Adventures in Anxiety and Spirituality

IMG_5707In 2014, I installed a book altar in my home. I’m a clutterer with a young child in a small house, so there wasn’t much room. But here’s what there was: a triangle-shaped piece of wood that had been mounted on the moldings in the corner of the living room to hold a speaker. But we were no longer using that particular stereo, so the piece of wood was empty. Imagine an isosceles right triangle with the two shorter sides being about six inches each. Somebody remembers the mathematical equations to calculate the exact length of the longer side or the area, but I don’t. Needless to say, It is very small. But I decided to use it for an altar.

In the process of finding an agent and then the process of being on submission, I needed to surrender. I was a hot mess and a nervous wreck. I needed to believe that there was some force in the universe that was larger than me that was in charge of this project, and that ultimately it would turn out fine in the end. So that’s what I did. I installed an altar and tried to release all my angst about the project. And it worked.

Some would say that the altar magnetized good things into my life. Others would say that the altar gave me a consistent reminder that things were out of my hands anyway, and I was able to detach and find peace. I happen to believe it’s a combination of both, but it doesn’t matter why altars work for me, it just matters that they do.

So I wrote recently about hitting the eight week mark from my launch, and freezing up and freaking out. And it’s taken a couple of weeks to get myself together, but I believe I’m finally getting working it out. And what that means for me right now is revisiting that altar which had gotten into a state of dusty disrepair.

The process began about a week ago when I went to a home furnishings store, and bought a jumbo bag of 100 tea light candles. They caught my eye, and reinforced the fleeting notion that I should probably revisit my altar. I knew I would need to be lighting candles, an action of supplication or faith in many different traditions.

But I wasn’t yet ready to actually clean the altar until mid-day Tuesday. The biggest change was asking for help. Monday morning, I called a coach and asked to meet with her Tuesday. We met for a couple of hours Tuesday morning. She helped me get grounded and organized. Then on the way home I picked flowers and felt inspired to clean and refresh the altar. I cleaned off the silk cloth that sat on the wood, the different objects, replenished the water, and put the fresh flowers in a tiny vase. I also taped the cover of my book up beside the altar.

By the end of the week, I hadn’t finished everything on my to-do list. But it’s not because I’m still frozen, it’s because I’ve been stepping up my self-care, socializing a bit, and handling domestic tasks.

My goal is to go into this book release with some sense of balance, and the understanding that I can be stressed out about it or not, but I’ve written the book already. At this point, most of it is out of my control.

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Aya de Leon directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Essence Magazine, xojane, Ebony, Guernica, Writers Digest, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, My Brown Baby, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, Racialicious, Fusion, and she has been a guest on HuffPostLive. She is the author of the children's picture book PUFFY: PEOPLE WHOSE HAIR DEFIES GRAVITY. Kensington Books will be publishing her debut feminist heist novel, UPTOWN THIEF, in 2016. For more info, go to ayadeleon.wordpress.com.

Author: Aya de Leon

Aya de Leon directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Essence Magazine, xojane, Ebony, Guernica, Writers Digest, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, My Brown Baby, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, Racialicious, Fusion, and she has been a guest on HuffPostLive. She is the author of the children's picture book PUFFY: PEOPLE WHOSE HAIR DEFIES GRAVITY. Kensington Books will be publishing her debut feminist heist novel, UPTOWN THIEF, in 2016. For more info, go to ayadeleon.wordpress.com.