Home

Home. Is where the heart is. Is what you make it. Is where you come from. Is wherever I’m with you. Is not a place, it’s a feeling.

I’ve been chasing home ever since I left. I leaped and I’ve finally landed. The curious thing about landing is that the jump is sometimes so long you forget how to stand. I started out strong, determined to make it to the other side, only halfway through I was caught in a wind, the leap turned into a twisting and twirling dive and I wasn’t prepared to land. As I now find my balance, I can see how it all happened, giving me a chance to rebuild and start again with this new knowledge.

I love the holidays and each year no matter my circumstances, I’ve put on my elf socks, sequined santa hat and left cheer in my footprints. This year is no different and I picked out the perfect tree, an awkward tree/bush I’ve named Larry. My roommates and partner have helped me decorate, hang my paintings and I have my own closet. I’m home and I didn’t know it. This family has enveloped me back into MarsVista life, even while the transition was sometimes painful.

The neighborhood has shifted, people have moved, jobs have changed, new apartments are filled, bars have closed, new restaurants have opened and events have changed the course of all our lives. Our world is shifting and with it comes opportunity to grow stronger and deepen our understanding of what existence is. I landed so hard I fell into a hole. Climbing back out, I realize that I have people holding their hands out to help me stand up.

Hibernation is a beautiful thing, it allows us to renew, warming our hearts and souls on the hearth of home. Home. Home is love, a place, a feeling, an essence of comfort and natural habitat.

I’m settling back into home. Soon enough I’ll come back out of hibernation.

Gratitude in the Eye of the Storm

Gratitude in the Eye of the Storm

Because yesterday was Tuesday and I didn’t write anything last week, I thought I would sit down this morning to write an update on my life and musings. The only problem is what to write? Gratitude is the theme of this month and it’s been a stretch for me. When it comes down to it, I am grateful; I have to remind myself more often recently.

I’ve been working at Floyds in Venice for the last three weeks. I quit my job the first week of January this year when I had received a loan to start a home salon. I set up my apartment with a chair, shampoo station and started booking clients from home. It was amazing, the first week I made double what I had received at the salon, but my clients were paying the same and the atmosphere was an experience.

Being back at Floyds is like riding a bike, the movements have come easy, the transition is fluid. I repeat to myself without belief that this isn’t moving backwards. I ask myself what I did wrong though it isn’t that simple. It’s getting to the end of the year and I’m starting to remember my thoughts this time last year. I was full of hope, strength, determination and an idea I could not fail. The world was my oyster and I was ready to fly. I flew across the world and landed in a brown dusty land where the sky was covered in clouds. I met humans who had nothing, enriched my life beyond measure and returned to my gold encrusted land of palm trees feeling guilty for all I had tastefully and carefully curated in building my life. I was filled with a new gust of inspiration and the last year melted as I sorted and sold, donated and bundled up to give away the memories, the familiar, the material possessions I perceived to make me.

I sold Betty, my hero car the silver bullet in order to drive Myrtle the turtle who carried faithfully my heart as a mission to the country. What has this made way for? I mean, people say that good byes make way for hellos. That when one door closes, another one opens. I’m in limbo still. My thoughts are silent as my body continues to move. I’m not sure what I’m striving toward anymore even as I’m content to be here; I’ve been here before and it’s a wonderful life. The chips will fall as they may. The future is imminent.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for Los Angeles. I’m grateful for the amazing adventures I received this year, the friends I’ve gained and the knowledge I’ve retained. I’m grateful for cycles and the chance to keep going even when I stumble. I’m grateful for color and artists who wish to create positive change in our world. I’m grateful to have multiple places I can call home. I’m grateful for music and ability to move my body to a beat and to know others who dance too. I’m grateful to reflections in intimate relationship and the cause and effect of flinging one thought off another. I’m grateful for love and the lens of light, to my rose colored fractal lens, my stubborn optimism that won’t let me quit even now when moonwalking is in style. I’m grateful for the hidden gems and gardens nestled between cracks in the concrete jungle. I’m grateful for the ones who created me, body and mind, and the ones who melded my soul.

I’m in the eye of the storm and that is where I rest my contentment. It’s the process of getting my swimming legs back. Adventures will come, homes will grow and new friends are getting ready to meet. I’m sitting here throwing beauty into the world, allowing others to see themselves through my rose colored lens, as they sit and enjoy a pampering hairstyle or massage shampoo for an extra $5; well worth it they say.

