Friday, July 29, 2011

Community Unity

Photo by Del Rapier ©2009
I have been a part of the LGBTQ community for 11 years now.  Well, in all honesty, I've been a part of it all of my life.  I just didn't know it until 11 years ago.

In those 11 years I've done quite a bit in the world of activism working towards equality for everyone in our community.  I've been the treasurer and board member for Southern Oregon GLSEN; the librarian for the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center, North County, back when they had a North County location; I helped to open the Hillcrest Youth Center; I've taken part in many panels for LGBTQ parents and have spoken to many a college classes about just being me.  I've also marched in many Gay Pride parades and ridden with Dykes On Bikes for several of those parades.

The one thing that I noticed within this community, and others, is the infighting that happens that does nothing but separate us.  What confuses me is that the people who participate in the infighting don't seem to see it as something that separates our community.  I remember constantly asking myself within all of my years of activism, "Aren't we supposed to be working together?  We're never going to get anywhere if we continue to fight amongst ourselves.  Put that energy towards the fight."  

Among the lesbians in my community there are many who feel that we all need to be a certain way.  I think "normal" is the word they tend to use.  Their idea of normal has always excluded me.  Specially amongst the feminists.  I am a feminist in the sense that I fight for equality between genders.  But for many feminists, I look like a man, therefore, I am some how against everything that feminism is fighting for.  That by being butch, using that word as an identity, claiming it as an identity, perpetuates the patriarchal control.  Through their eyes, I in no way shape or form help women or lesbians become liberated from such control.

This has always confused and frustrated me.  While I can see their side of it and understand where they're coming from, I certainly don't see them looking at it from my side.  I am not conforming to patriarchal control.  I, in my own way, snub the idea of patriarchal control by being myself.  By simply existing and claiming my space, defining myself and encouraging others to do the same.

No one can be liberated until we all are liberated.

We are a community of people fighting for equality and we will never win the fight until we can accept each other as equals and work together.

This morning I came across an article that hits the nail directly on the head in regards to this very idea.  Please take a moment to click over and read Ivan Coyote's piece about this on xtra.ca.  I really couldn't have said it better myself. 

"To meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his, or her, own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Old Patterns


I’ve begun to recognize some old patterns that, even though I feel like I’ve worked through they continue to reappear.  They’re not quite as apparent as they have been in the past.  They’re buried deeper into things, situations, relationships, but they’re there.  Peeking their little heads up with their Dennis the Menace grin again and again. 

Thinking about my burnout with social networking I’ve come to realize exactly what I’ve gotten out of it up until this point.  It has fed my need for co-dependency in my life. 

Someone on my friends list once told me that I’m always right there and quick to post a comment or send a text when someone is having a hard time.  Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all.  What I have realized is that from my perspective I was right there because it gave me a sense of worth to be there for someone in need.  Well, not just a sense of worth but my ONLY sense of worth.  This is where all of the anxiety comes in, as well, because if I’m not checking my news feed constantly how could I be there for someone when they need me if I miss their post? 

Do you see where I’m going here?  If I change my perspective on this and not look at it from this vantage point I can more casually enjoy the social networking sites and use them more as a communication tool, not as my way to feed something that’s not making my life better.  That ‘thing’ being co-dependency.  As a child of an alcoholic and an addict, co-dependency has been a part of my life from day one.  It hasn’t ever served me well because it’s allowed me to ignore myself.  Forty-one years later and I’m still trying to get my self worth from it.  Even with all of the work I’ve done and the therapy I’ve been through.  It’s something I have to constantly work on.  There’s a lot of reprogramming that needs to be done.  But the fact of the matter is, being co-dependent gets in the way of me getting to know who I am and what my wants and needs are.  Finding those things out about myself helps me to love and accept myself and to develop my own sense of self worth. Plus, the more whole I am within myself, the better my relationships are with others.  If I can't take care of myself first, how can I take care of others?

Yes, it’s good to be kind and helpful and there for a friend when they need someone but it’s not good to draw my entire self worth from that one part of who I am.  There’s a difference between compassion and co-dependency. 

