The Day I Chose to Die

image by Katariina Agnes Fagering

image by Katariina Agnes Fagering

I'd like to tell you about the day I chose to die.


It was November. Downtown Houston was flooded with blustery gusts blowing up from the gulf, or down from Dallas, or sideways from somewhere else. The sky was a densely packed grey, blending with the reflecting faces of the skyscrapers hovering above me.


Jake, who I had loved in ways that transcended prior experiences of loving and being loved, was drifting. I could feel the imminence of his departure though he hadn’t said he was going yet. Something in the Texas gusts and in my female guts was telling me the winds were changing. 


You just know when you know, right? Ours wasn’t just an ordinary love, by the way. It was more than that. 


But this isn't a story about loving - it’s a story about dying.  


You see, the rest of my life had already been crashing down around me for a year or so. Jake’s was just the heart I had been holding on to, as if his love could fix the bewildering pain of all the breakage. 

It didn’t. And … it couldn’t.


Shellshocked by the events in my life, I was trying like wild to hold everything together: my company, my reputation, my income, my friends, and my colleagues. 


It’s plain as day in hindsight: my life no longer wanted me the way I had been showing up. But, back then it was just a searing and topsy-turvy shitstorm.

So anyway. There I was. On the blustery day. Feeling the drumbeat of impending heartbreak. 

And a voice reverberating with ancient wisdom bellowed through my guts:

It’s time to die.

Just let it all go. Stop the clinging. 

Let it die.’

How can you argue with ancient wisdom? Especially when you are exhausted from trying to keep it all together, and the moon is full in Scorpio? 

That’s what made the death inkling seem normal, in fact. I was born under a Scorpio moon - everyone knows that’s one hell of a time to be born, and one hell of a time to die. 

I was certainly dressed for the occasion. Red lipstick. Black lace top, skin tight blue jeans, and high heels. And so, like any sensual creature stepping into her metaphorical death, I gazed at my reflection in the mirror, fluffed my hair, kicked off my shoes, curled up under a cozy blanket, and fell deeper into a space of imagining.

Okay. 

I give up. 

Let’s get this show on the road. 

I’m ready to die.

Everything that does not align with my deepest desires, my greatest possible trajectory ... I place in the wise hands of Death.

And, I offer myself to the spirit of Death so that I can be reborn.

And just like that I gave myself to my own dying in the sweetest surrender. It really was like Death himself was my lover, my dominant demander. Sweeping over and through me, penetrating my world with a certain kind of precision that Life herself does not have. 

Swooning to receive such power, I felt zero resistance. 

Take me. I’m yours. 

In back-arching surrender, I was flooded with the tranquility that comes from deep arousal. Every bone in my body gave homage to the dying with tender weeping, and a palpable desire for MORE than Life had been sharing with me surged waves of ecstatic feeling through my body, as if a dam had broken in my marrow.

With it, an indescribable sensation of my everything crashing and breaking apart, while Death held me tightly in powerful arms ... 

YOU will live’, he said.

But your pretend-life will die.

All the structures you have manufactured in order to play safe will break apart and disappear.

The crutches. Your masks. All of your fear-based endeavors, connections, and creations.

Watch them burn, and let the fires be your crucible.

What is dying does not truly belong to you.

What will burn is everything you are not’. 

I can still hear the voice, like butter melting over the top of a cello as its bow bends dutifully across the strings.

Who you ARE is Life’, said Death. 

Shimmering flesh, undulating like the aurora. Passionate. Engorged like a rushing river whose bed is swollen with alchemical gold.

Your passion seeks a place to thrive.

But first, you must empty yourself through Death.’

And then, Death was gone.

. . . . .

When I woke up a few hours had passed. My eyes were puffy and caked with dried mascara tears. 

I’m not even joking, within hours Jake departed, too. 

I laughed / ugly-cried with my friends for days. Well. The next time I decide it’s a good idea to do a death ritual on a Scorpio full moon, remind me to leave the love of my life out of it.

In a few days I would fly to him in Wichita, and we would say our goodbyes. If you have read my book ‘The In Between’, you know Jake and this part of our story quite well. 

It would take many months for me to recover.

. . . . .

Here’s the thing about surrendering to the truth of who we are, finally, after years of slowly dying under the suffocating fabrications of our pretend-life, while fooling ourselves into thinking we are living. 

Thriving, even.

It’s a process.

It can be lightning quick and it can come as a slow rolling boil. When both speeds occur at the same time, it’s like living inside a time warp of inexplicable immediacy while it grinds it’s heartbeat against the muscle-burning toil of rearranging universes. 

To live like that is unbearable.

But, Death has a way of knowing what we need.

It was a long 16 months of dying.


Everything has gone away.


POOF. 


Explosion after explosion. Rubble everywhere. Choking on the ashes, I survived.


Even though I died, too. 


Believe me, I fought it.


And I gave in to it. 


Then I fought it again.


Mostly I cried a lot.  


There were many days, long stretches in a row, when I couldn’t get out of bed. Brush my hair. Answer emails or my phone. 


Sometimes I couldn’t see or breathe, the blackness was so thick. Up my nose, in my lungs, leaking out of my eyes. 


Everywhere. Everything. Black.


I thought a lot about literal death. My literal LIFE was a slideshow playing on repeat ... flash click flash ... while I was being swallowed in the hellfires of a complete and total burn down.


Some might call it depression. 


I chose to call it my metaphorical death.


Something about the way I framed it gave me the will to go on. Like I was Joseph Campbell’s character study for a Hero’s Journey. Or undergoing a great and mythological shedding, like an Ouroboros in high heels, eating my tail in an endless cycle of rebirth. Or Persephone lost in the Underworld, training to be a guide for other wanderlustish self-funeral types in great need of a helping hand and a tour guide into - and out of - the hell realms.


Holding myself in symbols and myths made me believe that somewhere on the horizon, somewhere … I would finally glimpse the shocking orb of the sun. Or hope. Happiness, maybe. 


In the meantime, I was drowning in self-loathing and regret.


Every. Damn. Day.


In my blackest moments, I begged for the pain to stop. 


Please. Make it stop. I’ll do anything. Please. Driving down the freeway. In my bed. Walking my dog. Smiling for selfies. Guiding classes of women in person and online. Tending to my daughter. Making art. Writing a book. Building a web site. Washing the dishes. Please. Make. It. Stop.


