Category Archives: words

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Becoming Storyless

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For life to really unfold there comes a day when you have to embrace your story. Where everything that used to hold you hostage in a cage of paralyzing shame, you now wear proudly like a brilliantly tailored suit- a vehicle for your infinite expansion. In doing this, you will come to an understanding beyond words of beauty and perfection, and realize a purpose that comes from deep within the infinite cave of creation where all the birds and the beasts receive their intricate detailing. You will cleanse all the data points of their pain and in doing so are left only with pure gold; gold that shines in the sun and has a feeling of substance you have never known before. These are your Gifts. It will no longer matter how you got them, as the only thing that comes to exist is their value in the present.

 

And then over time, what was once the greatest freedom, will begin to feel heavy. New murky atmospheres slowly begin to pile on. You will feel more and more confined. As life is about infinite expansion,  you will know it is again time for something to shift. I used to believe people can only know you to the degree that they know your story. Share my suffering even just a little, so I can know you love me. It’s a hostage-based system of love most of us are taught at a young age. It’s a subtle jaggedness to the bond that is ultimately rooted not so much in sharing, but in a need to control the emotions of someone else and also a subtle lack of worth. Of not knowing your own infiniteness in the present. The belief that the Now of you is not enough to create a bond. Your story has been like a handle all this time and without it, there is terror that no one will be able to hold on to you. Or even want to. Because it is all you know of yourself… but it is a fraction of your existence.

 

But you will know it is time to cast aside that suit, for it no longer fits in all the right places. It doesn’t feel as good or as freeing. It begins to pinch in spots. It will always hang like a freedom flag in your repository of life, but no longer is the costume for the main act: Now. To craft a sense of your identity based on all you are in the present is the key to continuing to moving forward. Continuing to fixate on the feels of the past keeps them active, as a thin transparency that dilutes the beauty of each moment with a darker hue. It becomes a false sense of self that only creates more of the same circumstances. When you can close your eyes and feel deeply within yourself, into the space the stories have not penetrated, that is your freedom, your infinite self. The mind will panic and shout stories about who you are and why. It will demand you identify yourself using words. It’s an adjustment, losing the fixation on the psychology behind yourself, and it feels like intentionally going blind, but you will discover how much more you can actually see and with a whole new set of senses. In a silent space beyond all that static, the truth is revealed: you are not your story. There is something far greater. Where the power used to lie in owning your story, that is only a season in life, at some point the power comes from letting it fall from focus and stepping into the freedom of becoming storyless.
It may be terrifying at first to not be loved for all that you have carried, endured, championed over, and all that you have learned to wear proudly- but instead to be loved for something with no description that could ever be captured with words, it can only be felt. But beyond that terror, there lies a garden with no horizon. And that is the feeling of Home.

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Self Portrait, a few years back

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Started out in life with gigantic colorful dreams. Each day, the concrete suit of my body got heavier inside the quicksand that had slowly replaced my atmosphere. Became paralyzed. The angle of the sun was wrong, the light was too sharp. Colors all turned to faded tinges of horror. Diagnosed with depression. Given a shiny colorful pill that would wind up some kind of motor to make my hollow existence want to move again. Make the colors come back out and make me want to play with my dog or some shit. Never really worked like in the commercials, but it sure did numb me enough not to notice how much better I got at lying to myself. Asked time and time again if maybe new neurological pathways had formed and maybe I could heal? Maybe I could show up in my life, the version of myself that existed in heart. One day?  Told it wasn’t about being cured. It was about coping. That’s just a pretty word for suffering. became more and more suicidal, disconnected from my body my dreams, what it means to be human, what it is to feel. Lived in a stagnant thick murky soup of pain. Built a life as an inferior being with a dirty secret. More and more pills they piled on. Slept and slept. Even when awake I slept. Missed so many years. Over a decade.  Held prisoner by shame. Told to accept I had a handicap: a mental illness. From that perspective, there is only one path,  pills and more pills. I escaped that hell, but that’s another story.

