I’ll Be a Tree

‘I’ll Be a Tree’

‘I’ll be a tree, if you are its flower,
Or a flower, if you are the dew-
I’ll be the dew, if you are the sunbeam,
Only to be united with you.

My lovely girl, if you are the Heaven,
I shall be a star above on high;
My darling, if you are hell-fire,
To unite us, damned I shall die.’

 

Original Hungarian

‘Fa leszek, ha fának vagy virága.
Ha harmat vagy: én virág leszek.
Harmat leszek, ha te napsugár vagy…
Csak, hogy lényink egyesüljenek.

Ha, leányka, te vagy a mennyország:
Akkor én csillagá változom.
Ha, leányka, te vagy a pokol: (hogy
Egyesüljünk) én elkárhozom.’

Sandor Petofi
1823 – 1849

Two weeks left in Paris

I have two weeks left in Paris and then I am going on an adventure of a lifetime. It has been such an amazing experience! But I wanted to share my gratitude list!! I am thankful to be in France in recovery! I love my bacon socks and fresh bread. I love music and hot tea with a little bit of milk. I love freshly cut roses in a glass with new water. I love salmon and fresh vegetables! And I am happy with the little things and God! ❤️🦋❤️🦋 Yayyyy!!!!! It feels so amazing, and I am finally starting to feel like myself again! I LOVE LIFE 🙂

Where I will be traveling:

I am taking a flight from Paris to Budapest, Hungary. Then I will take a flight to Milan and take a train to the Swiss Alps in Italy. After that, I will take a train from Milan to Florence Italy and spend a week there and visit Venice as well. From Venice, Italy, I am taking a flight to London, England and then taking a train to Ireland where I fly home 🙂

 

french alps

I speak to you

I speak to you the way I speak to God

as if you are still here

I asked for too much – and simply it was not enough

At night you speak to me

anger

but I touch your face

and crawl into bed

you hold me

spooned like a jar of jam

grabbing my hand

it sits near your heart

and

I speak to you to the way I speak to God

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Personal Indulgence & My Relationship With My Body

My Relationship with Food

French culture is like the grace of wind. A couper le souffle means breathtaking. Walking in the streets of Paris is like a daydream that you forgot to dream. It is like reliving your life as a child, aimlessly walking in wondrous awe. It is something that strikes the very chord of what it means to enjoy life. Before I left for Paris, I was training to join some kind of dance troupe or team. Coming from Dallas, Texas and not having a ton of classical training in dance I thought maybe joining the Dallas Mavericks would be a good place to start. I was also intimidated by the dance world, it can be a scary place. However, dance in Paris is everything. It is exquisite and the movement reminds me of a brush circling a canvas with a fluidity that encompasses every breath. I’ve never felt so much guilt about my food and my relationship to food, as when I was training to be on a dance team.

 

French Pastries and The Ability to Indulge

Subconsciously, I counted my calories and stayed far away from anything that was overindulgent. I ate strictly fish and vegetables. I thought it was a part of a necessary sacrifice made to live a healthier life, so I could get strong and fuel my body with nutrients. In Paris, they don’t have this culture. They don’t care if you have ice cream and a white croissant for breakfast. They don’t care if you eat pastries and macarons. In fact, in Europe people don’t really care that much about what women do in general. Egalitarian in nature, all of Europe seems, without trying, liberated. They have traditional values, however, it just seems like they don’t try so hard. Weirdly, it has made me stop trying so hard. In general, America is a fixated culture. In America, we care so much about what people think about us, the way we look and competing to always be “better.” 

I think it also has to do with advertising and the fact that mass consumerism is a large and distinct part of our economic system. However, I am learning to love indulging myself.  Something that if I participated in the states, I would feel immense guilt.  A sort of puritan guilt, I presume. I don’t know how much weight I’ve gained because I don’t own a scale. However, I look at my body with the new little pudge on my belly and I feel sexier than I’ve ever felt before. And my dancing is the best it has ever been.

