As I’ve officially hit the edge of the map on my previous experiences, and everything I’m picking up now is new information, skills and practices—I’ll be honest. It’s really uncomfortable. Exciting, sure. But definitely not comfortable.
Is growth every really comfortable?
One of the most surprising things I’m currently struggling with is my weight and measure. I don’t mean, like body image weight, I mean like NEED/EXPECTATION weight. Even more so---I don’t actually KNOW what my measure is, because I’ve never been here. It’s nearly impossible to gauge my volume. Am I too loud? Too soft? Too wide? Too loaded? Too heavy? Conversely, am I too slow? Not enough? Lagging? Outdated?
I can’t tell if I’m too far ahead or lumbering behind, because I haven’t locked into anything stable yet.
I can’t tell. I have zero frame of reference for my voice outside my own head, or how the acoustics of what I’m asking for resonates with others. I don’t know where I am in relation to other things, ideas, people, tasks, or workload. Evidently, this is what happens when you’ve isolated for too long, built a massive project, then try to re-emerge into the world with an unwieldy behemoth and rusty social skills.
Am I being obnoxious? Probably. I won’t know until I learn my own form of temperance under these new rules. Do I dare slow down when I have this level of momentum, though? Not really. I know me well enough to know the momentum will hit its own wall in its own time, so best to use this hard burn creation space while it’s available—and just hope I don’t burn any of my new collaborators out with the force of the escape velocity push.
It feels a bit like I imagine G-force might be as I know I need to leave the woods—but the gravitational pull here is super powerful, so only a hard hot burn is going to break the lock and re-orient my view. In the process I’m yelling over the sound of engines, and my bones are rattling, shaking off old habits and toxic relationships. The timeline is crushing, falling away behind me, and while I’m shouting directions, there’s a soft voice in the helmet earpiece.
“You don’t need to scream over the rockets. I can hear you just fine through the mouthpiece. Yes, the view is glorious. I see it, too.” There’s a pause. “You’re going to be okay, Athena. Stop clenching. For the love of God, breathe.”
I’ve picked a few people I believe will give me boundaries when needed, and I’m just going at whatever volume I have the energy for and when they tell me to stop—I’ll divert or correct. Simply, because I don’t have the time or energy to guess where and what is acceptable quantity outside the forest bubble. Relying on people to use their healthy boundaries while I learn the edges of the new territory is a whole new exercise in trust. I don’t want to hurt anyone with my clumsy fumbling or mass.
I’ve always worked alone. My speeds are either teleporting wormhole lightspeed OR garden slug with very little regulation in between. But now that I’m working with others, collaborating, I need to learn to find their rhythms, cues and tempos. I’ve always been lead on my own dance floor.
So this… this trying to pace and process others’ timing is—weird. I keep tripping over my own feet, stumbling on words, forgetting what I was about to do or say because I’m trying to slow down to be a good partner to people offering assistance.
While there is a version of myself who is twenty years younger who’d say, step gently, wait, be cautious and tiptoe in. Wait to be given tasks. Wait to be invited, etc. I also know that is the surest way to lose any and all momentum, and to embed a system of non-authentic interactions. Waiting to be invited to speak is the fastest way to be eclipsed out of your own build.
I’m a creator, we don’t sit around waiting for permission to manifest. Timelines, yo. Timelines and places to be.
I’ve had the bountiful luxury of six years of uninterrupted creative build time out here in the hinterlands to put together a project with a scale that I find downright thrilling. It’s been a blast. That said, I starved myself of all the other wonders of an enriched life in order to meet the goal, set the mission up for success.
My social skills and niceties got rusty. My ability to anticipate other’s steps grew stagnant. I’m slower to recognize cues.
I guess what I’m saying is, that when you go beyond what is familiar, the learning curve of your new belonging needs a compassionate and patient re-adjustment period. I’m trying very hard not to be someone else’s problem or burden; constantly re-evaluating and second-guessing my asks. Then I realize I cannot set the edges yet; the edges have to be defined by me running into them. If I guess at edges, I’ll end up creating blockages where there were none.
Again, it will come to trust that others will recognize this stage is temporary…then politely, move any fine China out of my stumbling reach and offer a few thoughtful re-directing boundaries for my orientation.
Anywhoo, this is an unexpected part of the re-emerging and growth process. There has been a slew of ego deaths in my life recently, one right after another. This is just part of the new ego birthing. A friend kindly said something like, “Don’t worry about your energy right now. You’re like a puppy putting everything in its mouth. You’ll figure out what’s safe to eat, and who is safe to love, eventually. Welcome back to the real world, Athena. We missed you these last six years.”
So yeah, what she said. Thank you all for your patience, and for moving anything fragile out of my reach until the wave settles. So much love.
This post is for all my fellow ladies who have ever feared their own voice, desires, and ambition. If you have ever kept silent, or endured for fear of scorching the Earth with the power of your hunger—this post is for you.
When I came to the woods, tucked in and wrapped myself in the work it was an instinctual, desperate, almost animalistic move. Very few people understood it at the time, but it felt primal to me. It was sequester and build—or be devoured by the machinery of conformity.
My books, my writing style, my personality, my very dreams were contrary to the way the industry, the corporate world, and mainstream programming work. It was bend to the expectations of fitting into the matrix, quiet my voice, and be less--or leave.
So I left.
But I wasn’t idle for three years, I was creating. I closed down all unnecessary energy expenditures, let go of all corporate support, ditched relationships that were feeding toxins and contributing to the lag. I grew more fierce, protective, and feral as time went by.
And I wrote. I wrote like my fingers were burning, because my spirit was on fire.
The Pillars of Dawn, The Life Erotic, and The Creative Revolution, all grew exponentially in purpose while I was in hermitage. The meanings behind them, the purpose of why I was creating them, the lightning to be drawn down and channeled into the fuel of words all began to take shape and develop into a heartbeat with an even stronger sense of mission. Message was birthing into story, and it was a painful, sweaty, exhaustive process.
It’s funny when I go back through twenty-five years of work and re-discover old stories and books, manuscripts, film scripts and so on that were learning modules for my development as a storyteller. I unboxed three books I wrote ages ago. Two of the books were the beginning of a fantasy series I wrote when I was 16-21. Then, there was one other book I wrote at about age 23-26ish, The Alchemy of Blood.
I had completely forgotten about it. When I opened the box it was still labeled by the work-in-progress name and it took me a moment to remember what it was about. In the first days when I really began to own that I would be a writer, and that my life would take the course dictated by the pathway upon which that dream would be mapped—I was struggling with what voice meant. My mentor at the time, Jessica Morrell, was teaching me about voice—but I still didn’t know what it meant to me on a personal level. There’s writing voice, personal voice, and then there’s me, right?
Or was that right? I wasn’t sure at the time. I was also in a marriage at that point that made me feel trapped, cornered. There was no way out. My voice as a woman was insignificant, my needs and dreams secondary or treated as nonsensical (humored, at best). I was pretty sure that marriage would be my death. I was angry, tired, lonely, and aching to be allowed to be strong, but terrified that I would destroy everything and everyone if I reached for my power. The power of voice.
So, I wrote a book: The Alchemy of Blood, as a practice run to try and connect with my voice. My author voice, and my personal feminine voice. I needed a safe place to explore the consequences of self hood as designed by me, rather than imposed by my world. It was a fictional obstacle course to work through my fear, my dis-empowerment, and my terror of owning my own rage and channeling it into discipline and purpose. I had a secret fear that if I spoke my true words—I’d accidentally burn the world down. That’s how afraid of my own voice I really was. So, I borrowed my namesake and leaned into her mythology as a support to produce a book exploring the individual sovereignty and powerful journey of being a woman in a world built for men. A world built from the blood of women…for men.
The most interesting part of The Alchemy of Blood was that I forgot about it. Then some twenty years later, I no longer fear my own voice. I no longer fear accidentally causing harm. I no longer fear the conflicts that arise when my true nature rubs up against the system. Writing it took the clamps off my brakes.
The book did exactly what it was meant to do. It gave me a place to practice, explore, rethink, reconfigure. It lanced my rage, gave direction to my meanings, and offered an outlet for creativity and craft. It’s probably safe to say that manuscript was the basis for the tone and purpose I carried onto my storyteller path. It might also be the manuscript that kept me alive when my whole world tipped ass over teakettle shortly after I started writing it. There was even a brief moment when I wondered if my world had imploded because I’d started writing it. But when I realized those comforts, patterns, and relationships were contributing to keeping me stuck and in fear. I let go of them, and embraced the voice even tighter and held on for the ride.
I also discovered during the last two decades of writing, that I was not the only woman who feared her own voice. Who lived in terror of what they might feel or say. Who lost sleep trying to keep silent. Or slept alone for having spoken and scorched the Earth with her desires. It was during those years, discovering all these other women with the same fear that I had resolved to own mine, control it, then express it for others who may need path to safety.
As far as names go, my parents could have done much worse. My dad still calls me the wise-ass goddess, but that’s another story, I suppose.
All this is to explain, as I’m going through all the archives and sifting material for the coming rebrand and launch—it seems fitting to post the prologue to The Alchemy of Blood since it pretty much underscores the nature of my work in female empowerment and literature for the last twenty years. The trick to finding a voice and brand that will present well, and be able to be inspire and empower without repulsing or causing fear, well, I’ll need some help and direction with that. But, you know, all in due time and with the right collaboration.
In the meantime: Prologue: The Alchemy of Blood