On the first day of the Hospice interviews my mother Caron was asked by the nurse:
“What seems to be the problem?”
Mama, smiling kindly, but with a bit of her famous attitude replies
“I am having an identity crisis.”
To which the nurse replies “Okay then. What about bowel movements?”
“Did you know I am an author? And so is my daughter.” Mama replies.
“Have you been eating regularly?” Asks the patiently smiling nurse clicking her pen.
“What has that got to do with losing my identity?” Mama asks, slightly frustrated.
The nurse, putting down their clipboard, looks my mother in the eye, and asks
“Well, what have you written? What is your book? I can see this matters to you.”
“Mattering matters. Tell em’ Shiloh.” Mama replies.
And so I do.
Letter from the Red Thread Cafe #844
Identity. Identity. Identity. What my mother said to Hospice
Dear Intentional Creativity Community,
My mother’s transition from her sense of herself took several years. Yet nothing prepares you for the actual exit from the body. Over the years and since December I have been doing a lot of writing about things I learned from my mother. This is part of my recovery and rematritation. Today I am sharing her view of identity with you.
I can remember my mother saying “I’m having an identity crisis” so clearly to that nurse – as if that was her primary health issue. And to my mother, this was the big issue and the big experience. The self she knew was ‘slip-sliding away”. She was dealing with other ongoing health issues which no one could really name. Test after test revealed, almost nothing. For years she suffered from various mystery illnesses and aches and pains and eventually, a kind of dementia and memory tracking began to impact her. Up until almost the end, she may not be able to remember what happened yesterday but in conversation, in that which was alive in the moment, she could be right there with you. The thing that mattered most to her about her, was her sense of self.
When my mother Caron was teaching her students, she said the core thing we all need to work on and explore is: “Identity. Identity. Identity” Yes she always said it three times. What we don’t often realize is how much power we have to shape our identity. We are often reacting to the sum total of what has happened to us in life and we spend less time focused on how we can ‘happen to life’. This is at the very root of Legend, our core course we have been running for over 13 years with the Cosmic Cowgirls. In legend, you practice finding your storytelling voice and image-making and identity-shaping.
I give thanks to my Mama, for letting me in on the truth. I get to shape who I am. And that I got it enough to share it with you. This SELF is my choice to make, and I discover it a little at a time. For me, and our community, through Intentional Creativity. I discover myself and my work not through controlling myself to become more of who I am and who the world thinks I should be. But through revealing myself by making art. Trusting what is revealed, and interpreting it for myself. Making my own self matter leads to others mattering. This is a natural progression for many artists who turn activists. Art is the second mirror, that shows us what we normally do not see because it is on the backside, the inside, the wild side, the interior side.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” ~ Jesus
There are many tragedies in life. Among them, perhaps the greatest, according to my mother and to me, is to not know who you are. If we have a world of people who do not know who they are, we will have a world shaped by identities that are not fully inhabited. Knowing yourself does not mean you escape the tragedies that befall us all. Knowing yourself offers the gift of inhabited presence, which does change the view from within on almost every single experience we have in life. People who know themselves, tend to care more, about the great unfolding. They tend to desire to contribute to being a part of the solution and seek to not be a part of the problem. Artists dare to care with flare!
A second tragedy is that there are things we can actually do and experience to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Yet many of the most potent ones in the area of art have been removed from us over time if we were not talented. Creativity should not be relegated to talent. Creativity does not belong to the realm of talent. Creativity is the birthright of every single human being, without it, we are half asleep. Talent has a role to play, but creativity isn’t about talent. Creativity makes the interior, move to the exterior, and that in return shapes the interior again, it is a cycle of learning one’s self. Everyone is using it all the time, but if you don’t know you are, then it doesn’t work the same. And if you know you are, you can bring intention. And if you bring intention, you change, the art changes and all of us are changed.
And yes I say, tragedy and I don’t say it lightly. For me, if we don’t wake up to who we are and start caring about ourselves, one another, and our planet, the consequences will continue to be dire. I do have hope – and my hope is rooted in the power of our capacity to awaken.
Intentional Creativity invites us to know ourselves through what we create. Our creations issue forth from our identity, and our identity is shaped by our creations.
Great self-awareness arises through acts of creation. That is when you can see the self you do not see, being revealed. Once you begin to see it, you become obsessed with the opportunity to create your own identity as your magnum opus. You are your own greatest work of art. If we treated ourselves with that much curiosity, compassion, and care, we would have a different turning of the great wheel, assisted by many hands and hearts. And I dare say, we would have a good time all along the way!
Our family motto arising from our Grandfather Eugene Gran(t) is Love. Trust. Dare. My mother Caron added create. Love. Trust. Dare. Create. She added create when she began to teach us here in the Intentional Creativity community. He was also an artist.
I seek a world of awakened people who care. I seek tea on the wild side of the moon with you. I will see you there. My mother will be there too, you can be certain. Caron never misses a good party. I write this during my mother’s cycle of identity slipping from form to matter and my own work with rematriation – remothering and reseeding myself in a world where her physical self is no longer with me. Yet the love continues.
There is so much more to say and I will continue to share the writings and learnings with you as we go along.
I am on day 13 of Rematriation and it has been an adventure so far. Each day waking up and not knowing what is going to happen has benefits and challenges. I continue to be so grateful to the MUSEA team for showing up and supporting me in taking this time for me. It feels amazing to know that in two days, Apothecary is starting and that the entire container is being held in their capable and loving hands. If you want to work with me and Jonathan to make a painting about healing – guess what it isn’t a face lol, you can watch a video of us here: www.medicinepainting.com.
I know we are all going through so much. My mom told me that the year of separation from people made her days really monotonous – and she needed to talk more. My brother Brent and sister Shannon called her almost every day and she came to life. And my amazing stepfather, Papa Jimmie, had wonderful conversations with her. But to keep herself sharp and in her identity, she needed more. Sometimes I would send her a video of herself teaching and she would say – “Ah! Now I remember who I am.”
Wherever you are, whatever you are working through, I am sending my love to you from where I am to where you are.