The Moment I Closed My Heart – Embracing The Power of Anime

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 DeviantArt accounts 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.

About fucking time.

The Pattern App

It’s funny when I was writing out the last post on my phone, this popped up from an app called “The Pattern” that a friend just told me about. Needless to say, it was like a sign from the universe that I’m ok, and I started bawling my eyes out haha.

It uses your astrological birth chart and you can run “bonds” with your friends to see how compatible you are. Eddy hates it, but of course I love it. We ended up getting into an argument about putting too much stock in these things. He always seems to think that it’s so general that everyone will relate, but I disagree. Apparently his mind takes these things too literally, whereas I use the information like a tool to help me feel better about myself and what I’m going through in the moment. He comes very much from his head, and I from the heart. The popup is the beginning of a longer post, and when you click on it you can “go deeper.” Reading it this morning really helped me… so much that I’ll post it here because I think it’s a fantastic reminder for my future self who is bound to be in this emotional mess again sometime soon…

This is all from The Pattern app. Feel free to add me as a friend if you download it! I think just searching “Elora Lyda” would work 🙂

Free Spirited and Exciting

You’re a born explorer and want to follow your intuition – you’re not likely to get stuck in one idea, place, or philosophy for long.

You’re a true individual – uniquely yourself. Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, you’re different. You may have always felt this way, like you have an imprint on your personality. Or there may have been something unconventional about your home life that made you feel like an outsider.

You want to trust yourself above anyone else and find your own direction in life. Freedom is a top priority for you and your values aren’t mainstream. But at the same time, your life is often full of changing circumstances, and you may find that your adventures are a moving target. You may often change your mind. Or you could find that erratic events disrupt what you were trying to experience or understand. (ALWAYS)

Possibly, in your early years, there were periods of unexpected change and instability. (This one) Or you may have had a perfectly ordinary childhood but still felt like you didn’t fit in.

You probably have an ingrained way of approaching life or certain instincts that you rely on under stress. You’re tuned into your intuition and don’t want to overanalyze or second-guess yourself. (BUT I DOOOO UGH)

But when plans or circumstances get altered and you try to lean on these qualities, it may feel like you can’t. A part of you is always seeking to understand. It’s not always clear what you’re looking for; it’s more a feeling that you can’t shake – a restless urge to know and experience more.

It feels like you want to climb the highest mountain, so you do. When you get to the top, you discover another mountain that’s even higher, which inspires you to keep climbing. But if could be difficult to maintain your focus on just that one objective – because of disruptions, changes, or a unique new opportunity that comes in. (UGH ALWAYS)

You may believe that others expect you to have an unwavering sense of direction, which could make you feel guilty when you change your mind – you could feel like others may not take you seriously. (Totally)

At times, this has made it difficult to feel a sense of security. Just when your objective seems within reach, an abrupt change redirects your path and forces you to adjust – or you change your own mind. (HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO EVER FIND STABILITY THIS WAY?!)

This might have created an underlying feeling of anxiety: Life can seem out of your control. (Isn’t it for everyone?) In response, you might have the urge to blend in, be more “normal,” and not stand out so much. Or, you may thrive in moments of change and enjoy what sets you apart and makes you different. You might be comfortable with being a provocateur (I WANT TO BE! Goals.)

Either way, you probably see things differently than most and find it hard to conform. (It’s painful) Depending on your environment, your unique perspective may or may not have been valued.

For some, you’re an exciting person to be around – but others might be unnerved around your unconventional and enthusiastic temperament, finding you too unpredictable and changeable. (Reminds me of one of the ladies at the women’s retreat I went to told me I was “overwhelming”)

You’re probably restless and hard to pin down. You have more energy than most, and the capacity to withstand – or even seek out – the wildest, most extreme experiences, which for you is only natural. (Oh great so I’ll never feel like anything is enough?)

Instead of owning your divergent nature, you could feel self-conscious and out of place. In this case, while growing up you may have repressed how different or weird you felt inside and might still struggle with it (100%)

You often look for what hasn’t been done before and crave unusual experiences. You may resist situations that feel confining or anyone trying to control you.

When something unexpected happens, people may think you’re the cause and accuse you of being hard to control or disruptive. Don’t let that noise affect you.

You’re genuinely your own person and can’t help but act the way you do – your eccentricity isn’t about trying to prove something or grab attention just because you can.

Trust that it’s ok to be different. Frustration and pain come when you resist being your authentic self and attempt to follow others and act “normal.” You can’t predict what’s going to happen in your life, so avoid trying to control the current – it often makes things worse. (It would be great to learn how to do this lol)

You don’t have to act out in extreme ways to acknowledge this part of your personality, but pretending you’re just like everyone else only makes you feel more alone and alienated. It’s natural for you to want to have exciting experiences and live a unique life – the more unconventional, the better.

Even if you feel pressure to put down roots and focus on material things, it’s important to carve out time to go on your own adventures and seek your own truth and meaning.

These are authentic impulses that are important for you to explore. And if you’re unable to do this on your own, life will intervene by bringing radical changes to you (Yeah wtf this happens all the time…)

You might find that unusual things happen, despite your efforts to stick to the ordinary road. This is especially likely if you conform based on other people’s opinions or judgments.

These unforseen external events and circumstances are trying to release the inner eccentric in you. They’re making your inner “uniqueness” obvious to everyone – and impossible for you to hide. (I wonder when I’ll be comfortable enough to truly come out of hiding?)

Know that change is good. It’s a process you need in order to evolve – in fact, it’s absolutely necessary for you.

It could feel like without a defined direction, you may struggle to know who you are. But while it’s ok to embrace your search for truth and meaning, you don’t need to be stubborn about it or insist that your way is the only way. Your life works better if you let go of your attachment to just one pursuit or philosophy and permit yourself to change your mind. (How am I supposed to get anything done?)

This dynamic is affecting you for a reason. It may seem unfair at times, but this pattern is intentionally designed to break your attachment to your ego and shake loose your foundation and means of control.

It’s your instinct to trust your intuition and earnestly seek your truth – and believe that whatever path you’re on is the right one. You may be so invested in your idealism and countercultural ways that you don’t consider others’ viewpoints – or are averse to switching course.

But sometimes the world doesn’t operate like you expect, forcing you to adapt and grow, opening you up to new and unexpected ways of living and being. What’s happening isn’t personal and you haven’t done anything wrong.

You’re being guided to embrace other parts of yourself that are key to your growth and happiness.

You may feel pressure from family or culture to do and become what they want instead of what you want to do. You don’t have to act out in extreme ways to acknowledge this part of your personality, but pretending you’re just like everyone else only makes you feel more alone and alienated. It’s natural for you to want to have exciting experiences and live a unique, provocative life.

Your life will evolve in unforseen ways, so stay open to the changes as they come. You’re being taken to places you couldn’t have imagined or planned.

Not Enoughness, Hungry Ghosts, and the Addictive Magic of Mania

“These hands could hold the world but it’ll never be enough”

– From The Greatest Showman, “Never Enough”

Scientists still don’t claim to know exactly what causes bipolar disorder. Some say it’s likely passed down through genetics. Others say it’s brought on by drug use or intense traumatic events like a death in the family or divorce. The more I attempt to understand myself and this “illness” that I’ve been diagnosed with, the more I see that the way I was raised and socialized in this culture is probably a huge reason I’ve developed these “manic depressive” mood loops. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that all of this is on a spectrum of how deeply people are able to “feel” within their own psyches.

In a culture of “not enoughness,” to feel as deeply as someone like myself is incredibly painful, leading to patterns of suicidal fantasies, constantly looking for a way out from the pressure of an invisible audience, the approval from a nonexistent authority figure. Because of pain from the lows, I have to chase and grasp at higher highs, and in this modern technological culture where stimulation is around every corner, the idea of “balance” starts to seem more and more impossible. Unless you start to raise awareness of your own cycles and face the consequences of what its like to get swept up in the extremes — how it affects those you love, your health, and your future. It’s tough to admit, and for a bipolar mind, incredibly painful to face. After tons of breakdowns and buckets of tears, this awareness has helped me immensely to commit to this healing journey of trying to understand myself from within. But just like one of my teachers says, this scarcity story, this need to chase the next high is not my fault, but “the sea we’re swimming in.” The narrative fed to us by a culture that just wants our attention, money, and information. Even though some of us may handle it better than others, we are all susceptible to the distractions and temptations of a modern technological society.

Bipolar, like ADHD, is often mis-diagnosed, and the more I open up about my symptoms, the more I find people who relate to these extreme shifts in moods and wonder “am I bipolar too?” Many of them update me later and tell me that they had actually been diagnosed with “anxiety” instead. It makes me realize that we always want to label this “brokenness” we feel, this “unbelonging.” Because so few of us actually feel like we “fit in” anywhere. But seriously — can someone tell me what “NORMAL” actually is? I don’t think so. Why? Because this idea of “fitting in” in itself was something programmed into us for generations, ESPECIALLY to the boomer generation, leading to mass burnout and unhealthy workaholic tendencies in a society just trying to get by.

Perfectionism is a tool of oppression in our patriarchal, white supremacist + capitalist society. An instrument to enforce oppressive power structures.⁠

ditchperfect.com

The idea of “perfection” was always a fake world presented to us to try and control us, to keep us down. Here’s a great article about how overcoming perfectionism is actually a form of activism, an instrument to enforce oppressive power structures.”

This is especially obvious in this footage from the 1950s. It’s pretty chilling to know that this video was ACTUALLY PLAYED IN SCHOOLS!!!

NO ONE WAS EVER GONNA “FIT IN” TO THIS!! All it created were unrealistic expectations, and now the world has gotten SO overwhelming that an incredible amount of people have no idea how to handle the sensory overload, and a reality where “perfection” is actually impossible yet we’re all programmed to seek approval and validation to let ourselves know we’re “ok” because we don’t trust ourselves enough to believe we’re not crazy. It’s all so fucked. Plus, worrying about such an uncertain future in a country now ruled by the billionaire class has us all struggling to survive. Sold the idea of “The American Dream” — the concept of working hard to “become something” and strive for an unattainable ideal of “success” and to fit into a culture of a “normalcy” that never even truly existed.

No wonder so many people relate to these “bipolar” and “ADHD” sensibilities — we live in a dualistic existence, with that gap between balance getting larger and larger seemingly everyday as more comes out about the division between race, class, gender, religion, and everything in between. With more and more shit being sold to us every second, sensationalistic news headlines to hopefully win our clicks and valuable information, just so we can be sent another email persuading us to buy more garbage that will eventually end up in the ocean or a landfill somewhere, destroying more of our fragile ecosystem. Of COURSE this is going to affect our bodies and minds! We’re seriously at a point in history where we NEED to take our power back!

Anyway, from what I’ve seen, what sets bipolar apart is the propensity for mania, carried away by the highs of a magical fantasy world where all those worries melt away. When I began to start really looking at the difference between how mania and depression manifest for me, I realized I had become addicted to the highs of my own mind… how fucked up is that? (At least it’s been great to never need caffeine.) But who can blame anyone being addicted to any of these distractions and numbing agents (drugs, alcohol, the internet, etc) of our new world? The highs and lows of the actual physical reality we live in are so MASSIVE, that if you ever attempt to actually look at them, it’s DEBILITATING.

My point being… we live in an extreme world, and I believe that my sensitive bipolar mind functions as it does because I was raised by extremely opposite parents, with extremely opposite values. My mom being an immigrant from the Philippines, COMPLETELY sold on the idea of that “American Dream,” that anything was possible in this country of “plenty”, and my dad being a hippie who dropped out of high school – knowing it was a crock of shit from the beginning – and took all sorts of psychedelics, expanding his mind but being diagnosed schizophrenic and labeled crazy even in his teens.

My mom pushed that idea on me of needing to “work hard” and “get a good education”… no one could take that away from me. I was encouraged to take classes for “gifted” children,” pushed to get good grades, win awards and trophies, and pursue this academic life so she could brag to people about me, meanwhile filling my head with ideas of fear. Everyone was out to get me, everyone was constantly talking about me behind my back. Trust no one, even my own father. Focus on myself. This was obviously her way of protecting me, and my submissive dad, although all about peace and love, had no real voice in the relationship. I grew up under the heavy hand of perfectionism and toxic masculinity as seen through the lens of an immigrant woman who could never, and still can’t, see America for what it really is — a land of a people in denial of a history of wealth built off the backs of people of color. A land of cheap thrills, of doing anything to make a quick buck at the expense of your integrity. A culture of workaholism — giving your life and energy to people who don’t give a shit about you. This was the dominant narrative in my life, with my dad’s idealistic “peace, love, magic” outlook on the world taking a backseat. It sucks that my mom always just wanted what was best for me. A life that she didn’t — couldn’t — have in a third world country like the Philippines. But it became an intense pressure for me to become something unattainable, leading me to seeking extreme highs to distract myself from that pressure, and crashing to the extreme lows of feeling like I would never be able to meet the expectation I now had in my head, developed from the fear instilled in me.

I watched The Greatest Showman for the first time on my plane trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the first stop on my grand trip to Antarctica, the ends of the Earth. (After that experience, talk about “Never Enough…” ugh). I’m a sucker for musicals, and I’ve always been a fan of the concept of a “circus” — the awe, wonder, and magic part, not the violent exploitation of animals and those who were “different”. But I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to be entertained and moved by this romanticized Hollywood rendition of what we’d like to think of a circus to be. The sentiment is nice, and it’s such a perfect metaphor for my mania — darkness, contradiction and all. Nothing is ever as it seems, especially with a bipolar mind 😐 Plus, with my past of being practically raised in Disneyland and taught escapism early… it’s no wonder I have high expectations for life to be grand, and difficulties facing the “reality” of history. When I get swept up in that “high,” it’s as though everything gets more colorful and anything seems possible — my rose tinted glasses are on full blast! Childlike joy, awe, and wonder — all of that MAGIC you felt as a kid, when life was simpler, when fairytales were real, and the world was less complicated. That feeling of being truly ALIVE.

To me, that’s what mania feels like, and ohhhhhh man does it feel good. But the shittiest part about it is that it can never be enough. And that’s what I love about the message of this film The Greatest Showman — they address this pretty well, in a nice, lighthearted PG fashion that I’m hoping can get through to younger generations. It’s flashy and fun, with a nice hopeful ending that this self obsessed guy chasing fame, money, and self preservation will eventually turn it around and realize that spending time with his family is actually enough. Not realistic, but idealistic in the way that REALLY appeals to me lol… I am ashamed to admit but TOTALLY relate to Hugh Jackman’s character, and it was so great to watch it with Eddy because we frequently talk about how I share tons of similarities with his own father who passed away when he was a child. We think that he was an Enneagram Type 7, just like me, falling into the traps of gluttony, of seeking approval from an invisible audience. He ended up losing everything, including a successful business, his family, and eventually his life… all to the detriment of this “not enoughness.” Sometimes I wonder if all Type 7s are bipolar, or if bipolar and this ADDICTION to the highs and inability to handle the lows, is more of a negative pattern built into us as a result of this culture and ancestral wounds than anything else. And sometimes I worry I’ll never be able to overcome this insatiability… but never say never, right? I’m working on it.

There is so much to be grateful for in this world we live in, but it really does seem like the more we have, the more we feel we lack. I love this song from Greatest Showman that sums up how nothing can ever be enough… it’s beautiful and seriously makes me tear up ;_;

During THIS song, Tightrope, Eddy said “what story ISN’T this? This is also like Hook… it’s just different people experiencing different parts of the same tragedy.” It’s such a universal, repetitive issue that we seem to never learn from. What I keep seeing… in my own life and in films… is that regardless of these constant messages from media, so many of us have to experience these things for ourselves, go through this pain firsthand to truly learn the lesson. But I don’t want that for me… I want to learn instead of continually making this mistake as I have for years. Eddy relates to much to the wife in this song, and it hurts me to know that I constantly fall into the trap of being swept up in my mania, running off to “the next thing,” getting caught up in “novelty” rather than appreciating what I have right in front of my face. Then when I’m brought back to reality, I just fall into depression and am completely useless. It’s always great, and painful, to see such a disgusting part of yourself in display right in front of you.

I’ve mentioned before but last month I took a class at Shakti Feminine University called Cultivating Currencies, where I was introduced to my money story. We discussed how in the world economy, but especially the United States, we’ve been sold this narrative about “scarcity.” Nothing is ever enough. We’ll always be broken so we continue to be consumers and contribute to this capitalist system. We’re not appreciated for what we contribute to society, just what we contribute to this broken economy — to the detriment of our sanity, of our self worth, and of our values. And I believe that all of this extremity absolutely affects people’s minds in fucked up ways.

Gosh it’s so easy for me to get fired up and go on a tangent… I don’t even know if anything I ever write makes sense lol. But FUCK PERFECTIONISM, conformity and the need for validation — amirite? xD

The major assignment for my Resilience class these next 8 weeks is to meditate on “Enoughness,” and although I’m only on Day 2, it’s already starting to shift my perspectives and see more of the scarcity bullshit that plagues our lives.

It’s a trip to really start to connect with your body and start to be aware of what these sensations mean when serious mood shifts occur. Awareness really does seem to be the key to achieving any sort of feeling of balance… and after my manic episode last week I feel like I’m making a serious commitment unlike ever before. Enoughness needs to become the new norm! Gratitude is everything, each moment is a miracle, our body takes care of so much for us… “It’s” not out there — everything we need is already inside of us.

I’m truly sick of this extreme roller coaster bullshit. All it does is keep us in chains of our own making. Feeling whole is way more satisfying than this insatiable torture we’ve been fed. One last point to make that all of this reminds me of —

According to Lama Surya Das, when a student asked the monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “What is life like in the realm of the hungry ghosts?”, he replied, “America”.

From “Hungry Ghosts On The Couch,” an entry from Robin Cohen’s blog

The concept of the “Hungry Ghost” is one of my favorites to perfectly illustrate just what mess we’ve gotten ourselves into because of capitalism and our economic structure. Listen to Thich Nhat Hanh talk more about it here:

Not Waving But Drowning

Not Waving but Drowning 

BY STEVIE SMITH

Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,   
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.

Just watched Queen’s Gambit. I am in love and resonate with so much of it… even if it slightly brings me shame. But change is possible, and it’s left me empowered. Just read an article that pointed out how the show snuck in the work of female artists who tended to be overshadowed by men. This poem by Stevie Smith is one of them. Super relate.

For so much of my life I felt like I told the people around me that I was drowning, repeatedly, but everyone just said I was so happy and bubbly all the time. They wanted to see in me what they chose to see for themselves. What served them the best.

I am so grateful to have found a few wonderful people, including my husband, who were able to actually hear me. But others aren’t as lucky…

It’s important to listen.

It’s also important to express how you feel. Asking for help increases the chances of finding those who will listen.

Thanks, Dad. A Valuable Lesson On Letting Go From Beyond The Grave.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes. Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are. “Go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

-Grady Lyda

In the process of writing a long reflection on today being 5 years since my dad’s death, I decided to look up one of my old blog posts from 2013 entitled “Restless,” in which he wrote a comment I didn’t actually read until a year or so after he died. It wrecked me then, and it very appropriately wrecked me again today. For some context, this post was written when I had just started to pursue a career in animation but was feeling horrible because art already felt like a “job” to me, just from the minimal freelance I had done. I was feeling absolutely stuck, and I came to the stunning realization that I didn’t know how to balance my life and that something must be seriously wrong with me. HILARIOUS. I wish I could go back to 24 year old me and tell her “It’s ok, you’re just bipolar! Watch these videos! Read these things! Start working on it now!”

In that post, I mentioned this podcast about Andrew Forsthoefel, a 23 year old kid who walked across America, and how jealous I was that he had gone on a true adventure that changed him forever. I felt like I was missing out and wanted to see the world, meet new people and hear their stories. It’s not like I’ve walked across America, but I have gone on some serious life changing adventures since then. When writing that post, I never in a million years could’ve guessed that I’d get married in Hawaii, meet Mother Ayahuasca in Peru, or sail through Drake’s Passage and have a chance to cruise around Antarctica. I also really have met tons of interesting people all around the world with amazing stories who have shown me that living an alternative lifestyle is possible, and that there can be another way to live your life.

But even after all the life I’ve already lived… This wise message from the great beyond will always bring tears to my eyes. Because life IS overwhelming, and no matter how much cool shit I do, no matter how much inner peace I manage to attain at times, I feel like that pressure to do it all will never quite go away. That feeling of needing to rush things because I always feel behind. And it’s because we’re human. And we die. Everything we are inevitably turns to dust. His words are validating, inspiring, and enlightening all at once. Reading a message like this at exactly the right time is proof that my dad’s spirit will always be here to guide me, and a deep reminder of the importance of learning to let go and live in the moment. When you think about it, that’s really the best option we’ve got.

This is GREAT! I love your commentary and all the heartfelt responses you received. I heard the same “This American Life” episode, and I was also touched by his discoveries.

It reminded me of one night when I was sitting at a Winchell’s in Santa Ana in the early 80s, innocently drinking coffee and eating donuts. A guy in his mid-20s came in with a big grin wearing a cowboy hat, and he looked at me and said, “I just walked across the US, from the East Coast to California. Now, here I am!” I said, “Wow, your feet must be tired.”

He was a cool guy, and the crowd in the shop was happy to hear what he had to say. He represented all of us who listened to his stories. Everyone wished they could have done the same thing. Actually, many of us HAVE done similar things. Life is a fantastic adventure that never ceases to amaze us. We make plans, but more often LIFE leads us into directions we never expected. The best we can do is be ready for whatever happens. Always be prepared to “go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

You have a wonderful list of goals and I hope you can accomplish them all, plus many more you haven’t thought of yet. Remember, you are in this for the long-haul. You might feel desperate to prove yourself and experience the whole world immediately. I’ve felt the same way, and I’ve criss-crossed this country several times, and visited other countries as well. It’s a fantastic planet and you have plenty of time to explore it.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes.

On my blog about my life 40 years ago, my younger self is always fretting about how nothing happens fast enough. Of all the entries so far, maybe this would be of interest to you:

http://truetimetravel.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html

Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are.

My dad had a blog he called True Time Travel Tales where he archived this journal my aunt returned to him from a trip around the country that he went on when he was 18 years old. I always meant to read it but never got around to it because I always found myself “busy” with something else. Then, after he died, I felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to talk to him about it when he was alive I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. But then at one point shortly after his death I noticed there were a ton of broken images and contacted the hosting site to make sure they got it back up. Now, years later, I still haven’t read the blog, and again there are tons of broken images. Upon clicking that link, I had a straight up panic attack. I started shaking and couldn’t breathe, and completely lost it when I found out that the hosting site he had used no longer existed. The first time I had got the site back up, I vowed to myself I would save all the photos before this happened… but again… never got around to it… and now they’re gone forever.

My mom has a serious hoarding problem that was awful to grow up with, even getting to the point where me and my dad wanted to see if we could get her on the Hoarders show. When I was a kid I didn’t really understand it… I just thought we lived in a messy house. But as I got older and started seeing the hoarding tendencies within myself, it became clear to me that hoarding physical items represents underlying emotional issues of not being able to let go and move forward. Fears of the temporary nature of life and the inevitability that you and everyone you love are someday going to die. I’m not as bad as my mom, but I do take thousands and thousands of photos because my memory is so terrible and I find myself desperately clinging to certain moments of my life and not wanting them to disappear. I often have nightmares about losing all these photos somehow — in a fire, in a flood, in a zombie apocalypse, accidentally spilling water on my hard drives… I know this actually does happen to some people, which Eddy would constantly remind me of and make me more upset. Until today.

Clicking on that link in my dad’s comment was beyond upsetting. I cried and cried and cried. In a way it felt like losing him all over again… losing these parts of him that I really truly wanted to discover, but again, being so caught up in myself that I never found the time. Familiar guilt and shame crept back in, and I felt myself grieving like I had in the beginning. I thought I had come so far and healed so much, yet the wound felt as raw as ever.

But then Eddy reminded me that this is basically like my worst nightmare… and now that it’s happened in this capacity, I should see that it’s ultimately fine. I’m still alive, I still have the memories of my dad, and life will go on. He also reminded me that my dad was never the type to cling to photos or physical objects. He was throwing things out all the time! In fact, the whole reason he made the site was because he had thrown out this journal years ago, and somehow a man found it and tracked down my aunt who had returned to him. Considering he was already sick and died 2 years after he made this blog, he was no doubt already feeling the need to reflect on his life somehow. He was never the type to hoard, and he was especially put off by my mom and would always try to throw out her garbage because he knew she never would.

When my dad died, I looked frantically for this journal because I wanted it so badly, but me and my mom discovered that he had already thrown out most of his things. It became clear that he had planned his death, and in the beginning I was super angry at him for not leaving behind any of this stuff for me, or even a note explaining himself. I suppose he thought I wouldn’t care… and it’s taken me a while to get over the idea that I should’ve just asked him… that I should’ve shown some interest while he was still around. All these familiar feelings of self hatred and regret came back today when I found out his hosting went down, until Eddy talked some sense into me and reminded me what kind of person my dad was. How he was never the type to hold onto things and wouldn’t expect me to either. He would want me to just keep moving forward and enjoying life…

So when I came back to my senses and actually read the post he had linked to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though the image was broken, it was literally just a blank page. Just like life. Just like this moment. He said that he wanted to preserve the beauty of the page before adding his thoughts onto it. It’s just like him to make this sort of point… and I started to see that this is an incredibly important lesson for me to learn. Even though he’s no longer around, he will always be here guiding me, helping me break through these walls that are such a natural part of the human condition.

From the March 29th entry: ONLY THIS PAGE WILL HAVE TO SUPPORT MARCH 29, 30, & 31 IN THE INTEREST OF PRESERVING ONE SMALL PORTION OF THIS BOOK AS IT WAS BEFORE I MARRED ITS BEAUTIFUL BLANKNESS WITH MY THOUGHTS AND DEEDS.

We as humans can’t help but be so deeply affected by mortality. I felt so terrible losing these photos that I know he had thrown out. There was a time years ago that I started to try and save all the photos on each of his entries, but it took so long I couldn’t see myself doing it for the whole year. I also see that a bunch of videos he had posted have already been taken down… which really hurt in the beginning, but thinking about it logically… that’s just the nature of the internet. All this important stuff is just located on the cloud, and once it’s gone… it’s gone. This was a way for him to reflect on his life when he knew he didn’t have much longer in this world, and I have to just be grateful that he at least created this website and I have his words to reflect back on. And stop thinking that losing all of this was my fault…

In the end, all we are is dust in the wind. Just because these images are gone doesn’t mean he didn’t live a rich life, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer my dad. Life is just a series of moments and experiences, and the best we can do is live in the present and enjoy where we are. And if something is important to you… don’t WAIT like I did, or it may be too late. I am so sick of waiting, of avoiding, of thinking “I’ll do that thing tomorrow” and never getting around to it, the weight getting heavier and heavier… JUST DO IT ALREADY.

A fantastic reminder for a 5 year death anniversary. Thanks, dad. Maybe now I can truly listen to your advice. Everything does indeed happen for a reason… lesson learned. All of this will be over before we know it. Perspective is such a trip.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind


Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see


Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy


Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind.