I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Part of that has been revisiting my old art, because apparently it’s full of clues. Turns out, going back in time has been INCREDIBLY enlightening. I feel like a detective in my own life, trying to remember who I actually am. It’s exhausting. I’ve been terrified to look at this stuff for over a decade, so that’s saying something. There were a couple times maybe like a year ago when I poked at my old DeviantArtaccounts from when I was 14-16, but I never wanted to go deep. Anytime I tried I’d cringe and run away, not wanting to admit that had actually been me. But why? Many reasons that I won’t go into here, but what was really interesting to me was that I found a visual representation of when I closed off my heart to try and “grow up.”
Looking back at my old art, I could actually pinpoint the moment I closed my heart off to myself.
There was a specific character I used to love to draw, who I now see clearly represented a very deep part of my soul. I would even use her name for fake accounts online. “Mimi Hartwyk.” (Ha! Just noticed “Me Me Heart Wick”) I didn’t realize it then, but she was my alter ego in a way. Even now, I’m dying my hair pink like hers, subconsciously living out my dreams of “being Mimi”. Which is why it killed me to see this drawing. This was the last drawing I ever posted on DeviantArt when I was 16, and it wasn’t even in my main gallery, it was only in scraps. After this, I met my high school boyfriend and didn’t really go back to drawing until after college when I was 21. But by then I was already disconnected from the true meaning of art and my heart had already been locked away.
I wanted something “more mature.” At school in art class, my teacher would always talk about how I needed to draw more than just anime. So did my mom. And overall, it was the message I got if I wanted to do anything creative professionally — that I had to ditch anime. And funnily enough, it was a similar message when I started working in animation. This underlying “disdain,” with simultaneous appreciation was so confusing to me. This is something I never really understood until recently, when a friend pointed out that it’s a very Western thing to instinctively put down something they don’t really understand. How the core is more about “othering” than I allowed myself to admit, in favor of trying to “fit in” with some invisible, faceless crowd. And for me, being half Asian, this contradiction ran super hard in my blood. I really had no idea how to handle it back then. I hadn’t realized that being multiracial would be such a confusing thing for me to deal with as an adult looking back at my life, something I’ve really been unpacking this past year.
I now see that the rejection of anime is so tied to self-racism and the rejection of an actual part of mySELF that I was trying so hard to suppress. I was so jealous of those artists who stayed true to themselves — who continued to draw with anime influence and went on to become really good at it. Now that I can finally appreciate them and be inspired by their work (rather than projecting and hating myself instead), I know I’m finally starting to heal. And clearly, because everything is anime influenced now… it’s here to stay. Thank goodness because Eastern Philosophy is where it’s at and we REALLY need to do some serious work for a more collective balance right now. Really glad to see how much the younger generations love anime. Gives me hope for the future 🙂
I’ll never forget, when I turned in an anime influenced design on one of my first jobs, my supervisor said “Ummmm we’re making WESTERN cartoons here…We want this to look like a Western cartoon.” Even though the lead character designer of the show was obviously influenced by anime, it’s almost like my boss didn’t want to admit it. Such hypocrisy.
As weird as it was, I got the message. Loud and clear. 😐
I didn’t see it then, or how much it affected me, but apparently I was so susceptible to being influenced by others I actually destroyed a part of myself. This is what they call susto in South America, where part of your soul splits from your body and a shaman has to help you get it back. That’s totally what happened to me when I did Ayahuasca in Peru, but even still, it’s taken a while for my soul to feel at home in my body. With all the work I’ve been doing, I see now that it might even take a lifetime, and that’s ok. It’s about the process.
This is a very common thing that can happen when you devalue yourself, especially as a woman. I thought pleasing other people had become the meaning of my entire existence. However, although I was a great people pleaser on the outside, on the inside I became more and more bitter until I wanted to kill myself everyday. I no longer knew who I was. Being so “happy” and bubbly on the outside while the darkness on the inside kept bubbling up until it started to overflow and affect others negatively. I felt so much like a monster I couldn’t even be around most people anymore. It all happens so gradually.
It’s nice to finally find another puzzle piece to my avoidant tendencies.
Thankfully, I’ve been watching nothing but anime lately, and it has been so nourishing to my soul. It started with Demon Slayer, which will forever live in my heart as reigniting my will to live after having actually tried to kill myself earlier this year. The movie, Mugen Train, especially made me realize that prior to watching it, a large part of me actually really despised humanity, agreeing with Agent Smith.
Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. Instead you multiply, and multiply, until every resource is consumed. … There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern… a virus.
– Agent Smith, The Matrix
Looking at our selfishness, greed, violence and cowardice, it’s easy to hate our species. And because we’re all mirrors of each other, that hatred can just as easily be turned inward when we feel the inability to control any of it. This results in fear, anger, despair, futility…which leads to us lashing out and hurting each other. But Rengoku showed me the true power of humanity in the face of these demons that WE have created. And it really is all about coming back to the heart…and finding that fire within yourself to keep going. This is the power of art.
I am so grateful to be alive during this time of easy to watch, life changing anime, because back in the day it was a pain to find. Now you can just stream anime everywhere! Insane! As an adult, I see how its almost like an intro or primer to psychedelics. If you’re open to it, anime can really expand your mind. I’m SO glad that this is what I grew up on. And now, it feels really good to go back to something that feels so familiar, but new at the same time. I see now that it’s time to stop being so ashamed, and embrace my love for anime instead. It’s so dumb how this became a legitimate trauma for me that has actually led to straight up art paralysis for years and years. But that’s how these things work I guess. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking back.
Anyway. This is what Mimi looked like when I first posted a drawing of her a year before, when I was 15.
And it’s a little eerie to also see this one from 2004 saying “Goodbye,” almost like she’s disappearing from my grasp.
What a tough age. I would’ve never realized this either if I weren’t mentoring 15 and 16 year old girls. There’s something that shifts around that age. I can already see it happening to them and I am determined to help them through it. Maybe this really is my purpose.
It’s funny because all of this was so subconscious, and it took me a while to be able to see and analyze art in this way. Especially MY art. Because I had refused to accept it. All I could see was shame and ugliness, which was actually just me having a nonexistent sense of self worth. But treating it as therapy…art is nothing but beautiful. It’s literally a window to our souls. Our true selves and our unique perspective on the world. It’s also a way to see how cultural programming really does a number on us. And because we’re all mirrors of each other, I see how viewing MY art this way made me unable to see the beauty of art across the board. That was such a dark, lonely world. I fell into the pessimism of constantly comparing myself to every single artist around me instead, bitter from losing my own magic. Like Kiki losing her ability to fly in Kiki’s Delivery Service.
That drawing of Mimi in the new style was the last time I ever drew her… and also when I told myself I had to stop drawing anime. I had to stop being the “anim3qw33n” lol my dumb AIM screen name from back in the day. Everything I had hinged my identity on to cope with what was going on at home, I felt I had to flush down the drain in order to become a “new person” in my next phase of life. However, I never paused to allow myself to adequately grieve or honor that innocent child self. Instead, she became my shadow. This development of the shadow happens to all of us, in our own unique ways according to how we were raised and our own life circumstances. I’m still recovering.
It’s strange to look back like this, because I know I really loved these characters. I spent a lot of time with them in order to create a comic. And I suppose in a way… I had to kill them off without any real closure. Because I had to go to college and face the “real world.” It actually reminds me of imaginary friends… the voices you have in your head that manifest in ways to help you cope with what’s going on around you. I remember when my first real close imaginary friends left too — Sasha and Abby. They moved to Texas. But at least they moved. These characters from my comic… it’s like they’ve been in purgatory for over 15 years. As though I forced them into coffins when they were still alive and they’ve been screaming and pounding to get out all this time…
Now I see that they’re not imaginary. I was led to believe they were. I closed myself off to them because I was in a lot of pain and confusion and unknowingly fell into the victim mentality. Pretty sad, but I can finally feel some real healing happening in this area of my life. Like Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, what you imagine is real, it’s other people who tell you that it’s not. What you imagine comes from your own psyche, and is meant for you to experience. You can’t deny it, only others can. It’s your choice whether or not to believe it.
Here’s a quick redraw of Mimi as I was looking back at my posts.
Definitely want to do something more, but trying not to pressure myself right now. Still feeling pretty tender, especially with all that’s going on in the world and women’s rights being threatened and all. Talk about societal programming. Choice is everything, and here we are having to fight for basic rights, simply for being the other half of humanity. You’d think, being the half that actually BIRTHS men, that men would be more respectful. But that’s what fear does to you. Hope my girls Sasha and Abby aren’t in Texas anymore. Can’t believe out of all places THAT’S where my imaginary friends moved. What a weird connection to make!
Now I’m wondering what other people see when looking at their old art. It’s such a time capsule, and only the artist can be transported back in such a way. What do our creative impulses as a child tell us about what our soul actually desires, and how does that change as we age? What does that say about how and when we start being influenced by the world around us? Trippy how much we cling to certain things like shame and guilt over our response to things that were out of our control. Sometimes that clinging even lasts a lifetime. I’ve been working my ass off the past couple years to get out of my own way, and I’m really glad I’ve finally come this far.
Super grateful I posted these when I did… It’s as though my past self is giving my present self permission to open up to that hurt, confused, angsty teenager. The themes are all becoming so clear. Maybe I’m even starting to understand what “letting go” and “self love” actually means. Maybe the seeds are starting to sprout.
When I look out my window Many sights to see And when I look in my window So many different people to be That is strange So strange
You’ve got to pick up every stitch You’ve got to pick up every stitch You’ve got to pick up every stitch Mmm-hmm, must be the season of the witch Must be the season of the witch, yeah Must be the season of the witch
When I look over my shoulder What do you think I see? Some other cat lookin’ over His shoulder at me And he’s strange Sure is strange
You’ve got to pick up every stitch You’ve got to pick up every stitch, yeah Beatnicks are out to make it rich Oh no, must be the season of the witch Must be the season of the witch, yeah Must be the season of the witch
You’ve got to pick up every stitch The rabbits runnin’ in the ditch Beatnicks out to make it rich Oh no, must be the season of the witch Must be the season of the witch Must be the season of the witch Where’d I go
When I look out my window What do you think I see And when I look in my window So many different people to be It’s strange Sure is strange
You’ve got to pick up every stitch You’ve got to pick up every stitch The rabbits runnin’ in the ditch Oh no, must be the season of the witch Must be the season of the witch, yeah Must be the season of the witch Where’d I go Where’d I go
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.
