exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Elle Mae Mitchell

Elle Mae

Name: Ellie Mae Mitchell

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Probably not as often as most people. I wash my body about once a week, I haven’t washed my hair in eight months. I’m a fan of water rinses. Just water. I feel like outdoor showers are under-utilized, just a rinse off can make me feel so much better. If I have the opportunity to shower outdoors I’ll do it. We are planning to build a solar-bag outdoor shower with bamboo so we can rinse off. If I’m in the garden, I don’t want to come in and use the tub or shower if I don’t have to. 

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

Can I be an aquatic plant? Because hornwort. Hornwort is a submergible plant, it was actually the first plant in space. It’s this feathery thing that lives all underwater, doesn’t have any roots and floats around, clinging to other plants. It’s a natural oxygenator and it’s one of the backbone species in evolutionary submergible plants. It’s a very old plant. Hornwort. I feel like a woods witch when I say it, like “HORN-wort!” You know? Like, where’s my HORN-wort? It’s in our pond too. It’s one of my favorite plants. I would be totally be a plant.

What are you passionate about?

Oh, well, all plants. Growing things has been a part of my life, my entire life. Growing up on a farm, growing your own food, growing your own medicine. It’s very inherent to my own architecture in what I do with energy work. Plants rule my life, in the best kind of ways. Music too – being a musician. Being a songwriter and being able to tell my story in ways that other people can interoperate independently, it’s such an amazing way to heal with others and connect with strangers. To play music for them. I can really connect with people that way. I feel that music is a big part of my language, how I interact with people. I started when I was four or five. I played classical piano most of my life, then I quit piano when I was 16. I picked up the banjo when I was 18 and have been playing banjo for almost ten years. Trying to learn the trumpet right now.

Has music supported your personal growth?

So, I just played a songwriters-round the other night and it’s not often that I play solo. To play solo, I had to pull out some of my older songs that I haven’t played in a long time. Thinking about growth, in the way of what I’ve written and what I’ve chosen to create in a physical… creating a time portal, in a song. Because, I can always go back to that moment. And other people can create their own time experience with that emotion, with what they feel through the song. So with growth, it’s interesting to look at old songs and feel those feelings again. Sometimes, it’s like, what the fuck was I thinking? Why did I feel that way, it’s so silly! But that’s the beauty of time, I guess. Being able to look back and recognize the growth and move forward.

What is something that you struggle with?

A lot… I think right now, motherhood. Motherhood, parenting, is hard. I have a two year old and I love him deeply. Patience! Patience is what I struggle with. I’m a very impatient person, that’s what it’s all boiling down to. He’s learning patience, which is the irony of all of this. He’s stubborn and he’s learning and I’m stubborn and I’m still learning, as the mother and just… Patience. Patience with partners, patience with myself and learning patience while trying to guide another person through this world. Patience is something I’ve been struggling a lot with lately. 

What is your biggest accomplishment?

My child. Ezra. That’s what it feels like. Being able to… I don’t know, that’s a tough question ::laughs::. But as a parent, that’s been the most life-changing thing that I’ve ever done. To bring another person in this world. The way that he makes me feel is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. Seeing him thrive and learn and grow through family-love-energy… I think it’s him.

What was your conception of motherhood before Ezra?

Kinda different. I probably thought I knew more than I should have ::laughs::. I really thought that I had a plan, like, no TV and all organic. I wanted the best environment for him at all times. Then… the birth was so fucked up. It was horrible and traumatizing and was not what I was expecting at all. I had an emergency C-section after 30 hours of natural labour. I thought I was going to have a water-birth, but then he was cut out of my body. It was intense, it was really traumatizing and that humbled me INTENSELY. I thought I knew, and that first moment was like, “You don’t know nothin’”. And that was really cool and harsh and important to learn that. All of this… it’s like a token you hold. It’s with me all the time, like, with each new experience I can use it as a check-point. It allows me to step back and ask “is your ego in the way, are you trying to encourage them to thrive”. Which reminds me of how all human beings act, whether lovers or friends or whatnot. Like, are you lording or inhibiting someone else’s growth from your own personal selfishness or ego or whatever.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, familial, sexual and otherwise.

