Sonya Renee Taylor on Organizations that Run on Radical Self Love

Sonya Renee Taylor inspires me to no end.

Here’s a short excerpt from our conversation in 2017 about radical self love, specifically as it can impact organizational functioning:

"Oh! I have depression. I cannot get out of the bed. I cannot function. And I have a company to run right now and under every other framework that I've ever worked under or been taught under, you, you know, like, you don't tell people that. You either muddle through with it and figure it out or you take a leave of absence and go to a hole and deal with it by yourself. Right. However it is.

And in this case I was like, what does it look like to tell my entire staff exactly what is happening and then for us to co-create how the organization runs during this time. Mmhmm. And it was awesome! Like, we were like, okay! Well, so everything goes to half-time. We will run content that you, you know, we'll run old content... We created a plan that worked with where... I was. And we do that for all the things that come up for different folks on the team. And that, I was like, yes, that's a radical self-love framework by which I want to see organizations operate.”

If you’d like to check out the whole interview, you can purchase the series here.

Honesty can create relief

So often, we don’t allow ourselves to be truly honest with ourselves or others about our feelings because we don’t want to accept them.

Because those feelings aren’t necessarily pretty.

They’re aren’t necessarily what we want, or what we think others want.

We think it will be easier to keep the truth from ourselves, and others.

There may be some psychic wisdom in that compartmentalization.

And then in certain moments, being honest with ourselves can create such relief.

Because once we know what’s true, we can work with it.

We can chose to share with others. Or not. Regardless, once we have met ourselves, we can then have agency in what we do with that information. Otherwise, likely, it will leak out in unexpected and perhaps undesirable ways.


Here’s a story of how this showed up for me:

Last week, I got back to San Francisco from two months away from my “regular life.” That time away I felt a deep sense of meaning, purpose and belonging. In coming back, I felt alienated and alone. I felt a distinct lack of belonging, which cut in sharp contrast to the feelings of the summer.

My mom was in town to visit my grandpa, and I had meals with her & other members of my biological family.

They all love me, and I love them. And… the culture shock between where I had been and this configuration of humans, I felt like I was from another world. And they told me as much.

People say that I am in a “different world” a lot. (More on that in another blog post.) Ouch.

Even though I critique the shit out of everything, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to belong. And it hurt, last Friday, to feel like I didn’t belong.

Instead of continuing to strengthen narratives that I didn’t belong, I decided that I wanted to try to talk to my mom about what was hard for me in that gathering. I texted her the next morning and asked to talk. It was a couple days before we had some 1-on-1 time when the moment felt right, and then it was. She gave an opening to talk about how I was, I shared about my life, and then I started crying, talking about how I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere — particularly in the two places where I wanted to in that moment — in my biological family and my home.

She met me and my tears with love.

And I felt more belonging.

What’s true?

Often, not knowing is true. Sadness is true. Hurt is true.

Those feelings can be inconvenient. We might not have all the tools we need to deal with those difficult emotions skillfully. And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

There is so much more I could say about the tools and strategies I used this past week in a major transition. And for now, I’ll keep it simple.

I encourage us to meet what’s hard with love. Love creates more space for us to be honest.

I want to be in relationship and communities where we can practice being with what’s true.

Retreats are where I’ve found that loving space to practice being honest with myself. So I’m offering two retreats this fall. If you’d like to join me IRL, there are two opportunities to do so this fall, on the East and West Coast of the occupied United States. Click here to find out more.


This is one entry in my current project of daily writing (#inprocessinpublic #progressoverperfection #questionreflectact), where I will be developing and sharing the Queer Body Love body of work. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. I aim to share stories, resources, ideas, tips, tools and generally what I see, think, pray, and question. These posts are about me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful.

Want to delve into these questions more?  If you’re drawn to these questions and are interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my 1-on-1 coaching. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. If you're not a cis man and you’re wanting IRL community around all of these themes, check out the two fall Queer Body Love retreats.

Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

my wishes for you in 2018

my wishes for you in 2018

On Monday, January 1st, I challenged you to follow what you truly desire in 2018.

Today, I would like to share what I wish for you, based on what I think I know about you based on you being on this list ;)

My overreaching desire is for you to rewrite the story that in the new year there is ANY reason for you to create a "new you." YOU - at your core - are fundamentally enough.

What about New Year, SAME you, more loving relationship to you?

Along those lines...

