Your Higher vs. Your Lower Self

I’ve been going through some of my old morning pages (which I started after doing The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and you can watch a video about them here). And I wanted to share a section of one of the entries from last fall. I had just listened to a lecture about the importance of getting in sync with the universe and trying to help build up humanity, and it had left an impression on me.

“It is a lofty goal, to think about one’s desires and then align those desires to the good of society. I want to be the spark for so many people, I want to help them lose fear of the darkness and shine a candle so they can integrate their dual natures into one. I want to love and be loved and draw energy from all of that love to spread outward. I want to burn away the smaller parts of myself, the meanness and pettiness, and help others burn away those areas within them. I want to utilize both my wisdom and intelligence in a way that benefits all, rippling out from me to my inner circle and then to the world.”

On my best days, I am able to do all that. And I feel so in tune with everything that surrounds me and able to tap deep into creative resources to help people or to help myself through writing and art and music. And I can keep going for a long time.

But on my worst days, I find myself overly sensitive and raw, so very raw. And I find myself out of touch, making a big deal in my mind out of things that other people do or don’t do or say or don’t say when customarily I am fine taking people as they come and don’t take their actions personally. But on my worst days, my feelings get hurt really easily and very deeply, and it can leave me shaky for days, because all of a sudden I’m reminded of my preteen self getting tortured and tormented by classmates, unsure of where I stand with anyone, even the people whom I love most. And however much I work on healing that little girl part of me, sometimes the tears come unbidden. This happened to me last week, and it was originally what I was going to do today’s blog about, but reading my morning pages earlier today made me realize that going through these sensitive times gives me a sign that I’m working too hard and also is part of my ongoing effort to integrate my own dual nature. So it’s very much serving a purpose. Even when it makes me sad or uncomfortable or reminds me of past pain.

I prefer to focus on my best days, to reach toward my higher self more often than descending into my lower self, while still acknowledging the existence of that lower self and knowing that I have to allow those feelings to surface occasionally in order to continue to walk my inner paths of both darkness and light comfortably and to then be able to guide others on their own paths. It’s how I tap into creativity, it’s how I navigate through life. But it certainly is not the easiest way to go.

If you are open to sharing, what are some of your innermost higher-self desires? What would you want to accomplish as an individual toward the betterment of humanity? How would your personality align itself best into the universe? And do you walk that path now or do you have a lot of work to do still to get there?

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The Human Waves of Happiness and Pain

I’ve noticed in recent years that our individual happiness and pain (which we all experience throughout life as that is kind of the point of life) goes up and down in waves, but that our waves do not necessarily align with other individuals or with the world as a whole. Tragedy can strike across town on your wedding day, just as you are feeling the happiest you’ve ever felt in your life. You can lose a loved one on a day that your best friend is graduating or giving birth. You can have met the person of your dreams just as your sibling is finally nailing the coffin in their marriage. And it’s hard from both perspectives to be able to be fully present for the other, isn’t it?

There’s the old saying “misery loves company”, but I don’t think that most people willfully feel that way, going out and deliberately trying to ruin other people’s days. Some do (and I know some of those toxic people quite well), but I think most of the time, when you’re down and out, you just can’t help but get caught up in the comparison game. Why is this person so successful when I have the same training/experience? Why is this person’s art or writing selling when the work I’m doing is at least on a comparable level, and I’m barely able to bring in enough to pay for the materials? Why does this person have a solid love relationship and I’m doomed to single life? I experienced this a couple of years ago when my husband and I were the poorest we’ve ever been as adults – seeing friends of ours who were making substantially more money and moving on in adulthood was difficult, having to turn down invites out to eat or drink because we couldn’t afford to was humbling, to say the least. I never outright resented my friends for being better off than we were, but there were lots of feelings of “Oh, what I wouldn’t give…” or “Oh, what I couldn’t do with those resources/opportunities/etc.” and it was difficult on the hardest days to be really happy and excited for other people. Or the other person’s happiness winds up reminding you of something you’ve lost, so it triggers feelings of regret.

Conversely, when things are going really well in our lives, most of us dislike being reminded that other people aren’t doing well, especially when it’s people we care about. Our joy and happiness seems tarnished by the knowledge, somehow, because we all have that initial urge to make something about ourselves rather than about the other person. We don’t want to feel pain in a moment of triumph. But it’s important to be compassionate and empathetic to those around us. And I experienced this when I was pregnant with my first child. Several people close to me suffered great personal tragedy. Others less immediate loss, but still were going through really rough times. And it was during this time that I really learned how to experience the grief and pain of those I care for without allowing those feelings to diminish my personal joy.

