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.