Liberation in Europe

It is my personal opinion, that we are a society that tries to become “liberated.” We march and we protest and we create all of these women’s slogans but at the end of the day, we feel so much guilt. This guilt leads us to OVER consume. I think America is a culture that is obsessed with perfectionism. We have to be the best at everything and we’re so wrapped up in our own nationalistic perception of ourselves that we’re missing out as a collective society on what it means to love our culture. We are without a culture and it is because we’re too busy trying to “make America great again.” When if we just stopped and looked around, we’d realize we’re okay. And we don’t have to try so hard. 

Indulgence in moderation is the best form of self-care you can offer yourself. Letting yourself love your body as a female is so important, and I guess I never realized that I had a tension-filled relationship with my food and my perception of the female form. I have relaxed and I don’t need to work out every day. I’m also not surrounded by American values that tell you to work, work and then work some more. Things are just a lot slower. 

It is a great feeling. And although, we may be a culture that is great at sports. Are we really a happy culture? I am starting to question this. 

Also, can I say electronic music in Europe is out of this world?

 

The Parts of Me

PAIGE

There was something in me dying to unlock the truth

That was the part of me that loved women

That used her pain to fight for justice

To advocate, march and help make the world a better place

Without guidance, that part of me turned inward unable to identify why

Searching the pain grew stronger and stronger

Eventually, the strength turned to weakness

There was a part of me that wanted hide

She saw a glimpse of what was to come and thought it must be in her mind

Wanting to be normal, there was a part of me that felt no pain when she danced

Dancing and painting where the only parts of me that felt free

Dancing and painting were the only parts of me I wanted to see

But you can’t dance and you can’t paint all day

Numbed by my journey back to innocence

That was a part of me that craved love

No more women’s issues

No more pain

Just painting, laughing, singing and loving all of my days

There was a part of me that could not be silenced

She was the one who broke the levy

There was a part of me who was so scared to die

She would do anything not to go back to that place – so she would sit and cry and cry and cry

There was a part of me that wanted to scream

She wanted to break walls, smash windows and throw everything

She felt threatened in every second, unaware of everything

She held so much pain inside

There was a part of me that felt guilt

Why, Paige?

Why are you doing this?

What is happening?

That was a part of me that wanted to love

To dance with the butterflies

And then there was a part of me that remembered

She remembered it all

And that was the part of me that just wanted to fall

To fall to the ground and never get up

There was a part of me that thought she was dead

She lived every moment in terrible dread

 

There was a part of me that just wanted to heal

To walk through life without such big ordeals

There was a part of me that just wanted to forget

to not live every moment painted with sincere regret

There was a part of me that just wanted to cry

To cry for the memories and not understanding why

Through each and every part of me, I managed to deal

Through each and every part of me, I learned how to heal

I love every part of me, I honestly do

Now can all of the parts of me

Love you too?

The Freedom to Choose – An Artist’s Narrative

When you let yourself experience the freedom of choice your life will open up to endless possibilities. Everyday we make countless of choices that define the narrative of our waking lives. Choices are presented in a variety of different ways from the cereal boxes in the grocery aisle to making the next big step in your life. Sometimes we feel stifled by our inability to choose for ourselves. We’re crippled with anxiety so profuse that we hold back and sit calmly waiting for the internal clammer to calm down, so we can stay in the straight and narrow. I’ve always found my ability to choose to be an overwhelming feeling, I struggle with the choices of daily life never knowing if I’ve made the right ones. I think that is where the majority of my anxiety comes from. As a critical thinker, I constantly evaluate and then reassess my personal actions (usually after I have already impulsively acted.) But at least that means I have a little bit of awareness into my own behavior, right? However, as an artist when I have given myself the freedom to choose my personal expression, and I allow the universe to flow freely through me without doubt or hesitation. I experience creative intuition so vast and profound it changes the course of my work. Somedays I doubt my capabilities as a creator. Somedays I wear different hats: psychologist, trauma survivor, millennial, marketer, teacher, artist. However, I think at the core who I really am is an artist. My art seeps into everything that I do. Whether it be finding new ways to move my body while cooking fish for lunch, or writing poetry in my journal to process the shapes and colors I’ve seen in a day.

I am constantly searching and looking at the world through an artistic lens.

