She is someone

There is a billboard campaign going on nationwide, trying to make porn addicts and johns think about who they are using. It uses the line “She’s somebody’s daughter”, with a picture of a woman. In Nashville, the billboard is appropriately over the Hustler store.

somebody

I really liked this campaign to start with. I especially like the idea that it is over a store that sells pornography and “adult” clothing. I liked the idea that it tries to get porn addicts to understand that this woman is part of the community, that she is connected. It tries to generate compassion by subtly reminding them – she could be your daughter, your sister. How would you like it if someone treated your daughter or sister the way you are treating other women?

This kind of thinking has been used to try to deter rapists too. Pornography and rape aren’t far removed. Both need a warped kind of thinking, where the perpetrator objectifies women until they stop being people.

Now I realize something deeper. It is saying that a woman has value only in her relation to someone else. She is someone’s daughter, or sister, or wife. While that is a good start, it isn’t enough. Let’s strip it away to the core.

She is someone.

All to herself, all on her own, she is someone.

She has value on her own as a person. Her relationship to other people, especially other men, does not create her value. She is a human being, not an object, not a thing.

Angry is just a feeling.

It’s okay to be angry.

“Angry” is just a feeling. It is the same as being tired or being hungry or having to poop. It is a sign that something is lacking or there’s too much of something. It as a sign of imbalance but it in itself isn’t a bad thing, and it’s okay to feel it.

You don’t have to explain it. It can just be. It is what you do with it that matters. It’s not the feeling itself, it’s the action you take when you have the feeling that matters.

When you’re hungry do you overeat? When you’re tired do you sleep too much? What do you do with these feelings?

Perhaps having to go to the bathroom is the best example.

When you have to poop do you poop right where you are, or do you go to the bathroom? Do you wait and wait and wait when you have to pee, until you feel like you are going to burst? Or do you take care of it right away, and in a healthy way that is good for you and those around you?

To poop right where you are isn’t healthy, and it isn’t considerate of others. To wait and wait to pee might be considerate of others if you are in a meeting, but it isn’t healthy for you.

Going to the bathroom is learned. That isn’t instinctual. We had to learn how to handle that natural occurrence. I propose that dealing with anger is the same.

It is possible to learn how to deal with this natural feeling in a healthy and safe way, one that is healthy and safe for you, and for those around you.

Some things that work for me –
Go for a walk.
Have a hot bath. Bubbles help.
Write.
Paint.
Deep, focused breathing.
Prayer.
Playing the drums.

Think about the things you do when you are happy, and try one of those when you are angry. Sometimes that is enough to flip the switch.

No matter what, don’t try to escape your anger by using intoxicants. It isn’t about escaping it, it is about allowing it a safe way to get out.

Consider a balloon. The pressure builds up and builds up, and the air has to get out somehow. Either it can get out the way it got in (the neck), or the balloon can burst. Burst balloons don’t work as balloons anymore. They are broken bits. We are like that too when we don’t let our anger get out in a safe way.

Now, in the middle of all this it is a good idea to think about why you are angry. What about this situation is making you feel angry? Does it remind you of some earlier situation that went wrong? How did that situation make you feel? Was there someone in your past who taught you how to react in this particular situation?

You can unlearn old habits and take up new ones. You are forever able to rewrite yourself. Nothing is permanent. Just because it always has been that way doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. The past does not predict the future.

You can’t escape anger, but you can redirect it and you can learn from it. Anger is a part of life, just like night is a part of day. It isn’t bad, in and of itself. It is what you do with it that matters. Use it wisely and it can teach you a lot.

Blob art.

There seems to be two ways that art is going these days: hyper-realistic and blob. Either people are painting reality better than reality or they are painting blobs.

Me, I’m in the blob category. Sure, it is fun. And nobody will know when I don’t get what I was aiming for, because what they see looks nothing like anything else anyway. When you try to replicate something that is real, it is easy to tell when you have missed the mark. Blob art is free from this constraint.

But then I see other blob painters charging hundreds, even thousands of dollars for what they made, and I wonder. Is someone actually buying this?

Blob art can be made by toddlers. The more you think, the less it works. In fact, part of the reason I paint blob art is because I want to not think. I want to disengage. I have tried to paint blob art with brushes and other paint tools and I just don’t like it. It is fingers all the way for me.

I call it blob art because that is how I make it. I pick up a tube of paint that looks nice and I squish out a blob of paint on the canvas. Then I pick up another tube and squish it out too. I’ll keep adding blobs until I feel I might have something to work with. Then I smear the blobs around and mix them together until I like the blend and the swirls. Sometimes I add in a few more blobs and mix them in.

