i had no idea

Time for some truth-telling, of the highest order:

I had no idea, when I created this video, that it would resonate the way it did. I had reached this point where I was quite tired of juggling things–the Bikram, the workload, social time, time with my love, remembering to call my family, get the laundry done. It is not even that difficult of a list, but I’m not going to indulge in much inner critic chatter on that point. I am being gentle with myself about the changes and transitions that I’m working through in my life. Working for myself is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It pushes every single trigger; it questions every assumption that I had been taught to make as I was growing up. Doing the work of looking at those issues while still in a relatively comfortable safety zone is, as I have discovered, a totally different body of work than being right in the thick of it.

So I approached Andy and asked that we take a weekend together, because I needed some time where, even if I was taking a computer hiatus, I was not even looking at my computer, not even looking at my desk. To care about something so passionately–this body of work, this course “curriculum” of sorts, to want it to reflect your best pieces in every way–my goodness, but I was putting pressure on myself. I knew it, and I knew that the usual tools weren’t enough. It was my financial advisor, actually, who suggested that I take a weekend. And I thought, “You know, if your financial advisor suggests you take time to frolic away somewhere, it’s time to Get Your Frolic On.”

It was time to get out of town.

Andy said no, initially. He had a soccer game he didn’t want to miss. In response to this, I turned into MegaBeast and resorted to condescension and resentment of the highest order. My overworked synapses simply could not comprehend that I would feel such relief at the idea of getting some space and then be told “No.” So I stepped into a space of, “Okay, I am in charge of me, I’ll go alone, then,” and noticed that I just resented the hell out of him for that. This became more to work through.

But we did work through it, and after checking for the umpteenth time that we were working out some kind of sense of equality here–that there was no people-pleasing involved and he was supporting me by taking the trip and I had paid my dues all of the other weekends when I’d suggested we do something or other and a soccer game had been the thing that had blocked us from doing it–once that was in order, we were ready to get out onto the open road.

The tension melted from my shoulders. There was time to play, to rest, to eat good food. We camped out in a motel room and watched Keeping up With the Kardashians, which was–and I don’t think anyone has ever written this about that show, so here it comes–it was a lovely experience. Seriously, it was lovely. Heaven. Absolutely no brain cells are required, to watch that show. My mind felt at rest.

I already told the story of how it was that the video came into being–I was painting, and then inspired to start compiling bits and pieces from our trip and other places. What I didn’t mention in that post was that before I was brave enough to post the video, I hesitated a lot. I hesitated in speaking into my sadness. Inner critic stuff came up. “Oh, no one wants to hear about you being a sad sack,” I thought.

There was something really powerful in getting to a place where I was just owning right where I was at, which is what happened when I hit “post.” The video came together very quickly and I didn’t hesitate too long; I went ahead and just posted it and let it go out into the world.

I want to write a love letter to all of you–all of you who have tweeted or passed it along or written posts about it or written me emails. Truly, I had no idea that it would hit where it did, that it would bring up tears, that it would bring up inspiration. (And I definitely hope that Alexi Murdoch is hitting paydirt these past few weeks on iTunes! His album is fantastic!).

I think that this is just proof that you never know when, just by being yourself, you might be someone else’s gift.

Thank you ~ so much gratitude and appreciation for your words ~ All of you are amazing.

~ Kate

it is okay

It is okay…

…to not be ready, yet.

…to change your mind.

…to speak your truth (respectfully).

…to think you’re ready and then realize you’re not.

…to take a few steps forward and then a few steps back.

…to BE your journey, wherever you are at, wherever that is, in whatever part of the process that is.

…to apologize.

…to get vulnerable.

…to feel angry or sad.

…to be organized.

…to feel unbalanced and disorganized.

…to not make art every day.

…to have chocolate in the afternoons.

…to not like someone.

Whatever shows up for you is part of this experience, right here, right now. It is okay to be who you are, where you are (it’s better than okay–it’s the only thing that’s possible!).

Here’s my only encouragement: don’t get out of the game.

It’s okay to not like someone. Just don’t step out of the game of hoping that you can find ways to have compassion, to find points of commonality.

It’s okay to not make art every day. Just don’t beat yourself up so much that you step out of the game of making art, altogether.

It’s okay to be organized. Just don’t step out of the game of cutting yourself slack when needed, when life calls for randomness and lack of organization.

I like reminding myself of this–remembering that wherever I’m at is fine, and wherever you’re at is fine, too, and we’re going to be fine together as long as neither of us step out of the game of accepting ourselves and each other.

even breathing feels alright

All of My Days from Kate Swoboda on Vimeo.

You know that feeling you get, right after a really long, hard, cry–suddenly something in your body unlocks (for me it’s across my chest, my heart) and then shoulders drop and everything feels incredibly calm and clear?

It’s possible to sit with sadness, and let it bring you to that place. Not busying with stuff, not running about, but just sitting with it, camping out in front of the computer watching instant downloads on Netflix, reading books, taking naps, avoiding folding the laundry.

I believe that we need these places–these unproductive places, these places where seemingly nothing is happening. “But Kate,” someone might say, “If someone is severely depressed, and they start doing what you’ve just described, it will only get worse.”

Ah, but there is a difference between sitting with something, which is a highly active process despite its seeming lethargy, and being mired in a severe depression. In case you’re thinking next time a sad space comes you’d like to try out the “sitting with”, here’s a few key pieces:

Sitting with:

  • Conscious of and willing to reach out for help at any time, and committed to doing so if the feelings get too overwhelming.
  • Setting up ways to check-in with oneself (i.e., “I’m feeling sad/resistant/frustrated; I’ll check in again in one hour to see how I’m feeling and if I feel ready yet to do something that might lift me out of that.”)
  • Openness to trying new things.
  • Willingness to feel the feelings as they arise, without denying them or shaming oneself for them.

 

Yesterday, I was feeling sad. I painted for hours. I listened to Krishna Das and the soundtrack to Vicky Christina Barcelona. I painted past and through lunch. I literally forgot to eat. Then I finally did eat and there was a letter in the mail that opened my heart and as I read it, I cried big, hard, long tears while holding it and sitting on the couch.

When I was finished crying, something in me was unlocked, and the first thing that I wanted to do was make this video.

I had such fun making this video, and it felt real and funny and true. It came together in about an hour, which is super fast for me with video making of this kind.

I share it with you, in the hopes that if you are going through a raw or tender place right now, it inspires adventure, or that you know you are not alone (you are never alone), or that you laugh, or that you feel the urge to go wake up your cat to pet her cute little nose. Something.

I love the last line of the song: “Even breathing feels alright.”

I feel like I can breathe, again. Turns out it was me who needed to give myself permission.