Consent starts now

I lay here nursing this sweet child to sleep worrying and just trying to be here now, the wind blowing in the trees out my window, golden sun touching hair, the hands holding hands and ears, and it works and it doesn’t. So much I would leave behind and undone. Raising this child to remain loving in consent and respect even to nurse, momma nurse please he asks even in the middle of the night half asleep. My love overflows. And in this moment I find enough.

I have been thinking the last few weeks, months, years about consent and the tiny humans we help grow. My sister taught her now 6 year old son to ask to nurse with the words, “nurse please” and in all things parenting I learn and emulate her. My now 2.5 year old asks, ‘nurse please’ and when I say yes sometimes he will respond with ‘thank you’. Sweet consent has helped me when I’ve felt tired or resentful of nursing but it has especially helped in he hasn’t bit my nipples the few times we have had a rough unlatching or nip I have told him, “that hurt me and I don’t want to nurse anymore” and we stop or pause nursing until he asks again.

We often talk about how momma is sharing her milk from my body which then leads to him pointing at his belly saying, ‘my body’ and at me saying, ‘mommy’s body’.  Simple rituals we use in interaction we have at least 3 times a day, sometimes more. These moments gather into the way his understanding of the world that our bodies are our own even when we share space with others. Another part of the ritual I recognize in nursing is thinking ‘this is my body, given for you’ while we nurse, the basic magic that is nourishing a child which begins in utereo and continues once they’re earthside in nursing and feeding our children.

That phrase resonates from the reading Dance of the Dissidents Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd wrote on page 15, “I … nourished by the symbol and power of this profound feeding ritual. It never occurred to me how odd it was that women, who have presided over the domain of food and feeding for thousands of years, were historically and routinely barred from presiding over it in a spiritual context. … ‘This is my body, given for you,’ not once did I recognize that it is women in the act of breastfeeding who most truly embody those words and who are also most excluded from ritually saying them.”

When we feel powerless to make change remembering that in the small every day moments we weave what will become memories and foundation of interaction with the world for our tiny humans. These are the things that will spark compassion, connection, consciousness when faced with other narratives of human interaction that can be harmful – toxic masculinity, objectifying femme bodied people, rape culture, romantic hierarchies, and lack of consent. Allowing the space for our children to develop into full people means thinking about every interaction we have and working to make it better and trusting what they have to teach us as much as we feel we must teach them. A friend, Onyx, reminded me once when I was touched out and frustrated that kids know what we need when they come cuddling to us – we need reconnection or just connection and its a part of our trauma that we hide from that when we need it the most. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or that we have to surrender our ability to consent and have boundaries. But it does mean that we have to hold space for the lesson to emerge even if we choose otherwise.

Parenting, like activism and allyship, is not a checked off done once and finished thing. It is a daily, every moment, and breath thing. And in the radical connection that happens during nursing and feeding our children we have a place to re-write the narratives of bodily autonomy and consent.

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Rough draft

I’ve been invited to speak at an event today denouncing the nomination of Kavanaugh to supreme court. And as I mull over what to say I read about the death of John McCain with so many people who advocate for equality and freedom and justice sharing about “respecting” this man “despite differences”. I see the intent just like so many calls for peace/civility/nonviolence it’s a call made with good intentions. Intentions to help, to heal, to humanize. Venerating someone like McCain does not humanize him, it continues the dehumanization of people he actively harmed.

In my house there is a sickle. It has the family history of being brought home by my grandfather from Korea when he served in the army there. Untieing the knot that includes the fiercely cultivated relationship between identity, masculinity and military service is necessary and even though I wish to distance myself because of my personal views also something I am responsible for. I will do the work to address this, untie the knot of my ancestors harm.

Critical thinking is necessary when facing established rules and systems. It is *critical* because we cannot allow them to be because they *are*. We have to constantly grow and change and mold ourselves and this world into what serves the people (all, not just some).

Honor & American heroes are those who serve the values our country was idealized on, not necessarily founded on. Langston Hughes speaks to this in his poem, “Let America be America Again”.

‘Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme’

Korrin Gaines, Bree Newhart, hundreds of thousands anonymously doing the work necessary to move us collectively towards freedom, justice, equality.

Privilege & Power Alice Walkers quote, “people give up their power by thinking they dont have any” I struggle with this that my power of writing and words matters that the things I do and say and am mean more. The privilege of whiteness is oftentimes sunk into the feeling of helplessness. White people are privileged in this system but we dont change it by ignoring that privilege as if we could opt out – we change it by empowering, truly empowering those around us who are not treated equally – starting with black women and native women.

Military & police state are both systems implemented by the empire to cause harm – directly to those marginalized and oppressed but also to those who believe in their good intentions and have those weaponized in the work they choose to do. When identity is encouraged to be merged deeply with these professions it removes the ability to critically address issues without personal feelings of that identity causing defensiveness. The thin blue line flag is literally celebrating a police state. America ideals cannot exist within this system.

John McCain was not a war hero for the people, he was a war hero for the state. He was a threat and war criminal towards the peasant and poor/working class folks especially of color. His choices continued to cause harm in the years before his death. Uplifting the work of indigenous activists in the state he was elected to serve and betrayed the people – Oak Flats and other land that was sold or otherwise removed from the people.

When we continue to allow the faults and flaws in what the people want in this country to stand as normal we deny freedom not only to the marginalized but also to those who are used as tools of oppression. The Atlantic just released a story on the decline of life expectancy for white folks who buy into this system and the despair that drives them to self medication and death. Audre Lorde said “I am not free while any woman is unfree. Even if her shackles are different than mine.” We all must strive towards freedom, side by side and together. This Unite for Justice demonstrates a living, breathing embodiment of Lilla Watsons call, “If you are here to help me you are wasting your time. But if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

addendum: one of the organizers of this event asked for a moment of silence at the end of it for John McCain. I quietly said no, shook my head, and then at a loss of what else to do took a knee at the moment of silence. I sent a message to the organizers via the facebook event which was deleted, silencing the voices of so many people of color for whom South Dakotans Against Racism exists to amplify. South Dakota is incredibly progressive with pockets of people committed to justice and then…we all fall short, myself included.

Stay

How do you stay?

When

It all seems to fall

Apart a part

Of something else

In ways

That we fail

Fuck up

Cause harm

Hurt

The systems we play in

Are apart of us

We can’t escape

But we also

Cant talk

About the ways

These systems harm

Hurt

Us

As we keep trying

Flailing

Fighting

We all deserve

A place

To stay

To feel

Love

Loved

Whole

Apart

Where do you go

When you try to stay

The Practice of Change

i first read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower & Parable of Talents a few years ago. recently i have been listening to the amazing podcast by autumn & adrienne maree brown, how to survive the end of the world it reaches in and touches something deep in my soul, the place where fear and love intersect, allowing me to hold onto it and choose, through love to stay and ferment in the discomfort of messy growth. choosing love. choosing growth. choosing how i change.

Image result for all that you touch you change

while waiting for a friend at a local coffee shop i continued my reading of emergent strategy – pages 180 to 190. i have been reading this book since august 22nd, 2017 – almost a year when i typically devour books in hours, days. in these pages adrienne visits with Dani McClain about meditation and Dani shares about the value of ‘finding a community of people to learn from’ when i began this journey of healing i disconnected from outside community to delve internally, vital yes, but also only part of the work i need to be doing.

my relationships with immediate family, the radical household of matriarchs raising full humans, albeit tiny, has been a forefront as i strive to embody the ‘everybody wants a revolution but no one wants to do the dishes’ by personally finding the value in doing the dishes, caring for children, taking out trash, moping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms. which tangents into a whole other blog post i’ll make. these areas are historically and currently devalued so for me to value them allows me to find foundation – everyone needs clean dishes, food, clean homespace, caring for.

that foundation helps me, allow myself those needs and helps me to meet them myself and through asking for help. and then strive to help others.

from that i begin to reach out and share what has allowed me to be intentional in the change i am making. allowing grace for when i struggle or get stuck or just revisit that space on the spiral of my life that is hard for me.

