29 June 2016

Now you see me, now you don't: Perspective, metamorphosis, manifestation

So much talk lately about being invisible:

People of color are invisible
Old women are invisible
People in wheelchairs
People in dirty clothes
and so on...

Privilege and oppression.
The cycle feels deeply connected to how, when, why, IF we see the world outside of ourselves.

The other day I was discussing with Sarah Seitz how to proactively cultivate abilities in myself that I currently scorn because they feel rooted in patriarchy. Coldness, dismissal, ambivalence, lack of compassion and general douchebaggery. Could acting in these ways actually improve my relationship with myself and the world, and by extension my relationship to others?

Haven't come to a conclusion on that one yet, and I doubt I will, but I might wear the idea from time to time, much like I might wear a pair of men's pants...not super comfortable but functional for heavy lifting. Generally I prefer dresses. And yoga pants, of course. But I digress.

My point here: as I choose to SEE more and more, as I choose not to let marginalized people be invisible to me, a myriad of unforeseen changes occur in my overall perspective:

I am seeing myself more clearly, becoming acutely aware when tiny lies come out of my mouth. My weight (I weigh 144, not 135.) How I spend my time (too much fb.) The worst lie I tell, all the time, is when I make a bad decision and justify it, to myself or somebody else, knowing that wasn't the real reason why. I'm not gonna beat myself up over any of it. Because I am ceasing to be invisible to myself anymore. It hurts so good.

To my delight, I am quickly crossing the bridge between “seeing” formerly-invisible people to actually connecting with them. I am making more friends of color, of age, of all ages, losing my biases towards children, white people and rich people. Don't judge me. I am in metamorphosis. So are you. I am opening and learning the subtle, powerful difference between “choosing friends” and “obeying rules I didn't agree to.”

And with that, I realize I also have the option NOT to see certain types of people. I can choose, consciously, the same way most of us have chosen, unconsciously, to erase people from my worldview. For example, I can choose not to see people who have been cruel to me. I can choose not to see people who cut me down. I can choose not to see people who refuse to accept me for who I am, people who don't respect my boundaries, people who don't want me to grow. People who don't believe in me.

A metaphor:
When you make a painting, you might sketch it in with a pencil first. Maybe the drawing is clumsy, ill-proportioned, but you get the basic structure. Then you go over it with paint, a quick outline that strengthens the idea. Now you can go in with a thick rubber eraser and rub out all of that sketchy stuff. You clean up the canvas and use a soft brush to dust away the debris so it doesn't screw up the surface texture.

And then you have space. Space for color and form. Space for layers of light and darkness. Space to manifest your original vision, or to let it change. And even though you know those penciled-in lines, those old, awkward decisions, would have eventually been covered, there is a sense of ease that comes from having removed them, knowing they wouldn't be true or necessary to the brilliance and contrast of the final image.

And so, this week I will spend time erasing sketchy lines. Clearing the canvas for color and depth. And being impeccably intentional about who I see, and who I don't.

(An excerpt from my upcoming memoir "Sex, Anarchy & Agriculture: One Woman's Quest for Sustainable Home," by Heather Jo Flores)

Please share if you like it!

Painting : Mandragora by Heather Jo Flores, oil on wood.



Mandragore, Oil on Wood by Heather Jo Flores

18 June 2016

What is Home to You?

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my new book "Sex, Anarchy & Agriculture; One Woman's Quest for a Sustainable Home":
Home. Home is where the heart is, that's what they say. What does that even mean? My heart is in my body, and my body can't seem to stay in one place for more than a few months. Ok, I know the old saying means home is where your family is, where the people you love, live. But for me those people are spread out all over, and to be honest I wouldn't want to live with most of them anyway.
Home is where the art is. I named an art show that, once. Paintings of semi-idyllic, semi-apocalyptic landscapes. Millennium Gothic. And back to the body. I use my body to make the art, but where do the ideas come from? My brain, also my body? Or somewhere else. I have never been able to settle on a belief system for that one. All I know is that I don't know. Where does the art come from, and where does it go? In my case, everywhere. I have left my art in every house I have ever lived—more than a hundred houses now. My life has taken me to so many places, and I leave a trail of art-crumbs so that my family can find me, in case I get lost in the woods.
I leave the art behind, but my body goes with me, and everything I have done goes back to it. Wherever you go, there you are. Physically. And wherever you find yourself, that's the path. Castaneda talked a lot about the “path with a heart.” Is that the way home, then?
I call it “the destiny of vicinity.” Whatever I find myself around, that's what influences me. That's my path. That's what I do, whom I meet, who I love and fuck and live with. And those relationships influence my thoughts, my feelings, my choices. No man is an island, and women? Even less so.
How about you? Are you at “home”? Or just in a house somewhere? What is the compass you use to navigate your life? How has the placement of your physical body affected your path through the world?

04 June 2016

Get a real job? I have a real job!

A woman said to me recently "Maybe the reason you haven't found a good husband is because you are too sexual. Maybe you should forget about sex, contribute to the gene pool, and get a real job like the rest of us."

Or maybe the fact that we live in a world where one woman would say that to another is exactly why my work (as an unmarried childfree self-employed feminist who is at ease with her sexuality and not afraid to say it) is important? Women like me were burned alive for 500 years. Women like me are still being murdered for our beliefs, all over the world. Women like me have been scorned and marginalized for long enough. Women like me owe it to the women who have gone before us to be true to ourselves, and to speak out.

Forget about sex? Never. If anything, the more promiscuous I become with my thoughts, my ideas, the more promiscuous my body wants to be. You don't care about sex? No problem. But if you love it, if you know in your heart that your life has unfolded largely because of your pursuit of sexual pleasure and sexual love, then I am here to encourage you. As for that husband I seek? I will find one who loves and accepts me completely, for everything I am, or I will die trying.

And shame? You can shove your shame where the sun don't shine. Use lube, it feels better that way.