Will I Ever Find My Way?

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”

– Joseph Campbell

It’s crazy that it’s already Spring, and I’m really resisting the urge to beat myself up about how little I feel I’ve gotten done. Why do we always do that? Oh yeah. Because of our culture. Thanks America. Seriously it seems like COVID, in addition to all the dark systemic bullshit it’s brought up this past year, has also sped up time. 

Last October I quit my job on Rick and Morty, which ended up being one of the best, most life changing things I’ve ever done. It’s funny because when I started at that studio I had this deep feeling in my soul that it was my last animation job… at least for a while. And I had ALWAYS wanted to work in animation. But I finally felt like it was time to try something different. I had been moving toward a different path for a while. Doing Ayahuasca in 2018 broke me open in ways I didn’t expect, and I feel like even with just 4 ceremonies it’ll take a lifetime to unpack. I honestly don’t think I could’ve gotten through this pandemic without having that experience… I feel like I would’ve had a major psychotic break if my inner world was still as negative as it was “pre-Ayahusaca.”  To me it was a testament to how much I’ve grown… to be able to choose myself and step into my power to quit one of my favorite shows ever. I’d only ever quit one job before, and it was to pursue a career in animation.

I recognize now, looking back at that career, that I had gone into it with the wrong motivations, which made it absolute hell for my mental health. However I am FOREVER GRATEFUL for the experience. There were unfortunately just too many negative patterns built into me about survival and constantly feeling behind that ate away at my soul…making me feel like I would never be good enough (even though no one ever told me that). I thought that working around other artists would push me to become better, and that I would at some point stop feeling like an imposter, but this invisible pressure I put on myself just got worse and worse. I hoped my mental state would improve but it never did…and then I was diagnosed as bipolar!!! NO WONDER!!! It got to the point that my anxiety was so crippling I could barely look people in the eye and would hide in the bathroom and cry during crew events. Thankfully I managed to do the work, and strangely was able to fake it and make people believe my bubbly cheery mask even when I was totally dying inside. None of it would ever meet my expectations. I would never meet my expectations. Just like Stephen Fry says in his bipolar documentary “My stress is your easy day at the office. One person copes, the other goes mad.”

This is such a loaded topic and I have so much to say… which is why I’ve avoided writing about it so far. I’m so sick of having all these thoughts and nowhere for them to go…Ended up waking up at 1am to paint this in an attempt to ease my mind. Last week I finally started experimenting with the gouache I’ve had for like 5 years and realized I really love the medium! Don’t know how to use it, but definitely learning how to play with it 🙂

It kinda worked but now here I am writing because I don’t know what else to do with the rest of the energy… nothing seems to be coming out right. Nothing is flowing. When I look at that painting I think “TRAPPED” — like all this crazy energy but inevitably trapped again in the darkness…

STOP BERATING YOURSELF. WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS?!?!?! 

Seriously… so fucking sick of it. This past week I was so manic, having meetings what felt like all day every single day, talking too much but being hyped up by every single conversation. I ended up losing my voice and my throat hurt so bad, and by Friday I was completely and totally drained, crying myself to a restless sleep that doesn’t feel like sleep at all. Some great messages and lessons came through though, the biggest being to surrender to the unknown. Which by now, yeah I know — The more I surrender, the more miracles I witness… the more I feel pushed along a path that, on good days, I’m super excited to keep going on… but then when my mind flips like this I just start to doubt everything again…

STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. THIS ISN’T WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO WRITE.

As much as I disliked the first Frozen, the songs Into the Unknown and Show Yourself from Frozen 2 have been like… an anthem for this time in my life. Into the Unknown specifically is such a great representation of what it feels like to be pursuing this path of “following Spirit.” Or you know… just life in general. We’re all traversing the unknown with this whole pandemic situation. What comes next? Nobody knows! And that’s ok! 

ANYWAY. WTF IS ALL OF THIS I CAME HERE TO TALK ABOUT MY CAVE. 

In January of this year, I realized that if I was gonna get ANYWHERE with my own business, I had to face my ultimate fear — my creativity. Someday I’ll go in depth about that, but definitely don’t have the energy for that right now. Running on fumes. But yeah. I was afraid to journey within myself to see what’s actually there… what I’m actually artistically capable of. Because you see… I had told myself I wanted to work in animation my whole life… but I think what I’ve really wanted to be is an artist. And really stupidly because of labels and mental hangups, even after working 6 years in animation I didn’t feel like an artist. When really, what I’m finding now is that art is an expression. Freedom. However, doing design for animation and drawing as an assignment each day really wore on me… stripping me of that freedom and making me forget what art even was. We’re ALL artists, but in these jobs I just felt like an imposter. A fake. Because my expectations of what I needed to be for other people were unreachable. And that was something that killed me inside everyday until I literally couldn’t take it anymore… The fear of not meeting those expectations amplified my shame and guilt to where I had to do something drastic. 