What I have discovered most about my relationship with myself and my art is that when I am experiencing the freedom to feel and think without constriction. I am inspired to think and create without restriction. I don’t look in the mirror and critique my movement as if I am comparing myself to some of the world’s most elite dancers, nor do I create a painting with the mental block of inadequacy or personal hostility regarding my technique. I am just experiencing the proverbial flow of creation and heart. I am in the midst of being. I am exactly that. I don’t think or try. I just do it. And what I feel is release and growth in understanding my own personal identity but also healing the identities that have been structured for me by society. I allow myself to choose my personal movement and how I define what it means to move. I am outside of a structural discourse and pattern of archetypal realities. When I give myself the freedom to express with the freedom of choice, it is as if I am awakened to the potential of the millions of choices we can make. Neither one of those choices being right or wrong but apart of a cloak of intricate possibilities that shape our own personal realities.

My Identity As An Artist Is Defined By My Freedom

I think one of the biggest moments of reprieve for me in Paris was walking around the Modern Museum of Art. I was in tears half of the time just walking in one of the world’s most advanced exhibits of abstract and modern art. Literally, I was walking around this museum balling crying. I feel that the reason why some people don’t always understand modern or abstract painting is because they don’t see that these artists have embodied personal freedom. They have created their own narratives and identities as artists. When you’re an artist and you understand the awakening to that potential and you see it mastered. It is something that will change your ability to view and appreciate art itself.

Matisse, Modigliani, Kandinsky and more weren’t exceptional at realism or any of these tactile art forms. They interpreted their personal expression of the world through shape, color, light and movement. They didn’t need a name for it. They just did it. It was the freedom they allowed themselves to express.

What Can We Take From This?

I think whether or not you’re a 19th-century modern artist, you can give yourself freedom. And you can express it however you want. Take your coffee with two extra sugars and maybe stand naked in front of the mirror and laugh. Giving yourself freedom is one of the most amazing things because it will create an appreciation for the absurd or the undefined. The things in life we can’t make sense of because the truth is life is chaos. Living your life with to choose your personal freedom is how innovation, poetry, art and love are all re-conceptualized.

A Letter About Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse (repost)

“Because then I knew it was over.”

Dear Survivor,

That’s what most strive to feel about the lingering effects of childhood abuse, although not about the actual events. Those are long gone, and often dissociated from awareness.

Rather, most want to end sleepless nights and startled awakenings; feeling as if they live in a parallel universe, outside the world inhabited by ‘normal’ people who lack histories of abuse; intrusive images, feelings, sounds, and smells; the desire to drink, smoke, toke, shoot up, sex to oblivion; the avoidance of intimacy because of a seemingly endless reserve of anxiety simmering below a brittle surface of civility; or fighting because the rage never seems to dissipate and you just want to push back, because the planet is not big enough to hold all your hurt, let alone the emotional needs of another person.

At the first inkling of the wish to heal, some try to barter with themselves as a way out of this paradoxical life of repetitive chaos. This often starts with a naïvely made promise with oneself to be good. This promise usually starts with the belief that by being good and trying really hard, one day life will finally, if not miraculously, turn out differently. This is not an easy promise to let go of; even when it’s obvious you are failing miserably at keeping it.

Even so, there will still be a part of you that keeps the promise. Why? Often because of the secretly held wish that if you finally get it ‘right’ the love that wasn’t there will materialize, or your savior will come and magically change everything (releasing you from both effort and responsibility), or the opportunity for revenge will become available, and there you have it: the transformative moment you have waited for has arrived.

This I can tell you is a colossal waste of time and the imagination. Even if the perfect love, the ideal savior, or the opportunity for the most humiliating payback becomes available, you will never become who you might have been had the abuse never happened, or get the time back that you have wasted waiting for your personal Godot.

You might think I am giving you that old song and dance about picking your ass up off the curb, brushing off the dust of trauma, stomping its dirt from your shoes, and manning up to life’s inevitable trials and tribulations. Not at all. Rather, I think childhood abuse is so life-threatening that it might as well be the antimatter to thriving and creativity, and vitality’s dark matter. But because I know what it takes to heal — mainly courage, love, and lots of time — I’d rather not see you waste yours.

