I’m looking at different ways to feel connection and support. I had planned to travel and hold workshops around the country for 2019/2020. But then the whole world changed, didn’t it? It seemed like everything changed suddenly and without warning. It also feels like things haven’t changed fast enough.
I’m researching theories and creating replicable algorithms that promote health and healing and I want to talk about it with everyone. Things like, “can you harness the placebo affect or does it only work if you don’t know which pill is real,” and, “can you teach your brain to let down essential feel-good chemicals without doing self-harming behaviors,” and, “can you actually change habits you consider harmful into healthy?” I’m also interested in the use of art, writing, and creating to process emotions.
One of my first theories is: “I can decide to simply be who I am (remove pretense and fakery) and learn to believe that I am good.”
I rolled up to my partner, Brandelyn’s, home just as the world closed in March. What was meant to be a visit and a spring-board into finding my own place in the area, setting up shop at a wellness center somewhere, and then probably, eventually, moving in together at some point in the future a year or so down the road, became my new home and place of business.
One hefty hangup I had about moving in with a partner was a belief I held around money and worth and what it means to be an adult. Living a nomadic lifestyle for several years hasn’t promoted a regular 9-5 job with a steady income, health insurance, and no debt. On the contrary, I intentionally used credit to survive and pay bills while traveling. I have a car with what many people would consider a small loan amount and minimal monthly payments, a cell phone, and a small storage unit that holds the things both too mundane and too precious to give up while traveling. I live simply and intentionally, but I travel, and that has come at the cost of accruing debt. My privileges in this area include but are not limited to: white skin, native English speaker, a good credit score with the ability to get credit and loans, an understanding and helpful ex-husband, adult kids who would support me in an emergency, and a network of friends who support my efforts.
When I view my life through the lens of “Have I made good choices,” or, “Am I a good person,” I get different answers depending on if I’m putting up the overlay of, “What it means to be an adult,” and/or “Am I living a life that makes me happy?”
Those simple algorithms look like this:
Debt Free, Steady Income > Arbitrary Undefined* Number = Good, Happy Adult; Deserves a Partner
Creative Endeavors I Enjoy > Undefined Reasonable** Debt = Living A Happy Life
*“Undefined” because I never took the time to figure out how much money I’d need to make to feel like a “good” adult.
**“Reasonable” is so tricky because it relies on so many ever-changing factors that happen on the fly. You can be completely happy one moment and chagrined the next if a tire blows out on the road or some other unexpected expense arrises.
Suffice it to say, while being able to say I was happy with my life choices, I was not able to say I was Partner-Material based on my income and debts, which sent me into a tailspin of feeling unworthy of love. I knew I wasn’t “sorry” I lived my life nomadically, so I couldn’t figure out why I felt like my worth was tied to income.
I decided to research my beliefs and motivations around money+worth, which included delving into: American self-sufficiency theories, a “woman’s place,” religious culture, family stories, and childhood trauma.
That changes the algorithms above to more complex problems, which I’m still writing and solving. I’ll be sharing my work with the class.
We’re living in a world full of triggered people, me and you included. All our primal fears around “safety” and “needs being met” are on high alert. It is our natural instinct to round up the wagons, protect our families from outsiders, and survive by any means possible.
Isn’t it amazing, then, that so many folks are finding ways to support others outside of their comfort zone during this tumultuous time? How do you plan to keep it going?