I was pondering the other day why I am finding Instagram such an interesting place to be at the moment, and realised one of the factors is the stories it brings into my life. Mainstream media has so often tells stories with a narrow focus – heterosexual love stories featuring men and women who fit acceptable archetypes. And I’m bored of that now. It’s not relevant and there are just so many stories and characters missing.
But on Insta, I am following a wide and diverse range of individuals bringing their stories into my life. People with different gender roles and identities, abilities and cultural backgrounds that have so often been missing, or made the focus of stories in a way that emphasises difference and exclusion. And they are telling their own stories in their own voices, sharing their fears, scars, problems and bodies. (That last one feels particularly important to me right now, as I grow older and try to feel more comfortable in my post-baby body).
I know that ‘social’ media has its own problems (not least the trolling and negative comments that bravery can attract), but the fact that the platform enables sharing and alternative narratives feels like such a good antidote to that narrow focus. June is LGBTQ+ pride month and I’ve discovered some really educational and inspirational accounts as a result.
View this post on Instagram
Happy Pride Month 🌈 from the Comfort Fairy and I 🧚♀️ 🐕 We are always proud of you, however you identify or if you’re not sure yet. This month is a celebration of the progress that’s been made but also a reminder that protest is still needed, that bravery is still necessary, that not everyone feels safe all the time to be themselves and love who they love. Let’s keep loving, let’s keep striving, let’s keep standing together and challenging prejudice 🌈 #ally #lgbtpridemonth #rainbow #loveislove #noprejudice #lgbtpride
And the other factor is that I’m finding genuinely lovely connections on there, mostly thanks to the amazing Flower Power Fund. I have never met such a kind and invested bunch of people – the community around this project is simply magical.
The other day I was feeling a bit wobbly and posted a something that was a bit more honest post that I have for a while about where my head was at, and also a bit of a plea…
The comments and support were so lovely!
Working from home and being freelance and being a mum can feel pretty isolating. A couple of local friends reached out and we might actually manage to meet up for real cake, but it also turned into a little virtual tea party with lots of support and imaginary cake….
View this post on Instagram
Aw thank you so much to all the lovely people who shared virtual cake with me yesterday! 🍰 You’re all lovely Comfort Fairies! I was having a bit of a wobble but I feel much better today. It’s amazing how you can get caught in a downward spiral sometimes with your thoughts… I know on some level I’m choosing that and am in control really, but then I forget again… and then remember 🐘 #comfortfairy #bettermentalhealth #yourealllovely #thankyou #virtualcake
Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.
– Ram Dass
My brother introduced me to Ram Dass a few years ago.
My brother Adam is amazing – he’s 6ft 4 and all smile. He’s someone I really look up to (in all senses of the word) and has been an incredible source of support, particularly over the last year. He’s a musician with a massive spiritual streak, and collects quotes, podcasts, YouTube videos to show his friends to blow their minds, and to sample in his music. You can find out more about his psytrance music here.
Ram Dass has so many amazing words and quotes it’s hard to choose favourites. Since being introduced to him and finding him on Facebook, his teachings have helped me to think and be in new ways on almost a daily basis.
When I was creating Dive Down, I pulled back from my support network of friends and family a bit to try and really feel into what had lead me to make the decisions I’d made in my life so far, look at where I had perhaps done things based on fear, and see if I could find different ways of navigating in the future.
Ram Dass was a great source of inspiration during that challenging time.
He doesn’t hold his punches. His words are written (or spoken) with love, but they aren’t always easy to read.
If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change, it’s that you need to change. If they’re a problem for themselves that’s their karma, if they’re causing you trouble that’s your problem…
– Ram Dass from A Heavy Curriculum
I think that’s one of the things that I find most helpful about Ram Dass actually, the challenge that he often presents. The way he asks me to look at myself before anyone else, to work on myself before presuming that I can change anything else in the world. To see my own power in the work that I do when I work on myself.
In a lovely bit of circular connection, I picked Adam up from the airport on Thursday after he’d been travelling. He ended his adventures in Hawaii, where he was fortunate enough to spend some time with Ram Dass (now in his nineties) in person. By all accounts they had an awesome time, with a lot of just smiling and sitting in each others company. And, Adam gave him a copy of Dive Down, so I can add a pin to Hawaii in my map of where the books have flown to….
The Ram Dass Foundation Love Serve Remember website is brilliant, and has articles, quotes, podcasts, webcasts and films packed with inspiration. You can find it here: www.ramdass.org
You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it…. Imagine that being in this love is like relaxing endlessly into a warm bath that surrounds and supports your every movement, so that every thought and feeling is permeated by it.
– Ram Dass from The Entrance to Oneness
The seals in the Dive Down story appear at a point when inspiration started to find me…
Along with an amazing book called When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön and a range of music that helped me to get up in the morning (which can be found on the Spotify playlist to accompany the book here) there were lots of other people and organisations who helped me to navigate my way in the depths. A lot of them can be found in the Further Reading list in the back of the book, and on the Dive Down website here.
This week has been really lovely as I have been writing thank you letters and packaging up copies of Dive Down to send some of those people as a thank you.
I sent and gave the first batch of books to friends and family who were part of my safety net, and now I’ve reached out to some of the people who have been part of my life without realising.
I wanted to complete the loop and let them know that they had touched and helped me.
So some of my favourite writers, musicians, philosophers and organisations will be getting little parcels. It’s probably not that big a deal to them – I hope that they get letters and things like that all the time. But it was a very therapeutic thing to do, to put into words why and how their work or words had changed my life.
The map of where the books have gone is looking really exciting at the moment, and includes some of the awesome organisations I have sent copies to. You can find the map here.
Letting other people know about the people, music and organisations that I found when creating Dive Down is an important part of the sharing – I want to sign post as many people to the brilliant resources that exist to help us all find our way as we swim through our own journeys and adventures.
Please do share any of your own favourites and I can add them to the Further Reading list 🙂 Why not drop me an email?
I could really do with expanding my vocabulary… I am seriously over using the word ‘exciting’ at the moment. I am writing this with the help of a thesaurus…because things are just so blooming exciting! So…. *ahem* …
I am delighted to share with you some exhilarating news about the next phase of Dive Down.
This inspiring journey started with me drawing my way through a difficult time in my life, and led to the creation of an illustrated story called Dive Down.
It’s an autobiographical fairy tale. A self-help graphic novel. An illustrated memoir.
It’s lots of different things, and now is also:
And 100 pocket sized books that are being given away and left in different locations, which you can see starting to head off into the world on a map here.
Sharing the images on social media to begin with made me feel very vulnerable – I’ve never done such personal work before, and opening myself up like that was pretty scary. But it was also thrilling.
Because I was helped by all kinds of creative, compassionate people and resources at the time I did the drawings, sharing my story and spreading the word about the help that is out there feels really important and empowering. There is a list of the resources in the back of the book and which you can also find here.
As the story heads off into new hands and lives, I feel incredibly excited. More excited than I think I have ever been. So excited I need to find some new words to express myself…
I’ve set up a new website specifically to host all of the Dive Down goodies at www.divedownthebook.com
One of the most moving bits of the process has been asking people for quotes to help spread the word and encourage others to download and read the story. Here are some amazing words from some of the amazing people brave enough to share them with me: