I Have a New Website!!!!!

Here it is: Rythea.com

I’m over the moon about my new site! I think it TOTALLY ROCKS but you should form your own opinion. Do.

Here’s the thing- I won’t be blogging on this site anymore because my new site has a fabulous BLOG page.

In order to receive email updates from my new blog, go to the new site and click SUBSCRIBE on left hand side. Sorry that you have to do it again but do it again!

Also, thank you so much for following my blog and leaving some lovely comments.

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Puppet Interview with 3 year old named “Mama”

My daughter and I have a long (3 year) history of making videos. We’ve gotten comfortable in front of my computer video and this was just a spontaneous moment that captures what we do for hours. Puppet Elizabeth is my daughter’s baby in this particular skit and an interview follows that covers topics such as feelings, lions, and food. Hint: don’t watch me (the adult), keep your eyes on the puppet and the 3 year old.

My Friend’s Awesome Music Video

I love this video and not because I’m in it. Or because it was partly taped at my studio. Or because I know the singer/songwriter and love her as a human being. Or because I also know the videographer and think he rocks it out. But because the song makes me happy and the people in the video make me want to dance and because this music has a message about love that still needs to be sung…a lot.

 

From Under the Covers

From Under the Covers

by Rythea Lee

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I’ve always been a prolific artist. I starvingly devoured any mediums I could find- acrylics, collage, musical instruments, spoken words, clay, photography, drawing, and always, always the dance. Then I gave birth to a baby girl and things…changed. Sort of. During her second and third years, I performed my one-woman show called “Don’t Be A Dick” fourteen times. I taught classes on transformation, started a blog, wrote children’s songs, and attended my weekly improvisational dance meetings. Before being a Mother, art had consistently saved me from going crazy. After being a Mother, it served to preserve a sense of aliveness, a reassurance that I still “had it,” I hadn’t succumbed to an ordinary life of diaper changing, grocery buying, vacuum cleaning, bill paying, and cooking.

I can see now I’d determined to stay just as productively edgy as I’d been before, while keeping this new, bizarrely helpless human from killing herself (rolling off the bed, choking on a marble, electrocuting herself with the wall sockets). It hadn’t occurred to me in a realistic way that something had to give and it probably was going to involve no exercise, no time alone, and a classic identity crisis. Keep in mind – I went at parenting the same way I went at creativity, throwing my heart and mind into absolute abandoned engulfment and love. I didn’t sacrifice our bond to be a voice for change. I did both. Or shall we say, I did it all.

Let’s fast forward, can you guess where I am right now? I’m in bed with a flu that has kicked my ass for eight straight days. I’m writing, which indicates that all is not lost. The scraps of a creative life are being salvaged as we speak. But something has got to give, my friends, and it seems to involve no exercise, no time alone, and a classic identity crisis. “I am an artist, I am,” she yells from her barely audible (while coughing) voice from underneath the comforter. “I am a voice for change,” she whispers before allowing her painfully exhausted eyelids to close at last.

Someone is with my kid and if I don’t sleep a lot right now, I won’t be much of a Mother tonight when she’s dropped at home for 6,726 hours of parenting. During that time, we’ll do watercolors, play-dough, and play-acting but what about my new book? My new play? My new line of trauma-healing teas that double as perfume-scented, poetry magnets before they hit the water? I’ve got screenplays to write and a new album to record! I’m yelling this from under the covers.

This is what I’m learning from the flu: I can’t keep manifesting at this level (and I haven’t even mentioned my private practice or laundry) if I want to love myself. Pure and simple. I don’t regret my drive, my need to express and make a difference. I adore this aspect of myself. But I’m only human and the well must be filled. “All that is given needs time to be received.” I just made that up. I wanted to quote someone but couldn’t get out of bed to the computer so I quoted myself. “All that is given needs time to be received.” Pretty cool. So, if I don’t enjoy, allow, witness, and experience all that comes through me into the world, then I’m just trying too hard and hurting myself. It’s like being the waves in the ocean that go out and not allowing the waves to come back in.

I need to receive what I’ve done. Receive what is coming back to me, to give back TO me. There is ebb and there is flow. I need to ebb!!! Here I am in bed, ebbing, and it’s important. I love to ebb. That’s my new mantra.

Here’s the thing. Life is hard or at least I think so. Life is also peppered with love bombs; attacks of care, sweetness, and connection that come from unexpected places and moments we can’t control. Life is not a race or a contest because we are all going to die and we are not going to get it all done before then. I’m speaking to myself here. You can try but if you try too hard, you’ll miss enjoying the fruits of your labor. The reward at the end is the same for everyone, death. So why push so hard and so fast, why not let life live through you a bit Sister? Where are you going so fast? Where you hoping to make a name for yourself before you leave Earth? “Yes,” I say to this weird voice that has entered the page, “why yes I was.”

“Well, give it up because on your deathbed, if you even get a deathbed, you’ll wish you’d just enjoyed who you were and not some idea of yourself you’ve been perfecting” the voice says (now we’re officially dialoguing).

“But I’m an artist, that’s what I do” I argue with the voice.

“Being an artist just means staying awake,” it responds, “and being awake means opening to the pain, opening to the pleasure, opening to all of it. Sometimes your life will make something for others to see and share and sometimes it will just be life, Rythea, and that’s enough. Just living it.”

“Are you sure?” I ask earnestly, “Could that possibly be enough?”

“You are enough, Rythea. You don’t have to make things or be brilliant or distinguish yourself in any way. You could be pooping and reading a magazine and you’d still be enough. You could be binging on sweet potato fries. You could be smelling your armpits after dancing to see if they’re smelly. You could be old and wrinkled and mute and diseased and scarred and full of doubt and you’d still be enough my friend. You are. And that’s enough. You just got to trust me on this.”

I wondered for a moment if I was talking to Santa Claus, or the Buddha, or the late Joan Rivers but it didn’t matter. The answer was clear. I had to put the pen down and go back to sleep. No art would be made today (ok, ignore this article) and life would go on. I may be an unshowered, flem-filled, aching-from-head-to toe Mother on the verge of obscurity but I could safely pull the flannel sheet over my head. And ebb.

Innocence is Everything

 

 

When I’m with my daughter Torielle, I remember that at the core, we are all innocent. I see an unbroken beauty that laughs with freedom and faith that life is good, that life is joy.

When I see her, I remember that I was once whole too and that I believed in good things. I remember that I forgot. I broke and changed and forgot who I was. I forgot that I was enough. She shows me the place inside me where I am enough.

I hope this video does that for you too.

In case you are wondering, she’s talking about pink lips and brown eyes and washing machines and stuff. You know, the important things.

Many blessings on the New Year,

Rythea

 

ps- New workshop coming up January 11, check it out:

http://zanyangels.com/peer-counseling

 

 

Peer Counseling: A Counterculture Healing Process

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“Gina” a client of mine, was a really lovely, likable human being but she found herself alone and isolated much of the time. She worked hard on her own issues but found connection mysteriously out of reach in terms of solid, stable groups of friends and community. At the same time, she has fears and old patterns around making herself vulnerable, reaching out, getting close to others because she judged her own feelings as “too much” and “too intense” and “too different” than everyone else. This created a catch 22 situation; she desperately wanted connection but wouldn’t take a risk towards it for fear of being rejected. Traumatic rejection, of course went way back into her family history and her whole defense system was organized around avoiding the same experience.

