operating instructions

ok so success is this big and small thing.

i just had success with lighting the pilot light on the heater in the house i am staying in in detroit. it was stumping me completely – i was here, with the flame, the long matches, the right button, the right knobs, the right idea, the right pipes, the right intention, but the damn thing was making the sound of gas and i was leaving burn marks everywhere without actually lighting a damn thing.

i asked everyone who i thought might know but they couldn’t quite remember. i called experts but they didn’t pick up. just as i’d resolved myself to a cold night – a second cold night, in detroit, alone, in a big ass house (as a life-long studio type), i noticed a folded leaf of papers tucked between two bits of the massive heater.

operating instructions!!

most of it i couldn’t even pretend to understand, but there on page 9, clear as day, was a diagram. pilot knob, pilot button, pilot flame!! and when i looked back at the mysterious heater, it was clear as day, the pilot flame.

i am in the midst of the us social forum process. some people don’t know the forum exists; for others, it is possibly the most important movement building process in the works in the u.s. right now – full of fragmented, 501c3 organizations trying to be movements.

we’re in detroit, the host city for the 2010 us social forum. we are in the olympic athlete organizing process now, and this pilot light metaphor, the flame, the operating instructions – its key to what we’re doing.

trying to pull together a body which can represent the impacted communities of the nation, the leadership of people of color, of poor folks; trying to make a real space for relationships and transparency between local and national efforts and people; all of it is like sitting before the heater with all the parts. and no one left operating instructions for movement building. there’s not one pilot flame, there’s a million. we’re trying to light as many as possible with this process, to create a warm and healing fire which lots of people, organizations, issues and alliances will want to gather around. we want a space where folks can share their individual stories, and build the story of the future we want. we want a space where folks can learn what detroit has learned.

ruckus was a part of the 2007 effort, at the last minute, and i remember all the mystery and questions at the time. i also remember that as i met folks, i was really impressed with the vision for leadership from impacted communities, from base-building groups, from popular education groups, from grassroots, justice based groups. this is a hard line to draw, in a country where the majority of executive directors and funders are not impacted people. and yet it yields a result that puts us in alignment with the rest of the world, creates a model the rest of the world can embrace and try on. if we are not insisting on strategy and leadership and processes from the most directly impacted people, then our work is theoretical, never alive and active on the front lines, always an observance and suggestion rather than a true and viable plan of action.

like…i believe in fire. but i had to get my hands real dirty, get down on my knees, do my reading and thinking and asking for help and all of that before i could know the answer. and now i have learned it – not in a way where someone did it for me and i have a vague idea that fire can be created in a detroit basement. no – i know the exact way to do it – i did it myself.

and here in detroit, in fits and starts, with the experience of the US Social Forum in Atlanta under some folk’s belts, and the organizing and political history of Detroit, and the interpersonal and interorganizational and interissue and internal dialogues happening, and with the excitement of many people and groups wanting to get involved, we are making the road by walking. we are DOING it. and as the process gets grounded in detroit, its going to call on people from all walks of life to jump in. the theme is Another World is Possible, and we have to DO it, have to BE that other world in our actions and words and commitments and responses.

so its very exciting to know that i will be warm tonight because i tried everything i could until i was able to see the answer before me. and it is exciting to know that tomorrow i wake up to engage in a process that mirrors that on a movement scale.

and in other news, homeless folks are taking over buildings in ny, and the rockefeller drug laws (which were once a main target of my activism work) are about to really be repealed! success and victory are all around us, which means power is within our grasp.

its a good day.

too busy looking fabulous to take a picture

yes y’all, i watched rupaul’s drag race on jetblue and since then i have been swizzling my hips and basically looking too fabulous to even stop and take a picture. accessories, what!

in other news, just had a series of great conversations with a few dear friends in a multitude of mediums. is there a planetary cause, the anti-mercury, during which communication is suddenly deep and clear and present? maybe i am simply too jet-lagged for small talk.

i have no interest in backdrops for the whole thing, but here were some conclusions:

– commitment includes prioritizing the present over the past. folks from the past who haven’t fully moved on have to be placed in a real clear place in your mind and your heart where they can’t dabble in any kind of fuckery. this may include no contact. nothing is permanent, but there is a point in love when you’re going all in, and you know it when you’re there.

– everything is completely awesome, perspective is real and within your control.

– oprah has shown us the better life model, that you can look and feel better in your 30s than in your 20s, and so on. to that end, i am doing all of the things that make me feel beautiful, which in turn makes me dress better, swim harder, smell better, snap my hips like two fingers on a bass line, which in turn makes me stand up straighter. and after all that i forget my body completely, i know its marvelous, so i don’t have to think about it all the time. i can just be me.

– you have no idea what the future holds, but the experience is more fulfilling when you throw yourself towards it, starting with the next moment. the people i admire the most (starting with myself when i have acted right) are the ones who heave themselves into their futures with a small note-to-self around total transformation or self-improvement.

– the cliche i am currently feeling is life is what happens when you are making other plans. while i wait for my big break as a singer songwriter, i’m getting to travel the world exchanging tools for how to improve the relationship between humans and our planet. my life is amazing.

– acknowledging what is, including what was, can help us move to what will be. telling the secrets is like exhaling, turning on the lights inside and sweeping out the darkness. i love the look of someone who has stepped into honesty. beautiful.

ok laundry is mostly done, gotta do dishes and doze before cab gets here!

oh oh oh…

on the Total Denial tip! so i always say i am a move person. right now we are moving out of the ruckus office, and today i moved out of my cubicle, and on the drive home i felt so sad and nostalgic – that is the only place i have worked for ruckus!! – and i realized that i have been doing everything in my power to avoid being part of the move, even though i am a military brat moving queen. i’ve been so matter of fact about it, but on my drive home today i let it hit me for real that we’re leaving. then i chided myself for not canceling everything for the move. i know the next phase will be so much better, so a smarter use of resources. still, that office has been a special place for me. and i won’t ever be there again.

pouring one out.


early morning thinking

just woke up from a series of dreams. i dreamt i was watching diane lane in a horror movie where there was a man in the house, she could sense him and had to get out of the house. it was very scary, but didn’t end there. she got downstairs to the street and he came running out behind her and was threatening her, seemed crazy. then it got kind of ridiculous. she grabbed his arm to hold him in place for a trash truck to hit him, and it swerved. then her neighbor kanisha popped up from pruning the bushes and diane told her to cut off his arm but the pruning scissors were too worn down. he got less and less scary and more sort of laughable hi-jinx.

as i lay (lie, laid?) here, i was thinking how life is often like that. something unknown can seem so terrifying, and then when it has actually happened, or you’ve faced it, or accepted that it may never happen, the threat can become smaller and approachable, even humorous.

in another dream i was in a multilevel house overrun by puppies and children, and i picked up one adorable creature and realized it was my niece. i don’t have a niece but this was clearly a niece of mine. the puppies were showing up because I had dinner last night at the home of someone who had 18 outdoor cats, 6 indoor, and 3 dogs, all boxers, 2 puppies. the boxer puppies were amazing, especially the runt. squished square faces, slender bodies, long legs and massive monster paws which gave away their futures. (this pic is closest to what i was dealing with) i wanted to steal the puppy and bring it home. but i only wanted to play with it in puppy phase. i’m like that with kids too, preferring them to what they become (adults). i was excited to dream-preview my niece, and i have LOVED getting to know my perfect and brilliant nephew, but that hasn’t start some ticking in me for my own kid.

i have been thinking that the period of populating the planet, of that being a mission of ours, might have come full cycle. that now we may actually have enough people, and producing children doesn’t have to remain the sole defining possibility of a loving partnership. there was a time when there were barely any people on the planet, and it seemed imperative to populate, to not risk extinction with small numbers. we created religious parables and mythologies to support this need, to drive us by fear and faith to procreate, to believe any relationship not based on breeding was unholy.

now things are shifting. our numbers are not necessarily more than the planet can provide for, but so far our numbers have stumped us. we haven’t been able to get the species excited about a better distribution of resources, about participating in large scale sustainability and justice efforts. so maybe its time for a new mythology, a second coming, modern prophets in each of the major religions. we don’t trust our own eyes, we need to be told. the message: babies are cute, but we need lots of same-sex gardening couples at the moment. we need immaculate gardens. the meek and chic shall inherit the dirt.

and i promise, in that new world of faith and belief systems, to be the most amazing auntie ever to the children that are brought into the world as intentionally and sustainably as possible.

speaking of, i met two beautiful women in bermuda who are both part of a movement for home births, midwifery and challenging the assumption that birth must be a medicated, hospitalized affair. both of the women had the kind of smiles that should welcome children into the world.

i also met a very brave group of folks who are organizing against discrimination of gay people here in bermuda. their effort is called two words and a comma, and they want “sexual orientation” added to the list of who is covered by the human rights act. hopefully our training will support their efforts, while we connect them to folks organizing around gay rights in the u.s.

enough writing, looks like the sun is out!

from bermuda, 2

at some point i know it will happen, that i won’t be so energized and overjoyed after a training. but so far i haven’t hit that wall.

today was the second day of training in bermuda. we had people do collective visioning, power mapping, decision making (while crowded onto a blanket). yesterday they covered intro to nonviolent direct action with an interactive discussion on what violence and nonviolence mean in bermuda, an exercise to map their reactions, and a massive highly enthusiastic role play including a march, chants, and a blockade.

throughout, we were told about bermudian culture. any disruption of any sort could be considered hostile, rude, and thus violent. working to shift that idea towards one of valuing human life over politeness will be a long journey, but we definitely saw that light flashing on for folks this weekend.

we also got to do an exercise today that never ceases to amaze me. it’s based on both keltic and navajo indigenous practices, and uses the 4 directions to cluster certain personality characteristics, and help people reflect on how they participate and lead. it was beautiful to watch folks gain pride in their way of being, and openness to the ways of others, along with a respect that all ways are needed for success.

it was also good to remember that the polite and complacent manner that many of us are raised to think is the only appropriate way to be as a human being is actually some of the most dangerous behavior in the world, because it allows so much injustice to go unchallenged. looking at history, our heroes may have seemed disruptive, rude, confrontational in their day, but with the long lens we see that they were fortune tellers, oracles, telling us what we needed to hear for a better future.

bermuda is a Very actionable island. there’s a few narrow roads over the whole island, a few main ferry stops, a few key beaches. i have a lot of hope for the kind of actions that will happen hear in the near future.

got disturbing news yesterday about the deaths of 4 cops in oakland, as well as their shooter. today i read that it was 3 cops killed, and one left brain dead for life. aimee allison informed folks on her twitter/facebook feed that the AP connected the shooter’s unemployment and anger with his actions, that the economic situation will lead to a rise in crime. i feel that analysis – it is so hard to maintain the idea that peace is possible in times of great disparity.

however i am also reminded at moments like this, reading about this awful and violent situation, that the problem is largely in arming of the police and of the population. i also can’t help but think, “there is no them”. us and them falls apart under the sacred weight of human life, we are all temporary, vulnerable, mortal. i know there are many in my circle who are immediately making a black and white analysis of this situation, but there is also a need to make our hearts wide enough to feel sadness and grief for the loss of lives and dreams for those 4 police officers. we cannot let ourselves be dehumanized in the eyes of police (or the military, or government), and in turn we must not dehumanize them. when that is allowed, nothing good can come of it but eye for eye for eye in a blind city.

now to change gears and hopefully rest, i am listening to a pop mix made for me by inno from the design action collective. songs so good they are bad, and are actually making it hard to sleep. tomorrow is my last full day/night in bermuda, and my first day not traveling, training, preparing, moving, working, or meeting in a long time. wish me luck!

from Bermuda, 1

Bermudians are up early and so am I.

This training has been nearly two years in the making. Someone from Bermuda heard about me, saw a video, and decided they wanted me to come here and speak to local potential organizers about how to move past critique and into action. I don’t really like to give speeches anymore, I much prefer popular education styles of learning with folks.

Four Bermudians came to a series of trainings I did in the Midwest to scout me and be sure. We got along marvelously there, and I was moved by their earnest desire to jumpstart the movement in Bermuda.

The political landscape here is unfolding for me more each minute. It’s still considered a property of the crown, we passed a massive portrait of the queen on our way through customs. It’s super densely populated – 3,000 people per square mile. The U.S. has something like 90 people per square mile. It’s a small island, we’ve already covered half of it just going from the airport to where we’re staying, and the grocery store, and a meeting in town. The town is Hamilton, a ferry boat ride, or curving bus/car ride away.

The population is majority black, with a lot of white Bermudians who are fierce lifelongers. Everyone black looks like me, like black + something else. The government is majority black, and apparently has grown very conservative over the years. The issues people are organizing around here are mostly space – how space gets developed, who gets to decide, and how to sustain this space for future generations of Bermudians, not just future generations of tourists.

Nearly everything is imported, including 80% of the fish (so as not to completely decimate the local fish and coral reef) and thus very expensive. I’m still trying to find out what Bermudian food and culture is like, and if it’s thriving at all amidst the expensive hotels and cottages and restaurants and primarily white tourist culture. I haven’t seen any indication of the poverty I would expect to come along with such population density yet. Our training begins tomorrow – today we have a television interview about the training, and get to check out the training site, meet with more of the organizers.

My co-trainer is Hannah Strange who used to work with me at Ruckus and is a total pleasure to plan and train with. The weather is expected to be rainy the entire time we’re here – it was sunny yesterday and we got to spend a half hour in it, leaving me with a diagonal tan line across my chest that just looks weird. But even with rain, I’m an island person, I feel much more comfortable surrounded on all sides by the ocean and always have. It gives me comfort. I am going to go look at that remarkable color of blue against morning clouds and morning sun before the day gets too hectic.

goodbye bess

i just read that the original bess from Porgy & Bess passed away. i have a deep relationship with this music, and the songs were written around the voice of this woman, soaring, soulful soprano. its not easy to express grief as a soprano. try and find her version of “My Man’s Gone Now”. she died in oslo, where she moved after hitting the race ceiling in the u.s.

this week i have been organizing and cleaning out parts of the ruckus office. we’ve been trying to find a way out of it for months, such a costly burden. and now that we’re leaving the nostalgia is big.

tonight i begin the journey to bermuda. it’s my first time there, and i am very excited! some beautiful people from there have been inviting me for over a year to come down and support them jumpstart some action organizing. i finally said yes and found some time, and now it’s really blowing my mind to be able to work this deeply with what is basically a whole nation. they are already thinking as a community, cross issue. all we have to do is drop in some core action skills with a sprinkle of targeting, scouting, and decisionmaking.

earlier today i got to tour the david brower center, which i was on the board of for 3 years. its amazing – the latest innovations for heat and light and cooling. building a building is a crazy thing to do, and it’s taken a while, but its an awesome structure.

i also got to pre-record an interview for KPFA on alternative ways to resource our work during this economic moment. got me all verklempt.

ok gotta finish packing, will try to blog from bermuda – should have time since it’s supposed to be raining while we’re there!

what’s the new-old?

you know i often hear forrest gump in my head. “i may not be a smart man, but i know what love is.”

this economic moment has been crystallizing that phrase to me. i’ve been thinking a lot about what love is, and what it is not. in the face of the fall of wall street, the fall of our mega-corporate banking systems and the crumbling of the faith of american people in false wealth, it seems imperative to point towards the light, to remind ourselves how to love.

problem is, the actual situation we’re in is so murky to the masses that we feel collectively stupid and angry, and we have contracted our love muscles.

now i have always had a difficult time understanding the american economy, because it all seems made up. for a long time, money had to be associated with gold, a tangible resource that the paper money represented. i would argue that seeds or water should be seen as more valuable than gold (when stranded on a desert planet), but whatever, at least that made some sense. when you spent money to buy something you were literally giving them a certificate for some gold. that was already a delightful bit of imagination, since for most folks you were never gonna see your gold, just believe in it. but we’re a country of faith, aren’t we?

that said, the majority of resources that move now are too intangible to me – promises, ideas, stuff we print and trade and sell. there’s no real gold, seed, or land behind it. people live their lives dreaming of their perfect home – physical and spiritual – where they will have everything they need and be able to take care of their loved ones, where others will know them and think well of them. and it’s literally people’s dreams and perceptions that fund our economy. one peek behind the curtain shows us the fat wizards laughing at us, clicking away on our yellow brick roads. i’ve often felt like the kid on the side pointing out that the empire has no money.

the wizards succeeded in creating something real, and its called a recession. all the charts i have seen show that it could be the longest recession we’ve ever experienced. our dependence on credit and debt makes it hard to feel this yet. we keep stacking up that paper that’s tied to nothing, that debt that accumulates like body fat, easy to gain, hard to lose.

our response to the naughty wizards was a bailout. taxpayers didn’t decide to prioritize AIG bonuses over our retirement funds, our mortgages, our employment and health care, our kids schools; those who allowed the situation to come into being developed a solution that doesn’t actually change anything. but we did turn to corporate restorative solutions to stabilize an irrational system. and this is the question we should be asking ourselves…do we want to restore a system that does not love us? do we want to restore a system that does not value human life and the power of relationship and community? you know my answer is a big hell no. from an action perspective, i think its time for massive public spankings, and guerilla solutions.

there is another way already emerging, i’m thinking of it as the new-old, (a specific economic component of the Great Turning). tons of people my age are out of work, and are turning to each other, cooking with and for each other, turning their roofs into secret gardens. single income homes are becoming multi-generational homes. we have all done this before, every people on the planet have ancestral experience (and many have current experience) of getting by as a community.

this isn’t to say we shouldn’t fight for our monetary resources. wall street has stolen the shoes we saved up our whole lives to buy, they stole them before we got to wear them, and now they are dancing in them, scuffing the soles.

there is a day of action that has come to my attention (thanks Miguel) called Take Back The Economy. there are actions happening all over the country on March 19th – check it out and get involved! there’s another day of action April 11 (thanks Kat!) called a New Way Forward which i am learning more about and will keep you posted. i am looking for folks interested in engaging in this fight!

at the same time as we protest, we must remember there is another way to demonstrate our desire for an alternative. that is, we know a way to be barefoot and happy. and now we have technology to link us together in ever larger networks of skill and shared value, to supplement the knowledge we may not have, to show us what to grow, when, where, how; to teach us about jobs we could do that would feed our families and replenish our home planet. we’ve been right all along that vast inequality leads to no good end, so this is a time to rejoice in the better elements of our humanity, and to understand the thinking of wall street as something akin to gills…a survival mechanism for a world we’ve evolved past. let’s stop trying to run backwards through time – let’s walk on our two feet, with dignity, in community, towards the next phase of history.

i might be over pets…and fiction

i have been thinking this for a while, and admitted it to a friend this weekend, and am going to write it here.

i’m over pets.

i say this as someone who had an amazing and gorgeous mutt for 13 years named sugarfoot, who showed me complete loyalty, forgiveness, love. i loved that black dog with white paws, a mellow spirit, and a resistance to any and all training. she was her own being, she chewed on cigarette butts until she had a habit, tho we never saw her pick them up, just drop them in a pile at the end of a walk. when she was old, my parents moved to an island for a couple of years and she had a second youth, discovering the joy of hermit crabs on her tongue in her own catch-and-release game. i loved her, when she died i bent over at the waist and wailed, i’d known her from a puppy, longer than anyone i wasn’t related to.

