Monday, March 15, 2010

monsters, perfect dads, and Frida Kahlo

Moonday.  New moon.  We are in the darkness before the light of spring which happens officially on the 20th of this month.  Its an excellent time for going in deep.  That's what I've been trying to do.

I've been having some trouble writing recently.  I need to make some minor adjustments to my play before it can go on to its next phase, several other projects want more attention, and then there is this little blog I love that hasn't seen a post in a week.

I called up a good friend to talk about it. 

'Well,' I said, 'I have a lot going on, but I think that what's really been stopping me are my limiting beliefs.'  She laughed.  'Do I sound too psycho-babbly?' I asked. 

'No,' she said.  'I just don't hear that very often.  Its refreshing.' 

'Oh!' It was like she'd pinned a gold star on my cardigan.

I told her what was stopping me.  It was this thought:

Its too hard to make a living as a writer, so you shouldn't even try.   

I know its origin.  When I was a little kid pounding away happily on the electric typewriter, my dad sat me down.  He told me that only two percent of writers make their living at it.  I needed to find something else to do.  Writing for fun was great, but find another job.

To my child's ears he meant that I would never be good enough at the thing I loved to do the most.

Many, if not most people have a version of this story, some way more intense than mine.  There is usually some doom-sayer along the way-- a friend, a teacher, often someone with good intentions, and no amount of singing the Wonderful World of Disney theme song can shake them out of the mind.

'Its a monster' I said. 

'What do you do with monsters?' my friend asked.

'First you turn on the light, and then... you help them.'  I said, remembering one of my favorite Rilke quotes:

'perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being, something helpless that wants help from us.

'How do you help them?' she  asked.

'I don't know. That's the problem.'

What do you think your monster wants?' she asked.

'She wants a good dad.  She felt abandoned by her dad.'

'You might have to be her dad,' my friend said.  And then she said, 'Frida Kahlo. That just popped into my mind.' Its great having intuitive friends.

That was it.  I love Frida Kahlo.  I adore her work, her inspiring life story, and I love the way she would usually wear these timeless colorful skirts, and then show up in a suit.

I'm like that.  I'm a bit of a princess with a dash of drag king.  I live mostly in silk, but occasionally I lust after herringbone jackets, french cuff shirts, wide legged pants and fedoras.

So now I'm assembling my perfect dad costume for my monster.    He looks good in a hat.  His shoes match his belt and umbrella.  But he looks comfortable, gentle, like an abused animal might follow him home.  He's basically a mix between Johhny Depp, my super stylish and wildly encouraging college design professor, and my grandpa.  My monster is delighted.  My perfect dad tells her that she can be anything she sets her heart on. (Yes, like the Disney song says.)

*For the record, I have a pretty good adult relationship with my real dad now, and wouldn't change him, even though he still thinks that John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever is the pinnacle of style.

This moonday, I'm thinking about monsters and how I can help them.  If you want to share a story, or some inspirational art, quote, or poems that help you to help your monsters... I would love to see/read them.
Happy Moonday!


Sandi Longhurst said...

Kate, I admire your perseverance to stick with writing especially with such a big message hanging over your head! Inspiring Moonday quest, had a lot of fun working with this one with a foray into non-excel inspired poetry.

My Spiral of Dance –

Born to dance
Watch, practice, perform
Grandparent’s living room transformed

Stage for imagination
Costumes, props and music
Siblings recruited
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

House visitor, audience
Family member, audience
Dad’s business acquaintance, audience
Near stranger, audience

Driving force
Dance is what I’ll grow up to be

And then the announcement of my dreams
Dance class offered
I’m in!

Excitement builds
For weeks thoughts nothing else
Girlfriends all there
We plan what to wear
Is this true? It can’t be a dream

First dance class
Smiling shy, big cold room
Small girls in front of a mirror

Teacher leads practice
Figure 8’s with our hips
Mother watches in shock

“Too sexual”
Removed from the class
Forbidden to dance
Sensual beauty?
No thanks, none for me

Dream dashed

Shame burns
Rage boils
Silent compliance, resigned

In a few years by tractor with Hero Dad
asks, “what will you grow up to be?”

Bright eyes aflame: race car driver
Natural talent nicknames prove
“Speed Racer” teases boyfriend
“Mario Andretti” claims ex-husband

Dad’s laugh with a pat on the head, “you’re a girl”
I drink gender role kool-aid
death comes to me early
marry at 20 like a good little girl
Fairy tale, happily ever after?
Nightmare, living hell
Is this really it?
Or was the kool-aid just a trip?

Mother-in-law’s gift - Yoga philosophy
God isn’t a white guy hanging out in the big blue sky
Punitive, vindictive and mean?
Disobey husband a sin?
Confidence in business school
Opinion regarded
I’m not dumb, incapable and fat?
Fuck you, I’m outta here!

Life of fire begins
Experiment here
Flirt with danger there
Dance comes back to play
Night clubs and late nights with unsavory characters
Drink it up, get more if we can

Rebel in (r)Evolution
Seeking peace, Truth and freedom
The path opens in compassion and inquiry
Rage acknowledged, transformed
Personal experience valued, seen
Unconditionally loved
Evolution continues
Transformation heals
Red anger, fear, pain resolve
Flowing pink emerges with peace
Experience, wisdom, sanctuary

Dance as meditation and meditation as dance
Community, movement and breath

Now I’ll dance my MBA
Ask others to join
And always check for the lie in the kool-aid

Kate T.W. said...

wow Sandi. This is incredible. I'm honored that you've chosen to share it here. Makes me! Thanks for the amazing inspiration.

Stacia said...

I don't have a poem or story, but just wanted to say that I immensely enjoyed your take on how to "reparent" yourself, and admire you for tackling it with flair! Way more fun than mine method, which involved lots of crying in my pajamas.

Kate T.W. said...

hee hee Stacia. Thanks. Crying in pajamas is awesome too. I am very pro-crying.

alisha said...

"It's too hard to make a living as a writer, so you shouldn't even try."

I can so relate to this and that's sad. But I love this post.

Kate T.W. said...

Alisha, so happy to have found your blog. I can say that I for one am looking forward to the opportunity to pay for your writing!

Dian Reid said...

it sometimes boggles my mind, the way we hold on to "little" words from so long ago as if they were truth. back then we didn't know, but today...i love the reparenting to teach yourself that those words from long ago mean nothing, if you don't want them too. oh, and i just love your presence of mind to know that you're being blocked by your limiting beliefs...that IS refreshing!!!

cheers to you, your monsters, your perfect dad, and your real dad =)

wholly jeanne said...

my self-limiter says that because i enjoy writing, it's not work. and i need to work. is it considered homicide to kill off this little loud niggly voice?