Who Ever Heard of a Weak Phoenix?

Phoenix Stencil, unknown artist

Strength means many things – sometimes it means perseverance in the face of challenges, sometimes it roars and at other times it is a quiet voice.  Strength can also be boundaries – healthy boundaries that stem from our love for ourselves.  Strength is often visualized as that of a Phoenix, the fire bird rising from the ashes.

Yet sometimes Phoenix is tired.  I have a story to tell about Phoenix.  I am Phoenix.  Despite significant challenges – physical, emotional and mental at times- I carry on, break myself apart, get rid of the puzzle piece that no longer fits, pour the sand and mortar back in and rebuild strength from vulnerability.  Yet sometimes life can drop a Phoenix to his or her knees.  Today I received a diagnosis that I cannot reverse but may be able to live gracefully with.  Clinical deafness.  Though I can hear sound, I am largely unable to ascertain words.  What does this mean for me going forward?  I don’t know.  How will it affect my ability to learn and be financially productive?  I don’t know.  I admit to letting the Phoenix lie down for a while and rest.  The Phoenix was weak.

Yet if one looks at mythology, how can a Phoenix rise if she never rests?  I needed time to process the change, to accept whatever limitations this diagnosis may place on my life and to figure out how to continue dancing boldly into my life.  You see, we don’t have to have it all.  We must have ourselves – the love and knowledge of ourselves.  We don’t need all 5 senses to be valuable.  I don’t need to have it all to make a difference, to show beauty to the world. What is needed above all is love and support and the knowledge that one thing “missing” does not make us less of a person, give us less value to offer the Universe, does not mean that we are not ENOUGH.  What it means is that Phoenix rests, then rises with the knowledge that all we have in any given moment is ENOUGH.  That rising and simply breathing is enough.  That one challenge does NOT a failure make.  The biggest blessings are often disguised within the roadblocks.  How does the Phoenix rise? Passion.  Choose a goal, no matter how small it may seem and take a baby step toward it, then another.  Crawl, toddle, run and fly up from the ashes.


You are so very loved.

© 2012 by Paulissa Kipp


Love Your Body, Love YOU

Fostering Love For Myself © 2011 Paulissa Kipp all Rights Reserved

#loveyourbody #howweseeit

Love Your Body – Love Yourself

Today is the 15th anniversary of the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) Love Your Body campaign.  Organized to combat the negative messages that the media and society offer to women about their looks, their bodies – indeed who we are and who everyone but we decide we are – the work of the Love Your Body campaign is more important than ever.

I am proud to be collaborating once again with Beth Akerman https://plus.google.com/u/0/103274398541354707265/about and the lovely ladies of the How We See It Vol. II to benefit Love Your Body. (You can preview volume I here)    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3176099 Many of your favorite female photographers have contributed selfies, writings and images to the cause of changing the perceptions of beauty and indeed, ENOUGH  The book will available for ordering around Oct. 31st.  all proceeds will benefit Love Your Body

The image above is a very vulnerable and personal one for me.  The dark lines are hysterectomy scars – 2 long jagged lines that for a number of years represented loss for me.  Yet those long jagged lines represent so much more – strength, survival, womanhood regardless of any ability to bear children (I can still love and nurture the next generation), beauty, softness and love.  Scars are beautiful – they offer visual testimony to who we are, where we have been and what we have learned along the way.  Remember that you cannot punish your body into health, you can only love it there.

I leave you with this.  For those of you who are struggling with beauty and appearance envy :

If I acknowledge my beauty & talent, I do not have to envy your gifts.
If I recognize my strengths, I don’t need to emphasize your flaws.
When I am aware of my power, I can enjoy the differences & similarities
of your fire. We can promote each other, delight in each other.
Dance with each other. ~Christina Kadlec aka Magdalena Christina

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp  I am a Curious Lens Goddess, Writer and Artist documenting the world – the beautiful, curious and often overlooked.  I see the infinitely layered world not only with my eyes, but most importantly, with my heart. Find me on Google+:  https://plus.google.com/116071275946594200077?rel=author

The Cycle of Depression – Through My Lens


What’s Right With Me Moment inspired by +Jason Kowing ‘s message of self-love found here:  http://bit.ly/NisXD4

Today had many blessings and challenges, but I only wish to deal with 2 in this post.  Today is World Mental Health Day and this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.  Perhaps in a twist of fate or to raise my own awareness higher than usual, today was a very poignant and heartbreaking day as I watched many friends struggle.  *Challenge*

Yet the *blessing* came in the form of a friend who experienced watching another friend’s depression and wanted to understand the cycle of depression better.  I will share with all of you here what my response was.  DISCLAIMER  I am NOT a licensed therapist.  I AM a PTSD, panic attack and bipolar disorder survivor.  All answers are my personal opinion and my experience as it relates to my diagnoses.

