I have always been a student of transformation stories, but what I didn’t spend enough time on was really researching the interconnectedness of world mythology and the works of Joseph Campbell and other folklorists that could help me make deeper connections.
When I wrote my Master’s thesis at SFSU for my MA in Creative Arts (Education focus), I am actually quite stunned now, 20 years later, that there was not a single whisper of Campbell’s work research referenced in my writing. My thesis is titled “The Transformative Uses of Storytelling in Education.” The omission of the hero/heroine’s journey is incredibly obvious to me now, and a major oversight. I know for a fact that I read some of his work at the time, but I did not delve into it nearly enough.
When I reflect on as my own life journey, it makes complete sense. I just didn’t know, I didn’t have the guides that would lead me to this massive organizational structure that has permeated storytelling worldwide.
My business/art studio name is Interior Alchemy Studios. Interior Alchemy Studios. Like my goodness, Jennifer. HOW OBVIOUS does your higher self have to be? I have Innana’s star on my left leg and the 5 alchemical symbols for spirit, air, fire, water, earth on my right leg. I just knew I needed to have those representations tattooed on my body-and yet I didn’t fully understand what that actually embodied until, well, right now. I got them earlier this year when I was in the “Belly of the Whale” stage.
Today represents the start of my first holiday season as a single adult woman living alone. It is a deep temptation to avoid the work that must be done here by masking it with any type of numbing mechanisms.
I could swipe endlessly for inappropriate people to waste time talking to, consume alcohol, spend time on social media endlessly reading other people’s stories instead of meditating on my own, watch hours of television (without really watching), stay busy on house projects instead of working through my neglected internal space, avoid working out due to laziness and exhaustion, eat poorly. To sit in my house, with my feelings, with no numbing agent to make them clouded and “go away” for a while is RADICAL. It is incredibly hard. And it is not permanent. I made it through tonight’s big feelings, feelings that flooded over me while at dinner at my lovely friends’ home, feelings I kept inside until I got in the truck to drive home and then they leaked out for the next hour, so much so that my eyes now feel dry.
I came home and made some choices. I chose to do a few things to improve my finances, which are stressed to the max from taking out a private loan to pay for home costs. THERE ARE ALWAYS OPTIONS, we just don’t always like them. I’m going to rent out my trailer as an Air B and B, and I signed up on Rover to take care of dogs.
The next step was to just sit in my house. To just sit here. To think about how I was feeling and to remind myself that my current feelings are not permanent, that I can breathe through them, and that this is teaching me something powerful. I prayed and cried some more. And then I went into my studio and charted my own personal heroine’s journey on my new studio wall. It was a major release and I was deeply in flow for almost 2 hours drawing it. I have been researching the cycle of the journey for a few months, and I added moon cycles, and the cycles I learned about from my astrologer and from Holiday Council. (you can still sign up!)
Honestly, this was one of those moments when God just took my hand and told me what to do, and all I could do was shut up and listen. I drank my yerba mate kombucha and got out my new Posca paint pens that I hadn’t used yet and have had for a month and made this map of my life on my wall. Apologies to Campbell for any divergence from his original concepts…but I know he wouldn’t care. The journey belongs to me, as does each of our own journeys. Each journey belongs to the individual alone. The pink shows the steps of my last 6 years of life or so. I am chuckling to myself that I thought I was done when the bathroom was done. Hahahaha! I have so much more to learn.
I feel like I am moving out of temptation soon. The real work of transformation is about to begin, but I have to truly let some things about myself die. I have to take only what I need for the future with me, and let all the other baggage stay in the underworld where it can be swallowed up with all the demons that don’t belong to me, the demons that belong to other people that I’ve met and can’t hold power over me anymore, and the pain that I don’t need to hold on to. I don’t want to let external forces or addictions or toxic people/toxic energy guide how I feel about myself and how I choose to love myself. That’s a waste of my one life on this planet. I’m ready to let those things die because I am finally ready to stop being so attached to pain and suffering. I’m finally ready to leave the purgatory of my own making.
The only way to be released is to die, and to let myself be born new.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson,