my first michigan womyn’s music festival

stretch and yawn – i am back from a week in the woods with no men. i was at the michigan womyn’s music festival and i LOVED it.

it was deep to be in a space with men so absent, while i am in this moment of meditating on, remembering and loving two beautiful men who have transitioned beyond life this summer.

but it was right on time…i loved the fest because i am in this moment of intense grief that seems eternal, and the theme of this year’s festival was grief and release.

i loved it because i would never have thought of it myself, but it was immensely healing to be in a space where everyone i saw was a woman – to embrace all the ways we can appear, which includes elders to babies, everything along the spectrum from societally understood masculine to feminine – beards to bras, transwomyn, every shape and race and ability imaginable. and all of it in this city in the woods built up from the ground by womyn’s hands.

i loved it because it reminded me of ruckus camp…and who knew – i really like the kind of communal off-gridding.

i loved it because it reminded me of how different we all are – our needs, our desires, how we relax, how we debate, how we learn. it’s boring if you are too often around those who do like you.

i loved the food and being outside all the time – even in the lightning and thunder storm, even in the rain, especially in the deep sun. and even though my body is now an intricate map of mosquito and spider bites that has me grinding against walls and doorways for itch relief like a cat in heat, i loved it.

i loved it because i got to perform with my sweetheart and i loved every second of rehearsing and performing in that space – folks were so supportive i didn’t even get the nervous (throatclosingupdrysandpaperbullfrogstomachstorm) twinges i sometimes get around singing as performance, as opposed to singing in community.

i have lost loved ones this summer, and what they had in common was that they did what they were called to do. i am called to sing, and i got to answer the call in the company of several brilliant performers including invincible, and dj rimarkable for the set, with las krudas and climbing poetree coming up for the encore.

i loved discovering musicians – a whole world of incredible singers and songwriters are out there making beautiful music.

karma mayet johnson probably did the most to drop my jaw with her blues opera Indigo, performed on an acoustic stage out in the rain. this was so beautiful it brought me to spontaneous tears – black lesbian slave era love story just so tender it’s brilliant.

dj rimarkable did some healing work on me from the turn tables, i danced in ways i haven’t moved in years. if i lived in the same town as her, i would be too skinny from leaving it all on the dance floor every time she spun.

my other favorite was seeing the unlikely collaborations happening on every stage. like any family, there are elders in the michfest community, folks who have been to many festivals and hold the stage, integrating new voices – like thao and emily wells – in a nearly sacred way.

i wrote songs on that land, and met a lot of people who i know will just be in my life now, another network of amazing people who want to look out for each other.

there were folks there who had known and loved blair as well, which helped. we stood together during the opening ceremony and wept our hearts out. i came home to a lot of beautiful pieces on blair, including a cover story in the metro times, and a post on glaad’s site.

in a couple of days i will be back together with my family for the first time since my grandfather’s funeral a couple of months ago – this time to celebrate my nephew’s 3rd birthday.

this summer is about love and standing up as my whole self, and i am leaning into it hard because i’m pretty sure that otherwise i would get swept away by all that’s happening.

perhaps change is always happening this fast and it is my awareness that is shifting, sharpening. but from my own little insignificant life to the greater politics of uprisings and famines, it feels like all existence is in a moment of flux.

i am excited to be coming in contact with brilliant minds in the arts, science fiction, activist and other realms who are thinking about how humanity will move through this flux – in one way or another, everyone knows this is a time for deepening relationships, for seeing relationship building as strategic work.

today i was on a call to plan a visit for author margaret wheatley to detroit. i think she articulates concepts we are applying in detroit beautifully, as the relationship building happening here is some of the most radical, forward thinking organizing work in the world.

i am still loving detroit, and michigan, two years in. i love slowly rooting myself here.

at the same time, i keep ending up on the road again. it’s who i am.

a new artist i met through the festival is a bluegrass singer named valerie june. she has a line – “why should I think that heaven is my home / when I am a gypsy / and I only want to roam” – which has made me feel home again in my nomadic instinct.

so the to-do list of my life is shifting, sharpening around love and letting go of anything in my life that doesn’t move me:
– love in every direction
– say it, proclaim my love to those who inspire it
– say yes to any work that is about restoring wholeness
– go where love takes me
– celebrate life, and let it burst from me
– sing :)

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