Practicing Embodiment

Friday – 1 March (Continued)

At long last the carful of femmes arrived at the workshop. After quickly changing into more comfortable attire (*ahem* obscenely fluffy petticoat!), we entered the space about half an hour late, but just in time for introductions. You know, my favorite part about the workshop is the get-to-know-you activities. I so love getting to know people, perhaps because there is so much one can learn about someone in just a couple of minutes, and also so much mystery beneath the surface. It is really beautiful to watch people unfold their many layers.

This workshop was held in a really magnificent space. There is an area for socializing that is full of rows of couches swathed in many colors of fabric. Beautiful, artful and playful images of penises abound. The “sanctuary” is a long rectangular room with abundant floor space. Yellow and red drapes hang around an altar where participants can place objects that are significant to their process. The high and low, the lost and the weary, the grim and the joyful may come to practice embodiment in safety and peace.

At these events, we get to know each other through a really fun process that reminds me of speed dating in some ways. We arranged ourselves in two concentric circles, with the inside circle facing the outside circle. Each time we switch partners, we’re given a new activity. It is really difficult for me to recall each and every interaction, especially Friday night because things were so swirly whirly in my brain after driving the harrowing 4 hours in Friday afternoon/evening traffic.

I’ll tell you about the interaction that was most memorable for me. My partner was a male-identified person who uses he/him pronouns. The activity we were given was to check in with our bodies and ask ourselves where our queer power comes from. Somehow, I knew almost instantly what I wanted to say. My queer power comes from my ankles and feet, especially the soles. For me, being queer means knowing when to put my foot down and stop taking the bullshit. I was surprised that it didn’t come from a place in my body that is more sexual, but I had no reason to doubt the knowledge of my body. It spoke to me decisively. My partner said that his queer power comes from his heart and there is absolutely no denying that fact! It is so apparent in the way in which he interacts with others, and in the ways that he opens his arms to hold and care for others. I asked if I could touch his heart. He agreed, so I placed my hand in the center of his chest for a moment. It was hot and full and springy and electric.

I was dizzy with so much joy during every moment of Friday night.

During this session, I met my roommate for the weekend. She is so pretty. So. Pretty. The very best kind of pretty. The kind that permeates body, mind and spirit. I confess, sometimes there is nagging voice in the back of my mind that says pretty people will not be nice to me because I am not pretty like they are. I often find myself afraid that pretty people will not like me because of the bigness of my arms and the fullness of my belly and my crooked smile. This pretty one was an absolute dream. The way she interacted with the other participants in the workshop – as if she believed she was on equal footing with each and every one of them – was a sight to behold. She proved me so brilliantly wrong about pretty people, and I know my perception is forever altered.

We went “home” to the parlor of an old 4 story house where 7-ish people live off and on – musicians, artists, sewists, bread bakers… bona fide bohemians all. It might have been the oldest house I’ve ever slept in, which is really interesting! We had showers and snuggled into our couchbeds for the night. In the morning, I made coffee and we met our host – a friend of my pretty roommate – then we took the trolley back to the space.

I was really struck by how very pretty I was allowed to feel at this workshop. I tend to move around this world trying to gain access to the label “pretty” and largely being denied. When I do “pretty,” people do not usually praise me for all the effort I put into my gender performance. Eh, another pretty girl. So what? It makes me want to shake them. It makes me want to ask them, “Can’t you see I’m a pretty queer!?” The affirmation I received about my appearance throughout the entire weekend was an extremely humbling and healing experience.

So, Friday’s outfit was my obscenely fluffy petticoat. Saturday, I was intent on practicing some belly love. Belly confidence is something that I have struggled with for over a decade. So, in an effort to change all that, on Saturday I wore a black t-shirt choli (black t-shirt hemmed at the underbust with an elastic band) and one of my pretty white skirts with black detailing on it. Whether I liked it or not, I was bound and determined to not be ashamed of my belly. It appears to have worked.

With a strict policy of belly love in place, I was ready to begin practicing embodiment on Saturday morning.

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