My Body, My Self

-FASHION STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR-

Image courtesy of: http://elizabethajomale.tumblr.com/post/106274743769

“Embedded in the American Constitution was the right to privacy. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well- meaning but without understanding.”  ~ Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

What is women’s fundamental freedom?

PRIVACY

Our stories are personal and parallel

Reproductive and Sexual

It is my mother’s in 1962: Age 24

Whose kidney disease left her unable to bear more children

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER

When abortion was illegal

No option for a tubal ligation

Instead she was placed on medication

THE PILL

It is my mother’s in 1981: Age 43

A missed period and a pregnancy scare

When abortion was legal

An inevitable decision she would have had to make if the results had been positive

BECAUSE IT WOULD KILL HER IF SHE DIDN’T

It is mine in 1998: Age 37

  Mother of two beautiful boys

Abortion is legal

BUT

Loud, violent, deadly protests

Fierce and frightening gauntlets

form to block entrances to care

I fear a failure of birth control

An accidental pregnancy

I want a permanent procedure

The experience felt like a Prohibition speakeasy:

sordid and secretive,

a place of secret codes and knocks.

Why is it that we vainly celebrate,

freely flaunt,

and strongly sanctify,

men’s sexual freedom and prowess

without risk of consequences?

They have unconstrained access to

inexpensive condoms,

erectile dysfunction medications,

and vasectomies.

 While women’s vaginas and uteruses

are held under lock and key

by legislative laymen

intent on keeping women either virtuous or vilified.

WE WANT A SENSE OF OUR OWN AGENCY!

A woman’s right to privacy begins and ends with her body.

A woman’s body is her house.

She has a right to stand her ground

against all unwanted intruders

whose sole aim is to take away

her freedom, safety and privacy.

 

Day 9: Much of this poem has been lifted from a speech I gave before the state Constitutional Review Commission last spring. There had been an attempt by the Religious Right to amend the right to privacy.  All State Supreme Court cases involving abortion had hinged on this fundamental right. Thankfully,  the  Commission decided not to take up their attempt at an amendment. However, this legislative session and new governor are bent on restricting access to care for all women. As I write this, bus loads of advocates have driven to the state capital to lobby against proposed legislation related to further restrictions. Interestingly, the quote from Justice Brandeis was from a case about Prohibition!

Mountains on My Mind

I dream of a woodland retreat.

A mountainous oasis.

Walking in the forest

Bathing in nature

as the green canopy of hardwood trees

sways and sings.

My boots help me find my way.

I pause and listen to a rushing stream.

As I  leap onto slippery and misshapen rocks,

I pray for balance.

I lean toward the outstretched hand of my son,

who seems to have danced on the water.

His fording is eased by the length of his body.

I long to be more limber and less awkward.

  My backpack hugs my body

I feel oddly at ease with its great weight.

 As I take deep, deep breaths,

I feel the tension slough off my body.

Can mountain air comfort you like a warm blanket?

The long granite beds replace the scrambled boulders.

Another summit

Another Celebration

We rest upon them and gaze into Infinity

At one with the Divine

 

Day 6: In 12 days I head north.  My spirit yearns for cooler altitudes and time with my tribe. The photo is from a hike to Camel’s Hump in Vermont that Emily and I completed. I have yet to write about that day!  One of the most mentally challenging in my life…

She Persists

Image result for symbols for persistence

                                      Hamsa: The Hand of Fatima

   (courtesy of: http://mythologian.net/symbols-strength-extensive-list/)

 

You were whole along

Even when the weaponed words cut you

and hammered their hurt.

Tied you to the tracks

as the lumbering locomotive lurched towards you.

You defied the Damsel in Distress Delegations,

beating the drum to your own destiny.

Still today

You were pinpricked.

Blood bursting

unexpected spatter that landed on the floor and walls.

Faint whispers of long ago depositions

and ugliness attempted a resurgence.

Someone poisoned the well,

but you refused to drink.

You tended the wound

and sealed the leak.

Retained your Integrity

Reminded once again that you will not be broken by ugliness and ignorance.

 

Day 3: This day sort of wrote itself.  The details need not be regurgitated. I am grateful for the support I received and the beautiful reminder of who I am: a passionate woman who has a way with words and uses them well.

 

Fool’s Day Declaration

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Sometimes I fantasize

Float to and Fro

Fall into a Fanciful Fabrication

Far from Fanatical Fearsome Feckless Furies

Far right Fumings

  Ferocious Fibbers

Fervid Fervors of the Future Fuhrers

My Visions Veer to Vivacious Vamps

Vibrant and  Viable

Vested to Vanquish and Vex the Vicious Vampires

  Validaters never Vacillaters

Who Endeavor to Venture with Veracity

WOMEN WON’T WAVER

WHEN WEIGHTY WEBS ARE WOVEN

WE BEAR WITNESS TO THE WITLESS

WE WORK AND NEVER WITHER

WE ARE OUR OWN SELF’S SAVIORS

 

Day 1 of  April 2019 Challenge.  Very much stream of consciousness.

Safe Places

 

Is home just a place to live?  Is it just a place where we feel most safe?  Is it a place that makes us feel most strong? Is it a feeling, a desire, to be our authentic self? My ultimate desire, my safest place-my querencia- is to be at or near the mountains. Walking in the woods. Pausing to listen to a rushing stream. Jumping rocks to cross to the other side. My backpack hugging my body. My boots helping me find my way. Time is suspended here. Distractions are few. Troubles fade. Hopes soar and the Divine presents itself.

