The Fear is Real

If you’re on facebook or any other social media the days after Trump won (not fairly) the election you saw your fears come to life. If you were half of America (or at least those who voted for Hillary) you knew what was at stake. That’s why so many of us were shocked because we couldn’t believe in a world where such a hateful person could become President. So when Trump kept winning states you saw your fear grow. For me, it grew to the point where I was in the middle of a massive panic attack… full meltdown mode.

Having lived in a world full of hate growing up I knew what was at stake and what it would mean if Trump was elected. I had first hand knowledge what that kind of hate does to your soul. It rips you apart like a forest fire. That kind of hate leaves nothing behind but a blackened skeleton. That’s what many of us are fearing from a Trump Presidency.

The day after the election it was very clear that our fears were justified as the news of people already being at the end of hate from the supporters of Trump. From swastikas spray painted on buildings in NYC to actual physical altercations with Trump supporters. On Wednesday,  a female student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was beaten, robbed and had her hijab ripped off by two men. Trump winning has given his supporters validation that their racist, discriminatory beliefs are just and apart of making America great again.

It’s only four days and we have enough examples of hate in action to fill up a book. Gay people are being harassed more. Anyone who might look hispanic is told to go back to Mexico. Disabled people are being called the R word. Muslims are being targeted, so are African-Americans. Anyone who doesn’t look like a Trump supporter is a target. Trump winning gave them an excuse to remind everyone that they’re going to make America great by going back to a time where black people were segregated, women belonged in a kitchen and gay people were forced to stay in the closet. How far back do they want to go? Back before women could vote or to the days of slavery.

We live in a time that’s more progressive but this election is proof that there are millions of people stuck in the 50s. They feel they’ve been left behind when in reality the one one to blame for being stuck is themselves. Change is a part of life and if you don’t move with it you’ll get left behind. Those who want to make America great again have felt out of control seeing all the changes that they don’t approve of, that go against their God/religion. Marriage equality was the last straw for these people. So of course the only choice was to vote for the man who’d save them. They’ll quickly learn that Trump was never on their side, he just used them. What will they do when they find out that he’s not going to build a wall or doesn’t reverse marriage equality?

It goes much deeper than fearing for our safety and lives because a Trump presidency will make our lives much harder. We might be safe for now but the laws that Trump passes will make many people miserable including his supporters. I know a lot of people are saying that not everyone who voted for Trump are bad and that’s probably true but the fact remains that millions of people voted for Trump in spite of all the bad things he’s said and done. They were so willing to look past all the bad and what it would mean to minorities in order to not change their world. When in reality Trump isn’t the savior they’re looking for. Trump is like the dragon version of Republicans. He was loud and fiery but he wasn’t much different than most Republican politicians. Trump was created by the Republicans he’s the effect.

Trumps followers were led by fear like the pied piper. I know what it’s like to be led by fear. I grew up in a Southern Baptist family which was all fire and brimstone. Being gay was an abomination. During my teenage years I had this reoccurring nightmare of the end of the world and my name would never get called to go to heaven. This is what fear based teachings do, they brainwash you into believing whatever is told to you. So if you grow up in that world it’s hard to overcome it especially if you’re one of the black sheeps.

Fears are based on falsehoods. The longer you hold the fear, the larger it grows until you become the monster. My family is full of them. They have this way of thinking where the path to heaven is only for the few and if you don’t live life the right way you will burn in flames forever. Talk about being scared out of your mind as a child. The bigger the fear the person has the more they try to convince everyone else that they’re right. My father is a prime example. Growing up he would use to corner people trying to preach the word of God to them. It didn’t matter what the function was he’d go out of his way to save someone. At my cousin’s funeral he preached at my sister’s best friend. Yet if you looked inward to his own life you’d see that he wasn’t living by example.

Still to this day he’s the same way. He’s the typical Trump supporter. His facebook wall is full of hate. I recently had thought of giving him another chance. He even apologized to me a few years ago about how he approached Jesus with me. I was foolish to think he had changed. Seeing how he went on about Trump just reminded me why I stayed away from him. He’s toxic and it only means pain for me. He’s just one of many in my family. The election this year has been extremely triggering for me because the people Trump spoke to was my family. Family is suppose to protect you and lift you up, not vote against your rights and safety.

