Trans Rights & Inclusive Feminist Business Practices

After a few years of strong activism on many different fronts, I decided, due to activism burnout, that I needed to streamline my focus. Last year I focused on activism for transgender rights, because we had a ballot question up for voting in our state presenting a bill to roll back trans rights in public spaces, and I just couldn’t have that. I have a lot of wonderful trans and enby folks in my life, but regardless of that, I firmly believe that trans rights are human rights, and the struggle for trans rights is a civil rights issue. We won this particular battle, and our state has preserved the rights of transgender people to be legally protected against discrimination in public spaces. Go team!  But it filled me with shame and anger that the question made it on our ballot in the first place.

Just before the end of last year I stumbled across a remarkable person named Trystan Reese, a trans man whose pregnancy went viral in 2017. Trystan did a Moth Story Hour on his story of deciding he wanted to become pregnant, his conversations with his partner, and all that came after, including a lot of very difficult to hear, extremely hateful messages that he received from strangers, his trauma as a result, and his journey to healing and acceptance through birth. His story left me in tears, and I made a promise to myself to use gender neutral pronouns as often as possible in all areas of my practice, and not use language that limits the experience of pregnancy and birth to only people who identify as woman.

In making that decision, I realized that this promise I made makes it more challenging to talk about something else that is also very important to me: my prenatal massage and doula practices as openly feminist businesses. One of my core values is to empower and support women, and both of my healing practices are platforms for that work. I want to make sure that my messaging and language are inclusive, but I also want to empower women, and I strongly believe that reclaiming our power in childbirth is a very important piece of that empowerment. So I’m working to find ways to continue speaking about my practices as feminist businesses, without only using female pronouns to describe people who give birth. Women ARE magic and strength and goddesses, and ALSO, not all people who give birth are women. You can see my conundrum here?  For me, feminism MUST be inclusive. I strongly believe that feminism is good for every being on planet earth, not just women, not just humans.

I suspect that navigating this is about balance, and will be a learning process. I will likely make mistakes, but I’m interested by this challenge. Please let me know if you have any advice or thoughts around this exploration, and I’m here if you ever want to talk about trans rights, trans activism, or inclusive feminism.

Meet Me At The Mountain

It isn’t easy to push beyond your resentment, your fatigue, your overwhelm to offer space, or to hold space, or to provide guidance, or teaching to others who are looking for answers or a path forward. We don’t all have to offer that space or hold that space or provide those teachings. We are under no obligation to, though some of us can. It helps when we can and when we do.
 
We are all standing in the same valley and we all live in that valley together even though there is a big mountain in the middle. The mountain is our anger, our pain, our fear, our shame, our guilt, our suffering. Is there room for you to hold space for those on the other side of the mountain from you? Can you see beyond the cloud-blanketed summit of your own suffering? It is ok if you can’t, but it is important to know there is a type of healing there. It is a hard won healing. It requires you to climb that mountain. It requires you to meet the elements of your suffering along the way, and meet the other person at the top where the air is thin and exhaustion is easy.
 
I don’t live at the top of that mountain, but I will meet you there if I can. Will you meet me?
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Self Care for Political Activism

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Just me in my political punk band.

I have been putting a lot of energy into political activism lately. When I get like this my self care tends to slip a bit. I walk around with a baseline of emotional and physical tension, my sleep suffers, I eat bad things, I am quick to anger, quick to tears. I often have to remind myself to practice what I preach. Below are three big things I do to move anger and anxiety through my body and make room for a more grounded emotional baseline.

 

Practice good sleep hygiene.
For me this means GOING TO BED, and it means I need to stop looking at social media & news at least an hour before bed or else I’ll be up all night stewing over it. This is really tough for me, but I have to remember that whatever it is can wait until tomorrow and I need rest to deal with it. Read a nice, fun, fiction book, or a funny biography and go to sleep. And when I inevitably wake up at 3am in sweating in fear, instead of reaching for the phone I put one hand on my belly and one hand on my chest and breathe deeply and calmly until I either fall asleep or I am calm enough to get up, do some stretching, and then go back to bed and read my book until I’m sleeping again.
Repeat this mantra: Whatever it is can wait until morning.

Move the body.
I am sitting here, typing away on my laptop or phone with my shoulders up around my ears, fuming, furious, frightened, I can’t even feel my legs, I don’t even know if I have legs, I am just a furious brain and a fast beating heart with some fingers attached. When was the last time I took a deep breath? I have no idea. Sound familiar? It helps to get into our bodies, and feel them, and not neglect them. Get outside, go for a walk, go for a run, ride your bike, have some sex, do some yoga. Lift something heavy over and over again. Put on your favorite music. Get uncomfortable, get wet, get cold, feel the burn, feel your body. This is your first home. It belongs to you. YOU get to decide how you want to feel. Decide to feel POWERFUL. A strong body is a vital asset. Let your mind have a break and enjoy the freedom of retreating into the physical for a while.
Repeat this mantra: I am strong and I am well.

Untangle your emotions.
It is easy for me to go from zero to sixty when it comes to the news, or social media lately and that is because I tend to take things personally. For example, sometimes I hear something about civil rights being taken away and I feel a deep sense of personal betrayal rising in me. It is as if I am simultaneously experiencing every betrayal and violation that has ever occurred in my own life, rather than just dealing with the one in front of me, now, here, in the present. Although this personal connection is what drives my activism, I need to untangle these abstract issues from my own personal experience and resist the urge to time travel emotionally, otherwise my emotional baseline is hijacked. This requires self-awareness and practice. (I fail at it all the time, FYI.) It means taking a moment to pause and untangle what is present in the now, and what was present for the past and give these emotions their own space. I can still be angry and upset about current events without bringing in very old emotions to cloud the issue. I can still find space for those old emotions and give them the healing they need while untangling them from my feelings about current events. Often this means stepping away from the situation for a minute and giving myself room to untangle. If you need help understand what untangling means or how to do it, email me.
Repeat this mantra: I get to decide how I want to feel. There is space for all of my emotions.

