Where to Now?

road
The ever-winding road

Like so many in the wake of the presidential election, as an American, a liberal, and a democrat, I am left to wonder what I should do now. I have an almost overwhelming need to do something, but I am not yet certain what that will look like or how it will manifest.

The irony of this situation is that I have been rudderless the last several years. I have poked around and done different things. Many of these pursuits have been passing interests that have sputtered into nothing at all; others have been gigantic shipwrecks that I am still trying to avoid drowning from (and succeeding at for the most part).

To have a direction, a goal, is something I have searched for, and longed for, since becoming a stay at home mom. Though raising a human being is, arguably, one of the most important jobs in the entirety of history and the world, I (most ashamedly on certain days), wanted something a little different, something that I felt had a direct impact on the world, rather than a secondary impact based on how well I raised my child (though that too is important, obviously).

I wanted to have my cake and eat it too… and as most people with similar situations, I never did much about it.

And then the election. Before the election I would have avoided speaking about my political and ideological views. The flagship of my stance was my avoidance in telling people who I supported in the election and why; however, since the election, I have realized that my voice, though limited to those few I know and the few readers I have here, is a powerful one, and by not speaking up, there is a possibility that I had a hand (no matter how small) in our current political (national) situation.

Therefor *deep breath*:

I support Hillary Clinton.

Not only am I #withher, but I am #stillwithher.

I doubt very much that she will ever again be as central in politics as she was these last two years, but what she does and what she has done, continues to inspire me.

She fights.

When the going is incredibly tough and bordering on impossible, she continued(s) to fight. I know the tiredness that stems from being a woman in a male-centric world. A week ago, I would have never talked about the sexism that I have known and seen my whole life… put on a happy face, understand there is progress etc…. but I am done with that way of approaching this world.

I am done with being a people-pleaser.

Because, I AM exhausted.

I am so tired of fighting against social norms and expectations, but, because we as a nation and world are nowhere near where I thought we were in regards to equal rights for women, or African Americans, or Latinos, or *fill in the blank here, you know who you are*… I am going to keep fighting in hopes that one day I can stop being tired.

Because if Hillary can continue fighting, then, damnit, so can I.

The Yellow Brick Road

But what does that look like?

Therein lies that most important question.

Do I start speaking out? Do I start posting things on my twitter? Do I go back to facebook (after a year away) and start engaging with others… including those whose views are, at times, violently opposed to mine?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am beyond scared to stir the pot. I have read the stories of doxing and that shit is terrifying. I have a young son! The  mama instinct in me roars at the thought that my political viewpoints, or social viewpoints, will be expressed at the expense of my son’s safety.

And then I hear what I am saying (or read what I am typing in this case), and I am horrified. Sickened. Disgusted.

Why?

Because the very fact that I am scared to voice an opinion because of the possibility of a negative fallout is the exact opposite of the very ideology that created this country.

In other words: unacceptable.

Because my message is simple: all humans matter and love trumps hate.

That kind of message shouldn’t cause violence or stalking or internet trolls, but it does… as I am sure you all are aware. Of course, deciding to come out of the shadows is not really doing anything… yet, but it is a first step towards something.

Where do I go from here, then?

I have fluttered on and off of the idea of going back to journalism, in a grassroots way at least. I am a news junky, so perhaps I could take what I am reading, analyze it and put it in historical perspectives. I don’t know if that will make any difference in changing people’s minds towards inclusiveness and understanding, but maybe it will?

Of course, I realize that kind of blogging is hardly be popular.

I know, through interacting with online blogs for awhile, that most people want messages of hope… they want to feel good after reading a post.The uplifting stuff gets clicks, ask any blogger out there. The negative is largely ignored.

Unfortunately, sometimes that feel good moment is at the expense of thinking.

(Ouch. That was hard to write… still haven’t gotten rid of the “I don’t want to offend people stigma yet.”)

So, if I was to follow a path of journalism in the way that I am imagining it, likely, I will lose a few of you in the process, but maybe I will gain a few more. I honestly don’t know. I DO know I want to do something to promote critical thinking, thereby leading (as it always has and will), to acceptance and understanding. That is the direction I want to help our country move towards (after being shown we have such a very far way to go).

