The Pain of Duality

“Grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” – Dan Harmon’s Therapist

Yesterday was my first day as a character designer on Rick and Morty. I felt really lucky because it ended up being one of their monthly screening parties where they show a finished episode and have pizza and beer and do a raffle. In the beginning the creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland got up to say something before showing the episode, and Dan’s speech really got to me. It’s been a rough season and a lot has happened, and he wasn’t afraid to reflect that in his speech which was so admirable to me. He mentioned a “sociopathic god” and how we don’t know if he loves us or hates us so what we end up getting is “randomness”, and how his therapist said that “grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” At the end when he was thanking the crew for their great work, he said that as creatives our minds are different, and basically how we should embrace that. He said something like “so have your anxiety, depression, autism—whatever! Your brains are brilliant how they are, and because of those brains coming together we’ve made the best cartoon in the universe!”

This REALLY got to me, more than I even realized. I was still contemplating it in sadhana this morning, and it turned into a meditation on the nature of duality and mental illness. I feel like this year I’m really only starting to feel the real effects of my bipolar diagnosis from last year, which I can only say because of a drastic perspective shift. Working in animation has always been a love/hate relationship for me, because even though it IS a dream come true and what I’ve always wanted to do, working the jobs themselves simultaneously makes me hate myself for my current skill level, and also makes me wanna quit and do my own thing because I feel like I’m wasting away helping someone else complete THEIR vision, even though I haven’t felt like I have adequate skills to make my own thing ANYWAY. But starting at Rick and Morty and hearing Dan’s speech…I couldn’t help but feel welcomed in the best way possible. I felt like because of what these creators experience, they’ve created something really special…something that has managed to become the most popular cartoon on TV and find a place in cartoon history for a reason. They are able to inject existential angst and the struggles of life in these high concept sci-fi adventures which lightens it up enough to be digestible by the general public, and make everyone who watches the show feel like they’re not alone cuz “Hey! Someone else is feeling this way too!” Hearing them talk, especially Dan, made me feel like it was DEFINITELY the place for me. A place that understands and welcomes the pain of existence…a place where you can just be. A place where I can truly work on a show with a message that I’m proud of because it’s the message that I too want to spread. 

Anyway. All of that stuff made me realize that as humans, we ARE duality manifest. ALL of us. And within the duality we experience, we begin to cling onto SPECIFIC aspects of duality and obsess about them. For me…something that hit me real hard today was noticing that I go back and forth between thinking mental illness is real and thinking it’s fake. Back and forth between believing I’m “bipolar” and wanting to just attribute what I feel to “being emotional” and I’m just how I am because of my past and environmental factors. Nature vs nurture right? But what Dan said about artists brains made me think…

Diagnosis or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A DIFFERENT, SPECIAL BRAIN. That brain makes our minds function in complex ways that we spend our entire LIVES trying to cope with and figure out. But I think…as a human…this is always how it was meant to be.

The fact that I’ve been stuck in the duality of “bipolar or not” shows me that, even though I wanted to kinda “transcend the label,” I’ve still been focusing too much on the “label” without fully accepting how I actually am. I suppose this is the first step to acceptance…and it’s not that I’m necessarily trying to accept the diagnosis itself, I’m more just trying to accept MYSELF — myself and how my brain makes me think and function in this reality. It’s incredibly liberating to see that this is one of the prisons ive been trapping myself in. Now hopefully I can remind myself I’ve come to these conclusions next time this arises! That’s the challenge, right? Haha!

Something else that came through during sadhana this morning was this thought of “are we all just constantly somewhere on this duality spectrum until we cross a line from light to dark, negative to positive?”

Maybe “bipolar” can just be thought of as a term for people who cycle between those opposites quicker than others, who make their home at the actual POLES rather than the in between. And maybe this definition is an easier way for me to accept how my mind operates.

In a similar way, people who are depressed are more inclined to the negative pole. We’re all just vibrations and frequencies anyway right? And one of our goals in life is to raise our frequency go move more toward the light? Easier said than done but…that’s why I’m doing this Kundalini Yoga Training! 

In sadhana, the song choices that my teacher picked were a completely different vibe than yesterday. To me, they all sounded melancholy, somewhat urgent, yet angelic…seeming to express “it’s tough to live in a world with duality, but that’s what makes it beautiful.” 

This past weekend we were learning yoga nidra, and one offshoot of it is called iRest, a program developed by Robert Miller I think in the 70s to help with the PTSD of war veterans. In this set, we did an exercise to experience opposites — hot/cold, anger/joy, light/heavy — first separately, and then we were asked to try and experience them together. I could very easily feel the opposite sensations in my body separately, but when trying to feel them together I got frustrated and confused because my body just wasn’t able to grasp it. And after feeling that confusion for a while, I ended up just relaxing and achieving a sort of “calm.” When asked how we felt after the exercise, I raised my hand and described my experience and one of my teachers said that “calm” I felt is essentially the experience of infinity and the goal of yoga — to embody that stillness BETWEEN opposites. She went on to explain that in our human experience we can ONLY feel opposites SEPARATELY, which is why the darkness is necessary in order to know the light…the pain is necessary in order to know what it feels like to be happy. It’s that age old concept of yin and yang, and although I always “knew” about it since it’s so widely spread in our culture — that idea of the light and dark being NECESSARY to balance the world…to FEEL IT in my body was a COMPLETELY different experience. One approaching a more “true understanding.” 

