September 26, 2009

Day 1 Sans Coffee- Taking a Stance

Early this morning I came home from a very intense conversation. As I was leaving I took a gift which had been given to me, one I loved very much, one that meant a lot to me, one I had wrapped up a whole lot of meaning and hopes in. I ran down the street, trying desperately to let go of all this black, sticky, energy which was oozing between my ribs making breathing painful, making a matching pair with the pain in my heart. The two pains threatened to converge and suffocate me, suffocate my dreams, the life I had envisioned. The gift, a heart shaped bottle filled with honey, slipped and smashed into a pile as sticky as the ooze dripping through me and a million shards of razor glass. My heart was broken. This is when the tears began, they didn’t stop until I finally fell asleep in the camper.

There were 9 eleven year old girls in my house when I arrived home. Kelly, Chris and Rosy had the master bedroom, there was no room for me, which is just as well, it is far easier to feel dejected when the circumstances play along. To add to the misery the cover had been taken out of the camper, I slept under nothing but a tiny baby blanket and the shawl I was wearing instead of a coat. I couldn’t move at all in the night otherwise tiny air passages would be created letting the cold night air flood in. I awoke often, thirsty and cold. I was really living the sorrow thing, really embodying it. I received this comic strip the first week of school at Tamalpa.


Our first year at Tamalpa was spent enduring our own personal therapy through the art/life process created by the Halprin family. In order to become a Movement Based Expressive Arts Therapist I had to first do my own work by using my body to embody the metaphors, movements, stances, shapes and forms associated with feelings, ideas and patterns which were motivating my behaviours and actions. In short, if you are feeling depressed, as Charlie Brown points out, “the worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold you head high”. Last night I did no such thing! I curled up in the tightest ball I could and embodied my deep sorrow in a way which would make Anna Halprin proud!

Sadness and depression, I got down. Joy and elation, no problem. Then there is anger, anger is harder. To really embody anger means spitting, cursing, yelling, stomping, punching, clenching and usually saying things that are nasty. Yuck. I bet just reading that line makes you feel yucky, I know writing it did. Yet without an outlet, how does it get expressed? Ya I know all about whiffle bats, inflatable clowns and running through the forest, expending angry energy in a “positive” manner. “Healthy expressions of anger”....I don’t really know if I believe in this anymore, I wonder if it is actually just stifling it, making us all feel better that we have tamed the dragon.

Anger scares the shit out of me, both my own anger and the anger of others. When I come face to face with anothers anger I seem to either get afraid, or want to match the anger. I would like to tell you I remain calm, have all the answers, know just how to facilitate the person I am “holding” in having the experience, finding a way through, and emerging lesson in hand, and sometimes I do. Right now though...I seem to be constantly missing the mark. I am told often that I am admired because of my loyalty and commitment, I want you to know that it isn’t because I don’t think of running, it just means I don’t end up doing so. I want desperately to run from this. Luckily I have Charlie Brown to reminds me that if I want others to be able to hold my anger when it emerges, which it used to a lot and now has been replaced by tears and sadness, I have to be able to do the same for others. I need to do as Sally Brown does here, stand and witness, hear with an empathetic ear and keep my trembling and tears from emerging. I wish I felt more confident in my ability to get through this.

“What is courage?” is the question in 12 days journal #167

I almost never answer the question of the day in the actual entry. Today I need to, in order to summon my courage. First off the answer:

Courage is not an absence of fear, but acting in spite of it.

Then this, a picture of the corner of my computer, what I look at every day as I type these entries. My 6 year old taped it on for me, it helps me to type the things I do, helps me to act in spite of fear.



  1. I like that cartoon. Today as I was walking up the path from Red Sands Beach with the aid of a stick, a straight piece of tree branch given to me by an extreemly inebriated aquaintance the day before, ( that's another story) I began to think of how I had been limping for quite a long time now,and that tnere was this old fashioned word for my condition. Lame. And this word has another meaning, not too pleasant either. My leg had been sorer than ever despite my efforts to cure the problem and I was feeling quite sorry for myself.It wasn't until I reached Save On Foods and was walking across the parking lot that suddenly the pain lessened and I felt better. So, having read your piece I think courage is being willing to confront one's current condition, and after acknowledging it to act intentionally in accordance with one's greater purpose. At least that's one possible definition.

  2. Courage is going into a situation that your good sense tells you to get out of. Courage is being the one willing to do the things that scare the shit out of others, even while being scared shitless yourself.

    I know courage...and you have courage.

  3. Courage is what you said above: feeling like running away but sticking around in spite of it (only broaden the metaphor to apply to every situation, not just the hanging in there variety). On a more person level, for me, courage was forcing myself to keep moving forward even when I just wanted to sit down (or lie down) and never move again. I'm so glad now that I had the courage to keep going!