Meditations for Queer Femmes – Boredom, Waiting, Illness, Healing

Way back when I used to homeschool my kids, there was a story going around about one of the many homeschool gurus. This woman was wise in the ways of children, learning, creativity, and play, and I am sorry I don’t remember her name. When her children complained that they were bored, she would respond with a vaguely interested, “Hmm,” and go on about her business. Usually and pretty soon, her kids would figure out what they wanted to do next, and they, too, would go about their business.

Think about now. We are never bored. We are petrified of boredom. And waiting — we still have do that, in line, at the laundromat, before appointments, for the movie to start, but we don’t have to do it with our feelers out, our brains idling in neutral. When we are feeling punk, or are up against a recommended medical test, we never have to check in with ourselves if we don’t want to (and when you’re scared or even just concerned, it’s often hard to check in); we don’t even have to figure out how best to heal or even what being healthy means, because we can look it all up online and chose from among many, many strong opinions on the subjects. Our devices connecting us to the friendly internet skies are always, always there to keep us company. We are not encouraged to let our minds and hearts float free.

This has been a year of many health issues, my own and those of my family. We have spent time doing research, trying one thing after another, connecting to Spirit and waiting for various kinds of information.  I’m using the word “information” deliberately, preferring it to “results” or “diagnosis”, because, when faced with a health issue, we are trying to do our best to suss the meaning out about what’s going on and how we want to proceed in a way that is as much in harmony with our beliefs and best interests as possible. We want to feel centered, surrounded by love and support, and connected to each other and to the great web of being so that our path is wider than a panicked fast track to medical intervention or a relieved denial about mortality. We want to find ourselves in the process.

Time spent waiting can be been both excruciating and mundane. With the help of the Serenity Prayer and a full year in Al-Anon, I have the rudiments of a spiritual program I can use (when I remember!) to slow down my extremely creative, busy and crises-oriented imagination around all this family health stuff. I have work, and my students bring me so much joy. I have chores. I have pets, friends, my kids, books, a new course of studies that will begin in July that I’m deeply grateful for and really excited about. I have my butch husband who is a fucking rock – thank you, My Love! I have responsibilities to and love from my elderly parents, including my mother-in-law who is such an ace at lighting candles and sending healing energy. I participate in the life of my community. I have the practice of this blog and my other writing, and I have a piano and singing and right now I’m sitting in our Provincetown rental looking out at the sea: full tide, a bit choppy, grey, huge, cloudy sky. Earlier, some of the clouds were in spirals – I’ve never seen that before. I am grateful for the sea and the clouds and for the reminder that I am part of all of these natural systems and that we all have a natural system inside of us. Just as in Al-Anon we learn that the alcoholic is not wholly defined by their addiction, despite how it feels, I am allowing that I and my family members are much more complex as humans than simply an illness or an exhibitor of certain symptoms. I am allowing that an illness itself might be a symptom of healing.

Embodied, fragile, infinitely strong of spirit, glorious and beloved femme sisters, today revel in boredom, in waiting. Do not reject it! Leave the earbuds behind on your walk, smile and look around when you’re in line, use the cashier instead of the automated check out, remember: you contain multitudes. Take a moment or more to connect with yourself and with the nature around you, and by “nature” I mean everything, including humans. We are here for such a limited and precious time, my ornery and delightful darlings. We are here. We are here. We are here.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

 

Femme Friday – Sofia Rose Smith, Queer Femme of Color Magic-Maker

I first learned about Sofia from reading her beautiful article, which might actually be a poem or incantation or litany, “Being a Queer Femme of Color Magic-Maker” at Huffpost, and then found out more about her life and work at her website.

Deep gratitude to you, Sofia Rose Smith for your kindness, wisdom, for loving all of us not-fitting-inners, for not allowing the world to simplify you, and for reaching out to share your healing and your magic. Your meditation, “Mothering Yourself” came to me at exactly the right time and my tears, my heart, my toddler self and my ancestor self thank you, thank you, thank you!

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/being-a-queer-femme-of-co_b_10052538

http://sofiarosesmith.com/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Pingy Dingy Wednesday – Earth Guardians

Blessings and love on these fabulous young people who are earth lovers, artists, creators, connectors, passionate and deep thinkers, and so much more.

Earth Guardians, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the music, the community building, the passion, the insanely hard, amazing, healing work, and golly, the app! The Total Femme sends all her love. We need each other!!!

https://www.earthguardians.org/

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on April 17, 2019 at 5:59 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Intellect vs. Heart

A 14-year old student was just telling me today about how a gay friend of hers, also 14, asked his dad not to go to a certain chain restaurant because it gives money to homophobic hate groups. This, apparently, was a teaching moment for the straight dad, who launched into a long, well-thought-out treatise on how once you start looking into things – what companies spend money where and how – you’ll see that the whole system is corrupt and you’ll just drive yourself crazy and will waste all your time and energy trying to find an “honest” company. This was not what the kid wanted to hear. I wish the dad had just said, “Of course, honey, I don’t want to spend money at a company that actively supports groups that hate you,” but he didn’t.

As much as I was feeling pissed off at the dad in this story, I can’t say that I haven’t done the same thing to my own kids, to relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues. I’ve been snippy and more than snippy when straight people make assumptions about my particular kind of queerness, especially when I experience them as being just a little too proud of how “down” they are. I have over-explained, excused, shamed, gotten really upset and more about ignorance in all its many forms, even when the person was genuinely trying to educate themselves or was attempting to form a connection despite all the barriers. Example: “Your wife is so great!” There are days when I would have gone to town: she’s not my wife she’s my spouse, here’s what kind of dykes we are, here’s what butch/femme means to me, here’s what you should do before you open your mouth and make assumptions, and on and on. No one comes out of an exchange like that feeling very good. Why is it so hard to just say, “Thanks, I think so, too!”

I know, I know, people do need to be educated and there is so much egregiousness out there, it can just be the very last straw when a neighbor or colleague really botches it. But it’s not always your job to educate everybody (note to recovering-academic self…) and you get to take a rest sometimes and not have to hunt down and correct every single slip up. If it’s important enough, if you see the person a lot, work with them, whatever, the more you build trust by being kind, the more effective the eventual education will be. Being kind, too, is not just about the other person, it’s also about you.

Back when my kids were little, parents in my lesbian mom’s group bandied funny stories around about children asking, “Why is there a baby in your tummy? or “Who’s my daddy?” and the long, guilt-ridden, convoluted answers about straight people and alternative insemination and “Mommy and Mama wanted to have a baby, but they just had eggs and not sperm…” Most often, the kids really only needed a couple of words, like, “That’s where babies grow,” and “You don’t have a daddy.”

Sweets and darlings, be kind to yourselves today. Don’t take on every fight, every teaching moment, every righteous biffing. Get to the heart of the matter. What is the person really saying, despite awkward wording and bad timing? Is it really worth the stress and strain on your already beleagured spirit to pursue it or is it ok, just this once, to zen into a heart to heart with another human being, say a couple of easy-going words, and move on and through? Protect your precious hearts today, femme sisters. Be kind, be wise, be loving – to yourselves first and foremost.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Seeding Sovereignty, Two-Spirit Love Story by Erin Wise

A friend sent me this Bustle story, which led me to the incredible Seeding Sovereignty website and blog. Get over there now!!

Seeding Sovereignty, Erin Wise, and Bustle, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your beautiful, healing and important work.

https://seedingsovereignty.org

https://www.bustle.com/p/lozen-dahtestes-two-spirit-love-story-is-the-womens-history-month-narrative-that-needs-to-be-told-16996854

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

 

 

Published in: on April 3, 2019 at 6:48 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Situated

I almost didn’t buy the ratty copy of Stanley Kunitz’s book when I saw it at the book sale, but good sense caught up with me and it is now a treasured addition to our library. I almost skimmed over the essay on Walt Whitman when I opened the book recently, but managed to settle down enough to begin to absorb some of Kunitz’s wisdom, and through him, the raw energy, wisdom and love of Whitman. For example, Kunitz quotes Whitman, writing soon after the assassination of Lincoln:

Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness of heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us . . . We live in an atmosphere of hypocrisy throughout . . . The depravity of the business classes of our country is not less than has been supposed, but infinitely greater. The official services of America, national, state, and municipal, in all their branches and departments, except the judiciary, are saturated in corruption, bribery, falsehood, maladministration; and the judiciary is tainted. The great cities reek with respectable as much as non-respectable robbery and scoundrelism . . . The best class we show is but a mob of fashionably dress’d speculators and vulgarians . . . I say that our New World democracy . . . is, so far, an almost complete failure . . .

