Get It Girl – Own Your Power

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BREAKING NEWS: Woman posts this photo on Twitter, millions of people flip out.

I see quite a few people in a group I am a part of tearing this picture up.  What is that about?  This woman is called a slut, a bad role model for little girls, self-obssessed and narcissistic, too into make-up, desperate for attention, body-altering, etc.

Where does this hatred come from?

It comes from FEAR.

What I see in these responses is fear.
Fear of a woman who is displaying and being in her body any way she wants.
Fear of a woman who dares to think she is beautiful.
Fear of a woman who has money and fame and power.
Fear of a woman without shame.
I don’t know anything about this woman, but when I see this image I see someone brave, self-confident, and powerful. Give no fucks and get it girl.

This babe is a Goddess! This is some powerful magic right here!  This woman is FIERCE. She has a spell on the whole damn world!

You know what the best part about being deeply and passionately in love with yourself and your body is?  You are smoking hot and you don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.

If you feel a twinge of judgement when you look at this picture, go straight to a mirror, take off all your clothes, and admire your own curves.  You’ve got it in you too girl, don’t hide it!  Relax and rejoice in this woman’s power to be herself in whatever way she wants to do that.  She is doing her, and it is working for her.  Now you go do you in whatever way you want.

Own your power.

CONNOR STEELE: Falling into gayness: discovering queer community as a person with a disability

My friend/crush Connor Steele is absolutely brilliant and I had to share this post from his lovely blog Queerly Cryptic Questions – Untimely meditations upon my ordinary and extraordinary, privileged and marginalized life.

Office
Here we are looking cute at the office (Connor, Brooklyn, Alyshea, Me)

Friday, 19 February 2016

Falling into gayness: discovering queer community as a person with a disability

Connor: I have thought a lot about a constructive role for persons with disabilities within the Canadian urban gay community. I have spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which is about as sexy for a gay man as it sounds. Just as gay people are constructed as outside straight nature, I am somehow beyond gay nature. The tension within my personality between my intellectual aspirations and bodily constraints creates an interesting place from which to begin helpful critique and dialogue. And I think my answer, partial though it may be, can act as a bridge to build dialogue with HIV-positive people and trans individuals, both of which, though in their different contexts, struggle with issues of legitimacy within the gay community.

When communities function well, every member within that community thinks about how to bring experiences he has had to that community, even as he also learns from others. I was a member of a program for gay youth who want to be sexual health leaders in the community. After the program had officially ended for the day — thereby releasing the organization of any legal liability — we decided to go out for drinks. Foolishly, I was paying attention to one of the group members more than driving my wheelchair — among other things — because we were talking about teen romance fiction; and so, I drove off the sidewalk, overturning my chair, and getting a few scrapes. I was easily righted, and while I was horrified at showing stupidity and vulnerability to a group in which I had an uncertain place, they were equally horrified for my well-being.

Characteristically, the two group leaders embodied two necessary components of an effective reaction, and this is not to say that either of them do not have the other part. While the first one seemed to feel more pain than I did and hugged me, the other person immediately and rationally cleaned the scrapes. And I took great pains to deny that there was a problem, since I have a complex about being “an imposition” to begin with. Despite my ridiculous protests, however, it did feel extraordinarily good, perhaps even life-changing, for other gay men to recognize that I was hurt; — the first one with more visible empathy, and the other, by calmly and methodically fixing the problem. And I obviously extended the concept of “hurt”.

A few days later, I was having drinks with another member, and I said, “I wasn’t even in that much pain… Okay… I’m lying; it hurt like a… But he [the first group leader] was so upset… I made him cry… That’s like kicking a puppy… I felt terrible… And you guys were already walking slow!”

“GIRL I KNOW; it is like kicking a puppy. And I understand how you feel about making people overtaxed, but you have to let people know if you’re hurt. I know not all people want to help you all of the time, but some do at least some of the time. You have to trust people’s good intentions: otherwise you’re not being honest with them or yourself!”!

This is really good advice, and, like most good advice, it is extremely hard to follow. But I think we should. Being gay, at least in part, means you learn to be tough, and being disabled and gay, unfortunately, means you have to be even more tough… Sometimes. But not all of the time. Prejudicial attitudes toward persons with disabilities, particularly in the gay community, are alive and painful, but I’m not going to dwell on the too much. Often, I am excluded just as much on what people think, as I am by the barriers pose by what I think people are thinking. And I believe that sometimes my experience as being an anomaly within the gay community mirrors how many of us, myself included, sometimes relate to society as a whole. Pain is very real, and so too is vulnerability. Perhaps the most important interpersonal need human beings have, sadly lacking for many of us, is to be seen as valuable people, not in spite of but because of our differences. As I reflect on where I have been and where I want to go, as part of the broader discussion of where the community has been and where we want to go, it is important to think about pain as a possible source of strength, but only if we see healing as an everyday and ongoing practice.

Every person, and especially every gay man, has his own unique forms of trauma, which he deals with in his own way at his own pace. We need sensitivity, rationality, caring, aesthetic sensibilities, sexual expressiveness, resolve and many other qualities besides, if “the movement” is going to continue to transform society, as it has done in the past. Even as I myself repudiate what I have said by being a completely cruel, especially to women, and self-obsessed sassy queen on the regular, I think my disability combined with excessive pursuit of same-sex love, gives me a glimpse, however incomplete and temporary, of what many of us know already: the purpose of being gay — if one can even find one — is to explore the infinite ways one can relate to other men as a man, emotionally, intellectually, erotically, physically, and to push these relationships to their limit; such that, for brief moments, the world becomes a bit more bearable than it was before.(Un)fortunately the relationships I seem to be best at, because of happenstance, are ones involving dependency and caring.

This is a simplistic generalization, but many gay men — including most definitely myself — have a lot of difficulty with this, in part, because of our trauma and gendered existence. I repeatedly heard “boys don’t cry,” when that’s all I wanted to do. This is also the case for the current generation of young gay men who didn’t have to face the immediacy of the early HIV-AIDS crisis. I’m not saying that caring is the supreme value; sometimes I hate it. But if my very limited experience as a gay disabled man has taught me anything, it is that caring must and often does exist as an important value alongside others which we cultivate, particularly as part of an oppressed group.

Despite being constantly under suspicion, in my heart of hearts I know that I belong in the gay community because just as a sassy bitch exists inside of me, a disabled person is a big part of every Homo and every human being. Gay men do get hurt; at some point gay men do have performance issues and body image problems, and they do die. The only way I think life is worthwhile, however, is if one is willing to fall from time to time and have others, ideally, of course, young gay men, pick one up when this happens. Perhaps this is one of the very many valuable lessons contemporary gay culture can appropriate from Christianity. But, curse the gods again, not all of us are attractive. We are perpetually working on this problem, nonetheless, for better and for worse.!

Spaetzle

I don’t eat pasta out of a box or a bag, because it’s not very good.  Homemade pasta is delicious but it takes a lot of effort to make.
I had something awesome called spaetzle in Berlin with my dear friend Ilka and I haven’t looked back. It’s super easy to make and so-so-sooo yummy.

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Yes those are Enchanted Map oracle cards from Alyshea on my desk

 

TOTAL TIME: 20 mins, tops
This recipe makes about twice the plate above.  Double for 4 servings if desired.

Spaetzle:

2 eggs
Spoonful of salt
Dash of pepper
1/2 cup of milk
1 heaping cup of flour
Butter (optional)

Topper:

Onion
Wee tomatoes
cheddar cheese
Meatballs (or sausage, or tofu, or whatever)
Spinach
Alfredo sauce

First I diced the onion and slightly browned it in a pan.  Then I halved the wee tomatoes and threw them in.

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I let them simmer on low while I whipped up the spaetzle.

Beat the 2 eggs in a bowl with the milk and salt and pepper.  Then mix in flour.

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Get a pot of water boiling on the side.

I had homemade meatballs in the freezer, so I threw those into the simmering pan, and I had some spinach going limp in the fridge so I threw that in too! Put any nips and knobs in the fridge in there, like peppers, mushrooms, whatever you need to get rid of. Turn heat to medium.