Human beings learn and thrive from experience. It’s how we communicate so much through body and through language. Most of those interactions are between people themselves. It seems like… I’m such an emotional person, I get attached so easily. Whether intimately or emotionally, relationships are intense but they’re vital. They’re essential to growth and to learn empathy and to continue to grow. Learn to love stronger. I don’t mean to sound like a dirty hippie, but like, empathy and love is so important in a harsh world. We need more of that, we need more empathy to understand one another. 

What is your love language?

I affiliate with the Queen of Cups, and that would be the love language that I give… I’m an empath and a mother and a healer. Filling other people’s cups is really important to me. Giving gifts and making things for people. I love giving time to show someone I care. I’m a very physical person too. I thrive on touch, the little things. Little actions. Physical & intentional, like slow river.


Shore Grae


Name: Shore Grae

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

How often do you bathe or shower?

Probably too much [laughter]. Like, I really like to shower and that whole process of getting clean. I know realistically you only have to do it a few times a week or so, but if I could do it every day I would. Not wash my hair, but wash my body. Get wet. Yeah.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

Mmmmm. I used to think I was a seahorse. I used to be really mellow, chill and just go with the flow. But, now I feel like I would be something bigger and bolder. A narwhal or a whale. Still majestically floating around but with presence. Like, “I’m here. Look at me”.

What are you passionate about?

At this point in time, I’m really passionate about trying to live my life positively and authentically. I want to get to a place where I can be who I want and do what I want. Right now, I’m doing that through writing poetry. I love doing it and I don’t get enough time for it but writing is one of my biggest passions. I really enjoy displaying my views as the queer trans person I am through poetry.  I really enjoyed writing in middle school and high school but I don’t think I had the proper ways to express myself because at that time there was a part of me that I wasn’t letting out completely. I’m realizing more and more, that I wasn’t really myself during that time. It’s been an ongoing process of learning who I am as I grow and change more and more each day. That’s what makes me passionate about creating. I want to use writing to share my journey with the world. So, through the help of some English teachers and a college professor in poetry, they were really supportive and helped me realize that I had a voice. Like, everyone has their own voice, but that professor noticed I was figuring out my voice and he was really supportive and pushing me towards using it. It helped me find my passion and… through finding my voice in poetry, I was able to figure out that I had a whole other person inside me. So, as I’m learning about myself as a person, I’ve been able to grow that passion. It’s still growing. [Laughter].

What is something that you struggle with?

It’s been a struggle to allow myself to be who I am. I’ve struggled a lot with my gender identity in the past couple of years. Finding out who I really am and allowing myself the chance to play with it. I’ve grown and changed so much in the past couple of years. It was a struggle to realize that I wasn’t happy with my identity, and me not being happy in who I was, was affecting everything in my life. I was making bad life decisions because I wasn’t allowing myself to live freely. I was very unhappy. But I’ve been trying to flip that into a positive feeling. Today I… my relationship with gender is good. It’s generally very positive. I’ve realized that I am slowly transitioning into a female, a trans-woman. My transition has gone really well so far. I’m learning to be more open about it. As a person, I’ve been closed off from everything. Like, with my sexuality and gender. In general, I don’t share a lot with people on a day to day basis. I’m very open and I love talking to people, but I don’t share a lot of what’s happening inside. With my gender identity, I’m learning to be more open. I’m learning how to tell people my pronouns instead of letting them guess based on how I’m dressed. It’s a good relationship and will continue to grow. I still stumble with it, but it’s on the right track.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, familial and otherwise.

My relationships are very important to me, which I feel is a very normal thing. My platonic relationships have gone through a complete flip. The people I hang around have completely changed in the past couple of years. The people I am surrounding myself platonically with now have been very supportive of me. They’ve never questioned my changes or been negative. Even the first day I showed up randomly at my local bar in a dress, no makeup, awkward hair, they were totally for it. Wanting me to just, be me. It’s been really nice from a friendship side, to have complete 100% support.  When they give me feedback it’s supportive. Like, say a dress doesn’t look right or giving me makeup tips. It’s coming from a place of love and acceptance and wanting to be there with me on this journey. My sexual relationships have been weird. Figuring out how to present myself has made dating pretty awkward, and there was a long time where I wasn’t experiencing anything positive in my love life. But now as a fully-fledged trans-femme person, more people are interested in me and it’s been fun. More people want to take me on dates! Treat me like a real woman [laughter]. Umm, yeah it’s been good. I’m devoting my romantic energy right now towards more positive relationships. For my family, they have been pretty supportive as well. My siblings and parents have just gone with it, they know I’m being me. There has been some concern with my gender and safety due to being targeted while living my life as an out trans person. So there’s been a bit of hardship dealing with that, but I know it’s coming from a place of love and concern. I’ve gotten a lot closer with my family in the last year since I started transitioning. I hope once I fully come out to them as a transwoman, it will still be positive. Yeah.


Nancy Paraskevopoulos


Name: Nancy Paraskevopoulos

Age: 32

Pronouns: She/Her

How often do you bathe or shower?

Ummm, I shower when needed or beyond that, once a week if I haven’t worked out super hard.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

Oh my God, probably a narwhal. I actually have a narwhal tattoo on my finger. I worked with Green Peace for a year, raising money and read a lot about whales in my free time. There’s a great book called “The Whale” by Phillip Hoare, H-O-A-R-E. In it he talks about narwhals: their horns are actually teeth! It’s a tooth that pierces through its upper lip and when one narwhal has it’s tooth-horn get cut off by poachers, other narwhals will swim up and stick their tooth-horn in the gaping wound. So, I always think of them as highly empathetic, misunderstood creatures.

What are you passionate about?

I’m very passionate about climate change. I’m also passionate about playing music and safety in intimate partner relationships. My passion for climate change predominately manifests in anxiety these days, but also [laughter], I donate to Environment Ohio. Because they know what they’re doing… And, I try to be aware about my single use items and where my food comes from, things like that. Because, actually, the number one contributor to carbon emissions comes from the agricultural industry.

I play music every day. I’m in three bands, one is called Blossom Hall, that’s my passion project with my friend Phil Cotter. He and I have been working on different projects for about five years now. Our debut album Pyre, is almost out! I also sing in a classic jazz trio, we’re called the Nancy P Trio [laughter]. Lastly, I sing in a funk band called Fresh Funk.

Then, intimate partner violence: I work for a couple of different organizations that specialize in working with people who have gone through intimate partner violence. I work as a crisis intervention person and I am also an advocate at a domestic violence shelter.

How does balance play a part within these different roles?

Well, music is something that I’ve done forever and also, being of service is something I’ve always done. When I was younger, I really thought I had to choose between the two. I think that kept me stifled from doing either. Now, as an adult I feel like I can’t do one without the other. If I’m just playing music, then I feel like I’m wasting my life. But if I’m doing only crisis work, then I get overwhelmed and feel terrible. You experience a lot of vicarious trauma doing it. So, both are necessary.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

The only way I’m able to do either of those things is by being a very careful listener. I have to listen carefully to my clients in order to make sure that I’m serving them, rather than doing what I think is best for them. People are experts in their own lives. And, if I have a client who feels like they need to be in contact with their abuser, then they should be allowed to do that. Even if I think it’s not a good idea. Sometimes I have clients who do that, to negotiate child care or property, or things like that. Or even keep themselves safe.

Then, with music, you can’t play with someone if you’re playing or singing over them. So listening is a skill that I’ve developed. But, you know, it could always be better.

What is something you still struggle with?

I struggle with anxiety, and being in the present moment. Just because, I do have so much going on and I am experiencing so much vicarious trauma and I know so much about climate change… It’s a struggle to do what I recommend all my clients to do. Which is to be present in the moment with where they are.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, familial and otherwise.

I think that all relationships require good boundaries and enthusiastic consent. I think that it’s impossible to change other people. I think that love is an action word and not just a feeling. And that’s all that I have.

What is your love language?

My biggest love language is probably words of affirmation. But also, quality time. I love receiving acts of service. I probably love giving acts of service to, I probably love all of them. I don’t mind getting gifts [laughter]. Physical touch is great. Yeah, I’m a lover [laughter].


%d bloggers like this: