When I was a younger woman in my twenties, my mother bought me this jade-colored rain slicker with a bright fuchsia plaid lining. I thought it was hideous. And me, a current employee at Ralph Lauren in NYC. Surely, she knew my wardrobe consisted of mainly navy blue and khaki. How could I show up at the mansion (as the company office was referred) on Fifth Avenue in such an atrocity of plastic color?
I would never forget what she said to me. “You deserve to stand out.” And while I appreciate my dear mother’s sentiment, this wasn’t the way I wanted to stand out, if stand out at all. Ironically, I found myself as many others, wanting to stand out by blending in.
There was a time when I wasn’t always shy about standing out. When working on my college senior thesis. I befriended a fashion photographer who helped photograph me in my designs. However, it was here I started judging my appearance. I didn’t like my nose. It’s not small and perky and I don’t have full, majestic lips. I found myself rather plain disappointed seeing pictures of myself. That ended me, myself, as muse.
This is when I found not only solace behind the keyboard but my heart and soul. Writing was where it was for me. It is me at my essence working on my mission. Here, as I developed characters, I looked outward for inspiration - historical figures, people in the news and even actors and actresses. Even though, I find myself in each book I write, my study is the essence of someone else.
Then came the selfie craze. For artists and writers who tend to look outward for inspiration, selfies may seem a bit weird. I honestly do not understand the concept of selfies. Seriously, how many pictures do I need of myself? Friends of me with friends and family, sure but just me, I don’t get it.
As I started painting again after nearly flunking out of art school, I looked to those who inspire me...not just their physical appearance, but their essence and soul. After some time, I thought myself? What about my essence and soul? Shouldn’t I be studying myself? Am I losing myself in my own artistic practice?
The process of painting a muse is a deep study, not just the subject’s facial features or body, but the curl of their lips. Is it a true enthusiastic smile, a wily smirk or a frown? What’s the look in their eyes. Is there desire, anger, fear? What are their imperfections? What I found is my paintings don’t look like the muse at all yet captures my muse’s soulful essence. This is my art.
Painter, paint thyself. Is it merely a selfie in paint? Why self-portraits?
It’s not merely my image, but the process is getting a deeper understanding of myself. What’s in my smile, the look in my eye and appreciating my own imperfections. But mostly, it is an exercise in self-acceptance and self-worth. Yes, I am worthy of being a muse, as we all are.
Warning: I am about to break out the weirdness. This is what happens to a writer’s mind when not engaged in a writing book. My mind travels all over freakish places with abstract ideas.
Past lives, ascending souls – clans, kin, tribes, mates and guides, whatever we like to call them. They seem to be rising, well, that seems to be the best explanation for what I have been experiencing lately. As a believer in reincarnation and karma, it’s hard for me not to believe that those we have had connections with in the past, present themselves in this one.
Soul mates, sisters and brothers, we tend to use these terms a lot, but what do they mean and how do we know? Well, we don’t. It’s a feeling we get when vibing with another person, someone we seem to know at a deeper level. For those of us who get this sensation (and not just from a Peppermint Patty), it’s easy to believe in soul tribes. We don’t have to know a person to sense them, in fact, we may never know them, but we recognize their existence.
What happens when souls recognize each other, yet living different lives? How do we make sense of the fact we may never know or meet someone for whom we feel a strong attachment? It’s strange, it’s weird and deeply unsettling. The most effective way I have learned to deal, was to take that attachment as the form of muse and use them for inspiration as characters in books.
When I was writing Time of Useful Consciousness, I used real-life celebrity muses. My main muse character revolted. Yes, I had a character revolt in my story. She wanted me to tell another story. So, I followed her through my book A Soul to Shine which told the story of a celebrity actress going through an existential funk. After the book was finished, I read this actress admitted publicly about going through a funk. She was struggling to find herself in celebrity life. In the oddity of the world, I seemingly connected to this actress and what she was going through privately. Although this sounds surreal, it’s not. It’s called human connectivity with douses of compassion, empathy and awareness. We are all connected in ways other than proximity, so when soulmates arise, they are immediately detectable. I’m not saying this actress is a soul sister, only that on some level, I was able to connect with what she was going through.
