Just start.

My best friend sent this to me today after I sent him an email jam-packed with pain that I’ve been having a hard time articulating.

Start now.
Start where you are.
Start with fear.
Start with pain.
Start with doubt.
Start with hands shaking.
Start with voice trembling but start.
Start and don’t stop.
Start where you are, with what you have.
Just . . . start.

-Ijeoma Umebinyuo

When I first read it, paralysis side-swiped me. But I’ve surrendered to it, and marinated in it, and as I was cruising a website, I remembered something about someone I recently met. That they’re a photographer. And the description of how they shoot and how they regard their models was enough to make me at least reach out and inquire about what it would take to do a shoot. Because I made a promise to myself earlier this year to work for: 

Radical personal body acceptance including:

  • more photo shoots
  • more acceptance of the three parts of my body I have the most trouble loving
  • actively hone body self confidence and increase time spent with people who bolster that in me and themselves and others

Also, it made me look up Ijeoma Umebinyuo and holy fuck, she amazing and now I need to read her book.

And even though I updated the list that promise was part of in March, to include a resurgence of interest I had then in sex, that part didn’t change.

I realized, I’m also starting in other ways, recently, too. I’m pursuing some play opportunities with old and new friends, writing ISOs for events again, and I made arrangements to go a new(ish) kink event with a friend next weekend.

It might be time for a 3/4 year check in post for that bucket list, now that I think about it, because I’ve also discovered two things that weren’t on my radar when this year began that I now want to try. Also, I’m behind in reading and want to kick my own ass into gear for that.

Now I just also have to figure out how to take better care of my body. Been trying to take better care of my mind. Got a therapist, who’s awesome. Started writing more, including writing about my pronouns and struggle with gender. I want to write more even more frequently, and I’m trying to write more songs. Went to a song writers meet up a few months ago. Have to go back soon. Also sang in public on the boardwalk. Want to do that again soon. Have been trying to find different ways to communicate with people to get needs met. Trying to make my life better. It just hurts a lot and is really difficult right now. But.

I’m starting.

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“Said woman take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine.”

Title from the song “Patience” by Guns N Roses

What do you do with neediness?

An ache in your body that can only be soothed by contact with certain people? And sometimes, only by certain types of contact?

I don’t want to be too clingy with anyone in my life. But it’s a hard balance between not being too clingy and feeling so hungry…for interaction, connection, touch, sensation, service, submission.

There are things I don’t know yet with the burgeoning new relationship that hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. I mean…there’s chemistry. Dear god, there’s chemistry. And mutual interest. But who knows what it’s going to look like and feel like once we actually have time alone together? So we wait and see. I’ve got a laundry list of questions and such that are…too early to ask. Or I’m too scared. I’m afraid to want it too much. Eventually, there will come a time. Some have come up naturally so far.

This whole thing is unfolding in many unexpected but awesome ways, so I’m just going to trust in it to keep doing that with some gentle direction. Not a death grip. Not with panic. So I pull back. Gently…trying to avoid the desire to run fast and furious in the opposite direction the way I’m used to. Giving it room to breathe and grow.

And with my husband, there’s a balance of when he’s got his own stuff going on and how to help support him while also trying to get what I need. And when his stuff is off, and he pulls away, as it currently is, balancing that with my stuff being off is…difficult. I wind up feeling exhausted and sad and really needy and I don’t want to be that.

I’ve been wanting to go back to the fetish club in town, but I’ve either been too tired or we had date night planned or I’ve been too raw to be around people I don’t know that well yet. Hopefully this weekend, as it would be good to find local connections.

So. I listen to music. I write. I try to reach out to the few other people who understand. I try to take it slow and not get too ahead of myself.  I’ve been kneeling every day just for practice and reconnecting to the feeling. I’m glad I started now because if anyone were to tell me to at any point in soon, I might’ve just started crying like I did by myself that first time. Or not. Who knows? I’m just glad I’m dealing with some of this now so it doesn’t spill over and color everything. Just gonna keep trying to find other ways to feed the need that’s been sleeping for so long.And the ones that haven’t been but have nowhere currently to…find rest and release.

Fucking February and All The Feels

Fair warning disclaimer: This post is going to be long, all over the fucking place, full of links to blogs I’m finding helpful, free-association lyrics, fast-forwarding and rewinding, and just a whole bunch of stuff I’m trying to extract from my brain and heart.

For some reason, over the past four years, February has had a habit of kicking me right in the feels. Without fail, by the end of the month for the past four years, I’m inundated and overwhelmed by whatever has happened in the few weeks of this brutal, brilliant, abbreviated month. I mean, for fuck’s sake, it’s the shortest month of the year…how does it ALWAYS manage to pack a gut punch and a half? It probably doesn’t help that Valentine’s Day, with all it’s socially trappings and expectations, is in there, along with my wedding anniversary. Which my husband did the sweetest thing as an anniversary gift. At Wicked Faire this year, he had the DJ tech person play our wedding song during the Later Night Atrium Dance Party so we could dance to it. (Cue the chorus of “awwwwws”).

All told, it was a mostly good weekend for us personally, except for the one night he fucked up a promise. That hurt. But we’ve discussed it, he’s apologized, and we’ve moved on. And the next night’s anniversary present helped. But I’m glad that it didn’t affect him hanging out with his girlfriend and that he got to spend one of the nights with her. Long distance relationships suck, especially when you only see each other a few times a year and you’re also working during those times.

Anyway, this year, February’s Fucking Feelfest snuck up on me. I though I could escape the flood and was dealing with the past and present well. And maybe I am. But it all finally overtook me last night.

This year, there were good things on the horizon early on in the month and exciting things that happened and I made strides that I hadn’t expected. For instance, I got my ass back up on the burlesque stage, went completely topless for the first time on a public stage, pushed myself in some ways within my own relationship only to find it really didn’t need pushing at all and was completely fine, stood up for myself when things were not going as promised and mostly handled it productively.

These were the normal ups and downs, with some extra awesome thrown in. For example, seriously, so happy about performing at the last Wicked Faire. This song was floating in my brain most of the day Saturday:

I don’t know why I’m frightened
I know my way around here
The cardboard trees, the painted scenes, the sound here
Yes, a world to rediscover
But I’m not in any hurry
And I need a moment
The whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways
The atmosphere as thrilling here as always
Feel the early morning madness
Feel the magic in the making
Why everything’s as if we never said goodbye
I’ve spent so many mornings
Just trying to resist you
I’m trembling now
You can’t know how I’ve missed you
Missed the fairy-tale adventures
In this ever-spinning playground
We were young together

“As If we Never Said Goodbye” – Sunset Boulevard

But there were also some crazy, head-exploding moments from the weekend, including seeing someone in an entirely new light and trying to reconcile all of that then freaking out a little and doing my best to not run in the opposite direction for fear of fucking everything up, having him laugh at me, not knowing the current style of his relationship with his girlfriend and not wanting to inadvertently hurt her which would suck because she’s amazing, and just generally it took a lot to keep that together and to myself and sometimes I failed spectacularly. Added to that was the fact that I still had to do my job, and had that performance I was just talking about, and for some reason, decided this was the event I was going to experience the party side of the nights so I got into two room parties I’d only ever heard of previously. Wound up having some intense, awesome experiences and conversations. The more I opened up, I found, the more there were awesome people around to further the amazing experiences, from an really cool guided imagery massage that helped me sober up to a really interesting conversation about poly and couple privilege that has rocked my brain a little and given me a perspective on it that I never considered before.

Woman, open the door; don’t let it sting.

I wanna breathe that fire again.

-“Read My Mind” by the Killers

And there’s a part of me that’s just aching to breathe the fire I’ve felt before again. To rise from the ashes and explore feelings I get so rarely. And I have to temper that with other people, distance, time…life. But it ties into me wanting to get back into playing and unearthing my kink drive again, which has been dormant for way too long. Sure, she gets out and makes a quick walk around the block sometimes, but on a whole…I know I can go deeper. I have gone deeper. I need to go deeper again. Thankfully, there are a few interesting prospects on the horizon, but it’s coming back down to a game of hurry up and wait. But I am grateful for those people in my life who are there and want to explore and play with me. They are some truly excellent people.