I think BECAUSE I feel so much being bipolar, it’s so easy to be at and experience the POLES, because they’re EASIER to feel. Even though the negative pole of depression is difficult to be IN, it’s more apparent to feel THAT than some vague in between, and it’s also easier to feel the “positivity” of mania. But thinking about what Dan Harmon’s therapist said with GRIEF basically being the in between…it makes so much sense to me. I would RATHER experience the POLES than the IN BETWEEN because the grief of knowing that sooner or later I have to go back to one or the other is maddening. And that’s the melancholy I heard in the songs this morning — it’s almost like a constant state of underlying sadness, knowing that each day inches us closer to our deaths, and if we hold ourselves back and continue to have unrealistic expectations, then being in the in between will always somehow feel like failure. And that’s constant grief…grief about our potential not living up to how we see ourselves in our heads…grief that sooner or later we’re gonna die not having done what we want…grief that sooner or later, no matter WHAT we do, everyone and everything we love will turn to dust. 

I definitely feel like I’m beginning to grasp something deeper…and although it’s instilling more of a sense of “peace” I can’t help but be a little sad about it. Yet…I think I’m going in the right direction? I just keep trying to remember something else I learned in yoga…that we chose to incarnate in this exact lifetime at this time in history for a reason, and everything we go through is the exact thing our soul is yearning to learn. Regardless of how sad I feel, I still get the sense of being on the “right path,” and maybe that’s all that can bring us solace in this difficult human existence. 

Exploring The Bipolar Extremes of Life

The universe has been telling me to start blogging on here again, so I’m finally gonna listen! Two days ago I watched Captain Fantastic and it changed my life, so I had Eddy watch it and it changed his too! 

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My whole perspective has also shifted like crazy over the past couple months, and even the past 2 weeks because I also just got back from a trip to Antarctica!! Both other posts entirely…

Today I cried. A lot.  And that’s what finally pushed me to start again. I also can’t go into full detail about this, because I’m still processing… All I can say is that I feel like I’m starting to really embrace this whole “life as an ayahuasca ceremony” thing I came up with as a tool for myself. Thinking back to how I felt during a ceremony… this almost “excitement” for the pain that was to come, knowing that it would be healing… this is probably another post entirely as well. Moving on.

After ACTUALLY doing Ayahuasca, I wanted to discount the bipolar label entirely. The experience at Dreamglade really opened my eyes to how Western diagnoses truly DO only address symptoms rather than the root cause of things, and offer only bandaids as solutions because people are so afraid to face the truth of who they really are. However, coming back to the states and trying to explain what I go through and how my mind works, I see how labels are pretty much just definitions that make things easier for people to understand. Unfortunately it also creates boxes for people to be trapped in, rules to adhere to, and excuses to be placed on ideas and concepts, rather than worked on and understood.

Considering I’ve been subconsciously trapping myself in boxes of my own doing for my entire life, I naturally wanted to get away from something like the label of bipolar. I wanted to focus more on healing, so I made another blog… but now I see that doing so was almost another form of “classic Elora escapism.”

I now see that bipolar doesn’t have to be a “label,” but an exploration.

What does bipolar actually mean? At some point, you answered questions for someone you don’t even know (your doctor/psychiatrist) and they made a judgement about you, without even knowing YOU, or what you’ve BEEN through in life. Yes, there’s a reason that certain traits and symptoms fall under that category, and honestly… it’s nice to know that we highly emotional, EXTREME people are not alone. However, we can’t just use that as an excuse for our behavior once we find out that we fit under some umbrella term. But identifying as “bipolar” and committing to understanding what that means to ME… now that’s PLENTY healing. Rules are meant to be broken, and I feel like what I’ve been discovering about myself is actually HELPING, WITHOUT meds. And it’s something we can all do.

It’s a shit ton of hard work, terrifying, and involves a lot of pain… but isn’t that life? I’ve felt the numbness, and to me… that’s not living.

A lot has happened in the past 6 months. I got married in Hawaii despite the threat of a hurricane, had a spiritual experience in Kauai during our honeymoon, was reborn in the Peruvian Amazon at an Ayahuasca retreat, and lived what I felt was an entirely new lifetime on a boat sailing around Antarctica for 10 days. Now that I’m back home in LA with no huge life changing experience looming on the horizon (well, except losing my job in 2 months), I’ve had to face what it means to stay put and stop running from my biggest fears.

After living this MOST EXTREME half year of my ENTIRE 30 year existence, I can now say that unfortunately… it’s what I needed to actually feel alive and begin to truly move forward. For the first time ever, rather than existing only in a scattered, painful cloud of thoughts, my brain might ACTUALLY be working! 😀 Sadly it’s also made me aware that this is the type of stimulation my brain has needed, and now I want to dedicate myself to learning how to be okay living WITHOUT such extremes… because damn it’s exhausting! And from what I learned while on the ship in Antarctica… not a lifestyle that I actually want anymore.

In addition to all these recent life changing events, I’ve become re-obsessed with the enneagram and archetypes, and it’s pretty insane how duality is EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE!! I really resonated with this guy’s description of the Warrior Archetype.

In this video he MENTIONS bipolar dysfunction, and in his video on the “The Lover” he goes into more detail about it, with this chart that I absolutely love clearly illustrating those poles within all of us! 

2019-03-29

The only answer is to explore this dichotomy, the “bipolarness” of it all! But that exploration requires courage to face ourselves, and it is what we all must strive for in order to GROW, but also to move toward a better world. I’m starting to see that being sensitive to these extremes really does seem like a superpower, a clear gift and curse. The ability to embrace these gifts in their fullness requires an awareness, not only of the  joyous extremes and how those make you feel, but also taming that dark beast that exists to balance that.