From the other side of that giant crevasse of darkness, I have a message for you: Depression is not a mental illness. It’s an operating system. One that can be dismantled and rebuilt to support your soul, instead of cause continual emotional collapse. An operating system that is installed starting very early on in life and worms its way like a virus into every aspect of your psyche. It is formed by distinct identifiable factors  which all translate to one common denominator: complex psychological trauma. Complex, meaning many layers and not so straightforward and perceivable from the surface. Trauma, meaning anything that overwhelms us emotionally to the point where we split and part of us stays frozen in suffering while part of us marches on pretending we are fine. Depression is a thin transparency of the past that overlays the present reality, that you are reacting to emotionally. It informs everything- how you feel about yourself, all of your beliefs, and how you see your place in the the world. It is the intersection of old pain and what the soul wants to experience in this lifetime. In that light, we all fall somewhere on that spectrum to varying degrees. It is part of the human experience. We are all affected by the past, that is what connects us. When you separate out a population and label them, you can never overcome the stigma- people just learn which feelings are not acceptable to show. If you want to reduce stigma, don’t separate out the population to begin with, instead focus on what connects us.
From this point of view that it is an operating system, suddenly some very faint lights come on in really dark places within. A faint roadmap appears. You begin to realize you have things to work on, places within that can heal and questions to ask yourself, and the journey of your life becomes seeking the answers. The journey becomes healing and seeking freedom.  That is what hope feels like. Tiny twinkles in suffocating darkness. That is what having something to live for feels like.
xo

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Pull The Pin

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Pull the pin

Forcing every shade of gray into black and white.
The pressure builds.
Millions of notes of unspoken truth that want to be sung so loud, silenced.
The pressure builds.
Invisible knots tangle tighter and tighter.
The pressure builds.
Dreams unlived- a lifetime of infinite paths never allowed to unfold.
The pressure builds.
Sore places that never receive sunlight, become triggers for future crime scenes.
The pressure builds.
The true richest hues of color toned down for acceptance.
The pressure builds.
Stifled flow, fear unchallenged- stagnation, a living death.
The pressure builds.

Anxiety, obsession, intrusive thoughts, depression… it’s all just your soul rattling against the bars and begging to be allowed to escape the cage of some false story of self. “Let me out!” it screams and never stops in countless maddening ways easily diagnosed as mental disorders.

Pull the pin.
Truth needs nothing more than to be free.

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The shift

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My story is a strange one, but what I have learned is that although there are an infinite number of circumstances possible in one’s story, there is a finite spectrum of human emotion. So the things that we think disconnect us from each other, actually do the opposite. They connect us in really deep and beautiful ways.

I just spent several weeks away at a PTSD treatment center, and although I still go back a few days a week and have a long way to go, I have experienced so many miracles that I want to share.

About 3 years ago, I looked at pictures from where I grew up with someone who was a trauma specialist. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but in that moment, something happened to me. I now know it was a panic attack so severe that it was actually a dissociative seizure. I suddenly couldn’t see, got a sharp electrical pain in my head, couldn’t feel gravity, felt like I was being sucked out of my body through the back of my head with extreme force into outer space, shrunk down to nothing, lost sense of my body and completely disappeared from my own internal landscape as the images on the screen became IMAX 3D. I hid under the couch cushions for hours. From that point on, it kept happening. Every time I tried to leave the house, in small spaces like cars, anytime noises or voices were too loud, smells were too strong, I had more than a sip of caffeine. My threshold of tolerance had become basically zero.

All this time, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened in that moment. I know that it was a moment where I suddenly felt for the first time like the first person in my story. I realized I had always told and felt my story from like a third person point of view. On some level, I didn’t emotionally understand that it was me in there. In that moment I understood it was ME and I suddenly was smashed with the magnitude of what I had endured. And so that is how I explained to myself what happened in that moment.

