Two Dogs, Gourmet Nachos, and Dancing in the Living Room

Sometimes I move through the world with a sword drawn, shouting about injustices and forcing everyone I meet to feel things through the bodies of the marginalized, even for just a moment.

Other times I move quietly; sword at my side, eyes turned to the mountains or the sunrise. I feel defeated and concerned that change will never occur. Unable to educate one more person who defends their privileged position while simultaneously telling me they “get it.” During these times, I am tired. Too tired to speak or write; battling the urge to flee into the wilderness, find my tree ancestors and never return.

I have not posted anything for a bit. My eyes and ears have been focused on the wild places; my thoughts turned inward. This morning, as I hiked with my two dogs up an icy, slippery trail, I pondered my lack of interest in writing. I have spent many days in the last month telling myself to write. I started drafts. There are always issues, wounds, and events that bring on righteous indignation about which I could write, but lately I have been asking myself, “what’s the point?” The people who need to see and hear are not reading my blog. I dug my heals into the frozen earth and pushed myself up the mountain, ruminating on my existential crisis. Who is reading my blog? My fellow gender variant and queer trailblazers! I heard a small avalanche in the distance as the sun warmed the snow, causing it to slip from its rocky bed and thought, “what can I offer my community?”

So rather than preach to the choir, this post shall outline how I attempt to remain whole, healthy, vibrant, and vital in the face of discrimination, ignorance, hate, and injustice. Maybe these words will act as a cozy, queer* blanket for other people who face injustice on a daily basis.

Ways To Stay Sane When the World is Such a Mess:

  • Eat really, really good food: Seriously. I buy the best locally sourced, organic food I can find. I spend time looking at recipes and trying out new things to cook. I thank all of my food before I eat it. A warrior needs sustenance. We can’t fight if we aren’t fed and we can’t get nourishment from processed chemicals. Gourmet nachos are the way to go.
    • Note: I am privileged enough to be in a position to buy really, really good food. I hope that one day local fresh food will be affordable to all people. I am so sorry that it is not.
  • Share above really, really good food: I like to feed people. I make feasts, I invite people over, and I feed them. It is so satisfying. It makes me feel connected and I get to have time with good people. I’m lucky because even if people can’t come over I can always feed my spouse! I made a chocolate cake after work the other day (double layer, round, huge and delicious) and the two of us ate the whole thing (not in one sitting). I also sent some over to my neighbor. Goodness.
  • Body love!: I am worried that people will think I’m nuts when I share this, but it helps me so much. I try to spend mindful time telling my body how much I love and value it. I write letters to body parts that I used to hate and thank them for existing. I stare at myself naked in the mirror and whisper, “So beautiful! An exquisite rendering of the human form!” I remind myself there is no wrong way to have a body. 
    • Note: I do not have Body Dysmorphia or Gender Dysphoria. I understand that engaging in this type of activity could be counterproductive or harmful for some people. It helps me, but is not universal. 
  • Time in the wild: I cannot live without connection to earth and wild places. I believe that all people need connection with nature, but our consumerist, indoor culture is great at severing us from the earth. May I suggest bare feet in soil? Arms wrapped around a tree? Watching the sunrise or sunset? Nature offers solace and comfort in the face of environmental destruction, discrimination, and hate crimes.
  • Dance! Dance! Dance!: I would be a sobbing mess, face down on the floor, if I did not dance as a way to resource myself. When I start to feel way too full of anger, sadness, despondence, or hopelessness, I get my groove on. Sometimes that is in a formal class, but more often it is in my living room. I dance the pain; I dance it and feel it and transform it through movement until it gives way to something else. Movement is life. It works.
  • Live your creative self: I also wholeheartedly believe in creative expression of all kinds. It matters not if that expression is oil painting, song composition, quilt-making, or writing. It could even be finger painting, sing-a-longs in the hot tub, dancing with your partner in your bathrobes, or building snow creatures. Someone built an igloo in our neighborhood park last week! If we stifle our creative selves, we block energy and lose vitality. We cannot be warriors if we feel blah.
  • Find your community: For me, this means hanging out with my fellow queers*. It is so refreshing to have some time with people who I don’t have to educate! We do call each other out on privileged blind spots, but I am grateful for that. I never want to stagnate and I hope that I am always examining my privilege. More often though, we just get to laugh and relax in an environment that isn’t threatening (until the board games come out, then it’s every queer for xemself!).

Engagement in the above activities does not guarantee a happy happy joy joy mental state all of the time. Rather, the above self-care routines simply support my continued desire to exist. Sometimes I am blissed out, ecstatic, joyful, and happy, but at other times I am sad beyond all reason. I think if one is remotely awake in the 21st century, then one is sometimes sad. Besides, emotions are fleeting. Nothing is permanent. Beyond the doldrums are the sillies which roll back to the doldrums which move towards the sillies. Whoa, I just felt that wave I created. We live the tides of the oceans and there must be a reason for that.

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Each day that I wake, I will praise, I will praise.
Each day that I wake, I give thanks, I give thanks.
Each day that I wake, I will praise, I will praise.
Each day that I wake, I give thanks, I give thanks.

-Nahko and Medicine for the People

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