the practice of change began with using ‘g*y’ as a slur, a word in place of things i would consider ‘bad’ ‘st*pid’. i was a child in the 90’s and it was common place usage. recognizing that it was harmful was one of my first lessons and it fell out of use from my mouth in the years around when my first child was born. my current practices of change include changing how i comfort my youngest that instead of using ‘its ok’ to silence his cries i allow myself to validate his tears with ‘its ok to cry’ and changing out the use of ‘guys’ when i really mean a group of people, at this time using ‘y’all’. another similar area is the use of ‘sorry’ as a white woman in false apology and submission in the symptom of sickness of white feminism and patriarchy.

replacing the harmful language i notice in my daily practice was really fucking hard at first. it took so much effort, especially before i learned that it is ok to publicly stop, correct, and change my words – that being messy and awkward weren’t as bad as being a harmful racist, sexist, classist, ableist asshole.

the practice of change begins when we recognize we are always changing, even if we don’t make a choice to change by assuming we stay the same we are cementing our current choices.

for me, striving to be purposeful in my language instead of assuming that it was *my* language helped me to recognize the ways that larger systems in play that strive to keep me feeling disconnected and disempowered utilized language i used without thinking.

the way through change isn’t inherently linear as i both learned in reminder during conversation with my friend today and in emergent strategy. we circle back and revisit areas and steps we still have space to learn in.

  •  pay attention to the use of words, language, slang, common phrases
  • learn if you can the origins of them – who first used these, why, are these words mine? are questions that helped me evaluate my language
  • try not to use negative/wrong/shame when i use the words, i’m not a bad person but i can cause harm with the words i use. if necessary, apologize and then immediately reformat the words with the intention behind the use – what did i want to express?
    • i have stopped mid conversation after using ‘st*pid’ to correct myself and explain, i’m trying not to use ableist terms (or terms that use intelligence as a weapon’)
  • it is and doest feel awkward and messy – that’s ok
  • it will become easier to be intentional
  • it will take many, many mistakes to retrace those brain pathways

it becomes a tool to rely on when we become aware of harmful language – we become the purposeful change, purposeful change becomes a part of us

this is not meant to be or to be used to shame people for talking or using language differently for example white folks using or shaming black folks for AAVE or middle & robber class folks shaming poor & working class folks or grammar perfection – if you can understand let it be a bridge. doing my own personal work helps me but it is not a tool i use to bash over peoples heads (even if people feel like it because discomfort has been made to seem equal to harm – its not).

what are words/phrases/uses that you have recognized, are changing, or have changed for yourself? comment and share with your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

i see me looking back looking forward

tonight.

i’m reading my livejournal from 2005 through 2000.

things fall into place.

i’m listening to elliot smith because in 2004 julia did.

seeing my posts about colin, the way the abuse started so early. but also how it had started before he even entered my world.

affirming that i am femme and masculine. i am so soft and open and easy. but i did, i purposefully did hide it away, hide me away. to survive.

the things i see myself as, i feel like i tentatively say, questioningly, as if someone else has to give me permission, that i cannot take for myself.

but i take. and feel dirty and greedy and ungrateful.

and how incredibly twisted that is.

i am so much more than that.

i am allowed so much more that what has been given me.

 

what’s wrong with me

ptsd?

cptsd?

anxiety?

depression?

concussion?

i remember senior year, being grabbed by the throat and not allowed to leave. i remember being dismissed and minimized.

i remember the first time i could name a panic attack after flying in 2009. i remember calling grandma jane to come over and she did, and sat with me and held my hand.

i remember being punched in the head, repeatedly. over sunflower seeds? and just leaving and going back to work because it was my lunch break and its what i had to do. and years later over my emotional distress during pregnancy.

i remember being punched in the pregnant belly, having hard wrought pumped milk thrown.

i remember losing myself, my will to fight. my participation by giving up or choosing becsuse it was better to be hit than emotionally/mentally abused because it would leave a mark, proof. but it never did.

i remember the sorrys. i remember the offers of my violence as solution (just hit me you’ll feel better, as punishment, as getting even). i remember explaining away, the minimizing.

so much that lingers. like an oil sheen on water, sometimes seen and sometimes not.

does this mean im over it all now?

on the edges

i feel so much on the edges.

