It’s that time of year where we explore our creativity with all the spookiness of Halloween & it’s changing colours-including our own. With Halloween soon, scary stories fill the chilly air, ushered in whispered tones to send goosebumps spiking upon our skin like mushrooms rising from moss. Those scary stories can be rooted in a fear far from that of sci fi or fantasy - it can be a horror story that is so relatable that it makes us all wonder what will come next in the horror story that we can all relate to - life & all its strangeness.
Good horror stories make you ponder the realities of life as well as make your skin crawl, so I thought I’d explore some of those phycological themes often explored in horror… how we internalise these daily horror stories. Whether it’s trauma, anxiety, pure hopelessness, rejection sensitivity dysphoria or low self-esteem, we are all victim of falling fowl to life’s nightmare, just as much as the leaves around us are dying & falling to the ground.
Horror story number 1:“what if I feel numb, sad or scared?”
Autumn time is the birth of new life & growth. Yet, I feel empty & sad. Fear gnaws at me if the unknown. I recently rolled into a forest & witnessed the dance of leaves dying, pirouetting to the floor in colours of fire, & I reached down to stroke the gentle leaves, crunching at my fingertips, overwhelm rising as I hide my sadness.
Autumn is a magical time for growth & harvest, & if you’re anything like me, a time to ponder how we change as a society & as individuals – the sadness in the dying leaves within our surroundings & the changing colours within us, too.
As I look at the growth & beauty, I was reminded of all the chaos of our world. How easily footsteps could crush these growths. How easily us humans can be crushed by the weight of injustice. All The sadness we humans experience. How hopeless & unimportant it can seem, in the grand scheme of things. It is important, though & valid.
It got me thinking about how we so often avoid sadness. We Try not to think or feel, to avoid getting hurt. Try To not feel the pain. Walls go up-nothing gets in; We become numb in a shell, desperate to protect. We chase a dream, a fleeting high to distract us from our troubles. It helps sometimes, but at some point, we come back to reality.
It shouldn’t be a crash back to reality, though. It doesn’t have to be bad. Feeling our true emotions, instead of hiding from them should be welcomed - even if it is scary. One of the main reasons so many of us scoff at the idea of mindfulness or letting ourselves feel negative emotions, is because at some point we were hurt in the past, sadness remaining unhealed because it jeopardised us in a moment of defence modes where we had to ignore to survive. Fear prevents us from making what our brain believes to be a mistake – by feeling & reacting to sadness or trauma or establish the root of why we feel numb - even though our hearts try to teach us it can maybe be helpful to sometimes explore these emotions & let them in; feel the sadness, try to understand it, learn from it & try to grow.
It’s important. A valid part of humanity & our diverse lived experiences; it shouldn’t be undermined or ignored.
Without this meaningful collection of emotions, we would not learn, or grow, we would not find meaning in our experiences; truly understand love, loss & the soothing wonders of healing. Of-course we grow better if we didn’t face trauma – & sometimes, the horror of life is so raw that it is not yet safe to face it in all its monstrous glory, like with cases of PTSD (your brain blocks the memories & gives you flashbacks for a reason) - however learning through the sadness & focusing on physical emotions – & not necessarily focusing on memories themselves, can sometimes help us really understand who we are, & our good intentions, & start to live shame free at our trauma responses, defence modes, or reactions.
Sadness is necessary. Uncomfortable & tragic, maybe, but a healthy necessity.
We should feel like we can allow ourselves to find meaning in our feelings & experiences – even if that meaning, is the eventual realization that you did what you could, & you survived in a way that was safest for you with your emotional capabilities at the time. Theres not really a right or wrong way to survive trauma – especially if you one day take accountability for any potential harm you caused & try to make amends. Surviving is all about growth, as much as living – survival means that you discover the art within you, to be better than who you were before, & to do that, you have to take the journey – the rollercoaster of negative emotions - & see what it tries to teach you, with a heart full of compassion, for your sadness, trauma, defence modes & changing colours.
Society tries to teach us to ignore sadness or injustice or trauma - instead to chase perfection, reach for unhealthy goals & highs, no matter the cost to our #MentalHealth. Yet the reality is that there is no shame to being sad or scared, because these emotions help teach you what your values are, where the injustice lays, & what you can do to help protect what matters most to you... it’s a beautiful teacher, even if its also a beautiful disaster.
Today I saw the #AutumnLeaves dance & fall to the acorn littered floor - instead of #Sadness I #Smile - because it’s okay to feel sad – its teaching me to grow. With that thought, I stroke the cool grass & smile as I see all this new life. My mood blossoming like the world around me.
It’s beautiful here, & so is life - even with its sadness & fragility.
Horror story number 2: “why bother, when my efforts don’t matter? Everything is hopeless!”
Aka… how can I escape this void & survive when my efforts don’t make a difference?!
