Meditations for Queer Femmes – Your Family Heirloom

We queers have such complicated relationships with our families. There’s full-on rejection, full-on idealization and “I’ll do anything to keep the love” and everything in-between. I’m talking about families across the board here, of origin and chosen. How many of us queer femmes dated boys and men because our families of origin expected it? How many of us queer femmes de-girlied ourselves when we (finally) came out because our new queer family expected it? Then one day, if we’re lucky, another dyke tells us she likes it when we wear lipstick. Maybe we have enough courage to tell her we like it when she wears lipstick, too, or we buy her a tie for her birthday “just for fun” and shit gets way more real all of a sudden. Or we might realize our single aunt, the one who moved away to a big city or to a remote farm and who has always been spoken of with scorn or pity or both, is actually twice family and has a rich and rewarding life. Information about her real life may have been unavailable to us as children, but it is waiting for us now if we just reach out.

Humans love knowing where we come from, where certain traits, tendencies, gifts and hurdles might have their origin. Who in our families (all our families) might have worked out a thing or two concerning life’s great questions.

I started thinking about family heirlooms after reading a passage by Chögyam Trungpa in his book, Crazy Wisdom. The passage is about hopelessness, which I think ends up actually being about hope, or anyway, about accepting that life can be really hard right at the same time that it is full of sweetness and wonder. In Al-Anon, they talk about “the gift of desperation” that brings someone to this under-the-radar (at least it was for me) spiritual program. And it’s true, because as much as I hate alcoholism and addiction and how they’ve hurt so many people I love including myself, I’m incredibly grateful that I’m learning to stop spending all my time drilling down on the negatives and being miserable. Instead, I’m finding the strength, support and love to be able recalibrate and refocus. Human experience is big. There are so many ways of being in the world.

Our family heirlooms – because there are so many once we direct our attention there – are solid reminders of our humanity in all its rainbow glory. I remember and draw sustenance from the way my Gramps took care of kids in his rural school district during the Depression, feeding them from his garden, buying one young man a suit so he could graduate high school with dignity; from the cheerful example of Grandmimi, who lit up her small Iowa town organizing and including and fully participating in just about everything; how my parents quietly reached out to neighbors and taught me that one little act of kindness and community ripples outward; how John Preston and Joan Nestle got together to edit Sister and Brother: Lesbians and Gay Men Write About Their Lives Together and model deep queer community by linking their disparate queer worlds; by the way Lee Lynch lovingly wrote and wrote and wrote and continues to write about butches and femmes; how so many queers over the ages managed to leave us their priceless stories – a few who have touched my life over the years (there are so many!): Miss Ann Lister, Quentin Crisp, Anonymous, Amber Hollibaugh, Audre Lourde, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Leslie Feinberg, Richard Rodriguez, Felice Picano, Chrystos, Mary Renault, Tove Jansson, Becky Birtha, Mark Merlis, Samuel Steward, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, James Baldwin, and I could go on for pages…

I am bolstered and inspired in who I am and who I strive to by these many, many family heirlooms.

Dear queer femme sisters, spend a moment today in gratitude for your families and what they have bequeathed to you.

 

The passage that inspired this Meditation:

Student: When you talk about hopelessness, the whole thing seems totally depressing. And it seems you could very well be overwhelmed by that depression to the point where you just retreat into a shell or insanity.

 Trungpa Rinpoche: It’s up to you. It’s completely up to you. That’s the whole point.

 S: Is there anything –

 TR: You see, the whole point is that I’m not manufacturing an absolute model of hopelessness with complete and delicately worked-out patterns of all kinds, presenting it to you, and asking you to work on that. Your goodness, your hopelessness, is the only model there is. If I manufactured something, it would be just a trick, unrealistic. Rather, it’s your hopelessness, it’s your world, your family heirloom, your inheritance. That hopelessness comes in your existence, your psychology. It’s a matter of bringing it out as it is. But it’s still hopeless. As hopeful as you might try to make it, it’s still hopeless, and I can’t reshape it, remodel it, or refinish it at all. It’s not like a political candidate going on television, where people powder his face and put lipstick on his mouth to make him presentable. One cannot do that. In this case it’s hopeless; it’s absolutely hopeless. You have to do it in your own way.

–Crazy Wisdom by Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala, 2001

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.”)

 

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Queer Femme Blessings

Oh, ho, ho, and don’t you know this butch-lovin’ femme dearly loved seeing Lena Waithe on the cover of Vanity Fair last month! Jacqueline Woodson writes gorgeously and pointedly about Lena and other black women, including queer black women, in tv and Hollywood. At one point, she quotes Ava DuVernay, the director of “A Wrinkle in Time”, who says, “If no other black woman makes a film more than $100 million past me for another 10 or 15 years, if no other woman wins an Emmy for writing, for the words that come out of their head, then we’re kidding ourselves that we’re in a moment that makes any difference than momentary inspiration,” and Lena adds, “…There’s a transition of power. But we still aren’t in power.”

