Meditations for Queer Femmes – Hello, Room

As the summer comes to an end, as the difficult side effect from chemo are slowly leaving my body, Tex and I are making an effort to regroup and plan for the coming months. We’ve been so preoccupied with caregiving and healing respectively that the yard and the house are looking pretty sad and neglected. The changing season and the cooler weather pep us both up and we’re trying to channel that energy, take things one step at a time, rather than rush in and get completely overwhelmed trying to clean everything up at once and get it all back into working order.

Transition is a regular and healthy part of our queer femme lives but change is not always welcome or comfortable. One of the things Tex and I were acknowledging this morning is that we both need to take it easy, not rush into our tasks as if we had the energy and wherewithal we did before this very difficult summer. We are both still healing and recovering; we have changed in how we are able to access and use our strength. Tell that to my brain, though, which is busy loading up a staggeringly lengthy “To Do” list. To stay a little more clear, to understand and meet my responsibilities more realistically (and therefore to have a better chance at completing the most important tasks), I need to take it slowly, come at things from a place of gratitude and balance. Oh, darlings, isn’t that just so much more easily said than done?

I have a very vague memory of some kind of interior decorating advice from way back in the day that had you stand in the room you were doing over and say, “Hello, room.” I’m not sure what happened then, but I love the idea of introducing yourself to the space you spend so much time in. I learned in Japan, also way back in the day, that regular upkeep and cleaning of your dwelling was a practice of love and gratitude for the shelter you were lucky enough to have. My current tai chi teacher, Master Lin, recommends aligning yourself with the essence of whatever space you happen to be in by taking a few moments to allow your energy to sink and connect upon entering.

As Tex and I go about reconnecting with our dwelling space by beginning to lavish more attention and love upon it, I am calling on all these teaching of bringing a practice of gratitude to the daily and the mundane. Rather than focusing on the negative, Cristin Frank recommends in her book, Living Simple, Free & Happy, stand in the room you’re de-cluttering and/or redecorating, and really focus on the things about it you already like. Cupcakes, do you know, that had never occurred to me? This house, the house where my babies grew up, where I spent many difficult years with my ex; this house that Tex and I have fretted is haunted and filled with unresolved grief, is actually a lovely place. Or anyway, there are lovely things about it. And those years are gone and both of us are committed to health and art and community: these can all be reflected in the beautiful house we are so lucky to have.

What happens when we start with gratitude, my beloveds? So many of us queer femmes may not have been raised to count our blessings – I know I wasn’t. There was always something I needed to do more of, less of, differently. And I think it is particularly difficult to focus on gratitude during times of transition because that is when we want to cling to the familiar, and in this culture, finding fault and being negative is deeply ingrained.

Look up and look around, dear queer femme sisters. Wherever you may live, there are small, wonderful surprises; there are quaint details that delight you; there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of lovely, comforting aspects if you will only clear space for them to introduce themselves to you. Starting there, your tasks will become more clear and more doable.

Gratitude is in your grasp. And transitions mean you are alive, progressing, and have the opportunity to grow. Hello, room! Hello, healthy queer femme life.

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 2, 2019 at 1:46 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditation for Queer Femmes: On Being Grown Up

“No one ever prepared me for it…or for the experience of feeling different even though you don’t appear different to other people.”* This is a gay male character speaking about being gay, but it could also specifically refer to the experience of many femmes who love butches.

Not only are we not prepared, we often don’t know what’s wrong with us. We may go decades trying to fit in to the straight world; after all, we look the part, don’t we? Over and over, we search for a partner whose masculinity awakens our hearts and bodies. Over and over, if our search is limited to cis men, we are disappointed, and in being disappointed, so often blame ourselves. We watch our straight female friends fall in and out of love, finally settling on a man who fulfills them. Without community, guidance, role models, room in which to move and experiment and become more fully ourselves, often our only recourse is to assign the fault of our own lack of romantic fulfillment to bad luck and personal failure.

How many of us are still waiting to grow up? Even those of us who came to their femme identity as a younger person were denied a chance to fully explore the wide world of sexuality, either because we felt compelled to grasp our identity close as a talisman, as protection, or because it was not safe, or both. For a young person bursting with hormones and curiosity, being expected to explore your sexuality with, say, the only other two out kids in your high school, is limiting, to say the least.

And then, once we’re busily out in the world, away from high school at last, it can be so easy to set our femme aside for a moment so we can do our other work: daughter, teacher, leader, parent. Perennially marginalized and infantilized, queers of all kinds struggle with “being grownup”, and we femmes occupy a unique place in that struggle. This is not simply about “putting on your big girl panties” but a much graver, deeper task of allowing yourself to be an adult, despite the myriad forces, historical and present, shrilling at you that you’re a child, pathological, unclean, undeveloped, immature and selfish.

Grown ups – healthy grown ups – gain strength and peace from incorporating their sexualities inextricably with their daily lives. In order to do this, we femmes of all ages need to know each other. We need to see each other at all different stages of life, to understand the many, many ways we can flourish and become. We must open a conversation with each other, mentor each other, tell our stories and make femme-only space. We must find each other.

Who are your femme mentors? Who are your femme sisters? Who are you, sweet, grown up femme?

*Hugh Paris, a character in Michael Nava’s first mystery, The Little Death.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.