Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Take the Plunge. Start Your Own Business.


Yes, we all know this. The past two years in particular have been extremely rough for even the employed, but there is a silver lining in our dark cloud. What is it you may ask? Well, according to many analysts, this is the perfect time to start your own business and I could not agree more. The truth is, we've been through this crunch before. So let me put my History degree to work for a moment so I can get you to thinking about taking the plunge.

First, let's jump into the time machine back to 1973. Nixon was in office, the economy was not the best, the US was still in Vietnam, and the world was experiencing the oil crisis. During this time, the cost of the gas rose 50% and there was gas rationing. Although times looked bleak, some very famous start-ups began, including: Famous Amos Cookies, Supercuts, Chili's and a little company called Microsoft.  

The truth is, many of the companies on the DOW were started during an economic downturn, including McDonald's, Proctor and Gamble and Disney. I'm not saying that everyone will make a killing, but this economy is offering an economic opportunity to be independent and have the life you want; and even if it does not work out, you still do not have much to lose.

The Wall Street Journal just published a story recently about the tech boom happening in New York away from Wall Street and big businesses. This should definitely ring a bell for those old enough to remember the economic shambles the country was left in due to trickle down . This allowed many young people to start their own business in the 90s with the then groundbreaking internet.

The truth is, our economy has been kept afloat by not big business, but the power of small businesses for 20 years now. If you've been thinking about opening your own business, I challenge you to really start making moves to make it happen. Start putting together real ideas of what you want your business to look like. Start really researching where there is a need for your idea. Start pricing locations if your business needs an actual building. Just start. Research is always free and you may not need as much capital as you think. Besides, you may surprise yourself and will make your dreams come true.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sorry for the lack of posts!

Hello Everyone!

I apologize for the lack of posts. I've been gearing up for completing everything to start grad school in January, but we will be back starting next week! We have something very cool planned and are looking for women with their own business to interview. If you're interested, please send a message to

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Monogamy Myth

Lately I've been really thinking about the monogamy myth our culture lives by. What myth you may ask? Well, the myth that monogamy is for everyone and is the only way to have a healthy relationship. I honestly never gave this much thought until late last year when I began to explore polyamory as a real option for couples and whether I should include it in my counseling practice.

So what exactly is polyamory? Well, it is the belief that you can have a loving relationship with more than one person at a time. Unlike swinging, sex is not the primary motivation, but it is the fulfillment of the relationship itself, and unlike cheating, you have to be open and honest with your partners. As a matter of fact, some of the key words I've found in research is that you have to have trust, honesty, empathy, great communication, deep consideration and most of all, you have to compromise. More than that, I've found that you have to really know yourself. Can you handle this type of relationship and more so, can you handle the thought of only being monogamous for the rest of your life? People are not typically told that they have options.

The truth of the matter is, there are many, many relationship types and options out there that people should be aware of. For instance, a couple can equally fall in love with another person and choose to spend the rest of their life with them. This is called a Triad. It is not unheard of for two couples to be in love and develop a Quad. There are even options of mutual asexuality. My point is, we need to open our minds to other options whether we choose to participate or not, and be willing to hear the story of those to choose to love differently. There is a lot we can all learn.

Note: If you are in a poly relationship, or tried it and decided that it was not for you, we'd love to hear your story. You can send your story to

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meet Brit

“Just Another Radical Marxist for Women’s Liberation.”

I’m going start this piece by making an unpopular statement: the feminist movement doesn’t go far enough. The feminist movement made some progressive gains for women, and stands for the social, political and economic equality between the sexes, but we have to take that further if we’re serious. I’m not one to mince words. I think everyone fighting for women’s liberation should be a Marxist. Marxism explains where oppression originates. Understanding where oppression comes from, and how it develops within society, is intrinsic to kicking that antiquated shit to the curb. Marxism also shows that the working class women and men of the world are the ones with the real axe to grind, and have the collective ability to make demands and effect real change. Feminism tells us that “Patriarchy” and “Privilege” are our oppressors. Sure, but where do they come from? They come from Capitalism! Now I think showing solidarity instead of instituting segregation should be the way we fight for social justice and equality. I think that uprooting oppression takes a revolutionary strategy that doesn’t stop at nonprofits and candle light vigils. I think women have always played integral roles in revolts, insurrection, and full-scale revolution, and I know we’re just getting started.

It’s important to locate the origins of women’s oppression to fully understand the role it plays in society currently. Only when you understand what you’re fighting can you begin to dismantle it. Now, I’ll keep it as concise as possible, I could write volumes on the subject (and people have) but I want to provide a snapshot to incite a dialogue about where women’s oppression stems from. But more than that--how I believe a Marxist strategy provides the framework to imagine a better world and start chipping away at the old one.

My academic background is in Feminist Theory, and let me preface with this, I wouldn’t trade my support or experiences within that program, however I recognize it’s predominant line of thought as incomplete and flawed because it plays to the ideas of privilege and patriarchy as the highest oppressors. This theory rarely takes economic or historical factors into contextual consideration. It also precludes that there is a global sisterhood shared by all women through their oppression from sexism.
From a realistic standpoint Hillary Clinton and I both share in oppression from sexism as women, however we experience it differently because of our respective class status. If we needed abortion services, she would indeed have a much easier time obtaining those services. Why? Because she would not have to worry about cost, finding an abortion fund to help with that cost, transportation, scheduling off from her 9-5 job, making rent after paying for the service, or having good insurance if there are attached complications. Hillary Clinton, along with all other rich, ruling class women do not experience threats to their reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy the way I and other working class /poor women experience those threats. This kicks to the curb the idea of a “global sisterhood.”

It’s time to stop the absurd unpacking of the “privilege knapsack,” and address the real threat to solidarity-the the ruling class. Not being stopped by the cops because of your outward appearance isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. Having access to decent healthcare isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. Being able to keep a roof over your head, regardless of what the economy is doing, isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. And it is a fundamental right for all to be able to go to a good school, and receive a quality education, it is not a privilege.

Oppressions need to be taken out of the abstract and made all the easier to get rid of; starting with sexism. Marxists draw upon Marx and Engels’ ideas which rejected outright the perspective (upheld by conservatives, but also by some feminists) that the low status of women was an unchanging feature of human existence—fixed for all time by human biology or by the ideas in people’s heads. Marxism’s understanding of history views human beings as not only products of the natural world, but as active agents able to interact with their environments, effecting change within themselves, their social structures and the natural world around them. This understanding doesn’t mesh with the flawed perspective that holds women as always being inferior, because it looks at the evidence of the evolution of human society.
Women’s status in society has always been related to the role they have played in the family, and the various forms the “family” has taken in history.  Women’s roles changed with the development of private property. According to the sexual division of labor, men tended to take charge of heavier agricultural jobs, like plowing, since it was more difficult for pregnant or nursing women. As production shifted away from the household, the role of reproduction changed.

The shift toward agricultural production sharply increased the productivity of labor. This, in turn, increased the demand for labor because the greater the number of field workers meant the higher the yield. Thus, unlike previous hunter-gatherer societies, which sought to limit the number of offspring, agricultural societies sought to maximize women’s reproductive potential, so the family would have more children to help out with the work. Therefore, at the same time that men were playing an increasingly exclusive role in production, women were required to play a much more central role in reproduction.
The rigid sexual division of labor remained the same, but production shifted away from the household. The family no longer served anything but a reproductive function- it became an economic unit of consumption. Women became trapped within their individual families, as the reproducers of society, cut off from production. These changes took place first among the property-owning families, the first ruling class. But eventually, the nuclear family became an economic unit of society as a whole.
That is why capitalism has a vested interest in the continued oppression of women. If women had the unchallenged ability to control their reproductive means, and were compensated for work equally in society, the ruling class would lose its manufacturers of the next generation of poor workers. Capitalism is not only invested in creating sexist rhetoric to, “keep women in their place,” but it also has an interest in promoting racism, queer phobia, ageism, and disability exclusion as a means of weakening and dividing the working class, thereby driving down the costs of labour.

Marx was right about another thing, if oppression is made –that is, if it is not indigenous to the human spirit, but is created by people- then it also could be unmade. The first step in un-making social oppression is to understand where it comes from. Once we understand what we are up against, we can begin to destroy it. This means rejecting the capitalist system that fosters oppression, and joining the political struggle for full democracy. The working people of the world experience oppression everyday of their lives, and this is especially true of working women. We need to unite against what is made to divide us; we must struggle together as a united working class to achieve our own liberation. We must fight together for a just and equal society. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meet Lyric

The Beauty of Being Single

I used to be a woman that constantly craved a relationship. I enjoy companionship, and having a partner in crime at all times. I naturally assumed that it had to be with a boyfriend.

My last relationship ended rather abruptly, and it left me in a strange place. I can honestly say that I knew it wasn't going to be permanent from day one. I don't know why, but I just felt it. Still, having it end without even a warning made me really sit down and think things over.

At first, I remained single because it was the right thing to do. I was angry, and a bit bitter with how it was handled. I didn't want to punish some poor guy for actions that he didn't do. I also wasn't comfortable with talking about how it ended. I still don't completely know why. I won't go into the details, but my ex disappeared on me during Christmas and I never heard from him again. Yes, he is alive and well.

As time passed, I went on a few dates, but I still wasn't really open to the idea of letting my guard down. A few more months passed, and I tried dating again. Some of the people I had dinner with were nice and refreshing. There was nothing wrong with them, and they all would have been great potential boyfriends, but they still weren't for me.

It dawned on me then that for once in my life I was ok with not being in a relationship. I was genuinely interested in a few guys for a while, but I wasn't bothered when they didn't put in the effort. I wasn't on pins and needles waiting for a guy to call me, or getting giddy when I received a new text message. I just let them fall off and disappear into the sea of contact numbers in my cellphone.

I've spent so many years placing my efforts into getting to know someone else that I've ignored my relationship with myself. I used to be completely consumed by the men that I dated when I was younger, and that changed over my past few relationships.

Still, I was the workhorse. I made all of the calls and plans. Everything came down to me. To be honest, I felt worn out. The concept of entering another relationship where I might have to do that again is just daunting. I have better things to put my energy into.

I'm not saying that I am closed to the concept of dating and relationships. I still go on dates and I enjoy them. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm done with trying to fit square pegs into round holes. If things don't naturally evolve, then I don't see the point in bothering.

It's funny to me because I used to always be the gal pal with a man while the rest of the girls were single, but now I'm the only single lady in my group of friends. I like coming home and not having to worry about scheduling time to see a beau. I love the fact that I can just do things without having to worry if my boyfriend will be ok with it. God knows that I probably wouldn't be in burlesque if I was still with my ex. He secretly did me a favor. I'd probably call him an asshole and thank him in the same sentence if I saw him again.

For now, I focus on my relationships with my best friend and my family. I've taken this new found time to bond with my sisters and brother. I also spend more time trying new things and indulging myself. I figured out that my partner in crime in life is my best friend. It always has been, and it always will be. He knows what I am thinking with a simple look, and we basically have the same thought at the same time.

I'm sure that there is someone out there for me, and if he crosses my path I'll be sure to talk to him and see where things take us. I could always use another accomplice.

So if you're taken, don't assume that I'm out to steal your man, cause drama or that I need to be felt sorry for. I'm good with what I've been given, and if I happen to get a little more I'll take it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The phrase "body acceptance" has become such a catch phrase now. It is even used by ad execs to sell products. The problem is, I don't believe people really have come any closer to accepting their bodies for what they are. As a matter of fact, I believe we are so bombarded with unrealistic ideas and images that we are in a world of perpetual denial of even what we look like. How is that possible when I look at myself in the mirror every day? Well it is. Think back to when you looked at a photo of yourself. I know for me, I am shocked sometimes to see how fat I am. How is that possible?! I am fat. I make no bones about it. I buy my clothes in my size, I see myself every day in the mirror several times a day. Hell, my stage name is even Adi Pose! What's with the sticker shock? But I am. I think my mind is bombarded with ideas of what I SHOULD look like versus what I actually do. That my dear, is not body acceptance.

But this is not only limited to size. I hear others complain about their nose, hair, skin, teeth, eyes, lips, ears... you name it and people hate it about themselves. They all seem shocked when they see in it in a picture. Well here's my solution. I'm putting a picture of myself (full body shot) on my mirror. I'm also going to make sure I have full body shot pictures of me and my friends in frames around the house. Why? Because I need to see the real me. I need to remind myself that I am awesome at my present state and replace the the false images I have in my head so I can embrace the real me. Also, it is a kick in the pants that if I don't like something about myself, then do something about it, but also remain reasonable. I am not some air brushed, photo-shopped model and never will be. It is time for me to really embrace the real me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Nongendered. An interesting word. My word processor insists that I have misspelled something or made a mistake. It is sure that I mean gendered. This is somehow appropriate then, considering the way that people often respond to the idea. But let me back up.

I grew up in-between odd places and ideologies, in an area of town populated primarily with the economic victims of a white-flight scenario that left the area very poor. Like DuBois would have noticed, my psyche responded in kind to the reflections I saw of myself in other people’s eyes. I have always been the “other.” I was simultaneously terribly weak and threateningly strong. I was a victim and was responsible for the economic situation around me. I was a breathing dichotomy. I was white..

Of course, when we were all young no one noticed my whiteness really. Like a conundrum spoken of by King in his early memories, children of all colors played together until their elders started to advise them not to. But I knew then that I was no different… it was the world around me that was changing. I started not to trust what the world had to offer. I was not different at all. They were wrong.

I also grew up with a sister who had no sisters to play with, so she played with me. We played dolls, and she liked to put make up on me. My mom was rather forward thinking on this and my father was silent, but not un-approving. Many times I would walk around with my nails polished and get the compliments from passers-by to my mom, “What a pretty little girl.” My mom would of course have to correct them, but ultimately I never cared. I liked the color and did not mind the compliments. My brother was in on it too – he and I would pick flowers for my mom.

And I had to learn to fight. I have a scar on my back from the assault of a neighbor from where he bit me when we were eight and all the neighbors cheered him on. My skull was fractured and teeth busted out by some teen-aged hoodlums while I was walking home from kindergarten with my (not much) older siblings shouting defiantly to try to protect me. We were white, remember? Supposedly this was a good enough reason. I loved sports; though my mother did not let me play them (we could not afford the gear). I loved games of all sorts and excelled in school only when there was a competition.

As I grew older, it was clear that I had to choose sides. I could either be a competitive and scrappy boy or a sweet and loving girl. Ultimately, I called bullshit. I decided that all of this was simply a construct for control that had lost its usefulness, if indeed it were ever useful. It was easy for me though, I had no friends to lose.

I remember being in the 5th grade and learning that the gender and race information that I was having to fill out for school was optional information used by the school to help with tracking minority demographics and movements, and used by testing groups in Iowa to determine the intellectual progression of those same groups. It was time for my first act of rebellion. I simply opted not to fill in the information. I have left this information blank on every official document since then. Now, because it was left open, my school transcript lists me as a black female.

So here I am; a nurturing parent to my child yet I teach self-defense, a significant-other who cooks and cleans and works. I understand that people gain strength in identifying with others… I never have.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Meet Tipsy

Half German and half Irish, I was raised in Arizona, England, Virginia, and Texas. Even though we settled in Texas when I was 8, I was exposed to many different people and environments during the crucial young child development years, and they left a permanent impression on me. Even after living in Abilene for years, I knew a Bible-thumping, Republican-voting lifestyle was not the only way to live. There were other, better options for me. If that’s the life someone else wants to lead, fine, but I knew I didn’t have to because it didn’t feel right. A life of khakis and polos, of going to Wilco concerts, of blindly accepting authority, of believing everything you hear on the news, of believing that uttering a few curse words here and there will end with you burning in Hell, I knew, was not for me.

I’ve always been incredibly shy, and I still am. I’ve just gotten better at hiding it. I wasn’t cute or cool in high school. I was too ambitious for the punks, didn’t wear enough black to fit in with the goths, was too weird for the nerds, and the preppies…well, who wants to fit in with those people? I never, ever fit in anywhere because I was too eclectic for my peers. I grew up loving classic rock; my favorite bands when I was 8 were Aerosmith, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, and The Cars. I hated the first day of school every year because the teacher would make us introduce ourselves to the rest of the class, and it was always the same for me. I rattled off my favorite books, movies, bands, and hobbies, and everyone looked at me like I was nuts. They had no idea what I was talking about, and thus, had no interest in any of it. The very fact that I did actually read for fun usually result in confused looks.

To top it off, I wasn’t comfortable being a girl for the longest time. When I (finally!) started developing in high school, I didn’t want to wear anything that actually fit me. At 5’2 and 110 lbs, I’d wear XL shirts, Jncos (remember when those were popular?) at least a size too big, and skater shoes. I wore dorky glasses and didn’t dare try putting on make-up, even though I really, really wanted to. I basically looked like Avril Lavigne, ties and all, before she came along and ruined it. I loved bright colors, crazy patterns, and wild hair; I just didn’t have the confidence to look the way I wanted to. I also was under the impression that I was chubby because I actually had a figure, hence the baggy clothes.

Moving to Denton to attend UNT, while it didn’t result in me receiving a degree, was by far the best thing I ever did for myself. Though it’s changed a lot since I first arrived, I’ll always be grateful to this city. Here, I found the courage to let my freak flag fly as high as it will go. I found the courage to embrace my feminine side, and I decided that being a weirdo is not so bad. I decided that I will never let anyone make me feel inferior just because they think I’m strange. Go on living in your nice safe, black-and-white, straight-and-narrow bubble, those who look down on me. That life ain’t for me.

I decided to give burlesque a shot a few years ago to help conquer my shyness and to give my girly side the ultimate outlet. I had absolutely no dance experience. Hell, I put on lipstick for the first time for one of my early burlesque shows in 2008. I’m still very much in the learning process, but I’m loving every bit of it, even the bad parts. I’ve met horrible people, but I’ve also met some wonderful people. I’ve had horrible experiences, but I’ve had some wonderful ones too. I wouldn’t change any of it for anything

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meet Vivienne

Growing up I was the weird ugly kid that sat in the back of the classroom and mumbled at the other kids. I read books when they watched MTV, and I stayed on the swingset when they played volleyball. When boys would even look at me I would call them names and throw things at them. Why? I had the lowest self esteem imaginable. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family... lots of kids, mainly boys, so i grew up in jeans, t shirts, playing baseball and getting dirty. Being pretty was never on my mind. To add to my tomboyishness I had a wicked case of acne vulgaris (the kind that leaves massive scarring), screwed up teeth and a horrid haircut (chili bowl with curls. Yeah.) High school changed my life.

