my 3rd psychiatrist. Obtaining talk therapy has been a fail. The appointment scheduling system here is confusing and useless to me because I have very little say in what days and times fit into my schedule that’s already inundated with the kid’s school and therapies. I’ve had to fight to get treated, and I’m constantly having to say “but if you read this and go here, research and experts agree that….”. I feel lost in a system that I’m constantly told is for me to use and that I should trust. But the bureaucracy I face with nearly every interaction chips away at that trust. I have no confidence in my mental health care these days, in the professionals assigned to my care. And yet, at my appointment last week, I sat in front of her desk and allowed myself to become undone. Completely and unapologetically. I unloaded nearly 24 months of thoughts and stress right there in her office in 20 minutes while my smiling baby squirmed and cooed in my arms. She listened to every word. Asked some questions that dug a little deeper. Apologized for all the trouble with the system I’ve had and for not really hearing me 6 weeks ago when I told her my anxiety was becoming a problem. She admitted that lack of knowledge about medications while breastfeeding restricted her ability to really give me what I was needing. We decided now that I’m no longer pregnant and breastfeeding we could get more aggressive with my meds again-go back to finding a more therapeutic dose. So over the next two months I’ll be doing that-going up on lamictal and prozac and trying out an additional med for anxiety. I started the increase yesterday. I’m hoping by the end of the week my brain and mood will start to grab ahold and adjust accordingly.
I’ve struggled today to pick everything back up and keep walking. To push past and through. To square my shoulders and lift my chin. To turn a deaf ear to the tape playing in my head that has all kinds of lies and frenzied talk on a loop.
But I’m doing it-picking up and pushing. I’m moving forward. Slowly. The sun is shining outside despite the cold front that’s moved through. I’m working my way out into the sun, breathing in deep as I go.