But back to soulmates, soul sisters and soul brothers, I once visited a psychic who told me I was a matriarch of a Celtic clan. Jokingly, I like to refer to myself as the reincarnation of Boudica, but who knows. It’s just something I like to amuse myself with. Over the past couple years, I have experienced this strange connection with certain men, all seemingly with the same characteristics. I am drawn to them not merely due to their physical attributes, but psychic. Yes, I warned readers this would be weird. I am letting my freak fly with this blog. Don’t judge me.
The question I am asking myself is why? Why can’t I have a normal boyfriend? (JK) Instead it seems I am amassing a spiritual tribe of warriors set to fight with me in my battle. Ah, I sense an idea for another book emerging. A bunch of psychic, spiritual warriors ascending from the Iceni tribe, but instead of battling Romans we are taking on the modern world, this time we have dropped our swords and armed ourselves with sage sticks, crystal wands. Instead of drinking the blood from the skulls of our slain enemies, we are drinking cacao with cinnamon and a dash of cayenne and our weapon of choice – hugs. A hug for everyone! Yes, as the Iceni tried to fight back the Romans for their freedom, today we are still champions of peace and freedom. I am going to call us, SuperJenius and the Soul Brothers.
So, what does this mean for us in our normal human existence? What am I to take away from my spiritual warrior tribe in real life?
Guidance for one. Their actions and their words empower and inspire us. When I feel low and lost some stranger seems to hold the key lift me from my funk. How is that possible? How can a stranger know better than a close friend or family member? Because the answers to our complex, human problems are more deeply rooted than we realize and the only way to truly see is through the light of a similar soul and sometimes it is these souls who awaken us from our slumber. We burst awake upon first sight.
The most transformative times in my life were those when I was shaken loose from my chains by someone I don’t know. Seriously, weird. I know, but true. I wouldn’t be able to speak to it if I haven’t experienced it.
We are all here on a similar mission. We know our tribe because they are speaking to us in a way we understand. They are forging a path for us to follow. We may not be walking with them; however, they are clearing all the same.
The notion that while sometimes I feel so alone, I am not. We live with these dreaded feelings. No one understands us. There is no one out there like us. When the tribe arrives, it is a sign of security. At times when we are physically alone, we know somewhere, out there in this crazy world, there is someone like me, some weird person not afraid to let their freak fly.
My current work in editing is a book called, “Muse.” It was truly an inspired work. I cranked out the first draft in less than month. The main theme of the book is following in the footsteps of a past life to learn lessons for the present. And as I struggle here in the season of Cancer, I wonder upon this life’s lessons I am currently not getting. What is the universe trying to pound into my head? Am I just this human dunce? WHAT IS HAPPENING!? Duh. Huh?
Trapped in existentialism can be hard to deal with. It’s been somewhat of a curse since I was twelve when I suffered my first funk, channeling Descartes. I think, therefore, I am. Yeah but who am I? Why am I here? I credit my father trying to settle my tempered spirit. And today, I don’t know the answer. Should I? Is knowing the answer the plan? Who knows? Perhaps it’s better to let it all go and just live.
For someone meandering through this quagmire called life, who has had glimpses of abstraction, it’s hard not to get ensnared. When one feels and sees things that are unworldly, it’s hard not to question. These are the same questions asked by so many before my time and yet here we all are…wondering what to make of our lives.
I have learned in my past and through my own writings our answers are never hidden, we just can’t see them…or refuse to see them because they don’t align with our perspectives and expectations. I was one who once fell down the rabbit hole (metaphorically speaking) in a massive abstract funk only to learn it was to shake me from a marriage that was killing my spirit. There are always reasons, yet we have a hard time seeing the great unfolding in our fog of reality until we reach the end of a particular journey and off on the next.
One thing is clear. We often cling to this human existence with all our human attachments – money, success, home, family, SEX and yet when it doesn’t align with us spiritually and existentially we are thrown for a loop. It’s like a painter seated at the potter’s wheel. There isn’t an easel, a canvas or a handful of brushes, there is a spinning wheel, a lump of clay and a sponge. How’s the painter to know how to create his masterpiece with tools he’s never worked with? Each life we have to create with a new set of tools. We have these ideas in our minds of how our life should look but fumbling to work through it with what we are given.
I realize I am this artist of life with a huge imagination and while I have been given the tool of words, I struggle at shaping them into a life. I can magically shape the lives and loves of my characters, but my own existence is left fleeting. This is my personal paradox. Perhaps today’s introspection has more to do with my coming awareness, then a plan to cement an unknown future. And really, isn’t awareness the key? It’s not merely being an alchemist to form a material life but be conscious and aware of our own existence.