I’m still moving, you can’t stop PinkRiches.

 

Freedom

Freedom

Freedom has been on my mind lately. Just before my van broke down in August, I was driving north on I-5 and I had a most brilliant thought about how free I was; I could go and do anything, just me and the open road. The feeling inside was an electrifying vibration that helped me and Myrtle float for a few more hours. I guess I wasn’t as free as I believed.

While I was still figuring out what to do, a friend gestured toward my Ganesh tattoo and commented, “You sure do have a lot of obstacles in your way considering the remover of obstacles is on your arm.” I laughed so I wouldn’t cry at the remarkably accurate words; I have had so many obstacles come into my path. I have also come to see patterns, realizing that I have created some of these hurdles for myself.

Living day to day, spontaneously and not having plans or a strategy has yielded some amazing adventures and unexpected beauty, though it’s also given me hard and sometimes terrifying moments. I’m unbelievably stubborn and struggle to do things on my own; an example of me holding tightly onto what I can perceive as truth and knowledge. I’m also really hard on myself, as I continually claim to not be a perfectionist; when it comes to my inner monologue, I’m brutal. I’ve set rules and guidelines for myself as I’ve ventured through the maze of life, carrying distrust and betrayals hidden beneath my skin.

I’m feeling a bit jaded these days, and my stubborn optimism is fading into a sarcastic indifference as I assess my surroundings. I’m struggling to remain grateful and to keep smiling and being kind to those I meet, everyone else is going through their own issues too.

Forgiveness and Love are what will cure me, when I choose to accept them.

So what does it mean to be free? From where I sit in the corner of the jail I created for myself, freedom comes from within, just as love does. Freedom is allowing what is to be and letting the rest fade away. It’s hard to attain, I only had a taste and maybe it wasn’t even real. Now my question has changed to ask why am I sabotaging my own freedom? Like the more I desire to be free, the less free I have become.

This weekend, I shook loose my shackles. I started a job at Floyds Barbershop, a job I had started just over 2 years ago. I allowed myself to enjoy cutting hair. I allowed myself to talk to my clients and ask about their lives. I allowed myself to laugh and smile and be friendly with my new and old coworkers. This allowance, this opening is where I have found my freedom, my joy. I don’t need to succeed at a goal right when I think of it. The process is what makes the outcome. I may have felt like I’m stepping backwards, but as a friend reminded me, I’m stepping back in order to make a giant leap.

In the last week, I’ve decided to make a couple of changes regarding my blog. From now on, I will only release one a week, on Tuesdays. They will be less like my day to day moments I captured in the last few months, instead they will circle around issues I’ve been contemplating and experiencing. I hope in this context it will help to inspire open hearts and a continuation of love within my community.

 

 

What is Love anyway?

Love. It’s something we all search for, dream of and yearn to have, but have you ever stopped to wonder what it is? Webster’s dictionary has so many definitions like; affection, deep emotion, passion, devotion, to kiss, to embrace, to have intercourse, a bond, a reverence. The english word “Love” came from the Old English word “Luf” which means “dear”. The greeks have 8 separate words for types of Love, and this is where my interest has resided. Eight types of love, which correspond to how we feel this emotion, no where in any texts I have read or in talking with anyone is love required to be reciprocated. We can feel love for another human, objects, places and a higher power, though the love we feel isn’t reliant upon it being returned.

A concept that I think many have lost in our current state. This is a realization that has changed my life, realizing that my love is not dependent upon another. I am free to love anyone and anything without fear that it can be taken away. My love resides within me. That may be where the confusion is; we think that to love is to be “in love”, that we can only love someone who loves us back, we force our love on others in order to prove this love. Isn’t that what makes relationships special though, when two people love each other in the same way and decide to continue loving and exploring the ways their love can co-mingle.