Then there’s the thing where all of the people and things that are happening currently remind me or touch on some part of my past. The metamour who might be core monagamous or poly-friendly, but there’s no real way to know yet is dredging up some things from how I used to be when I first got into poly which is, in turn, pointing out some glaring mistakes I made that I now regret. Part of me wishes I could tell that to my two exes, but since they’re not talking to me, it’s a moot subject. Well, maybe not moot. Just I only get to have internal realizations and not apologize directly.  And really, there’s so much more to it than the mistakes I made anyway, but those are the only things I can control and apologize for. And god, I would apologize for the apparently standard practice of poly newbies to create rules up the wazoo in a fucked up attempt of protecting the primariness and specialness that I was so desperately afraid of losing. In my case, and in many cases, from what I’m reading and have read over the years, it tends to have the opposite affect of and instead pushes people away. Also, knowing now how better to handle jealousy and where it comes from, this article that I read years ago on the subject makes so much more sense.

Really, jealousy is just a fear of something being lost or taken away. It’s a feeling that points out where you feel there is an imbalance. And the “feel “part of that is the most important, to me, at least. Because it’s not always the case. Something isn’t necessarily being taken away. Sometimes it is. But sometimes new and wonderful things can be there to replace it if we let them. But for me, I’ve finally learned that when I’m feeling jealous, it generally doesn’t mean that I want the other person to stop what they’re doing, but that I’d really like some of what they’re doing, maybe at some point in the future.

For example, when I get jealous of the screen of emojis I see my husband texting to a love interest, it doesn’t mean he has to stop sending emojis or stop texting that person. It means I tell him that I’d really like to get some of those at some point, too, to spice up our texts. It has nothing to do with limiting or controlling his behavior anymore, in an attempt to reinforce that I’m The Most Important Snowflake Ever. I come from a place of love and knowing that he can send emojis to more than one person and it’s okay. But it’s equally okay to say something in a non-accusatory way about trying to get some sweet, sweet emoji loving, too. But on the flip side, if he’s doing that during a pre-set date night with me, then that’s a problem and I’d ask him to stop and let his sweetie know that we’re on a date and he can sext her lots later or tomorrow. In that latter case, it’s not about controlling my partner’s behavior, but both of us honoring and respecting the time and attention of the partner we’ve agreed to spend a certain amount of time with.

I’ve been struggling with this concept of poly with no rules for a while now, but it’s making more sense to me. The more I let go of my fear with my husband and begin to open up to the people he wants to explore with and the people I want to explore with, the more I find this ringing true. But it’s still struggling with my hierarchical core. But what I’m finding more and more is that once I transcend the fear of abandonment and realize I will be okay whether or not I have a primary, the stronger my primary relationship gets and the happier we both are pursuing the feelings and desires we have outside of each other. It’s a weird paradox, kinda like that quote about taking a leap and building your wings on the way down. And it’s come with its fair share of tears, anxiety, confusion, and loneliness. But it’s also been balanced out with a joy and openness and relief I didn’t expect. Also, I still think “no rules” can coexist with hierarchy, but it can get complicated.

Along the lines of where my head is kinda at right now, there’s this article that focuses more on solo polyamory, but has a quote I adore:

“…falling in love doesn’t equate to inhibiting your freedoms or my own. When I fall for you, it means you mean something to me, and I ultimately want to be a part of your life that makes you happy and builds you up. I’m not expecting anything from our relationship beyond the present moment, but I’m also not closed to the idea of a deeper connection developing. I want to see what happens when neither one of us is pushing or angling for anything.”

SO MUCH THAT.

Man, love is fucking complicated.

And just like in that article, I had to learn the hard way that love does not equal compatibility, nor does it alone solve relationship problems, nor does it mean I have to sacrifice myself endlessly in the name of love. These were hard lessons to learn. Four years ago in February, a day after Wicked Faire ended, I woke up and asked my now ex-husband a question that was the catalyst for us all (I was in a triad marriage) to begin the long, painful process of ending a relationships/marriages that had stretched from 10 to 13 years.

And it sucks because even though there are multiple reasons why it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m better off now, and they are, too, it still hurts. There’s the part of me that wanted my first real love to want me more than anything else. Want to stay with me forever. “true love” was supposed to be in my favor. I started out as the primary, after all.

How sad and sweet it is that I actually felt that way. My understanding about the nature of love has evolved so much over the past four years that it’s kind of staggering and I have to catch myself up sometimes. Remind myself that what feels familiar is not what I actually believe anymore. Remind myself that there’s so much of the stuff in this article that I used to do because I was so afraid. Demotion, displacement, intrusion…well, I tried not to do too much of the intrusion. But god…I was a wreck when we first opened up our relationship. In between being in love with our then girlfriend, I was a goddamned wreck. My boyfriend’s chemistry with her was palpable, and for an empath who hadn’t even begun to learn much about being an empath, that just fucking wrecked me. I couldn’t feel her in the same way as I felt him and her. I now know, since hindsight is 20/20, that that also had to do with the fact that I was a cuckquean, but had no clue about that word or what it entailed way back then. This all created some intense drama and difficulty that was sometimes balanced with moments of poly clarity and brilliance. Sometimes balanced.

Fuck, it’s been a long road.

More than anything, I’m really happy to have discovered this piece about Casual Love by Carsie Blanton because it sums up my feelings about love. I used to think it was this precious commodity that came with specific things that I should have or get or that other people should do to ensure my primacy and specialness. Now I endeavor to understand and embrace love in all it’s messy glory. For friends that are awesome even when they’re annoying, for family even when they cut you so deep you examine everything about who you are, for lovers who make really fucking huge mistakes, and for all the good that all of the above do, and all the experiences that we’ve shared and could share in the future.

It’s funny; a friend and possible D/s partner texted me recently to tell me he had an odd realization about me that he wanted to share. Apparently, he feels I don’t have a mean bone in my body and I have an openness and kindness in my face that’s apparent.

Upon reading this, I was struck with two conflicting reactions. Being touched and outright laughter.

It’s an incredible compliment to be considered so open and kind. It’s also hysterical that people don’t think I don’t have a mean bone in my body. I’m human, for fuck’s sake. As I told him, I believe everyone has a light and dark side, including me. I just try really hard not to indulge or dwell in it. All humans have both inside.

Granted, I’ve spent the better part of two decades trying to over-correct for the mistakes I saw people making around me when I was growing up, like racism, homophobia, xenophobia, fear of any new experiences or people or things. I respect and honor my dark side and work my ass off not to let fear run my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel fear, or that I never have mean thoughts, or that I haven’t done stupid, thoughtless, bad things. Again, see HUMAN. But I over-analyze so much about relationships and people and that includes myself, so I prefer to err on the side of joy, wonder, and discovery. This quote from Rainer Maria Rilke is one of my favorites and it’s kind of my motto:

“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm…But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence.”

I think this approach to being open to enigmatical things was what led to me exploring my first ever casual sex experience at Wicked Faire last year. (again, y’know, February). Which was great, but I still kinda went stone butch in that I had no problem giving sexually the person I was with, but wasn’t able to accept sexual reciprocation. I’m not disappointed; this person gave me some AWESOME and totally fulfilling sensation play that I was craving.

But now I’m trying to sort through some even more mysterious feelings and trying not to get too far ahead of myself, because there are other people involved and I’m states away and have a lot on my plate and it’s just got levels of complexity and…yeah.

It’s a lot to sort through and last night, after talking with the new person, I just got off the phone and needed to drive. And cry. And sing. At the top of my lungs. The open highway called me and I just let it all come in. Felt it all. The past, the pain, the sensation, the burlesque and creativity, the love, the loss, the moving on, the fear, the desire, the concern…just so much to feel and process.

And just some bonus content…a playlist of songs I can’t get out of my head lately that fit various parts of all this:

  1. Read My Mind – The Killers
  2. Just Enough – Charlotte Sometimes
  3. I Get Off – Halestorm
  4. Dreams – Brandi Carlile
  5. All This and Heaven Too – Florence + the Machine
  6. Amazed – Poe
  7. Epoch – HUMANWINE
  8. Holding On To Good – Delta Rae
  9. Fearless Love – Melissa Etheridge
  10. Independent Love Song – Scarlett
  11. Suddenly – Les Mis MPS
  12. As If We’ve Never Said Goodbye – Glee version, from Sunset Boulevard
  13. Arsonist’s Lullaby – Hozier
  14. Have to Drive – Amanda Fucking Palmer
  15. Time Ago – Black Lab
  16. The Winner Takes It All – Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia
  17. Fake Plastic trees – Radiohead
  18. Wild Awake – Tylan
  19. Under Pressure – Queen/David Bowie

Tilling the “fertile chaos”

So this horoscope for the week just happened by Rob Brezsny:
You have cosmic clearance to fantasize of participating in orgies where you’re intoxicated and free of your inhibitions. It’s probably not a good idea to attend a literal orgy, however. All the cleansing revelry and cathartic rapture you need for now can be obtained through the wild stories and outrageous scenes that unfold in your imagination. Giving yourself the gift of pretend immersions in fertile chaos could recharge your spiritual batteries in just the right ways.

“Fertile chaos” is probably the absolute best description of what my brain feels like after the past week. From the time we flew in on Wednesday to now, I’ve been bombarded with sensation, expectation, experience, people, desire, growth, hugs, changes, fires, anger, joy, pride, pushing myself outside my comfort zone, and so much more. Intense doesn’t even begin to describe it.

There are many lessons I learned throughout the course of this week, too. Things like:

1. I can perform with two of my exes, we just simply don’t have to speak to each other. It’s not what I prefer, but it’s their choice and I respect that.

2. Thankfully, with other exes, I’m lucky to still have a strong connection and playdate possibilities…if only I could find the time. In fact, there were two people there I was hoping to play with or even just spend more time with, and it just didn’t happen. Way too busy. I’m crossing fingers for the GKEs, as I’m not foolish enough to think anything can happen at SPWF, unless it’s Thursday or Sunday. During the event? Not bloody likely.

3. Gin & Tonic should be sipped not chugged, no matter how flummoxed I am. Thankfully, both times came when I was off shift and had finished my performance.

4. I need to do more burlesque. It was exhilarating and felt like I was home. It was the most normal, perfect feeling in the world stepping on that stage again. And fuck, I missed being backstage.

5. The people I work with are incredible and took amazingly good care of me while I was in a compromised state of G&T haze. From the guided imagery massages, to the full on knee-in-my back, to the escort to the bathroom, I was loved and cared for throughout. People also checked in on me the next day and just overall were awesome.

6. The energy from this event was just so overwhelmingly GOOD. From the people I worked & performed with to the attendees to the hotel to weather, to the support I personally got..it was all incredible.

7. I’m able to see where I’ve grown. For instance, in the past, the way I spent Thursday night would’ve be difficult for me. This time? Only a little, but for unrelated reasons. I’m learning how to work with compersion even when it’s complicated and I love that.

8. I’m able to see where I haven’t grown. I finally feel confident in my job and like I have my mojo back for performing, but when it comes to lining up play, even with people I know and like, or figuring out why seeing someone in a new light shocked the fuck out of me, and I’m a fucking basketcase of raw nerves. Or, apparently, fertile chaos. It’s just trying to decide what to plant in this land. How to get the sensation and submission I’m craving without freaking out about it or just pushing it down and pretending it doesn’t exist.

9. I’m able to embrace the wild serendipity, most of the time, at events. Like thinking I need to talk to someone and three seconds later, they come around the corner. Or walking right into someone I thought wasn’t coming but really wanted to who wound up being able to drop by just on one day and I managed to cross paths with them in that brief pocket. AND not only getting a wonderful hug, but also a clarification that he’d like a cuddle date with me at the next event we’re both at, to which I very enthusiastically agreed and am SO looking forward to.

So all of this and more is swimming in my head. New burlesque numbers to choreograph, scenes I want to have, sadness that this was the last Wicked Faire, fear of pursuing new possibilities or making myself look like a moron, better strategies for drinking, how to get my needs met, awesome people and experiences and feedback. Fertile chaos, indeed.

“Show me how you burlesque…”

A friend dropped this empowering and hilarious article (I Took My Clothes Off For An Audience As A Plus-Sized Woman and It Ruled) on my Facebook and wanted to know my thoughts, as a plus-sized founder and former co-director, choreographer, and dancer of a burlesque troupe. Who’s also about to go back on stage for the first time in three years next weekend. *gulp*

Anyhoo, the writer is someone who’s never seen a plus-sized burlesque dancer. Which is really the only unbelievable part of the whole thing, because oh, honey. Where do you live that they don’t have plus-sized burlesque dancers? What sad, cookie-cutter place is this and please can you start performing regularly to bring some body positivity and diversity to the stage?

That aside, the article fantastic. Kristin Chirico, part of the BuzzFeed staff (so jelly of THAT position!) decided to take 4 burlesque classes and try her hand at a burlesque performance, all while writing and photographing her journey. Her tone is one I envy: hilariously self-effacing without truly belittling herself. She is fearless in the face of hyperbole AND a corset, which I just love.

However, delving deeper, my friend wanted to know what I thought about Kristin’s observations of learning about and how to do burlesque. Here’s my take.

Straight off the bat I love her intro, which goes like this:

Hi. My name is Kristin. Like many of you, I am a hot fried basket of fears, insecurities, and anxieties, particularly when it comes to my body.

This is because I have spent a lot of my life, regardless of how big I am, being told (explicitly or implicitly) what I’m not allowed to do or be because of how I look.

But one of the things I have been told I DEFINITELY can’t be is sexy — especially in a plus-size body.

So — because I love making rule-makers unhappy — I decided to try the sexiest body-related thing that I could think of: BURLESQUE DANCING.

AMEN, sistah! My previous post where I decided it was time to get my ass in all it’s fat glory back on stage came from a similar place. I’m tired of being told I can’t be sexy. I’m tired of feeling not sexy. I’m gonna do something about it, and so did Kristin. Rock on!

She then goes on to summarize that “burlesque dancing, in case you don’t know, is a big sexy creative celebration of the body.” YASSSSSSS.

BTW, her teacher, Natasha of Hells Belles Burlesque, is wonderful and the type of teacher I’d like to be if I ever got back into burlesque fully (we’ll see how the performance goes next weekend!) She tells Kristin that “burlesque is an environment where everyone feels accepted” and while that’s not always the case (cosplay and anime audiences can be brutal for plus-sized women, as can dive bars – ask me how I know), I think that’s the spirit of burlesque. She also reassures Kristin that “no matter what happens, everyone is going to love it.” I’m really glad she had and instilled that much confidence in her student and that she knew her audience that well.

So Kristin starts learning choreography and has to battle her own asshole brain (we all have an asshole brain part) that tells her that she doesn’t look sexy but more like she’s “smugly shaving her legs”. But kept on keeping and went on to talk about her costume and name.

Her take on costuming:

We also wanted to make the corset really special-looking, and that meant sticking rhinestones on it until it could be seen from space.

“Yay!” I said about hot-gluing rhinestones to my corset, because I had forgotten literally everything I ever learned about hot glue.

See what I mean about an awesome sense of humor?! It’s totally true that many types of burlesque try to make things as shiny and sparkly as possible. It’s also totally true that people get excited about rhinestoning until they actually have to…y’know, adhere a kajillion little fucking pieces of sharp-ass sunlight to their costumes.

In selecting her stage name, she asked her officemates, but they weren’t helpful so she “ended up going with “Cherry Ontop” because it’s a pun on my name and it can double as my Bond girl name if my life ever takes a really drastic left turn.”

Then it’s back to actual choreography for her number, which, as she wisely notes, is “NO JOKE. I spent so much time trying to remember all my steps that I almost didn’t have time to focus on how ridiculous I felt.”

It’s totally true! Choreo is NO FUCKING JOKE. You have to count and time things, and remember it all, and feel the music, and make the audience feel like you’re doing more than just waiting for your next movement. You have to make it all come together in a way that the audience can relate to, swoon to, crave more from. It are srs biznis.

Important note:

The other thing about flipping your hair is that it basically turns your glasses into little projectile weapons.

OMG, yes. This is why I don’t wear my glasses on stage. I’ve found that since I can’t wear contacts anymore (a sad Rocky Horror-related injury and I hate it but such is life) it’s better to go “blind” than to risk my glasses whipping off my face, into the audience, and likely breaking from the adventure.

She talks about learning to remove clothes and how it’s not as simple as taking them off. Oh, no, no, no. There’s ART in the removal:

In burlesque, you can’t just remove your clothes — that’s for normals. You go slow. You make the audience work for it. You use your teeth! And once an article of clothing comes off, it becomes a sexy prop that you can run all over your body.

But then she touches back on the plus-sized thing and something I had to struggle with when I first started doing burlesque:

Eventually the idea was for me to make it look sexy, but slowly taking my clothes off just felt to me like I was screaming, “LOOK OUT, HERE COMES MY BODY!” like a very artistic emergency warning system.

*sigh* Yeah. It’s true. You have to get past that asshole part of your brain that tells you that you have to warn people of you impending nudity because they’re not going to want to see it. That you have to apologize for being onstage with the audacity to make your body move in sexy ways. That there’s no way that you or they should be *gasp* enjoying it. You have to just punch the fuck out of that asshole brain part and then relish in your sexiness.

Another thing she covers, which helped me understand why some people I know don’t like to practice (some of those “people” are me. Sometimes.), is why people don’t like to practice.

I realized then why I don’t like practicing things, and it’s because practice is a reminder that you are not good at something yet, and sometimes it’s painful to be faced with that, especially when there is good stuff on Netflix.

Yup.

But it’s really important to practice, especially in your WHOLE COSTUME. Otherwise, you get to dress rehearsal and realize you don’t know how to bend in a corset. I’ve been there many times. I’ve choreographed many routines in socks, leggings, and a t-shirt only to realize that those routines are VERY DIFFERENT when you add stockings, heels, a corset, two bras, two skirts, two jackets, and a boa (or feathery snake of doom, as the feathers will get everywhere. Feather boas are second only to glitter with their insidiousness stealth migration patterns.) Cause I have totally done THAT costume.

From there, her confidence begins to build. She starts to “discover (and be impressed by) all the fun things my body could do.” (GO girl! It’s awesome when you get to that place.)

Her teacher, Natasha, notices and asks if she’s sure she’s never had any performing experience before, and this is where I got a little misty-eyed.

And then I suddenly realized, oh, right! I was a theater major, but I stopped performing a long time ago. And in that moment, I felt more than a little bit of regret that I did.

When I was in college — and had boundless energy and time — I noticed pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be given opportunities to perform unless I made those opportunities myself. I spent a lot of time writing and acting in my own shows alongside all my friends who also couldn’t get roles. But constantly having to fight to make sure you are heard takes a toll. And by the end of college, the message had been pretty firmly drilled into my head: Lady, no one wants to see you on a stage.

I wish I hadn’t listened. I wish I had known what I know now, which is that sometimes people don’t want to see or hear you for reasons that have nothing to do with you.

But I know that now, and that’s a start.

Amen and halleloo to THAT. But my favorite part was still to come. (And it’s not even her slaying her number, which she did, btw.) It’s what she decided right before she went on stage:

I accepted that like it or not this is happening, so when they announced me and I walked up onstage, I just decided, right then and there: I am welcome here because I have decided that I am welcome here.

I am welcome here because I have decided that I am welcome here. That is going to be my new mantra as I walk on stage next weekend.

Her wrap up of the article and experience was also very empowering, and I’m glad she said she’s up for doing it again:

I’d do it again because it was fun. Because it was great exercise. Because it gave me perspective on all the amazing things my body can do. Because I got to learn that I have powers I never thought I did, and because I can enjoy doing things even if I am not an expert at them.

Because nobody should spend a decade being terrified to perform for some reason as trivial as “someone might not like it.” Because that “someone” is usually a big whiny complainer who is mad for reasons that have nothing to do with you.

And also because rhinestones are totally boss.

Hells yeah, Cherry Ontop. Kudos to you for helping to bring body positivity to the forefront and adding more to the tableau of sexy, confident, plus-sized burlesque dancers. You’re totally boss, too, and I’m immensely grateful for this article. Now I should go work on my costume and practice for next weekend. 🙂

Fuck the non believers!

A friend recently said this to me:

We’re part of the same tribe. You’re beautiful and strong. Warrior moon goddess siren mermaid. Fuck the non believers!

-Diana

That’s probably one of the best confidence boosters I’ve ever had. 🙂

Then there was horoscope from Rob Brezny:

On a clear day, if you stand at the summit of Costa Rica’s Mount Irazú, you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s not hard to get there. You can hop a tourist bus in the nearby city of San José, and be 11,200 feet high two hours later. This is a good model for your next assignment: Head off on a stress-free jaunt to a place that affords you a vast vista. If you can’t literally do that, at least slip away to a fun sanctuary where you’ll be inspired to think big thoughts about your long-range prospects. You need a break from everything that shrinks or numbs you.

The emphasis is mine, because I need to remember and reinforce that. Taking a break. Waking my soul and passions back up. I already feel the life coming back into the dusty parts of my soul. The parts that craved creativity. The nooks and crannies of my bones that need dance and music and confidence to move correctly. To breathe.

I had forgotten. How had I forgotten? Being overwhelmed by life didn’t help. Massive relationship changes and heartbreak. Someone disregarding my ability to be sexy and me listening for a little while. Feeling intimidated. Sitting too much. Taking on too much stress and not relaxing.