I feel like I’ve had so many realizations and breakthroughs lately. I was excited for the future… dead set on making my plans work, making my goals happen. I can tell Eddy is worried about me actually making money since I quit my job. I’m also really worried about my mom. I HAVE to make money somehow. I know there’s really no going back, and I HAVE to figure this out at all costs. I’ve been working so hard to shift my mindset and how I view mental health in general, which I THOUGHT was getting me somewhere. But it really really sucks how all that seems to just go out the window when I wake up depressed. Like the day is fucking DONE before it even started. The overwhelming weight of the pressure of life just comes back and I can’t help but want to give it all up…just melt away…
I never expect it either… I’ve been using this Daylio app to track my moods, which has been fantastic. I suppose it’s working, but all it really shows me is, whenever I’m feeling great for an extended period of time, whenever I’m feeling functional, it’s only a matter of time till I drop. And that terrifies me. Knowing that one day, when I least expect it, depression will go SURPRISE, like a creepy ass jack in the box. But maybe that’s part of the issue… will I ever just be able to ACCEPT this part of myself? Rather than fearing it? Rather than dreading it? Will I be able to trust myself enough to know that, whenever I hit these lows, that it’s inevitable for me to bounce back up at SOME POINT in the future? I gotta keep the hope alive somehow…
Of course, highs and lows are normal states of humanity… which makes me feel even worse whenever I’m low because I can’t help but feel that I’m the only one in the world who can’t handle it. When I feel this way, all I want to do is run. All I want to do is disappear. Eddy always reminds me that he has stuff going on with him too… and it hurts because I always feel like I can’t be there for anyone when I’m like this. Much less him. He must feel so alone so much of the time, which is why he always has to have some kind of noisy show going on. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. And all I keep thinking is “THERE’S ALWAYS SO MUCH NOISE IN THIS GODDAMN HOUSE” rather than “I hope Eddy is doing ok…” It’s even WORSE because whenever I’m depressed, he thinks that it’s HIS fault and thinks I hate him! Sigh.
I hate the feeling of forcing things to revolve around me, always. It’s absolutely disgusting.
I have so many plans. I want to be an artist, but I feel so visually lost. Absolutely crippled. All I can do is use my words, and poorly. I’m so sick of it. I just wrote in my sketchbook today “TALK LESS, DRAW MORE” and already, I’m doing the opposite. One of my friends introduced me to this artist yesterday, Moonassi. I am blown away. I want to do things like this. When will I be able to get a hold of myself enough to create something that’s not just SCRIBBLES?!?!?! I have absolutely NO CONTROL. NO FINESSE. IT MAKES ME WANNA FUCKING BARF.
It’s a horrific realization to know that I always expect someone else to do things for me. That’s the reason why I haven’t created anything worthwhile. But if I expect someone else to do it for me, then what’s the point? It wouldn’t be me. I AM SO SICK OF DUALITY. I HATE THIS PARADOX AND WISH I COULD MAKE ART ABOUT IT. STOP WISHING YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE AND JUST DO IT. GOD DAMN I AM SICK OF YOU. LEAVE ME ALONE.
The more I write this post, the more I feel like I sink into the abyss…the more I become a victim. I’m SO FUCKING TIRED OF THIS SHIT. I AM DONE I AM DONE I AM DONE. I DON’T WANT TO BE A VICTIM ANYMORE IT’S FUCKING BULLSHIT.
I feel like I’m just a meat sack being flung back and forth between two extreme beings who really don’t give a shit about me. They’re like predators… just playing with their prey. Gotta save that meat sack somehow. There’s a soul in there somewhere. Sometimes it’s almost like I have access to it…but I never know what to fucking use my energy for when I have it.
We as humans are naturally self serving, and for real change to happen, both in ourselves and the world, we have to look at history. Patterns. A good place to start is looking at your OWN story, because the truth is… we’ve all been programmed with a ton of lies and too many of us are still unconscious and asleep. Once you start unraveling those lies… change is inevitable.
Joseph Campbell says “When looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.” Now more than ever this is important to be aware of, with so much negativity in the world. But in order to be able to bounce back into the positive… we have to do our part.
To gather my thoughts about what I wanted to talk about in this project, I chronologically wrote out the events that stood out to me in the last 10 years of my life. The black bubbles were “irreversible moments” for me, and when I told that to a friend she called them “plot points of my hero’s journey” which I really loved. So many emotions came up while doing this, the biggest being GRATITUDE — gratitude for how far I’ve come, the great connections I’ve made along the way, gratitude for this path I’m walking and insight on where I’m headed in the future.
There’s a lot going on in our country right now, and if you don’t know what to do, remember that change starts within. I’d highly recommend doing this exercise (ideally with your entire life) if your past feels like a tangled mess and you’re unsure of what your values are. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. It’s a good start.