It is kind of like how I cook. Spices, colors – it is really all the same. I’m heading towards a goal, and I take whatever I need to get there.

Painting realistically has never made sense to me. Just take a picture. It is faster. Sure, it is pretty impressive to find someone who can paint a picture that looks like it is a photograph. But to me it seems like a waste of time.

Now, one advantage to painting is that you can paint what isn’t there. You can paint all the good stuff and leave all the bad stuff out. This is especially appropriate when you are painting a family portrait and not everybody is available to sit for it at the same time. Or it also works if you are painting something that would be good for a science fiction illustration.

While you can create pretty amazing things with photo manipulation software, there isn’t really “art” in that. You aren’t making something new, so much as working with what is already there.

Is blob art really art? Sometimes it just looks like someone shoved paint around a canvas. Sometimes they did. Sometimes I do. Children can do this. So is it worth a lot of money to buy it?

Sure, the materials are expensive. Paint and canvasses are stunningly expensive. Framing is insane. Sometimes you can get deals on supplies but not often. So there is something about the actual physicality of the piece that will raise the price.

Sometimes what inspires people to admire artwork or writing or music is what it reminds them of. What they see in it has little to do with what the artist put into it. Some swirl, phrase, or riff catches their attention in just such a way and they find that a doorway has opened in their mind, or a bridge has been created.

That is one of the most frustrating things to me as a creator. I really feel like I’ve expressed something well, and people just don’t get it. They may like it, but what they like isn’t what I was trying to express.

Maybe that is why I make blob art. I don’t have as much invested in it. It doesn’t matter if they see something different in it, because I didn’t put anything in it. It is more about what I got out of it.

I discover when I create blob art. I play, too. I learn how the colors go together, and I relax into the creation. There is no stress because there is no specific goal to be reached. Just enjoying putting paint on the canvas is the goal.

It isn’t about creating anything. It is about creating me.

Poem – the hand of God.

Opening up the mess with God
is the point
where I think
it would make a difference.

Between us
a little more energy
would help.

A little more energy
between us
would help.

We have all these things available
but then again
we have nothing at hand.

Our fingers are feeble,
are fragile,
are faulty.

We point the way with them.
We beckon, we accuse.

The hand of God is made up
of these same fingers.

And sometimes it feels more
like a slap from a bully
or a stop sign from a crossing guard
than a help.

On women’s clothing.

Women’s clothing is often shoddily made. Thin fabric, loosely stitched – it doesn’t last more than a season. That is part of the design because that style is out of date by then anyway. So women are constantly buying more clothes.

For some, that isn’t a problem. Many women practice “retail therapy” and go shopping when they feel down. Many women have closets full of clothes that they have worn only once, if at all.

This is a society encouraged addiction, and it is destroying us. We are being distracted from what is real.

Women’s energy is being diverted, diluted, disturbed.

Our time, our effort, our money is all the same. It is all energy.

When we are encouraged by society to shop, we don’t have time to think. We don’t look at what we are trying to “treat” in the sense of “cure” when we practice “retail therapy”. We treat ourselves with treats. We buy things instead of addressing our problems.

I know, from being a person in recovery that only causes more problems.

Also, when we are forced to shop for clothing because it falls apart or because it is out of style, we have less money for real things. We’ve also wasted our precious time not only shopping but also at work earning that money.

Imagine with me a world where women are freed from the social expectation to be beautiful and fashionable. Think how much time, money, and energy they would have to do things that matter, be people that matter.

Imagine the art that would be created. The diplomacy that would happen. The inventions, the solutions, the discoveries.

We have to be the ones to make this shift. We have to be mindful of how we are spending our time, money, and energy. This isn’t an “us and them” thing. This is just an “us” thing. It doesn’t matter who sold us this idea. It matters that we bought it. It is time to return it, like the broken merchandise it is.

Torn. Thoughts on #Yesallwomen

I’m really torn about the #Yesallwomen tag. It is starting to sound like an airing of grievances. I have my own list, trust me. I thought about posting it. But how will this heal us? Men and women are both feeling alienated and misunderstood and threatened. What can we do to teach boundaries and compassion and respect? How do we build a bridge? What can we as a community, as a culture, do to stop the psychic pain that causes these outbursts of random violence?

This isn’t about gun control.

