Straight up; this isn't like my usual posts. Although, this is something I feel particularly passionate about. All I ask is that you, please, take the time to read these words with an open mind and an open heart.
So here it goes...
Big words, I know. And I completely appreciate their weight. However, I am not about to discuss the gravity of everything that these two words mean to me. I won't talk about my dreams of seeing the battle of the sexes abolished, in favour for a balance of the sexes on a global scale. I would simply like to tell you of a local barber shop, just trying to do their bit for the lads of Adelaide.
Robbie's Chop Shop, quoted to be "The Last Male Sanctuary," resides on King William Road in Hyde Park. On the surface, it is a place where guys can go to get there hair cut and their face shaved. Easy, yeah? No. This establishment is limited to the more masculine sex. No women allowed.
I know, right? Dun-dun-duuuuuuun!! How can I possibly sleep at night knowing that there is a place where I am not welcome? That I cannot freely walk in, with my hard earned money, and pay for a service. All because I have a vagina?! What is this world coming to?
If you just had a "you tell 'em, girl!" moment, I will ask you to refrain. Robbie, and his faithful crew of amazing young men, have worked hard to provide a space that is purely for the boys. It is a place where men can go, hang out and take some time for themselves. Where they can feel safe to be who they are, free from judgement.
Look, let's face it (and I may just be speaking from my heterosexual view point, here) the dynamic between men changes when in the presence of women. Their behaviour becomes more subdued. Stifled, if I may say. I see a change in the behaviour of women when the situation is reversed. Whether it is girls trying to get noticed by some dude, or on the flip-side, feeling the need to completely emasculate their partners in front of their friends.
Think on this: Girls love to have their Girls Nights! Taking time to laugh, eat naughty food, share thoughts and, generally, just feel like they don't need to work as hard to be seen. Please note that this is a very generalised statement. I am not saying that all women are like this. But do we not enjoy being just with the girls on occasion? Do we not have all-women gyms? Places we can go to sweat, work hard and leave looking absolutely mangled without the fear of being seen by, dare I say it, a man?! Why even have these establishments if this is not the case?
You may not like to admit it, but the fact of the matter is that something in the air changes when men and women are in close proximity. Perhaps we feel we are to behave in a certain manner. Girls are (well, they were in my time) taught to be courteous, lady-like and assertive. Boys are told to behave, don't cry and "be a man." When we are around our own genders, these rules no longer apply. We are completely free to say, do and be what we feel is natural to us.
Now, this idea may not resonate with you. But think more broadly. For example: I am a woman, and I know how society, my upbringing and those around me make me feel. Therefore, I am not alone. Men and women, alike, are being controlled by the idea of what it is to be in their own body. Their gender becomes part of their identity.
I know it seems like I have strayed off the path and into the valley of where-the-hell-is-she-going-with-this? Please allow me to bring it on back for you. Robbie's Chop Shop is one little place where boys, potentially your boys, can go and feel comfortable being themselves. There is no premise of being anything more than one of the guys. Having a laugh, and leaving relaxed and looking dead-freaking-sexy.
I understand that there are women out there who would like to take their son's to Robbie's and get them all schmickafied. But I ask you this: Do you really need to be there, holding your son's hand while he gets his hair cut? What is it about this situation that frightens you? They are completely safe and will be taken care of. Chances are, they are going to have the best time ever! It also affords your little boy an opportunity to become the independent man you want him to be. It seems simple, but by allowing him to take responsibility for this tiny portion of his own life, you could be granting him the freedom to explore the person he was born to become. What a gift! Imagine that this small act of selflessness, on your behalf, is actually setting your child up for greatness!
Look, Ladies... We want equality. True equality. This doesn't need to continue as demands of what we want to take. I would love for us to start thinking about what we can offer. We don't need to be there. We don't need to invade every single space that men have previously sanctioned for themselves. Let our sons, boyfriends, husbands, brothers, cousins, fathers and grandfathers have one fucking space to call their own.
Ultimately... Haters gonna hate. If you feel any resistance to my words, I welcome free discussion. However, I implore you to take a few minutes to check in with that negativity you may be experiencing before making contact. Where does this fear come from?
Allow me to leave you with these final tasty nuggets of truth. I have a nephew, he has just celebrated his ninth birthday. It brings such unfettered joy to my heart that there is somewhere he can go to be supported by other men. Smart, funny, courageous and loving men, who can show him what it is to be a man today; creative, strong, masculine, beautiful, giving, kind, generous, loyal.
I, for one, want more men like this in the world.
Just a heads up: I've realised I use the word "shit" a fair amount in this post. You've been warned.
The idea of "you are what you eat" popped into my head this week. I sat with that thought for a little while and digested all that it meant to me. I realised that it goes so much further than just eating and drinking.
Digestion starts in the mouth. We place food in, chew (this is a good idea for those who don't do it, by the way), then swallow. The enzymes in the mouth start to break down the food being eaten, so the stomach doesn't have to work as hard (hence why chewing is so important). As this liquidy feast sloshes its way through the digestive tract, our cells and microflora absorb all the goodies (and the notso-goodies) that pass. I won't go through the entire digestive process for you here, but I'm sure you get the idea. At the end of the day, or the beginning for a lot of us, we excrete a product of our own making.
