My Wild Voice- January 2018


Becoming animal

My Wild Voice Journal


Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, your are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent.
— John O'Donohue

2018 will no doubt be a decisive year in my life. So much has happened in just the last month that I feel like I need to lay down the learning in a single blog. In this blog I write about creative courage and what this looks and feels like when returning to one's true home. As a monthly journal, this post collects purposeful photographs, poems and pieces of writing created over the past 3o days. 

Life is always affirming itself in deep and purposeful ways. A life fully lived is one in which a soul is given space to awaken itself to the eternal. If I have gathered anything from 2017 it is that trauma is trully the most powerful doorway we have to heal deep rooted aspects of our psyches.  There is, when trauma strikes, an awakening of the soul, an internal rupturing that proliferates through all of our sleeping and dormant senses, landing deep into the psyche. 

That poet and memoirist Mary Karr says that in order to learn the language of the soul one must learn first to listen to one's sacred carnality, the flush and blood, the somatic, the visceral. The kaleidoscopic cavern of the mind opens to the waking self the moment a violent or traumatic occurrence lands at their feet. Victims of school shoots may live their entire life asking themselves soul rooted questions every time they see a gun fired into a group of people in the media. They will not necessarily know this because they have not yet learnt to connect with the earthly cosmology that resides within their senses.

The activation of the sympathetic nervous system during a traumatic experience heightens certain senses. These senses collect information that triggers the release of specific stress hormones.  We, in essence, become animal. This seeing, this feeling, this reacting, moving, responding, is a dance with the cosmological consciousness of the wild soul that activates aspects of our DNA to respond. This reactive systematic response is often referred to as 'instinct'. We all have it, our capacity to access is primarily bound by our capacity to understand what our senses our telling us.

The human body is an imperfect and breakable entity vulnerable to a thousand and one insults- to scars and scorns of others, to disease, decay, and death. The material world our bodies inhabit is hardly a gentle place...thus do we shelter ourselves from harrowing vulnerability of bodied existence. But by the same gesture we also insulate ourselves from the deepest wellspring of joy...we seal ourselves off from erotic warmth of a cello’s voice.
— David Abram

Our bodies are always speaking to us. Our bodies are what allow us to feel joy, pleasure, happiness. We want these things more than anything so our brain eventually is trained to ignore all of the out sensory experiences that lead to feelings of sadness, shame, guilt, fear. This dynamic is perpetual cyclical. Every experience of what is deemed good is used to suppress the subconscious desire for what is deemed not good. We need sadness so anxiety grows and turns into depression and depression to so much worse.

I was living a half life, trying to connect with my wild self (mind, body, and soul) while living in an urban environment where I always felt on edge. I became more and more imbalanced. I was spending more and time in nature. I would go searching for little nooks and crannies within the city to do self portraits. I found myself bring home items from wherever I went. It was obvious that I needed more connection to my animal instinct. The cage doors had long been opened but I was still tethered to a lonesome idea. I was not free.

This all changed when I returned to my home town over the holidays. I was fully intending to return to Vancouver after a few weeks of attempted rest and relaxation. I had refused to consciously admit that I needed much more than a few weeks and sure enough, within a few days into the holidays the nagging pull became a tsunami. Violent emotions I thought I had long since moved past were waiting for me at every corner. Every moment of the day presented itself as a blind corner that an angry a bear would be waiting to devour me.

I could no longer ignore the inner rumblings and the silent shouts of agony that were no longer willing to be keep down. I would face all that I had come to see as a struggle, a burden, a regret, with ripe instinct. I would let new truths revealed themselves. I would act without the weight of doubt. I would act as my body needed me to. These were they prayers I scattered across the ground during sunrise walks. After a few days and the anxiety, fear, and panic had not really subsided, I got onto my knee's and prayed to mother earth.

"Go live with Grandpa", she whispered back. I fell to my knees, gratitude and gravity becoming one. 

The parts of me that had previously felt weak and small began to grow in fierce determination. Yes, I would uproot my life on a moments notice based purely on instinct. I did just that and my life completely transformed. Within the month I would early a sizeable settlement from my most recent trauma and start my dream business. I would fall in love with myself and watch from a distance as my partner for the last 15 years used my retreat as an opportunity to completely transform his own life. I would see true belonging bloom in a living landscape of my own making. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is indisputably a part of my personal story. In many ways I believe that I have received a download of information about  PTSD. My own narrative has allowed me to focus on the healing. In this way I have been able to rely on my own belonging, vulnerability, and courage to pursue a creative life in pursuit of a higher purpose.. It is a gift as much as it is a burden. Daily, I choose to cultivate my intention around these goals, therefore my response to trauma has radically increased my desire to create art.

It is the need to lay upon my body a truth that others might grab onto. This is what propels my art, my writing, my being, forward.


Speak to your senses

ask them what you already know

When the call for extended leave to home comes, a part of her always hears. When the call to home comes, she will follow, has been preparing to follow. She and all the allies of her inner psyche will restore her ability to return.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Deciding to move in with my grandfather was an easy choice. I fell to my knees in gratitude when the ideal struck. He is a gift and I know it through and through. I would make a home in his home, a place I have spent a significant amount of time in since I was 3 years old. I would make him meals, I would listen to his stories, I would share my stories, I would invite in his love and give him mine in return. 

So far, a few weeks in, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Aside from all the negative things that keep happening around me, I have can trust that I have arrived at a sacred refuge and I am not alone here. I have arrived somewhat malnourished. I have arrived with hands ready to gather nourishment. I have arrived with roots ready to establish themselves where the ground is soft and ready to be nourished. 

I have felt a lot of joy and sorrow in the last month. A am sitting at the wheel and turning the clay of my life with my own hands. Although I feel sorrow move through me, the mist over the landscape is dissolving. I am more and more how I want to be every day, even though the emotions I ride can still be rough. Resettling into a freshly formulated life means retrieving lost parts of oneself. Dusting off the veneer only to find decay can be defeating. Some roads will lead to a dead end but we must learn to weigh ever blessing the same. 

Almost every evening I sit upon a green  point overlooking the ocean and estuary. I don't count my blessings but hold them close to my heart with every breath. At first, I was most painfully aware of the burdens I was carrying. The need to be seen, the need to be loved with authenticity and courage. These things I have, and continue, to carry a great distance in my life. I knew I would never drop them, no matter. But I must learn to carry them better.

I have been lambasted for being too open. I have been told that my courage and resolve scare other people into silence. I have been confronted by the fact that becoming wild may hurt those that I love. Returning home has provided me with the respite I desperately needed but that does not make me immune to having body in an often inhospitable environment. But I resolve to continue to stand alone in the wilderness and continue my quest for true belonging. 




Listen to your deep

There is a glory
in sadness
that brings me to my knees.
I find myself
deep bellow ground, 
endlessly endlessness,
floating, dancing, drifting.
I try for the light
but there is a levity
in feeling out of sight.
I find myself
not in sadness, but with it.


hear her roar

There is a grace
in darkness
that gives me rise
As such, 
I find myself
riding this silent carousel,
opening into openness
shaking, fighting, freeing
I try for the light.
Alas, there she is, grace
Having arrived,
I find myself,
not with sadness, but with through it.


raise your eyes

sky opens,
I touch her face,
she touches mine back.
Resting at last, our hungry hearts
beat back, answering the long lost call,
that open invitation to fullfill life
a long forgotten love letter
waiting at the foot
of the bed
as we

Jen Holden