The Revolution Begins Within is a mantra that I have tattooed on my left shoulder blade.
I began saying this to myself as a reminder that anything I want to change in the world around me must first begin within me.
If I want a more empathetic culture, I must first determine if I’m empathetic and not just to other people, but also to myself.
If I want the world to radically shift towards more human dignity, am I honoring my own dignity and the dignity of others?
Changing anything requires the bravery to admit that something’s not right.
For a long time, I’ve felt not quite right inside. As a survivor of sexual and domestic violence who grew up in a very dysfunctional family plagued by alcoholism, addiction, and generations of all kinds of abuse, the not feeling quite right inside tracks.
In April, 2022, I was officially diagnosed with complex PTSD. I learned that my brain now mimics autism and ADHD, due to how trauma has rewired the way I think and how I move.
The Revolution Begins Within is a design line that documents a healing journey that I’ve been on for most of my life, but seriously ramped up after the onset of a global pandemic that changed the way I did everything. I decided, once and for all, that I’m in the business of being brave. And so I began.
I began seeing a therapist consistently. I had weight loss surgery and a hietal hernia repair, which helped me feel better in my body and so I began taking much better care of myself. My son, who I homeschool, has autism and asthma and is very sensitive to loud noise. I couldn’t perform poems or sing at home and I couldn’t go out to perform, either.
Writing helped, but writing is emotional excavation. For some, that can be grounding. For me, it helped me articulate the trauma I experienced, but left me emotionally drained and not the soothing creative practice that I was craving.
So, every morning, I sat at my dining room table, throughout the long, snowy winter of early 2021, having just moved twice in the last six months. And I began again.
I used a compass and ruler on watercolor paper as a soothing mechanism against the backdrop of attempted insurrection, a year of high-profile sexual violence cases in the news, and my own journey of healing, now more important than ever.
I’d add the color after I was satisfied with the placement of the circles and/or lines. It became a ritual: wake up, make coffee, make circles or lines or fill in colors. Over and over again. To the tune of over 80, to date, since January 2021.
This collection of products, designed to incite bravery, reflect the creative practice and mantras I’ve used to feel a little better, to be a little bit braver, and to remind myself of how revolutionary it is to heal.
I spent a lot of years thinking that I was liberating other people, that I was changing the world.
The past few years have been about me acknowledging that I can’t liberate anyone unless I liberate myself and that the only world that I truly have the power to change is the one inside myself.
My circles and lines are what I do to ground myself, to give myself permission to make mistakes or do something weird or just mindlessly bliss out on putting different colors of ink next to each other. It’s a visceral experience of feeling the ink slide across the grain of the paper, which just makes my fingers and spirit happy. This is a lifelong creative practice that I’ve named 10,000 Labyrinths.
I had no plans to turn these pieces into anything other than a record of what I did to keep a bit of sanity during a global pandemic.
However, those closest to me affirmed that there was energy in these visual pieces and the words that accompany them and encouraged me to share them.
The Revolution Begins Within is grounded in the bravery to admit: something ain’t quite right and I’m not ok, but I will be.
Please check out The Revolution Begins Within Etsy shop for FLY AF affirmation mirrors and cellphone cases, the I Am Everything makeup pouch, and The Revolution Begins Within Bravery journal and tote bag. More products and designs coming soon!