But what I realized was that in that moment- what I thought was a moment of clarity, was actually the moment that I began subscribing to the most crippling lie of my life. While it may have been true that I was for the first time experiencing the true magnitude of the circumstances, the story doesn’t stop there. I stopped it there, and became frozen in that. I never realized the story goes on to a very important point- I SURVIVED. I am stronger and larger than anything I have faced. In fact, although feelings have told me otherwise, the truth is, nothing has ever consumed me, digested my soul, overtook me or shattered me. I AM STILL HERE. I am stronger, larger, incredible to have endured that and survived with curiosity about the world and a sense of wonder and the capacity to connect to other people, to want to do good things, to have never lost my song, given up the tiny seed I’ve been carrying to safety, looking for a place that it can grow. It’s a miracle. I am a miracle of incalculable proportions to survived all of that, deeply connected to the essence of who I was. And to go out into the world and everyday try to make my story into a tale of triumph.

From the point of this realization, things shifted. Triggers became reminders of how big I am, how strong I was. It became laughable that on some level the belief was that a strong smell or loud noise could overtake me. To actually find yourself laughing at something that used to cripple you, is a joy I wish for everyone.

I hope that when you look at your own story, look at the whole thing, keep going past the parts where you get stuck. Realize you are everything you have ever needed and everything you want to be, and allow yourself to feel the fullness of that. You just might realize that you are your own hero.

A dose of hope

A Dose of Hope

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Currently on display on Melrose Ave in LA:
A Dose of Hope.
Hope is the beginning of any great journey, the belief that no matter where you are, you can find your way to brighter days.

This piece has a deeper meaning for me personally, as someone who suffered from debilitating depression for so long, “treatment” meant having my hope taken away time and time again, as I was told my life would be about coping, not being cured. Coping is just a f#cking pretty word for suffering. My life began to unfold in unimaginable ways when I finally tuned out all the voices that kept me imprisoned by false limitations and I was finally able to define my own fate and find my way into those brighter days- Brighter days that I was told were just a delusion of a broken mind. Never let anyone take away your Hope. The brighter days are out there my friends. ‪#‎mhm‬

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Love.

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This time of year can be hard because you feel the reality of the entire year, instead of how we usually break it up- by moments or months, seasons, etc. Facing that reality can be painful but it is only by evaluating what is growing in your garden that you can plant new seeds.

padhia avocado street artist

Lab Art!

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I posted some exciting news on my personal FB page last week, and I wanted to write a little more about it to give it some real context and spread Hope.

“It’s official… I’m repped by Lab Art, the largest, and self-proclaimed most prestigious street art gallery in the world. I had hoped one day to get a piece in there. They took 5! FIVE of my pieces are hanging among famous artists who I have looked up to for so long. The theme of my life this year has been to really show up in my life, fully visible, holding nothing back and in keeping with that, while I was dropping off my pieces, I pitched a crazy idea and all I can say is something massively exciting is in the works for next year.”

Sounds great, but here is the truth behind this: several years ago, I decided to end my life. I had suffered for countless years with debilitating depression and was then re-diagnosed with a rare form of bipolar where “instead of swinging from Highs to Lows, I swung from Low to Lower”. The doctors wanted to add even more meds to the high doses that already didn’t work. I decided I had done my best but could not live this life anymore- a life I was told time and time again would be about coping (just a pretty word for suffering) and it would be best if I gave up on my extraordinarily colorful aspirations and accepted that I had a mental illness, a handicap. I had no interest in living any longer within that fate. And so I began to prepare to exit my life… began detaching emotionally from everyone and everything. It was here, in this state of suffocating and deepening darkness, this final submission to the force that had been paralyzing me for so long, as my dreams began slipping gently from my opening grasp, that I became curious about one small detail… one tiny question that I could not seem to let go of. Was the bright beautiful happiness that I had always dreamed of, that I felt in my heart to be Truth… really just the delusion of a sick mind?

I decided that I needed to answer this one question before I left this earth, and going on the journey of seeking that answer is when my life truly began. Years later, I now have my answer. It was not a delusion, it was Truth. Now living within an existence that is a baseline of happiness with peaks of joy and full of color (without meds or depression), I make art that speaks to the triumph of the human spirit, Hope, and the full spectrum of colors of the human experience, even the dark colors- which is often where the most beauty lies. Thank you for following me. xo

padhia avocado

Chaos: Where Great Dreams Begin.