Such is the same with everything else we consume.
Our eyes take in the scene around us, the TV shows or movies we watch, and the actions of others. Our ears take in the music we listen to, the people who talk to us, and all audible signals around. We are consuming so much more than just what we put into our bodies physically.
If I surround myself with, let's say this outright, bitches, spinning their Bitchy McNegative-Bitchness, then this is exactly the thing I will become. I am absorbing all the hate that these people are producing. If I eat that shit up, my breath is going to stink. What else can I expect?
This doesn't necessarily have to be a meal I am willing to sit down to, napkin tucked into the front of my shirt and cutlery poised and ready in each clutching fist, there is such a thing as passive consumption. Negativity can latch on and seep its way into the bloodstream just by being surround by it. If one is immersed in shit... Well... If it looks like a duck and smells like a duck... Quack.
Everything we take into our bodies, in any shape or form, becomes part of us. One with us. And, if we are one, then we are it.
By purifying our thoughts and intentions, we are altering our internal environment. But this can only go so far. A person needs to cleanse their external environment as well. Otherwise, what is the point of trying to think cleanly, when everything that filters in is tainted with scum.
If there are people who make you unhappy, remove them from your life. (DISCLAIMER: I do NOT mean "from the face of the Earth. I mean, just stop allowing them to have a presence in your existence. I don't recommend nor condone murder.) If you live for the weekend because you hate your job, look for something else. And, yes, it is that easy. It just takes courage.
Find all the things that bring you joy and delight. Welcome them into your home, body, mind and soul, and become them. Become all that you love in this world. You, and all those around you, will thank you for it.
I'm here! Back and ready for procrastinating action!
Actually, this post is a vehicle to get me through, what seems to be, an endless voyage of self-doubt, -hate and stagnation. So, strap yourself in and feel the G's!!
(Somehow, I think it is going to be more of a playful "chitty-chitty" sound like Professor Potts' car. But hey, seat belts are always advised for safety.)
I haven't been so active on the Blog Scene (have you noticed?) and this is basically because life happens. So much life! And brain clutter! All these things that have to be done, and to be true, some of them do. I have noticed that, with all this life happening, my mental space has been filled with creative-fatigue.
Hearing the call to arms recently, with a commissioned chibi portrait of a sweet couple in the U.S. of A, forcibly broke that drought. But the artistic juices were quickly cut off at the source once complete. Here's a picture of that one, in case you didn't see it on Instagram:
Well, I'm getting that call yet again. But this for something I have never encountered, or even fathomed, before. I have been asked to make another portrait of not just one or two people, which is the most I've ever drawn, but twelve people. Yep. Epic. Not only this, but it has been discussed and requested that I make it in a style that is completely foreign to me.
Rather than my faithful, and very comfortable, chibi-style artwork, this client has asked if I could learn to draw more of a manga-style. I immediately felt resistance because it is so unfamiliar to me and, I believe, a more precise art form. Chibi is cute, it's fun and playful. There is something very serious about manga. However, after much back and forth discussion, I have taken this client's request on board.
I would like to add that the client isn't in the wrong for asking something of me that I don't typically do. He enjoys my work and wants to make a gift for his friends. He has merely put the question out there, it was completely within my power to answer "yes" or "no." And, as nervous as I am (that's an understatement, by the way. It is causing me to literally (and I mean that in the true sense of the word, not in the way the kids are using it nowadays) question my own existence) I know I can do this. It is going to take time and patience, but it will come to pass.
My struggle with this single, yet major, piece is sending a cascade of self-destructive thoughts through my entire being. Ridiculous, no? Just draw the bloody picture, Art Monkey, and be done with it! Oh! How I wish it was as easy as that for me. Alas, this is my process. So, how do I overcome these feelings of inadequacy and doubt? I'll tell ya! I've broken my week up and designated time to all the things I (think I) need to get done. I currently have a few things on my plate, so I have set aside a minimum of two hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to get this portrait moving. I will allow for more time, of course. The two hours is just to make sure I sit there for long enough to get something on paper. Once I get my groove on, it will snowball and the wondiferous magic that is Creativity will naturally occur.
Now, even I am thinking that six hours a week isn't much. But I need to remember that this isn't the only demand I have on my time AND it is only a starting point. So, by prioritising it on these three days, I know that there will definitely be times when I will sit at my desk with this task at hand. I will no longer be all over the place like a mad woman's hair. I have structure. And heaven knows I love structure. Truly. I'm not being sarcastic about that. Structure is da bomb!
Anyway, back on track. Now that I feel I have lots of little milestones to achieve, and not just one massive MUST FINISH ALL THE THINGS!, I know I have this in the bag. I figure, with the time I have set aside this week, I can get a rough outline of the piece... hopefully. The positioning of the people, at least. This gives me such relief. You know, like when you're busting for the loo so bad that you start doing the Anxious Dance, only to sit down and finally let go of everything you've been holding on to? Yeah. Good times.
So, yeah! I'll check in with y'all in the near future with some good news!
May the force be with you.