Seeing it written out like that… it seems like no big deal. But again… because of the intense emotions compounding itself over many rollercoaster cycles over many years… the patterns of worthlessness and inadequacy wired themselves so deeply in my brain, piling up so high I couldn’t see myself anymore. Couldn’t see inspiration or joy anymore. All I could see was comparison.

I was trying to create a brand for my art, but was terrified of creating for SO MANY REASONS that I felt like even though I had this manic push to create my store (more on that later) I wouldn’t actually be able to keep it going if I didn’t figure myself out as an artist. I love that quote by Joseph Campbell — “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” 

So I decided to paint a metaphorical cave for myself, delete social media, put my phone in the safe (yes we have a safe that we put distractions into — mostly has videogames in it), and go on the inner journey I’ve been afraid of going on for my entire adult life — exploring my inner world through art. And so far… treasures are definitely appearing, but not in the form I would think. I’m not necessarily getting what I want, but I’m getting what I need.

I thought I’d be out of the cave by now, but holy shit a TON OF STUFF has come up since I’ve been in here… I’ve eased the restrictions a bit but I really do NOT feel ready to come out of the cave. Every time I try, I’m shown reasons why I really shouldn’t come out yet — mostly that I’m WAY too affected by other people’s energy and haven’t figured out a way to protect myself yet — and it pisses me off to not know when or how I’ll be able to get outta here. I’m both grateful to have begun this process, but anxious because it’s opened up a whole can of worms, which I guess is what I was afraid of in the first place. Now that it’s happening though, I guess it’s not too bad…more interesting and roller coastery. I can start to see inklings of how it’ll all eventually come together but fuck I just hate that EVERYTHING TAKES SO MUCH LONGER THAN YOU THINK IT WILL!!! AND I KEEP GETTING DISTRACTED!!!! >:0 

My dear husband Eddy has been so patient with me these past 7 years, but he’s gotten to the point where even he’s basically done with my behavior and has taken it upon himself to force me to try and create finished pieces. I had literally developed a phobia of it… I’d wanted to paint for years but was so terrified of “doing it wrong.” So Eddy got me these Winsor Newton (expensive) watercolors for Christmas and some Arches paper (also really expensive), and because they were gifts I felt like I needed to use them. He has this thing that he does with me that he calls the “Thunderdome” (taken from Mad Max) where he basically locks me in my room to do art even though I literally scream and kick and whine, and he takes away my phone and checks on me every hour to see if I’m actually doing the art. It sounds extreme, but I’ve found that because of this “bipolar” thing, I apparently respond best to extremes. This cave painting ended up being my first completed watercolor ever, which is quite an achievement for me. Eddy hung it above my computer to remind me that every time I actually sit to do an art piece, I’m going into the cave.

The first time he did this resulted in an art piece that actually made me believe I could start this brand I’ve been dreaming up since college. It started being called “Tizzy” in my early 20s, with the idea being that the world was so overwhelming that it would always put me in a tizzy. I wanted to create clothing to cope with that overwhelm and remind myself that things were ok. But of course, I was too much of a mess and never able to create designs for it…and it’s something that bummed me out in the back of my mind for years and years and years. When I went to do Ayahuasca in 2018, it transformed into “Hasthira,” this word I made up combining the Polynesian word “Ha,” which means “breath of life” and “sthira” a yogic word meaning stability. The idea for a personal brand became a HUGE multi-faceted healing operation that was so painfully overwhelming, but it was even MORE painful that I was too afraid to even start. 

But guess what — I ACTUALLY STARTED!!!! (Haha writing this out is making me realize how I’ve come pretty far and haven’t taken the time to truly recognize it…I guess that’s why it’s helpful to journal and see the words in front of your face).

Looking back at 2020… it was pretty weird. This is turning into a novel but… I’m realizing I probably need to get this stuff out. Super long overdue. 

I guess the catalyst was my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training at The Yogi Tree. Well… the catalyst was actually Ayahuasca, which made me realize that I loved the “healing circle” retreat atmosphere and making real connections with people who also wanted to improve their lives. Learning how to be vulnerable around absolute strangers and be loved and accepted for it was completely new to me. After being so used to living in LA and working in the entertainment industry, it was refreshing to be around people who weren’t really interested in “what you did” but “who you were.” The level of depth I was able to experience with them made me feel like I had found a “tribe.” It made me realize that there were actually like-minded people out there who had the courage to break out of the system that wasn’t working for them and seek answers elsewhere. Choosing to live an “alternative lifestyle” never even seemed like an option to me until my experience at Dreamglade… 

Returning to “the real world” from this dream retreat in the Amazon was so jarring I felt like I was being torn apart… it was incredibly painful to go back to my job after becoming so aware of duality and the suffering in the world. I felt like I was completely useless, trapped and unfulfilled. I distinctly remember one moment when Eddy was driving in traffic and I was looking out the passenger window and being in the depressing gray city environment surrounded by cars felt like absolute HELL. I started to shriek at the top of my lungs “FUCKING GET ME OUTTA HERE I FUCKING HATE LA I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE JUNGLE WHERE I BELONG” and started clawing at my skin. I really feel for Eddy. He’s put up with a lot. 

Thankfully I’ve come a long way since then. 

Because I was so out of control and ricocheting from mania to depression like nobody’s business while still having to work at WB, I decided I needed to find a way to integrate my experiences. And this is where those miracle synchronicities start to happen. 

I came back from Peru in December 2018, and after about a week one of my friends who is SO not into spirituality at all saw an ad on her facebook for a free masterclass by this storyteller woman named Leah Lamb who does something called “Soul Stories.” She’s all about using stories for “healing,” to help us transition into new parts of our lives and step into who we’re meant to be. I felt like this had happened for a reason, especially because my friend had weirdly found this and recommended to me exactly when I needed it in my life. Even weirder, I was about to turn 30 and was going through my intense “Saturn Return” period at the time and she was offering a workshop on harnessing the energies of Capricorn to plan out the new year. I immediately signed up for that, and also a one on one mentorship with her. Looking back — holy cow this decision COMPLETELY changed the trajectory of my life. 

The first thing I had to do for my mentorship was get a private soul story done by Leah — you can listen to it here it is in case you’re interested! (Background art was a piece I ended up creating for her)

She’s absolutely amazing 🙂 I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this… it deserves it’s own post but I’ll probably never get to it so — RIDING THIS ENERGY TO THE MAX. 

There was too much going on in my life at the time and even though I had signed up for it at the end of 2018, I was too busy with work and had to push it until April 2019. Prior to that, in March of 2019, I went to do a Half Marathon in Antarctica with a friend. We had signed up for it back in 2014, deciding it would be an awesome thing to do when we turned 30. But wow… again this trip came at exactly the right time in my life. I totally would NOT have gotten as much out of it prior to Ayahuasca. Mama Aya really opened me up to embracing who I really am and living each moment to the fullest. 

At one point we were kayaking and I had this unrealistic expectation of wanting to kayak over a humpback whale. When we got to the location and realized there would definitely be no whales there, my mind began to betray me and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, and a storm of thoughts came up like “this is gonna be so boring it’s just ice, what’ll we possibly even see here” I couldn’t even BELIEVE I was being such an ingrate, getting the opportunity to travel all the way to Antarctica — KAYAK even — and I was still complaining! Then Mother Ayahuasca’s voice came into my head, told me to be still, be grateful, and focus on the beauty around me. My mind became silent, I felt like I tapped into the universe, and everything changed. I couldn’t stop crying witnessing the beauty of my surroundings. Then the magic began to unfold. 

We were kayaking through an ice field and it was silent except for the sounds of ice cracking every so often. It seemed like nothing was around, but then we noticed these little birds sitting on top of the ice! They were perfectly camouflaged — Antarctic terns!!! TONS of them!!! 

THEN someone shouted they had seen a LEOPARD SEAL of all things! The seal started checking out our kayaking group, which was awesome to experience. Then we were called back to return to the ship, but me and my friend Bre ended up staying still because the leopard seal had taken a special interest in us. We were on our own, and the gorgeous creature decided to hang out, for quite a bit of time!! This will forever be one of the most magical experiences of my life.

I’ve always loved seals, but a leopard seal is different… this was a massive apex predator at the ends of the earth taking notice of us — PLAYING with us. When I showed this footage to the expedition crew back at the ship, they were really surprised because apparently leopard seals can be pretty dangerous. We saw a number of leopard seals during the trip, but this was the first one we came across, and also the biggest (which is why I’m convinced she was female even though at first I stupidly said “he” in the video). Later on we witnessed the aggressive leopard seal behavior when one of them wouldn’t leave the zodiac driver alone as she waited for our hike to finish — completely different demeanor than the one we met. Further evidence that this encounter was simply meant to be… I felt like I had experienced a noticeable shift in energy — like I had learned to “tap into the oneness” of nature.