It would be stupid to think that banning guns will do any good. The cat is already out of the bag. If we ban guns, then only the “bad guys” will have guns. That isn’t safer. That is actually more dangerous. I’m not saying everybody needs to have a gun either. I’m saying that it is too late to even talk about gun control. In the last two examples of mass murder a knife was used. It isn’t about guns. It is about violence. What pushes someone to the point that they kill?

We need people control. We need self respect, and respect for others. We need for everybody to learn how to establish and enforce and respect boundaries in themselves and in others.

This isn’t about mental illness either.

Involuntarily committing people just because they are odd or different is a very dangerous idea. There are reasons why people have to present a clear example of being a danger to themselves or others before they are involuntarily committed. It is to prevent someone being essentially imprisoned without cause.

If we committed every person who was different, fully half the population would be in a mental institution. Who would get to decide what is “normal”? Who would be in charge? If you vote differently, don’t make enough money, go to the “wrong” church or no church at all – you are different. In you go. Sure, the idea of committing all the “crazy” people seems like a good idea, until you are the “crazy” one, according to someone else’s standards. You haven’t done anything wrong, but they think you might.

See how this sounds?

Speaking from the perspective as someone who has voluntarily committed herself twice, mental hospitals aren’t a great idea. A mental institution is not a place to learn how to be healthy. It is not a place where you are taught good coping skills and how to deal with the “real world.”

It is more like a holding cell. It is a place where you get medicated to the point of being a zombie. Of course people stop taking their medications when they get out. They don’t see the point of them. They make them feel terrible. The medications often make it harder to be a human being, not easier.

It would be better if mental hospitals taught people how to prepare healthy food for themselves, how to choose an exercise routine they can stick with, and how to interact with other people in a healthy way. If you can’t handle life before, you certainly can’t handle it when you are on drugs that make your thinking processes fuzzy. It is better to teach people how to be people first.

We need to rethink everything.

We have failed our boys. We have failed our girls. We have failed as a culture. These no longer random acts of violence have taught us this.

How do we change? What can we do to heal this rift?

Rock with holes

I found this rock at a thrift store in Boone, NC.

rock2

It cost a dollar. I was on the lookout for something to use as a “talking piece” when I do a circle. That is the thing that you hold while you talk, and everybody has to listen. Then you hand it to the next person.

But I also like cool rocks. I have a collection of rocks from all over.

I was wondering what could have caused these holes. Erosion? Animals?

I Googled “rock with holes” and came up with the most likely option so far – pholad boring.

“Pholads are small bivalves that bore holes into shore rocks a few centimeters across, living their lives inside that shelter and sticking their siphuncles out to filter the seawater. If you’re at a rocky shore, or if you suspect that a rock has once been there, then look for these biological holes, a type of organic weathering. Other marine creatures make marks in rocks too, but the real holes generally belong to pholads.” (From the article “11 Types of Holes in Rocks” on the Geology section of About.com)

These pholads are known as “angelwings” because of the shape of their shell.

pholad4

Here are some pictures from that article.

pholad3pholad2pholad1

Then this started a whole line of thinking. The rocks themselves are made of limestone, which is, in itself, derived from other sea creatures’ shells. Many animals with shells lived and died, and their shells degraded and got compressed together and shaped into a rock. So these modern shelled creatures are actually living inside the remains of other shelled creatures, which are many many years distantly dead.

Also, I find it interesting that these creatures have a shelled body, but they feel the need to dig a hole into a rock for even more protection. They never leave this hole. They live their lives here. Reminds me of some people I know. They’ve traded in safety for boring.

But, back to the rock with holes.

This is known as “bioturbation.” It happens any time a living creature disturbs soil. Sea creatures do it, insects do it, animals do it – including humans.

Back to the About.com article – “One of the agents of organic weathering, bioturbation is the disturbance of the soil or sediment by living things. It may include displacing soil by plant roots, digging by burrowing animals (such as ants or rodents), pushing sediment aside (such as in animal tracks), or eating and excreting sediment, as earthworms do. Bioturbation aids the penetration of air and water and loosens sediment to promote winnowing or washing.”

Cool, right? And I just thought it looked like a potato with the “eyes” cut out. I’d seen rocks with these kinds of holes before but never knew how to look it up. I’m so glad that a search term as simple as “rock with holes” was enough to get me on the right track.

Later I was playing with it and found out that the holes can be used in a flute-like manner. Yes, this means I can play my rock. More importantly, it means that I tried to play it.

I’m glad I’ve gotten back to the state of being a child.