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  • Writer's pictureSharon Uy

#34. Unlearning

With great gusto and conviction, I declared my word for the coming year to be:



The word was mostly inspired by the momentum of my newfound love of embroidery, born out of both needing something to do while facilitating my art therapy groups and a bit of jealousy at my clients' uninhibited joy while making art. I wanted to play, too. And why not! I didn't earn a master's degree in art therapy (of all things) to be boring, responsible, adult, sad-faced Sally all the time.


But there's always a word underneath/beside "the word," and that word turned out to be:



In order to create, to open up energy portals and space within me to create, I've had to unlearn some things. And with that, a flood of unlearnings (current and planned) appeared before me.


  • I see children dress up in costumes and mis-matchedness to accompany their parents on errands or to school, and I am reminded by the way no one looks twice at an adolescent explosion of tulle and fuzz to unlearn that we must fit into a specific box, never to be altered or our minds changed. Somewhere along the way we might have learned to tone ourselves down, muted and neutral, the spark of color diminishing. No longer! It's in the very title of Rick Rubin's book, "The Creative Act: A Way of Being," which I savored over the last few months and highly recommend, that our very existence on this plane, in this dimension, in these human bodies, is meant for so much more than to fall in line and stay there.


  • I love this quote by Lao Tzu: "Stiffness is a companion of death; flexibility a companion of life. An army that cannot yield will be defeated. A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind." And never have I needed this reminder to unlearn rigidity and expectation more than in my groups over the last few weeks. Somewhere along the way, I learned that my groups need to look just so, and in my attachment to what they used to look like and to regaining the ease with which they use to flow, I've closed myself off from being present with whatever discord is actually there, for whatever reason, and working with and from that.

  • It may be the idea of perfection, an outdated way of thinking, the myth of loyalty, but I continue to unlearn what energies/people/habits I thought were for me, while at the same time unlearning bitterness at what's not in my control, or what's here and now (they're the same thing, really).

  • The other night, I watched through the Ring app as an older figure moved unsteadily but hurriedly up the driveway, moving towards the doorbell that's crumbled away, and then to the screen door, turning the knob, and to my horror, opening it (damn us all for forgetting to lock it). She didn't enter, only knocked on the door-door. She and her adult son had been waiting in their car for the police to attend to the hit and run of which they fell victim, and she was coming to tell us 1) they weren't stalking us, and 2) she needed to use the bathroom. The last time I let a stranger in to use the bathroom was a few years ago, another old woman who had also gotten into a car accident and was waiting for help. The recent lady was friendly and (very) talkative, a little cuckoo (but what's "cuckoo" might be something else to unlearn), and it felt good to watch myself practice unlearning paranoia and disconnection. It felt like the "old days," where homes and hearts were open to all.


I'm reminded of how we spend the first half of our lives, more or less, learning, and the second half, unlearning. It makes mid-life crises more understandable, doesn't it, this point at which we shed what we thought we wanted to know, to allow what's truest to the heart to come to the fore. Perhaps it'd be easier if we began from birth in a constant state of unlearning, but who can say?

I'm learning that to be successful in sanity is to keep unlearning, to be flexible, to sway in the wind so I don't crack in brutal and irreversible half.

What are you unlearning?



as always, with love and thanks,



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