I Was A Promiscuous Teen: An Open Letter to All the Men From My Past

From the time I was 13 on, I was a promiscuous teen. 

I’d like to say that at some point I learned from my mistakes, but after listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony during the Kavanaugh hearings, my past came barreling back into the forefront of my brain and it is clear to me that the behaviors I learned in my teens never really ended.  They went with me into my 20s, 30s, my marriage, how I parented my daughter.  It’s all right there in front of me now.  Like a glaring light that I just realized has been on and blinding me my whole life. 

 

Dear All the Men from My Past,

 

Before your instinct to defend yourself kicks in, it is important for you to know that I don’t blame all of you.  I have no desire to live in anger or point fingers.  That is not the purpose of this letter. 

 

Please read the above sentences twice…a few times maybe.  It’s 100% true.  However, do not confuse my desire to live at peace free from anger as my saying that you are negate of any responsibility…there are many of you who I do blame and hold responsible. 

 

Some of you took advantage of a young girl with a substance abuse problem.  Some of you were older and thought because I looked and acted older than I was, that it was ok to have sex with me.  At least that’s what you said to me:  “You’re so mature.”  Is that how you justified yourself?  Truth is I’m not too sure what would make an 18-year-old have sex with a 13-year-old, or a 19-year-old with a 14-year-old, or a 24-year-old with a 15-year-old.  Does it matter to you what the age differences are?

 

Or those of you who took advantage of me when I was completely inebriated.  Mornings when I woke up in an empty bed without pants on, not even really sure who had been in the bed with me.  Those of you who took me out and drank with me to excess and then thought it ok to have sex with me, leading up to moments of my coming to, alone in a room at a party, not really sure what had happened at all. 

 

Some of you I cared for and was desperate for you to care for me.  Some of you, with whom I shared a mutual sexual desire (or at least as much of one that a young teen can have and understand), I had fun with, only to realize that was all it would ever be.  And some of you actually cared about me. Whatever the case may be, past sexual traumas have been shoved in all of our faces these past few weeks, and many of us are reeling from things that we haven’t thought about in years or maybe just swept under the carpet and thought that it wasn’t a big deal, unaware of the daily emotional strife that has been caused from it.  I’ve heard situations described that I have experienced in my past, now talked about as violations…and it never occurred to me that they were…until now.

 

What I want you all to know is that it is a big deal.  It has had long lasting ramifications on my self-esteem, my decision making, and my sexual and mental health as an adult.  I may not blame all of you for the past, but if another generation of men are raised thinking that this type of sexual behavior is ok, that’s a problem, and one that I do put directly on you.  And if another generation of women are raised not knowing how to use their voices, that’s an issue as well and one that you also have a responsibility to rectify.

 

I was a very confused girl who wanted attention and love.  Rarely did I say no.  Rarely did I push you away.  If I started to say no, I was easily swayed once a bit of pressure was applied.  The fact is, I didn’t feel like I could say no.  That saying no meant never having love.  That it was better to just let you do what you wanted rather than say no.  That the way to get love was to be amenable.  The way to make you stay was to put out.  But none of you ever stayed.

 

The reason I don’t blame all of you is that we live in a society where I unknowingly was taught to please men and where men (perhaps at times unknowingly as well) have an expectation of women being agreeable to meeting all of their needs without argument.  Were my parents direct messengers of this?  No.  But it was all around me.  In magazine images, TV shows and movies.  The realization that one of my favorite John Hughes movies portrays date rape never occurred to me until someone wrote a blog post about it last week. 

 

We are being told about blatant attacks, horrendous sexual violations where women feel their lives are in danger, and this type of behavior is obviously abhorrent in a black and white sort of way.  However, there is also a huge gray area that needs to be discussed, where women may be confused and not communicating what they feel deeply because of social and sexual pressures.  I wanted you to like me.  I wanted you to love me.  I wanted you to be there and “no” just didn’t seem like an option to get to that outcome.  It is important for you to know that I was a terrified girl looking for approval.  Is that sexy for you?  To know that I was most likely full of doubt, self-loathing, and terror when we had sex? I sure hope not.  In your defense, I will say that I never let you know.  I never learned that it was ok to use my voice, and it’s something that as a 42-year-old woman I am now having to deal with. 

 

What you did has had a long-term effect on my life.  I have had to fight back from a debilitating alcohol problem that increased greatly during my teen years and didn’t stop until I was having suicidal thoughts in my mid-thirties.  I still live with daily anxiety battles and grapple with depression at times.  We are now learning that these are all issues that women who live with past sexual trauma are more likely to have.  And think about this: we are also more likely to pass these horrible behaviors down to our own children.

