Its Been A Long Time, But You See........ Its all a Part of Me

I apologize for not posting here too much lately. My life has been otherwise consumed for the last 10 months as I prepared for and completed my vision quest of sailing to Hawaii in the 2016 Singlehanded Transpac Race. I have been writing about my process and experience the whole time on my sailing blog. Please visit me over there if you feel inclined! I realized this morning that all of this is so intertwined that I should share about it here in my art world as well. My creative practice informs everything I do, and sailing is no exception.

So here is one of my most recent posts that I feel is one of the most poignant with regard to my personal growth:

 Haunani and I leaving San Francisco after our start

Haunani and I leaving San Francisco after our start

 An elated me shortly after finishing in Hanalei Bay

An elated me shortly after finishing in Hanalei Bay

Coming Home to Myself

As the weeks fly by since my return from sea, the details of my voyage are sadly starting to blend together. It’s a bit disconcerting how fast the memories are fading into a snapshot. Granted, it is a larger than life and oh-so vivid snapshot that is forever emblazoned on my brain, but from where I sit now in my comfy backyard sipping on a glass of red, it is easy to start romanticizing and capsulizing the whole experience. My voyage is surely deserving of some romanticization (is that even a word?), but it is more so deserving of being memorialized with radical honesty. Even though my sail across the Pacific transcends most things in my life, I feel the same about it as I do all of my life’s experiences: it would be nothing without all of its peaks and valleys. In my opinion, the valleys of any experience seem to produce the most gems and it is in those challenging and dark moments that I find my deepest transformation. Life is alchemy if I allow it to be so. This trip was certainly no exception and I am finding out more each day just to what extent I have been and continue to be transformed.

I cannot tell you how many people told me before I left things like “you will be different when you get back”, and “this trip is going to change you”. Because I agreed (I mean, how could I not return a changed woman after over 2 weeks alone at sea?), I kept searching for the sure to be monumental change in myself as the days ticked away out there. I have kept searching for it after landfall…partially in order to be able to answer all of the eager questions to that effect. Was I changed? Am I somehow more evolved or confident as a result of this epic trip? Well, although I certainly feel something major has shifted (and continues to shift) in me, to be honest I don’t feel that different. What I do feel, after much soul searching however, is a deeper sense of who I already knew myself to be. Maybe that IS what they meant by different, either way, it certainly is a powerful revelation for me.

As I have mentioned many times, my whole trip except for a few days was very rough. I think there was a part of me that was minimizing or doubting that fact based on my lack of experience with such things. I would hear my Dad’s and brother’s tales of their crossings…. relaxing book reading sessions on the foredeck, or peaceful sunset happy hours in the cockpit… echoing in my brain as I clung on to various handholds on my heaving vessel under stormy skies. No one said anything about being tossed about violently while barreling along in 25-30 knot winds, where trying to imbibe a sip of water let alone wine in the cockpit would be a challenge. Still, I rolled with it thinking that maybe I had heard wrong….or more accurately, maybe this really wasn’t so rough after all. Thankfully I didn’t have to rely on my videos to validate anything, because they make my trip look like a walk in the park (I still don’t get why). Upon my arrival to Hanalei, the magnitude of the atypical conditions was promptly corroborated by two 5-time veterans of this race. One said, “you sure picked the worst year ever to do this race”, and they each said to me separately that it was the roughest trip they have ever had. Bittersweet, but the good news to me was the confirmation that I was not losing my marbles or exaggerating the intensity of what I just went through in my mind….PHEW! When I look back on it, I am not sure how I ever questioned myself, because there really was no respite from Haunani’s violent movement for most of my trip. We rarely saw wind under 20 knots (it was more like 27-35 most of the time).

When I decided to join this race, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was a greenhorn. I had no offshore experience, not even on a crewed trip. At that point, my longest and roughest trip had been a sail with my dad from Maui to Hawaii Island in 1985. In fact until I arrived in the SF bay, I had only sailed in wind over 20 knots a handful of times, most of which were in the last year. To be honest, I was probably more tuned into what I lacked in experience than I should have been, to the point of being really tough on myself (one of my bad habits) and feeling like I had to justify my choice to pursue this goal to the more experienced sailors in my life. At the same time, however, I also had a deep sense of the fact that I would be able to handle it. I had my fears of course, but as I have said before, I knew that “it was in me”. This deep knowing is what I believe has been deeply strengthened and elevated above the doubts as a result of my journey, because what I found out out there in the “watery disk”, is that exactly what I needed is indeed in me…and then some.

What I am about to share is hard for me to talk about, because of my aversion to sounding cocky (aka: playing big), but I think it is important. I think that so many of us (especially women) downplay our innate strengths as a result of societal conditioning and consequential bad habits. I am certainly guilty of this. I can say now that the (at first unknown) underlying reason for setting out on this journey was to unravel this habit. I have been called out many times for playing small, as well as for being critical of myself and downplaying my strengths. One of the last things Thomas said to me before I left was “ your capabilities are far beyond what you think they are Margie”. I heard various versions of the same thing from people close to me as I prepared to leave. I didn’t fully take it in because it was more comfortable to be invested in some deep-rooted negative belief (that could oddly co-exist with my innate confidence). So here is the nugget that I have come away with and I believe I finally truly understand. Tears actually come to my eyes as I write this. My investment in playing small and the fact that it can co-exist with my innate confidence is all because of a deep fear of how people might react if I rise into the biggest version of myself. I have craved the ability to step into my power and confidence and have strived dilligently for it over the years, all the while undermining it with aforementioned stupid habit.  Well, maybe it’s not totally stupid because I am sure it served to protect me on some level as a kid or adolescent, but as I approach the mid century mark, I see it for what it is: complete and utter bullshit! It serves no one, least of all me. My time at sea has pulled this into sharp focus and has made me realize something huge: The reason I like to sail alone is that I do not have to play small. I knew I could not accomplish this feat of sailing to Hawaii by doing so (even though I clung fiercely to it until the moment I pulled away from the dock), and when I am around others, especially those I perceive to know more than me or have more experience than me, I all too easily step away from my own power and into that small place. When I am alone, I do no such thing. My wish for myself is to be able to integrate these two things and live my daily life the way I lived at sea, where I felt safe and entitled to be the full version of myself. No apologies, no explanations, no rationalizations, no tiptoeing.....just full-on unadulterated me.

What I saw clearly out there was a strong and capable woman, who despite some moaning and groaning didn’t get rattled by much. People keep asking me if I was scared out there, and my honest answer is no. I wasn’t, and it wasn’t because there did not exist scary things, it was because I knew in my guts that I could handle it all. There are people who have questioned my abilities and expertise, but at the end of the day, I knew (and then just to be sure, proved it to myself) that I could take care of business out there. Of course I had support and needed encouragement sometimes. Its like life….just because I allow myself to be vulnerable and ask for help or support, does not mean I am weak or incapable. In fact I think asking for help is one of the bravest things we can do. Admitting our human-ness and embracing vulnerability is a huge strength. My tendency to do so is often mistaken for weakness, but as I sailed alone out there in the great blue, I felt no weakness….only wholeness. I realize that I need to now embody that wholeness in my daily life. I think that the reason people might mistake my vulnerability for weakness at times is because I allow it, and even play into it. My commitment to myself from now on is to STOP IT (seriously, watch this video...its hilarious!). I hope anyone else who struggles with this will join me. We are doing a disservice to the world by not living from and sharing the full version of who we are. I believe that as a result of this voyage, this is finally shifting in me. If by sharing my struggles and successes with this huge change, I can offer even a morsel of inspiration for even one other person to step into the glory of themselves, I will be so happy. We can all keep reminding each other!!  Deal?

**If you want to read more about the power of vulnerability, please do yourself a favor and check out any and all work by one of my heroes, Brene’ Brown. Here are a few links:

Her TED talk on the topic that went viral

She has written many books on the topic, but my favorite is Daring Greatly

In other news....Ill be back into my studio next week!! Let the art flow!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

Letting Go

Shifting Gears

 

For the past 7 months, I have been running around non-stop preparing for my big sailing adventure. I haven’t talked much about it here, but if you are interested, please read about it on my other blog, SailingHaunani. I am participating in the Singlehanded TransPac on July 2, so my life has been consumed by all things sailing lately. Making art is always on my mind, but I have allowed it to settle into the distant recesses lately. That is until yesterday when the pull into my studio could not be denied. I was supposed to go on a practice sail, but when those plans changed, I surrendered to my creative urges and dove into my studio for a few hours. I pulled out old pieces that had been laid to the side and breathed new life into them. It was amazing how much flowed out of me in a short time. I guess it had all been bottled up in there! What I am really amazed about (and reminded of…AGAIN) is that once I open that door, the creative juices start flowing and are almost unstoppable.

Since my life has been so single purposed lately, a lot of areas have gone untended. My creative practice and my spiritual practice are two biggies. It felt so good to show a little love to myself in this way yesterday. I felt so nourished and so deeply satisfied. I was able to process some things that have been lingering, or more accurately that I have been avoiding. I was able to dive into those places yesterday. I took a deep swim in grief, loss, disappointment, and exhaustion. I still have not fully realized what came out of it, but I will say that I feel different today. Things are stirred up, and in my morning writing session today, I was able to chip away some (previously elusive) healing nuggets to chew on. I could see more clearly and feel more deeply into so much that had until now been a confusing swirl.

The theme for me right now is letting go. I must let go of so much. I am not sure why that is so scary or hard, but it is. I am grateful to my creative practice for showing me where I need to go and what I need to do. I hope to dive back in later today for more clarity and more release. I suspect that no matter what I do, just that one act of getting into my studio healed some places in me that needed healing. Art really does heal!

Here are some pieces I worked on. All are in process....just like me!

Digging Through The Layers

To say that I have been in a huge funk the past month would be an understatement. I have been trying very hard to hide it (mainly from myself), but that’s not really working anymore. Over the past few days, I have come to a place where paying attention is the only option. So…..I reluctantly tiptoed into my art studio, recalling from somewhere in the recesses of my mind that making art heals me. I'm obviously being a little facetious here, but it is also true. For as long as I have been making art, and teaching others to use the creative practice as a healing tool, I STILL forget this simple and powerful fact at times (kind of a lot actually). Well, maybe forget isn’t the right word…I think ignore is more appropriate. Sometimes I ignore the call to my own healing. This time it has been because I am scared. I’m not often scared of my own dark places, but right now I am. I am just starting to process it all, and it is very deep and personal, but I would love to share where I arrived today as I dusted off the cobwebs, both literal and creative. There were ALL kids of voices telling me to stop, to walk away, that everything I made was shitty and worthless…I could go on and on. What I have learned over the years though, and what I trusted today (even though I didn’t feel like it), is to keep going no matter what. I kept going and what came out was layers and layers of tar like feelings. They are the entry point. Tomorrow I will go back in and greet them again and keep excavating. One foot in front of the other……

 

The dark thoughts, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. --Rumi