The greatest satisfaction has been knowing that I was able to get away from that hateful world. I have worked hard the past twenty years to get away from it and it hasn’t been easy. During my darkest days I had to remind myself that I had gotten away from that bad place. So to have it come crashing back around me when Trump won the electoral votes just devastated me. It felt like the ultimate defeat that hate won. The world became very scary knowing that millions of voters didn’t care if I had my rights and safety taken away. It’s bad enough when strangers do that to you but when it’s your own family it’s especially devastating. So not only did I grow up in a family full of hate I now had it validated by Trump’s supporters.

As scared as I am and stunned that I live in a world where he could be our President I can’t let that get in the way of my fight. The difference between now and then is that now I have this inner strength that I didn’t realize I had. I’ve had so much taken away that I’m willing to give anything else away anymore. I have this fire in me and I will fight anyone who tries to take away my rights and the others around me.

So bring it on Trump and his army of hate. I’m ready and so are the rest of us. If you think you’ll have it easy you will learn very quickly that you shouldn’t have messed with us. If we don’t fight for what’s right they will really win and we just can’t let that happen. America is already great because of the diverse population.

Just because when they go low, we go high it doesn’t mean that we won’t fight for our rights. So my brothers and sisters the time is now to prepare for January. Keep on letting your voice be heard. I know so many are wondering how they can help. One way you can help is by attaching yourself with the organizations that will come at risk during a Trump presidency like the ACLU, Sierra Club, NAACP, etc. by volunteering and donating to them. They’re going to need all the help they can get.

We need to keep up the protesting. My hope is that they will grow and take over more cities. We need to send a clear message to the world and the haters. A lot of people are scared including the rest of the world. Trump will be bad for everyone but the rich. If there isn’t a protest in your city/town form one. All it takes is a group of people gathering in public. We can’t give up now. The fight has just began. It’s going to be a long four years.

There are protests being held all over the country including overseas. A lot of them are organic and just happen at the spur of the moment. I’ve created a website to help mobilize the movement. To find protests visit:

http://www.lovealwaystrumpshate.org

https://www.facebook.com/lovealwaystrumpsh8/

If you know of a protest that’s not listed please let me know and I will add them. Hang in there everyone. Love will always prevail. While we might have lost the battle we will win the war. We have love and light on our side. Don’t ever forget that!

Huggs

Stop Derek from Being Homeless

https://www.gofundme.com/dereksnewhome

A few weeks ago I received an eviction from the people I rent a room from to be out of here by the end of the month. It was unexpected and unfounded. I’ve been a great tenant, paying my rent on time. I’ve come to find out that they want someone else to move in. Now they’re trying to push up my move out date by a week, which has left me scrambling for a new place to live. As it stands now the only option I have is to go live in a homeless shelter. I’m trying to raise enough money to help pay my rent (for my own place) until my SSI court date in Feb next year.
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I’m disabled and unable to work. I’m waiting for a court date for SSI disability, which will be Feb 2017. I’m hoping to raise enough money to get me through until that date. I’ve suffered from major depression disorder and PTSD most of my life. There hasn’t been a time in my adult life that I haven’t suffered from depression and PTSD. When I have a PTSD episode friends/family become strangers and strangers become enemies. It’s like being in a war zone. My current living situation has pushed me to my limit, as the last few months have been extremely stressful living here.

Stability is something I’ve never had and something I’m so desperate for. Being able to get my own place would bring that into my life. Lately I’ve made an effort to better my life. I’ve consistently been in therapy and on medicine since 2013, as well as seeing a psychiatrist. I’ve recently moved all my services to this county and having to move out of this town would put my health at risk.

I have a new therapist who I love. She’s working on a new treatment for those with PTSD called EMDR. It’s helps the patient to reprogram traumatic events into more healthy ways. I’ve finally taken my life back after four years of complete hell. In 2012, my Mom died from cancer causing me to spiral into a deep, dark depression. It’s taken me four years but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’ve come to terms with my disablity and now realize that I need to treat it like diabetes.

I’ve tried to do this on my own and that doesn’t work. So I’m asking for help. I’m so very scared to be homeless. I’ve made a lot of progress the last few months and I want to keep moving forward. I’ve also started to embrace my art again by working on a new comic book. My passion for art has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Having my own place would give me a safe space to create new works of art.

I’ve suffered for too long and finally realize that I deserve better. I’m taking my life back and I’m determined to get my own place. No matter what is thrown at me I don’t let it keep me down. Every time a hurdle is placed in front of me I clear it. I will keep climbing this mountain until I get a home of my own. While the last two months have been some of the worst times in my life it has helped me find an inner strength that I didn’t know was there. All this time I thought I was broken but I always rebound. Then it dawned on me through all the bad things in my life I’m still here. I’m strong as steel.