I am an expert dreamer. I can dream with the best of them, but I have to admit they are nearly impossible to catch. I have a dream catcher hanging in my bedroom and I have yet to wake and find a dream ensnared in the trap. Dreams are illusive creatures.
This one always trips me up, when I become attached to my dreams and I expect certain outcomes. Usually, I end up disappointed, and there goes my positivity vibe down the cosmic toilet. I hate when that happens.
In the past, I have suffered such disappointment, I have curtailed my dreaming. Why dream if it won’t come true. And If I dare dream, in a sense am I discouraging the actual reality. Sometimes it seemed as such, especially when it comes to love and relationships. Therefore, I have forced myself from dreaming altogether. If I don’t dream it, I won’t have any expectations and I won’t have any disappointment. So there! I stick my tongue out to the universe in rebellion.
How as this worked for me so far. Eh? I have successfully reduced my level of disappointment in life, but I have also significantly reduced any hopes of achieving the life I hoped for. I can settle into bland contentment. Yay me! Not.
These days, under the Cancer moon I am forced to reconcile my dreams versus my expectations and mostly, how can I learn to feel worthy of my dreams? This is the biggest hurdle. Sure, we can all dream big, but if we don’t deem ourselves worthy, forget about it. Successful dreaming comes with some heartfelt self-care and a bit of Stuart Smalley mirrored affirmations. “I am good enough and gosh darn-it people like me.” To really swim in our dreams with have to truly believe they are possible of achieving.
However, my dirty, rotten scoundrel of a mind is a liar. Yes, she is. She has lied to me so many times in the past, so I no longer believe anything she says. My mind is as a gossip tabloid trying to sell me a false narrative hoping I will buy it. For years, I have. Not anymore. My mind at times convinced me my dreams were truth and possibly even prophetic. Absolutely nothing I dream and imagine will turn out to be reality, therefore, I need to detach from everything and accept my mind is the greatest story teller alive. Yeah, trust me. She has whipped up some great tales.
So, if we can’t trust the dreams our mind is spinning, why should we have faith they will ever come true?
The main issue is the expectation we attached to the dream. We are looking for a certain path to unfold and when it obviously won’t that’s what deters us and then we hit rock bottom in our dreamboat.
For me, it’s important to understand, dreams are like snowflakes. They drift along, but we often don’t see them land. They either blend into the snowdrift or melt upon contact. Dreams are not meant to be prophetic, they are meant to guide us and teach us about ourselves. What we want, what we don’t want. They inspire and they transmit an energy which pulls us toward the lives we wish to create. When we can get ourselves to a place of dreaming without expectation of outcome, what occurs is something we never dreamed possible in our wildest imagination.
Hello, Captain Obvious! Yeah, I know I’m stating the obvious here, but this is more a reminder for myself than a note to others.
Over this past weekend, I have seen a multitude of memes and personal perspectives that shockingly didn’t align with my own. Oh, the horrors! This was a little disconcerting believing the world revolved around me and my personal ideology. As I started to type my dissent, and in some cases went back to delete it, I realized this person is just on a different journey than myself. I don’t like when people bust my bubble, why should I take the role of bubble-buster?
Now granted, in this age of fake news and propaganda, it is important in some cases to set the fact straight (though people who push propaganda rarely care for the truth), but most of the millions online sharing their life perspectives are coming from their own truths. I will give a few examples, when a woman who claims to be a dating expert posed the question: Should men still pay for dinner on their first date? Should women allow men to order for them? My initial feminist response was only if it was still 1950. I decided not to comment and instead scrolled on by. What’s the point on offering dissent to a person who is on a different journey or has a different ideology when it surrounds relationships. Obviously, she and I are looking for different men and different relationships.
On a similar post, a meme suggested women should feel free to be sarcastic. Of course, a slew of Miss Manners erupted on the thread claiming sarcasm isn’t nice. Okay, well this isn’t the place for me as every word dripping from my tongue is laced with sarcasm, and I have an entirely different take on sarcasm as a verbal tool. Anyhow, I moved on without comment realizing this just sparked another blog – Manners versus Civility. Inspiration received!
This dissent does not come from a place of being right or wrong. There is no factual bias with personal reflections. It all stems from the environment in which we were raised, our stage in life, personal issues we have overcome, etc., etc. And while it does still feel as though what I am typing is obvious, how come many still get caught in a tizzy every time someone posts something that doesn’t suit their personal ideology? Why are many seemingly engaged to attack the keyboard with the slightest offense to our opinions?
