Posts Tagged ‘reality check’

Milestone acheived: A new mantra

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

For the last 6 months or so, my self mantra has been “I love myself”.

I say it to me randomly, I say it to me when I realize it’s been a while since I said it, I say it to me when I’m sick or feeling badly, I say it out loud in the mirror sometimes.

It works well for dealing with depression, too — I still feel tired and need rest and recovery, but being depressed is not an experience in being hopelessly sad as it once was, and I credit my self talk with that.

I also credit that new self talk with my recent experiences of basically never tearing myself down when I’ve made a mistake, the most notable incident being when I wiped my own blog database.

I’ve noticed lately a new mantra emerging. Not to replace this one (I’m keeping it) but to add to it. And it’s a doozy, for me, one that has taken a lot of growth to come to, and has been almost as hard to learn to say — for different reasons, including embarrassment, social conditioning and a deep sense of identity.

It is: “I am not poor.”

Because I’m not. And I never actually have been, actually, poor.

I’ve had to make hard decisions about what my money was going to pay for, and I’ve had to go without things, some of which many people view as integral to a basic life.

But I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t maintain a bank account, and got caught up in the circular scam of high fee check cashing joints and payday loans.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have ID.

I’ve never been so poor that I starved.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have some form of transportation, be it public or a bicycle or a car or a motorcycle.

I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t get at least a small line of credit, and I’ve never been so strapped that I had to get marred in using that line of credit for basic life needs for more than a small amount of time.

Part of why I’ve never been in those situations is because I’ve had help in those time periods where without support I would have needed to resort to those things, many of which are choices that are incredibly difficult to come back from. Much of that support until last year stemmed from my romantic relationships.

But when I am honest with myself, those situations were a matter of choice, no matter how limited in my options I may have felt at the time. Just like moving into the van and leaving Seattle was a choice, as much as it felt like the entire world was rejecting me and spitting me out of the city.

I was in the position to lean into the support of others to sustain my life not as a need, but as a privilege. A means to live my life the way I am compelled to live it and to contribute to larger society in the ways I discover I am best suited, which often fall outside of the normality of a financial structure that’s become a matter of course for most everyone else I know.

And that has not been easy, by any stretch, to accomplish, or to receive, or to ask for, or to maneuver. I do not live a comfortable life by many, many standards.

But what it really comes down to is that I’ve been lying to myself for a long time, about my situation, about my opportunities, and about my lot in life. Because all that time, from when I was 5 years old and understood but couldn’t hold my dad’s fears of being evicted, his constant struggle with earning and leveraging money, I’ve identified as being poor, as being class oppressed.

I’ve seen and read and experienced some of what poverty really, honestly, looks like. In real life, rather than just on paper as an arbitrary number.

I am not poor.

And I never was poor.

And that’s really just the truth of it.

Achievement: Unlocked

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

A fight for ‘equality’ does not rely on disavowing systemic oppression to rationalize ones idea of justice. A fight for ‘vengeance’ does.

Enlightenment as rationalization for inaction is pacifism as pathology.

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Sometimes I find myself getting angry at the heads of corporations or at politicians who design and implement murderous policies. But then I always have to realize that I am part of the problem, because I, too, drive a car. I realize that most of all I need to have compassion for politicians. They must suffer, simply being who they are.

What about compassion for the murdered?

The comments around the circle took me back a few years to a panel discussion I heard at an environmental law conference. The panelists were Buddhists, addressing much the same topic, and saying much the same thing. There was talk of compassion for wounded wretches who wound us all, of taking pleasure in the dailiness of our lives, of living simply, but not much talk about how to slow or stop the destruction.

Afterwards, a woman from the audience stood to ask her question: “Everything you say makes perfect sense, but what do you do if you are standing in front of someone who is aiming a machine gun at a group of children, or is holding a chainsaw in front of a tree?”

The members of the panel on Buddhism blew it. Each in turn stated that the most important thing is to have compassion for the killer, for me to see the Buddha-nature in each of us.

