brief thoughts 2: starting small

this pandemic has really been a dance for me and my body.

i thought i was going to be very healthy. i stocked my home with healthy things.

then i placed another order for the things my body actually wanted and needed in order to move through isolation and stolen control and grief.

i heard crissle say not to judge my body for gaining weight during a pandemic, but instead be grateful to be in a body that has so far survived a global pandemic.

i heard glennon doyle say love and control can’t coexist, that you don’t control what you love and that’s how she knows she still has self love work to do with her body.

i did a round of sugar shift where i removed added sugars from my life for three weeks. i noticed how much better i felt and slept. i thought i would continue like that forever.

then i returned to the comfort of sugar, without much judgment.

i read lizzo talking about body normalization, and how do we normalize that there are all kinds of bodies that are beautiful and incredible. i read it while having sea salt caramels and sea salt chips, which really compliment each other beautifully, rubbing on my softer belly.

i tried to do a celery juice cleanse but was quickly reminded that i am allergic to raw celery. as i cleaned up the mess of bodily rejection, such a clear message, i reflected on all the vegetables i can eat raw, and how many vegetables and fruits i truly love.

i went to the hospital convinced i had covid-19 or an embolism, but after a variety of tests i was told i had an upper respiratory infection and otherwise am so healthy – this communicated by a stranger speaking with the slight surprise of health practitioners who assume the worst of fat bodies. i feel grateful that even my pandemic comfort kitchen is mostly populated with whole, organic foods, that i love cooking vegetables to eat with my jalapeño cheddar cornbread, that i drink like the receiving end of a waterfall.

i had a deep discussion with a friend about how sometimes the “you go fat/disabled/hairy/etc girl!!” energy can feel so inauthentic, tinged with the fear people still have around anything not socialized as normal and desirable. fear almost always shows.

i notice that i feel the ease of more bodies being normal in my mind, in my eyes. i pick up less and less on the false narratives of normalization, and more and more on how at peace people are within their skin, their capacity to celebrate their own aliveness, their capacity to grow. ah, more people strike me as beautiful.

i notice that what matters most when my life feels good is how it feels inside, how i listen to what i need and how i celebrate my aliveness…it’s intimate personal work, and i don’t have to measure where anyone else is in that work, but i have to find my own peace.

i notice that in my recent video calls, almost everyone is softer around the chin and face in ways that no angle or lighting can hide. a few are more gaunt, hollowed, shadowed. the constriction and pressure and patterns and grief is touching and changing us in ways that are visible. i find i rather like the softening, though i know better than to say so in real time because this territory is a tender one. maybe others don’t feel ease with their smoother edges…i know that just as with my own body, assumptions are rarely useful or relevant.

i have returned to my yoga practice. every morning before i touch my phone, i get on my mat. my body is fluent in yoga, so if i bend forward, the language of sun salutation flows through me. each day i leave room for my body to lead, and am genuinely impressed with what i can still do even with my arthritis, inflammation, gut; the freedom and flexibility increase with breath. i shift poses slowly, fluid as if dancing, feeling the strength and stretch in sustaining. each day the practice is a bit longer, and now most mornings include some crunches and the new-to-me practice of qi gong. i remember how good it feels to be in a body without the hypervigilance of thinking about how it looks.

i am practicing not being distressed to be alive in my body.

i am practicing hearing the old and new colliding at the border of my awareness.

i am practicing starting small while being big.

i am practicing what it is to be and do enough, based on a measurement within.

i am practicing loving my body, normalizing my body, relinquishing control, listening to my inner communications as if to a teacher, being authentic in my self love.

i am so grateful to be alive.

i am considering that this state of mind and body might just be the healthiest i have ever been.

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.

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.