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The outward stuff is always the last to change, its a reflection of things that stem from deep below the surface. First, the seed buried under the soil must endure a long winter and begin to grow in ways undetectable to the above-ground observer. It must first submit to the pull of the sun and allow growth in that direction. It must have faith that this pull is not imagined, but is Truth. It must see itself as part of the mysterious magic, not a separate entity. It must find solace in the fact that no matter what it must endure, somehow deep within itself, it contains all of the knowledge and energy to get there. It must figure out how to circumvent any obstacles that stand in the path of its growth. The desire to live out its life soaking in the sunshine, in communion with the energy that feeds all of life, fulfilling its purpose based on the nature of what it feels in its heart- and nothing more, must outweigh all else.

Having a clear picture of this garden can be a source of sadness and emptiness in life, if you never plant the seeds that would allow it to be anything other than imaginary. Once you hold this picture as a reality instead of a delusion, your life changes entirely. You begin to get down in the dirt with your seeds so that you can understand what each one needs in order to grow. You guard them and tend to them, and the value of everything else you possess diminishes. As you place each seed carefully, and it disappears deep down into the blackness of the earth, you look at your empty hands and doubt your sanity because at that moment you are hit with the reality that you have nothing. Nothing tangible anyway. Nothing except faith… faith in something that you can only see inside your mind- often only in abstracts and broad disconnected strokes.

And because of human wiring, faith is a roller coaster ride of great peaks and depressions. At low points, you see patterns where there actually are none, you use your past failures to tell yourself that your empty hands are a sign. A sign of madness or whatever it is that you fear most about yourself. In the lows, you find you have the courage to carry on in this way- knowing that you maybe you imagined the whole thing, and your fate might actually be to die face down in the very same dirt, your existence merely fertilizer for someone else’s garden.

But at the same time, you have growing respect for yourself, filling up parts of yourself where you didn’t even realize there was a void. And you realize there are no limits to what you can feel. You are not a container of predetermined volume, but instead a soul with infinite capacity for new levels of existence. And at these high points you begin to realize that when your garden does grow it will not feel like you have imagined, because you were imagining it from a place that had no reference point for  such explosions of color and light.

Always strive for that brilliant picture. Laugh when you catch a glimpse of yourself covered in the dirt of life. Embrace the chaos.

 

Bits

Pain Addiction

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I was lost in a state park once when I was small. I was running fast and panicking when I noticed a daffodil under my foot and then another and another. And when I looked up I had somehow found myself in a field so impossibly full of daffodils that to this day I wonder if it was real. I remember laying down and losing myself in the color and the soft sound of their delicate yellow swirling in the gray breeze. But what I remember the most is how the fact that I was lost, totally disconnected from the world, and all the events leading up to that, completely vanished. I’ve spent my life chasing that state of Home within myself regardless of external chaos.

In the never-ending pursuit of that, at some point I realized that I have an insidious addiction that I had never heard anyone talk about. I get high on lows. I feel sick just seeing that in print. I’ve never talked about it before. But I think the fact that we often don’t have words for our very human struggles keeps us suffering in silence and shame and feeling disconnected. Two of the most healing words I’ve ever known are : “Me too”. When the lights started to slowly illuminate this part of my internal stage, leaving giant scary shadows all around, I realized: I have an addiction to pain. It’s an extra slippery addiction because there is bottom,no one ever finds out, and therefore no one can ever save you.

It started early on. The feeling of being annihilated into tiny bits and watching most of myself fragment while the exposed electrical jellyfish of my core substance retreated into an insulated rabbit hole. It’s like time would stretch out and bend out of it’s usual linear march and there was no gravity or right side up, I would lose my body and form and just be free floating and spinning. A centrifuge of particulate spinning wildly around a sharp anchor point of pain. I think It’s actually a form of cutting- Emotional Cutting. Later in life I began to see more clearly this pattern of addiction, as I learned to do it to myself- setting myself up somehow to be inflicted with feelings so strongly painful they would shatter me and carry me away to what feels like another world. I was largely able to stop, because sometimes just letting yourself know you do actually have a choice in the circumstances you are creating can give you enough courage to choose a giant void of nothingness over something that will hurt. But it’s some deep old wiring and I still often catch the circuits firing up.

I felt the tug recently and saw myself lining up all the instruments to cut again. It was more than a tug. I’m actually still sitting here shaken and teetering on the edge. Enticed by the deliciousness of that old familiar annihilation- to get carried away to somewhere no one should ever know exists, and that I never chose to learn about in the first place. There is just something about seeing myself scattered into bits across the darkest night sky that I have always found secretly magnificent.

I have spent the last few years cleaning out my life of pain and sadness anytime I became aware of it. Furiously fusing together all my disconnected parts, even to the point of doing things I never could stand like yoga and restoring the long ago destroyed connective pathways between my brain and body. As I sit here, craving internal destruction, I realize how much I actually like what I have built of my disconnected pieces- this strange patchwork creature full of bizarre scars and mismatched parts collected from strange and often mis-adventures. For the first time I can ever remember, I feel a fondness for what I have built and more importantly, Mercy. And I am realizing that when you can show your own self mercy, that is true power.

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10 Things I Learned the Hard Way: Part I

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There is a painful stage that you will go through before you come out in the world as your own Self.

Before we Become, we live with the truths set forth for us by the environment we grew up in and the operating system that was installed in us. Often this framework feels so uncomfortable because it is so different than who we really are. It creates a lot of suffering including depression and anxiety. Breaking out of that skin is frightening and painful. But it’s the only way to Become.

What it feels like to be you will change many times.
There are infinite realms of existence, dimensions of emotion, ways that you will grow and heal in your lifetime. Every experience and interaction changes you in some way. You cannot have any concept of what it will feel like to be you in down the road at all, and let that bring you unlimited hope. Don’t project the current version of yourself into the future.

Life’s most beautiful lessons hurt the worst.
A big shift happens when instead of asking “why is this happening to me?” you begin to ask “why is this happening *for* me?” — in other words- OK yeah this sucks, but what is this calling me to do? When you go down the path of answering that question, that is where you find true magic in life.

You become a patchwork of what you expose yourself to.
We are amalgamations of the people we spend time with, adopting tiny bits of their beliefs and character. Over time your life will be very different if you surround yourself with people you have traits you admire and aspire to, and who amplify your subtleties.

Being broken isn’t what you think it is.
We break to grow. Being broken is not a permanent state, if you can soften towards the break and let it run it’s course, instead of fighting it or staying stuck in it, you begin to unfold in many new ways.

You will never regret the time you dared to think you were worth more.
The logical mind tells us that the quiet whisper of the heart is delusional. Never listen. Go boldly in the direction your heart is telling you. It is the true compass of your life, and it will never lead you astray.

Your body is really just a rental car.
Take the very best care of it you can, but don’t attach too much importance to it. It’s really just a vehicle for your soul to have adventures while you are on this planet.

Half the problems in life come from stuffing down your feelings.
Suppressing the way you really feel creates resentment, fatigue, anxiety, and depression- as over time the inner pressure builds and builds. It leads to living inside a life that doesn’t feel good because it is not based on what is actually going on in your mind and heart. It also prevents you from creating boundaries, which are how you feel safe. And it creates deep loneliness as people won’t know how to how to love you because they don’t really know you.

Learn self-compassion.
In order for any transformation to take place, one must first soften toward their own self. This internal inteneration is like plowing the field before seeds can grow. It allows sun and air to softly charge the soil setting the stage for growth. Through softening towards your own human self, taking yourself by the hand, holding yourself in the arms of your heart, only then can you begin to figure out what you need.

Make sure you are vibrating, not just absorbing other’s energy.
Think about yourself in relation to others energetically. Some people emit a lot of energy, positive or negative. Some people vibrate at a much lower level and instead absorb all of it from others, which is not sustainable. Show up in your life. Take up volume. Let your shine vibrate outward.