TOTALLY SIDETRACKED!!! But basically why I even brought up Antarctica in the first place was to say — this was another event, really soon after Ayahuasca, that made me realize I couldn’t go back to a normal life. I had met so many amazing people on that trip, and especially fell in love with the One Ocean Expeditions crew, who were living these amazing alternative lifestyles I didn’t think were possible. Returning to my 9-5 job where I was sitting at a computer all day was torturous… I had to find another way to live.

It was after Antarctica that I started doing one on one sessions with Leah, which led to me doing an art piece for one of her projects and having the opportunity to go to a Women’s Retreat that she was hosting that July as a “work study”. It was called “Journey Home: Reclaiming The Wild Woman Within.” I couldn’t even BELIEVE it because one of the things I had started reading to help with my Ayahuasca integration was Women Who Run With The Wolves. Basically everything happening at this point in my life was rapid fire synchronicity. Not to mention this came right after the show I was working on at WB ended. I was already freelancing for Rick and Morty at the time, but I was basically home free.

This was the first women’s circle I had ever experienced, and became absolutely addicted to the magical, healing power of being in sacred space with women. Thankfully when I returned, I found out that the yoga studio literally TWO MINUTES from my apartment (I had lived there for 5 years at that point and had no idea it existed) offered women’s circles every month called “Women Join The Red Tent”!!! If you’re searching for a supportive women’s circle btw, they’re now being offered on zoom every first Friday of the month. Highly recommended 🙂 I’m usually always there! 

I fell in love with the owner of the studio, Jen. She’s become my primary example of the “divine mother” archetype… completely selfless, nurturing — full of wisdom and unconditional love for everyone around her. This is why I ended up signing up for the Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training she was offering that year! I was on the fence about it, but when I told her about my bipolar, she said that it would give me really great tools to ride the waves of life. AND IT DID. 

This Kundalini Teacher Training was crazy though because it started basically when I began my job at Rick and Morty. The energy of the job was the COMPLETE opposite energy of the teacher training group and it made me realize that I really did not feel like I fit into that type of studio environment anymore. I could feel the stark divide of my career and my soul’s destiny more and more each day…. 

AND THEN COVID HIT, two months before our training was supposed to be over. We had to do the rest over zoom which was quite an experience.

Teacher Training, something that was supposed to take only 9 months ended up taking over a year! We actually STILL haven’t had complete closure, and most of my group ended up dropping out. I am so incredibly thankful I made the decision to do it though because it taught me SO MUCH, not only yogic philosophy but what they call “Teacher Consciousness.” I broke through so many emotional walls, learned what a real community felt like, and built up confidence I didn’t even know I had. 

We were required to teach 6 classes in order to certify, and I almost didn’t do it because I was absolutely terrified. Thankfully the teachers believed in me enough to not only convince me to teach, but supported me through the process. This was an INSANE time because I had to continue working, prepare for my classes, AND Leah had recommended me to a friend of hers to mentor his daughter who loved Rick and Morty and was interested in the arts! I had been saying that I wanted to quit animation and become a life coach, and MY FIRST CLIENT SOMEHOW JUST FELL INTO MY LAP!!! THANK YOU LEAH!! ;_; 

It was also around this time that I had to stop taking my meds because they had caused Tardive Dyskinesia, a nasty side effect of antipsychotics where you basically lose control of your body. You can read about it in my previous entry here. I had to go to the ER and it freaked me out so much I swore off meds. It was crazy to be prepping for my classes, mentoring my first client, and working at Rick and Morty while still getting used to the pandemic and dealing with the transition of getting off my meds. Jen (my Yoga Mama) had a long talk with me about how I needed to take my health seriously, know when to ask for help, and keeping up my yoga and meditation practice to keep building my awareness of my cycles. 

It’s still always a wild ride… but I think typing all of this out has shown me that I can handle it. As shitty as I feel sometimes… I really DO have tools and a support system to cope better than I ever have. 

Why did I bring this up? OH YEAH! Because I said Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training was the catalyst to this life I’m living now which is so vastly different than the miserable life I felt trapped in at the beginning of last year before the pandemic started. It not only gave me those tools to surf the waves of life, but it helped me realize that the life I’ve lived has VALUE. Mentoring… teaching… passing on the wisdom I’ve gained through my experiences has proved so much more fulfilling than anything else I’ve ever done. My first client from last July referred me to another client, which led me to another…I know I’m slowly building the confidence to eventually expand my business, but what I have planned with the art side can still get overwhelming. 

Which brings us to September 2020, right before I quit Rick and Morty when Eddy forced me to complete this piece.

Around the same time I discovered these e-commerce videos and it sent me into a manic state that pushed me all the way through the process of creating a store and getting enough art together to throw on product. I realized I loved doing this WAY MORE than having to draw for other people all day, and I already had two clients which was barely enough to pay my share of rent. I set a deadline for myself to open the store in November for the holidays. 

I hadn’t experienced such a productive manic state like this in… I can’t even remember. Lol it was so jarring for Eddy because he said that to him it looked like, for the first time since he had known me, I was using my whole brain. I CAME ALIVE, and I was so terrified that I wouldn’t get the store open before my manic energy left my body, so I barely slept, barely ate, and when I ate it was shitty fast food because I didn’t wanna wash dishes — I knew I couldn’t waste any of this energy on work I didn’t wanna do, so I quit! 

But after so many months of just running on empty and having so many crazy changes happen, after I opened the store I couldn’t even really make it to the holidays… I crashed SOOOOO hard and cried for days. I literally couldn’t do anything else — it was like for the first time in my life I was seeing myself. I saw how much of the rest of my life I had neglected during my mania… how it had affected Eddy, our dog Han, and other relationships in my life… My body and mind felt absolutely destroyed from lack of exercise and meditation — after I finished teaching my yoga classes I completely disappeared and cut myself off from my community to get the store done… 

Yes I had started my business, but there was no way I could even manage my store or do anything new… my life was completely in shambles. With the newfound awareness I had built from my Kundalini Teacher Training and mentoring teenage girls, I became INCAPACITATED with guilt and shame of realizing the consequences of my mania.

Which brings us to January. I had so many plans for the new year that I had to painfully learn to let go in order to prioritize my health and well being. Which is why I decided to enter the cave… to once and for all deal with the core issues of my adult life… I kept telling myself that I would get back on social media every month, giving myself deadline after deadline and recognizing each time that I still wasn’t ready. The more stuff that came up, the more I felt like I had been poisoned… by our culture, by how I was raised, by past mistakes… The art I was producing was… ugly to say the least. But raw. And informative.

I hadn’t let myself just go crazy on a page before, and allowing myself to do so was absolutely liberating! I was starting to see the healing power of art, but it wasn’t exactly stuff I was comfortable putting on products to sell… I needed to empty my cup. I needed to stay in the cave. I didn’t realize that THIS is the sorta thing that would be coming out… but I guess it makes sense.

And now here we are in March. I wanted so badly to do something for the Spring Equinox and I ended up missing that too. Even though I’m trying to learn how to let go and tell myself its ok that I’m still not active on social media, still not promoting my store, still not creating new product, still not working on the Hasthira book I want to publish this year, still not updating my Bipolar Beastie comic, still not able to consistently eat healthy and meditate, still not — what was the point of this again? 

It’s now 6:51AM and I started writing this at 2:30AM, getting distracted with uploading those Antarctica videos, getting distracted reminiscing about stuff… getting so distracted that I forgot I was in a bad mood when I started this blog post! Which is a huge lesson to me and anyone who actually read all of this (lol probably no one) — JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. I’ll get out of this cave when I get out of this cave, and it doesn’t matter when! Hell, even taking the time to write all of this is a sign I’m getting close. But who cares? I’m already doing the work to face all these parts of myself I’ve been terrified of looking at for years. That should be enough. It’s always enough. Because WE ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH even though our culture teaches us that we’re not. What a bunch of bullshit. 

I was falling into those similar patterns of worry, self doubt, feeling behind. “Will I ever find my way?” Writing all of this down and taking a good look at how I’ve gotten here… it’s pretty obvious to me that I already AM finding the way. That I’m making a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to pursue the life I’m meant to live. 

I’ve already come so fucking far. And so have you. So have all of us just from living through a goddamn pandemic. Anything is possible, nothing is how it used to be, and as awful as it is to see all of the systemic racism, wealth inequality and divisive bullshit in the world, this is a pretty exciting time in history. Because it’s time for something new. Everything is changing at such an accelerated rate and sometimes it really does feel orchestrated by the invisible hands of the universe.

We know the way — it just takes courage to go down the path of not knowing. But really… that’s the only path there is. 

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