The next step is figuring out how my contribution will look.

What about you, dear readers? Do you find yourself called to action, and if so, in what way? How are you doing it? What is your reality like now?

And if not a call to action, what is your reaction to this post 11/9 world?

What are your thoughts?

What If…

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Waves… out and then in. Or. A different ocean altogether.

Sometimes you have to start from the beginning, though you’ve been to the beginning so many times you have lost count. Or maybe, that’s what you tell yourself and you have never truly stripped everything down to the very beginning, to the bare bones.

Maybe you’ve only pretended to return to step one, but never actually allowed yourself a new start; and perhaps everything has changed so much, that you are not lost or blocked, but adhering to a kind-type that no longer exists.

What if you are using the operating system of your 18-year-old self?

Have I grown and adapted; or have I changed so completely that I am truly no longer the person I was (and have been believing I am) but someone entirely different?

Wouldn’t that kind of change (not transformation, not growth, but Different) be something that requires a complete restart? Not even an overhaul, rather a complete and final wipe… a factory reset?

What would that look like?

Showing and Telling

sprinklers
A Summer Prelude

More than likely, every single one of you reading this is a writer or has been a writer at some point. As such, it is likely that every single one of you has heard the advice: “show don’t tell.”

But here is my thought for today… showing is a photograph. Showing is a painting or a movie or another visual art form.

Writing, though, is for getting into the brain. In no other median can an idea or thought be represented so clearly, so absolutely. Sure, there are language barriers… the very idea of loss of meaning between writer and reader… but there is a pureness that is allowed in this form of communication that is not quite has well represented in the visual forms.

I have always loved taking photographs. There is a way that I can capture sunlight colored through a sprinkler’s rain that I cannot quite catch merely with words.

But I can tell you with my words what I was thinking when I took the photograph. I can tell you of the feeling of joy, a kind of heated pressure in my chest to see the sprinkler in the sun. I can tell you how I felt an anticipation for summer mixed with a little bit of wonder as my five-year-old ran through that freezing cold water.

I am able to describe how my contentment felt like a warm blanket of sunshine on my shoulders; and how during those moments I knelt on the wet grass, moisture seeping through the knees of my jeans, lightness permeated the air and happy floated by.

That is power, my friends.

That is beauty.

The Villain and a Journey

Pluto's_devil.jpg
Oh, Pluto!

Does the villain have a journey?

With the new Star Wars, there has been a lot of rehash about how Lucas used Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” when writing the original Star Wars, and how this new Star Wars has similar elements. Without going into spoilers and all the theories (and believe me there are enough theories to fill tombs upon tombs), I found myself contemplating something entirely different:

The Villain’s Journey.

Of course, this thought was sparked by Kylo Ren… and I too have thoughts on the arc of his story; my hope being that the writers will honor complexity over big budget… but I digress.

His journey.

The villain’s journey.

I decided to look it up. I have extensive background in the Hero aspect. I wrote my master’s thesis, spent years reading and researching, etc. etc…

…but the villain; not so much, or not as a story arc itself, but only as a counterpart to the hero.

Googling it brought up interesting things; lots of comics, and fan sites for said comics but very little actual thought on the journey aspect. There is apparently one contributor that talks about the villain’s journey and that has made the rounds of different .edu sites, but the theory deals entirely with the journey from the point of power to the point of fall. In other words, the theory addresses the journey in counterpoint to the hero, something I already had some ideas on and have looked into for my own research.

What I want to know more about, think about, is the rise of the villain, not the fall.

There is a tendency in the last thirty years or so to look at villains as more complex than the destroyer of the world. Sometime in the 80s, during the height of the postmodern movement, “Watchmen” came out. This comic studied the role of “anti-hero,” a kind of individual that is supposed to be a hero, but the complexity of identity and person creates a hero that is not all good or bad, but somewhere in the gray.

This is not what I am talking about, necessarily, but the publishing of “Watchmen” was a first step towards a movement that started to look at villains as more than just a counter to the hero.

The backstory. Why and how did the villains become who they become?

I think of Loki as portrayed in the movies (not necessarily the comics or Norse mythology). Through the Thor movies, the viewer is given insights on his motivation, the reasons behind his turn, so by the time you see him in the second Thor movie, you sympathize with him.

There is backstory.  But I want more than just a backstory.

 

Gotham3.jpgThe television show “Gotham” is one of the more thorough looks at the rise of a villain; in fact, it is the only work of any median I know of that approaches the villain’s journey in such a thorough way. There is Penguin, Riddler, and Cat-Woman, among others and you see them before they are anything, moving towards who they become (and who they are known for in the DC world).

The show is interesting and fun to watch, even if I am left flat on some of the characters, because the villain’s journey is an interesting one. Sure, there are the psychos, but even the psychos had a precipice, a series of something, that brought them to that point they become the bad guy.

The antagonist.

I have not read G.R.R. Martin’s epic tale, but I’ve heard that villains are given more of a fleshed out back story, mostly because the story is so very massive. If I could get through the verbose that is his writing, I would try to read them; however, that is unlikely.13f252tvthrones-470191

Are there others in literature that I am not thinking of? Seriously, I am having a terrible time thinking of literary villains that the reader is given not only backstory, but The Story. The Journey.

But, going back:

“The Force Awakes.”

It inspired me as I watched Kylo Ren at That Part I will not speak of. How? His movement to the darkside is sure not entirely based in his DNA. Though that does make me think of Star Wars I, II, III and the journey of Annakin and how that is kind of a study in the villain’s journey.

But. That movie. Blah.

Just blah.

And that leads me to my final thought in this meandering blog:

Writing a villain’s journey. How interesting. And exciting.

*mind clicks away in the way it does when something starts to move through it*

Do any of you, dear reads, have advice as to where to go to read villain stories… not the fall, not the hero catching the bad guy… but the rise? Any of you have thoughts on the villain’s journey in general?

Fun stuff, peeps, fun stuff.

star-wars-kylo-ren

 

 

Creative Cult

tree
The Tree

Where does your creativity come from? What inspires you to write, dance, paint, or play music? What is that spark, and how does it come to be?

Last Sunday, I participated in a Shamanic journey. The facilitator — a wonderful woman with a light soul — explained that she cannot schedule these journeys on a regular basis because she has to wait until she, herself, is inspired to take the journey. Once undergoing the journey herself, she in turn schedules the same journey to facilitate for others.

Inspiration. Where does it come from?

Through my many years (past years) of writing, the overwhelming consensus of published writers offering their advice, is that inspiration is a myth; or rather, the need to be inspired before creating is a myth. Through hard work, due diligence, etc. etc. creativity will flow and there is no need for this slacker’s excuse of inspiration.

I get why published authors push the inspiration bullshit line. I really do. Most writers barely write because they are waiting for that divine moment, and that is a no good state of affairs. One must write if one wants to be a writer.

I wonder though.

Obviously, in my past I wrote even when inspiration was but a flicker. I am not talking about the non-fictional writing I did as a journalist (which is often times lacking any sort of anything resembling inspirational); rather, the fiction that I delved into and explored.

Between the time I graduated college and today, I have written six complete novels. I’ll also throw in the novel-length fanfiction I did back when HP fanfiction was The Thing To Do.

Seven then, seven complete novels.

Of those, I would say there were hints of inspiration in all of them. Even the romance book I wrote in an attempt to “f*cking get anything published for f*cks sake,” had a bit of inspiration to its story line.

I am not going to go in to the whole FAILING MISERABLY thing… but, it does make me wonder about the creative process and being inspired. There is writing and there is Writing… just as there is music, and then there is Music.

Etc. Etc.

Is inspiration the defining line between the two?

Back to my Shamanic journey. For many, these journeys are powerful and can be life-altering. Me, myself, I always feel like what happens is 80 percent bullocks and 20 percent of something True. But that my is my logical self talking, and my logical self really dislikes anything mythical (though, adversely, understands the deep importance of Myth).

