Countdown to Muskogee. . . 11

Tomorrow is the last day of my membership at the Y.  This has been another place of deep learning and deeper acceptance.  Here, I began to move for the sake of my brain and to worry less about the shape of my body.  Here, I watched my tolerance for noise, people, inconvenience and routine rise and fall with my symptoms.  Here, I experienced joy again after a long siege of unhappiness as the water buoyed me up.  

I grew stronger.

I am stronger.

 

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SoulCollage®

SC-Bipolar

Bipolar Disorder: I am One who has an altered mind.

For about a month, I’ve driven to Des Moines on Sundays to attend the Unitarian Church there.  I love the facility—an eco-friendly building nestled in the woods with a wooden footbridge from the parking lot that crosses a burbling stream.  Every week, I’ve met interesting, like-minded people with amazing stories to tell.  The messages are uplifting, and I get to sing. I feel very welcome and comfortable there.

But, the biggest surprise was the load of activities and classes that the community offers.  This one caught my attention immediately:

SOULCOLLAGE®
Wednesdays, 7 – 8:30 pm
11/12, 11/19, 12/3 & 12/10

SoulCollage® is a creative process in which we make our own deck of collaged cards for the purpose of self exploration and self acceptance. Images are intuitively selected and cards are created in a manner that accesses your deeper self and facilitates a journey to wholeness. Created by Seena Frost, SoulCollage® allows you to create a deck that is the “Story of You.” This is a fun, intuitive process that requires no artistic experience but allows every one to becomes their own artist. The four-week class will include information about SoulCollage®, making of the cards, and working with the cards to understand their meaning. 

I couldn’t imagine a class more tailor-made for me!  I had to go.

I loved it from the moment I walked into the room.  Native American drum music in the background, chairs set in a circle, simple instructions.

Don’t think.  Pick three images that either attract or repulse you.

There were hundreds of images culled from magazines and who-knew-where-else laid out on tables.  We silently walked around, looking at them all, then took the ones that called to us.  I consciously kept my brain from rushing ahead to what it might mean, what I would collage with it, blahblahblah.  The point was to follow our intuition.

SC-Captive

The Captive: I am One who is blind to the assistance in front of me.

The way we introduced ourselves to the class was to pick one of the images and speak from it, starting with “I am One who…”  This image would be the base for our first card, a part of our selves that made its presence known.

Since I was a little manic at the time, I immersed myself in the process, sent away for the book and supplies (dang cheap, I may add), and started making cards at home.  I’ve been collecting images my whole life with no idea what to do with them except keep them safe.  A lot of the images I use in my collage and mixed-media art, but many are too weird or personal to be appropriate for pieces meant to appeal to others.  So, I pulled out my huge stash of images to see if any of them spoke to me the SoulCollage® way.  The clouds parted.  Angels sang.

This process is a little like making your own personal Tarot deck.  There are Suits as in Tarot, but these Suits are a bit different.  The Committee Suit are cards that depict parts of one’s personality, while the Community Suit picture actual people, places, pets, significant events in one’s life.  The Companion Suit is comprised of animal guides connected to the seven chakras, and the Council Suit collects the archetypal energies (much like the Major Arcana in Tarot).  This is Play that could last a lifetime.

Our class didn’t meet this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but our facilitator invited us to a card-making gathering she was having at her office on Friday (Not surprisingly, Maureen is a psychotherapist specializing in PTSD).  I went, bringing some of my images and using some of hers.  I love the silence of doing the work, then the community aspect when we speak from the cards and process what they mean for us.  I fully intend to participate in any workshops Maureen holds, especially the one on The Companion Suit.  It seems like a little guidance and meditation might be in order to “find” these special animal guides.

The Observer: I am One who sees Reality without judgement.

I love turning off my brain and just letting the cards form.  I never know what’s going to happen or what images will demand to be put together.  It’s alchemy.  And deep Play.  And manic or not, I love it.  Because it’s an adventure, and I’m all about that.

Old Song

Uplifting Songs

The bronchitis has run its course, but the wake of bipolar ping-ponging still bounces me.  And I’m desperate to find some equilibrium.  Looking at my journal entries from last year around this time, I was a little shocked to see that I’m repeating myself.

From last year:

Kind of back to normal.  I’m still not sleeping well.  Just want to curl up in my chair and watch back-to-back movies.  Feels like I’m starting over after being sick.  So maybe I should look at what I want my life to be now.  What do I want to focus on?  Work toward?

I could have written that yesterday.  It makes my ass tired to think I’m back at this place.  Every time I get sick, every time I go through a long episode of mood swings, I have to pull up my socks and refocus.  I’m always battling my weight and compulsive eating, my inertia, my disappointment in absent friends.  BlahBlahBlah.  I’m sick to death of this same old song.

My TOPS membership will be due in December, and I decided not to renew.  I’m also resigning as the Weight Recorder.  Now I know that making decisions under the influence of bipolarness is unwise.  I also recognize this throwing in the weight loss towel as part of a different cycle.  I give up, say I’m going to accept myself the way I am, gain weight, panic, and go back to trying to control my eating.  So I fully acknowledge that these decisions are sick-brain-driven and, most likely, temporary.

But, I would like to accept myself the way I am.  I would like to, once and for all, let go of the fantasy that I can lose 150 pounds and be at all desirable to the opposite sex.  I’m not hideous.  I’m just an obese, middle-aged woman on the way to crone-hood.  I want to accept that and find some happiness in THAT, not wait for a body or a partner that are never coming.  I mean, I went to freaking England by my fat self and had a fabulous time.  I don’t want to wait anymore.  For anything.  Or anybody.

And I guess I’m grieving that old fantasy, both embracing the full truth of who I am and pushing it away.  But the more I can wrap my arms around myself, the braver I’ll be about going after what I want.  Like deciding to spend two weeks in Tucson this winter.  I’m renting a little house on the desert because I loved Tucson twenty years ago when we vacationed there and have always wanted to go back.  Because my allergist said I would do better in a warm, dry climate.  Because my shrink said to get out of the dark this winter.

So, I’ve been taking my cats on practice runs to get them used to being in the car for long stretches.  Because I want them with me in the desert.  And we’re figuring it out.  Like I’m figuring me out.  And we all may get car sick on the way.  And we all may cry, and mew, and protest.  But at least that’s a new song.

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