Meditations for Queer Femmes – Anchored

The other day, I had a great morning of self care lined up: appointments with my chiropractor and acupuncturists, then my beloved Al-Anon meeting. What happened? I woke up with vertigo and made the difficult decision to cancel everything. I stayed home. I rested. When I started to feel better, I resisted the urge to hop up and start working on one of my many neglected projects. Or anyway, I tried to resist! We queer femmes can be very busy, and it’s hard to turn that shit off.

Self-reliance can skate extremely close to isolation. I know I can be extremely stubborn about asking for, accepting, and even understanding that I need help. The toddler declaring firmly, “Me do it MESELF!” comes to mind. When I do finally cop to needing help, I usually look elsewhere. We’ve been trained to think that reaching out to other people – experts, doctors, counselors, friends – is the best and most effective way to receive the care we need. We forget that we also have inner resource.

That morning of canceled appointments, of resting, of taking it way down, I did end up doing something: I wrote this post. I also read a lot. Reading can certainly be an escape activity for me, but it’s also part of my art: whenever I read, I’m taking in tone, language, characterizations and so much more, all information that informs my own writing. And writing is what anchors me to this earth, what I have received as a gift from the universe and what I give back to the universe. More and more, I am finding that when I can anchor myself in my art, my gift, my blessing, I am able to keep a clearer head about what I need to do to take care of myself.

Today, my queer femme cupcakes, honor your inner resources, the ones that you so freely give to others: caring, listening, problem solving, sitting with, empathizing with… Turn them on yourself in the gentlest, most generous fashion.

Today, and every day, remember to count on yourself the way you can an expert, a friend, a family member. Call on your own resources, not because you’re all alone and there’s no one else who can help you or understand you (an easy place for all of us queer femmes to go), but because you trust yourself and because you are a trusted member of your own support team. Because you know, deep down, what it feels like to be anchored, to be in synch with the universe and with yourself.

The resources you’ve gathered over a lifetime – turn them on yourself today.

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 October 14, 2019 at 11:09 AM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Femme Friday – The Femme You Love

The femme you love, you’ve never met her. She wrote one of the most treasured books on your bookshelf, though.

The femme you love smiled at you at the lesbian event way back in the day, when you and she were the only dykes there wearing lipstick and skirts, and when the flannel shirt dykes were giving you the hairy eyeball. Later, you ran into her at the library and got shushed so many times by the librarian that you had to take it to a local café and now you’re best friends.

The femme you love is dedicated to her art and you celebrate together at her exhibit. She uplifts you. She reminds you to recommit to your own art, your own beautiful and unique queer femme gift.

The femme you love went through a rocky patch in her relationship. You listened and sympathized. You felt honored to have her to cry on your shoulder.

The femme you love cooks you dinner when you were sick.

The femme you love supports your career and understands how infuriating it is to be a queer femme in the workplace, faced with misogyny, homophobia, and heteronormativism. The two of you commiserate together every week when you get together and bake cookies.

The femme you love bakes cookies like a genius.

The femme you love helps you foment revolution.

The femme you love makes mistakes, and there are times when the two of you need a break from each other. Even after years, though, when you get back together (and you always do), it’s like you’d seen each other just yesterday. You pick up right where you left off.

The femme you love makes you laugh harder than anyone.

The femme you love lives really far away and you hardly ever see her, but knowing she’s living her large and in charge best queer femme life way over there makes you happy every day.

The femme you love is a healer and a poet.

The femme you love died before you were born, but her influence on your life is profound, and you are so grateful.

The femme you love challenges you and argues with you and wraps you up in her big, huge, adoring personality. You can trust her with anything.

The femme you love loves you just as much as you love her. You can’t imagine life without her.

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.”)

