So on Friday, I tripped over a manhole cover and fell on my face. Blood dripping everywhere. Thought I’d broken my nose – or some teeth – or something. I can’t believe I got away without breaking anything …
The incident has left me weary, a trifle shaky and rather fragile. Today is the first day that I’ve begun to feel like myself again.
Getting grounded has always felt like a dangerous activity for me. My fears include getting trapped, being hurt, having to relinquish my dreams and aspirations, being required to be ‘sensible’, to cease being idealistic and to stop seeing the future in optimistic terms – to name a few.
Turns out that’s not what being grounded is actually about.
I have always tended to live in my head – whether it’s grand philosophical ideas, crazy dreams or mathematical calculations. That’s where I feel most comfortable, most at home. The problem, I have discovered, about living in your head, is that you don’t get to experience life.
For a long time, I thought that was a good thing, which is probably why I stayed there. Then I started down the creative road, as my last two blogs have explained, and I suddenly realised that whilst I have a penchant for, even a wonderful ability to, dream up brilliant designs in my head, they rarely became a reality.
Did this make me not creative? I didn’t think so, but I did struggle to understand what was going on. Until I took part in our very first Chair’s Challenge at Weavers’ Guild, some thirteen or so years ago.
For this particular exercise, we were each asked to bring along a bag of fibres and to put them into a lucky dip. Everyone then had the opportunity to pull out a different, surprise, bag and we each had one year to make a scarf of some kind with what we had.
I had pulled a bag of mixed blues, all merino. They were beautiful. My favourite colour. They were crying out to be felted – I didn’t have any competence at spinning yet. So I decided to make a set of twelve felts and to stitch into them – something I learned to do at my creative embroidery class.
But I needed content. An idea to work around. I turned to my favourite author at the time: Caroline Myss. I mentioned her last week. I’d read a stunning book by her called Sacred Contracts, which talked about the archetypes we each have within us, and how they can become our guides and our friends if we take the time to get to know them. The book was packed with thoughtful, spiritual exercises to help you do this. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Each month of that year, I took one of my archetypes, having already identified them some years previously when I first encountered the book. I spent my time working on the exercises for that archetype and expressing what I discovered in felt and stitch.
To add a rich depth to the enterprise, Caroline also helps you to place your archetypes in astrological houses. This was an entirely new concept for me, one which I stepped inside tentatively, not sure what to expect.
By the end of the year, I had twelve amazing felts, which I attached to a fabulous piece of fabric to make a completely ‘over-the-top’ scarf which could never been worn – but which I still get out of its drawer on a regular basis to remind me what I uncovered about myself.
Biggest discovery of all? I think it was what I realised about my Saboteur. This is an archetype we all have in our make-up and which Caroline describes as ‘The Guardian Of Choice’.
The Saboteur turns up when you are about to make a poor decision or to retreat from a brilliant opportunity. It’s the Saboteur that makes sure you’re not too successful, that buys into your deepest fears of survival and that keeps you from engaging with change – unless you learn to work with it/him/her by discovering your courage and intuition and letting them have free reign.
My Saboteur, apparently, lives in my tenth house: the House of Highest Potential. Well, I guess if you’re going to place it anywhere, that would be the one! It seems that my highest potential and my ability to sabotage that, are intimately related. To discover the intricacies of this relationship, I began to write my way through the exercises, then stitch about what they suggested.
Caroline describes the archetype that lives in the tenth house as ‘the indicator of how your unconscious organises your thoughts when you are faced with choices that can lead you into fulfilling your potential‘. In other words, I always made sure I would sabotage myself whenever I had a chance to manifest my potential.
And how did I do that? By staying in my head! By never actually attempting to realise my potential in the real world, my Saboteur was ensuring that I would never fail. I would never succeed either, but I certainly wouldn’t fail.
I had to learn how to start taking the risks of interacting with the real, physical world and stop only thinking about being creative. I had to get on and ‘do’ creative. And learn how to rejoice when I fell flat on my face.
The embroidery I created, which grew organically as I worked, in the manner I have described before, showed me that I had no problems at all creating ‘airy-fairy’ ideas in head. What I now had to learn was how to bring them down, to earth them, to ground them – to make them manifest. Preferably, without hitting the ground too hard.