unapologetically happy

home and belonging

there are conversations in my head, always it seems, about home and belonging. I have come to the realization that I had ceased trying to find my home; I had become complacent with a halcyon that was not spiritually enriching. I aim to rectify that. because the longer I remain a misfit–constantly considering myself as Other–I won’t be unapologetically happy.

wasting paints | wip

translating a dream state

I BEGAN LAYERING PAINT, WITHOUT THINKING.
FLOWERS BLOOMED, AND I GUESS, THAT’S JUST ME, IN TRUTH, AN OPTIMIST WHO HAS FAITH IN THE SMALL PLEASURES OF THE WORLD. I THINK I’M TRANSLATING A DREAM STATE WHERE I’VE TRIED TO IMAGINE SUMMERLAND.

img_6783.jpg

NO PREDETERMINED PALETTE OR SUBJECT
JUST UNCONSCIOUS, WITH LACK OF ANY BRIGHT IDEAS OF WHAT MY STROKES AND LAYERS WOULD BE LEADING TO. AND ISN’T THAT JUST LIKE US?

faith & déja vu: fl☞va

a large part of what you believe & defending what you are passionate about, is accepting that others will disagree with you

a feminist visits danville, va


photograph by Kyle Koppe

I left the place I called home…

 

I miss Massachusetts. I miss my family. I miss my dear friends. I even miss the people  I didn’t much care for. And why? Because they still hold a place in my memories, and helped me grow to be the resilient, confident, & imaginative person that I am.

My home has been defined by lineage dating back to the Mayflower + the 1840 potato famine in Ireland; & while I roam around in the humid air with sand between my toes, my loved ones still shovel in the winters + appreciate warmer ocean water for one month out of the entire year.  A large part of me wants to go back and stay, but I am on a mission to better understand the world, starting with the country I live in.

Now that I’ve eased you in, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Danville, Virginia. 

If I thought I experienced culture shock moving to Jacksonville, I had no idea what I’d be in for driving to Georgia, South/North Carolina, into VA.

I grew up in a liberal state, with city friends, in a suburban mindset, with not much to want for. I always dreamt of the rural, of the countryside in England. And when I went there, I felt more at home and at peace with my soul than I ever had in my entire life, with ehe exception of a recurring dream I’ve had since I was five years old.

But in just a couple of days, I’ve witnessed an entirely different pace of life; a simplicity which survives on prayers and blessings. And it isn’t to say that all people here are christian, but the ones that aren’t certainly wouldn’t dare admit it. There are enough signs quoting the bible to remind you where you are, who your company is, and what sort of respect the community demands.

In Boston, you could shout, “THE DEVIL IS MY MAKER,” and some people would laugh, some owed simply stare, and other would join you in the parade. But here, I imagine something much more like shunning would occur. I can’t rightly say. 

And even JAX has its moments where I fear my own spirituality would not be accepted. There are men holding signs on the street, offering you heaven if you accept Jesus, and hell if you don’t.

But here, those signs are on front lawns; there are children holding confederate flags before grand southern churches beside their kin, while black men and women stay away on another part of the street. I can’t imagine what they’re thinking; if they’re used to it, or if it just makes them sad. All I could think was, ‘You would never see this back home,’ and that’s when I wondered, do I consider JAX my home? Or was I thinking of Andover + the likeminded people that helped shape me to be an inclusive, open person, who wants to be confided in & experiences of others shared with.

I first found out about Jesus at the lunch table in 4th grade. I had heard his name before, but never had my parents explained much of him to me. I asked my friend about him, and she said, “He’s the son of God, our savior.” I remember nodding and smiling because I found it to be poetic.  I went home that day and asked my mom, “Do we believe in Jesus?” And my mother said, “We celebrate Christmas. We are christian.” That was the only explanation I had. I never read the bible. I still prayed every night before bed, but not because I was taught to, but because I still knew of god without being told of God. God just meant something different to me than the other kids at school, and I found that intriguing.

When I was twelve, I wanted to know more about religion. So I researched, I asked around, I was invited to different religious rites of passage, I made friends of different faiths, including atheists and agnostics. I structured the commonalities in my mind, so that I might better understand the root of it all, and what I found was love, fear, existence & the afterlife. I developed a sensitivity and passion; an automatic acceptance of sort, to all people, of all faiths. To all people, of all genders, and all beliefs.

The culture of this town has certainly transported me in time and minutes, but I find it precious and important to be able to understand the psychology of others; to fault others for what they’ve been taught, for what they’ve confided in, and the spaces that have made them feel comfortable creatively, mentally and physically.

It is so hard not to use the word ‘Ignorance.’ Because when one acts with anger to the belief system of others, one becomes ignorant. Speech can be violent, detrimental, hurtful, spiteful, and often breeds discomfort. But a large part of what you believe & defending what you are passionate about, is accepting that others will disagree with you; some might even be afraid of your thoughts for what they challenge, what they question. Do not be complacent or silent, but know when fewer words are better for your own soul, and for the audience who does not listen, but prepares to answer.

with love,

Belle

 

travel

 

apollo

this is how I imagine us

this is how I imagine you
sitting below deck beside a round window full with a wet blue sky of salt and fish
there’s a novel in your hand by someone who is not you;  light around you, but what’s inside is drowning from the doubt and Time

this is how I imagine me
a spirit in the woods weaving through old trees as ancient as my soul
there is a burrow where I hide my secrets, and a small meadow where I dance and write and sing; light above me, but my heart is forever clinging coolly to the shade

this is how I imagine us
we are near the forest and the sea, where light touches everything
there are grand windows, spools of thread, cascades of books, by us and by them
our walls are filled with what we find beautiful and harmful and true
there is a garden with old trees, butterflies, and a rocky shore
beyond is our escape, an unnamed boat that dips and turns at the dock, tied to its rope as
I am tied to your will


this is how I imagine us
a life where we have everything because we have each other
neither is left behind
feelings never overlooked
promises never left unfulfilled
a scale eternally balance
two souls forever curious and adventurous. 

 

 

one in three

collect the courage to tap the shoulder of one person and say, “I’m lost and I’m scared

Shine the light on those who need help battling their darkness.

The private battles are the ones I admire most. The people who aren’t crying out for attention, but rather manage to collect the courage to tap the shoulder of one person and say, “I’m lost and I’m scared.” I see people filling their bellies by throwing a line blindly into a sea of social media platforms prepared to praise and make them a celebrity for their pain. Shortly, we forget the message: there are people who have and who are going through this right now. What about them? The faceless souls wandering around without hope. Those are the people I want to talk to, those are the stories I want to hear face-to-face. Those people, those stories, are all around us. Open your eyes. Be known for what you make happen for yourself, not for what has happened to you. Be intimate and private, not secretive or loud about your struggles. Venture out into the world prepared to help someone else, to inspire, motivate, and prevail.

the american melting pot

a bug in the house of power manifests in bloodshed and violence, protest and oppression, revolution and amendment

acceptance | considering proximity and choice

The American Melting Pot: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I remember thinking when I was ten, “Wow! I live in a country where as a woman I can vote, speak my mind, and dress how I want!” Once I grew up, however, I realized: Yes, I have rights, but so does the person who stands against me, tears down my beliefs and opinions, and reacts to my physical presence in an inappropriate manner, shouting, “It’s my right!” It’s a complicated world full of differing beliefs, combating perspectives, and very polar opposite upbringings. So, who is right? We talk a lot about that. We shout out the name proudly of what contender best suits our viewpoint best. In actuality, the presidential candidates aren’t going to 100% reflect our deepest and realest ideas of a better country. If they do, well good for you, but holy shit some things people say are so right or left wing. I think, though, there is a rising generation of young voters who are stuck in the middle, and I’d like to believe that I am apart of that generation where things aren’t black and white, they are gray: because, America, we ARE a mix of cultures, colors, beliefs and values, and at some point, we have to compromise and meet somewhere in the middle. (Oh, and I think it’s pretty darn cool we can all get to know each other. Maybe try it sometime?)

When I was a little girl, I thought about ethnicity and nationality in these terms: Where did your parents’ parents come from? Where did you move here from? How long has your family been in Massachusetts? Do you like it here? What religion does your family follow? Can I come with you to see what that festival is all about? Oh, that’s different, teach me more. I genuinely liked learning about people’s cultures and the super weird, super awesome things they did that I was innocently and joyously baffled by.

I remember talking to a Jewish boy at school. I was middle school age and I had grown up with this kid. He was always in my school district, and although we weren’t close friends, I thought he was a stand-up guy. He was smart and made really cool observations in class. I thought, this kid is going places. ANYWAY…We were talking about winter break and how excited we all were to have vacation. I told him how I had gotten my family some really thoughtful presents that year and how I hoped I would get that brand new iPod, or whatever the hell it was I was asking for that Christmas, and he stopped and said, “I didn’t get my family any Christmas presents.” And I was like, Yo! Hold up! This kid’s a jerk. “No Christmas presents?” I said, put off. “That’s so mean!”

He laughed and said, “I’m not mean. I’m Jewish!”

I felt like such a fucking asshole.

No crap he didn’t buy his family presents, he isn’t Christian. I immediately apologized and told him that I didn’t even think about it. I hadn’t talked to him about his religious beliefs before and I had wrongly assumed he was Christian. And I should mention, I wasn’t even brought up devout, I literally just celebrated Christmas because it became more of a consumerist tradition in my house than something pious.

But, back to the point, I learned something. I became very sensitive to the beliefs and cultures of other people, not because I wanted to be politically correct, but because I wanted to be a better, more sensitive human being. So, as I met Muslims, Wiccans, people from different sects of Christianity, etc., I learned to listen and research and embrace people’s belief systems. And although race is a completely different issue, I applied the same philosophy there too. I could never understand someone’s journey to equality, their struggle to be not only accepted, but respected among other members of society, and their family’s history that brought them to America, but I could relate to them from pieces of their stories, the emotion that drove them to be angry with the world, thankful for their opportunities, and passionate in their desire to create a better future for generations to come.

The emerging group of young people have had a lot of smack talked about them. Seriously, the older generation thinks we’re idiots, yet they hope we step up and do the right thing when the time comes. Well guys, hate to break it to you, but we’re inheriting a wild mess over here, as previous generations have also felt. And to be honest, you can’t have a new country (and yes, we are very new) without lots of bugs to work out along the way. Unfortunately, a bug in the house of power manifests in bloodshed and violence, protest and oppression, revolution and amendment. Our country started in small homes with dim candlelight over a dinner table, and a functional, loving future will also start in our homes. It starts in our love for our little ones and the basic respect for humankind we teach them. Because, believe it our not, the poison we all fear: hatred, can be combated with love, tolerance and respect. Respect your differences, learn about the other person, look them in the eye and tell them, “I may not agree with you, or understand you yet, but I do not want to harm you, insult you, or extinguish what makes you, you.”

So, that’s my spiel. It’s not a plan for world peace or a resolution to the deeply engrained stereotypes we have so subconsciously integrated into the way we behave, but it’s a start. It’s a vow that I will teach my children and the people around me that “tolerance” isn’t what we are fighting for. We are fighting for people to feel a natural love for their neighbor, their opponent, even their enemy, because once you understand empathy and subjectivity, you can open your mind to the way one action, one statement, and one seemingly meaningless exchange on the playground can change the way you treat others forever.