However, for many, these journeys are religious in context and in importance. Is it true and right that my facilitator waits until she is inspired… I think so, actually. But then, it makes me wonder if art (and as a consequence, the influence of art), should also be contingent on inspiration.

I don’t know, obviously, just a thought for today.

What do you think?

On Letting It Kill You

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The Suncapped Mountain

The pianist James Rhodes inspires me.

I have his blog entry in The Guardian saved to my favorites. Every few weeks I go back and reread it; remind myself of what true artistic passion looks like, sounds like, is.

Sometimes his words inspire me.

Sometimes they are a terrible reminder of what I am and have become.

Passion. What does it look like?

Rhodes:

“Admittedly I went a little extreme – no income for five years, six hours a day of intense practice, monthly four-day long lessons with a brilliant and psychopathic teacher in Verona, a hunger for something that was so necessary it cost me my marriage, nine months in a mental hospital, most of my dignity and about 35lbs in weight.”

He let his passion bring him to the brink of death.

And then let it save him.

Thanks in part to Oprah and her bigger than the universe presence, there is a lot of buzz about finding your passion and about finding Your Purpose in life. The result is an interesting tension between a need to find Purpose, and the realization that searching for Purpose is not how one does it.

What makes you fire up in your fingers? Makes your heart beat a little faster?

Those are supposed to be the guiding signs of finding Purpose. The problem I have found, and of those friends I have talked to, is those indicators only work if you have stripped the bullshit far enough down to even pick up on them in the first place.

So much bullshit.

Even Rhodes, who’s passion took him down the dark path, worked for years in corporate muck before shoving it all off. His passion is obvious… but only in retrospect.

Ah, retrospect. The 20/20 vision of looking back on our lives. The irony is always so obvious. We are so obvious.

While talking to my friend the other day about twin flames (a new interest of mine), she made a comment about being your whole self. This is a lovely thought, bringing all the pieces of the puzzle together, but what does it mean, and more, how is it done?

For Rhodes, music is a piece of his soul. A hugely important, all encompassing piece. He denied the existence of that piece into misery.

Isn’t that what so many of us do as well?

This then is the question; what are we denying?

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by Jem Salmon

The path of finding a whole self is a twisted one, often walked upon in the dead of the night when no moon shines and the stars are lost in clouds. We trip. We fall. We skin our knees and cut our palms. And then we get back up and keep walking. Every once in awhile the light shines through, the sun glimpsed through the murk, and we see the mountain ahead, glimmering white and snow capped… the mountain that we still must climb.

And in the beauty that is the mountain, the glimpse of our future weighs down at our already tired feet, leaden legs, bowed shoulders, and though it glimmers in the sun, the prospect dogs our steps.

And yet.

And yet, we keep going. Because there is hope, I suppose. A promise of something so incredibly right that all exhaustion disappears.

One of the things I have read lately about this twin flame idea, is that according to legend, we spend lifetimes becoming whole before we can even exist in the same realm as that other soul. We must go through it all… the dark forest of our lives ala Brothers Grimm. Then we arrive.

And what we can do changes the world.

Is that the reason we walk on?

Finding ourselves. Passion.

Wholeness.

Changing the world.

 

Road Signs

Yield to the Universe
Yield to the Universe

Rejection. It is my theme today.

Yesterday I wrote about waiting to hear back from an agent regarding the requested sample pages I sent out last month.

Strangely enough, the rejection was in my spam folder from 10 days ago.

Go figure.

This then. The precipitous moment.

The life changing point. The fork in the road.

Ha!

No. Not really. A year ago I would have felt like that when I was sending out queries every day and receiving rejections every day. I was at a low point. Who wouldn’t be after putting so much work into something only to have it fail?

This year I came across that novel by chance and read through it. I thought, and still think, that it is quite good despite the feedback from agents. So, I sent it out one last time to an agent that I had some friendly interactions. I expected the rejection. Perhaps that is why it happened (seed planted and all that).

