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Updated: Feb 29

I've done some deep diving into the dark of late. And there's a voice that comes up and says; What, again!? An inner critic of some kind. Perhaps the voice of what I feel, and or fear, from our culture. An internalised idea, that my healing 'should' be done, by now. A belief that I 'should' be 'better' and 'shouldn't still be struggling'. It also feels like a fear of what other people will think of me 'still' struggling, and or 'still having a hard time'. It's not a voice that feels, like mine. It doesn't feel, like it's on my side. It's one full of big pressure.

The pressure to be 'well' or 'happy' and or 'successful' and or 'fine'. And it can be so very damaging, if I give it too much power. Or any power. It can isolate me, at the times when I feel my most vulnerable. Telling me that I 'should' hide struggling, because I 'should' be 'better by now'. It feels like a very pervasive voice, from the culture in which I live in. One that tells me, I am 'successful' if I am 'well' and defines 'wellness', as being 'successful'.

And what does that actually mean? By the values and standards, of this culture? What does it look like, to be 'well'? To be 'successful'? And therefore what does it look like, to be 'unwell' or not considered 'successful'? Because actually, when I break it down, and I take a moment, to challenge that voice within, or that narrative, within; I am pleasantly surprised to find, that I not only disagree with it, but that by my own standards, by my own definitions of wellness and success. I am absolutely killing it. And I feel, very 'well'.

For me, now in my life, 'wellness' looks and feels, like being able to honestly know, and feel and acknowledge, what is going on for me; to be able to sit with it, and make space for it, and feel deeper into it; no matter how uncomfortable or challenging that may be. Which means that if I am feeling low, sad, depleted, depressed, disconnected, scared, vulnerable, unclear, wobbly, unsafe, worried, anxious, or any of these other feelings, that some part of me has been taught are 'not ok, or not allowed, or not healthy'. When I am feeling angry or full or rage, or despair, violence even; that I can make space to feel them.

Which inevitably means slowing down; maybe working less, socialising less, being less 'productive' in the terms our culture dictates equate to 'productivity'. In fact I'd say being with myself, in such a deep way, is the single most 'productive' thing, I could do with my time. When these big, strong, and or challenging feelings arise, and bring with them a need, for me to make space for whatever it is, that they want, from me. By this standard, I am doing extraordinarily well. I have just held myself, though another big deep dive, into some parts of myself, places that I had decided were 'already healed' and or 'done with'.

I did have to be very patient and kind with myself, and I work quite hard, as I often do, to re-remind myself that it is, ok, to 'be here again', for these feelings and or experiences to 'not be healed yet', that I am not stuck, I am meeting what needs to be met, again, in a new way, in the same way, in a deeper way, because they still need more; more time or more space, or more acknowledgement, or more recognition, from me. And that it is ok for them to need more, ok for me to need more, from myself, more time for healing. I am very aware again this time, since this recent deep dive, of how important it is for me to be able to go into these deep and difficult spaces, feelings, memories, places, in myself. Because each time I do, I re-emerge with a little bit more of myself, feel a little bit more whole. It feels like going mining; you have to dig down deep and tunnel into and through the depths of the Earth, to be able to find the incredible nuggets of Gold that are there; sometimes whole walls of them, shimmering and shining and gleaming; radient Gold.

Our culture is, in my opinion, unhealthily obsessed with only living in the 'light'. And yet we know, from many other cultures and even from our own in days gone by, that in order for there to be one; there must be the other. That there can not be light, without dark, nor day without night, nor joy without greif, nor success without failure, nor love without us also knowing loss. One facilitates us knowing what the other is; they are intrinsically linked and there are many schools of thought, knowing, stories, cultures, images, and practices the world over that teach us; if we really want to be able to live fully in the light and feel the greatest depths of joy available to us, then we must also be able to really feel and meet its opposite, and make space for the pain also. Because that is the fullest truth there is in the world; that it is overbrimming with beauty and magic, love and care, kindness and creativity. And there is also horrific suffering, incomprensible violence, and excruciating pain, loss and grief. We live amongst and with both, within and around us.

So once again I am grateful to myself, for diving in, diving deep, doing my best to allow myself to be with what is; not what I want there to be, or thing or feel there should be. To give myself space, permission and the internal support, to meet what is arising in me. To be scared, to feel lost, to be overwhelmed, to be terrified even, to feel underneath it all, to feel despairing, to feel out of control, to feel too much in control, to feel the unknown, and to stay there, with it all, long enough, for it to transmute, and metamorphose, again.

Because each time I do, deep dive, I also re-emerge a little more beautiful than I was before, inside and out, radiating the feeling of real success; of meeting myself where I needed to be met, falling in love with the 'worst' or 'hardest' or 'ugliest' or 'weakest' parts of myself, finding their value, seeing them for what and who they really are, and honouring them, cherishing them, welcoming them to sit at my table with me, to be guests that are welcome at the dinner party, no matter how unfully they may be. To be able to re-frame how I see, name or relate to these 'shadow' selves, and bring them into the light with me, as my friends, allies, lovers, inner family members and collaborators.

A beloved friend of mine rem-minded me the other day; that our capacity to feel into the depths and 'hardest' places within us goes the other way too. And in turn we are able to feel the depths of joy, passion, pleasure, connection, vitality, sexuality, creativity, love, life. I feel full today, of a deeper appreciation for myself, and endless ability to dive deep and re-merge again, and again, and again. A butterfly that rebirths herself, as many times as it takes. Because life is a constant journey of cycles and spirals. Not a linear path, as we are often told to believe it is; healing, living, being in tune with ourselves and with this vast and beautiful world, with all her light and dark, being in tune with nature is to be in and with both the light and dark, within and without. Cycles of decay and of growth. Both.

So here's to celebrating all of us who are brave enough, to deep dive, and re-emerge an infinite number of times. Because I truly believe there is so much to be gained for us all, as individuals and as a collective, if we can find ways to lovingly embrace all, ourselves.

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I have recently submitted an ACW application to take my solo show up to Edinburgh Fringe so that I can maybe fulfil a dream for this work; and take it to tour across the UK and overseas to Europe and other international destinations... Fingers and Toes are all crossed. Me and this project have what currently feels like a hilarious relationship with each other, where the work, not me, decides what it does or does not want to do next!

This project has always been bigger than me, and it really does have a life of its own, one that I am learning to listen to, trust in, and continually re-find the courage to listen too. It tells me what it needs, and I do my best to make that happen. It's a strange feeling and I like that it feels like it lives and flows through me, rather than for me. It has agency of its own, as if it were a living, breathing, life force. Which of course it is. An artistic entity! I'm sure some people would worry about that as a concept! And for me it makes total sense.

And I keep asking myself; do I want to do it again? Bare my soul, and body, heart and my hardest struggles in life thus far, on a stage, for more strangers to witness, all over again?

And the work replies, Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Over and over again. Yes. This is still needed. Yes.

Am I addicted to performing this show? Maybe. Because it does feel, fucking wonderful to do it, each and everytime that I do! It was crafted this way. That the journey and the arch of the work, take me on a journey, in my body; from where I am now, back to before, and back out the other side to now again. So there is a re-patterning in me, everytime I share this work that reminds not only the audience, but also my past and current selves;

It is possiible. To dive deep into the darkness. Survive. Emerge. And thrive. It is possible.

And as someone who has struggled, wrestled and all out fought with very unhealthy or damaging addictions; perhaps this is exactly what I need, to be healthily addicted experience that leaves me feeling tall, broad, positive, strong, capable, excited and full of hope, for myself, for others, and for the world. Something that reminds me of the light.

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Some people in my life, and I would imagine in our culture in general, may think that the life of an artist is easy, or a 'cop' out, from having a 'real' job...Well, let me speak to you on that thought for a few minutes....this is me today, after submitting yet another application for public funding for my work as an artist. Public funding you may cry, what a privilege!

Yes. It is. And I am grateful and mindful of being a white artist, in a Western country who can apply for money for my work. This is a privilege and a gift. No doubt about it. And. It is also a vast amount of work. Unpaid work. And if your like me, and many artists and you have a nuro-spicy, neurodivergent way of thinking, feeling, being in the world, then there's not much harder than sitting at a desk and writing thousands of words about why you deserve the money, and what you will do with it, if you get it. Oh and numbers too! Lots of big and complicated numbers. And maybe you will get the money. Or not. It is a constant juggle and gamble and risk. You will get rejected and knocked back often....

My last application is not funded. The one before was. And if it doesn't then the next year will look very different...and actually I don't know how I will manage it. Which is what it is like every year. Hand to mouth, project to project, flying by the seat of my very excellent and proverbial pants. Do I enjoy it? Yes. For sure, some part of me thrives on being in the unknown; I am an artist, the unknown is my playground. And my happy joyous, fun place.

AND. I do have bills to pay. Rent. A van to run. And all the usual life costs. So there is a constant sacrifice also. Of ease. Of security. Of knowing what my pay will be at the end of the month. Or if there will be any. And still this is what I choose, because it is my soul calling. Another gift and privilege that I am grateful for; knowing this is what I must do.

Art is life blood. Culture. Change. Power. Questioning. Over throws. Dismantling. Art is behind so much more in the world than many people realise. Waves of global change, in music, fashion, video games, theatre, film, television, galleries, books; Art is to be alive, to see something and feel. Watch something and weep, laugh, and re-consider. Without our artists the world would be a dull place in which to live. Nature is art. Art is our nature.

So if you are one of those people who might be mis-informed about how 'easy' it is to be an artist, or what a 'doss' our lives are. Perhaps you can recosnidert this though, as I have been doing this for the last 15 years now, and I can say hand on heart, it is many great and wonderful, and magical and powerful things; but easy, is never one of them! Brain fried after days of tax returns and ACW applications leaves me frazzled and also proud!

Heres to all the other wonderful people who give so much to thier art, and in turn, to life!

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