Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Ceremony and Ceremonials

I have been musing recently on the fact that my life lacks the ceremony and ritual that used to be such a part of the daily round. The stresses of the last few years have pulled me further out of my personal orbit than I am comfortable with, further than I ever thought possible. When I realized that October, my favorite month, which I used to celebrate with an almost obsessive attention to daily rituals - playing in leaves, baking pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, cookies and butternut squash risotto, filling the house with friends for annual Harvest Parties and the carving of Jack-0-Lanterns - when I realized it had swooshed by with hardly a how-do-you-do and ended with a quiet sputtering sigh instead of a bang, well to say I was disappointed and dismayed is an understatement. Not even a half-ass costume or ancestor altar to show for it. Nothing. A pumpkin beer grabbed on the fly. It is disconcerting. These rituals ground me and remind me of who I am. Without them I feel empty, lacking substance, like the continuous thread that weaves back through the years of my personal history has somehow snapped and I fear I shall become lost in the woods with no way to retrace my steps.

So I am consciously gathering the fragments that are closest to hand. Today is All Saints Day, tomorrow Dia de Los Muertos which our fair cities by the bay celebrate with much pride and feeling. I gather a few flowers from the yard, light a single candle and place it on the mantle next to the pictures of my Nana, gone just 3 years though it seems much longer. I burn some cinnamon and orange peel to scent the house. I heat some cider on the stove that will have a shot of whiskey added to it shortly. And I invoke my muses, ask them to guide my writing, to please inspire my mind and quicken my fingers. Writing has been one of the few daily rituals I have been able to keep hold of, knowing as I do that it is often the line between mental health and total collapse. But I want to take it to the next level, to open up and share a bit more about myself with the world. To risk being seen, being known. I know that I need a bit of ceremony - a small private invocation to call forth this sort of commitment and desire. So I go to one of my other favorite rituals. Music and the emotions it can evoke in me. Dance and the surrender to my higher power that it allows. A perfect storm that swells in my chest and hips and unleashes in a frenzy through my crown and feet. And tonight I am blessed to combine that with one of my oldest private rituals - the sacred space I create when I get to listen to a new album by one of my favorite musicians for the first time. Tonight is the long awaited and eagerly anticipated Florence + the Machine album Ceremonies. Pure Magic. Deep Magic. Her voice sending shivers down my spine and giving me literal goosebumps.

Here is to many more little moments, rituals, traditions, ceremonies, offerings.
I offer myself up on the altar of November. May it be consciously savored. May it be full of connection, love, tiny devotions. May it be meaningful.

Time to go Shake It Out . . .

Monday, March 28, 2011

Breaking (Banana) Bread . . .

Nothing to me says a perfect night quite like an evening at the local (which in our case is The Commonwealth drinking a pint of Scotch Ale and weaving a beautiful tapestry of conversation between people who were not long ago mere strangers. It is through these kinds of interactions that we can more clearly see who we are and how we fit together. We locate our own stories, often surprised at what we choose to share, to paint a picture of our lives before they crossed at this recent juncture.

I always loved the TV show Cheers, or at least the idea of it, the "3rd place" where "everybody knows your name". The Commonwealth is on its way to being that for me, or at least as close as I've come in a long while. Not only can I count on Ross to cook up a fine meal of mac and cheese or a nice Toastie, but I can always rely on Pete to recommend a brew that I will love, to smile and nod knowingly with good cheer when I tell him what I have been up to, and to wish me a good evening as I leave. Sometimes it is the little things that are important, that provide a continuous thread of self through your day-to-day life.

Tonight I had the pleasure of indulging in some Banana Bread Ale (my current favorite) as well as sharing a few bites of actual Bread Pudding with Burnt Caramel sauce. Not only were they delicious, but they put me in good spirits to converse about dogs and how to train them, the challenges facing young people today, midwifery and hoarding and the fine art of giving Christmas presents that are heartfelt and don't suck. The time seemed to slip away and our one hour meet-up turned into 2 1/2 until we reluctantly agreed to go our separate ways with an unspoken intention to break bread together again soon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Things I Love Thursday . . .

As I settle into the idea of blogging on a regular basis, and exploring all that has to offer, I thought I'd start with something simple. A list of things that I am loving right now. And one of them is Gala Darling, whose colorful and uplifting blog is a huge inspiration and home of the original Things I Love Thursday - check out her favorites as well as the links to other love lists . . .

Green Smoothies * My VitaMix Blender * Gala's Radical Love Bomb of a Workshop * Cuddling with my dog Paisley * Kris Carr and her Crazy Sexy Life * Brown Couch Cafe in Oakland * ee'meesh Organics Earth Goddess Body Spray - amazing and smells so good! * Finding my childhood bestie on FB * Reading in the February sunshine * Rainbow Grocery Co-Op * Watching the "Vegan Week" Episode of Oprah with a bunch of amazing Veg peeps @Harvey's in SF * Winning a copy of Color Me Vegan and a gift certificate to Cinnaholic - ooh dangerous! * Dreaming up Big Travel Plans * Well constructed garter belts * Birdsong outside my window *

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Love and Coming Out . . .

As I write this, National Coming Out day is coming to a close and I was only reminded of this because a few people on FB and Twitter announced themselves as being allies and declaring their support and solidarity with the LGBT community, including a couple of people that I had no idea were so inclined. It got me thinking (again) about the assumptions we make of people based on outwards appearances, lifestyles, political preferences, etc. It clarified for me that I too need to speak up today, because appearances are not always what they seem. And because National Coming Our day is about sharing stories and it is about love and I am in favor of both of those things.

I take for granted that those of you who have known me personally for any length of time know the majority of my personal beliefs and predilictions, including the fact that I have long considered myself queer, specifically bisexual and somewhat polyamorous, and been pretty open about it for years. And yet . . .

It dawned on me that to many of you it may be news. Not because I’ve gone out of my way to hide anything, but because as a woman who has been primarily with male partners for most of her adult life (and who has a penchant for skirts, make-up, glitter, and other high-femme accessories) I know that I read as “straight” outside of my circle of friends. I have friends in the social networking world that I haven’t seen in 20+ years and people that I have never spent much time with in person. I also know that I have been less than forthcoming with my family, mostly due to the fact that they’ve never asked ;) By the time I was fully conscious that I was queer, and that my teenage experimentation was in fact more than just experimentation, I was already immersed in a committed relationship with a boy and outing myself to my parents at that point seemed like it was being heard as “by the way, I’m a slut!”. I didn’t push it. Bisexual didn’t make sense to my old-fashioned parents because they didn’t understand why anyone would CHOOSE to experience homophobia if one didn’t have to.

And because of my lifestyle choices I have experienced very little of it. I have always lived in very progressive urban areas and to say that my community of friends was bohemian would be a bit of an understatement. I got my SF legs within the early 90’s queer community and was nourished, inspired, challenged, and transformed within it. My dalliances with women have been few and far between, but no less important for that fact. My love of and connection with women is a core part of who I am, as fundamental to my makeup as my SIcilian Catholic heritage.

So why am I writing this now? Because I am committed at this point in my life to inhabit the totality of who I am. Life is too short and too precious to worry about what others think, to let them make you feel “less than” for any reason. If people have a hard time accepting facets of my life or if they bring a righteous, judgemental, and unloving energy into my sphere they will be shown the door unceremoniously. I have plenty of people in my life who have made different religious, political and dietary choices than me and I try to hold love, acceptance and respect for their personal decisions even as I disagree with them. But I draw the line when it comes to bigotry and bullying, shaming and verbal abuse. I have the confidence to speak my truth and I am also blessed to have an incredibly diverse, supportive community around me. That said our young people do not always feel strong enough to face down the criticism, violence, and harassment on their own. They look to us for guidance and support and inspiration. Let’s show up for them.

In light of the most recent spate of gay teen suicides, of the bullying and hate crimes directed not only at our youth when they are feeling their most vulnerable, but also at the adult members of our community who want to marry and represent our country openly, I feel we all need to stand up to the haters. If you are on the queer spectrum and you can find your voice, speak up and be heard. If you are a straight ally and you have ever loved someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, kinky, polyamorous or just plain “other” in some way please stand up and be counted. Stand up against hate, stand up against hypocrisy and violence, be it in your school, church, workplace or family. Change happens moment by moment, person by person, heart to heart. Stand up and out yourself as a person who believes in the power of love to transform our challenges and create a safe space for all of us.

Love and blessings to you and yours, whomever you choose to love . . .


Monday, March 1, 2010

This is what writer's block looks like. It looks like fear. Irritation. Self-consciousness and a feeling of blankness. Feeling like one's ideas are lacking in some crucial way.

But through the help of my spiritual coach/therapist/cheerleader I am choosing to believe in the power of my creative gifts. To lean into them, to live into my most grandiose dreams one day- and one sentence- at a time. There is a part of me that feels so very damaged around my creativity and in such typical ways. I have gotten past the point of thinking in terms of being a "great writer", a "gifted painter", a great anything actually. All I really want is to grow my skills, to not completely waste what gifts I have been blessed with.

I have been absent here for days because of these fears. Fears of failing before I begin, fears of having nothing to say, having no audience, boring whoever does stumble into my small part of cyberspace.

That said, I am Leo, hear me roar. I have an inborn stubbornness that refuses to give in to complete pessimism and despair. I have, somewhere inside of me, the will and ego to believe that I have something to say and that what I do matters. To take these baby steps towards the life I wish to be living. And it is getting closer every day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Romance and Radical Self Love, Part 1

(Painting by Tamara de Lempicka)

I'm dedicating the entire month to it, how about you?

A few of the ways I plan to woo myself and the lucky lads and lasses that cross my path:

3 beautiful long stemmed lavender roses for my writing desk. I may even add some tulips tomorrow and some freshly picked wisteria from outside.

Sipping fancy teas and homemade hot toddies with my finest whiskey and clove studded meyer lemons.

Reading poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Baking cookies from scratch in nothing but my finest lingerie and high heels. And a cute apron ;)

Wearing perfume every day and lots of red lipstick.

Writing love letters to myself and my girlfriends.

Planning a midweek day off for a massage, gingerbread pancakes, a manicure with some blood red nailpolish and some crystal hearts.

Writing a self love manifesto along with Gala Darling and her gang.

Taking late night walks with my dog Paisley.

I'm feeling giddy just thinking about it . . .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


What do I wish to awaken? My passion. My creative vision. Greater levels of manifestation. This is what I wish for today and for quite a few tomorrows as well. My journey this year is really about diving into my deepest yearnings and giving them voice, letting them breathe fresh air and have the chance to flourish. I just need a few reminders. Thanks Jamie . . .

Support other wishes over here.