Friday, February 20, 2015


Today my left breast is growling. It's a slow-fuck sports bra's-can't lift my arm up- how can I be out of vicodin-thank goodness I have another arm to do everything with-hug my kid with one arm kind of pain.
Not a typical way to begin a blog I know. What I am learning about myself (the self that has recently turned 43 & gone through a left auxiliary breast tail biopsy, three surgeries in 3 years, raising two African American sons in America, one gay and one queer (being queer woman of color too) as a single mom, starting my whole life over in 2012, full time teacher, full time writer, full time life-er) is that I suppose my life is not typically normal. I am not manila folder number 342 or hash tag she is this all the time. I am not all purple or all white or pink. I am not just hot or cold or super sunrise or sappy sunset. I am all & nothing. Simultaneously. Zen & shit. Amen. OM & oh-no-you-didn't.  Ase. Downward dog & booty dancer. Grit & grace. 
Years ago (in my early 30's) in the middle of brainstorming for my GOTBREAST? documentary (co-produced & filmed by the amazing Annie Walsh) I named by breast Wilimina & Filimina. It started out as a private joke—well, be(cause) of the woman I was at that time it never dawned on me to name parts of (my)self that I loved. ( I was also having a hard time fully loving myself in my then 13-year marriage) I had only had my first real intentional try at self-pleasuring (thanks to NRE (xxxooo) who told me it’s time you start intentionally doing things for yourself) that I thought, wow, I own myself, my body, my heart, my mind, my spirit. I can name or rename anything I want. It’s mine. All mine. I remember standing in the mirror naked & examining the woman’s body I inhabited. I remember feeling push & pull about myself. I loved myself deeply & hated myself too. Some how I was able to love others limitlessly and unconditionally despite the push/pull I was having with myself. In that moment I decided I would one day step into the name that fully embodies who I am (Anastacia-Renee’) & I also decided I would name my boobs Willimina & Filimina. I scooped them both & tried not to feel like a raving lunatic for having so much love for them. I made them have a conversation with each other…& shortly after I wrote a play called Not My Size with a similar scene. Where am I going with all of this you may be asking (or you may decide after today to name your breast) I am going to where I have always wanted to be. The point in my life where I have gathered up the pain, gathered up the joy, mixed it up  & landed at the corner of gratitude & epiphany. Maybe you'll find some golden nuggets in this years epiphanies, gratitude shout-outs & Anastacia-Renee’ life lessons.  Warning, the list is extensive & you may find you already know all these brilliant beams of knowledge I only recently found out or…re-learned. I hope at least one makes you have an uncontrollable head-nod, or give off one of those poetry cafe' "mmmmmmm's" or--makes you grab your heart.

Anastacia-Renee’s 2015 Current Life Lessons (co-written by Willimina & Filimina) Part I

1. Being a warrior does not mean it’s okay to consistently allow yourself to be hurt or disrespected just so you can survive & conquer & call yourself a warrior. Warrior does not mean repeatedly send yourself into battle--for the sake of warrior-ness. Warrior does not mean you have to always win or always triumph. Warrior is a state of mind. Warriors often cry, scream, & bleed (stock up on tissue, bandaids, & being okay with outward displays of emotions). Some warriors are quiet (turn around & bam shit got handled like whoa!) Warriors live & die. Warriors may not always be at war all of the time. War i…or…not. It’s okay for a warrior not to be worried about the next battle. Warriors can also take vacations, get massages, laugh, have amazing sex & let other warriors take care of them. Warriors may have spans of time when they are not warriors but winning still. Warriors might be seen as too warrior or not enough warrior. Warriors are humble. Warriors are self-confident. Warriors listen even when it’s hard. Warriors have enough strength to sincerely apologize not just when they are wrong, but if they have offended their fellow warriors. If two warriors are hanging out together one warrior should not expect the other warrior to be the biggest warrior (at the same time if two warriors are hanging out together and there’s a battle, one of ya’ll has to get it together & it’s best if you both aren’t in martyr mode.) A seasoned warrior knows when she should stop being in warrior mode & let other warriors help (this takes A LOT of practice.)

