Liz Huston

Original Art, Musings and Photography

Tag: depression

Ode to my boots

It has been so long since I posted here. In that time, sooooo much has happened in my little world. I did a Kickstarter, which was successfully funded. I finished a Tarot deck (which took 10 or 13 years to complete, depending on how you look at it). I wrote a book. I published the deck and the book and shipped them all out myself. (And I’m a Mom, a small business owner, sometimes even in a relationship, and I have amazing friends – pretty full plate). How fortunate am I to be able to say that? As I write this, I recognize just how incredible my life is.

So why do I feel so…down?
I am struggling so much, emotionally these days. I admit it, I have a mood disorder, (or chronic depression), whatever you want to call it – so the melancholy is not unfamiliar territory. I manage it the best I can through exercise, meditation, supplements, diet, journaling, art, friends, family, cat… But also, a lot of things are up in the air right now. There are many losses, and navigating them is proving difficult. The biggest thing, which you wouldn’t expect it to be a loss, but it actually feels like it is – was the completion of my Tarot deck.

I began my first deck in 2006. I have orbited around the idea of making/and actually been in the act of making a Tarot deck since 2006. Consider that for a minute – where were you in 2006? As fate would have it, that first deck, which taught me how to be an artist, as it neared completion, was destroyed in a great computer crash. When I finally began again, it was 2008. So the Dreamkeepers Tarot took me 10 years exactly to create. Even when I wasn’t consciously making the deck, it WAS the thing I was orbiting around. And now, with it finished, without the gravitational pull of that very solid idea, I feel lost in space. Wow, I hadn’t made that metaphor before, but it’s exactly how I feel! Lost…in space.

Because I am a fighter, have been taking steps to get back to work, though. Yesterday, in fact, I spent the entire day piecing together a new tableaux. So far, the idea is a bit convoluted, but I think there’s something good there. Something solid. I think this is my way of testing the waters again, of processing where I am and considering where I want to go artistically (since there are really no parameters, except for what I think people expect, and what I expect of myself, both tricky things to navigate).

My daughter will be leaving home for college in August. Emotionally, I am already preparing for this. She has a very full life outside of me, so on some level it already feels like the separation is happening. Another gravitational pull that has diminished in nature. Everything is so fleeting, looking too long at what is changing can be disorienting, so I search for an anchor. Historically, that anchor was my art, but the art is new now, too. I feel like I need something tangible, something that tells me in this moment of transition who I am, and where I stand.

The question plagued me for the better part of this afternoon. “I have nothing”, I kept telling myself. Nothing. (I told you I’m in a bit of a depression) Nothing Nothing Nothing Nothing other than the shoes on my feet…
Then it hit me. The shoes on my feet! My 20 eye Dr. Martens which I’ve worn most days for a handful of years now. They are my beloved companions, and I must introduce you to them. I have replaced the zippers on them so many times that I no longer chance the zipper and instead lace and unlace them every time. These boots have carried me through more heartbreaks than I care to remember. They have moved me from 4 different addresses, 3 art studios, and held me as I work day after day in my shoppe. They have carried me across Paris as I wandered her cobblestone streets alone. We clocked miles inside the Musee D’Orsay, wandering from one exquisite painting to the next, took the steps on the grand staircase of the Opera Garnier, and stood in the home of Gustave Moreau (which is now a museum of his works). We walked together under the light of the full moon as I met a beautiful man after-hours in a taverna in Crete. We walked the hill of the Acropolis, visited the oracle in Delphi. We saw Frida’s house, took to the streets of Mexico City alone in the dawn, and hiked up to the tops of pyramids. We got lost together on the muddy path leaving Macchu Picchu, and trudged through the Amazon jungle to take in the view high above the lost lake.

They have taken so many steps with me that the tread on the bottom is practically nonexistent, and I have to step very carefully in the rain. This does not deter me, mind you. I still wear them almost daily. When I take them off, I swear they still carry my presence. I would ask to be buried in these boots (unless someone who loves me wants to keep them to remember me by). I have tried unsuccessfully many times to replace them, but they are not manufactured often it seems, and so I have yet to find a new pair. I still wear them down, day by day, step by step. Oh, if there was one thing to bring me out of my depression and into a place of gratitude, it is this, my beautiful, world traveled, weather beaten boots.

Thank you for reading.

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Much love,

Liz

Why are you sad?

These days I am having a hard time keeping my mind still. So many distractions, fears, worries, tweets – all striving for the seats in the front row of my mind. They are not the thoughts I want, but they are the usual suspects, and they are seemingly always there. And their message? GLOOM and DOOM, baby. Nothing but gloom and doom.

The ones I want? Those thoughts filled with hope, inspiration and love? They are always there too, though much quieter, and usually relegated to the background. Which is perhaps why meditation is so valuable, it just occurred to me. The constancy of love is always waiting patiently behind the fears and the worries. When we get quiet, that is when we can find the way to the quiet voices in the back. It is a sensitive but formidable force, love.

A friend recently asked me via text message, why I’m so sad. He said he’d only known me melancholy and wondered what I’m sad about. Why am I so sad? I have been struggling with the answer for days.

I admit. At first I was infuriated.
How dare he?

Then I felt ashamed.
How dare I?
How dare I infect this troubled world with my sadness.
That’s not the ‘legacy’ I want to leave behind. I don’t want people to remember me by how sad I was. Yes, I’m sensitive. I often cry and feel the weight of the world, like so many of us do…but I don’t want to be remembered that way.

Why am I so sad?
Maybe it’s because the world is broken and it hurts me to see so much suffering. Maybe it’s because I gave the bullies in my mind a front row seat so often that they are rooted there. Maybe it’s because there are bullies in charge and they want to destroy society. Maybe it’s because I still miss my husband. Maybe it’s just what I learned at a young age because of rape and abuse. Maybe I still have a medical condition (bipolar) that needs treatment. Maybe it’s habit. Maybe this friend pushes my buttons so much so that I have learned to just not be well around him so as to avoid the uncomfortable confrontation, and in the handful of times we have been in each other’s company, he has never seen me truly happy, only guarded.

Maybe it’s all of these things and none of these things.
I have a predisposition towards melancholy. I have a fondness for nostalgia. I feel out of place in this time and space. I’ve often longed for a time and place that may have never existed, but I can find it in my dreams, and that tends to come out in my art.

I think his question and my impulse to answer it suggests a power over the melancholy, the power and ability to choose thoughts from the back row, from the well of love instead of the loudest and brashest of voices. There is value in that, for sure. Choose your thoughts wisely, become aware of the stories you tell yourself.  Someone (or somethings) are weaving the story of your life – it might as well be you.

So, would I choose melancholy? Sometimes, yeah, I would.
It’s comfortable, familiar and quite beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes I choose joy.

And sometimes (oftentimes), I feel like I have no choice at all.
This is all part of the life I am living.
I manage my sadness in many ways, and remembering that I can choose a slightly different voice is helpful. Sometimes.