The first step in every healing process is recognizing the illness.  Even if I have to recognize it over and over again, I’m still growing and healing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grounded In My Body


Photo by Heidi Hoffman
I finally got back to the gym this past Sunday and it felt amazing.  My workout consisted of 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the weight machines for arms and shoulders.  I want to start back slowly so I was getting an idea of where I’m starting from and seeing how much weight I can handle at the moment.  The thought finally occurred to me to start keeping a journal so I can track my progress as a way of motivating myself to continue to go and grow so I pulled up the Notes application on my Droid and took notes of what exercise machines I worked, how much weight on each set and how many reps on those sets.  As I left the gym I noticed how grounded I felt. 

Going to the gym, for me, is about more than exercising.  It’s about taking that hour to completely focus on myself and my body.  It’s like sitting in Zen meditation for an hour completely focused on your body, how it feels, where it hurts, if it’s relaxed or tense, where the stress is hiding and in which muscles, etc.  All other thoughts and worries are put on hold and just being becomes the focus of the mind.  When I sit down at a machine or on a bench with a free weight I focus on the muscle I’m about to work.  Before I begin the exercise I take a couple of deep breaths and sort of breathe into that muscle then as I’m doing the exercise my focus is on that muscle completely.  I’ll even slow the exercise down to feel the muscle tighten and strain.  Doing this gives me a chance to recognize the complexity of this carbon based life suit I’m walking around in and to connect with it on a deeper level.  I guess you could say I commune with it during my workouts sending it messages to grow and thrive.

My goal at the gym is to physically and mentally get bigger and stronger.  It’s not that I don’t like the way I look.  It’s more about loving myself and wanting to improve upon what I already have.  Getting my physical self to match my mental self, if that makes sense.  Right now they don’t quite match.  I see myself as a more muscular person in my head and sometimes when I see the image reflected back to me in the mirror I’m surprised because I’m much smaller in real life. 

Going after this goal has had its moments of frustration where it seemed like no matter what I did I just wasn’t getting the results I really wanted.  Notice I said ‘seemed like no matter what I did’, because I didn’t completely embrace the discipline needed to get to where I really want to be.  I didn’t follow a specific diet nor did I follow a specific workout plan.  I basically ate as much protein as I possibly could and was inconsistent in my workouts.  I hadn’t ever kept a journal of them, either.  Although, while playing football I did follow a specific regimen designed for Linemen.  Even so, I still wasn’t getting big.  Then one day I felt myself give up and chalked it up to the fact that I just didn’t have that sort of build nor did I have enough testosterone in my body to look the way I wished to look.  Shortly after that I was at the gym with my football team when a woman walked in and completely threw out those excuses for me.  She was a professional bodybuilder and she was big and ripped.  After seeing her I knew that being a woman couldn’t stop me from being bigger.  I really could get bigger and stronger the way I had pictured myself in my head. 

Thankfully, with my financial affairs in better shape these days now that I’m working a full-time job again, I was able to reactivate my gym membership and have again set my goal of getting bigger and stronger physically and mentally while enjoying the side effect of being grounding in my body.  The next step is to find a workout program and a nutritional program that will help me get there and stay there.  A new way of eating is even welcome, as opposed to a ‘diet’.  I’m not a big fan of ‘diets’ and don’t fully understand them.  I believe more in the idea of a new way of eating and looking at food as a way to love and nurture myself. 

It all comes back to self love for me.  Something I’m trying to practice more of these days since I’ve spent so much time giving all of my love and attention to others.  It’s time to put myself up on that pedestal give that love to me.  It’s time to nurture my relationship with myself.

On that note, do any of you out there in internet land have a strength training program you work with?  The thought occurred to me as I was driving home from the gym that there are probably others out there looking for the same thing or who have found it and are already working it so perhaps we can share it with each other and encourage each other to keep working at it.  Maybe we could start some sort of butch workout circle?  I was also thinking about a butch workout group since we tend to have so many phobias about the gym.  Maybe if we went in packs we could help each other out with those issues while being more visible to the gym world. What are your thoughts on this?

Ideally, it would be awesome to open up a queer gym where there are no issues of gender and where people could use whichever locker room they felt most comfortable in and everyone would be welcome.  Gay, lesbian, trans, queer, genderfucks, cis….everyone.  If I could, I would.  In a heartbeat. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Butch Haircut

I'm not exactly sure what it is about a fresh haircut that makes me feel so good.  Maybe it's because I feel neatly shaven and 'cleaned up', so to speak.  Or perhaps I feel like a 'nice looking young man', as my Grandmother once said after seeing me across the room in church on a Sunday morning and not realizing that it was me until I came over afterwords to give her a hug.  (That was a very entertaining moment.)

I do know for sure that I love a fresh shave because people love to rub my head just after it's done.  I turn to mush when a cute girl rubs my head.  A complete blob of 'I'll do anything you want if you just keep rubbing my head just like that'.  I have been known to thump my foot like a dog that gets scratched in just the right spot, too.  Mostly, someone rubbing my head is very relaxing to me and one of the reasons why I choose this type of cut. 

Believe it or not, sometimes getting this type of cut is quite difficult as a woman.  I have yet to venture to a local barber shop that a few of my buddies say is awesome about it but I did find a shop that I've been happy with for the past few years.  It's a Supercuts but I've come to know a few of the stylists there so it's a comfortable shop for me. 

Today was a little different.  Today I laid my trust, and my hair, in the hands of someone new.  She was very nice and introduced herself then asked me how I wanted my hair cut.  I told her that I'd like a men's fade and that I normally start with a #1 (the guards you put on the clippers are numbered 1 to 8 with 1 being the shortest) but this time I wanted to go with a 0, which basically means no guard.  She stepped back for a moment then said, "So you want to see skin."  This made me even more nervous because I thought she was about to try and talk me out of it.  Sometimes even if they don't try and talk me out of it they'll cut my hair the way they think it should be cut and not the way I asked for it.  Thankfully, that was not the case but it still took her a minute or two to get used to the idea that yes, I am a woman and yes, I do want a man's cut. 

Fortunately, after a bit of chatting and a lot of buzzing, she gave me one of the better cuts that I've had in a while and I'm very happy with it.  This evening I'm feeling very dapper and strong with my fresh butch cut.  So strong that I stopped off at Fred Meyer's and went directly to the bra section and picked out a couple new bras.  Stares be damned! 

How's that for a haircut?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Finding Balance


This past week has been eye opening for me.  I’ve realized quite a bit about myself, the way my mind works and how much time I allow social networking sites to take from my day. 

Every now and then I like to ‘disappear’ and take a break from the world, hence the break from facebook.  I have recently reactivated my account in an attempt to simply limit myself to how much time I spend there.  I’ve succumbed to the fact that some of my friends use the site exclusively to communicate and invite people to get togethers and what not.  If I really do want to reconnect with my friends do I really want to cut off that line of communication?  Needless to say, I’m still trying to find balance with it and reconnect with friends. 

Along with all of this ‘stuff’, I’ve started a new work schedule and have accepted a lead position on the shift I’m now working.  It’s taking some getting used to but this morning I finally slept in and was able to get in a full 8 hours of sleep.  I keep waking up with headaches, though, and am guessing it’s due to stress. 

Emotionally, I’ve been a bit of a mess but I’m assuming it’s stemming from the exhaustion and life changes.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.  I feel needy and I don’t like it.  My ‘butch attitude’ is kicking in and telling the needy little kid in me to suck it up.  My more compassionate side is telling my ‘butch attitude’ to leave the poor kid alone and let her feel what she’s feeling. 

Insecurities have gotten the best of me this week and dreams that I’ve had aren’t helping.  My mind can be a field of land mines sometimes.  I have no doubt that I’m feeding off the past.  Tip toeing around things that I’ve tip toed around before.  It’s that constant spiral of coming back to things that I’m still working on, only this time at a deeper level. 

Heavy stuff. 

Along with reactivating my facebook I’ve also reactivated my gym membership and am looking forward to getting back into it.  It always makes me feel better mentally.  Well, aside from the whole locker room deal.  Maybe this time I’ll just walk in and ignore all of the stares.  Maybe this time I’ll just say to myself, ‘They’re just jealous.’ Then take off my shirt and show off my guns. 

Grrrrr….

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wendi Kali's photostream

Hi!Birthday Feast!Can I Eat Yet?It's Finally Summer!Summer SaladDSC_0162
Work CrewDSC_0161DSC_0160Bee!DSC_0159DSC_0153
DSC_0152CarnationAnnoyed MaxAttentive MaxGarden TrinketsSage Sticks
Sweet SageTogethernessKelly's New ManOld Washin' MachineCutie!Ministry of Magic, Please!!

Even though I'm taking a break from facebook I'll still be uploading photos to my Flickr account. I uploaded a few this evening so come on over and check them out! Feel free to add me as a contact if you have a Flickr account, as well!

Happy 4th everyone!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Taking A Break From Facebook


It seems as though just about everyone has a facebook page.  If you don’t have a facebook page then you’re out of the loop, so to speak.  People look at you funny when you tell them you’re not on facebook.  “What do you mean you’re not on facebook? I thought everyone was on facebook?  How will we be able to be friends?  How will I be able to invite you to my parties?”  It’s sort of like the way people look at you when you tell them you don’t watch television.  To briefly digress, I haven’t watched it in quite sometime now and honestly wouldn’t know any of the television or movie stars if they walked past me on the street. 

In my circles of ‘friends’ I can only think of two people who don’t have a facebook page.  Just about every company out there wants you to ‘Like’ them on facebook.  The site has literally begun to take over the world.  It’s a mass marketers dream come true.  Where else can you reach 500 million people at once?  Yes, facebook has 500 million users these days.  They hold personal information and demographics of 500 million people in this world.  Is that not scary information in itself?

A few days ago I decided to deactivate my facebook account for a bit.  No more 'pokes', 'friend requests', 'game requests', 'private messages', 'wall posts', 'status updates' or 'event invites'.  I’d been thinking about it for a while and making note of how it affects me both in positive and negative ways.  I’ve also noticed how it affects those around me and it seems like there are way more negatives then there are positives associated with being on the site.  My decision to deactivate my account has stemmed from quite a few reasons. 

For instance, just yesterday I was talking to someone about taking a break from the site when she said that she’s only on there to see photos of her nieces and nephews and other family members.  I suddenly felt very sad for her.  When did we stop sharing photos with each other via email or snail mail?   Personal interactions with family members and friends have fallen to the way side because people are too ‘busy’ with work and stuff yet we find time to upload photos to facebook?  It just doesn’t make much sense to me. 

I’m not saying I haven’t been guilty of it myself.  I’ve just finally realized the affect it's had on me and felt the disconnection.  The site has become sort of a substitute for relationships.  It seems like facebook has changed my way of thinking and I have forgotten that there are other ways to communicate.  In all honesty, I used to think that if I posted it on facebook then all of my friends would know at once what’s happening and in a way that’s true but it’s not true of everyone and it’s awfully impersonal.  I miss those days when friends would email me, call me or sit and have coffee with me to catch up on our lives.  I miss doing the same with them.

Also, the anxiety and stress that I get from being on facebook just isn’t worth it.  I felt a need to check the news feed constantly.  I couldn’t miss anything.  It was like I was somehow obligated to keep up with my friend’s status updates because, well, they were my friends.  Then, when people “unfriended” me it would be a hit to my self-esteem and I not only wanted to know who “unfriended” me but why.  Was it something I said, did, didn’t do?  At one point someone blocked me and when I discovered that fact, after the drama of asking some other friends if they could still see them, I was upset about it for days. 

What if I wanted to ‘unfriend’ someone?  This in itself created anxiety because I didn’t want to start any drama and was it really important because it was facebook, for crying out loud!  It’s just a web site.  It’s not real life.  It’s a virtual life.  If I knew that person in real life would we be friends or would we just be acquaintances?  If we were acquaintances would I share all of this information with them?  Do they think they know me after looking at my facebook page?  Do I think I know them after looking at there’s? 

Holy crap.  When did the definition of ‘friend’ get lost, too?

Then there’s the way it creates more anxiety around intimate relationships.  Aside from the fact that everyone instantly knows when you’ve committed to someone or have just broken up with someone you have to deal with either remaining ‘friends’ on facebook or ‘unfriending’ each other.

When my last girlfriend broke up with me we were friends on facebook for a little while after the break up.  We hid each other but ended up going to each other’s page just to see what was happening.  I felt like a stalker when I went to her page.  Like I was peeking in on a private conversation, one that didn’t include me.  I fully admit that I was looking for answers that, at the time, I felt I deserved.  Looking back on it now, it was all crazy making and incredibly unhealthy.  How easy it was for me to go there with that access and sort of disconnect. 

