Skin: The Bag You’re In!

March! Finally!

February is usually a hard month for me and this year was no exception. My body has been upset with me, and expressing it mainly in the form of eczema on my hands. I’m not sure if I’ve written about this here before, but a few things have happened that I’d like to document for my future self, right now in the time of shifting.

First of all, something (two things, actually) happened in my head: I accepted the fact that my eczema is actually just a symptom of a larger, ongoing problem with my gut – an imbalance of gut flora – and I finally decided that living in chronic pain was not a worth the convenience and yumminess of eating the junk food I love. As a person who identifies as a pizza witch, for a long time I resisted any solution that might involve shifting my patterns in a way that would change that. I love pizza, and every time I would read about gut-flora-changing-diets, right on the top of the list of foods to eliminate are gluten and dairy – the very foundation of pizza. But I just couldn’t handle the discomfort of itching, flaking, bleeding eczema anymore. So I decided to change my diet.

I don’t think the dietary changes will be a forever thing. I’ve already eliminated gluten, which has been super hard in a way I’m not sure is sustainable. But it’s only been about 2 weeks, and I know habits take longer than that to form so we’ll see. The most challenging part for me right now is learning that I need to plan my meals out further in advance/think about the timing of cooking and eating more than when I was on the glutenous train. Lots of convenient, cheap food in NYC – pizza, sandwiches, bagels – are, obviously, bread-based. Grabbing something to go isn’t really an option for me in the way that it was before I eliminated gluten. As a result, I’m struggling to eat enough calories to feel full/keep my blood sugar at a consistent level. I know I’ll get better at this with time, but I’m hungry now and it’s frustrating.

I also started seeing an acupuncturist this week! Acupuncture was appealing to me because I’ve seen a lot of doctors over the last few months and years who don’t actually tell me anything new, or address the underlying cause of my symptoms – they just tell me I have eczema (which I already knew) and prescribe me a steroid cream (which I don’t want to become reliant on to manage my symptoms). My acupuncturist and I talked about all my bodyfeels – not just about my eczema, but also my digestive struggles, anxiety, and history with nerve pain. He explained that my symptoms all are related to an imbalance of fire and water – an excess of fire, or deficiency of water, depending on how you want to frame it. It made immediate sense to me because in my natal chart (which shows which planets are in which signs at the time of my birth) contains lots of earth, air, and fire… but no water! I actually don’t have any planets in water signs, which is pretty crazy. I feel like this is probably another blog post so I’m just going to leave it at this and say astrology is a real, useful mirror and I <3 it.

Finally, I went to a witch shop in the East Village with Ash, Saylor, Zoe, and Jiana yesterday. It’s called Enchantments, and they specialize in candle magic. I’m a beginner when it comes to candle magic, but was excited to try something new because yesterday the sun was in Pisces and the moon was full in Virgo (my sign!), which is a very balanced combination of water/creative/emotional/chaos/mystical energy (Pisces) and practical/fertile/grounded/ordered/growing things energy (Virgo) – the perfect kind of day to introduce a new spiritual practice. After school, I went and saw the David Bowie exhibit that just opened at the Brooklyn Museum and was completely blown away (there’s definitely another blog post here!) – it felt like a very creative, spiritual experience and reminder from the universe that the self is something we choose and create every day, and that artists make prolific art. When I got home, I set up my alter and carved my candle and lit it and pulled a really powerful tarot spread that I’ve been thinking about all day. After that I did some drawing and writing – just for me, right now, but I see the seeds of something that I’m excited to share as it grows.

This blog post felt important because I want to acknowledge myself for three distinct but related ways I’m practicing self-love in response to my body’s crisis: changing the foods I choose to fuel my self with, seeking help from someone who sees the whole me, and trusting my mystical witch self to discover new, supportive, healing practices that work for her. February was a hard, hard month for me, but I can feel the tickles of spring in the air all around me, the promises of growth and new life and new cycles and and and…

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Mel Compo is an interdisciplinary artist, playworker, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city adventuring, and open conversation about language, bodies, gender, networks, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth. Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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