Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fenfest 2012

The heart of the matter – Fenfest 2012

We write it down.
Sketch with pencils long abandoned,
set it to music years in the making,
speak it, yell it, cry out with voices that may sometimes go unheard.
We frame it with a lens,
cook it into nourishment for many,
sign it,
make magic wands and fragrant goddesses.
We install the voices of those who are long forgotten.
All we dream and create honours our intentions and
our deepest souls,
the fears that we have abandoned in a week of courageous mind-searching.
We pass the sticks and are witnessed.
We pass the sink and wash the accumulated dishes.
We pass by our co-travellers and share a hug.
We pass by the river and abandon our clothing, surrendering to sweet currents and healing touch.
We pass the blame and are rightly challenged.
We pass the salad tongs and share in the bounty of the earth, the land, the souls that contribute to our healing.
We pass the learning, loving and sharing to the next generation.
Strong women we are, and loving men, and shining deities we have all become
in one week together, and a lifetime of accumulated lessons.
A wise woman leads us, wise enough to know when to follow, when to invoke silence, when to leave.
And we honour her with our passing through her gates,
and passing out into the world with our dreams of peace and love.
As we take our golden orbs homeward
the highways glow like arteries from a central heart beating;
through the interstates, beyond the borders,
clinging hopefully to vapour trails across the country.
We remain connected
in our most vital places
with gratitude and love.
(written with love and heartfelt gratitude to Ferron, Mary,  my beloved Melyssa, Karin and her girls,  Emily, Beverly, PJ, Jen, Maria, Michelle, Jenn,  Linda, Jane, Susi, Bill, Sue, Esyule, Renee and many other shining souls who witnessed both in body and in spirit.

Monday, June 4, 2012

burn out

The news is making me sad. And tired.

I'm watching a giant shift take place - a shift that seems to be taking place in spite of insurmountable odds. Wall Street. Montreal. There are large numbers of people out there protesting - peacefully and vocally - while I sit at home. But while I am not physically there, I support these movements in spirit.

My country is in the hands of an oligarchic, money-hungry Conservative government that cares nothing for the people, the beauty and diversity of the land, or the protections enacted over the years to protect people from hardship, and the country from environmental ruin.

I feel despair at every turn. How do we stop these monstrous wheels of government from turning? How can I, one woman with a job, a home to run, and many things to take care of make a difference?

I do what I can and it seems like so little. My square foot garden is providing me with vegetables to eat all summer, and food to preserve for winter. I try to make a tiny little footprint by buying local, by upcycling, by avoiding packaged food and supporting local businesses and craftspeople wherever possible. But what is that, compared to the gutting of most significant environmental protections, so that oil can be extracted, pipelines can be laid, and lands destroyed without consequence? Am I really making a difference?

I have words to say, I write them down, and I dream up a spoken word piece that encapsulates my feeling, my belief that if we work as one, if we rise up, we can win. But at the same time, the energy to resist leaves me, and I become like a balloon with a pinprick. I gravitate back to despair. How can we create the country we want, the country that holds beauty and promise for our descendants, when those in power, and those with money are hell-bent on destroying it?

I haven't felt this negative in years, not since my post-coming-out depression. It's hard to shake. It's difficult to think positive.

But there is something greater than hate. And something better than despair.And I can only hope that we will endure this struggle and win.

Now I need to find my way back to love and hope.

Friday, May 18, 2012

five months

since I last posted.

Not for lack of inspiration.
I have plenty to say.
There have been so many good things happening, so it isn't a wave of depression.
Or writer's block. I am writing.

So what's with the blog silence?

