Be Here Now…Let It Be…On Living in the Moment

Life lessons are rarely learned easily nor without some sort of struggle, but some are certainly more extreme in their learning curves than others. I truly believe that every experience we have, every person who comes into or exits our lives, every “success” and every “failure” (although I really hate such terms) we undergo, has something to teach us. That is if we’re open to listening to and receiving the lesson with an open mind and heart, sometimes that’s the hardest part right there. You can be told the same thing over and over but until you’re ready to actually hear it, no progress will actually be made. In the face of hardship or adversity or feeling like your whole world just got turned upside down, it’s hard to be open and willing that’s for sure, but it is in those moments that the greatest progress can be made. But in my personal experience a lot of times said lesson (or at times even lessons) to be learned is one that has come up before, in some small or large way, and which I have ignored for whatever reason and now it’s become impossible to ignore any longer; like a phone that just keeps on ringing which you can only drown out for so long before you get so annoyed that you’re forced to pick it up and actually listen, not just defer it and let it go to voicemail.

I’m also becoming, slowly, a believer in the idiom of “when one door closes another opens,” or perchance “when one person leaves your life another one enters,” or “every ending is a new beginning.” I really hate cliche phrases such as these but the proof in my personal life is a bit too hard to ignore in this regard, so I guess I’m rolling with it. In looking back at my life and the people I have been so lucky to come in contact with as well as looking at the present and the people who I currently have the pleasure of being with, I am struck by the awesomeness that constantly surrounds me. I am also completely dumbfounded by the way I have attracted some of the most genuine, caring, loving, interesting, supportive, & inquisitive people into my life at the exact moment that I really, desperately needed all of the above. In experiencing loss or emotional turmoil I usually head in one of two directions, a) shut down, isolate, pull back, put it all on myself, and suffer alone; it’s an “easy” and reactive protective state for me as well as my tried and true modus operandi OR b) open up, be authentic, be real, be unapologetically me, and be vulnerable; this is a new one for me but it seems to be serving me well, so I’m embracing it, as terrifying as it may be at times.

Not only have these people supported me and been there for me in my darkest (and lightest) hours they have engaged with me (remember, intellect and inquisition is sexy people, don’t be a dullard) and kindly questioned me and pushed me gently (not that this was necessarily their goal, just a natural outcome from discussions) towards working on some key concepts that I’ve grappled with in life. Essentially they’ve encouraged me on my newly re-forged path of personal inquiry (I went a little dormant there for a while, I lost that aspect of myself for a bit sad to say, and I am so damn happy to have it back in action) and had some interesting input along the way; there’s no one “right” or “wrong” way to go about life as long as one is causing no harm to themselves or others, but in discussing personal life philosophies there have been some “A Ha!” moments or rather maybe some “well that’s an interesting concept” instances that later lead to said “A Ha!” moments. This has been a reciprocal experience as well (I am such an equality based, two way street kind of person in relationships, inequality irks me to no end) to be fair, as much as they’ve questioned my methods and had input as to their ways in life I have done the same in return, it is within inquiry and discussion that many times we find the answers to our questions.

As with anything in “teaching” its not usually the content thats exceptionally hard to grasp but the method in which it is delivered, that’s generally the difference between understanding the concept and not getting it at all. I’m usually a star student and a good listener, but I am quite sensitive to the teaching style and the methods in which the material is presented as it turns out. Some people are just better matches in terms of life teaching with me than others, also as it turns out, which I suppose is to be expected. This whole life learning thing is all a consistent process, we are (hopefully) learning throughout our entire lives, and we have to be encouraging yet gentle with ourselves. We are all striving to do our best with the cards we’ve been dealt in life, we must celebrate our successes and learn from our “failures” and build upon our “successes” and, most importantly, not be too hard on ourselves in the process (this is one “lesson” I struggle with on the daily, don’t be so hard on yourself, be kind to yourself, & all that jazz).

There have been a LOT of lessons to learn, or finally grasp as the case may be, lately so I guess I’ll just try and tackle them one by one over the next little while on this lovely blog. I know you’re stoked to have a series of life ramblings from me! 🙂 Again, I share because sharing is caring and because I don’t believe I’m the only one who’s grappled with these topics, so in my ramblings maybe you can find some commonality and something to take away. That’s the hope at least!

Let’s start with the lesson that I’ve probably wrestled with longest (other than “happiness comes solely from within,” maybe that will be my next post), which is the overarching concept of “be here now,” and which splits into all sorts of other entwined mini lessons, as things will. I have historically been terrible, and I do mean abjectly terrible, about living in the present moment. I am consistently caught up in the past, rarely living for the moment, always concerned about the future. As it turns out a really shitty way to live, seeing as it hasn’t brought me much happiness as a method of going about things, much to the contrary in fact. The quote “If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace you are living in the present” by Lao Tzu really struck me hard when I saw it flit across my screen the other day. I am quite familiar with the depression that stems from being caught in the past and the anxiety that comes from living in the future, but the peace of being in the present is a fleeting one. Life seems to really be pushing this one on me though as of late: I can’t change what was, it is what it is, and no amount of rehashing or wallowing will change it, the best I can do is learn from it and grow from it; I also can’t change what will be, no amount of planning or stressing will alter the future, and in trying to control it all I actually end up controlling less (another lesson: control is a complete illusion) and make myself more unhappy in the process. This whole living in the moment thing seems much more alluring right?

So why not just “let it be,” the current mantra that keeps cropping up in my life: “let it be, let it be,” those words haunting me in my waking and sleeping hours. So, so much easier said than done for me. But by observing others that embody this mentality and having lengthy discussions and repeated lessons (I get it universe!) in regards to this, maybe I’m slowly but surely getting there. One step at a time eh? I’m someone who really loves the dichotomy of black and white, I like things well defined, I like to know where I stand at all times, I like to have it all signed, sealed, and delivered. I hate grey, I hate unknowns, I hate uncertainty, I hate undefined, it makes me uncomfortable and pushes my preconceived notions about life (which is probably a good thing, we usually don’t learn and grow in our comfort zones as it turns out). But as it turns out nothing actually is black and white and we constantly live in a world of gray, much to my brain’s chagrin, so I guess I’ll be adding “let it be” to my vocabulary. Again life is shoving this one on me, just when you think you have it all figured out and you have a vague trajectory, it all gets shook up and your asked to question your own humanity and very existence. And whether the ways you’ve gone about life for the past few decades are actually serving you or not, and sometimes you don’t like the answer to that question if you objectively look at it. By trying to exert control over all aspects in my life I am actually contributing to my own unhappiness, by having expectations (or as I’ve heard them called, premeditated let downs) I am creating my own sadness, by trying to have everything defined in life I am potentially ruining the good things that simply exist. It’s like trying to corral grains of sand, they simply just keep running through your fingers, no matter how hard you try (and arguably the harder you try the faster they run), so why not just let it be as it is.

*As I started writing this piece Pandora dished up a song, “Hayling” by FC Kahura, whose lyrics state “Don’t think about all those things you feel, just be glad to be here.” Thanks Pandora, very strangely appropriate, as per usual.*

**Which just sparked a memory of one of my favorite songs of all time, just because of one of the lyrics that struck me way back in the day which is unrelated but awesome and still applicable, “I’m so alive, I’m scared to death.” But currently it’s the name of the song that has struck me, it’s called “Nice To Be Here,” and one of the more pertinent lyrics currently is “I feel, it’s nice to be, it’s nice to be here.” Huh. Old song retooled to my current reality.**

Which I suppose brings me to a corollary to “let it be” and “live in the moment” and that is “not trying so hard and simply accepting what is,” or even simply “accepting what is.” I had this lesson presented to me within the context of a scientific principle as way of vague explanation, I suppose the full meaning is for me to figure out myself. Me being the science minded nerd I totally squeed at the reference and also could immediately start to put it into my own point of reference. This concept was likened to the quantum principle exhibited in the iconic two slit experiment (honestly quantum in PChem was the most challenging but also awesome class I took in college, so I was stoked to delve back into it): Light exhibits wave like nature, and when one shines a light on a screen with two slits in it, the light, acting as waves, goes through the slits, interferes with itself, and creates a pattern of many bands with peaks of brightness in the center and gradients on either side separated by areas of darkness (due to the increasing amplification wherein the waves crests overlap and cancellation wherein the wave crests/troughs cancel each other out) on the screen behind aka an interference pattern.

Like so: 2000px-Ebohr1_IP.svg Fairly sensical when you think about it.

Now if we repeat this experiment with atoms (a particle of matter) or even photons (discrete packets of light or visible light particles), something you’d expect to produce two distinct bands, with no gradients in intensity, wherein the atoms/photons flew straight through the slits and hit the screen, we get to the what the fuck factor: instead we see an interference pattern, from which we can only assume the atom is acting as a wave. But the atom/photon leaves as a localized particle, somehow becomes a wave before reaching the two slits, travels through both slits at once as a wave and interferes with itself (because an interference pattern can only arise from a wave traveling through both slits), and then hits the screen at the back at a definite point. Holy shit!

So since scientists were all sorts of mind blown over this they decided to observe these pesky atoms to figure out what was happening and placed a detector at the screen with the slits to see exactly which slit the atom passed through and how the hell this insanity was occurring. Here comes the absolutely crazy making part: under observation the interference pattern disappears (so no wave like nature) and two distinct bands are produced as the atoms zing through acting as mere particles. What the hell? But when the detector is turned off and the experiment recreated the atoms revert to their wavelike nature (and produce an interference pattern). Holy shit! Just the act of observing has literally changed the nature of the atom itself, what a freaky concept eh?

Ipso facto, in life sometimes the act of observing, or judging, or attempting to exert control, changes the very nature of things and the eventual outcome. If we simply let things be and accept them as they are, we can be so much less absorbed in the how and why and simply experience what is in front of us, and we can exist in our own natural, and dare I say, happy state as well. The very act of scrutinizing, of labeling, of analyzing, of trying so hard to understand, alters the experience and makes it something that it is not inherently. If we don’t try so damn hard to understand every little thing and categorize every single entity then we allow things to be as they are, in their natural state, and it gives us the space to experience things in their real state and absolutely authentically. And most pertinently to me, because I am a serial overanalyzer, sometimes by trying so hard to rationalize and to put things into boxes we alter and ruin the natural outcome, by letting things be we can throw away those pesky labels and expectations that lead to misconceptions and let downs; therefore simply enjoying that which is in front of us and occurring in the moment, deriving joy from that which is existing in the present, not being caught up in the past or future.

That’s the goal at least! And as per usual, easier said than done, but I’m working on it…

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On Intimacy, Vulnerability, & Self Love – Serious Post

The Oxford English Dictionary defines intimacy as: Close familiarity or friendship; closeness OR Closeness of observation or knowledge of a subject. Seems pretty accurate to me, thanks OED. I’ve also heard people refer to the concept as “into-me-see,” which I rather like as an alternate working definition as well. Obviously theres also the romantic or sexual connotations, but thats not what I’m going to be focusing on here (for once my mind is out of the gutter).

In my conversations with a certain friend (I love people who make me think and are great conversationalists, for the record; nothing is more attractive to me in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, than someone’s intellect) the subject of intimacy came up, and the comment “intimacy is hard for me” was stated. And while it somewhat registered as quite important and not just an offhanded mention, it flew out of my head quickly after it’s utterance as we moved on and new subjects were brought up and discussed. But the comment haunted me for days afterwards, it stuck in my head, and really started to make me think, and reflect, and introspect.

I always thought, or at least deluded myself into thinking, that intimacy was no big deal for me. I never would have so boldly uttered a similar comment, that’s for sure. I mean I’m a self professed relationship whore/serial monogamist and I’ve had multiple significant long term relationships and I never really felt like I was holding myself back in them in any way. And in all reality I wasn’t holding myself back (consciously at least) but I also wasn’t giving of myself completely, which is kind of the same thing I suppose, and as it turns out kind of essential in a functional relationship. But this comment, upon deeper reflection, actually made me look inward and realize that maybe, maybe my self proclaimed “comfort” with intimacy wasn’t quite all it was cracked up to be. Maybe I too had a seriously hard time with intimacy. Just like to be loved fully one must fully love themselves, I believe whole heartedly that to be truly intimate with others, one must be intimate with themselves. And honestly that’s historically been a scary concept for me.

I know that I have spent a fair amount of my life running, running from myself, mostly; running from truly looking inwards, running from my past, running from hurt and pain, running from my true emotions, running from the “dark and scary” portions that I’ve told myself I have inside, running out of shame, running out of fear, running because it was the only thing I knew. I ran in numerous, varied ways to be completely honest: I ran via self harm, I ran via alcohol, I ran via moving, I ran literally as far as I could, and I just kept running as far and as fast as I could for as long as I could. But as it turns out you can only run for so long, eventually you tire despite your best efforts and you catch yourself, and the charade is finally over. This moment when the doors are blown wide open is intimidating and terrifying to be sure, but to fully live and love and experience, it must come to pass.

To be familiar and knowledgable about yourself, that is to be intimate with yourself, you have to actually face yourself, you must reflect and look inwards. This is where the “into-me-see” definition of intimacy really becomes excellent and accurate, but also easier said than done. Because sometimes when you do so, you don’t like what you find or see, sometimes it is dark and scary, sometimes all you see is what’s “wrong,” sometimes it’s extremely painful, sometimes it’s completely overwhelming, sometimes you realize that you’ve been lost for a long while…and for me, for a long time, it was just “easier” to try and beat it out via self harm or avoid it via alcohol or exercise. I’m not usually one to take the easy way out but when the task seems overwhelming and insurmountable due to a lack of tools, I guess I am one to roll over and quit for a bit I’m sad to say. In all honesty I don’t know that I have ever been completely comfortable with myself let alone comfortable looking into myself. Kind of a sad statement now that I see it written out, but sometimes the truth hurts I suppose. I was so terrified of myself and my own power, of my perceived faults because I am a lesbian, of my emotions and their ultimate sway, of my own humanity and vulnerability, for a very long time. I put up a pretty convincing facade in the process, if only I looked perfect on paper maybe people wouldn’t notice the “mess” inside and maybe I wouldn’t have to try and “fix” it I reasoned. Thusly I was an overachiever in school, I tried to be ahead of the curve in terms of my age, I was highly responsible and trustworthy, I took on everything and anything in terms of work, I was always upbeat and engaging, I pushed down a lot and forged stoically forward, I never wanted to let people down professionally or personally, I was a perfectionist to the detriment of my own happiness. I actually kind of convinced myself even with this facade, but I also ended up feeling like I was living in a weird duality that made me a little schizo. Worst of all I felt like I was swiftly losing track of who I truly was since I’d spent so much time trying to build this fake, facade version of me (and I’d spent so much time pleasing others and dancing to make them happy) and I was dying slowly on the inside.

With this facade in place I’ve now realized that I also never really let people in fully, everyone got held at arms length. In all reality I didn’t let anyone in for a long time, not my family, not my closest friends, not my romantic partners, not my peripheral friends, and certainly not myself. I was always guarded and held people subconsciously at a distance. This was to the detriment of my relationships and my personal happiness, in general and within said relationships. To let people in is to let them potentially see me, be intimate with me, and perhaps see past this bullshit facade that I’d built, and that was abjectly horrifying. If I had no idea how to break down the facade for myself and be intimate with myself how in the hell could I safely let someone else into that deeply personal realm? It’s taken a lot of introspection and love & loss to get me to this point wherein I’m actually aware of the situation and the issues it’s caused, and it’s taking a whole lot more for me to actually be able to work on fixing it. It’s far too easy to fall back on old habits, to find solace in the known, to stick your head in the sand and forge forward as usual. But ultimately that hasn’t worked and isn’t working currently. As with anything progress based it’s one step forward, sometimes two back, and sometimes three forward again.

I think embracing my authentic, awesome self and nurturing that presentation of me has been most instrumental in this regard. Even though I felt as if I’ve lost myself, lost who I truly was for a while I believe I’m finding myself again as well as redefining myself in positive ways. I am strong willed, emotionally charged, fiercely loyal, powerful and adventurous, sensitive and sensuous, anxious and insecure at times, bold and bright, unapologetic for speaking/acting my truth, fascinating mentally and physically, fun loving and funny, nerdy in so many ways, dorky in private and public, awkward at times, sassy and snarky at all times, dirty minded most of the time, and extremely loving, caring, & passionate…and if you can’t respect any/all parts of that, that is to say me, then I really don’t have a whole lot of room for you in my life. And any “rejection” I get from being authentically me is not to be stressed over because it’s not a reflection on me really now is it, that’s a reflection on the other person in all reality. If you can’t handle me at my worst then you don’t deserve me at my best has been a really apropos moniker as of late. I’ve been quite interested to see the number of incredible “new” people I’ve attracted into my life as well as the number of awesome “old” people who have stepped up in new ways during these past few months, some of my worst. That speaks a lot to the powers of being authentically and unapologetically me I would say, so more power to that!

Which brings me to another somewhat related comment (that was made not long after the first one discussed above) which really struck me at the time and stuck with me as well, and that was “I’m only pretty when I’m drunk.” This one cut deep because a) it’s completely inaccurate, but then again aren’t most self depreciating comments and b) I could completely and immediately relate on similar other levels (which are equally destructive). I’ve long held these (clearly inaccurate) notions that I can only truly feel/be emotional or have emotional conversations when I’ve been drinking, that I’m only attractive when I’m at a certain weight and musculature, that I’m only interesting and alluring when I’m doing extreme activities, that I’m only funny and engaging after a drink (for myself and whoever I may be with), that I’m only smart when I have the grades or other qualifications to prove it, that I’m only worthy when theres some sort of external measurement by which to gauge myself, etc…none of which are actually true nor do they foster any sort of healthy relationship with myself and my mind and body. The only true measurement of self worth comes exclusively from within and looking for any external sources of such is unhealthy and unproductive. I must trust in the fact that I am worthy of every single positive and excellent and loving thing that comes my way, and most importantly I am worthy of love just as I am, both self love and love from outside as well.