That was a very fine, enlightened position, I thought, but one that helps neither the children nor the trees, nor for that matter the murderers. Nor, in fact, does it help the bystander. Enlightenment as rationalization for inaction. Pacifism as pathology.

As Shakespeare so accurately put it, “Conscience doth make cowards of us all.” — A Language Older Than Words

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” – Carl Jung

The path to Enwhitenment

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

This is one of the most brilliantly written, keenly observed social criticisms I’ve ever read.

It rings in part for just about every spiritual white person I’ve ever met, including myself; I both mirror my own misguided aspects of it, and fiercely recognize this as a set of core ideals in SO many people I’ve known in my life;

Known, and deeply, deeply disliked.

I wish I had had this to send them, to articulate my stance for me, back when I still put up with them, and people who choose to be like them.

Behold, the path of #Enwhitenment

Not all Men.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In the usual world, the occasional anomaly Elliot whatshisfucks not withstanding, it seems it’s always the ones who say “I’m not that guy” who fall the hardest when they behave like one; the ones who deny their darkness as from another breed are, of course, the least capable of fessing up and overcoming their embodiments of it.

But the fact of the matter is, in our culture, we are all covertly groomed to one degree or another into being sexist rapist fucks.

I’ve found immense power and clarity in facing and integrating my darkness around what I’m capable of. In there, I am that guy (and so are you).

I do my very best to make the choices not to behave like that guy, probably like you do, too. But when I fuck up, I am capable of seeing it and doing something about it.

That’s more than I can say for the entitled ‘nice guys’ I’ve encountered in my life.

So what to do about it?

Let’s take an example of a conversation on facebook that stemmed from this meme about men who interject in the conversations of women which depict their experiences of sexism with the age old defense “Not all men do that”. AKA, “I don’t do that”.

Let me first start by saying; bullshit. Yes, you do. In fact, you’re doing it right that second. *cough*maleprivilege*cough*

A person is exercising their privilege when they enter into a conversation regarding the experiencing of oppression by others who do not share that privilege and attempt to turn that conversation into one about them by interjecting their dismissive viewpoint.

AKA “No, that’s not what’s happening.”

In the case of men chiming in about women’s issues in being consistently marginalized in patriarchy soup, that tends to happen a lot. By pointing this out, I’m not discounting maleness. I’m discounting the use of maleness as privilege to dismiss the real experiences of women.

The answer is for the men who want to make the totality of the conversation about their kneejerk defensive argument that ‘not all men’ behave in the way that is being described, to shut the fuck up.

Literally, just keep your holy always-more-important voice to yourself. I know how hard that is. But just do it. Practice. It gets easier.

Instead, listen and do your best to empathize with what is being said about the experiences that are being had by the people who are complaining about the way they are being treated in a society you directly benefit from.

Jumping in to defend yourself says a lot more about your shame and need for validation than it does about the person who is expressing their distaste for their lifetime of being treated as subhuman, whether it’s worded more generally than you’ve deemed necessary or not.

It is not your job to express how someone has responded to their mistreatment in a way you as Automatic Arbiter Of Everything find unjustified.

Repeat: It is not your job to express how someone has responded to their mistreatment in a way you as Automatic Arbiter Of Everything find unjustified.

I’ll just throw in here that I learned what I said because I was once the dickhead who kept asking angry black feminist women why they were so pissed off at all the white feminist women, because as a white feminist woman who cares about race issues, I took it personally. *I* am not that guy!

Surely it was incredibly important that I stomp all over their conversations regarding the oppression and vindictiveness they’ve experienced from white feminists that plagiarize their work, and disrespect them over their semantic transgressions I have decided to knitpick them about.

Because I had FEELS, and I had privilege, so fuck these meanass bitches. So what that they deal with hate and racism every day of their life, I needed to say my righteous piece! Sexism effects me, too; I’m a feminist, too, so I must speak to this perceived injustice in how they are handling their injustice! It was so important for me to say what I was thinking!

