Meditations for Queer Femmes – Intellect vs. Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Scale

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on March 25, 2019 at 5:21 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Shrine to Pain

A few weeks ago, we dismantled our son’s room, which has stood empty for a year, his things gathering dust, the posters beginning to sag and rip away from the walls. For a variety of reasons, not all of them happy, he now lives full time with his other parent, but we kept his room intact because of hope, or at least that’s what I told myself. Actually, it was a shrine to pain.

It was also painful to pack things up, but we did it in good faith, with a great deal of love, and in the interests of making the room into a guest room, to be blessed first by my dear mother-in-law, someone who loves us and who loves our son. We had our son’s stuff delivered to him, and we poured fresh energy into his old room, which my mother-in-law happily inhabited for her entire visit here. My other son’s room has been made into my study, in a much less fraught process. We are empty nesters, after all, and we are the ones who live here – it’s ok for our house to embrace us and our needs!

My son knows how deeply I love him – I always tell him this, and I know that I raised him in love. Allowing his room to shift into a more accurate reflection of life as it is today is also an act of love, freeing all of us to move into more healthy relation with each other and with our circumstances. As much as it stirred up regrets and grief, moving the energy also helped me continue to move my own energy towards healing. His birth was a gift; he remains a gift, however complicated our relationship has become. Right where it matters, right in our hearts, nothing has changed.

Dear femme sisters, is there something in your possession that you feel obligated to keep but that always gives the shard of pain lodged in your heart a little yank? A sweater from an ex that’s really cozy and fills a niche in your wardrobe, but that does not have good energy? Cards or gifts from family members who have not had your back or who have actively dismissed or otherwise wounded you? These are all things that might be released, either into recycling or a donation bin, both good uses of stuff that is no longer healthy.

The Japanese always do a good home cleaning before the New Year so they can start things off in good trim. Darlings, do a sweep. Even if it’s just one small letting go, your queer heart will rejoice and beat all that more bodaciously from the release of burden.

Let it go and go lightly into the return of the light and the thrill of new beginnings.

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 December 24, 2018 at 1:15 PM  Comments (2)  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Maintenance and Weather

We queer femmes can be very busy. We are often doing more than one thing at once – I’m looking at you, girlfriend, with your knitting, your correspondence, and whatever all else you keep in your pursetote to grab when you’re on the train or in a meeting or waiting to get the car serviced… I’m looking at you, beloved, as you grow extra arms and neural pathways to respond to your kids, your sweetheart, that quick finish-up of one or twelve urgent projects, the ten work emails that won’t take but just a moment… Ooh, we’re good at it! But when we are stymied in our desire to proceed full steam ahead, things can go from pretty to miserable in the bat of an eyelash.

There is a certain satisfaction about being efficient and available and good at our queer femme jobs, all one million of them. However. In one of those wonderful topsy-turvy’s of life, you can’t be satisfied with your satisfaction unless you give it a little room.

On Saturday, we put my mother-in-law on the plane, already a bit worried, as the travel time was a grueling eight hours. When we got a text from her saying she was in Chicago and facing a two hour delay while the plane was tended to, we flooded her phone with sympathy. “Oh, it’s all right,” this veteran traveller texted back, “I never bristle at maintenance or weather.”

Short and sweet, my darlings: today, find that space. Welcome the inevitable slowers-up. Drive the speed limit. Look up and out, into the sky. Allow for space. Make breath be everything. Find respite in needing to go slower because of snow or heat or just because it’s such a fucking beautiful day. The more space and time you give yourself to arrive and be and feel, the more you will be able to give yourself. The better you will be able to thrive and gift us all. Slow down just a few, my brilliant zippy kin! There is time for all your femme splendor. Now and here there is time.

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 – Sanctuary of Empathy

After an Al-Anon meeting recently, I found myself rather forcefully welcoming a newcomer. On the one hand, I remember being a newcomer and I wanted her to feel seen and heard. On the other hand, I was a hot mess myself that day, and really didn’t have anything at all to give. I watched, not able to stop myself, as I went into my caretaker role, going overboard on giving her information, not grounded in my body, my energy jitzy and floating. The problem isn’t that I’m not a good caretaker, because I am; the problem was not knowing that right then, I had nothing to give and it would have been a better welcome for her if I’d just smiled and gone on my way. The truth was, I needed caretaking myself, which is why I was at a meeting.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good friend. As an only child, I became skilled at being friends with all kinds of people, even with kids who didn’t like each other but who were friends with me. I saw myself as a good listener, a problem solver, a wise advice giver. If I couldn’t have siblings, at least I could attract people to me who might fill that void.

As a grown-up queer femme, I retain many of those same ideas about myself and work hard to make queer community – this blog included. My heart’s desire is to be able to be here for every queer who is hurting, who needs company, who feels alone. But I can go so far down the line of being understanding and sympathetic that I forget to pay attention to myself and my own needs. I get off on being the one everyone can depend on…until I tank, which inevitably happens, and then I’m left without much resource, since I’ve trained my friends and colleagues to believe that I’m all good and don’t need a hand.

We all need a hand.

In her brilliant book, The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, Sonya Renee Taylor says, “It is through our own transformed relationship with our bodies that we become champions for other bodies on our planet.” I must continue to transform my relationship with my body, my heart, my desires, my energy – all of it. If I am not right with myself – starting with my precious and beautiful body – I am not going to be able to do much for you, at least not something that includes the dimension of justice, which is what all loving relationships must possess in order to thrive and bring more love into the world. I can never offer you the sanctuary of empathy, no matter how much I long to do so, if I have not built it up around myself.

For about two years, every day, I read Swami Paramananda’s Book of Daily Thoughts and Prayers. It was a great exercise in my spiritual search for teachers and wisdom, and I learned so much. Although in the end I realized that the Swami’s path is not for me, I retain gratitude for his work and I absolutely love some of his prayers, many of which were of huge comfort to me during some very dark nights.

Sweet femme sisters, take care of yourselves. Seek wisdom with an open heart, seek support with humility. I know you love your families, your butches, your sweethearts, your babies and your friends and colleagues. But don’t run yourselves down until you have nothing left. Don’t forget that they love you, as well, if you will let them. Make room for them to show you that love. Ask for that love. Ask for support. Allow yourself to rest. Be good and loving to yourselves.

That is how our sacred femme work begins.

Oh Thou Effulgent Spirit,

Shed Thy radiance on my heart and mind

Fill my being with Thy divine light

That it may shine in all my thoughts and actions

And bring brightness in other lives

Surround me with Thy protecting love and Thy abiding peace

–Swami Paramananda, the reading for March 20 in Book of Daily Thoughts and

            Prayers, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, 1977

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.”)

 

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Do For

We queer femmes are good at seeing where a little love can be slipped in. We know how to stroke, we know how to comfort, interpret, sweeten, smooth over, slick on the lube, turn the frown upside down. It’s a skill we’re proud of and justly so.

This life-giving and affirming thing that we do is all about caregiving, and as such, is seen as the purview of females. Anything having to do with women is pretty much always overlooked and denigrated by the culture at large, given that our culture’s beating heart is largely fueled by misogyny. And just like that, our precious art of love is twisted and tarnished.

Worst of all, our queer femme magic can start to seem like a burden. The feminine has a history of being spat upon not only by straight society, but by other queers. Ask any sissy. Ask Mattilda Berstein Sycamore, or better yet, read her book Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?. Ask any queer femme.

When you are good at something that doesn’t get recognized, that is actively devalued by all and sundry, you lose track of its importance. You yourself might begin to run it down, drowning as we all are in noxious messages from the odious status quo.

Have you lost track of your own genius? Are you buried in so many “have to’s” “shoulds” and “baby can you’s” that you are bowed down and about to collapse? Until you can’t let anything sweet into your own body and soul because everyone just expects you to do for because that’s what they’re used to? Let’s stop here for a moment and breathe.

Hey! Wouldn’t it be nice if queer femmes had the equivalent of a Mother’s Day, so there would be at least some semblance of the rest of the world taking notice of our brilliance and hard work?

Today is Queer Femme Day. I see how you do for others, queer femme sisters. I see how your art and words and presence and sense of humor and creativity and sense of outrage and keen observational power and bravery and staying put and going the queer femme distance make life better for the whole world. I see how you persist and persevere and I see how you hide your pain, swallow disappointment, and sometimes turn things in on yourselves.

Today is Queer Femme Day. Say it with me, “Today is Queer Femme Day, and I am in the center of love, I am centered in love, I am loving myself and caring for myself and I am speaking up I am showing up here I am here I am here I am!”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Brilliant

For a really, really (and I mean really) long time, the light in the basement laundry nook was broken. Even though I went down there multiple times a day, early in the morning, in the evening and at night, we just never got around to tending to the light. I would forget about it, Tex would forget about it, and for a really, really really long time, I did laundry with little to no illumination.

Finally, the stars alligned, I managed to clear enough space in my brain and perhaps the Goddess gave me a bit of a kick in the butt to where I managed to call our electrician and she came over and fixed the light. It was amazing! I could see what I was doing!

Even now, though, I’ll go downstairs to do the laundry and start feeling my way around like Femme Magoo. Then I’ll suddenly remember that I can turn on the light, and…ah!

So many of us queer femmes can get to feeling incredibly isolated with our knowledge, our wounds, our desires, our work, our relationships, our families, and all the rest of it. It is a kind of unrelenting spiritual darkness. And while the dark certainly is a place for renewal, growth, and rest; a place where we can connect to spiritual mysteries, at a certain point, you have to let the sun in.

We can turn on the light for our queer femme souls by reaching out to each other. By insisting that others see us for who we are, by which I mean letting people know how we identify, even if you’re sure the person won’t get it. I mean, they can go home and look it up! We can relieve ourselves of the responsibility of educating straight people and even other queers. We can turn off our work brains and allow ourselves a little R and R. We can spend time with children, animals, out in nature, looking for silly and fun local events that honor food, community and the changing seasons. In this area that might include watching a 400-pound wheel of cheese go rolling by (The Cruocolo Cheese Parade of Concord, MA), a road trip to Orange, MA for the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, or getting your butt over to Nantucket for the Cranberry Festival.

Queer femmes, burst forth like fireworks into the fall! Shine the light, turn on the light, be the light. Sparkle, glitter, flame. Laugh. Laugh some more.

You are so brilliant.

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.

 

Life is Full of Bananas

Last night, I picked Owen up at the airport, where he’d flown in after 10 days on a school trip to France. Senior Assassination had already been going since Sunday, so he had a lot of texting and catching up to do. Sure enough, he received recon from colleagues that his assassinator was waiting outside our house, squirt gun loaded. In order to help him stay alive, I let him out one street over, and he snuck into the house via back yards. When I pulled into the driveway, a wholesome young person popped out of the parked car to inquire politely if this was where Owen lived. I gave away nothing.

One of the things Owen brought home with him from France is a t-shirt that reads, “Life is full of bananas”. Now, ain’t that the truth? Owen deftly maneuvered a wonderfully satisfying stay in France, despite the casual homophobia of his host family and his not having packed enough layers for the damp and chilly French spring. Meanwhile, his older brother remains a ball of confusion, stressed to the max and wedded to the negative; wedded also to the coping mechanism of either no communication, or communication consisting of angry blaming of those who love him the most. Still and all, he seems to be making it through the second semester of his sophomore year of college and personally, I am trying to stick with the positive.

Tonight, I am slated to speak at Town Meeting about the proposed Rainbow Commission, which would be in charge of all things queer around town, something that has been a long time in the making, and for which I and many colleagues have worked diligently. I am definitely feeling good about this, but I am also feeling done. I’d much rather spend time on something that feels both selfish, in some ways, but really exciting and deeply necessary: building exactly the kind of femme community that I crave. Using my organizing skills to fulfill my very own needs. It’s not that a Rainbow Commission won’t make my life in town much, much better, it’s just that I am understanding that this is the time and the hour for me to apply my own creativity and energy to projects that directly feed my creativity and energy. I’m thinking exit strategy for my town organizing and I am inviting in new projects that are actually old projects whose time has come. Despite all our responsibilities with elder care and college kids, Tex and I know that this is the time where pulling out all the stops on our art, relationship, spirituality, and joy is indicated, no, required.

As Tex says, “That is what our parents and our children actually want for us, whether or not they can articulate it.”

So, dear readers, I will see you there, dans la vie, la vie plein de bananes.

This banana-filled week, please accept the above post as both Monday Meditation and Femme Friday. Next week we will resume our usual programming!

 And a shout out to Roda over at Growing Self for nominating The Total Femme for a Liebster Award! Thank you, Roda! I don’t have the bandwidth to continue on with the process, but I very much appreciate your support. Check out Roda’s joy-filled, blog, folks!