So you put a collander on top of the pot of boiling water and plop the spaetzle dough into it.

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It feels like madness but it will work out I promise.  You push the dough through the holes, aggressively, swirl it around, poke it in with a spoon or your fingers, until it all drips through the holes.  If you get impatient you can plop little bits into the water by hand, if you are coordinated enough to get small strings of it in.  Boil that for a few minutes.  Take one out and taste it to make sure it’s cooked.  I betcha it’ll be effin delicious.

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I added a few spoonfuls of alfredo sauce to the simmer pan and mixed it up.

Drain spaetzle. Put into a pot or bowl with butter and little cubes of cheddar cheese and mix it all up.

You can eat spaetzle plain just like that, by the way, or with parmesan cheese, or just the butter, or whatever you like.  This alfredo-veggie-thing is just what I did today.

WP_20160210_0112.jpgOm nom nom. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake (with Maple crust)

At Thanksgiving 2015 at the Sonier household, I had a truly delicious slice of pumpkin cheesecake.  I decided to try making it myself for a pumpkin themed Halloween party at my house, inspired by my friend’s beautiful garden pumpkins.

I just made it again for a Christmas dinner party, and what better way to save this recipe for future reference and share it with others than to post it here?

Untitled

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 325

Crust:

1 1/4 cups of crushed maple cookies mixed with 1/4 cup brown sugar

folded into 1/4 cup melted butter

pressed into a 9 inch spring-form pan

Cake:

3 packages (8 ounce) of cream cheese whipped til fluffy

1 can (14 ounce) of sweetened condensed milk

1 can (15 ounce) of pumpkin (or half a big one)

3 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

pinch salt

Fold into whipped cream cheese the condensed milk, pumpkin, eggs, syrup, spices.  Pour into crusted pan.  Don’t forget that it fluffs up so leave an inch of space if you are not using a spring-form pan!  Bake for just over an hour.

This is Why I’m Glad Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is Discontinuing Airstrikes on Syria

Mao, Tse Tung said that ‘political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.

Hannah Arendt’s book On Violence explains why this idea needs to burn in a fire until it is dead* be powerfully rejected. Arendt is the brilliant mind that theorized the ‘banality of evil’ in her observation and analysis of the Nuremburg trials dealing with Nazis after WWII. On Violence discusses the difference between violence and power.

Arendt disagrees with Mao.

No matter how big your war chest is, no matter how many men with guns you put on the ground, drones you put in the air, or bases you set up to colonize foreign territories, you can’t kill power with violence (NB. America has over 600 military bases overseas.) Power rests in ideas. Governments that rely entirely on violence cease to have power.

Arendt uses the example of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia to illustrate this point. No matter how much force Russia used, or how many implements they had at their disposal, the power of Czech and Slovakian ethnic sovereignty lived and multiplied in the hearts of even children, making the occupation ultimately unsustainable (and horrific for both sides). Alternately, the recent incursions of Russia into Ukraine are complicated by the large population of ethnically Russian people living in Ukraine.

According to Arendt, violence is ultimately controlled by the state through police, military and mechanisms like juridical process. Power lies in the consent and consensus of groups. Power comes not from crazy individual citizens or dictators acting alone, but an entire network of people energetically supportive of those crazy ideas, both good and evil, like a democratic revolution (good) or Hitler’s bureaucracy killing millions of Jews (evil). The horrifying secret of the death camps that Arendt revealed was that most of the racist population was complicit in the massacre.

Governments that rely entirely on violence cease to have power. So as the population funding the occupation (American taxpayers) gets tired of the war, more violence is needed to sustain it. “The loss of power leads to the temptation of violence” (Arendt). “68% of the American budget is devoted to the military machine [1972], thus America acts simultaneously as a counter-revolutionary force around the world and bleeds America itself dry, preventing any real movement towards solving America’s own domestic problems of poverty, racism and decay of urban institutions” (Radford-Ruether, Liberation Theology).