So…in comes Peer Counseling (often referred to as Co-counseling. I use Peer Counseling because it is my own version of the Co-counseling form), a practice of sitting with another person, splitting the time (for example 20 minutes each) and offering a non-judgmental container for good listening and being held in high regard. One person listens and the other person shares and then you switch. Skills around emotional release are taught in Peer Counseling to help your client (the person sharing) to allow feelings to be expressed. Feelings that have been held in, shamed, dissociated, and shut down are invited to bubble up and be shared. Clients learn to identify core feelings such as anger, fear, shame, happiness, and sadness. Release of these feelings can come through crying, shaking, sweating, yawning, laughing, raging, or talking in an insightful way. Feelings that seem to be about your present life are also encouraged to be explored as something historical for you as well, something from your childhood, something that has been in your body for a long time. Counselors get skilled at asking how current feelings and problems remind clients of “old” material so that a pathway from the past to the present is made. Connecting childhood issues with present day issues is a huge foot in the door for shifting life long stuck patterns.

I encouraged Gina to join some Peer Counseling classes. This was a big step for her. She had grown so used to hiding her pain, hiding her loneliness, that stepping out into a weekly class felt like a big pattern breaker in itself. She began slowly learning the skills of Peer Counseling- how to “hold space” for another person who is sharing feelings and to allow her own emotions and issues to be witnessed at a peer level. This is an essential aspect to note: creating a peer practice of support offers a whole other set of benefits as compared to working with a therapist.

1) It levels the playing field and creates an equal relationship of support and connection

2) It heals peer-to-peer wounds by creating a very clear container where a certain level of intimacy and respect can be expected

3) It empowers both client and counselor to take charge of their own healing processes. Peer counselors can counsel as much or as little as they need. Weekly or daily check-ins with your Peer Counselors can be built into your lifestyle so that you can lean into the experience of being heard, supported, seen, and being cared for.

Gina’s shame around her too-muchness began to shift because she found that the people listening to her were enthusiastic and compassionate. The structure of Peer Counseling contradicted her patterns of being rejected. She began to take the judgment off of the fact that she had so much to share, so much to express. This was in part because she saw others expressing at the same level and partly because her own shut down mechanisms has begun to soften and move. Also, she began working directly on her historic material around rejection. She released deep, old feelings about neglect and at the same time found her counselors present and understanding of what she had lived through. This began a shift in Gina’s ability to get close and stay close to others.

Peer Counseling is not a cure-all or a fix-it plan. It is a PRACTICE that supports human, heart-centered connection. It is a lifestyle of giving and receiving loving kindness. It invites the range of expression that has been systematically oppressed by our culture and continues to be. It is a radical departure from the divide-and-conquer structures that trickle down from societies power structures (ok, that’s my next blog entry…don’t get me started). It offers us a chance to experience the profound restorative and creative benefits of expressing how we feel! If we can’t feel, we can’t really feel our lives. If we are isolated, we cannot thrive. If we are silenced, we cannot give what we need to give. If we can’t express fully, we cannot fully love.

 

 

 

Rythea Lee is the co-director of the Zany Angels Dance Theatre Company and an Inner Bonding® Counselor with a private practice for 18 years.  She has been a professional artist her whole adult life, including Performance Art, visual art, her book called “Trauma into Truth: Gutsy Healing and Why It’s Worth It” and her CD called “Something Knows You.” Co-Counseling/Peer Counseling is one of the great loves of her life. Her next workshop in Peer Counseling is December 14th, 2014. See website above.

You are Here (or somewhere close)

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I have an unusual relationship to my spiritual guides. Don’t roll your eyes, you’re just jealous. I don’t know what else to call them, my spiritual friends? My higher selves? My Smurfs? (haha, cracked myself up with that one). Whatever, the thing is, I talk to them. Daily, and they literally show me a map of my spiritual landscape and say YOU ARE HERE. They tell me things like:
“You are scraping the bottom of the trauma you have lived through. You are up against a particular memory sequence of being taken advantage of and everything in your current life is hitting that same wound. You think it’s now, you think that your landlord is getting away with something shitty (yes, my guides use the word shitty) but the truth it, this is old honey. The charge is old. Work early on it, my dear, go back and FEEL THIS and the release of those feelings will clear this up.”
And I’m like OHHHHH, I just thought my car mechanic was a fucking asshole but now, I get it, I feel taken advantage of all over the globe because my parents fucked me over and got away with it. They murdered my innocence and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Ok, I guess I haven’t hit the bottom of that WORST THING EVER….hmmmm, more to feel, darn.
Once I know where I am, what I’m working with, I feel grounded in myself. I know how to get support now and work on my old material. That doesn’t mean I particularly like the healing lifestyle but man, I’m good at it. And you must know, it works people. It fucking works.

