A PRAYER TO SEE + BE SEEN

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“An exploration of mental illness as an invitation to radical self-discovery instead of a disease with no cure.” it means the world to me to be able to share this documentary film, CRAZYWISE, that has helped me so much on my own mental health journey– and to do two events, starting tomorrow, world mental health day– with the wholehearted support of art house astoria and astoria presbyterian church– based expressly around creative reframing for mental health & mental illness, the ways we can take our journeys back into our own hands. please join us & RSVP on eventbrite: tinyurl.com/creativereframingnyc. i’m grateful for my life and for the opportunity to speak on these literally life-changing and life-saving topics, with humans whose work and being i truly admire.

A PRAYER TO SEE & BE SEEN:
Creative Reframing for Mental Health & Wellbeing
a 2-part event featuring CRAZYWISE screening, discussion & experiential resource-sharing

World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. During this week, we gather together in an effort to SEE & BE SEEN– to build community, share resources, and dive into alternative methods of exploring mental health and mental illness– recontextualizing it as an invitation to radical self-discovery instead of a disease with no cure.

Thursday, October 10 – 6:30-8:30pm
CRAZYWISE – documentary screening

We will screen the 2017 documentary CRAZYWISE, with time for opening/closing exercises and post-film reflections.

SHORT SYNOPSIS:
Crazy… or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary CRAZYWISE explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience.

WATCH TRAILER / FULL SYNOPSIS: https://crazywisefilm.com/

Saturday, October 12 – 5-7pm
Experiential resource sharing with presentations/activities & discussion

Building on the theme established by CRAZYWISE– what are our options and resources for creatively reframing mental illness and founding a progressive new relationship with our inner selves? We explore and experience with several members of the community sharing their approaches, including healing practices and traditions, floatation therapy, mindfulness, storytelling and “living your legend,” with time for group discussion and activities.

FEATURING:
Satya Celeste of SacredWaters
Rebecca Gitana Torres of Healing Through The Home
Alex Tatis of Refined Inner Being LLC
Sydney Projekthandmade of innerNest
Representatives from Mindful Astoria
Audrey Dimola, ‘THE BOOK OF LEGEND’
Aldo Cano Trevino of Mental Health First Aid

FREE EVENTS – ALL ARE WELCOME
LIMITED SEATING AVAILABLE, PLEASE RSVP
http://tinyurl.com/creativereframingnyc

!!! SPREAD THE WORD + SHARE !!!
Hosted & curated by Audrey Dimola
Part of World Mental Health Day 2019 at Art House Astoria Conservatory For Music and Art, in partnership with Astoria Presbyterian Church

paths in the pathless wilderness: mental health advocacy

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“i write today because i am still alive. i write today from inside, outside, and on the other side of the underworld. i write because, in legend— the hero always returns with the story. and in the hero’s journey, in fact— this is the very purpose. i write today because legend saved my life in a way that nothing else could— not a diagnosis, not modern medicine, not the concern of loved ones or colleagues, not any traditional path that i was prescribed…”

in recent years i have come to realize and internalize that the best way to tell my story– or any story, for that matter– is to speak it plainly.

i marvel at where this website began, over 10 years ago– a place to house my work as a young arts journalist, which in many ways avoided inclusion of what was deeply and actually going on with me— that gradually grew into this space of radical honesty, performance, curation, and experimentation across many genres. it is in this moment that i type here and reflect– a few short weeks to my 33rd birthday– so grateful for the hard-won heartwork and legend i have come to accept as my own.

‘for this i was born, and for this i have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.’ -john 18:37.

after writing and self-publishing my third book, WILDLIGHT, creating my first alchemical theatre work, PROVENANCE, and being increasingly candid in person and on the internet (especially on instagram) of the places my journey was taking me– i have come to This Point. the point at which i encapsulate the stories and philosophies and lessons that have saved my life.