And.


In the blackness, Death stayed close, with that butter baritone whisper: 


You will live.


Because you ARE life.


Drink your darkness.


Digest your pain. 


Peel apart your unconscious mind.  


Deliberately. Slowly. With tenderness and churning compassion. 


Let the embers of your suffering send chills up your spine. 


Choose to drink your Own. Fucking. Poison. 


And ... do this because you ARE Life.’


.


After all those months of dying, I am here to tell you that Death was right.


I really AM Life. 


. . . . .


PS . Note to self:


The antidote to suffering isn’t in avoidance. It’s in calling forward your shadows so that you can join forces and die together.


It’s eating your fucking pain like it’s the mothertrucking pomegranate feast of Persephone.


It’s deliberately choosing to make fierce and uninhibited love to every single one of the saboteurs who roam the hallways of your memories and your mind.


It’s seducing them. Becoming so intertwined with them that they cannot own you.


It’s looking your own buried AF deathwish right in the eyes, and opening yourself fully to the sheer volume of power that gushes forth when you do.


It’s truly embodying the wisdom that a life without deep shadow consciousness is death, anyway.


Let your pretend-life die. 


And RECEIVE LIFE as she rushes in to fill the vacuum of the pretend-life that was killing you anyway.


. . . . .

This is my story of one aspect / perspective of a period of transformational encounters with my own emotional and psychological world. This writing is not intended to take the place of clinical advice. It is my mythology, my story, and my chosen perspective on my own world. 


. . . . .

These images in their entirety are the creation of Katariina Agnes Fagering, who conjured all the elements of this shoot from the abundant cauldron of her own creative genius. Their visual similarity to the story I share is entirely coincidental; for Katariina they carry a different symbolic lineage.


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scar tissue, gold, and pleasure

image by joe de sousa, unsplash

image by joe de sousa, unsplash

I was terrified of sex.


I had zero relationship to my own body.


My body was just a thing I neglected, and begrudgingly carted around. It served as some kind of damned container for my tangled wads of unexpressed memories and emotions. 


I avoided sex at all costs. At bedtime, if there was a partner on the scene, I would routinely dash off to the bathroom to change out of my clothes behind a closed door. Into my pajamas in an out-of-body flurry, then race into bed and feign sleep  at the speed of light ... with a racing heart in my throat: what if he wants it tonight?


My body was a trap I hated and could not be free of.


I was terrified of the touch and sex, the physical and emotional intimacy because ... it innately requires feeling and presence. 


Feeling and presence required also feeling the overly-stuffed garbage disposal of shit that my body felt like back then.


Every kind of abuse, you name it. Much of it on repeat. Over the years it impacted and locked itself into every single cell, bone, muscle, organ, and vein in my body.


The way I dealt with the physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual traumas was to freeze.


Stop breathing.


Stay invisible. 


Don’t move. 


Certainly don’t speak or fight back.


Be a good girl.


Stay calm.


Keep the peace. For everyone. Everywhere.


I protected myself daily with this mechanism.


And so my body became a prison made of individual locked cells of tiny little Erin prisoners, little miniatures of all the times I froze.


Stacked up. Crammed in. Avoided. Forgotten. 


Until I was completely frozen.


With a body made of ice, and a nervous system made of a billion wild horses with spiked hooves running through my body at the first signal of closeness or desire.


At the slightest hint of intimacy, of the emotional or sexual kind, my nervous system would unleash stored-up terror, and my world would collapse under the overwhelm of so much awfulness running through a body that I suddenly had to feel. 


Yes. One fingertip on my body could evoke such a thing.


One request for a phone number or a coffee date could too.


I ran from the freezing as much as I could.


It all came out sideways. I made decisions from the sideways trauma leaks. I hurt the people in my life. I hurt myself, too.


I’m not even really sure how to put it into words. Maybe some of you know what I’m trying to describe, but in your own way.


I eventually reached out for help, and began seeing a somatic trauma specialist. 


Since that day, my reclamation of my body has taken many forms.


I began cultivating *listening* to my body. My ACTUAL BODY. It was like an epiphany that I even had one, and that it was all my own. 


I began slowing down. Creating boundaries. Seeking pleasure. 


Oh goodness, I had to start so small there because pleasure was DANGER DANGER and to move from Shutdown Iceberg Lady to a woman who could allow the eensiest of pleasure was a process. 


Pleasure. 


Why is it such a naughty word? Why does it elicit fear for most of us?


Because I can look you in the eyes and vow: the moment I began to allow the *embodiment* of pleasure into my world, everything changed.


What is pleasure?


Pleasure can be anything that connects you to your molten beauty core, the one that drips with gold.


Oh, you don’t have one of those?


Yes. You do.


Maybe you feel alive and free, flushed in your cheeks and blissful, when you are standing at the sea.


Maybe you fall completely into the piece of god+goddess that holds court in you when you are cuddling your kids to sleep.


Maybe you, unlike me all those years, feel the diviiiiine union of oneness that swirls through the intimacy that you and your lover cultivate together.


Or maybe, like me, you derive a deep peaceful sensual full-souled living when you are studying history + humanity, laying MIA soldiers to rest, sharing soul feasts with the women I serve in sessions, or devoting myself to my man, or in my quiet times seeking ever more of my pleasurable indulgences.


However it shows up for you, that sense of feeling ALIVE, and HOME, and WHERE YOU BELONG ... that’s your molten beauty core, that’s where you drip gold.


It’s there for all of us. 


For me, it laid there for years. Unclaimed.


Waiting for the layers of shame to thaw under a spell of my own casting. 


Waiting for me as I attracted relationships that mirrored the original abuse.


Waiting for me while I dashed into my pajamas. 


Waiting for me while I suffered silently under the perpetual realization that there MUST be more to living than THIS. 


Waiting for me while I listened in a peculiar kind of isolation while my friends would talk about sex. 


Waiting for me while I timidly reached for pleasure that very first time.


It’s still here, waiting.


It’s kinda like scar tissue that drips fucking gold.


It always will be here, eternally ripe for more and more expansion and expression.


Yours is waiting, too. 



breathing

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If I wasn’t DOING a million things at once
While scrolling 
And comparing what I was doing to everyone else’s doing …
I was anxious.
If I wasn’t running in circles ‘curating content’
And synching the perfect color story on my IG
while
Carving out the best newsletter ever
and 
Pumping the stratosphere full of my cleverness 3x a day …
I was nothing.
My lungs, 
Full of everyone else’s air,
Were suffocating in the hustle.
🌸
There’s a new me whispering to the surface
Of my own life.
I enjoy just being.
Resting.
Following my heart
and 
The soft purrs of my body
and
My nervous system’s yawning desire
to be in

S


L


O


W 
motion.
In order to breathe
In a way that fills my actual lungs
In order to bring 
Down into me the god-ness
The true-ness
The reality
Of communion
Of living
And how to love and be loved 
How to desire and be desired
How to receive … receive … receive … 
Off screen.

Primordial pussy

IMG_7945.jpeg

A few weeks ago I felt it was time to shift gears.

And so because I am me 

I created an 8 foot tall pussy.

Say it with me.

Pussy.

Portal.

Possibility. 

Pretty sure I’m now addicted to the conscious creation of larger than life pussies, because my world freaking shi.f.ted like a mofo, like overnight.

I’m offering this gorgeous (mixed media on unstretched canvas) pussy for $3344. 

***(though let us acknowledge please, that pussies are actually priceless af)***

Her presence is primal, primordial, and powerful.

She’s imbued with symbolism and spells for invoking and awakening pleasure and the potency of truth.

She’s pure and she’s bold. 

And oh my god+goddess, she’s beautiful. 

Don’t you think?

She’ll receive your visions, soften your days, and amplify your sweet spots. She carries the codes of rebirth and a little something you might summarize as alchemical pussy roar.

She already knows where she belongs. I’m just sounding the call. Drop me a PM and I’ll tell you how you can bring your pussy home.

🐍🌸⚔️💦🍯😻🔥💛👑💋⚔️🌸🐍

I can't help it

This is Edna. She’s my great-grandmother. On the back of this photo, written in her husband’s handwriting, in 19freaking12 it says: the goddess of photography, shooting the world.


Let me tell you a funny little story about Me + Edna. We have to rewind the clock a couple decades, and in a long-story-short kind of way.


In 1996 I moved to Boise, Idaho from NYC. I was pulled to Boise of all places (I thought) because I had been born in Idaho, way up north in the mountains. I’d spent time in Idaho, and I was looking for a little direction in life (as usual), and I just sorta threw a dart on the map and thought oh hell, let’s see what Boise is all about.


To this day I kinda don’t get it.


Except that I do.


My time in Boise was quite short. It turns out I was an NYC kinda gal and did a pretty quick U-turn. BUT while in Boise:


I took my first photography class - and ZOOM SMASH BOOM a whole new world opened up for me. PHOTOGRAPHY DIVA FOREVER became my new trajectory. I spent the next many years exploring myself and the world around me through my lens. It’s not a side of me that is visible on social media so much, but if you’ve read either of my books you can see that I’m still pretty much a photo diva. It’s a more private, personal, reflective side …


… but I live through my lens.


.


(FULL DISCLOSURE: in the hallowed halls of Boise State University I fell in love for the first time, in that 22-year-old-in-love kind of way. That’s a whole other story. LOL).


.


I returned to NYC and became fully engaged (in my whirling dervish kind of way) in Real Live Actual art school, at the School of Visual Arts on E. 21st Street, where I studied to be a fine art photographer.


It was during this time I found out for the VERY first time:


Edna lived in Boise. She was a photographer. She and her sister Mabel owned a photography studio downtown. In 1908. Nineteen freaking oh eight, y’all.


Edna met her husband, Roscoe Allen, in Boise. From what I can tell through my obsessive research, they had a sweet little love affair. He eventually moved to Los Angeles, set up house, and sent for her and her parents. There are a few of his sweet love letters to her still hanging out there in the stratosphere. Edna lived out the rest of her days in LA, taking copious amounts of photos, raising children (including my grandpa Norm), and eventually passed on in 1949.


.


You need to know that Edna’s story is so much more than these few sentences. Isn’t that true for all of us? I’ll tell you more about her another day.


.


The Sonna Building in Boise, where Edna had her photo studio, is still standing. I visited a couple years ago.


I managed to discover the suite she would have occupied after significant research efforts.


So there I was, in Edna’s studio, which only happened due to a coinkydink unexpected path-crossing with the building owner, his avid appreciation for the history of the building, and a little pinch of pixie dust.


.


What was it like stepping into Edna’s studio 108 years after she clicked the shutter of her camera within its four bricked walls? Like the earth stood still and time collapsed as I stood in a shaft of incredible light utterly soaking the space, wrapping me up in a warmth that felt supernatural.


.


It kinda blows my mind that when my 22 year old self was whirling-dervishing through the streets of Boise, fueled by my discovery that photography was actually a THING and so was soulmate-love …


I was following in Edna’s footsteps.


I still am.


I can’t help it.


.


Join me in Rome where I will be guiding you, along with my soulfully wise and creatively brilliant friend Henry Lohmeyer, into a gentle way of seeing and being with your self through your lens …


I can think of no better place to be a goddess of photography, shooting the world.


Can you?


www.erinfaithallen.com/rome


.


PS - many years later I would discover that ANOTHER great-grandmother was an avid photographer and artist, too.


I really, really can’t help it.

Warriors + Mystics

My father tells me this story about the night I was conceived:

He did LSD in the A-frame cabin he built with his own capable hands just after he returned from Vietnam. Dropping acid was a nightly ritual for him, after which he would walk to the massive oak tree on his property high in the mountains in Northern Idaho. He would drape himself in a bow, dangle there, wonder at the stars, and contemplate the universe before returning back to the cabin and my mother.


I was conceived on such a night.

.

I’ve been working with survivors and veterans of World War 2 for several years, and carefully witnessing the stories of those who did not survive. This whole war thing has been an epic odyssey into history and humanity, an anthropological alchemy that I have only expressed at about 5%.

AND

I’m witchy. Esoteric. Sensual. Electric. I sit for hours at a time and I contemplate intimacy, pleasure, and beauty while marinating in thoughts of archetypal being-ness and va-va-voom.

I constantly ebb and flow within the spectrum of broken —> benevolent wholeness of the wounded masculine and feminine energies.

That is my fascination with war.

It is a tunnel into the schism of brokenness, to an extreme.

But anyway.

