Meredith Hobbs spoke with Emily Wryn about surviving in harsh environments, getting in touch with her natural instincts, overcoming postpartum depression and finally finding her tribe.
There is this scrappy sense of survival that coyotes project to me. The ability to camouflage, make do, and evolve in your surroundings.
This is an insanely hard question for me. I feel like I would have to write a very long essay to do Women Who Run With the Wolves justice. The Wild Woman archetype has many shapes, but for me, what rings true is the sexuality, creativity and natural instinct that lives in all of us. The power of the feminine and its dark mysteries. The ability to tap into ancient knowledge that runs deep within our “bones.” I feel most in touch with this energy when I am creating; it all comes from the same source. I strive to always have the ability to draw upon this source, and utilize my intuition for not just a full artistic life, but overall.
In Women Who Run With the Wolves, knowledge is passed down through stories. The power of the storyteller and the deep subconscious meaning we glean from them. When I read this, I wasn’t gaining just knowledge, it felt like remembering. All I can say is that there is so much magic in this, and everyone should read the book, especially if you are a woman.
With which animal do you most strongly identify?
I’ve always been drawn to both wolves and coyotes ever since I was a child. One of the first poems I wrote was about the sad song of a coyote — so dramatic. When we had to pick a subject for a fifth grade research paper, I picked wolves. So the feeling for both has always been tied to me.
I think the wolf part comes down to the ancient instinctive and intuitive knowledge that wolves represent, the teacher within us. We shame, blame, and look down upon the wild nature of both women and wolves. There is a strong connection there.
As far as coyote medicine goes, it’s a little different, but I closely relate. Traditionally, it can be about falling into your own traps, self-sabotage with a sense of humor, and the unexpected knowledge you gain through your downfalls. There is also this scrappy sense of survival that coyotes project to me. The ability to camouflage, make do, and evolve in your surroundings. I consider myself someone who can look after my pack and survive in harsh environments.
“We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are a few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grow our hair long and use it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of the Wild Woman still lurks behind us during the day and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Tell me about a time when you fixed something that was broken, or came up with an ingenious way to solve a problem.
If anything, I am a clumsy, chaotic person who tramples around and breaks things on the reg. I’ve definitely had to improvise when equipment fails, or I forget to bring things I should to gigs. Like when I forgot to bring a mic stand and had to duct tape my mic onto a standing lamp. Let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson since then, and I’m a lot more careful when I pack my car.
I still fear that I won’t be able to do all that is expected of me or what I expect of myself as a mother. I have plenty of moments now where I cry, worry, feel overwhelmed, and question all of my decisions.
You and I have spoken a little about our struggles with postpartum depression. How would society do a better job of helping women transition into the role of mother?
I was very young when I had my daughter, and was in a different position than some who struggle with postpartum depression. I also didn’t have a dedicated partner to take half of the burden of just having a newborn. I have a history of mental illness, which I am sure didn’t help. Therapy probably would have been beneficial for me then, as it generally is. I do know there are lots of mothers who have children after trying for a long time, planning, and hoping for years, and mothers who have never previously dealt with depression that are still affected. I can really only speak from my experience, but keep in mind, my daughter is now almost 11, so I’m quite removed from that period in my life.
For me, I feel like if I had a stronger community that had talked openly and honestly about motherhood, it would have been helpful. I felt very alone. There is a sense of sainthood that we attribute to motherhood, when it’s really one of the most animalistic things that we do. On the almost opposite note, a lot of people also told me that “No one really knows what they are doing, and you’ll just figure it out.” As if breastfeeding, nurturing, complete lack of sleep, intense emotions, and hormonal change should all be things that you deal with that come “naturally.” Which brings a lot of shame when it is really fucking hard. There is also just the blanket shame covering all mental illness, which makes it hard to ask for help.
As I said before, I had dealt with depression in the past, but did not have the tools at the age of 18 to know when I was in a depressive/anxious state. I thought the nights awake with horrible intrusive thoughts about the worst things that could ever happen to my daughter were just a part of motherhood. I didn’t fully realize till I came out of it what exactly was happening those months before.
I still fear that I won’t be able to do all that is expected of me or what I expect of myself as a mother. I have plenty of moments now where I cry, worry, feel overwhelmed, and question all of my decisions. There is a difference, though, that I don’t think I can put into words. That postpartum time of my life is like a blur, and I was happy to get out of the sleepless/helpless fog.