Each type of love corresponds to how we feel it, Eros is an erotic love, passionate, physical and typically lasting only in the moment, just like our physical bodies, eros is temporary. Philia is an affectionate love, referred to as brotherly love, it’s how Philadelphia got it’s name, this is how we love our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors, a practice with the mind. Storge is one I recently brought up, it’s love that resides within memories, it’s triggered by a cause, it can extend to objects, places or people, typically family or friends that we have memories with or of. Ludus is playful, typically referring to young love, it’s a way to learn love and how we practice until we find what we really love, it’s emotional, it’s a game, it’s fun, it’s a stepping stone. Mania is obsessive or instinctual; it’s how we love the sun and food and water, but it’s dark too, forcing us to think we love someone so much that we cannot live without them. Pragma is an enduring love that we aren’t always aware of, it survives through time, difficult situations and holds strong and steady. Philantia looks similar to Philia, though it refers to self love; it’s felt within our soul. Lastly is Agape, selfless love that resides in our spirit, an unconditional love that is typically referred to as the kind of love a parent gives their child, or in religious texts the kind God gives to us.

Since delving into this topic of love, I’ve broken down most of my past relationships to discover that what I thought was love, maybe wasn’t the kind I really wanted, or maybe I was forcing my love on another or vice versa. This is why I strongly support explaining our feelings of love with each other, StrawberryPropaganda love letters can describe any of these loves, a combination or your own version if you’ve discovered that within yourself. Love cannot be taken away, love cannot be forced upon you because it comes from within, it’s an emotion that we project onto the world, not the other way around.

I’ve been reading a book I picked up from my Grandfather’s desk entitled “Human Destiny”. Inside it explains that there is no such thing as a universal truth. This struck me, I got angry and put the book down for a time because I have been in search of universal truths. After awhile, I picked it back up and read further. The point was that each of us has our own experiences which feed into our own truths, thereby making it impossible for everyone to come to the same conclusion based upon our differing histories.

I can only speak for my own experiences and from what I’ve discovered, love enriches my life whether or not it is reciprocated. I don’t force my love on anyone or anything, though and that’s where this emotion gets sticky, right? What if we don’t love someone else the way they love us? Maybe it’s excruciating and we think we are broken as a result, that we are incapable of finding love. But is that love? What kind is it? Maybe we’ve gotten confused as to mixing our terms between what is love, what is relationship and what is connection.

I am in a relationship with those who love me, respect me and who I’ve reciprocated those feeling with. I am connected to anyone who chooses to respond to my light as a being. I love you, I love my family, I love my friends, I love my home wherever it is, and I love myself, my body and yes, I love love in all of it’s forms. Next time you tell someone you love them, think about what that word means to you, maybe even explore how and why you do.

 

Stuck

Stuck

I haven’t written much lately, I’ve had less than enough energy to get me through the day, sleeping more than I typically do and allowing my big salty tears to wash down my face whenever I’m alone. I feel like a failure. Just over two months ago I was sitting on top of the world, living my dreams, feeling like I could take on any challenge and ready for whatever was next. Here I am now, feeling stuck and not sure what to do next. My trip to LA was less than satisfying; I left with a dark cloud formed over my head that I’ve started to welcome as a new normal. I walk around only half listening to my surroundings, shivering from the brisk cold that has settled in the MiniApple and monotonously stomping through the dead leaves gathered on the sidewalks. Gloom and self doubt have taken over, while the “winter is coming” practical Minnesota attitude eats away at my once stubborn sunshine.

Today being Sunday, I went over to my grandma’s house in the afternoon to eat dinner and paint some rocks with my Aunt Deb who plans to sell these rocks at a crafts fair. We broke out markers, paint and a couple tubs of rocks, splaying them out to decorate and plan which rocks get what. I painted flowers and a sun with the words “Happiness is..” and hearts, stars and words like “grace”, “truth”, “hope”, and “love”. While we decorated, we talked about the goings-on within the family. As I half listened to the news, my mind kept reverting to the new normal of self pity until my aunt said something about her unhappy childhood. I immediately asked her what made it so unhappy to which she replied, “Having to camp.”

I looked down at the rock where I was writing “grace”. It all hit me. Perspectives. My aunt hated camping apparently, but I loved camping when I was little and attribute it to some of my favorite experiences growing up. The biggest inspiration from moving toward a life of freedom and peace comes from a yoga sutra I learned when I was training to teach yoga. Pratipaksha Bhavanam means whenever a negative thought comes into the head, think instead of something positive. It isn’t about never having a negative thought or never thinking that life is hard or really sucks sometimes, rather it’s about not holding onto the negative feelings that can overwhelm us to the point of getting stuck. And I’ve gotten stuck.

