poetry · Uncategorized

I, too, am human

I surrounded myself with souls who have bodies and found my borders within their territories
Knowing a person is traversing the map of a soul
I poured myself into our conversation, letting you know through eye contact, listening
that I acknowledge your aching existence
And I left my body for a moment
And saw us all, sitting around, bringing energies to each other, begging and pleading for someone to recognize that we were there
And I poured myself into your body to fill you up in all the places you were left alone
And I felt you doing the same
And in that unspoken devotion to a human I had yet to know on a deep level
I felt the depth of your being
Locked eyes, reminded you we are connected and deep down we know that
That you are magical evidence of the living spirit
And I am breathing back to you,
Echoing the sentiment in my own words.
Remembering, I, too, am human
And in this moment we are meant to cross paths
Celebrating that with a farewell
As sensible humans learn to do.

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poetry · Uncategorized

always thinking about the next thing

I called you a friend
My name in your hand
Our words in our throats
Burning our tongues
Waiting our turns to speak our dreams
Tripping over ourselves and spitting our fears again
Here we are again
Talking about the next thing
Putting our hopes where are hearts are
And digging our organs out to make room
The flowers inside of me are both alive and dead
I remember everything we said with uncertainty
Forecasting a future we would never understand
Digging our claws into the earth and preparing for the next strange occurrence
Like leaving each other’s lives
I hope everything you imagined was wrong and you’ve grown in that
And you still think about the next thing and the next after that
poetry · Uncategorized

repackaged and repurposed

I’m not sure what I look like or who I am or what makes me happy other than making everyone else happy
It hit me
It really hit me
Would I say no to something I know would make you happy?
No,
I wouldn’t.
I’d say yes like I’ve practiced saying yes for the past sixteen years of my life, pushing aside my needs for your own.
Forming my own personality that doesn’t revolve around bending your needs and filling you with energy.
Where’s my energy?
No one has filled me because I’ve been gone too long to fill myself and no one has learned to think of me as their human friend- imperfect- rather than a robot who performs precisely how they want.
Are you sad? I will comfort you.
Are you happy? I will cheer with you.
I don’t understand my emotions without these cues that remind me I’m only of use if I can bend over and give them what they want.
I always give them what they want
Maybe because I’ve felt the sting of disappointment too many times to wish it on anyone else, even the ones who truly don’t deserve the energy I provide them.
What have they done to earn it?
And when they’re done, I’m disposed of, having fulfilled my only purpose in life- being a vehicle for the satisfaction of other humans. My soul is made up of other souls. I’m no original content. I’ve been repackaged and repurposed and I’m ready to get hurt again. I’m ready to sacrifice myself for you.

Uncategorized · poetry

if it’s meant to happen, it happens

What do you think is going to happen that isn’t meant to happen?
Don’t you think if my love for a stranger destroys my love for you there was never anything to destroy?
Don’t you know the nature of first words, and first loves?
And first worlds-
And this bed we make together is our own
And our heads falling together is my home even if I spend my day with someone who isn’t you and doesn’t say the things you say?
Wouldn’t that be okay?
If you just gave me a little space to walk away and tell myself these strangers are not you.
Whether that’s for better or worse,
Whether you’ll love me for better or worse
Whether you’ll wait for me to gather my love for you like frozen flowers beneath the Michigan snow.
It will take me time to realize all that you are offering me with your breath, and your eyes, and your intertwined palm in mine
I will have to collect my thoughts each time we say goodbye until I decide if I’ll ever want to say it for the last time
Because it’s impossible to know-
Isn’t it?
And if you know, I’m sorry
I’m sorry I break you with my every wavering inch
My questioning and inquiring about other souls
Is there a milder crime I could commit than give myself the chance to know who else is out there?
We didn’t sign a contract simply by loving
I haven’t signed myself away to one single love yet so let’s not prematurely end our curiosity and youth and surrender ourselves to the norms of living together and dying together even if we no longer serve each other
Do I serve you as a spotlight to your own glory?
Because you do that for me,
And it is precisely this:
Your investment in how I end up at the end of everything
That makes me hold myself to this commitment
To not assume what’s here is right
Or what’s now is only
To know if we can be happier, we should be
And that’s nothing against your brilliance
It’s everything supporting it
And I wish I had your resilience
Of loving without knowing
I wish we both knew that we would be in good hands- whether our own, or each other’s, or someone new- a budding possibility.
And what’s the probability I won’t sleep if I meet someone who makes me flutter like you make me?
Highly likely-
I’ll be lost,
Where I started
Stuck between only me and myself.

Uncategorized

What music means to me- “Eyes on Fire”

I’m laying on a yoga mat in a warm room with ten other people doing the same. My body is sweaty and tired from the past hour of intense yoga, and I’ve climbed a mountain. I’m finally at the bottom, about to walk off back into daily life. But there’s one last step before I re-assimilate myself into the outside world- savasana, or final relaxation. The instructor directs us to relax our bodies, our facial muscles and limbs which fall easily to the sides. Usually I struggle with rest, but the great contrast of intensity to complete stagnation convinces me I’m worth it. I’m worth these moments, laying here, breathing, and doing absolutely nothing that my body does not need. I’m lulled into a deeply meditative state by the instructor’s words, and hear the strumming of a guitar coming from the speakers, followed by an enchantingly soft voice. I don’t care what she’s saying; I can feel it. My bones blend into my muscles and my mind bows to its only purpose: keeping me alive. The song only lasts a few minutes, but it feels like hours. We’re instructed to make our way back up to the mat, even though I’m not ready. We bid the instructor goodbye with the traditional “namaste,” and that’s it for the practice. But this wasn’t the end of the road for yoga and me. I practiced enough with this older student instructor who I admired, and one day inquired about where and how to become an instructor myself. I got in contact with her boss, and arranged to meet with her soon to discuss. Within a couple weeks, it was decided that I would become a yoga instructor and mentor under the instructor who had shown me the wonderful song “Eyes on Fire.” the mentorship process was transformative, and I and another student took the journey together, after a semester and a Yogafit Level One training ready to teach our own classes. It’s been two years since I first heard this song, but it still takes me back to a time where I regularly laid on a yoga mat as a participant, and not an instructor. I have grown a lot as an instructor these years, but I still have a lot more education to acquire and I’ll be getting my 200 level certification in 2019. If it weren’t for that first yoga instructor, her sweaty but rewarding teaching style, and unique mix of a playlist, I might never have taken a leap to learn the new skill of yoga. “Eyes on Fire” reminds me of a time I knew much less, and reminds me to stay humble, realizing how much farther I can go with my practice. It also reminds me the benefits of continuing to attend other instructors’ classes, to learn from them, better develop my own style, and to give myself the time for my own practice, breathing and meditation the same as we all do, students and teachers alike.

challenge · diversity issues · experience · friendship · inspiration · life · society · truth · Uncategorized · writing

On being oppressed and problematic at the same time

I am a queer woman. I am not always unproblematic.

I am a white female middle socioeconomic status college student who identifies as pansexual. I hold some privileges, and lack others. The reason I’m writing my truth is that I want people to understand that just because you belong to an oppressed group doesn’t mean you never participate in that oppression. Black cops kill innocent black kids. Women argue against the rights of sex workers. Gay and lesbian folks are often transphobic. We’re all socialized in the same society, so not one of us is immune to the biases that are ingrained in our culture. That’s why it’s impossible and pointless to call someone racist or not racist, sexist or not sexist, homophobic or not homophobic. We all have the capabilities to think in oppressive ways, even towards ourselves; however, what matters is that you learn to stop this thinking before it starts and actively resist oppression. I learned from the brilliant Beverly Tatum that most people are either actively or passively racist. To most, passively racist people would not be considered racists because they don’t wield Tiki torches or publicly harass people of color- but this is not the case. Passively racist people consist of a majority of the population, and this mindset includes behaviors such as laughing at racist jokes, locking car doors as a person of color passes outside, not trusting people of color in high up positions, and not dating people of color. Passively racist people may have POC friends, may have voted for Obama, and do anything they can to not be seen as racist. But it’s not that simple. I used to be passively racist as well, and I didn’t see a problem. I was internalizing all of the things society told me about people of color, but I wasn’t directly harming anyone, right? It took me getting to college to realize that you can be racist without realizing, that it’s not simply a matter of racist or not racist, and that to really not be racist you must be anti-racist. You must work actively every single day to address your implicit biases and work against what society tells you about people of color. This can be incredibly challenging. Most people, especially liberals, would never consider themselves to be racist or have racist tendencies, and that’s a huge problem. Unless you live in a different country that was never colonized and doesn’t operate under white supremacy, you have racist tendencies and you must do all you can to stop them. This includes educating yourself on racial oppression, reading the works of POC, unpacking your implicit biases and noticing every time you fall into them, listening to the experiences of POC, joining the movement for equality as an active participant in fundraising, marching, and advocating, and taking any comments of how you’re problematic seriously and changing yourself accordingly. It is a tough process, but it is necessary if we will ever build a formative enough nation to ensure equal rights for everyone.

