Want to make a difference in this crazy ass world? Stand your ground. Speak your truth. Shine a light of strength & hope for those who haven't found theirs yet.
Since my rant last week, I’ve been thinking… I was at my wits end, throwing my hands up in the air and waving them like…well…like I care. I have a ton of care in my heart, as I think many of us do. We are not ok with watching our country’s shit show from the side lines but maybe we’re not quite sure what we can do, what difference we can actually make, and exactly how to go about making it.
I’ve been working overtime this past week, getting ready for my art show in Bend (which is this Friday!), and also getting a June pop up shop opened on my website. It’s been a lot but I have some vacation time planned for the next few weeks and I wanted to get all the things done so relaxation can commence!
My pop up shop was a bit different this month. What started as a joke, ended up being a product that I actually created. A satirical product of sorts. It’s called the Love Club, and no, it’s not a group of loving folks that meet regularly for orgies. It’s an actually club. A little wooden bat made as a visual deterrent for women to carry when they find themselves in situations when they don’t feel safe, or are getting unwanted attention from men. So…it’s appropriate for 90% of a woman’s waking life.
It all started when a girlfriend of mine was lamenting on Facebook about how she feels threatened by toxic men when she walks her dog around the park that is next to her house. She has a Pitbull, y’all, and she still doesn’t feel safe. She was asking for advice from her Facebook community as to how to combat these men.
She got many suggestions such as, don’t make eye contact, steel yourself, carry pepper spray or a taser, and while the advice was well intended, she got a bit frustrated. She likes being friendly. She enjoys talking to people. She wants to smile and say hello. She named her Pitbull “Flower” for Pete’s sake.
I told her that when I lived in the French Quarter, I had a bright red aluminum bat that I slept with by my bed. If I had to walk to my car by myself late at night or early in the morning, I took the bat with me. “So, you just walk around wielding a bat?” she asked. I explained that I didn’t carry it like I was about to swing it at everyone I passed. It was more of a statement: “Hey. I have a bat. Maybe don’t fuck with me.”
About a week later, I went to visit a friend over at his wood shop gallery, and he had these little bats, about a foot long, made from solid maple. I told him that would be perfect for an idea I had and he gave me the bat, which I brought home, and covered in hearts and bright, pretty colors. On the top of it, I wrote “Back Off” within one of the hearts and named it the Love Club. “Bludgeon them with kindness,” I said followed by, “When Owning a Pitbull Isn’t Enough, THE LOVE CLUB”.
I received a text from her: “I love this so much. I want to use it SO bad.” Then she commissioned another one for a girlfriend of hers who is about to embark on a solo van journey this Summer. That got me thinking… I would have totally bought one of these when I lived in the French Quarter. I mean, if you’ve got to walk with a weapon, it might as well look good.
Apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks so. I have sold 12 of the 17 that I made for the pop up shop. One person bought four of them. Another snagged two. Another woman who bought one lives just around the corner from the last New Orleans home I lived in. 8TH Ward represent!
What does this have to do with our country’s shit show? Well, this is how I am protesting. I am an artist. I make things. I create from my heart and soul. What is stirring in my soul right now are thoughts of the hate that seems to be growing towards minorities and members of the LBGTQ community, the control that predominantly white men seem to think they should have over women, and the intolerance towards people who just want to give a better life to their children.
I’m not ok. It’s not ok. This is not the world I thought I lived in. And that’s a big part of my soul stirring…that I thought the world was a different place. Yes, I was naïve and living my life within my own bubble that is safe, warm, and clean. I’m rolling my own eyes at myself while I’m typing this. I was in Never Never Land. I think many of us were. Some still are.
I cannot ditch my life and hit the streets. Well not yet anyway. But I realized that what I have been doing, ever since the Kavanaugh hearings spun me into an emotionally charged break down, is protesting. I protested by outing myself as a promiscuous teen and discussing the complex grey area of consent within our culture. I have talked openly about how my troubled teen years created a decades long struggle with alcoholism, anxiety, and depression. I created a series of paintings that represents the healing of my heart, and another about the beauty that I try with all my might to see when everything around me seems to be heading into the dark.
And I created a love weapon; to be carried by women who are sick of being fucked with but also enjoy being friendly. I mean, many of us ladies have been told all our lives that because we are girls, we have to be “ladylike”. Well here you go. I offer you my ladylike accessory that could also give you a concussion.
Today, I ran across a quote from Anne Lamott that says, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save. They just stand there shining.” She’s absolutely right. So, when you’re trying to think about how you can make a difference, how you can aid in the shit show disaster relief, know that you can do so by simply standing your ground and shining a light on what is wrong and what is right.
Use the talents that you already have. If you have kids in your life, explain to them what is going on and how they can do better than we have. In daily life, when you hear sexist, racist, xenophobic or anti-gay comments and slurs (OMG they happen all the time…people don’t even realize what they’re saying) let them know what it means to you. Bring awareness to yourself and all those around you.
We’re in a little bit of trouble right now and I see people who think that because they can’t quit they’re job, and go protest in D.C., that they can’t do anything. I’m here to tell you that you can, and most likely, you already have been. You can be the reason that others stop to think about what they are saying. You can influence those who also feel they want to make a change but don’t think that they can.
Just like Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I am the change. You are the change. We are the lighthouses. Shine strong. The world needs our light.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.