cleaning closets

 

e nina jay, an Amazon i am blessed to know in person, recently wrote a book titled body of rooms that inspires this post… she says this and more about the book:

body of rooms is a reckoning. a conversation with myself and the parts of me i find reflected in the eyes, the pain, the secrets and the lives of all the womyn that i am drawn to and love.

14225480_10155234746708881_180659586940962023_n

This post is about rooms within rooms. Closets. Sometimes the only messy spots in the house. From the beginning I learned about hiding things in closets. My mom was a high school senior who didn’t mean to get pregnant in 1967. Before Roe v Wade.

Shhhh… what will we tell the neighbors?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m cleaning closets or cupboards I have to take everything out first. Every fucking thing. And this time I cleaned every fucking closet. In the past three years, I have completely gone through my entire catalog. Looked at every cobweb, habit, belief, behavior and dog hair.

Turned the lake upside down. Emptied every closet. Identified and re-examined the bits labelled victim, abuser, addiction, racist, homophobe, sexist, ableist, classist, codependent, anxiety, depression, martyr, squirrel chaser, privilege, survivor.

Breathing and calming the chaos.

Deciding what stays and what goes.

Reminding myself of who I Am. Determining who I want to Be.

Remembering I am Enough.

img_9885

I didn’t plan this deep cleaning… well, not the method anyway. I’ve been on a conscious journey of self discovery for quite a while and sometimes the Universe has a funny way of showing you yourSelf. And I mean funny painful, challenging and what the fuck self, you couldn’t get and give these lessons in other ways?!

Nope, apparently not. I can be pretty thick-headed and coarse. Not thick-skinned though dammit. That could have been helpful in working through the white fragility and some other stuff… or maybe not…

Anyhoo, as I organize the mess and recognize that writing really has been helping, I know I want to do more… and use this platform to do that. So expect to see tabs/categories/pages and other changes as I move forward. Hmmm… seems like a good time to reach out to Kelli Wise of Pint Sized Sites for some guidance. She is an educator and website designer I met in person at the AMTA Convention years ago. That’s American Massage Therapy Association for those unfamiliar with the acronym.

Alright loves, time to get showered and on with the day. Tell me, have you cleaned out any of your closets lately?

 

 

 

quiet and still

 

quiet here the entire summer. stillness on this page.

resting… breathing…

img_9666

reading. listening. feeling…

staying in the now. gently

looking within

img_0030

reclaiming I. finding Me. loving Self.

striving

to soften, learn more, do better

every day. connecting

with Self & Sisters.

img_9811

cleansing. clearing. moving

forward. more awake

more aware. every day.

seeing Me & seeing You

img_9671

An Amazon Today

A few days ago I shared a poem by e nina jay; this is a piece from that beautiful gift…

watched truth drip down her face in water

cuz she still knows everything they taught her

no, an amazon today

cannot be yesterday’s daughter

 

This syster has seen me cry. Felt my pain.

As I hurt her with my words and behaviors. Told my truths.

Felt her pain.

iPhone 11.11 to 3.12 976

 

 

A FB friend mentioned something about my skin-kin the other day and I realized most of you may not have heard the term, or have even considered the idea that all White people are family. In White culture we are raised to be individuals within our nuclear family, and although held accountable to represent that specific family well, there is often no indication that we could/should concern ourselves with how we reflect Whites as a whole. (That’s privilege by the way.)  We commonly see this play out in mainstream media when the mass shooter is white and called a “lone wolf”. Get this now folks, if you think one Muslim, Black, Latinx, or Jew reflects the whole, then you must recognize the same can be true for Whites. And even if you don’t feel that way individually, please see that many whites do. Given this, it makes sense that we are labeled as skin-kin. Do I like it? Not necessarily anymore than I like being identified as cis-gendered… and yet I’m in it. Striving to soften, learn more and do better every day.

An amazon today cannot be yesterday’s daughter. We must find center in today. Sometimes we don’t realize the ways our family’s or our lives are racist. Sometimes we do and we don’t know what to do about it. Every thing we do makes a difference. Start by looking at what you were taught AND what you weren’t. Read books by non-white authors. As my friend Latrice recently advised: Invite a Black person over for dinner. Get to know them. Listen.

Rose-Colored Glasses

 

Over two years ago I fell in love. Head over heels, every fiber of my being, talk for hours that feel like minutes, raise the roof kind of love. With a womyn of color. I really had no idea what that meant.

Sure I was raised in white neighborhoods, sent to white Catholic schools, and knew that there was some racism in my family (we all know the “jokes”, etc). But I was educated, I knew about and was appalled by slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, white flight. I had protested with People of Color, Native and Indigenous People. I had friends, family members and colleagues who are people of color. As an out queer womyn, I understood oppression.

I thought I had a clue, I really did.

As someone who grew up with emotional abuse, sexual abuse, family alcoholism and addiction, I understood trauma.

I thought I had a clue, I really did.

100_1850

I maybe had a clue, but I had no fucking idea. No real understanding of skin privilege, skin kin, or whitewashing. I mean yeah, I got it. Not the skin kin thing. I was an individual, all white people are not my family. The rest I kinda saw.  And didn’t want to.

Yesterday she asked “Why is it so hard to take those privilege blinders off?”

Sit with this for a minute. If you fit the social construct of Caucasian or White,  you’re wearing blinders. You may not know you’ve got them on. You may know they’re there, like your favorite pair of dark shades. Protecting you from the bright light of reality. Cause that shit’s harsh. Me? Mine are rose-colored glasses that I have to remember to take off every day because they distort the truth. Sure, it’s really pretty looking through them, but only seeing that one color gets fucking boring. Oh yeah, and then there’s that little thing about people dying because of their skin. And many other reasons.

Be willing to own where you are when we talk about this stuff. We only know what we know, and when we know more we can do better. I am grateful for those who are helping me learn to own my racist behaviors. Sure it’s painful sometimes. For me and loved ones on the other end of it. And it’s so worth it. Breathe through it.

This blinder thing isn’t working. In our DNA, in every beautiful cell of our beings we know. We remember. We hurt. All of us. Some are willing to feel the feels. Most are not. Why do you think we are a culture of zombies, using TV, drugs, shopping, alcohol, working, working out, video games, any number of things to keep us zoned out? Out of our body, out of our hearts, out of our minds. Cause reality’s harsh. How often do you see a meme or post about not wanting to adult today? No shit. I can barely get out of bed some days and I walk in the world with skin privilege. I can’t imagine the amount of armor it takes for a womyn of color to move about it this world. I think I can, yet yeah… not a clue.

And so I practice looking at my privilege every day. I listen to people of color. I observe our community, I talk and write about privilege. I’m learning to interrupt. I feel the feelings, the defensiveness, the shame, the guilt. And I move through them. It’s hard to take the blinders off because, according to Brene Brown, “we cannot talk about race without talking about privilege, and when people start talking about it they get paralyzed by shame.”

Practice allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to feel guilt and shame. And remember, “the critic we see 99% of the time is us.” Shine a light on it and then be a Light.

~~~

“There is no waiting in healing, only being. Be still, be steady, be watchful, be present. Be right where you are and know that you are worthy, lovable, secure and all that you need to be in this moment. All you have to do is pay attention to the moment. Healing is in each and every moment that you are present, even if that moment is filled with fear, anxiety, anger or disruption. As long as you are there to witness it, healing is happening.”

 

 

a womon like her

this poem was gifted to me by the talented

e nina jay

read it and then we’ll chat…

1958346_10152280263624114_1117762668_n

she carried the sun in her arms

spent a lifetime resisting the charms

of womyn like her

she carried the sun in the light of the sun

if it needs to get done, she will get it done

there are womyn like her

clench my teeth every urge i get

just in case love means the same as forget

to womyn like her

but yes, into me she’s moved

so i’m absolutely blessed or screwed

damn womyn like her

~

watched truth drip down her face in water

cuz she still knows everything they taught her

no, an amazon today

cannot be yesterday’s daughter

~

a red & gold sun in her two white hands

the red in case she don’t

the gold because she can

build a castle that can stand

with already crumbling sand

~

i wonder if she is

a womon like her.

on being nice

 

 

IMG_8563

 

Years ago my Grandfather told me I was too “too nice”. My reply at was something like that’s not possible.  Nice is a word that had always been used to describe me. After a few years of consciously working with this, I still have some difficulty in detaching from “being nice”.

I like it when people are “nice”. Or I thought I did. Some years ago I got tired of fake and facades, and started actively inviting “real” into my life… and real is not always nice.

It’s so much better.

 

When I talk to some white people about racism, they tell me that I should be nice or that people won’t listen. When I’m called out on my own racism, I often wish it could be gentler. And yet, what I know is that sometimes it can’t.

The harsh reality is that we live in a systemically racist culture that benefits whites. We inherited a horrible mess that still needs addressed. There are generations of indigenous people, people of color, and white people who are struggling with deep pain. Sometimes in order to heal, you have to rip off the scab.

So no, I can’t always be nice.

I will always be me.

…and share what I’m learning with all the love in my heart. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she changed my life

This weekend was a Celebration of Amoja ThreeRivers life, love and legacy. Thistle Pettersen recently wrote an article about Amoja over at Feminist Current. Check it out, grab your BOC (beverage of choice) and come back…

In order to even begin to appreciate the depth and breadth of today’s Ceremony and of this Celebration of Life, you would really benefit from a understanding of our beloved Michfest. Go on, we’ll wait.

As Gretchen Phillips wrote in the Village Voice, “I’ve always used Mich as a place to charge my batteries for the rest of the year, planning my life around being there in August and learning my lessons, both fun and hard.” For sure. These sisters are real. They can hold some space and tell you what it is… because they love you enough… and that shit can hurt. it can feel embarrassing. and it can feel liberating.

skin cracked wide open 

deep gaping wounds exposed

healing begins anew   

Part of the re-charging with Michfest Sisters included smiles… the kind that light up entire faces, belly shaking laughs, deep eye contact, heart connections, and hugs. Ohhh… the hugs. I loved experiencing AND watching hugs at Michfest. They came with incredible smiles (did I mention those?). They came from far and wide around the globe. They often came running through the ferns. Michfest changed my life. It’s not the focus today though. Nor is it the backdrop. It’s the foundation.

stone foundation

 

Because of Michfest, a common thread in today’s remembrances was “Amoja changed my life.” Another common thread was “Because Amoja changed my life, I am able to change others’ lives.” I am one of many women who shared similar words. Amoja’s book Cultural Etiquette: A Guide for the Well-Intentioned changed my life. Changes my life every time I work with it. I say work with it and not just read it, because reading is really not enough. Unpacking and dismantling racism is an ongoing journey that requires action… shifting of ideas, attitudes and behaviors. A willingness to look at my whiteness every fucking day and see when/where my racist self shows up. Because it does. Regularly, even though I don’t want that to be true.

Getting to that place of willingness is not only the first step, it’s a step that requires revisiting… again and again. Even those among us with the most experience unpacking racism, classism, ableism and all the -isms sometimes have to breathe deeply into the discomfort of looking at our own good intentions gone awry.  For many, the challenge can be too much. The defensiveness and the walls take over and people shut down. Walk away.

I’ve been there. I get it. Sometimes I want to. And I guess I could… even as an out lesbian, I move about pretty easily and safely in this world as a European-American, and I can choose to ignore racism if I want because it “doesn’t effect me”.  The thing is… it effects us all. The one human race needs to heal from generations and generations of transgressions. The wounds are there festering. Many of us feel it, and are afraid to look. I know it’s scary… and the festering is icky & gross… we’ll get through it… together.

I have always believed that love is a verb. Amoja taught me that white is a verb. 

I know better now, and so I do better now.  ❤

 

My life has changed Amoja.

Thanks to you and those who’ve been sharing your words.

Keep changing the world.

iPhone 11.11 to 3.12 976

It’s true, the book is currently out of print so you can’t buy it right now. You can, however, attend or host a reading of the book  through Cultural Etiquette Project.

 

Thanks for reading. Take space. Breathe. Meditate. ❤ Let me know what you think.