Who We Are, With Purpose


You ever think about your life's purpose? I do all the time. Beyond knowing that I'm here to love and care for my kids and wholeheartedly believing I'm the one and only person my soul mate needs in life (that's mine and I'm sticking to it you naysayers of love), I find myself curious about why I was given any artistic impulses. Why have I spent a good portion of my life cultivating them? And what the hell am I supposed to be giving to the world with them?

There are also some other things I've spent time studying in my life including mythology, religion and spirituality, anthropology, human relationships and sexuality, psychology, feminism, philosophy, and lots of things that fall under all of those very human umbrellas. So what do I get when I combine all these things with all the art stuff?

While there are still a few seeds of doubt getting a little sunshine in me, I'm starting to think I might have figured something out. Maybe I'm here to use my art to talk about all the things people don't usually want to talk about. Maybe I'm a breaking down of emotional walls type thing. Maybe I'm a smasher of conventions.

It took me a really long time to realize I sort of make people uncomfortable and a little longer to realize it wasn't actually me causing the discomfort. When I'm being myself, I seek to connect with others by talking about things beyond a superficial level. I dig too deep and speak what I know to be truth then ask people to speak theirs. In the last few years, It's getting more and more obvious to me that people hate that shit. Which is cool and maybe I've been going about it in the wrong way. Maybe I was too aggressive about it or pushy or whatever. Then again, maybe it has something to do with getting older or hanging out with a different crowd through my thirties. All of the above? I don't really know.

Anyway, I've let the discomfort of others make me quiet and shy. I'm too afraid to speak my mind outright anymore. I still say what I mean, I just don't say it as often. And sometimes, especially with the stuff I put on the internet, I completely censor myself. I guess I'm trying to be perfect or something. Or at least some other person's idea of perfect. And it makes me angry.

I don't want to be perfect because perfect isn't a thing. It's stifling and suffocating and all that stuff in between. So how do I start saying I don't care anymore? How do I decide that I'm going to say what I want to say and to hell with everyone else (within reason and with love)? Perhaps that's what I'm doing right now.

If you feel stifled and suffocated by conventions and other people's ideas of perfection, let's agree (so long as we're not actively trying to hurt anyone) that our mantra from now on is "not my circus, not my monkeys". It's an old one but it works. Your family is offended by your opinions? Not your circus. Your friend gets defensive when you do something she doesn't agree with? She feels judged, that's all. You've made her question something about herself. That's her doubt, not yours. It was already there before you said anything. Not your monkeys. 

My mother, bless her from here to forever, was never big on getting too deep. I gather I've always made her a little uncomfortable with my gushing heart as well. Mostly because that's a trait I inherited from her father. But she never tried to make me anyone else and she was always a bastion of honesty in my life. 

Maybe she wasn't into pouring over feelings all the time because that was a luxury she didn't have time for while she was a teenage mother working multiple jobs to support me. But she never fed me bull shit either and she always encouraged my individuality. I know she thinks she could've been a better mom but she was and always will be the perfect mom for me. She helped me become someone who likes themselves, someone with a unique vision, and someone who loves wholeheartedly. 

I won't and can't apologize for embodying the best parts of my upbringing. I am my pseudo-dad's subversive sense of humor, my uncle's stoic yet fierce protectiveness, my mother's undying optimism and determination, my grandmother's stubborn sense of faith in herself, and my grandfather's big bear-hugging heart. I am all of them and none of them at the same time - a being made of many parts that is a whole, beautiful, and flawed individual.

How does where you come from shape who you are? What strengths can you harness from those who came before you to then shape who you want to be and what you want out of life? No more hiding. Your voice matters and it's time to use it to make your corner of the world a better, more loving, and creative place.

not the leggings type


Let me impart a not so dirty secret. I'm not the leggings type. Even when I do yoga, I'm more of the rumpled pair of sweatpants in the bottom of my closet type. Something about leggings just always felt a bit gross to me. Maybe it's because they're a style that came up around the Jersey Shore phenomenon. Or maybe because I'm just not with it and hip.

When I was a kid we wore baggy jeans and flannels. Yes, I'm giving away my age here but I'm not ashamed of being a grunge era gen-xer. Maybe I should cringe a little about all the cigarettes and angst but the music more than makes up for that part. I mean, seriously. Eddie Vedder is cooler than ever these days. There's some weird grunge Renaissance happening that is the epitome of awesome. I wonder what Kurt would think of that though.

Anyway... yeah the leggings thing is kinda weird for me. So when I first tested my new line of M&B Artist Leggings I was a little outside my comfort zone. But once I slipped them on, I was totally sold. And I'm not just saying that because they have my art on them.

I was drawn to the idea because of the pure creative freedom of being able to design my own fabric patterns. It was thrilling to imagine wearing my own artwork and really taking personal expression to another level. And I wanted comfy clothes that encouraged what I'm calling a "make art all day style". If I'm painting some giant abstract on my deck and get a splash of crimson on my pants, I'm not going to be too miffed if I'm simply adding to an already abstractly painted surface. And I hate having to worry about getting acrylic out of my jeans. Mostly because it's just not possible.

And I'm completely in love with these abstract patterns, by the way. My daughter thinks they're loud and crazy though. Is it bad that I like them even more because she thinks that? To me, they're less about showing off the booty and more about having fun and empowering creativity. I think they're about a sense of self expression that's ownable by everyone instead of about the commodification of oneself to get approval. They're punk rock in a way; a big middle finger that says I don't care about fitting in and frankly don't want to.

I chose an ethical, fair-wage, sweat-shop free, environmentally friendly manufacturer that creates clothes that fit lots of body types. So they cost more (but not really if you already buy leggings from Love Pink) but they'll last and I can sleep at night knowing no one was harmed or exploited to keep me clothed (which can't be said for Victoria's Secret).

I think you'll dig them too, even if you're not making art all day. They're also perfect for getting your exercise on, cooking a meal in, or just lounging about doing you. Add a flowy top and a pair a sandals and they can take you on a funky date night. Pair them with a warm sweater and some high boots and it's time for a walk on a sunny autumn day.  Versatile, comfortable, expressive, ethical... yeah I think I'm finally becoming the leggings type.

Check them out here and with the coupon code you can even save ten big ones.

to art is human



So why do I write this thing? Simple. For me. Maybe that's a little egotistical but let's get real. I'm an artist. Actually, I think we're all artists in our own way. I don't care if you're a cashier or a dental hygienist or whatever. And what does that really mean when we get down to it? What do artists do? They make stuff or write stuff or go about their lives in their own creative ways. And all of that is inspired from some place within the artist. Some sensory experience enters the artist and the artist translates it into their language - into something that means something to them personally. Other people dig it or they don't. Doesn't actually matter.

We can delude ourselves into imagining our work/life is about something outside of ourselves but it's not. And what's wrong with that? Is it selfish to be open to the world, let it enter you, and then give something of yourself back? (Omg, I love that. Sudden epiphany! Another reason I write this thing.) Is it narcissistic to tell your story and figure yourself out along the way?

All an artist a person can do is live life and create from their own little place in space. So it's always about us; our opinions, our raging screams into the void, our hearts and souls searching for love, meaning, and all that stuff the world tries to sell us as bullshit wrapped in cellophane. Thing is... none of it's bullshit. Or maybe all of it's bullshit. Again, doesn't matter.

What matters is we keep living and making, breathing and doing in a way that speaks to us and makes us come alive. No fear, no shame, no constant inner critic barking from our amigdyla. Don't the people we love and who count on us deserve for us to be wholly alive? Don't we want that for them as well? How can we be all we need to be for them, for the world, and for ourselves if we don't allow ourselves to live from a place of deep down in the soul meaning?