Here’s what I wish for you in 2018:

  • You call 3 friends, one after another, in a moment of crisis, both allowing yourself to have needs & knowing that they’re there for you
  • You see an advertisement that previously would have tripped you up, it doesn’t phase you, and then you realize that your internal landscape has shifted and you have better walls against the bullshit
  • You took a class in something that you’ve been meaning to try for ages but haven’t because you’re too old / it’s too silly / etc etc etc
  • You look in the mirror and say damn, you look fine!
  • You look in the mirror, don’t feel right about what you see, and are ever so kind to yourself in that moment, smiling with compassion at the fact that you allowed yourself to notice the disconnection
  • You hear something said that doesn’t feel “right”, and instead of letting it slide you have enough resilience to intrude in the moment to share your thoughts, even though it feels fucking hard
  • You go onto social media and see art, ideas and stories that reflect your experience and inspire you
  • You find that magical accessory that feels so YOU and supports you shining bright in the world
  • You host a five course dinner party and feel well-nourished by the food, company and experience
  • You have a moment at work where you feel aligned & seen for what you bring & who you are
  • You go to sleep at night after a day of doing exactly what you want to do
  • You say no to something that is hard to say no to and feel the pride & relief at doing so
  • You consider collective needs when making your choices while also honoring what you need as a critical part of that community
  • You feel that you are enough

In reading my wishes, notice what they spark in you, and feel free to use any of these as inspiration and jumping off points for your own thinking and visioning for 2018.

Wishing you softness & strength in 2018.

My challenge to you in 2018

My challenge to you in 2018

Happy New Year!

This is a time where there is cultural energy towards fresh starts and also really damaging stories that you're not good enough.

It's a time where you can chose to honor, celebrate and to chose.

To be intentional and also invite magic. To know you're not alone, and to ask for support around what you truly want.

Here's my challenge to you -- follow what you truly desire in 2018. And if you don't know, create space to stop and listen.

If you feel creeping "should" energy around how you're approaching the new year, or thinking that who you were or what you did last year wasn't good enough... stop. Cut it out.

Cut the bullshit.

You're enough.

To help you connect to that truth, as you look towards 2018, look back to the moments when you felt like you. When you felt seen. When you felt connected to what you want. Even if they're just glimmers. And move from that place.

That doesn't mean ignoring what needs to change.

Connecting to enoughness does not mean apathy or turning away from reality. It means being really present with reality.

When we accept reality as its unfolding, we can meet the moment with that much more strength and resilience.

So... I just told you to reflect & dream. And guess what... I haven't done that yet! I have a little background noise of scolding within myself that I'm not a good self development oriented person for not doing this yet. And... it's actually okay. I know the moment will come for that reflection and visioning. It hasn't been right for me in my life yet.

We can let the cultural energy of the New Year support us with fresh starts if and when its helpful -- but let's not allow it to become an unhelpful power over us, re-enforcing energies of what we "should" do.

In other words, don't let New Years energy become another oppressive, perfectionist voice of how you need to "do" New Years.

Let it support you, don't let it rule you.

And if you're like me and either haven't reflected on 2017 / visioned for 2018 or want to add to that process, I'll have more for you in the coming weeks. I like to think of the whole month as a chance to really harness collective forward motion.

Sending much love to you, and wishing you so much softness with yourself, your body and your people in 2018. We're going to need it to be strong.

My reminders to myself while being with family

While I spend a week at my parents' house, gathering with my immediate and extended family for Thanksgiving, I felt the need today to give myself some reminders.

A permission slip for myself, if you will.

I am allowed alone time.

I am allowed time to do what nourishes me most.

Leaning into dedicated me time, and virtual time with friends, is not selfish -- it can actually nourish the time I have with family so that I can be more clear and present.

I have opportunities -- many of them -- to see how I show up with the people who have been around me for most of my life, and with whom I have the deepest patterns.

I have the opportunity to notice.

To not put extra pressure on myself to immediately change everything, and also to notice when I am able to shift how I feel and act. To try on new ways of being as inspiration arises, and to not feel that I have to be or act in completely new ways.

I have the opportunity to celebrate the small moments.

Like asking my dad more questions instead of coming from a place of assumptions. Of adopting a curious stance to what lights him up and getting to see into his day-to-day life as the treasurer for the Hilton Head Heritage Library.

Like savoring time with my mom, talking about cultural appropriation over grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes.

Like receiving the joys of the hectic energy of lots of people making (and giving commentary) on brownie making.

I have the opportunity to learn where I've come from -- what I want to keep and what I want to shift.

One of my meditation teachers, Ethan Nichtern, and other spiritual teachers I've had, talk about how being with family is one of the most difficult arenas for spiritual practice. The last frontier. That if you feel like you're doing "really great" with your practice, maybe it's time to go home.

I am blessed in that I love my family and they're good to me. And, in many ways we're really different, and it can feel challenging.

I recognize and honor that people have a wide variety of familial and relational constructs, and sometimes it may be the most skillful decision to completely cut oneself off from one's family. Or talk everyday. Or somewhere in between.

Everybody's journey and what you'll need to remind yourself of is your own.

What do you need to remember when you're with family?

Should Monster

Should Monster

When we drop "shoulds" we can be real with ourselves and others.

Marcia Baczynski, who has been on the Queer Body Love Speaker Series the last couple of years and works with people on intimacy, boundaries, communication and recovering from the "Good Girl" archetype, wrote a lil ditty on Facebook yesterday that feels SO TRUE.

