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Juicy Journaling with SARK
SARK Interview : Page 4 of 4

Succulent Bestselling Author& Artist SARK

continued from page 3

M: With that topic, it's not something people want to talk about, face, or deal with; we're not taught how to deal with it. Society at large wants to hush up these issues, and to make everyone involved feel like a victim or survivor. I think this is why people are drawn to your work. It's so freeing to say, this made me who I am, and it happened because it was supposed to happen, and it couldn't have happened any other way, and that's it.

SARK: Yes. And yes.

M: I really love the way you're able to be so honest in your work. It's inspired me to look more deeply into the dark places. I've interviewed people who say the shadow side doesn't exist for them, that every day is a good, happy day. That seems very strange to me.

SARK: It's seems strange because it's not real! (Laughing)

M: Everyone has this dark side, right?

SARK: Right. I have a dear friend who said to me, about his relationship, "We're not like you; we don't go far beneath the surface. We stay in the shallows, that's where it's safe." But of course people get plunged into the depths; life pulls us into the depths whether we want to go there or not. Through illness or death or fears or what wakes up at three in the morning. It's going to happen — so, I'd rather deal with it head-on. Not everyone feels that way. Some people want to wait until they're dragged down. My younger brother ate sugar voraciously for years. He never gained weight or had any issues. I told him, "Enjoy it as long as you can, because it will probably change." He had some health issues, and started gaining weight. He said, "It was chilling to me when you said, 'enjoy it as long as you can.'" And I would say the same thing to anyone who tells me they don't have a dark side. Enjoy it as long as you can… I'm a very positive, optimistic person. But overly positive people annoy me.

M: That's something we have in common.

SARK: Mindlessly positive. If you're just slapping positive all over everything. It's about being conscious.

M: That's the issue — I think you can hide a lot from yourself, just putting on the rose-colored glasses — to some extent, they become blinders.

SARK: It's all about practicing in the middle. I used to think the middle was really boring. I used to be an extreme person, ups and downs. Now I'm thrilled to say I spend most of my time in the middle, and I'm loving it. There are so many riches in the middle. I turned fifty three years ago, and the fifties ushered me into the middle. I thought, "Wow, that's why they call it middle age!"

It's about integrating the positive and the negative. It's this marvelous weaving process. I feel like I'm just floating through… here's the annoying thing, and I'm floating by, it's a process of flowing with whatever is happening, rather than resisting. At the end of her life, my mother said, "I hope you hear me when I say this. I wish I hadn't resisted everything so much. It caused me so much pain." So much of our suffering lies caused by resistance.

I used to resist everything. "They're remodeling the building next door while I'm trying to finish my new book! WHAT? NO!" "They don't have my favorite table at the restaurant, and the restaurant is closing down…WHAT? NO!" And now I find myself saying instead, "How interesting, they're remodeling next door. I wonder what will happen now?"

It reminds me of a line from my favorite poem by Basho, "Oh, look. The barn burned down. Now we can see the moon." Something better is coming but I can't imagine what it could be, so it may not be something better. This leads me to my friend Isabelle. My friend Isabelle said, "Every single change I ever experienced in my life was always, always, always for the better. But we are not given that information right away. There's a time gap." We hear the news and don't know what's coming next, so we fill that place with all the negative things. Now I catch myself filling the space with all kinds of wonderful things. It's the practice of the middle.

M: I'm still stuck in the extreme phase: either everything is really great, or else it really sucks. I'm on the roller coaster.

SARK: That practice is equally important. I'm a passionate person and my extremes were passionate. They served me very well, and they still serve me very well. I'm not done being an extreme person. I invite you to practice in the middle while still enjoying the extremes. Or not.

M: Enjoying… well, it's interesting anyway. I'm in the middle of an insane winter, and I've been snowed in. We've had a few snow days. And as soon as I can relax into the snow day, make some hot chocolate and find a good book — just enjoy it — I realize it's not that bad.

SARK: If we can relax into it. I wrote about healing from trying to get well in my book, "Transformation Soup." If we can relax into the cold or the two feet of snow or whatever it is.

M: Then joy is possible, it opens it up. How do you balance succulent studio time with a fabulous social life?

SARK: Now I am able to balance that. If you interviewed my friends earlier in my life I think you would have heard stories of my boundaries being more like walls; I thought they were walls; that I'd build myself a castle with. I have finally achieved a kind of marvelous balance that I never expected to have. I was such a servant to the Muse that I denied my other needs. I was convinced I could live in my head, I was just a big head and my body just came along. It's another gift of age that the body says I'm in charge. Three years ago I put my body in charge and changed diet, sleeping habits, changed into another person!

It's as simple as, the body is the ruler. I don't type anymore if I'm thirsty, hungry. I don not ignore the mandate of the body. There's breakfast, lunch and dinner, exercise and sleep. And don't forget snacks! If I'm not maintaining my physical body, I have no business writing, drawing, or painting.

M: What is your favorite fairy tale or children's story, and why?

SARK: I'm a huge lover of children's literature. I read it all the time and the "Gone Away Lake" by Elizabeth Anne Rice, is about two children who go to a house by a lake and the things that happen to them there. "Mr. Bass and the Mushroom Planet" — two boys advertise a rocket ship and build it, leave and meet Mr. Bass on the Mushroom planet — it is one of those books that filled me with the knowledge that we can really do anything. We have all these reasons and evidence why we can't but really we can. I love the expansiveness of that.

M: What wakes you up in a cold sweat at three in the morning?

SARK: The Existential Pit of Hell. Most of us have visited that one, some of us spend more time there than others. The Anxiety Spiral — it's where you're thinking and you can't stop thinking, it gets uglier and uglier. I definitely experience those sometimes. I'm glad and grateful for homeopathic remedies, good books, I'm grateful for hot baths, meditation, and I'm grateful that I have lots of times when I'm not experiencing those states.

I've learned some good practices. If I'm feeling a lot of anxiety, I'll write, "I'm really angry and scared and upset about…" and then list it, using the most violent language, filling pages with all the things I'm upset about. I'll do that until there's literally nothing more I can think of. I'll fold it and address it: To the Universe, From Susan, and then tuck it away. Often just that is enough to release the anxiety; it gets it out of my head for just enough time so it feels like there's some space. I can go back to sleep. Then, if I'm not too tired I'll call upon the part of myself, The Wise Self, and ask that aspect of myself to answer each of the passages I wrote about being upset and re-frame them and literally speak to them. I write on another page, "Wise Self Gladly Speaks" — I receive information that gives me a new perspective, supportive, comforting. Then I burn, or tear up the "I'm so angry" list. And it works amazingly well. It literally has become such a part of me that I can now do it without writing anything down. It's a really important part of being your own dearest friend; it's what you would do for a friend. You would listen and help them remember that they are okay.

M: What is the best thing you did for yourself last week? For someone else?

SARK: For myself — I've done so many great things for myself — I take such exceptional care of myself it's hard to choose one.

M: What do you wish for when you see a falling star?

SARK: It's different every time. It's usually something around love, self love or love with another. Or surrender. Yes, surrender.

M: Have you ever been lost in the woods — literally or symbolically? Tell me about it.

SARK: I was formerly a very directionally challenged person, I was in the car crying because I couldn't find the exit, or I couldn't go to a party because I couldn't find the address. I would get off the freeway for gas and then I couldn't get back on. Then they invented GPS, and I rented a car with a GPS. I really liked it and finally bought my own. My entire life has changed; it's changed my whole way of thinking. Even when it's not on, I feel brave in ways I was never brave before. During a two week road trip, my friend lived in LA and I was too afraid to visit him before, but with the GPS, I drove swiftly and smoothly along and arrived ready to go out to dinner. I was so calm… it's been a life changing experience. My favorite button on the GPA is a feature called "Go Home" and it will literally get you back to your point of origin from where you're at right now. If I'm lost in the woods, it doesn't matter because I know where I am — don't panic and you always know you know where you are.

M: So it's not about being lost in the woods, it's about having the tools to find your way back home. •

© 2008 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »