Secret Message Society Zine #51 - Self-Reliant

ISSUE 51 is here! 

(The theme for my zines for 2017 is Self-Reliance)

June Secret Message for Secret Message Society Members (This mini-print comes tucked inside the snail-mailed zine)

Members can tiptoe into the Secret Lair for a digital download! 

Not a member, but curious?

Great! We are a society of the curious sort. Just for you, here are some tantalizing sneak-peeks into the curated secret messages for the month:

Quote from the novel Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Quote from the novel Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

✮✮✮ Not yet a member? Want access to even more secret messages? Sign-up HERE for the monthly curation.

The Something Else Entirely, That is Me.

I have strong, S T R O N G people in my life. I always have. Movers and shakers. Leaders and doers. I am attracted to strong personalities, dramatic entrances, forward movement, energetic influencing.

Also, I am a spy. Through and through. I once took a purple journal with me to summer camp where I wrote down little details about the different people I met, thinking I would later work their fascinating peculiarities into a fictional story.

There are certain aspects of humanity that I've come to admire and certain aspects I've come to despise. After years of people watching and consciously and largely unconsciously collecting data, I have some accumulated criteria by which I measure strength by (one of the key characteristics I admire). The curiouser and curiouser path I currently find myself on is the realization that at first glance I myself do not measure up to this accumulated criteria that denotes the much coveted trait of S T R E N G T H.

Another piece to the puzzle I need to share with you is I'm a very prideful person. I understand that the connotations of saying that sound entirely negative, but I've come to realize that it doesn't have to be negative at all. If I discover that I am a certain way, through and through, then I have the option to accept that aspect of myself or reject it. If I choose to reject it, I will wrestle with it my entire life because it will always creep back in. If I choose to accept it, I can accept it as my curse or as my strength. I can decide if I will use it to limit me or to expand me. I've chosen to use my pride to my advantage, a healthy dose of self-awareness. 

So when I say I am prideful, (which just so happens to be a common trait of Leos) I say it with an understanding that it matters to me how I am seen in the eyes of others. Those human traits I have come to gather over the years as preferable, I want others to see those traits in me as well. That only makes sense. And what I am addressing in this particular post is that trait of STRENGTH. 

I've done enough spying that I know what strong (as I define strong) people are capable of. They can lead people in the direction they wish them to go. They have control over situations. They don't put up with shit. They stand up for themselves. They get respect. They are clear in their decisions and their directives. They exert themselves and rise to the occasion of a good challenge. They get desired results. They speak their mind. They are confident and sure. They don't give up. They own their environment and bend it to their will. They make people angry, but they aren't bothered by it. They simply do no care. Not a bit. They are sure they are right, and they are. 

Here's where the tension comes in that I am currently assessing. 

I love and admire a lot of S T R O N G people. I want to be a S T R O N G person. I am a year and some odd months out from being 40 years old and at 40 years olds I don't need to have arrived by any means, but let's be honest, I've put in some decent time in this life, and the core of me is pretty defined. Over the past decade in particular I've done a lot of internal processing to see to myself and while I will still change and grow and expand, I don't anticipate having a shift that big ever again. All that to say, if I was going to be one of these S T R O N G types (as I define them), I think I would have already seen some shoots of that flourishing. And I don't. I just don't. 

Much of my anxiety and anger (with myself, but it can come out at others) comes from a place of knowing, seeing, witnessing, gathering so much data on S T R E N G T H, and holding myself up against that lovely admirable standard and watching myself fail and fail and fail at it. Like miserably so. I pride myself on being a successful spy of human character, and I know what these strong people call weak, and I am fighting so hard to not be what I have heard them over and over call out as weakness. (Because strong people, as I've defined strong, are also very vocal. So their opinions and beliefs are not a mystery. They are crisp and clear and I have soaked it all up as the sponge spy I am, wanting so badly to learn from best.)

It would be easier if I could villain-ize the strong ones, and in my own way, I think at times I've tried. But when I look around at some of my closest loved ones in my life, they are of the STRONG variety, and so it isn't so easy to write them off as the villains. 

This leads me to this curiouser and curiouser spot on my current path. Who am I if I am not to be S T R O N G?  

In verbalizing this tension to people at different times in my life, I have been met either with a prescription for how I can get better at being strong or I am offered a redefinition of the word strong. Neither of those feel like a fit to me. Here's why:

The former may have been true at one time. In fact I believe that's why it has taken me this long to adequately address this about myself...because when I was young older people were always telling me my lack (of anything, but in this case my lack of strength) was because of my youth. I couldn't be X Y or Z because I didn't have enough life experience. Not enough time had gone by yet to say anything definitive or conclusive. But for reasons I won't get into in this post, I realized this year that by Real World standards, I've sufficiently grown up enough now to know some definitive things about myself. I never had to buy the "youth" card which older wiser people played on me, but I for sure don't have to buy it now at nearly 40. I've lived long enough to say, "Yeah, I was right all along about a lot of things I was told I couldn't possibly know yet." And while at this age I can certainly learn all sorts of new tricks, I'm not going to become stronger by my definition of stronger.

This leads me to the latter. I could redefine what the word strong means. This is a little more my style because as well as being a spy, I am a magician, and I'm great at casting a spell on a word or make beliefing it to mean something different then I've been told it means. But this isn't something I've been told it must mean. This is a definition of STRONG I have accumulated over years of spying and years of being attracted to these sorts of people, willingly inviting them into my life in one capacity or another. To change the definition to fit me doesn't feel like a fair solution for this situation because I still very much want to uphold the beauty I see in the strength of others. There are truly strong and wonderful people, who will go on being strong and wonderful by the definition I have pieced together over the years. And I know now that no amount of growing, changing, expanding or tweaking my character is going to put me in the same field as them. I am something other. 

(Now words are just words. Really this is just semantics. I have chosen the word STRONG to be a symbol or a placeholder for some abstract characteristic I have seen in others. So on one hand, I could say, "Yes, of course I am strong in my own way." But as I am processing this stream of consciousness as I write, I find that most unhelpful, so I'm choosing to let STRONG represent something I have seen proved as an impossibility for me to achieve. I need to say that because I would rather not get into a discussion where anyone reading this is trying to convince me of my strength. This isn't a matter of making me feel good or me needing encouragement.)

So here is where I am. I am looking for another way. A third option. An option where I let myself off the hook at needing to be STRONG, but not by giving up my prideful dignity. In other words I don't believe in saying I am not STRONG, that I am also saying I am less of a person then these people in my life who are STRONG. I am just something else entirely. ENTIRELY. In a completely different field where my apples and their oranges can not be compared.

And it is in this direction that my curiouser and curiouser trail is taking me. On the lookout for the something else entirely, that is me. This where I leave you for today because it is as far as I have gotten.

Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children - Guest Artist Dawn Zichko

Artist Dawn Zichko is a part of the The Magic School Book Club and she recently mailed me a copy of her handmade, hand bound journal she created for the book Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children. With her permission, I am sharing the wonder with you. Thank you Dawn for letting us see the way you created a Book of Spells in your own Artist as Magician way. She also made an art journal for the book The Night Circus. Check it out here.

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