The secret to intimacy is the willingness to say, and hear, No.

And this includes the willingness to hear your own internal no. And then communicate that. Which can be quite the muscle to build up when you're used to automatically saying yes based on what you think others want you to do!

I have a little story from this morning which illustrates navigating listening to your internal "no" and then receiving support to continue to follow it.

I had plans to go cowork with a friend this morning at her place. She texted me as I was headed over that she was "depressed and sleepy." Super happy to be walking in the sunshine, I told her "go outside!" to which she responded "no".

So clear! Got it!

When I got there, she answered the door in her pajamas and told me in a whiny voice that she was in bed playing candy crush. She had internal clarity that she didn't want to work, and at the same time was judging herself for not feeling like it.

I went and snuggled up with her on her bed in her dark room.

As clear as she felt in her no to me with the specific suggestion of sunshine, she was struggling in resisting listening to her NO that she didn't actually want to do much today, and then trying to force herself to motivate herself to do more was creating overwhelm and tension.

Ooh boy do I know that story.

I reflected back to her the power of her no by sharing an analogy I found in this amazing blog post that I've found incredibly useful.

Imagine that it's snowing outside. If you put on a bikini and try to "soak up the sun", you're going to have a pretty miserable time. Now, if you snuggle up inside and drink some hot cocoa, it might be pretty divine.

Imagine your internal weather in that same way.

When you're feeling that strong internal NO, how about you listen to it?

Now, there may be certain things that really would be helpful to do... and, I know when I'm in that state I put extra pressure on myself to do all the things, instead of trying to focus on the bare minimum that I must do.

Instead of following the made-up story that suddenly EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE ALL AT ONCE, fueled by the war between the internal no and your resistance to listening to that no, focus on what you can drop and what actually really truly needs to happen.

For example, my friend needed to go present at a workshop. She didn't want to do that. And at the same time she felt like she "had to do all the things all at once," even though she felt like doing none of it.

I suggested -- what if going to the workshop was really the only thing you did today? For the next hour before you go, let it really be just your time to do whatever you want. When you get home, check in with where you are and act accordingly. Take off your pressure of what you thought you "should" do today, and dress appropriately for the weather, to use the previous analogy.

I helped her listen to her no.

I know that I feel the most stress and create my own overwhelm when part of me knows what would serve me, but I disregard that, trying to do what my mind WANTS to be reality.

In other words, I am currently practicing listening to my internal no more often and more easily.

Yesterday, I hit a wall at 5 pm in terms of work. But, but, but... I hadn't finished my newsletter! I hadn't edited some web pages that I had meant to! I hadn't sent that email! I had a headache and everything in my body was screaming that I was done.

I tried to work through it anyway. Needless to say, I wasn't that efficient, and ended up feeling even more tired.

Hm. Noticing. Okay, so next time (actually, like right now!), listen!

When we listen to our nos and can communicate them to ourselves and others, we can soften into much more loving intimacy. We can be in so much more flow with our world.

And with that... I'm off for a run!


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

Mind *Blown* by Sonya Renee Taylor's Brilliance

Mind *Blown* by Sonya Renee Taylor's Brilliance

I like to surround myself with brilliance.

So today I was in luck. I got an email 30 minutes before a live Q&A session on radical self love that's offered to subscribers supporting the amazing The Body is Not an Apology and decided to join last minute today.

I’ve had the honor to interview Sonya Renee Taylor for both the 2016 and 2017 Queer Body Love Speaker Series. She’s brilliant, and every time I talk with her I feel like my mind is blown open with possibility.

This time, I got to engage and ask my most pressing questions about how she’s navigated running a radical business aimed at dramatic, real personal and collective change within capitalism.

Her movement, and her business, began with a poem. In that poem, she said that she started a movement.

And now, she is co-creating a movement with the 29 folks running The Body is Not An Apology and the thousands around the world who read and engage with its work.

She jokes with people that she didn’t start a non-profit because she had gotten a masters in nonprofit management. She told me a bit of her critique in the Q&A — namely that the non-profit model is taking the margins of wealth and access and applying it to what those who have made the wealth in the market economy deem the priority. In other words, it marginalizes change.

Her perspective is that for change to happen, we have to ground it in the systems that currently exist, even as we aim to disrupt them.

We talked about this both on the level of business and also personally.

As people who have started our own businesses, we talked about the necessity to decouple money from merit and self-worth, which is what capitalism would want us to believe. 

Talking about money and healing our relationship to money such that we can receive it in order to be well supported to our work, while also staying aware and real about the harm that capitalism causes reminded me of an idea Sophie Macklin posted recently:

“I see a healthy relationship with money as one where the charge has gone enough for you to be able to access what you need to do the things you want to do, and has stayed enough for you to keep working towards a different economic system."

You know the charge? The charge around money? The "story" that "money is evil," and then "money mindset" people telling you to disregard that and think of money as neutral? The charge can actually motivate change.