Overcoming these inaccurate notions is another thing that I’m actively working on, by embracing that authentic me and being unapologetic for it, by focusing on self care and self love, by not running anymore. Any “running” that I do now is only blocking intimacy in relationships between others, as well as with myself, and dulling the authentically awesome person that I am. And realistically that’s no way to live one’s life in the long term, or short term honestly. Intimacy can be hard and scary because to be intimate one must be vulnerable, and vulnerable is a very uncomfortable place for many people to be, myself included. But by embracing vulnerability, one can become intimate and receive the love they have a right to, both from themselves and others.

Yet again it’s a one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward sort of proposition at times. Who ever said personal growth was easy eh? But it’s totally worth it in the long run, or at least that’s my sincere hope.

I guess that about wraps this subject up for now. Another rant, another rave. An additional raw glimpse into me and my mind. I share because I know I’m not the only one, and if my brutal honesty can help even one person, then it’s all been worth it.

Self Love & Acceptance – Serious Post

We’re all “damaged” in some way, or rather we all see ourselves as damaged in some way. In all reality though we’re simply a product of our past experiences, good and bad. Moving past the sticking points and baggage that we bring with us into our “adult” life and into relationships, romantic or otherwise, isn’t an easy process. But it is an absolutely necessary process, that is if we want to progress and grow and truly experience all that life has to offer in an authentic manner. We must reclaim that which we find so flawed or unlovable about ourselves and own it, truly love it, truly embrace it. Be it something that someone once told us was wrong about us, something that was rejected within us at some point in our past, something that we find personally irksome and unacceptable, whatever it may be you must honestly come to terms with it and find peace with it before you can live a life worth living and stop destroying yourself in whatever fashion that may be.

We are a nation of escapists, and our society allows for a large range of tactics, some socially more acceptable than others, which has always blown my mind. Killing yourself slowly with alcohol is totally a-okay in our society but god forbid you smoke a bowl every so often. Oh double standards! But in the end we don’t really frown upon escapist tactics as a whole, almost everyone is running from something, and they aren’t alright with sitting with the uncomfortableness. And maybe we should frown a little more to encourage a better solution, but we don’t because it’s the status quo. We generally don’t like outliers in America, it makes the masses nervous, it shakes their sense of normality. God forbid there be an alternate way to go about things.

Which brings me to the meat of the subject: In a conversation the other night I was struck by a comment (we weren’t discussing anything remotely associated with this topic) about what someone found unacceptable or unlovable about their physical appearance. It was something she very much couldn’t change, genetics dictate height and build and there’s nothing you can do about that, it’s absolutely inherent*. We all have our things to be sure and man are they a beast to live down, so her gripe wasn’t super surprising. But what was more intriguing was the follow up offhanded comment, and that was that in relationships said individual looked to find people who would help make that trait less obvious or less intense. She actively sought partners, or at least definitely preferred partners, that would normalize or somewhat reverse this “glaring” flaw that she had perceived, or really rather society had told her wasn’t alright.

That certainly made me sit back and think, do we actually seek to find people who will make us feel “okay” and “normal” and “unflawed” in relationships? I very much would argue we do. We outsource our insecurities onto others and hope that they will fix it or make it better, or at least deflect it. To the detriment of fostering functional and healthy relationships, I would also argue.

So let’s make it personal: I know the exact “flaw” that I have that makes me believe (erroneously) I am unacceptable/unlovable and that is my being gay. I was told by society for sure, as well as by some other key people in my life, at a tender and young age that being a lesbian was not okay, at all. It was instilled within me that there was something inherently wrong with my being gay, that I was damned to hell (PS hell is going to be awesome!), that I was perverted, that I was sick, that I could easily be the target of hate crimes, that I was essentially a second class citizen and undeserving of anything positive. I was told that what I believe to be an inherent part of my being (but also at the same time it was said that this was just a terrible “choice” that I had made), that I could change no more than my friend stated above could change her height/build, was just not okay in any way. And a few key life experiences after that cemented this belief in my mind. Yes we unquestionably have come a long way but there is still a long way to go, and even the smallest incidents at times make a huge impact.

And this belief permeated my being more than I ever cared to admit and has affected my life in more ways than I ever realized. For some reason I bought it, I swallowed it hook, line, & sinker, and for once in my life didn’t argue or question what was presented to me. I definitely should have. Maybe it was the multiple sources and the varied angles from which it came that lent it validity, I don’t know. While age, time, and experience as well as legislation and all of these monumental steps forward has dulled the sharpness I regret to admit that I do still believe it. I have largely found myself unlovable, by myself and others, because I’m a lesbian. I’ve termed it “gay shame” and I have no doubt that I’m not the only one, but sometimes it feels like a fairly lonely world. Pretty backwards when you write it out, but usually mental hang ups don’t make much sense anyways do they.

The funny (strange, not haha) thing is that this shame didn’t force me back into the closet or make me try and play it straight to the outside world, as I suppose it logically could have. Quite the opposite really. I was blatantly out in high school, had a girlfriend all throughout and it was no huge secret. We were the lesbians in high school, like literally the only ones. I was out from the beginning in college, even if I was terrified of being lynched in the (then) red state of Colorado. That certainly didn’t stop me from being part of the community on campus and dating though. I’ve never held it as any big secret, I’m pretty upfront about it all the way around. In fact I have always been the more “flag waving” half in my relationships, somewhat by default due to my appearance. I’ve always been fairly butch (if we are to use labels, I’m kinda not keen) in my outward presentation to the world; I prefer men’s jeans/board shorts, I have short hair, & get called sir more than I would care to admit.

Yet as time wore on I kinda migrated slowly back into the closet, at least as it pertained to my relationships. I was never very demonstrative (and became less demonstrative) in terms of affection in public or talking in gendered terms about my partner and in all honesty I didn’t really want to be. This largely stemmed from a fear of being persecuted. Go ahead and hate on me and attack me, I can take it, but lord forbid you hate on or attack my loved ones, shit will go down for sure. I am a very protective person. So I simply didn’t want to invite that upon myself, and it makes me sad that I still have to be concerned about such things in the twenty-tens. The first day we moved to Hawaii (2013) we were walking down the street and some idiot (I really shouldn’t even validate his actions but it struck me and stuck with me for sure) yelled “fucking dykes!” out his car window at us. Cue me seriously sliding back towards that closet door and thinking it sounded pretty cozy in there, all things considered.

I suppose I just internalized the vast majority of the shame instead and never really let it out or talked openly and frankly about it. There is so much healing to be done by simply expressing and finding out (I’d say 9/10) that you’re not the only one experiencing whatever it may be. Being isolated from the bustling LGBT communities of Seattle and Fort Collins definitely contributed as well, I am sure. So the pressure just built and built. I somewhat compensated for my mental and emotional uncertainty with my physical appearance** I’m sure. But (unfortunately) appearance armor only gets you so far, fake it until you make it can only help you so much and for so long, largely running away from facing the “dark and scary” parts of yourself doesn’t actually work out…eventually that shit catches up with you if you never face it. And usually it ain’t pretty. If you believe yourself to ultimately be flawed and unlovable then you will project that to others and not truly be open and able to be loved. If you do not love yourself, wholly and completely, you cannot be loved by another in the same manner. That idiom isn’t untrue as it turns out.

So what’s the happy moral of the story here? I’m not sure there is a clear one. The whole story hasn’t been written yet, I am still very much a work in progress. And that’s okay. We never truly have it “all figured out” because if/when we did that would be the cessation of our learning, and I hope to never stop learning. I am working to love myself as I am, right in this very moment and ultimately every moment after that. It isn’t easy at all times, it can be an uphill battle for sure, but becoming your own best friend vs your own worst enemy is in your best interest. No one can teach you how to do this exactly either, they can hold your hand and help you foster this ideal, but ultimately this is a job you and only you can do.

Remember, you are worthy of all the love and respect in the world, and don’t let anyone or anything ever tell you any different. If someone tries to destroy you, its a reflection on them not on you. Stand tall and be confident in who you are, right here and right now. If someone can’t respect you, what you stand for, and what you’re going through in the here and now then there is likely little room for them in your life in the long run. Don’t expect anyone to change or fix you, only you have the power to do that; don’t change yourself to fit into someones ideal either, that’s a swift route to unhappiness. Surround yourself with people who build you up, who support you, who love you exactly as you are and make damn sure you return those same basic courtesies.

*As an aside, I really don’t think that this person would find this trait to be undesirable unless society had told them that this wasn’t okay for their gender. By setting forth societal “norms” in terms of beauty or gender stereotypes/traits we are doing far, far more harm than good. If we were never judged harshly and told what was right and wrong would be be carrying around so much damn baggage? I think not.

**I did try and “fit in” and do the more femme thing for a while. Its what my job in Hawaii wanted for sure, maybe somewhat to a degree my family as well (at least when I was younger), and I finally acquiesced and folded under the pressure. In the long run it only made me feel worse, made me feel like I was living a lie, made me feel like I wasn’t being true to myself. Ultimately I felt like I was compromising some part of myself, and getting away from that has definitely bolstered my confidence and overall happiness a significant amount.

Beer Review: Left Coast Brewing Co’s Hop Juice

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gents,

It’s that time again, time for our Weekly Beer Review Post! This week we’re continuing on with the India Pale Ale theme, reviewing a beer that we’ve long wanted to try by Left Coast Brewing Co: Hop Juice. We’re pretty big fans of big, bold Double IPAs (Torpedo by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co being a staple in our household) so this one had always called to us, and as luck would have it our (one) local bottle shop had it in stock. Win!

Hop Juice Double IPA

Hop Juice Double IPA

Left Coat Brewing Co’s Website lists Hop Juice as one of their full time beers, with an ABV of 9.7% and 82 delectable IBUs. They describe their brew as such: “This hop monster uses Premium American 2– Row and a touch of light crystal malt to create a solid malt foundation. Five different Hop Varieties (CTZ, Cascade, Mt Hood, Dry Hop with Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe) are used in the Hop Juice. It spends two weeks dry hopping in fermenter contributing to its great hop aroma. Starts out sweet and finishes with the crisp bitterness of a Double IPA. This drinkable blend will have you HOPPING till nights end.”

We found this to be a pretty accurate description. Their nose was definitely hop forward, the flavor started out sweet for sure, and the finish was bitter and overtly hoppy. No huge surprise there considering the name eh?

Description on the back of Hop Juice

Description on the back of Hop Juice

Kelly’s Take: I am not as much of a hop lover as some people (see person listed below), but I am usually a fan of IPAs and even Double IPAs (I miss you Dogfish Head 60, 90, & 12o Minute!). This one though, just didn’t do it for me. It felt like my mouth had been assaulted with hops, there was no finesse, no magic. Or, put another way, there was no foreplay with these hops, they just busted in, took forceful control, & stole my hop virginity. Get my drift? Not a fan.

Alyssa’s Take: I love IPAs, I love love Double IPAs, but this one wasn’t a pleasurable for me. I loved the strong hop nature, my initial nose hit was exquisite. I totally dug the sweet beginning, but I strongly disliked the flavor at the end. Left me with a sour taste in my mouth, literally. I have experienced this with a handful of other IPAs (Big Swell IPA by Maui Brewing Company being the other that I can think of off the top of my head), wherein the finishing hop flavor is just not good. Totally ruins the whole thing for me. It’s not necessarily that it’s too strong a flavor, but that there’s just something off about it, according to my taste buds. Disappointing to say the least.

This brew was clearly not a family favorite. But you can’t win them all! You’ve gotta kiss some frogs before you find your prince, as they say. Even if that frog’s name is Hop Juice. We haven’t given up on Left Coast entirely though. We have their Belgian Tripel “Asylum” cooling in the fridge as we speak. Hopefully second time is the charm with these guys! Fingers crossed.

Until next time…

Cheers,

The Queers with the Beers

Beer Review: Deschutes Brewery’s Inversion IPA

Good Afternoon Lovelies,

We’re getting back into the swing of keeping this Baller Blog up and at ’em and awesomely active so we’re instituting a Weekly Beer Review Post! Don’t worry about us though, I know you all may think this will be hard work, but we’re more than willing to throw ourselves on the fire and drink a new beer each week and subsequently tell you our deepest, darkest thoughts and desires about said beer. It’s a tough, tough job but clearly someone has to do it!

Leading off, we shall begin with a review of Deschutes Brewery’s Inversion IPA:

Inversion IPA & Buddha in the palms.

Inversion IPA & Buddha in the palm trees.

Deschutes’ Website lists Inversion IPA as a Year Round Brew with an alcohol content of 6.8%, IBUs of 80, & 228 Calories per 12 oz serving (that part we didnt necessarily need to know, damn) and a description of, “Paradise is stumbling upon our whole flower hop room and inhaling. Inversion IPA is as close as you can get without knowing somebody. Enter, if you will, all the glorious aromatic complexity of the hop. This big, bold IPA’s intense multi-hop kick gets a subtle dose of restraint from select Crystal and Carastan malts. For discriminating hop heads.”

We agree with all of the above, and having had the pleasure of experiencing their whole flower hop room ourselves, we’d say that paradise has been found and this beer reminds us of that earthly Shangri-La. Even if we’re 2,565 miles (according to Google Maps) away! This beer balances being exceedingly hoppy and tangy very well thanks to it’s strong malt backbone which keeps it from tasting like you’re sucking directly on a hop cone (not something we’d advise). We’re hop heads, but even that is a bit extremist for our tastes.

Kelly’s Take: I love this beer! It’s perfectly hoppy & floral, but can be a little to high in the IBU department some days for my personal liking. I also appreciate the fact that we can get it’s deliciousness in Hawaii!

Alyssa’s Take: I also give this beer a love vote! I totally dig the overt hoppiness (and subsequent IBUs), especially the citrus, grapefruit, and floral hints lent by the Cascade & Centennial hops. I also like that its a moderately alcoholic IPA and that I can have more than one (lets be honest, like one & a half or two) and not be knocked straight on my ass!

Any way you look at it, Deschutes Brewery’s Inversion IPA is a family favorite all the way around. We can’t wait until their Fresh Squeezed IPA shows up on our Hawaiian doorstep so we can give that one a go too! Our bets are on the fact that we’ll love it just as much, if not more. Only a head to head battle of the IPAs will settle that debate though! Bring it on.

Cheers,

The Queers with the Beers

P.S. We also love Deschutes’ beer caps which make us feel like the Bravest of Beer Warriors out there every single time we pop one open. And who doesn’t want to be a Brave Beer Warrior? I mean really…

We're Brave Beer Warriors!

We’re Brave Beer Warriors!

Happy Marriage Equality Day Washington!

Good Afternoon Fellow Americans,

I am so ecstatic over the ground breaking equality measures that have come to pass within the last few days, I just don’t know what to do with myself! I’m like a kid at Christmas, I don’t want to go to sleep because I’m so excited over what’s to come and all the incredible things awaiting me when I awake; yet as a rational adult I’m scared to fall asleep because I’m worried I’ll wake up and it all will have been a deliciously taunting dream. I’ve been obsessively refreshing Twitter, news outlets, Dan Savage’s blog, Facebook, wedding announcement pages, YouTube, etc to get all the up to date specs, details, photos, etc. I think my poor phone & data service may blow up soon (AT&T take note, if I have overages you’re anti LGBT in my eyes).

#MEDayWA

#MEDayWA

Marriage Equality Day for Washington State was a huge endeavor and an incredible experience to be a part of. Having marriage equality come to pass, by voter approval most shockingly, just wasn’t something I thought I’d see in my lifetime. And I’m not even that old (just to clarify)! But when I started to consider the idea of marriage years ago (when  it segued from being “yucky and adult” to something “I may want to do someday”) the topic was so dramatically polarized, there were little to no precedents, and all I heard was hate and doom being spread, that I just wrote it off as something that wouldn’t be in my future.

But, being a part of the celebration yesterday, congratulating couples and sharing in their excitement over their hard earned marriage certificates truly made the whole ordeal real for me, really hit it home that this is truly happening (and it was a singularly incredible experience). Add to that the fact that I will be taking part in this myself in the very near future made it even more mind blowing. I never thought that would happen either. But maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic who never thought she’d find another to be her hopeless romantic partner in crime. 🙂

#MEDayWA

#MEDayWA

The kindness and gracious nature of King County Employees who we’re there at 12:01am (and most of them were still there at 6:30pm the following evening) was just over the top. Everyone raved about how organized, how welcoming, how excited, how celebratory all the staff and volunteers were and how this made their experience even more incredible and memorable (as if that could even be possible). I am not an emotional person but I found myself fighting back tears numerous times yesterday (and I’ll admit it, even today). It was all kind of surreal for everybody. The fact that this wasn’t a show, this wasn’t just a demonstration, this wasn’t fake, but this was the real deal affected everybody profoundly.

#MEDayWA

#MEDayWA

The story with most of the couples I saw were that this was a hard earned victory that they had been actively (& not so patiently) waiting for: Most had been together 10+ (or 15, 20, or even 30+) years, had merely dreamed that one day they might be able to be legally married, but here they were now attaining their hard fought marriage license. One couple, who had already jumped through the separate but equal gay “marriage” hoops (already registered in a domestic partnership & had already had their commitment ceremony, etc), decided to come down and get their marriage license just because they could and because it was an undeniably historic day. While they started out with an air of nonchalance over the whole ordeal, they both ended up in tears over the significance, over the kindness, and over the realization of equality and rights bestowed upon them with this document.

Another couple who came through and told me how incredible this was for them to be in this building, to be holding this marriage license. They had been part of a LGBT Rights Group that had marched on the King County Administration building years ago attempting to obtain marriage licenses. Of course, at that time, they were turned away because it was illegal for gays/lesbians to marry in Washington State. But today, here they were, being welcomed in by everyone, celebrating with other couples and staff members, filling out their paperwork, and finally after all the years of hard fighting, obtaining this oh-s0-important piece of paper: their marriage license. They even exited out the same doors they did when they we’re previously refused service, but with their paperwork in hand this time, all smiles and grins at how things had come full circle.

