Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Best Advice I've Ever Given

A few years ago, I went into a gas station in my hometown to buy cigarettes. The cashier was a friend of mine and he knew about my inspirational writing and the kind of "out of the norm" life I live. Outside the gas station sat a girl, all knees and elbows, around 15 years of age.

My friend said to me, "Would you sit and talk with her a bit? She's getting disheartened about her life." So I said, "Sure," and I went outside to talk to this girl.

I sat on the bench across from her, outside this run-down gas station and as I looked across the table, I saw myself looking back at me. Large brown eyes that shone both hope and despair. Long brown hair, brushed but not styled. And I thought back to myself at her age.

Given all the years and experiences that separated the 15-year-old Bri and the 27-year-old Bri, what would I say to my past self, if I was given the opportunity? In the humid August evening, I spread out my long cotton skirt. I sat and talked to this girl who could have been me.

"This is the best advice I can think of to give you," I said. I took a long drag of my cigarette and exhaled it for dramatic emphasis. "I want you to go out into the world and fuck up."

This young girl's mouth dropped open. That was exactly the reaction I was looking for. I knew, at that moment, she was hearing me. I knew that I had just cut through all the walls that all 15-year-old girls put up between themselves and adults. With those two final little words, I had her.

"Let me explain," I said. "The best thing that can happen to you is for you to finish high school and go on to college. From there, I want you to go out and explore this world. I want you to talk to people that you think you have nothing in common with. Become friends with them. Go out and have adventures. Make mistakes. Make HUGE mistakes. Inconvenience everyone around you - friends, family, lovers. Because through your mistakes and your fuck-ups, you'll learn not only who you are, but who and what you really want to be."

I talked to this girl for almost two hours. I told her stories of my life. I listened to stories of hers. In the end, she went her way and I went mine. I haven't seen her, again.

But my advice stands. And it's the best advice I can give to anyone, really. Everything transformative that I've ever experienced and every great story that I recount at dinner parties? They often started out as really bad decisions.

"Hey! I'm going to hop into a car with 6 people I barely know and go camping 1,900 miles away. There'll be about 30,000 other people around in a state park - none of which have showered in 2 weeks. There won't be any toilets or cell phone reception, but I'm gonna come back with a puppy!"

"Hey! I'm going to go and dress up in Medieval garb. At 11:00 pm, somewhere in Pennsylvania with myself dressed like a hippy and my friend dressed like a Catholic priest, we're going to go get carryout beer from the only bar we can find. It happens to be a biker bar and the guy who's staying with the car? He'll be crocheting a scarf in the back seat!"

"Hey! I'm going to strap myself to a guy I don't know and jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet with nothing between myself and death but a thin sheet of nylon!"

See? Bad decisions.

But each and every one not only turned out for the best, but gave me an experience and memories I'll carry, forever. Essentially, each horrible decision and each fuck-up, they made me who I am, today. I am grateful for each and every time I made a mistake, each time that I stepped outside my comfort zone and each time that I said, "Well . . . why not?" Each time, adventure happened. And each time, I learned a little bit more about who I was, as a person.

During our daily routine, we get stuck. We begin to think that who we are during our routine life is who we really are, at our core. This is almost never the case.

Camping with 30,000 other people, I learned that I am not alone in my strangeness and that there are many different ways of existing in the world. Walking into a biker bar dressed in crazy costumes? I learned that I can be adaptive in awkward situations. Jumping out of a plane? I learned that I am strong, confidant, brave and that I can FLY!

And that's the truth. So I urge you all to take risks and make some bad decisions. I encourage you to fuck-up and fail and flounder and be confused. Stretch and do something you've never done before.

My comfort zone expanding as of late? I auditioned for a movie (which I didn't get), and I'm competing in a landscape art competition this weekend. I've never done A) an art competition or B) landscape painting, so I'm really psyched to be pushing my art envelope in this new way.

What are you doing to push your comfort zone? What do you find when you're outside of it? Let me know. I'd love to hear your stories!

