THE SILVER TOUCH
-By Dawn Alexander
Have you ever watched Friends? If you have you’ll remember that on going joke the group had where they really didn’t know what Chandler’s job was exactly. We all have that Chandler in our life. We have some clue what that friend does but we can never really quite explain it with certainly. My Chandler Bing is Jessica Silver. A long time close friend whose career I always had an interest in but never quite had a firm grasp at explaining so I sat her down to get clarity once and for all. Are you intrigued yet? Let’s get into it.
Jessica Silver currently lives In Malibu California where she anticipates her new at home practice as, what she calls, a Somatic therapist, will be up and running in the new year. Somatic, as Jessica describes, is therapy that isn’t just talking, it’s paying attention to how the body is responding to situations. “It’s body based therapy, it’s all about connecting your body’s experience and your mind’s experience rather than just focusing on your thoughts only”, Jessica explains.
She started as a therapist over 10 years ago, focusing on Gestalt therapy where the primary focus is traumas such as PTSD and more of a psychotherapeutic method focusing mostly on the present. She has her masters in Behavioral Sciences for clinical Psychology but she was more inspired by deeper methods.
She felt there had to be something more beyond Gestalt. Within herself she wasn’t feeling as connected to her body as she would like so surely others were feeling the same void . During her time in her masters program she had learned how trauma can be held in the body and therefore must also be released by the body, naturally she wondered if this was happening to her personally as well. Coming from a religious background where one focuses on the disconnection of the physical from the spiritual body she felt internal conflict. “Why would I own this, this isn’t mine..” She explains, “The way that I related to my body was that this is a temporary shell and that who you are really is your spirit.” Despite this she still knew she needed to proceed with seeking some sort of body centered treatment. The typical practices of what we all think of as ‘body work’, especially as anyone living in LA, came to mind such as yoga, massage and acupuncture and all of those “get to know your body” type trends we’re so familiar with. These were all fine but fortunately she came across the Skirball Center where an introduction to Peter Levine, who created Somatic Experiencing working with vets specifically, would really change everything for her.
Levine was working with vets coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq who had experienced and witnessed traumatic events. They would come back with symptoms that standard western medicine would label and prescribe pharmecuticals for but wouldn’t exactly cure them.
“Western medicine is the brain up and eastern medicine is usually more of the body but holistic is when everything, your whole being is considered.”-Jessica Silver
“This one guy came back and he was misdiagnosed by his western doctor with turrets, it wasn’t”, Jessica says explaing a misdiagnosis that Peter Levine corrected. “He was in this tank and the enemy threw a grenade and he ran out of his tank and he took the grenade and he threw it back but the grenade blew up halfway and he turned as a response and he came back from war like that, stuck.” He was stuck in this twitch or tick but Peter Levine was convinced he was just stuck in that moment and he successfully helped the man through it. This sort of healing can go as far back as treating traumas experienced while in utero. Jessica was amazed by Levine and the results he was getting with his method. “Im sold!”, Jess explains on finding something she connected with, “This is what I’ve been looking for, everything in me was like, ‘Fuck Yea!’ This is what I want to do.”
Finding what you want to is just one step. How do you even go about shifting from more of a mental therapist to adding body work? She was recommended to see a woman named Raquel at a studio that taught the Grinberg Method. This animated and personable Israeli woman gets right to the point with Jessica upon meeting. “When did you learn you had to put on a face that everything was ok?” was the first thing Raquel asked Jessica. She started to cry immediately. “You see me!” Jessica laughs at remembering her reaction to the blunt and straight to the point introduction to The Grinberg Method. Beyond the mental there was of course the physical and Raquel showed her where she was holding her personal fears and past traumas. She was first hand experiencing that connection she believed we all have.
Having her background as a therapist and her enthusiasm in this method Raquel suggested Jessica take the Grinberg method training taking place in Germany in October of 2013 through 2016 which she committed to for the next 3 years. “It was 20 people from all around the world, There’s students from Israel, Germany, Amsterdam.”, Jessica describes the courses, “It was an 8 day program, a combination of lecture and exercises that we would be lead through and they would teach us a technique and we would pair off and practice on one another.”