‘IF YOU BRING FORTH THAT WHICH IS WITHIN YOU,
THEN THAT WHICH IS WITHIN YOU
WILL BE YOUR SALVATION.
IF YOU DO NOT BRING FORTH
THAT WHICH IS WITHIN YOU
THEN THAT WHICH IS WITHIN YOU
WILL DESTROY YOU.’ –the gnostic gospels.

i added a MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY page to my website this morning– even though this journey is not JUST about mental illness, or meant for those who are suffering with the same– mental illness and mental health are inherently about the journey to reclaim your life and the state of your soul, from all those other destructive and un-true stories that do not belong to you. in the greater, greatest scheme– we are being called to a new realityone we create with our own hearts, our own hands, our own imaginations– free-dreaming and manifesting in tandem with the creator force energy that shaped our world.

i am currently working on a new book and performance/workshop series seeking to explore these spaces in ways i began with PROVENANCE, WILDLIGHT, and my ‘widening circle’ open mic/open share gatherings, but now– further. it is the merging of poetry, prose, story, ritual, improvisation, spirit work, and sacred/safe space facilitation– and it begins. HERE.

‘one thing is certain. the search for this savior calls for a pathfinder. someone who is capable of finding paths in the pathless wilderness, and who will shrink from no danger and hardship. in other words– a HERO.’ –michael ende, ‘the neverending story.’

AN EXCERPT– from what is forthcoming—

the stories are not just things i choose to write— now i am living them, experiencing them, inside them. it is reality that i define— and that no one defines for me. and the more i feel into it, explore it, believe it, trust it— the more i see the truth of where stories, where meaning itself, emanated from— in the first place. this is the place of legend. this is the hero’s journey, in real time. this is the odyssey, the great quest, the incredible journey— it is in your life, right here, right now.

i do not come to make a map for you, to plot the course for you— you and only you alone can do this. my guides will not be your guides, my legend will not be your legend. but it is my hope in sharing where i have been, what i have been through— that a potentiality for yours will burst open or begin to blossom.

if it is a choice between— having solely the options you are being presented with— and alternatively, the options that you and only you can write, create, and describe— what do you wish for? power stripped or power reclaimed? darkness traversed or darkness feared? a broken mind that needs to be fixed— or a teeming landscape of lesson and legend that you can bravely quest and explore?

this is not for the faint of heart. this is not easy. this is not clean. this is not without struggle. without blood. without nearing the edges of existence, the edges of death.

but in my heart, and in my opinion— if we all heave a last breath anyway, and either way— why not fill your living lungs with the breath of adventure, and leave a story behind along the way?

why not begin a quest to exalt and reclaim and rediscover the most wonder-full and worthy hero there is… yourself?

[read the full piece here]

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much more to come. i feel, i know–

for the pathless wilds

for the unfathomable

and the holy unknown,

XO

a.

shedding light, trusting darkness

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‘and what do you wield, warrior?’
‘the sword i pulled from my own heart.’
‘but you do not wish to carry this weapon, 
onward, for your journey?’
‘i only wish to carry a prayer. 
to see and be seen.’

hello out there my beauties,

i wanted to let you know that the most honest thing i have written on the internet has just been published by an amazing site called REBELLE SOCIETY- it’s called “how my experience with mental illness helped me trust my darkness.”

A wise and wild coyote once told me, “It is in happiness that you will find the seeds of sadness. And it is in sadness that you will find the seeds of light.”

When I was a kid, I couldn’t bear to be in complete darkness. Even as a teenager, there was always a light somewhere: a nightlight in the kitchen, light in a window next door, streetlight outside. My journey has been to find that light in myself, instead of always seeking it outwardly.

I didn’t know what true freedom was like until I lived through this story. I had a conception of freedom and a lot of daring cliff-jumps, but the darkness remained a sign and a trigger.

Throughout my whole life, this specter of the idea of darkness chased and chased me. Or maybe it never actually moved — just stood, luminous and unending — and I kept running. I have messages written all over my body, to remind myself of the truth — about the dark, about myself.

I have always been a personality of extremes. This is my gift, in my new legend: to be able to viscerally feel, process, move through ecstatic heights and drastic lows, with not much in between.

The “not much in between” though was my own conception. The instinct to keep running, searching for higher ground, safer territory, more abundant provisions, without realizing perhaps I could, with time, just stay here. Grow these seeds of my own planting. Take some time, gaze into the night, into the earth, into the darkness, into the silence, into myself, and not only see and receive what is there, but to trust it.

This is not just a story about struggling with mental illness. It is a story about what every man, woman and spirit is here to grapple with: personal freedom and personal truth, and how they are inextricably intertwined.

YOU CAN READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY [RIGHT HERE] …

it’s powerful and unnerving and surreal to be able to have clarity on this journey- and to be able to share it in this way, in a way that undercuts the usual disempowering narratives about mental illness and provides an entry point into radical recontextualization and reclamation of your own legend.

thanks to my fierce and wonder-full friend shafina, on 11/16 i will be telling an off-book, organic version of this story at my first storytelling show, HOW TO BUILD A FIRE, at open source gallery one week from today. the theme is RESILIENCE [more info]

some more events coming up: [here]
and my latest book of poetry & prose, WILDLIGHT, is still on sale [here] !

i’m open to your thoughts, words, wishes- let me know if you have ideas for collabs- i’m all ears for projects you dream up and opportunities to speak the legend…

from wanting creature to
proclaimer of the word //

with biggest big love,

XO

a.

“and of course i am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger.”
“we can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. for we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us. the fact that we are here and i speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. and there are so many silences to be broken.” -AUDRE LORDE.

*tattoo image at the top is one of my latest, from karen glass tattoo XO

the dangers in cartography.

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the terrifying thing about choosing your own context for mental illness is that you often end up hurting/scaring the people closest to you, and hurting/scaring yourself.

it is not like an outwardly manifested affliction in that- no one would say to you, just stop having cancer. get up from your wheelchair. get your vision back. look how much everyone loves you- stop dying.

no one makes you feel like- you are doing it on purpose. you are willing it. you are purposely isolating, not picking up the phone, disappearing, not going to work. no one makes you feel like what is happening to you is wrong. like it’s your responsibility for failing everyone you love, for failing yourself.

what IS the same, though- is how people react upon choosing an alternative path to healing. in a similar way you would in choosing a raw food diet instead of chemotherapy. a visit to a shaman instead of a hospital. time communing with yourself, your spirits and guides, and your rituals- instead of a trained professional. this is the hurt that everyone who chooses a different way feels- that what they are doing is dangerous. that no one trusts them with their own healing. that maybe they should not put so much trust in themselves.

mental illness is particular in this fashion. and once you choose not to follow the paradigm given to you- that you are broken and need to be fixed, that you have a chemical imbalance that endangers your life- the road you proceed to traverse has no map.

and in making the map for yourself, sometimes, like last night, you will find yourself in willing seclusion. hiding like a child, getting as small as you possibly can in the darkness, while three of the most important people in your life stand on your doorstep, on three separate occasions- ringing your bell, scratching your window, calling to you. txting and calling, communicating to each other, in increasing alarm.

sometimes no disappearance is enough disappearance, for the hurt you feel. the hurt that washes over you, primordial and unending. you are told you are loved. you are told you have a place to go. you are told you can have anything you want. threatened, even, by this immediateness, franticness, of affection- you get even smaller. but the space is opened up, somehow- in which to trust.

how do i know which impulses to listen to? sometimes the path leads you away but it is only so you can trust enough to find your own answers. you know the path is true if it leads you back to your community, to the people you love.

despite how much you anger them. hurt them. how much you don’t make rational sense- it is not isolation indefinite. it is isolation to hear the answers- so to heal. so to return.

today i understood why i am creating my next show, PROVENANCE.

to show how this instability is the key in the lock to the power of my origin story. to show what it looks like, in actuality, to choose to create your own map. to hurt yourself, hurt the people you love. to bear the guilt and shame inherent in your affliction. to want to answer, open up, speak, accept an embrace, receive help- but simultaneously be completely unable to.

to dance at the edges of death, creation, eternal life. to find safety in the perceived danger. growth and fecundity in the darkness. so to understand- your holy wild self. so to ascribe sacred meaning to- your finite moments on earth.

i look forward to continuing this journey.
and sharing with you, in three dimensions, what i’ve learned.