Until next time, remember that every single one of us are visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Love to All,


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Monday, July 22, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Source of Strength

Through the course of writing this blog (it's almost 1 year old!), there is a comment that keeps coming up, time and again. It's not one that I mind, but it's one that confuses me.

I write to inspire. I write to encourage and I write to share my story. I written about testifying in court against my mother and how I'd like to approach my own death. I've written about what it's like to skydive, what it's like to have a stroke and what it's like to have PTSD.

The comment / compliment that keeps coming up, throughout my sharing stories with you is about how strong I am.

To this compliment, I normally reply, "At the end of the day, we're a lot stronger than we think we are," and this is true, but it's not the end of the statement.

Yes, I've had a lot happen to me in my short 32 years. Yes, I've had many adventures and weathered many storms, but I don't think I'm necessarily "stronger" than anyone else. When it comes down to it, there are two options of dealing with what this world can throw at you. You can either weather it and let your story continue, or you can let it break you.

Gandhi has a nice quote about this:

Most of the time, I've chosen to weather things, seek help and try to move beyond them. I choose to not surrender. Most of the time, even through depression and Lupus, I convince myself that my story isn't going to end with the latest setback. I remind myself that my story isn't all written, yet, and that there are many shining and brilliant days awaiting me.

Maybe that, in itself, is strength - refusing to "go quietly into that good night."

But, again, I don't see myself as a "strong person." I merely see myself as a person who decided to not let the bottoming-out define me. We all have failures. We all have tragedies and mistakes and oopsies in our past, but we don't have to let them define who we are, forever.

Yes, I'm depressed and have anxiety. Yes, I grew up in an abusive home and I have health problems. But those things are merely facts about me and things that happened. They are not "me."

In the movie, Dark City, a race of aliens is searching for the existence of the human soul by swapping people's memories between different bodies. At the end of the movie, the aliens state that the soul is more than just the sum of our memories. Our past influences who we are, today and in the future, but we are more at our core than just the sum of our memories.

From what I can see, all "strength" is, really, is the ability to pick yourself up when you've stumbled along the way. And if I or any of my readers have done this, then maybe we're all strong people. We all have falling down moments, but in the world of Oriah Mountain Dreamer in her poem, The Invitation,"

"It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children."

That, I think, is real strength.

So, my lovelies, do you think that you are a strong person? Why or why not? Are you willing to own your strength? Tell me about it.

Until next time,

Love to All My Relations,


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Monday, July 8, 2013

Daylight: Meeting Your Own Death

All of us, every single one, will die. It's not pleasant to think about and we mostly avoid thinking about it. But sometimes, during the course of living your normal life, death comes a little nearer than you'd like. Maybe you've lost a loved one. Maybe, like me, you've had strokes and chronic illnesses that shut down your body. Or maybe you passed a very bad wreck on the highway and thought, "There, but for the grace of Spirit, go I."

Today, I heard a wonderful song by Maroon 5. (I get the best ideas for posts either driving in the car or in the shower!) I know it's meant to be about a relationship, but I saw the song as an extended metaphor. Take a listen.

The chorus goes as follows:

And when the daylight comes I'll have to go
But tonight I'm gonna hold you so close
Cause in the daylight we'll be on our own
But tonight I need to hold you so close

This got me thinking. When we die, it is said that move towards the light. No one can accompany us. No friends or family can hold our hands. Death's Door is one we must walk through, alone.

I got a small notion of this when I had my daughter. Even though Hubby, my father and numerous friends were there to support me, ultimately, I was the only one who could bring The Precious Pookie into this world. The Door of Motherhood was one I had to walk through alone.

I like to think that I'd meet Death the same way I met Motherhood. Calm and resolute, with my head held high. I'd like to think that I would not need any help in navigating the Bardo. I'd like to think that I would move past this world and its cycles and on to whatever great adventures lie beyond this plane.

Thinking about death, in general, can be a great subject for art. What kind of impact do you want to leave this world as your legacy? Think of what creations you want to be remembered for, after you're gone and work on them now, while you still have time.