I pondered over that word grace, though. I’ve been called graceful, as in the way I move and my interactions with people. I remembered my conversation with Lucky at the Sacramento Bus Terminal. He told me I have a good head on my shoulders and warned me that whatever I do, don’t get stuck. I think grace is allowing my head to stay high because come to think of it, I’m not a failure. I did what most people only dream about; I jumped and decided to live. Maybe I could have made different choices along the way, I could have saved more money or bought a different van, or even just found a new roommate. I’ve thought of every way I could have done things better. This isn’t graceful; this is painful, and as easy as it is for me to remain curled up licking my wounds, I’m not done yet.

I took my aunt home and on my drive back toward the suburbs and my parent’s house, I repeated out loud all that I am grateful for. It was a big slice of humble pie that I didn’t want to admit I needed. I didn’t want to come back to Minnesota, I definitely didn’t want to rely on my family and I didn’t want to leave the life and community I’ve worked so hard to attain. On the other hand, I’ve learned so many lessons in the last few months. This is life and I can focus on how much I’m not where I want to be, or I can choose to find joy in the brilliant red leaf that landed on my shoulder, or that I can give my sister a hug at the end of the night and eat some of my grandma’s freshly baked apple crisp. I’m realizing that grace is allowing life to unfold and accepting everything even when it cannot be changed. Truth is perspective, meaning each human has their own truth, tinged with their emotions and experiences. My aunt Deb claims she had an unhappy childhood due to camping while I feel my childhood was enhanced by our outdoor excursions. Neither of us is wrong, though it’s in the perspective, how we view life, what we focus on, how we choose to remember now.

In Minnesota, I’ve noticed a curious trend where complaints are vocalized and compliments are implied (or left out all together). It’s hard to combat, though that’s exactly what I need to do. Tomorrow I’m moving into another family member’s house, committing myself to a routine and I’m looking for moments of happiness where I can allow myself to be content. That’s the hardest part, figuring out how to be content even when we aren’t where we want to be. Our thoughts, perspectives and actions are all choices and yeah, it’s fucking hard. The only way to keep going is to feel it, add these experiences to my character book, digest and hopefully share a bit of love with anyone else who might need a smile.

Tonight, I vow to stop fighting and allow grace to take over. It may not be my ideal transition, but the MiniApple holds so many wonderful things, I might as well find them while I’m here; adventure doesn’t wait for a blue sky.

 

After the Sun-Rose

This trip to Los Angeles definitely was not what I expected, but as the song says, it was just what I needed.

I left the MiniApple early in the morning, it was dark as if the sky was contemplating letting the sun rise. I arrived on the plane to a woman in my seat who made a fuss, so I took the middle seat until we were in the air. I ventured further back on the plane and found a row to myself over the wing. I stretched my legs and imagined huge murals across the world, brightly colored hands and feet, imagery to stop and smell the roses. I imagined painting these walls, alongside others who saw the wall and now are smiling with anticipation as we share stories. Stories. Conversation makes the world smaller; conversations are like stories.

This week, all my ideas fell through. I felt overwhelming sadness at seeing all that I’ve worked for float away. I opted to not go to Joshua Tree, feeling instead I needed to surround myself in love, a kind of self love that only one place has ever offered. I made a deal with a friend and we drove out to the Mojave Desert on October 5th. Our dark and dusty arrival coincided with my cousin just off the highway and we excitedly hugged and drove onto the sandy unmarked roads.

Each Moontribe has held significance within my timeline, for the last 3 years I’ve stolen away each chance I can to dance with my family under the stars as we honor the power of a full moon. This one was called the grandmother moon, a special significance with my anniversary. I let go with such bold intent and the realizations I grasped threw me into the sky. I have no foundation, I float among the trees having only my thoughts and morals to vouch for my honor. I am fiercely free in a way that many have never experienced, though I’m tied to that freedom out of a fear everyone encounters: where next?

As the sky burst with each color of the rainbow, clouds gently rolled over the mountains and I sat with my back to the grove of trees. When one can go in any direction, what’s the motivation to place the next step. I have wanted to paint murals across the world since I was laying in my magenta bedroom in Plymouth, Minnesota. I dreamt of showing that split second, when the world stops for a breath and everything is peaceful. I may have dragged myself away from that dream for the last decade, though the lessons and tragic beauty I witnessed speaks for the PinkRiches of the future. I was looking at sunrise, remembering the strength that passed while the delicate moon now set. Cycles of time align with the phases of the Moon and Sun, I understand how difficult forgiveness is and that we can’t be in two places at one time. It’s the only thing I have left, right? Memories from interactions and humans who may or may not remember the same story. We all have stories, memories contained within stories contained within our physical selves.