It’s difficult to live with the tension of acknowledging the reality of white supremacy, capitalism etc. And, recognizing it is the only way we can begin to heal it so that external change can come from internal change.

Sonya Renee and I talked about how the road of acknowledging and shifting these massive external systems both within us and through our actions is hard work. Most everything outside of us is set up against us. We will be rewarded by playing along with the system.

And, the deeper reward comes from being more true and more real with ourselves and others about the new world we’re wanting to create — where we’re not there, and where we can take steps towards creating it.

The Body is Not An Apology is truly amazing. If I were to recommend one resource to folks interested in radical self love from an intersectional, radical perspective, this would be it.  So I want to take this opportunity to both thank them for their work and how it's influenced Queer Body Love, and also to encourage you to go check it out! And if you're moved to support their vision, join as a subscriber. They’re developing their program and how to extend what they offer — be in on it from the get go!


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

How can we heal together?

How can we heal together?

We need healing spaces.

We need spaces where we can be messy. Where we can cry. Where we can tell the truth about where we’re struggling. Where we can be seen in both our struggle and our brilliance by other people who “get it.”

I think that other people “getting it” can be really key.

I remember the first time I went to an Al-Anon meeting how much relief I felt.

I had felt so alone. I had just left an abusive relationship, and I missed my partner so much.

The format of a group of people with some shared underlying struggles being real with each other, opened my tear ducts and my heart. I began to heal because I began to see and hold myself with more compassion than I could when sobbing alone in my room at home.

Together we can hold what we cannot as easily hold alone.

I have felt the power of intentional containers for holding big emotions, big journeys.

When I did an intensive, residential, semester-long leadership program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health about 10 years ago, I remember so clearly experiencing the idea that a breakdown can be a breakthrough.

What I would add is… if it’s well supported.

Feelings are a natural part of the healing and growth process.

What's unnatural is when we feel like we have to hide them. When we can't share with each other about where we're really at.

A breakdown can be a breakthrough if you're supported.

And that’s so much more easily the case when there are larger structures of support holding you.

Going back to my experience at Al Anon... suddenly, in that room, I could feel. I could cry in a way that felt different than when I was on my own... I was held. There was compassion in the air. I could be real about what was happening, without having to censor or worry about my feelings being too big for somebody else to hold. Because we had a larger container.

At the end of the first Queer Body Love retreat I hosted, one of the participants, a native New Yorker, said at the end that she had never understood the hippie dippie California phrase about "holding space"... until the retreat. At the retreat, she felt how powerful a group of people with shared life experiences and intentions "holding space" for each other in those yurts in the woods could be.

Find spaces that can hold you. That can hold all parts of you.

For folks whose bodies have been multiply marginalized, this can be challenging to find. I sit writing this with the heartbreak and also the longing to be part of the creation of such spaces. I see them emerging all over the place, and I know that in some ways they're still rare.

I didn't realize when I began Queer Body Love two and a half years ago that there would be such a longing for community around the very particular intersections of queerness, body image, food and self love. What QBL spaces aims to hold has expanded and deepened, and will continue to do so, because I have experienced both the value and also the pain that can come when you seek healing and then you don't feel seen or supported for parts of who you are.

Seek people and spaces who will meet you. Know that if you feel shamed or not welcome because of your feelings... it's not about you.

You and your feelings are not too much.

Some people and spaces might not be able to hold them and you, and that doesn't mean that you are not worthy or that you're not too much. It means that we have opening and healing to do -- together -- to be able to meet each other more fully.

P.S. I heard about this online "Cry Club" Tumblr started by some folks in extended Bay Area community here where people post images of themselves crying. I've thought of it often when crying alone. 

your mind AND your body matters

your mind AND your body matters

You are brilliant, and your mind matters.

If you’re like me, sometimes it starts to go into overdrive.

Perhaps on overdrive critiquing absolutely everything.

So you start to get really hard on yourself.

It makes sense you’re tired, and want relief.

And the critiques matter.

How can you use the critiques to soften your judgment of yourself? To create space for understanding?

Then, from that place of understanding -- of using instead of disregarding the critiques in order to find relief -- remember that you’re a human, with a heart and a body.

Tend to yourself.

Listen to your critiques — they’re telling you something.

AND listen to your body — it’s also telling you something.

It’s not a zero sum game.

You’re brilliant and you’re human.

Tend to your mind and tend to your body. They're not opposites. They don't have to be doing battle. And not doing battle doesn't mean disregarding your intellect or critiques. It can all coexist.


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

Always Learning

Always Learning

One of the best parts of starting Queer Body Love has been how much I’ve been able to learn from others — people I’ve interviewed, clients, and others who have crossed my path.

Today, I learned from Grace Quantock, who interviewed me for her Trailblazer Interview series. (My interview will be up in a couple months.) She works with folks to blaze a new trail when illness, disability, trauma or grief throws your life off track.

She pointed out a couple times when ideas I shared could have been more inclusive for folks with neurodivergence and/or disability.

I love that she did in the interview itself. Instead of other responses I could imagine myself holding (judging in the moment, stewing in resentment after), she simply shared her perspective, strong, clear, and also open.

We were able to flow with the learnings with grace because of our mutual trust of each other.

Accepting that I am not and never will be “perfect” is what allowed me to be easeful within myself and with her.

I sometimes lovingly say that I’m a “recovering perfectionist.”

Similar to my previous relationship with food, where I set up dichotomous “good” versus “bad” food, one phase I have had to go through is rebelling and reacting against previously held perfectionism.

Now, I live from the perspective that recovering from perfectionism doesn’t mean throwing away my values. I can have high standards for myself and who I chose to interact with.

It means not basing my self-worth on a predetermined ideal.

And, I know that I often still harden and judge others when I see something that doesn’t feel right to me, instead of coming from a perspective of trust and calling others forth to meet me.

Here’s a story from yesterday of how my initial impulse is definitely not what Grace so beautifully modeled for me.

I leaned into support to align the way I communicate so I moved from my traditional ways of collapsing or attacking to being clear and strong.

Somebody invited me to participate in their coaching interview series yesterday. I didn’t want to participate because it seemed like a typical white/cis/het/thin/able-bodied woman who didn’t seem to have much focus on intersectionality. I wanted her to think about the fact that her being unconsciously “neutral” in her business is not actually neutral and can cause harm. (See these two amazing blog posts by Layla Saad, “I need to talk to spiritual white women
about white supremacy” Part One and Two that I ended up sending her for more on this if you’re interested.)

I asked a friend to read over my response. She said that a particular sentence where I critiqued the person who invited me felt like a “stab in the heart.” Now, in some contexts this is skillful. In this moment it did not feel so. So I shifted my response to come from the perspective that she probably wanted to learn and expand her awareness instead of cutting her down without ever having actually talked to her about it.

We ended up having a pleasant exchange where I felt like I was able to be clear and helpful — actually more in alignment with my values than had I simply cut her down.

I said no, I told her why, and opened the door for her to think about the issues.

She responded quickly with gratitude and grace, and we had a pleasant exchange that feels like it’s building towards creating the world I want.

It felt way better than compromising my values and just doing it anyway, or cutting down somebody who I judged without much compassion or room for them to meet me.

**Note -- this is NOT intended to tone police anybody or say that this is the "ideal" or "better" way of handling a situation, particularly if you're marginalized and dealing with somebody who doesn't share those identities.


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

A 3 Minute Exercise to Snap Out of Overthinking and Into Presence

A 3 Minute Exercise to Snap Out of Overthinking and Into Presence

Because this exercise came up not just once but twice yesterday, I'd like to share it with you.

Also because yesterday I found myself completely spinning out, feeling frozen -- unable to move forward with my goals and unable to "do self care" in a conscious way.

When you're feeling stuck, there are so many different ways of navigating.

Today's suggestions for self-soothing and getting present when you're spinning out:

1) Do what is smallest and easiest.

2) Allow yourself to be guided & held.

So that's what I aim to offer with this mini, literally 3 minute guided meditation. (There are slight scratching sounds -- practicing imperfect action and letting this offering be easy for me to offer you.)

Attribution: My yoga teacher guided us in this exercise yesterday morning and shared that it comes from Somatic Experiencing. I'm not sure about the influences of the second person (Ije, from Turtle Tank) who guided me in it yesterday.


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

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Pre Breakup Disorientation

You know that feeling when you know you have to breakup with somebody but you're scared to actually do it?

You know it's not right.

But it's hard to let go of the dream and the hopes of what it could be.

You don't want to let go of what's there, and what might be possible, because you've put time and energy into those dreams.

It can be hard to know when it's time to let go.

And there's the fear of stepping into the unknown.

Maybe you'll be lonely.

Everybody's breaking point is different.

It might be strange to see this writing after a post about Queer Love yesterday.

But it's actually necessary to let go of what's not working so that we can create space for these new possibilities.

I had a great conversation with Anjali Nath, founder of Liberation Spring, today that helped me gain clarity about needing to have the courage to actively walk away from projects/people/spaces that don't live up to my standards. A metaphor she shared with me really helped me visualize the process:

pulling weeds so you can plant seeds

It takes bravery to not just "let go", but actively step away from what you know.

This can SO be the case in relation to dieting and how we perceive our bodies and our identities.

When we've poured a ton of energy into trying to shape our body and presentation to gain love and acceptance, it can feel like quite the leap of faith to think that we may be able to actually be happy on our own terms in our own body.

I'm here to tell you that if you're called to that, it's a worthy endeavor that thousands have done before you.

It's possible to be fat and happy. It's possible to celebrate your body in the way you want to celebrate it.

But first, for that to be possible, you gotta breakup with the idea that you have to change who you are based on other peoples' ideas of what that looks like.

You gotta pull the weeds so you can plant the seeds.

You don't need to diet or do anything that anybody else says you need to.

And, like I write about above, going through that realization and breakup, especially when so much of your time and energy has gone into another narrative, can feel really disorienting and challenging.

Here's my challenge to you -- Actively disengage from that anything that bolsters stories you no longer want to dictate your thoughts, actions and life.

And one specific suggestion for today: clean up your digital space - unsubscribe, unfollow and unlike anything that is trying to "take your self-esteem, cheapen it and sell it back to you at a profit", as Ragen Chastain quoted her friend CJ in her latest Queer Body Love Speaker Series interview (you can buy the full series here).

And then, start following people who live in their bodies unapologetically.

Here are a few good people to start with on Instagram:

Virgie TovarCaleb Luna, and Bevin Branlandingham.

Who do you love to follow? Feel free to comment or email me at elizabeth@elizabethjcooper.com


P.S. Thank you to Sophie Macklin for so clearly seeing the correlation between how I was feeling (disoriented, angry and fearful) and typical pre-breakup feels.

This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

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Queer Love & Possibilities

Queer Love & Possibilities

Today's writing comes to you from an Instagram post I wrote, because I'm experimenting with different formats for this daily writing.

I’m a stand for new possibilities.
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Yes, in some ways this is just another cute #queercouple selfie. (And hell yes, double click to show your love for #queerromance). And, this shot from the most beautiful and magical #queer and #transwedding was also about so much more.
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I’m a stand for new possibilities — for creating new ways of being in our bodies, ourselves and with each other. This wedding, themed “A Celebration of Glittering Hedonism” lit my heart on fire. I felt, in an embodied way, a taste of new possibilities that I want for the world, myself, my clients and my communities.
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My #QueerBodyLove business is essentially me, offering myself, my philosophy, my values, my presence and love to the world. And this past weekend, I both felt the most recent fruits of the personal/spiritual work I’ve been doing within myself, and also saw, in action, how another couple with similar values actively doing the work of creating a partnership and love “that feeds” has inspired and strengthened new ways of being, deep connections and community.
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That’s what I want, for myself and for you.
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Here are my invitations, for myself, and for you.
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I vow to listen to myself and do my own work so I can sit with you as you do yours.
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I will say no so I can say hell yes. Own my beauty and power. Invite support. Offer myself fully. Soften with my self-judgment. Open my heart. Let go of what no longer serves me. Rewrite my stories. Sit in my discomfort. Soften with it. Tell the truth. Be with myself in a new way that creates space for us to see what is alive between us.


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

acceptance of anxiety

Today, I am working with anxiety.

Even writing that out, knowing I will be sharing it with you, I feel my body begin to relax.

There are many, many different ways of “working with” feelings… and most often, particularly having a business in the “self-development” industry, my focus tends to be centered on “working with” in order to “make it better.” And this is exactly where I can tend to spin myself into more and more anxiety. By trying to "fix it."

I personally tend to skip over the step of accepting myself and my feelings.

The very step that I emphasize, again and again, with my clients. There's a reason I need to emphasize it. It's so against so much of what we're taught in Western culture.

Today, I am not focusing on "working with" the anxiety. I'm simply working (on Queer Body Love), with anxiety by my side. I'm acknowledging that it's there with me, not trying to change it.

Hi, anxiety! At least in this moment. It may go away, but have you ever tried to shoo away a child who really wants your attention? So today, I greet it with kindness. Trying to do a ton of things to “prove to myself” that I’m a “worthy person” (my tendency) isn’t actually the underlying shift I need to make.

The shift I need to make is towards acceptance of myself even, and especially, when I don’t feel super hot.

What if it were okay if I didn’t always feel like everything flowed with joy and ease? What if I accepted that being in this human body with human emotions means that I will have good days, bad days, glorious days, hideous days, everything in between, and of course, totally boring, “normal” days, and days with ups and downs and twists and turns? In other words, what if I accepted each moment as it came?

And then, from a place of acceptance, I can be curious about what the feelings are trying to tell me.

The anxiety of today comes from perfectionism, lack of clarity, and feeling like there is one right way.

What can I tidy up in this moment, for me and for you? What can I clarify to create more ease?

There's work that can be done in many levels with all of those underlying causes of anxiety. And in this moment, there's actually a really simple action I can take to clarify something for me and for you.

I said this blog writing would be a daily practice and offering. In my mind I hadn’t been completely sure whether this would be daily daily, or weekday daily.

This past weekend I went to a fabulous wedding (themed “Celebration of Glittering Hedonism” at hot springs… ohmygod amazing... will have to write about that in some other posts) and didn’t write.

So, I’ve been sitting in underlying judgment of myself for failing, already, with my daily anchor of writing in November.

Vagueness / underlying perfectionism that hasn't even been clarified so I can work with it ---> anxiety (and, luckily, is shiftable!).

