Girl Scouts is for Every Girl

It’s cookie season! This article from last year (2015) highlights one of the many reasons to support the Troupes!

Girl Scouts Choose Transgender Girls Over $100,000 Donation

“In 2012, when she headed the organization’s Colorado council, a 7-year-old transgender girl in Denver was denied entry to a troop. Although the council had never specifically said that it accepted transgender girls, the national organization had always made inclusivity the foundation of its mission. So after checking with the council’s attorney, Ferland issued a public statement welcoming transgender girls and explaining that the council was working to find a troop for the girl who’d been rejected. “Every girl that is a Girl Scout is a Girl Scout because her parent or guardian brings her to us and says, ‘I want my child to participate,’” Ferland says. “And I don’t question whether or not they’re a girl.”

 

Be Where You Are

I’m learning a new song on the piano – it’s one of the hardest and most beautiful songs I’ve ever tried to play, and I have dreamed of playing it ever since I first heard it. I’ve had the sheet music for it since then, but its complexity and majesty have made it difficult for me to pick through and learn.

My brother is getting married in a week, and I have the most incredible vocalist  a pianist could dream of, so I decided it was time to tackle it. I even went so far as to add to it, bringing my favorite sax player in on it to make it even more powerful. It’s a big mountain to climb. It’s been frustrating.

I’ve pushed through with practicing, and can make it through the whole song in super-slow-motion, with a few stops and starts along the way. I feel victorious when I start at the beginning and end at the end, even if the middle is a mess. But I’ve noticed something.

Every time I stop playing I say (either out loud or in my head)

“That was awful!”
“I’m never gonna get it!”
“I’m so bad at this!”

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I’ve had mixed experiences with yoga throughout my life, but have particular difficulty with it now because of chronic muscle spasticity problems. There are significant limits to what I can do in a yoga practice, and I’m usually pretty self-conscious in a yoga class because I can’t ever keep up.

But I’m working at a yoga studio now, and have supportive awesome people around me, so I’m giving it a shot. I started Monday, and spent half the time in child’s pose because I couldn’t do what the class was doing. The other half of the class I was able to do at least an approximation of the poses, and the instructor gave me lots of modifications and encouragement, so I didn’t feel as self-conscious as I have in the past.

When I made it from the beginning of class to the end, I felt victorious, even though the middle was a mess. But I noticed something.

In my head, I was thinking

“That was awful!”
“I’m never gonna get it!”
“I’m so bad at this!”

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This week I’ve been thinking about what it means to be where I am. I realize that the only way I won’t be terrible at something is if I give myself permission to be terrible at it for a while. I have to let myself be a beginner.

But, if I am terrible at them for a while, and my inner voice is trying to convince me that being terrible is a bad thing, then why on earth would I want to keep doing these things? Both activities are difficult, so if it’s not an enjoyable experience, where does the motivation to do the hard work come from? I might as well have my childhood piano teacher with the mean pointy fingernails standing over my shoulder scolding me (at the piano OR at yoga – equally terrifying).

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So now I’m practicing challenging that voice. Every time the thought enters my head to say something negative, I’m going to yell an opposite response as loud as I can (in my brain, not out loud).

“I’m getting it!”
“One step at a time!”
“This is great!”
“I can tell I’ve improved!”
“Just make it to the end!”
“I am doing just fine!”

With that said, I’m also going to allow myself to feel frustrated. It’s hard. I get aggravated. Those feelings are valid too, and I don’t want to squash them with false positivity. So when it’s hard, I’m going to say that in a way that doesn’t de-value my work and my effort.

“I’m so frustrated!”
“Whyyyyyyyyy does it have to be so haaaaaaaard!”
“GRRRRRRR!”
“I hate this arrangement/pose!!! I’m just gonna improvise!!”
“Hand me that gallon of ice cream please!!”

So that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing fine. Allow yourself space to be terrible in order to get better. Celebrate your progress, don’t question it. Challenge the voice that tries to undermine your effort.

Be where you are.

Affirming Others

It takes a lot to go onstage. Standing under bright lights while a group of people sit and stare at you is, to put it mildly, an incredibly vulnerable position, and it can be doubly so for those who have experienced marginalization and oppression throughout their lives. Last night I watched fifteen performers pour their hearts out at the Glitterbomb Queer Variety Show, and I watched a packed audience respond with so much love and support and overwhelming positivity, it blew my mind.

So today I’m reflecting on what it means to affirm someone.  More than just tolerating or accepting a person – truly lifting them up and celebrating who they are.

I think that’s my favorite thing about DFW’s queer performance art scene – the ways in which the audience’s cheers and hugs and dollar bills speak so loudly of affirmation.  All those things mean the audience is saying more than just “I see you.” When they give such enormous affirmation, they’re saying “I see you, and I celebrate you!

And isn’t that what we all need, to be seen and celebrated?  Not put on a pedestal, not idealized, not depersonalized, but actually seen, and actually celebrated.

It’s a skill I wish I could see more of in my communities. Because I move among lots of people who belong to marginalized groups, I am around a LOT of folks who are rendered invisible on a systemic level. I’m talking about Queer and Trans folks, those with chronic pain and other physical differences, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC), and many, many more. It’s my hope that I can make myself a better friend and ally by being deliberate about my own affirmations of others’ identities.

I’m inspired (as always) by the performers and the audience from last night’s show, and I am thinking hard on ways to be more actively affirming for those around me.  Here are some of my thoughts, feel free to add your own!

Ways to Affirm Others

  • make eye contact
  • smile often
  • offer a genuine compliment
  • ask about preferred pronouns, and use them
  • make sure I’m knowledgeable about cultures other than my own
  • mirror language (using the same words the person used to describe themselves)
  • a quick Facebook message when I see someone having a hard day
  • in-the-moment self-correcting things I say wrong
  • give offer a hug, pat on the back, or hand squeeze
  • offer a quick check-in when I sense something might be wrong
  • stand up for others in the moment
  • challenge oppressive language
  • tell people when they do a good job
  • own my personal privilege and set it down whenever possible
  • know when to be quiet
  • be willing to hear feedback
  • encourage self care
  • check/ask for gender-neutral bathrooms
  • share my belongings, time, knowledge, and energy