  • I made a commitment to myself almost two years ago to write every day, first thing in the morning. Two or three pages, or sometimes more. Sometimes it's half a page, depending on what time the girl awakens and begins her daily round of chatter. The eight-year-old, I mean. Many days, my morning pages are all I have time for.
  • Having three people in the household gives me less time in general. Not that it's more work, but I have to spread myself around a bit more. 
  •  I own an iphone. I use my iphone to surf the net all the time. This means that I use my laptop a lot less than I did a year ago. I have not yet found joy in blogging on my iphone.
  • Like the shoemaker's children, I am currently barefoot. My web-designing and social media savvy partner is so busy designing websites and Facebook pages for other people that she hasn't been able to work on mine - this in spite of the fact that she bought me my own domain name four months ago. I was kinda waiting....but she needs to actually make money in order to stay self-employed, so I understand. Eventually, I will migrate to my new home.
There are so so many good things happening....

In January I started taking voice lessons for the first time, from an amazing local teacher.  She also teaches guitar - so we combine both elements in our lessons. I have become a much more confident player. And I am slowly, but surely, overcoming my performance anxiety.

I think.

It's the last shred of the social anxiety that's haunted me all my life. In elementary school and high school I was overweight, awkward, and bullied. I've written enough about that part of my life to fill a book - maybe someday I will - but it left me silenced, in the most literal sense. I've always had difficulty communicating. I should put that in past tense, because I don't feel that way anymore. I had to work hard to overcome my social anxieties - which were once very severe. I forced myself to learn the social skills I'd missed in high school.

I learned - at least on the surface, to chat, converse, and make small talk. It's only been the last few years that I've been able to really open up to people. If you look very closely, you can still see the painfully shy girl I used to be. And I will always be an introvert, but hopefully one who is able to perform her music and poetry in public. I have a lot to say.

My teacher Charlena has been an inspiration. She's a singer-songwriter herself, but she's also a classically-trained vocalist, so she hasn't been letting me off easy. I need someone to make me pull up my socks and  improve my upper register. In April, after an extremely productive weekend at the Fen, I finally had the courage to sing one of my own songs to her.

It was hard.

She loved it.

Which has given me the confidence to keep singing, playing and writing.

It's not like I don't have people in my world who support me. Melyssa is my rock. But I've never had the guts to seek out some kind of peer opinion - this in spite of the fact that there are several people that could give me feedback if I asked. So I feel validated, I feel like I can really give myself the name "musician" without overstepping my bounds. And I have a growing list of my own songs that I will perform with confidence. Some day.

Everyone needs a Charlena in their lives.

As for other good things....

I love my job.
I love my girls.
I love Melyssa and everything she's brought into my life.
I love to garden, and I have almost 100 square feet to play with.
I love sustainability, and 100 square feet will feed us, and give me enough vegetables that I can preserve and freeze for the winter.
I love my guitar, and the way it rings when I play it.
Summer is coming. Ferron is turning sixty this year and I will be there! You can be there too. (By the way, what do you think of Ferron's new website??) I have three major events over two weeks - Ferron's birthday, Michfest and FenFest. I am beyond excited.
I love words.
I love music. Here are a few choice tunes to entertain and inspire you.

Did I mention that I saw Amy Ray in concert last week? Cannot get enough!

And finally, Ferron. Four years ago I stumbled into one of her writing workshops and I am forever changed.

crikey, I almost forgot...I'm going to be a grandmother. A very young grandmother with lots of creative, young energy flowing all around me.

Friday, January 27, 2012

late bloomer

I've been blogging for almost four years - longer, if you count my old xanga blog. But it's only been the last four years where I have really come into my own, come out to myself, and to the world at large about who I am.

When I was a high school student, withdrawn and ashamed, I would never have believed that I could take the stage, that I could speak or sing words that people would listen to, that would resonate with any audience. And here I am, in my mid-forties, discovering things about myself that I never realized were possible. My performance anxiety, my ignorance of my true self-worth has held me back more times than I care to think about. I sense that this phase of my life is coming to an end.

It is never too late. To come out, to learn new things, to build your confidence, to take on challenges, to put yourself on a different path. I've sensed for a few months now - and dreamed, and visioned - that this is my year to take my inner changes and forge a new outward path. It began last week.