 

So, men, here is what I am asking from you:

 

Talk to your children.  Talk to them about sex. Awkward as it may be, it’s only awkward because we make it that way.  If they are old enough to ask the questions, they are old enough to get honest answers.  Tell them the ways you got it right and the ways you got it wrong. Admit to your mistakes so they know it’s ok to admit to their own. 

 

Tell your boys that if they see a girl drinking heavily throughout the night, it’s not ok to have sex with her, period, even if they’re drinking with her.  Tell them that if she’s under 18 and he is over 18, no matter how mature she is, it’s rape.  Teach them about what actual consent is and how consent can be sexy because it creates trust.

 

Teach your boys that cornering girls in parties and trying to forcibly kiss and/or touch them is wrong…yes, even if the girl has a reputation for being "easy".  Tell them that if a girl says no and then yes, or yes and then no, that there is conflict brewing inside her and that if there is conflict, sex is not an option. There must be clarity in consent before sex.  And please tell them that a proper response to a girl saying yes and then no is NEVER, “can I just finish?”

 

Teach them that it is not ok to expose themselves to anyone unsolicited, EVER.  I didn’t grow up with cell phones but in this case, I am also talking about sending unsolicited photos.  Teach them that while engaged in sexual activity, consent needs to be ask for again before trying new things.  Teach them about healthy sexual trust and that the real way to please a woman sexually from the beginning is by building that healthy foundation.

 

All of these things happened to me, most of them more than once.  I was a troubled girl and that led to me being a troubled woman for a very long time. I drank and didn’t say no, but that doesn’t mean that any of this was ok…and I am slowly learning that it doesn’t mean it was all my fault.  I was a child when I learned these behaviors and they carried into my adulthood.

 

I also want you to talk to your daughters. Tell them that no matter what, having sex, allowing touching, kissing, oral sex, whatever it may be, none of it will lead to love.  None of it will ever make boys stay. That love and trust leads to sex, not the other way around.  Tell them that having sex while inebriated can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and confusion, and to make it a rule for themselves that when they are drinking, sex is not an option. 

 

Tell your daughters that if they ever feel pressure to do something that they are not comfortable with, to use their voice because they hold more power than they may think.  Teach them that they should be as loud as they want when saying no.  That if they feel discomfort in a situation, even if they can’t pinpoint exactly where the discomfort is coming from, that it means something is not right, and therefore it is not the right time to engage in sexual activity.  It is ok for them to leave the situation.  It is ok for them to defend themselves.  That the fact that they “put themselves in that situation” does NOT make it all their fault. 

 

And make sure you are clear that whatever boy makes her feel pressured or uncomfortable is NOT a good person and will never make a good partner because in reality, he doesn't care about her, he only cares about finding sexual release.  And it is of the utmost importance that your daughters hear this from YOU, their fathers.  They can have these conversations with their mothers as well, but hearing it from the most important man in their life will make a huge impression.

 

In my case, having sex never made one of you stay, it just meant that you would tell your friends that I was an easy lay.  I would be so happy when one of you would call and ask to hang out, and I can still feel the desperate humiliation of that translating to being brought to a remote place to have sex in your car.  Time after time I allowed this to happen.  I was frozen in fear.  Is that what you find sexy?  A young girl too scared to move? 

 

The thought of my daughter having to go through what I am now going through makes me want to vomit.  It should upset us all, including you. I pray that you see the problem and talk to your kids.  I hope that you, the young man who took advantage of a much younger and troubled girl, look at your own daughters or nieces or cousins or step-daughters when they are 13, 14, and 15-years-old and think to yourself, “That’s how old she was when I fed her drinks and slept with her”.   Is that sexy now?

 

We all have to take responsibility for our own part.  I have been dismantling my past behaviors for the 5 years that alcohol has no longer been in my life.  But now, over the past couple of weeks, I have relived all of it including an intense deluge of the shame, guilt and humiliation which I have unknowingly been living with every single day since I lost my virginity, drunk at 13, to an 18-year-old. I feel this. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Have you felt any of that?  Have you thought back on your own behaviors and felt a crushing sense of pain?  I’d like to think that some of you have, but I have a feeling that you have not thought twice about it or me, and that has to change.

 

It is time for you to see what this behavior does to women.  It is time for a change to be made.  I have to find a way past the shame, guilt, and humiliation, which has now turned into anger, sadness and exhaustion.  It is time for you to pitch in and do your part.  So, will you?

 

 

Sincerely,

A Promiscuous Teen

Pictured above at 16-Years-Old

 

*UPDATE*

Thank you for your emails, DMs and comments.  You have all made me realize that I'm not alone and, sadly, that my story is not unique. In reaction to the incredible response that I have received from all of the world, I created a series of paintings called Reclaimed Hearts. These paintings are dedicated to you.  It's never too late to take your power back and love yourself.  Click here to see the series.

 

Thank you to Geoffrey Riley and the JPR team for interviewing me on this topic. You can listen to that interview by clicking here.   

 

Thank you to Paul Gilmartin for having me on his podcast, The Mental Illness Happy Hour.  An interview on the popular podcast with host, Paul Gilmartin, where I reads the open letter I wrote to the men who took advantage of me as a young teen, discussing gray area issues like consent, alcohol, objectification and trading sex for love, attention or to avoid abandonment. You can listen by downloading the podcast app or going to: https://mentalpod.com/archives/5168.   

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.   Join me on this crazy beautiful Artventure.  

Other articles:

That Year I Had a "Lump" in My Throat: How My Anxiety Manifests Physically

Anxiety presents itself in different ways depending on the person. For me, it can manifest both mentally and physically.

 

There is an evil connection between my mind and my body.  Ok, it’s probably not actually “evil”, but it sure feels like it sometimes. Here’s how it works: I have something going on that’s causing me stress.  I use my tools which are to keep a good work pace up, exercise, some meditation, get in the ocean and make art. 

Apparently, this isn’t what I should be doing.  What should I be doing?  I have no freakin’ idea, but my mind will let me know that my attempts to tamper the stress are futile. How does it communicate to me?  By sending pain signals all over my body.  

Chronic, undiagnosed knee pain started when I was about 13.

 

As I got older, I managed to get that to calm down, only to have my back, hips and shoulders flare up. If it got bad enough, even my wrists would hurt.  In my 30s I learned some mental exercises to get the pain signals sent to my joints to stop…and they did, for the most part…and then the migraines started.

There was never any diagnosis or reason for the pain.  No injury, autoimmune, or other illness.  It was pretty frustrating until I learned about the mind body connection.  Our minds are powerful things that always look for the path of least resistance.  Once those pain pathways are established, it’s challenging to get them to change.

I know this all sounds a little bit “woo woo”, but I genuinely believe this and I believe it because I no longer have the joint problems unless I’m under a huge load of stress. I also know it because I once had a lump in my throat for an entire year.

One morning, a little less than 3 years ago, I woke up with a mass in my throat.  I could feel it all the time.  It was ever present.  When I talked, swallowed, yawned, laid down to sleep, it was always there.  I could actually press on my throat and feel a little "pop" happen.  I went to see my doctor.

My primary care physician knows about my struggle with anxiety and depression.  I have been very open with her about how I choose to deal with it, and my desire to not take pharmaceuticals.  I stopped going to see doctors a long time ago whenever I felt pain (although we address it each year at my annual checkup), but this time was different. I had an actual lump in my throat, so I went to see her.

What she told me blew my mind.  There was absolutely nothing there.  No lump.  No mass.  No obstruction what so ever.  She told me that feeling as though there is a lump in your throat is one of the most common anxiety symptoms that people get. It’s not my body.  It’s my mind. 

A good friend of mine, who does lean towards the “woo woo” side of healing, told me that this feeling is in direct correlation with not speaking my truth.  I tried to roll my eyes at this, but I also knew that having quit drinking a few years prior, I was just now learning how to communicate my wants and needs, so it oddly made sense. 

 

I was giving up a good paying job with people who had treated me like family for nearly a decade, to jump off a cliff into my own business.  I spent my final 30 days there thinking I was getting a tumor. 

 

What else had happened just before the “lump” showed up?  I gave notice at my day job in order to become a full-time, professional artist.  I had never not had a regular job.  This was an unknown that I was barreling into head first.  I was terrified of failing and letting down myself and my loved ones. I was giving up a good paying job with people who had treated me like family for nearly a decade, to jump off a cliff into my own business.  I spent my final 30 days there thinking I was getting a tumor. 

I was fucking scared.  Fear, it seems, is a straight path to discomfort for me.  This also made a lot of sense to me as I had recently come to the realization that I had spent the majority of my life terrified of just about everything.  So, my mind sent a signal saying, “Hey!  She’s not dealing with her fear in a healthy way and I don’t know what to do with all of this anxious energy, so I’m going to put it in her throat.”    

After my visit to the doc, I increased my exercise regime, I got into the ocean more often, and I brought a regular meditation practice into my life.  I was going through one of my biggest transitions to date. If I failed, the only person to blame was myself.  By the end of my first year in business, the “lump” still in my throat, I actually thought about throwing in the towel. 

I questioned if I was strong enough for the stress of being an entrepreneur. I doubted my abilities as an artist.  I was completely overwhelmed in having to learn about marketing in this age of social media and how to stand out in a world that has infinite content to choose from. I had wanted to embrace myself fully, knowing that art was at the root of who I am.  For the first time, I was actually being myself.  So, why was I so scared?  Why all the self-doubt?  

There is a cycle that starts for me that is extremely hard to stop once it’s in motion.  I get scared.  I don’t talk about it. Fear manifests itself in pain and/or discomfort. I get freaked out about that.  I still don’t talk about it.  The pain and discomfort gets worse and now I’m completely beside myself thinking I could very well be dying.  The pain and discomfort goes into overdrive.  And on and on I go until I'm a puddle on the floor.

I decided that there was no way I could handle another year like that.  I had to make a decision. I was in front of my bathroom mirror and I looked at myself in the eyes and said, “This is bull shit. Either be an artist and run your business bravely and with confidence, or just quit already and go beg for your job back.”  Then I lost it.  The idea of quitting because I was scared was awful.  Was I really going to give up like that?

No.  I was not.  I wanted this.  Bad.  I looked back up at myself with resolve.  Eyes hardened, banishing the victim that had been standing there mere seconds before.  I decided that there was no room and no purpose for the fear.  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?  I make no money, have to rent out my house, and go adventure in my van.  That didn’t sound all that bad, actually.  While I did have to remind myself of this regularly, the “lump” was gone within the month.  No kidding.

Anxiety is a bitch.  Untreated anxiety, makes me physically hurt.  I don’t have the lump anymore but sometimes, when I’m particularly stressed, I feel it a little.  My joint pain is not the issue it used to be.  When I feel it creeping in, usually all I have to do is ask, “What’s actually bothering you, Marigny?” and it goes away.  Seriously.

Sometimes I think we simply need to check in with ourselves more often.  My mom and I talk most days and I ask her every time how she’s doing.  How often do we ask ourselves that? In a world where we are constantly looking for outward approval, maybe it would do good to check inward with ourselves every now and then. 

Moving forward, I’m going to attempt to build a new pathway in my brain.  Every time I ask someone how they’re doing, I will also ask myself because I think we could all use a little more STLC: Self-Tender-Loving-Care. 

 

The painting at top is from my Lovely Mess series and is titled, Incoming Tide, 8x10, Acrylic and Paper on Canvas.  $360 includes gold floater frame. 

 

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 

How Sitting in a Huge, Steamy Pile of Transition is a Little Bit Stressful.

We are in the middle of a huge, hot, steamy, stanky pile of transition, and it is scary AF.

 

There is no doubt that we are all up to our eye balls in stress and anxiety.  Adults are feeling it.  Kids are feeling it.  People (like me) who were once only wanting to see and spread “positive news” on Facebook are no longer able to ignore it. (And by the way, I felt it even when I was ignoring it….I don’t know why I thought denial was a sound strategy…) The bottom line is, shit is fucked up right now.  We are in a huge Pile Of Transition.  It’s a big, hot, steamy, stanky pile, and folks are getting stuck in it whether they like it or not.

When we get stuck in the P.O.T. we all react differently.  Some folks will sit in it and quietly let it happen while closing their eyes and hoping it will simply disappear (see “positive news spreader” as described above).  Others, are trying desperately to make sure that everyone else is also in the P.O.T., or are at the very least least aware of the P.O.T., and so they attempt to educate us all on the areas of the P.O.T. they are most passionate about. 

Many have fallen into a place of despair and can’t see anything but the P.O.T., while others are so pissed about the P.O.T. that they’re yelling, screaming, and stomping their feet, meanwhile the P.O.T. is splashing all over the damn place.  And then there are those, and I think this may be the largest group, who are terrified of this P.O.T.  They can’t see an end to this mess, are not sure where it’s heading or what they should be doing, and the unknowingness scares the crap out of them. 

We are an anxious people.  

 

People are scared, y’all.  I’m scared, I admit it.  Any sort of transition is hard.  I mean, the old saying about moving and funerals being the two hardest things a family can go through is totally true.  That being said, we are a people, 327 million strong, who are moving and mourning ALL AT ONCE.  We are fucked up right now.    

Women’s rights are being threatened.  Racial tensions are being called out.  The Earth is LITERALLY DYING. Climate change is wreaking havoc.  Politically speaking…honestly, I can’t even go there, but one of the worst fears I have has to do with our White House and global war. Not to mention the divide within our country that only seems to be getting bigger by the day.  I mean, in what universe did I ever think that white supremacy would be an issue in this day and age?