Recently, a coworker of mine whom I was getting friend-ish with and felt a connection to has backed off from where we’ve been, almost immediately once I announced that I was buying a house and was pregnant. I know that they are in the midst of personal struggles and that my domestic happiness is a reminder of what they no longer have, but I feel a sense of loss at a potential amazing friendship. See, I like and love a lot of people, but the number of people I count as being close to me is a very small number. It’s a defensive mechanism in many ways to keep that distance from others. So to have someone that seemed to have the potential of being a part of that select few back away makes me a bit sad. But because I have already thought through all of this in my head, I’m able to just give the coworker the space that is needed. If we become friends in the future, great, and if not, hopefully whatever connection existed served the purpose it was suppose to serve. At the end of the day, it’s not wholly, or even mostly, about me. And being able to realize that has been a great boon in navigating this crazy life.

This, I think, is the real point of “practicing mindfulness” and “living in the moment”. You can repeat New Ageisms until you’re blue in the face, but until you switch from a passive to an active mode of living those phrases, until you learn to navigate not only your highs and lows in life but the highs and lows of the people around you, then the words are mostly meaningless.

I’m Tired…

I’m tired of living in a world of hypocrisy, where the violence of one group is held up and examined and feared while the violence of another (often the initiators) are ignored. Where we sympathize for some because they’re like us but write off the rest as being unimportant.

I’m tired of the number of mind-controlled people who cannot or will not be shaken out of the  spells they have allowed themselves to fall under and set themselves free because they fear the burden of responsibility and the amount of work that follows.

I’m tired of greed and materialism, of feeling the constant societal pressure to acquire more and more.

I’m tired of the hatred on all sides, at all levels, from the warmongers safely pushing their buttons in a control room to the parents that abuse their children.

I’m tired of caring about people who show little care for themselves.

I’m tired of constantly feeling on the outside of almost everyone else.

I’m tired of wondering if my children will have any kind of future, even as I build what I hope to be a nurturing and bountiful life for them. It seems futile to hope for the best while planning for the worse.

I’m tired of being tired…

The Blood Flow – a poem

I had thought to do a new poem or art piece in response to the outpouring of hatred and violence these past couple of weeks worldwide, but I’m still processing. This poem is appropriate, though, and the world would be a far easier place to navigate if we all remembered this in our day-to-day lives.

Kat Micari

We all bleed red.
No matter your politics,
Your net worth,
Your religion,
Your sex,
Or the color of your skin.
Whether just or unjust,
Right or wrong,
Kind or cruel,
Full of love or hate,
The bleeding is the same.
Heart-wounds pulsing
And pouring from us.
The blood flow steady as it streams.
Torn flesh, broken bones.
Bruises and abrasions.
Until life’s breath ebbs away
For each and every one.

Copyright 2014, Kat Micari

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We Are Individuals AND We Are One

The growing tension and violence and ignorance has threatened to bring me down recently. It is a palpable energy streaming everywhere that we can either pretend isn’t there and be knocked over, go along with and drown in, or transform into something a little more productive. I choose the transformational process as much as possible, so I am going to share a reality of our lives on this planet that maybe many of you haven’t considered before.

All of humanity is simultaneously an individual being experiencing reality in their own way as well as part of a collective whole. The sooner you can start wrapping your mind around this, the easier your individual life will be and the better you can help other people in the world around you.

The metaphor is this – we are cells on the body of this planet. We all have our own pre-programmed way we’re supposed to be behaving, and all of us are supposed to be working together to make the entire body work. So if you despise a particular group of people and want to commit violent acts on them, if you think an entire race or religion or class of human beings are lower than animals and should be treated cruelly because “they don’t know better”, then that is like being okay with destroying a piece of your own body. And when you ignore the warning signs of, say, white blood cells (read military and police) attacking a certain section of the body that maybe isn’t directly around you, it still spells trouble for you in the long run. If, for the sake of the metaphor, you want to think of yourself as more important, like your a cell in the lung directly responsible for converting air to energy in the body, and the group of people you hate or prefer to ignore are just cells in the tendons of the elbow, you can. But if something is happening to those elbow cells, that’s going to effect you and the way you can operate. It’s going to effect the body as a whole, and that includes you and the limited people that you do manage to care about. That’s how it works. What happens in one section of the world and to one type of person ripples outward to the entirety of the human population.

It’s the macro and micro having to work together. So get started doing the necessary work at both levels.

To Speak or Not

The massacre in Kenya has left me roiling internally. Any wanton destruction of human life and potential, anywhere, hurts me. But I haven’t spoken about it much or written about it. How can I bring down the people around me? And really, does talking and shaking my head at the state of the world do any good to anyone, or is it only to assuage my own guilt?

I will say that one meme greatly affected me, and that was a photo of some of the dead with a statement comparing the world’s response to the Garissa massacre and the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. And it’s true that somehow, when it’s white people on European or American soil, it becomes more important than non-whites killing themselves in countries that most Americans have difficulty pointing out on a map, and that is tragic. It’s many tragedies rolled into one, actually.

People matter, lives matter, the potential for good matters. But we don’t honor the lives of others, especially those that look and act differently than us. How can we, when we find it impossible to honor our own selves? Something has to give soon, though.

Begetting Violence – an Illustration

                             Begetting Violence – Copyright 2014, Kat Micari

This charcoal and pastel piece just boiled out of me. I started it last night and finished it this morning. It is a direct reaction to learning about the school attack in Peshawar, but it is one that has been brewing inside me since the Newtown attack two years ago. Maybe even earlier. I had other projects I was supposed to be working on (a commission, three small practice gouache paintings, a personal project for practice in my custom work, holiday prep, writing), but I had to lay that all aside or I felt like I was going to choke.

Feeling the Darkness

My current side project with the arts organization I work with, aside from being the largest and most complicated thing I’ve ever done, has, in the course of my research, forced me to confront some of the very darkest sides of the American people in terms of sheer blind hatred and vitriol. And that has been really difficult for me to deal with. It felt very much necessary for the project, but having the weight of all that knowledge pushing down on me made it that much more difficult to solve the problems I needed to solve logistically while simultaneously making a statement artistically.

I am not someone who shies away from the uglier parts of humanity. It is, after all, a very real part of who we are as a species, and to ignore the reality of our inherent chaos creates very dangerous situations both personally and on a societal level, in my opinion. So when I discover new (to me) lows, I wade right in and immerse myself in the muck. I experience the darkness as fully as I can, coming from my particular upbringing and background, and attempt to come to terms with it as it is. I know I can’t manipulate it, can’t zap it away, but I have to somehow be able to wrap my mind around it. For my creative projects, if I block away the ugliness, it makes my work feel inauthentic. In life, acknowledging and accepting that part of humanity makes me more compassionate and empathetic, and it gives me the occasional opportunity to help draw others out of their own darkness. But the process is exhausting and emotionally painful. The biggest risk is losing all of my hope, but it is in those very fragile moments that the most growth and understanding occurs.

I’m moving forward now. I’ve got my direction for the project, and I’ve come to at least a temporary understanding of the darkness again. I may need to reflect some more after I get through my contractual obligations, but for the moment, I’m back to my usual self.

Going Within

I’ve been undergoing an inward shift in my philosophy these past few weeks, which is why I haven’t been posting.  I’ve had to spend some time in my head, sorting things out.

And what is the shift?  I’ve begun contemplating my own, and our species in general, animal nature.  Not in a nihilistic way, but in a very open, questing way.   How much of my life is guided by instinct, by the very make up of my body and mind?  And how much by the trappings of civilization?  Which is a healthier and better way to live?

There is a lot to consider here.  Mankind has long tried to prove what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.  But perhaps the most marked separation remains that we are the only one to torture and kill both other species and its own.  We are the only one that uses imagination to create living nightmares.  So is that part of our human instinct or a fault of civilization?  I’ve been finding it fascinating to think on this.

What has contemplating my own animal nature done for me?  I have become accepting of living in the moment more.  I have become intensely sensual, in that I’ve become more aware of each of my senses and my body as a whole.  And I want to fill those senses to the brim til I feel like I’m going to drown.  I’ve been wanting more human-to-human contact too, so I’ve been much more “huggy” of late.

I’m not sure how this will come out in my creative life, but I’ve got some more sketches to share this week.

Some Honest-to-Goodness Wonderful News in the News

Sorry I’ve dropped off the radar lately (and completely failed to catch up on my backlog – must remedy that soon!), but my husband and I are still churning over the “where to live/how to proceed with life” issue.  We’re coming to a hard decision that will HOPEFULLY help us in the long run, but we’re thoroughly exploring the balance between security and risk, so we’re taking as much time as we can to decide.

But but but!!! I want to remind everyone that no matter how hard our daily struggles are, and how horrific things look in the world, there are some truly amazing things too!

Exhibit A – they have found a survivor in Bangladesh!  Not only is this great for the survivor and her family (obviously), but also for the rescuers because now they have a positive memory to grasp among the thousands of horrific ones.

Exhibit B – the escape/rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and the unnamed daughter in Columbus, OH.  They survived against incredible odds and have literally come back from the dead to their families.  Their story will hopefully bring the plight of human slavery in the U.S. up for discussion, and maybe if other women ever find themselves in a like situation, they will be able to keep their heads and survive by thinking of these women.  I hope that they are able to eventually lead normal lives, especially that little girl.  And I wonder if they will stay in touch with each other or eventually grow too uncomfortable by the reminder of their time together.  Also, I hope this will encourage people to take a little more active interest in what is going on in the neighborhood around them.  Maybe take a chance to help those who need it.

Hearing news like this makes me feel incredibly humbled by what I consider stressful in my own life.   And it gives me a little hope for the future of humanity.