Dr. Alice Smith
By Alice Smith
Our student Alice Smith looks back over the past decade and recalls a moment when she realized she had become the woman she envisioned herself to be, so many years prior.
I don’t like to think how many years it was, but all I know is that it kept getting worse. Progressive anxiety and depression combined with unhealthy self-medicating with wine intensified a vicious, downward cycle. In this dark place I had a vision of my future self – a self-confident woman, physically fit, at peace with herself, serene and creative. She was staring out the window in a white dress with a content expression on her face. Becoming her seemed unreachable. I was miserable, at least 25 pounds overweight, and definitely not peaceful or creative.
Then one day, the external source of toxicity in my life went too far. For too long I had let her narcissism had influence my life – her mean words, demands and gas lighting. She said one too many cruel things and that was it – I said “I’m done” and hung up the phone. The relief was immediate and amazing – I felt lighter, happier, and freer. It was like the cage door was flung open! Within a matter of months I completely stopped drinking wine (and haven’t touched it since) and developed an active interest in my mental and physical health.
Walking in the front door of Still & Moving Center was one part of my journey to becoming the woman I wanted to be. First class was Murat’s belly dancing class – I sweated profusely and lacked coordination, but it felt good. My schedule didn’t allow for many other classes, but I took a few here and there and then the pandemic hit. All of a sudden it was as easy as rolling out of bed and joining a class thanks to Zoom. I was taking 1-3 classes a day: yoga, meditation, Pilates, satsang, and even dancing! Dancing is not my forte, but encouraging my body to move in ways it hadn’t before also started to bring up images in my mind, and those images made it to canvas.
As a child, I had artwork flowing from my imagination and it was a wonderful escape. As life progressed, studies and work as a radiologist made art a forgotten thing – I buried it in the recesses. Painting from my imagination became a foreign concept and I marveled at people who did it. Occasionally, I’d pick up a brush and render a painting from a photograph, but it would turn into a chore as I fixated on trying to recreate the photo.
I also helped choose the inspirational quotes for this year’s Still & Moving almanac. Once I began the dancing and and considering uplifting concepts from all over the world, the images came to me! No longer was I constrained by a photo, and painting after painting appeared under my hands. Painting became a therapeutic and meditative process and the images reflected a spiritual aspect from within me. Orbs in them can be the moon, guardian angels, guardian spirits. It’s my own take on spirituality.
One day, as I pictured the woman I wanted to be, she turned and smiled at me, opening her arms for an embrace, and as I embraced her, I turned and embraced the inner child. A child that had been so hurt, now felt comfort. The image made it to canvas, and it is a somewhat unusual painting: a tree branching into versions of myself: past, present, future – all at peace. With help of Still & Moving Center, I was finally able to become the person I wanted to be.
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)