One of the biggest mind fucks for me has been the realization that I have been living blind.  Women haven’t just now begun being treated unequally.  Many if not all black Americans will tell you that race problems have been here this whole time.  People have been screaming about environmental issues for a long as I can remember.  Remember Save the Whales in the 80s?  That’s probably my first memory of seeing environmentalists at work.  That was almost 40 years ago!

So why now?  Has the age of the internet managed to disperse information so effectively that we are all now finally well educated about the health of our planet?  Has the ability to upload videos of white people calling the cops on black people, who are simply living their lives, finally shown us the reality of race relations?  Have we been so indoctrinated into a Hollywood culture that it took famous people calling out other famous people’s unforgivable assaults and sexual objectifications for us to take this shit seriously?

Or does it even matter why now? 

We’re here.  We’ve created this pile of transformation either through our own actions, indifference or denial.  Now we have to work as a people to get out of it.  Queue panic here because this is where it gets hard for me.  Are we past the point of being able to do that?  Can we work together at all? We are so divided.  

 

This is not comfortable.  I am not comfortable.  Change is not comfortable. 

 

But then there is hope.  I have a substantial amount of hope in my heart that all of this is leading us to a better way of living.  I know from my own personal transformation, that change is fucking hard, but possible, and so worth it in the end….until the next change, that is.  I am a woman who used to be completely ruled by fear, who is now having lengthy conversations with friends and strangers about how to get past it.  It’s a surprise to me too.

 

Acceptance, hope and patience is what we need to embrace in order to get us out of our P.O.T. 

 

We must accept where we are now, and accept how we got here.  We must keep hope alive that we can dig out of our pile and also accept that this is going to take some time.  Even if there is a shift in White House power, this is going to take a minute to resolve.  And I’m not sure resolution is what we’re looking for. 

Evolution may be a better word.  When I was a kid, and we were learning about evolution, I would look at that drawing of man, as we went from walking on all fours to standing upright with a spear in hand, and often wondered if man noticed evolution as it was happening.  Did man ever look around and say, “Hey Guys!  Anyone notice we don’t walk on all fours anymore?” or, “Hey Y’all! I don’t have so much body hair these days! You?”  

Granted, this current evolution may be a psychic change more than a physical one, but that is what we are experiencing.  We are in the middle, if not at the tipping point, of an evolution.  If you think about it, that’s pretty freakin’ cool.  Scary, yes, but cool never-the-less.

So, what in the hell are we supposed to do?  I wish I could say.  I think each of us has our own way of dealing with the current P.O.T. and so I will only speak for myself.  I have come to the realization that I cannot remove myself from the P.O.T. and that I am also not above it.  None of us are.  I must engage, but I also have the option to engage in a way that is healthy for me. 

I do know that the time for me to be quiet and polite is over.  I’m not saying that we all have to be out on the street, yelling and carrying signs (although that’s fantastic), but we can all be doing something each and every day to help make the world a better place.

For starts, we can be kinder to each other.  We can look each other in the eye.  Even strangers.  Even the one holding the sign that says, “Anything Helps”.  I can’t afford to give everyone money, but I can certainly make eye contact and say hello. 

We can start by treating people, ALL PEOPLE, like they matter.  It’s small, but it’s something, and hopefully something that will give people hope because, frankly, we’ve each been acting like the world revolves around our individual selves for far too long.  We are small, so let’s help each other crawl out of this P.O.T. and walk upright, with spear in hand, because if kindness is step 1, then step 2 is fighting for myself AND the person standing next to me regardless of sex, race, economics or politics.  We are one.  Let’s start acting like it.

 

The painting at top is from my Lovely Mess series and is titled, Night Rainbow (24x24, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, $1200). This is a nod to one of my favorite children's books by Cooper Edens called, If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow. Edens also suggests, "If there is no happy ending, make one out of cookie dough."  Making our own happy ending seems like good advice, these days.  

  

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

Be a Lighthouse: How I Protest Every Day

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do We Transition Along with this Crazy Ass World?

What do we do in a world where logical reason and human decency don't seem to be the norm anymore?  

Was it ever the norm to begin with, or have we just been living in denial?

 

On Monday, we returned from the beach.  Rolling up to the house after a weekend of surfing is always a bittersweet moment. I’m happy to be home, but usually the Zen bliss I receive from surfing wears off pretty quickly after getting back to the valley.  Especially when I’m running down the street fussing at a very pissy young man for not cleaning up after his dogs, who habitually crap right in the middle of the sidewalk in front of my house.   Welcome home. 