When I was preparing for Cliterature 2012, I read the piece I chose to a good friend of mine, someone who always tells it like it is. And she challenged me - what I had written was good, but she felt that I could go further. If I am writing about my own sexuality, why skirt the issues. She suggested I write about my first experience with a woman. And I did, but I realized I had more to say.

Four years ago, give or take a few months, I discovered that I was not the only woman who waited until her mid-forties to fully explore and discover her own sexuality. I met women who were experiencing exactly the same thing - and I was so relieved to find them, to share experiences, joys and pitfalls with a community - however formed, whether or not we ever met in person - that I will always be grateful for their presence in my life. You know who you are. We've commented on each others blogs, emailed and messaged each other, connected through facebook, and twitter and sometimes even in person, although most of you are scattered across the continent.

I want other women, those beginning this exhilarating and frightening process of coming out, remaking their lives, reveling in self-love to realize what I learned - in such a difficult way - four short years ago. You are not alone. You are loved and loveable. There is joy and fulfillment on the other side of coming out.

I wrote  and performed this for you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

from the archives

 I haven't much time to post this week - I'm getting ready to do a performance piece next Saturday at a local women's  event  devoted to women's sexuality called Cliterature.  

Am I nervous? You bet I am. I suffer from acute, shaking, nerve-wracking performance anxiety. Fortunately, I've been building my confidence with vocal and guitar lessons....and I am reading, not singing. I am determined to let go of my fears and have fun.

In the meantime I've been going through some of my old notebooks, again, and pulling out things I like. This one is a few years old...please enjoy. And perhaps, if the video works out, I can post my own performance right here, after the show is over.

Morning muse  
She says “Wouldn’t it make sense to stay home with the cat, curled up soft and purring on the blanket?”
Snow flies past the window, swirling, and it obscures the houses across the way. The window is open the tiniest crack, and bits of white cold are floating in, not far enough to reach the bed, but enough to singe the air with frost.

“Don’t go,” she begs me. "Whatever it is can wait. See how the cat sleeps, tail wrapped around his body, covering his cold nose? He purrs mindlessly, surrounded with warmth. He doesn’t care if his shift starts in an hour, or if there are uncaught mice scampering across the snow. His body says sleep, and he sleeps.”

Shift him over a bit, that’s the way. Goddess, your feet are cold. Closer, now.

"You could call in sick. Or maybe school is cancelled. Checking the road conditions requires movement and I’m staying right here."

I’ll move my hand with the
that makes you squirm.
I like to watch that.

And while I watch, and sink and purr, like the cat, and the snow flies outside, while the leafless branches moan with the wind’s caress, while we are, I know you are somewhere else. I can’t follow you there, although I’ve tried, I don’t know the words that might unlock you. 

And I want so much to see you open, your heart mind body, but I can’t get there with you.


What closed you, and when?

"It shouldn’t be this much work. I’d rather have it all served up on a big platter and know instead of guessing. Instead of having to penetrate, I want to guide my fingers effortlessly through the fluid of your inner workings. I constantly watch the mirror of myself as we evade what’s tough. Each of us immutable, and yet unreachable."

"Can we start with something simple? What do you like, for instance?"

 I answer “I like to watch you sleep.
I like the way coffee smells in the morning.
I like layers of soft, warm blankets and silk pajamas that rub against my legs.
I like the sun as it hits the western horizon and spreads red across the sky.
Colour, I like colour. And the way the hills roll softly on the drive from Waterloo to Wellesley.
I like the spice of dal, the heat of curry and cayenne,
the coolness of the yoghurt, the sweetness of chutney all together in my mouth.
I like to coax tiny plants that cling to life.
I like the smell of basil, the crisp taste of garden-fresh spinach.
 A clean house. Apple butter dripping off a knife.
Aimless wandering and long stretches of sand. Darkness, no light."

"What about you? What do you like?"

"No, don’t reach for your clothes yet...."