How delightful and satisfying, these words from a queer predecessor; how thought-provoking and how close to my own feelings about the time I’m living in! And how close I came to completely missing this delight and satisfaction due to my compulsive hurrying, my not feeling situated in my life and the flow of my life, due to not remembering what my relationship with books and words is. Due to not remembering who I am.

My contretemps with Kunitz’s book and words also got me thinking about how easy it is for me to brush aside my own intuition about what will nurture and uphold me. I get so caught up in hurrying on to the next thing that I can barely manage to take in, let alone process and enjoy, what is right in front of me. FOMA* has always been part of human experience, I’m sure, but now it’s worse than ever because of all our devices moving with such speed that no one can possibly keep up. Even – perhaps especially – on those devices, we clickety-click through thousands (millions?) of pieces of information, never ever giving our brains, hearts and souls a chance to catch up, to ponder, wonder, analyze, connect to our own lives in any meaningful way, in a way that has any depth or chance of longevity. The advertising world figured this one out a long time ago, that humans are challenged by the ability to imagine more more more and that a “never satisfied” condition can be nurtured and encouraged for financial gain.

Dear femme sisters, a moment. The stars and the planets are aligned, you are walking in a holy place, what surrounds you surrounds no one else in exactly the same way, being alive here and now in this essence and assurance is your gift and sacred duty. Today, remember one amazing thing about yourself. Take pleasure in one astounding event, place, person, poem, insight, in the way that you and only you can love into being. Be still. Be grateful. Inhale the aroma. Delight in the music. Situate yourself there.

The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,

            The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into

a new tongue.

*Fear of Missing Out

All Walt Whitman quoted in the essay, “At the Tomb of Walt Whitman” in Next-to-Last Things: New Poems and Essays, by Stanley Kunitz, The Atlantic Monthly Press, NY, 1985.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

Published in: on April 1, 2019 at 5:52 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Otter Lieffe

My sweet friend Miel introduced me to the work of Otter Lieffe – gratitude! From Otter’s website:

Otter Lieffe is a working class, femme, trans woman and the author of two trans feminist novels—’Margins and Murmurations’ and ‘Conserve and Control’.

She has been a grassroots community organiser for over two decades, working and organising in Europe, the Middle-East and Latin America with a particular focus on the intersection of gender, queerness and environmental struggles.

Since publishing her first novel in 2017, Otter has been building networks to counter the systemic oppressions faced by working-class trans women. In 2018, she helped establish Books Beyond Bars, a trans/LGBTQIA prisoner support group in the UK. 

Deep gratitude to Otter for her dedication to the beloved souls of working-class trans women, for standing up to systemic oppressions with such courage and creativity. Darling femme sisters, get over to her site and buy her books, take her writing class, support her work, buy her a coffee, and give her some love!

https://otterlieffe.com/

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

 

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – LGBT Books to Prisoners

This organization has been working for over 10 years to send queer books to queer folx in prison. Books save lives and are empowering in deep, healing ways we can’t always know. I am so grateful this organization exists!

LGBT Books to Prisoners, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for the wonderful, inspiring community work you do.

https://lgbtbookstoprisoners.org/

We are a donation-funded, volunteer-run organization based in Madison, WI that sends books and other educational materials, free of charge, to incarcerated LGBTQ people across the United States. We have been doing this for over 10 years and have sent books to over 9,000 people during that time.

We do this because:

    • We want to acknowledge, and work against, the oppressive functions of the prison system. Our project shifts some control back into incarcerated people’s hands.
    • Incarcerated persons have little access to reading material, and LGBTQ people behind bars have a particularly hard time finding resources that meet their needs and wants. We are in a position to gather and distribute these resources.

We believe that our work affirms the dignity of all individuals by providing access to knowledge of their choosing so that they can learn and grow as they desire. We respond to individuals’ requests as directly as possible.

    • LGBTQ people behind bars face many hardships, including — but not limited to — isolation and physical violence. We want them to know that they have a supportive community on the outside that cares about their wellbeing.

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Published in: on March 27, 2019 at 4:29 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Scale

As the daughter of an archeologist, I was taught from an early age about the importance of scale. When photographing an artifact, you have to put some form of measurement beside it so that you can tell how big it is. There was a fun moment in my life when my mom even used me as the form of measurement, as I was exactly one meter tall.

It’s been a really difficult year for my family. I find myself hardly able to pay attention to my own writing, my own joy, because I’m so busy trying to manage situations. Some are just life stuff having to do with aging parents, others feel much more heart breaking, a string of poor choices and wasted opportunities. However, as I write this, I see that both aging and making mistakes are the stuff of life. As my therapist used to say, “Sounds human to me.”

I wonder if we queer femmes don’t sometimes lose track of scale. Scale isn’t comparing in order to judge, the way we can compare ourselves to other femmes with their seemingly-sparkly and perfect lives. Scale is just about showing something exactly the size it is. Without scale, the very small can appear extremely large. When I remember this, when I hold up some kind of human measurement to the problems in my family, to my insecurities about my identity, art, work, relationship, I see that I am exactly where I am: a human in the midst of human pursuits. A human among other humans, who also can get really twisted up inside their heads and hearts.

I still don’t like it when I’m mistaken for a straight lady, especially when it’s by a butch who somehow doesn’t realize that it’s a femme smiling at her, darn it, but the older I get, the more my scale is changing. I’m not measuring myself as much as by what other people, even other queers, other femmes, say is how and what I should be. I’m giving myself and my own experience and opinions way more weight, and I’m even allowing myself to go from one definition of scale to another in this post! Dear queer femme sisters, walk with me: Weighing in and measuring up as 100% human queer femme, learning that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice, making mistakes, trying every day to show compassion, to be open to joy, to make art, to love ourselves and spread love to others. Femme Love Heal World!

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on March 25, 2019 at 5:21 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Out’s The Women & Nonbinary Femmes Issue

On the cover are Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (50-year veteran activist for trans women of color, to whom I was honored to bow down last year at Creating Change) and Tourmaline, a film maker and artist – a gorgeous, sexy photo. Also featured, among others, are Barbara Smith, Alica Garza, Charlene Carruthers, Kate Bornstein, Angela Dimayuga, Aja, Brandi Carlile, Kia Labeija, Jenna Wortham and Our Lady J, and the issue is edited by Janet Mock, and it’s a fascinating and important read.

Did you know the English language has more words than any other language? And of course, words fall in and out of favor, and culture, age, location and so much more influence the meanings of words. It took me so long to get to my femme identity – old school, butch-loving — that, although I get this evolution intellectually, it’s still tricky for me to maneuver through the rapidly changing definitions. In large part, I suppose, this has to do with the way, due to the nature of homophobia, there often seems to be room for only one identity to be in the spotlight, so it feels like the kind of femme I am has gone out of fashion and has been stashed under the bed with the dust bunnies and those boots that were really expensive and hot in 1997 but look ridiculous today.

I’m old enough and secure enough not to need to see myself constantly reflected back in the media, but this is an age where the internet is where people, especially youth, go looking for people like themselves. And things can get very loud and very didactic about identity, louder voices drowning out more quiet ones, opinions posing as facts, words changing meaning, meanings changing… There isn’t and never has been just one way to be queer. The more we put that nasty old idea out with the trash, the better. If only we can keep exploring, celebrating, loving all the infinite queerness, while continuing to love and celebrate each other, particularly across generations and cultures, the more we will be spreading queer medicine. We must cherish each other, ask questions, and not judge. And always remember: Femme Love Heal World!

 

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

 

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)