I am an artist, a dissident doula and author;
a lover of the ferine and saltwater and swelter of heat.
I house and honor spaces of human and creative sanctuary, fiercely devoted to the shouts of shattered lives and deeply trusting of our own innate instinct. I am not here for transcendence. I’m here to stay slow and low to the honesty of things, human and unrepentant and real.
I don’t enjoy or do so well with small talk, so I’ll spare us both the pretense. But I do love intimacy and complexity and oftentimes profanity and sometimes sugar. So I will tell you those things instead. Because it is not that I don’t care about things; its that I care deeply and irreverently just not always for the things told to us to be valuable in a world where conformity to a sick society is considered success.
I care about honoring our multitudes and all the contradictions we humans house and hold. I care about the quotidian, the right here, the countless collections of things all webbed and woven together that make up a life: the hum of neon, the call of secular prayers, the whirr of the box fan late at night when restless with wondering, unanswerable questions, bodies that break and still let us live, playing checkers by the pool knowing one day this will be only memory. I care about the collection of photo booth images of me and my son from all our road trips, and re-imagining old myths, and abolition, and voluptuous listening. I care about the making of things.
I care about all of us getting free.
I hate the rhetoric around exceptionalism, the ableism imbedded in ideals of overcoming obstacles as some sort of moral achievement and “rising to the occasion” the emblem of integrity. I hate the wellness industry that implies it is solely the responsibility of individuals to work their own way out of the impact of structural harm and violence, rather than collective responsibility to dismantle systems themselves. I hate the gaslighting of self-help quotes and inspiration porn, that the only thing standing in the way is our own limited thinking. My own body tells a different story that I have come to trust and believe and this matters more to me than all the books written by all the experts put together.
I am devoted to the outcast, the outsider, the orphan, the harlot, the heathen, the stranger, in myself and in the world.
I am for a radical acceptance of our humanity that does not pathologize, criminalize, or deny the impact of living these lives.
I’ve been at this being human thing long enough to know mostly how much I do not know, and I don’t claim the authority of possessing insight for others. So I am for the humanization of things turned inside out.
I am for transgression.
I believe in the humility of remembering everything I say and do is happening on stolen land.
I believe in actively seeking to end all slut shaming, victim blaming, body policing and identity naming for another; that replacing one set of standards or rules in place of the other doesn’t help us to be free. Your body is your own; your stories and experience and body belong to you.
I believe there is no purity and that purity culture kills creativity and life itself.
I believe in the arc and artistry of wings, and of birds in flight, and of murmurations.
I believe in you.
I come from a lineage of birth work, death work, sex work, art and always the words - as a doula and consent educator and activist and artist. You can read the details in the really fine print at the bottom of this page. It’s not that it doesn’t matter at all. Because it informs my creating and my ways of being and my personhood. But my lived experience informs me more. My lived experience which has profoundly impacted me, and it is here where I can say that this is what I am here to do: to be gloriously and deeply affected by encounter and the living of this life.
I am good at unconventional cartography, and spending hours and hours alone, and dancing on tables and chairs, and eating in bed. I bake pie and make damn fine coffee. I am good at taking an enormous amount of notes and making lists. My entire life lives on post-its and legal pads and notebooks and napkins, indispensable and decipherable only to me.
I am really good at staying with what is happening,
Witnessing what is real and not looking away.
This is how worlds are re-imagined and bodies are re-membered.
I divide my time between a little lake town in Michigan, the city of Toronto and the island in Mexico and live with my teenage son who made me human and the woman I eloped with and love like I finally found my first and full language. Sometimes I also spend a lot of time in my imaginary screened in porch where it’s always hot and humid outside, the locusts hum like longing, and the ceiling fan is on, as is the record playing Chet Baker, and we can go as slowly as we want to here so as to feel the full shape of things while here.
Come join me in the art salon and the sanctuary,
or come say hello.
In love and defiance,
“There are, if you are lucky, a handful of people you will meet in your life who know how to truly and consciously share the space of this world with you. Isabel is one of those people and I am one of the lucky folk to have sat eye to eye with her. Here's the thing: Isabel seeks the questions that we somehow have forgotten to ask. She knows when to throw them at your fiercely (but safely) or blow them gently your way like a dandelion's seeds. And when you are ready, Isabel will sit cross-legged and witness your answers without judgement. She's no bullshit and all raw. She isn't afraid of emotion and conversation that veers in every direction. What's more is Isabel somehow manages to articulate this experience even through her writing. She shares stories as if they are her last breath. She dives deep to evoke memories; both painful and nostalgic. Isabel is the real deal, incarnated into a wild, tender raven of a woman.
I am anti-authoritarian and as such I have no real interest in offering out my credentials as a badge by “expert” authority figures confirming upon me validation for having achieved success by a system that harms.
It is also true I didn’t just show up one day and decide to give something a try out of nowhere. It is a connected and interwoven body of work.
My professional background and education includes a wide and rich expanse of learning and engagement including: