Sunday, February 27, 2011

when anxiety is an unwelcome houseguest

Anxiety has moved in. Without an invitation. It showed up yesterday and I'm thinking we'll be together, nonstop, for the next 3 weeks.

I know anxiety well. We've spent much of my life together. But now that I know what life is like without its constant presence, it's more intense when it shows up.

The clenched teeth, pit in my stomach, shaking hands. The jittery feeling that I'm going to crack at any moment.

The hyper-awareness.

The fear.

The dread.

I rationally know these are just feelings. Intellectually I'm sure that they can't destroy me. The realistic part of me is holding on to the fact I've come out on top of just about every anxiety smack down. But facing surgery in 3 weeks, with the host of unknowns this experience comes with, is fuel for anxiety's fire.

It's hard not to plunge deep into the dark side. To worry about freak accidents, about things going wrong. About blood clots, about never seeing my kids again. About kidney failure in my future.

About getting my period during surgery.

About death.

Anxiety is throwing everything it has at me. And it has quite the extensive arsenal.

It's even got other forces cooperating with it. The drive home from Vermont in a snowstorm. The news that someone in my family was just in the emergency room. That another one is sick and I'm blood test support.

It's almost impossible to breathe deep, to stay focused, to grasp on to calm as it skitters out of my range.

Anxiety used to be my creative fuel. I used to channel it to accomplish what I couldn't on my own. But I don't want that anymore.

I don't need that anymore.

Anxiety isn't welcome.

Now I just have to figure out how to kick it out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

defining success

Yesterday, as I was telling someone about yogavotion, my newest project, they gave me a half-hearted thumb's up and said, "yeah, but what about WRINKLE?"

Good question. That was my go-to, post-FLOW, no-brainer project. I have hundreds of questionnaires stored on my hard drive. Great art. A substantial table of contents. A proposal would be a breeze to whip out—I used to thrive on that. And I know how to do this book, how to combine text, concepts, art to tell a visual story about a specific aspect of society and culture.

But, it didn't happen. Perhaps if FLOW had been more successful. Perhaps if that experience had been positive instead of fraught with hostility, anxiety, self-doubt.

Or, perhaps, I've moved on.

I had thought FLOW would make me a writer, a writer of a certain genre of books. I'd gain a reputation. I'd tackle new projects in the series with support of a publisher, an agent, an audience. The first part came true:

I am a writer.

I own it. I live it. What used to be close to impossible less than 2 years ago, now feels almost as effortless as design. Words flow now almost as easily as layouts do—they're just a different means of expression and communicating to me.

But the rest?

I'm far more grounded in reality than I've ever been about my path, my story, my success. And, what success really is.

I will never make huge amounts of money. In fact, it might not be likely that I'll even make good money again. The world is changing and what I'm good at isn't valued at the moment. I will never be a best-selling author. I don't see any sort of successful series in my future. I will never be an expert in a field, called on for talk show appearances and quotes in national publications.

I will never be high-powered.

I will never have a corner office, an assistant, a secretary.

I don't see royalty checks in my future. Or guest speaking. Or a summer house bought by the proceeds of the above.

I will never be a household name.

I could keep going here and mention I'll never be a rockstar or a painter or an astronaut, but none of those were ever even under consideration.

But, I have more love in my life than I would have ever imagined possible. There are times, watching my puppies play, my kids  groove together, that there isn't a smile big enough to express all that's in my heart.

At times I am transformed by gratitude. I cannot think of a single thing I want that I don't already have in abundance.

I can be present and am learning to let go of the past and the future. That's something I would have thought impossible but, here I am.

I am comfortable in my skin. Cellulite, wrinkled elbows, slightly drooping eyelids, now more than the rare grey hair, a solid size 8—it's truly fine.

I am healthy. I don't just think it, I've gone through extensive testing and so I know it. I'm physically healthy enough to contemplate elective surgery and give an organ away. And mentally healthy enough to be good with that decision.

I can knit a scarf that stops people in the street. I have friends who are happy to see me. I have family that accepts who I am and loves me for that, and sometimes in spite of that. I can finally do a head stand in the middle of a room.

By society's standards I don't know that people would label me a success. But by mine? I'm not doing too badly.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

february slump

Usually I hit the wall in February. The cold has worn me down. My neck is tired of being encased in sweaters. My skin is papery and dry. My poor sinuses have just about had enough.

I generally shut down and have often sunk into that dark tunnel of depression. For me, it's easiest to be pulled under when darkness runs things, when the light is thin and brittle, when it's easier to be home than anywhere else.

This February it's not as bad as usual. I'm not immersed in any major projects which keep me from sinking (that's been an effective way of holding myself together against an inevitable slump).

Could be the meds. Could be the kidney donation. Could be that my new business cards, the first thing I've created in far too long, are stunning and make me super happy. Could be that I started yet another blog that I want to turn into something more.

Could be that I'm not as closed off as I used to be. Writing has changed my life. Having a place to explore, to express, to process has been far more powerful than I ever could have imagined. A little over a year ago, writing was more stressful than just about anything I'd undertake. I did it, but struggled over every idea, every sentence, every phrase.

Now it flows.

Ideas. Words. Concepts. I don't know when I start, where I'll end up but when I get there, I'm there. And I generally feel an ease in my soul that wasn't there before.

What a gift. Today I am grateful for myself—for showing up instead of shutting down.

For living instead of existing.

For making the effort instead of hiding in the tunnel the way I did for far too long.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

how to pee in a cup

Turns out, I had no idea how much was involved to do it properly. Ladies out there, I'm hoping you know more than I did, but if there's even a smidge of doubt in your head, read on:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

when stars align . . .

I'm starting a new project.

It's an idea I had years ago but was never sure quite how to put it all together. It seems though, that the stars were lining up behind the soggy NYC skies to hand me the way to make it all happen.

I've been empty for so long I'd almost forgotten what it's like to have ideas flow through me—words, images, concepts arrive for me to ponder. Examine. Explore.

I'm rusty. Out of practice. Scared that I won't be able to do it again.

But, I know how to do this.

And I'm thinking the universe is helping me out on this one by giving me a support system that is boundless.


I can't stop smiling.

I am in awe of how things can work because even if this project goes no further, the graciousness and love and belief that's been extended to me is profound. Beautiful.

I am lucky.

I am blessed.

I am grateful.

And that's what this project will be. The road I found, or that found me, and helped me get here—here being somewhere on my ongoing path. 

And how to share this with people who are curious but don't know what the next step is.