Thanks for taking the time to hear my story. Please consider sharing this campaign with everyone you know.

Here are some of my recent sketches of my comic book. Also follow my facebook page for DragZilla! DragZilla is the story of a gay man brutally attacked because he’s gay. He cries out for help and in his hour of need a glimmer of light appears. A goddess like entity, who goes by the name Glimmer, transforms him into a drag queen superhero. He starts off his journey to find justice for his attack but in the process becomes a beacon of light for the LGBTQ community. I’m really excited to have started work on this new project of mine. Having my own place would help me bring to life DragZilla!

Making the Impossible, Possible: The Journey to Triumph

Re-Visions Event in NYC

Creating the Tree of Spectacle Triumph has been a journey from start to finish. Just like life creating the sculpture wasn’t easy by any means. Creating this beautiful tree tested my patience, stamina and will. I jumped through hoops and didn’t let roadblocks prevent me from pushing forward. That’s the message in my story is to persevere regardless of what is thrown at you.

This journeyEdit_IMGL3627 started last fall when I entered my rose sculpture in ArtPrize, an international art competition in Grand Rapids, MI. When registration started for ArtPrize I debated entering due to the registration fee. I kept getting messages that doors would open. The messages started off as a whisper but eventually turned into a roar. I really feel my Mom was behind the messages. Even after I registered I kept getting the same message. A month after ArtPrize ended I received an email about a possible commission for an eyewear manufacturer in New York using eyewear material in the piece.

treeoflifeupdatedWhen thinking about a proposal I thought about what I wanted to create. At first I struggled. Then I thought about this tree I first started to create over ten years ago. It started off as an oil painting where half the tree was alive and the other half was dead. It represented the best parts of ourselves and the pain that we endure. The living part was the phoenix that rose from the ashes. It’s taken me many years to realize that I’m not my pain or troubles. The Tree of Triumph is my best, true self.

The inspiration for the original tree was a lilac bush that grew next to my family home. It was my pride and joy. In the spring the sweet fragrance would float throughout my home. I loved that lilac bush. Next to the lilac bush was an old corncrib. One day my father decided he was going to tear the corncrib down. Not only did he tear it down he set it ablaze. The flame was so hot that it bubbled the paint on the siding of the house. You could feel the heat inside the house. The flames were higher than our house.

Once the flames had dissipated all that was left of the lilac bush was a charred out skeleton of what use to be a beautiful, vibrant living creature. I was devastated. My father on the other hand acted like it wasn’t a big deal. It was just a bush to him, not important. He just brushed off my tears like it was nothing.

I thought all was lost. Spring wasn’t the same without those purple, fragrant blooms. The blackened skeleton was a reminder of the hurt my father caused. What I couldn’t see were the roots deep within the ground. Years later they arose from the ashes and life had sprouted again. It took some time but eventually the lilac bush grew to four times the size of its former self. It took a big portion of my adult life to realize the moral of the story.

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You can destroy my branches. You can knock me to the ground but you’ll never reach my roots. The roots represented my heart, soul and spirit. It was the first time I regained the power that I allowed others to take. No amount of hurt or pain will reach my soul. So it’s significant that the heart of the tree is surrounded by the roots.

I submitted my proposal and patiently waited for an answer. The date given passed and still no word. I had started to think I wasn’t selected. Another few weeks went by and finally I received word that I was one of seven artists selected. I was beyond ecstatic. My sculpture was going to be displayed during an art show in New York City. It was a dream come true. It’s one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Creating a sculpture using unconventional materials is a complicated, challenging process. It was my first sculpture of this size. The final sculpture was over four feet tall and four feet long. The next six months pushed me to my limit and tested my will. Creating the bark was a very tedious process of hot gluing small piece of frame onto the skeleton which was pvc. This wasn’t your typical glue gun. It was a professional glue gun that carpenters use with temperatures going past 400 degrees. Due to the intricate aspect of the branches, the quick harden time of the glue and the small frame pieces I had to use my hands to attach the pieces. So you probably can guess what occurred fairly frequently. I’m surprised I still have feelings in my hands.

Creating sculptures out of unconventional materials is very physically demanding and the tree was no different. There were times that my hands, arms and legs were covered in burns, scratches and cuts. It looked like I had been a fight with a cat and lost. Towards the end I had so many cuts on my hand that it became very painful to use my hands but I pushed through. Reaching through the branches felt like I was reaching through a briar patch.branches

There were aspects to the tree that were very tedious. Creating the bark was a very lengthy process. At times it felt like I was never finish it. Imagine gluing small pieces of frame to a large area. It was so tedious that it gave me panic attacks. Creating the leaves were also very tedious process due to the number of lenses needed to fill the space. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take over 3,000 lenses. Most of these were treated and hand painted. I then had to hang each one to the branches and that part took forever.

Creating the Tree of Triumph meant bringing my inner demons into the light. The tree represented my best self and the darkness was ruthless in trying to stop me. There were times I couldn’t even look at the sculpture because there were parts of me that still believed that I didn’t deserved it. I faced the darkness and once again pushed through.

The tough part of creating a sculpture out of unconventional material is that for a big portion of the time creating it there isn’t a clear defined picture of what the final picture will be. It’s not until the end that you start to see the picture. It wasn’t until I started to add the leaves that I was finally able to see what I had envisioned. It’s amazing how quickly the final picture comes to the surface. It’s like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

The art that I create is very time consuming. I like to create little biodomes. My specialty is creating creatures out of the unconventional materials. A part of the design included a little girl swinging from the tree which was based off my seven year old niece. I also included one of the creatures (the frog) from my rose sculpture. It was my way to honor where the tree came from. If it wasn’t for the rose I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity.

Connie 236The creation of the tree was a family event. My nieces and nephew helped me paint lenses. My seven year old niece was quite the helper. She would come down frequently asking if I needed any help. My sister was my sounding board. Many of the decisions like not painting the bark came from her.  My brother in law was my technical expert and made sure the sculpture was secure during the long trip in a Uhaul to NYC. I couldn’t have created the sculpture without their help so it was really important to make them a part of tree. I had them each sign a lense and put it on the tree. It was my way of honoring their contributions and support. While they couldn’t be there with me in NYC they were definitely there in spirit.

Original Sculpture

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During this whole experience I have felt a strong connection to my Mom to the point where I would turn around thinking she was there. She was one of the person I turned to as a sounding board and I found myself physically turning to her thinking she was there. I strongly believed she brought me this opportunity.

I thought that challenging aspect was done but boy was I ever wrong. Originally it was my understanding that the sculpture would be crated. With over 3,000 lenses the sculpture was extremely heavy, at least over 200 pounds. The shipper just wanted to bubble wrap it and cover it with a furniture pad, and throw it on the truck.

cocoontreeI had spent the past six months (over 1500 hours) in creating this beautiful creature and I wasn’t about to let it get broken. I put my heart and soul into this tree. It had became a part of me because the tree represented me. I became a part of this tree and it a part of me. When I had the idea of driving it to New York City it never dawned on me how rough of a ride a Uhaul moving van is. Thankfully my brother in law came up with a system that would keep the sculpture secure in the back of the Uhaul. He attached it to a pallet and then boxed it in between the wheel wells. Finally he secured it by attaching a 2×4 to each side.

The trip was only suppose to take 10.5 hours. The client wanted it at their location at 5pm. I made sure to leave enough time for stops, etc. I had tried to fall asleep the night before but with the nerves and excitement I wasn’t able to. So I left for NYC with only 4 hours of sleep in 48 hours. I left at 4am. About 5 hours into my trip I started to become very sleepy to the point where I struggled to keep my eyes open. I did everything possible to stay awake including blaring the music and turning the air on full blast. Anyone who’s driven on highway 80 through Pennsylvania knows that the terrain is very hilly and rough. Imagine driving on it when you’re majorly sleep deprived. On top of all the hills there are many drop offs. It got to the point where I couldn’t even look at them as they made me seasick.DSCF8390

Around the fifth hour I was pulled over by a cop. He said I had went over the white line and wanted to make sure I was okay. He ended up being really cool but it just added to the nerves of the trip. Anyone who has ever driven a Uhaul knows it’s like driving a boat.

I had downed a red bull, a Starbucks cold drink and several Mountain Dews in the hopes that it would keep me awake. About into the seventh hour I went into this sleep deprived state where I felt like everything around me was warped. It was like I was on this major trip. It felt like the mountains were coming at me both in fast forward and slow motion all at once.

Towards to what I thought was the end of the trip I started to count down the hours. I counted down the hours to help comfort me. The last two hours I started to become so tired I wasn’t sure I could make it but I knew they were expecting me and I couldn’t let them down. So I continued to push through.

Eye of the Tiger came on the radio and it helped give me the steam needed to finish the trip. I finally got to New Jersey during rush hour mind you. At this point I was so tired that I was wired. I continued to count down the time until Manhatten came into sight.

Finally I could see the city. I wasn’t ever so happy to see a city landscape. It was around 5pm when I drove into the city limits, so you can imagine how crazy it was. The traffic went from a slow pace to a crawl. I was stuck in a traffic jam. I was only 15 minutes away from my destination and only one mile from my next exit which was the Lincoln tunnel. What I didn’t know that there was an accident up ahead.lincoln+tunnel+traffic

It took over ten minutes to move .05 of a mile, if that. Anyone that’s driven in a major city knows that traffic jams are inevitable. About an hour into the traffic jam I started to lose hope in getting to my destination in a timely matter. I had already missed my time to drop off the sculpture. At this point I just wanted to get to the dinner that evening with all the artists but as the time crept by I realized there was no way I was going to make it. All of a sudden I hear this bang. Someone rear ended me. I was like great how can this day get any worse. Thankfully there was no damage to the Uhaul and the only damage to his vehicle was to his license plate which was bent in half on the ground. How does one hit a huge moving truck with the brake lights on and stopped???

Finally after four hours in the traffic jam I was back on track. At this point I thought the plan was for me to go to the hotel and drop off the sculpture in the morning but when I contacted the client I was told that it needed to be delivered tonight. I was told if it wasn’t delivered tonight it wouldn’t be in the show. The next thirty minutes I pretty much circled time square over and over in a Uhaul. I was starting to panic. Imagine driving a huge truck at 11pm at night in Time Square. I was sure I was going to hit something or someone. There were people all over. They crossed the streets in mobs like ants out of a ant hill. Eventually I said heck with it and started driving like a mad man.time-squares-at-night-wallpaper-2

I finally made it. I should have known the night wasn’t going to get any easier. Earlier I had a bad feeling. There was one point during the traffic jam where I almost turned around to head home. When I opened the back of the truck the first thing said was it’s not going to fit. I could also tell they really didn’t want to have to move the sculpture. I have always been upfront with them on the size and weight.

We get the sculpture into the main lobby and I’m dumbfounded when I see the elevator. The door was extremely narrow. I honestly never saw an elevator so small. There was some discussion about getting the sculpture into the elevator. Someone suggested leaving it in the lobby. I wish I had pushed for that. I was informed that they learned the day before that the freight elevator was broken.

My sculpture was at least four feet tall and four feet across. The elevator door couldn’t been bigger than three feet across. I suggested angling the sculpture into the elevator. They got the sculpture in the elevator but getting it out was another story. I couldn’t watch them try to get it out. I honestly was done with the whole situation so I sat in the conference room knowing something bad was going to happen. Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine what I would walk into…

Every branch was broken and lying at the base of the sculpture. They had tried to fix it by shoving branches into the wrong holes. They basically decapitated the tree. It was like they dropped it from the top of the building. I was in complete shock. In just a matter of minutes they had destroyed something that took 1500 hours to complete. Until you see the pictures of the demolished piece you can’t begin to understand how badly it was broken. In a sculpture that size a strong foundation and structure is crucial in securing the piece. Individually plastic lenses don’t weigh that much but when you use thousands of them they become very heavy.

Broken Sculpture

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On top of them destroying something I put my heart and soul into I wasn’t treated very well. One of the employees started to take his frustrations out on me, accusing me of lying about being stuck in the traffic jam. I was dumbfounded by the whole situation. If I wasn’t so out of it and delirious I would have never let them put it in that small elevator. After spending over twenty hours in a Uhaul my night ended with them doing the worst thing you can do to an artist. I was told that they could fix it. I didn’t have a lot of faith. We agreed to come back the next day which was the day of the event.

I didn’t get checked into my hotel until 1am. Thankfully my good friend lives in New York City and came over to my hotel. I don’t think anyone would have questioned if I did have a meltdown but I was surprisingly calm. I obviously was upset but I didn’t let it destroy me. Prior to my Mom passing away I would have totally turned into Chicken Little. I posted on Facebook that the breaking of my sculpture didn’t even make my top ten list of bad things that had happened to me. When my friend left I had accepted that my sculpture was destroyed. I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to show a broken piece.

After I had dropped the Uhaul off in the Bronx I headed to the office. I wasn’t sure what I was going to walk into. I had four hours to salvage my piece. The event started at 7pm. Thankfully one of the employees was experienced with construction and offered to help me put it back together. I had used pvc to build the structure. When they broke the piece they not only broke apart the branches they broke the connecting pieces. So you couldn’t just connect pieces anymore because there was big chunks missing.

Thankfully I had packed my glue gun and brought a lot of supplies just in case. If I hadn’t brought my glue gun I’m not sure we could have put it back together because we used the glue to connect the pieces together. After a few hours he was able to rebuild the structure the best he could. There were still three main branches that we couldn’t put back together which left a lot of holes. I had put a lot of effort in creating the shape of the tree.

When I finished the sculpture I was relieved to be done. I had very little energy left in me. I felt accomplished for finishing it but I was also relieved to not have to work on it again. So once again I was forced to give more than I had and rebuild something that took countless hours to create. I got on the floor and began to work my magic which again meant burning myself with that boiling hot glue.

I worked on the sculpture until the very last minute. I did what I could to rebuild it. Most everything on the sculpture had something wrong with it. The wire butterflies were bent out of shape. The iris was broken, so was the dragonfly and girl. Thankfully the damages to the creatures were minor and I was able to fix them.

We had done the impossible and was able to put back together the broken pieces. The salvaged sculpture was a lot more rough and exposed than before. The shape of the tree was also drastically altered. I was relieved to have a finished piece to show. There wasn’t anything else I could do.

Salvaged Sculpture

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The event was amazing. I met so many wonderful people, many who had no idea that earlier that day it was a broken mess. I wove the whole experience into the theme of the piece. It’s not coincidental that of all the pieces that were broken the roots weren’t touched. I was able to weave what happened into the story of the piece which many of the guests at the event were able to connect to. I talked to many people who themselves also had moments in their life when they felt broken. Without the sculpture breaking I’m not sure the impact would have been as strong.

It was very symbolic that the sculpture was broken. The theme of the piece is resiliency, rising above the difficult times in our lives. There have been times in my life that I have felt just like that broken sculpture. When something traumatic happens we are forced to pick up the broken pieces.brokentree14

While I wouldn’t want to relive this experience ever again there is a part of me that is glad that it happened. It was a major confidence boost. I could have given up. I could have thrown a fit. I could have went home with my tail between my legs but I didn’t. I pushed forward and didn’t let anyone stand in my way of getting what I wanted and deserved. There have been many times I have cowered down in defeat. This wasn’t one of those moments. This was my moment of triumph.

Like the tree I was strong. Stronger than anything that ever happened to me. You can cut my branches. You can cut my bark. You can even knock me to the ground. You’ll never reach my roots and I will always rise from the ashes.

I’m not alone. There are so many people out in the world who themselves feel broken. After my Mom died I wasn’t sure I could go on. It felt so broken that I didn’t believe I could be put back together. That’s why my sculpture breaking wasn’t really a big deal because I had already gone through something a million times worse. This was nothing. It was also out of my control. I couldn’t bring my Mom back, neither could I undo my sculpture breaking.

The sculpture breaking just added to the depth of the piece. It multiplied the strength of the piece exponentially. The Tree of Triumph is confirmation that the impossible is possible. We are never truly broken as our soul always remains in tact. No power or force will ever reach that. So say what you want to me, it won’t hurt or affect me.

So many people have been apart of this journey. This has been the best part of this experience. I have received so much love and support it’s lifted me up from depression and my troubles. It has proved that I deserve so much more. Losing sight of your dreams makes for a very dreary world. This journey has proved that our dreams can come true. Just keep moving forward. Even at a snail’s pace you’ll reach your destination. Our trials and tribulations make us into who we are today. I wouldn’t have been able to handle this journey if I walked down an easy road.

Check out my new artist website:  http://www.derekstephens.net

Progress Pictures

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Re-Visions of Art Show in NYC

Last year I was in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize is an international art competition. About a month after the art show had ended I was contacted about a potential commision. I had to submit a proposal of my idea. My design was one of eight selected.

My sculpture named The Tree of Life will be displayed at an art show August 5th in New York City. I’m very excited at the opportunity to show one of my works of art.

I also have a new website for my art. You can view my art and purchase my art.

http://www.derekstephens.net

MarchonFlyerHere is my proposal.treeoflifeupdated

This is What Hate Does

Friday’s monumental Supreme court decision left me feeling so many different feelings both good and bad. Mostly ecstatic but there was a tinge of sadness looming. You might wonder how could I feel sadness on such amazing day. I should be nothing but happy right?

As logical as that seems it wasn’t the case for me. When something is brought out into the light I’ve learned that those still left in the darkness will do whatever they can to keep their worlds safe, even if it means dragging you back into that pitch black hole. I purposely didn’t read comments on various media website knowing there would be hateful comments. For the most part rarely do I engage in someone’s rant but regardless it can seep into your consciousness before you know it.

With the sea of rainbow on my rainbow feed I started to ponder why do I let these people bring me down so? What is it about them and the situation that hurts so much. Out of hundreds of rainbows there were only a few storms. While the storms weren’t directed at me I could still hear the booms and bolts.

It’s funny something can happen to you twenty years ago and in a flash you are transported back to that time left feeling what you had put aside.

I’ve been at the end of the religious persecution. Sure I wasn’t kicked out but I often think that would have been the best thing that could have happened. Certain words you don’t ever forget. While they don’t call you worthless, they say everything but. Words pile up like heaps of trash in a landfill.

What that hate and intolerance does is make children feel less. They grow up to hate themselves. Parent’s are suppose to love and pick you up, and the sad reality for some children that just doesn’t happen.

I’ve heard a lot about religion this weekend and I guess it’s triggered me. I think the most damaging thing someone who promotes hate does is pushing people away from God. That’s the biggest abomination and they don’t even realize what they are doing.

Sure while it’s wonderful that we have equality think about the children who still live in households that don’t love and accept them. They are children of God who are pushed out into the world all alone, floating in outer space.

Tonight I watched a video tonight made by an organization called Catholic Vote. In the video are people who believe marriage is between a man and a woman talking about feeling ostracized for their beliefs. They wrap their ignorance, bigotry and hate in a very pretty bubble. They are clueless to the fact that they are only spreading hate, not the message of love they say they’re doing.

This message reminded me tonight of my own experience. I hate myself. You get told you’re going to hell enough times and eventually it sinks in. I’ve covered it up and put it aside but my actions proved otherwise. I’ve forgotten how deep seeded it was. Sure I had glimpses into that dark box like with my weight, etc.

I didn’t get help when I needed it. No one was there for me. I had to endure it alone. So I did the best I can and tried to move on. I coped by replacing one harmful choice for another. So many children don’t get the help they need. Many runaway… many turn to alcohol, drugs and sex… many die…. My drug of choice has been food. I buried my horrible feelings one piece of pie at a time.

So how do you begin to love yourself? I guess the first step is seeing the truth. Do what you have to do to heal if that means screaming at the top of your lung then do it. We are entitled to our anger but bottling up that anger only eats away our core until you’re left we very little fight.

I’m tired of hating myself. Tired of feeling that I don’t deserve love. Tired of thinking God hated me. Tired of thinking I am going to hell. Just tired. I have to remind myself that I’m out of that harmful situation and I never have to go back to that place.

Some people just don’t get it and probably never will but I won’t stay silent because five people were brave and stood against tradition families can finally be protected by having available all the rights that marriage brings including benefits, adoptions and so many more. The Supreme Five has helped remind me of my own inner courage and I know it has to so many more.

For children growing up in a world filled full of hate they desperately need to hear our message. They need something to hold onto. They need to know that they’re not alone.

Healing is a lifelong process. It’s much like cleaning up a landfill. You get one area cleaned up to only find another pile of trash that you forgot about. If you keep at it, even at a snails pace, you’ll eventually get to that diamond. You’re worth it and so am I. I might not fully believe that yet but I’m going to keep going until I do.

God isn’t this tightly ball of yarn put into a cramped little box. God is all over. His/Her love is free, unconditional. Again this is something I must repeat over and over. I won’t lie there are still parts of me that believe that I’m going to hell but as time goes by that becomes less and less.

I’m comforted knowing that the percentage of those against gay people are becoming smaller than smaller. What they’ve tried to do to us, has become of them. Outcasts. The tides have turned and there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s important to remember that there are those who still have to deal with that kind of hate. Gay people can also still get fired for being gay in many states. So there is work to be done but this is a gigantic leap towards equality.

My Guitar Rose showing at ArtPrize Grand Rapids, Mi

I’m very excited in two weeks I will have my first showing of a piece of art at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI Sept 24 – Oct 12!

My guitar rose took over four weeks to complete. I am in the process of adding to the piece by adding a guitar body as the base. I also am recreating the bug creatures because I put them with my Mom when she passed away two years ago. I’m also making a pedestal for the showing as well.

Please help make my dreams come true by helping me fund the finishing of this project. The funds raised will cover the supplies of all the additions, including any travel and installation costs. Below is the link to my kickstarter page, as well as the rewards for funding levels.

Rewards

$5- Postcard with a personal thank you!
$5- Postcard with a personal thank you!

 

$20 Professional quality 5x7 photo signed
$20 Professional quality 5×7 photo signed

 

$30- Ladybug from a guitar tuner key!
$30- Ladybug from a guitar tuner key!

 

$50- Your chose of butterfly or dragon fly replica.
$50- Your chose of butterfly or dragon fly replica.

 

$75- Paper rose (size of a real rose) with a wire/guitar string stem. Color of your chose!
$75- Paper rose (size of a real rose) with a wire/guitar string stem. Color of your chose!

 

$125- Oil painting of Rose
$125- Oil painting of Rose

 

$250- A smaller replica of the rose sculpture with two bug creatures of your choosing in a small flower pot!
$250- A smaller replica of the rose sculpture with two bug creatures of your choosing in a small flower pot!
  • Depression Fog

    Dense_Tule_fog_in_Bakersfield,_California

    I wish people who have never suffered from depression could just for one day experience the crippling fog that comes from depression. The fog that so thick and dense that you have to take a jackhammer just to make any dent into that billowing, pea soup like fog. It’s not just a fog but an enormous spiderweb as well constantly pulling at your limbs like a spider to a fly.

    Just for one day… They could know what it’s like to wake up and feel like you they’re chained to a million bricks. They would hear the voices piercing into their brain one dirty word at a time. Loser. Idiot. Pathetic. Ugly. Failure. Bad. A world where your loved ones become strangers and strangers become predators… Anyone and everyone can cause harm to you… just for one day.

    raining

    Just for one day I wish they would have that cloud follow them wherever they go… constantly storming and flooding their world. The tears they suffocate their wounds. Have the sunshine always be at reach but never able to get there.

    Just for one day I want them to be surrounded by the naysayers in a tight, stuffy room who constantly yell at them to get over it. Over and over again… Until it seeps into their consciousness. They can hear the thoughts in everyone’s heads thinking things like “oh they’re just lazy” or “they’re doing it all for attention”… just for one day…

    taunting-businessmen-620x250

    Just for one day may you feel so numb that you’re not able to move. Beyond nothingness. No matter how hard you try to can’t wake up. Deep in a coma but still you’re awake. A zombie just floating on by like a balloon in the sky… You long to feel again… just for one day…

    Just for one day will you wish you could be numb again to extinguish all the intense feeling of pain, a roller coaster ride of emotions full of loop de loops. Feelings so deep and raw that you are convinced you’re dying… but alive you remain… May you feel like you’re constantly running in slow motion, while the world around you spins in fast forward… just for one day…

    fastforward

    Just for one day I wish they could feel the deep levels of suffering we feel, from the deep levels of hell to the high peaks of the heavens. May they feel the level of hopelessness and helplessness that feels that’s never ending. May they feel all alone, even when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people. A loneliness that will haunt you for eternity… just for one day…

    Just for one day I wish that all they could think about ending the pain and feeling like death is the only solution to their never ending suffering. When they look outside their eyelids may they only see pitch black darkness and a silence that will make you go mad… just for one day…

    dark-blue-eyes1

    Just for one day may they lose everything they’ve ever had and ever wanted… the people they loved and the dreams they had… their possessions, their valuables and their memories… May they have everyone look and treat them differently like they’ve got the plague… just for one day…

    Just for one day may they feel like a prisoner in their own home, in their own body. Where everything is danger, even leaving your bed. Their mind becomes their personal cell and all they can hear are the shadows and fears. Everythings a struggle even brushing their teeth. One inch feels like a million miles and the outside is a dangerous place. Everywhere they turn fear is there waiting. Like this red eyed monster waiting to swallow you whole… just for one day…

    fog801ll7

    Just for one day… will you understand what it’s like to endure life living with this deep, dark fog constantly following me wherever I go. To feel it’s relentless energy barking at your heels waiting for you to fall, so that it can pull you under and back into the dark… just for one day…

    Just for one day… I wish I could get away from this fog and live life free… from the pain and suffering of it all… from the chains that bind me… to the words that restrict me… and the fears that hide me…

    But I would never inflict or wish this upon my greatest enemy… to know the pain it causes… the toll of it’s loss… it’s unbearable… even just for one day…

    Woman Looking Through Pane of Glass