Tag Archives: happiness

Happy post: Winston

Image shows a small silver and blond Yorkshire Terrier with its two front legs up on a railing in an outdoor setting, its red leash off to the right side. It is photographed from a high angle

[Image description: image shows a small silver and blond Yorkshire Terrier with its two front legs up on a railing in an outdoor setting, its red leash off to the right side. It is photographed from a high angle.]

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and have never quite known how to start it. I’ll start with this: like a lot of PWDs, I have a pet. I’m sure that posting something about one’s beloved dog on what is a strongly political site seems unusual, but as of late I have been reading many dog-related blogs (mostly on Tumblr) and am consistently moved by posts where the submitter talks about their pet and some of the many varied aspects of the human/animal bond.

I have a pretty old (for the breed) Yorkshire Terrier named Winston. While he is not a service dog (he is too ill-behaved to ever serve in that capacity, and I suspect that fibromyalgia is not a condition that qualifies for a service animal!), he makes my life immeasurably better. Oh, he’s kind of a brat, but his general attitude is so completely, bizarrely happy most of the time that I can’t help but smile whenever he’s around. Yorkshire Terriers are supposed to be one of the smarter (albeit louder) small breeds, but Winston is not the brightest bulb around. This is not a bad thing, however — his other personality traits make up for the fact that he can’t do very many tricks (outside of sitting, particularly if food is involved).

Small dogs, in general, may seem like they’re a pain in the ass to take care of, at least to outsiders. Certainly, there are some small dogs with very high energy (I’ve met a few) who need to be walked multiple times per day so that their owners can get some relief from the dogs’ barking or constant need for attention. Fortunately for me, Winston is not one of these. He has a lot of energy, but this is mostly because he sleeps upwards of 10 hours per day. On days when I’m not feeling well and need to lie down or take a nap, Winston is more than happy to hang out. If I am in too much pain to take him on a long walk, he seems perfectly happy with a shorter walk. All things considered, he’s a pretty mellow, fairly agreeable little dog — except for when he sees other dogs, which is very often an occasion for over-excitement, and possibly a lot of barking and/or straining on the leash.

Somewhat hilariously, he also snores. Loudly.

Things That Make My Life Easier: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

[Image description: Four bottles of perfume in front of and resting upon some books; the bottles are labeled “Australian Copperhead,” “Banded Sea Snake,” “Cottonmouth,” and “Asp Viper,” respectively. Image courtesy of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.]

Today, I am taking a page from amandaw’s awesome series “Things That Make My Life Easier” and have chosen to spotlight the fantastically scented goodness of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. As a person with chronic pain, I have found that certain things having to do with the five senses that take my mind off of my pain — even for a few minutes — makes dealing with pain and fatigue much, much easier. While I am unsure of the scientific veracity of perfume oils and their use in general life-improvement for folks with pain issues (in my case, fibromyalgia, which for me usually causes intense muscle pain and moderate to severe fatigue), I have personally benefited from wearing the complex and often surprising essential oil blends in which the Lab specializes. While smelling nice certainly won’t bring my physical pain down from, say, an 8 to a 1 (on a scale of 1 to 10), many of these blends have helped me to relax, focus on a different sort of physical sensation that is not abjectly, horrendously painful, and generally be more comfortable as I go about my day.

Besides a “General Catalogue” consisting of hundreds of scents—all inspired by a diverse mix of people (comic-book heroes and heroines; H.P. Lovecraft), places (the “Wanderlust” line, which offers scents inspired by famous locales) and things (love [image on page is NSFW], myth and fairy tales, classic art, religion and spirituality, and Alice in Wonderland, to name just a few)—BPAL also offers Limited Edition blends. Currently, they are offering their annual Fall/Halloween scents; if you’ve ever wanted to smell like an apple orchard, fall leaves and smoke, or Halloween candy, one (or more) of these oils may be for you.