Love has remained a constant source of inspiration, as I explore etymology and meaning, one type begs to be mentioned. Storge is greek for a kind of love that rests within memories, as in I love this seashell because that time at the beach when it was found. As a sucker for love, I collected everything; rocks, shells, leaves, even dirty tissues. Getting rid of my material possessions was less painful as I gave my memories away with them. Even so, I still have memories and sometimes I attach myself to the memory of sleeping in Myrtle for the last night in Gilroy, wishing I could have another, or sometimes I attach myself to painting my big strawberry lady in the living room of my apartment in MarsVista, my roommate was sleeping in the next room and I was mourning the love I had just lost. I have other memories though, some are stronger than attachment and I hid behind them like they defined me. Just like the clouds which rested above the mountains and soaked up the first pink rays of warm sun light, I am free to look toward the sun and I am free to watch the moon set. I think I’ll point toward the peak of the biggest mountain surrounded by the light of a new sun.

I believe in finding the beauty that surrounds us in order to bring us closer to truth and peaceful happiness. Until then, I’ll point out some flowers to smell along the way.

Love.PinkRiches

 

I am not a Feminist

With so many debates happening in our world, deciding who matters more and comparing who deserves the spotlight, I would like to share my own perspective. I’ve never liked labels much, the hesitation in even muttering the word boyfriend has issued arguments and misunderstanding from past lovers, I haven’t been shy with declaring my independence and refusal to commit to even a phone conversation if I’m unaware of my schedule in the next day. In process of standing up for myself, I’ve called out inconsistencies and double standards I used to ignore. I have found it hard to place myself within the platforms, eventually joining the feminist movement. I felt like it fit, I am a woman and I believe I have equal rights as men. I still had a hard time in conversations, in proclaiming proudly I am woman, therefore I am equal.

Last week, I sat down with myself, got really honest and decided, I am not a feminist. I can’t proclaim above the rooftops that that is something I believe. Hold on though, before you get disgusted and click away, let me explain.

I grew up as a white girl in the suburbs, curiously watching as the sea of pale skin, usually more tan than my own gathered in the empty space between city and farmland. My parents wanted to introduce us to diversity and we went to cultural events, attending museums, talks and fairs to open our eyes to the world beyond our backyard. I noticed in high school when all the black kids stood in the 2nd floor stairwell and when my friend was denied service for having a Puerto Rican ID. I noticed when my return to the United States I was waved through customs without a glance and the man in front of me who was brown was hurriedly shuttled off to extra screening. In college in New York, my friends were a rainbow and I was called casper, snow white and cracker. I kept listening, I kept my curiosity high as I was welcomed at the same time a friend was turned away. I haven’t done anything different, I notice when a man spends less time and effort and receives more praise and honors, while I get whispers telling me that I’m talented when people are too scared to say it loudly or in earshot, when they apologize I wasn’t the one who got paid more when I’ve comparably spent more time and effort in my accomplishments.

When I take all of that away, what is the truth? In a list describing myself, woman doesn’t come into the top five. It’s rather irrelevant unless you are my lover in some capacity. I’ve identified 2 things that I know for a fact every living soul who can read this right now can agree with. I am Love and I am Human. Two words that I can stand up and proclaim. I guess those are my labels. I don’t have a yard to show my support to Gay Rights, Black lives matter, science is real, immigration and woman’s rights. And what about every other human that doesn’t have a sign, or a community? I view the entire world as my community, filled with humans I’ve never met or known, each of them has felt persecution for some belief, I’m sure. How can I join this conversation; the one where we can talk about empowering our children, about seeing the beauty bursting through the cracks of civilization, including every single being of our species. I am not saying these labels are wrong; it’s so wonderful to see people picking them up, flexing passion and awareness in order to create a harmonious change.

I choose all the forms of love, a currency that’s pink, opposite of the lush green we take for wealth, a material we strive to stack up, filling rooms we never use, shielding us from our natural sources. What is Pink Money? How can we live using the richest currency that is known around the globe? How can we become so wealthy that we own the world? The secret is giving it away. I have everything I need, with a simple twirl of my body I see the compassion in hugs embracing my soul, I feel words of encouragement nudging me upright, I hear the collective heartbeat keeping rhythm on the breeze. I don’t highlight anything I cannot readily give away, I’ve found ownership enslaves and stunts growth. I don’t need recognition as a woman. It doesn’t matter what gender I was born to be, it doesn’t matter the color of my hair or what size my clothes are. These are all obstacles we created, we stand in our own way, sometimes confusing our shadows, not realizing the sun is to our back.

I have two choices: to love, or to fear. In each moment, can I feel light on my feet, fingertips tingling with possibilities and strength, ready to explode in warm radiance among my fellow humans. Or do I feel small, wanting to bury my face in a mound of blankets, holding my breath, caught in a web crawling lightly over my skin. I’d rather take the first.

So what do I do when I feel fear, the burden that clings like a parasite, a mosquito net draped over lifeless possessions, ghosts during renovation. I feel it. I force myself to do the opposite. I breathe as deeply as I can, throwing my shoulder’s back, spreading my ribs, stretching and collecting the spiders, the junk drawer and residual grey matter. I hold it as long as I can and then evenly blow it away. Again I take another and another, each gets easier and my chest loosens with fresh air. This is what love feels like, lighter than a feather I cannot be contained except in the ball where you all have joined me, as Humans, as Love.

From this point onward, I no longer stand for female empowerment, I stand for Power. I stand for PinkMoney, it’s the love that makes the world go round, and I am lucky you are here, fellow human.

A MarsVistian in the MinneApple

Ask and you shall receive, eh? I have been sleeping, eating, dancing and painting in my grandma’s basement for a little longer than a week. I needed to get out of the house, the neighborhood. I needed to be around a little diversity, something new and fresh. I needed to go out.

My grandma took a trip with my aunts up north leaving her car keys in my possession and $20 for food with a sweet note. I grabbed them all and drove over to my sister’s house for the day. She and her husband bought an old house in a neighborhood close to downtown Minneapolis a year ago. They work in politics and Mark works for Tom Hoch who is running as the Mayor of Minneapolis.  Saturday they hosted a meet and greet for the neighborhood. I picked my sister up a little after 9am and we stopped by the co-op for last minute supplies, donuts and coffee.

At the house, I helped set up and watched the unfolding.. Tom spoke with a number of business owners, family men and a variety of constituents and answered questions. Afterward the staffers sat around shop talking while Mark finished roasting his Pork Butt and Lauren prepared the rest of the feast. It was refreshing to compare stories, vibrantly passing jokes and eating delicious food. Many of the staffers are from around the country, many just moved for the campaign and plan to move on, reveling in a greater picture that is happening around the globe.

At one point, I stepped out for a magical spliff that had appeared and as I sat there pondering, I realized music was coming from the house across the way. I slowly meandered to the corner, then across the street where it became apparent the music was further away, so I walked another block where a road closed sign was accompanied by children playing, lights twinkling around a porch and a band perched strumming and crooning. I rushed back to my sister’s house and gushed about what I had witnessed. They laughed and explained that it is Porchfest, a few blocks closed with staggering stages, each decorated and lit up with styles of music unique to their yard. A food truck or setup was nearby with neighbors providing chairs, dancing and conversation. A breakdancing group had taken over an intersection with the word DANCE graffiti-ed to a board.

Here I was, Minnesota native, MarsVistian standing in the heart of the MinneApple and I was witness to the beat. A woman lit up in multi lights on a porch with yard signs declaring BLACK LIVES MATTER and ALL ARE WELCOME mixed her own beats as she spoke words from her heart. I was struck in place and couldn’t resist getting closer, not wanting to miss a syllable. She asked for others to come up, to protest with her. I froze in place and my own words echoed within my head. Soon enough another song began to play and the brilliance in the words caused me to join my voice, cheering and protesting hate, encouraging love. Her set came to a close and after running up to thrust a few strawberry propaganda stickers, I ventured on to the last set, a huge crowd had gathered and dancing filled the street. I stood to the side bobbing my head until a neighbor danced over to press my shoulder and wind up my back. An older gentleman spoke, he said, “Is that the start button?” I laughed and a girl next to me nodded as I began to dance, joining their circle. It was exactly what I needed and I stretched my heart out, glad of the room to groove.

Afterward I walked back over to my sister’s where the staffers were still hanging out, another had joined and a couple had left. I couldn’t sit still after what I had experienced and so I ventured inside to wash dishes and continued with my movement. Even after everyone else went to bed, I stayed up and sketched a mural idea and basked in fresh inspirations that the pride of my hometown is a hub of creative evolution, bursting with love.

The next morning I woke and grabbed a cup of coffee and left-over sprinkled donut, heading out to the suburbs to attend my dad’s church. It’s always a bit jarring to walk through the doors, out of all the churches my dad has preached, I’ve spent the least amount of time there. Its the church where I graduated high school and got married, though I never lived in it the same way as when I was a child. My father told a story, drawing an example of unconditional love through a story about a car. It brushed quite close to home as I’ve been grieving my own car issues and the struggle I had in repairing that adventure. As the service came to a close, I wrote my own StrawberryPropaganda love note to my dad, thanking him for words of wisdom and strength of character which I hope I can echo in my own life.

Late afternoon, I arrived back in my grandparents basement. It’s a bit eerie being in someone else’s home when they are not around and my grandfather’s presence hung in the air. I ventured over to his desk where I surveyed the memorial. His pastoral record sat along with papers, his Bible sat on top of the Book of Mormons, an irony I couldn’t help laugh about. True to character, he summarized the Bible down to 70 verses which he memorized. I read through each one in order, I guess to understand the teacher, the one from whom has stemmed my own book, where the creation started. As pages flew by, one word was underlined over and over, one only one pointed out in pencil, where the rest was highlighted. That word was Love. And he conjugated it in greek as well, one word in greek that pinpoints the type of love, which actually refers to beauty. The kind of beauty that is recognized in each living individual on an equal plane. We are all the same, which is how we recognize the beauty that is within us all.

MinneApple, I love you. It’s good to be home.

Perspectives

Perspectives

I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I want to share with the world, how I want to be seen and who I want to be as an artist. At the most basic level, I just want to share in love with the world. When I think about how I want to do this, it comes down to using art, to exploring and highlighting the positive ways the world has been shaped and in turn how it has shaped us. I have always lived in urban environments, growing up thinking I could never live outside of a city. I wouldn’t have anything to do, I would get so bored.

To some extent, that may still be true, though I’ve become accustomed to my thoughts and accepted them readily, following them down rabbit holes and through windstorms and over waterfalls, never knowing where they might end. I don’t need outside entertainment to prevent my mind from standing still these days and I’m constantly bringing in more and more information even when my mind seems to already be buzzing. I’m impatient, not wanted to get stuck or uninspired, pushing myself to always be better than I think I can be.

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve read snippets and stories from years past, you’ve read of my internal sorrows and possibly of some of the treatment I’ve endured from friends and lovers. I’ve shared my anger and sometimes couldn’t contain myself and I call out a human or two in the process. I have anger issues. We all do. There is so much that is unfair and unequal in the world and we all want to blame someone or something. Pointing a finger outside of ourselves can feel good in the moment, though it doesn’t solve the root cause. I admit there are times I blame others for my misfortunes, there have been many events in my life that have felt out of control, where I didn’t have a choice. I am angry at many people who I’ve felt have forced me into acting certain ways. Ultimately though, my life is only mine. I am the only one who has my thoughts and which thoughts I choose to share externally is also up to me.

Almost 2 years ago, I was punched in the face. Of course you might gasp at this and yes, it was terrible. It sent me into the lowest I have ever been, in a place where I was blamed by being friends with a person who would do that (as if I had seen it coming), and I lost almost everyone in my life due to vices or what I used to cope. However, that punch in the face might have been what I needed. It was the first time I didn’t roll over and take it. As I stood clinging to the door frame and his fists stopped moving, I for the first time glared right back into his eyes and dared him to touch me again. I refused to back down and even after I had escaped onto the street and he came after me, declaring his love and grabbing my arm, my other hand found the knife I was gifted and I pulled that knife to his throat, believing for the first time that I could and would kill another human.

After that night, I was scolded, I was told I made bad choices and I was told that I had led myself to the very point of destruction. Maybe that’s true, all I can say for sure is that I wouldn’t take any of it back. I do not blame the fact that I am a woman, I do not say that it would have been different had I known this or that. I am proud that I responded the way I did and as friends and family dropped away from me, something else emerged; the confidence that I can stand up for myself, that my desire for survival is strong.