The other day, my friend cried about her Mother abandoning her and she cried so hard, she practically threw up, and then her ribs froze up and her back went out. The next day, despite the pain the night before, she felt a freedom she had never known before. We both agreed that some people spend their whole lives avoiding those feelings and it just CRUSHES their joy for years and years and years (we’d done it too so we were talking from experience as well). Then, you do it, you get help, you dive in, and it hurts like hell but you realize, once you are there in the agony, that you are deeply longing to grieve. I mean DYING to grieve and be held there. Just dying to feel what could never be felt even though you’d spent a lifetime trying not to feel it.

SO. My spiritual guides keep telling me that freedom is coming my way and I can taste it. They keep pointing me towards profoundly hard choices and changes and stepping out of the norm of how people live and behave and think. They are showing me that the spiritual life is not about security. It’s not about comfort. It’s not finally getting successful enough to fit in. It’s not about any of the things we are taught and brainwashed to follow. It’s some kind of constant radical departure from what is socially acceptable and safe.

Love will rip your life to shreds. If love is your priority, then love will slay anything that is not love. You thought your health made you happy and worthy, your family, your partner, your friends, your job, your art, your stuff, your good looks? At some point, love will strip you of those things and leave you naked and alone and you’ll be forced to ask the question, is love still here?

Love will be there but not with the packaging you are used to. In fact you might not recognize that love is still wrapped around you and singing your heart a lullaby.

I am diving into the eye of the storm because that is what it means to truly live. I am following where I am guided to go, though it is terrifying and requires me to leap and leap and leap over the edge. Love is all that is left in the end and the end is always right here. Goodbye security, I never could never make you stay. Hello death, in the form of all my lost emotions, I am coming for you and I know where you are hiding…

5 Minute Video-Rythea Lee: Don’t Be A Dick

Have you ever had a vision of something in your mind and then the reality of it is exactly how you imagined? I know, it rarely happens. That’s how I feel about this video Tom Knight and I made about my one woman show, Don’t Be A Dick. It just captures the heart of my work and who I am as an artist and I’m so darn thrilled about it. I’m having a Mortality Buzz. I just made that up. Definition: when you feel for a moment that when you die, something authentic about you will be left behind. Please enjoy. Oh and my next show is in a week away (September 27th) for those in Western, Ma, go to my website if you want to attend.

 

 

 

Living with an Enlightened Being

For me, my daughter points the way. All day long, she points me in the direction of opening. She shows me how to do it. She thrives at a level way beyond my usual, daily suffering. She reaches towards me with her big, fearless heart and says “Go this way” and when I follow her, things get better. That’s just the truth. My job is to not interrupt her expressions of joy, wonder, curiosity, anger, sadness, or peace but to pay attention to where she needs me to validate and care for what she feels and to share in it. Be with her in it.
Today, she insisted on an hour and half dance party! I’m serious, she MADE me dance for an hour and a half. What a drill sergaent. She forced me to do improvisation and then aerobics. When I tried to sit down, she would point at me and say “Dance, dance now” and I had no choice. So there we were, sweaty, singing, rolling on the rug, then going into full out boogie moves until she finally let me stop. She came over to me and put her arm around my shoulders (keep in mind, she’s 2 and a 1/2 years old), she looked me in the eye and said three times “You’re my Mama. You’re my Mama. You’re my Mama.” I’m pretty sure she was telling me that I had done well for her today. At least that’s how I took it.

VIDEO ON THIS