Finally she ended up “unfriending” me so we could both get on with our lives.  It is called healing.  I do believe that sometimes you need that distance when a relationship ends.  As hard as it is to have, specially when you’re the one being broken up with, it’s important that you have it.  It’s what we used to do before the days of facebook.  Remember those days?

Then there’s the anxiety created when I see photos of friends hanging out somewhere where I wasn’t invited and I wonder why I wasn’t invited and are we still friends and if we’re still friends then why am I not there in those photos and on, and on, and on.  Envy, jealousy, feeling left out or feeling like the fool are not feelings I want to encounter and deal with that often.  I don’t even want to admit that I feel them but I do.  I know there’s more to the story that I’m not seeing but all I see are photos of friends hanging out and having a good time without me and that’s where my mind goes instantly.  It’s crazy making, I tell you!

So, I decided that it was time to take a break from the crazy making.  When something that is my choice to do takes up that much of my time, energy and emotions in a negative way then I also have the choice to stop doing it.  To step back from it and regain my own ideas and work on deepening the friendships that I have with those who really do want to be friends with me and visa versa. 

I'll most likely be blogging about my life after facebook, in case you're curious.  I'm interested in seeing how different it will be and whether or not I'll miss it.  It's been two and a half days since I deactivated my account and so far, I feel much more at peace.   I've gotten much more reading and writing done, as well. I think this will be a good thing for me and my creativity.

Job Changes & Being Appreciated


©Wendi Kali 2011
It’s been a crazy few weeks, to say the least.  The Universe seemed to have other plans for me as far as jobs go and I admit that I’m happy that it did.  Originally, I was hoping to get another part-time job to fill in where FedEx couldn’t at the moment then I moved to finding a full-time job back in the accounting field in order to take advantage of my education and background to eventually just get out of debt. 

Then a few weeks ago one of the companies that I worked for while I was doing warehouse temp work towards the beginning of the year called me out of the blue and asked me if I’d be willing to work for them on an ‘on call’ basis.  I told them I’d be happy to and explained my job hunting situation.  The next day they called me back and offered me a full-time lead position doing Quality Assurance type work making more per hour then what FedEx was giving me, fully paid health benefits for myself and my son, and a four tens work week on swing shift.  They said they really valued my work ethic.  After mulling it over that following weekend I went in and accepted their offer.  The next day I gave my notice at FedEx and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been working three jobs.  Doing QA work during the day, FedEx in the evening and washing dogs at a friends grooming shop Saturday mornings.  Needless to say, it’s been an exhausting couple of weeks so today I am giving myself permission to hold down the couch and just be.

Yesterday I walked out of the FedEx building for the last time.  Chances are, I won’t be back.  As I worked my last shift yesterday I seemed to be in this state of taking it all in.  Savoring those things about the job that I enjoyed and simply making a note of those things that I didn’t so much enjoy.  I’ll miss working with the aircraft and the equipment and some of the people.  Plus, I have to say, it felt like such a butch type job, too.  Pushing and pulling around huge containers that weighed thousands of pounds, marshalling aircraft into the gates, driving the tugs and beltloaders around the tarmac, operating the loaders…it was a really cool job!  But, the reality of it is, my body is not what it used to be and the constant state of pain while trying to keep up with the young guys I was working with was, quite honestly, stressing me out.  I’m not sure that I could have continued with it for as long as I needed to while waiting for something full-time to open up. 

It was my third time working there and I feel a bit of guilt for that for some strange reason.  The company invested money for me to train and retrain those three times I left and came back, but, on the other hand, it’s their internal requirement to do so and it was their choice to take me back all those times.  So, my guilt is my own, really. 

When I went back to work for the company where I’m now working full-time everyone was so happy to see me and welcomed me back with open arms.  It’s a small, family owned company that treats its employees like family.  The owners even came over and gave me a welcome back hug.  Although I'm a bit sad to leave FedEx, I am very happy with my decision and am very much looking forward to not only having a full-time job again but also having a set schedule with three day weekends, the ability to pay my bills and have time during the day to write or shoot photographs again. 

It’s not a career but it’s a job at a company I can be happy with for who knows how long.  They appreciate me and I think, when it comes down to it, that’s what I both want and need right now.