Describe Your Relationship to Work

I’m currently working on an application to go be facilitated at School of the Alternative, which is a really cool-sounding self directed program for adults. I’m feeling really inspired by one of the application questions, and wanted to share my thinking about it.

Describe your relationship to work.

I think of my [professional] work [at school with the kids] in cyclical relationship with my personal [self-care-and-growth] work. I’m learning to listen for the invitations and prompts they offer me; I’ve discovered children have an uncanny ability to ask me flat-out the questions I didn’t know I was avoiding: “How do you practice magic?” or “What does it mean to release something?” or “Do you consider yourself to be a cisgender person?” These aren’t hypothetical; they’re all real questions, asked of me by real kids. Learning to recognize these questions as invitations, not challenges to my authority is one kind of work; the work of discovering the answers is another.

I’ve been thinking about how being alive means that my meat is generating and consuming electric and kinetic and potential energy all the time. I’ve been thinking about how, in the spiral of time, I’m the same person I was as a child and how I will never be that person again. I’ve been thinking about how the universe is both infinite and expanding; the thing that is, by definition, the largest possible thing, is still getting bigger.

Some days I am tired, or my mental illness is loud, or my need for rest is urgent; learning to respond to those feelings with patience and kindness is also work. Sometimes work feels like the right verb and sometimes it feels deeply insufficient; regardless, it’s the language that feels good right now. The work is the work of being curious and present in pleasure and pain, of being embodied and creative and stretching my limits, reaching, growing, unfurling. In physics, work is a transfer of energy; it’s when a force causes a displacement in an object. That means the opposite of work is not play, it’s stasis. To work is to live.

On Facilitating in Your Joy

Looking back through this blog, I see myself working through a lot of hard feelings around facilitation; while that’s a big part of this work, it’s definitely not all of it. I want this blog to be an accurate reflection of my life in ALC-land, struggles and joys alike, and so today I intend to course-correct a bit.

I can feel it in my body when I’m facilitating in my joy; I feel the bubbling right below my solar plexus. I’m facilitating in my joy when we’re barefoot in the gym first thing Monday morning and the sun is streaming in through the windows and we’re playing a game of tag where everyone is it and we’re shrieking and chasing and rock-paper-scissoring and throwing the same hand sign over and over.

I’m facilitating in my joy upside down on the floor in Gratitudes, laughing helplessly with a teenager, laughing so hard we can’t even look at each other, because someone surprised us my elaborating on an inside joke and our faces are so red and every time one of us makes a little sigh and tries to stop we make eye contact and set off laughing again.

I’m facilitating in my joy in the library, curled up on the denim couch, reading a kid a book, or in the red room on a rainy day watching one of my favorite movies (Star Wars, or Harry Potter, or Howl’s Moving Castle) and I get to see a strange, fantastical world that I love as if for the first time, again.

I’m facilitating in my joy when I share a surprising fact (oooh how I love surprising facts) and a kid’s face lights up and they say really??? I’m facilitating in my joy when these roles are reversed.

I’m facilitating in my joy at the park, any park, and the sun is shining.

I’m facilitating in my joy when riffing on existential questions, or the nature of time, or surprised on the subway by an unexpectedly deep “this or that” from a kid I didn’t know was contemplating the metaphysical.

I’m facilitating in my joy when there’s paint between my toes.

I’m facilitating in my joy sitting deliberately out of sight, doing something with my hands to make myself invisible (crochet, or sketching) and listening to kids play with each other; co-create worlds with their Lego or tend the hamster in age-mixed clusters or…

I’m facilitating in my joy making up a dance outside the deli, or down the hallway, or after the big collective feast of Dancegiving with the music all the way up.

Playing in language facilitates my joy.