Working for goals in the new year are underway:

I’ve been playing my uke. Not everyday, but 4 times more than last year. Dancing, moving, and/or stretching every day. Pushing my students and myself more in class. Slowly starting to eat better. Getting back on stage in February! Read my first book of the year and this is my third post of the month and I’m almost back on that once-a-week schedule of blogging I’m aiming for. I also made strides in asking for what I want from my husband in bed, so that’s good. But clearly, that last section from this post needs way more love.

These are good things. I am grateful for them. My plan is to keep making more of them happen.

I’m gonna make a change…or twenty-something

Welcome to a New Year, where millions of people claim to become a new person, complete with new workout gear, new organizational stuff, new eating habits, and a brand new outlook on life.

Until somewhere around February or March.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic because further down, I’m gonna roll out some of my own resolutions for this year. But I’ve been through many years and many people I care about and many I don’t even know talking about how on January 1st, “everything’s gonna change.” And if that works out for you, mazel tov. More power to you. No, really. I want those people to have even more power so they can continue to do awesome things.

For me, I’m finding that January 1st is a fairly arbitrary day that only gains power to inspire change because we all buy into it. There’s nothing magical about the day. It’s a man-made construct of a new year. Others have different constructs. There’s a Chinese New Year, a Jewish New Year, and I’m sure there are more for different cultures and religions and groups of people. And while the specific date isn’t important to me, the New Year has led to some fairly in depth reflection.

My body tends to follow a calendar of Paganism, even though I’m not practicing currently. Winter tends to be the time of introspection. A time to take stock and plan for the coming year. What worked last year? What didn’t? What has been eating at me to change, what progress was made? It’s a time when cold, barren land protects the seeds within it that will, in a few months, spring forth with the season.

It’s happening at work with budgetary discussions and the dying of one event to make room for the life of another. It’s happening in my house, with taking down the Christmas tree, putting away the decorations and presents and being thankful for the previous year and going on a slow cleaning binge. We’ve got a new vacuum and everything!

And it’s happening deep inside of me.

There are things I know I need to do. Hell, my last post was a damn long rant about one of them: getting back into burlesque.

But there are others.

I’ve kept them close to my chest for a while, but I’m ready to let them out into the world. Potentially to create some sort of accountability, encouragement, and just…to make it real. Of course things can be real living inside my head. But change is motion, movement. If a thought is just in my head it doesn’t mean much until I put it out there – as a conversation, part of my writing, in song, working out, hugging, yelling, etc.

So here is my attempt to actualize.

It’s time to get my health under control. My blood pressure has soared with the stress of this past year and my doctor is concerned. I’m concerned. I’m working on it, but I need to do more than take my medicine as directed. Things like:

  • meditation
  • push myself and my students more in classes
  • eating better – which will likely be it’s own post
  • dancing, moving more, and stretching every damn day
  • Finding healthier ways to deal with my anxiety and depression, even if it means meds again
  • reach out to friends and loved ones for emotional support instead of bottling

I want to be more creative this year. As such, I’m going to:

  • Play my ukulele more – I’ve already begun to learn a new song!
  • Sing more
  • Write more fiction
  • Finish at least the first draft edit of my book
  • burlesque and dancing
  • force myself to learn to use the awesome gift my husband gave me last year, with the awesome gift he gave me this year.
  • Read 27 books in a year and write at least a small review about each. I did Cannonball Read in 2013 and actually made it to 52 books and reviews in a year (!) That was incredibly stressful (but still awesome) so I’m going for a half Cannonball which is technically 26 but I’m going +1 because I don’t like even numbers.
  • Post a blog once a week. Which, technically,the Cannonball Read takes care of half of that, if I want it to.

My body craves D/s and sex and attention and receiving ASMR. Therefore, I plan to:

  • Reach out to more people locally and regionally
  • Ask for what I’m interested in
  • Rejoin the local kink scene
  • Be clearer about what I want out of date nights
  • Seek out casual play at events
  • Try to afford regular massages. “Regular” might mean every few months, but still
  • If not always massages, pedicures. Never knew how much I loved pedicures until my sister introduced me to the wonders. So good. And toes so pretty!
  • Find friends who want to read to me for ASMRing. One dear friend did this at GKE last year while another gave me a massage. That was close to bliss, aside from the pain that was being worked out of my lower back.