Monday, May 30, 2016

Art and the Sacred

The revelatory power of art is immediate and iconoclastic. As soon as a work of art is created the artist herself becomes a prophet because she reveals a new conception of the world. But is art a form of religion/spirituality? or does art belong to a different realm of the human experience?

Saturday, May 21, 2016


What would happen if ONE DAY we women awoke to actually LOVE our bodies? Every wrinkle. Every curve. Every flaw. All of it! 

What if we celebrated every aspect of our bodies for for they are...miracles of being alive!  I can say with certainty that the world as we know it would change forever. 

I took the photo below after unloading two giant hay bales that the guys at the Grange struggled to lift (I'm STRONG) and recognizing that I'm the same weight i was when my exhusband said he didn't like my body for the last time ... Time to let that shit go.

It's badass courage to choose to LOVE my body.  THIS BODY. I'm getting there.  But as I've learned in seminary...this BODY is a part of what it means to be HUMAN. Iranaeus reminds us that this flesh is GOOD.  Every single cell.  And the day will come that i look back on this body with such gratitude. Why shouldn't i feel that LOVE now?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dare to Awaken

I see no need to engage in power struggles or to dismantle patriarchy.  Structures are what they are. To fight them is to empower them. For me, authentic power arises when a woman simply and quietly awakens, with the badass courage to live into her femininity in all circumstances.  No permission needed.  No need to struggle over power because my power - the divine light that comes from Mystery itself- is already mine, always present and cannot be taken.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What Do I Look LIke?

Today I have been thinking about whether or not I can really know what I look like. And moreover, do I always look the same? I was told by someone that I had just met that I didn't look like my photograph. It cut deep for a variety of reasons, mainly related to my history with an eating disorder. That said, I decided to walk into it with curiosity.

It is really an interesting question considering that every image we have of ourselves is essentially two dimensional - mirrors, photographs, videos... And in the REAL world, people know us in 3-D. Add to it the fact that my exterior image will adjust according to life's circumstances and the state of my spirit, as my insides and outsides are in sync with one another. Living a transparent life means that my body reflects my soul. And finally, add the component that I have synesthesia - I perceive the body and emotions with color. It's complicated for certain.

With that in mind, I searched through some pictures - all me. All look different. And it made me wonder, do I really know what i look like? Visually, that's a tough one. I know what I look like in my paintings, perceived through the lens of color. And as far as my body, I am learning to see my physical being as the changing and evolving miracle that I am.

But I know this for sure...I see something amazing reflected in the eyes of those that LOVE me for who I am - especially my daughter - and that's beauty.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking through Feminine Eyes

A few days ago, I awoke with new eyes. It was literally as if a lens had been removed. My dear friend Jaqueline had just passed away.  She had a prophetic voice rooted in black feminist thought, one in which the courageous words lovingly fell from her lips as she bravely questioned established norms and spoke her truth.  I admired her deeply.  As I struggled to accept the reality that she is gone, I felt a renewed courage inside of me.

I have many questions, yet I often feel incapable of expressing them openly. At times it is because the words fail to emerge, yet most often it is a deep seated fear of ridicule or punishment.  Trauma does this. It strips us of our words. Maya Angelou stopped speaking for 5 years after she was raped.  I too am a rape survivor. Finding the ability to speak again in the wake of suffering is among the most noble of acts. This is courage.   

Yesterday I read one of Jaqueline’s most recent blog posts.  Toward the end, she said, “Why are so many Christian women afraid to question the words of a man?”  This statement struck me deeply, especially since theologians like Paul Tillich (a favorite) emphasize that the act of questioning affirms God.

Bravely, standing with the women that have come before me and those yet to come, I am beginning to use my voice.  I am beginning to find my words. I am beginning to question. It seemed appropriate, then to ask one of the core questions that I have wondered for much of my life…

What is masculinity? What is femininity? Who defines these things?

I drive a big truck. For years my husband (now ex-husband) told me that a truck was too masculine for me. Instead, I drove a tiny roadster that would be considered more “sexy” and “feminine.” Why?

Why do people think I am masculine when I use a chainsaw to take care of my property? Why is it masculine when I work on construction projects around my home?

Why is a ripped, small, narrow hipped female is considered "better" than a voluptuous curvy feminine body by today’s standards?

Why is a "pussy" associated with weakness and "balls" with strength?

And that's when it hit me...It's a masculine lens that we all look through. I have been conditioned to look through this lens since I was first born into the world, and it was then reinforced throughout my life. The masculine lens is so ingrained that we don’t even notice it covering our eyes and filtering everything we see. 

Thus, I found myself sitting with a deeper question…

What would happen if I looked at femininity through feminine eyes?

I still don’t know the answer to this one, as I am actively contemplating the journey into a set of eyes that may not fully exist yet.  The Masculine lens is a powerful one. It conditions every aspect of how a woman perceives herself in the world. We use words like "privilege" to attempt to describe this dominant perspective, but that is still a concept dominated by masculinity.  We tell men to “check their privilege,” as if our ability to be seen depends on their ability to see themselves.  Feminists seek to dismantle the patriarchy and emasculate men.  I am a Feminist, and I see an alternative way.