The fight continues on all fronts, and I’m writing this post to admit that, although I am a progressive social justice activist I still make mistakes. I still internalize my own oppression. I only recently recognized the oppressive thoughts I’ve had about women and queer folks, which is bizarre considering I identify as both. But that’s how oppression works. It’s sneaky. I only recently decided to openly talk about my sexuality, and still am struggling to be more open about it. Why am I scared to come out about being queer? Because I’m scared of the stigma. Being pamsexual in a hetero relationship, I’m someone no one really would consider queer. They either think I’m confused, or experimenting; I’m not gay enough to be included in queer spaces but I’m not straight enough to feel comfortable in straight spaces. It’s a weird feeling. There’s a lot of discrimination within the queer community. Biphobia is a huge issue. I saw a meme that said if a man is bi they consider him actually gay and if a woman is bi they consider her straight but confused, because no one can accept a sexuality that doesn’t revolve around men- and that really stuck with me. I’m nervous to be open about my sexuality because people have only seen me with men and I fear they’ll think I’ve been hiding something or I’m actually just straight. Just because I’m in a hetero relationship doesn’t mean I’m not queer. I feel like I have to somehow prove my queerness, like post a photo kissing a woman, just so people get it through their heads that queer people come in all shapes and sizes, and, yes, you can know someone your whole life and never know they’re queer. I am learning to be less problematic. I’ve always secretly and silently felt some discomfort towards masculine lesbians and trans women and I’m unpacking why that is. I believe it’s due to my underlying lifelong fear that I would be stigmatized as severely as they are. I resent their confidence despite their oppression. Deep down I want to dress more masculine sometimes but fear being categorized as a masculine lesbian, even though I know this isn’t a bad thing in the slightest. The bias comes from the messages I’ve been exposed to: women should be feminine, but I know this isn’t true and I am working to stop believing this.

As a woman, I’ve messed up too. I’ve judged women for being attention seeking, for the way they dress, for the way they talk and act, and for embracing traditional gender roles. I’m a feminist, and I’ve still fallen into the pit of sexist thinking. This is what I mean when I say no one is immune. It’s how you handle it that matters. I’ve learned to question my automatic thoughts if they support oppression and get them out of my head. I’ve learned that there are many people in these communities who support their own oppression and do great harm to themselves unknowingly. Unlearning what society tells you is a process, but we all need to start now. Wherever you do and don’t hold privilege, learn how you can be less problematic. Just because you don’t hold privilege in an area doesn’t mean you’re not problematic at times! All oppressions are interconnected, so we must address all our biases against all groups of people (including non-human people).

I know how exhausting and defeating living under this system is, but we must take personal responsibility to do the work to take this system down. You will make mistakes, but if you take all feedback from others to heart and improve, you will be helping create a more equitable world. Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve been problematic; this is a lot more genuine and helpful than denying it. Sitting on the sidelines and staying silent won’t do anything for social justice- use your various privileges to amplify the voices of oppressed folks and actively join their efforts. I’m proud to finally embrace another aspect of my identity and I will continue learning about systems of oppression and becoming a better activist every step of the way. It’s not a matter of being problematic or not; as humans, we all are at times. It’s a matter of making amends for any harm you may have caused, learning better, and doing better, and doing your absolute best to be the least problematic you can be. As an activist, that’s all I demand, and I hope you demand that from yourself, your peers, and your communities as well. Let’s turn everyone from passive supporters of oppression into active advocates for social justice.