Raven Heights Guest – June Episode


Earlier in June my friend Erica came over and brought her portable podcasting studio with her.  We recorded a couple of podcasts – one about my book, which is being released in August, and one about body-positivity and some of my artwork.  The one linked above is the latter, where we discuss Legoginas, Amanda Palmer, Tess Holliday, Body Politics, body-positivity, and Caitlyn Jenner, among other things.

Here are some links and thoughts that are a companion to this podcast:

Johanna Basford Coloring Book

Georgia O’keeffe

Tess Holliday – I refer to her as “Tess Munster” which is what she went by for a while.

Amanda Palmer – Since the recording of this podcast Amanda lost a dear friend and I want to offer my sincerest condolences.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~Khalil Gibran

I mentioned a story she told on a podcast (which I cannot find) about being told to lose weight by the label she was with.  Rebellyon is what followed.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and a quote about the Fraud Police.

Imposter Syndrome

Caitlyn Jenner

GLAAD gender guide – Trans?  Cis?  What?  Here is a guide to help you out.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

I wish I had been clearer in my explanation about the photographers.  The point I was trying to make was that I know a number of photographers and I don’t know their specific policies, but I’m guessing they would never use a photo that somebody was unhappy with.  But these are folks I know.  There are many photographers out there these days.  I’d even wager that there are more than ever.  Some are legit, talented and ethical.  Some aren’t.  Before you sign a paper allowing a person to use whatever image they take of you wherever and however they want, make darn sure you trust them.

— ❤ —

I mention that I am using a Lego base that is in a “flesh” tone, in this case, the one flesh-like tone available I could find thus far, called “sand.”  The large base pieces I build the vulvas on come in only three colors online at this time – grey, sand, green, if I’m lucky I can find a bright blue at the Lego store.  I’m not being super realistic with the Lego vulvas – I mean, I’m using bright pink and purple!  But it would be nice to have some other tans and browns available.  I’m glad to see things like Louboutin making a wider line of “nude” tones available now and NubianSkin.com, an undergarment line in darker flesh tones, so yay!

Below is my sweetheart, best friend, partner in art, writing, and love-making, in his glorious Lego crown.  (If I leave out that last comma, it might be a party!  Now I gotta cross my fingers the rest of my grammar is correct.)

legocrownsm William Hardy

LegoGinasmLegoginas – or Legovulvas.  They aren’t available yet because Will has to mount them.  (Yup.)
Vcoloringbooksm Drawings that will be available in my vulva coloring book, which isn’t done yet.
vulvadecorationsThese are examples of some of the vulva pride accessories I sell at my online store.

You can find my vulva art, as well as other types of jewelry, altered clothing and some perfume I make at GypsySiren.com

Artomatic – Body Politics

Goddess Next Door

Articles About Confidence Gap Between Men and Women
Phycholgy Today
The Atlantic

Please stop by the Southern Maryland Arts website.  It’s a great place for artists to register and post events.  You can also find Charles County art information HERE.

One of my biggest art influences and mentor is Tammy Vitale, also a Southern Maryland artist.

I made a goof trying to say, “I want to take my life’s lemons and make lemonade.”  I just have the one lemon apparently.  Baby wants one lemon.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to listen to the podcast and read this post.  I know how precious and short time can be.


The Wild Child


At the top of the valley, crags and ferns frozen in mist watched as she climbed onto the boulder, an island almost wider than the stream that rushed around it, heading towards the plunge.  The boney bottom of a scrawny nine-year-old girl, naked and cold on the slippery surface, she surveyed her surroundings.  A surefooted thing, she stood on the ancient thrust and held her arms out, wide, as if to call down the sky.  Long stringy wet hair, dark on pale, clinging to her back, snaking under her arms and making squiggles on her shiny damp torso, hugging ribs and looping around birthmarks and flat nipples.  She was by herself, but not alone in this place.


The Writer’s Circle posted a “story starter” (pictured above) and this is what I came up with.  I actually want to know more about this girl, even if nobody else does, so maybe I’ll write more later.

Sensual Sunday – You Are Going Gray

Sensual Sunday is meant to be writing practice.  I’m looking to hone my ability to write about sensual things or even to write sensually about regular things.


You Are Going Gray

The soft smell of your spice.  Clove and salt tears.

Peachy, with black curls of hair, down, down, down.

Earthy musk, the taste of you…all of you.

Inside of me.  Each space filled.  And a woman has many spaces.

Slip, slide, into place.  Nestle there.  Rested there.  In your hair.

The smell of the top of your head.  Tickle, soft brown and pewter.  Pewter…what a word.  The color describes the soft turning of your fields from ripe wheat to stoney silver.  You’re only more beautiful for it.  But the word itself – pewter – is wrong because I don’t like the feel of it in my mouth.  And everything about you feels so good in my mouth.

In the dark it’s hard to tell what year it is.  Are we new or has it really been so many years?  The smell of the building and your skin and these sheets and my own spent aromas, a perfume I know well.  The sounds of the whirring fans, creaking branches just outside of our bedroom window, and your rhythmic breaths, just shy of a gentle snore, are such a familiar song.  Leaves dance shadows on the wall thrown there by streetlights as they have always done since the first day I slept next to you.  As you sleep, I watch them twist and rest.

A Place for Healing and Connecting

After I posted this image on my most recent Sensual Sunday post, I got a few comments on Facebook and Instagram about the image.  Then one person really liked what the image was pulled from, so I decided it might be worth it to be a bit open and vulnerable here and talk about it.