I’m facilitating in my joy on the subway, at the museum, on the rock climbing wall, in a bookstore or public library or exploring the zine collection, on the ferry, at the beach, under the Brooklyn Bridge, overlooking the East River, moving from island to island of this strange wondrous city and getting to taste and touch and see it all for the first time: the dumplings in Chinatown, the silver dome of the park at Union Square, the belly of the Great Blue Whale at my favorite childhood museum.

Facilitating in your joy is the goal, right? I’ve been thinking about it since I listened to the 2019 Panel on SDE and Racial Equity out of Heartwood ALC last week – which you can find and listen to here. (It’ll blow your mind.)

Of course not all of the facilitating I do comes from that place of joy; I’m still working through the shit from a childhood that wasn’t self-directed, where joy was not the goal. And that’s important work, no doubt. But joy is the work, too, joy is the medicine, joy is co-creating movement towards the world I want to live in. Thanks for witnessing <3

On Kindness, and the Soft Animal of My Body

“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” -Mary Oliver

I’m trying to be kind. It’s difficult, because the word is tied up in the abstracted character-building of my childhood. Around the atrium of my intermediate school there were a series of child-shaped cutouts, each emblazoned with different value: respect, responsibility, kindness. I stood below them for the unveiling – one each month, as we passed through the first year of the school. The building was new, the star-shaped entrance hall vaulted with red-framed skylights and walled in postmodern grey brick. A group of us were selected (though I don’t remember how, or for what reason) to be the Character Ambassadors; we would gather in the center of the hall as a janitor climbed the ladder and hung the silhouettes and we went through the motions of ceremony. I remember feeling self conscious about my hair, my body, my new glasses. I don’t remember what was said about the characters.

When I think about being kind, the part of me that stood through that ceremony and tried, after, to fit in with the childscorn of cool that was budding in the girls’ room and the cafeteria, that young, confused part of me crystalized under those cutouts and in the gossipstreams after, still scoffs. What’s the point of kind?

Here’s what I really learned in that year as Character Ambassador: how to shrink my self to fit into the crowd. That it was fine to be honored but not too honored. Okay be special as long as I did not make my self a target with my specialness; if the crowd realized I wasn’t part of it they would eat me on the bus in the girls’ room on the line for lunch. Even with my careful observation and the one act of brutality with which I shrunk myself, even when I thought I understood the rules of how to be among and invisible, I felt myself a failure. Instead of kindness, I learned too much about the power of those who fit in over those who transgress. Instead of kindness, I learned to marshall my intellect to focus my body on performing my role correctly. Instead of kindness, I learned conformity.

Almost two decades later, the characters are still hanging there. The laminated poster paper has faded under the sky light – kindness is no longer true blue but stormy grey.

I haven’t thought about being 10 in a long time. Though I’ve thought abstractly about my childself over the course of the last few years, ALFing and deschooling, thinking about the child I was at 10 years old, standing in the atrium of C.V. Starr Intermediate School feels different – the one whose flute was perpetually at the wrong parent’s house, who loved the quiet of art class and the intimacy of music lessons, the newly-bespeckled one whose mind drifted while we read aloud in class because I’d already read the whole page, whole chapter, whole novel and I was just counting the minutes until we were done with this interminable readaloud exercise. 10 is first time in my life I can begin to remember feeling wrong in my body, the beginning of a self consciousness that did not originate with me but that I wrapped around my own bones nonetheless. The lessons in the atrium stuck, but not the ones that were intended to.

This is the point at which I feel compelled to tell you that I am an anxious, depressed trans person living in chronic pain; that those are clinical (and therefore somehow validated?) identities. Five years ago, I fell down a flight of stairs and injured my spine. Three years ago, I developed crippling eczema that makes the skin on my hands flake off and break open. One year ago, I realized with a shock that I am not a cisgender woman. I am talking to you about kindness not out of virtuousness, but selfishness; I don’t want to live in pain any more. All the years of punishing myself have come to a head and my body has said no more. It will not tolerate my bruising, fixated intellectualism any more; it will not let me push aside my discomfort in order to fit in. This is the limit of tolerance: nearly two decades of making myself less, for fear of being too much.