I ‘see’ life, and DO life, in ways that are unusual. Intense. Not always welcome. Definitely not mainstream.

Being a human is a supernatural experience for me, an honest to goodness holy whackadoodle WTF from time to time.

Let’s just break it down this way: at the same time I collected war relics, studied Nazis, and searched for the remains of missing soldiers KIA … I paint vaginas, study Jungian thought, and relentlessly ponder the broken places in the energetic frequencies of masculinity and femininity.

For me, war + death + love + sex + creativity + humanity are all the same thing, wrapped up in a fascinating wad of beauty, darkness, choice, and possibility.

clockwise:  THE  tree, my grandpa Bill in his cowboy band, my father around the time I was conceived, my (many times) great-grandfather Andrew.

clockwise: THE tree, my grandpa Bill in his cowboy band, my father around the time I was conceived, my (many times) great-grandfather Andrew.

Back to my father ...

He is a mystic and a hermit. A self-taught artist, poet, and musician. He sees things most humans don’t bother to take the time to see. He lives in the woods somewhere in Oregon, where he paints hyper-realistic masterpieces and keeps himself pretty hunkered down and away from humans. He hangs out with his best friends: his wife and his dog Meatball. He volunteers at the VFW and is a pallbearer for any of the local veterans who require that last tender shoulder.

Before that cabin up in Idaho, and before I was born, he did his time in Vietnam. Honestly, I don’t really know much about his experiences over there. Except that he came home traumatized and deeply affected. I have stacks of the songs and poems he wrote before and after his service, and his service didn’t bring him any kind of fulfillment.

It certainly did bring more trauma to the family line.

.

His father, my Grandpa Bill, was a mystic who also kept to himself. He read Edgar Cayce in like, the 1950s, while drinking beer and ‘blowing shit up’ in his post-war garage in Southern California. On the weekends he’d go up into the mountains and pan for gold.

Before that, my grandpa was in the Pacific, giving the best of himself (and the worst?) in hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese. His experiences would traumatize him for life.

Before that, he was in a cowboy band called Sons of the Golden West. They toured around and played their music.

I’d give absolutely anything to sit at a show, tapping my foot, and beaming my heart out at my Grandpa Bill.

You see, he hopped a hobo train at around 13 years old. He jumped on somewhere in Kentucky and rode west, til he hit Los Angeles. Then he hopped off and made a life for himself.

I have a photo of the Sons of the Golden West, in their matching cowboy shirts and hats. Handsome. Smiling. I want to reach out and touch my grandpa. Hold his hand, and tell him he is about to go off to war. Ask him to tell me his stories. All of them. I don’t really know more than I’m sharing here.

That actually breaks my heart. I think me and my Grandpa Bill would have understood each other in that silent knowing kind of way.

I sat at his grave a few years ago. Just the two of us. Six feet of dirt between us, but we found each other under that Southern California sun.

.

80 exact years before my Grandpa Bill set foot in the Pacific, his great-grandpa Andrew set foot with his troops in a little town called Gettysburg.

He was a medium. An actual one. A mystic. A seer. And he was a sergeant in the Confederate Army.

And that day he undoubtedly saw some of the worst sights one can never unsee. I wonder what it was like for him. As a seer. To see those things.

I’d like to know.

And somehow, I already do.

.

It only recently dawned on me that there is some kind of swirling DNA ferocity that propels me into my own eccentric combination of war + mysticism.

As it turns out my obsession with war is my birthright. My legacy. My inheritance from these misunderstood magicians with the gift of sight, who saw things they didn’t want to see.

.

The thing is, I didn’t meet my father until I was 18, and didn’t know my Grandpa Bill who died that same year, and I obviously didn’t know our great-grandfather Andrew. We are talking a total download of DNA here, complete with inherited traumatic memory and supernatural overlays. My mystic forefathers have passed it on to me.

I don’t even know what it all means.

I just think it’s beautiful … hanging out here with my heart wide open to these men, somewhere down a cosmic-ish rabbit hole of mysticism + war with my magical, weird, wonderful warrior grandfathers.

.

It’s funny. As soon as I realized all of this I felt a swoosh.

As soon as I recognized that my dad and grandpas didn’t have a *choice* ...

But I do ... ?

... I think it might be just the right time to come home from the war.

analog galaxy

AN ANALOG GALAXY KIND OF GIRL LIVING IN A DIGITAL-HUSTLE SCREENWORLD


AN ANALOG GALAXY GIRL LIVING IN A DIGITAL-HUSTLE SCREENWORLD


Can we please talk about how my experience with social media is destroying my raw creative expression and flow?


YES


GULP


I’m saying it.


You might not know that when we think you aren’t listening, some of us creative types are talking about how we are dying slow little deaths. The kind of death where we wish to flipping god that there wasn’t a phone in our face (self-imposed, with extra points for great lighting) or on our art when we are creating. 


BUT


We feel we *have to* have the phone in our face so we can swim (frantically) in the digital hustle of being seen ... or die a slow starving artists death. 


AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT.


(Here’s a little sidenote: I am fully aware this approach works for many creatives out there, and I am truly very happy for you AND inspired by you, and the way you are able to masterfully juggle the art of social media + its vast opportunities for self-promotion + how it brings abundance to you. This is not my reality. In this post, I am not speaking from my heart about YOUR reality. I am talking about MINE … and other creatives I have dialogued with).


Here’s what it looks like for me:


***** VERY FREQUENT GENIUS FLASH OF INSPO ****


“Holy sh*t. I need to create This Thing. Woooooow.” … and I’m all heart-eyed and starry-eyed like an actual emoji because


You need to know that I transform my life through my creativity. Pick apart each morsel of beauty / sorrow / curiosity / soul questing / trauma / ancestral legacy / interpersonal relationship / etc bit by bit through the ALCHEMY of PURE ARTISTRY. So in my flashbang vision there is NEW LIFE to express, feel, process. There is a GIFT for anyone who resonates with it. There is COLLECTIVE HUMAN STORY and TRUTH in all of the rawness that I pour out from the floods through my body like a thousand full-bodied orgasms per millisecond that feel like a galaxy of a hundred batrillion stars and I am so in it to win it, because for me, creating and making things IS the core definition of who I am. My nourishment, my oxygen, my blood, my heartbeat. If I’m not creating from this place (and often in a million directions all at the same time), and simultaneously nurturing my galaxy with my devotion to it and my union WITH it, I am dying. #fact


I wholeheartedly believe this isn’t reserved for just me. I think all true creatives have their own version of this experience.


But then:


       OH. SPLAT.


       And then I turn into a 5’4” flesh robot. How can I package this so that it is consumable?


       Also known as: how can I take this luscious freaking sexy beast galaxy inside of me and smish it into a pretty lil box with a palatable label and clever copywriting?


 And then my mind spins itself off into marketing-land like nobody’s business, and that genius idea settles like rotting stardust in my belly, and I become a cesspool of decomposing and fermented genius stardust clumps, all while I’m still struggling to stay visible as an entrepreneur … and GUESS WHAT. I end up feeling depressed (like crying on the bathroom floor for days depressed) because I’m not being AUTHENTIC (which in and of itself is a crock of crap because authenticity is what I teach, people! I mean! UGH!), and all my stardusty genius has rigor mortis and begins to decompose my actual life force ... but that's supposed to be okay? Because it doesn’t ‘fit’ with my ‘brand’ or isn’t ‘consumer-friendly’ or speak a ‘consistent message’ to my ‘target market’?


WHICH REMINDS ME


My target market is the human race. Ugh. PLEASE let me out of this whole nightmare of narrowing down my message so that I fit one cozy little demographic! I'm an artist. Not a tamed-out toned-down niche in the demographics dictionary which was probably designed by some a-holes who think everyone should fit into one tidy little category so the world could go to hell in a hand basket of highly manipulated materialism and consumerism? Does anyone else but me see this as generally being a very serious issue in our world?


ANYWAY


And then suddenly it’s the year 2019 and every. damn. thing. I invested my digital-hustle energy into in the last 6 years is broken anyway and I am looking around saying: Wait? What happened? 


What happened is that I have been morphing, clusterf*cking, and muzzling myself in order to fit into a hustle screen-world when I’m *actually an ANALOG GALAXY* kind of gal.


Literally recently someone told me nobody’s going to ‘get’ my new body of work, like they didn’t ‘get’ my book … so, like, why don’t I just make things that people like?


BECAUSE I WASN’T BORN TO PLEASE THE MASSES OBVS BUT ANYWAY


Oh and by the way …


***NEITHER WERE YOU***


But back to the packaging and the branding and the marketing …


For me, the boxing up of my innate magical mystical GENIUS disrupts my deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep instinct to create, to tap into the flow, to BE the flow, to BECOME the fire and nourishment of the creative act, to let it take me, have its way with me, and transform me as I transform it in the most amazeballs kind of holy union.


*Boxing it up f*cks up my alchemy.


*Packaging creativity is creative kryptonite.


*Pretending to not sell while actually trying to sell makes me want to puke.


And I know being on the receiving end of it makes you puke too.


All the selfies, all the Insta stories, all the other ways I’ve sold out to the selling process?


***Alchemy highjacked***


It pulls me right out of myself into an external marketplace before the alchemy has had its way with me, before I have fully given myself over as its chalice, its creatrix. So I am robbing the sacred energy of creativity, myself, and YOU as the human race and my ‘target market’ (eye roll) I am here to offer my gifts as creatrix to.


I’ve fooled myself into thinking that visibility = survival when it’s actually killing me (not so) softly … 


… and I’m spending more time than I’d like to admit in some kind of black hole punctuated by fluffing up my hair for selfies and counting ‘likes’, hoping for ‘visibility’ and ‘conversion’ based on consumable packaging rather than authenticity.


And I totally suck at all of that. 


Except fluffing up my hair. I’m really good at that.


I just need to be fluffing up my hair for my own intimate process with my wild and unhinged creativity.


LET ME REMIND YOU: I get it that this entire process that doesn’t work for me does work for some creatives. I am not condemning their experience. I’ve believed in it, I’ve lived it, and I’ve tried it. And it’s real for a lot of people. But not for me.


Both, and all, experiences can be true. They can co-exist. That’s another post though, about how TWO ACTUAL THINGS can be true at the same time. It’s really real. I’ll save that for another day when I am also feeling defiant.


I am talking about MY EXPERIENCE and what fellow artists have shared with me in literal whispers ... because long ago we digested the message that we are supposed to be good little artists and sell our souls to earn our right to be creators.


(We are afraid if people knew how we felt they would un-follow us. Stop taking our classes or buying our art. Think we are ungrateful to have the visibility our friends and followers choose to give us. We aren’t ungrateful though, that’s the twist.


*We are so grateful for the love that you give us through your loyalty and literally putting the roof over our heads that we actually have forgotten who we need to be in our own skin*.)


Many creative entrepreneurs are also feeling this way:


Struggling with how to balance creative actual life with what we are supposed to present. Wondering how we can possibly compete with the masses while spending our time trying to craft The Cutest Newsletter Ever and putting pretty pictures of ourselves skipping through our lives 20 minutes after we’ve had a panic attack about paying the rent.


So there. I said them out loud. The things you aren’t supposed to say out loud.


There is a huge smart-ass tone to this post, and a whopping dose of a Provocateur. But honestly, it’s a feeble and transparent attempt to cover up a shit ton of worry about how to be REAL in a world that’s increasingly driven by curated screenscapes of contrived bullshit. 


I can ask myself hard questions, but I don’t know the answers. If I knew the answer, I’d just get on with doing it.


Is there a better way?


I don’t know.


And. At the same time I do know that within a matter of moments, I’ll be offering up posts inviting you to engage in commerce with my paintings, my workshops, or my books. When that happens, you and I will both know that my offering is coming from analog stardust, resurrected … even if offered through the screenscapes of the digital realms.


Wow.


I may have just answered my own heaving questions.


It suddenly seems so simple.


Perhaps I just need to live and create in my sensory bliss, in my own analog galaxy.


Then offer my gifts to my people through our digital spaces.


And always, always, always fluff up the world with the stardust in my hair.


…………………………………………………………….


PS. Between you and me, I thought it might be nice to speak a little truth.


Because every time I sit to craft The Cleverest Post Ever, this is the only thing my fingers and thumbs will actually type. I’ve been trying otherwise for weeks, believe me.


I give up.


Fingers and thumbs … and ANALOG GALAXY GIRL … you win.


…………………………………………………………….


Would Mozart have spent 8 hours a day scrolling?


Would Picasso, Klimt, or Kahlo have given a rats about collecting followers?


Would Einstein have taken Udemy classes on outsmarting FB algorithms?


Would the genius poet Mary Oliver, who just left us, tell me that The Soft Animal of My Body loves to siphon off my creative impulse into marketing campaigns?

i wonder ...

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 6.04.53 PM.png

I wonder what it would be like ...


To put my phone away for a whole day.

To sit in stillness.

To tame the sabotaging horribleness 

Of reaching for my phone 

Absentmindedly

Every 5 seconds

To scroll and spy and trance myself out.

I wonder what it would be like ...

To sit in my own world

Instead of yours

Or hers

Or his.

I wonder what it would be like ...

If I allowed the volcanic creative impulses inside me

To roar forth

And trickle their hot lava imprints across the world

Instead of running twelve marathons of 'branding' and 'packaging' tangents in my head

Before any creating even happens

And killing my own creativity before it reaches the finish line.

I wonder what it would be like ... 

To spend my time on me.
 

This is so heavily in my mind these days ...

Actually more in my body ...

Do you feel this too?

The Precipice + The Crawling

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 10.53.02 AM.png

I’m on the precipice.


That place where the edge is all I know.


What happened, happened. I can shrug it off now.


And there is a wide gap between this edge I teeter on and what will be.


With a motherlode of gold where a load of black used to be.


And I’m so f*cking grateful to be here.


I’ve clawed my way toward this edge.


I really have.


On all fours ... mostly on my belly.


I groped for the next inch of true self.


Chewed gravel, dirt, and the darkness that wanted to choke me.


I invited them to become my nourishment.


Digested the sludge of happenings that will never see the ‘light’ of social media.


... Actually ...


Someone told me recently that my social media feeds makes it seem like everything been has handed to me on a silver platter.


There are so many ways that is not the truth.


At all.


But


If a silver platter is the same thing as dragging my deadness around for far too long while consistently reaching for truth + beauty with determined focus ....


Maybe.


I’m smiling as I write these words.


I’m smiling because I know a secret.


Crawling, dragging, and digesting desert sand, rocks and dirt are the only way to actually flourish.


They kinda ARE the silver platter.


Hmmmm.


No.


Gold.


Alchemist’s gold.


Gold born from the edge of actual living.


Alchemist’s gold.


And me.


2019 is the year of my edges.


Edges I’ve handed myself on a gold platter by crawling through the lies I’ve always told myself.


Edges upon which I embody CHOICE.


Edges upon which I nurture BEAUTY.


Edges upon which I open my body to LOVE.


Edges upon which I envelop my own self with TRUST.


Edges upon which I boldly embrace what is mine to RECEIVE.


Queen of the Precipice.


Magician of the Crawling.


Watch and see.

On Art + Why I Study the Humans of War

People always wonder why a girl like me makes art about soldiers, survivors, and all the other kinds of humans who lived through, or died in, war.

This morning I suddenly decided it was time to try and explain it.

I recorded a voiceover on top of a demo video I made for a project.

The demo video is 17 minutes … so I had to choose between talking for a while or cutting my video.

So I talked for 17 minutes. Stream of consciousness … 5 am.

The art itself is a little something I made as a demo for the people in my DEEPER online workshop. In the beginning of the video you’ll see me thrust my art journal aside and reach for something to bust me out of being creative blockage.

SO. TIRED. OF. THE. BLOCKAGE.

You know that feeling, right?

So.

Here it is: a little meander into my stream of consciousness brain at 5 am …

………………………………

The next session of DEEPER begins in January. It’s been a mind-blowing experience for all of us in this round. www.erinfaithallen.com/deeper

“Erin’s DEEPER class is an unfolding experience. You start off excited about the teacher and all that she does and is: her art, her research, her travels; her passion, her energy, her sincerity. Then, gradually (or not so gradually actually), the lens is turned. You (suddenly) realize this course is in fact about yourself; your story, your curiosity, your creativity. Erin is as generous with her students as she is about her own work - she offers a complete treasure chest of practical tools as well as being the cheerleader with pompom-shakes and reassuring smiles and laughter. She is present to inspire and encourage each individual to use their own art, their own passion and energy. DEEPER is also special because Erin has created a framework and a community to feel safe enough to share the most personal of vulnerabilities as well as the joy and enthusiasm. Thank you, Erin, for your generous spirit and mind!” - Grete Semb Kempton

On Being Blackballed

erin faith allen

Two years ago-ish, someone said I 'stole their creative process’. They told anyone in our shared community who would listen, based on what I have since been told. I have also been told they made requests of friends and colleagues akin to blackballing. 

From what I can tell, the blackballing happened. If it did, it paralleled the time my world was spinning in other endings, and the clusterf*ck of it all resulted in the loss of everything I’d built, all the freelancers I engaged lost their contracts, and all the women who gathered at my events lost their opportunity to do so. I went from six figures to flat-broke in a flash.

Here’s where I’m at these days:

Women hurt women. It’s real. We need to start talking about this. NOW.

And. As humans we listen to one version of a story and make assumptions that impact the lives of other people.

‘Other people’ can feel shamed into silence. Ya know, the squeaky wheel and all that jazz.

Overall, I am settling snugly into a place where I wouldn't change a thing.

BUT.

Back when this all hit the fan ... 

I was devastated. Traumatized. Paralyzed. 

I wish I had stood my ground. Protected myself. Raised my fist high over my world like a fierce guardian, a mama bear, a believer of my self. 

I wish I had said NO. To the way I acquiesced. To the way I allowed the crumbling to just happen.

But I didn’t. Partially because the scale of what was occurring behind my back took a while to reach my awareness.

Partially because of my self-worth.

I didn’t fully believe in myself and my insanely prolific powerful creativity or voice. I didn't fully live inside my workshops and retreats. Did you know that every time I stood in front of a group to teach, I felt worthless? Like I shouldn't be there? Who did I think I was? What did I have to give? I had such massive anxiety colliding with my powerful impulse to share the beauty of creativity, and my deep desire to share the quest for voice so many of us find ourselves on. That's real, you guys. 

SPOILER: And that's how it all fell apart, REALLY.

But anyway, in summary: (of a long mothertrucking story) ...

... one in which I left the world of women’s creativity + all the beautiful retreats \ workshops I led and created + all the surges of purehearted art sharing + the book I published + all the collaborations with other female artists ...

... and every time I’ve sat down to create since then has been an epic battle with terror that I’m going to be ostracized and accused a little more ... but the fear is an understatement, y’all. I’ve been struggling creatively, blocked as hell, for over two years ... 

... for a creative being that’s like a long slow death by boa constrictor or feeling your plush rich petals slowly fade and turn to a crispy dry weed and you just die inside … and you can’t do anything to stop it …

SO 

... I dove all the way in to studying the inhumanity of war because I really needed to understand why humans are so awful to each other + what better place than war and genocide and collective history in which to do that? ...

After two years-ish of living inside a spinningly hauntingly frozen bubble of untangling layers of trauma + personal value + self-responsibility and REALLY diving into HOW this happened + WHY it hurt so bad + what I can do to make sure I value myself SO EFFING MUCH that nothing can knock me off my feet again ...

(And also victim-shaming my own self which is really like placing a muzzle with hot nails on your own mouth and a cauldron of poison down your own throat but that’s a whole other tangent) 

(I mean it’s bad enough to feel your reputation get all crucified but then to go broke on top of it + feel shame about that + watch your company crumble + pile a little more shame about your failures on top of it all is really like living in some kind of Groundhog Day insane nightmare that you can’t wake up from).

Why am I even telling you this? 

I refuse to shirk in shame or fear of reprisal. I refuse to stay silent and NOT address this issue, though time has passed.

I refuse to be a space holder for women and a student of humans and not embody the fullness of being I implore others to cultivate within themselves. 

I refuse to be all committed to holding a line of self-imposed integrity while a hacksaw chops up my life. 

I refuse to carry this burden any longer.

I refuse to wear the shame hurled at me, and I refuse to let it come anywhere near me, actually. 

I REF*CKINGFUSE to spend one more second hiding in the corner.

It’s been a long couple of years. 

........................

PLEASE NOTE ... I am not asking for well-intentioned advice. 

I am not asking for validation or assurance. 

I am not interested in dissecting or comparing ‘inspiration’ with ’stealing’. 

I am not interested in defending myself in further accusations or dialogue. Like, at all. I’ve digested all the judgments and opinions already, and in some sort of super fun double-whammy, impaled myself on them. See hot nails / muzzle comment above. 

Before you ask me to consider the other side … I have. See impale comment above.

I am not even asking you to ‘believe’ ‘my side’. UGH. So not the point for me. 

Because whether you ‘believe’ me or not is going to have ZERO impact on my lived experience. 

I repeat. I am NOT ASKING YOU TO PICK A ‘SIDE’. 

‘Sides’ are destructive when they are formed from incomplete or one-sided streams of information - in the microcosm AND the macrocosm they tear lives apart. 

***How we choose to behave in our intimate community is what we allow in our larger community*** 

I am, however, asking you to consider the above sentence surrounded by ***’s, and how you might approach conflict in a way that BUILDS community rather than burning it the f*ck down.

I am not a saint. At freaking all. I am learning this truth through my own series of mistakes, missteps, and face-planting.

......................

So ... the stories and opinions that flew around. People in my close circle have said to me: ‘Why bring this up now? Why remind everyone of the rumors? The damage is done’.

Because of exactly that. The damage has been done.

Or: ‘Prepare yourself for the backlash. There will be revenge for speaking out’.

Revenge? For speaking out? I’ve lived through two years of internal self-suffocating hell because I did not speak out, or up, or do any kind of any voicing. I did not address the gossip, address the blackballing, address the backs of friends and colleagues as they walked away, address the public shaming. Address anything.

I hid.

And I've been choking on rock bottom sea-mud for two years anyway. So revenge? In some ways it's already kinda happened.

...........................

I have slogged through this in silence. I have asked all the questions of myself and I have some answers. I know the innards of this whole thing intimately. I’ve plucked the shrapnel from my intestines. I’m clean.

I don’t need to be coddled. 

I do not want to hear things about how blah blah blah this other person is or whatever. I really don't. That stuff is irrelevant to me. It's been useless all along, and will continue to be. I only can rely on the bare facts that I named at the very beginning of this post. That is all that holds truth. The rest of it is mine to digest.

Because you know what? In spite of it all, I believe everyone gets to live out their own perspectives. Whether I agree or not.

I just need to use my voice and say NO while walking the tightrope of the NO + naming my grief and rage + ALSO naming my responsibility: I participated in this co-creation from hell because at some core level, I didn’t believe in OR occupy my own world enough to batten down the hatches when some hard stuff came calling.

...........................

This is MY story of reclamation. 

MINE.

Of learning how to occupy my self. 

Of learning the hardest way possible that NO MATTER WHAT I am solely responsible for what I allow to penetrate my world.

What I hide from. What I allow to break. What I allow to break me.

How I have allowed my fear of speaking truth to injure my world. Until now.

********How, in not FULLY EMBODYING my creativity, truths, desires, my calling to serve creative women, the work I undertook and the company I built, and MY VOICE, I am responsible for the destruction of my world.********

This realization is one powerful mofo.

Because if I am responsible, ultimately, for the destruction, then ...

I am solely responsible for rising the f*ck up to re-claim MY whopping creative visionary voice so fiercely that it is completely impenetrable.

Unfrozen. Unparalyzed. 

Saying NO to all that has happened …

Saying YES to my desires and my calling and my voice.

Saying YES to rebuilding.

I'm kinda like a motherf*cking phoenix y'all. 

Watch me rise. 

Two years later.

Better late than never.

...........................

I know. This is long. If you take nothing else away, take this:

Self-responsibility is where the magic lives. Everything else is futile. It's the only true path out of the kind of victim consciousness that will kill your life dead. 

Everything.

I promise.

...........................

And yes, I want to throw up getting ready to hit the publish button on this post, but I’m pretty tired of dying a slow and silent death over here. 

...........................

Feeling a big fat NO now. Closing the door. Walking away from this storyline.

my books

erin faith allen author

Someone complained recently that my books are too expensive.

Hmmm. 


Well, they are 344 and 408 pages, and 8.5x11 inches. They weigh between 4 and 5 pounds.

Full color, front to back, and filled mostly with sizable collections of my art. 


Additionally, they are filled with deeply personal stories about my life, and the lives of some pretty amazing people mine has intersected with.

I don’t mess around in life. In art. Or in being transparent and real. Or in research. Or in creating. In anything, really.

I split myself open in order to grow personally, to act as a guardian, or a guide, or a mirror. 
On a good day, my books are a kind of a muse for any person on a mission to live a better life. 
Ya know, the kind of life in which you live, feel, and heal all the sh*t that’s holding you back.

Sorry for my potty mouth. Just keeping it real. I swear in my books occasionally, too. 
On a practical note, these babies are mothertrucking expensive to print. Like, whopping.

I suppose I could just make puny little books; black and white pages filled with just words because that is cheapest to print. 


I could produce books that are sparse on the art + life + soul divulging side of things.

That’s not how I roll. 🤷‍♀️ How I roll is knowing that by opening myself, I provide a space for others to find the parts of themselves they’ve pushed down or left behind.

How I roll is complete and utter devotion to the causes I believe in. Humanity. Healing. Creating. Being a benevolent force of balanced good. 


How I roll is following my visions wildly, pursuing what is true for me, and offering my full self in return for anyone who is interested in cracking open one of my books ... I get it that if you are expecting a ‘normal’ book with words on pages, these books may seem expensive.

But. My books are anything but normal. All things considered, $45 and $55 seem a fair enough price.

Sometimes

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 9.54.27 AM.png

Well, sometimes I forget to brush my hair. That’s usually a good sign though. It means I’m in full creative bloom, lost in other worlds, and not really interested in surface-y things. I mean ... I’m me ... so the surface of life is kinda ‘meh’ regardless yaknowwhatimean?

This is good news for all my friends in DEEPER. This week I’ve been ALL IN, creating course content that beats the pants off of anything I’ve done before. Like, ever. 


So. Now that I’ve just posted the content in the classroom ... maybe I’ll go find my brush. 


My PAINTBRUSH 😜🎨🤣

Fevers and Prayer Books

I was up all night with a fever, and feel pretty crappy in all the ways. I decided to use my ‘sick day’ to come down to my studio and make art. Ya know. Just like, turn off my phone and dive in. 
Then I found this. It’s a Czech bible or prayer book. I purchased it on Resslova Street in Prague a couple years ago, then tucked it away for a rainy day. I forgot about it til today. 


Oh my heart. 


It’s been a super successful arty day already in spite of body aches (ugh). I’ve made some amazing new stuff, so I’m gonna shut off the world for a few days and make some more art. 
Maybe like, a week. I need this. I’ve been spinning my wheels and lemme tell ya, there’s nothing better than a mixed media cocktail to make it alllllll better.

Too ...

erin faith allen

Too female to be a military historian.

 
Too pretty to actually be smart.

Too artsy to be a historian in general.

Too emotional to be objective.

Too ‘dark’ to be ‘marketable’.

Too American.

Too girly.

Too skinny.

Too wrinkly. 
Too curvy.

Too sexy.


Too blonde.

Too vocal.

Too liberal.

Too conservative.

Too sensitive.

Too indulgent.

Too evocative.

Too provocative.

Too willing to go ‘there’. Too diversified.

Too much.

Too little.

Too everything. ***Actually though, I’m just me.*** I am who I am.

With or without your permission.

Liberators

texas liberators erin faith allen

On the left: Bill Kongable, who liberated Ohrdruf concentration camp. 
On the right: Chick Havey, who liberated Dachau. 


They were honored today at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. Those medals you see were placed around their necks by Holocaust survivors who wore their gratitude with beaming hearts and smiles.

Nine survivors. Four liberators. A room full of people in awe of time marching on, and palpably honored to be in the presence of some of history’s most important players.

(In the middle, a woman who can’t believe the immense honor of being sandwiched by two of her heroes from the Greatest Generation).

Real Life

erin faith allen

Walking my dog. Chasing my kid. Writing content for classes. Saying goodbye to tanlines, humidity-soaked skin, and freckles. Trying to remember to go the supermarket. Oh yeah, and shuffle the clothes from the washer to the dryer. Fending off a cold. Dying to paint a masterpiece ... really get lost in my process and sing at the top of my lungs while doing so. Juggling three new book ideas. Holding yet another separate big project in my whole. entire. being. Worried about the future. Oh crap I forgot to get gas and there are only like 10 miles left before I hit empty. I need to send those signed copies of my books out, too. My car is overflowing with crap that needs to be thrown out / cleaned up / put in storage. Haven’t made it to my emails in days. I just want to be a good human. I’ve made so many mistakes. Am I kind? What am I going to make Poppy for dinner. I need to go to the supermarket. And fill my car up on the way. Don’t forget it’s almost the 1st and bills are due. I totally forgot to write that book review. When am I going to start that YouTube channel with all my films. When I find the films. They are somewhere ... I need to clean out my hard drives and organize them. But first I need to do that book review. And make all the other films circulating through my brain. Right? What I’ve done isn’t enough. But first I should finish unpacking. I moved two months ago. Still haven’t hung pictures on the walls. But I need to get that other stuff done first. And and and and and ....

DEEPER

deeper prague art

My work table is set up. Like an altar, it holds some of my most hot and holy memories in these little stacks and bundles of things that are not just things. This is my inspiration for DEEPER, right here. I’ll be using these things that aren’t just things in my process, technique-wise and emotional-wise. I’ll guide and inspire you, and we will hang out together for 12 weeks making some beautiful art and great friendships. 

I get so close to my art ...

Ravensbrück art

I get really super close to my art. Like, we kinda become one. Like synonyms, or symbiotic organisms.

I suppose that’s true for all artists, right? Full throttle saturation is kinda inherent in what we do. 
How much of yourself do you give to your creative expression? 
Or your *anything*? Do you give a little? 
Do you give a lot?

Or do you just kinda float and flit? 
Take what you can and give enough to just get by?

I’ve done that, too. But it eventually sucks. Things dry the eff up. People leave. (Why would they stay?!) Shit just wears out and everything falls flat.

We’ve all been on all sides of that coin. 
Here’s the amazing thing about life: we can dive back into full absorption, full presence, full beingness, full givingness at any time. 
If we sucked yesterday, we can be awesome today.

True story.

I’m gonna choose awesome today. What about you?
...........................
This is a painting based on the women of Ravensbrück concentration camp. I have a lot to say about that place, and these women.