Meditations for Queer Femmes – Right Now, Back Then

Over the weekend, Tex and I decided to make curry. As she was looking up a recipe on the computer, I had a sudden memory of a couple I’d met sometime in the early 90s. One or both of them were professional cooks, and they proudly showed me their custom-made bookshelves that housed literally thousands of cook books. I wonder if they still have them?

Even if you were born with a cell phone clutched in your wee little fist, technology changes so quickly these days that even you are probably a bit dazed and confused on some level, all the time. And for those of us who grew up writing letters on actual paper, talking on the phone with an actual cord connecting it to the wall, researching things in actual books and journals, and looking up directions on an actual paper map, the contortions we’ve had to make over the years are monumental. For every older person who has taken to this ever-changing technology like a duck to water, there are countless numbers of the rest of us, who dread the word “upgrade” and whose ability to deal with today’s latest exciting online amenity is rapidly giving up the ghost.

I know, we’ve more or less gotten used to it. I remember figuring out email. I remember when you couldn’t get a person on the phone anymore. I remember travel agencies going out of business and libraries trashing card catalogues. Over and over, I had to roll with it. I got used to it, or rather, I complied, because there was no way of fighting it that wouldn’t rob my life of joy. There’s no point in getting frustrated – say, with this new editing tool thing I have to navigate on this very site just to post on my blog – but it does take its toll. And this weekend, remembering those people and their wealth of cookbooks, I had a moment where I realized how incredibly hard I work to deal with the technology that runs the world, every single day

When our younger son, Owen, was very small, he used to come up and give us affectionate pats, just cuz, just for love. Another toddler I knew used to say, with great generosity, “I so proud of you!!” Today, my darlings, my doves, give yourself a little credit. Take a moment to realize everything you do just in order to move through the world, do your job, watch that thing recommended on that site, talk to people, find out what’s going on. You are working so hard, dear sisters, so hard, even if that knowledge isn’t in the forefront of your consciousness and even if no one ever notices. Today, give yourself a loving pat, filled with the innocence and expansiveness of a little child. Acknowledge that hard work. Dearest dears, good work, good job. Be proud!

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, 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! (“…ifit’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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Published in: on September 14, 2020 at 5:09 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Queer Femmes Respond – Liz Nania on Art During the Pandemic

Back in May, Liz very kindly dropped by to talk about public speaking and her response to the pandemic; and I’m so honored to have her back again today!

Deep gratitude to Liz for her dedication to art and soul, for sharing her most recent Speaker Sisterhood words with us, and for responding with such nuance, vulnerability, and love to the times we live in now. And for sharing pages from her sketchbooks! Breathtaking!

Do you have something in your life that’s just for you; something you do on your own that feeds you, maybe keeps you sane, or possibly just fascinates you? And do you find yourself, during COVID-19, fighting yourself to do that thing?

For me, that’s my art-making. I’ve made art continuously since I was little. As a kid, I’d come home from school and hunker down with some crayons, glue, paper, toilet paper rolls, whatever was handy to make something with. As a teen, a time of turmoil for so many of us, the high school art room was my sanctuary. After school I’d go home and embroider one of my drawings onto my denim shirt, or crochet a really ugly sweater vest with long, tangled fringe. In my senior year, after filling out college applications for art school behind my father’s back, I managed to get a scholarship to the art program at Boston University. Four years later I became an art teacher in elementary schools, then in junior high, and then with adults.

Eventually my career as an art teacher ended, but I continued making art for myself. There were many years of painting, then designing metal and rhinestone jewelry and tiaras, which became a small business for several years. Now my primary art mediums are painting with wax and mixed media, and also fiber art, where I make collages using vintage textiles and embroidery.

Of course, there are always side avenues to tempt me. For a couple years, I’ve been fascinated with books, especially making books by hand. And that seems to be my most guilty art pleasure of all! As a productivity junkie, this one really trips my alarm system. These books I make become sketchbooks, and I fill them with little paintings, notes, sketches for future projects, or collages; but mostly, just abstract colored ink paintings, totally spontaneous, completely intuitive, made without one bit of forethought or any plan at all. Page after page of loose, slightly landscapish paintings in a hand bound book, that no one will ever see. It’s very easy for me to do. It takes no planning. In fact, the ease of it sometimes makes me uncomfortable: am I a lazy artist? Am I not challenging myself?

Since COVID emerged in March, I feel absolutely exhausted at the thought of starting a big painting or a month-long fiber art collage, the stuff I usually love doing, (and also work I feel “justifies” having my art studio space.) In daily life, and in the art studio, I often feel like I’m slogging through two feet of water; life just takes more effort. Lately, all the art I can manage to do is make sketchbooks and fill them up.

Meanwhile, my Productivity Demon goes absolutely batshit. He screams, “What a waste of time! You have a beautiful art studio, and all you want to do is doodle with colored inks at your desk! No one will ever see them! They’re not even good art! And making your own sketchbooks? Cutting all those pages, figuring out how to painstakingly stitch them together, making the covers, hours of technical labor that you’re not very good at, and so SLOW! Who CARES? For godsake, you could buy a blank sketchbook in a minute, like you used to do, and be done with it!”

My Productivity Demon is the brother of “The Art Committee”. The Art Committee always has tons of helpful criticism while I’m making art, trying to dissuade me from ever enjoying or appreciating my work. They’re relentless and sneaky. And mean! They work devilishly hard to suck every ounce of joy right out of anything I do on my own, anything that’s only purpose is actually, joy. And play. They tell me, if you think you’re a serious artist, then you know the only Real Art is work you can exhibit or sell. Huh, that’s a good one, because it’s COVID-19, and nobody’s actually buying art. But that doesn’t stop the Productivity Demon!

So I get derailed, and I try to direct my art attention towards other things, anything but filling up sketchbooks with private paintings. I’ve got a long to-do list! And we’re in a pandemic, and I’m unemployed, and now my career is in jeopardy, and I’ve been taking care of my mom which is a challenge, and we’re on the brink of an election which could extend the reign of an ignorant fascist who is hurting and killing people, and running our country into the ground. This is a lot.

Suddenly, talking about my art feels trivial. Our country is in crisis. And, so is my little world. So, for me to keep my head above water and connect to peace and happiness on any ordinary day, I’m drawn to the little things; the latte my husbutch, Sandy, makes me every morning – the blue jays and cardinals we know by sight, and have named, who come to our railing for their breakfast and dinner; hot days at the beach – online concerts – neighborhood walks and bike rides, and occasional backyard visits with local friends on weekends. And making little books, personal and intimate art, never to be seen or judged or sent into the marketplace. Just small wonky books filled with notes and paintings of inner landscapes, my own personal inner landscape of the moment. I still don’t know exactly why I make them. But I’ll sit down at my desk with my mixed feelings, the Art Committee and the Productivity Demon hissing from their perches in my brain, and I’ll grab a paintbrush and just dip it into the ink.

About her art, Liz says: Much of my painting is abstract, but I do create some representational work, too. My art explores love, time, celebration, being a woman and a lesbian, social commentary, and other things dear to my heart. And my textile art is unapologetically feminine; it’s even more girly than I am!

See Liz Nania’s work: www.liznania.com, and on Instagram at liz_nania_art.   

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 spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Published in: on September 11, 2020 at 11:34 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Breaking and Healing

I recently read Nnedi Okorafor’s lovely book, Broken Places and Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected, where she talks about how a botched operation that left her paralyzed from the waist down – what she calls “the Breaking” – was the beginning of her path to being a writer. In her book she mentions the Japanese art of kintsukuroi, which, Roshi Joan Halifax tells us in her blog post “The Golden Repair,” “is the art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold or platinum mixed with lacquer, so that the repair reflects the history of breakage. The ‘repaired’ object mirrors the fragility and imperfection of life— and also its beauty and strength. The object returns to wholeness, to integrity.”

Nnedi and Roshi Joan, you get one pingy-dingy each! Thank you for reminding us that broken does not mean The End, and that frailty, human and otherwise, can add to our understanding of what it means to be human, what it means to find strength.

http://www.nnedi.com/books/broken_places_outer_spaces.html

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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Published in: on September 9, 2020 at 5:47 PM  Comments (2)  
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Queer Femmes Respond – “COVID Consumption” by Jill Klowden

Many a year has passed since Jill and I first met as new lesbian moms creating community for ourselves and our babies. We remain connected by so many shared memories, challenges, joys, and sorrows, and by our powerful femme sister love!

Deep gratitude to Jill for her beautiful, wise words, her vibrant queer and healing presence in the world and (lucky me!) in my life!

COVID Consumption

I have become a consumer of books, of loving looks, of love, of phone calls, zoom calls, of homemade food, of neighbor conversations, of long walks, deep breathing, long slow stretches and mindfulness

I am a giver of time, an ear, a glimpse, a touch, a vision, an angst, of good food grown from my garden, of poetry, cut flowers and backyard yoga

I am a holder of space for growth, exploration, development, laughter, deep dives into racism, into the meaning of life and of its counterpart, the non-meaning of everything

I am no longer a consumer of two showers a day, perfume, clothes, dry cleaning, high or low fashion, gas, nail salons, hair cuts, eating on the run, flying by or stopping by.  

I am a holder of space for intimacy while impotent, change that is unintended, intentional living, tears, grumpiness, sadness, grief, fear and loss…and love. 

Jill Klowden is a long-time public defender, an activist for Black lives and humanity, a queer mom of two compassionate humans, an ecstatic recent grandma – a “queerma” – an unabashed lover of people and all things beautiful, a faithful partner, a mindfulness practitioner, motorcyclist, a Jew and a proud fem.

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 spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family and Annette Gordon-Reed

On the way to the park with our dog yesterday, we ran into a friend, a fellow middle-aged white mom. After we’d managed to recognize each other under our masks, I asked how she was doing.

“Living safe in my nice house on my nice street, wrapped in my white privilege!” she replied.

She sounded so depressed and guilty, and while I know what she means and perhaps how she feels, reading Annette Gordon-Reed’s book, as I’m doing right now, shows me how incredibly ancient and evil white supremacy is and helps me try and situate myself as I continue to figure out what my responsibility and agency is in the current moment and going forward.

Annette Gordon-Reed, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your incredible scholarship and your brilliance in depicting the world of Sally Hemings and her family. Thank you for extending compassion and love to those people whose full lives were left out of the written record for despicible and obscene reasons, but who are an integral and deeply important part of American history.

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Published in: on September 2, 2020 at 5:28 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Day In, Day Out

We just got back from a week in Provincetown, staying in our friends’ beautiful rental, on a quiet street in the East End. Despite everything that’s going on, we had such a lovely time. We were able to rest and renew, thanks to the queerness, the gorgeous light, the bountiful ocean, the presence of friends. I realized I’d been nurturing a bit of agoraphobia, and was able to address that, becoming more comfortable operating out and about within parameters that feel comfortable to me. It was a gorgeous week, and I’m not talking about the weather (for me, all weather in Ptown is gorgeous!).

I have a vitamin container that comes with me whenever we travel. Before leaving home, I load up each section with my C and D and the rest of them. In the past, I’ve hated to see the empty sections, signaling the end of vacation. Last week, however, to my surprise, I found myself contemplating the empty sections with gratitude: each one meant another lovely day in Provincetown, another day resting, going to the beach, seeing friends, allowing for down time in a place that is intensely healing to me. Those days were piling up, not being lost.

Beautitious ones, your every day contains moments of joy and lovely surprises, whether on vacation or not. What have you gained today, what has made you smile and will remain in your memory as a balm? A happy pet moment? A delicious fruit incident? A sweet text; a caress; a child in the park singing at the top of their lungs? How nutritious to the soul it is to notice these joy infusions, to let them fill you and fulfill you, to let them pass through you leaving stardust behind! Dearest darlings, there is so much that is beautiful! Let’s connect there today.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, 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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

 

Published in: on August 31, 2020 at 11:05 AM  Comments (4)  
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Queer Femmes Respond – Queer Femme Artist, Janine Evers

All through the dog days of chemo, I could look up and feel calmer, feel loved, when I saw Janine’s painting on the wall. I am so thrilled to hostess my dear Janine, with her wisdom and her beautiful art!

Deep gratitude to Janine for her big heart and her beautiful art and her all-round absolutely wonderful Queer Femme self!

Since the Corona virus has forced us to slow down, pare down, be cautious, pay attention, and simplify, I’ve found that this has affected my art as well. When we all first went into quarantine back in March, I thought that I’d definitely take the opportunity to make lots of art. But as I tried to jump full steam ahead, I became aware that it wasn’t comfortable to make art in the way I had before. I’ve learned to slow way down, and not force the muse. I’ve become conscientious of not making more “stuff” to take up more room in my small home, and in this overcrowded and polluted world. I’ve been making these little mixed media works on paper, just 5 ¾” x 8 ½”. I’ve been keeping them simple and thoughtful; careful not to overwork them, and finding my way back to making art simply for the joy it brings me. Back before art school, galleries, and the pressure to “succeed” as an artist.

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Janine Evers is a Queer Femme Artist who lives and works in Provincetown. Her colorful, abstract paintings are influenced by the land and seascapes of the Outer Cape, and, particularly by the marine life that is found along the bay on walks during low tide. You can see more of her work at Four Eleven Gallery, Provincetown, Mass.

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 spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

 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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

 

 

 

Published in: on August 21, 2020 at 3:51 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Normal

Today I went into the liquor store and picked up a 4-pack of hard cider, a cold and refreshing beverage I normally indulge in a few times a summer. Not last summer, when I was full-on doing chemo. Not earlier this summer because of being in quarantine and then later, not quite knowing how safe it was to head out given my still-compromised immune system. Lately, I’ve been venturing out a bit, though. And today, despite all the changes at the packy with the lines on the floor and the masks on the employees and the hand sanitizer at the door, going in there to buy cider felt normal. Indeed, that’s what a sign on the door said: Thank you for your patience as we adjust to the new normal.

All kinds of different things may constitute the new normal for you, my sparkling darlings. You may be taking care of an elderly family member, drawing on strengths and a gracious and creative patience you never knew you possessed. You may be connecting with your work in ways you never dreamed of. You may have lost work and found something else, moving through shifting emotions with awkwardness or cluelessness but coming through nonetheless. Your art may have morphed into something delightfully obtuse or huge or teeny weeny. You may have taken up an old hobby or delved into obscure corners of your psyche or reached out and found long-lost friends and relations. The new normal has so many directions for us.

We live in times where so much is becoming more visible. It used to be normal to have racist American Indian mascots, for instance. Normal for the majority of white people to dismiss white supremacy – to not even know what that was or how it serves and benefits white people and what kinds of destruction it wages in its rage and hatred. Normal to consume without thought of the effects of consumption; normal to take our life on earth for granted. But normal is not ignorance and ignoring and wanting everything to be ok. I think normal is less about what we got used to, often thoughtlessly, and more about finding a true and enduring connection to yourself, to reality, to how to live in love and faith and respect.

Every day is a new normal.

Luscious cupcakes, take a deep breath and breathe in the world. Feel your own precious essence. Think about how and when and why you feel your own best most grounded queer femme self. Think about when you feel the most normal. Promise me that you’ll find your way there every day. Close your eyes.

Find your way there now.

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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

 

Published in: on August 10, 2020 at 4:48 PM  Comments (2)  
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Queer Femmes Respond – Opening to Uncertainty, a One-Minute Practice with Constance Clare-Newman

How lovely to be hostessing Constance this Friday, my femme co-conspirator in bringing more butch/femme and femme community to Provincetown, and so much more!

Deep Gratitude to Constance for her wisdom, love, and generosity in caring for our precious femme bodies and souls.  

One-Minute Practice: Opening to Uncertainty

Our brains are wired to perceive ambiguity as a threat, and when we are threatened, we tense up. Tightening and contracting and trying to “figure it out” we try to create certainty where there is little. It may be instinctive, but it doesn’t actually work, it feels bad and it doesn’t have to be our destiny.

Even when things are out of control, we can still decide what we pay attention to, and how we respond. When we pay attention to our breath, our feet on the ground, and what matters to us, we can make the best of whatever situation we are in.

But first, shake it out. Stand up and shake a leg, shake the other leg. Shake an arm, then the other. Shake your hips, your shoulders, gently shake your head. Do a little shake and jump. Then feel your feet on the floor as you come to stillness. One more shake and exhale the tightness out and then gently let your breath in while feeling your aliveness.

Now simply notice your length, your width and your depth (front to back.) Notice the room you are in and the air around you, above you, below you. Let yourself take up space in your room.

As you think about how you can move forward amidst all the uncertainty, can you imagine doing it with a relaxed jaw, easy breath, not tightening inwards? Can you imagine an outcome different from a worst case scenario, can you imagine a previous un-thought of way to help with what really matters to you?

Maybe you are already doing a lot in service to what is most important. Can you do it while not-tightening, not contracting, but continuing to release into openness? It’s not easy, but it sure feels better when you practice this way. And you’re probably more effective too.

Wishing you less contraction and more openness this summer.

Over the last 30+ years of teaching embodiment, Constance Clare-Newman has developed a trauma- sensitive, neuroscience-informed approach to embodiment practices that focus on wholeness of being.

Grounded in her own deep study of embodiment practices, dance, improvisation, meditation, breathwork, trauma work, contemplative traditions, deep ecology, social justice work and addiction recovery, Constance facilitates a path to wholeness.

Constance currently works extensively with on-line lessons and classes. You can sign up for quarterly “One-Minute Practices” and/or find more about working with her here: https://www.constanceclare.com/

As a movement artist, Constance has explored many forms of dance, including serious study of Hawkins, Cunningham, Corvino techniques. She danced with Westwind, an international folk-dance ensemble, and spent time with Irish step and ceili dance. More recently improvisation has been a focus and she has collaborated with other improvisors in a WhatsApp project inspired by Remy Charlip’s AirMail Dances. Find her moving on Instagram at @constanceclare.

 Embody Wholeness 
with the Alexander Technique
and Constance Clare-Newman

www.constanceclare.com
constance@constanceclare.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 spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

 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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

 

 

 

Queer Femmes Respond — Don’t Make Up Stories

I’m so happy to have this lovely post from my friend Lisa, with whom I have enjoyed femme tea and chats and who is making due and getting through in her own kind and loving way.

Deep gratitude to Lisa for opening her wise and questioning femme heart to us! It’s so important and healing for us to share our real-life experiences with family and beyond as we do our best with what’s going on and the resources we have or don’t have. Blessings, sweet readers, on you and on your families, and on your true, beautiful, human stories.

Don’t Make Up Stories by Lisa

At the end of April my 87 year old mother-in-law left her apartment to quarantine at our home. Laurie, my spouse, had been trying for weeks to convince her mom it would be safer to stay with us than at her three-tier senior living residence. Mom’s apartment is a large suite in the independent living area of a very upscale residence of a renovated mill building restored “to take full advantage of it’s high ceilings, expansive windows and picturesque waterfall views.” Ok, that’s a quote from their website, but really, the place is stunning, meals are served on china dishes at tables covered in linen; wine is served with dinner, and the food is so incredible that I wonder why the chef doesn’t work at a fancy restaurant.  Care is taken for every detail of the lives of the residence. Mom didn’t want to leave, until … COVID19 finally found its way into the memory care unit, and life changed.  Activities were suspended, residents were confined to their apartments and meals were brought to their doors.  The staff was doing all that they could to keep everyone safe. Mom felt like a prisoner in her own apartment, so she moved in to quarantine with us.

After Mom’s decision to join us everything happened so quickly, we didn’t take time to consider most of the changes in all of our lives. We knew that we would be making adjustments, however, no one discussed any expectations about what it would be like to live together. My big expectation was that Mom would help out around the house, if nothing else at least with meals, or clean up thereafter. Nope, nadda. My requests for help either fell on her hard-of-hearing-the hearing aids are too uncomfortable ears, or Mom just said “No.” I started to make up names for myself such as “The House Elf” or “The only staff member at The Purple House Assisted Living Center.” I became resentful, alone in my head I began to refer to my mother-in-law as “The Princess.” Laurie was between a rock and a hard place. She still goes to her office each day, and she counsels her clients remotely. She does all of the grocery shopping now, and sees herself as the one responsible to keep the two most important women in her life alive (although I’m in good health I am 12 years older, so she’s not taking any chances). She was doing her best to keep things smooth between her mother and me.

Sharing my complaints with friends brought me the kind of support I thought I needed. It didn’t help of course, because they took my side and Mom became the great villain in my story.  Then I talked with my therapist about it and the story changed.  “So,” she said “what kinds of stories are you making up in your head about your mother-in-law?” “Hmm, that she’s used to being waited on, and expects the same from me?” I was so busy thinking about poor me, I hadn’t considered what she might be feeling. Mom is quite willing to share her judgements, but feelings? No.

I began to be a better listener. If she says just the slightest thing about her residence or her old life, I respond with questions to help draw out more detail and her thoughts (but never her feelings). Reading into it I realized how depressed she was about leaving her apartment and her friends. Her vision is failing and she knows where everything is in her home–ours tends to get a bit chaotic. Her apartment is one level. At our house Mom carefully plans when she’ll go to the bathroom because she needs to navigate the flight of stairs to the second floor. Mom has glaucoma and I recently learned that she’s blind in one eye, regardless, she reads–a lot. I order large print books and pick them up at the library for her. She spends most of the day reading, but she likes to play card games, so I stop in the middle of my day, she puts down her book, and we play. At times, later I find that she has put dishes into the dishwasher, or set the dinner table.

Laurie has been relentless in catching up with doctors and making sure that her mother has the proper medical attention.  I’ve recently learned that Mom would consider herself a nuisance if she shared about her aches and pains. What I regarded as the princess waiting to be served, I’ve come to understand was Mom sitting with bodily discomfort that exhausts her.

The negative feelings I carried were a luxury at a time when too many people have lost loved ones to this horrendous disease. We have been fortunate so far to not have lost any family members. I always considered myself to be a kind and caring person, I surprised myself with the unkind feelings that I righteously carried–I am humbled. One of the lessons I’ve learned during this quarantine: Don’t make up stories in your head about what’s going on with Mom, or anyone else for that matter. Be kind–you never know when you will run out of time.

Lisa is a Jewish Unitarian Universalist proud femme. She is a retired director of UU religious exploration and faith development programs for children and youth. Before quarantine she donated her skills, of storytelling and leading children’s crafts, to bring laughter and fun to participants of an adult day program. During quarantine she spends 1 1/2 hours a day on FaceTime reading chapter books to her 7 year old grandson in VT.

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 spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

 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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.