I had to attend a public school for the first time, because the area Catholic high school was out of our way to attend. The first day was unbearable. I went from a school of 150 kids (total) to having a freshman only class of 350 (over 1400 at that school). I wanted to die. But luckily, I met some female friends who took me under thier wing and showed me how to be a girl. They showed me the beauty of makeup, and my whole outlook on life changed. All of a sudden, I wasn't so ugly. Boys started talking to me, my hair grew out, and I got braces. I made friends that I have even still to this day.

Having been in dance most of my childhood, I decided to try out for my schools' prestigious kick squad and made the team! I fell in love with the overly sequined costume, the red lipstick, teased hair and blue eyeshadow. In college I participated in theater programs and found out that I was good at makeup. Really good. I started working in retail and my career went from there. I find the most satisfaction, however, in teaching what I know to others. Helping teens learn how to regain thier self esteem through corrective coverup, because I went through that. I have volunteered at battered women's shelters, teaching women how to find beauty in themselves, as part of programs to help them better thier life situation and find self worth and love. 

My role models have always been drag queens, because they embody how I feel makeup is best used - a tool to become who you want to be. It's not just mascara or lip gloss, it can help you become more self confident in yourself. It can show your creativity and uniqueness, or help you blend in. To me, everytime I have a client in my chair, my goal is to make that person feel amazing about themselves... if they can look in the mirror and smile at thier reflection, if I can help them see the true beauty that they are, then I have done my job right. Beauty does come from within, but as women we should be able to change our appearance to suit what we want to see and show the world, and if I can help even a small group of women love themselves and find thier beauty, then I am satisfied.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Meet Rae Loosie

I never knew what I wanted to be growing up, never really even thought about it. I didn't apply for college or even take the SATs. I was just having too much fun living in the moment. Once I graduated from high school, I was like oh crap! What do I do now? Having no plans, I signed up to take my basics at a community college, and literally picked a career out of the newspaper and ran with it. I thought I had it all figured out, I would become a paralegal and then off to law school and then work as an attorney for animal rights.

Almost 10 years later, I look back and realized I didn't even give myself a chance to be happy, or be the person I wanted to be. So now, I work in a position that I hate, working for the corporate world against all of the betterment of mankind. And then, I woke up. I don't want to do this anymore. I can't sit at a desk all day and pretend to care about how much our client should pay out on an insurance claim.

The one good thing about attending college, was I took some Women's Studies classes, it was that or Spanish. I started realizing that there was this whole other world of feminism and women’s rights that I had no idea existed, because I was too busy being in my own world, worrying about my own issues. It really opened my eyes to new possibilities. Also, my boyfriend at the time (husband now) introduced me to the world of the Riot Grrrl movement. I was hooked. I absorbed much of my life into learning everything I could about that culture that I had no idea existed. I picked up bass and have been in three successful girl bands, because of my love of this movement. I had no idea there were other girls out there experiencing the same things that I had gone through. Playing music was the most important thing in my life and it made me happy. Playing on stage and having the audience sing along and yell out your songs is such an amazing feeling.

But those feelings were short-lived, I had to return to my day job and work for the "man." I would go through phases where I just wanted to quit my job and go on the road and play bass all day. Or do something equally as creative. Sitting in an office all day was sucking the life force out of me. During these phases, I vowed to make a change and find something better to do for my life, but my attempts were always short-lived.

Finally, fed up with my lack of motivation, I decided that it must stop. I can't be turning 30 and not have anything to show for myself. So I sent an email, did some research, and I think I finally found what I want to do. I don't want to give too much away on what I'm planning, cause its still in a fragile state, but I believe that it will be a great addition to the Dallas area and hopefully will help other girls have the chance to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is if your not happy fix the issue until you’re happy. Don't be stuck in something you hate, because it will start affecting the stuff that actually makes you happy. Life is too short.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Meet Carrie

“Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear.”
It came as a complete surprise to me that MY story could save someone's life. Mine? Really? I guess since I've just lived and rolled with the punches I just thought this was just my life and the way things were supposed to fall into place. Being truly happy now for the first time in my life, maybe this can put all my past at rest and let me get the most out of my future. Wow, I'm already crying. Nice.

Growing up I had no idea what was going on. I wondered why my parents would never let any of my friends come over to play or to spend the night. Little did I know they were smoking marijuana and didn't want to get caught. So from the beginning I was taught to lie in people's best interest so they would quit asking questions.

Things got worse when my dad became a full-blown alcoholic. My mother, brother and I fell victim to his wretched words. He was emotionally abusing his whole family. Being told something over and over, no matter what it is, eventually they will believe it as the truth. I was being told I was going to get so fat that no one would ever want me, going to live out of a trash can when I was older because I was so lazy, and that I was worthless and wouldn't amount to anything. We never let anyone know until my dad became a cocaine addict as well and things got even worse at home. I wrote a letter to my father at age 13 saying that if he hurt us again that I was going to use the loaded shotgun in their closet to kill him so he wouldn't hurt us anymore. My mom intercepted my note and both my brother and I spent the afternoon at my Granny's and with tears in our eyes, we told her everything. She told my mother to make a decision. It was either us, or my dad. The abuse had to end. My Granny was going to take care of us if she chose my dad and that she wasn't going to be allowed to see us ever again. That night my mom told my dad it was either the coke or his family and that she was going to change the locks and throw all his stuff in the yard.

He chose us and things lightened up a bit. He was still verbally abusive, but it wasn't as bad as before. Knowing what I know now, I know he was insecure, unhappy, and was taking it out on us. My friends never knew the real me. I kept the happy face on and the jokes rolling so they wouldn't worry about me. I was the happy one, the one everyone went to when they needed to be cheered up. They had no idea my dad was an addict, that he was emotionally abusive, and that my weight gain was due to finding the comfort I longed for in food.

I was also ashamed because my dad was racist. My friends didn't know about it, well they didn't know until my really good friend Portia in middle school came over after school to help me with my math homework. She was a straight A student with successful parents. My dad forced us to stay out in the heat on the porch because he refused to let a black person in his house. He wouldn't let me bring both of us a glass of water because he “didn't want n****r lips touching his glasses.” Then he yelled, “that n****r better not steal anything or I'll beat you with a belt.” I was sobbing by that point with embarrassment as Portia got up, ran away, and refused to be my friend ever again no matter how much I tried to tell her that I didn't believe the way he did and loved and accepted everyone, regardless of sex or race. I hated him for that and decided to pack a suitcase because as soon as I turned 16, I was going to run away.

My parents never told me about sex and I didn't have any good relationships in my life growing up to give me a good example of what it was supposed to be like. I had always told myself that I would do the right, Christian thing and wait until marriage to have sex with the man I loved. At age 18 I got tired of waiting to find out what it was like, and figured that all the friends I had that “put out” always had someone to love. So I decided to call a guy I had a crush on for about a week and asked him if he wanted to have sex. Surely afterwards we would start dating and I would be in love, right? Well, needless to say it wasn't what I expected and afterwards he was just a friend and wasn't interested in pursuing a relationship with me. But during the act of it, I felt so close to him, as if we were the only two people in the world and that I mattered. This caused me to start a promiscuous life because I craved the closeness I felt when I was having sex with them. Little did I know that those guys didn't give a crap about me and was only out to get what they wanted. I never cared about getting pleasure out of it because no one bothered to try to please me. I even went on to believe that I would never know what it felt like to orgasm because it never happened for me during sex. So needless to say, I became a “giver.”

I graduated by the skin of my teeth in the summer after all my friends. I was more interested in the party than my schoolwork. My parents told me that I had to start college, but I wanted to take a break and enjoy myself. I had started smoking marijuana by that time (if it wasn't good, why were my parents still doing it, right?) and continued on my quest to find love in the wrong way. My first real relationship came at age 19. His name was Trey and I now know it was infatuation and the idea of love. It lasted 13 months and it ended in a letter sent to me from boot camp. We were engaged and I was devastated. I flunked out of both semesters of college and was too busy having fun that I didn't care about anything.

Then I met my ex-husband. I felt appreciated for once and things started out well. Our three month “courtship” was exciting and so much fun. Surely he was the one I had been praying for my whole life. We got married only after knowing each other for four months. This was my ticket out of my parents’ house. I got pregnant with John right after we got married and then the downward spiral began. I didn't want him to touch me. I felt horrible and I was depressed my entire pregnancy. When I had my son I felt numb and didn't have any idea what to do. I neglected myself and him. I still feel terrible about it. After being out of work and my husband being fired from his, we lost our apartment and were forced to move in with the Grandmother-in-Law that hated me. Life then became absolute hell. I hated where I was. I hated my life. I didn't even recognize myself in the mirror, I had went from a size 16/18 to a 26/28. It was like looking at a stranger. I closed myself off from everyone and in doing so resulted in the six times my husband raped me. I kicked and fought and yelled, but he just waited until I was exhausted and couldn't fight back anymore and then he forced himself on me. He had me convinced it was my fault and that no one would ever believe me, so I didn't tell anyone. Knowing what I know now, I should have reported it, but I was afraid they would laugh at me and tell me to go home.

