How does one transform themselves? It’s not an easy thing to do. The modern world demands that we be the masters of transforming ourselves. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime.
But I’m not just talking about jobs. The need to constantly transform ourselves across all areas of life is a basic human need and can be some of the most rewarding times of our lives. Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck and forget that really the absence of constants is one of the most exciting things about being alive. When it feels like everything is out of your control and you’re living life on the edge, it’s hard to remember that things will always change. Indeed change is the one thing we can always count on.
Last summer, I felt like everything was hard and that my life was out of my control. I felt pretty damned helpless in a lot of ways. You can read more about it here, but basically I was really depressed and very unsure of what was next.
My friend Madge sent me a card last August. On the front was The Goddess of Transition, pictured above. I had never thought of letting go to a power bigger than myself. I realized that Madge was right – I was in the midst of many huge life transitions: the place I lived, relationship with my parents and how I would make a living in the future. Of COURSE everything in my life felt unstable.
And the tiniest little spark inside me was ignited – and the word ‘Transformation’ flooded my brain.
My response to Madge was immediate. “I will build a shrine to the Goddess of Transformation!” I texted to her.
Birmingham, Alabama, where I lived all last summer and fall, is a special place for a lot of reasons. But one of my favorite things about Birmingham was the walk I did every day in my South side neighborhood. That neighborhood sits up against a little mountain full of iron ore, the last mountain in the Appalachian chain essentially. And so I wouldn’t go crazy last summer, I walked every day, five miles a day, twisting through the streets.
I found the coolest junk on the streets in Birmingham, Alabama! Stuff like a silicone mustache ice tray mold, pool noodles, really nice plant pots, a wicker rocking chair and so many great books. But as soon as I decided to ‘build a shrine to the Goddess of Transformation’ the junk I found and the angst I had and the habits I formed all unconsciously started moving toward the goal of transformation. And I can see now, looking back, that the moment of deciding that I was in the process of transformation was what got me unstuck from so many shitty feelings.
That was when I started repairing all of my old jewelry, making tiny pet-sized Halloween vampire capes for all my friends with pets and cranking out mini top-hats. Even the junk I found on the streets of Birmingham took on new significance – I found a vintage table that was missing a leg. I took off the remaining legs and flipped the table upside down and started my plans to use it to make an actual little shrine to The Goddess of Transformation. I skinned the backside of a dumped red leather couch with an exacto knife, scoring a ton of nice bright red leather for it. I separated all my old, broken jewelry into a pile so I could use it too.
Then the holidays came and I got busy with family, then we moved to New Orleans. I never forgot about the Goddess of Transformation and the shrine that I was planning to make. But you know how these things go; of course, it just never happened.
Or so I thought! Enter: The Temple Of The Inner Bitch –
I sent my proposal off to Burning Man for The Temple Of The Inner Bitch in February and got accepted in March. As a test for working with mirrored acrylic for the The Temple Of The Inner Bitch, I finally took the inside of that old vintage table from Birmingham and made a little shrine-like wall art. I still have the red leather and all the old broken jewelry and am planning to use them inside the Temple.
But I had a HUGE realization recently – I am so actively being transformed right now. This project, The Temple Of The Inner Bitch is literally transforming me, has transformed me into the artist I’ve always wanted to be – learning new things, solving artistic problems and having so much fun at the same time. I’ve found my flow. I don’t know if I will continue to do art after this or not, it depends on the opportunities that present themselves, but none of that even matters. What matters is that right now, I’m making art and having the time of my life. I’m pushing through. Transforming. I’m catching up with the Goddess of Transformation that I conjured last August.
I drove the pieces of The Temple Of The Inner Bitch from Columbia, South Carolina to New Orleans last week. In Mississippi, there’s not much happening on the radio at midnight. I wanted to listen to some talk radio, but the only programs being broadcast were deeply conservative Christian talk radio. I don’t know why but I started listening to one of the programs – of course, ignoring all the stuff I didn’t agree with, which was a lot.
The host starting talking about ‘Life On The Edge’ and how if a person loses something that means a great deal to them or to their identity – like a job, or a relationship or the place they live – that it is so easy to fall into despair. But that we must look at those losses through the lenses of CHANGE and ETERNITY.
And that’s when I remembered the spark set alight within me last summer: Change is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
As far as eternity goes, I believe in eternity too. My definition of eternity is most definitely different than conservative Mississippi Christian late night talk radio and yours probably is too. Shit happens. The leaves will change on the trees this fall, next spring new shoots will emerge from the soil and on and on. The great wheel of life keeps changing, transforming us. We just have to roll with it. OR – remember it like this:
When you feel like you’re sitting in a pile of shit, you just have to remember that shit grows the prettiest flowers.