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 11, 2019 at 2:11 PM  Comments (6)  
Tags: ,

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Forgiveness vs. Accountability

Earlier today, Tex was out and about doing some tedious errands, when she heard her name called loudly, and was suddenly being rather overwhelmed by the mom of a trans kid I’ve worked with in the past. The proud mom was desperate to show Tex a picture of said kid. Tex ended up telling her, “It’s a nice picture, but it’s Anna who knows your son, not me.” When Tex told me this story, my first thought was to feel a little embarrassed, thinking that I wouldn’t have reacted like that (of course not – I’ve known the kid in question since he was in third grade, and have had several intense conversations with the mom). My next thought was that Tex was right to remind the mom that her relationship is with me, not with Tex. Tex, being the more visible queer, is often put in the awkward situation of representing the queer community or being asked to give random straight people a “queer blessing”, which is what I think this mom wanted. And that is tedious and often qute rude and inappropriate, as it was today.

Despite over 20 years of parenting, I still have trouble distinguishing between being forgiving and holding people accountable. Certainly there are times when people need forgiveness, especially if they’re going through hard times. Just as certainly, there are people who take up way too much room and everyone benefits from them being asked to rein it in. I can get really caught up in trying to figure this stuff out: take Naked Hot Tub Man, for example. He lived a street away from us for years, obnoxious as hell, arguing and upsetting his neighbors with his antics, playing bad rock and roll at high decibles whenever he had a party and fired up the hot tub on his deck. “Oh, yeah,” one of these neighbors said to us one time, “he’s been like that since grade school…” When, perhaps, sad things happened in his family? Who knows, but the point is, even Naked Hot Tub Man has a complicated history, and I was usually tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt. And, Tex would add, wounds and difficulties are still not an excuse to act like a shithead, especially when you are a grown adult.

As you go about your beautiful, varied lives today, my beautiful, varied femme sisters, I invite you to observe your interactions with others. Are you too kind when it might be more productive to hold the line? Are you too harsh when it might be more gracious to allow for imperfections? It can all be such a muddle, my darlings, but perhaps the more we observe, the more we will gain in the small wisdoms of being human in community.

May queer femme magic accompany you!

 

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.”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that magical unicorns cannot always be welcome and ready to engage with those who find them so magical.

Published in: on October 7, 2019 at 5:26 PM  Comments (2)  
Tags:

Femme Friday – Literary Femme, the Girl in “The Rock Wall” by Peggy Munson

Some erotica is tongue in cheek or light hearted or downright hilarious. Peggy Munson’s story “The Rock Wall” is none of the above. Tortured, hot, poignant, opaque, and did I mention hot?

Deep Gratitude to Peggy Munson for the Girl, who is so complicated and needy and whose relationship with her Daddy is labyrinthine and layered and troubling and fascinating. And sexy as hell.

           Some days, I hate everything about Daddy. I hate how orphaned I feel when Daddy goes to work. I hate how Daddy can choose the simples onomatopoeia and roll it off the tongue, so that cock sounds as hard as it is. How I sit all day with that word jammed in my head, cock, Daddy’s cock, Daddy’s hard cock, spreading out with acres of modifiers, until it becomes Daddy’s hard cock that isn’t fucking me. I hate it that I am so Electra. I hate it that Freud is on my shoulder and that he told me so. I hate it that I need a Daddy. I hate it that words never add up to cocks.

            –“The Rock Wall” by Peggy Munson, in Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino, Cleis Press, 2010

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.”)

 

 

in Sometimes She Lets Me

Published in: on October 4, 2019 at 6:07 PM  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Green Burial Council

My father died too suddenly for us to have put a green burial in place, but you can bet that this is smack dab in the middle of our radar screen for my mom (may she live many more healthy years).

Green Burial Council, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your fascinating FAQ page, your incredibly important work caring for the dead, the living, and the environment, and for your compassion and passion for those of us (all of us) who must make decisions about our and our family members’ deathcare.

https://www.greenburialcouncil.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 October 2, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Situated

My father’s younger brother and his wife stayed with us for my father’s memorial service. Although I grew up seeing them quite often, it’s been over 15 years since we’ve had any regular communication, so it was a joy to have them in our home. Despite the sad circumstances, or perhaps because of them, we did a lot of recollecting, laughing, and reconnecting. At one point, as we sat in the living room together after another day of planning and errands, I thought to myself that I was happier than I had been in a good long time. Being held and surrounded by family is decidedly good medicine.

