Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Life in Music 3: Bif Naked

I realized today that it has been awhile since I sat down and did one of these, and so here I am. Today, as I was going through my Facebook, doing my normal check in and catch up routine, I came across a throwback Thursday post from one of the most amazing and influential people in my life. She was born to parents who didn't want her. A couple of private school kids in New Delhi. Yeah, that's right, India. She was adopted by American Missionaries and brought to Kentucky, where she did a little bit of growing up before her family finally landed in Canada. Her name is Beth Torbert, but she will always be the one and only Bif Naked.

What is it about this crazy looking tattooed woman that makes me adore her so. I have to admit, it isn't all about her music, though that has helped pull me through some rough times. The songs she sings are not your typical songs, but to me they have a meaning that goes deep into the soul. She is a self-proclaimed punk rocker and spent many years of her life touring in an old busted down van with the guys in the band. Many bands actually. I discovered her on a whim one time. I bought her CD because I had never heard of her and the album cover was interesting. This is nothing new, I do this a lot actually. I love discovering new music, especially female artists. I just really relate, I guess. That album was I, Bificus and it changed my life. 

This was not her first album by any means, but it was her most commercially successful one, though she did have a pretty big song down the road. Her songs on I, Bificus range from loud and screamy guitar driven punk rock romps to slow, sultry, burning heart-wrenchers. The emotions coming through the speakers are ones that every girl deals with but can't get them out. They sit there and eat away at us, chewing holes in our soul. Bif Naked found them, she put them to music and she rocked her ass off. 

The second song is one I found while scouring the interwebs looking for more Bif. More Naked. I wanted all of her I could get. I couldn't explain the draw, but it was there and it still is. I came across a song called "I Love Myself Today" and, to a person like me, constantly struggling with clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety, this song is as an anthem. It might be just a break up song to some people, but to me it is a constant reminder that even though yesterday was shit, you can pull through and love who you are no matter what. I try to remember, to sing it often, "I love myself today, not like yesterday, I'm cool, I'm calm, I'm gonna be okay." Bif brought me this. 

Now, I know you remember earlier when I told you it wasn't just her music. Well, what is it, then, you might be asking. It's her lifestyle. When I grew up some and the internet changed, I  found she had a Facebook, as many artists and public figures do. She also had a twitter. I followed her on both, wanting to know what she was up to. 

I need to rewind: 

Bif Naked is a fighter. No, that's not the right word. Bif Naked is a WARRIOR. You can all see her picture, she is incredibly heavily tattooed. However, being a rocker and a punk girl and covered in ink, she also identifies as straight-edge. She eschews the punk sub-culture of drinking and drugs to live a clean, healthy life. In fact, she is a strict raw food vegan, mostly for health reasons over any ethical or religious ones. She is spiritual in a way I will never grasp, but which brings me peace, even through everything she has been through.

She is sick, she has been sick, and she has won time and time again over the forces that hold her back and try to stop her from living life to the fullest. She was diagnosed with a heart aneurysm, but did not pursue corrective surgery. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through all the chemo and surgery, she kept her spirits high and her attitude in check. 

Bif Naked has been open with her struggles, her life. She speaks openly, but never harshly or judgmentally about the things she holds true to her heart. She is a giver in every sense of the word. Her outspokenness has helped raise awareness for a number of things from cancer research to the poor welfare system in Canada. Every year she takes part in a challenge, living as the vegan she is on the meager handouts to show that it is simply not enough. 

She is an animal lover, having had her two dogs Nicolas and Anastasia well into their old age and caring for them dearly. You can't not like an animal lover.

Bif and Nikolas

Now, back to following her on Facebook and Twitter. Do you know what she was up to? She was admiring the sun shine on a rain covered sidewalk. She covered her teeth with orange peels and smiled for the camera, bringing joy to everyone who saw her. She was writing poetic praise about the littlest things in life that she found so much joy in and spreading that love to others. Bif Naked has become a guru or sorts, a person I strive to be like. She is a woman who is filled with infinite love and kindness. 

One day, when I was having a particularly hard day, I reached out to her. In my own Moment of Weakness (the name of one of her most popular songs), I sent her a message on Facebook, not really expecting a reply, but just wanting to get all the anger, pain and sadness out of my head. Sometimes it's easier to tell a complete stranger. 

She responded. She sent me the most heartfelt note, something that I will cherish forever and I look at often when my heart hurts and I can't find the energy to get out of bed today. I keep it there, always so I know that this complete stranger believes in me. She cares enough to take a few minutes out of her day to bring joy and kind words to another, someone she has not, and will likely never meet. This is the Bif Naked I adore. You, girl, are not a Let Down. You are an inspiration.

I want to turn the tables now and wish Bif herself the kind of kindness and joy she brings to others. All the warm socks encasing toes and beautiful jewels that form in refracted raindrops. They are all for you, Bif. Thank you.

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