Today was weird. The best way to explain my gender was that it felt like I was driving alone at night in an unfamiliar place and my GPS kept redirecting and loosing signal, but the speed limit was 60 miles an hour so I was going too fast to read any street signs in the darkness. Everything felt wrong and confusing and broken. I know it isn’t really possible for gender to be broken. It’s not physical or tangible in any way, but also there is no real standard or measurement of what it should or shouldn’t be like. Well, besides the standard of the gender binary but by those standards I am always broken which is so far from true. Nevertheless, despite the evidence that gender can have many forms and mine fluctuates and changes with the seasons, today it was wrong. I couldn’t place who I was or how I wanted to be received by the world, and therefore I spent the day feeling dissociated and disconnected from everything. I said earlier my gender changes with the seasons, and I am beginning to realize that isn’t just a figure of speach for me. Every September as summer turns to fall, every life transition in the world seems to happen at the same time. So much is ending, so much is just beginning, and the weather is frustratingly indecisive. I never really understood the concept of January bringing in a new year and change. Despite the fact that I no longer adhere to the academic calendar, in my life everything always changes at the start of fall. Including, it would seem, my gender. I would love to have a weather vane for my gender, something to at least point me in the direction of the new shift, but until I make one I am just stumbling in the dark. All I know is the wind changing and so am I. — Dress: Gap Sweatshirt: Toca Boca Pleather Belt: Vintage Costume Shop Hat: Forever21 Boxer Briefs: American Eagle Socks: Deer Mum
Source: DIY Body By Oliver Leigh
I was published in the Rising Phoenix Review last month. The poem is still so real for me, especially since my gender is a mess lately.
Tonight is the full moon, the first full moon in this new apartment, and the first first full moon of September. A month that always seems to bring so much change and transition even though my days of academia and ‘back to school’ are over.
I have been having a lot of thoughts about the moon tonight as I prepare my water and crystals to be cleansed and charged by her light. For the purpose of writing this I am going to address the moon as her, though personally I do not assign gender to any part of the universes nor the gods and forces that watch over.
Over an hour ago I stood in the parking lot of my old apartment, holding a tall artisenal glass bottle filled with water that I had gone out of my way to find at a home goods store because I am hella extra, and if I’m going to be charging water it has to fit my aesthetic. I can’t just put out any plain old plastic water bottle and ask the moon to fill it with strength. So there I was staring up at the moon asking her to cleanse and fill my glass with her strength to last me through the month, and I began to think about my relationship to the moon and how different we are.
The moon exists without limits, she passes between grey areas with the calm strength that she always embodies. Me, I hate sitting in grey space. It’s all or nothing. I set my boundaries like brick walls, you are either on one side or you are out for good. Dealing with trauma and abuse this kind of clarity gave me strength. For a long time I did not feel I could set any boundaries, and now I have erected solid stone walls around those who hurt me, those who have done nothing but poison my life. But life isn’t always that polarized, and I struggle with forming glass walls and doors instead of brick walls that are by their very nature forever closed.
The moon is also calm and level in her power. She is contained despite her imense strength, and should something be in her way, she simply moves it. Me? I burn more like the sun. I feel so much all the time I don’t know how my body survives, and if something is in my way I don’t move it, I punch my way through until I either succeed or burn out trying.
I think it is because we are so different that I have always felt that pull of energy and safety of her strength. I hate the night and the dark, it feels uneasy and often scary, but the moon has always felt grounding even on the darkest nights.
I should probably clarify that I like being like the sun. I like that I burn instead of glow; that the emotions I feel and convictions I have are forever heavy and powerful, even if it makes me sensitive and often overwhelmed. I am imensly connected in ways I am still learning to guard myself against but that is who I am. It took me a long time but I have claimed my sensitivity with honor and an aggressive level of pride. Still, nothing functions without balance, and the sun and moon are two great polar forces in this world. So while I am much more atune to the ways of the sun, I need balance and grounding in order to thrive.
The night of a full moon is a chance for me to reflect and pull the strength and balance I will need through out the coming month. And while my practice involves charging water in an artesenal glass bottle, and laying out my favorite crystals on the window sill, those are just the methods behind something I think is important for all beings, spiritual or not. Finding and allowing ourselves to accept the strength and skills we need to make it through the day.