In this moment, since I (and you, and we) make up the rules… the rules of the game is that I will have freshly written writing at least 5 days a week, and if there’s more than that it’s icing on the cake.

And with that... "see" you tomorrow!


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

When Self-Love Isn't Enough

I'm at the Walnut Creek (California) library after going to a talk by Dr. Lindo Bacon*, "When Self-Love Isn't Enough: How Health Practitioners Can Support Body Appreciation in an Unjust World."

I just love the title. One of my biggest issues with the self-help industry is its focus on, well, the self. I suppose it makes sense, given the name of the industry. And, I think that this focus on the individual can end up creating more individual shame and isolation because we end up feeling like it's all on us to fix everything.

One of the solutions is seeing ourselves reflected and understanding larger context. That we actually are not alone when we hate on ourselves around our bodies not fitting into predetermined cultural ideals of perfection.

Reading Health at Every Size (and then diving down the rabbit hole of fat studies/liberation work) and The Beauty Myth (and many other feminist pieces) in college alleviated my individual shame and awakened both anger and acceptance.

Suddenly my own relationship to dieting, losing weight and gaining weight made a ton of sense to me culturally. That it wasn't my fault. I was taking in the cultural messages that I would be loved and accepted if I lost weight. And feeling alienated from myself and others after recently discovering my queerness, I jumped on that bandwagon.

"Just loving myself," wasn't enough. Combining theory with personal development and healing was the magic formula for me.

Dr. Lindo Bacon shared stories she's never revealed publicly before today of how her relationship with her gender identity and presentation impacted her eating disorder. She wanted to lose weight to align her body with her internal sense of masculinity.

Our many identities impact how we seek love and acceptance -- and trying to change our bodies, which impacts how we are seen by others -- is one main approach.

It makes sense. It all makes sense.

And now the question comes, and remains -- how can we be with it, accept it, and change things, on a personal and collective level?


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

embracing not knowing

A dear friend and previous coach, Sophie Macklin (who just opened 10 spots for "Fuck you patriarchy, I'm going to claim what I need to thrive" coaching sessions which I highly recommend), asks me this simple question a lot:

What's true?

She asks me this when I'm caught in a state of anxious confusion, usually wanting to find some "right" answer that will make me a "good" person. For example, I might be going on to her about "well, I think that this person might think XYZ thing about me and I'm really wanting to create more ease in our relationship, so maybe I should say XYZ thing... what do you think?"

To which she'll throw the ball back in my court by asking me what's true... which, to some extent, can feel infuriating. What is truth? How can I even know?

And, sitting with this lack of knowing can feel like a relief, because it's being real about lack of certainty.

What's super true is that I don't know.

And at the same time, the question cuts through the bullshit to what I do know. Because we all do have some truths that we carry within ourselves. (Paradoxically, I actually wrote about how you DO KNOW yesterday in a new daily Queer Body Love blog that I just started.)

Holding the paradoxes of knowing and not knowing is part of being human.

It can create so much more freedom and flexibility in how we move through life when we embrace this simple truth -- that there's much that we know (in a variety of ways), and much that we don't.

From this place of embracing ambiguity, the question I've been asking myself is what liberation (personal and collective, because we can't truly have personal liberation without collective liberation) looks like. To be honest, I feel very far from knowing that truth.

And, at the same time, there have been some core tenants and ideas from feminist, fat and queer theory as well as spiritual paths, that have created a sense of much deeper worthiness in myself, which to me has felt like a taste of freedom.

That's what I want for you.

Despite and in the midst of all the confusion of how we navigate this confusing world, I want you to have some relief.

I believe that relief can come from a mix of some perspectives, some tools, and community. Other people to sit with you as you share and unpack what's true for you.

Next week, I'd like to offer that to you in the form of two free Queer Body Love Webinars.

  1. Tuesday, November 7th, 6 pm PST / 9 pm EST /  Wednesday, November 8th at noon ACT (Australia)
  2. Friday, November 10th, 11:00 am PST / 2:00 pm EST / 7:00 pm GMT (UK time)

By clicking on the link below you can sign up to access either one.

I so look forward to having you! And please, feel free to invite friends by sending them the link to sign up as well: https://www.elizabethjcooper.com/webinar. If this Queer Body Love work and community is doing it for you, spread the love :)


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

You know

You think you don’t know, but you do.

So much that comes from outside of us tries to convince us and confuse us.

Within your heart you already know.

It’s just about developing the muscle of listening.

Historically, I’ve often gotten caught in confusion and anxiety, and lately something one of my mentors pretty much shouted at me...

KNOW SOMETHING

...has continued to reverberate in my heart/body/mind. In a calling me forward kind of way.

And here’s a more gentle example of how another coach supported the connection with this sense of knowing within myself: in a coaching session, I started to dip into the mire of confusion, and my coach bestowed upon me a straw from the hotel drink station, saying “this is the straw of knowing” and asked me a follow up question. Suddenly, holding the straw, I knew the answer.