Today, they hit the road, but not before I’d taken them around to a few local stores for some last minute shopping. As we went from place to place, I played tour guide: here is a new restaurant run by a family whose daughter used to play soccer with our younger son; there’s the dad of a kid who used to play baseball with our elder son; here is the store with gender neutral bathrooms, thanks to a campaign by my QSA kids; here is a free books bookshelf I established many years ago, still going strong … “I exist,” I seemed to be telling them. “I go deep in this town, and what’s more, I’ve made an impression on this place.”

It felt good to give my aunt and uncle some information about myself, about what I’ve been doing and who I’ve become in the last 15 years, to interact with them on a more equal plane (although I’ll always be the niece, of course). This is especially true because my own parents, even when my father was still alive, are much less able to participate in and comprehend the complexities of my life due to advanced age. To have my aunt and uncle witness my life allowed me to take another look at it myself, which is especially healing as I grieve my father and mourn all the things I wasn’t able to share with him. When a parent dies, I am finding out, part of your understanding of yourself becomes very shaky. After pointing out to beloved family members some of the ways in which my own values and work and presence have influenced the physical place that I live, some of that understanding of myself firmed up a bit.

My very mortal, deeply breathing, altogether human femme sisters, where do you put pieces of yourself? How do you express your passions? With whom do you connect in the place where you live? Where are your sense of justice and your kind hearts reflected? Where is the who you are in the where you are? I know your love radiates out to bless the world. Notice that today.

Honor yourself today.

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.”)

 

 

 

great delight

Published in: on September 30, 2019 at 4:37 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Room of the Day

When we arrived at the Alzheimer’s care facility, a small sign posted near the door of my father’s room read, “Room of the Day”. I think it was some part of the culture of the facility, but it was striking to us because my dad had died in that room earlier that morning. Me, Tex, and my mom were there to say our goodbyes, grateful that we had been with him the night before, holding his hands and telling him we loved him, grateful that the angel of a nurse who had cared for him assured us that he went out peacefully.

All around us, people with Alzheimer’s went about their lives. Down the hall, someone was screaming with upset; earlier, a man had gripped my mother’s wrist, trying to lead her somewhere, as she kept mildly inquiring, “Have we met?” A woman told me I was looking pretty today; another woman shuffled past, clutching her pillow, going up and down the hallway endlessly. One of my father’s roommates kept going into the bathroom and flushing the toilet like it was his job. Some of these folks had been living at this facility for years; some, like my dad, were there for PT, and were expected to return home.

Dying as he did, rather suddenly, my father was perhaps spared some of the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s, as, on the whole, his life post-diagnosis had been relatively happy. We comfort ourselves with that thought as we grieve.

No matter how hard you try and escape it – and my father had assured us he would live to 100 (he made it to 88) – you will inevitably end up in the Room of the Day. I don’t just mean you will die, as we all will, I mean that someone close to you will die. And then you will need help. As an only child, even an only child with an amazing spouse, I have over and over had to admit that I can’t do it all by myself. When both my parents were in the hospital and I was sick myself, I couldn’t visit either of them. My mother came home; my father didn’t. I regret not being able to visit, but I have to forgive myself, as my father would forgive me. Having regrets is part of the experience of being human, but they are for sure not a healthy place to live, and, in this case, they don’t honor the deceased, nor, more importantly, do they honor the living, aka you and me.

By the time this is posted, I’ll be in the hospital undergoing surgery for breast cancer. It has been a hell of a year for our family, hitting all the big ones: addiction, serious illness, mental health issues, death. It’s impossible to live through all those without allowing others to share the burden. I am finding that with each hug, each offering of condolences, each memory shared, and task generously taken off my to-do list, I feel a little bit better, and even when the inevitable descent into grief comes again, it feels just that much more cathartic and less desperate, less of a bottomless pit.

How and when do you ask for help? Do you know in your body and heart what it feels like to truly accept love and support? These are all questions I am asking myself, as I move through these moments filled with so much emotion and transition, trying not to isolate, trying not to prevaricate, trying not to be foolish and stubborn about what I am and am not able to do, tolerate, manage. And, of course, along with accepting help is allowing yourself to help yourself. I’m writing this post because writing is what I do, it’s my art and my recourse to something bigger and more powerful than myself. The connection I feel with you, my readers, my sisters, whether I know you personally or not, helps me ground myself and feeds my soul.

Prepare for the Room of the Day today, dear sisters. Hug each other, tell each other sweet things. Connect with your ancestors and your mentors; appreciate the weather and be in the flow; eat something delicious and give someone a kiss. Open your hearts, stay curious, and shower yourself with love.

We are here for now, and for now only. It’s a beautiful place to be, and there is such good company.

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 September 23, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Comments (8)  
Tags: , , ,

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Away from my Desk

The other day I had occasion to use the antiquated expression, “away from my desk”, knowing full well that there’s no such thing any more. I wanted to convey that I wouldn’t be responding to email or taking calls for a few days; that I would be doing my best to be on vacation without the responsibility of work, because that’s what a vacation is, or anyway, what it used to be. That I was going to take a break from the information intake and management which are now seen as a normal and necessary part of daily life.

Along those lines, I was recently reminiscing to Tex how incensed I was to learn that my cell phone also could double as a flashlight. I’m not exactly sure why this infuriated me so much, but it had something to do with how the cell phone had so insinuated itself into my life, how, almost overnight, it had become so imperative that I could never let it out of my clutches, that I had to depend on this small, powerful device for all forms of communication – demolishing, among other things, the need for many of my most beloved institutions, like the library and the post office – and now, for fuck’s sake, it was relegating my handy Maglite to the dustbin??

I digress slightly, but the point is, we’re never away from our desks anymore. We check our phones in case there’s an emergency, or that’s what we tell ourselves, but most of the time, we just want to feel connected, see what’s out there, who might be sending a text, what might be happening in politics, you know. And if we’ve got young kids, or elderly parents, or a struggling friend or relative, well, we really do have to keep an eye on things.

The bottom line is that, these days, we are never not at work.

This is not good, particularly for someone like me who has a hard time not working in the best of cases. I’m so passionate about social justice that I almost never relax, always scanning about for instances of transgression: the homophobic subtext in the lite novel I’m reading in order to relax or the racist character arc in the blockbuster comedy that everyone is raving about. I’m a fun date, let me tell you!

So if I’m already working all of the time and now I have a cell phone that keeps me constantly connected and on alert, do I ever relax?

It’s not easy.

The more tense I become, the less ability I have to put anything down, and that is exhausting. Both my parents have been ill and in the hospital, and because of my own health concerns, I haven’t been able to visit them or care for them as much as I would have done in the past. It’s been hard and yet humbling to let go of some of those responsibilities. To share them. One of the nicest things a nurse said to me recently was, “We’ll take care of your dad; you take care of yourself.” Oh yeah, I said to myself, because that’s the nurse’s job!

Overworked and overextended beloved femme sisters: are you at work? What is your work? Do you have to do it all of the time? What does it look like, what does it feel like, when you put down your work responsibilities – all of them – and take some rest?

Do you feel guilty? Do you have trouble relaxing because of “What ifs” and “I’ll just do this one last thing’s”? What is relaxation these days, anyway? Watching a show on your phone? Scudding over social media ripples and waves?

Even on the busiest day, we might be able to take a few moments to relearn how to relax. Do you remember how, sweetnesses? Everyone does it differently, but breathing deeply helps. Looking up at the sky helps. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spend a little time by a body of water, or in a bit of nature. All of those things remind us of the larger, more profound, ancient natural rhythms. They remind us that we’re part of natural systems much more powerful than any little device.

Darlings, today reconnect to those systems. Breathe deeply. Relax, my cherry pies, relax! Aspire to transcend the overwhelm.

You are blessed and holy and contain resource beyond measure.

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 – Theresa Pergola

Today, The Total Femme has a nice, friendly natter with Theresa Pergola.

Deep gratitude to Theresa, for sharing her story and for being a fierce and fabulous member of this rare breed!

TTF:    Tell us a bit about yourself.

TP:      I came out when I was 27 years old. I was dating a guy when I met my first butch. I led a very sheltered life early on.  I knew I was more “open” than my peers about sexuality but I didn’t know any gay females in my teens.  I befriended a lesbian at work and I started to address the feelings I had throughout my life.  Then it happened – I saw a butch who caught my eye and had a visceral reaction –   something I had never felt before with men. That’s when I knew I was 100% queer and I never looked back. I spent 10 years with that butch and had triplets with her. She passed away a couple of years ago but she will always remain an important part of my life.

TTF:    When did you start identifying as femme?

TP:      I started identifying as femme a few months after I came out.

TTF:    What is your femme coming out story?

TP:      It always gives me a chuckle when I think about my femme coming out story.  When I first came out I thought, in order to be visible in the community, I had to “look like a lesbian.”  I got a buzz cut and stopped (gasp!) wearing make-up.  I never felt so out of sorts.  Then one day I went to a Butch-Femme group meeting at the Center in Manhattan.  It was there I found out there were other women like me who embraced all things feminine AND there were counterparts who LOVED that about us. I was never so happy – I found my tribe!

TTF:    What does “femme” mean to you?

TP:      Femme is an identity.  It is being feminine while queer. It is reclaiming the feminine stereotypes and making them our own.

TTF:    Has your understanding of femme changed over the years?

TP:      I have learned that being femme is more than just wearing high heels and lipstick. It is about owning the power of my femininity, it is about being a nurturer at heart, it is about loving everything that makes me a sensual, feminine being. It is about being the ying to the yang of an MOC person.

TTF:    Who are your femme role models in the present? The past?

TP:      My femme role models are the other women I have met in real life and on social media who embrace being femme and support each other, sharing our experiences and challenges. Victoria Darling so eloquently helped to define stone-femme identity and I am grateful for all she contributed to the stone community. I have bonded with femmes around the globe, like Vivianne Ward from Australia, who is full of class and grace. I have a dear femme friend Jenny Smith who I adore and spend time with. I have also been lucky to meet my other New York sisters, Elise Birn and Carolyn Tresca. These women are so important to me because no matter where we are from, we have a deep understanding of one another that no one else has.

TTF:    Do you have a femme community? Why? Why not?

TP:      I do have a femme community thanks to social media. I am in several Facebook groups that are just for femmes. I recently got together with two other femmes from one of the groups and we ended up having a 5-hour lunch because it was so nice to bond and we had so much in common.

TTF:    Have you encountered issues in the wider queer community as a femme?

TP:      I actually identify as a stone-femme.  Many people, even in our community, have a mistaken sense of what that means.  Many people equate stone-femme with “pillow-princess” and that is just not a correct definition. It is hard for stone-femmes to explain who we are because there is so much judgment out there and the boundaries are different for each of us.

TTF:    Talk a bit about “femme invisibility”.

TP:      I have always been open about my identity and sexuality – with my family and friends, at work, and elsewhere.  I try my best to be visible and help people understand that queer people come in all shapes and sizes. Except, however, when it was not safe to do so. In that case, I think that “femme invisibility” is a luxury our counterparts do not have.

TTF:    Anything else you’d like to share about your life as a femme?

TP:      I want to share the importance of seeking out other femmes for friendships. We are a rare breed who share unique experiences. There is nothing more precious than being able to connect with someone who shares so much in common – it is a connection beyond compare!

 

Therresa Pergola.jpg

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.”)

 

 

 

Published in: on September 13, 2019 at 12:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Bloody January Again!

I grew up listening to Flanders and Swan, a very funny (although, unfortunately, also occasionally racist and misogynistic) English musical duo. One of their most amusing bits is “A Song of the Weather”, which starts by describing the misery of January, goes on to describe the misery of each miserable month, and ends with, “And then: bloody January again!”

Life for we queer femmes, though intrinsically fabulous, of course, is not always sweetness and light. How could it be, given that we belong to the human race? Emotions and situations are part of the flow. This weekend, the flow took me through the muck and mire of grief, anger, denial, upset. Being the intellectual brat that I am, I just wanted to figure things out and feel better, but emotions don’t work that way. “People are always telling me how bravely I’m facing this,” a femme friend with a chronic illness tells me. “They don’t see me lying on the couch bawling my eyes out for three hours at a time…” Which is probably what I should have done this weekend, given that you have to let that sadness out, but the most I managed was the lying on the couch part. Bloody January.

People tell me all the time that I’m a warrior and that I’m going to kick cancer’s ass. I know they mean well, but what if I’d rather be a lover than a fighter? What if I just really wish I didn’t have to be dealing with cancer at all? Both things are true. And whatever difficult situation we queer femmes may face at different times in our lives, our culture and perhaps our personalities, perhaps our families, our friends, all encourage us not to linger in the “bad” emotions – you know, the ones I was grappling with this weekend. But there are no bad emotions – they all exist for a reason – and there are definitely times when lingering there is exactly what’s needed.

According to the empath, Karla McLaren, when emotions are honored and listened to, they help us move in a healthy manner through whatever it is life has brought our way. She writes that “[g]rief enables you to survive losses by immersing you in the deep river that flows underneath all life. If you can’t move into your grief, you’ll only experience destabilization and dissociation in response to the shock of loss, injustice, inequity, and death, instead of being cleansed and renewed in the river of all souls.” And anger? “When your anger flows freely you won’t even know it’s there; it will simply help you maintain your boundaries, your inner convictions and your healthy detachment. Free-flowing anger will allow you to laugh compassionately at yourself and set your boundary mercifully because both actions arise from the inner strength and honorable self-definition anger imports. When your anger is not allowed its natural flow, you’ll have trouble setting and maintaining your boundary, you’ll tend to dishonor or enmesh with others, and your self-image will be imperiled by your reliance on the capricious opinions of the outside world.”

Our psyche provides us with these tools, our emotions, to guide us in navigating the flow of life. The more we fight, try to reason our feelings away, try to squelch them with whatever distraction we favor (food, for me, is an excellent distraction), the more they’ll warp and morph and come back all the stronger. So, my cranky, pissed off, grieving femme sisters, today let yourself go with the flow. Let your emotions take you where you need to be. You may not like the way it feels and you probably aren’t all that psyched about hanging out there; it may not be what various authorities recommend, but listen to your own queer femme heart and go where you need to go.

Instead of scolding yourself as you bawl your eyes out, or throw things, or open another bag of chips, keep yourself company in your misery, treat yourself with that magical queer femme compassion you lavish so freely on the world and on those you love. Wrap yourself in that healing love. Another femme friend gave me the book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff, and here is an exercise from this lovely book that you can use when you’re down in the thick of it. Not to rush things along, but to honor what you’re feeling and to give yourself love love love.

Hugging Practice – One easy way to comfort yourself when you’re feeling badly is to give yourself a gentle hug. It seems a bit silly at first, but your body doesn’t know that. It just responds to the physical gesture of warmth and care, just as a baby responds to being held in its mother’s arms. Our skin is an incredibly sensitive organ. Research indicates that physical touch releases oxytocin, provides a sense of security, soothes distressing emotions, and calms cardiovascular stress. So why not try it?

            If you notice that you’re feeling tense, upset, sad, or self-critical, try giving yourself a warm hug, tenderly stroking your arm or face, or gently rocking your body. What’s important is that you make a clear gesture that conveys feelings of love, care, and tenderness. If other people are around, you can often fold your arms in a nonobvious way, gently squeezing yourself in a comforting manner. You can also simply imagine hugging yourself if you can’t make the actual physical gesture.

            Notice how your body feels after receiving the hug. Does it feel warmer, softer, calmer? It’s amazing how easy it is to tap into the oxytocin system and change your biochemical experience.

            Try giving yourself a hug in times of suffering several times a day for a period of at least a week, Hopefully you’ll start to develop the habit of physically comforting yourself when needed, taking full advantage of this surprisingly simple and straightforward way to be kind to ourselves.

When we queer femmes can honor our emotions – all our emotions – we are in better balance with all that is, and that is a place of power and love. Be in your power today, my beauties.

I love you.

https://www.last.fm/music/Flanders+and+Swann/_/A+Song+of+the+Weather

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.”)