I was used to my feelings and my important behavioral insights being the most important thing in the feminism room because that’s what society has told me all my life as a white woman with charisma and social power. MY voice MATTERS.

Newsflash: They aren’t. It doesn’t.

There’s real work to be done here, everywhere, and it starts with the people who are in socially groomed power positions shutting up, stepping back, and giving those who don’t have that power a voice, the opportunity to speak, to express their realities, and to exercise their own agency. Especially in the conversations THEY ARE FUCKING STARTING AMONGST THEMSELVES!

It’s incredibly painful to go through that process, to stand by and not be able to make a struggle or a triumph about you, straight white guy. I really feel for you and your confusion if you’re relating to this threat to your entitled position in the world.

And I get it. I’m skinny pretty straight white well-spoken cis girl. I’ve been there. I am still there. It sucks, it’s confusing, and none of us asked to be in the power positions we were born in. And we were all born in at least some.

But if you actually wanna do something about this, rather than leveraging angry marginalized voices to rationalize your clumsy privileged butthurt, you’re gonna have to sack up and learn that not every conversation is about you and your fucking feels and your fucking opinions.

My observations of others, and of myself, indicate that in general people grow by recognizing one extreme, trying on the opposite extreme, and then settling somewhere in the middle.

As for social justice, it seems to go: ‘Not my problem/don’t notice/I don’t see color’ to ‘ohmygod I am so freaking out here guys ohmygod here let me fix that for you also poor me I’m so INVESTED look at how invested I am in being on your side oh my god my privilege is choking me aahhh!!’ to, eventually, hopefully, actual allyship – which lies in the middle.

As for snapping out of being a perpetrator or aggressor yourself? Well, one fast track is getting caught, called out, and not being let off the hook.

You’re welcome.

Monday, May 26th, 2014

“Imagine if your beliefs guarantee you can never get to where you want to go” – Tony Robbins

A word on friendship: Featuring Brenè Brown

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

There are moments in people’s lives, people who decide to move through the world ever growing and opening their hearts, where a pattern of truth can no longer be unseen.

Here’s the tricky part about compassion and connecting: We can’t just call anyone. It’s not that simple. I have a lot of good friends, but there are only a handful of people whom I can count on to practice compassion when I’m in the dark shame place.

If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm. We want solid connection in a situation like this — something akin to a tree firmly planted in the ground. We definitely want to avoid the following:

  1. The friend who hears the story and actually feels shame for you. She gasps and confirms how horrified you should be. Then there is awkward silence. Then you have to make her feel better.
  2. The friend who responds with sympathy (I feel sorry for you) rather than empathy (I get it, I feel with you, and I’ve been there). If you want to see a shame cyclone turn deadly, throw one of these at it: “Oh, you poor thing”.
  3. The friend who needs you to be the pillar of worthiness and authenticity. He can’t help you because he’s too disappointed in your imperfections. You’ve let him down.
  4. The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds you: “How could you let that happen? What were you thinking?” Or she looks for someone to blame “Who was that guy? We’ll kick his ass”
  5. The friend who is all about making it better and, out of his own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually be crazy and make terrible choices. “You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad. You rock. You’re perfect. Everyone loves you.”
  6. The friend who confuses “connection” with the opportunity to one-up you. “That’s nothing. Listen to what happened to me one time!”

Of course, we’re all capable of being “these friends” — especially if someone tells us a story that gets right up in our shame grill. We’re human, imperfect and vulnerable. It’s hard to practice compassion when we’re struggling with our authenticity or when our own worthiness is off balance.

When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, able to bend, and, most of all, we need someone who embraces us for our strengths and struggles. We need to honor our struggle by only sharing it with someone who has earned the right to hear it. When we’re looking for compassion, its about connecting with the right person, at the right time, about the right issue.

-Brenè Brown “The gifts of imperfection”

And who had I chosen to be the main support and companionship in my life?

One man who had massive boundary issues around my sexuality and consistently expressed how they just couldn’t understand my emotional struggles, my abuse history or my shame (You’re perfect!). And another, who thought compassion meant pity (My poor girl) and forcing me to stand on a pedestal (Your angry response to your rape is unjustified) for him.

Ugh. What a horrendously damaging multi-year mistake that was.

So let’s be real now, then, shall we?

Even as my sense of self worth and compassion (the root of which means “To suffer with”) has developed, I am this friend to others all too often – the scolder, the blamer, the shame confirmer – because I let people who haven’t earned my vulnerability, have it anyway.

I have lived my life assuming the list above is relationship, that this is intimacy, that the scolder, the blamer, the shame confirmer, the pityer, the perfection seer, the worthiness piller needer, was sufficient to support me through the intense excavation, completion and transformation of the grief, the pain, and the horrible things I’ve done to survive in my childhood and continued to do much of the rest of my life.

I have lived my life assuming these things because that is what I learned in my family, and even after recognizing the error in that, I have been unable to confront my own shame around so often being such a bad friend to the people I care about.

I am currently unable to show up for others, embedded in scarcity and a place of emotional guarding and urgency, after all this effort and work to pull myself out of that, because of the frequency with which my need for connection and understanding isn’t being met in the relationships I have chosen to prioritize.

I am not still struggling so much with this because I’m so fucking broken and set in my patterns that I’m incapable of cultivating real connection and trust with people.

Though claiming over and over again that I’ve wanted it, I have literally never chosen to be in a romantic relationship with a person who was capable of empathy regarding my experiences in life, or who has shared in my values in terms of personal growth, openness, and what the journey of existing means to me.

I have let people who don’t empathize, don’t understand, don’t share their own vulnerability, and don’t show up for me when I need their support cause me to question the validity of my painful feelings, and turn my back on my basic human longing for connection and acceptance that has not been met in my relationships with them.

I have let them do this by allowing a small part of me to believe their insistence that my pain from those situations is entirely due to my triggers, my patterns, my personality failures; that I’m just not good enough at controlling my shit and bending myself around their righteous plans for me, yet. That I’m just seeing things.

I have let them do this by allowing a small part of me to believe that the compassion and holding I’ve been asking for was me expecting them to be my ‘therapist’, was asking too much, and that the intimacy I needed to be close with them with the depth and authenticity that I choose to live my life in, was wrong.

I have been afraid of isolating and closing down, of repeating that pattern which leads to suicidal ideology, to the point that I have been damaging myself with the opposite.

And, I have felt emotionally obligated to be open with these people because of the money they have chosen to spend on/with me, and their consistently expressed desire to be validated by my trust in them.

These are not the friends I need for the big shit, the people I should be trusting to hold and protect me when I’m threadbare and broken, no matter how much they think they should be or that I allowed them to be in my heavy hitters club for as long as I did.

These are not the people I need to be spending the majority of my time with, entrusting my body with, having sex with, being vulnerable with, talking about therapy with, or relying on for emotional support in my struggle.

These are my art patrons, colleagues, and my fans. They are my supporters in that they are admirers of the results of my hard work, not people who had earned their privileged place as part of that intense and ongoing personal process.

At a time when I was at my most vulnerable and fragile, my most brave and broken open, tackling the deepest darkest shit of my life, precarious in every aspect of my psychological journey as well as in my situational circumstance which is wrought in uncertainty and transition, I have turned to people in search of consideration and awareness who have proven time and again that they are not really there for me.

Not because I’m stupid, or a masochist, or because they are bad people; but because I honestly, even after all this time, haven’t known or believed that better, for me, was possible. Or that I really, really, need it to continue to practice openness and reaching out for authentic connection.

No wonder I ended up such a mess.