Last summer, I completed my first solo day hike. I had not told anyone of my plans ahead of time. I told my sons the morning I was leaving. I knew the men in my life would try to discourage me, not because of my lack of ability but because of safety.  But jerks exist off the trail and the mountain was one I knew well, having climbed it twice before.

The hike is easy enough, with some hopping over stream beds and slight switchbacks. It doesn’t take long for the sounds of the parkway that cuts through the notch to dissipate. I remember the heaviness of the summer air that day. It didn’t take me long to work up a sweat. My legs easily climbed up and over tree roots. I stopped to pause now and then to take in the green canopy of hardwood trees. I took deep, deep breaths, grateful that the air I was taking in filled me with peace. Can mountain air comfort you like a warm blanket?

The higher I climbed, the more I felt the tension slough off my body. Each step made me feel lighter. I felt nothing but joy as I moved closer to the summit. With this mountain, you know you are getting closer. The sky comes into view above and the long granite slabs replace the dark dirt and fallen leaves on the trail.  Suddenly-it seemed- I reached the top. A long granite bed greeted me with views of four mountains in three directions. The ledges have steep dropoffs.  I gaze into infinity when I look below.

I am alone at the summit but not lonely. I am filled with wonder and awe as I am reminded of the love I have for these mountains. I leave the summit with a renewed strength and the affirmation that this is home.

Writing Spaces

Image result for woman writing in a woodland setting

                   Image courtesy of: Video Blocks

The creative forces inside of me are driven by places and spaces which allow for both an unburdening of stresses and strains-a voiding of negative energies and blockages if you will- and a transformation, an expansion of all my thoughts and ideas into written form where I can express my best self. For me, the craft of writing has become a means by which I have shared parts of my life’s stories in the hopes of helping others as well as myself heal from past pain and challenges. It is through writing that I discovered the poet inside myself. It has also been a channel for venting my frustration at the current state of our nation and world-something that I never expected to write about in a public sphere.

Yet, every time I think of sitting down to write another post, I am stumped. I avoid. I complain. I yearn.  When I think of writing, I visual the small nook, that small corner with its long narrow table top desk that held the laptop in the small Craftsman farmhouse that overlooked the sweeping back yard which led to the stream and woods. The walls were robin’s egg blue and the floors a warm maple.

It was there in that limited space where I discovered a part of myself that I didn’t know existed.  During that time and in that space, I was at my most free even while laden with enormous responsibilities. I think it was the greater setting and the newer incarnation of my family that inspired me to write enormous amounts of material and carve out the time to do it.

Today I write and dream of carving out a newer space in a greater setting that is almost an anathema.  I dream of a woodland retreat. A mountainous oasis.  A place of optimal quiet interrupted only by natural sounds- not sirens and swarms of sedentary traffic. Today I set a new intention. A call for clarity of the mind and spirit.  A recreation of  my own creation.  A Writing Resurrection!

 

Free But Not Free

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                  Image courtesy of: Rúrí   ruri.is  Woman / Freedom

 

Freedom on my mind

Free but not Free

When my body is:

CONTROLLED

TRAP(PED)*

INVADED

by:

Religious “Freedom” Regulators

Bishops’ Bogus Bylaws

and

Junk Science Adjudicators

who:

Perpetuate and Perpetrate Propaganda

Perverting Pregnancy

Separating and Segregating

 Female from Fetus

When the Heart Beat is Felonious

Far from Notability and Viability

Free But Not Free

In Bondage to Strangers

Bearing False Witness to the Experience

and

The Acute Burden of Being Female**

Free But Not Free

When Doctors Cannot Speak

of

OPTIONS

and

CHOICES

and

CHANCES

to

Retain and Maintain

THE AUTONOMY OF MY BODY

                                                                          is

GAGGED

and

GUNNED DOWN

In the Name of

GOD

Free But Not Free

When I Cannot

OBTAIN CARE

that

PERTAINS

To

MY HEALTH

I Must

CONSENT

and

You Must

REFRAIN

MY BODY IS MY DOMAIN

 

*Refers to Trap laws regarding access to abortion (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) which impose specific standards and other regulations that appear to be arbitrary, are difficult to implement and are aimed at closing abortion clinics.

** credit to Michelle Obama

I saw the film BirthRight: A War Story, yesterday afternoon. It was not what I thought it would be. I cannot accurately summarize the entire film, but it is at once a history lesson and personal stories about women’s health care in this country. It is streaming on HULU and you can subscribe to it on YouTube. Here is a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7GgXygGLQM

Also: The current regime has imposed a Gag Rule on all clinics and other women’s health care services that receive Title X funding. In order to receive any federal grant money, they cannot provide any abortion services or even refer women to clinics that provide them. By law (since 1978), the federal government does not provide Medicaid funding to women who seek abortions and who also qualify for Medicaid. They can receive other health care, however. So if you go to any of these clinics for normal health care checkups or screenings, be aware of these changes. You are on your own for seeking advice on pregnancy termination services. Note also that this same rule was applied during Reagan’s presidency and rescinded under Clinton’s.