Many of us feel lost, unmotivated to our passions, our cause or unwilling to spread ourselves so thinly just to help others, because it just seems rather fruitless, when the ‘help’ doesn’t amount to much.
You advocate & give to charity, you sign petitions & yet war & hatred & faschc1sm still rages.
It can seem so hopeless when your own community is filled with light & love & acceptance & people just like you, & then you escape into the outside world & pass people on the street who glare at you for being different. Its tough when you read news articles of endless humanitarian struggles & watch the news & realise… what difference are we really making in this hellscape? Where’s the love? Where’s the art of humanity within us?
My carers feel it; when they help care for me 121 most hours a day in the hope of progress & yet I am STILL disabled.
I know I feel unmotivated to ‘help’ or advocate, when I look at just how far the world has to go to understand autism or in human rights - & just how thinly spread & disabling my efforts already are.
You struggle to feel inspired to ‘help’ at such a cost when it seems hopeless?
I want you to know that Advocates struggle too, to inspire when the world is less than motivating…We may ask ourselves ‘what is the point?’ With the world locked into a spiral of destruction, many dy1ng, disease, w4r, poverty & climate change… what point is there in making art? In advocating or helping?
Hope… is everything.
Hope for a better future is the point - even if it doesn’t improve for us.
Then we may ask ourselves - How can a song or a story or a picture make a difference? To me, I believe that every act of creation is also an act of defiance, bravery & hope.
In the law of the butterfly effect - something as small as a butterfly's wing can sometimes summon the hurricane.
Small things can coax great change.
An act of kindness can change a life.
The hope ushered from art, music, or care, can revitalise us at our last moments - & create hope for the future too.
Art allows our stories to survive amid those who might destroy our very existence. Creating art which tells those stories is not for now, but for future generations which might need them to simply hold on to their own history. That song, that picture, that story might be the faint light of hope in someone’s dark. So we keep trying. Let us never give up on the power of peoples kindness, & hope - especially during times of such hopeless desperation.
Help, no matter how small does make a world of difference to someone & that’s all that matters.
How to help:
💫charity runs & volunteering support
💫contacting councils & peaceful protests
💫never giving up Horror story number 3: what if my failure & mistakes drag me down?
Truth: They won’t, as much, if you learn how to perceive them healthily.
Never forget that your relationship with the things you are bad at, better tell the story of who you are, your values & the art within you. Your self-esteem does not grow only from what you are good at, but your relationship with the things you are bad at because, that’s where your inner values come out to shine a light, on who you are as a person – someone who has good intentions to try, to learn, to grow, to be defiant & share hope & art. Confidence grows when we treat ourselves with compassion & shame free judgement when we make mistakes or fail, as long as we take accountability too – we can grow in resilience & have the inner faith to keep trying even with mistakes, because all winners failed. If you approach these mistakes & failures & hard work with endearing paint brushes of self-approval & gratitude for your efforts & good intentions, you realise that even the bad art, can still be beautiful, because every mark, every brush stroke, every fleck of colour or light that wasn’t meant to be there can build a picture of something complicated & delightful & something that shows emotional wrath & power. Through mistakes you’ll learn what it means to try your best, even when you felt like you didn’t try at all – because your faith will grow that, you putting in 5% when you only had 5% of emotional capability to give, is still giving 100%, therefore you tried your best. Art is subjective, but so is beauty & power & failure – so is, what it means to try our best, & succeed.
You smashed some pumpkins? We all have. You messed up the pumpkins carvings?! Don’t worry! You tried, didn’t you? The only way to create more art in the future is to learn how to, & you won’t learn how to if you throw every ill-conceived canvas away, out of fear of what it means to succeed. This trickery & scary relatable true life story, inspired this weeks blog -
Your mind is like a canvas; a Jack-O-Lantern - every bad thought or thing you are bad at is stored in there.
For me, it is filled with the things I am bad at - many things - like maths & science & processing information. However, if I were to just give up on these hardships beauty - the art yet to be found within them - I would never turn those canvases or pumpkins into art. I would never paint over those stark marks, carve away the negative, & start a fresh to try & capture art & its journey to wisdom or inner acceptance. I don’t have to be winning at life, to be a good person. I don’t have to make obvious progress to have good intentions or good efforts – anything other than that is ableist.
I need to learn to build resilience & humility through failures. While my efforts are always valid, I must also admit that sometimes my (literal) art is rubbish because my hands shake when I draw & I get dizzy, & my mathematical skills are poor because I don’t process information & shutdown when scanning for patterns – these failures don’t mean I didn’t put in all energy & good intentions into my efforts. Sometimes even though I try my head just doesn’t wrap around basic concepts like other people can. Sometimes my disability does hold me back – I cannot be enabled all the time, or it wouldn’t be a disability - & that’s not my fault because disability does not say a bad thing about me, my efforts, my potential or my good intentions & humanity. My attitude to this realisation – (that I will fail & will make mistakes, even if I try my best) - being positive & shame free & coming from a place of growth, is more important than the understanding that I can focus on my strengths or that I can practise maths to get better with a good tutor for example.
We must look at our strengths through a lenses to capture it, but we must also strive to keep trying to make art out of those mistakes marks & bumps & mistakes & failures. I need to let myself understand that both these thought processes exist together – I can improve & be enabled with accessibility & reasonable adjustments & time out, but also, I am disabled & cannot be enabled to the point of not being disabled & I will also make separate mistakes because I am human. There’s beauty to be found in that acceptance, that it says nothing bad about us.
From mistakes, art is born.
Horror story number 4: “will I ever be good enough if I am not meeting my own or societal or loved ones expectations?”
Just like a Jack-O-Lantern, we must empty out some of ourselves, to be someone else’s canvas. Be weary, of what you allow others, to paint within your portrait - & don’t forget, their canvases of different depictions of your portrait don’t have to be truly representative of you - only you can paint your own true story. Only you can carve that pumpkin. So make it a story worthy of you.
In other words, ignore them haters & try to remind yourself that not meeting expectations doesn’t make you a bad person just because others try to paint you as a villain!
Find the timeless art within you can be difficult when you are reliant on other perceptions of art & beauty & perfection & what story they want to tell the world.
I could tell a magazine a story of truth or hope & inner acceptance or beauty & they could put me in front of cameras & mould me to model the story they want to tell, the art they wish to share. I am at the mercy of their paint brush, as are we all.
That’s why we tell our own stories, sing our own songs & create our own art from the very essence of who we are, to best be in control of the paint brush - & our own feelings at being objectified into a small grey box that society thinks depicts art – instead you find the art within you, the hardships, your failures, your efforts & your quirks & gift & strength & you use them all to paint a canvas worthy of you, you carve a pumpkin that is for you, & you only & you keep painting, you keep creating the art within you, so others can see the light shining within you, too. The journey is where the beauty is, your continued effort is where the art is; & your story is the timeless art that should never be moulded by someone’s else’s paint brush. You should never empty yourself of who you are, & your inner values, just to shine someone else’s light. In other words, masking doesn’t help us, even though filling ourselves with our own light is so much harder done, than said.
Stay true to you & your art (your inner light, values, & efforts).
Horror story number 5: “I’m changing… so is my life! what if I’m unworthy of success or happiness? I’m not who I used to be. I care about different things now…”
You are worthy.
Sometimes we may feel as if we are unworthy or that our relationship with success or our efforts is not rooted in positivity.
If you imagine you are a tree, your roots are your experiences that mould you to become who you are, your trunk becomes your values & dreams, your branches swing about & become your actions & your leaves of good intentions dance around as you branches move.
In autumn time for trees, & quite regularly for us humans, there comes a time of challenge & change & scary times, where our leaves of good intentions & passions fall to the ground.
In these times it can feel like our leaves of good intentions & passion to help or advocate, are wasted or useless… dying, even. The horror story in life making us forever ponder… what if I am just not good enough?
We may feel as if our leaves of passion, may fall to the ground, Yet, if we keep faith in our good intentions & ability to grow & learn through mistakes, inner love can still be found. We must remind ourselves that we are like a blooming tree, that sprinkles it’s autumnal leaves in delight. Standing the test of time, weathered, & scarred maybe, but standing tall, powerful, branches dancing in the wind, & emitting the oxygen & beauty others need to survive & thrive too. So, even when love for hope, faith, or our actions & intentions may appear to be dying, the leaves of passion, are like us. They change colour before they fall, they become at one with the ground & the mulch, & are absorbed into the roots of the tree once again. Even if our efforts seems pointless, they are like leaves, that can teach us to grow in the future. If we find community & hope in safe loved ones or trusted adults, we can attune ourselves to each person’s leaves of good intentions & passion – we can remind ourselves of how much someone has helped us, or helped others, & have faith that we are all shining light for others lost in the dark too, like a jack o lantern in the porch in the dead of night. Just like a tree shaking its branches to sprinkle moonlight onto the golden floors, for lost travellers to see through the brambles. We are all in this together, & together everyone achieves more because we are a team. While our good intentions are like leaves falling to the floor, we must remember that those leaves help too – our good intentions & passions matter because they help shin the light within us. So, together our leaves of good intentions start dancing, then flying, loving, as we fall to the ground, We know now that inner acceptance & love can still be found, & so we discover, as our colours change, together, that we are indeed the gold of nature, the light within a Jack-O-Lantern & If you look closer, Those leaves of passion, that feed into our roots & help us grow & develops, those leaves of dying colours are the same leaves as before & so, together, love can always still be found – our leaves ill grow once again, from what we learnt, & once again our leaves of good intentions will soar…
Love your changing colours & embrace the Jack-O-Lanterns that shine your inner light!
Peace friends x <3 x