2019-03-30 bipolartweet

I absolutely love this tweet that a friend sent me 🙂 A “closer bond with the energy of life”… I would like to think so. Everyone’s minds work differently, but something that’s becoming more and more clear to me is that…bipolar minds allow us to feel SOOO so strongly that we experience a special kind of pain, but that pain can also be seen as fertile darkness from which the brightest of lights can emerge!

The brighter you shine, the darker the shadows.

There’s a reason so many of us kill ourselves… because it’s so much easier to do that than to live with feeling this way, and to know that whenever things are good, that crash is waiting just around the corner. But just think how STRONG we can be if we learn to fight it, and what JOY we can GIVE to the world!! 🙂 We feel stronger and deeper and harder than ANYONE ELSE… all we gotta do is learn how to lessen the crash! 

Along with the bipolar, I am an Enneagram Type 7, and knowing that my learning and excitement come from stimulation from the external world, I’m determined to shift that stimulation to what I fear most — the internal world… all those demons I THOUGHT I had faced, but realize are still here every time I attempt to create.

I have learned SO MUCH about myself, humanity, and the world in these past couple months and am SO EAGER to share my findings with anyone who will listen! However…it’s a LOT and I have a feeling it’ll take longer than I think to figure out the best way to do that. Going against my nature, I’m finally trying to be patient and learn to see this internal unfolding as the next adventure to move me forward. It’s such a struggle to learn to trust your intuition and observe and follow where the extremes take you, while at the same time trying to tame that wild beast within, to a certain extent. ADVENTURE INDEED! >:D

This site will be a perfect place to document that journey, because I am now accepting that I forever am, and will forever have, a “Bipolar Beastie.” Hell, maybe that’s how it is for all of us 🙂 It’s about time to start being proud of it!

Thank you to all my subscribers and people who have written comments to some of my posts…it means so much. ;___; Remember… you’re not alone, and it’s worth it to share your story. I’m struggling too, as are we all!! Embrace your beastie!

Honor The Ending: Time Is An Illusion

It’s the time you spend on your rose that makes your rose so important. … You’re responsible for your rose.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Two weeks ago my friend Amy and I got back from an ayahuasca retreat called Dreamglade in the Peruvian Amazon. I wanted to kick off this blog with that story, but when I started looking through photos and videos I realized that it’s just too big, and rushing would be doing a disservice to the whole experience. It also put me in a really strange mood that sent me spiraling into a familiar darkness.

I foolishly thought that, with all the progress I’ve made because of the ayahuasca, I would be impervious to pain. One of the themes throughout the journey was recognizing that pain is temporary and all you can do is move through it, rather than wallow in it. I felt like I had made a major breakthrough, but coming back to this “reality” I now see that pain manifests in so many different ways. Modern society is naturally overwhelming because we’re all constantly overstimulated, so to be able to isolate reasons for feeling a certain way can be difficult sometimes. It was much easier at Dreamglade because we were literally only working on ourselves, and had so many of those stimuli taken away to detox from this mess we live in. Eddy reminded me that a retreat is literally “backing away from a battle to recuperate,” and for me, coming back to Los Angeles to live my “normal” life is like returning to battle.

I wanted SO BADLY to honor our two week Dreamglade anniversary and spent hours yesterday trying to get it done in time, neglecting so much else. I fell into the same patterns of beating myself up about it when it got later and later and realized I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Looking at photos made me feel even worse, like I was losing something important by not having archived it quickly enough. Watching my video journals while the emotions were still fresh, seeing myself talk about little details I’d already forgotten made me so afraid that I’d forget everything I’d learned and felt. That this whole ayahuasca journey, the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life, was already fading into a dream and it would all be for nothing. I heard Drew’s voice echo in my head “You’ll remember what’s important” and responded with “No I won’t, that’s bullshit.”

But then I remembered this “meditation for endings” that Adriene released on her Yoga with Adriene channel yesterday for New Years, and how she emphasizes the importance of “Honoring the Ending” and a “Resolve to Evolve.” I did this first thing in the morning as soon as I got the email, and it made me cry because it resonated so deeply. It’s amazing how we as humans all struggle with such similar issues of not being able to commit to practicing what’s good for us because we crave “perfection” or “instant gratification” which makes no sense when we’re still new to something!

“This is one of the most maddening things about human nature: we quit doing the things that help us most.” – Phil Stutz & Barry Michels, The Tools

My whole life I’ve struggled to commit to anything, allowing myself to wallow in the dark hole of my pain. It’s resulted in me feeling depressed, stuck and unable to follow through with anything important…life continually slipping through my fingers. Being diagnosed as bipolar, I am very much a slave to highs and lows, not understanding how to balance that duality and live in the normalcy of life.  Another Drew quote from the retreat when I was going through some pretty bad shit — “Maybe this is a sign that you just need to start living.”

But what if you’re not even sure how to live, after not living for such a long time?

This is a very common problem with our species, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because we’re all slaves to time, and need to constantly remind ourselves that time is an illusion — Something my dad also clearly struggled with, expressing his frustrations in a comic where time is literally the enemy, “Tempus Fugitives.” But time is something so abstract, a force we’ll never be able to control as mere mortals. This is why “honoring the ending” is SO important, and something great to keep in mind while moving into 2019.

