Today’s episode is very special and a little different than usual.
If you have a desire to express yourself through any art form,
If you have creativity blockages,
If you believe in the power of words and poetry, this conversation is for you.
Today we are speaking with artist and poet Julia Fehrenbacher.
I was introduced to her by our previous guest Steven Hayes, who used one of Julia’s poems in his book The Liberated Mind.
This time, we covered many topics; such as ways to work through creative stuckness, how to turn pain into art, what we can learn from parenting sensitive children, and the role of spirituality in an artist’s life. I also invited Julia to read out a few of her poems, one about forgiveness and the other about letting go.
If you really slow down and let Julia’s poetic work sinks it, I believe you will feel very nourished.
Julia Fehrenbacher is an author, a poet, a painter and a mom who is always looking for ways to spread a little good around in this world. She published her first book, On the Other Side of Fear, a couple of years ago. Her home on the web is: www.paintedpath.org
THE FULL TRANSCRIPT
Imi: Okay. Hi Julia, welcome to Eggshell Transformations.
Julia: Hi Imi it’s such an honor to be here. It’s so good to meet you.
Imi: Yes. So, from the poetry that you write, it’s safe to assume that you have a rich inner world and you understand human suffering and beauty of the world. I don’t know, I’m very inspired by your poems.
Julia: Thank you so much. That means so much to me.
Imi: They remind me of Mary Oliver’s work which I very much love.
Julia: Mary Oliver has been a huge inspiration to me. I’ve always loved her poetry.
Julia: I love the simplicity and the nature that’s always in it. She’s amazing.
Imi: Yes, I guess I do see some of that in your work.
Julia: Well that’s a huge compliment, thank you.
Imi: You might be the first poet on my podcast because I usually interview psychologists and experts. But I also work with artists and creative souls. So when I saw your work I knew I had to get you on the podcast.
Julia: Oh, I love it. I love it so much.
Imi: But before we dive in I would like to understand a bit of your personal story because I imagine a lot of people seeing your beautiful work they may put you on a pedestal and they can’t see the experiences in life that have brought you here today.
Julia: Gosh, yes. That’s a big question. I think I was thinking about this just the other day. It was really interesting I was actually taking a walk and I love the trees. I live in Oregon so it’s absolutely gorgeous around here, and to me, when I’m walking— that’s a lot of times when words start to come through me. I was thinking about different people in my life. I think I had just listened to something that was talking about who are your people and who are those people who really bring out the best in you? I immediately started thinking about people who did not bring out the best and I started thinking: if it was up to my dad or my family I would not have ever put my work out in the world because there was not that support for the sensitive, emotional part of me. But then right after that, in this deeper place, I had this thought of I wouldn’t write poetry had I not grown up in the family that I grew up in.
Julia: For me it was a refuge. It was absolutely where I went for safety. Where I went to get clarity and it was always the place that listened back. I would put the words down and I could feel that pulse of something beyond what you could see, that just started from the youngest age. I used to have a little—one of those little lock journals. I would write and when I was probably five I would be writing in that little lock journal and I would carry that thing around with me everywhere. It really just felt like my salvation. So I felt like that was a really interesting thought. It felt like a really true serving thought. It was like, I wouldn’t be writing poetry if it weren’t for my family. So I have them to thank for that.
Imi: Yeah. Speaking of which, can you tell us a bit more of what you were like as a child or what was childhood like for you? Were you quite a sensitive child? Were you already artistic? Were you an introvert or extrovert, tell us?
Julia: I was very, I always have been super sensitive. I have to tell a story because I feel like it says a lot about who I am. My mom tells the story of when I was two and a half and I apparently was still in a crib at this point and I would stand up in my crib and she said night after night after night I would repeat, “Mommy I don’t understand” over and over and over again. I don’t understand and I feel like from the youngest age I’ve been trying to understand a deeper place. What is it beyond what we can see? So I’ve always asked those big questions. I remember being probably about five and dressing up my Snoopy doll with a friend that had come over for a sleep over and just asking this question I said, “What if it’s just one of us here?” What if you’re not really in this room and it’s just really one of us? If we’re all so connected that there really isn’t more than one person?” So I’ve always had this philosophical way of looking at things.
