Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Feast of the True Framily

Yesterday was the feast of the true framily. I firmly believe every good holiday should come with at least one feast day, especially if it's in the depressingly sunless winter time.

When I was on my mission, I learned that Lithuanians have this deliciously rich tradition called Kučios, or Christmas Eve. I never got to go to a real Kučios dinner, because it was a big family  day, and all the family came home from it from all over.  We went and visited and orphanage instead, which was richly rewarding.

However, because of this I have only read about all the superstitions and traditions associated with Kučios, so I never felt comfortable trying to recreate it. 

So when the time came for my own holiday season being dreamed into existance, I decided it should have a feast day on Christmas eve. And so it came to pass... ;) because I made it so.

Ever since I was at least a teenager, I've felt that the most important people in your life are your Framily. A group not bound by blood, but something stronger than blood. I always described them as  family that get you so well they are also your friends, and friends bonded so tightly to you they become as close or closer than your family.

If I were to make my own Kučios type celebration (which I did), then Framily that could come should be the ones invited, and the ones that couldn't come remembered and honnored.

Unfortunately  most people can't come on Christmas eve. But I did have a lovely 7 course meal (thanks to the instant pot and two blenders, It only took 3 hrs to make instead of a week) with my exfiancee, and I think it was a lovely healing day of friendship for us. We also did those British Christmas crackers, because I always wanted to see what they were about.

Any way, now it's christmas/hanukka, and I have left the day as it has been for my life, and I am chilling at home watching Netflix alone, and napping alot, which is exactly as I wish. 

There was one Christmas drama moment, I suppose I could share, as a Christmas bonus...

So I was talking to my mom on the phone after emptying my giant stocking of stuff my mom sent me, and Nick had had his toy for about an  hour. He managed to get the squeek out of the toy before I called , so I had put it up where he couldn't grab it (I thought)
Mid phone conversation he jumped up on the table, grabbed the squeek, and swallowed it before I could get away. So then I'm on the phone with my mom and start cussing up a storm because now I'm probably going to have to take him to the vet, and it will cost a small fortune.  It pretty much ended the call with, well let's hope it passes OK, just watch him.

20 minutes later,  he threw it up. All is well. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Fire of the Prophetess: Phoenix Festival

There are two "burning days" during the Phoenix Festival.  You wouldn't have a Phoenix if there wasn't at least one, but we have two.

The first one was "The Burning of the Fifth" which also happens to fall on Guy Fawes/bonfire night, but for The Phoenix Fest, is about remembering the 5th of November because of the LDS Policy, and those it affected, and something is symbolically  burned  (a letter, a picture, etc.) On that day.

The second  burn day is today, the Fire of The prophetess.  Today we light on fire a symbol of things harmful or oppressive to women.  It's as simple as that.  Thinking upon what that should be, or what means today, is a personal matter requiring reflection, and action. A symbolic fire should stoke you to fight against the flames of  misogyny still running  rampant in the world, in whatever way you feel inspired to do so.

I'm just having a little fire in my fire place tonight, someday I would like to have a bonfire, but it is Dec 23rd, so it may be a bit cold. For those participating, I hope you have a wonderful Fire of the Prophetess.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Week of the Free Spirit: Phoenix Festival

This week probably isn't what you think it is, based off of the title.  This week means that we are a good chunk of the way through Phoenix Festival, and we have had a lot of time for confronting our demons and introspection.

This week is about forgiviness, of self and others. This week is about letting go of regrets. This week means that you have confronted hard things for over a month, and now you can learn to feel  at peace with the past, and move toward the future with energy and hope.

This had been a very heavy year for most people I know. This week, know that the past can be a lesson, that it can be a steping  stone or a stumbling block. Find a way this week, to use the lessons of your past to vault you into a wonderful future.

If you feel your imperfections and errors, be kind to yourself. Keep trying, even when you fail. We are all humans and you are not alone.   This weekend I went to a skating show. I thought a lot about how as a figure skater, one of my greatest talents was to fall correctly, so I could quickly get back up and skate on. Sometimes, even I fell horribly and had to stay down for a minute to recover, but eventually, we all skate on.

Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. No one can do it alone. We are a team,  and this week is the part where we begin to dust off the ashes of our past.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mid-winters Pride- Festival of the Phoenix

  Hey Mandi, did you already write your Phoneix Festival post this week? Week of the Weird? or something like that?  Where did that post go?

 Yes, Sunday I wrote a post for Week of the Queer-Phoenix Festival.  I deleted it.  Why?  because it was crap.  I don't write well when I am feeling vulnerable about a subject and I hold back. Sunday I felt really vulnerable, and I also felt internal pressure to write something, so I half-assed it and wrote what I consider to be absolute garbage. True, but garbage.  So I deleted it Monday.  Now its  Tuesday, and I'm ready to get real. 

 So is this post going to be about more Gay stuff? why do you feel like you have to talk about that?  why can't you just privately live that part of your life for yourself?  why you Queer people always have to be coming out, and talking about all that stuff, especially when you know a lot of us don't feel like its morally appropriate?

 Well, I guess this kind of brings me to the point of Pride in general, and my personal reason for making this week "The Week of the Queer"  which I tried to make more broad so that everyone can feel included and celebrate the beautiful pieces of themselves which aren't always appreciated by others, but in my original post, I don't think I really did a good job of explaining what or why that is. 

   The reason I need this week, is the same reason I had to delete my first post. This part of me that I have come to deeply love and enjoy and appreciate, is a part of myself that I deeply hated and fought against and tried to erase for much of my life.  I could say a great many things about cultures and religions, and shame and misunderstanding, and all of that would be true and a contributing factor, and I dare say that is the root of pride in the summer/spring months around the world. But Phoenix Festival is really about looking inside, and beyond all that exterior stuff. I still sometimes fight internal battles. It's usually now driven by external fears and residual cultural shame, but the only thing I have learned I can do about that is resist it with vulnerability. 

If you read my post earlier this week, you may have noticed it was a bit Xena obsessed. Well, that's because I am currently watching Xena, now in my mid 30's, for the first time ever.  It's something I think I really wanted to watch in my adolescence, and my parents never told me I couldn't watch it. I told me I couldn't watch it, because all of the talk of "lesbian subtext"( which turned out to be real and not just talk).  But I told me I couldn't watch it because I hated myself for being attracted physically, emotionally, and romantically to women, and I was terrified someone would figure it out.  So I made fun of Xena a lot, and I really wished I could watch it.  I am watching it now, and I love it. But now I am watching it alone. Its been off the air for years, and everyone who has watched it, is just like yeah, I watched it . Its great.  And I have no one to talk about all the deep symbolic things with. 

 Another thing I did, although I did it a week or two early, I bought a Utility Kilt, and some ties. And I wore my Kilt and Ties, and fancy button up shirts, and I wore them together. I have always loved androgynous looks, but I have been terrified to wear a tie, even after I came out, because  I still care what people think, and I am still afraid people are going to make comments and its going to hurt. Their opinions don't really matter to me, and I like how I look, but I can still be quite sensitive. 

Crappy comments happened when I cut my hair short too, and sometimes I still get crappy comments from old friends or co workers about that. I love my hair, so they can go jump in a cold lake, but it still stings.  They don't have to like it, but their opinion isn't really my business. If you don't like my clothes or my hair cut, great- don't copy my style. If you do like them, please tell me, because I'm trying to be confident about it in public, but 30-ish years of fear and hiding is a lot to overcome. 

 This is the week of the Queer. I am using it to own my own style,my own likes and dislikes that I have felt distanced from by fear my whole life. For me, that tends to skew to a relation to all things rainbow, because that's something I have had to fight myself, and external forces of societies and cultures to embrace. You may have had to fight for something else, a short haircut when you aren't gay, loving your star trek, or any number of other crappy things we ridiculously shame ourselves or others for.  This week is about publicly owning that, FOR YOURSELF.  to empower yourself to love you, to love the things you love, and to enjoy and feel passionate about the things you feel passionate about. I do put one qualification on that- since its my holiday season-  things that are not hateful, and do not harm others.   

 I shared today that I ran while listening to Imagine Me and You, the song by the Turtles, and I ran to it, because its the name of my favorite romantic comedy.  But I've never shared that that's my favorite before, because even though it is a great movie in its own right, gay or straight (I've had straight friends confirm, it is 100% worth watching even if you are not queer), it does have Lena Hadley's  character falling in love with Piper Perabo's  and I don't feel like that is something I'm allowed to share, and that feeling, is stupid.  its a great movie, and I love it. 

Another thing growing up, I always felt silenced on, was my full celebrity crush list.  because I Bisexual, (homo-Romantic just to qualify that)  I  had readily available my list of male celebrity crushes, and got to share that all the time.  But I never got to share my girl celebrity crushes, and that always really sucked.  I'm sure you can probably guess my current list- Megan Rapinoe, curler Eve Muirhead, Anna Kendrick, Kate Mckinnon, and from Xena, the actress that played Calysto- Hudson Lieck.  I could probably go on and on, but those are the top right now.  

Does it matter?  No. Not really.  But the privilege of sharing that, and not feeling fear from it is something hard fought for in my life, and its something I still battle. and that is what this week is about.  What is it hard for you to own about your likes, loves, and dislikes in life?  if you don't have anything that makes you feel super vulnerable to admit that you love,  gay, straight, and everything in between and round about you are an incredibly lucky person.  If you never have felt uncomfortable in your clothes, or your appearance, or because you like to read some book or watch some movie, or hold some ones hand,  or you have had few struggles with that since hitting adult hood, you are pretty lucky. My guess is, even the most confident among us struggle with this on some level. Our cultures and societies are  full of shame. We internalize it, and its really hard to overcome. That's why we have Megan Rapinoe writing letters to her 13 year old self and sharing it with the world, that's why we have Brene Brown, and  that's why a lot of things. 

Thank you, for taking the time to read this.  And thank you to those that read it even after reading the first post I deleted.  I would like for anyone that reads this and is willing, to give you an opportunity at the end of the week, or in the middle if you have a lot to say, to write me something to share in this blog about your Week of the Queer, your Mid-Winters Pride.  I think the more we talk and share these things with each other, the less power shame has, and the deeper the power human connection has. I love you guys, and I am so glad you give me so many opportunities to share such personal things. 

I gotta go. I only have until January 1st to finish watching Xena, then its gone from Netflix. I have an interesting fan girl theory I want to share with anyone who thinks they can appreciate it,  If that's you, message me. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Week of the New Spirit - Festival of the Phoenix

This week's theme is quite simple, the Week of the New Spirit is all about finding renewal and hope in life through adventure and trying something new.

As I have traveled, and moved, and tried new things in life I have found that new things expand our experiences in a way that makes the world seem less scary and strange, and expands my cultural lenses to understand people and events that aren't part of my culture or tribe.

I think that it's great that this week is starting on the heals of the announcement  about the pipeline moving out from the tribal areas for standing rock,  that anouncemnet renewed my hope in the strength of diverse groups of people standing up for eachother. 

I think we need that all year round, but especially in the cold dark winter. We can make a real difference in others lives when we stand up for and with people even when what is happening to them isn't affecting us personally, or isn't part of our lived experience.

Go forth my phoenixes, go have some adventures and get to know the world around you a little better. Do something you have never done before, and learn something that you can't learn any other way.