I may fall down, and I may hit hard. I may forget to use the tools I have for a while. I may sometimes be too taxed, beaten, tired and weary to be courageous. I may regress and become triggered and show my mean biting ugly. I may brood and stew and go through vile, aggressive phases of pure unadulterated hate, blame, and verbal violence. And I may not always like what I see of myself. I may be forever resigned to dig down deep and introspect and not like what I find and want to change it.

But the thing that’s different about me, though it doesn’t always look like it, and I’m not always elegant at communicating it; I’m on my side, now.

This intention, my drive to keep practicing what I’m learning, to keep growing and providing myself the environment to do so, to keep trying, keep learning how to put my heart out there, to keep opening back up again and again to love, to keep trying to understand what closeness and and belonging look like for me, to keep practicing courage and empathy whenever I can, is more important than maintaining any imbalanced interpersonal relationship. With anyone. Ever.

I’m on my side, no matter what.

Monday, March 25th, 2013

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

Monday, October 1st, 2012

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

R.I.P. Zita the Aerialist, 2004-2012

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

This year, more than most and less than some, has been a year of letting things go and allowing new things in. In that vein, it seems another identifying aspect of my life has come to a close.

Once first recognizing mixed feelings regarding how to credit my aerial acts in “Embodied”, and after months of knowing the time was drawing closer, I have decided to retire Zita the Aerialist, and allow the domain (which now redirects here) to expire.

There is an air of sadness and loss here, alongside a sense that this is the right thing to do. The persona and the theatrically engineered aspect of what Zita has represented for me, along with the dreams I once had of sharing her with the world, performing in a circus or ongoing show like Zinzanni, has run its course. I know those things are not in the cards for me. It’s time to leave that game, officially, to the people who actually play it.

Courtnee – There's Something in the Air from Paul Hawxhurst on Vimeo.

Instead, I want to continue to work and focus through the sense of failure to the other side; The side which allows me to integrate aerial into my life with no pressures or expectations, and see what happens. Keeping Zita around, having the website around with no one calling for years, was like a thorn in my sole, a reminder of what I wanted her to be, irritating and distracting me.

But Zita, it turns out, was the mask that allowed for me to be, well, me.

I still teach aerial, more than I ever have in the past really, and consider aerial to be a big part of my life. I may also occasionally perform one-off aerial acts like the level 1 demonstration I did for the “Show and Tell” event at Versatile Arts, or a party now and then, though I don’t know what will come of my signature act. I suppose, honestly, with how few opportunities I’ve managed to create to perform it since the Little Red Studio dissolved, it doesn’t really matter very much.

Zita, you were great to me. At one time, I thought we might see the world together. I thought you might flesh out into your own little person, your own character. I thought maybe you’d be my ticket out of this country and to a place where we’d be appreciated more. Regardless of the thinness of your veil, you helped me find my strength when I thought I had none left. You allowed for me to express myself in ways that would have been hopelessly difficult to have achieved without your shield as I bled in the air for our audiences.

Thank you for being there for me.

I can do it myself, now.

Rest in Power, Zita.

You may have seen Zita at:

I have trained with the following teachers and institutions:

  • Versatile Arts (Silks, Rope, Trapeze, Sling, Duo Trapeze and Duo Silks)
  • School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (Everything!)
  • Bobby Hedglin-taylor (Silks)
  • The Toronto School of Circus Arts (Static trapeze, Silks, Corde Lisse)
  • The Cabiri (Fire eating, Character Portrayal, Static Trapeze, Aerial Sling)
  • Trapezius (Corde Lisse, Static Trapeze, Aerial Hoop, Silks)
  • The UMO Ensemble (Aerial Hoop, Low Flying Trapeze)
  • Donia Love, formally of Ignis Devoco (Fire Spinning)

Reality check

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The word rape is often associated with a violent assault by a stranger. Although that does happen, the majority of sexual assaults look a bit more like this. What do you see?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

just listened to “Please don’t” again – and realized that she was actually pleading to herself.