Jessica later found more methods that resonated with her such as Pantarei that focus on the strengths and qualities that are specific to individuals. “Most of the time those strengths are connected to a time of your life where you needed to learn to get by.” She explains, “Usually they come from a darker time in your life where you needed to cope with something or get through something.” Having dealt with her own childhood issues with mental disorders in her family and learning at a young age how to read a mood in order to react properly or to protect herself she learned to use this to her advantage in a positive light. “This is a gift I have, I learned I don’t need to check out everyone to make sure I’m safe or what’s their motive.”
Through all of these methods we can now travel back to the now where Jessica finds herself today. Where we get Somatic Therapy from her. Since we live in a cynical world where the idea of practicing methods that don’t yeild some expensive certification or liscence handed out by a panal of people appointed to be the heads of its practice Jessica does still practice what is referred to as talk therapy but her hands on approach in Somatic therapy is blooming and noone is ‘owning’ it, which is a good thing.
One of Jessica’s proudest success stories was from a woman who was having difficulty getting pregnant due to ovarian cysts. Jessica got to know her mentally but also put her hands on her and helped her work on the physical tension she was keeping in her lower belly. A lot of fear and past feelings would come up so through the physical touch and working out the details by talking she was able to to help heal her. Jessica suggest that the woman get her cysts measured at the beginning so that they could monitor results. 6 months later they were gone and she got pregnant. Jessica remembers saying to herself, “This shit works!”
“You know when you’re doing something you feel alive and you feel like you’re in your flow…Thats optimal living. So it’s helping people find how to get back in your flow because trauma is when we stop our flow.”-Jessica Silver
I asked Jessica, what kind of people should come see you? Her reply was anyone really. “A lot of people say ‘ever since my divorce, ever since this car accident, ever since I got sick with anything…I was something then something happened and I’ve never been the same’”. Seems we all have things to talk about, get off of our chest or have a desire to better ourselves. We don’t always have to have obvious deep traumas to heal and feel better and Jessica further convinced me of that. “I would reccommend myself to anyone who is looking to grow in a certain area, if they have anxiety, depression or they want to learn how to be a better partner or a friend.” Says Jessica. Somatic therapy is beneficial for all walks of life, maybe you just feel stuck in your own sort of tick. This is a method to get people unstuck and beyond a rut and onto personal growth.
To learn more about Jessica Silver and Somatic therapy contact her, make an appointment or recommend her today. firstname.lastname@example.org
BE A BRAT
by Dawn Alexander
A friend once joked with me that I now had to move onto wearing long skirts instead of short ones due to getting older but I will likely never act my age, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’ll probably remain in a state of trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and Im sure to do so while wearing the clothing I feel expresses my personal style. I gravitate towards people living their truth in this way as well. Whether it be through their art, style or fashion. As much as I hate the phrase “Do you!” (eyeroll), I totally believe in it. People should do what brings them happiness.
Many years ago I stumbled upon a shop in my neighborhood that lives it’s truth. I go out of my way to swing by when I have little cash to spend or I simply want a chat with the fabulous owner, Nancy Hunt. Nancy owns Brat. It’s a small, hip boutique that pops on the otherwise quiet street of 14th near Pico Blvd in Santa Monica, CA. Stop! Don’t even imagine those ugly ‘bratz’ dolls. This is a punk rock/rockabilly inspired store with affordable clothing, gifts and accessories. Brat opened in 2001 and the name is inspired from its roots, an homage to Bobbi Brat of The Bobbi Brat band. Before Bobbi Brat became somewhat of a legend in some California music circles she was an employee of Nancy’s first punk rock store, Na Na, which opened in 1976 selling mostly shoes like Doc Martins and Monkey boots. Bobbi Brat was a rising star at the time but died tragically of cancer in 1988.
After many years Na Na closed all of its stores, which were in various locations such as New York and San Francisco, in 2001. A sad affair in some respects but Nancy took this as an opportunity to get back to that direct touch with customers she had missed during all of her years traveling from store to store managing Na Na. “It lost it’s charm for me”, Nancy explain about the impersonal managing. She felt it was time to get back to what she really enjoyed. “I really love people and contact with people”
Brat’s punk rock style is very fitting for it’s location. It’s not often that you can walk out of a store with shopping bag in hand and have a fantastic view of a graveyard as well. The Woodland Cemetery is directly across the street. According to Nancy, ‘Bobbie loved cemeteries’, she was a punk rock girl after all, so when the real estate agent called and hesitated to offer the property due to it’s unfortunate proximity Nancy quickly replied, “I’ll take it!”