Love.

Fighting Isolationism

The world feels like it is contracting in fear lately and when that happens my instinct is to expand.

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I made myself this button, and I wear it in public on days when I feel up to the challenge of opening myself to the vulnerabilities of others. This is one of the ways I fight isolationism.

Turns out that if you wear a button that says If You Need Someone To Talk To, You Can Talk To Me, people are in general significantly more friendly to you. Rather than just a little bit of polite banter with sales people and bank tellers, people will actually ask you more in depth questions about how you are and be more forthcoming as well. So far no one off the street has talked with me about anything too challenging, but people have remarked that they think the idea is really sweet. A bunch of my lovely friends asked for buttons and it felt nice to package them up and send them out, knowing that maybe they are helping to keep people from feeling like they are all alone.

Fighting isolationism starts with ourselves and being willing to hold space for people in our community. If you want a button, email me at resourcerybodywork@gmail.com with your mailing address and I will send you one, along with a lot of love and gratitude for the work you do in the world.

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The world feels out of control to me even on the best of days, and as a sensitive sort, I tend toward disengaging from it to cope. This week I was simply unable to retreat from it. Bombings in Iraq and Turkey, police shooting unarmed black men, snipers killing police. I was overcome with grief and shame. I felt myself twisting a web around me, beckoning me to turn inward and examine myself and prepare for the sort of metamorphosis that occurs when the truth is definitively revealed. There was no turning back from this. I could no longer continue to be the person I was. I couldn’t turn away or hide from these truths. They were all at once my companions and I needed to process how to internalize them and evolve. I curled up into my cocoon and grew silent and still.

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I’m stirring, and I’m beginning to understand what changes are taking shape within me. As I feel these transformations solidifying, I can start to emerge from my cocoon of grief and in doing so find my way back to the work. The biggest truth is this: We are all implicated in the continued suffering of our fellow human beings. Not a single one of us is innocent. There are no good men or bad men, there is no us vs. them, there is only we. We must resist the urge to pull away from each other. We must not listen to messages that tell us we are divided, because we are one people. We must not choose leaders who would divide us, or build walls between us, or tell us to fear each other. We must not hide behind our borders, or our privilege, or the color of our skin. We must listen to and believe each other. Those of us who have the platform of privilege must speak for those who are silenced until their voices are heard. We must stand up for each other, and stand by each other.

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As you emerge from your own transformations, I invite you all to bring your exoskeletons, skins, shells and cocoons here. Cast them off because they are made of old material that no longer fits you. Let’s lay them down and build a bridge with them. Change hurts. It requires lots of energy and time. It requires stretching yourself beyond what is comfortable or familiar, but just imagine where you can reach if you just allow yourself the space to grow.

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Self Care Series: Solar Plexus Breathing Exercise

This is my second video in my self care series. It is a short breathing exercise and guided meditation meant to stimulate the 3rd chakra, or solar plexus, and ground and center yourself. The actual exercise takes just a few minutes, but can really help you feel more connected with your sense of self and who you are in the world. Try it out and let me know what you think!

“Only love can live in my dream”

Tonight is the new moon and it is in Aries, which gives me an excuse to connect with my passion, and spark some new beginnings.

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I spent the early evening in my practice which was exactly what I needed. A welcome retreat from some deep internal work I’ve been doing around attachment, ego, disappointment, and expectation. I love that my healing practice is a place where I can either bring that sort of work along with me, or step away from it and into flow. No matter what I’m feeling before I head into my work, I almost always leave feeling transformed.

When I got home, I decided to do some yoga, but not with any specific goal in mind. I let my body lead me from pose to pose, leaning in or softening where I felt a need. Working through some midback  and hip tension, feeling the strength in my arms as I moved from high plank to low pushup and enjoying feeling in my body without pain.

Then I started a new google doc and spent some time writing out my wildest dreams. Everything I would do if time/money/whatever was no option. At the top of the page I wrote “These are my wildest dreams.  There are no rules.” It is super freeing and I highly recommend doing this if you’re feeling down. Just the act of unbridling my imagination felt like stepping into a hot tub. It made me realize how often I dream up crazy fun things but dismiss them as impossible, when really there are elements to all of them that are completely achievable. I forget sometimes that I’ve been making a lot of my wildest dreams come true for many years now. Try it out! Sometimes connecting with more purpose, passion and desire is as easy as pretending impossible isn’t a word in your vocabulary.

Islands

Sometimes I feel like I’m on an island of my own understanding and it’s surrounded by a really rough sea that I swam through to get here and there are storms and rocks. I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to, or knowing how to swim across it to get to me, but occasionally I wish that someone could. It would be nice to share a tropical drink on the beach of my psyche with another person, you know?

But everyone has their own sea to swim.

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Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky’s Moonlight on Rough Seas

 

What if I join you in the churning water? I have a small boat and I can float along next to you as you swim. It’s work rowing the boat, but you’re doing the real tough job swimming and sputtering along. Sometimes I have to slip into the water too and do some swimming of my own so I can know what the water feels like, what the horizon looks like when you’re fighting the waves. This way I can guide you when the salt gets in your eyes. At times I have to dive under the surface to see the weights that you have hung from your heart. It’s easy to forget them when you’re working hard just to stay afloat in the moment.

What if we cut them free? Would you be so light you could walk on the water instead?