XO

a.

more light & more life

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thanks to my incredible, lionhearted 9th grade english teacher at LIC high school, my latest book WILDLIGHT is being read & responded to in her classroom.. unreal

hello out there my beauties,

i’m going to hit you with a bunch of wild & wonderful things…

** 2018 SEASON OF FREE PUBLIC PROGRAMS BEGINS AT SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK THIS WEEKEND

check it all out: http://socratessculpturepark.org/programs/all/

this weekend kicks off what every weekend will look like through mid-sept:

SATURDAY- yoga @ 9:30 & 11am
saturday sculpture workshop- art-making workshop with a different artist each week, drop-in anytime from 12-3pm
mini-market with vendors like hellgate farm & little wildbranch bakery 11am-4pm

SUNDAY- yoga @ 10am
tai chi @ 11am

and that’s in addition to a FULL SEASON of music, international film, art-making, festivals, cultural performances, dance & more, everything from our new festival QUEENS GREEN DAY on june 2 to the metropolitan opera and ballet folklorico mexicano’s guelaguetza festival.. please come out & see us!

** MY NEW BOOK ‘WILDLIGHT’

“three years of blood, sweat, fire, heart, and LIVING have gone into this book, plunging into the wildernesses of love, spirituality, addiction, sex, shamanism, mental health struggles, self-love, and rebirth.”

my latest book of poetry & prose, ‘WILDLIGHT’ has now been out for almost 2 months and i am forever grateful and incredulous that this thing exists in the world…

if you’d like a copy or to learn more: https://audreydimola.com/books/wildlight/

** SHARING THE JOURNEY ON PODCASTS!

i was recently featured on three amazing podcasts..

* NYC Geek Society’s NYC Geek Podcast #3 (Poetry & Discussion)

Audrey Dimola comes in to discuss her book “Wildlight: Poetry and Prose From Inside the Fire”. Jon reads an excerpt from the book, which is a catalyst to a discussion about the metaphysical / physical realms, heartbreak, travel, and philosophy.

* ME2RADIOZONE mental health podcast with alex tatis & keys will

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE #AWARENESSISEMPATHY here

May is Mental Health Awareness month and Alex and Keys had the dopest experience with mental health advocate Audrey Dimola! Audrey, a Queens native, is a powerhouse and a constant stand for the mental health community in addition to being a self published author. Shit gets real when Audrey takes it there with a powerful, authentic piece from her new book “Wildlight”. Follow us on IG and FB @Me2RadioZone to see what your mental health crusaders are up. Join the movement!

* IT’S IN QUEENS podcast with rob mackay & chris donovan

This week Rob and Chris welcome writer, poet, performer, singer and of course Director of Public Programs at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Audrey Dimola. They talk about the multitude of programs coming to Socrates Sculpture Park including movie nights, art installations, yoga, tai chi, farmers market and more. The crew touches on some events happening in Queens this week including a ragtime tribute concert at St.Michael’s in East Elmhurst, a ton of activities in Long Island City including the Wizard of Oz and painted canoes, two Queens Symphony Orchestra performances, the folks at King Manor kicking it old school and bringing it new school as well, a Flushing Town Hall global mash up and finish up with some more information on Audrey. She is a published author and her latest book of poetry and prose is called Wildlight. Available through her website and coming to an independent bookstore near you.

** IT’S MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH & SO EXCITED TO SHARE THESE UPCOMING EVENTS/OPPORTUNITIES…

* IN QUEENS: HEALTHY FAMILIES DAY OF WELLNESS

i recently connected with the wonderful nicole, outreach coordinator for department of health and mental hygiene’s THRIVE NYC program and she is helping to organize this- bringing families together for mental health education and resources in Western Queens!

* IN NYC: A CELEBRATION OF DANGEROUS GIFTS

i also recently connected with the incredible sascha who is one of the founders of the radical mental health group ICARUS NYC who is organizing with/through/as ‘the institute for the development of human arts’ an event called A CELEBRATION OF DANGEROUS GIFTS in june…

So many of the things labeled “mental disorders” have lessons to teach and power to give if we learn how to harness them. We have found this much easier to do in community.

The Institute for the Development of Human Arts (IDHA) invites you to a day of community, art, music, spoken word, global report backs from the culture shift front and celebration of madness and creativity.

We understand that it is time for a new paradigm in mental health: one that affirms self-determination and healing, that accounts for the complexity of personal, social, and collective traumas and oppression, that opens up our narrow definition of “normal” for the full range of human experience, and allows us to look beyond medicalized and disease-centered thinking to offer regenerative, holistic, and transformative practices.

this is a HUGELY important effort for all of us- re-contextualizing and re-engaging with the idea of mental illness in a revolutionary way (closer to awakenings and gifts than illnesses we need to be cured of)… did i mention y’all should watch the film ‘CRAZYWISE‘??

thank you all for being a part of my journey. it has been an even wilder one for the past few months but i feel a vital breath in my lungs howling-

MORE. LIFE.

all my love,

XO

a.

for all of us.

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After a sold-out debut at Queens Council on the Arts in February 2017, Audrey Dimola’s “HOW WE CREATE & HOW WE COPE: intersections of art & mental health/mental illness” arrives in its next generation at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s ROUGH DRAFT FESTIVAL 2018. #awarenessisempathy ///

Join us for another angle of ROUGH DRAFT- vibrantly pieced together from a group of artists and performers viscerally experiencing their personal realities of mental health. Hosted and curated by Queens native and poet/curator Audrey Dimola, “HOW WE CREATE & HOW WE COPE” is an open and honest evening of multidisciplinary performance and presentations about the too-often stigmatized topic of mental illness, particularly in connection to creativity as an outlet, outcome, or survival mechanism.

Throughout our cultural history, many of the legendary artists we know today, from painter Vincent Van Gogh to writer Virginia Woolf, grappled in this way- yet it becomes a passing line in their bio, a tragic footnote- and their brilliant work remains. In the present day, a rapidly increasing number of individuals of all ages are struggling in similar fashion, frequently in silence and shame, due to overwhelming fears regarding judgment, job security and social status, and access to help.

How much of how we suffer makes us who we are and results in the art we create? How much of these feelings are the natural experience of the artist, and when is it time to seek help? What do those forms of help look like?

A variety of local featured artists will present their stories, poetry, dance, and more, in addition to a sharing of resources and experiences on these topics. All are welcome- this is a safe space. ///

FEATURING:
Olena Marukhnyak
Deborah Emin
Bryan Bruner
Nick Neon
Steven T. Licardi
Richie Alexandro
Keys Will
Dina Gregory
Danny Matos
Bri Onishea
Jonathan Cherlin
Lynne DeSilva-Johnson
Lauren Hale Biniaris
Buttered Roll
Sam Combs
Rachel Brown
Audrey Dimola

SPECIAL GUEST:
Roll up early, as of 4:30pm Steve Vazquez of Queenscapes will be on hand taking portraits of ALL attendees and participants for a special version of his #CapturedInQueens series designed to help build awareness and attention to art & mental illness <3 !!!

