my mom though

it’s a couple of days after mother’s day, but right now is when i feel flooded with gratitude to my mom.

she is kind, and fiercely loyal.
she is infinitely generous, and leads with love.
she is patient and shines light on the best in the people she loves.

i am forty, and i am happy.
i know what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.

she shows up.
she is curious.
she believes me, believes us her daughters, believes everyone she meets who needs some mothering.
she prays for everyone we’ve ever loved.

we are friends. comrades.

every day. i love my mama.

don’t call it a comeback: white throated rail!

“The Aldabra white-throated rail, a flightless bird that lives on its namesake atoll in the Indian Ocean, doesn’t look like anything special at first glance. But the small bird has big bragging rights, because it has effectively evolved into existence twice after first going extinct some 136,000 years ago.”
Vice magazine

why does this story make me tear up and exhale? why does it activate all the science fictional hope in me? what is this flutter of earth adoration?

perhaps extinction all along has been a way of the earth tucking into herself the precious secrets which we refuse to handle with care.

perhaps she is saying, “if you want a simple life, if your tendency is towards the rudimentary, than i will pull into my body all of the most complex beautiful things. you butcher down and extract from me my magnificent wooden breathy life, and then cover me in boxes, flat concrete, boxes full of rows and boredom and lost hours. so i let my dream (and the bones) of the dodo bird hold safely near my heart – i don’t make permanence. that’s the only unnatural thing, you know, that which attempts to defy change.”

when i hear the news of your revolution, white throated rail, i wonder if you’ve only came to tell us that it is possible – not to not fly, to be defined as flightless (can you imagine making such an epic return and then every story about you includes the thing you don’t do?) – but to remind us that we are the only species who limits our creative wonders.

i think so many humans are terrified/hopeful/terrified to consider that she who made everything will remember how to make the world again, after us, after this foolish phase of us. or maybe we, too, will go and come again, more humble from the evolution years in the dirt?

i feel for the white-throated rail in my bones, the tasmanian tiger in my lungs, my black rhino skin, my mammoth heart. what i mean is: i wonder if i too carry the essence of forgotten miracles!

Lizzo, Goddess

i remember when someone sent me the @fatyonce account on instagram, how fantastical and amusing and nourishing it was to me just to see that dreamed up intersection of confidence and flesh. last night i got to see something even better – a real life thick diva in a stunning sexy little outfit, with thick dancers, singing and seducing like the love child of Aretha and Mae West.

Lizzo is a phenomenon. she has come to heal us and all we have to do is unleash the love in our hearts.

i saw her in Chicago with my sister and the incomparable PG (who i have to shout out for the persistence of organizing me to make it to this show, making sure i didn’t forget to buy a ticket, or lose track of time, or need a ride – dreamy woe). we pulled up and the line to get in was wrapped around three blocks. and it was almost all white people, which i’ll admit was a surprise! like…y’all know my friend? who sings about my body and my heartbreak and my life? intriguing!

got inside and the only seats left were in the rafters. it didn’t matter, i’d have climbed a mountain. and Lizzo is big enough to fill the world. she came out and started with “Cuz I Love You” and the vocals were massive. the energy was expansive. and it just built and built until we were frenzied and free.

what most excited me about the concert, though, was the preaching and healing Lizzo does between hits. she sits down and gets vulnerable. she let’s us know her songs are carved from her heartbreak, her longing, her lessons. she tells us there’s nothing wrong with us. that we are all survivors. we all know about Jerome! we all deserve to be proud of ourselves, of all our small and big transformations. to love ourselves enough to allow our full emotional range, including bad days, including tears.

Lizzo stands on the stage like i once watched Nina Simone do, stands and accepts the worship she knows she deserves. she invites us to heal her with loving, and then she has us gather the love from the room and place it in our hearts and promises to be with us when we need someone to remind us that we are 100% that Bitch.

i’m a believer. i want this holy word for all of you. pay her, support her, glorify her.

and i’m casting spells for her health, for her deep sleep, for her to be thoroughly met by all of her lovers, for her to have time to bask in the divinity she’s claimed for herself.

surviving trolls

in the past few months, i have had a chance to talk with a number of people who have had scary/awful/overwhelming interactions with mass trolling online. kind of an informal patterning, something my heart is wanting to understand.

(this curiosity might be because each book i release gains me more exposure and i see that what generally accompanies exposure is a white walker world war z speedy zombie phenomenon of trolls and haters. it also might be because i am always thinking about how we heal at a collective level, how we bring our attention to our wholeness, including, but not obsessed with, our fractures.)

sometimes the trolling was intimate – someone close to the person, who went public with a private beef, gathering negative public attention to attempt a victory, or punishment. often in the name of some vigilante justice.

in other instances, it was trolling from a distance – someone challenged by the work or ideas of a stranger, or an aspect of identity. and then that stranger deciding to attack the person in as many degrading ways as possible: sharing private communications, building a case about the contradictions, hypocrisy, or something else that often reduces the person to a cliche.

this post isn’t about the conditions that create the dregs of society that are trolls. this is about the people who survive the onslaught of that negative attention – the character assassinations, the insults and dismissals, the vitriol.

here are the top three strategies i’ve heard:

1. as a preventative measure and general life hack: have real people in your life who you trust and admire. deepen your relationships with those people. let them know the kind of person you are trying to be, and spend most of your time supporting each other’s becoming. get a good therapist/coach in this mix, and don’t perform for them. when pressure or struggle comes, let these people see you struggle, learn, and grow. call them your woes. goddesses. squad. circle. where appropriate, let these be spaces of mutual support.

2. with those close friends’ and professionals supporting and reality checking you, check on the patterns and do your work. is there any meaningful critique in the hate? or is there a pattern in the kind of trolls you attract – racists? exes? coworkers? if the pattern is something that allows you to predict your next struggle, then harness the energy to make adjustments, introduce new boundaries, new standards, new practices for how you share with dignity and intelligence. adapt for your safety and wellbeing (not from ego or fear).

3. turn away from the internet. it’s not the world. it’s not your work. supernovas don’t study telescopes. go shine, do the work that lets you shine. so far the internet has not been a place for redemption, for deepening understanding during interpersonal/organizational conflict, or for…shit, listening. this might be the most important of the lessons, the strategies that have worked for people: if they can’t and won’t hear you in your humanity, you can’t be responsible for listening to their hateration. there is a world out there, full of a lot of other real people. and meditation and mediation, and friends who won’t always be here, and actual work that can’t fit into pithy tweets, (even if they are tirades), and excellent music (lizzo, kelsey lu), and countries you’ve never heard of, and creatures you’ve never run from. or towards. or with. shift your attention to life and beauty and the work to be done.

i will keep listening.

Building Accountable Communities (speech on strategies for ending and recovering from harm)

Harm is an external wound to your wholeness. More than a bump, an accident.

Harm is what convinces us that in this abundant world, we only deserve to survive. Convinces us that material and emotional scarcity is our lot.

My work is very much about returning people to the truth of miraculous abundance. I’m bleeding as I write this – a reminder that miracles are messy, that I am alive and not in charge. Life is a bloody, magical, messy, beautiful gift.

I play with scale – instead of impossibly wide, go satisfyingly deep. Instead of focusing on the whole, getting stagnant in your insignificance, get close in, get dirty. Operate at your OWN scale. and MAYBE grow. If everyone was practicing transformative justice in their own lives, we’d have enough.

The natural world gives us some clues: abundance is healthy. It’s normal to have plenty. But! And! Plenty is relative!

Each species is programmed for the precise amount of sunlight it needs, and how to swallow light. How do we balance between the rich fertility and terror of darkness, the abundant life and dangerous fire of light?

Balance.

Divergence and balance.

And emergence. The complex systems and patterns we long for – the justice and accountability that allows for our whole humanity – it all comes from, is built from, relatively simple interactions.

Calling Black liberation workers into support. Sitting at a kitchen table. Drinking tea. That’s where I invite people into accountability. Not to be friends, not to share joy, not even to be comrades necessarily – but accountable. Accountable to something larger than ourselves.

And nature says: enjoy this. We’ve been given bodies so brilliant that some of us have even reclaimed the pleasure of the whip! in just a few generations. We long to feel satisfied and content. Belonging and dignity.

We are born into another’s hands, we are a species meant to hold and be held. We live on an orgasmic planet, fecund and perfect.

But! can we see ourselves home again after all this harm?

My work is to remind us to imagine, to remind us that we are responsible for shaping the future. And to point us down and all around at our teacher-parent-planet. And to remind us not to sleep through the sensational experience of being alive, the heaven here on earth, the blessing of having a body – an individual and collective body – that can recover, can learn, can remember to love.

Visionary fiction.
Emergent strategy.
Pleasure activism.

Transformative breakups.
Kitchen table mediation.
Boundaries are better than disposal.

Abundant justice.
Liberation.

That is all the miracle I know.

Unapologetic Lazarusing: The Sacred Work of Beyoncé and Lizzo

You know how sometimes you feel like there’s no hope left, and then you are brought back to life?

Perhaps you’ve felt as down in the dirt as Lazarus, beyond death four days, and a miracle floods through your body and suddenly you are twerking through Bethany?

Or you’re a modern human with awareness of the world, so you are just grief- and change- weary and already tired of the 2020 election and ready for the post nationalist, post capitalist world.

Or things are good but you’re hella jetlagged and need to be inspired to soul twerk and self-love swag as often as possible.

Or maybe that’s just me.

This post is about two people who bring you back to life. They are resilience bearers, hands and lips offering up blessings of breath, song, affirmation, encouragement to continue.

Beloveds, today I am testifying to the respiring powers of two incredible divas from Houston, TX: Supreme Beyoncé and Cosmic Extravaganza Lizzo.

Our Beyoncé released Homecoming, her HBCU-infused Coachella performances, yellow and pink, edited together into one seamless event. And then, because she is generous beyond measure, our Deliverance deepened with the story of how she managed to reclaim her husband (implied and documented in a high percentage of her text), have surprise twins via unexpected c-section, and then recover to deliver what cultural history books will teach as the Blackest, most bombastic performance of any music festival ever. “Ain’t that bout a bitch?”

She also released the live album, and it’s astonishing to hear both how excellent she and her background vocalists sound (knowing from memory that she’s also dancing basically the whole time – those lungs are blessed and trained!), as well as seeing how incredible her intimate songbook is in the multitudinous realm of adaptations.

Plus, the video and album both feature Blue Ivy serving us young diva, well loved. And Rumi and Sir, gifted to us exactly as Beyoncé wants us to see them – in her arms and with her permission.

With this work, Beyoncé shows us the pleasure of hard work well done, of having no ceiling, of reclaiming Black life and culture as a central story that can and should be celebrated by any and every one, be it thousands of white people in flower crowns on drugs at a music festival, or the millions of humans around the earth who’ve never considered the healing powers of HBCUs. Or, most especially, Black Americans who see ourselves and our loved ones swagging all over that stage.

The emergent strategist in me is very excited by the skillful unveiling of the process of such an incredible offering, the sweat and hunger and iteration. As usual, she does something even better than satisfying our expectations. Beyoncé says there is no force in the world that can keep her from her excellence. Witnessing this, we are invited, compelled, to show up for our own excellence with more precision, sacrifice, gratitude, calling and celebration.

And then there’s Lizzo, who just tore it up at this year’s Coachella. I may have mentioned somewhere that I was sitting behind her on an airplane when the Coachella announcement went live and I was so touched by her authentic glee. She was gracious when I stanned a tiny bit. She has been on my radar for a few years because she is a throw-it-down badass singer who is also carving out new ground for what thick big juicy yummy humans can dress, act and twerk like.

She just dropped her new album Cuz I Love You and from the first note Lizzo is demanding that you feel her. And yourself, your preciousness and power. It’s one self-love anthem after another, none of them corny or trite.

Lizzo has been working so hard, showing up everywhere, blowing up, twerk and fluting her way around the world. The album is unapologetic! It’s full to overflowing with Lizzo’s irresistible badassery, her love force, her humor – she shows the range we need to develop in order to clock what’s going on and realize that self-adoration is the key, central survival strategy.

While it may be hyperbolic to use the word bombastic twice in one post, Lizzo lives into the word too. Perhaps that’s the common thread between these two teachers of liberation through the body and voice…they are both unapologetic in every aspect of their power and talent.

And me? I’m just grateful to be alive again on 4/20 with all of this glorious work to listen to, my own dreams to pursue, and a Saturday to revel in Black femme feminist witchery and boss shit. It’s a double miracle for the weekend in a weekend of miracles and I’m bowing in deep (verbose) reverence.

in depth, outside of time

people often reflect to me that i am so busy these days. i do have a full life but i don’t experience my life as busy…i think what people are running up against is the challenge of living intentionally deep lives.

i was just out of the country for two weeks, and the trip was very different than i expected. i expected two weeks of beach and baby time. instead it was mostly deep time, which included times of transition, listening, growth, change…with a day of beaching at the end.

my life is mostly deep time. i am not interested in quick, light, surface encounters. when i travel, i look to return to places of depth, family, deep friendships…and then to actually give us enough time to really laugh and cry about how life is unfolding.

depth is more.

when i say no these days, it is usually in favor of deep time. it’s not that i am doing so much, or at least not too much, but rather that i am doing things deeply. this distinction feels important to me because i have been very busy before, but i wasn’t happy in it – felt like i couldn’t catch my breath, like i had no time to integrate all the humanity i was exposed to, no time to learn the lessons.

now i might say no because i need a day to integrate between things, or i need some time alone on the road, or time to write, edit, record, create, grieve, pray.

or i might say no because i am a morning sloth and am a better person if i don’t rush to meet others’ pace of a day.

i am writing this from deep inside of return trip jetlag, where i actually can’t track what time it even is now – there’s a time on the clock, a time in my body, a time in the place i call home, and times along the journey. in most places, i’d be asleep, and my body wants to sleep…but wasn’t i just asleep?

so. solo dance parties to keep my body moving, stretching, opening. photo shoots to see if i look as groggy as i feel. catching up on high speed wifi content i missed while on my journey. grieving for all the sacred spaces burning, under attack, changing. feeling so much. and more.

it’s a deep, deep time.

jiggy jetlag jaguar

jetlag is interesting to me in a similar way to being unintentionally high: if you just relax, the whole self wanders off of its usual pathways and there’s an incredible realm of unexpected synapses, emotional congruency and integration, and a multitude of possible pleasures.

there’s small awkward moments in jetlag communication, particularly mid afternoon or in the dark hours – when your mind wanders off midsentence…or when you dive into a text conversation feeling energized and then fall asleep mid-sentence. or worse, sign off too quickly and then don’t quite sleep and end up writing a blog entry.

(sorry – really did think i was at the brink of dreams)

there’s also massive spiritual opening and life observation available. for instance i can testify that:

– the dark moon is as vocal as her brighter more obvious self
– sometimes the thing we must forgive is too big to even contemplate, so we pick at the small and close by…
– being able to feel a rhythm is essential, even when you’re alone
– i’m going to record my books as audio books. i have been planning to. and people i want to have the books have asked. but tonight i realized a way to get closer to realizing the process…emergently and in a most pleasurable way. (when combined, my work is basically mary poppins ((holding down flying brits in the lineage of power Virgos))
– my body has decided shifting to a 3-11am sleep schedule is as far as i can go towards aligning with time here…roughly half the shift i need to enjoy daytime. i can see it on the clock and imagine sleeping six hours earlier, but i can’t go and get it.
– i just spent three days using a flushing toilet built into the floor. i can squat more than i thought.
– georgetown penang malaysia is delicious and stunning and i’m looking forward to my next trip. yes, stay in the tile museum. get all the handmade joss sticks and batiks. taste everything. go up penang hill and out on the clan jetties. everything. we’re all there.
– my friend larisa is reminding-me-of-how/teaching-me to walk again. it’s monumental.
– Aries season feels good this year.

j to the g. that’s all really. goodnight!

in praise of my doctor!

Y’all, I just want to testify about the benefits of having a doctor who respects me, and who is not fat phobic!

I just came from another amazing appointment with my doctor and…I am the healthiest I’ve been as an adult. And it’s not because she’s done a ton of things to heal me, but because she has done so much to set me at ease about my existing health. When I came in a while ago, asking her if my arthritis was punishment from a vengeful god for years of being overweight, she laughed and said ‘no! who in your family has arthritis?’ I had to say, ‘my skinny ass dad. And my sister who runs marathons.’ She helped me understand that arthritis just runs in my family, and I should focus on reducing inflammation in my joints, and getting more active in my daily life. The whole team is up on game – I had an arthritis bonding moment with two (much smaller than me) staff members on her team. Afterwards I noticed that my ease was connected to the fact that neither of them assumed or even implied (as so many nurses and aids and X-Rayers and others have done over the years) that my weight was their business to discuss or diagnose.

I show up to her office with a list that shows my (also inherited) tendency towards hypochondria – every twitch and dis-ease that’s happened since my last visit. She listens to each thing and makes sure we have an action item, or that my concern is addressed (which often means telling me that my late night web MD-inspired health conclusion was, in fact, imprecise). She teases me only in relation to my own self-deprecation…but she takes each concern seriously.

She’s also a human being when it comes to sexuality, drugs, gender, healing – I can tell her what I’m actually practicing and feeling, how I’m moving through life. That way, I get the best wholistic guidance and treatment. She discourages unnecessary treatments and medication, and celebrates how healthy and happy I am in my daily life as a forty year old.

Get you a doctor who cares for you as you are and celebrates your miraculous body!

shrill be teaching

THIS IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN THE SHOW. OR DON’T PLAN TO SEE IT BUT COULD GET PREGNANT.

OK?

OK.

did anyone else recently receive a crucial piece of belated sex education in the instant classic Shrill?

specifically in the part where she uses the morning after pill (multiple times) and still gets pregnant and then finds out that the pill is only dosed for bodies that weigh up to 175 lbs?

that part?

did anyone else think back to getting pregnant after taking that pill? and having an ectopic pregnancy (like me) or an abortion (like the 11 people who responded to my initial instagram post about it) or becoming a parent when you were explicitly trying not to?

and did y’all then think back to buying the pill as someone clearly over 175 lbs and having no mention of this limitation from the pharmacist or on the package?

or did you think back to being in the hospital praying to survive a condition that has been a death sentence for most of human history? and no one mentioning this as possibly connected to this fatphobia?

some people responded to tell me about copper iuds as an after-sex pregnancy avoidance method – i’m glad it’s an option.

BUT also why isn’t there a plus size plan b pill? or a weight appropriate dose?

whew. just wanted to lift this up in case you have sex that could result in pregnancy, are 175 lbs or more, and haven’t read/seen Shrill…yet.

whew.