This weekend I was catching up on shows on my DVR. Bull was one of those shows. It’s a courtroom type drama and this episode had a storyline about a reporter collecting data from a “whistle blower” to write an article exposing an online dating site for refusing to release the real identities of men who had been accused of sexual violence on dates arranged through the dating portal. I really like this show, in general. I like courtroom dramas; it’s quirky and the cast is great. As I watched this episode though, my insides began to twist. And I knew why. It was time. As I heard the words of one of the witnesses in the case, I knew that this was what I’d been holding back on. The trauma I ignored as if it would just go away. Although I’d tried writing about it before, I knew that it would actually come out now. Mostly, because the words had already been written for me.Witness: At a certain point I just stopped fighting. It was like I was floating above myself. Like I wasn’t even there.Lawyer: And when the assault was over, did you call the police?Witness: No. I probably should have. But I couldn’t think, I just wanted him off me, wanted it done. I ran home. Took a shower, the hottest shower. Got in bed, crawled under the covers. I just …It sounds cliché, but clichés exist because they are common truths. Trauma is universal. Unfortunately, experiences of sexual violence are rarely unique. Sadly, they are so insipid in our society that a tv writer can sculpt the words of my own experience so clearly, as if I had said them myself.—-I met him on a dating app, three months after moving to Houston (early 2016). A month later, he’d talked me in to meeting him after work in North Houston, an area of the city I wasn’t yet familiar with. I went anyway. When I got home that night, I lay on the floor of my walk-in closet muffling the sounds of screams and catching puddles of tears with dirty laundry. I took a shower, the hottest shower. And later, I drank multiple shots of tequila in the kitchen with my housemate, to forget. I didn’t say much really. I mentioned it briefly in a writing assignment for grad school about place. About how connecting with this place called Houston had become nearly impossible for me because it happened here. And then I let it go. Or at least that’s what I told myself.But really, I let it grow and fester inside of me. I let it change me. Slowly I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize. Neither did my friends. No longer happy, although there were moments. Gone was my confidence. I moved through the days and nights still watching myself from outside of my body. I hadn’t told anyone because I felt shame. I should have done something. I should have stopped him. I hadn’t consented. He wouldn’t listen to the many ways I said no, including actually saying “no.” I’d trained for hours to protect myself in case of an attack, but that moment didn’t register as an attack. This wasn’t a total stranger trying to take my purse or my car. I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t been prepared, for this. February marked two years. Two years, each February passing with a silent knowing, the giving in to the trauma. Sometimes giving up, momentarily. But there was also self-care, lots and lots of therapy. Although I’d let it change me, I knew I wouldn’t let it win in the end. In late December I started emerging. I’d tried to write about it. I wrote some, but couldn’t move through it. I’ve spent 2018 emerging slowly from the trauma. Creating has helped. Releasing the pain into the paintings. The water, tears across the paper. Revealing beauty. Also, people haven’t given up on me. Even those who no longer recognized me or didn’t know how to handle the negative vibes I was giving off. People still stuck around, mostly. Mostly. There will be people who ask, why didn’t you tell me? There’s no easy answer to that. And if you are reading this and wondering, it wasn’t that I didn’t trust you. I didn’t trust ME. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t break. I had to make sure that I was still present, beneath the trauma and outward crust of pain and anger. And I am. I’ve felt more like me in the last few weeks, than the past couple of years. That perky confidence is bubbling back up to the surface. I want to go dancing. And, although hesitantly, I want to start dating again. I’ll do things differently this time. I am changed after all. I don’t think it’s possible not to be. But I’ll channel that change into more caution and healthy skepticism. And perhaps I’ll trust again. But I’m not rushing that. Right now I’m just welcoming myself back in to my own life. And saying out loud, that yes, this thing happened, it changed me, I know you noticed, thank you for standing by me in my silence.