Sorry for disappearing this past week. I am in the middle of a move and things have been so hectic. Also, my new place doesn’t have internet yet and blogging on my phone is not my favorite, but you can keep up with some of my apartment shenanigans over on my Instagram @oliver_lockwood
5 Things that have happened since I last posted:
1. Ten minutes ago I gave myself a haircut outside… In the dark, without a mirror. It’s actually pretty okay.
2. We went furniture shopping and bought a silver velvety high backed armchair, and a large gathered velvet blue pouf to lounge on. They make me feel like the rococo fairy witch I have always dreamed of being.
3. My new apartment has an apple tree in the backyard with edible apples. I feel like my life is a fairy tale.
4. My obsession with micellar water (especially the ‘Yes to’ Coconut one I’ve been using) has reached new levels. I’m talking about me parading around singing songs about “my micellar water” without even realizing it. If you don’t know what it is, it is a magical facial cleansing water that is super gentle and also removes make up. To be honest I have no idea what it really is… But I will find out and report back because it’s amazing.
5. We are going to a shelter to meet a cat named Brixton tomorrow. He is all black with orange eyes except for the smallest tuft of white on his chest. I want a fur baby in my life again so I am really excited.
That’s all for now, I will be back to posting regularly when I am unpacked and have WiFi.
My friend wrote this amazing article about being a proud selfie taker and I could not agree more.
I will never be ashamed of my selfies. It is not vain to think you are cute or fly looking. It’s not shameful to document experiences like good hair days and having fun with make up.
Take selfies with your friends. Take them in the morning when you have interesting bed head but also really don’t want to leave the covers. Take them inside or take them out in public (just be careful and don’t get hit by cars or poles). I’m pretty sure you get the point. Anyway, I love selfies and I love the article.
You’ve seen a couple different styles from me so far, all of them colorful and quirky in some way, some more masculine, some more femme, and some a weird but awesome mix of both. This style is one of my all time favorites. It is my casual staple; that style that you don’t have to think much about and that feels so much like home that it’s as if you are bringing ‘home’ with you. It’s simple, it’s comfortable, but you know you still look fly AF and could easily conquer the world. It’s basically my super hero cape, and the best part about it is that it tends to make me look like I fell out of some video game or indie comic book.
I am obsessed with these joggers. I have four pairs of them in different colors, mint, orange, forest green, and black and I would love to find them in pink and blue.
When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I swore off wearing clothing with zippers, buttons, and hard fabrics because it just hurt my skin too much, especially sitting in my wheelchair. For a little while, all I wore were the same pair of sweatpants every day; and while sweatpants undeniably have an essential spot in my lounge wear wardrobe, feeling like I couldn’t play with fashion like I used to, or get excited about the clothes I was wearing was really depressing. So when I found these pants that were soft twill fabric, with *gasp* an elastic waistband, and a street style drop-crotch silhouette it felt like a miracle. So while I still refuse to remove my sweater in 90 degree weather if I think it will “ruin my ensemble” it’s good to know that comfort doesn’t have to be completely sacrificed for style.
Pants: Italy Morn Chino Joggers
Boots: Viva (Amazon) with custom laces from my ribbon collection
T-shirt: Toca Boca (Target’s new GENDER NEUTRAL CLOTHING LINE, so excited)
This style has so many variations and possibilities. The basic formula is a colorful pair of my beloved joggers, a statement tee (comfortable yet eye-catching, whether it’s a fascinating print, Bob Ross’ face, or a drawing of an alien taking off it’s human head), and colored boots. Docs work great for this, but as you may have noticed none of my boots are actually Doc Martin’s, just some off-brand amazon version. Each piece of clothing, down to your socks, should make a statement on it’s own. I also tend to pair this with a yellow fanny pack (because yes, I am that hipster millennial) with my chain of grape pompoms and leather leaves hanging down that I found at Nordstrom Rack (to be pictured in a later post), because I love it and it’s super handy to cary stuff in when I’m using my cane or just being active with my hands.
My clothing philosophy is that if you love it and you feel amazing, then you can pull off ANYTHING. Fanny packs and elastic waist pants do not have to be the un-cool tourist mom look they used to be. Even the ‘un-cool tourist mom look’ doesn’t even have to be the uncool look it used to be. Fashion is not about a set of rules, and while it helps that years of art school have given me a subconscious ever-present sense of color theory, the most important thing is that once you make your own rules, you make it believable. Because if you feel confident and amazing, you are going to look confident and amazing.
Here is me on a small decorative bike. If you want more posts about power clashing, how I chose my outfits, fashion rules that are straight up lies, and other ‘behind the scenes’ type stuff comment below. But let’s be real, if I’m excited about it I’m going to write about it either way.
Also, props to Project Runway for their beautifully diverse range of models and designers this season, and finally speaking up about the fact that yes, real humans come in all different shapes, and good fashion will make their bodies and personalities shine.
Neither your size, nor your gender, dictates that you have to dress a certain way, or follow specific fashion rules. Where what you love, and own it.
Can we just talk about the magical amazing and upcoming brand that is Storybook Cosmetics? If you haven’t heard of it, it is a cosmetics line (mostly brushes and eyeshadow palettes, but their inventory is growing) started by three sisters and as the name suggests everything they create looks like it fell out of a fairytale.
As an artist/designer who happens to be obsessed with make up, their product and package design blows my mind. My partner recently purchased their Wizardry and Witchcraft eyeshadow palette and my heart began to melt as they opened the box and pulled out a velvet drawstring bag. Inside the bag was what looked and felt like a hardcover book of Magic Spells, but inside was the palette of 12 amazing colors and a built in full mirror that I could actually see myself doing my make up with. Not only do their products look gorgeous and make you feel like you are living the fairytale dream, but the quality and pigmentation is exceptional.
Each color is rich and smoothly brushes on an unbelievable amount of vibrant color in one stroke. The high pigmentation makes it feel almost like a cream eyeshadow, but it is in fact a powder, it blends so easily and will not crease or give you that oily feeling of some cream shadows.
Just look at the collection of matte, pearl, and metallic shadows. I have to say Sorcerer (deep red) and Bewitched (gold) are my absolute favorites, but honestly I loved every color so much that when I was first trying this out I went completely overboard with impatience and tried to use them all in one look. Needless to say I did not pull it off, but that was of no fault to this palette, and I’m sure much more experienced make up artists than I could find a way to use every one of these magical colors and make it look easy.
Once again, the packaging. It really does look and feel like a book of spells.
I have yet to try their brushes, but the designs are once again completely captivating. Not featured here is there upcoming line of Secret Garden inspired brushes with actual flower petals in the handles, which you can see on their Instagram @storybookcosmetics. This is not a sponsored post, in fact I doubt they know I exist, I just had to share my obsession with their designs and can not wait to see what they come up with next.
(All pictures and products property of https://storybookcosmetics.com)
If there is anything I love more than mixing patterns, colors, and textures, it’s playing with gender. Juxtaposing the pink and blue pastels with the more saturated red and purple. Soft feminine lace, suede, and stockings, contrasted with a the ‘tomboy’ silhouette of the boxy crop top, sleeves rolled up with a backwards cap like I’m the toughest kid on the block. There is nothing I love more than looking like a manic-pixie dream boy, and as summer nears it’s end I wanted to make use of the playful scenery around my local ice cream shop.
Suede Pinafore: Primark
Crop Top: Forever21
Lace collar: @Elyseeart (Etsy)
Pleather Hat: Target
Stockings: Sock Dreams
Face: Nyx transparent setting powder, Sonia Kashuk liquid light concealer, Tarte clay blush in Paaarty
Lips: Spank by Sugarpill, lavender eyeshadow from the pantone watercolor palette, and Nyx jumbo eye pencil in Milk blended as a highlight
Eyes: Pantone Watercolor Palette (peach, pink, and lavender tones)
Molly Ringwald’s character Andie is an absolute fashion dreamboat. If I could suddenly wake up with the closet of any character it would be either her or Ducky. Either way the clothes in the movie are so inspirational I can’t believe it took me till THIS YEAR (2017) to watch it for the first time. I know, I live under a rock. Anyway, here is my queer kid’s fashion take on none other than Pretty in Pink’s Andie.
Earrings: Vintage Clip on’s Inherited
Flower crown: Tilly’s
Boots: Viva Boots (Amazon)
Eye shadow: Pantone Watercolor Palette and Storybook Cosmetics Magic Spellbook Palette
Face: Nyx transparent setting powder, Sonia Kashuk liquid light concealer, Tarte clay blush in Paaarty
Lips: Nyx Matte Lip cream in Sydney, Blended with Nyx Pin-up Pout in Almost Famous, and a soft overlay of eyeshadow from the Pantone Watercolor Palette
Grounding is one of my favorite coping skills because it can be both preventative, such as bringing you back when you begin to spiral or start having symptoms of anxiety, as well as having some more hardcore techniques if you are in a full blown panic attack or feel like you are past the point of no return. I promise, nothing lasts forever.
Grounding is all about literally bringing your feet back to the ground, as well as mentally pulling you back to a solid safe space in reality.
