Hello. I'm Willow.
Hi, beautiful beings!
I'm that quiet, nerdy, artsy, bookish kid in the corner of the classroom that you remember when you were in your fifth grade, that underperforming misfit in class whom you wouldn't know about their genius.
I'm an enigma, or as someone who once said to me, a rare wildflower one would not find until they'd hiked a distance through rugged terrains.
For those who care about factoids like these, I'm an INTP, a "loyalist" enneagram archetype, a Gemini sun with a Taurus moon; a queer non-binary femme who is on the autistic spectrum (and was not diagnosed as such until I was 18), who was considered a gifted child at age 3 but I began flunking school by the time I was 10 (I hated school).
I think I have always been a born rebel and a free spirit.
In the 21st century, I have been a dropout, then a serial entrepreneur, then a minister, then an activist and community organizer, and then back to entrepreneurship and art, as well as being a graduate student.
I have lived in the inner-city neighborhoods of Portland for 19 years, since before Portland was a cool place to be. Now I live in the woods far from any city, spoiling two cats.
Oddly enough, I absolutely hated art and craft when I was little. I felt it was boring and tedious, and I hated the mess and the smells of various things (paints, crayons, clay, etc.).
When I was in third grade, I was in a classroom just when the school was over and recess was starting. A few boys were throwing something around, laughing and screaming at one another. Then I felt something hit my face. As I was on my way home, I realized my eyesight was weird. Stuff looked like doubles, and kind of blurry. I went home and my mom took me to an optometrist at a nearby contact lens shop. He ran a few tests and found out that my left eye was slashed with the object. Very fortunately I did not lose my sight, but it took me over a month wearing an eye patch over my left eye, looking at the world through only one eye, until the doctor thought I had sufficiently recovered.
The eye patch came off, but my formerly exceptionally great eyesight (I could see a watertower that was five miles away, from the 8th floor condo we used to live in) began deteriorating over time. By the time I was out of high school, I was full-blown myopic. Now I cannot read a 10-point character half a foot away.
Over time, I began perceiving the world through subtle nuances in different shades of colors. Though I could no longer see or discern details and lines and edges, and I lost my sense of depth and distance recognition, I developed a keen sense of colors, shades and tones. I think this is very much well suited for a watercolor artist.
I picked up fine art when I was in middle school, perhaps as a way to find an escape from the very rigid and competitive academic environment I was in at the time. I even served as the president of the school fine art club for a year. In my teenage years, I visited many art museums -- famous ones as well as obscure and less-known ones. Museums were some of my favorite hangouts -- I had annual passes to the Seattle Art Museum and the Bellevue Art Museum. During my junior and senior years of high school (which was an arts magnet school that specialized in all sorts of arts), I received an excellent art training from working artists who were teachers at our school.
After I graduated from high school in 1994, however, I abruptly took a break from art. I never picked up a paintbrush for the following 13 years. My interests sort of shifted, I gave up on my application for the Cornish College of the Arts and the Art Institute of Seattle, and by that time it was too late to apply for anything except a few local community colleges. I attended South Seattle Community College (today's South Seattle College) for three years and there I studied journalism and newspaper production, something that was becoming obsolete at the time. Even then, in retrospect, my artistic eyes played important roles in designing a newspaper. I developed a love of typefaces, as well. I also had a bit of training in photojournalism as well, and I would love to venture into that field when I have a lot of money to invest in equipment.
In 2007, I resumed my art. It was a fresh start for me, and I did not necessarily have perfect tools or resources for this. Yet, I began showing in the spring of 2008, and I have exhibited ever since. I have held two solo shows, and was a featured artist in an exhibit at a gallery. I have shown in several juried shows as well as in invitationals.
In 2018, I founded the Preslar Gallery, which I curate and direct.
My only political position is to promote anything that leads to more liberty for all - especially the marginalized and underdog populations. And my highest political priority is to uphold the human rights, economic rights, and social rights of all. This is the only standard by which I judge all policy matters.
In general, I am a mutualist and libertarian socialist in orientation, influenced also by the Catholic thoughts of subsidiarity and distributism, Georgist economic theory, and anarcha-feminist analysis -- and inspired by a diverse group of thinkers including Robert Nisbet, Hannah Arendt, Emma Goldman, and G.K. Chesterton. I envision a decentralized post-state world order in which sovereignty resides in individuals within a context of organic, liberated human society. I reject the concentration of powers into smaller and more remote hands, whether they are economic, political, or informational powers.
I'm one of those rare and odd people these days, who is "religious not spiritual." In fact, I'm wary of those who claim to be "spiritual not religious" since they lack structure and discipline, accordingly, anything goes and their emotions become the ultimate arbiter. I feel this is very limiting, when the buck stops with yourself and has nothing transcendent beyond your feelings, desires, or passions.
As someone who is neurodivergent, I did not possess some of the basic human instincts such as conscience, sense of right and wrong, and empathy as a young child. I was a monster that was my parents' and teachers' worst nightmare. Still I do not fully understand (or capable of dealing with) the vagaries and nuances of human life and this remains one of my greatest frustrations. Fundamentalist Christianity provided me, at the onset of adolescence, the much needed system of understanding morality and ethics, as well as the structures upon I built my values and behaviors.
I've explored theologies, doctrines, and traditions of many faiths since I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. Those topics intrigued me because they gave me a window to learn why people think and behave certain ways. Eventually I have studied at an Evangelical liberal arts college and a seminary. Theology (which I usually spell thexlogy these days) still is my interest area, as well as sociology and history of religions.
At various points in my life, I was affiliated with, or in the process of joining (and left before joining), a Christian Reformed church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, a fundamentalist Baptist church, several Pentecostal churches (of various sizes, ranging from a start-up Assemblies of God congregation that met at someone's living room to one of the largest megachurches in the Pacific Northwest), Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist churches, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, the Anglican/Episcopal Church, a number of Neo-Pagan communities, and a Unity church.
But oddly enough, I was never raised religious; in fact, both of my parents were anti-religion and secular. This might have worked in my favor because religion was never forced down my throat and my rebellious tendency found an outlet in church instead of gangs or drug addiction. But I sure was a delinquent kid who spent lots of time in church (instead of studying hard and getting good grades!) and everyone except my parents thought I was this "good, impressive, religious teenager." Now I sort of feel sorry for this. I used to think of my parents as tools of Satan.
There was also a time when I was an ordained priest in a breakaway Catholic denomination (hence in a valid but illicit apostolic succession). I survived for about two and a half years. Around that time, I was also a Benedictine oblate affiliated with an oblate community at an Episcopal church.
I am morally opposed to self-improvement and self-actualization (hedonism and exaltation of self), as well as those who peddle them (unethical merchants who prey on people's weaknesses often when they are vulnerable). Regardless of one's religious tradition, faith ought to be about transcending and conquering self to pursue that which is greater than the total sum of one's self -- from hence come the sense of vocation, purpose, and dedication.
Scholarship and researches
I am a renegade thexlogian, originally trained in Evangelical Protestant theological background, but along the way evolved through ecofeminism, queer and/or feminist thexlogy, liberation thexlogy, Catholic social teachings, and New Thought thexlogy. I am currently working toward my M.Div. degree. My research interests include history of female leadership and evolution of its thexlogy and praxis in the U.S., especially in the context of contemporary social and political trends.
For the entirely of my adulthood, I have been a "necessity entrepreneur," who has tried a wide variety of microenterprise endeavors for the sake of subsistence. While I have no M.B.A. and no corporate background, I have become known for my uncanny knack for business. In 2016, I founded Limeadestand Works, a brand strategy and brand communication management firm geared specifically toward independent creatives and solopreneurs in the Greater Portland, Oregon metropolitan region.
Odds and ends
I have been a vegan since 1995. I am also a devoted bicyclist with a trusty U.S.-made Raleigh mountain bike, which takes me pretty much everywhere.
About the featured photo: This was one of the pictures from one of the last photo shoots I had. It was summer of 2016. Here I was playing a fairy, wearing absolutely nothing except what nature gave me. A month after the photo session, I had a very short haircut (it was a hot summer) and I haven't had long hair ever since. Most of the photos from this photo shoot looked awful (not because of the photographer, who is amazing) but rather because I didn't realize how much weight I put on. But I love this picture because it shows my playful and innocent side, something that's pretty hard to come by. Four months after the photo shoot, my world and whatever the naive optimism I had were shattered abruptly. (Photographer: Kara Cooper.)