“Mistakes” are actually the unexpected beautiful quirks that transform your planned semi-copy into You

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Painting this taught me again how sometimes “mistakes” are actually the unexpected beautiful quirks that transform your planned semi-copy into You.

That butterfly in the middle was a mistake. I accidentally applied too much black paint when I tried to replicate a very complex, intricate, and elegant design by somebody else. I thought I screwed up the painting and I gave up on it because I was disappointed. (“I paint to feel happy and relaxed, you dumb canvas. Not to feel like a failure again. Eff art! I want pizza.”)

I came back a little while later in that all blobbed up, brainless, relaxed-I-can’t-possibly-screw-up-my-life-any-more-so-let’s-eff-up-more-and-have-fun-with-it playful state, and lo-and-behold, hideous black blob trying to be somebody else began metamorphosing into butterfly.

But I didn’t notice what was happening because I was so absorbed in my blobby, brainless, happy state just playing away. Suddenly failure metamorphosed into playful, inspired experimentation.

The ceramic paint marker I abandoned after using it on a series of failed Christmas gifts (failed, because I forgot to dry each mug in the oven after and so the designs washed off after the first contact with water) I realized I could use to draw the intricate interior.

The supplies I received as gifts from two “failed” relationships added the sparkle and the color. My sister’s love on a day I felt anxious and sad added the gold (Sharpie pen paint).

The desire for validation created the black blob, but it also led to surrender when I once more failed to make up for past scars on my self-esteem by trying to be the perfect somebody else.

And as I stepped back to view the result – tired, bloated, but happy – I saw how long- ago heartbreaks and disappointments sought a canvas to create beauty instead of more pain via self-destruction.

I guess this piece taught me on an even deeper level that it’s not the canvas – the finished outcome – but the story behind it that creates the meaning, far more valuable of a thing than how perfect the piece turned out to be. And it’s that, to be honest, the story – the art’s story, your story, my story – that is why I doodle, why I write, why I do anything.

And when I remember it’s about the bigger story of me – us- the why and what did it all mean…I guess failure and success can’t really apply.

Now onto the next mind f***. I mean, piece.

To End Violence Against Women, End Violence Against Boys

A piece I wrote published in UC Berkeley’s The Chronicle of Social Change:

In her quest to achieve some semblance of justice in the world and in her own life, abuse survivor Rachael Kay Albers angrily sought refuge in feminism.

Until one day, she noticed an irony: In her aggressive approach to fighting for a more humane world, she was becoming like her abuser.

“I was becoming an angry, militant activist, simply participating in and replicating the greater cycle of violence,” Kay Albers said. “As I began to recognize some of my own abuser’s characteristics in myself, he turned from abuser to human. I started looking at these issues from a place of empathy and compassion.”

Like many social problems, gender-based violence stems from myriad root causes. From child abuse to cultures of violence, the intersections highlight how the common ‘oppressor versus oppressed’ narrative fails to paint the full picture.

Research conducted in 2010 by the International Center for Research on Women [ICRW] illustrates this complexity, demonstrating that a significant number of men who abuse their partners were themselves abused as children. The reverse is also true, by the way: most abuse victims do not go on to be abusers.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) referenced the study when she introduced H.R. 1340 – the International Violence Against Women Act – on March 6, 2015. Unlike its failed predecessor in 2010, it emphasizes engaging and helping boys and men.

“The fates of the two genders are intertwined; for women to thrive, men and boys must be part of the gender equality agenda,” said Gary Barker, co-founder of MenEngage, in a column for New America.

Often in global conversations, abuse is oversimplified into an us-versus-them issue. But as the ICRW study illustrates, such a depiction doesn’t accurately capture the whole story. By dichotomizing one party as good and the other as bad – male or female – it can prevent further exploration into the deeper roots of gender issues that could help make the world more humane for all.

The ICRW study notes men who abused their partners were often abused as children, it doesn’t take into account women are more likely to be child abusers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2013 Child Maltreatment Report published in January 2015, 53.9 percent of perpetrators were women while 45 percent were men.

Perhaps, then, the “solution” here is to simply accept there isn’t just one. Social problems are too grey for black and white diagnoses and solutions – the humans they involve, too vast for victim and villain.

Or as Kay Albers succinctly puts it: “We’ve all been socialized into accepting violence as normal. [We need] open spaces to have these conversations. Be open to dialogue…to learn and to self-reflect.”

https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/opinion/to-end-violence-against-women-end-violence-against-boys/10104