There’s talk about how, after doing ayahuasca, you experience a lot of synchronicity in your life… things that seem to just be meant to happen. Reading The Last Unicorn (and also The Little Prince) has been part of this for me, because I am getting so much life changing advice from both of these books. There’s a part of The Last Unicorn that completely blew my mind regarding time, which I think sums up the issue quite beautifully. It made me realize that what ayahuasca does is open ourselves to receive messages from the higher powers, allowing us to see the world differently and experience magic. Because what is magic? Things that we don’t understand that inspire wonder, similar to when we were a child. And, ayahuasca or not, I believe that magic is always there. We just live so blindly on a normal basis and float through life without recognizing what’s actually important. And this is why art exists, as a desperate plea from people who have experienced these universal truths — a reminder to take the time to see.

“When I was alive, I believed–as you do–that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said ‘one o’clock’ as though I could see it, and ‘Monday’ as though I could find it on the map; and I let myself be hurried along from minute to minute, day to day, year to year, as though I were actually moving from one place to another. Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through the walls.” – Peter S. Beagle, Last Unicorn p.236

This literally made me tear up just typing it out for this post, because it’s SO FUCKING REAL and WE ALL SUCCUMB TO IT. We feel constantly busy, constantly behind, things piling up to such a crippling extent that we don’t allow ourselves to live…but what are we even living for at that point? It’s such a joke! “A house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days”… “New Years” is just another excuse to put more pressure on ourselves to set resolutions that we won’t commit to if we don’t see the root of the problem.

Even now, attempting to honor endings, part of why tears came while during the meditation was my fear of failure. The fear to just let go and experience life, rather than try and control it. The fear of TRUE CHANGE. But the same behavior has prevailed time and time again and caused me so much pain…and what is insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The results won’t be different unless you make the choice to change, and that choice is where all our power lies. That choice is our magic.

“The clock will never strike the right time. Haggard scrambled the works long ago, one day when he was trying to grab hold of time as it swung by. But the important thing is for you to understand that it doesn’t matter whether the clock strikes ten next, or seven, or fifteen o’clock. You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that — then any time at all will be the right time for you.” – Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Time is much more fluid than we think…it moves backwards and forwards, and if you pay attention, the more life you live the clearer this becomes. I’m already starting to see it, but that’s for a future post. This quote from Haunting of Hill House explains it well for now.

I thought for so long that time was like a line. That our moments were laid out like dominoes and that they fell one into another. Days tipping one into the next into the next… in a long line between the beginning and the end. But I was wrong. It’s not like that at all.Our moments fall around us like rain…or snow. Or confetti.” – Nell Craine, Haunting of Hill House

As we left Dreamglade, Amy and I were huddled in tears in the front of Stacy’s car as he was playing sad, appropriate songs like this one:

And she said “I feel like the end credits are rolling” which made me cry and cling to her harder, not wanting the moment to escape because it was too perfect.

Indeed, that’s exactly how it felt, and during these magical times I try my best to “live in the moment” but can’t help feeling like it’s never enough. But this too is part of being human. We live in the painful space between past and future, a space that doesn’t truly exist. The tragic beauty of humanity is that nothing lasts forever, and everything comes to an end.

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Me and Amy in Stace’s car during the “end credits.” Huge thanks to Erik for the photo!

To make me feel better last night, Eddy reminded me of the concept of “eternal return,” and the idea that time is infinite and because we can’t even fathom the nature of infinity, it’s nice to believe that time will repeat itself someday. So every experience that we have is part of us forever, and rather than be sad about an “ending,” focus on how beautiful it is that we’ll always have these memories within us. People constantly take photos and videos to capture a moment, but, like Mother Ayahuasca told me in Peru “The best camera you have is your mind.” As badly as we want to cling to the past, we have to trust that regardless of details, we’ll remember the feeling we had at certain times in our life, and that’s what we have to treasure.

This is a constant message in tons of books, movies, songs… because it’s such a universal struggle and requires effort to remind ourselves to focus on gratitude rather than sadness. And this is what “honoring the ending” and “resolve to evolve” means. All we can do is be grateful for the joyous experiences in our life and use them to better ourselves… to remind us to commit to practices that clear our minds so we CAN focus on the good rather than the bad, and be patient with ourselves when we fall into the trap of being human.

We have to remember that the most important thing about life is to enjoy it with the time that we have and the people who we love. And to be patient with ourselves so we don’t miss this opportunity. Happy New Year everyone, 2019 is going to be different. Let’s approach it without fear or expectation. Remember…pain is temporary.

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Crushed By Reality And It Hasn’t Even Been A Week

Type 7 Enneathought For The Day: Make this Affirmation today: “I now affirm that I stay with projects until I complete them.”

Well… my first severe low has already hit and it hasn’t even been a week. I can’t really tell how much of it is because of my period that started today, but regardless…it’s been pretty rough. I was only at Dreamglade for 8 days, but the serene atmosphere and highs I was able to achieve through social interaction and the ayahuasca made me feel like the lows would never come. Kinda like when me and Eddy were in Kauai for our honeymoon, he made sure to REMIND me that the lows would come again and even though I agreed at the time, when I returned to reality and they DID come, they hit me in the face like a brick so hard it was nearly impossible to recover.

During my research I had read that ayahuasca makes you have a higher “ceiling,” or emotional tolerance before you hit something like depression. I have a feeling that’s true, because the negative voice inside me is definitely not as strong, or rather it’s now constantly being combated by the positivity, support, and rationality of Mother Ayahuasca. However, I guess the easiest way to describe it is still with the bipolar diagnosis. My emotions are SO STRONG and overpowering, and they’re very difficult to tame, and I have difficulty existing in a gray area between the high and the low of my moods. It reminds me very much of Second Ceremony, when mama reminded me that these “extremes” exist, and no matter how great I’m feeling, darkness will always return and I have to learn how to deal with it in order to regain my power.