The more confident we are within ourselves and our own personal views, the easier it is to accept others’ opinions. BOOM! Drops mic and walks off the stage.
Everything we react to is not because of what another person does or say, it has everything to do with our own feelings. Yes feelings…woah, woah feelings… Personally, when I see someone post something that nabs me in my gut, or makes my brain hurt I feel the need to react, but my reaction will hold no weight to those who feel differently. We are not driven by ideology and personal perspectives, we are driven by feelings and our emotional attachments. So, in a way, we are not posting opinions, we are posting feelings that shaped our perspective, and since we are all coming from different worlds (in a sense), we have to understand someone else is walking on a different path. Good luck to them. I hope they arrive safely.
What I see, is so many looking to find remedies to their own issues through the perspective lens of others and when something doesn’t feel right, they lash out. In order to healthily navigate this new social media paradigm, we need to encourage tools for self-awareness and self-healing. Once we realize, we hold the key to our own emotional attachment to our perspectives and not have to depend on others, the freer we will be and the less discord we will have in our lives. As a reminder to myself, just let it go and let live.
Yesterday, was the 4th of July celebration for those of us living in the United States and many did not feel like celebrating, feeling the current administration is taking away some of hard fought liberties. I was one of them.
Later in the morning, I attended a yoga class where the theme of independence came up for the class. He mentioned the conflict of our day – celebrate independence day or not despite all current conflicts. The one thing he did bring to my attention was the dichotomy we currently live in which many of us label good or bad.
He likened it to our breath. We can’t have the inhale without the exhale. We can’t have peace without chaos. We can’t celebrate freedom if we don’t understand the concept of being a prisoner or enslaved, and in many cases in our life, we are both free and enslaved.
My latest work in progress is a romance (or romantic comedy depending on if one enjoys banter between the genders). The one thing that occurred to me in the early stages of the book is freedom is the one thing both men and women look for in love, relationships and intimacy.
Freedom, yes, in romance. And when say freedom in relationships, I am not referring to infidelity. This lack of freedom in love and intimacy is what I believe pushes people to be unfaithful. It is the basic premise, we all want to be loved fully and unconditionally for who and what we are. We all want freedom to love whom we wish. We desire to be independent of society constraints. Many want to be loved without having to be enslaved by stereotypes. It is the core of our humanness, to simply be loved. When we feel we are not loved for ourselves, we seek another one to love the part of us that is unloved.
Perhaps this is the main issues with our fear of the demise of our freedoms. Many have forgotten how to love unconditionally, instead only with condition. We forgot to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, or perhaps we have lost the love for ourselves.
Because we are not truly liberated in our hearts and minds, we cling to outdated ideologies, self-righteousness truths and silly notions of perfection. We have not learned to live and let go, because we are still holding onto what enslaves us.
Independence starts with each of us. We have the power to free ourselves and even the world we live, but it starts with self-emancipation of all that confines us and ironically it starts with a silly little thing called love.
Why We Should Not Tell Others to Smile.
This past week we celebrated Selfie Day. Normally, I align myself with Lakota leader, Crazy Horse, who was rumored to have refused to be photographed, because he believed the camera would steal his soul. Sometimes I have to wonder, does it? How much do we get caught up in our physical appearance though selfies and much adored photographs that we lose sight of our inner beauties? What happens when our physical appearance is more important than showing our soul?
Not being comfortable in front of the camera and lack of understanding for the selfie, I decided to post one. It was, of course, Selfie Day, and of course my selfie was less than glorious. I haven’t perfected the perfect pose. Which way am I supposed to tilt my head? Do I look directly at the lens or give a dreamy look off to the distance? Do I pucker duck lips, giving the world a seductive kiss? Gosh, all these considerations I have to contend, so I just snapped a photo of me in the moment. It wasn’t all that pretty.
I was not at all surprised when I received the well-meaning comment, “Smile. You are beautiful inside and out.”
Let me explain something here. When someone tells me to smile, it awakens my dormant Viking DNA and I feel like flaying open someone’s rib cage and spilling out their guts all over the ground. What makes Vikings smile? Smashing people’s faces, but I digress. I am not really a violent person, I am just not fond of smiling.