As the brilliant Sonia Renee Taylor reminds us in The Body Is Not An Apology, “You, my dear, have a body. And should you desire to remain on this spinning rock hurtling through space, you will need a body to do it.” This isn’t about the state of my soul, though winter does bring with it, for me, an existential dimension to all these musings. This is about the soft animal of my body, and what it means to be kind to it.

Some days I am angry, at the choices I made or felt forced into by the lessons of the atrium and this pain that has resulted. I am trying to honor my anger, to exorcise it. Some days I mourn the sense of safety, dignity, and belonging that all bodies deserve that I don’t feel. I am trying to honor my grief, to exorcise it. I am trying to be kind. To value my flesh enough to feed it well, to smooth salve over the places I’ve cracked open, to sleep and stretch and wrap my self in soft, heavy blankets and feel the sensuousness of their weight and texture here, in the soft animal of this body.

The Last Blog at the End of the Universe

It’s the final focused blog of the semester and my brain is a puddle. Iphy has a santa hat on her face sticking out like a cone nose; Hugo is reading his own nonsensical date-making out loud next to me and making himself laugh; Ash is drawing; Doug is playing Kingdom: Two Crowns; Timo is playing Super Crate Box. We just had a conversation about how the meaning of inane is meaningless. We’re quiet, mostly, but companionably so, around the big office table. The fluorescent lights are on overhead, because it’s pouring rain on the shortest day of the year, the darkest day.

I am comfortable here, and tired, and ready to close this part of the cycle. My hands are bandaged because my eczema broke out again two weeks ago; in the last year I’ve had to square with my body in a way I never did before. It’s been transformative and formative; exultant and exhausting. I’ve changed how I eat and how I identify; I’ve felt better and worse for it. I’m sure I’ve got more to say on the subject but I just told Iphy “your body is a very squishy, delicate machine,” and that about sums up where I’m at right now.

I’ve got a lot more to say (including forthcoming posts on how my weekly schedule shook out and what Writing Time looks like for me) and I look forward to my brain working well enough for me to be able to say it! See you next time! <3

Your Bones Are Wet

Think about it. All your bones are wet, right now. It’s kind of uncomfortable at first because WET is one of those squishy words, but if you push past that initial discomfort it’s kind of beautiful. The whole inside of you is wet, actually, not just your bones; your inner ocean separated from the air by the boundary of your skin. Your bones are floating in the sea of your muscles and tendons and blood.

The last year has been a journey of rediscovering my body after my schooling taught me to disregard it as a distraction. It took my body hitting a crisis point for me to begin giving it my energy and intention again – a powerful (if painful) reminder that avoiding things does not make them disappear. The counterpoint to that pain was the pleasure I found in discovering Acro – learning the strength of my body as I trusted it to hold my flying partners, or to be held myself, listening to Yoni’s reminder that your skeleton is strong when it is stacked on itself, practicing and practicing and practicing until I could stand on my head with no other support.

Having a body can be hard. I struggle with mine, as a trans person, as a femme, as someone living with chronic anxiety and pain. I’m grateful for the healing journey that my past self embarked on, almost a year ago. I’m grateful to Ash, for inviting me to come play at Acro, and Yoni for his knowledge and facilitation. I’m grateful to Savannah for always modeling getting back up after falling down. I’m grateful for kale, and all the other foods that nourish me. I’m grateful for climbing and ice skating and dancing and vitamin D. And I’m especially grateful to my bones, for holding me up.

What Do You Want?

When I came out to my mom as a non-binary trans person, she asked me, “What do you want?” and I struggled to answer. I’d spent the previous 6 weeks up and down the state of California, living out of a backpack, running ALF summers and traveling openly with my new pronouns; I’d been avoiding this conversation with her but was relieved to finally be having it. It’s such a simple question, yet so powerful. It’s a cornerstone of self-directed education.

