First things first: I'm doing a 10-week Desire Map online workshop, possibly the last one I'll ever do before my license expires in March. The Desire Map is all about setting goals and intentions based on how you want to feel, rather than capitalism and the Hedonic Treadmill. I really love this work and think you'll find it a useful, nourishing way to kick off your fall. More info here, including feedback from past participants. Registration fees are on a sliding scale based on income minus certain expenses. Join us?
I wasn't satisfied with my last blog post.
As soon as it went up, I immediately thought it was too reductive. Too impersonal. Not the way I aspire to communicate with you. A self-care listicle, Mariah? Really? Aren't you above that?
And then I remembered, Wait, my anxiety has been bananas lately, and caring for myself is the absolute only way I've been getting through. Of course I wanted to write about that. And of course it was easier to write about it in practical terms than to bare my soul about my own anxiety journey.
This is how it goes with me and my anxiety. I do a Thing; my anxiety yells at me about the Thing; I examine the Thing and usually conclude that I didn't fuck the entire world up after all. Repeat.
(Right now, my anxiety is yelling, "Mariah, they're going to think you're fishing for compliments about the last blog post." And it's also yelling, "If you put in that you're not fishing for compliments, it'll disrupt the flow and just make it even more about your ego." So I'll just mention that I'm not fishing for compliments and move on. I stand by my self-care listicle.)
The anxiety has been a constant my whole life, but the past few months it has been pretty extra. Which is on-brand for me, because I'm extra AF, so what can I expect, really?
Not to mention, I am in several grief processes: grieving the pain of no longer identifying as cisgender and the frequent alienation that accompanies my (glorious, magical) nonbinary identity; grieving the end of a loving three-year relationship, even as my ex and I stumble our way toward friendship; grieving my more sheltered - and therefore more hopeful and optimistic - past self. So it's not surprising that I have to constantly act as my anxiety's wrangler.
But damn, it's a lot to manage. Especially as a solopreneur life coach. And I get reeeeally tired of pretending my anxiety isn't a thing. I want to be transparent, AND, I want it to be indisputably clear that my anxiety does not get in the way of my holding space for others. (If anything, it gives me TONS of valuable info as a coach, because my clients are struggling with this shit just as much.)
Caught between those two desires, I have been defaulting to silence. Not just about the anxiety; silence about my business, period.
Because here's the thing: I don't want any perfect fucking gurus. And if you do, you've come to the wrong place. But...I just didn't know how to show up.
Then I had a session with incredible visual storytelling maven Amy Walsh, and we had the following exchange:
Me: “It’s just so scary not to know what’s coming. Like, right now I’m in the ‘Goo’ stage of the chrysalis, and I assume that ‘Butterfly’ happens at some point, but I don’t know when and I don’t know what Butterfly looks like.”
Amy: “But we do know that Butterfly happens. Like, the percentage of caterpillars that become goo and don’t then become butterflies is so small that we shouldn’t even be talking about it.”
And then we kept going with the goo metaphor. What if we just acknowledge that we're in the goo? What if we make the goo the center of the communication? The Goo Diaries? The Goo Sessions? Primordial Goo?
And that is how Dispatches From the Chrysalis was born.
#dispatchesfromthechrysalis is simply a series of social media posts from me about my messy middle. My transformation stage. The privilege of being in a constant state of change.
The Chrysalis is all about the raw tenderness, the small victories, the itchiness both literal and metaphysical (scratching my arms is how I've dealt with my anxiety since childhood). It's not just about my anxiety, but I also can't extricate my anxiety from it.
My Dispatches From the Chrysalis have chronicled my adventures:
- I went on a restorative justice training retreat and was pushed WAY past anything resembling my comfort zone;
- I visited my son in California and came out to him as a "boygirl" (he predictably didn't give a shit);
- I saw a heart-exploding production of a play I wrote;
- My face broke out in the worst acne of my life and then I felt like a terrible person for thinking only about my acne 24 hours a day (it's better now, yay);
- I launched registration for my online Desire Map workshop;
- I drew tarot cards;
- I hung out in several hammocks.
(Images at the top of this blog post are from several different Chrysalis posts. "Prayer" is by Dave Malloy.)
Through all these gorgeous/sometimes exhausting experiences, I feel my capacity expanding, a hair's breadth at a time. Every day it becomes just a tiny bit easier to breathe; every day, I feel the walls inch out just a tiny bit, and the room gets a little bigger.
And, I keep showing up for myself. I begin every morning inhaling for 4 and exhaling for 8, over and over; I write 3 pages in my journal; I force myself to spend at least 20 minutes on whatever will be most helpful to my livelihood - which usually extends to several hours, which is great!
That is what it means to me to be in my Chrysalis. Claiming my metamorphosis, heartbreak by heartbreak, victory by victory. And even (especially) when it's painful, I am going to celebrate the fuck out of being in this gooey, potent stage.
(I like gooey things. I like warm chocolate chip cookies and s'mores and fondue. Goo can be delicious.)
At this point, I haven't decided whether becoming the Butterfly is something I can actually do in this lifetime or not. Maybe life is one big Chrysalis. TBD.
But for right now, I'm celebrating the goo stage.
If you'd like to celebrate with me, you can follow me on Instagram, or tag your own Instagram posts with #dispatchesfromthechrysalis if you'd like to celebrate your own goo stage. (Feel free to tag me, too - I'm @mariahmwrites.)
Speaking of major soul-change, I want to remind you about something I'm cooking up...
The Desire Map
10-Week Virtual Workshop
September 10-November 26, 2018
Starting Monday, September 10, I'm doing an online Desire Map workshop - possibly my last one ever. (There will only be a second one if I have to turn folks away for this one.)
I love this motherfucking process. I can't wait to share it with another group.
We'll meet for an hour via video chat (Zoom) every week and ask the oomph-y questions: What's working and not working in your life right now? How do you want to feel? What would make you feel that way?
In between, you'll have homework! Lots of writing, reflection, responding to questions you usually don't get asked. You're gonna get to know yourself REAL well.
At the end, you'll come out of this process with a handful of goals and intentions to pursue in the next year-ish. All of those goals and intentions will be based on how you want to feel, rather than the expectations of your younger self, your family, your peers, or the kyriarchy. Less bullshit and resentment, more authenticity and alignment. Yummy yummy.
The Desire Map is a process that has changed my life, and the lives of dozens of folks I've worked with. I'm no longer going to be facilitating the Desire Map after March 2019, when my license expires; more on that decision here.
But in the meantime, let's have ourselves a time.
More info here. Registration fees are on a sliding scale, based on your income minus certain expenses such as childcare, immigration costs, or medical expenses.
I am also holding space for one partial scholarship recipient. Priority is given to queer, trans, and POC participants, but anyone who self-identifies as low-income may apply; contact me to inquire.
Psst...is one-on-one more your speed? Wanna hit the ground running when you come back from summer? Curious about coaching? Let's talk, my love. Click here to learn a bit more about me and how I work, or read some testimonials - if you're inspired, you can schedule a free consult with me or just contact me.
P.S. Want missives like these sent directly to your inbox? Get my emails! You'll get extra love notes that I don't publish online, secret discounts, treats from around the Internet, and more.