Julia: So I would say for sure super sensitive always. Just always tuning into people’s emotions. My dad… he was in the military. So it was a lot of moving around. He grew up in the south in Memphis, Tennessee and he had a very core poverty, just poverty growing up. He actually had two sisters, one sister who committed suicide and one who just really struggled and attempted it several times. So there was a lot of mental illness in that particular family. My dad grew up in that environment. He really never healed from that early on and it was a lot of anger and a lot of emotional abuse as well as physical. So when I say that I went for writing for my refuge it was a tumultuous very chaotic environment. So that was my safety for sure.
Imi: You found your refuge.
Julia: Definitely, yes.
Imi: And lots of the artists and creative people I know got in that way. It’s the imaginary world that they hide into that saves them.
Julia: Absolutely, yes.
Imi: Do you think art heals?
Julia: Oh, absolutely. Yes. For me, like I said it connects to that place beyond what you can see. When I sit down to paint I feel like everything drops away and the stories and the thoughts and all of the old beliefs can drop away and you can enter this beautiful connected source place. For me it’s so completely healing. I feel like whenever we can step out of our minds and out of our typical thoughts, it is so healing and for me art takes me right there.
Imi: Yeah. I can resonate with that. But I’m just thinking about an audience of ours where they might be thinking, “Well it’s easy for you to say you are such a good writer. I don’t have any tools. I can’t draw, I don’t write, I don’t dance. What do I do?”
CREATIVITY ADVICE FROM JULIA
Julia: Yes, well you know something when I look back at what I used to write when I was … I’ve written my entire life and sometimes I’ll get my old journals out and it’s just like wow! It’s just really a matter of doing it. Also, I think that one of the things I want to say is if we can let go of “good” it’s that Mary Oliver poem “We Don’t Have to be Good.” I feel like we’re all so holding ourselves back in the name of good. It’s not about that really. It’s about showing up and letting something true be expressed through you. So for me it’s just I know it’s easier said than done. But I think it’s one baby step at a time just showing up and letting go of good. I would say the thing for me because I don’t know that I would be writing if it weren’t for a writer name Natalie Goldberg.
Imi: Yeah, yeah.
Julia: Do you know her?
Imi: Oh, yes very much so.
Julia: I love her stuff.
Imi: I don’t know her, but I know her work, yes.
Julia: You know her work. Well honestly her approach I feel like freed me so that I could write.
Imi: Can you say a bit more for our audience?
Julia: Absolutely. She developed something called writing practices, which is really setting a timer for whatever time. 10 minutes is the typical time, starting with some prompt. The prompt could be ‘I remember’ or ‘I forgot’ or anything. Then just put your pen on the paper and do not stop. It’s all about getting that critic out of the way so that she says writing can do writing. So there’s no crossing out, there’s no editing. You do not lift your pen, you just write for 10 minutes. There is so much freedom in that. I actually studied with her three summers in a row for five days at a time. I think that if I had started out trying to be good, I don’t think I would be writing. I had to get out of that academic writing world, even. I still almost can’t go there because that critic comes up in everyone really easily.
Julia: For me doing it Natalie Goldberg’s way which is just showing up and doing it, it freed me. One of the things she says that’s so freeing is, “Feel free to write the worst shit in America.”
Julia: She said it over and over and I was like: Okay I can do that. I can do that.
Julia: So I would say let yourself be horrible. Just play, have fun, enjoy it. Just show up and do it and it doesn’t honestly matter if you’re good or not because the real joy, it comes from that freedom of expression whether it’s good or not good in someone’s eyes and that’s always so subjective anyway.
Imi: Yeah that actually reminds me of Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages.”
Julia: Yes. Very similar.
Imi: Which is about getting up in the morning and force yourself to write long form on a piece of paper anything that comes into your mind and see what comes up.
Julia: Very much yep. It’s very much similar. I love Julia Cameron as well, she’s great.
Imi: Yeah. It sounds like Natalie has a more fiery approach.
Julia: She does and that book I think came out I don’t even know. It’s been many, many years. I want to even say-
Imi: Which book?
Julia: The Writing Down the Bones book. Natalie Goldberg’s book. I want to say it came out possibly even in the ’80s. So it came out. It was I think the first book like that. So, it was a novel thing at the time.
Imi: Yeah, yeah. I think it even has an audio book version now.
Julia: Yeah I’m sure it does, yeah.
