Towards the end of June, I had the opportunity to do the altar installation for Sayrah Garrison’s second workshop in her series: Ready? Set. Flow! A 5Rhythms Trilogy. I had the honor of being on Sayrah’s Deep Dive Oakland crew for the past year of 2018, which turned out to be my last of over eight years living in the East Bay.
In my first year living in the East Bay, I made an installation to go along with my essay, “The Red Frame,” in which I created two narrow doors 12 feet high with 83 red scarves overflowing from the sides to represent the countless possibilities open in those liminal moments of transition. In 2011, I was working on my first MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Saint Mary’s College of California, and I had just moved to Walnut Creek, California from the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I felt like I was standing on the threshold of the true beginning of my life, and everything was about to burst open within a year, or maybe two: the untapped grief of being surrendered at birth, a healthy emotional life, writing career success, my dream house, and the life I had been imagining since I was a young child, pacing the floors of the old Victorian farmhouse I grew up in but never felt entirely safe in, and thinking about living in a house that was truly full of the light and beauty I craved, friends outside of my parents and school teachers, and the realness or concreteness that fueled the desire for a new frame to come into physical existence.
It took five more years for those red doors to come slightly more down to earth. When I moved in 2016, after the group of toxic addicts I was entangled with got me evicted, I thought I would never be able to live anywhere nice again, but I ended up in my favorite apartment I have ever lived in up in the sky with a loft and more light than I had ever seen before. I had to let go of the bottom parts of the doors, but I had the top parts floating in my gallery space—living in the sky. As majority Air and Water, I found it beautiful but ungrounding to be in the sky myself, so I spent the past three years working on grounding, centering, and rooting myself through the 5Rhythms, Open Floor Movement Practice, Somatic Experiencing, Transformative Studies, Embodying the Feminine, and psychospiritual wholeness.
At the end of 2018, I completed a year-long soul inquiry, my first soul’s journey after the completion of my first Saturn Return, and I took my second 5Rhythms Shadows workshop (this one also with Sayrah). After touching into those first layers of darkness, I ended up actually moving into my dream house, realizing I had those friends I had been dreaming about as a child, who also oddly share my first initial as their first initial, and now in 2019, all those things I thought I was on the verge of in 2011 have fully come into existence. I have entered the shallow waters of my adoption loss and grief, forgiven my birthmother for surrendering me at birth and for the sexual abuse I have realized happened in foster care in Korea during those first few months of my life, felt immense gratitude for being raised by people who are truly capable of loving me and giving me everything I have ever wanted that they are able to give me, forgiven my recent abusers and released the remaining energy that bound us. I have also become more present to what I am experiencing in the moment.
As I was dancing around the altar installation of the Set. Workshop, it occurred to me that even my red doors are now open and full of things that have been co-created with my tribe and my friends. Each day of the three-day workshop was a different possibility of Fire, Earth, and Water. Each day was different but had some of the same objects.
With the coming of the New Year cycle between 2018 and 2019, I had felt the end or closing of an eight year life cycle for me, but now in the Spring/Summer of 2019, I have felt what it really means to feel like that eight year cycle is complete and to let go or release any lingering threads. It’s been an eight-year journey with these red doors, which have come with me to each place I have lived in California, and along the way they have come down to earth and come open.
I am finally working on my second essay for my Red collection as well, and I see how I am living inquiry not only with my bowler hat persona, but with my other artistic endeavors too. I am an a/r/tographer, and I don’t feel like I need to validate it so much as I feel into how I am already living it.
Truly embodying it will be the work of the next few years and projects. The body tracing outline we completed on the final day of the Set. Workshop in comparison to the one I did in Sayrah’s first workshop trilogy on Body, Mind, and Spirit also shows the work I’ve accomplished between the Spring of 2017 and the Spring of 2019. In my first one, my legs were crossed (as they usually are), and I was very symbolic, metaphoric, wordy, and in my head. The new body drawing shows me in a relaxed and receptive position, much more embodied and less wordy. Rather than all the energy flowing out from my hands as in the first, the second has the energy moving down from my hips to my feet and uses green and red to show where it’s flowing and where it’s closed. Even though there are parts of me that are still closed, I am set with my new frame, and the doors are now open, allowing for new metaphors to carry me through the next cycle of my living inquiry.
Anyone interested in joining the last workshop Flow! towards the end of September can register here. I will be doing the altar again!