The Cycle of Depression

My friend wrote:  (paraphrased for brevity here) This can be a learning time for me. How does exhaustion or being overly stressed fit into the time of depression? How do you tell the difference between depression and being overly tired? Inform me!

My response: I will do my best to thoughtfully answer your question.  Please keep in mind that my specific answers pertain only to me, though I do have 1st hand observations as they relate to the students I teach.  It would be unfair of me to answer this question on their behalf.  Let me preface this by stating that the experiences of depression are very individual, as is the treatment thereof. PTSD, bipolarity, multiple personality disorder, chemical depression, clinical depression, panic disorder and generalized depression manifest differently in each sufferer.

The short answer is that depression, overwhelm, exhaustion and being overly tired is much like the chicken and the egg question because one can beget the other.  High stress, external forces beyond our control and lack of quality sleep can lead to generalized depression and for those who also deal with panic attacks, can ramp up those triggers.

Depression, once it is triggered -or for the person with bipolar disorder – once that person enters the low cycle – can create a bone crushing exhaustion and sense of overwhelm that makes it very difficult to function and practice self-care.  For example, when I am in a severe depressive state (defined in my case as overwhelm or anxieties that last for longer than a week and do not respond to any meds, any coping strategies, etc) the thought of cooking for myself becomes too much to deal with and I will eat cereal for days.  I become lethargic because the overwhelm tires me out, the joints hurt and I don’t sleep well at night (not entering rapid eye movement sleep has been shown to manifest depression and anxiety attacks).  The exhaustion is very real.  The difference between being overly tired and the exhaustion/depressive cycle is in my opinion, the length of time that the symptoms are present.  If someone is “overly tired” but recovers to a normal state within a couple of days, that is more “situational depression” than clinical or chemical depression.  While allowing that state of overwhelm is not a healthy pattern on an on-going basis, it would not necessarily meet a diagnosis of depression.  That your friend calls it depression means she is aware that the cycle is not healthy.  Hopefully, she is working to either change her lifestyle in recognition of that fact or seeking professional help to learn to make the necessary changes.

Not handling stress well can trigger depressive states but for those with clinical depression and the various types of mental illness, sometimes we become prisoners of our mind.  By that I mean that if I am having panic attacks, sometimes I can recognize a trigger and head it off before it becomes a screaming, crying, hyperventilating, chest-crushing thing.  Other times I don’t know that something will be a panic inducing situation.  The cycle of depression and panic is such that once one has gone “over the cliff” so to speak, there is a fear and hyper vigilance that can be self-defeating.  The panic creates fear of “when and where will this happen again? How much will I be able to handle?  At what point will this interfere with my goals, my relationships, and my ability to hold, find or perform my job?  How much will I have to change my life to cope? “

The sufferer can take positive steps to reduce stress by exercising, working to get at least 7 hours of sleep, avoiding stimulants, recognizing overwhelm and working to delegate tasks, saying no more often, setting healthy boundaries, changing priorities, etc.  Cognitive therapy and medication can help as well.

As you can see, depression is very complex and quite hard to navigate.  Navigating our mind and hearts without blinders is courageous and one of the hardest things that many of us will ever have to do.  Somehow, learning about our strengths and weaknesses can be scarier than the monster under the bed.  Bless you for caring enough to ask the question.  I hope my answers have provided a little useful insight.

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

I am a Curious Lens Goddess, Writer and Artist documenting the world – the beautiful, curious and often overlooked.  I see the infinitely layered world not only with my eyes, but most importantly, with my heart. Find me on Google+:  https://plus.google.com/116071275946594200077?rel=author


World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day

Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.

Today is a day to get screened, reach out for help or to help someone else and be aware that any given moment our mental health can be affected by internal or external forces.

Are you depressed?  I use this checklist during times of high stress to help keep things in check and to decide when I need professional help.  Sharing it in the hopes that it might help someone else.


Resources for Help:


Above all, know that you ARE enough, that you are loved and that the most courageous thing you can do is to love yourself more than you love others.  Getting to know yourself is a brave step, dear one.  I will hold your hand while you take it.

Please, please when speaking to someone you believe may be depressed, refrain from using the “Enough of Depression” by telling the person that if he/she only ______ enough, everything will be OK.  It isn’t as simple as that.


Enough of Depression

A rut
A period of time
An economic downturn
A time of sadness or challenge

A feeling of being satisfied
A lack of need

The convergence of depression and enough brings stigma

If we simply prayed enough
Played enough
Slept enough
Believed enough
Were enough
Everything would be OK
If we just

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

I am a Curious Lens Goddess, Writer and Artist documenting the world – the beautiful, curious and often overlooked.  I see the infinitely layered world not only with my eyes, but most importantly, with my heart. Find me on Google+:  https://plus.google.com/116071275946594200077?rel=author