The Muse Works When You Do

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Hilma af Klint

I just spent the weekend in New York City.  Kara, one of my best friends/travel buddies, and I explored the shit outta that town.  We traipsed and Lyfted our way from Spanish-Italian cafe to French bistro to Korean small plates through Central Park, to the MoMa and Guggenheim, in search of great food, beer, coffee, art, ice cream, and pizza.

What always blows my mind about travel, beyond the obvious benefit of ‘seeing the world,’ is the doors it breaks down surrounding my creativity.  Which is an easier sentiment to have while listening to the Dark Side of the Moon and contemplating Hilma af Klint than sitting in my robe in my bed back home.  It’s a fleeting feeling I’m constantly yearning for, yet what I learned on this trip is creativity is not actually one fleeting moment.

Continue reading “The Muse Works When You Do”

Thinking Writing

…in which the writer thinks about writing more than the writer actually writes…

I do this all the time.  Thinking about writing is probably more pleasurable to me than actual writing because it doesn’t involve any of the work.  It’s like, when you’re planning a trip and the whole lead up to and planning of the trip gives you more satisfaction than the actual trip.  Same thing, to me at least.  I think about writing before I go to bed, while I’m in the car, on a walk, when distracting myself at work… Thinking about writing is my daydreaming.

When I think about writing, I’m not just thinking about sitting down with a pen and paper and how and when, but I’m thinking about characters and stories and traits and worlds.  I create protagonists and villains, dystopian worlds, problems and actions, that all live in my head.  I write whole novels in my head that will never see paper.

This isn’t a “problem” in the grand scheme of things; like I said, this is how I daydream, pass the time, let my mind wander.  It keeps me from running actual real life problems over and over in my head.  But it doesn’t get me anywhere closer to being a writer.  It doesn’t give my stories life.  My creative energy is wasted on a loop with no exit.

It’s easy enough to say, I’m going to sit down and write.  It’s like going to the gym or eating healthier, where there is a lot of thinking about it, and not a lot of actual doing.  I’ve written about this conundrum before.  Sitting down and writing is not always fun, it’s work goddammit, work that I’m, for some reason, totally enamored with and work that I find myself not actually working on.

But I’ve been doing a lot of that thinking writing lately, so that means I need to re-examine my time and hunker down for some good writing.  It reminds me of a Mary Oliver quotation that haunts me.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative
work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to
it neither power nor time.”

Most days, I try and push this quotation to the back of my mind, forget about it, unread it, because who, with a 40 hour a week day job, and a new home to finish, has the time to push aside “real life” for the solitude of creative work?  Most days, pushing the creative side away works.  Most days, I can get by in this way.  But then, a particular drive in the car gives me a particular thought and my mind spins and whirs again with story.

Is it ever really possible to forget our creative sides?  It may not be fulfilled by an art per se, maybe you do get that fire filled by your day job or you do have an outlet for it, and maybe it’s possible that there is no creative yearning…  But those who feel it, you know what I mean.

And so I find myself with only one solution: to write.

There is time, it is possible.  It has to be.

Love as a Work in Progress

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If you’re like me, you’ve learned a bit about love over the years.  If you’re like me, you’ve had your perceptions bashed upon the rocks, the waves of life repeatedly making you pull them out and reassess.  If you’re like me, each success and failure has taught you a little more.  It’s hard to say if I ever truly believed in “romance” in it’s stereotypical fashion; love and relationships never looked like that for me.  But, my views on love received a major overhaul about five to six years ago, which started with my current relationship, and it continues to be in flux and flow.

From a young age, we are inundated with examples of “love stories” in films that are made for very young children (I’m looking at you, Disney), planting seeds of expectation of what we could one day receive as love.  Nearly every story I’ve ever consumed has some kind of romantic subplot.  It’s gets you to thinking about the romantic subplot you will one day have, even at a very young age, because, of course, everyone gets a romantic subplot, right?…

But then we grow older and learn love is not all sunshine and rainbows, it can be kinda awkward and piecemeal.  Sometimes nothing happens for very long years.  Sometimes a friend likes you and you don’t like them back.  Sometimes you freak out and break up with someone over the phone.  Sometimes you break up with someone to be with someone else.  Sometimes you feel ugly and alone.  Sometimes you make mistakes you can’t take back.  Sometimes you receive calls in the night from someone confessing their love.  Sometimes you learn people say things just to get in your pants.  Sometimes you make a fool out of yourself.  Sometimes someone lies to you.  Sometimes people stop talking to you.  And you never get that so-very-Disney fairy tale.

You learn fairy tales exist in all sorts of forms.  You learn love is not about the flashiness, and the how-can-I-Instagram-this?  You learn that love is the quiet dedication of coming home to the same person each night.  That love is someone knowing your favorite foods and weird moods.  That love is someone supporting your strange endeavors and whimsy.  That love is someone rubbing your feet when they really don’t like feet.  That love is someone always doing the dishes.  That love is a re-commitment each day, of time and listening.  That love is committing energy to another person, to being together.

The thing about love is there is no one size fits all.  Love looks different for, and to, everyone.  Love may not exist in a romantic form for you at all.  Maybe that Disney model works for you.  In the end, you have to listen to yourself, and listen to your partner, and chose what’s right for you.  Love is a work in progress.  Every day.

How have your views on love changed over the years?  How are they still changing?  Let me know in the comments.  This post was inspired by the above cards from the Slow Holler Tarot and Oracle of Oddities.

