Monday, May 28, 2012

Feeling Welcome Within The Community

The smallness and sometimes insular feeling of my community here in Portland makes it difficult for new people to join in. A friend of mine attended the QDoc film festival a couple weeks ago and had an experience that I wouldn't have expected. But, I come from a place of already knowing a lot of people in the Portland community so, after thinking about it I came to realize that I would have had a much different experience.

The experience she had was of one standing on the outside looking in. Making steps to get inside, introducing herself and talking to others, but not breaking through the insular barrier that seems to surround our community. With her permission, I would like to share the experience in her words.

Last night at the QDoc film festival I realized how much I am outside looking in. All the other lesbians I observed seemed to fit into these stereotypical little buckets and cliques. And they were all so territorial and aloof. I felt weighed and judged in those up-and-down-once-over-looks we got from all sides. What is it with lesbians and their territorial-ism? [We] didn't know anyone there. And NO ONE except the festival director was nice enough to speak to us. At the party afterward, the same thing happened. (We were very 'open' in our stances and body language). I even introduced myself to several people, but we still ended up not speaking more than a few words to anyone. The community is so insular. It was a surprise since both of us were really interested in meeting some new people.

I understand that some of this would fade if we appeared at more events and the 'tribe' could become more comfortable with us. But I am not interested in being rubber stamped and labeled and dropped in the right gay box. That's what it has felt like at every event I have gone to too. What is the answer? You are more in touch with the gay community. Am I way off base?

Sigh-I'm not trying to be uber-negative. I guess I just had hoped for more of a feeling of belonging to a community last night and instead I felt more isolated than ever. It was almost like visiting another country where I don't know the language and the people don't really want visitors.”

When I look at this from the perspective of the “human tribe”, I see the same thing happening. But that's on a much grander scale. We, as humans, tend to run with our own packs and clicks. It's happened since the dawn of time. When we do this, though, we miss out on other amazing and interesting people in the world around us.

I get that it could be considered a safety issue for some and that others may not be comfortable with reaching out to “strangers”. I am shy in social situations, myself. Getting the courage up to talk with someone outside of my “tribe” requires a lot of energy and a tremendous sense of self confidence. In all honesty, who likes rejection? Stepping outside of our realm of safety and acceptance is frightening, to say the least, and the possibility of rejection is very apparent.

Remembering my own voyage into the Portland GLBT community, I really didn't know where I fit in to any of it. I wasn't into the party scene, I was a Mom and I worked a lot and attended college so my first introduction to the community was via the internet. It was a way for me to look into the community and learn a bit about it before physically stepping into it.

The night I stepped into the community.
After months of communicating and interacting with others online, I finally worked up the courage to venture out to an open mic night at a local coffee shop. It was the perfect scene for me because it was a small group in an intimate setting complete with art. I remember being fairly quiet for a bit before introducing myself to a few people around me. I don't remember much about the conversations that night or if there were many but I do remember being included in a photograph towards the end of the night. That simple act made me feel welcome.

I wish I could say that I've been aware of this ever since and have made it a point to introduce myself to people I haven't seen in the community before but, in all honesty, I haven't. I want to change that from this moment on, though, and ask for others in not only this community but in communities all over the world to do the same.

At your next event, look around and find the couple standing off by themselves or the person on the outskirts of the crowd who looks to be new, walk over to them and introduce yourself. Introduce them to others in your group. Do what you can to make them feel welcome. It only takes a moment or so and it just might make a huge difference not only to them but to you and your friends, as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Now The Exciting News

My girl and I made matching thumb rings! A friend of hers is a jeweler so we were able to melt, pour and create these rings!

Also, we're taking the plunge and moving in together! I'm excited and happy and nervous all at once! Some old triggers are surfacing for me from past relationships but I recognize that they're from the past and not a part of my present.

My heart is happy. Very, very happy.

Thoughts On Life, Creativity and Time

Or “Me Trying To Talk Myself In To Going To Work Again”.

My mind has been incredibly scattered these last few months. There are so many subjects racing through it and their all in little tid bits. Everything from butch bonding to gender stereotypes to community. I try to sit down and write about them when they hit me but my days have been mostly filled with working or recovering from working.

I'm back in this place again. The place where I found myself when I left the accounting world. The place that's frustrated with having to work outside of where my passion lies just to get by. It takes up so much head space but it also frees up the head space that fills when I can't pay my bills. I've resigned myself to the fact that I am just too responsible to let things go and have refocused myself on becoming as debt free as I possibly can. Being debt free equals freedom to me. So much freedom.

On the other hand, is that not such a good way to look at things? Being debt free could be seen as lacking or unsuccessful. Think about that for a moment. If you're debt free you most likely don't own a home, because most of us have a mortgage associated with owning a home, and if you choose to be debt free then aren't you setting yourself up to be unsuccessful? You don't have to make much money if you're debt free so the lack of stress that comes with not having to have a certain amount of income could, possibly, keep one from motivating themselves to push harder to succeed. Does success equal money?

But, not having that stress is, to me, associated with having the time and space to relax into my creativity. To be open to it whenever it starts to flow and to have the time to learn more about the mediums I choose for my arts.

