Archive | Pictures

A Lifetime of Love.

1997 :: 1996 :: 2014 :: 2017

 

Today we have been married for 21 years. If we had a kid the day we were married, that kid would be able to legally drink today. It’s an entire lifetime. And I want four more with him, this time around. And then I want four other lifetimes with him after this one has ended.

This has been a year of serious growth for me and my beloved and we are reaping all the benefits of our hard work, dedication, and love. I am incredibly happy with me, us, and where we are together. Like, fantastically happy. Contentedly happy.

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to be in a long-term relationship; I often do around this time of year. And I realized this year that there comes a point when you have to decide what kind of relationship you want to be in, long term. Because there are several different options to choose from. You can be in a relationship that never changes and stick with it, if that’s what both people want. He always mows the lawn, she always does the holiday decorating; nothing ever changes. You can be in a relationship with someone for a very long time and not care about them or the relationship. It’s horrible, but plenty of people do it. You can be in a growth-oriented relationship. You can be in a relationship that only grows during hardship or difficulty like a sickness or a family issue. There are many options.

For me, though, there is only one kind of relationship: growth-oriented.

Because I’m deeply interested in my own healing and growth, I am also interested in healing and growth in my most intimate relationships.

All of the times we have decided to make a shift in our relationship have been about growth. Our growths as individuals and our growth as a couple. For growth-oriented couples, the growth is their strength. At least, it has been for us.

It took us probably 5-7 years to figure out that we were growth-oriented. And then it took us another 4-5 years to understand our particular pattern of growth. Exploring this and understanding it is how we’ve been so wildly successful, why we still like and love each other, why we still have great sex (although, that is not the be all-end all of a relationship).

We tell the truth. We made a pact, at one point, to tell the truth, even if it hurt the other person. Because telling the truth leaves no room for doubt. Yes, we need to clarify sometimes, but we always tell the truth. Because how else are we supposed to fully understand another human if we don’t?

We work through the hurt. When one of us feels hurt, we work through it. One of our big issues (that it took years to fully work through) was money. We both grew up in families with weird money issues and what was ‘normal’ to me felt oppressive to him and vice versa. When I felt hurt by some of his actions with money we learned to work through it, even if there was pain. He stopped his behaviors. I looked at why they were so frustrating to me (I had to do my own healing so that we could heal). We both looked at what was our responsibility in this fight. Mine was to heal some old stories about money. His responsibility was to deal with some old patterns from his family of origin. It wasn’t fun. It took years. It bounced around a lot. And we had to deal with a fair amount of personal pain and create new habits. But we always work through the hurt until no one hurts anymore and until each of us feels loved and heard.

We really like the other person and want to be with them. Even when some of our habits annoy the the fuck out of other person. Even when we don’t look as sexy as we did 20 years ago. Even when we didn’t have sex very often (there are times when someone is sick or in pain and you can’t, and that may last for a while). Even when we are both bogged down with work, kids, and the daily grind. We still really dig each other as people and we know we want to be together.

We support each other’s dreams. He wrote two books. I am writing one. He wanted to study in England. I wanted to live in a particular house. He got his PhD and is a full professor. I wanted kids and did my Master’s. I needed more sex. He delivered. We both love to travel. We support each other in big and small dreams. And that draws us together as a team. And inside ‘being a team’ we practice loving each other.

I still think my husband is a really cool person I want to spend time with. And, for us, that happens because we grow as individuals and as a couple.

That’s not how it works for everyone, obviously. There are lots of ways to have long term relationships. And lots of ways to be happy in long term relationships. You just have to make sure you’re in the kind of relationship that suits you best, and so is your partner.

Feels like I’ve written this before; I probably have. Oh, well.

Happy Anniversary to my beloved. May we have many more ahead of us.

Joanna :: xoxo

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

[FYI:because I keep getting articles about “letting go” on social media. Letting go of someone we loved or cared for (or still do) is some of the hardest work of being a human. It’s something we have to do, but you can have compassion for yourself as you go through it. It took me a long time to learn that. And I don’t particularly subscribe to the idea of soul mates or twin flames, but there are people who teach our souls things. Some teach us how we don’t want to be treated. Some teach us how we do want to be treated. These are soul lessons. But no one that loves you will treat you like shit. That’s not what love is. That’s not what love does. Love can cause us pain (see above), but real love also takes care of us and helps us heal.]

 

 

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New England [from Paris]

The day was bright and hot, but not humid. The sky was blue, with lots of white clouds above us. My feet were walking on gray cobbles, one step at a time. I had a backpack full of food and maps on my back. I walked slowly, tired and hungry. I looked up ahead and saw my husband and children and it occurred to me, “Normally, right now, I would be angry that we weren’t where we were supposed to be, that it’s hot and I’m hot, that we haven’t found a place to eat yet. But I’m not.”

It was a strange revelation to have in a cemetery. But there I was, in the middle of the Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris, and I recognized that I was fully in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about what came next or what had happened a few minutes (or years) ago. I wasn’t angry because we weren’t ‘there’ yet. I wasn’t upset because we’d been trudging uphill for what seemed like hours. I was just walking, noticing what was around me, noticing the sky, noticing the backpack. My mind was calm.

This is one of the gifts I found when I went on vacation in Paris. My mind finally let go of its daily chatter. I found that once I noticed this was happening, I can make it happen whenever I wish. Because, of course I can.

I can’t quite describe how freeing this has felt in the couple of weeks since I’ve returned home. I don’t play scenarios over and over in my head. I don’t try to overly use my intuition. I don’t try to ‘feel into’ people, places, or experiences. I am just living and being and my head is a lot less busy. And it feels great. I watch TV now and read more books (and less social media). I go to bed on time, which I have struggled with for years. It has really been an amazing shift. I want to hold on to this.

I sometimes feel a little disoriented for not thinking and futzing around in my head so much. But I get over it. And it’s not fully integrated yet, so there are still moments when I catch myself at the old habits of mind. But I know how to let myself out now. I was my own jailer; now I know how to set myself free.

One thing I realized, having let go and calmed down in these last two weeks is how much I was at the mercy of my own emotions. I thought and felt deeply – still do – and I got dragged all over by those thoughts and feelings. And that happens less often now. I am also more aware of when it does happen and I can pull myself off the hamster wheel as needed. I still feel deeply, but now it doesn’t pull me all over, feeling by feeling, low and high. I realize how busy and crazy it made me feel; I prefer this peace.

The other gift of Paris was as wonderful as peace, it was beauty. In Paris there were far fewer ads for beauty products for women. In America women are bombarded with magazines, TV ads, bus posters, and billboards about the ways in which they are deficient and should improve themselves (to a beauty standard no woman can achieve). There are aisles and aisles of beauty products in stores the country over for women to improve how they look. These things do not exist in Paris. And I came to understand something really important: I am the only one who can define my beauty.

Is it nice when someone says I’m beautiful? Of course. It’s always lovely when someone says they find you meet their standards of beauty. But me finding myself beautiful is much more important and valuable. I started taking selfies with no make-up on. I take selfies when I feel good, generally. But to feel good without make-up on was weird. It challenged the part of me that feels I must live up to the impossible standards; it challenged the part of me that knows I gain something in this world from meeting a lot of those standards. I get resources – respect, patience, a discount from the manager – that others don’t get due to how they look because I meet the standards of conventional beauty in this country. It’s not fair or right, but it happens, and it was challenging to my sense of self to recognize that as I looked at how my ‘unmade’ face – my naked face – did not meet those standards. My naked face is beautiful, but it won’t get me as many resources as my ‘made up’ face does.

Finally, I also learned that I don’t even have to ask the beauty question if I don’t want to. Am I beautiful? Who cares? There are so many things that are more important than beauty: kindness, authenticity, compassion to name a few. I believe that our beloved will find us beautiful no matter what, so what does beauty matter? I think maybe it doesn’t.

 

Naked faced me.

In the last two weeks, since being home, I’ve also come to realize that I want to experiment with being done here. I have a few things left to say, but I am beginning to think that this space has served its purpose. It was a place for me to make art from my pain and frustration, which I did. It was a place for me to tell my truth, which I have done.

I’ve been thinking about the tagline here, recently. “Honest. Erotic. Rebellious. With god.” At the time I started this blog, being sensual and sexual felt like the furthest thing from being spiritual. My Protestant upbringing assured those two energies would be divided in my mind and body for a long time. But I have worked and found the place where they are both true. That’s part of me now. And, truth be told, what is ‘rebellious’ to a middle class, white lady is not exactly ‘rebellious’ to the rest of the world (we all have our stories to break free from, but mine is like a lot of other white, Protestant ladies, so it’s not very rebellious at all). If anything, this has always been a place for me to share my thoughts and tell what I see as truth, but I have no real claim to any capital-T truth, so I’m not sure I have much else of value to share.

The other thing I’ve begun to wonder about is that I really put my heart on the page here and maybe my heart it worth more than that. Maybe my heart is for those who love me enough to get over their own fears and seek connection with me. Maybe my heart is for those whom I deem worthy. And maybe that’s why it’s time to play with being done here. We shall see…

Big love from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Paris [from New England]

I went on vacation to Paris, my friends. It was amazing in a lot of ways. The food (!!), the art, the history, the cultural differences (some of which were awesome), and just getting out of town were all fabulous. I also learned a lot about myself because…wherever you go, there you are. It was a good trip in many ways. I’m still chewing on some of the inner work I chose to look at while I was there; I’ll post about that later. For now, just some fave photos.

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

 

Of course, let us start with le Tour Eiffel. This was taken from next to the Museum of Architecture, which, not high on the list of most tourists, was actually really informative and interesting. They took casts of some of the important buildings in Paris (i.e. the upper reaches of Notre Dame) so that you can see the details up close.

The Eiffel Tower is enclosed (after the terrorist attack of 2015), so you have to get through security to go up, but it’s worth the time and effort. The science and architecture is amazing, as are the views.

 

Rooftop gardens seen from the Eiffel Tower.

 

A view from the Eiffel Tower, looking at Sacre Coeur church on the hill in the distance.

 

We opted to stay out of the Louvre (if you go, either plan to be there for three days, or pick what you want to visit beforehand and focus on that), and instead we visited the Musee D’Orsay. I had my fill of Impressionists (Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas); it was fantastic to see the paintings from my Humanities courses in real life. For me, the Art Nouveau section was the best, though. The skill of the crafting of that era always blows me away. I wept for the beauty of it.

 

We also visited one of the largest and most famous cemeteries in the city: Pere LaChaise. Many famous people are buried here, not the least of which is Oscar Wilde. The mausoleums were incredible. Rows and rows of tiny, ornate, gothic structures dedicated to the afterlife. It was beautiful and macabre, which I love.

 

 

There was even a famous broad from Boston there.

 

This is actually a fountain on the backside of the Museum of Architecture. There are a lot of fountains around Paris. Not all of them this grand.

 

The “Lock Bridge” is no longer, but that doesn’t mean lovers don’t find ways to keep up the tradition. We saw this on a walk along the Seine. (We also saw a couple fighting about their lock at another place. Ah, the City of Love.)

 

We did not visit Montmarte, an area well known for its artists and the location of the Moulin Rouge. But there was plenty of street art to keep us interested. We saw several works from Invader.

This was not the whole of our trip. There were other museums, boulangerie’s, many cafe’s, and lots of just walking around and noticing Paris. We stayed in a neighborhood called Les Lilas (The Lilacs) in a spare, well organized apartment inhabited by someone who won the French version of a Tony (called a ‘Moliere’) for her work in costumes. She had the most amazing library of fashion books. We learned how to ride the Metro – always wear your Resting Bitch Face, because nobody smiles (in fact, it would be considered flirting to smile at someone). I had one of the most tasty meals of my life and also a lime sorbet I will never forget.

Paris was a delight for the senses. I can see why they call it the City of Love, but it’s just a place where, if you are from out of town, you can be utterly stunned on a regular basis. Which is pretty cool. Paris was not necessarily a place I felt at home (in the way I do when we go to England), but it was most certainly worth our time and money and I will visit again. Paris changed small things in me; it was beautiful in every way.

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

Love from the path,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Making Old Dreams Today

This past Saturday, my husband and I attended our senior prom. Not a joke! For the last four years we’ve been going to something called the “Grown Ass Prom” in our town. It’s a night for adults to dress up, have a good time, drink (!), and do what they actually wanted to do back when they were 18.

One of the reasons I love going is because there is an element of ‘pretend’ about it all: adults are re-creating a past event to make the memories they wish they had made years ago. For instance: going as your true trans self, taking your gay or lesbian partner and getting those terrible prom photos together, taking your partner who you didn’t know in high school. And dressing how you want and just having a really great time doing whatever you want because you’re a fucking adult now who knows what they like. Not to mention the guarantee that you’re going to get laid afterwards. It’s glorious.

So, this was our fourth year attending. Our ‘senior’ year. And it was definitely the most fun we’ve had because we knew what we were doing and we knew how to make the best of it.

Our first year was about creating the memory of having prom together because we couldn’t have done that when we were 18. At that time, we lived in completely different parts of Washington state. My beloved is also three years older than I am, so it was highly unlikely he would have looked at me twice in high school. (He says he would have, but I disagree.) We tried to fit the ‘prom’ mold from days of yore.

 

This is the best of the photos, so I’m going with it. 

 

My own Lloyd Dobler.

 

We wore matching outfits. I wore something that looked like a ‘prom’ dress from the 1990s. It was my first few months into treatment for hypothyroidism so I didn’t feel great and it sort of shows. But we had a great time dancing (one of our favorite things to do together) and it felt like we had gone to prom together. We made a new memory we wished we had from our past.

Our second year was even better. I was feeling very normal, thyroid-wise, and knew exactly how I wanted to look and feel. I bought a leather dress, black pumps, and got my hair done in a mohawk (fauxhawk). I looked and felt exactly the way I wanted to. My husband looked fucking fabulous as his ‘Adam Ant’ self. We both felt like our own best version of ourselves.

 

I also wore a pair of black Chuck Taylor’s, cuz who dances in heels?

 

I had a vision of love / and it was all that you’ve given me…

 

This second year wasn’t about completing some old/new memory as much as it was about being who we were to the Nth degree and just having a good time. We danced our assess off; the husband took home a dancing award.

Last year was our third year (junior year!) and we had a group of friends to go with. This year we were energized by going with our friends for their first time with Grown Ass Prom. My thyroid was on the fritz again last year and so I also wasn’t feeling 100% myself, but I had a good time picking out some leather-look leggings and pouring myself into them. The husband went ‘balls to the wall’ with his outfit- threw on one of everything and owned it. He is a fashion badass and a risk-taker and I love him for it. He also won Prom King for his dancing skills.

 

Red-lipped and ready to dance.

 

Wearing all black does not make you look taller.

 

I think the thing I learned last year was that Grown Ass Prom was better than Halloween for me (which is heresy in New England). It’s better than Halloween because I can choose a new part of myself to explore that doesn’t have to be appropriate for taking children trick-or-treating or keeping me warm. I can play with being vampy or sexy or dominating or punk or whatever. It’s one night where I can be what I dream and see how it fits into my everyday self. And I took that knowledge into this year’s prom.

This year I have basically felt like shit, body wise. My thyroid is overproducing antibodies which blocks one of my medications and so it doesn’t work as well as it should. In the last 4 years I’ve lost half of my hair and gained 10 lbs. I still have a decent amount of hair and I still look cute in clothes, but I don’t feel comfortable in my body in the way that I did the second year of prom. And yet. I feel more sexy, alive, joyful, free, and satisfied than I have in years. Prom this year was about expressing those feelings, even if my body didn’t feel like I wanted it to.

 

Dreaming and doing.

 

Luckily, the shirt comes off.

 

Senior year: the photographer remembered us.

 

It turned out exactly like that. I loved my outfit- gradually lost the white shirt as the evening wore on because corsets are fucking warm when you dance (didn’t know that before!). I loved my hair and makeup and felt like a million bucks with my prom crew (now nine of us!). It was a wonderful night. [Except, swear to g-o-d, the DJ has sucked every year and this was no exception. Four years of terrible DJ-ing. How is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s true.]

While, technically, this was our ‘senior’ year of prom, we will definitely go again. We might try another venue- I think there is one in Massachusetts and one in a different location in Rhode Island, but we will definitely go to one. It’s too much fun to let it pass us by.

I think the thing I most want to say is that it’s important to keep growing and changing and having places to try out who you are. Because I’m not who I was at 20 or 30 or even 40. There is a throughline of consistency, but I am different, and better, than before. Prom gives me a place to play out different roles and experiences with myself, my husband, and my friends, and I think we all need safe places to do that. As well, making memories and meaning of our life is foundational to feeling we have lived well. We need to feel that we have done things we enjoy, feel proud of, lived in alignment with what we most value in order to be proud of our life. Prom is one of the things that helps me make meaning of my life and feel that I have lived joyfully and well.

 

 

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Sweat.

It’s been cold and snowy for the past couple of days here in Southern New England and I can’t help but to think about warm things. I don’t usually like to do that- it makes the cold that much worse by comparison- but even thinking about a nice, warm 40 degree day sounds awesome.

Thinking about proper warm, sunny days, like we get in the Summer, made me start thinking about sweating. I have, for a couple of years now, been fascinated by my own sweaty body. I like sweaty bodies in general- it means effort, exertion, making attempts at goals, heat, maybe sex, and some bodies smell fantastic when sweaty (I’m not one of them). Sweat also means warmth and movement and flexibility- equally sexy and fantastic as the other things.

So, I remain fascinated with sweat in general, and my sweat in particular. How it feels to have a workout where I am dripping with it (it feels rather badass- pushing my limits). How it feels to have the sweat cool on my skin. How it looks and feels sitting atop my skin- sometimes I notice every little bit, sometimes I am oblivious. The gorgeous feeling of being so entranced in my workout, or so dedicated to finishing what I’m doing, and the drops of sweat fall from my chin, nose, and and chest. Those drops are hard-earned and they feel like gold when I am warm and working my ass off.

I offer you a study in sweat.

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

 

| The cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea. |

 

| Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get. |

 

| There’s nothing better than working up a good sweat. |

 

| There’s something incredibly sexy about sand and sweat and dunes
photographed like women’s backs.  – Kristin Scott Thomas |

 

| Sweat! Sweat! Sweat! Work and sweat, cry and sweat, pray and sweat!  – Zora Neale Hurston|

 

|By being an athlete, I have discovered so many other ways to express my beauty. Being a strong, fearless woman makes me feel beautiful. I love the way I look and feel when I am two hours into my training and my skin is glistening with sweat and my clothes are drenched because
I have given it all I’ve got.  – Laila Ali|

 

| the best sweat is a from a hot bath, though. |

 

G’night fellow travelers. May your sweat bring you joy.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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