Category: on being a woman


Happy Birthday to my dear brother!  23 cycles around the sun.  When I worked as a Montessori teacher’s aide during college, we had a whole birthday ritual where we all sat in a circle with an orange spherical candle in the middle. The birthday kid got to light the candle (a special opportunity to play with matches), and then co carried a globe, skipping in a wide circle around the candle while we sang: “the Earth goes around the Sun, tra la, the Earth goes around the Sun, tra la, the Earth goes around the Sun, tra la, tra la, tra la, tra la.”

Happy Day, David, dear brother.  If I were at home I’d post a picture of you in celebration.  But I”m not at home.  No, on the road again.  This time in DC, giving a workshop on Awareness, Communication, and Sensuality for a group of folks from Network for New Culture.  Yum!  I’m a bit nervous, and so I’ve excused myself from the group to “check my email”, but I notice that I’m enjoying the solitary activity away from all these strangers who know each other already.  It’s always a challenge for me to enter into situations like this, where I feel like I have to prove myself before the workhsop in order for people to take me seriously when I”m presenting.  I tend to slip into “actress mode”, smiling and charming and fascinating… but it’s exhausting and inauthentic and it perpetuates an image of female power and beauty that I don’ t want to play into.  So I’m working on being more real, more balanced, more focused…

This isn’t a time I really want to be away from the commune anyway, with all of the flowers blooming and leaves budding on the trees and children running around and adults running around and the pond just warm enough to be jump-in-able, and still cold enough to be thrilling.  I’ll jump in first thing when I get back.  Leap out of the car and strip off my clothes as I’m running down to the water…  mmm… that’s the image I’ll hold in my mind as I’m sitting in DC traffic!

Quick update on what I’ve been doing, since I’ve been incommunicado for a bit.  I’ve been travelling north, stopping in Rhode Island for a fantastic wedding of some amazing people I’d never met (a friend of the friend I’m traveling with), and then up to New Hampshire to stand naked on the edge of an icy mountain, then to Vermont to meet more great friends of my travel partner, and now Maine.  I visited the family I lived with 5 years ago as an apprentice on their farm, and got to watch the whole maple sugaring process (the sap has just started flowing — perfect timing for a visit to New England.)  Last night I taught a class about Twin Oaks at the Maine College of Art (MECA), and today I’m teaching at the University of New England.

The presentations have been going well.  I’m more prepared than I’ve been for the last many presentations I’ve given, and the preparation is really paying off.  I’m happy and brilliant and passionately ranting and chatting with students for 20 minutes after class ends.  Ahhh… this is the life.  Last night I stayed in a fancy Bed & Breakfast and took a long bath and read The Fifth Sacred Thing (which I’ve nver read before — I’m loving it), and this morning I had strawberries and ice cream for breakfast!  The berries and cream, though, can’t compare to the glorious feeling I have when I’m standing in front of a room of 30 college students describing the freedom I feel when I’m walking down the path at Twin Oaks without a shirt on, and they’re staring back at me with alternating smiles and bewilderment and horror.

I’ve actually been having a bit of a challenging time, personally.  Self-judgement stuff, recognizing how stuck I am on figuring out whether I’m essentially, universally, spiritually Right or Wrong.  Yuck.  I’m feeling a lot better today after having such a great time with this last class.  One more talk over lunchtime, meeting up with my travel partner, and then we’ll begin the journey south this afternoon.    What a life.

I’m down at Tekiah again, the community in southern VA that I’ve visited a few times before. The community is dissolving after 13 years because they haven’t been making it financially and the woman who has really been the heart of it, Joy, is moving to New York. My partner Pax, his partner Hawina, their son Willow, and our friend Spot have been down here for a few weeks helping Joy finish things up here and saying goodbye to this place. This has been a significant place of retreat for us, a three hour drive from Twin Oaks. There have been major Samhain rituals and other healing rites held here. The land is beautiful and the community has been open and flexible. I came down a few days ago to help out and drive the clan back home tomorrow. We’re saying goodbye to the land, closing their hemp hammock business, and honoring the work that we’ve done here (especially interpersonally — Hawina and I have really evolved our relationship during our stays here, as have Hawina and Spot, Joy and Pax, and all of us as a group).

Last night we helped Joy host a farewell party in Floyd, the small funky town in which the community is located. About 40 local folks came, including many people who had lived in the community and then moved to town. We had a light solstice ritual, and then a “saying goodbye to Joy” ritual where she put on her coat and walked away, out the door, while we sang a song and waved goodbye. We rested for awhile in the feeling of having her gone, and then she came back in for cake and dancing! It was a sweet and powerful experience, for her especially.

My big news now is that I’m hurt. I was dancing at the party, right at the end, and I did something that squinched my back and now I’m having a hard time with pain whenever I move. Yikes. It feels pretty significant, like it will take awhile to heal. Joy and Hawina are both wonderfully talented healers, and they’ve been giving me a lot of love and attention. I noticed that my first instinct when I got hurt was to go hide in a corner behind a table and stretch on my own, but then Pax came and found me and got Joy to help me. It’s so interesting to me that my first instinct was to go hide by myself, when I was surrounded by people who I know are healers and who I know love and care about me. I think it was a “I have to be happy all the time” kind of thing, thinking that other people wouldn’t want to deal with me when I was struggling. And of course, that’s not what I THINK; on some level, I guess it’s what I BELIEVE.

When Joy came over to me, she had me lay down on a long cushion so she could work on my back. At one point she asked me to roll over so she could work on me from a different angle. I couldn’t. My muscles just couldn’t do it. Eventually a few people came over and helped me roll slowly onto my side. I laid there, with different people coming over to work on me and talk with me and just be with me, until the party and cleanup was all over. When we were ready to leave, I struggled to get up, wanting to do it myself and simply being unable to. Pax and Joy helped me get up, and I felt so sad and frustrated that I started growling. “Yes, do that!” said Hawina. “Do what?” “Do that release thing you were just doing. Let it out!” And I growled loudly, which turned into a yell and then a scream and then sobbing. “That’s it, let it out. Keep going,” Hawina said. And I screamed and cried and yelled and at some point I looked down and saw two year old Willow staring up at me with a huge smile on his face. He was just beaming. This morning I was hanging out with him and I told him I was having trouble moving because I got hurt last night, and I asked him if he remembered when I was crying and yelling. “Yeah, it was a song” he said. “A song?” “Yeah, it was like a song.”

So, here I am. I can walk slowly pretty well, and I can sit without pain. Getting up from laying down is very diffucult, and I haven’t figured out a way to put on my shoes successfully (Hawina and Joy have loved helping me with my shoes, kneeling down at my feet, each taking a foot). Joy has been massaging me hourly, and I’ve been doing ballet exercises in front of the woodstove — keeping my back completely straight and doing plies and other french-titled moves. I’m getting lots of love and allowing myself to recieve it. It’s amazing what a conscious choice that has to be — my first inclination is to feel guilty that I’m taking so much time and energy from them. ! What a fucked up mindtrip. When I realized that was going on in my head, I intentionally chose to trust that they were doing it out of a place of love, and if they didn’t wan’t to be doing it, they wouldn’t be. So there, all you messages of inadequacy perpetuated by mainstream culture! hah ha! I choose something different. I choose to nurture myself, and allow others to nurture me.