#MEDayWA

#MEDayWA

I cannot believe that my partner and I can just waltz on over to the King County Admin building with our IDs, $64 cash (or local check), and ourselves (you both have to be present, just so you know), fill out some paperwork for a few minutes, and walk away with a perfectly legal marriage certificate (good for 60 days) which allows us to have a perfectly legal wedding. Ho-Ly-Shit-Balls-Batman! That’s insane! And exactly what we will be doing in the not too distant future. First comes love, then comes dating, then comes a relationship, then comes living together for five years, then comes tons of crazy adventures, then comes the big 0-5 anniversary, then comes the engagement, then comes moving & obtaining work, then comes planning a wedding, then comes marriage! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage is starting to sound a lot easier. But infinitely more boring, can’t have any of that.

Celebrating #MEDayWA Bs&Qs Style

Celebrating #MEDayWA Bs&Qs Style

Next up: Federal Law, which may be sooner than we all initially thought with the Supreme Court taking on DOMA & Prop 8 (this just broke: http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/supreme-court-taking-up-marriage-equality-will-hear-arguments-on-prop-8-dom); Then: The World (Domination)! This is big guys, this is huge, this is so big and huge I don’t know that anyone really grasps the scope of it yet. I surely don’t, I’m still thinking it may be a dream. But if it is, lets just keep on blissfully dreaming.

Until Next Time,

The Queers Behind The Beers (Or Champagne For This Occasion)

We’re Back! Right Off The Bat We Tackle Politics!

Hello My Lovelies,

It sure has been a while;  my sincerest apologies. We literally did fall off the map (you know, where it says “here thar be dragons”), and as it turns out there is no internet there. Thus no witty and hilarious blog posts from your favorite queers. But we are now back, in the throes of civilization, so no more of that nonsense.

Today we are tackling politics, so let’s get down to the meat of this beast, because one can only take on politics one bite (or drink, as the case may be) at a time. Having new fangled things like newspapers, TVs, social media outlets, etc at our finger tips now (and seeing as the elections are alarmingly close) we’ve decided to jump into the fracas and bone up on our political knowledge. In an effort to do so, we have been watching the debates, every single one so far in fact (only playing minimal drinking games at the same time) and have been both awed and scared shitless by them.

First off, let’s just get it out of the way and declare our leanings here (it’s going to be a big surprise): we are Democrats and we support Obama. So while this may be slightly Leftist Leaning, the points made below still apply. Secondly, let’s let everyone also know that Romney (& Ryan) scare the ever living shit out of us, or really that Romney/Ryan made it so far in this race is what is truly scary. Thirdly, if the Romney/Ryan ticket actually wins this election, we may have to change our business name to “Beers and Queers Eh” seeing as we’ll be trekking our happy asses straight to Canada. Now that all our cards are on the table, and all the disclaimers have been made, we can proceed.

The last debate was really telling, in the way both candidates composed themselves (or didn’t, I’m looking at you Romney) and in the comments they made. By now everyone (even if you’re living under a rock) has probably heard about Romney’s “binders full of women” comment, and seen all the accompanying memes to boot (so goddamn hilarious). On a serious note, as a woman who runs businesses, I found that comment undeniably degrading. First off, we were talking about equality in the workforce in regards to pay, not about some crack pot affirmative action attempt to hire women. Women should be hired on their merit as qualified applicants. I don’t want special treatment as a woman, I want equal treatment; I want to be on par with men both in terms of what you require of me (I don’t need to be let off early to go home and fix dinner for my family any more than the guy next to me, thank you very much Mr. Romney), how you treat me (not a sex object, thanks), and what you pay me (if I’m doing the exact same job as Mr. So&So, pay me the damn same). Secondly, that in his attempt he procured “binders full” of eligible women smacks of mail order brides or some other debasing concept. You could have just said you searched out accomplished women to hire onto your team (and then paid them the same as the guys, because that’s what the question was about) not that they came in these alleged “binders.” Did they have sexy pictures next to their names too, with their favorite color and whether or not they enjoyed long walks on the beach? This comment was completely uncalled for and cemented in my mind that Romney is a certified MCP (misogynistic chauvinist pig) in my book.

After I got off my feminist soap box, I started to see the humor in the comment, and seriously wondered where he got these binders full of women. And could I get my hands on some? I bet they have some master binder full of lesbians somewhere. Do you know how handy that would be? You could reference them to see whether someone was gay or not (not in the binder, no go), if they were available for hire (taken or not), what their qualifications for the lesbian job are (lots of flannel, big truck, affinity for Birkenstocks, etc), their vital stats (age, location, etc), and all sorts of other tidbits of info.

I imagine the binder looking something like this:

This is what my binder full of women would look like…

Just think of it, after perusing this awesome binder you could then determine whether or not to hire them for the job of “girlfriend” or not. How fucking useful is that? I think Romney might truly be onto something here. You could even keep personnel files on “employees” that you “fired,” aka crazy ladies you broke up with, so as not to make the mistake of re-hiring them again. (Even though you want to, because you’re not really over them, and well maybe they didn’t do such a bad “job”).  Goodbye dating sites, Hello binders full of qualified women!

I’m pretty sure though, that Romney wasn’t referencing binders full of gay women. But since he appears to want to hire women by essentially utilizing affirmative action, just think if he hired lesbians. He’d get two minorities for the price of one (but would he have to work 2x as hard to pay them the same as men?)! If you need help coming up with binders full of gay women Governor Romney, may we interest you in some Les Bingo? It will definitely separate the women from the butch women!

Alright, enough politics for now, but don’t worry there will be more. The last debate is on Monday, and I have no doubt it will give me more fodder for making fun of Romney. Can he top his binders comment…We will just have to wait and see!

Cheers,

The Queers With Beers

On The Move…Hitting The Road

Good Morning All,

Man, has it been a while. But this time we have a legit excuse, we were moving. Selling (almost) everything, shoving the rest of the (essential) shit in the car, and hitting the (seemingly never ending) pavement. After a couple of crazy hellish weeks, a lot of hard goodbyes, and many a late night, we made it and are on our way around the states. Watch out US of A, we’re headed your way!

But, don’t you worry, Beers and Queers Inc will still be doing all the same great stuff, namely selling bad ass BINGO Play Cards and talking about delicious, delicious beer. Bingo Play cards will remain available online, at Golden Age Collectables in Seattle, and wherever we might be (selling out of the back of the car? why not!). As for beer, we’re sleuthing out breweries wherever we land, so testing these breweries out and telling you all about that shouldn’t be a problem.

Let’s talk News on the BINGO Front: We’ve sold 4 Hipster Bingo’s in the last few weeks, which is crazy awesome. Les and Gay Bingo’s are holding steady for now (cummon our lovely lesbians and gays, you know you want some) which we’re alright with. We’re (as per usual) concocting another Bingo Play Card, which we think you’ll all be very keen on. Plus we’ve had mad interest in a Bingo Outpost in Colorado, which we’ll be following up on. Maybe we’ll be able to take over Seattle and Denver, who knows!

But what about the beer? You may ask yourself. Well, we’ve had a lot of beer (throwing ourselves under the bus on that one) in both Oregon and Colorado. Some of our favorites include: Deschutes Brewery and their Collage and Cascade X; Bend Brewing Company with their Chi Chi Sour; 10 Barrel Brewing and their Palesner and CDA; Brew Werks with their Neurotic Blonde and Eccentric ESB; New Belgium Brewing with their La Folie and Valentine Ale (and the forever fav Sunshine Wheat); & Fort Collins Brewing Company and their Pomegranate Wheat Beer. Just to name a few of the incredible beers that we’ve drank! Don’t worry, there will be more, and we’ll be sharing what we consider the best of the best.

Well y’all, that’s all for now. We’ve got places to go, people to meet, beer to drink, and bingo to sell. Over and out for now.

Cheers,

The Queers With The Beers

 

We’re Essentially Famous…Get Your Autographs Now!

Good Morning Lovelies,

As promised, a post about our fame (and soon to be fortune). We’re so excited about being famous, we haven’t had time to tell you all. We’ve just been running around yelling and partying and jumping up and down about it ourselves. How backwards is that? But not anymore, we’ve gotten over ourselves and we’re yelling it from the mountain tops (or on the internet, basically the same thing) now!

In case you haven’t heard (like you were living in a cave or something) we were featured on MyLesbianRadio.com (Lesbian Lounge) as the “Cool Blog” which is pretty damn awesome. This was a couple of weeks ago now (March 28th, jeez almost a month), but we’re still radiant with fame and glory. MyLesbianRadio is a super neat weekly radio show that covers a range of topics and is a riot to listen to, so go check it out. It’s never normal, never scripted, and definitely never PC, which is right up our alleys.

The hosts, Denise and Donna, talked all about Beers & Queers Inc (us!), who we are, what we’ve created, our blog, our twitter, how cute and funny we were, etc. (they even called us young, which seeing as my birthday is next week and I’m feeling old, I really appreciate that). They even mentioned it would be a great bar game, which we agree with totally and have to say great minds think alike.  It was essentially a love fest of pure adoration, or at least that’s how we heard it, but we may be a bit biased.

If you would like to hear or moment(s) of fame here are the links: http://www.mylesbianradio.com/podcast/index.php?id=158 if you would prefer to stream it from their site OR http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/lesbian-lounge-w-denise-donna/id333260698 (its the one uploaded on 2/4/12) if you would like to download the podcast and listen to it over and over again. Not that we’ve done that or anything. Our minutes of fame kick in starting at 1:42ish and the music to your ears continues for a couple of minutes. Go check it out, we’re sure you’ll be as impressed as we were.

And the answer is yes, in case you were wondering, we are offering autographs for a limited time. Fancy that! Put your bids in now for autographed business cards (limit one per person, we don’t want to flood the market), they are going to be worth millions in no time. Seriously. No joke. This shits for real! Stranger things have happened.

In other news, we’re still finalizing our exciting new business ventures, so we can’t let the pussy out of the sack on that one yet. We will still be peddling hilarious Bingos do not despair, but we’re changing things up a bit on all fronts, so our business is going to be shifting a bit too. All new, all fun, all the time! This alteration will be taking effect mid-May so you’ll have all the details before then. We promise to keep you up to date and informed.One cool thing we’re rolling out immediately though is our brand spanking new BINGO of the Week Contest.

Here’s how it’s going to work: You send in your picture of a potential BINGO (it can be you, your friend, family member, a random person on the street, your significant other, whatever) and we’ll rate it based on which squares he/she scores on our BINGO Play Cards (Les, Gay, or Hipster). That way you can play along with us on your own Play Cards at the same time (don’t have one, get one here), so it will be essentially a virtual Bingo Hall. We’ll rate every photo we receive, but the winner will get featured prominently and may even get a prize. Win win situation right there.

We’re going to be promoting (pimping?) this on Twitter (@beersandqueers) and Facebook (Beers and Queers Inc) as well, which will probably be your two easiest venues to submit pictures by, but you could also play it old skool and email us if you so desire. Please keep it clean kids, we haven’t created sexy naked bingo (yet). So bring it on and show us your best people, we want to find a Black Out sooner rather than later!

That is all for now, go listen to our minutes of fame, send us your Bingo photos, and stay tuned for our new ventures.

Cheers,

The Queers Behind The Beers

Oh Christ…It’s Been Two Weeks?

Good Afternoon M’Dears,

I knew I had been delinquent in posting a new blarrrg (blog in non-pirate speak) but I didn’t think it had been two whole weeks. Shit! Bad me. My sincerest apologies.

I’ve only got a few minutes here, so I’ll whet your greedy little appetites with a couple of juicy teasers:

a) We’re famous now, just in case you hadn’t heard. Explanations and links to come.

b) We drank the most delicious beer the other week from Slippery Pig. It was a Kiwi Blonde Ale, and it kind of changed our lives. Full report to be released soon.

c) We’re having a staff meeting with our board of directions (us and ourselves) this evening. This will involve beer (all our best ideas come from beer drinking), hilarity (because we can’t be too serious for too long), and some awesome new schemes and dreams (the meat of the subject). Details and exciting happenings to be announced in the very near future.

Alright, that’s all I have for you for today. Keep your ears to the ground for news regarding the above key subjects! You won’t want to miss out. Promise.

Cheers,

The Queers Behind the Beers

 

P.S. We don’t totally go AWOL and silent when we’re not posting here. We are usually keeping furiously busy and up to speed on Facebook and Twitter at all times. So like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter for more fun all the time!