Flipping Coins – A story of creation and destruction

The wounds we impose on ourselves psychically can be far more painful and lasting than the ones we physically inflict. I find it interesting that the etymology of the word psychic stems from the latin word psychicus meaning “relating to the soul”. When we wound our psyche we damage our soul.

We have all heard of the artist/writer/actor/ insert blank ______________ creative who was brilliant but self-destructive. Alcohol and drug abuse, the burning of art, bipolar disorder and depression, and sometimes eventual, sometimes sudden suicide – the ultimate destruction of self.

I look at poets like Bukowski and wonder how much more productive he could have been if he had all his shite together. I also wonder, would he have been quite as raw and captivating with his words if he had been polite, calm and abstained from damaging practices like alcohol and smoking? Perhaps he would have still been an amazing writer but just entertained a different audience.

This capacity for both creation and destruction from within is our dual dilemma as humans. Because of it, every major religion and spiritual practice has a god of creation and one of destruction, and sometimes that same god is capable of both.


As power rises up
so a cloud follows
doubt trailing action
if you let it
what springs from the head
creates a twin
even at the moment of inception…

Excerpt from Evil Twin – The Steps We Take Within

2020 was a massive year of creation not just for me but for many others. As the pandemic raged, the human spirit created art, baked and danced questionably on Tik Tok.

My creation story of 2020 goes like this..

I started Audacity, a monthly online digital magazine, and published my second poetry book, “The Steps We Take Within”. Aside from this, I also wrote my first novel. I was fortunate in that not one but two publishers accepted it. I created almost daily blog posts and built up a fair sized Twitter and Instagram following. I also opened a Patreon account, and undertook various courses in all sorts of interesting fields. Just thinking about 2020 exhausts me. But it also excites me. How did I do all that?

And also, why did I kill it?

Why?

We are creators, and we are destroyers, and we don’t have to be writers and artists to see the effects of these two energies in our lives. This is a human trait, not a device of artistic personality. The greater our capacity to create new growth for ourselves, the greater our propensity for self-destruction.

The blog post “Plant Medicine”, triggered me to look back over Audacity’s issues. I loved that magazine so much. As I flicked through the interviews and stories, I was in awe of the amount of work that had gone into every single issue.

I remembered how hard it was to pick up the phone and ask some of those characters for an interview. I had to learn so much! From how to use Canva to finding a digital magazine platform to publish to. I was learning how to use Mailchimp and grow a subscriber mailout list.

And that was just the beginning. I did so much learning and creating and then editing my writing to the enth degree because I didn’t want issues to go out with typos in them. It was an enormous amount of work. All self-generated. All self-motivated. All free. That output took a toll on my health and my relationships, and in the end, I had to take the beautiful creation that I loved so much and kill it.

Just so that I could sleep at night again

Just so that I could breathe

But destroying is as addictive as creating and once I began I couldn’t seem to stop.

I shut down every switch in that vast energy warehouse that I had built internally throughout 2020. I stood at the power board, turned off my blogging, and turned off my books (stalled at the editing of one, the marketing of another). I murdered everything. Nothing was left unscathed.

I walked away from Audacity whilst amid a new issue. I already had all my interviews lined up. It would be a cracker of an issue on essential oils and natural health. A subject that was close to my heart. I had a complete interview with Greg from Australian Essential Oils about how he had grown his company from seedling to the global supply company it is today. I had Denise from Aminya Academy and her story of forming the premier institution for learning clinical aromatherapy in Australia. I had more. I had so much. I was so close.

The truth is that the growth of Audacity frightened me. I had an ever-growing list of keen subscribers and extensive positive support and feedback from segments of both the local community and the global one. I could feel that it was growing very fast into a successful little magazine with a niche following. But it was all done for free, and I was just one person, and there were important things I was missing in our family business, and it was all becoming too much, so boom boom boom, I shut it down.

I failed myself, but I told myself I wasn’t failing because I chose the path, it didn’t happen to me, I chose it.

It was all a bit of a relief. Until it wasn’t. A couple of months later I had had my rest, caught up with all my other work, and baked enough cakes to heal the small rifts within my family. In the lull I realised the magnitude of what I had done. My sense of failure became more like quiet grief. I mourned the loss of my creations; I mourned the loss of myself, yet I also knew that I couldn’t return.

So it didn’t matter a jot that I “chose” to fail – failure was still the result, and so were the accompanying emotions.

I lived in a sort of limbo for two years and never realised the truth of anything I was doing, mainly because I didn’t look honestly at my life again until two weeks ago when I went for a job interview.

The sound of my high heels (the first I had worn in several years) sounded like nails being driven into the coffin of my creative self. I was burying myself, step by clicking step, in a pencil skirt and my funeral and business meeting plain white blouse. I looked just like an eminently employable woman should.

Inside I had qualms, this is where failing yourself leads you. This is where a lack of self-belief leads you. This is where a creative genius winds up when they are clearly no genius and have no creative left either. The dumb ones like me, decide they are best suited to a nice normal admin job. Plus I had a stellar resume that meant that ten minutes after I hit submit on Seek in response to an advertised position, I had an interview. The interview I was currently marching towards.

“What are you like with technology?”

This was the interview question that gave me an inkling of just how far I had fallen from my true self. “I’m excellent; I can teach myself anything I am interested in.”

“Interested in” being the sticking point, I thought, wishing that I hadn’t added that bit. Mentally I moved the full stop backwards. My interviewer hadn’t noticed my mistake because she didn’t know me. I could see her looking at the me who was on my very best behaviour; the interview had gone swimmingly, and she was wondering how soon I could start.

I prevaricated. I retreated. I did so gracefully. I could feel her offering me employment – wasn’t that what I wanted? No! My mind was mentally rehearsing running back to my car, tearing off my skirt and heels and pulling my worn jeans and sandals back on as fast as I could.

If you have made it here, you may question my mental state. Bless you 😂 thank you, it’s okay. I’ve always been highly resilient in that regard.

I am now moving forward again with creating.

My first novel. The same book that I wrote in and around Audacity. The novel that contained my beloved characters which I had so much fun creating, sat in a mentally unreachable river for two years. On the weekend, I threw down the line and fished it out.

After all that time, I am embarrassed to say it took a mere hour of focused work to clean up the final edits and completely delete and redo the last chapter—one hour.

I stand humbled and bow before my creator; I watch warily for my destroyer’s re-emergence.

The same force that two years ago mentally dragged my magazine, my books, and my writing self into a room, tied her to a chair and then coldly murdered her is still present – I can feel it in my heart.

We are dark and light, creators and destroyers of worlds – our worlds.

We are both our failure and our success.

Improvement at anything is based on thousands of tiny failures, and the magnitude of your success is based on how many times you’ve failed at something. If someone is better than you at something, then it is likely because she has failed at it more than you have. If someone is worse than you, it’s likely because he hasn’t been through all the painful learning experiences you have”
Mark Manson

We live within the same dual forces that shape our world and have done for centuries. We are human, we are divine, we are exceptional, and we are nothing very unique at all because one day, we die, just like everyone else.

So the only question left is, “how do you want to spend your time while you are here?”

I want to write, so here I am, writing and hitting publish again on another uncomfortably personal and hard-won post. My edited manuscript for Figments of Imagination is returning to the publishers for their comments. I have begun what will come the second book in that series. It begins again. Perhaps I will go up the hill with more wisdom and experience this time. If not, I am at least aware that my destroyer dogs my footsteps and her outline looks a lot like my own.

Thanks for reading; I realise it was a long monologue, a bit selfish. More poetry is on the way over the week.

Love your creator, respect your destroyer; in the end, we are all just coins flipping in the air. I hope you land sunny side up.🪙 💕🦋

Header photo courtesy Aaron Thomas Unsplash

My second poetry book “The Steps We Take Within”, which I published without much marketing at the end of 2020, deserves a mention. I read through it over the week-end. It contains over one hundred poems, some stolen from this blog (and therefore, they don’t appear here anymore). Some of them are not so bad, the entire book probably should have been cut by 50% but hindsight is 2020, literally.

The links to where you can purchase – should you be so inclined after that red-hot advertising gambit – are above my home page. For the Australian link, just click the picture.

45 thoughts on “Flipping Coins – A story of creation and destruction

  1. Both our failure and success is so powerful in an age of blaming others for our mistakes. Psychologically damaging influences are often far deeper than physical, and maybe permanent …

    • I think psychological are only permanent if we don’t do the work of discovery – then, they are no more permanent than a cut finger or a broken leg. Bones mend, skin grows together again and lessons learned push us further next time but hopefully with a little more wisdom

  2. Yes, often our physical wounds heal but our psyche remains damaged. I hope I land sunny side up because I haven’t been doing that recently lol.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Kate. There’s just so much we can do and achieve before we burn out from trying to do it all. I enjoyed your poetry collection and look forward to reading Figments of Imagination whenever it finds a home in the world.

    • Thanks, Rosaliene, I think because I did go overboard, I have experimented with a lot of things that I now either have the experience with and can do or know I don’t need and am not interested in pursuing this time around – a good way to get rid of potential distractions. My focus now is this blog and my writing and that’s about all I can handle really alongside my other responsibilities. I enjoyed both of your books too. Are you writing another book yet?

      • I appreciate your support of my work, Kate. I am working another another book, a work of creative non-fiction, but put it on hold in 2021 to publish and promote my second novel. Returning to it has been a slow process.

      • Rosaliene do you write intuitively or to an outline? I write intuitively although I didn’t know that was what was called – I’m reading a book called “Writing into the Dark” by Dean Wesley Smith and it is so inspiring. Having lots of epiphanies and learning so much – last night I read that writers will often hit a block about 1/3 into a book and won’t go any further – but if you can get past that point (and he gives pointers on how to proceed) you will be so glad you finished: I have three different books all stalled at around 30,000 words. Now that I know why I’m going back to write every single one of them to completion. Anyway thought I would let you know about that book and it’s available on Amazon for kindle or paperback whichever you prefer and I am finding it an eye opener.

  4. Oh, Kate…I can’t find the words. It was in 2020 I sat in my RV wondering about EVERYTHING…the manic obsession I had to write, to heal, to dream, …I held your poetry book and took a selfie-Finn and me. I read every Audacity edition. Immediately I connected with you and your words. You HAVE to know how you inspired me that year. I took risks~I left a toxic place, position, and relationship. I bought a house. I learned all about Canva and building my blog. YOU were my inspiration. It was 2021 and my little book and I were going school to school…But then, it was as if I hit a wall going 100 mph. Though I survived I had no idea what I was truly battling. There are a lot of “I’s” in my response. But I UNDERSTAND. It’s so much easier to play it safe in life. To continue the expected route that had been paved with success after years of bloodshed and turmoil in mastering objectives that “fit” at that time. Construct & deconstruct; create, then crush. YET, doubt, BUT DO! You’re reinventing yourself with every lesson. The wisdom is woven into your work! You continue to emerge and embrace even after the exits! You keep finding yourself, Kate. I always tell myself I don’t expect perfection, just progression. I try hard to be a better version of myself in each experience ~yet, physically, I’m failing. My heart leapt with joy reading this post and pondering all the things you wrote that I remember so well. Remember when I gave up on social media? Lol. I still haven’t looked back although I did try again. And look at you! Your manuscript and last chapter in an hour. The clutter cleared. I’ll keep trying to create and you inspire me so much. And if I crumple it I’ll not feel bad. I’m so happy to have witnessed part of your amazing journey. It’s a small part, but I feel honored to be a friend. I’m sending you great hugs, adoration, high fives, grins, and all the encouragement I can muster for you! I’m so proud of you, Kate. Xoxo 💕🥰🤗

    • Karla, I am so jump for joy happy to hear from you! I think about you all the time and send you love. I loved your response to this post so much because you remember 2020 like I do – it was crazy. Crazy good and crazy crazy! Ha but nothing was wasted, not a single thing. It was either a lesson or a road that I walked down then and now that I know where they lead, I don’t have to walk down the roads again (social media, patreon, magazines and the like – with a big sigh of relief I have decided I will simply blog and write books) I remember your support and how much it meant at the time and still does. Of all the posts that you don’t have the time or energy to read because your life is so full at the moment – I’m so glad you chose to read this one, because you were truly there and you get where I’m coming from when I recall it. I can’t believe another year is almost over and that makes it two years since the world went nuts. We won’t be the same again, but maybe that’s a good thing because we can’t really ever go back, we just make the best decisions we can in the moment. Huge hugs and high fives and all my love back to you. Hang in there – you have a lot of creating to do in 2023.
      I’m on the laptop so I haven’t got any emojis but imagine a few sparkly ones XXOX

      • I can’t believe it’s been two years! Please keep praying my health will hold. I’m becoming so weak and the pain is being managed~but it’s all the time. Seeing you here when I decided to read late was a divine direction! I was so excited to “see” you! I’ll keep on keepin’ on and know I’m thinking about you and always sending love and hugs. And I do imagine the emojis! 🤗💛🥰💕☀️ ✨ 💖 💡 ✨💖✨💖💕💕💕

      • I will certainly continue to hold you in my prayers Karla, you are such an extraordinarily beautiful human inside and out, I miss you and I miss reading your blog posts too X

  5. I completely understand your post. I read every word. I have similar issues…for me I can start things and finish but have trouble sustaining long term things. I think in project mode. Sometimes I have to override my fear of success. Good post!

    • Thanks Martha, I lacked a capacity for balance in 2020. I can’t believe it was two years ago now – it is scary how much time we lose wandering around collecting our pieces again. Hopefully I have a better grip on my flaws now and can avoid the missteps this time, if not, off I go to throw myself into the creative fire once more 😊✨

  6. Cheers to the reemergence of a creative. I feel 2020 messed a lot of us up. Personally, I’m still emerging from a place I don’t fully understand. This is hindered by the fact that freedom from disaster seems temporary. Regardless, I’m starting to live again in ways that I put on hold. From this post, it seems you are doing the same.

  7. I felt this… every word feels like my own story. But you broke free and that’s amazing. ❤️Only time will tell if I do the same.

    • I think myself into these things and eventually I think myself out. Writing got me out actually. Hope you can do the same Michelle – I’m listening to The Creative Penn podcast and it is very inspiring – maybe try that?

      • Thanks Kate, I did actually look for the podcast the other day when you first mentioned it. And although I found it, I still haven’t listened. I did do something this month though. I finally decided to go back to school and finish off my degree. I’m switching to an English major with an emphasis in creative writing. Soooo who knows where that will lead. It’s something at least and it will definitely keep me more focused on doing all the things I love. I hope you’re having a great week. Stay inspired…. ❤️~M xo

      • Awww yes… purpose, which reminds me of a podcast I have been listening to. Ever heard of the Mel Robbins podcast? If you’ve never heard of her she’s an amazing motivational speaker and she came up with the 5 second rule to get people moving. I use her rule everyday and it’s what gets me moving in the morning. 🚶‍♀️😉

      • Yes! I love the five second rule. Mel is inspiring, I was listening to her speaking on the Rich Roll podcast last year and am always meaning to check her podcast out – she walks her words for sure

      • Ahhh that’s so cool! She really does and those are the kind of people who inspire me the most. She even admits she doesn’t have it all figured out, but at least she tries and never gives up.

  8. It’s beautiful how something as beautiful as beautiful as creation can only exist with destruction. And yet, without either, none would exist. Sometimes creation is ugly, and sometimes destruction is beautiful too, beautiful ironies

    • I have had similar thoughts Wanja. I could have written about this subject from so many different angles and still ended up with a long post. It’s very true that we need both. Here in Australia we actually need bush fires because that is how our native forests regenerate. Thanks for reading its lovely to hear your point of view

  9. Being artists has roots in our past. For example, if I hadn’t been abused as a child, I doubt that I would have felt the need to draw, paint and then write to communicate my pain. So somehow that bad experience marked my life. I believe that those who need to communicate something perhaps feel this need because they have not been able to do so in their past. Perhaps the inner wounds cannot be seen and one tries to cover them with color or words. Sometimes you manage to cover everything and sometimes you fail. But we must try to see where everything comes from, where this need to always create comes from. Sometimes this need to express ourselves becomes a condemnation and for this reason many artists have sought refuge in drugs and alcohol. They had no other way to silence themselves. Sometimes something screams inside us and we can’t shut it up and it’s hard to stop creating. We have a kind of parallel life, we are people and we are artists. But our works don’t save us, they can’t get out of this mechanism. I say this because I myself have lived and created so many things but it didn’t help, that voice is still there, that past is still there, inside me, and all the colors in the world are not enough to erase it.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, I’m sure there are others who will read your words and feel a similar way. I’m sorry that you have suffered. I don’t think creative pursuits are a total mechanism for recovery, though they can certainly help. As you say, some people have a need to communicate their feelings and u understand their past, so they create to express that foe themselves and others. The frustration possibly arises when that expression offers no relief. Professional counselling and perhaps even medication are probably more beneficial for severe trauma. I’m not adequately equipped to give advice for that sort of thing. I write from my own experience and observations not in an iformed or clinical regard. It’s always helpful when someone offers their own perspective as you have done, so thanks again for sharing that.

  10. Dear Kate, this piece is amazing, honest and beautiful. I can identify with so much of it. I haven’t always written. I think it comes from a place of childhood damage, trauma and pain and the need to be heard and witnessed (perhaps, somewhat selfishly). However, I do find it helps. I’ve done more than my share of destroying things – my written work, art and myself with self-harm, alcohol and drugs and many attempts on my life. Thankfully, despite my current circumstances, I don’t engage in any of those behaviours anymore and haven’t done so for many years. I identify with how you explain about the creative also being the destroyer. It’s such an interesting aspect and view, and it makes a lot of sense to me. There is so much more of this piece that I could comment on, but if I do, I will be writing you a dissertation rather than a reply! However, I’m keeping this tab open on my laptop and will come back and reread it all, as I’m totally blown away by your writing here. It’s just wonderful. I’m so glad you’ve returned to your writing and books. I will take a look at your Audacity magazines when I come back for my second visit to this post, too. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself here, Kate. Much love to you 💖. Hugs, too Xx 🤗

  11. As someone who has always had a tremendous love and passion for writing, i really appreciate authentic and raw pieces like this. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself

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