i love dogs, i love watching people love dogs. i even don’t mind cat people, and occasionally see cats i like, though i am too allergic to go deeper. turtles are cool, snakes, etc.

that said, i think i’m over pets.

from two angles, the first being that i am really over captivity of any sort. what is the natural order of dogs, of cats, of horses. is our love of owning creatures and making them dependent on us disrupting the natural order of everything? and what is distinct between that ownership and taming, and the way we seek to tame each other, break each other’s spirits…

not that i am longing for a world of wild dogs and cats, but…here’s the source of this (and the second angle for attentive readers):

i saw the image of dogs being evacuated before black people after katrina, at the front of greyhound buses 24 hours before black elders and children were stuffed onto the back of a flatbed truck for exodus. i saw it before, and i saw it again two weeks ago. since seeing it i have been hyper aware of pet culture – picking up the poop of dogs, staying in an otherwise sophisticated house where a whole corner was covered in mini-domes full of cat poo. you might think it’s the poop, but its really the privilege of spending exorbitant amounts on caring for animals in a world where so many people are uncared for. for carrying bags of animal poop past hungry people. it’s too “let them eat cake” for me. or rather, its too “AIG” (who is with me on doing a massive aggressive action on those fools??)

i like pets individually, i love spaceman spiff, the ruckus MD’s dog. its just on a larger level, something about pets seems hella wrong to me.

i’ve also come to the end of my faith in the existence of fiction, at least if its seen as something created. there’s nothing i see in fiction that i don’t see happen in real life – the drama, the sex, the family, the violence, the history. i don’t believe in fiction anymore! i believe that we tell our history obsessively, all the time, in many ways…in poems, in dreams, in art. nothing is made up, its collected, we collect moments and concepts and present history, fictionalized to take the edge off, but its just us we’re telling, its our ways of seeing and loving and being with each other, our failures and evolutions. there is no fiction.

all of this has come on in the past month. something awful happened in the family of a friend of mine, and since then its felt like there is a chasm in the armor, the polite false systems of the world. even the things that are love, and creativity, seem somewhat shallow and false to me.

at times like this i really have to turn to something like battlestar galactica, an amazing show which my lady thinks is too dramatic. but i feel like on that show they have a concept of the finite nature of humanity, and how fierce the struggle should be for justice and equality, for being a worthwhile species. humans on the show have a marrow-level desire for the sky and the sun, banished to space, searching for earth, or something like earth, everywhere. searching for meaning.

friends will know this is nothing new. i am always this close to running in the street screaming “we’re all gonna die!”, or stripping down to nothing and undulating on strangers saying “we’re all beautiful!” – shows like Lost and BSG exist for people like me, who live seeing the edge all the time, and try to find nirvana and balance and joy with all that chaos in our eyes.

sigh. im swimming every day, and going to try meditating some because a friend made it clear that i am speaking too breathlessly again, going 100 miles an hour in my head.

anyway i got interviewed for an amazing film addressing all of these things, go look at me: http://www.thegreatturningfilm.org/?q=node/2

making happiness

things i do to stay happy (reposted from facebook where i wrote it to respond to a question by piper anderson for her book!):

i give away a third of my belongings 2-4 times a year, and donate to people and organizations that excite me.

i keep my dishes done and everything in it’s place in my home.

i sing really really loud when i’m all alone.

i book time to be with my family, and lately, to geek out on my delicious nephew.

i work hard for people and places i love.

i turn myself out.

i swim, get massages, and stalk hot tubs and saunas.

i sage my space.

i make myself open up when i want to contract, when i’m scared.