2.  There comes a time when you are done with heartbreak & there comes a time when the heartbreak you were done with checks in to see IF you are really, for sure, for sure, done, done with it. When this happened to me I felt like I had backslid (sometimes things ancestors say no matter my religious beliefs creep in & that's the only perfect word for what I am feeling.) I have spent countless hours forgiving, processing & re-processing my 18-year marriage ending. I knew I was nearing the bottom of the process bowl when I could lick it without barfing. When I could think about all the circles we shared & not feel regretful or resentful. Last year while trying to explain to my youngest son or rather mom-splain in more detail why his father & I needed to begin a new friendship which now meant co-parenting I cried. It was as if heartbreak was saying, hey, got a light? & I wanted to say heartbreak I don’t smoke! But I found myself holding a small lighter—still. Between the tears & explaining I realized I wasn’t crying for the loss, I was crying for no longer growing. AND THIS WAS TOTALLY OKAY! In fact, this was great! When & if heartbreak checks in with you it’s okay if you are still moved in some way. This does not mean all your internal hard work is suddenly unraveled or that you are stuck. This means you have moved on. After the moved on phase comes the now what & after now what comes oh yes, we are IN now what & here we have arrived. I urge you to transform your NOW WHAT to YAY, WHAT NOW? Besides it sounding way more positive & exciting, it means you are ready for whatever is ahead & happy about it & you have come to terms with the past being in the past & the present being a gift. & YOU TOO will be able to finally listen to Adele without crying one bit! I would also say these rules (which are not rules at all but simply my way of sharing my “go-through” with you to maybe help or encourage) apply to friendships & colleague-ships too. Heartbreak is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.

3. October is breast Cancer awareness month (yay). HOWEVER there are eleven other months in the year. Give yourself a breast exam regularly. (Feel free to name your breast).

4. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. There is no manual on how to be one. No one wants to admit it but just like all the other things we work hard & pray/chant/meditate/invest in/on, it often comes in the form of trial & error. Some days if you are a parent or guardian you may feel like YOU NAILED IT! Say to yourself wow I handled that like a pro…check me out bittchesssss!!!!  (or something like that). Other days you may feel like you won the worst parent of the year award…realistically you could feel BOTH of these things in one day. Parenting can be done many ways & you might have to try many techniques all the time. The parenting rules for the first child may not always apply to the second child. NONE of them may apply. You might even have a day when you look at yourself in the mirror & say; self who decided you were going to be a parent?? What were you thinking?
& Guess what? It’s OKAY. Because you cannot be a perfect person you cannot possibly be a perfect parent. Once you realize that—realize too that you cannot have perfect children…either.

5. When gas is cheap ($2 or $3 when it used to be $4 or $5) fill your car up! Buy one of those red gas can thingies & fill that up too.

6. Your body changes & it is still beautiful. There was a time when I had a flat stomach, flawless skin & with enough photo-shopping I could have done maybe one cover girl photo shoot. Now is not the time. My stomach is not shy & she makes it clear she housed children, I have deep, deep laugh lines & I can no longer pass for 29. But guess what, I woke up like this & I will go to sleep like this. This is THE body I have in this lifetime & I think it’s beautiful. Try your best to love & appreciate your body. Dote over it. Pamper it. Read to it. Give it spa baths & write it a poem. Invest in your body the way you would invest in other things you adore. Tell your body something lovely everyday. You may be reading this & nodding your head. That’s what I  would do…because I know to do all these things. If you are a head-nod-er great. You may read it again & realize it all sounds wonderful but you do not practice self-love & appreciation on a daily basis. You have forgotten you are beautiful. You have chosen to edit positive affirmations out of your vocabulary when it comes to describing yourself. THIS IS FOR YOU: You are beautiful inside & out. Back then & now. Today, tomorrow & yesterday. Wake up & go to bed. Like this.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Heartbreak, (insert modern day Anime drawing of a dismembered heart with lets say snakes or knives or chainsaws wrapped around both jagged halves and maybe blood oozing and of course…fallen unicorn horns) sometimes like an uncontrollable silent fart at a closed shoe, Red Wine shindig, or similar to a Lord of the Flies passage at a grocery store where a child has shazam’d a Captain Crunch cereal box, made it a conch and yells in the direction of shoppers who haven’t had much personal experience with the species called, toddler. Heartbreak temper tantrums and throws glass bottles inside your chest. You want to stop this pain by sshhing it with sweet things, impossible promises, numbing it—or ridiculous trade offs.
Having recovered from a midlife beat down (the kind where you take your kids, leave your partner and completely start over at 40) in the Heartbreak Hotel lobby and finally getting up from the ground (sometimes you can be such a heartbreak pro no one even knows it’s happening!) here I am, dusty backpack, one million colorful hairstyles, memoir poems, two mammogram scares, two surgeries, semi-ashy knees and all.  Guess what? It would be great if I never said the word heartbreak again or if the remedy and get-over-it-time was as simple as the 1979 easy-bake-oven. It’s not! But I pinky promise if my highest self suspects similar heartbreak symptoms she will sound off an alarm (think Breakfast Princess meets Siri) saying, Self turn right. Self wake up and exit. Self this is not a healthy situation. Rerouting, rerouting! Self-preservation is not a want but a need. Self this is not the jam! Self, grab your coffee, magic wand, journals and go!!!
As part of my promise to myself to blog more frequently and also healthy procrastinating while I am arguing with myself over what I want to work on at the Ragdale residency, this is the first installment of what I hope to be at least three blog posts this summer about coming in, getting through and coming out.(I know summer is almost over).
Here we go! Lessons, confessions, warnings, revelations and suggestions concerning heartbreak:
1.    Heartbreak will nag the shit out of you and when you think you are all done with it, it stalks on back to serenade you at the strangest times like when you are at a writing residency, pumping gas, stuck in traffic, pooping or trying on a pair of heels (you don't even wear heels!)
Come up with a heartbreak mantra that you say/chant/sing as soon as you feel the ouchy thoughts arriving inside your head and heart. One that acknowledges the pain but also refocuses your thoughts and energy. For example: I am well, all is well, heartbreak, heartbreak go to hell. J Try to stay away from song lyrics like don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me etc., etc.

2.   Heartbreak will strongly urge you (come on girrrlllll!) to explore retail therapy or offer you bags and bags of Cheetos and salty chips, some days it will coerce you to eat air, pick your face or best case scenario you’ll heave yourself so deep in all your creative work that your friends will think you are mad prolific. You will say, YES I AM!!! And you will be… while typing through green memory snot when no one is looking. 
Ask yourself, as you are moving about in the world:
Does not eating make sense?
Is your health suffering?
Is it overboard?
Is face picking really a good nightly ritual? What about all the blood and post scars?
Are there negative consequences after?
Do you really need a bag of chips in every room?
How about one or two pairs of shoes as opposed to 4 or 5 (on sale)

  3.  Heartbreak will make you become obsessed with yoga. You will stop in the middle of the hallway at work and do a downward dog or be in the line at the PCC and strike a child’s pose. You will become so super obsessed with yoga you will want all things yoga and for 6 months straight wear yoga pants, yoga shirts, yoga tank tops, yoga headbands…if you cannot afford ____________you will start to launder yoga pants on delicate so they can appear shiny and new looking. You will obtain hoodies of all kinds and the yoga instructor will take you aside to say that you really only need to come maybe twice a week. You’ll Namaste her and show up again the next day. You will want to tell her you n e e d yoga or you might shank somebody and you know that is not the way of the yoga people. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or teary eyed you will revert to your yoga voice especially with animals, children or other people with road rage. (When you have road rage you will forget all about yoga.) In the car you will do the kind of breathing in and out where you stick your tongue far out and make fierce noises on the exhale. You will spend your workdays longing for shavasana. When heartbreak comes to visit during shavasana, at least you know you can lay in peace to cry and no one will stare at you or ask you a million questions (don’t you hate it when it’s obvious you are sobbing and someone asks you if you are crying? It’s like do you see onions around, yes I am crying!) The good thing is nobody has time to comfort your during their own shavasana time.

4.  Heartbreak will make you repeatedly lecture your children or roommates about the need to be better human beings even when they are already pretty damned great. It will make you point out the flaws of certain human beings to them when you are watching Netflix together or walking in the park. You will make them promise to never, ever, ever, be bad people by hurting, lying or betraying the people they love. Unfortunately they are smart and know you are heartbroken, therefore they will agree to everything you say and distract you with new up-to-date music or funny stories. Heartbreak will make you remind them again even after the funny story. It will make you find one person from their story to make the bad person (try not to do that.)

5. Heartbreak will make you distrust everyone including strangers and people who have no reason to deceive you. You might be walking out of the bank when a stranger holds the door open for you and asks you about your day. Your gut reaction may be to say why do you care about my day? I know you don’t care about my day fucker or me. Why would you even ask me such a ridiculous question? How’s my day? Really? Really? How’s my day? What do you really want? Is someone making you hold this door open for me? Oh wait, it’s because you feel sorry for me. Well don’t! But…instead you will say something like great, thanks and keep walking. Heartbreak will remain as you are saying great, thanks and follow you to the gas station. (See number one.)
Although you have been through a horrible, horrible heartbreak situation try your best not to think the entire world is out to get you or hurt you. This may be a good time for your heartbreak mantra. Try not to make up reasons the people you have grown to love and trust would betray you—this will be very difficult considering all you’ve been through. Trusting again…baby steps.

