- I just released my sixth book, Coming Around Again, through Sapphire Books Publishing.
- I have an old man dog named Brutus. He has diabetes and I give him a shot twice a day to keep him healthy and happy.
- Gordo is the cat. He rules the house. In the mornings, he reminds me to open the blinds by yanking the slats apart with his paw. I have broken blinds, but I don’t sit in darkness all day.
- I have depression. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to affect my life at all. Sometimes, it means I spend the whole day on the verge of tears, trying not to cry, even though there is nothing sad happening at that moment. Sometimes it means my chest hurts and I have anxiety that seems to fill my entire body and I can’t get rid of it no matter what I do.
- I married my soulmate. It’s the kind of relationship we’ve both always dreamed of but didn’t think it was possible to have. She never thought she was worth it and I didn’t think it existed. She is and it does.
- I’m naturally lazy and completely unmotivated. I am also a grad student getting my second Master’s, an adjunct instructor with three classes, an online instructor of craft of writing for a non-profit writing academy, the Director of Education for Golden Crown Literary Society, an author, and one of three admins of a 15,000 member women’s networking group in Lansing, MI. I could happily sit on my ass all day and do nothing. Instead, I make detailed to-do lists in half-hour blocks and weekly and monthly to-do lists with deadlines, assignments, student grading blocks, answering emails, etc. I even schedule time to clean the kitchen and make meals. I think I’m happier when I’m doing things. (FYI – my lists are ambitious and I rarely finish all of them.)
- I have a Patreon page. So far, I have 14 patrons. Some are fans of my work – others are just fans of me. It isn’t a charity thing, though. It’s exchange for exchange. Some of my supporters pay a mere 2 dollars a month and get access to short stories no one else will see, sneak previews of works in progress, rejected book cover ideas, videos of readings, and general writing process stuff. You can look at it here.
- I don’t know how or when, but I really want to get my PhD.
- I just started doing P90X3, the workout program and my butt hurts right now.
- I believe in community and connection and I think we thrive when we have it. I value the groups to which I belong, especially the Golden Crown Literary Society for helping me to foster those relationships.
I did a video of one of my favorite scenes from my first novel. Davey and her mother, Leah are having a rather public exchange about Leah’s sex life.
It was fun to record, though not as fun as reading to a crowd where I can see facial expressions and get feedback. Still, I like the video a lot. This is not pornographic… it’s funny. But some of the subject matter may be a twee unsafe for work listening.
Two things happened in the past couple of days that have led to this blog. First, a friend of mine wrote to me, “I love how you carry yourself. The way you walk and dance and play, you move like you own your body. I think so many of us (women) are enslaved by our perceived abundances or lacks and we carry ourselves as if to hide those imagined imperfections. You seem to celebrate with your body.” I had to read it several times and then think on it for a while before responding. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I merely move through my life the way I want to move, I love who I love, and I do what I want to do. See, it took me almost 41 years to get to this point, and I’m not going to let other people’s ideas about what a fat woman should and should not do/wear/be/say dictate how I behave.
In a way, as I responded to that friend, being a big woman in this society is an act of defiance. I will not hide myself or shrink myself or try to conform myself to someone else’s standards of beauty.
On the opposite side of that is not letting people’s outspoken approval of my moves toward a more societally acceptable appearance turn my head either. The second thing that happened was this exchange at work:
Co-worker: Are you losing weight?
Me: Probably. Seems my pants go on a little easier these days.
Co-worker: How much have you lost?
Me: I don’t know.
Co-worker: Well, when do you weigh?
Me: I don’t. Or won’t.
Cow-worker: (Dumbfounded) Well, how will you know how much weight you lost?
Me: I won’t.
Co-worker: What will you tell people?
Me: What people?
Co-worker: The ones who want to know how much you lost.
Me: It’s none of their business.
Co-worker: I just don’t understand.
Me: You’re confusing a number on a scale with my worth as a person. I don’t.
We exchanged a few more words, but I could tell she walked away without any understanding. I was trying to explain to her that I do not own a scale. I got rid of it a couple of years ago and I will not set foot on one again. Here’s the thing. I am not defined by a number on a scale. I am a strong, creative, beautiful, sexy, funny woman, and some arbitrary number cannot define my self-worth. It took forever for me to realize this… that someone else’s opinion of the way I look matters not one bit to me. They can’t change who I am. They don’t get to define me.
Am I losing weight? Yes. I went vegan a few weeks ago, not out of a weight-loss plan, but to be a better citizen of this universe and for my own health; soul health, emotional health, physical health, and mental health. I have been exercising a little bit because I feel better when my lungs and heart are working well. I meditate daily because it brings me calm and helps to retain my joy. Does all of this contribute to weight loss? Probably. I am definitely heavier than I want to be for my OWN PERSONAL life goals. That is, I want to be able to run up the stairs, and walk five miles for fun, and hike up hills, and kayak, and swim, and play in the woods. But I do not need to be a certain societally prescribed number to do those things. If I lose weight and get healthy and fit, I’ll be happy. If I don’t lose weight and get healthy and fit, I’ll be happy.
Society has told us from the time that we were little girls that we should look a certain way. Women need to conform to a certain look that has been deemed attractive. It’s the media and our parents and our teachers. I remember my mother in a constant battle with her weight and that translated to all three of the girls in my family. I heard a family member saying about her maybe eight year old daughter, “She was so tiny when she was born. I don’t know what happened.” I hear a friend of mine constantly saying, “Some women should not wear things like that.”I have another friend who actually weighs herself five times a day. FIVE TIMES. And just try reading your Facebook or Twitter feed during things like the Oscars and seeing posts about how fat a certain celebrity looks in a dress. Seriously? Every time someone mocks a woman for the way she looks, she is sending a message to every one around her (and to herself) that no matter what other accomplishments that woman has achieved, she is not good enough unless she conforms to the prescribed way of looking. Is that pathetic?
It’s time to throw away the scale. Take whatever self-care you need to make you happy, and leave it at that. Shaming has never helped anyone get healthy. Shaming someone about their weight does not make them want to lose weight… it simply puts them into a lifelong battle with their weight that they will have to overcome if they ever want to be truly happy. So start right now with getting rid of the scale. Repeat the mantra to yourself, “An arbitrary number does not define me. Society’s *rules” do not define me.” Fat, skinny, old, young, white, black, tall, short, over abundant, under abundant, big breasts, small breasts, no breasts… whatever your appearance, take it back. Take it back and live your life as an act of defiance. Be who and how you want to be and if anyone has a problem with it, remember that it is indeed just that – THEIR problem. It is time to stop giving in to the culture that raised us to think we aren’t good enough. You know what? We ARE GOOD ENOUGH! Confidence is the ultimate reward. Understand that loving yourself is the ultimate act of rebellion. Flipping off the weight loss centers and the makeup industry and the billions of dollars spent to try to look the way we were told we should look is our choice. We have the power.
It has been just about a month since the end of this year’s Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and I am finally sitting down to blog about it. The fact that I haven’t written about it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about it. In fact, I think about fest every day. I send messages to, text with, and talk to other festies every day. But every time I have sat down to start writing about it, I’ve been overwhelmed by the barrage of memories that I want to somehow get down.
Last year was my first fest. Yes, I was a virgin. I went in with no expectations and experienced a world beyond my dreams. I found a place where womyn of every size, color, age, shape, etc can find acceptance and safety. I found a place where I could be myself, where I could find laughter when I wanted it, tears when I needed it, music when I wanted to dance, hugs when I needed contact. I reconnected with my BFF and soul sister, Kim. I met new soul sisters. I experienced what was, for me, a complete validation of everything I had been working on for myself since the end of my last long term relationship. That is, I am a loved and lovable woman and I am strong enough to live my own life on my own terms. Pretty powerful lessons. My life changed after last year’s fest. I had a magical year. I think I can say that the year between fest 2012 and fest 2013 was the best year I have ever had in my life.
Fast forward to fest 2013. I’m an old pro at this point. I totally know what I’m in for, and I am ready! Of course, I know my fest experience is going to be made a bit easier this year by the fact that my dear friend Jenny is bringing a tent, air mattresses, all of the stuff needed to cook and make tea, chairs, tables, food, etc. All I had to do was show up with my sleeping bag and my clothes and help her set this stuff up. Easy peasy.
Last year, I set out to do *EVERYTHING* I could possibly do. Yes, I want to see that band, and I want to go to that workshop and I want to learn how to throw a tomahawk and I want to go go go until I can barely stand to keep my eyes open another minute. This year, I decided to just relax and go with the flow. I went to a couple of workshops and I went to a couple of concerts. Jenny and I went to the dildo olympics where I was proud of myself for throwing the dildo javelin thirty-five feet until the next person threw hers sixty feet and the record holder walloped hers a full eight-five feet. That’s a hell of a dildo throw. I went to a meditation and journaling workshop. I lounged in the grass at day stage listening to music. I did my workshifts, both of them, in the main kitchen. There is something soothing about helping to feed thousands of womyn…. the nurturer in me cherished the idea of helping to set out meals for all of my sisters. The camaraderie of sitting around hot, soapy water with other womyn as we told our stories and listened to each other was the embodiment of what I love about fest.
I relaxed at the camp site with Jenny. Sometimes we were alone, sometimes we got visitors. Sometimes we were invited to go off to see some music or visit someone’s camp…. sometimes we went. Sometimes only I did.
Most nights, after a day of workshops or concerts or meeting new womyn, I got on my then girlfriend’s shuttle and sat on the engine block and rode with her for her last couple of rounds of the night. After, we would lay a blanket out on the ground in a field and watch the stars or talk or kiss or just quietly enjoy each other’s company.
Last year, fest was an education for me. This year, it was about relaxing and enjoying the fruits of those lessons. Last year, I was introduced to the radical concept that womyn are amazingly powerful. This year, I affectionately watched that concept in action. Last year, I was starry eyed and awed and dumbfounded and a little overwhelmed. This year, I was proud…. Proud of myself for how far I have come in a year. Proud of the womyn who put together this incredible festival. Proud of Lisa Vogel who had a vision and made it come true. Proud of the girls who have been raised in an environment where they can see the future of who they can be, combating the ideas that are often forced upon them by the media and school and other outside influences that womyn have to be a certain way and smell a certain way and act a certain way in order to fit in to the societally proscribed paradigm of a woman. Proud of my friends for being part of making this space where womyn are safe, where we can walk in the woods alone after dark and not be afraid of anything. (Except, if you are me, spiders.) Proud of all of us for understanding that in this world, it is still important for womyn to have a place where we can go and be womyn without expectations, womyn on our own, womyn who have been raised in different environments, with different socio-economic backgrounds, different family structures, but with one common denominator… we were born girls and we were raised into womyn and sometimes the lessons that came with that development were painful, but we are in it together and no matter what else the world throws at us, at least we know we have this last bastion of safety and love and healing.
I don’t know what this year will bring. It’s hard to imagine anything being better than the growth and healing I experienced after last fest. But I am coming into this year as a new woman, as a woman who loves herself and believes in herself and who knows that whatever I decide to do in life will be the right thing for me because I am worth that kind of self-love and consideration. Fest gave that to me.
See you in August.
So, I’m back at the day job. I have to admit, when I left last fall, I didn’t think I would be back. I think I kind of halfway expected that I would be a famous novelist, living in a quaint and cozy (but fully insulated and close to cool things like meditation groups, thrift stores, and Trader Joe’s) log cabin in the woods, working on my third or fourth novel, living in a completely satisfying, but not too ostentatious manner on the regularly rolling in royalties.
Well, that didn’t work out. Things happened…. like my van dying in Illinois while on a road trip and needing to buy a new car. Little things like bills. And the fact that I was kind of floundering about how to even market my charming and engaging first novel. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Man Enough.” The reviews were fantastic. Old, churchy straight people loved it. Young, transsexual twenty somethings loved it. Middle aged moms of gay people loved it. My friend’s grandmother loved it. It won an award. I was invited to speak to a couple of groups. I even did an interview. But… Well, it just didn’t hit a wider audience. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of how well “Man Enough” sold for a first novel. Very proud. And I’m proud of the fact that I even wrote a novel and got it published. And I am proud of the fact that my second novel is coming out in a week. And I am proud of the fact that I am midway through my third novel and already making notes for the fourth. I’m proud. I’m happy.
But then, dammit. I’m working at a grocery store again.
Still, I feel as if I’m moving forward. Small steps, day by day. My publisher has gotten our books into a couple of bookstores and is working on more. We are looking at setting up a couple of signings. I’m going to Dallas for the GCLS literary conference in June. I have a radio interview in a couple of weeks for a lesbian radio show in Madison, Wisconsin. I just hired a wonderful daughter of a friend who sent out press releases to one hundred sources in hopes of getting reviews or interviews.
One step at a time, one book at a time. One interview at a time. One conference at a time. And in the meantime, I need a steady paycheck to help pay the bills and buy dog food. (For Brutus, not me.)
Is it a failure? Not at all. Is it a step backward? Well, maybe. But it is a necessary step that will lead to more steps forward. I am on a journey to follow my dreams and sometimes journeys involve turns and forks in the road, and sometimes, you have to make a u-turn and drive back the way you came for a while, and that’s okay, because the main thing is not how long it takes me to get to my destination, but the fact that I even started the journey at all.
If there is one thing I have learned in the past couple of years is that the best way to get what you want in life is to be grateful for what you already have. I am grateful. I’m more than grateful…. I’m blessed. I’m blessed with a love of writing. I’m blessed with loving and beautiful friends who are my soul mates. I’m blessed with an amazing mom who not only let me move back in with her, but who constantly watches (and spoils) my dog when I make my frequent trips out of town. I’m blessed that I am not afraid to try.
Don’t be afraid to try. I guess that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken from this whole adventure. If you want to do something, just do it. If it doesn’t work out, you’ve done so much more than you would have done if you had never tried. So, I am keeping my heart and mind open. I’m setting my intention to the universe. I want to be a writer who lives off of her writing for the rest of my life. And I want to put out progressively better books and articles. A movie deal wouldn’t come amiss, either.
No matter what happens, though, I am going to keep my heart filled with gratitude for what I already have and for what I have already accomplished. I am going to keep moving forward without trivializing what I have in the present. I am going to live mindfully, while allowing for reaching for my dreams.
Seems as if I have finally achieved a beautiful balance between living in the moment and preparing for the future. That, my friends, is a lovely lesson indeed.
My latest article on Lightworker’s World…. finding community.
My latest article on Lightworker’s World, in my spirituality 101 series “But What About all of the Contradictions?” A look at finding balance amid the overload of spiritual information out there.