The emergence of the feminine is a distinct phenomenon. It happens when women claim our power.  It is a power that cannot be taken away; rather, it is awakened from within. My femininity does not depend on men to change their way of being; rather, it is up to me as a woman to cultivate myself without the need for permission.   

I alone define what it means to be a woman. I only define that for me. Each woman defines it for herself. 

So I will end with a question…

What does being a woman mean to you? 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Acquired Savantism

Before her accident Heather Thompson was a CEO and a nationally respected business strategist. She was married, and had a two-year-old daughter. Then, her SUV's hatch collapsed on her head, sending her to the ground in "eye-shattering pain."
Now Thompson lives in a rural town on an acre of land; no longer a strategist, and no longer married, she spends her days painting, looking after her now 7-year-old daughter and tending to a baby goat. What happened?
An article published in Nautilus, April 2016
What it's like being an Acquired Savant....


A man named Bear approached the window of Facing Homelessness. A constant stream of people arrived at the window before him with requests ranging from food to socks to water to boxer shorts.  Two women specifically requested sanitary pads along with hygiene kits after they were finished at the needle exchange next door.  Others simple stopped by to check in, sharing stories of pain, suffering and ultimately resilience - broken bones, drugs, terrifying police encounters, and blood soaked sleeping bag, all a reality of daily life for those living outside. 

But it was Bear that stuck with me.  He was covered in tattoos and his head was partially shaved, but his eyes were piercing. The skull rings on his fingers reminded me of Ozzy Ozborne, yet it felt shallow to draw such a comparison.   

Bear approached the window and asked for Rex, the founder of Facing Homelessness.  “I am getting my tools today,” he said.  “Rex and I are supposed to meet up.”  I could see the hope in his eyes.  Then I remembered seeing his face once before.  He had been profiled on the Facing Homelessness Facebook page as a carpenter in need of tools just a few weeks before:

Please meet Stephen, you can also call him Bear, he won't mind, he's a friendly guy, Bear is his street name in the U-district, where he feels connected, loved by the beautiful street family there.

Bear is 38 years old, there's been lots of struggles in his life, like the devastating stabbing death of his 18 year old son January 1st of this year, it consumed him, they were close, it was his son that got him clean off heroin and meth, it's his son now too that he draws daily strength from.

Bear recently found labor work at Everything Under the Sun Construction, he was told if he was able to get carpentry tools, they would give him more responsibility and a raise, a bigBIG step towards long term employment.

To all of you who have an extra hammer in your garage, and extra carpenter's belt, speed square, tape measure, chalk-line, gloves, skill-saw, battery drill, goggles, or whatever is in good working shape, please consider donating them to our friend Bear.

Facing Homelessness is an organization rooted in LOVE.  With more than 30,000 people gathered around the Seattle page alone, people in NEED are able to ask for help…and those with the resources to GIVE have a means of contributing directly to the lives of others.  Within a week, the Facing Homelessness community responded with a BIG donation for Bear, as documented by this follow up post:

Eleven days ago we asked all of you to help purchase tools for Bear, a few weeks before he'd found a $12 an hour labor job in construction, they told him if he gotTOOLS, there would be more responsibility and a pay raise too, a ticket to get off the streets.

A Black&Decker drill and a DeWalt impact drill were brought to our office, andAND, $460 was donated through PayPal. A friend took Bear to buy tools, added an extra $192, with the grand total of $652.00 spent!

Back at the Facing Homelessness Window, I was standing with Bear as he spoke about what the gift of tools meant to him personally.  Tears filled his eyes.  “Thank you,” Bear said. He grabbed his cup and took a long sip while his eyes turned a deep shade of red. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a home. A very long time.” 

In that brief conversation with Bear, I felt shivers on my arms, and I realized that authentic connection is something ingrained in all of us. It is the awakening of a deep knowing that everyone and everything comes from a single source, like waves upon a deep and vast ocean.  The Facing Homelessness page concluded with the following:

Bear starts to tear up, he says, "Thank you, you guys gave me a chance to prove what I am worth, you saved my life, now I get to go to work every day, thank you all for taking a chance on me, for giving me the opportunity to get off the streets."

Bear then went on to talk about his dreams, for changing his life in this beautiful way, for honoring his son with a new dedication to living good, healthy, and strong and giving back to those in need.

After a long hug, I walked back to the office, tearing up the whole way, so happy for Bear, so veryVERY happy to be in this beautiful compassionate community that gives LOVE so freely.

Every experience at the Facing Homelessness window deepens my awareness that THIS is LOVE. It doesn’t come from me. It doesn’t come from another. It is a presence that becomes known in the moment. Some may call it the Holy Spirit. I simply know that it is always there, just yearning to be noticed like the air we breathe. Grace.