lately i have been walking around with this meta superimposed vision happening. i see people in their ancestral wholeness, from their faces to their dress. i have no way of knowing where folks are from in the world, but i keep seeing people in gorgeous paints, feathers, headdresses, loincloths, mud cloths, piercings, tattoos. regal, telling many stories about their lives in what they do and don’t wear. everyone’s bodies look beautiful to me, especially older people. older women, loose and wide in the hips, breasts dropped low as if they’d been much used, soft bellies, crinkled thighs marked with purple pathways…i see them sitting in a council, their words deciding everything. men in their 50s, with the posture of hunters and chiefs. i can’t seem to help it, i look at people and another vision of them comes into view, and seems right. its been kind of daunting and beautiful.

i am so in love with the Y. i went to kabuki springs yesterday, and had a facial. it was so deeply painful, my first, and now i don’t know if i feel injured or pure of pore. then i sat in all the rooms at kabuki, and they felt too big, and too hushed. today i went swimming at the Y, and afterwards i sat in the hot tub, the sauna and the steam room. and there was the murmur of women talking, all the spaces are smaller and feel more intimate. no candles or statues of dieties, and tile everywhere, evidence of people on every surface. but i love it, i love swimming – and have been swimming well recently – and then sitting in a hot tub with jets on my knees, then steaming my lungs and skin, then dry sauna, shower, walk out into oakland feeling all fresh and sore.

today i’ve been moving things around in the ruckus office, organizing what we can give away and what we need to keep. i am so excited and ready for this move out of this massive office space, though i already miss parts of the huge room. now feel sleepy.

yay women!!

it’s international women’s day!

i’ve been thinking of all the amazing women i know – in my family, the women of ruckus, the women i work with around the country, the women i admire around the world. this is a time when our leadership is emerging – not just in the physical form of women in leadership, but in the psycho-spiritual form of feminine management styles and collaborative styles of leadership.

its a good moment.

i’ve been contemplating lately what makes me the woman i am. i think of the particular kinds of struggles and attacks i have faced, none of which i would give up in retrospect. i think of the stories i was told of how women should be, what women should want, how women should love. i remember moments of questioning – if i wasn’t those things, how good of a woman was i, or what was i? if i didn’t want to get married, or have a baby, or always shave all the hair off my body, or read articles on how to please a man, or want bundles of dead flowers, or paint a face on each day, or wear heels or wear pantyhose…did i still represent all the powerful wonderful sensual ways of women?

i have been told i am “womanly” because of my size. i am wrestling now with that size, with my body image, dealing with injuries that come from carrying too much weight on my bones. womanly was the term that was supposed to help me love and accept my body as is. the intentions were good, although i have never seen a woman’s body that wasn’t womanly, whether slender or thick or round or tall or long. i have also heard very few things that were meant to make me feel great about my body that actually made me suddenly love it. my body isn’t how it is because of love…it’s how it is because of fear. fear from my experiences as a woman, fear i have to resolve and address and let go.

although, a note to myself…i have said that fear is born out of love. to apply this to myself, i can say that underneath the layers of weight that i have on as a protection, there’s fierce love for myself. that is the piece of work i am engaged in now, finding other ways to express that love than building up a physical fortress of my body, where i’d rather have a temple for my amazing self. and in there, i want to live beyond the fear, to love myself.

i can also say that even now, knowing the sources of my present physical manifestation, i have moments of great love or my body, for it’s strength, for it’s softness. i just don’t want to feel trapped in a cheerful false identity, an unhealthy idea of “womanly”, even if it makes other people comfortable, and even if it’s politically correct to put on a face of solidarity with my fatness.

and in the process of all this processing with my body, i am reminded that the ways in which i am woman are not purely physical, its not purely the ability to mother, its not simply a nurturing thing…there’s still so much of it that is more powerful than i grasp, and that is a mystery to me. there is still so much i am growing into. the women i know are all so complex, presenting the limitlessness of what woman contains, presenting their confidence and fear and insecurity and most of all love. i am honored to know them, to be of them.

happy international women’s day!