It seems as such an insignificant comment…telling one to smile, however, it comes with an undercurrent of assumptions. We’re sad, or angry. We don’t consider ourselves attractive. And as much as I find the “resting bitch face,” philosophy hilarious, it also can ring derogatory. Just because someone isn’t smiling, by no means indicates they are a bitch. Often, those with the “resting bitch face” are happier and nicer than those who put on a smile. Just saying.
So, I gave the smile more thought. Personally, I have never a been a big on smiling. I’m a grinner. My smirk tells a person all they need to know, or maybe guess and perhaps that’s the issue. Many people don’t like guessing other’s emotional status. While I am uncomfortable smiling, others may be uncomfortable with a person who grins without a true display of emotion. In any case, I will continue to be a mystery.
However, here’s the thing with smiling. As a lazy Libra, it takes facial muscles to smile. Shoot, I don’t want to exert that much energy, so please accept my grin as an example of my contentment and inner beauty, damn it.
As for beauty, a smile is not the end-all-to-be-all of beauty. If one can see my inner beauty, why is it so important I smile?
Here’s the thing with beauty. It is not just our lightness, it is also our darkness. We can radiate beautiful sunshine, and be a beautiful dark, hot mess. We can evoke passion in our melancholy and excitement in our rage. This is what makes us beautiful, not adhering to a society standard of smiling. Heck, even Mona Lisa wasn’t smiling. Da Vinci painted her with a smirk and she is considered one of the most beautiful and mysterious women of all time.
But worse are the emotional assumptions, when asked why we aren’t smiling. None of us owe another an explanation of our feelings. We have a right to feel what we chose to at the moment. If we are sad, we should be free to show it. If we are angry, let out a shout. When we are curious and amused, let that grin rip and when we are gloriously happy our true smiles cannot be outshined.
Instead of encouraging people to smile and put on a bright face, wouldn’t it be awesome if we encourage people to be real. We don’t always have to be happy and we don’t always have to show it. We, as humans have a wide array of emotions in which to express. Why does society dictate we have to smile in order to be valued and appreciated? Can’t we be appreciated when we are down, angry, or even just chilled out.
Last night, I was perusing the reviews of the movie, “Red Shadow.” As a writer, I had a mild critical assessment. I didn’t think the screenwriters did an adequate job leading up to the finale. Yes, the movie had a surprise ending, but when a writer has to retrace the plot to show you how the character got to the ending that is a sign of a failure to tell the story. I was disappointed and turned it off before it got to the final scene. An ending never should be justified by a montage.
That being said, my critical review didn’t match the others. Mostly many were offended by the sexuality and brutality of the film. Sigh. People, it’s a movie about a Russian female spy who uses her sexuality to ensnare men. It was an extremely well-acted film. In that case, the cast did their job to thrust the viewer into uneasiness and at times queasiness.
This got me thinking about the sensitivities of viewers and readers. Should writers, filmmakers and actors hold back from the provocative to placate the sensitivities of others? Absolutely no. Non. Nada. Nyet.
I received a negative review for my book Time of Useful Consciousness because my characters cursed. The characters were German survivors of WWII. They had every right to curse. Damn it. They survived a f*cking world war. I’d be cursing too if my town was leveled to rubble.
There is a segment of the population who requires clean reading and viewing – no sexuality, no nudity, no profanity and violence. All I can say is f*ck them and here’s why.
As a writer, a filmmaker, an actor/actress, we are tied to the characters we create and these characters often find themselves in extremely dramatic, if not traumatic situations. They do things and say things we wouldn’t dare in our everyday lives. These characters’ purpose is to take us out of our comfort zones to understand and empathize with their plight. In fact, if we are over-sensitive to certain situations and subjects, then indeed it is a sign we should watch it. Movies and books are meant to push us into uncomfortable places for our own good, no matter how unpleasant.
Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as a Russian spy was provocative and she pushed the limits of her craft to get into character. The problem is, her fans watched the movie to see her, not her character. My characters in Time of Useful Consciousness swore because it sucked to be a survivor of a cataclysmic war that killed millions and decimated their cities. “My parents are dead and my house is ruined. Shoot. Gosh darn it,” Well, that’s just not realistic. I curse over a lot less.
Art and literature do not just mirror reality, they often magnify it to make dramatic points. Artisans of all kinds are tasked to confront difficult subjects. If readers and viewers are not interested in facing drama, then there are lighter artistic fares to entertain. This is the choice we all must make.