Up until Thanksgiving last year, my ex-husband would call me every few months to tell me how much he still loved me, a tie neither of us could let go. I always wish him the best and at that time I still had some kind of hope that maybe he could change, so I would excitedly tell him about what I was accomplishing, hoping for some kind of approval. One of these times, I had just finished painting an obese woman biting into a strawberry while also surrounded by a swirl of strawberries. I sent him a picture, holding my breath for what I thought would be an expression of joy. Instead, I was met with a long silence and he sharply stated, “I hate it”. I shouldn’t have been surprised, this was the man who had torn my artwork off the walls, as I worked on it, in a rage that I was cluttering our apartment. I asked him to explain, thanking him for his honesty. He continued to describe how I had tried too hard, rendering the woman expressionless, coming to the conclusion that it looked like propaganda.

And this is where everything clicked. Positivity can be born out of negativity, just as a match can light up a dark room. We all have choices we constantly make, which words we use, how we decide to treat others, which side of our face we show to the world. Through the negative impacts I have had, I have turned around and shown the beauty. I love the print of my broken nose with my top hat because it isn’t about the violence that I endured, it’s about the strength I proved within myself. In order to rid myself of anger, I must first accept that it exists, even as I choose to show the world my smile.

There is so much heartbreak and pain in this world, there are so many atrocities that are out of our control and while it’s easy to blame another, that doesn’t solve the issue. Look first within and see what good can come from these places of darkness, where can we shed a light and turn it into something that could help another or even the world. I take other people’s faces, asking them if they have a favorite picture first. The collection that is growing are comprised of snapshots; of individual beauty, love, strength and each one tells a story about how each of us is human with our own struggles. We each choose what we share with the world, I’m choosing love.

Circles of Life and Death

I have been in Minnesota for 5 days. I’ve taken over my grandmother’s basement, sleeping in the blue room, painting and dancing in the yellow room and running up the stairs and into the backyard each time my phone rings. I’m playing a waiting game, waiting on my projects to start, waiting on time to keep moving. I have only my internal clock and drive to prevent me from being frozen.

Living with my grandma has been easy. We move around each other naturally, meeting for some meals and questions when we have them. It’s a quieter life than I’m accustomed to, though it hasn’t done much for my relaxation, my mind has been in hyperdrive and sleep doesn’t come easy.

We’re both lonely and grieving losses, though her’s is 64 (and 3/4 to be exact) years of my Grandpa, who died about 3 months ago. Mine is more abstract, grieving a loss of a lifestyle, material possessions and missing the physical presence of good friends. We’re good for each other, she gives me insight into my family history, answering questions and reminiscing of her good old days, most of which is about my grandfather.

I’m taking advantage of the history and knowledge within my reach, scouring grandpa’s books and discovering his notes, which are lining the margins of almost every book. As my grandma says, he wouldn’t go anywhere without a book and a pencil. It’s the best kind of cliffnotes; I only have to read his notes and skim the rest in order to grasp the ideas and wealth that is hiding between the covers, giving me insight into his life and into our humanity.

I’ve never before had so much time to focus on my thoughts and my mind has taken advantage, thirsty for the next thread, the next realization. I know without a doubt this is the best thing for me and my art, though my social life has been snipped, giving me a longing, an echo of past hugs, laughter and smiles of those I love so dearly. It’s the physical moments I miss, my family isn’t big on contact and though I force my hugs upon them, I feel the stiffness in embraces and the uncomfortable side eyes when I talk about emotions.

As I think about it, this will be my life moving forward, as I continue on my journey in painting the world pink. A side I wasn’t aware of; as I travel solo I will miss all the wonderful people I’ve met just as I continue to meet more. It’s the cycle of death and life, something is always ending just as something is always starting. I am blessed to have people I miss, my grandma is blessed to have loved my grandpa. It is the longing and the heartbreak after the fact that proves the love we have for one another.

This is why StrawberryPropaganda is so important, to keep the path of love open, sharing love with each person whether they have an abundance or if it’s scarce. It’s what ties us together, something we all need to fill us up, to feel supported and to give as much as we take. Everything that has life will also have death, and it’s the death that makes each moment precious.

Who do you love, and would you trust them with your death? We can all take care of our own lives, though after we are gone, what happens to the love that remains? How do we reconcile the longing and the emptiness that was once filled with another? My grandma fills hers with flowers in my grandpa’s garden, I fill mine with drawing faces of beloved people, sending the love and positive thoughts to them as I draw their personalities and stunning reminders of the love we’ve shared.