“I think that the product in here is interesting enough that it is a magnet for really great and very creative people who just aren’t the status quo and those are the people we need in this world to change things and create things” -Nancy Hunt
Brat is the kind of store you want to walk into, even just to peek around. The mannequins in the window look like they are having a blast. Always dressed colorfully in fun poses surrounded by interesting items and props. It’s a small but inviting and cozy shop. A lot of Brat’s style echoes that of Na Na. There’s even a picture hung in memorial of Bobbi Brat.
Despite the small space I have often found myself circling the space several times getting into a new item of interest at each turn. The music filling the boutique ranges from 50s to current punk rock. There are fun socks and accessories hanging from the wall, hat racks, sunglasses, clever gift items, baby clothing and although it’s mostly women’s clothing you can find mens clothing as well like T-Shirts, accessories, jackets and more. She manages to fit it all in one space while not leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
I personally own many items of clothing from Brat and they are alway my most complimented pieces. An added plus those of us animal friendly consumers Nancy avoids selling any leather or fur. She thrives to still get the best quality to maintain that punk style people want without the unnecessary cruelty. “You still have that same badass look that you get from leather” She’s explains about her leather-free motorcycle style jackets, “.. and believe it or not the pleather now is such good quality it will hold up and breaths a lot more”
Another thing that makes Brat and Nancy so special is her love and devotion to her community. Brats’ home has been Santa Monica for a long time and she’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon despite feeling the change that has occurred over time. “Santa Monica used to be called The City of Slow Growth” Nancy laments. Over the years it’s lost that touch a bit as developers take over more and more. “We’re losing any kind of people that are artist and creative people..and that hurts me”. Nancy enjoys being a part of her community as a store owner providing not only fun fashion for all ages but summer jobs for the local kids but it has changed a lot since she first started.
“When I first opened kids could still be in college, get a part time job, many of them worked for us, they could be in a band, they could surf, skateboard and still live by the beach”, Nancy explains passionately, “It was still affordable enough for these kids that we need in this community, in any community for that matter. You need diversity and creative people putting new life into a community, pushing a little bit to the edge to get things to go in the future”
Despite more industry people filling the streets than from long ago Nancy still has her core of customers that are all over the age spectrum. Punk fashion has been around for so long and still inspires young kids today to those over 70. Nancy has seen young parents in their 20s share interest in the fashions and products with their own small children. Her clothing is affordable for anyone from a young student to a senior citizen.
“I have grandmothers in their 80s, they are very lively, they buy moto jackets..they say ‘I can wear that can’t I?’ and being who I am I could never deny them”, Nancy explains, “I don’t buy into that at a certain age you have to give up being fresh and trying new things. I just can’t buy into that and I never will.”
She’s proud to be so close to, as she calls them, the ‘coolest kids’ that attend Santa Monica College (SMC). To her these are the kids in our community choosing to aspire to the arts and aspiring for more than money making careers. “Those are the kids that put themselves through that school, those are the creative kids” Even now at 65 years old Nancy can relate to choosing passion over money. As an owner of Brat she wouldn’t call her career choice an overwhelming financial goldmine but she absolutely loves what she does and has no thoughts or plan to retire anytime soon.
Brat clothing will set you apart from the mass market. While affordable, accessible attire is desirable from the likes of Forever 21 to Urban Outfitters, Brat is the place you can go to to spend similarly but with the bonus of having a look that’s all your own.
At Brat you will see outfits pre arranged suggesting an entire ensemble to purchase but Nancy may only suggest a smaller item like suspenders, a cardigan or hat to perk up your wardrobe. Nancy isn’t a sales person. She will never try to up-sell you. She’ll let you explore on your own or assist you in making a purchase that fits you and only you. To her you’re not simply a consumer to be sold to.
This is what I love about Brat and mostly, Nancy Hunt. I feel like I am walking into her home to say hello to one of the friendliest people in the neighborhood and oh, she also has cool stuff for sale! Every time I go to Brat I not only find at least one thing to purchase but I also have a pleasant conversation with Nancy while enjoying the vibe and browsing. She keeps her store products fresh and updated.
Among all of the amazing items at Brat, Nancy supports her friends event by selling tickets at her store for the infamous and popular burlesque wrestling extravaganza called Lucha Vavoom.
If you would like to support local small businesses and want unique gifts or clothing items for men, women and babies then I highly suggest popping into Brat. Click the links below for more information.
Hours: Daily 12-6 310-452-2480 1938 14th Street Santa Monica
a child, typically a badly behaved one.
Throwing On The Wheel
When you picture a homemade potter you probably imagine an old hippie woman in her garage at a potting wheel surrounded by gardening supplies and various half finished crafts with incense smoke in the air getting ready for the next local fair. You’re least likely to imagine my friend Matt, a young guy in his 30s who skateboards and drums in a badass punk rock band, Velcron. No, Matt Heauser isn’t a stereo type of pottery in fact, I learned that the stereo type of pottery is quickly changing as pottery becomes more popular with younger, “hip” people, and Matt leads the way with his amazing work and years of commitment to the craft.
He started messing around on the wheel when he was 4 years old. His great grandmother started in the pottery business in 1953. His grandmother then passed down this love of pottery to his mother and then naturally onto him. Though his grandmother was the one to give him his first lesson he really didn’t find a passion for it until his summer breaks in college in Seattle. This is when he started to make it his steady course of income.
“It’s been my main source of income since I graduated college…I’ve never been able to get fully into something else” -Matt Haeuser
During his early years in Seattle he started with small projects like magnets and ornaments where he could master using glaze. Glaze, I learned is how you add the color. It’s a mix of chemicals, clay and metals and depending on the temperature that the piece is fired in the glaze reacts and changes color so some prediction is required in advance to the final product when it comes to design. “So you might have something that looks pink”, Matt explains, “but when you dip it but turns into something that looks green”.
By 2004 as he got better at “throwing” as he puts it, which is a phrase that refers to making pieces on the wheel. He decided he could either sell these items or get a low paying 9-5 gig. He took the obvious choice and decided to make a living off of his creativity. He had an advantage since his family owns and operates Orcas Island Pottery. This gave him a place to sell his creations easily so he never had to worry much about the sales end. The issue was that the shop was in Orcas Island and Matt was still living in Seattle at this time. Luckily his brother was also in Seattle so he was able to use his brothers’ garage studio. He would make bisqueware first, where you fire the piece in the kiln for the first time and it becomes stone. He would then take an hour and a half drive and a ferry ride to Orcas with what he had on the bisque square and finish the glaze and give to the family pottery shop,
In 2009 he moved to LA, a lot more than just a short drive and a ferry to Orcas. Like most of us he struggled with the “How am I gonna make a living here” dilemma. He had friends, fellow Orcas Island transplants, the band, his drums but now there was the challenge to continue to make and sell his work which was becoming more and more of a passion for him. He was able to find a space to create his pieces and still traveled to Orcas about 3 times a year. “I would stuff my Honda full of pottery box after box, full of stuff.”, says Matt.
Mugs were his specialty for a long time. They are always in demand. It’s that perfect gift for the boss or co-worker. In my cabinet I have about 3 favorite mugs that I prefer to drink my coffee out of so I understand the attachments to a favorite mug. “People love mugs”, Matt says. He’s probably made over 10,000 mugs to date. Most days he makes standard shaped mugs but some days he’ll feel more creative and make about 100 different mugs all unique.
Eventually Matt wanted to sell locally. LA offers so many merchant and art festivals, markets and boutiques so he tried a few shops but the demands for 50% of all sales wasn’t too profitable. He settled on selling at some farmers markets and some of his items are currently displayed and for sale at Good Dirt LA, where he also teaches. Good Dirt is a hip spot to learn pottery, unlike smaller towns where the pottery is more geared to the older crowds, young people in LA seem to be drawn to getting their hands in the clay. “There are a lot of younger people that come in (to Good Dirt)” Matt explains, “I think its more to get back (to being) connected to the earth and do something with your hands because of a lot of people work in tech or graphic design and they love doing something where they can see the final product and it’s real”
His creativity is growing past bowls and standard mugs. He’s experimenting with various sculpture. He’ll just throw a piece and modify and sculpt it after, going with the feeling and adding to it. Currently he’s been making detailed tiki mugs and creative octopus designs on mugs and sculptures.
Matt will be leaving LA real soon so join one of his classes at Good Dirt LA asap. You can order or commission work from him directly at email@example.com or the links below. Get your POT on!
Matt Haeuser on INSTAGRAM
GOOD DIRT LA CLASSES