“What do you want?” my mom asked me, her voice small and far away. The knot in my stomach was familiar. My fear, my avoidance, was familiar.

“I want a coffee,” I said, deferring. “I want world peace.”

“Really?” she asked. “That’s what you want?”

***

I got mispronouned a lot this summer. I’m making a distinction between misgendering and mispronouning because I want to acknowledge that it was, for the vast majority, an accidental slip of language and not a malicious erasure of my gender identity. It wasn’t surprising – from the beginning, when I started coming out to people as non-binary and asking them to use “they/them” instead of “she/her” pronouns when they spoke about me, the most common response I got was “I’m totally gonna try, just bear with me because it’s really hard.”

And I did – the conflict-averse part of myself, the bit that was ashamed and afraid of taking up too much space assured them that it was okay, that it just meant a lot to me that they were willing to try.

I made that assurance because I felt shame about having desires, about taking up space. I felt shame that what I wanted was not what white, western, capitalist, heteronormative US society told me that I wanted – that I forfeited some of my privileges as a middle-class, college-educated, english-speaking, white, cisgender female US citizen to be a radical transgender unschooler. I felt shame. I feel shame. The system wants me to feel it – requires me to feel it in order to maintain its coercive power over us. I was prepared to have grace for it to be hard for other people because it was hard for me.

The thing that started happening, though, was that people didn’t try. That people continued to breeze past pronouns with no concern for their power or the harm it might cause me. I got misprounouned with disappointing frequency by people I had been radically vulnerable with. Once, I read aloud a free write that said, “I feel frustrated that people are still mispronouning me even though I know they’re well-meaning.” I was in a roomful of people I’d already spent a week with, who shifted uncomfortably at hearing my frustration. I couldn’t meet the eyes of anyone in the room because it felt like an accusation and a claim to space that I didn’t deserve. Not half an hour later, I played a game with two people from that free write who called me “she” the whole time.

Sometimes I would catch them – “they, not she,” I would say – and they wouldn’t even hear their mistake but would continue blithely on talking about me. Sometimes I would catch them and they would turn into an avalanche of apology – “oh my gosh, I’m so, so, so, so, so sorry, it’s just so hard for me, you just have to bear with me I’ve never encountered this before and it’s all so new” and in my head the shame siren would blare: you’re wrong you’re bad your body is wrong you’re too hard you’re wrong.

Sometimes I would just be quiet.

***

When I finally sat down with my mother’s question, days after she’d asked it, I realized my essential answer was tripart:

  • I want to feel comfortable, powerful and valid, in my body and my self expression.
  • I want to feel loved and supported by the people I love and support.
  • I want people to use “they/them” pronouns with fluidity and consistency when they talk about me.

This is the third place I’ve written these wants, and the most public. I feel them growing in power each time I articulate them. I feel myself growing in power each time I articulate what I want.

***

The thing about coming out is that you’re never done doing it. I know this, intellectually. I’d had some experience with it previously, when I came out as gay and spent several years navigating the world of “well what does your boyfriend think of your haircut” and other heteronormative nonsense — an alarming number of male barbers feel emboldened to ask you this question as they hold a razor to your skull.

I have grace for the people who mispronoun me, I do, I swear. But I need us to do better. And not just because I’m tired of having the same conversation (though I am) but because I’m tired of having the same conversation in ALC-land, where we’re supposed to be free, empathetic, understanding, imaginative humans raising free, empathetic, understanding, imaginative children. If self-directed learning is about asking the question “what do you want?” and meaning it, we have to do better when the real answer to that question requires us to do a hard thing.

Yes, it’s hard to hear pronouns. Our brains are amazing – they are so efficient that they effectively edit out the the parts of speech that we use most commonly. It’s why you probably didn’t realize that the word “the” is doubled in the previous sentence: your brain skipped it. Amazing.

It’s hard to do things that require us to make new neural pathways or to see things that were previously invisibilized to us. Privilege, intersections, toxic cultural stereotypes – it is work to see the places that we’re unconsciously holding poisons, without shame or defensiveness or our egos rearing up to say “I’m not a bad person, I’m trying!”

As facilitators, it’s our job to make spaces safe for children. Non-binary children, trans children, children living at all kind of intersections of privilege that are outside of our experience. Some of those children will ask us to do hard things – they will offer the miraculous radical vulnerability of children – and it is our responsibility to get it right. It is not enough to say I’m trying.

***

Only I am living this. Only I get to say what it feels like. Only I get to answer the question “what do you want?”

And,

the only way of living this is in relationship. I am in relationship with you. I want you to use they/them/theirs when you speak about me: They were traveling all summer. I talked to them the other day. Sounds like their trip was pretty wild.

***

California is on fire. Nearly everywhere I went in the state, I could smell smoke on the air. Some mornings, we would come outside and the car would be covered in ash. The locals were nonchalant about it, but it disturbed me deeply. I began to have nightmares about fire: rescuing children from it, needing to warn people who didn’t notice it was coming.

Our political system, our courts, our educational institutions, our state are on fire. They are actively destroying to everything in their path. It is not enough to notice a harmful thing and to walk away from it. It isn’t. Not if you’re not willing to shift your gaze to yourself and see the ways that the system has broken you. If not, you’re just carrying the spark of that flame with you, you’re going to set someone else ablaze. Probably someone with less privilege than you. Possibly a child you’re responsible to.

Children tend to be less attached to gender than adults are, and I think it’s important to note. If gender is constructed, like currency, on the mutual agreement of its value rather than something tangible, then it can be destabilized by our refusal to believe in it. As a person who occupies the spaces between genders – who was raised a girl and grew up to be something more complicated than “woman” and less certain than “man” – I dream of destabilizing the gender binary. I think raising free people means raising people who see the assigning of gender categories to be just that – a linguistic tic, a trope of our speech – rather than something essential. I like to think that my presence as an out and outspoken non-binary facilitator will be helpful to some children as they come into awareness of gender. I hope so.

What I really want is to break systems of oppression. What I really want is for children inherit a world that is better than this one. What I really want is for them to grow up comfortable in their most radical wantings, to believe their impossible dreams.

I want world peace, but first I have to get comfortable with wanting.

Mind/Body/Body/Mind

Even started up the Philosophy offering again this week, and oooh boy am I excited about it! (And not just because I get to reintroduce my fav tag to this blog 🙂 )

Hugo, visiting this week, posed this hypothetical: Say you’ve got a boat. And your boat is made of wood. It’s an old boat, and it’s coming apart slowly, but you really love it so as planks fall off of it you replace them with pieces of metal. Eventually, at the end of your journey, every piece of wood on the boat has been replaced by metal. Is it the same boat?

And we were off! I love this question, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last few months in regards to human bodies, and my body specifically. Basically, every cell in your body is replaced every 7 years (okay, actually upon further research this isn’t entirely true; it’s a commonly-held factoid but it’s just an estimate – the cells in your body die and are replaced at different rates depending on what their function is. Some, like the cells that line your stomach, are replaced every few days, while others, like those that make up the lenses of your eye or the neurons in your cerebral cortex remain the same from birth to death. More info) – if this is the case, are we still the same person 10 years later, or are we a new person every decade? Or, is our selfhood not determined by our physiology at all (cell replacement or not) but rather by something more ephemeral – a spirit, or our experiences? If I travel through time and space to the other side of the world and come back with a wealth of new experiences, am I still the same person when I return? If I shave my head and change my name and move to Tibet am I a different person? If I hit my head and get amnesia and learn a new language am I a different person?

I love playing with these questions, and so I proposed we watch Are You a Body with a Mind or a Mind with a Body? I’m a person who is wrestling with my body a lot recently; it feels like a part of my deschooling process to acknowledge that I have a body and that it is a vital part of my self. In my schooling (in most “traditional” schooling) your body is nothing more than a distraction – it’s meant to be kept still so it doesn’t lead you astray from thinking. I was good at school; I was skilled at keeping still. All those unpracticed years have definitely made reorienting myself in my body a harder process. I don’t regret anything, and yet I’m glad to be contemplating these questions in a philosophy class where everyone is free to move around as their body needs to. No matter what an institution might prefer, the reality is that we have bodies; that they are sometimes unruly and often need tending; that without them we couldn’t stop and smell the flowers and hold present in that moment of being. And without that, what’s the point really?

<3
Mel

III. Reflection: Narrative Uncertainty, Consent, and Gratitudes

I’ve come now to the point in my narrative where I’m unsure. So much happened after the journey and the landing – a whole week and a half’s worth of relationship building and conversations about boundaries and realizing that I had reservoirs of knowledge and strength that were invisible until I called on them and found them there, deep and steady, within me. Every morning the kookaburras woke me up, under the gauzy mosquito net in the round womb of the yurt, and it was a new adventure. Every day I learned more about my self and others, our work and our play. Every night I went to bed exhausted but satisfied, feeling all the ways I’d stretched and grown in the sunshine.

I’m not unsure about my self, or my experiences. But I am unsure that I feel comfortable writing a day-by-day description of the rest of my trip here, on a public blog, because I am not a human alone; my experience was interpersonal and this story is not just mine to tell. I’m unsure who will read this; I’m unsure if I have everyone’s consent to share their stories with the wild, wild west of the internet. And, because I spent a large part of my time in Australia talking about how discomfort is an indication that you’ve encountered a boundary, I’m going to respect mine and not write about it. Surprise!

So instead of writing the last of this narrative, I’ll instead share with you a few realizations and gratitudes from my trip – not all new, but newly strengthened.

ALFing is deeply personal work.
Facilitation is showing up, as the being that you are, and holding space with your superpowers. Mine include deep listening, empathy, the ability to intuit whole structures from discrete parts, and a faculty with language that is playful, flexible and meaning-full.
I am grateful for the ways my superpowers support me in the (inter)personal work that I do.
I’m grateful for work that plays to my superpowers.
I’m unspeakably, inexpressibly grateful that I was able to fly around the world and be held and hold a community that started as strangers and became something much more dear to me than that.
I’m grateful to everyone who fed me, and made sure I had a place to sleep, and made wifi hotspots for me, and drove me to the places I wanted to go, and showed me the out-of-the way beautiful places I wouldn’t even know to ask about, and shared their hopes and fears and vulnerabilities and experiences with me.
I’m grateful to be reminded that it’s okay to ask for what I need.
I’m grateful for the reminder that I can get the things that I need, if only I ask for them.
I’m grateful for the ocean.
I’m grateful for trees.
I’m grateful for sunrises and sunsets.
I’m grateful for mountains.
I’m grateful for bats.
I’m grateful for communities that take indigenous practices seriously.
I’m grateful to my past selves for doing the deschooling work of (re)learning that my boundaries are valid, subjective, and absolute, that setting and holding boundaries is ongoing and vital, that boundaries are the thing that make freedom feel safe and possible.
I’m grateful to Tom and Bex particularly, and their children.
I’m grateful for my body.
I’m grateful for dancing.
I’m grateful for kookaburras.
And I’m grateful for the excuse to take all these photos…

here for the passion-fruit-from-the-yard-and-muddy-feet vibes ✨✅🌺

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They're braver tree climbers than I am…🌳🌳🌳

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Edge of the world // leo moon 🌊🌔

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donkeys r pals 🐴💚

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🌊☀️🌊have I mentioned that it's idyllic here? 🌊☀️🌊

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That’s all the travel missives for now! Looking forward to the summer and the opportunity to work with facilitators again (and wellspring of generative creativity I’m finding there…).

<3 Mel

Skin: The Bag You’re In!

March! Finally!

February is usually a hard month for me and this year was no exception. My body has been upset with me, and expressing it mainly in the form of eczema on my hands. I’m not sure if I’ve written about this here before, but a few things have happened that I’d like to document for my future self, right now in the time of shifting.

First of all, something (two things, actually) happened in my head: I accepted the fact that my eczema is actually just a symptom of a larger, ongoing problem with my gut – an imbalance of gut flora – and I finally decided that living in chronic pain was not a worth the convenience and yumminess of eating the junk food I love. As a person who identifies as a pizza witch, for a long time I resisted any solution that might involve shifting my patterns in a way that would change that. I love pizza, and every time I would read about gut-flora-changing-diets, right on the top of the list of foods to eliminate are gluten and dairy – the very foundation of pizza. But I just couldn’t handle the discomfort of itching, flaking, bleeding eczema anymore. So I decided to change my diet.

I don’t think the dietary changes will be a forever thing. I’ve already eliminated gluten, which has been super hard in a way I’m not sure is sustainable. But it’s only been about 2 weeks, and I know habits take longer than that to form so we’ll see. The most challenging part for me right now is learning that I need to plan my meals out further in advance/think about the timing of cooking and eating more than when I was on the glutenous train. Lots of convenient, cheap food in NYC – pizza, sandwiches, bagels – are, obviously, bread-based. Grabbing something to go isn’t really an option for me in the way that it was before I eliminated gluten. As a result, I’m struggling to eat enough calories to feel full/keep my blood sugar at a consistent level. I know I’ll get better at this with time, but I’m hungry now and it’s frustrating.

I also started seeing an acupuncturist this week! Acupuncture was appealing to me because I’ve seen a lot of doctors over the last few months and years who don’t actually tell me anything new, or address the underlying cause of my symptoms – they just tell me I have eczema (which I already knew) and prescribe me a steroid cream (which I don’t want to become reliant on to manage my symptoms). My acupuncturist and I talked about all my bodyfeels – not just about my eczema, but also my digestive struggles, anxiety, and history with nerve pain. He explained that my symptoms all are related to an imbalance of fire and water – an excess of fire, or deficiency of water, depending on how you want to frame it. It made immediate sense to me because in my natal chart (which shows which planets are in which signs at the time of my birth) contains lots of earth, air, and fire… but no water! I actually don’t have any planets in water signs, which is pretty crazy. I feel like this is probably another blog post so I’m just going to leave it at this and say astrology is a real, useful mirror and I <3 it.

Finally, I went to a witch shop in the East Village with Ash, Saylor, Zoe, and Jiana yesterday. It’s called Enchantments, and they specialize in candle magic. I’m a beginner when it comes to candle magic, but was excited to try something new because yesterday the sun was in Pisces and the moon was full in Virgo (my sign!), which is a very balanced combination of water/creative/emotional/chaos/mystical energy (Pisces) and practical/fertile/grounded/ordered/growing things energy (Virgo) – the perfect kind of day to introduce a new spiritual practice. After school, I went and saw the David Bowie exhibit that just opened at the Brooklyn Museum and was completely blown away (there’s definitely another blog post here!) – it felt like a very creative, spiritual experience and reminder from the universe that the self is something we choose and create every day, and that artists make prolific art. When I got home, I set up my alter and carved my candle and lit it and pulled a really powerful tarot spread that I’ve been thinking about all day. After that I did some drawing and writing – just for me, right now, but I see the seeds of something that I’m excited to share as it grows.

This blog post felt important because I want to acknowledge myself for three distinct but related ways I’m practicing self-love in response to my body’s crisis: changing the foods I choose to fuel my self with, seeking help from someone who sees the whole me, and trusting my mystical witch self to discover new, supportive, healing practices that work for her. February was a hard, hard month for me, but I can feel the tickles of spring in the air all around me, the promises of growth and new life and new cycles and and and…