This image is from a “couple’s journal” I share with my husband, Will.

The Sensual Sunday post I am referring to was inspired by the night we met.  Parts of it are total fiction, but the fireflies were real.  The kiss was real.  So, since that night in July almost thirteen years ago, fireflies have been sort of a symbol for us.

In the summer of 2011 I was having extreme depression and was beside myself with sadness and grief.  During a particularly bad meltdown of tears and feeling disconnected from the world and my partner, I was crying in the court out in front of our house, just feeling the world beneath me and trying to convince myself that reality had not disintegrated.  This was a time when the fireflies should have been gone and one came to me as I stood there crying.  It was like some kind of magical scene in a movie.  I could barely believe it.  A single firefly so late in the season, as if to comfort me.

Being a fan and writer of fairy tales, I saw this as some kind of magical beacon.  A signal that I needed to have hope.  There were times that hope actually felt like it was strangling me.  Hope can make you its slave, if you let it.  Sometimes it’s best to let go and keep your sanity.  But Will came out to the street and held me and we watched the firefly together as it drifted off.

Then two summers ago, at the end of the healing process, we happened across a magical scene of a thicket where the tall trees were just sparkling like glitter and stars beneath the branches.  We sat at the park and watched them for a little while.  We stood and kissed and marveled at them.  So, when we got home he drew the trees and I painted and we thought of what we wanted to say and he penned it.

We went to that same spot last night to watch the early fireflies.  Will pushed me on the swing and then we sat on the picnic table and watched as the sun faded and they sparkled a bit.  It’s still early for them, so even a few is nice.

This all started because I had been teaching visual journaling at a local craft store where I was also an employee and craft designer.  Which, by the way, I loved.  Working there was good for me and I also met two wonderful women there who I am now lucky to call my friends.  They were really there for me when I needed somebody to lean on.  Anyway, as I was teaching people how to make visual art and smash journals, I ruminated on how healing journaling is.  I’d been journaling for many years, but not like this.  Not a journal I could draw and paint in and also use as kind of a scrapbook.  The idea had so much appeal to me.  And I realized, that maybe doing a visual smash journal together, as a couple, might be healing and even fun.  So, I made one out of a spiral bound watercolor paper pad.  The paper is good for marker and watercolors, as well as ink and glue.

Since I first made the journal, we’ve filled it about a third of the way.  With poems and thoughts and drawings.  With ticket stubs, cut outs from magazines and books.  Any thought we had that we believed would help us come together again, we jotted it down and pasted it into the book.  When we shared bonding experiences, we recorded them.  It’s important to meditate on the positive things.  That’s a lot healthier than meditating on the negativity.

After a couple years of journaling and therapy, we finally felt strong enough to stop looking at the journal as a way to repair the bond that snapped apart.  The weaving of these threads had strengthened us and we started recording things that made us feel connected or experiences that felt bonding.

There may be more difficult times ahead, but we are so much better equipped to handle them now.  Journaling, individually and as a couple, lets you ruminate on your successes and when you have something difficult, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.  It also reminds you of all of the good parts of each other.

It’s not a cure-all, of course.  Some people will meditate on misery and nurture the darkest parts of themselves, growing them like weeds that choke out everything beautiful.  But you can choose to remember the best parts of each other and forgive the things that hurt you.  You can choose to use the grief and pain as a rich soil to grow from.  I choose that.

Here are some images from our couple’s journal I feel comfortable enough to share.


vjjourney01 vjjourney03 vjjourney02


vjjourney05 vjjourney04

I keep my journals in two vintage suitcases.  One was in bad shape and I covered it with decorative Duck tape.  The other is covered in travel stickers.  I keep the things I want to put into my smash art journals into the suitcases and when I have time, I compose the pages of my own, or Will and I work on the couple’s one together.


The frist pages are below.  The cards are cards that Will gave me when we were first going out.  The painting on the left is surrounded by affirmations about letting go and finding ways to walk forward.  I think it’s important when dealing with a relationship, that reminders of particularly good times, connecting moments and artifacts should be included.  It sets a nice tone.  Also, it sort of helps you see where you are as a couple, I think.  If one of the two of you isn’t about doing something together that’s healing, it might be an important red flag.  Maybe not journaling, exactly – but if you both aren’t willing to put forth an effort of 100% “in” this together, then there might be cause for concern that this kind of thing will become more of a centerpiece for resentment and a chore than a fun, connecting process of healing and connecting.


Here are some more pages from the journal – you can see I use envelopes, glue washi tape, tape, paint, markers, pens.   There is no end of things you can stick in, smash in, draw or tie onto the journal.  It’s meant to be tactile and interactive.   Kinda like love!

couplesjournal4 couplesjournal3 couplesjournal2

On an outing to some gardens last year we saw a wonderful display of bonsai at the National Arboretum.  We both love them and hope to have a nice one some day.  But we started talking about them, in detail.  And Will’s thoughts really struck me.  He doodled this bonsai on the back of a piece of mail.  I loved it so I glued it into the journal and he wrote down some of his thoughts, which came out  like a nice little poem.


It reads:

the little
tree may
but more likely,
something strong
will bend it
or twist it–
all but break it
So we tend it
trim it
snip it
feed it
with great patience
Until it seems
the bend
was always meant to be