The alternative to living from your soul and accepting yourself so others don't have to isn't positive. You basically have to live without liking yourself or trusting your own judgment so you're always worried about shit you can't control or shit that hasn't happened yet. You're convinced no one likes/loves you and will most likely figure out you're worth leaving one day. The result is paralyzing insecurity laced with anxiety, unfulfilled desires for things you don't actually need mingled with promises no one plans to keep, anger turned inwards as depression, loneliness so palpable it cuts through your flesh like a rusty ripped soda can. Etc, etc, etc.

I think that's at the heart of this revolution thing I keep babbling about. It's about getting okay from within so we're okay on the outside. Not in a "full of ego" kind of way but in a "you have permission to exist" kind of way. You are allowed to think big thoughts that other people consider crazy. In fact, the world needs your craziness! You are allowed to feel so deeply that when you laugh a vein pops out in your forehead and your eyes get so squinty you may as well be vision impaired. (Yes, this happens to me.) You're allowed to cry just because it feels like the thing to do; because you need it, because you're alive dammit. It's not weakness. Just no.

Contrary to old timey baby boomer logic, that courage to be vulnerable is your greatest strength. Sure, it'll scare the shit out of you sometimes and that's part of its beauty. You can go all Braveheart and charge your way through that fear or you can curl up like a soccer ball and hope someone kicks you out of the way before the arrows land. One way says you've got control over your own destiny. The other one says you're just a hapless victim of circumstance. It's a get free or go home game. The power to choose is yours.

So the answer to why I write this is still for me. But to further clarify: because right now it helps me get free. So I'll try to keep at it for a while. Or at least until the trolls show up. Then I'm out. ;)

Sidenote: I also write this thing because I'm an only child who has always cracked herself up. I had to since no one else was around to bring on the giggles. I literally lol every time I read anywhere I typed this: pooped. That probably means my sense of humor is best represented by a toilet emoji but I'm okay with it.

making it messy



I slept terribly last night and the night before that. For some reason, my hips and legs have been on fire the last two nights. Chalk that one up to a crappy pair of flip flops I've been wearing because the weather got warm. Note to self: don't buy super cheap wedge flip flops from your local grocery store when your nice ones with the arch support break after a drunken weekend at the Ren Fest. Then again, maybe it's just too much Lego time on the livingroom floor. #mominjuries #draggettingold

Anyway, I could've gone back to sleep this morning after pooping popping three Advil. Because I really needed some extra z-time. I could've curled up with my dog and cat and waited for my son to come screaming in asking for cookies or some other five-year-old nonsense. Damn spring break to the Sarnac pit. But I didn't and all because I couldn't wait to deface this blog. So I had my first cup of coffee since last weekend and got to work.

I wanted to mess it up with doodles and scrawled writings and whatever really weird shit I could come up with. This morning, all sleep deprived me could think was "let's fuck that thing up". Because it's too pretty and it's too fake and even I feel like it's trying to sell me something. And hey, maybe we could argue it sort of is. I mean, I do have to make money and I do it by selling my art online. Maybe this is all one big ruse.

Honestly, that's not what this place is about anymore though I think it might've started that way. And that's really not what my art is about either. Believe it or not, I really want to say something only I can say. Trent Reznor may be the realest, art-for-the-sake-of-art mofo in the world, but dude still gets paid for saying his peace - for doing his thing the only way he can do it. If money had been his sole motivator, I'm pretty sure he could've made some easy dinero off catchy, love-to-hate pop songs instead of screaming on Pretty Hate Machine. Of course, I'm not comparing myself to Trent. That's just some kind of blasphemy.

My art has always been about love, authenticity, freedom, fearless expression, and being proud of your unique weirdness. That's not going to change, no matter what gets sold and what doesn't. The world doesn't need more homogenized, mind-numbing sameness. It needs us to fight to find the courage to be different, to embrace our inner freakshows and give everyone a chance to love and accept us for being the best versions of humanity we can be. It's not easy. Hey, that's cool. It doesn't have to be. Because we're not alone. Not one of us.

I think I've come to understand why this blog matters to me now. It represents part of my journey where I remember who I am, where I get my confidence back, where I stop being concerned about what everyone else thinks and give myself permission to fully exist and participate in the collective consciousness thing again. It's cathartic in a way I guess.

For the last few years I've been edited, stifled, and afraid. There have even been times I wouldn't share a recipe or some dumb thing on my social media because I was afraid a few wonderfully earnest and sweet vegan friends of mine would be offended if there was cheese in it. But here's the thing... I love cheese! We could debate the moral/health issues surrounding dairy all day but it doesn't change the simple fact that me at this very moment is in to cheese. Maybe I won't be one day but this is my unique journey and I'm allowed to embrace every little stupid extra-sharp-cheddar-filled morsel of it without shame-fear. Because I'm just as worthy as anyone else. And so are you.

Let the revolution roll on.

the revolutions begins here



So I've not been as productive here as I'd hoped. I get this feeling every time I think about this place lately. It's actually a feeling I get when I think about the internet in general. And social media. It's the same feeling I get when a spider gets too close to my leg or lands on my head. I call it the wiggs and I think I might finally know why they happen.

Blogs suck. In general, this is a true statement. They're fake and awful which can account for a good portion of what gives me the wiggs about them. But there must be a different way to think about blogs that's not all of those things. There has to be something out there that doesn't stink of paper mache and sickly sweet organic baby food bananas - no matter how yummy they are. Where are the blogs without strategically placed ads and cute monthly giveaways?

The only alternatives seem to be blogs that strike me as mean for the sake of being mean or just plain dark and angry. Nihilism and cynicism have their place in the world though I'm the type that prefers to wade in certain depths where there's also room for hope and levity. I don't want to make fun of anyone personally or hurt anyone due to some misplaced rage-venting. So balance is key I guess.

Basically, I just want to write a blog I would want to read. But defining what a blog like that is has been really challenging. Maybe because I haven't seen that blog anywhere yet. I mean, I'm sure there are some out there but they're not really getting the exposure they deserve. I think sweet country girls with a penchant for DIY and the Lord have the market on that these days. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that but there are tons of different kinds of people out there which that specific demographic doesn't at all represent.

So I'm considering getting all punk rock on this blog stuff. Well... if I can find the gumption. Ugh... I said gumption. See there I go getting all cowardly and channeling Melissa Mainstream (see Mary Sue but with a blog) with the brand name "vintage" dress and just a splash of pink in her hair telling you how to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie with her brightly lit pics and totally on trend type face. No offense Melissa. That's just not my thing.

So what is my thing? It's somewhere way left of center between my made up Melissa and Winona Ryder in Reality Bites. No wait. Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites. Yes. That's it. Now what kind of blog does that kind of weirdo write? Ick. The word blog actually makes me cringe a little. This is beginning to feel impossible.

Maybe I just need to do me. Authentic me. Because that's all I can do. Comfort in authenticity is the only thing that doesn't make me want to smash my keyboard to bits every time I sit down to think about what to write. What can I say to get people to notice me, to like me, to read my shit? Blah. That's the worst. It's just so manipulative. I don't want to read something that makes me feel like it wants something out of me. I want to read something real. And I want to write something real.

Maybe I'm just a weird, flawed, life-is-messy kind of woman who believes in some stuff. Hard. Who has passion for this art-full life and the people in it. And maybe I'm ready to stop hiding my heart and apologizing for who I am. No, for who I want to be. Yes. Awesome. Now to keep up this level of courage and write something weird, flawed, and life-is-messy more often. Time for Melissa to sit back and relax her french tips. I got this.

Update: Or maybe I don't got this since I just posted this on my Facebook page then quickly deleted it. Maybe I don't have what it takes. Maybe I'm still too concerned about what other people think. I mean, my real name is all over this thing, ya know. What if I piss someone off? Though it's been said pissing folks off tends to mean you're doing something in the world. So do I want to stay quiet or go Ramones and play louder and faster? Or maybe I need to pump up the volume and let my inner Christian Slater narrate my life a little more loudly. Shrug. Courage, Willow.