Imi: Since we’re on that topic, who are some of the people, artists or poets, that have inspired you?
Julia: Well like we mentioned Mary Oliver for sure. It’s interesting because I am a poet and there’s certain poems that poets read and authors that resonate and certain ones that don’t. For me she was almost the first poet that really spoke to me. I don’t necessarily resonate with poetry that I have to really strain my mind to figure out. She really spoke to that energetic beyond the mind place for me. So I love Mary Oliver. I love a poet called David Whyte.
Imi: Yes, yes.
Julia: I don’t know if you know him, I love him.
Imi: Yes David Whyte, John Donahue, yeah.
Julia: Yes, he’s amazing. As far as just authors in general … and Elizabeth Gilbert I love her.
Imi: Yeah same.
Julia: I love her so much.
Imi: Me too.
Julia: Glennon Doyle, I love her.
Imi: Yes, yes. Love Warrior.
Julia: Yes and Brene Brown for sure. Rumi and Hafiz I love them as poets as well.
Imi: We love all the same people.
Julia: We do. It doesn’t surprise me.
Imi: Are you aware of Mark Nepo as well?
Julia: Yes, I love Mark Nepo. He is a beautiful deep person. I connect with him completely too, yes. That’s so cool. We have the same-
ON BEING AN ARTIST
Imi: Yeah, well I would imagine being a poet is unconventional. I mean being an intense and sensitive person is unconventional. What was the hardest part about being different and arty?
Julia: That’s a really good question. I feel like I have never been able to just jump into a conventional job or do anything that would feel … I think that I needed to give myself a tremendous amount of freedom away from academics, away from a nine to five or eight to five job. So I have done, it’s been interesting. I think it’s been a little bit of a lonely adventure in a lot of ways because I haven’t really had … I’ve been a teacher. I was a fourth grade teacher for a period of time. But it felt very constricted and it didn’t feel right.
Julia: Then I stayed at home with my girls for a long period of time. So I feel like I am just now starting to connect with people that I feel really understand that sensitivity and the depths that I want to go to. I mean it’s that small talk conversation that I’ve never ever been able to be in that and feel comfortable. I love just diving in deeply with people and I feel like it’s taken a very, very, very long time to find those people. I’ve had friends, but it hasn’t felt like that depth of connection that I feel like is starting to happen more and more. So I would say a little bit lonely and a little bit, I think I’ve questioned myself a lot because I have felt very different from everybody else. So instead of just honoring that, it was a lot of self doubt and thinking I needed to somehow fit in where I didn’t feel like I fit.
Imi: What was the turning point for you if there was one?
Julia: That’s a great question. For me, it feels like I listen to a lot of people’s stories and often there’s some big moment, some big thing that’s happened and for me I feel like it’s been such a journey and such a process and it’s a few steps forward and a bunch of steps back and again a few steps forward. I think for me when I started putting my work out in the world online and started to share it with me, I would say that was probably my biggest turning point because I was so afraid and just terrified to really show myself. It’s so vulnerable to write or share art. I would have to say that was a huge turning point for me because to see people starting to connect with what I had to say was so beautiful and affirming and validating. It really felt like: okay this is inspiring people so I can keep moving forward. So that was a big turning point.
Imi: Julia would you feel able to read out a few poems in this podcast episode?
Julia: I would love to.
Imi: I think it probably speaks your soul louder than our conversation.
Julia: I would love to. I would love to. I will start with one it’s called “The Cure for it All.”
THE CURE FOR IT ALL
Go gently today, don’t hurry
or think about the next thing. Walk
with the quiet trees, can you believe
how brave they are—how kind? Model your life
after theirs. Blow kisses
at yourself in the mirror
you think you’ve messed up. Forgive
yourself for not meeting your unreasonable
expectations. You are human, not
God—don’t be so arrogant.
Praise fresh air
clean water, good dogs. Spin
something from joy. Open
a window, even if
it’s cold outside. Sit. Close
your eyes. Breathe. Allow
of it all to pulse
fingertips, bare toes. Breathe in
breathe out. Breathe until
your bigness, until the sun
rises in your veins. Breathe
until you stop needing
to be different.
Imi: That’s really profound. Breathe until you stop needing anything to be different. And then all the chaos and imperfections, we could just relax and be ourselves.
Julia: Absolutely, yes. Yes, isn’t that a relief to be able to be ourselves? Yes.