Now, as a mother, I crave a community where we don’t have this huge separation between adults and children. That has been something very apparent to me, because I was so young when I had my kids. I had no peers to share the raising of my children with. They are just as much a part of this world as we are and it’s our job to integrate them into our daily lives, interests, teachings, and responsibilities, so that they become kickass members of society.
Do you consciously incorporate any small self-care rituals into your day?
I am someone who genuinely benefits from any form of ritual. There have been times in my life where that has been something spiritual and daily for me. At the moment, my main self-care is just making sure I get enough sleep. I am a mess otherwise. My astrologer once told me to do everything with a little blessing: when I take a shower, prepare food, sit to eat, go to bed, etc. That’s something I want to incorporate into my life. The little blessings of awareness and intention.
Which aspects of yourself do you see most clearly in your kids?
I would say stubbornness is definitely the first thing that comes to mind. To be honest, I really look at them as separate individuals and try not to attribute any of their personality traits to me. Obviously, there is the whole nature versus nurture thing, and if anyone met us, they would definitely see some sort of similarity. I just love getting to know them as they grow and discover who they are.
I finally feel like I am slowly finding my tribe and sense of belonging among those I meet through the shared experience of being a creative.
What does community among women artists look like for you?
It was very different when I was younger. Growing up in a small town, I was one of the only female performers, and didn’t have a lot of women who were peers in creative endeavours. I am happy to say that it looks like that is changing for the next generation. I still really crave that form of community, but over the last few years, I have found more and more amazing women who I respect and love that make beautiful art. I finally feel like I am slowly finding my tribe and sense of belonging among those I meet through the shared experience of being a creative, whether they live close or far.
You have played in bands, but currently play solo, and really seem to have complete command of your sound. What is your ideal level of collaboration?
Well, thank you for that. I have definitely found something that works for me at the moment, as far as sound goes. I still hope to evolve that and experiment. I don’t know if I have found something specific regarding my ideal level of collaboration. I consider myself first a songwriter, and prefer to have that be a full expression of myself. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to music, so I want what I put out into the world to be “mine” and representative of me. That being said, music relationships, like all relationships, are formed depending on the individuals and have different boundaries. I loved playing with a band. There is an amazing sense of chemistry and fulfillment when done correctly.
At the moment, I am working on releasing a single, and have met some amazing people who inspire me in different ways that I get to work with. Whether that’s Justin Flint, who has an exceptional ear and has been helping me produce this, or Sean Pratt who is working on a vision for my next music video, or Jenna Tico whose connection with body and movement will be expressed within. This thought includes the artists and photographers that have given their time and vision in direct connection with my music in the past as well. I guess, my perfect level of collaboration is working with people who have abilities that I lack and challenge me to grow as an artist.
What gear has made the greatest impact on your music?
I would say the greatest impact was when I bought my very first electric guitar and started playing out. It helped me find a blanket of sound to rest in and not worry about filling the space. I am not a super “tech-y” person, but there have been some handy tools to enhance that soundscape. My usual set up now is a Line 6 DL4, which gives me complete control over my delay and has some loop capabilities, as well as my Boss VE 20 for vocals, so I always have the reverb I want and get to play around with harmonies.
Can you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it about and how old were you?
I honestly can’t remember. I was writing poetry at a very young age, and was always inspired by it. I’m sure I wrote “songs” before I knew how to play any instrument. I did get my first guitar at age 12 or 13, and started writing immediately. I can only guess it was about similar things that I write about now: love, longing, loneliness, and my inner world. I’m sure they were awful.
What are you working on currently? What are your hopes for the future, personally or globally?
Right now I am working on completing an album. As I had said earlier, I’ve gotten to work with some amazing people along the way, primarily Justin Flint who is an all around bad-ass percussionist and curator of sound. I’m hoping to release a single from that sooner than later, along with a music video. From there, I plan on funding the completion through crowdfunding to be able to get it out there. I’ll have to call upon my inner Amanda Palmer and learn how to ask when the time comes. I’ve noticed that when I do put those intentions out in the world, the universe kindly responds with opportunities.
My hopes for the future: for me, musically, I just want to grow as an artist and be able to fully delve into the powerful magic of creating. My definition of success is always changing, but what it comes back to is making good art and connecting to people through it. Globally, I just want us all to be more empathetic and kind. I feel that would solve a lot of problems.
Curated by: Meredith Hobbs
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: June 4, 2018
Total questions: 11
Word count: 2082
Reading time: Eight minutes
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