There are a lot of different techniques and not of them will work for you. For example, one technique is breathing (inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts), but if I was really anxious and some one told me to breathe I would want to scream and punch them in the face because for me it’s just not helpful. Please don’t punch people in the face though, just know that what helps some people can do the complete opposite for others.
The first technique has to do with different exercises and activities you can do to occupy your mind and put it to work doing something neutral and distracting.
- Counting colors. Think “I Spy” except you can play by yourself. Choose a color, like red, and look around you to find everything that is red. Some people like to actually count every red thing they see, I personally just like to take a second to mentally note “that book over there is red” before moving on. Don’t actually move around to do this, unless you are walking somewhere in which case stay on your path, just observe your surroundings and try to notice the details. My favorite technique when I am outside walking is instead of looking for one color, I try and find the smallest details of color, such as a green stripe on a gum wrapper, or an orange sticker on someone’s car. There are no rules, if you want to find the whole rainbow, or change colors after you’ve found 5 things, just do whatever works for you.
- Mental Math. This seems to work best with people that are average in skill at mental math (like me), if it’s second nature to you and way too easy it is not going to occupy your brain, and if it’s way too hard to the point that it is just frustrating its going to hurt more than help. Basically you pick a 3-digit number like 253 and subtract 7. You keep subtracting 7 from your answer until it gets too simple and then you pick a new 3-digit number. Again, if this sounds like something you could do in your sleep or like high school has come back to haunt you, don’t do it.
- The 5 senses. Ask yourself, what can you feel? Maybe you can feel the carpet on your feet, or the air from a fan blowing on you, whatever it is focus on that sense until you can name three things. What can you hear? Cars outside, your dog walking around, your own breathing, whatever it may be. Do this for all of the 5 senses, hearing sight smell touch and taste. When you are done it can be helpful to remind yourself that all of those things you just named mean that you are here, right now, and you are safe. (My partner wanted me to add that they love putting their bare feet in the grass and focusing on that feeling, so if you know you love walking in the grass or sand, or smelling a specific candle, make your settings work to your advantage and bring out your favorite scented lotion, or head outside to find a patch of grass.)
These next techniques are when you need to bring in the big guns as they say.
- Ice Diving. This is exactly what it sounds like. Get a bowl big enough to fit your face/head and fill it with water and ice. Then, dunk your face in the bowl for a seconds and let cold shock your system back to reality. (Holding ice or a frozen orange, or freezing a knotted wet rag and then untying it are less extreme versions.)
- Tactile sensory objects. Sometimes your brain is just past the point of trying count colors, in these cases grabing something tactile and focusing on the feeling can be very grounding. This could be things like silly putty, soft stuffed animals, fidget toys, weighted objects like weighted blankets or those stuffed toys filled with rice, or even just holding something warm like a handwarmer or sitting with a heating blanket.
The last thing is something I do a lot not just as a coping skill but also just as a regular every day practice in my life, and that is crystal meditation.
It might sound daunting, and I’m sure there are official techniques for this, but honestly the method I use is something I completely made up on my own because it felt right. Now I do also work with crystals in a spiritual way, but you do not have to be connected to any specific religion or spirituality to find this helpful. Think of the crystal as just something to hold and focus on.
For those who are into crystals and witchy woo stuff read on, if that is not your thing just scroll down till you see these bolded words: so you have your stone.
When I am grounding with crystals I tend to go for my favorite three: Green Fluorite to connect my mind and heart , Eudialyte to help me be more present in my body and to help counter self doubt, and Angelite which is my ‘god stone’ because it helps expand awareness and strengthen communication, especially with guiding spirits and angels.
Choose a stone that feels right for you and the situation, or go with an old favorite.
So you have your stone. Hold it in your hand and focus on pouring your energy into the stone. If it helps to use visualization you can think of your energy as a rope being pulled or a vine growing from your center and into the stone. This is similar to focusing on the energy or rhythm of of your breathing as you might do in yoga or other forms of meditation.
At the same time you want to be opening yourself to the ‘clean’ (read: not filled with anxiety) energy from the stone and allowing that to replace the panic or tightness in your body.
Even if you are a skeptic or do not believe that you can tap into the energy, feeling of god, or what have you, that embodies everything around us. Just humoring yourself for a second and focusing on the visualization should occupy your mind long enough to ground you. Granted, spending the whole time frustrated about how ‘stupid’ this feels is not grounding, so as I mentioned in the very beginning if it is going to frustrate you, try something else.
As I said, different things work for different people, so try some out and let me know how it goes, or leave your own favorite methods in the comments below.