As grateful as I am for Ayahuasca’s ability to make you face this eternal struggle of duality, I’m bummed that it hasn’t really made things too much easier. This balance is so fucking hard, and it’s not even that bad. This is just normal life.

Yesterday I had so much fire with the idea for this Hummingpup Healing Project, and I’m definitely still excited and motivated for it, but fears and doubts set in so quickly… definitely more quickly than I was hoping. I got home from work and did my Ceremony 1 speed painting with gusto, then as soon as I attempted to draw something “real,” I settled into my comfort zone of planning blog posts and outlining what I was gonna write.

Erik’s words (from the retreat) came back to me: “You need to paint. You’re so good at expressing yourself with words, you need to start expressing yourself another way. I would love to see you paint.”

Thank you so much Erik…These words will seriously never leave me…along with “If you change one thing when you get back, make sure it’s your diet. It affects every other part of your life.”

I’m still shocked by how quickly and how close I got to the people at Dreamglade, not only the employees, but the guests as well… they’ve changed my life in a way that no one I’ve known even for years has, which speaks to how open and vulnerable we really were over there. I can’t believe how much I’m still processing, not only how much my mind has shifted from the experience, but also how DIFFERENT I was while I was there. I think a huge part of it is just that opportunity to detox from the overstimuli of the modern world. I wonder if this is what it’s like when people go to rehab then come back to this reality? It’s a whole different game… and it really sucks 😦

ANYWAY.

When Erik’s words popped into my head, THAT’S when I realized I was wallowing smack dab in my comfort zone of planning and writing. The fear of facing myself with my art hit me so hard I had to go to sleep because I just… could NOT do anymore work on Hummingpup after realizing just how much of an “art phobia” I’ve built up over the years. It made me nauseous. Being so afraid for so long has built up this huge expectation for something great to happen when I go to put pencil/pen/whatever to paper. But WHY should it even be great? Like Mother Ayahuasca says “You’re a newborn. You have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can draw.” OBVIOUSLY. It’s so strange how I’ve been able to learn how to work through the physical pain of kambo, sananga, and sickness/purging during ayahuasca, but I keep avoiding the emotional pain of facing how behind I am with my art skills. Even the forward motion pain tool isn’t helping right now! UGH!

So during my breathing exercise this morning, I focused on my feelings of overwhelm as I called out for help. I was immediately flooded with all these familiar thoughts I hadn’t experienced while I was away, and I just could NOT stop crying.

“You suck, you’re already falling behind.”

“Why are you always so behind?”

“You’re such a failure.”

“You’re horrible, why even try?”

Except this time, rather than having to deal with these alone, Mother Ayahuasca came to my aid. So quickly did I feel her embrace that I cried even harder.

“Why do you feel the need to rush, my child? Slow down, give yourself time. Remember what I taught you…

LISTEN

FOCUS

PATIENCE

You’re not taking the time to listen… if you don’t listen, you can’t focus. Listen to yourself. Be patient with yourself. You have so much beauty within you waiting to be released.

SURRENDER TO THE PAIN.

She took my hands just as Raul did in ceremony, as if to say “I accept you, sweetheart. This is what it means to be human. Now learn to accept yourself.”

So much love and compassion in that gentle motion… It’s strange how quickly our human minds forget. I’m starting to understand why Ayahuasca is so powerful.

I took a mapacho break with Amy today and it’s funny because it was rough for her too. She was actually the first to say it this morning when we dropped off her Christmas present. “Uggghhh this is the first day I’m feeling a real low.” It was nice to hear that both of us are struggling with translating Mother Ayahuasca’s lessons in this reality. I suppose it should be an interesting and fun challenge, but because it hit us so hard today it’s really just frustrating. You’d think that undergoing these ultimate tests of “letting go” and “not having expectations” would teach us how to apply the same ideas to everyday challenges but… surprisingly not. I’m realizing now just how conscious and aware we have to be of these things. Time to reread that Tools book already 😐

What’s so great about Ayahuasca though is that not only are you under her influence for hours during ceremony, but the experiences are so intense and a lot of the time, her message is repeatedly harped at you because you keep trying so hard to understand. During my Third Ceremony death experience, my mind kept going to the same places — “Why can’t I see? I can’t move my head, I can’t open my eyes. I don’t understand what’s going on. Where am I? Am I missing something? Why can’t I move my body?”

Strangely enough, even though I knew I was going through an insanely profound death experience, it felt like it lasted an eternity and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was missing out on something. Not having a body for hours was so strange, and the fact that I could hear people around me in the physical world still bothered me because I couldn’t help wanting to know what they were doing, or participate in that world because I felt left out.

But Mother Ayahuasca kept saying the same things: LISTEN, FOCUS, PATIENCE and RESPECT. I also will never forget her giggling and saying “Oh I turned your body off, you don’t need it. Just listen to Raul and Lydia. You don’t need to see, you don’t need to understand. That will come with time.”

But again, because this lasted for an eternity, the same shit kept coming up again, and again and again… I wonder how many times she told me the same things. Hundreds? Thousands? That’s what it felt like. So it’s amazing to me now that my negativity has returned, how clear these lessons still are in my head. Rather than choosing to wallow and cry and just go to sleep… I forced myself to write this out and try to process further, because I’m realizing now that these days post retreat are SOOOO crucial to building the habits that I want to build.

Despite the negative thoughts being back, I do feel a renewed sense of motivation. Even though I couldn’t help feeling sorry for myself today, I’m fighting hard to pull myself out of it because Mother Ayahuasca is with me… and I very much feel like she won’t let me spiral into that dark hole again. At least not as easily as I used to. When I draw, I can’t even say “GO KILL YOURSELF” anymore because I’ve already died. So that’s at least something I need to be proud of. As unsettling as it is that these feelings have returned, I can still feel that everything is different now.

A permanent shift has occurred, and I’m not going back.

Day 16: Mulan, Facebook, and Being a Late Bloomer

“…but look. This one is late. I’ll bet when it blooms it’ll be the most beautiful of all.” – Fa Zhou, Mulan’s dad

Geez I just realized that my last entry was over a week ago. I kept telling myself “I’m too tired, it’s too hot, I’ll write tomorrow” and tomorrow came and went… EIGHT TIMES!! Wow. I’m consistently blown away by the passage of time.

A lot has happened since the last entry which has taught me a lot, including watching Mulan, Han getting attacked in the eye by another dog at a 4th of July BBQ, getting back on Facebook after 2 years, having to deal with an insane heat wave, listening to a Steve Martin master class on comedy, the experience of going to the Comedy Store as one of our fav comedians’ guests, playing this game called Detroit: Become Human about androids gaining consciousness, and not being able to sleep last night. What a long run on sentence.

Mulan — late bloomer tendencies… realizing that its ok, and more and more coming to terms with everyone being on the same path. mulan is a great reminder of that. I’m not sure if it’s the changing times that has caused this, but I think watching movies is a different experience now since they’re so short compared to the longer streaming format which allows for a longer journey with the characters. Especially how the structure of these movies is, it’s very nostalgic in the sense that it’s formulaic, what I’m used to, and what I grew up with as a kid that taught me lessons back then. They feel like FABLES now, and I’m really paying attention to the lessons that they try to teach to children, and I feel teach subconsciously.

Mulan actually made me feel a LOT better about myself. Through this whole journey that I’ve gone on the past couple years I’ve realized that my childhood has stagnated my growth in a way that I have to learn to deal with in order to move forward with my life. I was very overprotected and didn’t get to be exposed to much. I grew up on TV, videogames, and amusement parks rather than learning how to socialize with other kids, play outside, and work as a team. My personality type longed for hands on experiences, but I focused instead on getting good grades and trophies. Learning about the myers briggs function stacks, I see that I was forced to function at my lower stack for the majority of my young life, so by the time I went out into the world I could ONLY be a late bloomer. But of course I could never see that, and not seeing just made the pattern continue until it all exploded in my face in my mid to late 20s.

Going back on Facebook has been a surprise, and not for the reason I was expecting. I thought I would never go back on facebook and continue this defiance, but at some point I realized that not going back on facebook was synonymous with continuing to run from my fears. I keep saying that this was an irrational fear, but I can totally rationalize it now. When I started being really active on fb, “collecting” friends, interacting with people and feeling like they cared about me… feeling POPULAR… I got addicted.

Looking back now too, I spread myself so thin and always tried to respond to everyone, to hang out with everyone, because I didn’t want to become “irrelevant.” Now knowing about my bipolar, I can look back and see that this was when I lived in a pretty manic state, for months at a time, maybe even like a year. EVERYONE knew me because I was constantly EVERYWHERE, at gallery shows, wrap parties, conventions… even though I wasn’t working in the industry, I was everywhere in the industry and I loved it. At least I thought I did. But of course that’s not sustainable, which is why being bipolar is so dangerous… I THOUGHT it was. Thinking back on it, I barely ever even slept working in Orange Country, taking classes in Pasadena, going to the Magic Castle all the time, doing homework and driving constantly to events from OC to LA.

I stupidly felt like it was my purpose to be bubbly, entertaining, and elevate other people to make them happy. I wanted to be everything for everyone…I wanted to make them feel loved and be loved in return, which resulted in a lot of pain, jealousy and feelings of worthlessness. After being sheltered for so long, the world was NEW. I wanted it all at once and I wanted it to want me back, but that’s such an unrealistic expectation to put on yourself and other people. The crash was REALLY hard. It took YEARS of depression and meeting a patient guy who could see the real me crying out for help to even get to the point I’m at now. Total Tiny Rick situation lol.

It’s like… suddenly the fog is clearing and I’m gaining all this clarity of my past. But the best part is, everything I’m encountering lately I feel is pointing me in the right direction. It’s validation that I’m on the path I need to be on… and that’s a great feeling. Synchronicity.

Anyway, the reason I’m surprised now getting back on FB is because I DON’T CARE as much as I thought I would. I thought I would easily fall back into my old patterns, but I guess I’ve done enough growing to where I don’t care about being irrelevant. I don’t feel the need to catch up with everyone all at once, or check up on people and feel left out because they’re doing stuff without me. It’s almost like a part of “ego death”… it’s my “social media ego death.” I feel… free O_O And it’s AMAZING! I’m finally learning how to adapt to this crazy society! (I think)

I thought I would be floundering around forever, never making any real changes in my life and I would die with a ton of regret, but surprisingly I can tell that I’m making actual progress by really becoming aware of my shifts of mindset. I recognize now that embracing the fact that I AM a late bloomer is liberating me from the shackles of the past and accepting that everything that came before this present moment makes me who I am, and who I am is a beautiful thing. The set of circumstances that have brought me here is a miracle, and I need to always remember that. If I wasn’t a “late bloomer” maybe I wouldn’t be as introspective, maybe I wouldn’t feel the world like how I’m beginning to feel it, and I definitely wouldn’t be surrounded by people that have taught me unconditional love.

I think I’m starting to come to terms with what it means to be alive… and that’s heavy shit for me.

So much more to talk about but I gotta go back to work for now! Couldn’t sleep last night so I’m running on manic energy and it feels so gooodddd! I never need coffee hehehee!

Day 15: Lion King Changed My Life Pt 2

“Ah, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it…or learn from it.” – Rafiki, The Lion King

Woke up this morning and finished Lion King… it’s funny how my un-high mind has a hard time communicating thoughts in a stream of consciousness way. This was so much easier last night! My sober mind was still JUST as affected by this movie though… it’s SUCH a beautiful thing when something can be so relatable and touch your heart in a way that makes you want to be a better person.

Eddy always talks about how similar I am to Simba in terms of wanting to run away from all my problems. Really… Hakuna Matata is SO GREAT. Simba was in really bad shape when he was chased away from Pride Rock, and he would totally have been dead if Timon and Pumbaa didn’t find him. Timon says to Simba “You gotta put your past behind ya. Look kid, bad things happen and you can’t do anything about it. When the world turns the back on you, you turn your back on the world.”

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Simba does eventually learn to put the past behind him, but he needed this period of isolation and “turning his back on the world” to subconsciously rack up the courage to do so. There’s no WAY he could’ve survived to take on Scar without living the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle first. He needed to HEAL dammit!! And it’s really nice to remember that! ;_;

Gosh what I would GIVE to live that kinda life… I don’t think I’d even mind eating bugs! Living peacefully out in the woods, looking up at the stars at night, not having any worries or problems… really sounds like the way to go. It’s the way of the shaman! I’m so annoying to Eddy by this point how when I get into my horrible moods I immediately jump to running away, faking my death, and living on an island somewhere. He never entertains these thoughts, but I constantly bring them up anyway because when I’m in a bad place, it’s definitely the easiest solution to turn to.

However what Lion King reminds me of is that can only last so long… Eddy always brings it up too. He KNOWS that over time I would get restless living that kinda life, because I’m meant for greater things. Well… not so much that second part. He urges me to just live in the moment because this is it. The moment that we’re living right now, THIS is life. Even if I were to escape, my “grass is greener” mentality still wouldn’t let me be happy. I need to change that whole outlook first, and I think slowly it’s finally starting to happen 🙂

Lion King is great because, even though we’re not all royalty, meant to grow into a role of king or queen, it suggests that we have to learn to put the past behind us and embrace what’s happening in our current life. We can’t just run away forever, and we have to look within us to remember where we’re from, and who we are.

Especially now after losing my dad, I feel like I’ve become a completely different person. I’m starting to care about real shit, rather than focusing on my internal stress and worry all the time. I would go so far as to say… going through my dad’s death forced me on the path of “growing up,” something that I was fighting for so long because my mom always tried to force me to grow up and I naturally rebelled. It’s interesting how in all these Disney movies, or in tons of movies in general, the parents or someone important to the main character dies. In so many things, even Magic The Gathering, the “spark” within is ignited by a traumatic event, waking up the person to become a Planeswalker.

It’s easy to become complacent, but certain events in our life are a “call to action” and we have to make a choice to become who we’re meant to be or stay stagnant. Watching Mufasa come out of the clouds to remind Simba who he really is… that’s some powerful shit. It’s so dumb but I can almost see my own dad coming out of the clouds to remind me to embrace this life I was given and really go for it. Not like I’m a king or anything, but there’s so much I wanna do with this life I was given that I’ve chosen to neglect because of the stupid past. Hearing Mufasa’s booming voice say “Remember who you are” is that call to action I needed… and it’s nice to know that if I’m ever feeling down or that feeling of stagnation to just watch The Lion King. I’ve always loved this movie but, I think more than any other Disney movie, the meaning has changed so much for me in my adult life that it can be a powerful tool for kicking my ass out of depressive episodes.

It’s so easy to let the past rule our lives and mess up what we SHOULD be paying attention to, so much so that it cripples us to actually LIVE. The Lion King is a great reminder that we need to have the courage to take responsibility over who we are and who we’re meant to be, because it affects those around us. As much as I love Moana because it helped me cope with my dad’s death when it was still VERY fresh, I think Lion King deals with similar themes even better than Moana, in a deeper more adult fashion. There’s so much death and darkness in it, but that’s fucking life.

Lol Black Panther dealt with similar themes too, in such a similar fashion. Man life is hard and responsibility sucks, but it’s just a part of it. Sigh. Gotta work harder. Thank goodness I’m not some secret royalty… seems like that would make it even worse haha! I’m grateful for my life, and also for having the dad that I had…I can’t take that for granted. Something I need to remember moving forward.

Day 14: Lion King Changed My Life Pt 1

“Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. Whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.“ – Mufasa, The Lion King

I think I just discovered why the saying “this is the life” exists. I’m currently super baked, watching The Lion King with Eddy and sitting with a cute tired Han and being like “this is the best day. This is why life is worth living. If I could just always feel like this I’d be happy, but it’s ok if I don’t because just knowing that this exists should make me happy and accept the temporary-ness of life. THAT’S true happiness, and I can understand this concept because I believe I am currently witnessing what true happiness is. Life is so simple!!! It’s living totally in the moment with the most important people/pets in life bf doing something that makes you feel like you could last an eternity in THIS EXACT MOMENT. I believe this is what love truly is — an eternity. No wonder there are all those eternity rings!

There are two main topics I wanna get to for this entry but I dunno if I’ll get to them both. Why?

1. Because I’m at 3% on my phone and way too comfy on this couch to go charge it. I’m living on the edge folks! Typing with my fingers at the speed of light! Geez can you believe cell phones actually exist right now? Don’t things like this make you feel like you live in the future? But when you think about it, is it the future that was MARKETED to us?! Everything is marketed to us! America is SO EVIL but we can’t help but live here cuz we’re human! We are the villains of the world! Sigh. I don’t want things to be like that anymore 😦 Damn I went on a tangent.

2. The only reason I’m typing this is because Eddy is taking a shit so we’re taking a break from the lion king, and I don’t wanna fall asleep. Cuz I’m tired as fuck! We had such a tiring ass day but accomplished SOOOOO MUCH! Including getting wedding bands! Ugh I wish I took a pic of both our rings!! 😦 What a bummer I dunno why I didn’t think of it. Here I’ll post pics I have though lol and one of eddy wearing the darker ring (he ended up getting a tungsten one that looks like iron). We tried on so many rings today and it reminded me of trying on wedding dresses. Just cuz it’s pretty doesn’t mean it feels right! That’s a lesson huh?

Ok another tangent. Whoops! I really wanted this to be about the Lion King! Cuz damn rewatching this shit as an adult is AMAZINGGGG!!

I can’t possibly get into how this movie is making me feel. This bit here where Mufasa is “punishing” Simba and telling him that dad’s get scared too and basically showing simba his vulnerable side and really legitimately teaching something to his child, who up until that point has seen his dad as the ultimate hero, someone who has no fear, and isn’t an actually person (in this case Lion). Ugh and telling him he’ll always be with him and all the shit about the kings in the stars…GOD. I’d love to think that all our dead fathers are in the stars. Honestly I never thought my dad would die…I was so naive, till such a late age (27)!! What happened to me as an adult, Simba experience as a child in Lion King. Dude this bit shook me up so bad, I was crying up a storm. Han actually came up to comfort me too! His service dog training is working and he actually used it for the first time!! Having a dog is so great ;—;

THIS SCENE HERE THIS WRECKED ME!! REALLY LISTEN TO WHAT MUFASA IS SAYING! Gosh this especially hurts if you lost a dad…I used to WATCH this with my dad not realizing how lucky I was to still have a dad to watch it with…

But Seriously, Simba goes through SOOO MUCH SHIT!! Scar is THE ULTIMATE DISNEY VILLAIN honestly!!

Eddy is done shitting so here are some notes for future me:

talk about dictator scar, include video of be prepared. Nods to hitler and the nazis, the lyrics is like real life, a selfish bitter dude preying on the weak and feeble minded (NOTE FROM FUTURE ME: too fucking tired to go into this so I’ll just put the video here instead. It’ll come back when watching I promise)

then link to when scar kills Mufasa (NOTE FROM FUTURE ME: lol damn this has 1.6 MILLION views. Weird how the internet basically can show you society’s relevance of certain things in media)

and how he handles Simba at the end. Find a gif of Simba sliding down his legs and you can seein his eyes the guilt and fear of being led to believe he killed his own father. (NOTE FROM FUTURE ME: Wow you really can find mostly everything as a gif on the internet nowadays huh…I can’t believe this internet thing happened during my lifetime. What a beginning to be a part of. Almost like the onset of the printing press or the lightbulb. What is this doing to our minds?! Well I’ll tell you this, if I didn’t have a cell phone, I’d be sleeping right now HAHA)

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Then scar even tries to kill him after! Jesus leave the poor kid alone!

So many layers to this goddamn thing. Sucks they stole from Kimba though but what I realized is every story is a translation of another of another story! But Damn Disney you really should’ve just given Kimba credit! 😦 1% battery I live on the edge!

OMMGGG HAKUNA MATATA! Ok we are way too exhausted and need to go to sleep. So excited for the 2nd half of the movie!

LOL I was just looking up Mufasa quotes and I shouted “MANNNNN. Mufasa…” and Eddy did this

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Today was a great day 🙂 Good night!

(FUTURE ELORA SPEAKING: I came back to insert links now that Eddy is asleep and my phone was at 1% and moving so slow it basically FelT like it was at 1% but it was so amazing cuz as SOON as I plugged it in, it parked up and totally worked fine again!! Technology is amazing and scary. Batteries…amirite?

Also random thought — do you ever wonder how people view you from the outside? Like…how to not see yourself as yourself? It’s hard but I think I did it today. And from the outside, I guess I’m doing alright 🙂 It’s important to try and see our lives as other people would sometimes 🙂 I think it would always be better than what a lot of us somehow get stuck in thinking if we’re depressed or in a bad mood. I wanna make a future where I feel like THIS more of the time!)

oh wow another post entry note (almost wrote “post post”…would’ve been so stupid). I was looking for that Simba gif I called out earlier and found this interesting article, The Lion King and the Stages of Grief. (“For the Love of Stori s”…what a great name. Glad so many people recognize the importance of story!) This movie is therapeutic as shit. I’m telling you I can’t see it the same way ever again now that I’ve lost my own dad. Now it’s a healing movie.

One again, because the Lion King is such a masterpiece, I HAVE to call out the original source material, Kimba the White Lion. Everyone should know about this of course, but I believe Lion King is STILL a masterpiece. Yes it’s Kimba meets Hamlet but I believe that makes it the strongest Disney movie in terms of story. They succeeded in writing a great movie (albeit the STRONG influence from Kimba :|), crafting great characters, getting a great cast and having AMAZING animation, which translated these stories for a bigger audience. The craftsmanship put into this thing is really an amazing and beautiful magic trick which should be admired. However, credit where credit is due. So much of Lion King seems ripped from Kimba…I wish they just said something… what did they think? No one would ever find out?! What a bummer 😦