Healing anxiety (and my own anxiety journey)

If you struggle with anxiety, I wrote today's letter for you. I’m going to share my personal anxiety story, how I experience anxiety today and five tips that I hope will serve you in your own journey.

The first time I became aware of anxiety

The first time I remember feelings of anxiety becoming very obvious in my life was during my first year of university.

The perilous business of true art

Are you ready?
Strip off then.
Go on, everything.
Yes, that too.
Right down to your wiggly bits.
Feel exposed?
Yes, yes, ok.
Now, see those stairs?
Go ahead, climb up, stage left.
Walk through the black curtain and make your way to front centre.
There's a white cross taped to the floor there.
You can't miss it.
Stand right on the cross and
don't move.
Ready? It's about to start.
Lights are going up.
What's that? You want to know how this will go?
Sorry, that's not a part of this deal.
None us knows what happens next.
You signed up for this.
Now, go!
.
.
.

There, there, all finished.
Breathe.
How did it go?
Oh God, they didn't like it?
Really, they rejected everything?
Said it was ridiculous?
That you were out of your mind?
That you had no chance of making it?
That they didn't get it?
That it wouldn't work?
Couldn't work?
That you weren't...good enough?
Shit, that sucks, I know.
.
.
.
Here, rest on my shoulder a while.
I don't mind the snotty tears, honestly; we all need that,
sometimes.
All done? Good, good.
Now,
ready to go again?
Excellent, my friend, excellent.
Welcome to the life of the true artist.
You have officially
come
alive.

[To artists and creators everywhere. To those who risk the new. Those who stand naked over and over again with their heart in their hands saying, 'I made this. What do you think?' To the ones who know they'll suffer rejection, and create anyway. To those with the unpopular messages which need to be heard and dare to speak. To those who choose what feels honest and true over what is sure to work. To all of you, you have my highest fucking respect.]

Love and courage,

Leah

The endless invitation

Old energies rush forward
the way the tide comes into the bay near my home;
without warning and at a speed quicker
than galloping horses,
leaving you frothing like a wild sea.
Inadequacy, familiar as a childhood blanket;
unworthiness, a playground friend
tugging on your limbs, wanting
to swallow your Presence down.

Breathe.

They say you should never struggle against quicksand
it only
pulls you more quickly down.

The waves of inadequacy crash at the shore,
debris of guilt, shame and sadness alongside.
But where are you?
Sitting quietly on the craggy rocks
your favourite spot
a witness to this ancient energetic tide.
Knowing that these waves cannot harm you
cannot touch you
you bless their coming;
their endless invitation to
wake.

Love and courage,

Leah

The man who rolled the lemons. A poem about alchemy and significance

Ordinarily, the people at the supermarket checkout
take the items that roll easily - lemons, apples and such
and guide them with a careful hand
down that slight incline that leads towards your waiting bags.
But he was different.
He scanned my three lemons
before giving them a playful shove
sending them roly-poly-ing toward me.
I laughed and he shot me a mischievous smile saying,
”It’s the best part of my day.”
Two bulbs of garlic were next in line
but they would not roll on account of their nobbles
and our eyes met in a conspiratorial giggle.
Before I left, I wished for him that many people would come in search of loose lemons this day.
Joy followed me like a light shadow
until the sun slept and then still when it woke again
and I prayed for all people to know
that an insignificant action and, therefore,
an insignificant life
are not things that exist.
He rolled three lemons and made joy and poetry;
a master alchemist in disguise.
We will likely never know all the ways our lives reach beyond ourselves
but we can be sure in our hearts that they do.

Love and courage,

Leah

Rebellion, mischief and originality in a world that favours conformity

Offer me all the material success in the world. Sew my bedsheets with golden thread and hang diamonds from my curtains. Fill my bank accounts with rubies and embed emeralds on the tips of my shoes. Kiss my hands and bow deep at my feet. Speak of my great achievements with respect and awe. Fly me business class around the world and wait dutifully in line for a signed copy of my international bestseller. Quote me in journal articles and invite me on Oprah. Sing my praises to all who will listen. Know my authority and expertise.

Offer me all the material success in the world and I will reject it all if it comes at the cost of true expression. What is a life for if not to be oneself?

The light of rebellion, mischief and joy glitters in the eyes of my young twin nieces. I pray it never dulls. Born but minutes apart, their differences make up the utter beauty of this world. A unique expression of one, indivisible whole. The gift of each of us births rivers of salt from my eyes. Perhaps we will never know just how splendid our originality.

Yet with time, most of us get smudged. A little rounding off here. A little smoothing off there. Recruited into groups that blend us into one another so much that in the end there is little left to tell us apart. We feel relatively safe. Maybe we are pretty successful. People like us. We fit in. We move with the crowd.

But just beneath the dry, tired surface, true expression still flows. A creative force that’s hot like blood pushes at the door of your heart and begs to be let in and then up and out!

When a baby is born, an artist is born. The world is full of artists who have forgotten their gifts. Heavenly blessings smothered under rules, authority and fear. Find your way back now. It is not too late until the last breath is taken. Cut the cords that tie you to a flavourless life. Discover the truth and words your heart alone wishes to speak. Risk your reputation for the fire of your untamed creativity. Rejoice in the vulnerability of standing alone. Let Love burst through your red-rich veins and colour this world in the way it can only ever do through you.

What is a life for if not to be oneself?

Love and courage,

Leah

Oblivion for the light

I have never known an emptiness like this.
Motivation left me for other lovers long ago.
It returns, but with dwindling frequency
and only ever
to steal a clumsy kiss in the dark night.
It rouses me with its passionate promises of becoming
and for a brief moment
my pulse starts up again with hope.
This time, perhaps, it will stay;
reignite the rudder to drive this life.
But it does not stay and is never sustained.
It plants itself on my lips only, it seems, as a cruel tease;
a reminder of how we used to be.
Surrender to the oblivion is the only door out.
That, I know.
Yet like a floozy I keep falling for the old tricks
and find myself too often back in bed
with desire and hope.

Love and courage,

Leah

A radically different approach to New Year

Year end.
Imaginings of new beginnings.
Vision boards, desire lists, longings, I wants.
Goals, focus, commitment, plans.

And yet
what year, ever
turned out that way?

Are we worried, maybe
that without our lists, life will give us nothing
but bad apples?
That a good life is one
we have to dream in advance?

Do we dare imagine the possibility of
stopping?
And instead
submerging ourselves in the Now.

Could beauty not be found that way?
Or dreams beyond our imaginings come true?

Would life stand still if
we laid our pens down to rest a while
and took the hand of the moment
outstretched in an invitation to dance
intimate and passionate
merged and sweaty
until the clock strikes midnight
and a new year begins.

Then, perhaps, we will take up our pens again
and return to our old ways.
Or,
perhaps,
those fiery moments spent in tango with the moment
were enough to convince us
to keep dancing this way
the whole year through.
Moment to sweet moment
what might we find?

I guess we will never know unless
we try.

Love and courage,

Leah