6. Heartbreak will give you insomnia. You will stay not just up, but way up. You will recap a badrillion reasons why your heart is broken. You will categorize them and place them in imaginary folders by order, as in when every single infraction occurred as well as the level of disappointment. During this recap you will think of all the ways you should have known (better), should have moved on (sooner), might have improved, or made situations worse or better. In the end at about 4:33 am you will finally get sleepy and you might cry (the boo-hoo-make-your-whole-body cry that comes all the way from a place inside you can’t talk about). You will be just awake enough to be angry that you are crying and have to get up in less than two hours. For that reason you will feel exhausted, hurt and angry. Beware, in the early phases of heartbreak you may want to reach out to the person who broke your heart and ask them what in the fuck happened…or something like that (don’t do that. Do. Not. Do. It.)
Try your best not to torture yourself with nightly recaps and folders. You cannot change anything that has happened in the past. Because you know heartbreaks ass will keep you up, stay away from caffeine, sweets and spicy food after 8:00pm. This may help you get to sleep by at least 2:00am instead of 4:33am.

7.  Heartbreak might give you couples envy. I’m talking all couples. You might see two cats grooming each other and say to yourself I wan’t that kind of love! You may see a seasoned couple walking in the rain kissing and swear you will never experience the kind of love that is long lasting and is patient. Heartbreak will stick its tongue out at you and tell you that you aren’t worthy of any kind of love that you want or desire. It will even make up a story explicitly telling you all the ways you are not fit for healthy romantic love.  You may begin to feel love-out-of-shape. Heartbreak will tell you that it will never happen to you. (There comes a time when every once in awhile you have to say fuck you heartache/heartbreak!)
Just when you think you can’t take anymore, make a list! That's right, make a list of all the qualities and traits you desire in a mate then write a love letter to YOURSELF. As corny and too much work as this sounds, heartbreak hates it and it will work wonders!

8. Heartbreak will tell you (all dressed up and going to a heartbreak party) that you are in such bad shape you need to just lay down, be comatose and hang around yourself only. It will make you feel left out and rejected/ejected/. Heartbreak will tell you there is no need to be social or be around friends or loved ones. It will tell you your only friends are___________ or _____________ or _______________ and none of those are humans or animals. It will make excuses for you and before you know it not only do you feel heartbroken or rejected but then suddenly your loneliness is magnified. If you are not careful you’ll exhaust yourself with every sad song your can think of and go on wild Spotify searches like, sad songs from breaking up and it wasn’t your fault or heartbreak and blood, classical piano.
Soul-searching and self-care is an absolute must but please, please, oh please don’t isolate yourself. Pick at least three people that you can talk to. One who will just listen, one who will give advice and one who might do a combination of one and two plus cook for you and not be weirded out by tears and yelling. When you are alone, take some time to write heartbreak a series of letters. Tape them on your wall to remind you of your progress. It will take time (For some a whole year or more) you will write a letter something like this:

Dear Heartbreak,

Its been real. You can go now.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Written after a Life changing weekend, a-ha moments at a writers circle & an Eve Ensler lecture

Some days it appears we trudge around as galactic robots, as monochromatic wanna-be’s, as people desperately straining to connect with each other and the tattered versions of ourselves. It also feels like we don’t talk about this disconnection often. It is much easier to ask someone out for drinks or a lunch at a cool vegetarian spot than it is to ask them if they are in their body. Most of us would agree this kind of getting to the point is not the jam. And how would the conversation go anyway?

Hey do you want to go for drinks Friday?

Sure we've been trying to get together forever!

Good because I wanted to talk about you not being in your body. Love those boots!

What do you mean I’m not in my body? I am totally in my body. Look, don’t you see me in my body?

(This is the part where you use your experience and your imagination to decide what might or might not happen afterwards.)

We’ve all been taught to walk around like have our shit together.”
-Eve Ensler

I was afraid of my body because it did things I did not know it could do. I was afraid of my body because it did things I did know that it could do: Que, sumimasen, what chu talking bout Willis—say what? I was oh-no about my body because it included a map to places underground and beneath the sea. I was terrified because I couldn't swim even though my body is 70 percent water. How could I learn to float when I hated lying on my back? I was don’t touch in my body because it had a silent alarm. It had a false alarm. It was alarmed. My body was a place where the cops didn’t visit—where the address was mythological, purgatory, suck it up and pink quicksand. It is here in the oh-no and don’t touch that I decided that I didn’t have to be in my body. I decided that I would visit my body like the spirit of an old friend. I’d come check on me in times of extreme emotions. Pain made me envision my body as one big exit sign, my entrance always awkward, the wrong way and battling automatic trigger doors.