MAKING ART FROM YOUR PAIN
Imi: We often make arts from our pain and we say what we most need to hear. You’ve mentioned some of your earliest trauma. Is this a case for you too, where your art is your tool to heal from your wounds from childhood and your family?
Julia: Absolutely. Yes for sure. It feels like when I can tap into that place and release … those wounds are those insecurities. I think it’s interesting. This poem, “The Cure for it All” that I just wrote, I remember very vividly that day that I sat down and wrote it and it was a day that I was struggling so much with myself. The struggle was like, “I should be doing this. I should be doing this. I should be doing something other than what I’m doing. What am I doing with my life?” Just a lot of questioning and a lot of self doubt. I remember just this … It makes me feel emotional because I remember this urging from somewhere deep in myself to sit down and breathe. Once I allowed myself to do that and to not resist exactly where I was to just allow myself to be this poem came through. That’s how this poem came was when I finally allowed myself to sit and breathe. I think on a Tuesday afternoon when everybody’s at work and I was at home, I’m thinking what am I doing with my life? When really what I needed to do was sit and breathe and let something come through me. So that was a beautiful moment for me. It was very healing.
Imi: Have you ever struggled with the issue of forgiveness?
Julia: Absolutely, yes. It took a long time. It’s interesting because my dad was the very abusive one, but my mom stayed with him.
Imi: Yeah she didn’t protect you, she let it happen.
Julia: Absolutely and I really, really, really resented her for a very long time. In fact, until I would say in the last probably five years I feel like finally I just have released her. I feel so much compassion now for what she went through because I just can’t imagine what she went through for such a long time. They actually ended up being married for 49 years. It was either 48 or 49 and they finally got divorced. It was a relief for everyone. So, I had to forgive my mom and for some reason I really don’t know why. Early on I could see how difficult my dad’s childhood was so I somehow … Well I didn’t always forgive him. But it seemed somehow easier a little bit. I blamed my mom more I think for staying, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense I guess.
Imi: It doesn’t make logical sense, but it makes a lot of sense for a little girl’s psychology.
Julia: Yeah, interesting.
A POEM ON FORGIVENESS
Imi: Do you have a poetry around forgiveness?
Julia: That’s interesting. The poem that comes to me as we’re sitting here is I have one called, let’s see if I can find it in my little book here. It’s called, “What I Learned From The Dark” and yes. I feel like it’s not necessarily speaking directly to forgiveness as much as it is just about going to those difficult places and seeing what comes out on the other side.
Julia: So I’ll go ahead and read this one.
Imi: Yes, please.
It seems we must be stripped
of the skin
of all we think beautiful
before we open to the kind of beauty
that can’t go away.
It seems sky must pour
and howl like it will never stop
before we notice the smile
of our own forever sun. It seems
we must hunt with starving
hungry eyes before we know
this belly is and has always been
full. It seems this wall
deep in the center must be hammered down
before we let soft, breathing hands
curl in around us. Each drop
of dark carries
with it a candle of holy
light—with each miracle breath
we are invited to turn toward
the nearest whispering spark
and, like momma bird sheltering her baby—like a pebble
in stream’s safe lap—
Imi: Your soul is rich and powerful. It really comes through in your words.
Julia: I so appreciate that. Thank you.
Imi: Well thank you. I think rather than asking you for advice, your poems speak much louder.
Julia: I think you’re right. I think you’re right about that. I feel like I’ve put it all from a deeper place into the poetry. So yes, that’s my message.
Imi: Well speaking of parents, I know you are a parent yourself.
Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
LESSONS FROM PARENTING
Imi: What has parenting taught you?
Julia: Oh, my goodness. That’s such a great question. So it’s very interesting because something that I saw of yours or maybe I heard you in a podcast talking about I don’t remember. You talked about or wrote about that often when you are a sensitive person, what is it like if you’re raising a really sensitive child? It can really bring up a lot of old wounds. I have a 17 year old and a 14 year old, so two teenagers.
Imi: What a triumph.
Julia: Yes and they’re both girls. I have two girls. It’s been a wild ride.
Imi: Are they quite sensitive?
