Author Archive | Joanna M.

twelve twelve twelve

Five years ago today I asked two friends to help me with a project. Twelve is my favorite number and I wanted to do something really special for 12/12/12. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I asked an artist friend to paint me. I wanted to celebrate myself, my body, my spirit, and do something different. It was a wonderful day, and made me feel both empowered and magical.

Looking back now, I realize it was my first step into the discovery of my sensual self.

 

My friend, Natasha from Zen Bubble, was the artist.

 

The finished product. Pre snake tattoo.

 

I finally made peace with my post-pregnancy belly with this lotus and waves.
[My deltoid and bicep are my favorite part of this photo, though.]

 

This is probably my favorite photo of the whole shoot.
Maybe this was the start of The Naked Mystic, too.

 

 

0

knowing me.

I’ve been thinking some about how we get to know people. How do we pick people we want to be our friends, lovers, companions, teachers, mentors, counselors? Do we even know we’re picking them? And about 1,000 other similar questions.

As an INFJ I’m an introvert, so it’s hard to reach out to people and even try to make connections. I do try when I think it will be worth the effort, i.e. someone matches my super high standards. But my standards are high because I’ve been disappointed so often. And as an introvert, I get tired of trying.

I’m also pretty intense. My nickname at home is ‘small but powerful’ and it’s because I’m intense both in mind and body. Some people dig that, some people can handle that. And some people can’t. Weirdly, the people who cannot handle my intensity still seem to stick around and watch me. (There’s a dude who has been near me for five years who still cannot decide whether to leave me alone or connect in some way. I call him ‘WatchGuy’ as he likes expensive fake watches (‘replicas’). He sneaks around my social media, he sits on some posts so long I get ‘replica’ spam comments. And even though he knows I don’t deal in fakery at all, he still hangs around. I can only assume because he finds me fascinating. But he doesn’t have the guts to reach out. I’ve gotten over finding it annoying, now I just find it weird. Like, make a fucking decision, you know? Get on with your life.)

In the end, though, I’m one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Because I care. Often, too much. I have a big heart and it forgives a lot of things (I’m not sure it forgets, but it forgives far longer than it should). I want people to feel loved. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want there to always be a safe place for them to tell the truth and live their truth. I want to see people so they feel good- because we all deserve to be seen, to be loved, to feel good. I know these things, and try to provide them, because I feel the same, I want the same.

Encouragement, support, and love are the things I give most easily- my heart is just built that way. And I will love and encourage you in whatever you dream of being, whoever you truly are, for as long as I can. I see the truth of people and I will always show that to you until you see it for yourself.

I belong to a group called “INFJ Refuge” on Facebook and I they always have the best pictures and explanations of what INFJs really are. Here’s what you need to know about me.

 


This is seriously what it’s like in my head all day. INFJs are more strategic and functional in our heads than in real life. And it makes life interesting to say the least.

 


I wish there were 15 more words for ‘love’ than there are in the English language. ‘Love’ often simply refers to romantic of familial love- and that just isn’t enough breadth and depth for me. I love a lot of things and I love in many ways.

 


This is where INFJs can be cruel- basically, evolve or die. I can care for people and support and love them for a very long time, but if they don’t change, I will eventually leave. I did this recently and hurt someone I care about a lot (we’re working on it, though). Change doesn’t have to be big- simply show me you’ve learned something or seen something in a different way. But if you don’t grow, I’m not sticking around in the mud with you.

 


A. Rehman wrote this to go along with this picture/poem: “Today, from the time I woke up, I had her on my mind. She seeped into all the corners of my mind, unlike all the other days. I wanted her back, so bad, I felt like dying. After a hectic day…I came home and woke up my phone to see the date. It was her birthday. I sat still on the sofa for fifteen minutes and ran through all the memories we had made- they hit me like a cyclone. I thought to myself, ‘the reason she was in my mind the whole day was because it was her birthday. The third one after our breakup.’ They say when you are thinking about someone, chances are, they are thinking about you. I believe she was.” <– This is what it’s like inside the head of an INFJ. We care. We feel you. Even from a distance.

 


Just, yeah. I need someone to care for me. Partner or friend, please just be kind and support me.

 


“My daily consciousness is fenced in by reality, logic, perseverance, truth, and optimism. It’s all in how you see it. I don’t just wish for the best outcome and let the cards fall. I believe that if I hope for the best and make choices that align with the optimal end goal, then something good will come of that. Truth be told, it may not be what you were expecting, but no effort goes wasted.” Exactly. I believe there is potential for good in almost every situation.

 

 


This is why I take 20 minute showers. The first 10 minutes are therapy. Also, no one hears you crying when you’re in the shower.

 


“Our hearts are too soft, and our brain overthinks. And this is why we must listen to our gut ’cause that biyatch don’t lie.” I’ve had to learn to trust my intuition over everything else.

 


I don’t do it to be creepy, I do it because I’ve learned to (INFJs often come from tough/dysfunctional households- we’ve had to learn to please others so we’d be left alone to be safe). I do my best to use this tool to make others feel accepted, happy, and loved so that I know I’m not turning into the asshole who taught me how to be this way.

 

 

 

If I write to you it means I care. The more I write, the more I care. The more I write, the more I hope you will understand me and listen to what I say- because listening to me is the greatest gift you can give me.

 


Overthinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But I do think a lot, and I do practice what I’m going to say – because I want to be understood. I desperately want to be understood.

Lastly, INFJs have the best worst sense of humor. Dark. Twisted. Nerdy. Dirty. Bring me your best awful and inappropriate jokes; I’ll laugh my loudest.

::: ::: ::: :::

Okay, wow. That was a lot to say. But it’s pieces of who I am and how I see the world and how I interact with it. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Please leave and be on your way and love other people who suit you better. But if you like being cared for, seen and understood, and you can give a little of that back- stick around. I’m worth it.

 

 

0

dance and divination

I sat down at my altar today (well, yesterday, now that it’s past midnight) and bawled. I’m in the middle of something- trying to decide the eternal question: in the midst of what appears to be no change, do I keep pushing for what I want, or accept that the Universe is telling me ‘no’ ?

I hate this fucking question. Especially because, with this particular experience, I’ve never taken so many risks to get what I want. I’m not a risk-taker; this whole thing has made me grow in uncomfortable ways. I ask for very little in this world- I usually take what’s handed to me and make the best of it; but this I want and this I asked for. And with each step forward on my part, I can’t tell if it’s getting better or worse. Hope makes me blind. And that is why I sat at my altar and cried today.

If you can’t sit at your altar and cry, you need to get a better sacred space or a better path. Our sacred space is the container for all of our humanity. (I think there might be a bigger series on this I want to write…stay tuned.) My humanity needed guidance and nourishment after the cry, so I turned to my iPod oracle. I held it in my hands, looked at its pixelated face, and said, “tell me where I am and what to do.” (This is one of my languages for God.)

These three songs came on. My divine dance practice brought me to a new place.

 

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

 

I.  Breezeblocks | Alt-J

She may contain the urge to run away
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Citrezene your fever’s gripped me again
Never kisses all you ever send are fullstops, la la la la

Do you know where the wilds things go
They go along to take your honey, la la la la
Break down now weep build up breakfast now
Let’s eat my love my love love love, la la la la

Muscle to muscle and toe to toe
The fear has gripped me but here I go
My heart sinks as I jump up
Your hand grips hand as my eyes shut
Ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah, ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah

Do you know where the wild things go
They go along to take your honey, la la la la
Break down let’s sleep build up breakfast now
Let’s eat my love my love love love, la la la la

She bruises coughs she splutters pistol shots
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
She’s morphine queen of my vaccine my love my love love love, la la la la

Muscle to muscle and toe to toe
The fear has gripped me but here I go
My heart sinks as I jump up
Your hand grips hand as my eyes shut
And ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah, ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah
Ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah, ahhh ahhh ahhh ah ah

She may contain the urge to runaway
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Germaline disinfect the scene my love my love love love

But please don’t go I love you so my lovely
Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please break my heart, hey

Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so, I love you so
Please break my heart, ah ha

Please don’t go, I’ll eat you whole
I love you so, I love you, so I love you so
Please don’t go I’ll eat you whole
I love you so, I love you so, I love you so, I love you so

[ feel free to watch the video so you can hear the song, but the video and the lyrics do not hold the same meaning, even by the group’s account.]

::: ::: ::: :::

I am probably the only person over 40 who likes alt-J. Whatever. Their word play makes my brain so very happy. I started out feeling sad when this song came on because it’s about not being able to let go. Seeing and feeling the picture of the universe as this song played- I believe it means there is more to what I am hoping for. That I should stay and let the energy continue on. I don’t want to go, in my deepest heart of hearts. Not yet. But maybe that’s what I have to learn anyhow- the spinning out and the spinning back in until I’m ready to let go.

There will come a time when I need to let go- if nothing happens, nothing moves forward. I’m getting better at detecting when that is, taking less time to suffer as I make that decision (I’m finally learning!). But it’s not today for this particular experience.

 

 

II. Trip Through Your Wires | U2

In the distance, she saw me comin’ round
I was callin’ out, I was callin’ out.
Still shakin’, still in pain
You put me back together again.
I was cold and you clothed me, honey
I was down, and you lifted me, honey.

Angel, angel or devil?
I was thirsty
And you wet my lips.
You, I’m waiting for you
You, you set my desire
I trip through your wires.

I was broken, bent out of shape
I was naked in the clothes you made.
Lips were dry, throat like rust
You gave me shelter from the heat and the dust.
No more water in the well
No more water, water.

Angel, angel or devil?
I was thirsty
And you wet my lips.
You, I’m waiting for you
You, you set my desire
I trip through your wires.

Oh I need, oh I need
Oh I need, oh I need it.
Oh I need, oh I need
All I need, yeah, yeah!

Thunder, thunder on the mountain
There’s a raincloud
In the desert sky.
In the distance
She saw me comin’ round
I was callin’ out
I was callin’ out.

::: ::: ::: :::

As I danced this song, also a surprise, the right side of my body, the masculine side, was full of navy blue energy. Proper, correct, organized, logical. And the left side of my body, the feminine side, was full of aliveness- blood veins and vessels in all their pink, red, pulsing glory. Who is the angel? Who the devil? Neither; they don’t oppose each other anymore, at least not in this body. I’ve tasted what I want, a thirst is being quenched, and I want more. I’ll gladly trip through these wires.

 

 

 

III. Beautiful | Mali Music

It’s a blessing to see people
With their heads up to the sky still
‘Cause honestly for the same people
Life can be so real
I’m amazed by all your strength, I am
And I’m grateful you come through yeah, yeah
So I take this time to stop a moment
And show my gratitude
For you I

I put my lighter in the air for you
I see whatch’u doing, yeah I see whatch’u go through
Put my lighter in the air, the truth is you’re beautiful, beautiful
Now put your lighter in the air for us,
Everybody singin’ together, sing a new song
Put your lighter in the air for love is beautiful, beautiful

Many mighty ships are sinking
Many stars are falling down
And I count it as a blessing
That you hold me up now

I can tell that you’ve been praying
My whole life has turned around, yeah yeah
And I can’t go without saying
That I thank God for you all now
Eh, for you I

I put my lighter in the air for you
I see whatch’u doing, yeah I see whatch’u go through
Put my lighter in the air, the truth is you’re beautiful, beautiful

Now put your lighter in the air for us,
Everybody singin’ together, sing a new song
Put your lighter in the air for love is beautiful, beautiful

Let me hear you say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)
Say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)

Let me hear you say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)
Say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)

I put my lighter in the air for you
I see whatch’u doing, yeah I see whatch’u go through
Put my lighter in the air, the truth is you’re beautiful, beautiful

Now put your lighter in the air for us,
Everybody singin’ together, sing a new song
Put your lighter in the air for love is beautiful, beautiful

Let me hear you say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)
Say yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa
(yaa yaa yaa yaa, yaa yaa yaa)

::: ::: ::: :::

So much to trust with my intuition today. The gray showed itself first- and I had to remember that the gray is where anything can happen. The gray is potential. A sliver of orange appeared next. I asked, “what orange is this?” Was it the orange of my altar candle flame? The orange of a sunset? No, it’s the orange of fire embers, Life said. And then the blue of his eyes. I have seen two blues- the clear, sharp, open blue that is like the sky in the summer and the steeled, darker blue- like denim or the Pacific ocean- when he is angered or disgusted. This was the clear blue. I don’t know what it all means, but it felt open and free and I felt happy. I hope it means there is a new song to sing.

As if to convince me further, the iPod then queued up 99 Luftballoons in the original German. A joke only my iPod and I would get. Yes, I get what you’re saying, Life.

::: ::: ::: :::

Ya’ll, I don’t know what the fuck will happen (who does?). I’ve no clear sense of what my intuition and spirit are guiding me towards. But I know that I want to hope. That might be due to my personality- it always hopes for the best. But I also hope this oracle and the images are telling me to stay the course. I tried to let go today and found out I’d rather have the pain of a small connection than the pain of lost connection. Maybe this is all just confirmation of that understanding. I don’t know. But I know I’m not ready to leave it behind yet.

G’night, fellow travelers.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

0

Three Things I Learned at My First Burlesque Show

When I was in the Sex Surge, one of my best tools for dispensing sexual energy was dancing. I’d dance in my bedroom, in various stages of undress, and move in whatever way my body wanted to. Undulating arms, slow hip sways, circles with arms uplifted, pulsing chest- whatever worked, whatever my body wanted to say. (So, straight up- I know me talking about this and describing myself this way probably turns on a few folks. Fantastic; you have a good time. But what I’m really here for is telling the truth. My truth. The truth [as well as I know it] about sex and desire and spirituality and growth. Turn on is awesome, but truth is even better.)

I also really wanted to take a burlesque class during that time. I even signed up for one, but it was cancelled. In any case, I was fascinated by it- the sexuality, the sensuality, and removal of clothing. It looked like a lot of damn fun not only to perform but also to engage the audience and entrance them with my body.

Well, I finally went to a real burlesque show two nights ago and it was fantastic. There were five performers and it centered around the theme of ‘winter wanderings.’ There was a fun number where the Elf on the Shelf (who, honestly, I detest) was reimagined as a closeted rebel dancer. And one where the performer started out as the Snow Miser, with lots of layers, and then gradually undressed herself to be the Heat Miser, with some fantastic undies that would heat anyone up.

As with anything, I was looking to gain insight and definitely found it. Here’s what I learned.

I am definitely not 100% heterosexual. (And I think it’s the rare person who is, honestly. Most of us wonder ‘what would it be like with <someone of the same gender>?’ which is totally natural, fwiw.) I think all bodies are beautiful. And certainly women are part of my fantasy toolbox, but the question of whether I’d actually be sensual and interact with a woman was always sort of ‘I don’t know’- because it definitely happened at clubs, but never with anyone I thought was cute. But, yeah- some chicks are hot and that is all there is to it. And if one of them wanted to press her body up next to mine, I wouldn’t have minded. I just wanted to run my hands along those legs.

Of course, the thing is, that’s not part of what my partner and I allow in our marriage, so it will remain a fantasy. But that’s just super clear to me now.

 

Maybe my post-breastfeeding boobs aren’t that bad. Like a lot of women, I have been saddened by the aging demise of my breasts. The aren’t perky. They are lower on the frame than they used to be (which might also be a biking joke, idk). I enjoy seeing them in my sports bra when I’m working out more than my lingerie, honestly.

But! The burlesque show reminded me that, hey, boobs are boobs and they are all pretty fantastic. The 30 year-old woman who hadn’t breast fed *also* had flat boobs. And so maybe mine weren’t that awful by comparison. Also: I think really good pasties probably help any set of boobs. So, I might need to get me a pair. There was also a woman there- 50+ and full of curves- that made me think maybe my 42 year-old body would work okay in a burlesque number. Maybe I just need some cute boy shorts to cover the crepe-y skin below my bellybutton. And a bustier and some heels. And after that I think I could definitely do my own number.

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 

Taking it all off slowly is so fucking hot. So, I learned that you can get a cute little skirt to button to the bottom of your bustier and that you can take it off, ever so slowly, as you dance. Gloves, jacket, skirt, bustier skirt, bustier, bra- and you’re left with undies and pasties. And the slower you go, the better it is. I’ve talked about this before. Some of the dancers had to move quickly based on the song they were dancing to, but the slower they went, the better it was. I caught my breath and gritted my teeth in anticipation when one woman spent a full minute taking off her glove (her glove!). Anticipation- when you know satisfaction is on its way- is one of the best things ever.

One of the things I’ve learned in my everyday life this past week is about the magic spot between fear and desire. When there is something you really want, but you’re afraid of it (doing it, getting it, going through the experience of it)- that is a very sacred place. It is the place of full potentiality; the place just before they light the fuel to put the rocket into orbit.  And if you can tip over into letting desire lead you through fear, it feels really wonderful to get to the other side. It feels kinda like fireworks in your body, honestly. I feel like this about trying out burlesque for myself- I want to, but I’m afraid. But I think the desire will pull me through.

 

So, now I’m thinking about taking a class and getting an outfit and dancing to some fantastic holiday song.  And I’m not sure I’d make it on to an actual stage. But if I do, I’ll let you know. I’ll be untying lots and lots of bows on this package.

::: ::: ::: :::

06 Dec 2017

After I published this post I was screwing around on Pinterest and I saw a picture that read, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I stopped and stared at it for a few minutes and realized that within this post I had stolen my own joy.

This time last year I was getting ready to do a boudoir photo shoot (yes, that kind) and my body had started betraying me in ways I found depressing. I gained about 15 pounds and lost about 1/3 of my hair over the next three months. I felt truly awful in my own body. Incredibly uncomfortable about how it felt to have that extra weight on and watching my beautiful brown hair fall down the drain each day. It was painful and depressing and made me ugly cry a few times. (I really loved my hair. Like, really.)

[This is not about body shaming or weight shaming. I believe we can feel happy in our bodies at whatever size suits us. I don’t begrudge anyone their extra 10, 20, or more pounds above their ‘goal weight’ – my body simply did not feel comfortable for me.]

Over the course of the Spring and Summer my doctors and I began to suss out what the problem was and start to fix things. Over the last six weeks I’ve finally dropped the extra weight and begun to see evidence that my hair is growing back. I feel like myself again.

What I learned over the Spring and Summer was that I still had issues with what patriarchy demands my body to be (lean, pretty, un-aged, sexy) and that some of my sense of worthiness resides in a fit, pretty, sexy, un-aging body standard. And that sucks.

I proceeded to work on removing the unworthiness I felt and the voices of patriarchy that make demands of my body, but what you see here in this post is another example of it. I looked at something I wanted- to try burlesque- and found my body inadequate compared to what I saw the ‘standard’ was. I also made judgements about my body based on what I thought an audience would like to see. What the actual fuck do I know about what people want to see when they go to a burlesque show? Exactly nothing.

What I did in the course of making these comparisons and judgements was steal my own joy. Because you know what? I love my body. Even when it was more pounds than felt comfortable and less hair than felt beautiful (by my own standards). I really, really love my body. It has its troubles, but my body does so many beautiful things. It smiles and laughs and twirls and orgasms and speaks and curls up and shivers and dances and loves. I really, really love my body.

So, perhaps the most important part of this post comes after the original writing. The remembering of how much I love my body, and that comparison comes from standards outside myself, and that I do not need to steal my own joy.

If I ever dance burlesque I’m sure I will have judgements about myself- but hopefully they are only because I’m a beginner, not because I am inadequate. There is always work for women to do to carve out the bullshit that patriarchy feeds us. And you can see some of mine on display right in this post. But that’s how we grow. We find the wound, we see it, we acknowledge it, we clean it out. And then it can heal. And healing is one way to reclaim our joy.

 

 

0