My tolerance level has bottomed out.  It might be that I’m at my busiest time at work, it’s the end of the school year, and I have a show next week.  Whatever the case may be, I’m already feeling frazzled and I haven’t even gotten to the show yet.  I’m doomed!  It’s all terrible!  How ever will I pull through? 

Yeah yeah yeah.  Blah blah blah.  Bitch bitch bitch.  I know myself well enough to realize that I’m in a negative mind set and it’s going to take some work to get out.  Combine all of the small things with what is going on in our political environment right now and it’s a surprise that we’re not all bat shit crazy. 

I’m finding myself in a place of extreme frustration and agitation.  I feel that my rights as a woman are threatened, the world is literally dying, that life is hard and that’s just the way it is.  It made me feel worse after I tried to cheer up my daughter by telling her that life being hard is not abnormal.  That life’s a bitch and it’s how you handle it that matters.  Well that is definitely NOT what she wanted to hear.  I might as well have killed her puppy.

I told her that she has to take the beauty as it come and accept the chaos along the way. I told her that it won’t get easier, she is not unique in the struggle and that she has to choose how she handles it.  Yeah…she didn’t like any of that. 

But here’s the deal: We have to accept what life throws at us and simply deal with the onslaught.  We have to face the fact that the world is in a moment of transition, we are not in control, that we as a people have weaknesses and it is not ok to sweep those weaknesses under the carpet just because we don’t want to look at them. 

We can pretend to have it all together.  We can pretend to be strong.  We can pretend to be macho.  It’s all bullshit.  I mean, how many people do you know who really, honestly, have it all together?  I’m going to go ahead and say I know two people in my life who have mastered Zen and the Art of Living.  That would be my Father and my Husband.  (Yes, I’m aware that I married my Father.)

The rest of us?  We’re hot mess sundaes with moments of clarity sprinkled on top.  Half the time, I have no idea what the hell is happening.  The other half, I seem to have an ok grip.  But life sure makes it hard to remain in a state of sanity. Why?  Life!  That’s why!

Here is a taste of what I’m talking about: 

  • Friend #1 just wants to take her dog for a damn walk.  She has a big ole Pitbull, but that doesn’t stop the skeezy men who hang out in the park across from her house from ogling and making unwelcome comments.  She doesn’t feel safe walking her fucking Pitbull.

    • Friend #2 needed a roommate, found one, allowed him to move in and he immediately went fucking crazy, refuses to pay rent, or leave, and makes her feel so threatened that she is now living at a neighbor’s house as she awaits a court date.

      • Friend #3 had to go to court to figure out a co-parenting schedule with the Dad, who has not paid a penny in child support, but still felt the need to drag her to court.

        • Not to mention the five different long-term couples we are friends with who have all had total relationship breakdowns within the past year.  Couples dropping like flies around here! 

          • Oh…and the small thing that’s happening to women’s rights presently…I mean how are we all not 100% cray cray at this point?  

           

          Need further evidence?  Here’s a sampling of the first three posts on my Facebook timeline right now:

          • From simple anger: “Growling. Vague book style. Growl with me please. Life is not fair & mean people suck. That is all. Grrrrrrrrr.”

            • To trying to make light: “What the hell is going on?? If my mind wasn’t so blown I’d be able to think of the punch line but there are so many jokes I can barely separate them all.” 

              • To resigning oneself to a global realization: “Worldwide embarrassment.”


              What the hell IS going on?  Is the wisdom I’m trying to give to my daughter doing more damage than good?  Is it just me, or does the shit storm just keep getting more extreme?  I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my cool.  Maybe I shouldn’t.  Perhaps the time has come to ditch all of my pre-conceived notions of how “normal life” works.  To be honest, normalcy got thrown out the window when I realized how naïve I’ve been my whole life in thinking that men and women are equals. (The fact that we don’t receive equal pay blew my mind. Insert eye roll here.) 

              So, what do we do?  Ditch our lives, head to D.C. and protest?  Drag out crazy roommates by the hair?  Shame dead beat dads on social media?  I’ve always been one to take the peaceful route, but frankly, I’m feeling pretty done being polite.  You can ask the guy who I chased down the street demanding that he clean up his dog crap.  He looked at me like I was the asshole. 

              I’m done being quiet.  IT’S NOT OK.  None of it.  I’m not sure what to do but protest in my own way, which today means breaking my own rule of using only one bad word per blog post.  I can talk about meditation and exercise, getting outside and practicing acceptance.  That doesn’t seem to be scratching my itch lately.  Everything feels broken.