of life

of relationships

of almosts

and should haves

i am trying to write more and an option that was perfect for me as a mom was due, today and i started weeks ago and its not done

i had a dream job, full of exciting opportunities for learning and travel, again application due today and not done

am i depressed? lurks always on the edge of my edges poking and telling me, my feelings arent real or valid but because its mental health.

or am i just trying to rush a process, that i am still in the not ok part of processing trauma

i googled, does getting punched in the head cause concussions…and yeah fucking domestic abuse.

get over it, let it go, move on

and i just feel like screaming

i am stuck as i unlearn, unwinding bandaged hurts, scrub out the infection, and allowing new growth, tentative and thin skinned to begin.

i am on the edge because it is safer here, where no one can really see me, and i can hide even from myself.

what places were magic

podcasts have become what i listen to. last year after i left my husband i stopped listening to the radio, to much music and just existed in silence, listening to myself.

lately, i have been listening to podcasts, typically as i do the dishes or clean.

chai chats has been an insightful favorite, i found a new one called embodied astrology, and a friend shared one of theirs called bash-o-bash.

i started with the 3rd episode and then went to the beginning. listening to chickens cluck and talk immediately connected to me and where i want to be, grounded in the food that nourishes me by raising it myself.

however, the part that most resonated for me is the title of this blog. what places were magic? in the boundary work i am doing, i was asked to think of a boundary of protection and for me, it was high up in the trees. climbing to the top of the pine tree in the backyard of my childhood home. up, up, up where it swayed and the world stretched out around me far below. a place i took myself, and could just be. i don’t remember much more than that, i’m so tired of not remembering. but in that memory of the top of the tree, the tang of pine needles in my mouth, that place was magic for me. oh and the tomato plants in the garden of our house before that, so huge as a kid i remember crawling beneath them and hiding and just smelling the sharp, green smell of the tomato plants.

that my magic places are centered and grounded in plants isn’t a surprise but that for years in between i have lost those magic connections.

life. trauma. abuse. survival. so much of myself stopped, became trapped or hidden or lost, i’m not really sure which. even knowing for i am feeling, what i need is hard. hard to trust myself. before anyone else can hear me, i need to hear myself.

i want, need the magic places. where i am nourished so that i can nourish those around me. i am working, with love to create.

no one wants to hear me

the things i have done to survive till this point have served me in surviving and now that i want to thrive i am stuck, held in place.

i am trying so hard to create a foundation but i am not alone yet am. i need to get my house in order but its not just my space.

today in feeling overwhelmed in my body i felt it in my chest and shoulder a headache.

i am tearing down the walls that kept me safe but sheltered away from full relationships. i am being present in the scary and hard even when i want to drink or run or lash out to push people away. my ugly isnt something to hide away. it is a part of me that deserves love and softness and healing. all of me.

i am unheard because i am not asking for what i need, shame of need is keeping me from asking for more financial help, because always it is necessary. i am unheard because those around me are hurting too and our healing is at different levels. i am unheard because i too am not aware of what is occurring around me.

so i reflect…

tomorrow is the full moon. tomorrow is my grandmothers birthday, she would have been 75.

she kept a stuffy named muffy. she had rose quartz. i see her now as i find the same things to bring me comfort. she held on to so much. she survived so much. and no one heard her. i didnt hear her.

i remember her in my heart cradling a duckling we found in the street.

i remember being harsh and mean, bothered. i remember.

tomorrow will be her birthday, we will celebrate. remember. work to hear her life ripple outward from ourselves. listening.

love

i love

whole heartedly

deeply

my strongest of love is mother love

that given by my mother and that given as mother

that intertwined spinning of self, that which continues back to my foremothers, and spins off into the future in my children, of body as well of love.

love calms the raging that consumes me, the anger that breaks likes waves over me, the deep frustration that overflows the banks. returning to love, of self, of others, of simple joy, of the beautiful complexities of the universal holy.

allowing my choices to be based in my love even when they make no sense moves me towards the healing that i need for myself, that as i learned from adrienne maree brown will heal the foremothers before me and those that come after me.

allowing love to continue and grow, tangled and messy, fierce with rage and anger, soft with mothers milk and comforting fatness, allowing love to guide me, connects me to myself and to all.

i am love.