Posted in uncategorized
Tagged authentic life, change, fear, friends, live your truth, me too, self care, sexual violence Mar·20I used to say that age was just a number and that number didn’t really matter as long as we are doing the things that bring us the most joy and fulfillment out of life. Then, I got older.Numbers do matter. $10 dollars is better than $1. $100 better than $10. This exponential number movement gets better as it goes up. But not so with other kinds of numbered things. Rainfall, unless you are in a drought, is not necessarily better as the inches get higher. Snow. Earthquakes. Temperature. Numbers related to these kinds of natural progressions, seem to have sweet spots and a spectrum that causes trouble on either end of it. As one might say, does age.I’m not enjoying aging.There are some benefits. Like wisdom gained by experience which really can only happen with the passing of time. For some, career progression is a benefit. Unless say you are a 46 year old administrative assistant who can’t get a break because people won’t look past the last 2 years on your resume to see that you’ve held higher level and more challenging positions over longer periods of time and can actually do the job you are hiring for—you know, as an example.Along with that wisdom, can come deep personal understanding and the unfolding of one’s authentic self if one is open to such. This could mean finding one’s calling and passion, even if their ability to follow that calling is stunted by career road blocks and having passed their prime “sugar daddy” years. Just sayin’.I personally seemed to have also missed the memo about how a life partner who supports one’s life calling and the journey to realize it would be a good thing to have by mid-life.I won’t be aging gracefully.A couple months ago, I made the decision to let my hair go grey “naturally.” I was giving in to mother-nature and father-time. I would be free of non-toxic organic hair dyes and colorist fees from now on. F*ck that! I can’t take it. I’m definitely getting this stuff colored in the next couple weeks.I don’t want to think that I missed my sweet spot in life. There are moments that I crave not so long ago surrounded by friends, dancing in the club and burning the candle at both ends living life boldly. Now in my much quieter life, I really want to just be left alone to paint while my potential partner watches sports or whatever in the next room.I don’t want to be alone and I certainly don’t want to age alone. And truthfully, that’s probably my biggest fear of aging.What I know for sure, is that aging is happening. Every day. And I’m working on coming to terms with that in various ways. I’m stepping up my yoga/movement game. I’m really going to try to listen to my doctor’s strongly worded recommendation that I stop drinking alcohol. I’m going to keep looking for ways to turn my passions in to reality, with or without the support of a significant other. But I’ll be doing all of those things with vivid colored hair and hip hop playing in the background.
Posted in Fodder
Tagged aging, authentic life, body compassion, live your truth, self acceptance Feb·23What’s rising to the top in my writing right now is trauma. I’ve been thinking for the last few days about a way to counteract the anger, frustration and sadness that guts and leaves me raw. Having just finished a Valentine’s week series in my 100 Days of Bodies, I’ve decided to follow it with a series on Consent. Here’s a sneak peek at what you can expect from the postings over the next few days.Follow this project onIG: @wr1tergurlOr at Truth and Lives: Beneath Our Skin
Posted in Fodder
Tagged activism, authentic life, body compassion, body love, body positive, body positive art, consent, friendsexual, HAES, Health at Every Size, live your truth, relationships, self acceptance, sex positive, Size Positive Feb·20My creative energy is exploding. EXPLODING. I long for days and hours when I have little to do but create. Alas, that isn’t happening in the near future. So I’ve been working small. And what started small, is becoming something big to me and perhaps, others.100 Days of Our Bodies grew out of this daily grounding practice designed to both center my thoughts and work around human bodies, while releasing some creative energy. I chose to work in small scale to keep the time required at a minimum so that I would continue to do this process daily (or nearly daily). The work is created in a 3×4 inch pocket sketchbook. My thoughts and work are currently focused on the body. How bodies are connected. The presence or absence of touch. What stories are our bodies telling. How does experiencing “the other” make us feel about our own bodies. Our similarities and differences. Strength and weaknesses. These are things I am exploring in this daily practice.I wanted to post a link here to share with all you who subscribe but may not be on social media where I post these regularly.100 Days of Our Bodies
Posted in Fodder
Tagged 100 days of our bodies, activism, all bodies are good bodies, artist, artists on instagram, authentic life, body compassion, body justice, body liveration, body love, body positive, body positive art, body positive artist, fat activism, fat artist, Health at Every Size, instaartist, instagram artist, live your truth, size diversity Feb·12I’m writing an arts grant for my Beneath Our Skin Project and they ask applicants to write about their years as a “working artist.” So I’ve been reflecting on my path lately from the early rabbit cartoons I drew as a kid, the scar from an 8th grade linoleum tile carving project where I cut my thumb joint to the bone. Two years out of high school, when I returned to Nebraska to visit with my high school art teacher, “Teach” – a woman who was integral to my arts education, exposing me to as many mediums as possible in four years; often at her own expense – she asked me what I was working on. By then, I’d moved on to photography and I felt a little ashamed to say to her that I wasn’t painting or drawing any more. She looked at me and said, “you’ve just changed your medium.” I moved on to painting wall murals for a couple of years and volunteering to teach art lessons in a friend’s classroom and outdoor school. Upon entering college at 22, I took a couple of drawing classes but soon found myself leaning more towards writing as a craft. For years I’ve been writing pieces here and there. Working on a book idea or two. Published an essay in 2014. I’ve kept my hands busy with paper crafts and needlework, keeping my friends in scarves. Have painted a thing or two here and there. Two years ago I began to re-explore creativity through my master’s program and haven’t been able to stop being drawn to painting and making in various ways. So though “working artist” may not be the way people view me, I feel like I’ve been a working artist most of my life.
Posted in Fodder
Tagged authentic life, beneath our skin, body love, fat activism, instaartist, instagram artist, live your truth, self acceptance, working artist Feb·12So, with repeated encouragement from friends, I’ve decided to give this YouTube thing a go. Just me and a camera and my thoughts. Sometimes a little dog named Lafawnduh. Here’s the first one. Let me know what you think. If there’s something you want me to talk about, let me know.
Posted in Fodder
Tagged authentic life, lafawnduh, live your truth, snapchat, starbucks, supecute Nov·19It’s been a busy few months and I’m excitedly preparing to embark on a major new project that I’ll have more information for you on soon. Until then, please consider registering for this amazing conference. It’s virtual, so you can listen to it from a computer or phone anywhere. I’ll be speaking with many other talented and amazing people.
Posted in Fodder
Tagged activism, adventure, authentic life, body compassion, fat activism, HAES, Health at Every Size, live your truth, love, self acceptance, size diversity, Size Positive Jun·22William LealI’m having a day. A day in which it feels selfish just to say that, let alone write it down and share it with whomever might read. And yet, I’m doing just that…’cause, well, I’m having a day.There is an incredibly big world out there, with so much going on. Today especially, but really every day when one thinks about it. And I do. A lot. And yet, right here right now, there are lots of things going on too. Do you ever get shut down by the big picture? I do. Overwhelmed by all there is to do and all I want to do and knowing that there just isn’t ever going to be enough time to do it all anyway, so I just keep plugging away at the smaller things; the things that seem less important, less big, less incredible. And they are, but they also aren’t, because everything; even the little things are important.I’ve been beating myself up lately for feeling stuck. And I’m not stuck, it just has that appearance. By stuck, I mean working an 8-5; not socializing much; and being more sedentary than I’d like to be. But at the same time I’ve been feeling “stuck,” I’ve become president of a nonprofit board of directors; am pursuing a second advanced degree; am in the planning stages of a large project for said degree; am working both a full-time job and picking up some extra work each week as a virtual assistant; submitting writing for publication; occasionally dating; meeting new people and building friendships; taking care of myself and my space; committed to a regular yoga practice; pursuing creative projects; and maintaining communication with friends around the globe. Whew…that’s a lot! So clearly, the only thing that is stuck, is my head up my own arse!Funny how it can be hard to see that about oneself.I’ve been showing up to life a little bit messy lately. Unorganized, late, sometimes tired; often just shut down…compounded by this feeling both “stuck” and overwhelmed at the same time. I don’t like being messy, but I’ve been trying to cut myself a break and I’ve also just been trying to think about life in terms of waves and stages, or cycles. Everything, every living thing has a life cycle. And most living things have life cycles that are dependent upon the life cycles of others, creating systems that are often nestled within other systems and so on creating and sustaining everything we know that is in existence. I’ve noticed a cycling trend in my life that goes something like this… These moments in my life where I focus on professional pursuits; educational pursuits; and/or a full balanced life, cycle but they are also connected like cogs in the wheels of my existence and they pretty much make me who I am. So I need to find a way to just accept that. Besides, every moment I exist in right now, is because of every decision I’ve made either actively or out of absenteeism throughout my life.So I’m having a day…one of those days. The kind where I wake up a little bit from the stupor I’ve been stumbling through and look forward to a new day, or maybe just the next day, where I’ll hope to show up just a little less messy. But if I don’t, that will be ok too.
Posted in Fodder
Tagged balance, depression, existence, existential crisis, life choices, messy, selfish, shellfish, work life balance Mar·22Like most people I know, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook’s reminders of posts and events from 1 year ago, 2 years ago and more. And don’t even get me started on their attempt at allowing you to filter out the memories you don’t want to see, by date and tagged friends, seriously? But today, remembering was good. Although, lets not give all the credit to the book of face, I’ve been thinking about today for a while now, remembering, taking inventory, reflecting on the year gone by. There are milestones in all our lives that we mark, both those that are common (birthdays, weddings, deaths) but also those that are unique to each of us….Today is the “official” anniversary of the #adventure2015. On this date last year, I was packing up the last of my belongings in to my car and heading off away from the home I’d known for 10 years, friends, job security in search of adventure on the open road, new experiences, and good works. I’ve shared a lot about this journey in various forums and the posts where I captured some of the more engaging moments of the adventure can be found here in this blog over the past year. For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about today, the past year, how to mark it, what to say and share with others, all these things. Life has changed a lot for me. It started before I left on the adventure and that change and personal growth has continued, IS continuing everyday. And while I have moments of wishing I would have stayed put in my comfortable apartment, dancing on the weekends with the girls, and enjoying life in the sweet little niche I’d carved out for myself, I really have no regrets about the decision to go, explore, adventure.After sharing that today was my “adventure anniversary” with a friend via text, she responded with “Ten things you’ve learned. Go.” I couldn’t think of a better way to share today with all of you, than to share the most salient things I’ve learned from the past year. I’ve added an 11th thing, because it resonates with me in ways that I’ll write about down the line. My take away from all of this: adventure is always a good idea.Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown as you’ve gone along on this adventure with me. The adventure is never over…
Posted in Fodder Feb·22So beyond traveling, working, and moving, the thing I’ve been spending the most time and energy on is grad school. I’m kinda really digging it. If you are interested in exploring a bit about what I’m learning, here’s a link to my portfolio project for this semester.
Posted in Fodder Dec·23Receive notifications of new posts by email.
I’m excited about working in ways that help to catalyze social justice movements. So I’m following a calling to utilize my creative passion in writing and art to make change. As a fierce, fat, feminist, social justice activist; artist/writer; and blogger I paint and craft in ways that help share the stories of myself and others. Particularly the stories we hold in our bodies. I have an ongoing interest in systems thinking, movement building, gender/identity studies, fat studies/activism, story-telling and education transformation which I apply to my creative work and activism. Current project is Truth and Lives: Beneath Our SkinI’ve worked as an office administrator for several public and private universities in Oregon, California, and Texas; as Director of Operations for a national nonprofit; and engaged in a youth program based in Jackson, MS designed to interrupt the “school to prison pipeline,” through practices based in democratic education, restorative justice, and the development of emotional intelligence. I am currently living and working in Houston, TX.M.S. Leadership for Sustainability, University of Vermont
M.A. English Literature, Portland State UniversityPublications and Presentations"Dating While Fat: One Fierce Fat Girl's Experience," Politics of Size: Perspectives from the Fat Acceptance MovementThe Organization for the Study of Communication, Language & Gender National Conference (2014)
Popular Culture Association National Conference (2015 and 2017)
Fat Activism: Tools for the Revolution Conference (2016)