It is next-to-impossible for me to pick favorite blends, as mine seem to change by the day. There are a few that I consistently utilize, however: Blood Kiss is a bizarrely dark blend of vanilla, clove and cherry that I’ve been wearing for years (I’m on my third bottle of the stuff). Absinthe is effervescent, minty and (obviously) boozy. When I want to smell sort of like a head shop sans the moldy undertone, a couple drops of Sin do the trick. Aquatic scents seem to be my most-used “category,” with the salty, swampy Bayou being the one that I reach for most often, tied with the Limited Edition Sturgeon Moon (the latter is no longer available, unfortunately). The smoky, slightly citrusy goodness of Carnaval Diabolique (part of a sprawling LE series of the same name) makes for a great late summer/early fall scent, as does the sharp, lavender-tinged Casanova.

Of course, the very fact that I wear essential oil perfumes brings up another issue — how to be sensitive and accommodating to fellow PWDs who may have scent sensitivities, allergies, or who may have otherwise painful reactions to scented stimuli. When I’m planning to be out and about, I tend to wear a drop or two at most, usually applied with a q-tip, and allow ample time for the oil to dry before I leave the house; this is not a perfect solution, but I am still figuring out how to balance the benefits that I personally get from wearing these amazingly-crafted oils with the needs of other PWDs whom I may encounter in public.

Finding Myself in Unexpected Places

On the way home from work the other day, the classical music station in Dallas, WRR 101.1*, played a really good performance of Beethoven’s Bagatelle for Piano in A minor, WoO 59 “Für Elise”. It’s pretty, of course, which is all it needs to be. But every performance (and every work of art and every published document) is an act of communication among the composer, the performer, and each person sensing it. Every person involved in every act of communication brings xer own perspectives and experiences to the social transaction.

I mention this to provide some context for how I reacted to this particular performance of this piece. I’ve it heard scores of times, probably, but I don’t know if I have since I’ve been thinking of myself as a person with a disability. The parts of it that rise to no real musical resolution felt, to me, like the steps of a dancer with a mobility impairment moving across a stage. Xe walks with a gait and doesn’t move with the precision of a physiotypical dancer, and sometimes it feels as though xe might fall (when the music rises in pitch and stops short of finishing the phrase to return to the core, lower-pitched theme), but xe dances anyway. And xe and xer dance are beautiful anyway. It could’ve been someone a lot like me.

It felt pretty damn good, actually.

Has anything artistic — and I include popular culture in art — recently (or memorably but not so recently) made you feel included? Even if it wasn’t necessarily the creator’s intent?

* It’s owned by the city and actually makes a profit. Naturally various Republican mayors and city council members have called it unfair competition (not that there’s another classical music station in the North Texas broadcastmarket) and have tried various times to get it or the transmission station or the broadcast license sold off. Fortunately for us, they’ve been unsuccessful every time.

Feminists With Disabilities Love Their Bodies

Today is Love Your Body Day, so a few of us are going to talk about why we love our bodies!

I’m meloukhia, and I love my body because, well, without a body, I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun, seeing as how we haven’t quite gotten to the state of being able to exist as floating brains just yet. Sometimes, my body and I fight. We disagree on things like when I should eat, how far I should walk, whether or not I am allowed to breathe, whether or not I should stumble into things, when I should fall down, how to get out of a car in a short skirt. But, you know? My body is pretty cool even if it does seem to have a mind of its own sometimes. It’s kind of like a cat, that way, sometimes it really pisses me off, but, you know, it always comes and lies on the bed at night, and that makes up for it. My body tells a story, my story; it has marks that I put there, that other people put there, and each one tells a history. That scar on my upper right arm is from fencing without a jacket. Those white marks in my left hand are from when someone put a fork through it. That tattoo behind my ear, it speaks to my love of language and history and the printed word. Sometimes, I stand in front of the mirror, mesmerized. This is my body! It’s all mine! And I can do what I want with it. That’s pretty terrific.

