Monday, June 8, 2015

Don't Read The Comments...

Today I made the mistake of reading comments on articles and videos. I don't usually do this.

The first was an article about a petition to the International Olympic Committee to have Caitlyn Jenner's Olympic medals revoked. She will keep her medals. I'm glad, she earned them. But what does the vocal American public think about this? I read comments about how Bruce Jenner should keep HIS medals that HE earned, but that Caitlyn is now a different person so they aren't hers. This is ridiculous. She earned them. When we make life transitions, the slate is not wiped clean. We are still the same person. I have a high school diploma and a college degree in two different names, and neither match the name currently on my driver's license. Yet, these are still my accomplishments. No one can take that away from me because I earned those, no matter what transitions I go through in life. The comments meandered through various degrees of transphobia. It made me ill.

The second item I should not have read the comments on was the video of the black teenagers being violently chased away from a community pool by white adults and police with guns out, pointed at the kids. I couldn't watch the video, but I read far too many comments. Every single comment I read was about how these black kids were guilty by just the color of their skin, naturally prone to criminal activity and obviously out of place. Every. Single. Comment. The kids were called "urban" as if the color of your skin dictates the environment you are confined to live in. The comments get worse and worse, and I can't bear to repeat what was said about these children. I felt as if I could cry rivers for how much of this these children must face.

Mainstream America is full of racism, transphobia, classism, homophobia, and more cruelty than I can imagine realistically. I have been dwelling on this all day in sadness. I have been reflecting on the world I have grown up in. The sadness & reflection can act as fuel for my social justice activism if I stay mindful about it.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Seeing, Naming My Transformations

Last night Crystal Blanton posted this quote on Facebook that got me thinking:

"My hips are too wide to pass through the narrow corridor of your mind"
-Chief Luisah Teish

This morning I was getting ready to go to the vigil for the 6th anniversary of Oscar Grant's death and couldn't help but notice that my hips have widened more and I am no longer the scrawny woman I was a few years ago. But I checked in the mirror and, yes, I liked what I saw there. (Damn, I've got nice curves!)

Last night I posted my New Year's Eve blogpost to Facebook and realized that this blog is in dire need of a name change. Something less diminutive. Something with strength. Something that demonstrates more of my stability and groundedness than the nomadicness I was feeling a few years ago.

I also feel the need to update the picture here that is actually from 5 years ago. There's more of me now. More depth, more hips, more power, more clarity, and maybe a few more gray hairs too. (Mmmm... and more love.)

There is no reason to take up less space, with my hips nor my words. In fact, there is every reason to take up more.

Dear 2015...

I promise to blog more, because I have a lot to say. I promise to do more for the kind of changes I want to see in the world. I promise to be less and less of what society thinks I should be as a woman/mom/disabled person, and more and more of what I want to be as a person, disability and all.

And, I will rename this blog for it's new incarnation and the new year...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

As 2014 Comes to Closing Time...

In roughly 5 hours, the year will come to a close here on the west coast. It hasn't been an easy year, but but it has been a year of significance.

In January I lost my beloved 12 year old cat, one half of the Panther Brothers, Hektar. He passed away in the cold night after escaping my attempts to keep him in the house so I could assess the need to take him to the vet. His brother, Inari, became more clingy and remained that way through the year, other than some strange adventures to a neighbor's house later in the Fall.
In March I shaved my head and then 3 of our cats were shot near our house. Sparkle and Kuro were both shot in the head and ended up losing their right eyes. Twitch was shot in the thigh. But our community and beyond came through for us and thousands of dollars were raised towards their vet care and our ability to care for them through the tragic ordeal.
In May I began a journey of trying to help a friend through mental illness that tried my patience, my health, and the resiliency of my family.
In June we took in two feral kittens, now named Amelie and Trouble, who were brought to us by a neighbor. We've grown rather attached to them and they've found their way into the hearts of almost all of the critters living here.
In July I joined forces with Lucid Dream Lounge Productions to help with the opening of the historic Palace Theater not far from our house. I also learned the hard way that I have epilepsy. A few things ended up pulling me away from the amazing work of the theater however...
In August my youngest child started 7th grade in a public charter school after nearly his whole life being spent homeschooled. He was very excited when it began but later we would learn that the semester would end with hard feelings from bullying, distance from his homeschooled buddies (his best friend also moved out of the state), and other learning interruptions of public schooling.
In October my divorce finally came to a close after over 4 years of struggling towards that end. But, we also said goodbye to my sweetie's beloved canine companion, Miss princess Biscuit. Many tears were shed and everyone here still misses her terribly.
In November I took part in the Pantheon Foundation's first online conference, which was devoted to Pagan Activism. I spoke on the Care and Feeding of Pagan Activists panel as a disability rights activist. It was a frightening and amazing experience all at once, but we made it through the tech issues and the conference was very successful. I am looking forward to participating again next year.
The end of November and all of December exploded into demonstrations, marches, riots, vigils in Oakland and Berkeley as well as across the nation and even around the world. Solidarity across the globe became visibly through the internet and I hit the street to reclaim my place in the world of social justice action. I learned to be the kind of ally I would want to have, following the lead of the east bay black community.
December ended with my 38th birthday, auditioning for and being cast in the Vagina Monologues for V-Day 2015, and some major shifts in my children's lives and futures.
The year also held the further decline of my physical health and many various medical tests.

So that's my year in a (kinda lengthy) nutshell.

Every year one of my friends from way back in my Fresno days (pre-motherhood) does something called One Hour. "Take at least one hour for yourself - your own agenda, your own desires, your plans and hopes, map the progress in your life you hope to make in 2015. Ask yourself the hard questions. Face your fears. Look ahead to being that person you most want to be - it's a new year."

This is my One Hour here with this blog post. (It has already taken me over an hour to get this far).

So what does 2015 hold for me? So much richness, love and intensity, no doubt. What better way to begin a new year of intention than to witness the vigil tomorrow for Oscar Grant at Fruitvale BART where he was shot, unarmed, on New Year's Eve 6 years ago. I stand committed to the end of police brutality and the police state. I will stand up for black lives, brown lives, red lives, disabled lives, queer lives, trans lives, all the lives of people who face oppression, if I am able to. I'm not afraid to shout in the street that black lives matter. I'm not afraid to stand up for the rights of sex workers, who now face the possibility of eviction in Oakland for merely the suspicion of being a sex worker. I will grow as a person, furthering my spiritual/magickal practice. I will grow as a mother, now of two teenagers.

In 2015 I will also marry my amazing sweetheart, Esa, who continues to teach me how to take care of myself, holds me to my own high standards as a parent, manifests with me our mutual dreams for the future, keeps me laughing, and helps me fill our lives with many critters to love & care for. Some days are just epic naps or endless restraining ourselves from hanging the kids by their toes, but I will take them all.

It's now been over two hours since I began writing this and only 3 hours remain of the year. The house is a flurry of laughter, music, play, barking, cats chasing each other, dinner being almost done (and Mom sitting here typing away saying "leave me alone, I'm writing!"). I haven't said everything I have in mind for 2015, my secret plans and dreams in process of manifestation, but I don't need to. I have spoken those words to myself, vowing to honor them to the one person I will always hold myself accountable to. In 2015 I will continue to become more truer to my Self, the me I want to be. Hopefully my whole family will find that trueness for themselves as well. Whatever happens, this man & these teenagers & all our critters will continue to hold the deepest and warmest spaces of my heart.

Come forth 2015. Come forth with love, justice, revolution and reverence.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Accessibilty for Pagan Activists, Part 1

Over the weekend of November 21st-23rd, the Pantheon Foundation held an online conference in which they asked me to discuss issues of disability and accessibility on the Care & Feeding of Pagan Activists panel. Presenting on the panel with me were John Beckett, Soli Zat Johnson, and Rion Roberts.

Though we'd done a practice run with the conference software, I found that the more people who were logged in, the slower my connection was. So the chat window was severely lagging, sometimes even stopping, and the video had a slowly increasing lag as well. What really threw me off, though, was the audio. I figured out that I could use my phone to call in since my laptop's mic wasn't working, but the lag in the software meant I couldn't unmute myself when it was time to speak. But restarting my computer finally fixed the problem...

Watching the video of the presentation later, I realized that all my public speaking training in college had flown out the window and I "um"ed a lot. I also did some unintentional name dropping. I think I got very thrown off by the technical difficulties and using my notes and outline just didn't happen. I was nervous. I learned what I need to work on, though, by watching it and I think I will be better prepared next time. Hopefully my computer will be too.

It became clear during the panel that we could easily do a 90 minute panel JUST about accessibility in Pagan/activist spaces. That makes me happy. It means that people really are interested in making ritual and political action spaces more accessible, which means people like me, as well as people with more restrictive limitations, will be more able to participate. It also showed me how much more society needs to be inclusive, not just accessible.

In Part 2 I will go over some basic ways that public groups can be inclusive and accessible...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Crowdfunding For Love

We are having a wedding/honeymoon fundraiser in lieu of a gift registry for our commitment celebration that is happening in March 2015. 

If every one of our friends on all social media platforms were to donate $5, we'd get somewhere in the range of our goal. Can you donate just a little?

Much Gratitude & Love,

Rhiannon & Esa

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Rented Urban Homestead

As the season of rain yet again creeps up on us, I am reminded that our roof still leaks into our attic, into my son's attic bedroom, and into the garage where the rabbits live right now. I am also reminded that I never finished rainproofing the chicken coop. Apparently our landlady is on the same thought wave, as she now wants to fix the roof. All I can think in response to that is how much RIGHT NOW does not work with where we're at with other projects. But it would be pretty awesome to not have an even leakier roof this winter.

She has other projects in mind for the house that also complicate and conflict with where other projects of ours stand currently. But, we are very lucky to have an easygoing landlady when it comes to certain aspects of urban homesteading like the animals and vegetable gardens. When I think about ways to incorporate greywater systems, I am confident that I could even have that conversation with her, which I couldn't have done in other places I've lived.

As a renter, each new aspect of urban homesteading has to be weighed against possible homeowner objection, lack of permanence, etc. For example, I wanted a chicken coop that could be removed from the backyard without destroying the coop or the gate/fence. That didn't work out, but it's still a goal of mine since we aren't going to live here more than another year or two. The rabbits are another aspect that I'm still nervous about. How do we make a raccoon proof enclosure for their cages that is nice for them AND easy to move? How do I keep the chickens enclosed but also give them enough space without building a permanent fence? Do I put back in a raised bed when I might not be here through another growing season?

What improvements are worth making that you can't take with you? For me, I see my intended drip irrigation project for the side yard being less of a headache for us, as well as any future tenants, which will keep the plants alive and happy and the neighborhood more beautiful.

This is the blogpost where I want to hear from others, so spread it around and repost it till we get a conversation going...