'Cause babies, when that Door of Death opens and you can see daylight, brighter than you've ever known? It's time to go. You will pass into the light, alone. So, now, embrace your art. Embrace your creative dreams. And, above all, embrace all that you want to remember from this plane. Every person and situation that made you the beautiful soul you are, today - hold them close.

My fellow visionaries, it's now that I embrace you and all this plane has to offer - all of its inconsistencies and beauties and intricacies. All the way out and down to its limits. While I am still incarnated here, I will continue to love every single particle and experience and embrace them all.

I hope you enjoyed this post and please remember, my lovelies, that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Love to All My Relations,


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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Giveaway: Batikwalla

It's time, once again, for another one-of-a-kind Visionary Bri giveaway!
This time, I've partnered with Batikwalla to bring you some unique, funky batik fashion.


The first time I saw Batikwalla, it was on their Etsy store
I loved the vibrancy of the colors and the flowing lines in the dye. 
I was captivated by these amazing clothing pieces, so I'm especially excited 
to be able to bring you this giveaway!

Check these out!

Aren't the just amazing? Batikwalla carries everything from hoodies to shirts to yoga pants. 
Vibrant and eye catching, I've received numerous compliments 
whenever I wear my bodysuits out and about.

The first one I was sent was the Batik Sorbet Berry Dance Leotard.
I am absolutely in love with it and it shows off
my backpiece nicely.

The second I recieved was the Midnight Blue Dance Leotard.
None of the pictures do these products justice.
They're all so vibrant and beautiful

So, now, to talk about the giveaway. Batikwalla has offered a $65 gift card to their store. 
That's enough to get pants, a shirt, or even one of the amazing hoodies! 
With one of Batikwalla's striking pieces, you're sure to get noticed.

Giveaway Runs from 7/4/2013 to 7/18/2013
Must be 18 or older to participate
Only available in US or Canada
Upon entering, I understand that my email address maybe used for marketing purposes 
by Visionary Bri or Batikwalla only

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Resistance and Spiritual Line Work

"All spiritual practice brings us face-to-face with our particular resistance. It's important to remember that resistance isn't what keeps us from our spiritual work. It is our spiritual work."
-Rabbi Avram Davis

This quote rang true for me in my reading, this week. It rang true to me, not only for spiritual work, but for creative work, as well.

I'm in the middle of doing a very large mixed media piece. It's 2 1/2 feet wide by 2 feet tall. All the detail work is very intricate and complex. It's Zendoodle and Zentangle plus some. And it's a very intimidating piece to work on.

Every day, I come to this piece and every day I meet resistance. I come to the paper and look over the work from yesterday. The resistance comes. "That section looks like you were just trying to fill space." "You didn't even try to make it pretty, there, did you?" "Why did you put that color there? It throws off the whole piece." "Wow! That's all the better you could do? I hope you're not planning on showing this to anyone. It's embarrassing."

Resistance. That voice in my head that tells me to stop doing art because I can't draw hands well. That voice that tells me that I'm no good at spelling and therefore I shouldn't write. Resistance comes from that voice in my head that tells me, no matter what, I will always fail. Every single one of us has that voice in our heads.

My art and my spirituality are fundamentally linked. To me, they're one in the same. I make art that reflects the spiritual beauty and oneness that I see in the world. My line-work shows the base intricacy of energy in the process of existence.

A very abstract concept, I know, but basically I try to represent my impressions of the energy of life in visual form.

Flower Line Work
8 1/2" by 11"
Mixed Media
Framed print - $19.99

Every time I approach the paper or the glowing computer screen, I meet resistance. The practice of making art is not the not-having of resistance in your mind. The practice of making art is hearing that resistance and not listening to it, not letting it stop you from making your art.

In this way, it could be said that the process of making art may be more of an accomplishment than the actual finished piece, itself. It takes great bravery to show up to the page, show up to the computer, show up to the wheel or the paints or the canvas and to push past your own demons of resistance. And I urge each and every single one of you to hear the resistance, but not let it rule you.

The process of making art can be just as great as the finished piece. Take joy in your practice and tell that inner resistance voice to shut the hell up!

As always, my lovelies, please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!

Love to All,


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