The Shapes We Make

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY

Kate WeinerComment

I'm having one of those days where I feel like a poop person because I guess I'm just like every other human and have ups and downs WHY. So I went to the Whole Foods to do my grocery shopping (I bet you didn't know I am actually a Patagonia-clad mama to Juniper and Jasper—my Australian shepards) and then I suddenly remembered how a year and a half ago, newly graduated from college and living in a dangerously unventilated attic, I used to go to the Whole Foods to forage for free samples after my job on a farm. 

Suddenly, that memory—of rolling into the Whole Foods in my dirty shortalls, prowling for free food—warmed my heart. Because it made me realize that in the last two years, I have come a LONG way. 

I'm never sure when or how growth happens but it is always so riotously beautiful to me when you take a step out of your life and look back at the many sad, gorgeous, happy, strange, and unsettling moments that guided you to where you are now. A year and a half ago, I was subletting from this god awful couple who hid all the pots and pans from me after I accidentally used their frozen pizza tray to roast veggies. I supplemented my job on a farm—where I was nearly fired for not cleaning the radishes enough—with three part-time gigs. I would've been lost if not for my rad friend Linda, who volunteered on the farm where I worked and had  seen some s**t. Linda was in her fifties and worked as a cook on a tugboat. She inspired me to just go for it, and so I did. 

The summer wrapped up and I moved home to work at my dream farm-to-table venue where I spent an eerily warm fall helping with weddings (not my dream) and I was sad and unsure and wracked with eco-anxiety. So I found work in San Diego, where my first room was in a damp apartment condo managed by a crack dealing landlord, and I cried a lot because I still felt sad and unsure and wracked with eco-anxiety. The first meal that I ate in that windowless kitchen was with rainbow chard and blood red beets. In my haste, I'd forgotten to wash the veg clean of the sand. So I made a big pot of rocks, really, and took one bite and cried (again), because I was tired of not doing anything right and living in houses that weren't my home.

So I moved again, this time two blocks from the beach, and then again, to a family friend's home, and then to the mountains because I wanted to swim in alpine lakes. And then I lost my job, and sifted through an endless slew of freelance gigs, and I found a new job, and a new home. And I filled my room with plants that put me at peace because it's always been my dream to live in a little Eden so full of snake plants and philodendrons that you can barely find the bed. 

And somewhere—sandwiched in between the sadnesses that clawed their way like weeds, in between the houses that didn't hold me close, in between the loves I let go—good things bloomed, gave life to people and places and moments I am forever grateful for. I won awards for my environmental activism and traveled the country speaking to communities about sustainability. I was paid for pieces that were published. I garnered grants to fund my art. I have made things that are beautiful and that I'm proud of. I have felt so very sad but also so very alive with hope.

I don't know where I'll be in the next few months. I'm thinking a treehouse. But I love knowing that I can trust that whatever I do, it will bring me closer to where I want to be—even if I can't name it yet, or may never be able to. There's beauty in recognizing that growth always happens, that homes & loves & plans dissolve only to come back together. Again. And again. And again. 

MERMAID TAROT TUESDAY: The Chariot

Inner GoddessLily MyersComment

Sometimes a card jumps out of the deck while I'm shuffling, and I just know it's the right one. It's like the deck is taking over my shuffling, like, yeah, we got this from here. This week, on the 7th day of March, the 7th card of the Major Arcana jumped out: The Chariot.

This is one of the most energizing cards in the deck. Its key word is momentum. The Chariot is about forward motion, sitting in the driver's seat in confidence. It's about steering. Whatever direction you want to go in, now is the perfect time to take direct actions to go there. This card reminds us that we hold the reins (the reins of the metaphorical pink dolphins, yes). We're always in the driver's seat; we can find a way to change or affect any situation. There's always an action for us to take.

If you have major goals, this card is a strong nudge to start working more concretely on them. If there are any blockages you feel have been stopping you from working toward these goals, this card is like a permission slip to simply override them. It's a pass-go-and-do-collect-200 card: just keep moving forward, it says, and don't worry about every little thing along the way. The important thing is maintaining momentum and not falling into stagnation. So don't worry if the circumstances aren't perfect; they never will be. Just take a step forward.

The truth is, you have no idea of the places you'll end up. Your potential is quite literally limitless. Often we think we can predict where our actions will get us, but we can't. The island-fantasy-land pictured on this Chariot card reminds us that when we take action to pursue our goals, we can end up in places better and dreamier than we ever imagined. Trust that your actions will take you to newer, bigger and better places. Even if it feels like you're blindly taking steps forward, that's fine. That's how you get somewhere new.

Change is the only constant in our lives. The Chariot celebrates change, affirming that motion is what keeps everything fresh, exciting, and alive. Since everything's changing anyway, why not take the reins and decide what direction you want to go in? You're in the driver's seat (er, shell), you mermaid!

It's a great week to: make a vision board, work on applications, continue a project that's stagnated, set goals in your planner, make a list of life-goals, send messages or requests you've been meaning to send, finish your half-done to-do list, run or dance, start a project, assume a leadership position.

Happy driving, mermaidz. xo

WHAT I HAVE TIME FOR (AND WHAT I 100% DON'T)

Kate WeinerComment

Since Trump's election, the urgency of my work in environmentalism has been overwhelming. Long before Trump, I was prone to panic but lately, every few days brings with it a fresh spiral into eco-anxiety. I love our world so freaking much. I love the seasons. I love the diversity of species and seeds and stories. I don't want to lose what gives us life.

So of course, I've been convinced that I don't have time to make a mistake or to waste a moment. And it's very draining. And it's not helping me do better by our precious planet or the people I care about. That's why I sat down and wrote this list of things that I actually don't have time for. 

Because I do have time to mess up. I have time to be silly and stupid and spend hours watching Jane the Virgin. I have time to read all sweet Sunday and take aimless hikes and treat myself to a hot chocolate on the way home because WHY NOT? 

But everything below? That's some stuff I don't have time for: 

 

REGRET

I love that Maya Angelou quote—"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better"—because to me, it helps free me from the self-hate that I feel about how I didn't give my ex the sufficient space that he needed after our breakup. A year and a half later, I'm still angry at myself for failing to be "better." And I'm even angrier that I can't forgive myself. I desperately want to let go of that deep fear that I am a flawed and fundamentally unlovable person. 

But that self-hate doesn't heal or help. I was working then with the emotional toolkit I had. Now that I know better, I do do better. I look at my sweet self—full of love, compassion, joy, hope, bone-deep empathy, soulful drive—and think I am stronger, more thoughtful, and more generous because I sometimes did things (and continue to) that were vulnerable, impulsive, and driven by fear. 

 

SELF-HATE

See above. I just have books to write and gardens to tend to and places to BE, man. 

 

MEAN BODY TALK

Thanks to an unending loop of miracles, I am alive. And every time I'm like AM I ACTUALLY REALLY WEIRD LOOKING? I remember that my legs move and my heart beats and my eyes are the same as my father's and for all of those reasons—and a million and one more—I am a seriously lucky duck. 

 

DOUBT

Even when I was a little kid, I was always super clear on what I did want to do and what I didn't. I was remarkably confident in my decisions and comfortable doing my own thing (e.g. telling myself stories as I rode my bike up and down my dead end street until someone came out of their house to interrupt my reverie and I immediately went home to moodily eat a snack). To this day, I have a strong internal compass. I know when I vibe with somebody. I know when I don't. I know when I mean "yes." I know when I mean "no." But so often, I fight against the strength of my inner convictions.

Doubt isn't the same as being unsure. I feel that a lot! To me, doubt is when your heart knows the deal but your mind is afraid. And doubt in my power isn't where I want to put my precious time.

 

SEXIST STUFF

I'm talking about smooches who don't respect your time and guys who tell you to smile and folks who talk over you. That's not something we need to accommodate. Our voices have value.

A few months ago, I was working for a super sexist boss and sucking it up because it was my only reliable source of income. Until one day I decided I did not have to accept this, challenged him at a meeting, quit that afternoon, and shared his sexist comments with the Board of Directors. I didn't want to waste any more of my time working for someone who truly didn't respect me. And because of that, I carved out the space in the weeks that followed to find a job that I love and apply for grants to fund my creative endeavors. It's so scary to put ourselves first but I'm proud that I did. 

 

We will always have time for the things that truly matter. I learn that every evening when I stop myself from working well into the night to make myself a nourishing meal or to go for a sunset hike with my friend. And we can always make more time in our lives by cutting out that stuff that is truly not worth our vital energy. We get this one go (maybe more!) and I want it to be good. Not perfect. But rich in opportunities to learn, love, mess up, make art, and do it all over again? Hell yes. I've got the time for that. 

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4 REASONS I'M (STILL) OBSESSED WITH GRIMES

Mindful MediaLily MyersComment

I only discovered Grimes a few months ago (I know, I'm super late to the party). But once I heard her stuff, I was COMPLETELY, 100% HOOKED. It only took half a song for me to fall in love with her. By now, I've listened to her latest album, Art Angels, over a hundred times. It's the most delicious, weird, catchy, insane ear-candy. But what keeps me coming back to Grimes isn't just her insanely good tunes, it's how amazingly unique she is as an artist. Everything she makes is entirely her. She creates everything herself, and doesn't apologize for any of it. So here are four reasons I'm obsessed with her, and four ways she inspires me as a female creative to take charge and make some fuckin' work.

1. She makes everything--everything--herself.

Not only does Grimes write, create, sing, engineer, and produce all her own tracks, she also directs her own music videos and draws her own album artwork. Yeah. That creepy awesome 3-eyed alien pictured above is her own visual art. So cool, right?! She takes control of each part of the process, refusing to compromise her vision. She's refused many offers from males in the industry to produce her tracks for her, she told the New Yorker: "'I can’t use an outside engineer,' she says. 'Because, if I use an engineer, then people start being, like, ‘Oh! That guy just did it all.’' Beneath the surface of Boucher’s love of pop lies a political critique. 'It’s a mostly male perspective—you’re mostly hearing male voices run through female performers,' she says. 'I think some really good art comes of it, but it’s just, like, half the population is not really being heard.'" She's not just the pretty female face to this music. It's her creation, start to finish.