Chally here. There are so many ways in which I love my body. I love it because it is utterly mine and no one else’s; it is mine to love. I love this body that got me through endless rehearsals and pracs, my actor’s tool, I revel in it. I love these long toes, this mole on my earlobe, these pianist’s hands, my breasts, my back, because they have been my companions. I love my fabulous, gravity-defying hair, the inheritance of my foremothers, even if I otherwise don’t look much like them. This body and I have been friends on balance, no matter how much magazines, snide comments, cultural influence tried to make it otherwise. This body has been uncontrollable and put me through pain and fatigue, but I’ve learned to look after it, take care of it, keep in touch with it and respect the pair of us. I love this familiar face in the mirror. I love to see my body change, and I love that it reminds me of my mortality, so I must keep on. I love to nourish it, I love to keep it safe. Mostly, I love it because I have taught myself how valuable loving my body is, how revolutionary, how affirming.

Hi, I’m Kaninchen Zero, and I love my body. I love how tall I am, love my narrow feet and long toes, love my small breasts and sagging belly. I love the crow’s feet around my eyes and the discolorations on the backs of my hands. I love how each scar has a story behind it: This one on my knee is where my knee caught on a nail on a low-rent apartment’s cheap playground and almost tore off a piece the size of a penny. These here, on the knuckle, there were paint mixer things when I worked paint crew at university and they were all broken. Everyone who worked paint crew jacked it up at least once, pulled the shaft out the paint mixer and tried to jam it back in — zip! diced knuckles. The other ones on my knuckles are rabbit-inflicted. This on my leg was when some kid with too-jagged-for-regulation cleats stepped on me in a rugby match. The left hand? I shot myself. And I suppose I probably shouldn’t love my body what with the fibromyalgia beating me up and stealing my lunch money, but I do. Because it’s my body. A woman’s body (and a darned attractive one!). My wife’s dyke lover’s body. And it’s my canvas for tattoos. There are five so far but I’m nowhere near done yet.

I’m abby jean, and I love my body. I love that my body gives me more tangible and concrete ways to identify when I’m stressed or upset than the sometimes swirling and contradictory emotions in my mind. I love the way that using my body for yoga, or hiking, or most especially dancing, lets me get out of my head and my sometimes obsessive and circular negative thinking and forces me to focus on my sensory input. (A hot sweaty dance floor where the music is so loud you can physically feel it when lights are flashing and my hair is flying in my face and I’m just dancing, no room or space for thinking, is one of my primary self-care methods.)  I love my body because it experiences things directly and immediately instead of processing and filtering everything. I love my body and its immediate and undeniable needs (hunger, sleep, etc) as a contrast to my sometimes paralyzing indecision and uncertainty.  I love my body for the counterpoint it provides, for its ongoing insistence that I not get lost in the clouds of my brain. I love my body.

I’m Anna, and I love my body because it’s the part of me that keeps me in the here and now. My mental health condition causes me to often lose the sense of where I am, and what I’m doing – I get caught up in negative thinking and reminding myself of past mistakes to the point of self-destructiveness. My body reminds me that I am here, that I am in this place and this time, and not 10 years ago or even 2 months ago. I love my body because it reminds me of how far I’ve come from those negative times and places. My body is also pretty awesome in terms of way of carrying my brain around at the moment, and since my brain and I have to go, I’ll cut this off there. I love my body.

I’m amandaw. I love a few things about my body. It is squishy and fun to play with, for one. But my body has also taught me to respect myself. To love myself and care for myself. No healthy person has the pacing ability a chronically ill person has, and there is a reason for that. And that self-care, that pacing, that evaluation of whether something is good for you (eff whether it’s “objectively” good or not) is something to admire, no matter who you are or what body you live in. My body has given me that and for all the negative that I’ve gone through, I am grateful for that hard-won respect and self-knowledge.

I’m Annaham, and I love my body. We may get into rows from time to time, but it allows me to do many things that I love: eating, listening to music, drawing, swimming, sleeping, and hanging out. It allows me to experience certain tactile sensations that I especially treasure: the comforting touch of a loved one; my dog’s (admittedly stinky!) fur running through my fingers; my fingertips on the fretboard of my guitar; gripping a pen in my hand as I prepare to draw; preparing food using the best mixing utensils that evolution has given me; fresh grass under the soles of my feet when it’s warm enough outside to go barefoot. Oh, and my body also houses both my brain and my hands–used together, they allow me to write, even when getting the words out seems difficult.