There comes a time when no matter how rich America + allies is, the sheer power of the idea of people that they do not want to be colonized turns into refusing to be occupied, and nothing short of killing every last thinking breathing person alive will stop guerilla attacks in the colonizer’s homeland. Radford-Ruether writes that “power is participating in the making of one’s destiny.” Who are these individual guerilla soldiers but people desperate to make their own destiny? (So desperate they are committing atrocities against their own neighbours.)

Solutions to our global crisis need to reject Mao’s notion of violent responses, “from the barrel of a gun”. Step one is recognizing that violence is not power, and we will no longer waste money and human lives establishing and arming the rise and fall of regimes from across the world.

So thank you, Trudeau—although this will not solve the crisis, it represents the end of running in a well-worn circle and expecting to get somewhere new.

What we are not going to do anymore.

Bisexual Awareness Week

So. *cough* It’s apparently Bisexual Awareness Week.
What does that mean? Well, to me, that means that people get that there are straight preferences, and get that there are gay preferences, but there are still a lot of people who go through life with a part of themselves in perpetual invisibility. This needs awareness.
To use myself as an example, when I am in a relationship with a guy, I ‘am straight’ to the people around me. When I am in a relationship with a woman, I ‘am gay’ to the people around me. These labels don’t really fit who I am (especially to you folks who really know me!)
I just don’t have a preference based on genitals. That’s it. My preferences are for people who are funny, clever, kind, and into helping the world. I find some men really attractive and others really unattractive, and some women really attractive and others really unattractive. That’s it.
I am not a lesbian, and I am not a straight person. I also don’t really use the word ‘bisexual’ because to me attraction is about so much more than just sex. Unfortunately that sometimes makes me, my identity, confusing and invisible. (But I really like the word lesbian. lesbian. lesbian. hehe)
I am really lucky to be able to ‘pass’ as straight to avoid the harassment and discrimination of ‘being gay’. Of course. But none of my relationships, all of which I have learned from and value in certain ways, were inauthentic or less important because of the genitals of that person. I’ve loved lots of different people in lots of different ways and I am happy about that.:)

It’s okay to be both! It’s okay to try new things, to change your mind, to be free and fluid and unconstrained by what other people think is the ‘right way’ to have relationships!
Sending out love to all my friends queering it up and exploring, and friends who support my travels in love-love-love!
xoxoxox

Rumi: Looking For Your Face

Rumi Rumi.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎), was a 13th century multi-talented genius from the area that is today Afghanistan. “Rumi was a philosopher and mystic of Islam. His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to people of all sects and creeds.” (wiki/Rumi)

Looking for Your Face
From the beginning of my life I have been looking for your face, but today I have seen it. Today I have seen the charm, the beauty, the unfathomable grace of the face that I was looking for. Today I have found you, and those who laughed and scorned me yesterday are sorry that they were not looking as I did. I am bewildered by the magnificence of your beauty, and wish to see you with a hundred eyes. My heart has burned with passion and has searched forever for this wondrous beauty that I now behold. I am ashamed to call this love human, and afraid of God to call it divine. Your fragrant breath, like the morning breeze, has come to the stillness of the garden. You have breathed new life into me. I have become your sunshine, and also your shadow. My soul is screaming in ecstasy. Every fiber of my being is in love with you. Your effulgence has lit a fire in my heart, and you have made radiant for me the earth and sky. My arrow of love has arrived at the target. I am in the house of mercy, and my heart is a place of prayer.

I found this particular beautiful poem by Rumi when I was looking for more material for conducting wedding ceremonies.  It’s incredibly romantic… except the fragrant breath.  That made me giggle.  I would change it to ‘fragrant aura’ or ‘warm breath’ maybe.

I used to have this one posted beside my bed.


This one is by my desk.
I just love Rumi.

wĭl′fəl: Persists in doing as she pleases, habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition. Headstrong, self-willed- not obeying or complying with commands of those in authority. ˈwāwərd/: Given to perverse deviation from what is desired, expected, or required. Swayed or prompted by caprice; unpredictable.

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