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Rethinking Self Love

As many of you know, these past months I have spent on average 8 hours a day in the studio.  You all warned my about burnout and I ignored you.  You really were graciously patient with me as you sent messages of cautious encouragement. 

I have heard you! I’m not burning out. I’m still thrilled to be going into the studio 5 days a week, but I am noticing I feel fuzzy and dull.  It takes me longer to make decisions on the “next move” in my painting.  I suspect 6 months of modified quarantine has taken its toll. Until yesterday, I believed that being a full time artist meant painting full time, 40 hours a week: thirty years of longing needed to be expressed.  I still feel that urgency, but I am realizing this is a marathon not a sprint.

Yesterday I took my first 2 mile walk, before heading to the studio.  I can feel all kinds of shame coming up as I write this.  “What she doesn’t daily exercise?”  Let’s just say COVID has made me a stronger meditator, but not an avid exerciser.   I’m hoping to change that by developing my artist practice to include a daily walk- 2 laps around the neighborhood loop, while listening to a podcast.  Which brings me to what I discovered yesterday- Brene Brown’s “Unlocking Us” podcast’s interview of Sonya Renee Taylor!

“We will not go back to normal, normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal, other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return my friends.  We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment, one that fits all of humanity and nature.”

WOW! Just wow!  Well if that doesn’t make you think hard about your longing to return to normal... consider what Sonya Taylor went on to say...

“Your body is not an apology.” Shame is betraying our own truth. In the words of  Marianne Williamson, “An acorn does not have to say I intend to become an oak tree. Natural intelligence intends that every living thing become the highest form of itself and designs us accordingly.” 

Sonya goes on to say, “Once we remove the obstruction that has us believe, we have to try to become, we will just become... exactly what it is we are suppose to be. And those obstructions are not just our obstructions, they are a world of obstructions that have been created, that are in between us and our inherent divinity, in between us and our innate “enough-ness...”

“Radical self- love is an internal journey that impacts our external reality.  We have  built a world, that is a reflection of our belief, that we are not enough.  We have built an entire system that then externalizes our value. I will be good enough when I achieve ... I will be good enough if I have this job, that pays me this amount of money. I will be good enough if I can hold tight to my identity as white, or able bodied, or CIS, or all of these configurations of what I call the hierarchy of body, the world that we have assigned that there is some top, and my job as a human is to figure out how to scramble to the top...how to try to get there? What is also true in this system, is that there are some of us that will never get there. We have bodies that will never live at the top of that ladder.  So what we spend our lives trying to do is figure out what can I do? Well, I can lose ten pounds here, I can effect my tone, so I sound more white, I can...there all these things I can do try to understand my place in the hierarchy.”

“Radical self-love invites us to divest from the ladder because the ladder is only real because we keep trying to climb it. When we stop trying to climb the ladder, then we have no more use for the ladder.  When I don’t need the ladder to assess my sense of worthiness, of enoughness, of inherent divinity... when I don’t need that ladder because I understand it as my birthright, I understand it as how I arrived on the planet, I understand it as my own unique form of natural intelligence, then the ladder is of no use! The ladder is imaginary. The ladder is there to give me a thing that I was born with, so what do I need the ladder for? What do we need the ladder for, if we all understood, that we already came here with everything we need in order to be all that it is we were destined to be.”

Hearing her words, made me realize several things. My mandated 8 hours of daily painting, was another form of hustling for my worth (it’s a pattern for me): in order to be worthy, be enough, I must achieve X and Y.  Hard work and being a great artist will make me enough.  I AM ALREADY ENOUGH.  Say it we me, WE ARE ENOUGH.  Yes, do what you are called to do, work hard, but consider your intention.  What is the subtext?  Why are you doing what you’re doing?  What are you bargaining for?  Are you joyful or oppressed?  These are the questions I’ll be asking myself this month.

I’m also going to continue my 2 mile walks... not because I’m hustling for my worth, but because it makes me feel clearer and more creative. It gives me time to digest new information that will improve my ability to be a better artist, better mom, friend and wife.  You are my accountability plan. I’ve enabled comments, so you can leave me messages... What questions do you find helpful to keep you aware of your shame cycle? Share podcasts you find inspiring, share what keeps you feeling creative and growing into the full expression of you!

Remember: We are enough! Our bodies are not an apology!

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