My 5 Nevers

I will never stop pursuing Them
for only They have the Words of Life.

I will never stop seeking Grace
for only in it is there power and mercy.

I will never give death the satisfaction
of my total surrender.

I will never stop seeking yieldedness
as my steady state of being.

I will never stop giving.
It’s what I do.  It’s who I am.

Sworn this 14th day of March 2015
“pi day”.
vow expires when this day next happens

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How To Talk To Your Kids About Sexual Assault And Sports 

How To Talk To Your Kids About Sexual Assault And Sports .

…in the midst of Rape Culture…rape in forms more diverse than sexual, this is a must read.

Men?  It is a must act.  It doesn’t change until you change…especially you “not all men” bros…

Where I’m From by Jane White

I am from the west
the pacific north one here
the wild one there
from dark, dreary rainy days 
and bright cold snowy ones
from fruit orchards and hard times
to wide open spaces 
where the deer and the antelope play

I am from polite and proper
to  “let’s red-neck this thing”
from Rose Festival princesses
to Miss Indian America, Custer’s Last Stand
and the world’s biggest strip mine

I walked to school
every year of my life
rode my trusty old bike
all around town and across the state
and cherished my library card
like it was sacred.

I come from piano lessons,
swim lessons, girl scouts and
Sunday school…
From a stay-at-home mom , a tennis-loving dad
two sisters, a brother
and my sweet Molly dog.

I’m British and Norse and German and Irish
born into the sixties
the time of assassinations and rock bands,
Woodstock and Vietnam
and the first man on the moon.

I sprang from a Rockwellian past
but live in a Web 2.0 world
seeking to do justly,
love mercy and walk humbly
on my way to the Eternal Citytumblr_nl2nhqdeg01qat5pio1_400

What it means to “hold space” for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well – Heather Plett

What it means to “hold space” for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well – Heather Plett.

I am sharing this beautiful article here, for your own edification.

I am also proposing that this concept could be a very powerful and effective tool in assisting your friends and/or family who suffer from dysphoria…as you substitute that existential state in for the transition from life in this body into that which comes next, you can see how it could be very effective in helping create a space for them to discover how to be after an entire life of non-being and all of the emotional bad habits or destructive behaviors learned along the way simply just to survive.

I hope it is as meaningful to you as it was to me.

Reflections

This poem so unerringly captures the damage inflicted by words spoken…and the damage created by words withheld.

unheardunspokencogitationum

If you could see the damage
Your words inflicted on others
Trace the scars on their skin
Will you be more thoughtful?

If you could see her heart
That you left scarred when
You decided to cheat on her
Will you do it differently?

If you could read the doubts
He carries in his eyes for the
World for you fed him lies
Will you try to set things right?

If you could count her broken
Bones followed by each angry
Night you spent with her
Will you ask for forgiveness?

If you knew how your son cried
To sleep each night because he
Was never smart enough for you
Will you try to make amends?

If you could see another soul
All the beauty and sorrows
The make humans vulnerable
Will you tread more carefully?


http://penningmyvoice.com/reflections/

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The Wrong Side of the Glass

Come close, up here, on the porch and draw near where I sit,
hunkered down, clinging close, pressed with all I am
against this barrier thin, austere, and yet impermeable
thru which I see, and speak, and yearn but over cannot cross.

I get naked, bare and slick and covered in Her Oil
and hurl myself hard, fearless, face first pounding in wild flails
until the fists of my heart break and bloody grow within this cage
and sorrow rises right alongside all my heartsick rage

at being born here in this place so richly furnished wrong
at hearing music so distinct but dissonant from my song
Maybe we together can make a crack in this stark mass
and relieve my long days spent here, on the wrong side of the glass.

May I Ever Be Pink

May I ever be pink, my heart’s hidden petticoats tender and always-fresh.
May I ever find that place hidden but accessible, there in Mama’s Heart-Springs
where I can wash in crimson founts crystal clear and sweetly astringent.

Others might love green, still others regally wreathed in Autumn’s Golden Gleam,
but it is pink for me, pink always, tender, present and near
May I ever be pink, dwelling soft and without fear.

“…he was unlikely to see a man doing the job that she did…”

He looked away. “I wish it wasn’t you doing this, Tiff. You’re not sixteen yet, and I see you running around nursing people and bandaging and who knows what chores. You shouldn’t have to be doing all of that.”

“Yes, I know,” said Tiffany.

Why?” he asked again.

“Because other people don’t, or won’t, or can’t, that’s why.”

“It’s not your business, is it?”

“I make it my business. I’m a witch. It’s what we do. When it’s nobody else’s business, it’s my business,” Tiffany said quickly.

“Yes, but we all thought it was going to be about whizzing around on brooms and suchlike, not cutting old ladies’ toenails for them.”

“But people don’t understand what’s needed,” said Tiffany. “It’s not that they are bad; it’s just that they don’t think. Take old Mrs. Stocking, who’s got nothing in the world except her cat and whole lot of arthritis. People were getting her a bite to eat often enough, that is true, but no one was noticing that her toenails were so long they were tangling up inside her boots and so she’d not been able to take them off for a year! People around here are okay when it comes to food and the occasional bunch of flowers, but they are not around when things get a little on the messy side. Witches notice these things. Oh, there’s a certain amount of whizzing about, that’s true enough, but mostly it’s only to get quickly to somewhere there is a mess.”

Her father shook his head. “And you like doing this?”

“Yes.”

Why?

Tiffany had to think about this, her father’s eyes never leaving her face. “Well, Dad, you know how Granny Aching always used to say, ‘Feed them as is hungry, clothe them as is naked, and speak up for them as has no voices’? Well, I reckon there is room in there for ‘Grasp for them as can’t bend, reach for them as can’t stretch, wipe for them as can’t twist,’ don’t you? And because sometimes you get a good day, that makes up for all the bad days and, just for a moment, you hear the world turning,” said Tiffany. “I can’t put it any other way.”

Her father looked at her with a kind of proud puzzlement. “And you think that’s worth it, do you?”

“Yes, Dad!”

“Then I am proud of you, jiggit; you are doing a man’s job!”

He’d used the pet name only the family knew, and so she kissed him politely and did not tell him that he was unlikely to see a man doing the job that she did.

~ Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight

(Alternate cover by Alicia B.)

Wishes.

Ran across this marvelous poetess…wow. I love her work, and am reblogging this one up on Grace Notes. It captures so many of my thoughts and feelings, the tumult and clamour that plays tennis inside my soul with my heart…

thank you dear poetess…I am honored to read, and more so to reblog…

PS:  For me, it would be Grandma

TheOpenWindow

I wish you were here
To see me doing so well,
To see me be my own rock,
To watch me break my own shell.
I wish you were here
To keep asking me what was wrong,
And when I would tell you,
You would hug me close.
I wish you were here
To be my map and guide
In the foreign land,
I wish you were here
To warn me of the marbles,
So I wouldn’t slip.
I need you here
To witness how I’m doing
What I could never do
When you were here.
I want you here
To see me loving myself,
The way you’ve always wanted
Me to see myself as.
I wish you were here, Grandpa,
To be my anchor
Through the thick and thin.

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The Work of A Bee

this is me, a busy bee
flitting from flower to stem
and blossom and stalk.

it’s tough work
dragging that pollen
all sticky and clingy

from place to place
where pride is unsheathed
and starves on itself!

if it weren’t for me
those poor lil bloomings
so pretty but hungry

would wither and die
alone with themselves
the few chosen few…

well, I unmark them quick!
those marked for death
as I buzz and I murmer

all covered in sticky stuff
lugging around
the seed of all life

anyone got any sugar water?
trade ya some honey
and I won’t even sting!

I learned yesterday that when you see a bee on the ground that isn’t moving, it’s not necessarily dead, it’s probably just dead tired from carrying lots of pollen and needs re-energising.

So if you mix a tiny bit of water with some sugar and let it drink it will give it the boost it needs to continue on its way. Bizarrely, this exact thing happened today! I found a knackered bee, mixed up some sugar water, gave it a drink and watched it guzzle and guzzle then suddenly come back to life.

