Archives for posts with tag: read a book

What’ll it be? There’s a next step ahead of you, right now… will you take it? Do you have something in mind? Is the future as yet unscripted, unplanned, undecided…? Where are you headed?

The map is yours to write…

So… What’s next? It’s time to choose something – big or small.

Journey

It’s not about how many steps you take, so much as it is about where the journey takes you.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday was weird. I was angry all day; I’m a women, living in a nation that does not respect or value women, facing the possible Supreme Court appointment of an accused rapist. Well, shit. We’ve already got that very same sort of grotesquerie seated in the Whitehouse, and unknown, uncounted, unacknowledged numbers of that very same bullshit in our Congress, the Senate, our government agencies, our workplaces, and yes, even in some of our homes. Don’t be afraid to feel angry; this shit is worth our anger.

Be angry.

Vote.

Anger is weird toxic shit, though. As with a proper fairytale curse, it inevitably spills back in some way on the deliverer. We carry our anger in secret – problematic – then explode – inappropriate, ineffective, and generally the consequences are unpleasant. We end up doing a lot of “damage control” and repairing our angry words with excessive apologies, even pleading, and submissive posturing. We could do better with our anger. We can learn to be more skillfully, relentlessly, effectively angry. I’m not there yet – but I believe in the possibility, and the helpful folks of the rich white guy frat boy club currently holding office are totally here to help; they are keeping me seriously angry. I’m getting lots of practice.

One challenge is holding focus and keeping my anger relevant, limited, and correctly directed where it belongs. Preventing my anger from spilling over everywhere, into every relationship, is sometimes hard. The lines between actual harms, and perceived slights, become blurry. Anger is powerful shit. Wielding it skillfully tends not to come very naturally to me after a lifetime of being told I can’t have mine, that it’s not appropriate to express my anger, that my anger is unreasonable… being told for a lifetime to stop talking, to sit down and shut up, to restrain myself… being shouted down and talked over, for a lifetime, in most relationships (whether work or professional)… the underlying chronic persistent repression, being robbed of personal agency, being provided a restricted set of human and civil rights (just for lacking a penis, for fucks’ sake)… Yep. Harnessing that massive seething roiling pent-up body of lifetime rage and very carefully directing just so, at a particular moment or movement or person… is fucking hard.

One challenge is not being convinced, by those well-meaning loved ones inconvenienced by – or frightened of – my anger, to dim my light, to mute my voice, to stifle my rage. Rage is scary shit. I’m keeping mine, thanks. I’m fucking angry. I’m not going to shut up about it. You can walk on if that’s a problem for you. I’m okay with that.

No yelling though. No yelling in the house. No yelling in the morning. No yelling in frustration. Just… no yelling. Yelling is triggering, and generally, once a person is reduced to yelling, no communicating is happening at all. Knock that shit off. It’s not useful.

Seriously. Man or women. No fucking yelling. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to calm the fuck down, and try again – without yelling.

I want to live my life well and beautifully. I want to enjoy moments. I want to indulge in life’s pleasures. I want great conversation, with close friends, and people who care passionately about things in life that also matter to me. I want to enjoy lovely emotionally relevant art. I want to feel joyous and empowered. I want to approach my life as a journey that belongs wholly to me. I don’t want to be swamped by my anger. I don’t want to be incapacitated or overwhelmed by it. I don’t want it to become a festering wound that deepens over time. There is much to consider.

I sip my coffee and consider it.

I sip my coffee and consider the friendship of women, too. So many of us struggle with that; women have been divided, often. Women are powerful together. It’s time we reach out more easily to each other. Forge lifetime friendships that support, encourage, nurture – and take back our world. 🙂

Last night I enjoyed the company of two women. One I’d met before, briefly, and one I had not met previously. Women of great heart and emotional depth. Women with something to say about themselves, and about life. Women with a trajectory – a vision of their desired future. Women who care. Women who laugh. Women who “get it”. We had a great evening of conversation. We were authentic and vulnerable. We were real and frank, and funny. We forgot to go to dinner. We overlooked the time. We talked – continuously, delightedly, eagerly – in that very specific way that generally leads to, in other homes, on other evenings, some man breaking in to announce he “can’t get a word in edgewise”, or to make a “playful” accusation that we talk to much, or to request some service or task that he could easily handle himself, or to point out that we are “chattering away” in some dismissive tone – as if our words with each other matter less than our willingness to put our attention on him. I am so fucking done with that. (Keep up, bruh, or listen politely and maybe learn something.)

This Kavanaugh bullshit has gotten me – a lot of women – pretty angry. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel supported. It’s become too hard to avoid recognizing that women are specifically not valued, and are specifically perceived as property, even now, and even by the men in the fucking government (why the fuck have we elected this??). It’s hard. So… I converse. I converse with women. I’m not making any particular effort in those moments of conversation to make room for the care and consideration of men; I need to be heard. I also need to be educated… or… un-indoctrinated, at least. So I’m also reading. The titles are very telling, I suppose: “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny“, “Rage Becomes Her“, “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower“… I am clearly not alone in my anger. I have spent far too long on the words of men. For balance, though, I’m also keeping “Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness” close at hand. I do seek balance. Utility. Function. Effectiveness. I am not looking to loose the wild anger of my ancient pain on the world – just see through some changes that would improve the world for women, and thereby for all of us.

If you’re a man hoping to be some part of some sort of solution, listening is a good starting point. Really listening. Making room to understand that we (women) are having a very different experience of life than you are. (Please don’t push back on this with some sort of statement about your experience and your needs; we fucking know already, we live that reality for you every fucking day, it is part of our daily indoctrination, and even our formal educations. Knock it off for a bit, okay? That’s specifically the ask here; give us a moment of your time, really. Authentically. Listen deeply. Hear us.)

Enough with that. I’ve probably said enough. 🙂

This morning is lovely and quiet, following a merry evening of lively conversation with beautiful well-spoken women. Powerful. I enjoy my coffee smiling quietly. It’s a good morning. I feel content, and whole. I am aware of my anger in the background – it does not rob me of this lovely quiet moment. It’s an extraordinary place to be with myself. I’ve come a long way as a woman, and as a human being, over the past couple years, and this feels like a reward for a lot of committed focused effort to be the woman, the person, I most want to be. I eagerly look ahead to seeing my Traveling Partner sometime soon, and sharing his energy, here, in this lovely space. We’re good together, and it feels good to be supported, valued, nurtured… Fuck. I miss him.  🙂 I’m betting that this visit won’t find my anger crowding out my love; there is room for all my emotions to exist in my experience. I am a human being – a creature of both emotion and reason.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

It’s time to begin again. It’s time to change the world. ❤

In video games new levels sometimes look really different. Handy. It’s less obvious with birthdays. Sure, sure, I’m “a whole year older”, but that work is behind me now, and 55 is basically all but one day entirely ahead of me. Everything looks entirely the same. 🙂

Perspective on the day. A familiar view.

I had things planned that took me downtown in the morning. Those plans toppled like carefully arranged dominoes, but not soon enough to spare me the trip. lol My day was entirely spent indulging myself gently from there, gardening, reading, and generally delighted with the lovely day from moment-to-moment. I missed my Traveling Partner, and far more the person, himself, than the gift he’d sent (that he had alerted me would likely not arrive in time). (I do like presents, but missing him is not about material things.)

It was a lovely day in the garden.

My mail carrier surprised me by being early. Packages. 😀 A gift from a friend, and a wee package from my Traveling Partner; his gift arrived on the very day. I eagerly opened them both. Earrings and a book. The earrings are lovely heart-shaped peridot earrings that sparkle in the sunshine, and go very nicely with my mop of messy layers and waves of colorful hair. The book is how I ended up spending much of the delightful day reading, trying in part to puzzle out why this book? A birthday mystery. lol

I did not end up reading this book, but this is the book I was gifted. 😀

I spent the day gently, enjoying my own company. Time well-spent. Facebook filled with birthday well-wishes over the course of the day. Each “happy birthday” made me smile, and take note of the good wishes of my friends in a bigger way. My Mom phoned. We talked for about half an hour, really taking time to catch up. It was a great start to a new year, a new level. By the end of the day, plans that had gone awry were no longer part of the experience, at all. 🙂 I spent the day very present, in my own experience, with myself. It was quite lovely. I find myself wondering how best to incorporate that into every day, into every experience with myself…? I’m betting there are verbs involved. lol No doubt it will require practice. 🙂 I’ll probably need to begin again… a bunch of times. I could probably get started on that now…

…”Now” is an excellent time for beginnings. 🙂

Okay, so… it isn’t autumn anymore. The weather is still gray and rainy-freezy-misty. Not good for long drives through mountain passes (at least, it’s not my preference). A poor choice for my arthritis as well, though there’s little to be done about that long-term without relocating; I take short-term actions to ease my symptoms, almost as soon as I get up, today.

I begin the holiday with a lovely stack of books to read.

It’s the just the loveliest winter day. I’ve spent it…oh… on me. Relaxing. Meditating. Reading. Doing yoga. Watching the squirrels play. I forced myself out of the house once, when I noticed I’d run out of coffee and didn’t have even enough for a second cup. Of course, the one time I venture out, and silence my ringer while driving, I miss a call from my Traveling Partner. lol I check messages when I get home, see the missed call, and phone him back. It’s always lovely to talk, to hear his voice, even that bit when he gets frustrated with me talking over him is worth the phone call. 🙂 He gets back to his day, there, I get back to mine, here.

Today has been an exceptional day for meditation. It’s a good fit with all the reading, which somehow manages to surprise me. I find myself questioning the surprise; is it just an artifact of an injury that often misleads me about what is or is not new? I let that go and simply enjoy each precious chill moment of this pleasant holiday. I read awhile. Finish a chapter (or a book) and “take a break” by meditating for some unmeasured little while. I pause all that to have a bit of a chat with my partner, listen to some music, practice with the buugeng. At some point, I begin all that again, and return to reading. It’s been just about the perfect day off, in spite of missing my Traveling Partner, and even in spite of being in pain.

3 finished. Feminism, Love, and Dictatorship – a broad variety of topics, with still more enticing reading to come.

I put everything aside for a while. More meditation. Sitting quietly by the fire, taking a moment to simply be, and to be aware, and to really listen. To observe the moment without putting rules on it, or building a narrative around it, or making it any more or less significant than the moment itself provides without effort or guidance. Experiencing “being” as the verb it is, without the complication of all those other verbs, for just some little while. Some time later, the warmth of the room seemed to shift from cozy to stifling, and I got up, adjusted the thermostat, welcomed the twilight, and made my way here, right here, now. This? This is live – well, in the moment I am doing the typing, right now, it is. I’m often not “writing right now” in that way – it’s far more common that I am writing about some recently past moment (although rather rudely, I often do so in the present tense, having become emotionally entangled there in that past event).

So… here we each are, in our present moment. I giggle quietly to myself as I fully take in the meanings when I think to myself “I hope your present is not tense”… “present tense”. It should not be that god damned funny (it isn’t). I’m laughing out loud, and tears squeeze out of my eyes. A moment of subtly hysterical catharsis – no harm was done to this human in the writing of this blog post. 🙂 I smile with considerable kindness “at myself”, and experience a weird moment of recognition and gratitude – when did we actually become friends, the woman in the mirror and I? I don’t think it’s been that long ago… we’ve been mutually supportive for some time (a couple years) but “friends” would have been a stretch. Funny.

I smile to myself and consider how pleasant the evening is, and feel fortunate to enjoy my own company with such ease these days. What a lovely day, well spent, in good company, reading, meditating, listening to music, dancing, practicing buugeng and watching squirrels… I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

[Trigger warning: sexuality, sexual assault, female anger, vaginas]

Today is weird and wobbly. I’m just finally finishing up Vagina, by Naomi Wolf. Powerful material that really resonates with me. I feel heard. I feel understood. I feel… betrayed. Shit. That’s not what I expected… Wait… did I expect something? What was I looking for? Healing. That’s going to mean staring into the damage… Scary.

I can read a book. There are still verbs involved in changing anything.

I can read a book. There are still verbs involved in changing anything.

“Vagina” could be one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I finally added it to my Reading List, too, linked for convenience of course. I considered and reconsidered adding it, again and again, because… well.. hey, only half of us or so actually have vaginas in the first place… and… well… I’d have to use the word ‘vagina’… in public… Facing that I feel resistance to doing so pushed me in a whole other irritated direction, because why the hell should I be the slightest bit self-conscious about the word ‘vagina’ when half of us have one?? Seriously? I am so irritated with myself over that. I am sick to fucking death of cultural defaults intended to meet male needs or support male emotional comfort at the expense of my own. (If that came out with a snarl, you’re hearing me correctly, and I’m even sorry about feeling the way I do… because… brainwashing. So fucking over this bullshit! How do I end it without… ‘ending it’?) Sorry about the anger. Why? Um… I always apologize for my anger. I don’t know. Shouldn’t I? I’m a woman. (Yes, I heard it, too. It’s a journey.)

Every sexual relationship I’ve had has contributed to real-life challenges I now have as a sexual human being, including the relationship I have with myself. Maybe that one most of all… I have profound difficulties feeling comfortable sexually, and have for a while. I feel as if my sense of ‘agency’ is completely lost. Facing ‘having to’ ‘fix’ it seems a mammoth and overwhelming task, and I don’t even think I know what ‘fixed’ would look like, for the woman in the mirror. These are very ‘me-centric’ issues, far more than they are issues to do with partners, partnerships, lovers, techniques, frequency, orgasms, sexual satisfaction, or any of all of that; this is about being and becoming, and sorting out the chaos and damage, and healing the woman in the mirror. It’s about taking back my soul, and my personal authority over my own experience. My agency. Over my life. Trusting myself on this very dark bit of path is scary. One foot ahead of the other… one step at a time… It’s time to take a deep breath and get to work on the hard stuff, the scary stuff, the stuff that is so very painfully real it generally goes without mention. Fuck.

I think about my physical therapist saying something to me yesterday about having to be patient about restoring motion to joints that have been stiff or frozen up for a long while. I think about my feelings, my very hurt feelings about being female, and about the impossible standards, impossible odds for success, and very different demands, limitations, and expectations placed on female human beings. I think about my anger – because thinking about it is far less difficult than feeling it. It seems beyond cruel to have to exist in a world that doesn’t value me as a human being solely because of my gender. That sucks… most particularly considering how powerfully valuable females are to the survival of a species. It sucks that it’s almost impossible to discuss easily with trusted male friends; it isn’t part of their experience, and defensiveness often precedes actually hearing me… and it is hard to hear, harder still to accept how terrifyingly commonplace it is, for all the women they know.  I’m emotionally impaired in my relationships with women on this whole other level, and trusting enough to be vulnerable enough to talk about some of this is painfully awkward – and then I’m ‘preaching to the choir’ anyway. We can commiserate, but there is no satisfaction in it. No sense of being more understood, or nurtured, or healed… or changing anything. I don’t want to injure them further in the telling, either…  I guess that’s the hope in discussing feminist issues with male friends and lovers; I somehow hold on to the possibility that the world will change for having had the conversation. They can’t easily change something they aren’t guilty of themselves  – in some cases they can’t even see it happening around them. 😦

Hell yes, I’m an angry feminist. Get over it. I’ve been egregiously wounded, trauma specifically directed at my very femaleness (some literal physical trauma directed at my genitals and brain through violence; rape), repeatedly, over time (some of it legislated, by putting me permanently at a disadvantage on purpose, creating a culture of diminishment, dismissal, and disregard – yep. Traumatic.). Why would I not be angry? How could my anger not affect my relationships? How could my anger and pain over being sexually assaulted not affect my emotional life and my sexual wellness? Why would anyone reasonably expect women to ‘just get over it’? Does that even sound sane? Or supportive? Or healing? Go fuck yourself – I’m not over it. (Sorry, it hurts every time I recognize that some bit of me is still locked up, frozen in time, wounded and stalled over things that are so far in the past.) I can’t retrieve what was taken from me.

I want to be over it. Fuck I am so grateful for the strength of the women who have told their stories in so many public ways, lately; I have been silenced for so long. Silenced – and everywhere the silence touches my heart, my heart is frozen. When does summer come?

Today is a good day for meditation. Today is a good day to understand I’m not alone, however alone I feel right now. Today is a good day to walk on – anger and all – and keep practicing. Today is a good day to cry honest tears, and remember to begin again. I’m okay right now.  ❤