I grew up in Texas, in the middle of the Bible belt. My early mind stewed in New Testament ideology. It was impressed upon me, with great fear I might add, to avoid sin at all costs. As children in an Episcopalian Day School, we learned to hold our breath when we did something wrong, to look around and make sure no one was watching, to produce the image of being good for the fear of reprisal, sanctions, and shaming. If your childhood was anything like mine, it’s no wonder that for many of us the effects of childhood abuse linger in our psyches like a bad case of Candida, and only the strictest diet of goodness gives hope of salvation. But the truth is: it wasn’t your fault, and no matter how good you were or become, it still would have happened. Start loving yourself now.

Sometimes it helps to acknowledge there are a few ghosts hovering about that interfere with overcoming the impact that child abuse has had on your life. Who are these ghosts? The person who hurt you. The one who didn’t love you. The savior who didn’t come. The bully you are still afraid of. We all fight battles in our heads that our bodies never could defend against. Some of these battles are our own, others we’ve inherited from our parents and our ancestors. Sometimes simply through the act of belonging to a group we inherit ghosts. Humans are pack animals. Our psyches are permeable and inseparable. Sorting out was is yours and what is theirs is a big part of the process.

You know trauma by what it does to you. And there is an entire story I can tell you (and often do tell) about how the body responds to fear, how the amygdala gets activated, how the frontal lobes shut down, and a lot of other stuff gets tripped off, which is all true and matters if you want to get your life back on track.

But what often lingers long after the traumatic stress dissipates, or becomes manageable, is the confrontation with good and evil that child abuse initiates. What do you do with the reality that people can be so damn mean and thoughtless, selfish and cruel? What do you do with the reality that as a result of being abused you too have acted in ways for which you are not so proud, and sometimes deeply ashamed? For it really isn’t until we can hold our own humanity in its widest sense, and acknowledge the potential for good and evil in all of us, do the effects of child abuse fully relinquish their hold. And when you can fully accept this realization, then you are also able to give yourself the unconditional love that is your birthright and you will know that, whatever happened, you managed to keep your soul.

© 2014 Laura K Kerr, PhD. All rights reserved (applies to writing and photography).

And If I could write about his soul it would take me to the moon

It is sprinkling like wafts of air
It touches my nose
Covered in butterflies
My head
Your Toes

I am a butterfly

What is the clutter on the ground
Dripping water like dew on trees
A song for the blackest bird

Imagining the clouds in air
They hover delicately
Drinking raindrops from me

I lie underneath the tree listening
To the sound of raindrops falling on my skin

Leaves in the night, they glare beneath the moon
My moon, a syncopated code I long to know, which stays with me even when I sleep, I dream to know

The meaning of what I need to know, each dull flap of my butterflies wings

Body in mind
Earth in soul
Falling in the rainstorm

A cold mountain

When you make art as a way to sacrifice your soul to the sun

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How do I make my spirit go?
The taste of unrelinquished things
Dim my unsettled heart
Like light seeping through the trees
You are my art
This must be a dream world
One where I am dead
You’re in my head
You’re in my head
A friend can’t see the things I’ve seen
How do I make my spirit go?
Solitude is my tortured friend
How do I make my spirit go?
How do I lay my dreams to rest?
In the summer your heart is thick as gold
Nail this body down, don’t let me go
Paint me a sunrise
How do I make my spirit go?
A world without you is so cold
The tiniest sense of peace slipped through my fingers
Light on a tree refracted back to me
I never should have pulled the trigger

 

She Waits Patiently Through The Storm for a Life She Deserves in Her Heart

When God isn’t There.

Sometimes there is that one thing in your life that you need to heal.

It will come and rock your world and show you why everything up until this point has been the way that it is.

Sometimes that thing can be horrifying.

Sometimes that thing will break you into a million little pieces

Those pieces will be the jewels that will eventually put you back together

stronger

more whole

more complete

Sometimes waiting patiently through the storm will bring us the life we’ve always deserved

Because after the storm you’ll understand things differently

You’ll understand compassion

You’ll understand grace

You’ll be brave

You’ll be strong

You’ll understand a truth that only the cracked can see