Q&A WILL FOLLOW THE PERFORMANCE
5-8pm in the LITTLE THEATRE
FREE event, please bring a friend who feels or needs this ///

RSVP @ http://siteline.vendini.com/site/lpac.nyc/how-we-create-and-how-we-cope-intersections-of-arts–mental-health-mental-illness

Rough Draft Festival is a one of a kind series curated by LPAC’s Associate Director Handan Ozbilgin. As a window into the creative process, The Rough Draft Festival is a celebration of artists/organizations and their work under development. RD features a wide array of artists whose work is at various levels of development all striving towards a finished product. Each year we push the boundaries of theater presenting pieces that give a voice to meaningful works. #IAMARoughDraft

CHECK THE REST OF ROUGH DRAFT FESTIVAL’s performances & offerings MARCH 26 to APRIL 21 http://siteline.vendini.com/site/lpac.nyc/rough-draft

CHECK THE STORIES OF HOW WE CREATE & HOW WE COPE on Facebook & Instagram

WILDLIGHT LIVES.

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HOW TO BUY:

WILDLIGHT is available for purchase directly from the author via PayPal, for $18.00.

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Please note you do not need to have a PayPal account- simply choose “Pay with Debit or Credit Card” to check out as a Guest.

If you would like to use another payment method- feel free! You can send $18 via Venmo to audrey.dimola@gmail.com, or contact me for other options.

///

the fact that this book exists means that there is triumph of the holy wild spirit over heartache, darkness, ruin, illness and dis-ease, lack of self-worth, addiction, depression, sorrow, death.

i cannot describe how proud i am of this piece of my heart, blood, and bones.

3 years, 258 pages.

i proudly present my third book of poetry and prose, WILDLIGHT.

available for you. NOW.

///

WILDLIGHT: POETRY & PROSE FROM INSIDE THE FIRE

MARCH 20, 2018 – SPRING EQUINOX

[MORE INFO ABOUT THE BOOK]

three years of blood, sweat, fire, heart, and LIVING have gone into this collection, plunging into the wildernesses of love, spirituality, addiction, sex, shamanism, mental health struggles, self-love, and rebirth.

///

“to all those
who reclaim their
spirits from darkness-
who resolve to protect
the body as an altar,
and keep the fire safe-
know there is an energy of
resilience that unites us all.
we may have to fight everyday-
but we never fight alone.

this is a book about reclamation.

about staying close to the fire. trusting in your wildlight.

it is a book about struggles with honesty, with identity. about all-consuming loves- passion, destruction, regeneration. about leaving and returning. about lack of self-love and self-worth. about mental illness and addictions. about the indomitable power of the human spirit. about reasons to live. about what happens when you break away from the life you thought you wanted- to walk into the wild. to be taught in ways only the universe can truly teach you- with blood, with sweat. with grief, and wonder. with fire. with heart.

it is a book about trying and trying and trying again…”

crack the spine of this book and the author will know it. this is an alchemical document- rubbed with earth, singed with flame. found curled inside the inmost core of an animal, fanged and feathered. each word a bone picked from an endless desert, blessed with tears and triumph from the road. “WILDLIGHT” was written from 2015 to 2017 by a shamanic poet and journeywoman who is most often likened to wildfire or supernova- this third collection of poetry and prose an act of sacred invocation that will keep howling at you even when its pages are closed.

THE POET IS UNAFRAID TO BECOME FULL WILDERNESS.

///

NYC PERFORMANCE & RELEASE PARTY:

March 24, 2018 3-5pm at Q.E.D.: A Place to Show & Tell in Astoria [Facebook]

more upcoming SHOWS

///

READ SELECT PIECES FROM “WILDLIGHT”:
+ lazarus was a house on fire (WOMAN)
+ reliquary: the body
+ blue sky
+ peter (i want to be real)
+ studies in reaching
+ somewhere else
+ two wolves

THE JOURNEY ON INSTAGRAM: #wildlightbyajd

VIDEO FROM THE DAY I RELEASED THE BOOK:

XO with ecstatic love and FIREFIREFIRE,

a.