Julia: So my first born one is incredibly sensitive and it’s really interesting how her sensitivity comes out in a lot of anger and frustration and anxiety. A lot of anxiety, a lot of anger. She’s a very, very smart person who tends to think about 50 steps ahead of everything which causes a lot of anxiety. So it’s been tremendously challenging to figure out how to be the best parent we can be to her. It’s actually been pretty traumatic for me because I always thought: gosh I will never repeat this pattern of having a not peaceful home. I want a peaceful home and with my oldest there’s been a lot of not peace and a lot of chaos and anger and temper tantrums. It’s been really challenging and also she’s been my greatest teacher. She’s really been my greatest teacher to somehow come to her and let her be who she is and hold a safe space for her to be able to express her anger.
Julia: It’s been really quite a ride. She still lives here. She’s not off to college quite yet. My younger one is more … it’s so interesting because it’s amazing how different your children can be. I would describe my younger as being almost a Buddha. She’s just this incredibly grounded just peaceful presence. She’s very even and grounding and grounding for us and grounded in herself in her own skin. It’s been really interesting to have that extreme contrast.
Imi: Absolutely and that would lead me to the next question which is: what’s your relationship with anger then? How was it for you to be confronted in your older daughter’s rage?
Julia: Very unsettling. Very. I could feel it in my body, just this intense … It causes a lot of anxiety in me and that feeling of wanting to run away and hide from it and get into a quiet place. So it’s been really interesting to experience her anger because anger really makes me afraid. It does, it brings me back to my dad was definitely a screaming, yelling person. So, it really just brings me back to my childhood and that’s been a lot to deal with. But it’s also brought stuff up for healing which has been great.
Imi: Do you think by having to accept her anger you also learned to accept your own shadow or your own anger, be okay with it, with the energy itself?
Julia: I have become more and more okay with the huge range of human emotions. I think it is Brene Brown who says that, “To the degree that we numb our pain or our fear or suffering is the degree in which we numb our joy.” I really, really get that. So I feel like I’ve gotten much better at just sitting with the emotions, feeling it in my body allowing it to move through rather than resisting it which has made such a difference. It’s that what we resist persists. I don’t know anything truer than that.
Imi: Absolutely. That reminds me also of Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House” where you can have tea with each of them.
Julia: Absolutely. Yes, for sure.
Imi: They are all a guest from the defined and they have a message.
Julia: Yes. Yes it’s funny you bring up Rumi because there’s a quote of his. I actually jotted it down. I want to read it real quick because I feel like it’s so beautiful. It says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” So it’s that letting those barriers break down and I think being able to sit with our emotions is one of those things that can break down those barriers.
A POEM TO THE LITTLE YOU
Imi: I mean on the same topic, what do you think the little girl in you, the one who witnessed her father’s violence and was scared, what do you think she most needs to hear?
Julia: I think she really needed to hear that she was beautiful and perfect just the way she was. To feel really seen for those qualities that were maybe different from other people’s qualities. Just to be able to look through and see that sensitivity and see it as a beautiful thing rather than … there was a lot of … my dad would say things like, “You need to be realistic. Stop being some dreamy. You’re too sensitive. You’re too emotional.” I actually do have a poem that I wrote about that, about being too sensitive, too emotional and it’s-
Imi: Can you read that for us?
Julia: I will. It’s one that I wrote, it was back in I think 2013. I will pull it up, it’s on my phone here. Let’s see if I can pull it up.
Imi: Sure, perfect.
Julia: Yeah. So okay, it starts out … So it’s called, “The Poem That Found Me.”
“How much is too?” T-O-O.
“How much is too?
Is 43 years too many to get it finally?
To see that it has always been here, this nameless something that sits in quiet center.
To trust that this heart feels just what it came here to feel.
I could call it love, but it is so much more than that.
For the man on the street who’s eyes blink sorrow, breathe hope.
When I give just the littlest bit of what I have.
I can no longer tell the difference between you and me and I am sure I want it to stay this way.
Too sensitive, too emotional, too dreamy, unrealistic.
This morning while I ran soaked deep in Oregon rain breathing in, breathing out.
I waved arms and listening air and belted out loud the words to that song I couldn’t keep from singing.
I’m going to celebrate and live my life.
Even though I don’t know if there was someone coming around that rivery bend, it felt glorious to not care.
I love you. Can I say these words too often as I lean in close and closer?
To these eyes, the ones that have forever looked for more.
Is four decades too long to try and grab hold of what could never be held?
