Be Your Socks

Back in November of 2012, I found my way to my very first exposure into Expressive Arts Therapy.  For several weeks leading up to my random find of this creative, FUN, introspective therapy field, I’d been seeing myself leading groups with an experiential nature.  Occupational therapy, my original degree’d field, had many of these same qualities, but it didn’t seem to fit in my mind’s eye.  I could see myself doing something, namelessly…..frustratingly……”other”.   Similar…..but “different”.  But what the hell was it?

Expressive Arts – as an actual field of study – has only been around since the ’70’s.  It focuses on the philosophical idea of “poesis” that in forming art, we can (re) form our life.  It encompasses all art forms – music, voice, paint, dance, writing, – often using more than one together to allow freeing expression as well as allowing the art to speak to us in ways that aren’t consciously recognized.  It holds a philosophy of “low skill (anyone can benefit, you don’t have to like or be good at art) “high sensitivity” (revealing much to the person within the experience).  Because it is so new, degree programs are still only offered on either coast.  Whether it’s fashion, hair styles, attitudes, lifestyles, or career advances – likely you’ll find the newest trends on either coast of the US before it meanders its way into the center of the country.  To find any kind of learning opportunity, I needed to travel.  Unable to do so for an entire 9 months of the year as my children are either doing, or set to in the next year, I needed something that would allow me shorter periods of travel away from home.  I was lucky to find that in New York Expressive Arts, which has a “Post Graduate Certificate” that is achieved over 3 intensive weekends in one year’s time.  And led by a (prior) occupational therapist, which seemed incredibly synchronistic.

Everything within me felt pulled to this program.  I never felt so sure that this was right for me.  So much so that an incident with my daughter earlier in the week that was so severe to cause me to drop out of the year program, depleted me with shock filled tears.  I was so sure I was to be there, this year!  Not next.  It was not surprising then that the Universe worked my life situation around so completely that I was able to re-sign up just a day later.  It felt so right to me that I began walking to class that first day, though I’d forgotten the address, I was unconcerned.  I just knew I’d find it.  I knew I’d found my place while walking up the steps, finding phrases on the wall that I’d recently entered into my journal.  It was surreal, that feeling of walking into….my self.

There’s just eight of us in the class, all female, ranging in age and backgrounds.  Two “real” artists, one a professor, another a therapist in private practice, one who just graduated from a liberal arts school with a ton of expressive arts experience, another a manager for severely mentally disabled adults, one in human resources.  And me, a mom who’s crafty and has an incredibly old background in occupational therapy.  In which I jumped around a lot, not sure which field fit well – mental health, home health, schools, or MR/DD.  (Actually, I did enjoy the mental health field, but became tired and confused with my role and needing to explain or justify to others — including professionals within the facility!)

All throughout the weekend, we gather in circle, a sacred space to ourselves which is another synchronicity.  Especially within the last 7 years, I’ve been joining in circle – whether through 12 step meetings, my writing group, Women’Space retreats, or other spiritual gatherings….it’s always been around this same circle of sacredness.  It’s of no wonder that I felt pulled.  I thank the Divine that I was so opened up at this time of my life that I could heed its calling.

DownloadedFileEvery time we enter into this circle, we are asked to remove our shoes.  Symbolic for the declothing we do before entering, leaving our exterior selves outside this space, we each take a space on the floor in our stocking’d feet.  Readjusting, feet crossed under, one leg extended or both…..our socks often meeting in the middle of the circle, closest to the sacred inner flame.  We participate in a variety of artful experiences that open ourselves up to our innermost self in ways that we’d not considered.  Igniting new thoughts, recognition and understanding.

(Re)Forming the pictures of ourselves.

At the end of that first weekend, one of the young women exclaimed to me, “Laurie, the whole weekend I’ve been noticing your socks!  The first day, one was inside out.  The second, they didn’t match and were so worn, you could see the tread of your walking on the soles.  And now today, one has a hole so large, you’ve wrapped a big piece of tape around it to keep your toes from sliding through!

And here you sit, this “pristine” woman, hair just so, diamonds on your finger, fingernails done, worried about making “pretty” art….and your socks…..  they just ARE what they are.  In that place that no one else sees – within your shoes, your socks can just be!”

It’s become my motto:  “Be your socks!”  A philosophical way of being that allows me to abstain from making a “good impression” by my outter image and instead, just be comfortable BEING – in whatever mix matched, hole-y (holy), imperfect way that I present myself to the world.  And hopefully, in doing that, it allows others the courage and humility to do the same.

So I make this call to the world — be your socks!  Wrap your arms around the holy, imperfected and magnificent one that is YOU…..and just BE!

True Love

There was a time, from my adolescence until very recently that I thought “finding your true love” was finding a man that would hold you in his highest regard, loving you through and through, celebrating your strengths and being accepting of your weaknesses.  A man that encouraged and inspired you, was your biggest cheerleader, walking hand in hand with the wonder of who you are.

It wasn’t until very recently that I’ve discovered that my True Love is not a man, not even a person outside myself – it’s ME.  And in not doing all these things for myself, in not BEING all these things for myself, I sacrifice myself up in the hope of gaining that from someone else, from my dear (deer in the headlights?!) husband, my hopeful “true love”.

As I’ve begun to wake up, I’ve begun to notice where I haven’t spoken up, where I’ve shut my eyes, where I’ve justified situations so I could step out of the discomfort.  As I’ve begun to wake up, and have begun taking more and more steps towards loving me, treating myself with respect and admiration, I can see the grumblings around me.  It feels awkward and uncomfortable; it would be easy for me to slide into guilt for changing the rules, “being a bitch”, being “unreasonable”, but in agreeing with that, by sliding back, it dishonors me once again.

It’s an uncomfortable period for both of us, I’m not playing my part as I used to, rising in my own awareness and standing up for myself in fierce protection.  And at the same time, feeling like the “bad girl” for changing the rules this late in the game.  It forces my husband into a new role as well, one he’d not always prefer.  There’s a lot of stretching of our limbs in our new surroundings, bumping elbows, stepping on feet.  It’s causing quite a stir.

The best thing I can do, though, is stay the course and be TRUE to myself, my own best True Love, knowing that this too is all good.  Trusting in him to be enamored with the new wholeness of me; more vibrant, interesting, and beautiful.  Yet being willing to let go, trusting that I’ll survive the pain if he’s not loving the color changes in my wings.  It’s all necessary. The change, the stretching, the discomfort, the rearranging.  It’s needed to happen for a long time.  I’ve needed to be my own True Love, honoring, cherishing me, going after what I need, looking out for what I want to manifest in my life.  Looking for that in another is allowing myself to be THEIR vision of “right and good”.  More a reflection of themselves.  Which isn’t a bad thing….it just ignores the magnificence of what is right for ME.

Questions

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Who ever said

to quiet your voice

“A lady can’t speak so loud”?

When was it shameful

for wrinkles and moles,

and grey hair hidden from view?

Who ever said

that Popular was Queen,

a boy claiming You was true love?

Who ever said

that I couldn’t object

that making a scene was rude?

When’d I agree

to moosh down my thoughts

indiscriminate from you and me?

When’d I agree

to give up creating

in leu of a safe degree?

Was I confused

in becoming a woman

that my form was now viewed as a whore?

Did I cash in on beauty

coloring and tweezing

to grasp a pic in the mirror?

Did I cash in on me

in my trials with darkness

in a fight to become Your “me”?

Did I cash in on spirit

sell my soul to the devil

trussed up in a house with a cross?

Will someone step in

to say you’re not lost:

the journey’s a circle to YOU?

Can you hear a voice calling

distant and deep

growing louder each dance in the dream?

Did you know that waking

is a task of declothing?

Lighten your load til you FLY!

Did you know that the questions

are the start of your answer

when we can look in, not out.