Wasn't I supposed to be independently wealthy in this life? Wasn't I supposed to be able to get through college without having to take on student debt? Wasn't I supposed to be able to put my son through college without having to take on parent plus loans? Yes, we both could have taken different routes but why should we have chosen a path of least resistance when it's wasn't what we wanted?

My idea of success for myself looks like this: my creative passions (writing and photography) completely support me emotionally, mentally, physically and financially in this life. So, it seems to me that becoming as debt free as I possibly can is the first step towards that life and that success.

Paying off my car and taking care of the old credit card debts is where I need to start. If I can just stay focused on this goal, perhaps I can find a way to stop feeling so burnt out on the job.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Guilt

My Dearest Son,

I wish I would have known then what I know now. I was so young and so very inexperienced at life when I gave birth to you. When I say “we grew up together”, I really mean that we grew up together in this life. Looking back from here, there are a lot of things that were said and done that I wish were not. If only for knowing the effect that it would have on you now.

I wanted nothing more then to give you the strength, the courage and the confidence to be yourself in this world. To be unapologetically authentically you.

The power of words has never before been more apparent to me until last night. I've always known, from my own experiences, that they can kill any form of self-confidence almost instantly but never have I known how painful that could be until you shared with me your memory of those six little words. Separately they are harmless but put together in a sentence they can squash one's bud of self worth growth instantly.

“He didn't even fight for you.”

I could tell you that I backed him into a corner during the divorce. I can tell you that I gave him no options. I could tell you that he's played the victim all of his life. I can tell you that he did, in his sorry attempt, try to fight by having someone “serve” me court papers on Mother's Day so long ago. Court papers that weren't even filed. I could do my best to help you understand the situation but I can't take back those words nor the effect that they've had on you all this time. Twelve long years you've been dealing with this.

The actions of a man who is so unworthy of your attention still has an effect on you because of the biological connection. We all long for the acceptance and approval of our parents from the moment we enter this realm of existence. It's human nature.

The co-dependent in me wants to make excuses for him in the hopes that it will help you heal past this but I know that this will be something that you, yourself, will have to heal from. No excuse can magically heal years of pain and that feeling of “I'm not enough”.

I am so sorry for the choices I made while I was young. I am so sorry for choosing him to be your Father in this life. Though the divorce was such an angry time for me, I wish I could have seen past my anger when talking to you about what was happening. You were only 9 years-old. You didn't have to know everything that was happening nor did you ever have to hear those words.

When you can see past the sadness and the pain, I hope you can see how hard I fought for you not only during the divorce but through the years to help you become the person you want to be. You are more then worthy of my struggle in this life to help you create your own life where, hopefully, it won't be as much of a struggle as I've endured. I hope that by looking at it from this perspective that it gives you a sense of “enough”. You are worthy, you are deserving, you are more than enough.

You are an amazing human being filled with so much compassion, creativity, love, intelligence, honor and courage.

I can't wait to see you find that in yourself, fall in love with yourself and fly.

All my love always,
Your Very Proud Mom

Monday, May 7, 2012

A New Facebook Page For My Photography

My show opening at Hip Chicks Do Wine in Newberg did so well and helped me gain more confidence around my art that I decided to create a page on Facebook, again, for my photography. If you're on Facebook and you like my photographs, please come on over and "Like" my page. Feel free to share it with all of your friends, as well! 

It's over here: Wendi Kali Photography


Happy Monday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Split Personalities

This morning, I woke up thinking about writing and photography. It's as if there are two people living inside me and every now and then they battle over my time. One is a writer, the other a photographer and they're both constantly at odds with each other over who gets to come out and play when I have time away from work and life's responsibilities.

The writer in me is upset because she hasn't been out for quite a while now. She has so much to work on, too. A short erotic piece about our first date with our girl, thoughts on a quote we keep thinking about and the ever present essay book we've been working on here and there. She really wants to sit down and take this stuff seriously. She needs time to do that. No. She needs to be prioritized.

The photographer has gotten all of the free time lately with photo shoots every weekend for the past few weeks. Each photo shoot is followed by the editing of the photos then getting the good ones back to the person she took photos of. Then there's the wait. The anticipation that ensues when waiting for the response. Will they like them? Will they hate them? Did I do a good job? What could I have done differently? Should I continue to pursue this avenue of photography? How can I learn more, do more, be more?

Adding to all of this is the musician inside me wanting to pick up that guitar that's been sitting in the corner looking ever so lonely and suddenly there aren't enough hours in each day. I want to do it all! But, finding a focus and sticking with it has been my challenge. Perhaps it will always be my challenge.

Am I looking for something? Am I looking to find satisfaction or completion in any of these things? Perhaps, to a certain extent I am. Perfection might be more like it. But, how to get to that place when I'm not focused on just one thing? Is it possible? Is it possible for me to do it all and be successful? Successful in both writing and photography and maybe just a decent at guitar pickin'? Then there's the question of my definition of success. Who's definition is it, exactly? What does success look like to me?

Oh, so many things to ponder this morning. 

Welcome to my brain. Be careful of where you step. It's a bit cluttered around here.