I soon started working at a clothing store and met a girl named Shondra. She told me that if I gave all my worries and hurt to God that his love would wash over me and make me clean again. At this point I had nothing to lose and in my car in the parking lot of the mall I gave my heart to Him. I told Him I didn't want this anymore, that it was His problem to fix. Shortly after that, I was free. I left my husband, took John and moved back in with my parents. I was working at a new job at another clothing store and there I met one of the most amazing people I've met in my entire life, Zandra. She was confident, nice, and she helped me feel pretty for the first time in my entire life. For the first time I believed that I was cute. We spent an entire shift putting me in outfits and I still have the paper she wrote down the styles of clothes that flattered my figure. In the midst of it all, this was my reason to keep going and to keep faith that people were good or had some good in them. She helped me regain myself and build my self-esteem back up. I really don't know what I would have done if I wouldn't have met her when I did. I still love her for that and am thankful that she came into my life when she did because I was at rock bottom. But things didn't get easier.

I then met Anthony. He and I met as friends. Shortly afterward, we found ourselves on the same page, having just left our marriages & and we missed being close to someone. We fit perfectly and never went a day without seeing or talking to each other, which also meant I wasn't paying attention to my son. Again, I still feel terrible for this. We then got into smoking ice and I moved out of my parents’ house, leaving two year old John behind on a quest to get high. It was the worst thing I'd done yet. I was isolated in a one room shanty out at the lake in the woods away from everything and everyone. I only had ice and my boyfriend. We got so strung out we would stay up for weeks at a time and end up passing out for three or four days. I never told my parents about my drug abuse and I gave them primary conservator ship of my son. He didn't need to see what I had become.

About six months later, I left on a trip to see a longtime friend and came clean with what was going on. At that time I knew that he loved me and wanted the best for me, but I wasn't quite ready to walk away. Ice had a grip on me and it wasn't letting go. It was the best week of my life at that time, but then I had to go back home to my addiction. It took having my first panic attack and being paralyzed in fear, unable to move for me to snap out of its hold on me. It was the slap in the face I needed to get clean. After being on ice for over a year and a half, I soon moved back into my parents’ house and left Anthony to his addiction.

Life was staring looking up for me again. I was with my son again. I had a job I never thought I was capable of doing for fear of my clumsiness- I was a waitress. One night when I was headed home from work, I turned on my blinker to change lanes, only to be clipped by a Firebird doing 75 and I went crashing down the retainer wall on the side of the highway. I had suffered severe whiplash and nerve damage. I was told I would be lucky to regain 70 percent of my movement back in my arms and hands. My spine had shifted and my left side was now almost two inches longer than my right.

This was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. Being told you would never get to hold your son again for fear of making things worse; it was a hard blow to receive. I was in physical therapy three times a week for six months. I made a miraculous recovery thanks to the treatment I endured. Things still get bad every now and then. I lose control of my hands sometimes when I have a hold of something, but I was lucky to come out of it the way I did. I started a new job where I wouldn't have to put as much stress on my body waiting tables at another restaurant. I moved out of my parent's house again & and was enjoying living on my own and working on getting my life back together. I later moved again into an apartment with some friends and started waiting tables somewhere else.

Who knew what would happen next. Come to find out, I was four months pregnant. I had a happy pregnancy. I accepted responsibility for this life I was about to bring into the world. Things didn't go over well with my mother though. Until I knew how far along I was, she wanted me to go against my beliefs and have an abortion. This crushed me. She made a convincing argument, saying that I couldn't even take care of the child I had. My dad, who I thought would take it the worst, actually was so excited about it, that he longed for another grandson. I vowed to work until I popped. My boss kept asking me when I was going to go on leave and I told him, “When I go into labor in the passout.” I was forced to take medical leave at eight months pregnant and I was no longer able to afford my share. I had to give up my independence and move home. Again. Everything I had worked for establishing myself and my life in the past two years felt like a complete waste of time because it was being taken away from me again, just to have to start over with nothing to show for it. 

Unfortunately, after I had Gabriel, my parents were not helping things when I spiraled down into postpartum depression. At my three month checkup, I told my doctor that with Gabriel's colic, my parents refusing to help with him and let me rest, that I thought about putting a pillow over my son's face to make him quit crying. I was at wit's end at this point, not receiving any help from my parents and being forced to get up when the house did, due to living in the living room, I had gone mad.

I was escorted to the hospital where I was put into Green Oaks for observation. There they prescribed a medication that forced me to sleep and would combat my chemical imbalance that was causing my depression. My parents were unsympathetic. They were angry that due to this, they had temporary custody of Gabriel and thought I was faking all of it so I wouldn't have to accept my responsibilities. I was heartbroken. I HAD to get out.

A year later, I moved into my current residence and took Gabriel with me. My parents told me that it would be best for John to stay with them to maintain stability and I agreed. Things were immediately better. I finally decided to do something with my life and enrolled in an online college to get a degree in accounting to start in the fall.

About four months in, I started talking to a guy named Nathan. We hit it off. We liked all the same things it seemed like. We talked every day for almost a month and we told each other about our fears and hopes. We laughed so much and I felt like things couldn't get any better. We were tired of dating people because it just didn't seem like it would go anywhere. We were tired of being lied to and cheated on.  He decided to move in with me and we had both decided it was all or nothing. We were going to throw caution to the wind and just see where it went. He has been the only person to ever get me and he is absolutely everything I ever wanted and what I had been praying for my whole adult life. Every time I said “if only I could find someone that...,” that was Nathan.  He has been by my side for almost a year now and I know finally what true love is. He loves Gabriel like he was his own son and we take on life together with our hearts entwined. I finally know the real meaning of love and with an open heart, I completely trust him and he trusts me.

I may not know what life has for me now, but I think that with the person I have become and my optimistic point of view and sense of humor, I will anticipate it with all my heart happily holding Nathan and Gabriel's hands. I hope this helps someone. Even at the worst times of my life, I was able to find light in the darkest of darkness. Despite everything that has been thrown at me, I hold my head high and live my life to better myself for not only just myself, but for my family as well. In the face of adversity I have taken my optimistic point of view and got through it every time. I never lost my faith in love, and I never let anything that happened to me cause me to fall in the same footsteps as my parents. I will not let what happen to me happen to my children if I can help it. Thank you for reading this and where ever you are in your life, remember to always keep your head up. Don't let anyone get the best of you without proving to you that they deserve it first. And please don't feel ashamed if you have been raped. Get help and prosecute the person that did it to you. Have a great day and thank you for letting me do this. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meet Kate

I think of my life as scenes from a movie. All different angles of the same scene are playing simultaneously in my diorama. Like waves, they are.....unpredictable, soft, kind, dangerous, charming, shocking, seductive, thrilling. Fulfilling.

My heart coaxes the life out of anything ordinary. For me, life is about courage. That IS adventure. The older I get, the more I realize how rare that choice is. And how precious a choice that can be.

I have grieved the waste of settling for what others had convinced me was life. Or what was love? What is trust? What is success? What can all these things be?

And I can tell you, the gratitude I have for that knowledge, is a bounty! My life as a performer, as an artist, both conventional & abstract, is about discovery & unfettered expression.

Every new person I meet, every new experience adds a new note to my next expression. My next photograph, my next witty wordsmith, my next performance, my next striking ensemble....they all have a spark of curiosity & wonderment!

I'm proud of my soul. And I love how I live in it. Out loud & hungry. To be continued...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet Elizabeth

All in her (baby) business


     I have this friend who wants a baby. She’s almost in her mid 30’s, but its kinda cool that she waited, because she always talks about how selfish she was when she was in her 20’s. I don’t think she was selfish, just kind of adventurous. And random. I’m really surprised she has had her head stuck on having a kid for so long. She’s the kind of girl who goes,  “Oooh! I want to take tap dance! (2 seconds later) Oooh, I want to learn to make flower pots out of old water bottles! (2 seconds later) Oooh! I want to build a chicken coop!”  I swear, she aint right! But I think she’d be a decent mom. Hell, there could be worse.

     It’s a trip too, because she came out in, like her late teens/early 20’s, something like that. And when I say out, I mean like full blown lez.  I’ve never seen her so happy, though. She’s been with this ex army chick that treats her like a goddess, well, not a goddess. She definitely treats her well, and she totally  deserves it. She met her online, and they hooked up, but they been together a few years now. She has had some crazy adventures, even in her coming out.  I like she’s not all,  “I’m gay, and you better like it or lump it.” She supports the unjust, and she shows love without fear every day.

     I ask her over and over again, “why don’t you just do it? Why don’t you just get a bottle of tequila and chat up some random guy and get it on?” But she’s adamant about doing it just right. She’s all about choosing the “right” donor, anonymous or not, making sure she picks just the right time of year for them to be born, having a baby name dinner party with friends and family…who does this? She says that if she is going to bring a child into this world, she wants ‘em to know that they were planned for years. That’s sort of sweet, you know? I was always told that I was the result of my folks celebrating my mom getting a raise at work. Ick.

     I really hope she gets pregnant on the first go round. I mean, all this planning, and then having to wait. She has this crazy notion that she’ll know the exact moment it happens. You’d think she would know better, her being a nurse and all. I think sees the whole thing in a romantic sense, that’s endearing.  I really hope she does it this year, she’s been talking about it for so long, and I’m tired of hearing “next year…next year…” Get knocked up already! She pisses me off sometimes, I want to have a reason to buy baby clothes, and have a sound reason for sleep deprivation. Oh wait, did I tell you who my friend is? It’s me.

    I’m Elizabeth. I’m 33 years old, and I have wanted a child for 12 years. I finally settled down and became a nurse. I am going back to school to get my BSN so that I can do HIV community education, and AIDS hospice. My partner is Joline, my bull in a china shop. She ain’t dainty, but she has the kindest heart. We dream and pray that we can start trying in January 2012.