30 Days of Posts - Day 1

I've been sitting and percolating on what I want to offer the world, and I find that I am my own worst block. I write, I share and I FEEL, but what am I doing with all of that? Nada. Zip. Zero. That changes today.

My gorgeous cat Jane woke me up at 5am this morning and I couldn't get back to sleep. I often have anxiety when I wake up in the morning. As a solo entrepreneur and artist, it all boils down to me, and that sometimes feels really stressful. Missed deadlines, lags in replies and overall not-hitting-the-mark creates agitation in my belly and my heart. It sometimes feels like a baseline in a strange way, as if everything I do has a thread of stress through it. Herein lies my work. 

We can only heal/love/do unto others as we heal/love/do unto ourselves. I've been a dancer, healing arts practitioner and advocate for landing firmly in your own heart for over a decade now and I feel harassed by how little I have to show for it. I choose the word harassed because it is a feeling and voice that lives inside of me, undoubtedly informed and programmed by social conditioning that nips at my heels and my gut like a persistent, yappy dog. It is tiring and boring and yet ever-present. So what do I do with this?

There is a quote that I love and use constantly:

Learn in the doing.

I am tired of wallowing and beating myself up for not putting my work out into the universe. I know that I have so much to offer (just as you do), and I'm really tired of feeling jealous or resentful of other folks who are doing exactly that - making their magic happen no matter what.

When Jane woke me up this morning, I felt the low pit of anxiety in my belly and asked myself, what on earth can I do to move this? And this came forth. 30 days of blog posts. As someone who has struggled with consistency and commitment, part of me is like oh lord, something else to fail at. But there's another voice - one of promise and possibility that is quiet and solid like a river-washed stone: smooth, clear and unmoving. So here goes.

Day 1 complete.

Love to you all and let's see what comes! 

A Full Moon Post

Riding back home on the train last night, I started crying while reading the news. I am scared and very nervous, and I am doing my best to reach for the highest thought possible. Amidst the sea of emotion, I have a deep, quiet voice within that assures me to breathe and stay the course. Hence this post.

As a white, liberal, formerly straight woman, I have not known struggle on the same level that black and brown people have, that gay/trans/non binary have, that Muslim or Jewish people have, and those too with disabilities. I have had creative struggles, emotional hurdles and general steep life learning curves, but I have never felt threatened or in danger in a primal, survival-based way. I don’t know what it’s like to walk down the street and be scared that I could be killed by a cop, or a white supremacist, or anyone in a position of power who would end up getting off with impunity. I'm a woman, which has given me a bouquet of life experiences, but I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to not personally know physical or sexual violence, and I’ve always had the means to have a roof over my head and access to needed resources with no questions asked. 

I remember learning about white privilege and feeling like I had just gotten hit by a truck. Long story short, I learned to lean into my discomfort and use my privilege as leverage, to begin to help other white people examine our privilege without fear or shame, blame or judgement while sitting quietly and listening to the stories told by black and brown Americans so that I may learn and keep learning so as to be an effective ally and accomplice in the collective awakening of our world. 

My great-grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. My father doesn’t talk about his family as his father was likely so traumatized that he turned to numbing out through destructive behaviors and was shut down to those who needed him most, like my dad. I can’t begin to imagine the trauma, and there’s a lot more to that story. The wounding goes so deep, and I long to know more about my family who were killed by the Nazis. I can’t change history, but I can feel them in my blood and in my bones, knowing of their fates and wondering if their souls could talk to me, what would they say? 

So where the hell am I going with all of this? That’s a good question. My head and heart are swimming with emotion and worries and concerns for the safety of countless people at the effect of this government. I can’t think about the global refugee crisis without wanting to throw the towel in and run deeper into the woods than I already have. That urge to hide is one I know well, and it is one that I am actively negotiating with because that urge, that reflex no longer serves my purpose.

Another word for privilege is convenience. I like to offer that word to folks who are having a hard time understanding the nuances and pervasiveness of white privilege. It’s convenient to be overwhelmed and do nothing. It’s convenient to numb out by hopping onto social media or an app that will devour hours of your time. It’s convenient to avoid the news and do nothing because it all feels like too much. Convenience is an illusion, and we lose a crucial part of ourselves to this urge, this habit when we numb out and let time slip by.

We are living in unparalleled times, and in a way we aren’t. History and the present moment alike have countless stories of destruction and collapse of people, races, and civilizations. We are not alone in facing adversity of this scale. It’s just the first time we’re seeing this in these bodies.

America is no longer what we believed it to be. Trump’s election has shown us the vicious, hateful and inhumane underbelly that our country has been built upon and is now governed by. That in itself is a massive reckoning, because it goes against the narrative that so many of us have held dear as Americans. We have some very scary realities and signs that this horrific downward-sloping rollercoaster is far from over, and much like me last night on the train, it's not uncommon for people to be collapsing in tears right now from rage, helplessness and fear. 

I have been turning to civil rights leaders and their examples to help me make sense of what's happening right now. I came across this tweet yesterday, and am sharing it precisely because Rep. John Lewis, civil rights activist and congressman, has walked the walk and talked the talk for decades, and his message lifted me up. 

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I think back to my rude awakening into the reality of white privilege. Realizing how bad black and brown people had it in this country turned my stomach and frankly shut me down for a few months. I couldn't handle the truth. I couldn't handle the brutal reality that had been hiding in plain sight for my entire life. Coming to terms with that felt like laying down part of me; my innocence, my idealism and my reflex to make shit into sunshine. I am grateful now, looking back on it, for it provided me a baptism by fire, and for as searingly painful as it was, it vaporized in the face of what black and brown people have had to face every single day of their lives as residents and citizens of this country.

It is time for us to get very clear on what is in our hearts. If you are feeling helpless or depressed, reach for anger. Move up that emotional ladder. Anger is a powerful accelerant. It can push us into action, and it can help give courage and words to speak what our truth is. Please know, though, that anger in itself is never justified. Do not stay in that place. Do not reside in anger, for it will burn you up. Honor the grief and sadness that lie beneath it if you choose to use your anger for good. Apply that fire to the change you want to see happen, and reach for the hope that Rep. Lewis talks about. Look back on the civil rights movement, where black people's lives were in imminent danger and they faced those cops and forces of hate with the strength in their hearts and conviction in their souls. Pay attention to that fight, because the tools they used and the message they proclaimed is the one we need to be using now. 

We have chosen this time, these conditions and these bodies for a reason. We are being pushed into our purpose by the anger and the hate that we are seeing. The fight is far from over, and I invoke the energy of a warrior for those of us who are wanting to fight the forces of authoritarianism, of hate, of narrow-minded belief.

As Rep. Lewis says, this is the struggle of a lifetime. We were made for these times. I urge you to drop any resistance you have to that and begin to step into your purpose with the conviction of what is right. Your family, community and country need you to have the courage to speak what's in your heart. Now is not the time to be silent. If you are scared, then please speak for those who don't have a voice. Speak for the children and families locked in detention centers. Speak for the victims of police brutality and hate crimes. Speak for the countless people whose voices, stories and histories are ignored or swept under the carpet. Use your privilege as leverage. We are the ones we have been waiting for, and our voices are needed more than ever.

postscript: I write this for myself as much as I do for you. Fear has played a big role in me staying small. I now hold that fear as I would a child in my arms and take a step forward with the intention of continuing for as long as I have breath in my lungs and energy in my body. It is a step by step, day by day, moment by moment process, and it's one that I know will lead me to where I need to be going. The opposite of certainty is faith, and I choose to fortify my faith by speaking to what I want to see happen. Please, please, please cultivate the courage to stand up for what's right. Get out and vote, make your voice heard, and above all take care of yourself. We need you, and we love you. 

In truth, simplicity and love with plenty more to come,

Legs

 

Thinking out loud about being enough and doing what it is we're here to do

Since a very young age, I was told that I should be a writer. It was a compelling idea, but not one I ever put much energy into. Sure, my head was brimming with ideas, but who would want to read them? 

I was given the lesson as a young girl that things are only worth doing for the achievement. It fits, then, that if I couldn't achieve, then why bother doing it? My apathy and listlessness masked a deep seated fear of failure, of being made fun of, but most crucially, a lack of belief in myself. I had never been taught or shown that I was worth championing or encouraging, and so when faced with a project or task, I would achieve for the praise, for the look on other's faces and for the instant of applause. Inevitably, the praise would fade, and I would be left where I started, desperate to seem or appear to be enough so people would love me.

This changes now.

We are here to make a difference, to affect the world around us by simply being ourselves. We don't have to put masks on, or glitter, or a fancy costume at the end of the day. We do that because we want to, but if any part of you is doing that to "make up for" or replace who you actually are, please see the waving red flags that flutter around that belief. 

When we define our value by something that is outside of us, we are setting ourselves up to stay small, hurt and "not enough". That cycle, as vicious as it is, is a shared one by so many other people. This is where codependency comes from, and the definition only changes when we begin to invest in ourselves, not in something that lies outside of us.

A shared human belief is that we, each "I" is not enough. We have these ingrained beliefs of not being enough, or not being worthy. I thus ask you this:

What does "being enough" mean? 

If you are holding yourself in comparison to someone else who has achieved something, please know that you have a choice. By comparing yourself to someone who is better/flashier/smarter/prettier, etc, you are setting yourself up for despair. If you admire someone who holds themselves in a certain way that is attractive or highly polished and say to yourself, I could never be like that, you're actually right. You can't be like that, because that's not you! That's someone else!

So what to do? How on earth can we make better choices?

What if being enough meant showing up with your skills, tricks, emotions, gifts and beautiful self? You may not have been taught that that's being enough because somehow, you're damaged goods. If that is the case, please begin to release the grip of that belief on your body and mind. It's just not true. The only reason that was told to you was because the person telling you had been told the same thing, and keeping people in check is a way of feeling powerful when at our core we feel totally powerless. 

We cannot help other's light shine brighter when we keep ourselves and our light dim. 

So I propose to you a possibility of choice.

WHAT IF:

- you chose to love yourself no matter what

- you paid yourself a compliment when you notice how good looking you are

- you said thank you to yourself every morning upon waking up and every night before going to bed

- you looked in the mirror once a day and said, "You're a badass and I love you."

When we choose love, we change our lives and we change the world.

So I'll be writing more from here on out. It will likely be messy and all over the place, but I'm ready to be okay with that. I can only make progress by actually doing whatever it is that I want to grow, evolve and expand.

All love <3

My 2017 BurlyCon Closing Speech

I was honored to offer the closing speech at this year's BurlyCon. By request, I have posted it here. Comments are welcome and please share with attribution. Please enjoy! 


Hello everyone!

I want to start by acknowledging how each and every one of you showed up this weekend. No matter how you participated, I invite you to take a moment and appreciate everything that you've done and how you contributed to this glorious, glittery juggernaut. You showed up, and that is no small feat. Well done.

I'd love to talk today about two things - truth and completion.

We are living in an unprecedented time of change both collectively and personally. There isn't a single corner of our lives that hasn't been touched by change, and with change comes lots of emotions, adjustments, negotiations and choices of surrender and resistance. There is a powerful tide of truth rising. This is both personal and collective, and I encourage you to ground what I am speaking about into the truth of your own life.

When shadows are exposed, there is darkness certainly, but what dispels it is the presence of light and of truth that allows everything to be seen exactly as it is.

For anyone who is scared of truth and what it forces us to confront and accept, please know there is nothing to be scared of. When we begin to get comfortable with speaking, singing and dancing our truth, we create empowerment anchored in the unwavering presence of love.

With truth comes completion.

When we rise up and say what we are done with, we quicken the dispatch of the oppressive systems that are dependent upon abuses of power and their perpetrators.

By embracing conscious completion, we build the resonance of integrity, resilience, and courage that we and our communities can use to bolster ourselves and each other in times of fear and uncertainty.

Completion clears the slate. Completion allows in the sacred energy of death so that something new can be born in its place. Completion allows us to move on as we let go of what no longer serves us.

Please remember that when something ends, something new always begins, and that you have a say as to what comes in to both nourish and support you.

So what are you ready to be complete with?

Maybe you're done with your old burlesque paradigm as you integrate the new moves, skills and tricks you've learned over this weekend.

Maybe you're done with feeling "small" as you begin to embrace and own how big you  truly can be.

Or maybe you're done with the presence of lack and are ready to accept the deeply nourishing faith that you are more than enough, that you are worthy of love and that you have something truly valuable to offer the world.

If you are asking yourself who the F am I to be telling the truth and stepping into completion and claiming my own light, I ask you who the F aren't you to be doing this?

For those already speaking the truth from your hearts, I see you and support you.

For anyone coming to terms with the messiness and discomfort of truth, I see you and support you.

For those who aren't ready to be complete, I see you and support you.

As we cradle and heal our individual and collective wounds, may we always acknowledge and activate the presence of love so that we may respond instead of reacting.

May we cultivate the willingness to see things clearly so that we affect our own lives and the lives of others with consciousness and love.

May we show up with love no matter what, knowing that when we show up for ourselves, we make it easier for everyone else to show up as well.

May we let go of what is done so that we may fully land in each present moment, loving ourselves fiercely and fully.

I wish each and every one of you a safe trip home. Please take exquisite care of yourself. You're integrating a lot, and I see you and I support you in loving yourself no matter what.

I love you and thank you.
 

Inaugurating this with words

Hello, all!

This is just a quick note to say hello and welcome to my blog! As of right now, it's called exactly that - my blog - but I hope to have a much zippier name soon enough.

Ever since I was little, I have been told to write. Truth be told, I'm not great at the discipline of writing, but when I sit down words simply flow out of me. After my time at BurlyCon (www.burlycon.org for those who aren't familiar), I realized it's time for me to make good on those words by committing them to my screen. 

What will I be talking about? Who knows! Likely whatever I want to, which will range from the spiritual to the vernacular and then some. Only one way to find out, and that's by reading and checking back occasionally!

Wishing you a restful, easy moment, and while you're reading, go ahead and take a nice, deep breath. You deserve it.

With love and so much more to come, 

Rev. Legs xxxx