When I opened a new Word document to sit down to write my Best of… blog for March, my first thought was, “Yay! I finally get to tell my Chicklets about Fruity Pebbles Rice Treats!”
And I think that pretty much sums up an awesome March.
Now, if you’ve been following these blogs since I started this new year with the not-so-original (since I stole it) idea of sharing my adventures in the waning days (please God) of this COVID crazy world, you may have noticed I’ve been packing it in (this before life springs open again, born anew when that damned virus is gone—though I fully intend to keep blogging after the world opens up).
This month was a little quieter. I little simpler.
But in its way far more profound.
First, the bestest best of the month was writing Chloe and Judge’s story—the next in the River Rain saga—doing this with all of you.
I loved writing After the Climb with my Chicklets, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in again. And it was kinda hilarious, because the same thing happened as the first time (I’ve no clue why I thought it would be different). This being, when I did the polls, what I would pick (or what I would think you all would pick) was never picked! HA!
But that’s the beauty of doing this with you. Those surprises. The awesome input and feedback in the comments. The general sense of not being alone, even doing something so solitary as writing a book, which (unless you have a writing partner) is a very solitary experience.
Now Chloe and Judge’s story is complete (soon to come will be votes on their book’s title and cover, so stay tuned to Facebook for that) but I wanted to share something bizarre (as in, bizarrely awesome) that happened during the writing of it.
You see, Chloe owns a clothing store. And there’s this long passage describing her store (this won’t be a spoiler, unless you are super-freaky about anything being a spoiler, like I am…and I still don’t think this is a spoiler).
Part of that description is that she does not stock anything that doesn’t go to size 24 or 3X—and this includes not stocking accessories that do not work for curvy girls.
On this topic, Chloe has a conversation with a patron that was very profound for me, being a curvy girl.
And then, my friend D was in town at the beginning of the month, and we were out and about, doing a wee bit o’ shopping, and we hit Athleta.
Now, I have shopped online at Athleta for years. But I had no idea that, for a great number of their styles, they stocked a wide range of sizes in their stores.
So as D shopped, I could shop too!
This was not a normal experience when it comes to clothing stores.
But there was more.
Their mannequins and marketing art was inclusive, like, all-inclusive, sizes, colors, ages.
In other words, I was not only represented hanging on their racks, I was represented in their entire store experience.
I can’t even describe what this was, it was so beautiful to me.
I love clothes. I love shopping. I can online shop like crazy, but I vastly prefer being out in the world and shopping. Touching something, seeing it, trying it on.
And feeling “separate,” and “abnormal,” and, well, pariah-ish as I’m normally forced to head to entirely different shops or entirely different sections of a department store has always felt wrong.
No, it made me feel like I was wrong. Like I, and people like me, needed to be hidden away, separated…
I’m sure there are a variety of Chicklets out there who get this on a number of levels, not just their body size or their height. And I think for every single one of us, that’s a point to seriously ponder. How that feels. Or more importantly, how shitty that feels. And onward from that, how we can be inclusive ourselves in our lives and worlds, representing the beauty of the sisterhood in all its magnificent facets of glory. (I know I can do better at this, and I know I’m going to try.)
But this was an art-imitates-life moment where I built this fantasy store that I would want to exist in real life, and right after I did that, I went out into the world and actually lived that fantasy.
It was everything.
(Wish I had magic to write other awesomeness and make it come real, and not to be selfish or anything, but I wouldn’t build a store all my sisters could enjoy, I’d build something else that well, breathes and does other things [wink, wink].)
This segued to something even deeper and this next is tied for bestest-best in March…
I’ll start with sharing that, being insulated in writing my book, my adventures didn’t stem outward, they skewed inward.
And as such, I not only tidied and organized my office so it feels bright and beautiful and I know where everything is, I dug a little deeper when it came to mental organization.
To do this, I stopped procrastinating on something I had intended to do for months but was terrified of doing it.
I performed a shedding ritual.
“WTF is that?” you ask.
Well, I did not know it was called this until I sat down with my psychic, and I was sharing with her some of the things I continued to struggle with as I tackled some other things that I was finding ways to put in my rearview.
Namely, how I look at my body.
She said, “You’re fucking sexy. Stop with that. You need to do a shedding ritual.”
And I had no clue what that meant either.
But the word “shedding” smacked me upside the head.
And even not knowing what it was (exactly), I was all, “OMG, I so do.”
The thing was, I’d had the idea to do something like this months ago when I read the book Basic Witches and I’d already made plans to do it (eventually). I wanted (not really, but I felt I needed) to confront how I look at my body. How I look at myself. How I see me through the world’s eyes, not who I really am.
So I did that.
Now, this is very personal, but the power of it knocked my socks off to such an extreme, I’ll be giving it to a heroine in a future book. Straight up, sisters. Because it was huge.
But boiling it down, I spent some time with myself, some music that’s meaningful to me, a hefty glass of wine, some candles, with Starla as witness, and I created a ceremony where I could confront myself in a mirror and come to terms with, well…
How fucking awesome I am.
I was scared AF, but after it was over, I was floating. Dancing around my flat. Lighter than air.
Now, this does not mean that I performed a miracle with a Bath and Body Works 3-wick candle, a glass of chardonnay, a tube of the reddest red lipstick I could find, Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes and my cat familiar.
What it means is that I stopped turning my mind away from what it absorbs as to how the nebulous “world” out there wants me to see me, my age and my body…
I stopped paying lip service, even in my own head, to the idea of self-esteem and self-worth…
I tore away any physical or mental veils…
I looked right at me…
And I saw something extraordinary.
Does this mean I no longer wish to take off weight and continue on my path to get into better shape?
It just means that will be on my terms, and in the meantime, I see me. I truly see me.
