Suicide is a difficult topic for the living.
And it hardly seems approachable on this lovely Spring Saturday.
This post has been stirring since I learned of the death of Dr. Frederic Brandt,
celebrity dermatologist, who recently committed suicide.
It was exactly a year ago to the day of his death that I posted about his work,
under the title About Face III.
It has been reported that Dr. Brandt was in despair,
and devastated regarding comedic characterizations of his appearance and personality.
It has been difficult to articulate to myself why I would wish to address his work again…
maybe there are too many metaphors, ironies–best to leave the dead in peace?
Perhaps I am trying to punctuate prior posts on the subject?
In pondering this,
with great feeling and sensitivity,
I would suggest that seeking to alter one’s visage is a perverse form of perfectionism–
leading one further and further away from him or herself…
In suicide, apart from the loss of a life, is the tragedy left to the living as to “why”.
We can never know, exactly.
I would offer this: Perfectionism Kills.
Marion Woodman spoke strongly and seriously about the fatal flaw of perfectionism.
In that, how we will always fail in the attempt, and are doomed in the attempt.
I offer my respect to a doctor, a healer, who went beyond the human and became a God to so many in the limelight.
Rest in peace Dr. Brandt.
Vox Anima, SDM
It’s time for a little self deprecating humor.
Please humor me.
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with my mother’s lipstick: Fire Engine Red.
My curiosity led me to her vanity mirror where I smudged my little face with red.
I can clearly see mother’s reflection and the shocked/angry expression on her face–
That was the only make-up she wore.
That, and Chanel #5 and stiletto heels!
(they used to be called spike heels)
(as I write this in my cozy acorn wooly slippers)
To this day,
Lipstick means Mom.
The Mom that was a beautiful, spirited woman, who died too young, and left a little girl without the best woman in the world to guide her into adulthood.
So, perhaps it is no wonder that I have an affinity for lipsticks, pencils, and glosses.
Reveal: I count 25 in my kit and kaboodle.
I also must admit, I do like shoes.
But there is not a high heel in my closet.
Oh, maybe one.
Pretty racy, eh?
Well, dear reader, thank you for bearing with my meandering muse on early lessons and lingering influences about beauty.
Love you Mom!
Images from Pinterest
“For by his face straight, shall you know his heart.”
Shakespeare, Richard III
“The face is the soul of the body.”
As I continue the exploration of Face, Beauty, and Soul, I thought I’d zero in on how much is really happening, phenomenally, in our one and only Face.
I don’t spend a LOT of time in front of the mirror,
but when I am ill, I tend to be looking more (or maybe noticing more)
Signs, symptoms, health, wellness…
The eyes are my barometer, measuring degrees of such.
Let’s re~visit James Hillman on the Force of the Face.
“Not because of cosmetics and surgery is the face an aesthetic phenomenon, but because it is biologically so.
Besides the muscles needed functionally to chew, kiss, sniff, blow, squint, blink, and twitch away a fly, most of the forty-five facial muscles serve only emotional expression.”
Marilyn Monroe said: “I can make my face do anything I want.”
That is Mastery.
Hillman, continued: “The face reveals character, the mirror does not lie.
My face announces my presence, reports my nature, and above all, by facing outward, bears a message for others. Angels blow trumpets. They call for awakening. So does the face; it demands response.”
So, dear reader, I would posit this: What message does your/my face bear for others?
What awakening is being called for in that face of yours/mine?
What response is being asked for, demanded?
Hamlet to Gertrude: “You go not, till I set up a glass–
where you may see the inmost part of you.
Vox Anima, SDM
Art Credit: Tumblr & Pinterest
“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte “
…just one more image that reflects the transition into autumn.
Yesterday, was the best blend of cool and crisp; warm and sunny.
The feeling in this painting reflects perfectly the energy in my household yesterday afternoon. Sigh.
My beloved enjoyed his last cigar of summer (outside).
I pampered myself (inside).
Windows, doors open to let the blithe air in.
(I suppose I am blogging in reverse)
Saturday in Ashland’s Lithia Park was bliss.
After all the smoke and fire of summer,
we are enjoying our first true rain today.
(can you tell that I am not a linear thinker?)
Liquid golden wishes to you, dear readers.
Vox Anima, SDM
Did you know that Instagram is now touted to be the new Facebook?
I found a most provocative piece in the NY Times (of all places), written by financial planner Carl Richards.
Now I must confess, my news reading habits do not generally fall to the financial page, but he caught me with this one: Living the Instagram Life.
In it, he confesses and admits to shadowy things.
Competitiveness, for example: “It’s very difficult to compete without feeling envy. A wise friend once told me that every time you try to compete, you’ll always lose. Because even if you’re the best this year, someone will be better than you next year.”
(I hear echoes of Marion Woodman on Addiction to Perfection in this)
Money: “And nowhere does envy raise its ugly head more often than with money. Earlier this year, a former hedge fund trader wrote an op-ed…that opened with this line:
‘In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million–and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough.’
Richards continues… “Something good happened to this guy, but in his mind, it wasn’t good enough because he knew there were other people who received more. Who receives $3.6 mil and gets angry about it?
People who want to live what I call an Instagram life versus a real life.”
He goes on…
“If we’re living a real life, we’ve gained the understanding that getting more doesn’t always lead to feeling happier. In an Instagram life, we’re instead focused on making it look like we have a better life than everyone else. But even as we take our own pictures and apply filters to our world, we’re flipping through other people’s photo streams and feeling envious about what we see.”
… i.e., “they’re only stories…by making these stories our focus, we’ll never be satisfied. There will always be something else we don’t have that someone else does,
and our envy becomes a trigger for all the bad behavior we’re supposedly trying to avoid.”
E. A. Hanks, a writer and blogger posted about this in the Huffpost 2011.
(yes. the Huffpost)
She called it PrettyPorn.
“I have a problem: I can’t stop looking at porn. I can look at it for hours and I’m not satisfied. Worse, I think it’s giving me unrealistic expectations..I don’t even really remember how it got started…
If I’m honest, it started when I was looking for new curtains, which then lead to rug possibilities. Suddenly I needed to pick out a new paint color for my bedroom, and pretty soon I was waking up in the middle of the night feeling as though that I simply had to see more soft-lit pictures of people kissing in swathes of wildflowers…
Here are some of the things that figure largely with PrettyPorn:
Scanned polaroids of cozy-looking disheveled beds; charmingly messy dinner tables post-dinner; high quality jpegs of romantic braided hair; skinny women’s pale backs; cats; cups of tea/wine; fields of wildflowers. Lots of French things.”
(I would specify Parisian)
“PrettyPorn consists of the seemingly endless chain of blogs where dreamy young things post photos and notes (and poems!) about the things they think are beautiful. It’s an ongoing love affair with an aesthetic based on fragility, beauty, and romance. “
(I would add sentimentality, and we know what Jung had to say about that)
So Hanks admits her addiction to it, and alluded to the thesis Richards posits,
which, in essence means if we’re busy consuming others’ images and measuring ourselves by them, then we are not living our own life.
So here is a confession from yours truly.
In all honesty,
I can fall into PrettyPorn too.
I fall, get up, take a shower, and remember my life.
I am truly and more sincerely interested in authenticity.
I’ll be writing more about this…
And I ask you dear readers, bear with me!!!
And please do let me know your thoughts on this.
(It can get a little lonely out here in the muck and the mire)
Vox Anima, SDM
“Daily we unfold our stories into the world–
some of them consciously constructed, some of them arising of their own accord.
Stories run through us from our ancestors,
from our culture,
from our environment.
There are stories we tell ourselves,
stories which tell us,
even (perhaps especially)
if we are unaware of them.” ~ James Hollis
Beyond identification with family and career, I have wondered about the “pull threads” in my life, my story–or as C.G. Jung and Joseph Campbell put it: What Myth am I living? Or, more plainly, now at the turning point of age 61, “What am I here for?”
I have long resonated with the Cinderella story.
Particularly the Russian version of Vasalisa the Brave.
Vasalisa the Wise.
Vasalisa the Beautiful.
After some time in the swamplands of the Soul, I think I just might have an idea.
Vox Anima: Wishing you beauty, SDM
Art Credit goes to Ivan Bilibin
A simple message on a soft summer Sunday.
I am currently reading about art as a practice of “seeing”.
Seeing, as in, slowing down to, stopping and observing the common and the ordinary.
This practice is transformational, and the everyday becomes extraordinary by the quality of attention we give it…
And in today’s world, so much to attend to!
And so much that is in CRISIS.
“Living in a time of well documented crisis–
environmental, educational, social–
we are often numb and overwhelmed
by what’s wrong,
what’s out of balance.
The healing we need as individuals and cultures
cannot come only from practical solutions and prescriptions,
but must come also from many visions of wholeness,
holiness, visions of beauty.”
In this vein:
As Vox Anima approaches her first birthday, more to come on Goodness and Beauty.
Blessings to All, SDM
P. S. I have some inner mischief makers.
Whenever I want to re~set, re~create myself,
I often take to the kitchen.
I am also a gardener, along with my beloved Green Man.
We call our place “The Shire”.
An Hobbit homage to big bare feet, pipe weed, and enjoying the simple life.
(the pipe weed is a reference to tobacco)
(my Green Man enjoys a cigar now and then)
We have a wild and wooly acre +.
With pear, apple, peach, almond, and walnut trees.
Ornamental trees too: box elder, incense cedars, pines, junipers, horse chestnut, oaks, sycamore, and vintage lilacs.
And the vegetable garden, now scaled back for two.
Flaming red and green grapes.
Ambrosia and Watermelons.
A smattering of leafy greens.
Sunflowers for beauty.
( but mostly to feed the birds)
You get the picture?
Tomatoes, always tomatoes: Brandywines.
Perennial herbs of dill, sage, oregano, tarragon, thyme, chives.
Peppers, squashes (winter and summer), and eggplant.
Have you ever seen an eggplant blossom?
The plant and blossom alone are reason enough to grow it.
Now, back to the kitchen.
The first of summer’s garden bounty inspired a ratatouille.
I simply could not resist the glossy solid beauty of the Aubergine.
(I just like using the word Aubergine!)
First thing this morning I was in the kitchen.
With my vegetables.
Asked the Green Man to fetch the squash and the herb bouquet.
The swirl of good olive oil and the onion sauté filled the house with such a perfume.
Add the peppers, garlic (lots), zucchini, eggplant, oregano, basil, bay leaf, and tomatoes.
Our home was transformed into a Mediterranean kitchen.
The vegetables were singing!
This, for me, is the creative process.
I begin with one element.
This one element leads to another, and before you know it, I am creating something!
(kind of like this blog)
Now, who will help me do the dishes?
Vox Anima, SDM
All other art credit is in the public domain