reality check moment

dear weight loss industry, medical establishment and “well meaning” people –

do you know what 30+ years of hearing “if you just had a little will power”, “all you need to do is exercise more”, “you be so pretty if only you’d…” “maybe you shouldnt eat that piece of cake…” do to a person’s brain? It makes us believe that we are the root of all the fucked up things in our lives and that the ONLY way we can win your love is by “doing better” because its clearly “all our fault”

fuck you.

So, lets talk about Baltimore for a moment…

People are trying to get the word out about what the hell is actually happening in Baltimore, just like they did with what happen in Ferguson and NY and what is happening every day in *our* country. but too many of us for whom the life of a Black Man in the US is not our lived experience are still just shaking our heads and wondering about the “madness”. Lets be clear, its not madness it is anger and pain, it is people dying because of a system of injustice that is as old as this country. We helped build it, we help keep it in place, even when dont mean to or think we are. and it needs to stop.

Here’s part of the reality:
– thousands of people are protesting a system that is killing our friends, and families.
– a few people are getting all of the attention for breaking things.
– the police are not being held accountable for their actions

And are are a few places for Non-mainstream reporting and thoughts:
Think Progress
Crunk Feminist Collective
Mother Jones
Mic

Ask questions. *Listen* to the answers, even when they feel like shit. Ask more questions. Check the footnotes and source links and pay attention to who gains from the narrative being repeated.

A friend of mine who lives this crap day in and day out in a way I never will, writes powerful, clear words about Baltimore:

Just so we’re clear and not fooling ourselves:

The police are claiming that the “rioters” in Baltimore are bringing this on themselves.

The riots are being depicted as the violent overflow of “racial tension” in Baltimore.

The media is discrediting the instigators (drunk, white, sports fans) and cops who decided to respond by throwing rocks BACK.

The cops have not and will not explain how a man in their custody broke his spine in THREE PLACES and SHATTERED HIS VOICEBOX all on his own, as though they may not have lent him a hand…

And still, people will ask the rioters for peace? Baltimore has a HISTORY of police abuse and brutality against a marginalized populace made up of overwhelming numbers of Black people.

But the rioters are the problem…. RIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

Get back at me when you come with some legitimate things to say. Respectability politics and calls for peace have fallen not on deaf ears, but on exhausted ones.

They’ve tried peaceful and respectable and no one would listen. Now, when a couple windows get busted, all of a sudden no one wants to listen AGAIN, but for different reasons; now it’s about how the “tone” of the protesters is too strident, too angry, too MUCH for white people and their feelings.

– Lina Hernandez  FB post 4/28/15

#BlackLivesMatter #IStandWithBaltimore

Sweetness – a ramble of thoughts.

(this is a long exploration of thoughts and ideas on sweet / sweetness that would normally live only in my personal journal, but is here because people have been encouraging to share parts of this journey I’m on.)

A lot of my work with my current doctor (who is very a witchy-geeky blend of western and eastern practice) has been around accepting/receiving/allowing sweetness into my life. And mostly I’ve nodded and thought “yeah, ok, I know what thats all about.”

Today it hit me that I have no idea what it means.

on an upper / outer level sweetness is sugar and tasty things – stuff I have glommbed on to in an effort to cope and hide and cope some more with the crap of life when it came up. Sugar was the balm for my pain. Where some use alcohol or drugs, I used sugar. it gave me that instant chemical boost and built and emotional link that felt like happiness. Sure many sweet things are tasty and, while I dont plan to live on cheesecake, I dont plan to not have it EVER again either. both those ways lie madness.

I’ve worked on my relationship to sugar for years. As a teen, acceptable types were pretty much anything, I wasn’t very discerning, just give me the chocolate and no one got hurt. The older I got, the more experienced in life and food and cooking et al, the more I noticed that some sweet things tasted better than others, even more interesting than others. Slowly my sweetness palate changed. I became notorious, to my therapist at least, for taking a bite of some sweet thing I’d acquired , realizing it I didn’t like it, and tossing it out. And I get why that was a big deal. Too many times before, I would have simply kept eating it because it was sweet and I was sad, bored, angry, happy, lonely, whatever. Now? I am picky as hell. Between the food allergies and sensitivities, the fact that dairy fat bonds to formaldehyde (which while great for washing crap out of my clothes, turned ice cream and milk into a nightmare), the fact that HFC and I do not get along, that gluten and I are not on speaking terms, and anything not organic is suspect in my book, – yeah, very damn picky. I also go through phases of what taste good or feels “right”. So, my sweet-thing eating is pretty refined.

so that’s the “take it in” eating side, the side I have known for most of my life. What are the others?

language
I’m one of those kids who picked up the (90’s? 80’s? whatever) catch phrase “sweeeeet” for use in conversation to describe things I like or thought were very cool. which now has me back tracking and pondering what things I actually use it for. – good things, things that were described to me by another person with great happiness. could be an event, a moment, a thing, whatever it was there was a shared “oooh!” “”yes, thats a good thing.”
-Sweet ride – smile emoticon I’m not that kind of gear head but I do appreciate the concept and its use
– sweetheart – I dont use this much as a term of endearment,
Sweetie – this has been one of my go to names for years or when talking to or about my hubby or close friends. (which leads to the Doctor Whoism “hello sweetie” which sits in a happy place in my psyche)

personality thingiees
– a sweet person, a sweet disposition…

I keep thinking sweet and seeing summer colors – things I associate with Ostara (Spring Equinox) and Beltane (May 1st) – spring tends to be tulips for me. I have this thing where I will not buy tulips before Spring Equinox. it just makes me crazy. I know we have the power to grow and ship year round now, and i will buy other off season flowers like roses but tulips and daffodils? nope. they mean spring to me. And sunflowers me Summer and summer solstice (and for personal reasons associated with that time and him also the hubby). Roses and lilacs are Beltane and the start of summer for me. The warm sun, without being burning hot, the way the warm air picks up the scent of flowers and pushes it against your skin and nose. Its luscious and sweet without being childlike.

Spring is the sweet of youth and “girl”, of the Maiden, of bubbles and silly and kids games and innocence

the beginning of summer (Beltane) is the sweetness of love and simple sexuality uncomplicated by bills and work and family. its pure, not in the sense of virginal but of basic and root elements. a three ingredient cake recipe. Its not the Mother as we generally imagine her in wicca but that stage between Maiden and Mother. In the Nine Sisters work my husband and I created this would be CroneMaiden or MaidenMother – the end of the girl as focus and the start of the woman’s life. its choosing to use your clothing to highlight the contours of the body over pockets in your pinafore. You might still play with the frog, but you aren’t going to keep it in your dress.

Summer is Mother for me, the maturity and wisdom that comes with experience. what is sweet to a mother is different than to the woman who has no kids – physical or otherwise. The responsibilities are different, the needs, the wants. Sex is complicated sometimes because there are outside needs that have to be planned around, health issues that are more likely to get in and gum up the works. The body itself has changed. it feels different, wants to be different, do different things or the same things in different ways. Showing off curves is still an option to choose from, but the frog in the pocket is probably back, especially if there are kids (gotta put the toys somewhere till you can wash them). sweetness comes in the smell of bread baking, in the sound of laughter and good discussion, in projects planned, executed and coming to fruition over time – understanding Finally that time and patience have their uses. its slower because of the heat of the sun and possibly slower bodies, but also because the moments mean something different now. they aren’t just things in or on the way to something, they are something themselves.

(I should probably do the rest of the cycle at some point, but I’m going to focus on these right now)

how does all of that translate into my current life?

Because of fear and pain and and and, I kind of skipped that Beltane stage of sweet. Maybe not skipped so much as put blinders on and focused on getting to the next thing instead of believing that I could be the May Queen. – which is fucking hilarious because I WAS the May Queen the year I meet my hubby. and one of the herbal supplements I am currently taking is Hawthorn – which is one of the May Queen’s flowers. If there was a desk in my brain I would be smacking myself with it about now. And – gods, the things it is hard to see – And I have an altar to Aphrodite (who popped into my life at the beginning of the year) Greek goddess of love and beauty, and last night I got bugged till I made one for Oshun, the African power of love and beauty. I smell a theme here. oyi. right….

if I think of sweet now I get:
pretty colors, roses, silly cats, soft fabrics. elegant tea cups, friends laughing at the tea party birthday, blonde roots on my head, clothing that I feel not just comfortable in but like how I look in, the process of creating a sculpture, taking pictures, getting shot that just sings out, chewy conversations, research, developing a characters backstory, really good dialogue, stretching my body and feeling the kinks work themselves out, the burn of a good walk or swim, getting into the pool and the feel of water along my skin, the smell of damp redwoods and pines, Banana Slugs, talking to friends and family, music that sticks with me and gets me humming and moving, dancing, books that I dont want to put down, tv shows and movies that get me thinking and wanting more, cats and dogs and horses and whales, well made food, fresh water to drink, the sound of wind chimes – espcially the ones in my back yard, rain – how it sounds and smells and feels, what it manifests, seeiing a seed sprout, watching someone “get” an idea or concept they have been struggling with, fresh bread, cookies right out of the oven, lipstick, nail polish, costumes, glitter, coloring, creating stories and worlds and writing stories to take people into them. tarot cards and the meta that is tarot, a restful nights sleep, my electric blanket, colored pencils and markers and paints, meeting and spending time with interesting people, the contents of my good memories jars, altars and altar work, arguing with gods and clergy, walking in the woods and along the shore, planning things, helping people work through ideas or emotions, or whatnot – helping them manifest that thing deep inside that wants to shine and dance in the sun, laughing during sex and the endorphin high after great sex, the moment you feel the painkillers working, clean sheets and a freshly made bed, clean laundry all neatly away where it belongs.

huh… there’s a lot of really sweet things in my life already. And I kind of already know what sweet means for me. innnnnteresting….

This is my body

This is my body, as it is right now. This is the body I have hated and hidden from for years. That I have lied about and bought lies about. I have denied it health and vitality and joy because it doesn’t fit the image I was taught to want. That I was taught was good, ideal and the only acceptable way to be.

I don’t like what I see and I hate that. I hate that a part of me still believes that there is anything wrong with the person, the body, in these images. I remember being a kid and enjoying having a body, dancing and laughing and playing and just *being*. I remember the slow crumble of my sense of pride and sense of self as worth being proud of. How it was buried under snide comments and unwanted attention, under non-consensual touches and words, and abandoned dreams.

We talk about how representation matters, how it’s important to see ourselves reflected in our stories and images. I don’t see myself represented in positive ways. I hardly see myself at all and that needs to change. And it starts with me, with my eyes and my view of myself, even if -maybe especially if- that view is messy and complicated and incomplete, at least it is the truth of the moment.

As I wake up to myself, I’ve come to realize that I need to stop hiding. I need to own this body I live in. It’s the only one I have, the only one I get. Self acceptance means accepting and appreciating the whole of my self.

So This is me. This is what I look like right now. I exist. I don’t have an hour glass shape or a flat stomach. I live with chronic pain and illness and I dream and write and sculpt and tell stories and host tea parties with my friends and laugh and dance and sing and fucking live. I’m a part of this thing I call my life, and a part of the larger thing we call community and culture and I am done hiding.

“For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself,you shall never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

‪#‎effyourbeautystandards‬ ‪#‎EmpowerAllBodies‬ ‪#‎ImNoAngel‬ ‪#‎ChronicIllnessWithStyle‬ ‪#‎Healing‬

A thing I realized the other day

I’m all kinds of cool with owning my Viking / Celtic heritage, yay bad ass warrior chicks and stuff. I wasn’t born a Viking but no biggie. Its still part of me, right?

I also have pre-Revolutionary War American heritage, a great great who came over from Britain to fight in the French & Indian War and got a bit of land in MA out of the deal. Yay for him, right? um… wow, that’s just loaded with issues. I wasn’t born then, so it doesn’t matter right?

Wrong.

It does matter because it puts me squarely in the US when we were creating the system of entrenched racism that we are trying to dismantle now. It hits back at the “But I didnt start this”, “I wasn’t a slave owner” lines we as white people tend to clutch at. But my friend wasn’t born then either. He wasn’t enslaved, but his great-great was. So why is this racism his problem and not mine? just because of the color of his skin?

No. It is my problem, but you know, without the guns in my face.

I didn’t create the system, my generation didnt create it… but if I have cool Viking/Celtic genetics that I am happy to own – then I am *also* responsible for owning my pre-Rev War roots as well and my place in the timeline and energy of all this shit.

Doesn’t change the past, but it might change the future.

–We are the Bards–

“What can we do? What can I do? What can anyone do?”

This is the noise in the back of my head right now with the non-indictments of white police officers and deaths of black men and women that just seem to keep coming.  I’m trying to stay awake, stay present and conscious in the face of bullshit and horror. I’ve donated to the Ferguson Library because LIBRARY and good people doing good work. Will be donating to the Ferguson Legal Defense Fund. I’m looking for where to donate for local work as well. But it can not stop there.

My health may make getting out on anything like a front line damn near impossible, but — I am a writer. and there is a reasons governments and churches have feared and bribed us for ages because Words. Have. Power. so lets use them.

Heres what I am doing:

Supporting writers of color – read their work, the fiction as well as the nonfiction – because both teach and both effect how we see and think about the world.

Writing characters of color – not just as an after thought, but as real, fulling realized characters who are fully integrated members of the story.
This goes for all of the other-ing we are fighting against.

Reading LGBTQ, fat, and disabled writers and writing LGBTQ, fat, and disabled characters. Write them all as real – flawed, wonderful, interesting and complicated. But fucking write them all.

Its small and its slow, and it doesn’t fix the immediate problem, but it can make a difference in the long run and thats what I want for my kids and my sister and their friends and for all of us.

Words have power. Use them wisely.

Book Lists and Lists of Books
(Have a list to recommend? A book or author you love? Please add them to the comments so we can all love them.)

Authors of Color:
http://bookriot.com/2014/01/16/25-favorite-authors-color/
http://bitchmagazine.org/post/50-books-by-people-of-color-my-reading-challenge-for-2014
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1804087-author-recommendations
http://www.barrelhousemag.com/#!50-or-So-Books-by-Writers-of-Color-Recommended-by-Writers-of-Color/cge1/B5DA5F06-B0C2-4E3B-A10C-531B12FAA781
http://www.ala.org/emiert/coretta-scott-king-book-awards-all-recipients-1970-present
http://theangryblackwoman.com/2009/08/16/mindblowing-science-fiction-by-poc/
http://www.autostraddle.com/blacklivesmatter-the-longform-reading-list-265454/
https://www.worldswithoutend.com/mbbs22/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=903 
http://chroniclesofharriet.com/2012/11/01/great-black-authors-of-science-fiction-fantasy/
http://www.buzzfeed.com/akpatel462/19-must-read-science-fiction-and-fantasy-novels-by-15qst
http://audiobookaneers.com/2014/12/10/9-science-fiction-and-fantasy-audiobooks-by-women-of-color-you-must-hear/ 

LGBTQ Authors:
http://bandofthebes.typepad.com/bandofthebes/2012/11/the-best-lgbt-books-of-2012.html
http://www.publishingtriangle.org/100best.asp
http://www.lambdaliterary.org/interviews/09/17/three-umpires-walk-into-a-bar-transgender-authors-and-editors-on-transgender-literature/
http://www.ala.org/glbtrt/award/honored

Disabled Authors:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/jul/11/authors-disability-personal-experience
http://www.ralphmag.org/CH/disability.html
https://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/disabled