And what I see is fucking fabulous.
Now, you might be wondering, how do Fruity Pebbles Rice Treats fit in all that total awesomeness?
Well, this is one of the recipes I tried this month (and gave it to Judge, because…can you just see a dude making these for his girl? Obviously, I can). I loved them and now I’m on a mission to make a variety of different rice treats (next up is a pretzel/Cracker Jack sitch).
And that’s just it—colorful sugary goodness that is mind-blowingly simple, going for it, taking the chance on it, and finding it is eh-ver-ee-thing.
Important note: I also made chocolate chip cookies not only with a sprinkle of fleur de sel on top but using only brown sugar.
Ho-lee shizzlesticks. One hundred percent the best homemade chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. And you can imagine I’ve made my fair share of CCCs.
Now, onward to my Best ofs this month.
I finished the book Waking the Witch by Pam Grossman. A friend of mine suggested this to me and it probably comes as no surprise, if it’s got the word “witch” in it, I’m in.
This book is kind of a hybrid of an autobiography with a history of witches along with a dissection of witches in popular culture and art. Grossman is a practicing witch, but that’s not the only reason she knows her stuff. It wasn’t a long book, but it got deep, and I learned a freaking ton. I was fascinated by it, and one of my favorite parts was looking up some of the artists she discussed (particularly Remedios Varo, and I mean whoa, her stuff is amazing) and finding works I might not ever have run across if she hadn’t shared.
And speaking of her sharing, Grossman mentioned this poem, “Daughter” by Nicole Blackman, and straight up, sisters, if you get nothing else out of this blog, I hope you hit that link and read that poem. It’s flat-out extraordinary. I read it, copied the link, and sent it right to my nieces. I don’t think I blinked between finishing and emailing, it’s that powerful. So take some time and read.
“I’ll teach her that she has an army inside her
that can save her life.”
And the final two stanzas, chills.)
Onward to the best TV of the month, which was watching “Tina”, the Tina Turner Documentary on HBO Max (and if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have seen I waxed poetic about that because Ms. Turner is one of my very few heroes, and this documentary shows precisely why).
Like I immersed myself in some stuff for Black History month, I had intended to do the same for Women’s History Month, but only got as far as watching “Tina” and then chucking my ongoing quest to find new music and listen to full albums.
Instead, I went back to my tried and true, but with a view to the female (so my history of women…but in music, ahem).
These are albums I’ve listened to so often, I know every note, but I haven’t pulled these beautiful babies out in years. Maybe over a decade. And they include the aforementioned Little Earthquakes but also Kate Bush’s Sensual World and The Red Shoes. And, obvs, Tina’s greatest hits. (Additional notes: “This Woman’s Work” from Sensual World always reminds me of Tack and Tyra in Motorcycle Man – probably because, if memory serves, I listened to it over and over while writing that big ending scene, you know what I mean (an ambulance is involved) – and Prince is featured heavily (guitar, keyboards, bass, background vocals) on “Why Should I Love You” and the Kate and Prince together are fucking magic. And since I’m fanning all over these women, every single girl should know the lyrics to Amos’s “Crucify” – “You’re just an empty cage girl, if you kill the bird” – I wish I understood that when I was 23, glad I’m learning it at 53.)
I’ll stop there…but as you can see, I got stuck on these albums, Chicklets, because my reaction to hearing this music again after so much time was extreme. A few years, a little more maturity, without my knowing it, music that was the soundtrack of my youth had become an underpinning of my life…deeper, more resonant, far, far more profound (particularly Amos, holy hell, that woman had things to say).
And to balance all this Best of goodness out, I’ll repeat my recommendation to try the Calm meditation app. I completed the 7 Days of Gratitude and 7 Days of Happiness courses (now on the 7 Days of Self-Esteem). There is for sure some overlap, but it doesn’t hurt to sit in stillness and learn over and over how to be grateful, how to accept yourself, how to live in the moment, how to find stillness, how to reach peace.
I cannot begin to explain how meditation has changed my life. Better sleep. More patience (with myself most of all, and that ripples out into the world). Also, the ability to deal with shit, like, now. Because I’m in the now. And being in the now, I don’t want to let negative thoughts or worries or anything fester and prolong and fuck up my now.
Like having a cold or the flu and carrying on with life rather than resting and giving your body time to deal, the same can be said for what attacks our minds. I’ve learned to stop, breathe, focus and handle it. If something needs sorted, I sort it. If something annoying crops up, I don’t procrastinate or obsess on it, I deal with it. Then I can move beyond it, leave it behind, particularly anything negative, draining, or worrying, and keep on trucking.
Incidentally, this is what my hero Tina Turner has done for decades. And her crap was mammoth…but she kept motoring on.
I mean, I’m not a guru of any of this, but it far from sucks finding my way, and the more I practice it, the better I get.
So that was my March, and even if I didn’t travel anywhere or spend hours in the kitchen with new recipes at hand (though, the second Cooking Club tackled Asian fare and we’ll just say homemade gyoza is life), or other such grand schemes, I journeyed inward. With my writing. With myself.
And the adventures continued.
I didn’t leave my home, I still soared.
I hope your March was fabulous in your own way.
Coming up in April, I’ve got my first shot of the vaccine, I’m off on a sentimental journey, and I’ll soon be introducing you to the Green Sisters.
Keep it real, Chicklets…
And Rock On!
PS: Another inspiration for me this month? Tacorey.williams on Instagram. I know Tacorey. I love her drive, I love her ability to put it all out there, I love the message of her pictures. I told her she’s helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin, and she was beside herself with glee. She recently hit 200,000 followers but shared with me that she wants to reach more women. So, give her a look and a follow if you’re feeling it.