2. She can't be pigeonholed.

Grimes plays a bunch of characters, in her lyrics as well as her videos. Grimes herself is a character, played by Claire Boucher, the Canadian artist behind the project. It's liberating to watch an artist take on multiple personas, because we all have these multitudes inside ourselves. It's super awesome to embody alter egos and play up different parts of our personality, but we're often pressured to create one cohesive narrative of who we are. Watching Grimes' videos reminds me that we don't have to do that; we can embrace our multiple personas. It's so wildly freeing to do that; I seriously have whole days where I walk around pretending to be Lana Del Rey (we're all friends here, right?) Embodying multiple characters, Grimes can then explore different sides of herself and her artistic abilities, like when she made the song Kill V. Maim to show her more aggressive side. She plays multiple characters in that video (which she directed and edited; see reason 1, above). Grimes reminds me that I can have alter egos, and I can portray them in my work. You contain multitudes, y'all.

3. She uses her platform for social justice.

Grimes directly uses her large online platform to advocate for what she believes in: feminism, animal rights, supporting artists of color, immigration rights, and more. She's environmentally conscious and mostly vegan (though she eschews absolutes, which I love) Her Twitter is full of re-tweets of links, organizations, and articles to raise awareness about multiple political and global issues. And it's not a watered-down or shiny version of feminism or environmentalism that she publishes; it's direct, straight from her to her followers, not from the mouth of some publicist. She doesn't care about pleasing everyone; she's just using her platform to further the causes she believes in.

4. Her style is entirely her own.

Grimes' style is entirely unique, and it's completely WIERD. I freakin' love it. She always looks different, with wildly changing hair colors, accumulating tattoos, and a range of style influences from steampunk to goth to high fashion. She doesn't portray a single "image" or "brand"; she's not polished and refined, but is rather bursting with vibrant weird LIFE. She's not afraid to get dark and creepy with her style, but she also doesn't eschew brightness and color. I don't know about you, but that's the type of style that actually makes me excited: when someone expresses their wild uniqueness, their range of artistic fantasies and identities. She doesn't follow trends or blend in but completely stands out from the crowd, unafraid to wear crazy ensembles of stuff that always end up looking amazing-- because she wears them with such ease and confidence. She's my no. 1 style icon for just that reason: she's wacky, totally herself, and unconcerned with playing it safe. She uses fashion and style as art, as experimentation, as expression, and that's the only way it's fun.

Did I mention I love Grimes? Okay, now I need to go listen to Art Angels all the way through again. Peace out.

BACK ON THE FOXY SOULFLOWER TRAIN

Kate WeinerComment

As any devoted SWM reader will likely know (e.g. my mom, sometimes), my memoir is titled "Back On The Crazy Train." Lily's is "I'm Not Above Eating The Cocoa Powder" because one time, I left sad Lily alone in my room to sleepover at my dumb boyfriend's house—bad friend moment, Lil, I won't ever abandon you again—and she ate almost all of my cocoa powder. Raw. With a spoon that she then delicately left by my pillow. Memories, man.

Anyway, lately I've been thinking that I would like to try riding a new train for a while. It's the "Foxy Soulflower" train because (1) I am a foxy soulflower and (2) I have been forgetting that as of late. I've been so wrapped up in work, in late-night panic about the climate & Trump & whether I am going to ever finish my book, that I neglect to celebrate my essential, sensuous, silly self.

And I love my essential self! I love the me that eats too much garlicky pasta under the stars and wears my hair in messy French braids and dances endlessly at parties. I love eating nourishing food and walking in the wild world; I love moisturizing with luscious oils and writing in my journal as the record player purrs; I love laughing too hard and sleeping in the shade. 

Part of working my way back into the foxy soulflower groove is being truthful about what experiences wrestled me away. I can give more to this world when I'm more generous with myself and so I've had to ask: How am I being stingy with self-love? And why?

Each one of us has an "essential self" (sometimes several!) that we should celebrate and tend to on the reg. But when the going gets rough, we can lose touch with that wild child within. I know that for myself, eco-anxiety, a new job, and residual pain from someone who makes me feel worthless continue to shape my ability to access my foxy soulflower self. I have this fear that I think I'm a better person than I actually am and then I work harder to be better so that I really can be "enough" and I then I get down on myself because I am—like every other human bean—wildly imperfect and perpetually winging it. Crazy, right?

I don't always harbor this fear. In spite of my memoir title, I am sometimes super cool and collected! Like when I'm napping. But it's there, and I think it's always healthy to shed light on what's eating at you so you can have a good laugh at yourself. 

In the spirit of taking care of my foxy soulflower self, I'm dedicating this weekend to nurturing her. I've got a literal barrel of pasta I'm planning on cooking up this evening and the ingredients for my homemade moisturizer on hand and a stack of good books to read as I watch the snow fall outside my window. I've got plans with friends for fries & red wine and a new top that's going to look FINE when I go out dancing. 

We can't be serious & striving every day. There is important work to be done in this world but sometimes, the most important work you can do is to take a moment to be your delicious self.