Breathing in, breathing out. Is there such thing as too, if it all leads here to this that wraps around me, permeates, saturates, satiates. To this that is so much more than love.
There are wars going on while you write poetry. I feel your heat like it is my own and I don’t want this to stop, even if it means I am on my knees more than sometimes.
Thank you poetry for quieting the war.
Until I can find more words I’ll keep breathing it in, breathing it out.
I love you because I do.
Because when it comes to love I am sure there is no such thing as too.”
Julia: I think it’s one of those poems when you see it written the formatting and the too, I think it reads better than it is heard I think.
THE ROLE OF SPIRITUALITY
Imi: I’m just letting it sink in. What do you think is the role of spirituality in our healing work, even if someone says they’re not religious?
Julia: It’s interesting I was just talking to my older daughter and her friend yesterday. We were talking about religion versus spirituality and my feeling is if you don’t connect with something beyond what you see, I think it’s difficult. I think it’s really hard if we don’t … For me if the world is what I see is what it is, it doesn’t leave much room for magic sometimes. I think connecting with that source or that quiet place beyond words, the place beyond thought is everything to me. As I learn to do that more and more in my life I feel like it’s a direct connection to the truest part of myself. It makes everything in my life truer and my writing included as I get more connected to my spirituality and to that source place. It changes everything. It opens worlds. It connects me to people and to love and even if that really is just love because really for me that’s what it is. It’s connecting to love, yeah.
Imi: Are there something that I haven’t asked you that you wish me to ask?
Julia: Let me see. I did jot a couple of things down and nothing that’s coming to mind right now.
Imi: What piece of advice would you give someone? I mean you’ve said many things along this line, but if they have been told all their lives that they were too much, too sensitive just like you have been. How do they crack themselves open to a wild and precious life as Mary Oliver would say?
Julia: Yes, gosh I think really for me it’s having a tremendous amount of compassion and kindness toward myself and not comparing. I think the comparison game is just always going to lead down a painful road and to just know that you’re incomparable. There is no one like you. I would say just, oh, gosh. Getting to the point where you can be so compassionate and gentle and kind with yourself. I think the more that you do that the more that too or that bigness, the intense part has permission to come out.
Imi: From a scale of one to 10 how weird are you, Julia?
Julia: That’s a funny, I love that question. That question I asked my 14 year old. I said, “So on a scale of one to 10” it was so funny because she was peeking her head up out of the bathroom because she was about to get in the question. I was like, “I need to ask you a question. On a scale of one to 10, how weird am I?” She said, “10, hahaha.”
Imi: She knows you really well.
Julia: It was definitely her first answer was a 10. So I’m going to go with that.
Imi: 10 it is. What might 11 look like?
Julia: Oh, that’s a good question. I have no idea. What would an 11 look like? I think that would look like no holdback whatsoever. So censoring just a full out of the box here I am and the beauty is that I feel like the more comfortable I get and the more the doubt falls away. The more I can just show up and be who I am. I went grocery shopping today and I twice took different people’s carts and just started going around the grocery store. This guy came up to me and he said, “Miss I have reason to believe that you took my grocery cart.” It was so funny and I think a while ago I would have felt embarrassed and bad about it. I just laughed. I just thought I feel like I’m embracing those parts of me that aren’t put together the way that we think that someone should be put together. I’m just learning to love that part too.
Imi: Yeah. If you were to sum up your work in three messages what would they be?
Julia: Be yourself, be you that’s one. Connect, … just coming out of our minds and our robotic way of being in the world and being present to this gorgeous pulse of life. Looking at a tree and actually seeing it. Look up and look around and feel the aliveness of this world. It’s so incredibly beautiful and I feel like this world is offering itself to us all the time. So often it’s like we’re just walking by. We’re looking at our phones. We’re not looking up and we’re not connecting in a way that I believe is everything. So I think that is what being awake is, is really looking around and seeing life and connecting with it. Also I think embrace all of it. Embrace all of it. It’s all part of the beauty of life.
Imi: Can you share with us a book that has changed your life?
Julia: That’s a hard one because there’s so many. But I think I’m going to have to go with Pema Chodron’s-
Imi: “When Things Fall Apart” it’s my favorite book.
Julia: Is it? You’re kidding?
Julia: I love it. I love it. It’s so funny because it’s so interesting because my husband, it was Pema Chodron’s , “When Things Fall Apart.” I don’t know if you’ve read Elizabeth Lesser’s, “Broken Open.”
Imi: “Broken Open.”
Julia: “Broken Open” and when I would get into a really dark place which I used to do a lot and he would come in the bedroom and there would be those two books on the bed and he’d go, “Oh, no. You’re in that place again.” It was like those are the go-to books for me when I just needed to let myself be with the emotion however hard it was. I love, I love those books. That one Pema Chodron is amazing. It’s all about just being with life as it is rather than resisting, right?
Julia: Yes. I love that that’s your favorite.
Imi: Yeah it’s really pulled me through some really difficult times, that book. I had a cancer scare a few years ago and I read that book again and again and again. I remember holding that book in the hospital waiting room.
Julia: Oh, wow. Wow, that would be the one that you’d want to hold for sure.
Imi: Exactly. When I had that fear, I had lots of people telling me it would be fine. “I don’t think you have anything wrong with your body, you look healthy.” That never really reassured me, because you don’t know. You just don’t know. It’s so much better that you read a book that says: yep it might be shit and you might die, but that’s okay.
Julia: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know there’s a line in that book. She says like, “If there’s shit, just pick it up, smell it, feel the texture of it.” Do you remember that line? And just I love that so much. That nonresistance, this is what it is. Yeah it’s such a relief.
Imi: Absolutely. I think we need to share our bookshelves and they would look identical. That would be quite some interesting sights.
Julia: I bet. I’m going to take a photo of mine and we’ll have to compare.
Imi: Would it be okay for you to read out one more of your poems to end the podcast and I would like you to dedicate it to our sensitive, intense [inaudible 00:45:10] perhaps misunderstood audience.
Julia: Yes, yes okay. Let’s find the one that I’m looking for here. So this one is called, “It May Not Be Convenient.”
Julia: “It May Not Be Convenient.”
Julia: to take the detour, the
wandering way. To stand
a little longer
in sun-soaked arms
even if they
have to wait.
It may not be convenient
to press pause on a life
going wildly too fast—to go back
if you’ve taken too
many steps forward, to drink
a cold glass of water slowly—
Don’t let them hurry you. It is your pace you must find.
It’s okay if you’re late
because you need
to scribble down a few more
words, sing hallelujah
with the seabirds, hold her hand
just a little bit longer.
Let them wait.
Maybe today is the day
you’ll light the candle, open
the good bottle of wine
write love letters in the sand
even though the tide will come
and wash them away.
Maybe today is the day
is conveniently right here.
Imi: I don’t know if you could see me, but I was nodding away as you read it.
Julia: I know I wish I could have seen you. I figured you’d relate to that one too.
Imi: I did, I did. So that being out of sync in the world. But when I am inspired and energized people may not be as interested or enthusiastic as I am. So, that’s how it resonates with the idea of needing to [inaudible 00:47:32].
Julia: Yes. For me that it is your pace you must find. That feels like a tremendous release when I wrote that line. That to give ourselves permission to go at our own pace feels like a huge act of kindness.
Imi: Thank you so much Julia for sharing your wisdom, your beautiful words. Your life story with us. Finally, can you just tell us where to find you and what’s the next patch for you so that our audience could reach out to you or your poems?
Julia: Yeah so my website is http://www.paintedpath.org and I have a little online shop, a little Etsy shop. That is-
Imi: Do you really? I didn’t know that.
Julia: I do, I do. Actually I self published a book in 2012. So I have my book of my art and my poetry is something that I put out in the world in 2012 and I also have some e-books on there and some pieces of my art. So, that’s my little shop online. It’s JuliaFEH.etsy.com. I’m sure we can put that in writing for people.
Julia: Also my Facebook page is paintedpath.
Imi: Yeah and your painting is beautiful.
Julia: Oh, thank you. I just have so much fun painting. It’s a great release as you know, I’m sure. Yeah.
Imi: Yeah. So thank you so, so, so much.
Julia: It’s been so beautiful and such an honor to talk with you. Thank you so much.
Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive and international experience in mental health and psychotherapy. Her books Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity and The Gift of Intensity are available worldwide and in multiple languages. Imi has two Master’s degrees; one in Mental Health and one in Buddhist Studies. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism.