I believe that authenticity matters; hiding who we are stifles growth opportunities for the individual and collective. So in this blog I write about all things that genuinely fascinate me: art, spirituality, the puzzles of personhood--and their ongoing interplay. For some, learning the artist's thoughts contaminates the experience of the art, and I respect that. It might be best to avoid this blog and visit only my gallery pages. Personally I can't get enough of the stories, ideas, and people behind art, so this blog is most appropriate for an audience similarly curious and open-minded, and who won't take offense at challenging perspectives and taboo topics. It's especially for those who are aware they're undergoing a spiritual awakening and seek to feel less alone in that process. I wouldn't be at this better place in my life if it weren't for the wayshowers I found online who helped me understand what was happening to me and to the world, and I hope to pay it forward by doing the same for others on the awakening path. But most of all this blog is for me, as writing helps me clarify my thoughts and record my progress like nothing else.
This is the second in a series of posts on the lessons I learned from my childhood and healing journey. For my full story, see the December 2020 post titled, "We Are Shaped by Our Experiences: An Origin Story Pulled from the Shadows." My intention is to inspire others to develop greater awareness about their own lives and to share ideas for building healthier, more supportive families and communities. Because I believe, as Teal Swan says, "We are given the very wounds we are meant to teach others to heal."
Quick: List five examples of trauma. Maybe picturing the trauma care center at your local hospital, you’ll likely name big, unforeseen events that cause severe bodily injury, like heart attacks, car accidents, gun crimes, and building fires. For much of our modern history, perhaps the least controversial definition of trauma is something like this: an acute, physical, often violent event that surprises and harms us in the moment that it occurs.
Maybe your definition of trauma extends to events that seem to leave the body intact but shock the mind, like a soldier's experience witnessing the unbearable carnage of combat--events that are linked with an eventual cascade of behavioral problems that fall under the term post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The federal government only fairly recently accepted PTSD as a legitimate problem among its veterans of war, as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk recounts in his 2014 book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. But as the author asserts, "One does not have to be a combat soldier...to encounter trauma" with similar long-term effects. He goes on to list statistics associated with the famous ACEs study, described below, that identified sources of trauma in the home environments of the country's youngest--and thus most vulnerable--population.
This is the first in a series of posts on the lessons I learned from my childhood and healing journey. For my full story, see the December 2020 post titled, "We Are Shaped by Our Experiences: An Origin Story Pulled from the Shadows." My intention is to inspire others to develop greater awareness about their own lives and to share ideas for building healthier, more supportive families and communities. Because I believe, as Teal Swan says, "We are given the very wounds we are meant to teach others to heal."
I wrote the origin story in my last blog post in my mid-40s. If I had written a similarly family-centric narrative about my upbringing at any point between my childhood and early twenties, and I knew others would read it, it would have sounded something like this:
All names have been changed. Also, I would have included relevant family and personal photos in this post, but several years ago I threw away almost every photo from my childhood and teenhood (not hard to understand why when you read on).
It's a cliché title, isn't it. But sometimes things we consider trite hold profound truths that we subconsciously resist because we're not ready to face what they mean for our lives and the lives of others. Contempt is often a cover for vulnerability. And I can tell you that this ego-based facade falls away in a true healing process. To heal requires complete honesty about how memories and words feel to us.
When I was growing up, my mom and I weren't able to have real, honest conversations, but once as a young teen (I don't remember the context) I said, "We are shaped by our experiences." She thought that was so profound. In hindsight, it was clear that neither of us appreciated the extent to which it applied to both of our lives, as what could have been a very uncomfortable conversation ended there. But it was a concept I felt compelled to explore many years later because the truth of it had become inescapable.
In this post I provide a history of the circumstances that I feel had enormous impact on the person I became and what I would later consider to be my purpose in life. If you are struggling to make sense of your past or suspect that your behavior today is somehow connected to that past (spoiler alert: it is), you might be interested in this personal narrative and the lessons I learned, which will follow in separate posts. It's my intention to inspire others on their own journeys of self discovery.
a birthplace of blood, sure
but something more
hosting vestigial tail, incipient wings
animal and angel in one
the bony locus
of where we're from
and where we'll go
Why do I tend to go monochromatic with my cairn paintings? Again, I didn't know why right away; I just knew I liked it. There's something stripped down and elemental about it, reminiscent of old, water-damaged black-and-white or sepia-toned photographs. One night, preoccupied with this question, I sat for a long time just staring at one of my test paintings done completely in garnet, and some words came to me, which I ended up scrawling across the top of the paper: Monochrome clearly connects opposing extremes along continuum of single hue.