Aries. The first sign of the zodiac.
Known for it's courageousness and fearlessness. The energy of initiation and sometimes self centeredness.
The feeling of growth isn't always joyous.
Just because a warrior pushes forth doesn't mean she isn't scared.
I will never forget the first time I met Nicole Adriana Casanova at a workshop.
She looked at me, and said, "The information is going to be a little different, because it's being channeled," and while I was crying in a group of mostly strangers, about how lost I felt and how sure I was that I was an alien, she said,
"What you are doing now isn't that different from what you would be doing if you weren't scared."
That was about two years ago.
I have a really selective memory, but this was something that stuck with me, and still rings in my ears when I am habitually beating myself up.
As I look around my community, I notice that the main impetus for starting deeper relationships with my customers is the moment they realize they can experience relief and comfort.
I have rather painful social anxiety. If you knew me when I was growing up, or even met me in the shop, you would never guess the flutter of emotional chaos that happens while I am sitting at my desk. The list of things to do. The partial awareness of others' feelings mixed with a bad habit of guessing what someone might expect of me. It's akin to watching a movie, reading a book and listening to a podcast while trying to have a conversation. My body goes into a fight or flight response (which has resulted in a hip socket issues) because somewhere my brain inherited this idea that my likeability or ability to be of service, to make 'the other' feel better would make me valuable ...
Would keep me from being outcast or thrown away.
And so, this contentious moment of stress happens each time a person walks in my door. I have to get past this chatter, start to juggle whatever task my one-woman operation of a business requires that I do, and find a way to say hello, how are you?
And that's the moment when something really beautiful happens.
I'm not sure why, but I have three guesses:
a) Because I have spent time and money working on calling really beautiful energy into my space,
b) something about me personally, or maybe
c) it's just the nature of a space in which women's bodies interact with objects...
Whatever it is, it creates a dynamic in which women feel they can talk to me.
Feel they can let down the protective drawbridge they have around themselves.
Feel like they can put down a weight they didn't even know they were carrying because they've been holding it so long they don't remember life without the weight of it.
(Like when you're in yoga class and they suggest you that you relax your jaw and you suddenly realize the nearly imperceptible stress suddenly leaving your body.)
Why is the way we feel in our beds sitting alone so different from how we feel walking on the sidewalk?
Why does it feel like we have to hold our bodies and faces and emotions together when we are outside. What are we projecting and protecting? Who are we presenting and more importantly, who are we hiding?
This mutual assumption that we must hold everything together and hide ourselves away or we will somehow reveal to everyone around us that we don't know what we are doing makes me sad.
It's like being in a room full of people being afraid that some evil authority figure is going to get us if we aren't Stepford Wives and not being sure who or what this "authority" figure is or what he/she looks like.
Imagine living with all of that tension, one day realizing there was never anyone there to punish us. That nothing was ever going to happen if we relaxed and found out what was on the other side of control. Control of our image, our expression, how we emote.
It is fucking exhausting to be out in a world full of rules we all blindly accept that no one necessarily agreed to.
And scientific studies about epigenetics have shown that we can store memories of our ancestors in our bodies; so that our fears, traumas, ideas of carrying ancestral burdens or past-life memories is more than just a New Age theory. It's a biological reality.
In the post-colonial world, this makes it highly likely we have the memories of either committing or suffering from acts of violence, terror, and oppression stored in our bodies or that in our DNA we have stored the skill of repressing our own needs, own beliefs, own gut instincts so that our ancestors could survive the times we lived in.
Are we ready to heal this trauma so we don't continue to hand it down to our sons and daughters?
Are we ready to take responsibility for the ways in which we change our cultural norms?
Will we be the generation to question ideas of what it means to be strong? What it means to serve our communities, to have success, etc?
This plays out for me a lot in business.
Often I find that I operate with an understanding of deep loyalty to those around me, a communal spirit of sharing and communicating with my fellow + sister local businesses, the implicit responsibility that we all have for on another to discuss what the rules of conscientious competition are, to be able to discuss how we function as small business community, how we can hold each other up or live in a world without support.
I have often been met with the phrase: "It's just business."
Nothing exists in a vacuum. It is precisely the nature of thoughts like "It's just business," that allow systemic exploitation, poor ethical practices and disjointed communities to view one another as competitive threats rather than band together in solidarity against entities that are holding more resources and power than we can even wrap our brain around as small businesses and members of the working class.
It is never just business.
It is always about love, courage and creativity. It is always about deciding what's important to you: your relationships, your neighborhood, your community of artists and business owners, or your survival.
And sometimes the needs of yourself and you community run counter to one another... at first. But with a little heart opening, the willingness to engage in what are sometimes awkward uncomfortable conversations, and the courage to be vulnerable, to relax those fight or flight muscles and say what's really on your mind,
beyond the spiritual bypassing, love and light fluffiness, by engaging in the grief and pain that we have inherited and lies beneath the barriers of polite society, that is where the creative alchemy has limitless potential beyond your wildest dreams.