              I apologize for being such a downer today but that’s where I’m at.  I don’t know what the answer is.  I think I’ll go do some Yoga.  Om fucking Shanti.

               

               

              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.

              How Going with the Flow Tames the Chaos

              Choosing to follow the flow may not make the chaos disappear, but it certainly turns the volume down.

               

              I have been living in a state of “WTF” for a while now, not really knowing what to do next and picking random tasks from my to do list that seem like they should be prioritized.  There has not been much of a cohesive plan for 2019.  Well…that’s not true.  If you recall, the official plan was to have no plan and to just do what feels right and makes me happy.

              Yesterday, something extraordinary happened: it all started to come together.  It’s as if four projects and all of the related tasks regarding those projects have been swirling above my head for five months.  They were flying around so fast, it was hard to even see them clearly. It made me completely uncomfortable and feel as though the strategy of not being a slave to my calendar was perhaps ill conceived. 

              However, yesterday, as I was finishing framing nine paintings for my June 7th show, I looked at the collection and realized that indeed, I have a cohesive series to present.  Not only is it done, but I LOVE it.  The Lovely Mess series is complete (minus one last painting I’m working on now), and each painting is dreamy, emotional and optimistic all at the same time.  I am extremely proud of this series and for me it is the marker of an important milestone: the moment my writing and my painting crossed paths and became one expression in two formats. 

              Creatively, that is a huge accomplishment.  Until now, the writing and the painting have been separate entities.  Painting was an expression of my subconscious, and writing was the organization of my chaotic hamster wheel brain, in an effort to figure out what’s behind the madness.  Now, those two things are actually one.  My subconscious no longer feels like some mysterious no mans’ land that I’m just now discovering, and my brain feels more tapped into the subconscious and able to draw out what is actually happening under all the noise.  That’s amazing. 

              Emotionally, an additional shift has occurred.  I have written before about how expectations used to drive me crazy and ultimately drove a good friend away.  I used to say that I was fine, “as long as I knew what to expect next”. Nothing made me more uncomfortable than to be in a state of unknowing…except maybe the uncontrollable-ness of other people changing plans that affected me.  That shit used to drive me absolutely crazy.  

              However, two things have happened that have fundamentally changed the way I think.  This first is surfing.  One thing I learned is that being a control freak and being a surfer do not mix.  I am constantly at the mercy of the surf report.  Waves, tides and weather…three things that I have absolutely no control over.  Over the past couple of years, I have changed from one who would get seriously irritated if someone cancelled or changed plans on me, to being that completely annoying surfer who is regularly making last minute changes in plans due to the surf report.

              I’ve also become a person who giggles when people want a straight answer out of me regarding future plans.  My favorite giggle inducing question is, “so when are you going surfing next?”  Dude, I have no idea. Whenever NOAA tells me it’s time.  Thankfully, my close friends are understanding if I move our breakfast dates.  They don’t hold it against me and man, does that make me feel like a fool for my past pissed off-ness.

              The second thing that impacted my need for knowing what comes next was to throw it all up to the Universe this year, and simply do what hundreds of eye-roll inducing motivational posters tell us to do: Follow My Bliss.  This was not comfortable for me, but when I surrendered, I mean FOR REALS surrendered to that which makes me happy, pretty amazing things started to happen. 

              I got into two new galleries. I was featured on HGTV and interviewed on a nationally recognized podcast.  I received great press in Bend regarding my show.  My creative expression deepened and I took my first cross steps on my surf board.  BAM.

              What made me choose to shift gears?  It’s pretty simple, the other way wasn’t making me feel good.  I felt a lot of pressure from my calendar and marketing plan and I realized that all of those deadlines were causing me to burn out.  I think that’s why this year felt like such a difficult motivation.  I was tired.  

              Did I accomplish a lot with my calendar as acting CEO?  Yes, I did.  Was it an important thing to do my first two years in business?  Yes, I think so. It helped me build my CV quickly which has enabled me to leverage myself in broader ways.  Was it making me happy?  In short term bursts, yes.  But in the long term, I was feeling boxed in, anxious, and exhausted. 

              I’m not necessarily saying that I should ditch all my time management tools, but the time had definitely come for me to chill the fuck out.  One thing is for sure.  The change isn’t effecting my business all that much.  In fact, in a way, I think I’m getting further in my reach.   I mean HGTV!!!!!   

              Actually, I have swung in the opposite direction to the point that I now look around and see a society of sick people who are working themselves to death.  I could write a whole essay on this topic.  It’s like if we’re not constantly working, we’re failures.  I believe in hard work.  I’ve always been a “worker”.  But I feel that in our culture, there are two lines of thought: you either work tremendously hard and be a success, or choose not to and be a lazy failure. 

              What about those who want to enjoy life NOW?  What about not working our assess off for decades, at jobs that are not spiritually or emotionally fulfilling, while putting all of our money in investment accounts for retirement at 65.  I mean, what if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow? Seems like a pretty big gamble. 

              I’m choosing now.  I’m choosing happy.  I’m choosing the path of least resistance.  And want to know a secret?  We can all make this choice.  It may seem scary and it may not look how we think we want it to look, but then that’s the point, isn’t it?  To see things as they are and not how we imagine them to be in Future Land. Can you imagine what would happen if every person on the planet stopped worrying about the future and the expectations surrounding it?  OMG.  That may be the liberation that world needs.

               

               

              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.

              How Getting Lost in Gratitude Shows Me the Way

              Gratitude is the best road map.

              It is lunch time and I’m finally sitting down to write my weekly blog post. Usually, I at least get started on my essay first thing Thursday mornings, before I take off for Yoga or a walk/hike.  If I’m not finished before I go, I’m pretty close, and when I get back from exercise, it’s editing and emailing time.  But here I am on this Thursday early afternoon, late to the party, and I have a very simple reason why…I got lost. 

              For those of you who know me well, you know that I am directionally challenged.  Seriously.  I have the world’s worst sense of direction.  If I’m ever navigator in your car and I tell you to turn right, you can do us both a favor by taking a left.  I get turned around even given clear and simple directives, and for the love of Pete, don’t tell me to go “three blocks North” …I have no idea what you’re talking about. (When Siri tells me this, I just turn whichever way is easiest and wait for redirection.) 

              I was hiking on the trails this morning, lost in my own thoughts and before I knew it, I had no idea where I was.  The trails that I hike on are pretty easy to figure out and most loop back to each other so no big deal, right? Worst scenario I could think of is that I would end up popping out on the North side of town and have to grab the bus back. 

              Then my internal dialog kicked in: Why didn’t I pay better attention? Why did I pick a trail that I didn’t know well? Why didn’t I just go to Yoga?  I have too much work to do right now!  I’m wasting time!  Before I knew it, my brain was in full blown negative self-talk mode, and I started getting frustrated and beating myself up. 

              I got lost in that crap for a minute and started feeling quite anxious, but then, I found my palms were together at my heart, and I started my morning gratitude prayer. 

               

              Thank you for my life, health, family and friends.  For art, music, the ocean and mountains.  Thank you for all the amazing experiences I get to have.  I offer myself to you. Please give me guidance, strength and clarity to stay on the path you’ve laid out before me.  Please give me the willingness to see your path and stay open to wherever it takes me.  Please continue to help me walk through anxiety and fear and replace it with trust and confidence.  Please continue to help all those who suffer and help them to see their own path.  Thank you for these gifts.  Thank you for your love. Amen.

               

              For many, prayer is awkward.  I know that because it used to be awkward for me.  I had to let go of who, exactly, I was praying to.  I was never sure, but eventually I came to realize that it doesn’t really matter.  It is the act of expressing gratitude and asking for guidance. It is the reminder of things that are bigger than myself and that there is a pretty significant amount of suffering in the world today. I am blessed.  My life is good.  Whether I’m late to work or not. 

              Can you guess what happened next?  Yup…I took a turn and immediately recognized where I was.  I could have turned left and gotten back to the house quickly, but instead I went right, because that led to my favorite part of my hike.  The part where I get to jump creek crossings and feel like a kid. The joyful part.

              My hour-long hike turned into a two-hour lesson of patience, gratitude, and letting go.  It’s been a little while since my last full-fledged chaos induced meltdown, so I think I’m getting better at this. Maybe, I have to occasionally get lost to broaden my view.

              Whatever the case may be, I’m incredibly grateful that I’m seeing a shift in my habits. I reached for one of my “tools” (in this case prayer) to calm me before I got myself all in a tizzy.  (Usually, I have to reach tizzy before I remember to even look for a tool.) 

              I’m not going to get too excited.  In my experience, moments of clarity come either right after or right before a total freak out.  However, it behooves me to remember what I said to a friend who recently had a slip in her Zen.  “It’s ok,” I said, “We’re not perfect.  It’s a practice.” I’m grateful for the practice, the work, the seeking and the finding.  It’s all part of a process called growth.  After all, it is Spring and I am a wild flower.

               

               

              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.