Oh, how I wish all the money used to make the fucked up, throw-away white penis films could go to women of color artists – what a bounty would grow from that and how much more glorious the world would be! I loved reading this article, for the hope and the wisdom and the queer women of color brilliance, and for the thoughts this particular conversation sparked for me about my own queer femme art and power. What does that power look like? And looks are important, because out and about, most people, especially straight people, think that I look straight. That I read straight. But just because straight people may think I look like them doesn’t mean I want to be like them. It doesn’t mean I’m lusting after even one of the boring toys in their pissy little sandbox they’re so busy defending and bragging about. The toys they think I want so badly. Ha!

What I want is to be part of shifting the paradigm, offering art and community and healing that’s not based on enclosure and a model of paucity. I want harmonic vibration and new ways of looking at old problems and coalition building and joy and fucking and naked sailing and making a fort in your living room with your sweetie and getting in there with the dogs and eating really fun food and maybe having a little nap together. I want to sow inspiration and love and creativity and make people laugh and do belly breathing and help each other shake ourselves free of oppressive systems and get right after connecting to our birthrights of singing and writing and dancing and making art and playing.

And you know what? That’s what I am. That’s who I do. That’s what is here on Planet Femme, and you are, too, you do too, because queer femmes have those capabilities and those magics and that is how we bless the world.

Sweet femme sisters, today take some time to honor the blessings you bring to your family, to your community, to the world. Remember our sage and honored grandmother, Audre Lorde*, and don’t try to measure those blessings with the sorry-ass tools of the status quo, either, because those tools will never be able to do you justice and they’re for shit, anyway.

But I see you and I take your glorious measure and I am grateful.

Thank you, queer femmes! You are beyond compare.

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.”)

*“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.” –Audre Lorde

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – FEMME LOVE HEAL WORLD

In honor of the Scandinavian side of my family and to accommodate a custody schedule, here at the Total Femme’s house, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. This Dec. 24, for the first time in a few years, everyone was front and center, in good health, and capable of enjoying each other’s company. Glorious!

Inspired by my friend Miel’s way with ritual and intent, I rode the good vibes and came up with a family ceremony that I know we’ll do again next year. It was short and sweet and a little last minute, but the power of love was with us, and even my cynical old grump of a father joined in with only one small grumble.

For the ritual, I spoke briefly about the Winter Solstice, and read the poem “Thank You, Fog” by W.H. Auden. Then we went around the circle and each offered up a wish for the world.

We wished that there be more quiet, that communities devastated by drug cartels in Mexico be healed, that the earth be healed by understanding how we’re all connected, by getting rid of pollution, by getting rid of the Trump administration and by rejecting the western notion of progress.

We each said how we would manifest the energy to address those issues in 2018. We promised to do more educating of ourselves and others, to be good role models, to unplug and slow down, to be aware and to help where we can.

We each chose a charity for an end-of-the-year donation and spoke briefly of the work of the organizations and why it’s important to us: Youth on Fire, The Center for Coastal Studies, Animals Asia, Arlington Eats, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.

The ritual was calming and bonding. It was so lovely!

Below, I offer a femme version of this ritual to you, sweet femme sisters, as we ride out the last bits of 2017 and get gussied up to meet the new year.

We need each other, we must connect and share our wisdom.

I love you.

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FEMME LOVE HEAL WORLD – a femme ritual to be done at the New Year, or any time it’s needed

This can be done by a femme alone, or in a group of femmes, and you can tailor things to meet your own needs.

You can open with a poem, preferably by a queer poet. There are so many to chose from! “To Martha: A New Year” by Audre Lorde is a beautiful one…

On a piece of paper, write down the answer to the question: What is your wish for the world?

If you’re in a group, fold up the paper and put it in a bowl/hat/basket; each femme picks one (switch it up if you pick your own). If you’re alone, just speak your answer out loud, maybe looking into the mirror or up into the sky.

Go around the circle and ask each femme to read the question and respond to it by saying, “I will manifest femme energy to address this issue by _______________________.”

Everyone responds, “So mote it be.”

After all the femmes have spoken, you can burn the paper to release that energy into the world.

You can keep a record of your answers in order to revisit them the next time you do the ritual, or as a reminder to yourself when you’re feeling scattered. You can chose a charity for a donation, and educate the group of femmes about the work of the charity you chose.

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Post here to share your wishes, how you’re manifesting femme energy, and your favorite charities! Share the femme love!!! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Every Monday (or Tuesday), 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.