Whatever the case may be. It happened. Time to move forward.

That still does not take away from the sting of being rejected, nor does it help with the feeling that everything I do fails. Apparently, however, this response is one that is based in human evolution. Being rejected hurts. For real. In a physical manner. According to an article in Psychology Today, the pain one feels upon being rejected travels along the same nerve pathways of physical pain. This is so much the case that taking Tylenol will help with feelings associated with rejection.

*where is the damn Tylenol*

lesson6This reaction is because in our distant past, being rejected from one’s society, one’s tribe, was the equivalent of being put to death:

“In our hunter/gatherer past, being ostracized from our tribes was akin to a death sentence, as we were unlikely to survive for long alone. Evolutionary psychologists assume the brain developed an early warning system to alert us when we were at risk for ostracism. Because it was so important to get our attention, those who experienced rejection as more painful (i.e., because rejection mimicked physical pain in their brain) gained an evolutionary advantage—they were more likely to correct their behavior and consequently, more likely to remain in the tribe.”

So Now What?

In the way the Universe works, this morning one of the first blogs I read had to do with rejection. The writer had been rejected admission to a spiritual training. In the second paragraphs, he talks about the lesson inherent in the rejection.

The lesson.

There is always a lesson. We might not be under the threat of death (hopefully), but a lesson is often found while wading through the hurt and the feeling of failure and the feeling of not being good enough. Note, rejection also destroys our self esteem, temporarily lowers our IQ, and does not respond to reason.

Lessons.

Road signs is how I like to see rejection… well, when I have gotten over the aforementioned negative gut reactions. When things start to lose the tinge of failure, I want to believe that rejection is the Universe’s way of showing me my path.

This is not to be, and that is for a reason.

These are my thoughts on a good day. On a bad day, it is more of a f*ck this shit type of response.

Good and bad. Yin and yang.

Might not be exactly an accurate comparison.

Anyway. My point is that rejection happens. It happens in work life. In social life. In relationships, spiritual journeys and in catching the bus in the morning on time.

It happens.

And like so much, taking what happens and learning from it is the best way of adapting.

Not an easy task. Sometimes an impossible task, in fact.

But still the best response.

thumbs-down1My novel was rejected. Again.

It is the third novel that has been rejected to the point that I have put them to the side.

I am not sure what that means. Maybe it is time to throw in the towel.

A career change, as I mentioned?

I don’t know. Something to ponder.

But what about you?!

How have you experienced rejection? What did you learn from it?

Reading Lives

Dawn
Dawn

An interesting thing has happened the last several weeks. It does not have to do with what I am posting, the exploration I’ve done in order to look into the shadows and shine a light; rather, it is the reading that I am doing as I peruse the countless blogs associated with wordpress.

I often despair at the interactions around me. The grumpiness. The hurry. The sheer frustration that peels off of people in chips bigger than my thumbnail.

But.

Here.

There is something going on in these blogs that is amazing. I sound cheesy perhaps, but it is truth. People are searching out truth.

It is amazing.

I have read blogs about women trying to find their sexuality in a world that works against that very sexuality. I have read about men doing the exact same thing with aching detail that shows, without a single limiting factor, that they too are moving against some limiting sexual construct.

There are blogs about people coming back from depression, anxiety, self-harm through all sorts of different avenues, but always with this blanketed feeling of hope.

There are those whose journey is physical. A wandering of wonder as they move from continent to continent, always with this idea of looking, examining, feeling the world in their bones and under the soles of their feet.

So much searching.

So many questions and attempted answers.

But so much hope as well.

It is this that I have come away from in my couple of weeks of being and seeing this community. I have issues. Serious and dark ones. Isolating factors that have created personality quirks that no one would want; however, I have found that there is a solidarity that exists. It does exist. These people might live in India, London, Scotland, Canada, or Brazil, but the commonality exists.

The world is a huge place.

Humans scattered all about it.

But we are so much the same. All of us.

I suppose I should have known that already, and I have, at some point… this thought is not unfamiliar.

It is awfully nice to be reminded though.

So, my dear, lovely readers out there who write your souls and who share your worlds, thank you!

It is an amazing thing you do.

A Beginning

The Masks
The Masks

I mentioned in my post yesterday that one method of self discovery is understanding how we interact and assign meaning to certain archetypes. A name for this journey is individuation. Individuation is a spirit journey, “the process by which a person becomes a psychological ‘in-dividual,’ that is, a separate, indivisible unity or whole” (Jung).

C.G. Jung underwent a series of self-examinations during a three-year period (1913 – 1916), using creative methodology to find his personal myth. This process of individuation he collected and later put together in one folio he called Liber Novus, better known as The Red Book.

The process he underwent was a deeply personal one, and during that time he continued his professional work, developing his theories on the psychological types introvert and extrovert; and later, partially due to his personal exploration, the idea of archetypes and the collective unconsciousness.

I say we undertake a journey of our own, going through the different archetypes and exploring how we view them. Let’s start at the beginning and work through how each archetype gives us clues as to what is True for us (understanding that Truth is not a singular construct).

Before we get started, however, let me break down some terminology.

Collective Unconscious

“A more or less superficial layer of the unconscious is undoubtedly personal. I call it the personal unconscious. But this personal unconscious rests upon a deeper layer, which does not derive from personal experience and is not a personal acquisition but is inborn. This deeper layer I call the collective unconscious. I have chosen the term ‘collective’ because this part of the unconscious is not individual but universal; in contrast to the personal psyche, it has contents and modes of behavior that are more or less the same everywhere and in all individuals. It is, in other words, identical in all men and thus constitutes a common psychic substrate of a suprapersonal nature which is present in every one of us” (Jung).

This is the home place of archetypes as Jung explained it.

…and just to reiterate.

Archetypes

Ancient mythologies, religious texts, fairy tales and modern media all deal with the SAME kind of forms and images that appear to transcend time and place. Jung says the “archetype is essentially an unconscious content that is altered by becoming conscious and by being perceived, and it takes colour from the individual consciousness in which it happens to appear.”

Archetypes have no inherent meaning, the viewer (the subject, us) assigns meaning, but we know them when we see them. Most anyone has and does attach meaning to the concept of “mother,” “hero,” or “trickster.”  Jung used archetypes in his work with patients, having them “converse” with different archetypes as a way of reducing their psychosis in the way of an alchemist reducing metals into their pure form. He called this active imagination.

THE ARCHETYPES

anonymous-maskPersona

“The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual… Society expects, and indeed must expect, every individual to play the part assigned to him as perfectly as possible…” (Jung).

The persona, the mask, is an essential aspect of society’s health. We must play roles; neurosis develops when those roles overtake the individual self. The Mask has always existed as a Role(s) that is required. We, through interaction and social pressure, assign meaning to the universal image. Often times this meaning is in the form of our gender-based identity as a male or female.

Anima/Animusyin-yang-male-female

“It is a well-known fact that sex is determined by a majority of male or female genes, as the case may be. But the minority of genes belonging to the other sex does not simply disappear. A man therefore has in him a feminine side, an unconscious feminine figure – a fact of which he is generally quite unaware. I may take it as known that I have called this figure the ‘anima,’ and its counterpart in a woman the ‘animus'” (Jung).

In correlation and intertwining with the idea of the persona, is the idea that we encompass both the masculine and feminine. Like the idea of yin/yang, we combine the male and female to create an individual structure, SEPARATE, from the persona that we present to the world.

The anima/animus are those flashes of “otherness” that take hold on occasion, those quick feelings that are opposite of how we would normally act. Our anima/animus present themselves in dreams (day or sleeping) and in bursts of energy, thought, or even vocalization that is at direct odds to how you would normally act.  

Where to Go From Here

With the persona and the anima/animus in hand, where should we start our exploration, or more specifically, where am I going to start my journey? My persona and my animus are linked, pieces of identity, but as I have talked so much about social expectations and what I am versus what is expected of me, I think I am going to start with the masks… the persona.

This should be interesting.

Where is your jumping off point?