I heard this nugget of wisdom last weekend: “Intuition speaks in sentences. Ego speaks in paragraphs.”

If you notice yourself spinning, speaking to yourself in fragmented, long sentences that are masquerading as term papers, getting lost in confusion, connect with whatever will help you remember that you actually already know. Even if it’s that you know you need help, or need to sit with the question, or need to learn more so that you can make an informed decision. You know the next step.


This is one entry in the November Queer Body Love daily blog writing, where I will be exploring through writing what I see, think, pray, and question. I don’t know what liberation looks like, but I want that for you, and for us. This blog is me sharing a personal practice of being with the question of what that might look like in the hopes that it might be useful. If you're interested in personal support from me as your guide as you explore that in your own body and life, check out my newest 1-on-1 offering, SOFTEN. I can sit with you with so much love and compassion as you orient in the direction of more ease and comfort in your body and with yourself. Together we'll take a stand for new possibilities.

release, release, release

release, release, release

I think of y'all all the time, did you know that?

And this morning, a "release & gather" meditation felt like the most heartfelt offering. So I just hit record, let it flow, and now I'm sending it to you.

Why? Because this is what's been present for me and folks around me, and I thought it would be helpful for you.

Tuesday night, after asking for some support to help me let go of some unhelpful energetic baggage, I ended up leading a meditation on the topic for five other beautiful folks in my queer collective house.

Then last night, I held space for a friend struggling with the feelings of disgust she had at the internalized fatphobic, patriarchical thoughts impacting her experience relating to other people's eating habits. The shit that we don't even like to admit to ourselves that we're thinking, let alone others.

I listened. I validated that it comes from patriarchy.

I told her -- You're SO not alone in those thoughts, and it does not make you a bad person.

In fact, noticing them with compassion and critical consciousness is the first step to letting them go.

Unhelpful thinking that feels harmful to yourself and others is the worst. And it's not your fault. That's what happens just living in our culture, and typically without active, conscious letting go of these thought patterns they stay, quite persistently. They need conscious deprogramming. That is why I do what I do. That is why we need each other and support to be with the hard thoughts / feelings, and to chose to let them go.

I hope that this meditation can be useful in that endeavor.

It's 14.5 minutes, totally raw and uncut -- recorded from my meditation cushion just a half hour ago, straight to you.

Feel free to let me know what you think.

xo

Elizabeth

my most important act of self care yesterday

my most important act of self care yesterday

Yesterday, I cried. Quite a lot. Hard. Not a tear down my cheek. Ugly crying.

Crying was my most important act of self care yesterday. Not going to yoga, not attending a group call, not reaching out for support, not spending time with people I loved, not cuddles... crying. If I hadn't let myself cry, those emotions would likely still be really stuck in me. They're still there - and I feel a lot more peaceful this morning because I let myself cry.

At my semester long yoga & leadership development program I did almost 10 years ago, I remember distinctly them telling us to not give people who were crying kleenex unless they indicated they wanted them, because it could send the message "stop crying."

It's no wonder we don't feel our feelings or cry (especially if we are more masculine presenting or raised male) -- we're told not to. There are many other ways that we have and continue to externally receive this message to stop crying -- shh, don't cry, you're okay / you'll be okay / it's okay...

We don't need to change or fix tears -- they're simply part of the process of being human and allowing the feelings that come up.

Sometimes it just doesn't feel okay, and crying is 100% the most skillful way of allowing the emotions to flow.

Here's what I tried to do with my feelings before letting them flow that didn't work out so well:
  1. Try to ignore them
  2. Judge them, trying to make them different
  3. Try to move immediately to "fixing" the situation
A friend who knew the context of my sadness gave me an immensely helpful response when I reached out yesterday.

I now pass on these helpful reminders to skillfully allow yourself to cry:
  1. Invitation to feel your feelings
  2. Validation -- they make sense
  3. A reminder that they will not last, and that once you allow them and release them you'll have space to look directly towards my challenge
So... why bother feeling? What's the benefit of allowing yourself to cry?
  1. You will feel more connected to yourself
  2. You can be more fully yourself
  3. By allowing the emotions to flow you can release them and move on

So what's this to do with Queer Body Love?

I've been thinking a lot about what Queer Body Love means to me as I redesign my website (coming soon!), and a lot of it is becoming okay with ourselves.

To be okay with ourselves, we have to know what's there. We might not always like it, and that's when we typically go through the list above of "unhelpful" ways of dealing with emotions.

Allowing and accepting your feelings creates space for you.

But don't take it from me. Try it on.

The next time you find some emotions lurking underneath the surface that you may be trying to ignore, judge or fix, remember this email, and see what it might be like to let them express themselves, whether that be through crying or some other means.

See how that feels, and let me know if you'd like by leaving a comment.

Sending much love,

Elizabeth