Fear of being in my body often boogie man-ed in the form of take me out, take me down, take me nowhere or…take me. I came to the conclusion after a take me out experience that I did not want a ball of trauma to throw itself between my breast, lymph nodes, uterus or colon. I did not want a ball of trauma to dribble on me. And how do you prevent a ball from bouncing its way (in)side?

I grew a beautiful ball of trauma. Her hair a tangle of betrayal, truth, fear and distrust. She came as a reminder that wounded,  waiting for bad things to happen and severed limbs is not the way I desired to live. I named her Luna when I know for sure she was the Martyr I could not be.

You know you are in your body when you don’t misplace pieces of yourself like keys or a wallet.

When you tell people all afterglow and joy that you finally have arrived in your body they look at you as if you are blue sun or a newborn sock. When you arrive in your body you are okay with blue sun and newborn sock. You go around pointing at the blue sun and barefoot in your newborn socks. You are okay with pow and shazaam. You are okay with new pages in a sacred text. You are okay with mighty full instead of barely half. Lately I have been thinking about what I would tell people who may be experiencing running away from being present and in their bodies—not as a know-it-all but as an I-feel-you. I get it.

I decided I would say the following:

If you have to be in your body and you want to be in your body, you have to first hallelujah/knee slap/cabbage patch/high five/ booty bump/ yayyyy!, you are alive:

1. When you wake up do not complain or ask why you must wake up.  Do not say you
Don’t want to wake up or that you hate days like this. Somewhere there is a woman hovering over her body on a day like this asking why.

2. When you take what you have been trained to think is a deep breath, go deeper still. Imagine your particular deep as not deep but parallel to a line with no start or finish.

3. When you eat, stop. Do not let yourself chew until the food has settled in the shape of your tongue. Ask yourself what did you do to deserve this food blessing? Tell yourself the truth—absolutely nothing. Give thanks. As you begin to chew honor each tooth. Even the ones you hardly see. Sometimes a back street molar gets no street credit, bonus marks or lettered accolades for having to be twice as hard, twice as strong and the most humble.

4. Tell your whole self it is divine. Do not leave out your anus or the dirty bottoms of your feet or angsty crooked toes. Do not leave out the lone hair or a cratered nipple or a fresh stretchmark on a not so new piece of skin. Say the word divine as if it’s a foreign language you desperately want to learn. Enunciation is the key. Divine. Take the word divine and add it to your hot drink, put it on your toilet tissue and wipe. Divine. Mix this word with your jojoba oil, slather it in your hair and on your elbows careful not to miss the place your false alarm used to be. Careful not to miss the oh-no and take out.

5. Do something that makes you feel wooo plus oh wow! The something cannot be a thing that gives you nightmares or a thing that makes you go the next day for a batter of test—rather this thing must make you feel the kind of proud that inflates on the inside. This thing must make you feel like first time flying with a new set of wings. These wings, ones you've been keeping in storage.

6. Feel something. Say self, what are you missing? Say self, what do you want to feel? Asking questions means you are alive.

7. Get naked for reasons other than showering, or sexual intimacy. Watch your heartbeat in the mirror. Count the number of beats for the length of time you are able to stare at your glorious body. Be in your body. Say, self I am alive.

8. Breathe. Remind yourself every hour to do so. Pretend this breathing and reminding every hour is a necessary medicine for a week. Not like take three of these and call me in the morning, more like take this every hour with water kind of medicine.

9. When you feel the sudden urge to mimic the dead—remind yourself you are alive.

10. Experience the kind of pleasure that makes you want to shout about it, write about it or tell someone about it. This kind of pleasure should be experienced without hesitation. This kind of experience is different than the alive experience mentioned in number 6.

11. Train your eyes to see beyond what you can see. You are already seeing the reflection of a thing—try to see the details in the reflection. Don’t just I see it, see. it.

12. Tell a truth. I do not believe a truth alone will set you free, but I do believe a truth will unbutton you.

13. Eat foods you haven’t tasted. Stop taking your taste buds for granted. They are alive.
 Celebrate the way you would celebrate on your birthday only not on your birthday. This celebration has to clearly be labeled as a YOU celebration.

14. This whole in your body, be present task takes practice. It’s not easy. Some days are challenging and nonrefundable and require caffeine and extra patience. In fact you may read this on Thursday and be stoked! You may then turn around and read this on Friday and feel like it’s an infomercial for comfortable shoes or a hot cheeto diet and that’s okay. It means you are alive. You are in observation mode.

15. Try it for three days straight and journal about how you feel. Feel free to try these numbers 1-14 out of order.