It was amazing! Thank you patrick, it was an excellent tip that i’ll never forget and will continue to pass on to others!

To those of you with mastery over your feelings…

…be merciful to those of us who don’t.

Either you are really strong and awesome, possessing all the skills of Siegfried and Roy combined with the Crocodile Hunter mixed together with Dr. Doolittle…

…or our feelings are Godzilla to your Gollum, and untameable.  And the fact that we are surviving speaks of unspeakable courage and persistence and never say die stubbornness…

either way, if you can master your feelings, take it easy on the rest of us mere mortals

 

Ultimate Self-Injury Recovery Master-post!

How to care for cuts

How to care for burns

Helping to calm down: 1, 2, 3

Alternatives to self-harm

Natural antidepressants

How to fade and cover scars

What to say when someone sees

Helpful websites

It’s cool to see a post that isn’t ‘don’t hurt yourself in the first place!!’ but is actually giving you geniune, helpful advice for recovery and caring for yourself

For those of you that need it

Constance…I get email from a place called “Lingerie Talk”.  Generally speaking, there are exciting and somewhat revolutionary approaches to lingerie that are highlighted each time an email comes.  Some are emphasizing different ways of assessing beauty, some are emphasizing new materials being used in construction, or any number of other approaches.

Today’s speaks of a small manufacturer who is approaching lingerie in a far more inclusionary fashion, and I do deem it worthy not only of featuring here on Grace Notes but also my plea that you would consider clicking and buying…we need more such options, we girls with 4th of July Picnic bodies in a Victoria’s Secret world.

Lingerie Talk Today

‘You Are Not Just A Body’: The Feminist Mantra of Neon Moon

Posted: 13 Mar 2015 09:47 AM PDT

Most newcomers to the lingerie business want only to fit in and capture a small slice of the massive but overcrowded market.

But not Hayat Rachi. The 25-year-old founder of fledgling label Neon Moon wants nothing less than to shatter the paradigm that governs the sale of sexy underwear.

“We want to shock the lingerie industry and work with the people who reflect what women’s bodies really look like,” she says. “Girls should not have to question why they look a certain way. … Rather, they need to reclaim the right to their bodies and decide how it should look for them and not for others.”

Neon Moon launched this week by declaring itself a “nonconformist, feminist lingerie brand” committed to “changing the face and body of the lingerie industry.”

Its small debut collection of colorful padding- and wire-free basics won’t be available until the fall, and the brand’s future hinges on the success of a Kickstarter campaign that aims to raise £5,000 to finance production.

In the meantime, Hayat hopes Neon Moon will fuel a public discussion about how lingerie is marketed to women.

“Most lingerie brands cater towards specifically making women look like an object of the male gaze,” she said yesterday in an interview with Lingerie Talk. “But you shouldn’t be buying things to please another person or to objectify yourself.

“There are also many non-binary women and men, asexuals, pansexuals, people who don’t affiliate with any of the brands out there.”

Hayat is the latest in a growing movement of activist fashion entrepreneurs who are rebelling against the way established lingerie brands sell their wares to women. High-profile consumer campaigns against image photoshopping, unrealistic body shapes and sizes, and the hyper-sexualization of lingerie marketing have created a market demand (and opportunities) for brands that promote inclusive, female-positive values and eschew conventional marketing tools.

Neon Moon gets its message across with a photo campaign that uses unpaid models of varying size and unretouched imagery that doesn’t hide wrinkles, body hair, blemishes, cellulite or other typical “imperfections.”

“We are highlighting how modern women really look,” Hayat says. “We’re not just boobs and bums to show off a product. We are trying to tell women that you are not just a body. You define success in your own way, and your success goes beyond the way you look.”

The London native got her start in the fashion world as an intern for Elle UK and later with a London PR and wholesale firm that managed several lingerie brands. The idea to start a different kind of lingerie company emerged while working at trade shows and being shocked by the lack of diversity in the industry — a realization that felt personal to the daughter of Moroccan immigrants.

She also struggled to reconcile a familiar industry paradox: working alongside smart, accomplished, highly motivated career women who were selling products that reinforced the paradigm of women as nothing more than sexual objects for men’s consumption.

“The women who work at these brands, they’re go-getters, they’re driven, they’re savvy and quick. But when they want to advertise their products, they’re being a bit hypocritical,” she said. “We need to bring the industry up a notch, so women know they are not just there for the male gaze.

“Girls need a brand that encompasses the idea that they should love their body,” Hayat said. “Neon Moon is all about you and your accomplishments, and being able to empower yourself to feel like a whole being in order to take on the world.”

The company got startup help from the Prince’s Trust, a UK charity fronted by the Prince of Wales that provides mentoring and grants to young entrepreneurs.

Neon Moon‘s debut collection is called ‘Mon Dieu’. And the reason for that?

“I want people to say, ‘Oh my god, what’s going on here?’” Hayat said.

Below are more images from Neon Moon‘s first promo campaign, shot by Michelle Long and Fitria Tjandra. The models are Paulina Maria (red hair) and Adobuere Ebiama.

Neon Moon’s Kickstarter Campaign

 

“It Would Falsify Everything You Taught Me…”

Constance…most of you who are public followers of Grace Notes are cis-gender humans.  Some of you are trans (thanks for the support, family!!  🙂  ), and as transgender humans you are intimately acquainted with the entity that dysphoria is, and you know that thoughts of suicide or talk of it is often our most noble and courageous act of the day, because we are speaking about it rather than…tumblr_n9h3hmA63y1sypuuko1_400

But I want to talk to you Constance (and you lurkers, too…yes, you are there), you cis-gender humans, so blessed to be non-itchy in your skin and of limber-lung to draw in draughts of refreshing air…you live in a homogenous world…a world that sniks together and is of a piece.  And where it doesn’t, it doesn’t in the same places as other humans and so you find an identity and community in that.

You don’t understand how alienation from yourself puts you at a distance from everyone else and everything else…always.

Because dysphoria is like missing pieces in a mosaic of being.DSCN7014

You say to yourself that you are shattered too, and you are…but your pieces are present, and as you glue them back together they form a sort of whole once again…whereas the dysphoric person diligently and urgently works daily to reassemble the shattered image into a whole, only to discover that the crucial core is absent…and the middle is void.

We are separated from you always…as if you are on the shore of the sea and we across on the opposite shore and lacking the voices of whales to sing to you across the leagues and the deep.

So there is that.

This morning I am mindful of dysphoria and the gulf that it is around me, alas, and the challenge that it presents me in my quest to be a yielded vessel yielding blessing…I am mindful that there is also, somewhere packed in all of this, an opportunity to know and understand Their perspective and methods as Gulf-Breechers and Core-Restorers…perhaps this is my destiny, to be a restorer of the breach and a crosser of the gulf.tumblr_mxydoeknpZ1saxfomo1_500

But in this mindful place, I have been remembering the words that a man spoke to me last summer, upon being let into my secret world of confusion and horror, that world of the transgender person caught between body and brain.  He is a man who has in the past been very open in expressing admiration for me, as a child of God, as a communicator of Grace, and as a caretaker of my children.  He has said toweringly complimentary things to me, things that I felt were far too idealized and simply did not adequately assess how flawed I am, what a failure I am…

…but he had said them, spoken of my impact on himself and those around me.enhanced-buzz-wide-819-1425685150-9

On that soft and lazy August Saturday, by the waters of a small man-made lake (which seems appropriate), we spoke, and I shared with him the struggle of dysphoria and how suicide is as constant companion as the sensation of choking is to the asthmatic.

He burst out in a fit of passion “Don’t you dare off yourself!  It would falsify everything you taught me, and all you stand for!”  And he went on to talk about how negatively it would affect him, and how he would lose heart and likely not have belief anymore that what I taught meant anything worth trusting.

That is what I am thinking about this morning…how easily and how often my situation is somehow twisted around and becomes all about the other person.  It was like another situation where I had been accosted by a long standing acquaintance (whom I would have called a friend, but now realize that was me putting my view of what a friend is on someone who sees it vastly different) who demanded an explanation for “why you have been seen around town dressed as a woman!!” (quelle horreur!!)…and since he had that place in my heart of “friend”, I gave the full account, but only half-way.  He cut me off because “he was overwhelmed and couldn’t take anymore of this”.  And then he looked at me in sheer misery and said “What am I going to tell my children??!!”tumblr_nbmpahNSPo1r78unxo1_1280

See?  All about him.  His place, and his burden…as if that question needed any other answer than tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and begin to study these things together to help out a people in chains.

Well…that is a very similar response this other man by the lake had, regarding discovering my daily battle with dark thoughts.  His burden placed on me was that if I were to ever choose to not be here any longer then I would be the cause of his faith being weakened and diminished and his life harmed.

Since that time, I have spoken to this man two times, once a day or two after a big crisis that was brewing, and then again at the end of October 2014.

Twice.tumblr_nkp8l7TjAs1spq83no1_1280

And since then, nothing…and I get that there are complicating reasons for that, not the least of which is my transition and he is a man.  Very few men have been “man enough” to handle my transition with anything other than rejection at best, and murderous, venomous looks at worst (and those looks threaten far worse is coming).

Constance…is this not something close to suicide?  Friendshipicide?  Is not this towering silence some sort of death?  Does it not underline and highlight the gulf between us, because really all that changed was his understanding that he was interacting with a woman?

And those words ring in my heart, part of the voices that circle me like wolves and nip and slash and bleed me out…

“…it would falsify everything you taught me…”

Well, I don’t know if it would or wouldn’t.  Things are true and worthy of living regardless of the source one receives them from.  But I know that this staggering abandonment does indeed make me mindful of how those words are true from my perspective.  Apparently, I am no longer those “three C’s” to him…Child, Communicator, Caretaker.  Now, I am simply “It which must be avoided, lest whatever ails it somehow infect me”.tumblr_mrl193edwJ1qm86t3o1_500

As to the other man…that was the last time we spoke, in September, with a terse letter being the final salvo and manifesto of that declaration of war religion has filed on me…and sadly, I have reason to know the sense of duty fulfilled and integrity maintained, and sweet sadness at doing the “hard but right thing” which follows the writing and delivering of such a letter…

…it is such an awful feedback loop of legalism and lies and lack of life (death).

It is difficult being the friend or relative of a transgender person.  You get caught up in the punishments they are meted for their gender-crimes.  You get branded with the Scarlet TL to match their Scarlet T (“tranny-lover” and “tranny”)…tumblr_mcq1juZYxN1r2zs3eo1_1280

…and you get confronted again and again and again with that gulf uncrossable, that breech unbridgeable, and the dysphoric human’s many-sided and alienated existence when you yourself live in a world where such concepts as sides and incongruency are understood in the brain alone and denied in the bones, those non-dysphoric congruent bones.

I am watching “Romeo and Juliet” right now, the 1954 version directed by Renato Castellani (huge giggles here, ddh)…this play has long been my very favorite Shakespearean play (followed closely by Henry the 5th).  It is tragically striking, how I am in one being a Montague and Capulet, and both Romeo and Juliet…it is in a sense a tableau of dysphoria and the solution is inferred in the tragic ending…only loving acceptance and dogged commitment can validate a life and overcome abandonment.

And there is a timeless line (distinct from the rest of that genius’s timeless lines):

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”tumblr_n6u1weh7on1trxee1o1_1280

I am still whatever Rose I was…and still stink of whatever stench emanated from me under the old costume I sported.  I still live in the dysphoric House of Mirrors, and sides all around me with everyone else there and me here…I am still “Fortune’s Fool”.

…and as to men?  “Friends”…well, there is this, from the mouth of Juliet’s Nurse:

There’s no trust,
No faith, no honesty in men. All perjured,
All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.
Ah, where’s my man?—Give me some aqua vitae.—
These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old.tumblr_lvlbcphL9V1qeovheo1_500