Incredibly, there’s still a lot of noise on the interwebs about being “authentic” and “keeping shit real” in our lives, in our work, in our relationships, in our swim suits, in our Instagram galleries.
(By the way, whomever started #nofilter, I’m starting #damnrightitsfiltered. If I wanted everything to look like it does on any given pimple-faced Wednesday I’d still be wearing jelly bracelets stacked to my elbows and using those trashable wind-up cameras from the 90’s while getting way over excited that they take pictures underwater now! Stop it. Everything should look like a classic black and white Humphrey Bogart film.)
Of course, some of the noise about keeping shit real comes from yours truly, mind you, so the irony that I’m calling us out on it is not lost on me. Smug-Allison-Marie is even a little proud of that noise because it’s important noise to be making (she believes).
But somewhere amidst the chaotic weirdness of $5 selfie-sticks and $zilliondollar celebrity, we seem to have confused “being real” with being loud, obnoxious, rude, disrespectful, ignorant, and in an obscene number of cases . . . NOT REAL.
Just because people (or brands) are punchy, bratty, disruptive or confrontational does not make them any more (or less) ‘real’ than people (or brands) who are chill, mellow, soft spoken or still wearing jelly bracelets. #nojudgment
I have been truly and deeply touched – like soul-rocked-to-my-core-touched – by the growing number of beautiful souls who tell me they dig my work because it’s authentic and real. This lights my poetic bones on fire because that is literally THE MOST important thing to me.
Knowing that the rawness translates is everything in soul work. And as sure as I wish for just one day I could be a dewy, sultry, long-legged, long-cigarette-smoking, black and white Lauren Bacall, I promise you that everything I make comes from my Real.
But what keeps my work real is not my bizarre affection for X-rated words. It’s not the sexy poetry or the suggestive six word stories or the naughty innuendos or the calling of ourselves ‘monsters.’
Or ‘sex kittens.’ (What: have we not yet referred to ourselves as sex kittens? I’ll check the archives but if not it’s coming, lovers.)
What keeps this real is not the way I write or what I talk about or how I talk about it.
It’s not my hats or my tattoos or my eyeliner or my mala beads or my hypnotic voice (that’s what she said).
Fuck. All. That. Shit.
What keeps this space real is not what you think.
It’s not what you see. It’s not what you heard.
What keeps this work real, authentic, sharp, and relentless is death.
Go ahead and read that again, babe. Because I feel like somebody just flinched and it wasn’t me.
What keeps a soul working ceaselessly at its divine calling is the living of the body as sure as it is the dying of the body.
Both are promised. Both are happening all at once. Both are real.
We don’t like to talk about death in this culture for much the same reason we don’t like to talk about grit in spirituality or sex in art.
It scares us.
We know death is happening to us just like we know we’ve all got darkness in us as well as light, and just like we all know we crave erotica as a natural expression of the beauty and mystery of creation, but somewhere along the way we agreed (in overwhelming majority) with whomever decided we maybe aren’t allowed to mention / admit / use it to propel us forward.
Here’s what, though, sex kittens (*boom*): I didn’t pour all of my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into this sacred sanctuary of a space to AVOID TALKING ABOUT SHIT THAT MATTERS.
I created this space as a very sharp and clear demonstration that I know death is coming for all of us and that is exactly what makes me down-on-my-knees-in-the-delicious-dirt-in-worship grateful that I am here right now and able to write, able to create, able to feel, able to connect, able to experience my body, mind and soul in the ways I was designed to do.
I’ve seen death up close. I’ve seen the fierceness that was my own precious, badass mother leave her body behind when she died of breast cancer ten years ago at the age of 53.
Want real? That’s as real as it fucking gets, troops.
She’s the reason this place exists. My mom. My mom and the way she still to this day whispers in my ear: Do your damn thing, Allison. Do it so loud. Be brave. Be incredible. Be strong. Be unstoppable. Be where you are right this minute and own it so that when it’s over, you may rest in peace and know that your work is truly done.
I created this space because I knew you guys before you even showed up, in all your gorgeous monster creative glory. I wrote for you and recorded for you and designed for you so that when you did make your twisted, magical, mysterious way here, you would know you had finally found at least one true, honest thing.
You would know that you had found a place where it’s okay to be struggling and strong. Where it’s okay to be brave and afraid, beautiful and a mess. Where it’s okay to talk about the way it really is on the inside and not have to polish up for the outside.
Where you would know it’s okay to feel lit up, to feel raw, to feel released from whatever fears held you down before. Where you would know it’s okay to feel voracious, sensual and alive because of your spirituality not in spite of it.
I know you are bigger and brighter than what they see. I know you have mad incredible creative talents and a deep dark delicious desire to express the depths of who you are and where you’ve come from and where you need to go.
Your souls are on fire and I’m humbled by it week after week after week. Day after day after day. Your affection for life is palpable, it’s electric and it’s pure unadulterated love, peace and joy. It’s so damn hot.
We believe many of the same things, you and I. We believe in the magic of art and the healing power of connecting to a Spirit of the Highest Compassion.
We believe in our ability to go our own way, to forge our own path, to trust our own guts. To make our own art the way we believe it needs to be made.
We believe in each other. In listening, paying attention, and using the gifts we have to bravely make our love out loud.
And we believe in keeping the shit real at the expense of all else.
I believe this movement toward authenticity – during a time where there is so much nonsense, so much grandstanding, so much copied, manufactured, mediocre, over-exaggerated, relentless, destructive, expensive, glorified crap – is a sacred, evolutionary movement toward a higher collective consciousness.
It’s sacred not because we’re all goody two shoes (would someone please tell me what the fuck that means?) perfect saints trying to be holier than the next guy. It’s sacred because it is coming out of who we actually, really, honestly are.
It’s coming from a deep and clear ownership of where we have actually been, what we have actually seen, and what we have actually gone through. Going through the death of my mom was jarring and tough and empowering and devastating. Going through it then and going through it over and over as I continue on my life journey is what keeps me fierce and soft, curious and focused.
I have work to do and because of her, I know it.
I’ve seen death up close. Maybe it makes some people uncomfortable but I don’t actually mind that, I understand that. But it’s still the truth. And I know you guys all have your stories about death as well. Nobody gets around it.
Knowing that I’ll be gone is what keeps me going.
If nothing else, the Universe has one hell of a sense of irony. I kind of dig that about her.
Keeping it real means using everything they throw at us, everything life throws at us (including death), as a way to make the most of our experience in these precious body-machines before we must bid them farewell.
To be real, to be authentic, is to come from an honest place within. Whatever shows up on the outside will only be as real as where it started on the inside.
To keep it real is to own your story. To let what you have gone through prepare you to do what you need to do now with commitment, passion and love.
It’s not about the way you talk or the way you dress or the way you look.
It’s about who you are and what you stand for if they took all that stuff away.
“The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past. In the holy instant it is understood that the past is gone, and with its passing the drive for vengeance has been uprooted and has disappeared. The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth.”
- A Course In Miracles
That’s all it actually means to keep shit real, yeah?
That everything is gone.
Except the truth.
P.S. I thank you sincerely for sharing my work with your loved ones. The only thing more powerful than a single voice who dares to talk about what matters is a collective voice who dares. All my love & deepest gratitude for you, Allison Marie Xx