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

Minimalism and Maidenhood

With the darker days coming in, I’ve felt a heaviness.  In part the season, sure, the tides the stars and cosmos, but also because of very practical reasons.  Primarily, because my partner will be graduating soon and we have no idea what our future holds.  So there has been some stress.  I was mean and tense and basically a mess until I found something on which to focus: a minimalism project.

And so I cleaned my work space, my sacred space; I declared this my clearing magic.  I took two days and touched everything in my desk, cabinet, bookcase, and bedside table.  I either pitched it, kept it, or am planning to try and sell it.  I packed most of my stupidly large tarot collection away in the closet (which is the next project), put my working decks neatly in a desk drawer, and my active decks on my desk.  I kept only the stones and gems that mean the most to me, and pilfered through my books, keeping only the ones that I believe I’ll actually read (ideally within the next year…?).

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Art for me, by Christina Hira

My original intention was completely to eliminate stress.  But then I got a tarot+art+poetry reading from Christina at wild.dark.magic in which she encouraged me to think not only of what I am removing, but also what I’m calling in.  She suggested to appropriately grieve what is leaving me.

Oh, that hit me like a tons of bricks.  Feeling started to click into place, and I realized what had happened.  Over the last two years or so, I had accumulated a bunch of shit that I thought I needed for my ~*path*~.  Decks, and stones, and books that I thought would flip some switch, and the divine would sing, and BAM, everything would make sense.  Good one, Alaina.  Basically, I spent way too much money on way too much stuff, the energy within my space became claustrophobic, and I became confused.  This realization made me feel like a child again; my uncertain and insecure inner child came out.  But I am done with that.  I am calling in space to move and explore.  I am transitioning, I am growing.  I am ready to learn for myself, create new paradigms and definitions for myself.

I am moving out of my Saturn return, I am moving into being a woman.
This is the transition I must honor.
I am no longer that girl (though she still lives inside).
The loss of my maidenhood is the loss I must mourn.

There is never a moment of completeness, we are always a work in progress.

How are you feeling these dark and cold days?  Or, warm and sunny days — depending on where you are in the world.  What projects are you working on?  Let me know in the comments.

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Scary Couples Therapy

I had a therapy session with my partner yesterday.  We’ve been seeing this therapist since the beginning of the year, and we both enjoy attending the sessions and find value in our conversations.  She calls us on our bullshit and pushes us where we are uncomfortable.  And, boy, we’ve been uncomfortable.  We’ve been resistant, hesitant, lazy, and scared.  But we’ve also been successful, begun healing, busted barriers, and continue to grow together with her assistance.  It’s a practice: showing up, trying things to see what works, and then trying something else.

We were extremely resistant about starting couples therapy.  We were confused about why our “young” relationship needed such work.  Shouldn’t this be easy?  Shouldn’t this be something people who are married 20 years need, not a couple that has only been together for 5 years?  Are we failing?  Are we trying to scoop water out of our sinking boats with barehands?  The answer to all those questions, of course, is yes, and no.

One thing I realized yesterday is that we have gone through more shit together in 5 years than a lot of those couples who have been together for 20 years.  He was in school, I was in school (nursing school = hell), he moved away, his brother died by suicide, my grandparents passed away, I moved away, he started school again, we moved in together, and some other things that are too big and too private and maybe one day I’ll write about them, but that day is not today.  So, damn, yeah, it’s like we can’t catch a break.

But, we’re still together, and that is thanks to hard work and consistent practice.  Couples therapy is like that buzzword “shadow work” on a massive scale.  To be honest, I’ve never seen a therapist on my own, so I don’t really know how this would compare.  But, sitting on a couch, with the person who you love and trust most in this world and talking about your shame or your past or your hurts is really fucking vulnerable and scary.  You’ve got to pull out everything that is ugly and look at it and talk about it.  You’ve got to accept it or change it.  You’ve got to honor those dark underbelly thoughts and feelings, the things we keep hidden and buried.

I have no doubt my partner would accept me and all of my faults, whatever comes out, but admitting those faults to myself is really the scariest part.  I know I’m getting to something good in therapy when I start to go: “well, umm, yeah, kinda.”  I know I’m getting to something good when I can’t completely own it outright.  95% of the time, our therapist calls us on our shit and is accurate.  100% of the time I resist immediately when someone tells me how to feel.  But then I sit, and I allow, and I know she’s right.  We walk out of our sessions smiling, particularly the sessions that kick us in the ass.

And so yesterday, our therapist tasked us with watching a movie and examining our emotions while doing so.  Not just any movie, a sadass, hold-those-tears-in-because-I-don’t-want-anyone-to-see-me-cry, tear jerker.  Except that she wants us to cry.  There have only been a handful of times that Andy and I have cried in front of each other, and it’s always been stilted, awkward, pretend-I’m-not-really-crying crying.  And let’s be real, that’s pretty fucked up.  I love and trust this person more than anyone, why can’t our emotions flow with each other?  (I did a tarot spread yesterday on this, and that will be the next blog post ;))

That’s what I’m doing in the next week: watching a movie with my lover and trying to cry.  Give me some recommendations of excellent crying movies!  And, if you’ve seen a couples therapist and want to talk about, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!  What was your experience like?  Scary as hell, too?  Or, the opposite?  Let me know in the comments 🙂

exploringly yours,
Alaina x